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Chapter 17 - Banquet

Asuka Kazama collapsed onto her hotel bed, arms outstretched, thinking about the looming tournament. The opening ceremony was the next evening, and the real matches started the day after that. She, and many others, would actually see Jin Kazama at the ceremony though presumably security would be tight and ready for the countless people wanting to have their go at him. No doubt his devil half welcomed the attempts. The evil beast never returned after that one night though sometimes Asuka would go up on the roof of her father's dojo, just in case.

"Cast a light to see the shadow," she muttered. "It must be Jin or Devil but which one? And how do I do that?" She sat back up and walked over to the window. Out below of the Seahorse Hotel was a beautiful fountain and circular area where alternating red and blue lights shot upward. It made for a pretty sight. Then she noticed a familiar figure with a voluminous blue ponytail standing alone by the fountain. "Alisa?"

She headed down, intrigued and when she arrived, she saw someone else already confronting the blue-haired neighbor. A black man dressed in all black with dyed blonde hair paced, facing the composed Alisa. "What happened to Doctor Boskonivitch?" he asked her.

"My father is well, thank you for asking," the girl replied simply.

Boskonovitch? Wasn't Alisa's last name Baker?

Raven continued pacing, frustrated. "His daughter is dead, so why do you call him that? Who are you?"

"You're not authorized for that information," Alisa told him. "Additionally, you have not told me who you are."

"Raven is all you need to know. If you will not cooperate, you leave me no choice," he said and poised as if to attack. Asuka's eyes widened, especially as she realized that Alisa was unfazed by the other man.

The smaller girl rested her fist casually against her hip. "Do we really have to do this?"

Raven lunged toward her, and Alisa blocked a few blows before leaping up, aided by a small rocket in her leg to bring her foot down on him. She rammed her fist into the ground and still another rocket-powered leg kicked him back again.

Asuka watched in quiet shock. Alisa was a robot? How? Why? It definitely explained why something felt off in the other girl's presence. She had retractable chainsaw arm attachments and could shoot her hands as rockets. Sometimes she'd even take a moment to taunt the man by sitting mid-air with her back rockets and a small giggle.

Finally, the young Japanese girl had enough of this display. "Alisa, what is all this?" she shouted.

Both fighters paused, and Raven flipped back some to create distance. "Is that what he's after?" he asked Alisa, nodding in Asuka's direction.

"Like I said, you are not authorized for that information, Mister Raven."

"This isn't over, robot girl," he remarked before disappearing, feeling that the meeting gave him enough intel for the time being. If Jin wanted Asuka, it wouldn't be hard to track her.

"Bye-bye ninja man," Alisa quietly called after him. She looked over to Asuka. "Master Jin will not be pleased. No one suspected he was interested in you until now. I blew my cover sooner than he would have liked too. This complicates things."

"You're blaming me for this? You've got a lot of explaining to do! Is Alisa even your name?"

The robot dusted off her pants with indifference to the accusatory tone. "It's Melissa. They sound similar but are different enough that text mining the Mishima Zaibatsu's logs won't give me away so easily. Secrets are hard to keep in this information age."

"Well, Melissa, explain yourself," Asuka pointed defiantly.

The other girl stared at Asuka for a moment with a pleasant, small smile. "I'm going upstairs to my room. If you wish to join me for a cup of tea, perhaps we can talk there."

Asuka gave the robot some biting words before consenting though the meeting proved less fruitful than she hoped. Melissa refused to provide much more than already revealed. She was a robot sent by the Mishima Zaibatsu to keep an eye on Asuka. Pressed for why, the blue-haired girl insisted Jin already made that known in the past. The monitors in her house in Osaka were for a separate mission that she refused to comment on that night.

"Is there anything you can tell me?" Asuka asked in exasperation.

"I understand your refusal to regard me as an ally Miss Asuka, but I am not your enemy. Remember that Jin Kazama is your objective, and I can provide you a link to him at some point later this tournament. My role is to your advantage, just as much as it is his."

[…]

Jin Kazama examined himself in a full-length mirror, wearing an elaborate white outfit with red trim, adorned with a gold chain connecting to the mane of a silver lion. Similarly, the beast's head existed at the top front of his white boots.

"You look like a walking door-knocker," Devil said, squatting as an apparition nearby. "So much white isn't like you either." He stood fully and leaned closer to Jin's ear. "Feeling nostalgic for when you were a worthless and failed hero?"

The young man subtly darted his eyes to the creature, faint traces of a smirk on his face as he walked over to his made bed to pick up a pair of white gloves. "It's just for ceremony," he remarked as he put them on. "The opening banquet is tonight, and the tournament matches start tomorrow."

"Someone's going to slip and try fighting you there," the creature stated.

"Probably," Jin agreed, still focused on his gloves.

Devil smiled. "And they will suffer for it."

The young man bowed his head, his fingertips on his forehead as if in pain. Devil watched carefully without a word. The moment faded, and Jin looked to the creature, trying to suppress a matching sadistic smile. "I promise nothing, to either of us. Enjoy the evening, wretch. The air will be thick with hatred bearing down on me. With or without a fight, it will be a feast."

[…]

Nina hummed a small tune as she put lipstick on her face when suddenly who but Anna came crashing through, kicking both her legs into the mirror. Several clashes and clangs later, Nina left still in a good mood, pleased with her graffiti scrawls of lipstick on Anna's face. She'd have to make arrangements to have the place cleaned up soon. She walked up to Eddy, who was one among many standing guard, watching the room. "Status report?"

"He'll be here any minute. There's no shortage of people who want to either kill him or give him a beating or restrain him in some fashion. We've got our work cut out for us tonight. I take it you took care of your sister already."

Nina snickered. "Yeah. She'll be able to move, but fighting more tonight is another story."

"Kazuya Mishima's here."

"The kind of trouble he'll cause is a lot more subtle in this environment. He won't attack Jin directly here. This is reconnaissance for his organization. He's making his way over to Asuka and Melissa now."

Melissa stood next to Asuka examining the room. The young Kazama girl had not exactly forgiven her robot companion, but she knew the argument for being able to reach Jin through her somehow was true. She'd have to stay on her guard, of course. Kazuya Mishima approached them and stared down at Asuka. He shifted his eyes over to Melissa. Though Raven's organization did not view Kazuya as an ally, they assumed him knowing about the robot girl worked to their advantage and so made sure the information worked its way to the leader of Jin Kazama's strongest opposition. Melissa had recently provided G with the data about Egypt, so this news put a wrench into their plans. The data was perfectly valid, but they could not know that and only suspect it in turn. "So you're Jin's little doll," he remarked.

Melissa smiled coolly. "Is that what you call G Corporation's Jack-6 units? Dolls?"

His face tightened for a moment in irritation. "Before this tournament is over, you will be nothing but a pile of scrap metal as punishment for your treachery."

"Melissa, what's he talking about? Who is this?" Asuka asked, looking up at him while she spoke.

"Asuka Kazama, meet Kazuya Mishima, father to Jin Kazama and leader of G Corporation: my employer in Osaka."

"What?!" There were too many surprises to count in that statement.

Kazuya shifted his gaze back to Asuka. "You're better off without her. Join me. I am Jin's strongest opposition. He must be stopped at all costs but falling prey to his deceitful messenger is a fool's errand. Take some time to think about it, girl, preferably away from the devil's agent." He walked away.

Lili soon came up to the other two. "What was that about?"

Asuka looked down bitterly. She snapped at Lili all the time, but she wouldn't do it over this when for once, the snotty brat wasn't at fault. Melissa repeated her introduction from earlier while omitting her employment.

"Mishima this, Mishima that. How annoying. Jin Kazama is the worst though," the blonde decided. "Speak of the devil…" her eyes looked upwards to see the malevolent tyrant descend several steps before he was flanked by his Secret Service bodyguards as he entered an elevated area for his own table and select group. "He's still a villain, but that's a good look for him. Doesn't he usually wear black?"

Asuka gulped nervously upon seeing him again. The devil wouldn't come out an event like this, would he? Could he with Jin dressed the way he was? His largely white attire surprised her too. He looked more stiff than usual. Her cousin scanned the room and met her eyes briefly. There was no sneer and no smirk. He passed over her like she was nothing. Everyone had grown silent on his entrance, a multitude of hatred, anticipation, and tension thick in the air. Jin stood at a podium behind his main table and began to speak. "Welcome to the opening ceremony to the King of Iron Fist Tournament 6, where we meet and gather for our own reasons. I know some of you are here to determine who is strongest; some of you are here to stop me for my actions; some of you are here for money and power promised to you at the end; and some of you are just hungry for a fight. The matches commence tomorrow. If you are truly worthy of an audience, you will work your way to me to claim your prize. That is all. Take your seats."

Melissa nodded politely to the other two. "Enjoy the feast, courtesy of the Mishima Zaibatsu."

"Wait, where are you going? What do you mean?" Lili asked, but Melissa did not reply, and the blonde girl saw her take a place at Jin Kazama's table.

"Asuka, what's going on? This doesn't make any sense. Alisa…"

"Her name's not Alisa. It's Melissa. She's a spy."

"A spy? Then why were you…?"

"It's complicated, and I don't feel like talking about it. Let's go find our seats."

Asuka and Lili found they were assigned to a table with people they did not know, slightly older than the two of them. A young Chinese girl fluent in Japanese named Ling Xiaoyu, a Korean giving only the name Hwoarang, and a darker skinned Brazilian woman named Christie whose eyes studied the black man sitting next to Jin at the young CEO's table.

"Do you know that guy?" Asuka asked.

"I thought I did," she said, clearly upset.

"Sorry, I didn't mean to…" She knew coming here would be a challenge but what an awful past two days.

"That's Eddy," Xiaoyu explained in a matter-of-fact tone. "Jin hired him not long after the last tournament."

Christie took an interest suddenly in the young Chinese girl. "Do you know why?"

"No, I never asked him, sorry."

"How do you know that much then? It's more than the rest of us," Hwoarang said.

"I live here, but I don't really know much more," the pig-tailed girl admitted. "This is the first time I've even been in the same room with Jin in almost three years."

"You live here?" Asuka asked.

"Well, not in the banquet hall of course. The Mishima Zaibatsu is my home."

"Did you know Jin before he went crazy?" Lili asked.

Everyone paused to look at Lili and then at Xiaoyu. The young Chinese girl furrowed her brow, looking down. "It's not the word I'd use, but I knew him back when we went to school together, before the King of Iron Fist Tournament 3, before he…changed."

"I did too," Hwoarang added

Asuka suspected their seating to be purposely designed for her to meet these two though Christie didn't seem to know Jin at all. "What…what was he like back then?" she couldn't help asking

Xiaoyu smiled sheepishly. "The strong, silent type."

"Aloof," Hworang said, leaning back in his chair, glancing over to Jin's table. "I guess he still is."

Asuka thought back to that night on the roof when he just sat quietly with her, soaking in the scenery. Was that…was that the real Jin?

As the evening wore on, some retired for the evening, satisfied with their appearance or delaying a confrontation until later. Christie left after finding a chance to speak with Eddy, wiping a tear down her face. She learned of his goal but seeing him ensnared by the deal he made troubled her. Asuka, Hwoarang, Xiaoyu, and Lili remained at their table until only two others at a separate table remained: a dark-haired woman named Zafina and a much taller, larger dark-haired man named Miguel.

Miguel brooded as he drank throughout the evening, staring at his wine glass and again at Jin. It was another formal occasion with another wine glass where the young tyrant's chaos took his newlywed sister in a blazing fire. Zafina studied the room carefully, taking note that despite Kazuya Mishima's earlier presence, the two evil stars decided to wait. The delay intrigued her, and she hoped she might be able to speak with Jin before the night ended.
This one covers an opening ceremony banquet so has a lot of characters. You can find the full version of the preview image in my gallery or right here: Banquet Suit.
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