A Common Enemy


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Scene Title A Common Enemy
Synopsis The Flying Dragons reluctantly turn to their Triad rivals, now that Daniel Linderman's presence is more forcibly felt.
Date October 10, 2009

Little Italy

Mott Street.

Prior to the bomb, thi sstretch of restauraunts and tourist attractions was just a blip on the radar of people passing between Little Italy and Canal Street at Chinatown. In the years since New York was torn asunder, Mott Street has changed significantly. So much of a power vacuume existed in the fall of Midtown and the following collapse of the Civella crime family, that the Chinese Triad were able to swallow up so much more property and space than they had before, pushing against Daniel Linderman's advances all the while. Where the Flying Dragons are the most recognizable success story of this expansionist change, the residents of Mott Street are a far less obvious one.

17 Mott Street is the home of Wo Hop, a famous Cantonese restaurant that has managed to flourish in the wake of that terrible explosion. But while the basement may serve Americanized Chinese food to the public, the upper floors of that very building serve something else up to the people of New York City. It is here, in the narrow, winding stairwells that find Liu Ye, ascendant to the dynasty of the Flying Dragons and one of his advisory attendants, Tsang Hao-Tung marching towards the doors of what was up until a month ago, enemy territory.

The fourth floor foyer where a single dark wooden door rests serves like a threshhold between reality and the afterlife, guarded by two men in dark suits. Each of them bear a string of black glass beads in one hand. There is no words exchanged, just the creak of an old knob as the door is opened and a sparsely decorated hall beyond is revealed.

The home of the Ghost Shadows Triad, where guests are entertained, is an understated one, steeped in tradition. Which is more than can be said for Liu Ye's den of debauchery back in Chinatown. Here, furnishings are pushed towards the walls, low benches and tall vases decked with ferns, an entire floor of the building with walls knocked out to create a vast open space leading towards an old, engraved wooden chair resting behind a night black banner bearing no marking on it.

Upon that chair, sits the focus of Liu's arrival here. A weathered, old man shaved bald, his black suit a traditional cut, matte in color, and a string of black beads slung around his neck and one shoulder. With legs crossed and hands folded, he regards the two entering the room with a single black brow raised. For all the security coming in, they are alone in this room with him. The first time the bosses of the Flying Dragons and Ghost Shadows have been seen together in decades.

"«Zhao… Wenzhuo…»"

The name is pronounced slowly and dramatically as Liu Ye steps through those doors garbed in a fine suit of black linen, his hands spreading wide and a thin smile that never reaches his eyes broad upon his lips, "«At last we meet, and without blood on the floor between us at that. These are interesting times indeed.»"

There is a lack of formality, perhaps, but then he was never as traditional or formal as his father. He walks to stand before the antique chair where the equally antique man sits, hands clasping before him and head bowing respectfully— if slightly.

For all the responsiveness in his expression, Hao-Tung might as well be some kind of monolith— though one can detect more tension in the crease of his brow than normal. More displeasure. He's known for austerity at the best of times, but the ambiance of this lair of the Ghost Shadows is having an odd effect on him alone; approval of everything he sees, but reactionary dourness for the very reason that he can't have it. As he keeps steady pace behind Liu, arms resting in a broad, folded position across his chest, the back of the skinnier man's neck gets a broodingly neutral stare that only continues when they both reach Zhao's chamber.

When Liu addresses the older man, Hao-Tung stays back, making no conciliatory movements of his own bowed head or otherwise; his stillness itself asserts his unspoken agreement with Liu's gesture. The spotlight isn't on the other two players, not him— but his own raised brow indicates that at any moment, he's patiently ready for an opportunity otherwise.

Tired and heavy eyes assess the progeny of Chang Ye with some tension, looking to the man at his side wordlessly, then shifting his weight ot one side to rest his chin on the palm of his hand. "«Your father was an opportunistic backstabber,»" Zhao begins without any prompting, one pencil thin brow raised in consideration. "«You are as much your father's son as he was his father's son. I have no love or respect for the leaders of the Flying Dragons, from Chang or before. You least of all, Ye.»"

Cold, hard, taciturn; he's everything that rumors had always said the old man was. It's those coal black eyes of his that settle on Liu jugmentally, brows furrowed and the dim light of candles lit in the room giving the wrinkles in his face sharp contrast. "«But right now, my distaste for you and your family— what little of it there is left— falls to the wayside. We are— all of us— confronted with an enemy bold enough to think that he can step on our necks and cut up from crotch to throat like animals.»"

Shifting in his seat, Zhao stares from Liu to Hao-Tung, then back again. "«You arranged for this meeting, to discuss our mutual enemy, and I feel that prudence in this matter is best afforded. How then, would the illustrious,»" his tongue practically burns with the sarcasm, "«Flying Dragons wish to handle this?»"

"«I could say the same about the Ghost Shadows, revered Zhao,»" Liu Ye replies without that knife's edge smile ever slipping, one hand lifting to brush through his hair before both arms slide to fold hands behind his back, feet apart slightly. A confident stance, but coincidentally an easy one to shift to a more combative posture. "«But I will be the better man this evening.»"

One brow raises in a subtle arch, head tilting in a slight nod. "«Linderman has decided that he is not satisfied with… sharing the reins of power in this city. His resources are vast, and any of us might fall if we stand alone, much as the Civella family did before us. Sooner or later, this new… criminal task force of theirs will be steered by Linderman towards us.»"

"«Which means it should be plenty clear, what would be best to do.»" Though carrying no overtones of hostiliy— quite the contrary, in fact— Hao-Tung's added statement is blunter than normal. "«There is no need to change how we tread around each other, but the old animosities, the old rivalry; they must stay by the wayside. Linderman is a threat. Working together closely will protect us all.»" And Zhao will know that (theoretical) reality quite well: Dragons and Shadows and Tigers can bicker like idiot children, but in the end, triads are family. Etc. etc. blah blah.

"«I have a few purely technical suggestions of my own. I will, however, wait until both shan chu have shared theirs.»" Dark, beetle-like eyes fall sidelong onto Liu's, then slide toward Zhao's, appraising both in one equally dark and casual glance.

An assessing stare is offered from Zhao's point of view, his mouth hidden by a cage of long fingers that tap against his lips. In his other hand, Zhao gently roll the black beads of his necklace around between fingers, the soft ticking of glass bead on glass bead almost like the tick of a metronome. "«The plan of action is simple. If I were Daniel Linderman, I would have infiltrated our organizations. Men on the inside, hiding like rats amongst us. There are undoubtedly those who have been bought and sold for their loyalty or presumed futures. We need to discern who among us is turned.»

A look is given to one of the dark corners of the room, and only then does a rail thin man steps out from behind the post, head bald and skin pale, dark eyes narrowed as he looks from Liu to Hao-Tung. Nothing is spared by the tall man, and only Zhao's voice comes out in like response. "«This is Shu Chin,»" one weathered hand motions from Zhao's mouth to the thin man. «"He is my aide, and as a gesture of good faith I offer his services to your family, to root out the… trouble makers.»" How this would work, comes as a curious notion, until Zhao's lips creep into a smile.

"«Shu senses the truth and lies of others, and in his sense of truthfulness and deception, will come your hopeful salvation. Beyond that,»" Zhao dips his head into a nod slowly, "«I would like to hear how you wish to combat Mister Linderman, once your house is clean.»"

A slide of dark eyes to the slender man that's stepped from the corner of the room, Liu's gaze judging and appraising even as he is described and explained. "«A sensible notion,»" he admits, although the pride in him clearly wants to protest that his people are loyal - he knows better, ah, yes he does. Men's hearts are easily corruptable. He knows better than many. "«The honorable Zhao is only too kind to offer the services of his… retainer.»"

He turns his head slightly to the man he came in with, then, suggesting casually, "«By all means, I would very much like to hear your opinions, Hao-Tung. That is why I brought you, after all.»"

Is that disparagement hidden away in Liu's tone, perhaps not so subtly? Whatever it is or isn't, Hao-Tung's gaze darkens a shade further before he launches into his answer, attention fully trained on Zhao now. "«Funny— that was among the things I wanted to mention first. But it isn't only our 'house' that might hide traitors; though I'm assuming you believe your own is clean, I suggest that you also let us plant a set of eyes into yours. Who knows? We might see something that you miss, and none of us can be too careful. It might also be well to alert other, lesser triads to watch for the same danger.»"

"«The second thing— and this is what I really wanted to go into.»" Broad arms still as firmly crossed as ever, he allows the slightest shadow of an acidic smile to deform his lips, still unmoving from his spot. "«Linderman has dared destroy one of our boats, stolen a valuable shipment. So far we have done next to nothing in retaliation; but there is so much we can do if you follow my advice. Start sharing whatever information we can separately gather, and use it to coordinate raids between our Red Poles. The old man doesn't know what he's dabbling in.»" There is much more detail where that came from, but still, he pauses long enough to process Zhao's reaction.

"«You are talking about what has no truly happened with the Triad, unification.»" ZHao's eyes narrow at the thought, coal black focus given towards Shu, then back to Liu Ye. "«Our families have never seen eye to eye at any time. But you are right, Daniel Linderman will crush us or make us his if we do not at least cooperate…»" An appraising look is given to Hao-Tung, one dark brow raised in the expression as Zhao silently gives focus on the younger man.

"«Agreed.»" Is finally said in response. "«I will take one from the Flying Dragons, and you will take Shu, as a gesture of unity against this enemy. If Daniel Linderman wishes this to be an easy victory, he will find just what he is dabbling in.»" Zhao quotes Hao-Tung's words with a raise of one brow.

Liu's expression is as mercurial as the surface of water, his head inclining into a faintly bobbed nod at the agreement. "«I will appoint, Shou Zan, one of my own elite, then, to the Ghost Shadows.»" A woman who can turn into sand can be in many places, after all. "«She will come to you, and do for you as if you were her own. I expect Shu will afford me the same courtesies?»" Despite the tension that their presence will cause between the factions of Triad. "«As for our smaller brethren, I agree, a warning is in order. It is high time that Daniel Linderman learned that he cannot and will not humiliate us.»"

Hao-Tung exhales out through his nostrils, gaze stonily and intensely watchful beneath his brows. "«It's a discomfort that's necessary, I'm glad you agree. And keep in mind, I am not talking about running our businesses together as well; you would hardly agree to that. But yes — unification in a large sense.»" And only temporarily, of course. The exchange between Shu and Shou aside, there will probably be enough mutual tension to deal with as the proposal stands.

"«Let me offer what else I can. I was a Red Pole for many years before I was a vanguard, and I have long had the advantages of knowing the tactical experience of both. I doubt a mass unification of Red Poles has ever happened, either, but it's far from impossible. These are bad times.»" And that's a justification for a lot of things.

A testing look comes from Zhao, and his dark eyes shift towards Shu, who nods slowly in response to an unspoken question. Zhao's gaze resettles on Hao-Tung, and then Liu instead. "«You could learn much from your lessers, Ye.»" Despite the barb, the younger Triad boss merely forces down his bile and venomous words, a slow and deep breath barely keeping the fluctuating emotions beneath his mirror-still surface in check. "«We are not so incompetant as to need your direct hand in this. We will coordinate, but only to a point. Lines will be drawn and kept, and I will not see my family be too tainted by our association.»"

Rolling his tongue over the inside of his cheek, Zhao's eyes drift from one side of the room to the other, and with a dismissive motion he waves for Shu to move to Liu's side, alternate of Hao-Tung. The tall, lanky man does so with a serpent's grace, hands folded behind his back as he stands rigid and expressionless.

"«Then we are in agreement?»" Liu asks with a twitch of one brow, looking from Shu to Zhao, "«I have a plan, one I will relay to you thorugh my men at a later time once I have had a chance to… let it stew.»" Liu's cold stare settles on Hao-Tung, then back to the older man. "«You do us an honor, by agreeing to this. We will take time to clean our house,»" as Zhao so politely put it, "«and then we will return to consider a more unified front.»"

Nodding his bald head slowly, Zhao waves his hand in a dismissive gesture. "«Until then, Ye. Remember my benevolence in our time of need.»" Liu's brows go up at that, a backhanded compliment that makes his smile all the more painted. In a dip of his head, he steps back a few paces and turns to face the door. The unspoken order between he and Hao-Tung and his new accomplice Shu need not be vocalized.

We're done here.

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