Playing by the Rules (or Not)


cardinal_icon.gif finney_icon.gif ina_icon.gif logan_icon.gif magnes_icon.gif

nash_icon.gif raith_icon.gif sasha2_icon.gif thalia_icon.gif

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Scene Title Playing by the Rules (or Not)
Synopsis Saturday night at the Center Stage under Coco's Boxing Gym does not fail to disappoint spectators there for the bloodsport.
Date June 5, 2010

The Center Stage

It smells of sweat in the basement of Coco's boxing gym all the time; sweat undercut by blood. Beneath the floor of Long Island City's oldest boxing gym lies a newer secret, a dirty and grimy basement of exposed pipes and chain-link fence that has become an underground fighting sensation. Since the collapse of the Pancratium on Staten Island, the appetite for destruction held by so many of New York City's criminal element is sated here in painful beauty.

This basement is five rooms with low ceilings, serving as a unisex locker room, makeshift medical bay consitting of a single uncomfortable gurney on wheels and a few first aid kits and a back office. The primary feature of Coco's basement is the "center stage" as it's called, a spacious storage floor where a thirty foot by thirty foot floor to ceiling chain link cage surrounded by a ten foot buffer zone of screaming, sweaty spectators where the action happens.

Outside, the temperature hovers just above freezing. Inside and below ground, it's sweltering — that's what happens when you get close to five hundred people packed together like cured fish in a dimly-lit basement with a concrete floor, concrete walls, and a concrete ceiling studded with flickering fluorescent lamps.

In short: the fight club under Coco's Boxing Gym has the words fire hazard written all over it.

The smell of cigarette smoke, stale booze, blood, sweat and urine hangs in the air, giving it a heady, earthy sort of quality that those who visited the Pancratium back on Staten Island will undoubtedly recognize. Since six o'clock, the cage has been occupied by fighters both Evolved and not, including a match involving a regenerator that broke the club's record and clocked it at over two and a half hours. It's a little past ten now, with only an hour left before people are ushered back up the stairs and out the fire exit at the rear of the gym. Where they go from there is no concern of the Ghost Shadows.

The sound of a body colliding with the chain-link fence that separates the fighters from the spectators crashes like thunder, but can't compete with the raucous cheer that ripples through the crowd immediately after.

It was a pretty weak throw, but did its job of creating space. Jensen Raith does not have much, or really any professional fight experience, so fighting not to the death takes some amount of effort. Quickly, he gives his right arm two brief rotations at the shoulder, working away a developing kink before it becomes serious, and proceeds to circle around the cage. Half of the fight- this fight, at least- is giving the audience a show, and nobody wants to see anything end in twenty seconds (not that he has any guarantee of a twenty second victory, of course).

As Raith steps, he does so with a strut and shuffle that any fans of martial arts classic will recognize almost instantly. May Bruce Lee smile on us tonight, or if he won't, may he at least lend his showmanship for entertainment and profit. The lack of rules is the only sticking point for the ex-spy, although in some ways this is an advantage, as the combat boots he wears will give his kicks that much more force. Him not wearing a shirt is for strategic reasons, rather than cosmetic: If he doesn't wear one, then nobody can use it to choke him with. Maybe it helps him fill the role of Kung Fu Master better. Or it might, if he were smaller and had less chest hair.

Oh well!

A grunt escapes the mouth of the young woman who was thrown into the fence. Yeah nothing too bad. With a twist of her neck and a popping noise being heard. The woman looks at Raith and wrings her hands out. Baby blue eyes narrowed in concentration, weird. She's not paying attention to anything else. Okay, that's a good thing.. seeing as the shirtless man of doom is over there.

Thalia's black and red fingerless gloved hands are held up as she looks ahead at the man. Kind of hot., in the.. you think you're best friend's dad is hot, right? Moving on. With a sigh she circles in the opposite direction that Raith is going. Her combat boots clunking on the floor and her short-short legs shining in sweat. Though she's not that hot or anything. Perks to being able to control the air currents around her.

Her dark grey tank top is bunched up and shows a bit of midriff, that which she quickly shoves down before refocusing on Raith. What to do.. what to do..

There is only one thing that would bring Nash to a place like this. The action. Whether it would be 'picking up women' kind of action or the smacking of two fighter's flesh kind of action. Nash does love him some fights, and since finding out about this place, he's been tempted to be a part. He's been back to Coco's every day this week and will be placed back on the job on Monday. For tonight, however, he's gonna watch him some fights! He has taken a seat rather in the center of things, so that the others surround him and dressed very uncoplike with a sleeveless tee, with a worn leather jacket over the top. He's even let his beard grow out. For tonight, no real grooming was required. He's leaned back in his chair, glad in jeans as he crosses one leg over the other, resting his foot on his other knee and looking as relaxed as he possibly can. His hands hold a beer that he's been nursing since he arrived, not eager to get drunk, persay. Just want to keep his whistle wet. As each fight comes and goes, he's taking a close look, especially this one. Especially the chick.

The decision to participate in this activity would sorely compromise Nash's current employment, but if he can keep things on the downlow, then perhaps he can slips a few through without any trouble.

Shockingly enough, this is not Logan's first venture down here — but it's the first one in a long while, the weather outside just the right amount of not fucking godawful for him to come out again, and Saturday nights are always the best ones. He's not dressed particularly nicely, or at least, not in ways that are immediately attention getting, a leather jacket pulled over a dull-toned sweater, jeans and boots and never mind the labels attached to these items.

In one hand, a cigarette caught at the crux of index and middle finger, glowing orange at its lit end. In other, a pair of sunglasses folded against his palm, which you barely even need during the day, let alone the evening and this damp little basement filled with a crush of spectators.

"You should have seen the Pancratium," Logan's bitching to his companion for the evening, back straight as he focuses towards the current fight going on. "It was much bigger. The stakes were higher, weapons in easy reach, box seats and the like. You'd have loved it." He doesn't really know what Ina loves, really, but he's fairly certain that the gleaming gem of the gladiator pit on Staten Island was pretty great at least.

"Not as many girls though," he feels moved to admit.

As the young woman stumbles back up and away from the chain-link, the departure of her body from that particular space reveals a view of Richard Cardinal on the 'safe' side of the fencing; his shoulders leaned back against the wall opposite, arms sheathed in the leather of a flight jacket bearing the Chicago Air logo folded loosely across his chest. One foot's pulled up and flat against the wall, his other leg directed out a bit to prop him up as he observes the fight, a smirk twitching upon his lips.

For the record, he put fifty down on Raith. Thalia might be hot, and might have some tricks up her sleeve, but he knows the King of Swords.

"He's a looker" Comes from the brunette at Logan's side. Dressed down more than enough to blend in with the crowd and her own money bet into the hands of those who were taking them, Ina was enjoying her time down here in the crowded filthy basement. "If he had less chest hair and actually shaved" Her bet was on Raith in the ring as well. The girl was too pretty to be a good fighter. She'd be better off in a movie or with bits of skimpy lace draped across her and in Burlesque. "She's got too much chest"

Near Cardinal, a tall skinny guy with sunken eyes and dark shaggy hair stands shoulder hunched, hands in pockets and watching the fight too. Jitty, twitchy, every now and then left eyelid gives a tic. Not here to fight it seems but to participate with less yelling and fists in the air.

After looking for just the right clothes, Magnes came out tonight wearing tall laced up black army-like boots, baggy dark-green denim jeans tucked into them with a bit of fabric overflowing from the top, a long-sleeved black shirt with black cotton gloves sewn directly to the sleeve so his skin can't be seen, and finally his dark-green mask with no holes or anything at all in it, zipped around the neck to the shirt with a black spiral that goes all the way to the middle of the face. He's signed up today as Mister E Nigma, with Tactile Telekinesis.

Sitting in a seat close to the cage, he hasn't noticed anyone familiar in the audience, but he's certainly familiar with the two participants. If it were up to him, Thalia would be no where near a cage, but she seems to know what she's doing somewhat…

… Of course Raith is gonna win.

An underground fight club organized and operated by the Triad probably isn't the best place for a hotshot detective like Christopher Nash to be, but either his face isn't known by enforcers at the door or the bookies taking bets behind the plywood booth at the back of the basement, or they have bigger problems than the NYPD on their hands. Apart from a cursory glance or two, the attention he's received is minimal, and with good reason; on the other side of the cage, security has been keeping a hawk's eye on a group of men reeking of beer who cheer the loudest for the scarce few non-Evolved contestants and have yet to place any money on a fighter with an ability. The fact that this more or less amounts to them throwing away their cash is perhaps the only reason they haven't been shown the door yet.

Not all of the organization's members are as dangerous as Emile Danko or the late Bill Dean, but when you're as vocal as this crowd is, it's not difficult to recognize individuals who identify with Humanis First's extreme philosophy. "Kick the shit out of her!" one of them is shouting at Raith's back, hands cupped over his mouth. "Fucking Evo cunt!"

With all the panache that those who know Raith would expect of him, he drops both his hands limply forward, out of position to defend him from attack, and then rocket both of over his head in a smooth arc, middle fingers raised high. The fact that his palms are facing towards Thalia would appear to suggest that his gesture is directed at somebody behind him.

But a second later, they are back down and protecting his face and body, and he closes the gap between himself and his challenger. Although there are a dozen ways he could approach this, he decides to handle it in a straightforward manner, leading with a low roundhouse to Thalia's thigh, immediately followed by a high kick aimed at her head that carries so much force it will actually spin him around 360 degrees if it doesn't connect: The (in)famous Thai high kick, number one cause of knock-outs in kickboxing. But whether or not he misses, Raith follows up this attack with a mixed combination of straight punches and elbows directed at the chest and head. He's done fighting Muay Thai. It's time to fight karate.

"You're next." She says with a light grin as her hands twitch. Yes, the Ashford women's temper has been passed down to Thalia and she.. is then ducking and launching herself into the air, using her ability to momentarily float in the air. The kick aimed for her head does instead hit her high and she's hisses and is sent twirling through the air. "Well, that hurt." she says softly, though Raith would probably hear her. She looks down at Raith with a wink before she swings herself around and she's diving towards the ground, near him. She jabs out between his ribs with her left hand.

Followed quickly by a kick to his kneecap, angling for it more to be a stomp than a kick. A few looses strands of hair fall in her eyes as blows them away. No time for readjusting hair. Ass kicking first, vanity lataz.

Nash has done his best to remain incognito. Honestly, since something to New York, he's not done anything remotely 'hot shot'. It's one of the reasons that he's here tonight. Feeling just a little underappreciated in general, he wants to do something for himself. His attention is turned towards the rowdy group, his eyes narrowing some as he wishes someone would toss them bastards out on their ears. Not like he's surprised there'd be that sort in this place.

He is drawn back to the cage, the fight now wishing he'd actually placed some money on the chick. Not sure why, but he's got a hunch that she's better than she's letting on. He brings his drink up and takes another swallow, beer feeling good as it wets his throat after inhaling all the smoke and stench in this place.

"Manners…" Logan mutters to Ina, his attention finally wrenched from the fight to glance towards the rowdy little patch of spectators in the crowd. "There's a good way to make yourself unpopular, and quickly." The embered end of his cigarette flares brighter as he sucks in an inhale, a delay between that and the sigh of smoke that follows, to whirl and collect around the nicotine stained ceiling where a fair haze has already been coalescing. Steering his attention back to the fight, he gives an "oh!" of approval when Raith's kick lands, a dry-throated chuckle tapering off. "Who'd you put money on again?"

An eye's kept on the twitchy guy, just in case he starts freaking out or tries something, but by and large Cardinal seems to be content to just lean there and watch the fight and the crowd - if he's noticed John Logan there yet, he's pointedly not giving the other man much obvious attention. As the humanis sympathizers start to spit out their hate speech, he grimaces, head shaking slowly from side to side. "Idiots," he mutters.

"It's a saturday night, are they asking to be killed? There must be three quarters of the population in this basement evolved." There's a pause then a glance back to Logan. "I might have enjoyed the Pancratium." Ina brows raised at the antics outside the cage. "IF they're not careful, they just might get a fight outside the cage by those with abilities" She'll keep an eye out, so she knows when she and Logan might have to book it out of there. "Him. Five hundred on him. Like I said, he's a looker and she's got too much chest. Gets in the way of throwing a punch." She should know, she has her own set of sweater puppies that aren't exactly tame.

Finney glances shiftily at Cardinal, noticing the look, upper lip twitching now and hunkering down further. The calls from the peanut gallery don't go unnoticed and he's keeping an eye on them. Body tensing up and fingers tightening into fists in his jacket pockets.

Magnes briefly glances over at the Humanis First men, at least he assumes they are. Being very much in character, he's almost attempted to go over and do something about it, but there's more pressing matters at hand… namely trying out the things he learned from Ash before the blizzard really kicked in. Best to stay quiet right now, no need to draw attention to himself… because the spiral pattern mask certainly doesn't.

An empty beer bottle crashes against the corner of the cage and explodes into glittering shards too small to do any real damage apart from a few larger pieces that go skittering across the floor and crunch under Thalia's boots. She has nothing to worry about from the rowdy spectators, who are now on the receiving end of sharp look from one of the enforcers on duty this evening, but rather than cross the room to deliver a formal warning, he remains where is, biding his time until they've run out of paper to line their wallets with.

The small, dark shape perched at the very top of the cage, on the other hand, is a little more leery. A few inches up and to the left, and the hurled bottle would have struck it, knocking it from its roost and down to the crowded floor below. Fortunately, the short-furred monkey isn't what the man was aiming for, and with the club's focus on what's happening inside the ring, almost no one notices it climb hand over hand, foot over foot along the cage's upper lip.

The tall, lean man who takes a seat beside Magnes on the bench certainly doesn't. Dressed in only a pair of denim jeans that sit a little too low on his angular hips, his muscular back and chest glistening with sweat, he wipes his hands off on his thighs and begins wrapping them in gauze to protect his knuckles. "Nice costume," he says offhandedly, Russian accent laid thick, his eyes on Thalia and Raith rather than Magnes next to him.

In the battle in the cage, luck plays a role, but the two biggest factors are skill and experience, and Raith has more of both. Twisting his leg outward, Thalia's stomp-kick to the side of his knee becomes a stomp kick to the front of his thigh just above the knee. Still painful, but it takes the edge off and doesn't leave him crippled. The fight is not going his way, after all, and it's time to change that.

Raith's fist snaps out in a fast jab to Thalia's face, not hard enough even to really hurt, but enough to distract her from what his real attack is, abruptly stepping forward, placing his boot in-between hers and behind her ankle, and pushing forward, taking her to the ground with an inside leg reap. And that doesn't go the way he wants, either, because her legs- maybe on account of rigorous training?- wrap around his, preventing him from mounting her and drastically limiting the amount of control he has on the ground.

'No death' limits his options too, and so he does the one thing that he most reasonably can: Raith grabs the fabric of Thalia's shirt, the length over her shoulder, and pulls it sideways and downward, across her neck. He'll have to settle for an air choke, and just hope that in the 30 seconds to one minute it takes her to faint, she doesn't get any good hits in on his face or head.

Playing by the rules sucks.

"So after I kick his ass," she says as she briefly eyes the rude man. "Wanna go for a hottub later? I know the perfect place." She grins widely at the older man. Then she's swept off her feet and she's gasping as she looks Raith in the eyes as she tightens her legs around his and she slams her fist in his chest. Then comes the choking, ahh that doesn't feel good. Not at all.

Thalia's light blue eyes widen slightly as she puts her other hand on his neck and squeezes but with not nearly enough strength as Raith. It's a man's world.. after all. Until a smile crosses her lips and her eyes flicker before beginning to glow a hot silver as Raith would feel.. that there is no air around him. Monkey see, monkey do. Well not see the air, but you get the picture.

As the air is stolen from Raith, she brings her hands forward to hit him in the face a few times and hopefully get him off of her. While still keeping the hold on his oxygen.

Watching as Raith goes for that choke, Nash has suddenly perks up with interest. He drops his foot down and leans forward in his chair. This could be all she wrote for.. her. As he drinks from his mug, he turns his head again towards the potential crowd control situation. Not that he's going to offer up his 'law enforcementness' to assist, but it doesn't mean that he isn't going to defend himself if things start to get ugly.

Then there's a change in the cage and Nash can't quite see what it is that's going on, but they both seem to be choking now. It is Evo night at the fights, so whatever it is she can do, it seems to be working. He'll stick to non-evo night. He's no dummy.

Beside Ina, Logan gives a cynical sneer, though still not taking his eyes off the fenced off stage, raising an eyebrow at the abrupt crack of splintered glass. "Do you think we grow on trees? There'll only be a handful of mutants in here, at best," Logan dismisses, a vague gesture of a wave leaking a vague ribbon of smoke from his near-done cigarette. "People like that," a jolting shrug beneath scuffed leather, and he lets his cigarette drop, crushes it with the edge of his heel, "we're just the attraction." While going unnoticed by Richard Cardinal, the favour is mutual — Ina practically goes unnoticed, in favour of the fight.

"You know," Logan goes on to add, narrowing his eyes, "I could've sworn the bloke looks familiar…" And there's no going on to explain, if there ever was an explanation forthcoming. Eyes tracking up to the movement scampering across the cage's high edge, Logan catches the end of his unworn sunglasses' arm between pearly teeth, thoughtful, before twisting where he's seated to scope the crowd out for the first time.

There is a second where luminously pale eyes find familiar features in the audience, and it's not that of the lanky Russian preparing for his close up or the face that Logan is looking for, but that of an old enemy. "Bollocks," is sighed out, before giving Cardinal his profile instead, eyes back on the cage, though less entertained even as it reaches its crescendo than he was before.

As those pale eyes fall upon Cardinal's own rangy frame, he returns the gaze for a half-moment before letting it slide back to the fight in progress; an old enemy, certainly, but sometimes a feud's grown cold enough that it doesn't matter enough to bother with on the spur of the moment. Besides, things are getting interesting. Will Raith pass out? Will Thalia pass out? Will Raith rip her shirt off? Does she stuff her bra? All these questions are quite pressing at the moment.

"I think they grow on umbilical cords. Possibly in cotton hobo bags flown in on storks." Possibly. What is a Monkey doing at the top of the cage? There they go, grappling and Ina leans forward a fraction when Raith is doing his trick with the shirt, Thalia's thighs held tight around him. "Don't know whether that's a fight in there or a porno really. Think if we brought a camera and had an evolved who could rewind time that we could film it? I'm sure it would make a great deal of money…" Musing really, even as Logan's cursing. "What's wrong now? Is it the masked menace? Who wears a mask, really. Makes me wonder if he can breath."

Finney starts to move, shifting from his spot, one shoulder lifted quickly in another tic, bumping into Cardinal as he does so but no apology forthcoming, just an accusatory stare for him having dared to be in his way, having made contact with him despite the crush of people that are there. Where he goes, who knows, but Finney is on the move with his hunched shoulders and furtive glancing about.

"It's more for being anonymous than for style." Magnes answers in triple voices with a slight echo, likely wearing his voice changer again. "Someone should probably get that monkey, unless it's an Evolved with a Beast Boy ability…" His eyes briefly scan the crowd, settling on Logan and Ina for a split second, until shirt pulling suddenly starts. A part of him may be trying to extend his gravitational field to the cage for extra bra popping action, but he's unfortunately too far away.

A flying leap carries the monkey over the heads of the crowd—

—and onto Logan's shoulder, where it sits up on its hind legs and begins picking through his hair with its fingers, filling his ear and Ina's with excited chatters that are impossible for anyone except an animal empath or telepath to translate. Black lips curl around his lobe, grazing teeth across the Englishman's skin, an ink-tipped tail twitching back and forth under Ina's chin as Tabaqui gets reacquainted with an old friend.

On the bench in front of the cage, the man wrapping his hands in gauze finally flicks watery blue eyes in Magnes' direction and uses the back of his arm to wipe the sweat from his brow. More of the stuff carves paths down his neck and gathers as beads in his close-cropped beard, which has a redder tint than his curly brown hair does. "What monkey?"

Raith clenches his jaw when Thalia's fists start coming in. The good news is that she can't get the leverage she needs to really hammer him. The bad news is, well… as breathing becomes more difficult for her, it's becoming difficult for him too, and he's willing to bet that whatever ability is being used on him is more than capable of making him black out before she does. Drastic action is called for.

The pressure being applied to Thalia's throat suddenly vanishes as Raith releases her shirt and slides his arm completely across her, now pressing her neck against his side, just underneath his shoulder. At the same time, his other hand slides under the back of her head and he pulls her at the same time he pushes himself up, allowing him to get her head in a lock underneath his arm and then clasp his hands together. The momentum is enough that, with just a little extra push, both of them rolling across the ground- fortunately away from the broken glass- and coming to a rest with Raith still on top, although now in a much more dominant position. Dominant enough that all he has to do at that point is twist just a little bit, using his lock as a force multiplier to increase the pressure that Thalia now feels on her neck as her head is forced toward her shoulder and her spine rapidly comes closer to hyperflexation. A jujitsu favorite: The Twister.


Thalia thinks as Raith gets a hold of her, it's all because of that damn heckler. He won't leave her head. She.. she blinks and taps out. "Over this." She says as the fight ends, she quickly uses a bit of her ability and blows Raith away from her. "Hey, I'll see ya next time. And don't forget our date, yeah?" she asks with a tilt of her head and then she's exiting the ring and cracking her knuckles all along the way towards.. the Evolved hating man.

Before anyone can fathom a guess as to what the woman is going to do she leaps towards him, slamming two three punches towards him. One to the gut, two to the face. Left eye and nose. Broken nose and not swollen eye will be coming soon to the man as she attacks him viciously and grins as she does so. The man's screams are heard as the crowd goes wild. Uh oh, are things going to get out of hand?

Along with the punching comes the.. floating.. as both Thalia and the man lift into the air, she knees him in the groin and then she's grabbing him by the neck, her hair has now loosened from the ponytail, dark strands whipping about her face, eyes flashing silver. Next she speaks, her words audible to everyone around. "That's for Isabelle." She says softly and then she drops the man, though they weren't that far up, he falls to the ground and she falls with him. Spinning the last second so as to not herself, as the enforcers move to 'escort' her out.

'Escorting', in this case, means snagging Thalia roughly by her arms, twisting them behind her as she's forced to the ground, a knee digging into the small of her back as someone's hand grabs a fistful her hair. To their credit, the enforcers don't treat the man with the broken nose with much more respect, but he's in no condition to fight back as he sags in the arms of one of his companions and clutches at his face, blood streaming between his fingers. Whatever words their group exchanges with the Triad as Thalia is roughly hauled away go unheard by the other spectators, but the decision made is final and leaves no room for argument. They're on their way out the door, too, albeit under their own power as they slog up the stairs, lewd and unhappy looks cast over their shoulders.

They'll be back. Thalia probably will be, too.

The tap out comes quick and Nash gives a quick shake of his head. He was wrong on that one. He's been running about fifty percent up and down the card. This is really something he could do, get into the fight game. He'll have to make a few inquiries. The cop takes another sip of his beer before he feels the vibration of his cell phone going off in his pocket. He plucks it out and checks the message left and utters a curse. He stands, tucking that phone back in and makes his way out of the row into the aisle, catching a glimpse of Cardinal as he passes, remembering him from earlier in the week. He drops his head with a nod towards the man before making an exit of his own.

Logan would be answering Ina's query, something along the lines of how the Triad will just let ~anyone~ in, nowadays, except a monkey just landed on him. There's an aborted curse— "ffff"— and a clatter as he drops his glasses, but also a sort of expected tolerance as he feels miniature hands tug and rifle through his blonde curls. "Jesus. Knew it was you. Pest." That he might have a petname for Tabaqui at all is probably the maximum quota of affection that Logan has for animals, even if it's sneered out.

Offering up a hand for the black-eyed little beast to toy with and cling to, he shoots a look to Ina. The little primate seems to weigh about as much as a perched pet bird — which is to say, not much. "Old friend," he summarises. He could be talking about the monkey.

As the fight breaks out from the cage, Logan does not surge with interest along with the crowd — raises one shaped eyebrow and mostly watches the professional response to the outbreak. "Goodness," he comments, before peering towards the set up for the next fight — the look of a man who has already placed his bets, even with a fabulous monkey accessory on his shoulder.

The arrival of the monkey's missed as little more than a flicker in the corner of Cardinal's eye as he's distracted by the twitchy fellow that's just shoved into him; a return glare shot as he adjusts his posture, taking a moment to check and make sure his wallet's still there in his pocket. Of course, that's just a decoy wallet anyway, but old habits die hard.

Then Thalia scores a win, and there's a roar of supporters and opposition. "Go, Raith," he murmurs, straightening against the wall, pausing as he notices the little melee against the Humanis supporter that ends in the girl being forcibly removed. A snort. "Maybe she is Izzy's sister after all."

"The female of the species" Gleefull that she's won, though by virtue of the woman giving up than anything else. Do better next time Raith mmmkay? It's the attack on the evo antagonizers that earn the comment from mere seconds before with a soft snort. Vicious woman it seems and there's some admiration in the female linderemployee. Some. The monkey gets some attention from his impromptu appearance. "Pest hmm? He makes a wonderful hat, though I have to wonder if you have nits… since he is picking at your hair." Why hello thar pest, Ina making a vocal move at Logan's vanity. Ina's hand is there to pet and play with the monkey before going off to collect her winnings and get ready to place a bet on the next pair.

Twitchy is gone too, Finney disappearing as quietly as he came, blending in with the crowd.

The bell sounds, and as the stage is being swept of glass, Raith making his way out of the cage, the Russian rises from his seat on the bench and rolls the excess tension from his shoulders. There's no speaker system down here — or if there is, Center Stage is having technical difficulties tonight — and so the announcer resorts to barking out the next match through a megaphone that's just loud enough to be heard over the crowd, but only if people strain to listen. Even then, the sound quality is so poor that it's impossible to pick out much more than the names of the fighters being summoned to the cage, first in Cantonese, then English: a Mister E. Nigma and Alexander Suvorov.

No abilities mentioned; they're instead written in chalk on the blackboard above the plywood booth where the bookies are still taking bets in handwriting that's as hard to decipher as the voice over the megaphone. The Russian, Alexander — or Sasha as Logan knows him — mounts the steps as Raith is descending them and slides the other man a sly look when they brush shoulders. "Beers sometime?" he leers.

Tabaqui, meanwhile, is content to nibble on Logan's fingers.

Magnes stands, cracking his knuckles as he heads into the cage. He uses his time waiting for Sasha to do a few stretches, then stands up straight. Before his training with Ash after their first cage fight, he usually went into some elaborate stance, which made it fairly easy to figure out who he was even in a mask, but now all he does is hold an arm up to his side, and one up to guard his front, fists closed. "I'm ready when you are, Ra's."

"Beers now," is Raith's equally leery response to Sasha, and as one enters the ring, the other enters the crowd, not bothering to get his shirt back on yet. The crowd is keeping the basement warm enough, and he just might sign up for one more fight. At least, after he hits the bookie, collects his earnings, and then pays a visit to the bar to get a drink and watch Sasha's duel with… un luchador? "Dos cervezas!"

Ina's turned back gets a scowl, but little more. "Ow ow ow," Logan chastises the furrier, smaller, prehensile-tail having companion, though for once, he is being indulgent of the monkey. Perhaps because it's been such a while that he will tolerate sharp little teeth gnawing at his usually neat nails in favour of keeping the animal close by in hopes that whoever owns it will claim it. Or see where it runs when it eventually jumps free. Leaning down, Logan picks up the expensive glasses he'd dropped — a reflective pair of shades that he twirls between his fingers before slipping them on.

There are stranger sights. "Where's James lurking, anyway?" he asks the squirrel monkey, before switching his now indefinite attention towards the fight. His mouth hooks up in a half-smile when he recognises at least one of the competitors — not the one in his mask, but the one with his really awful if you know what you're looking for alias.

A step away from the wall was about to draw Cardinal in the direction of the bar where Raith's meandering when that announcement's made, and the name of the Russian stepping into the 'ring' finds a matching entry in the generally disorganized database of the shadowman's mind. Dark eyes narrow as he watches Sasha step along forward, regarding him for a long moment before turning with a shake of his head to slip through the crowd. There's money to collect, a drink to get…

"…Raith." Cardinal's voice is quiet as he steps along up beside the man, "Nice to see you haven't lost your touch."

"I don't know who you mean by James" Ina murmurs, bets placed on the Russian. She's not betting on Mr. Luchador with a strange stage name. The red bearded Russian though. "I take it you know this beast, and perhaps the one in the cage?" There's a glance down to her watch, having made sure to wear a crappy canvas strapped one when down here. Money kept close to the chest and no where near a pocket. "Three hundred down on the Russian. You think that's a good play? If you like, toss the beast over here. I played with enough monkey's in Vegas. Be amazed how many are in shows"

"Tactile telekinesis," says Sasha. "This is one I've not heard before. Tell me: what makes it different?" Now probably isn't the best time to be making conversation, but that's exactly what the Russian is doing as he begins to circle Magnes, keeping a few feet of space between their bodies as he sizes the younger man up, possibly in an attempt to get a better feel for what it is he's dealing with before he throws the first punch.

In the audience, the sporadic flash of camera phones held high above heads provides both fighters with an unwelcome distraction. There's no sign at the door that says photography isn't allowed, and for some people in attendance tonight, the novelty of Magnes' costume is too good to pass up.

"Pick up a copy of Superboy some time." is the answer Magnes offers, not moving from his spot, instead keeping the feelers of his gravitational field out to avoid being blindsided. "I won't be using my ability on you until you need it, this is just a personal test for myself, so I hope you're good." He doesn't say anything else after that, he simply crouches while Sasha is in a position behind him, then pushes his body forward as he twists around to face the man, jumping forward at full force in an attempt to knee him in the face.

Maybe he uses his ability a little, but it's just how he's used to moving around!

Two beers: One for Raith, and the other for Sasha after his fight's over. Why not? But turning back to watch the fight will have to wait until after Raith has addressed the issue of… Richard Cardinal. The ex-spy looks at him, and then looks at the way down to his feet and back up to his face, his expression a mixture of shock and confusion. Finally, Raith takes a sip from one of the bottles of beer and decides that the most appropriate thing to say is:

"I thought you were dead."

"'s fine. He belongs to someone I've not seen in a while," Logan says, as the tail wraps around a forearm and sheds tawny fur on black wool. "And no, not exactly a bad bet, but let's see how it plays out, shall we?"

Behind his glasses, eyes glow bright green.

It's sporadic, at best. The cage is something like thirty feet by thirty feet, with some space given between its wire walls and where the audience gathers, and Logan's reach only extends so far, but not completely escapeable and does not switch off and on as efficiently as a light. For all that negation takes a few seconds to dampen Magnes' powers, it also takes a few seconds to fade away, at this distance.

Behind shades, Logan tracks the movement of both men in the ring, now silent as opposed to his chattering of just prior — companiable to Ina, perhaps, and neglectful of Cardinal's presence and even the monkey on his shoulder. Long fingers curl beneath his jaw, itching there thoughtfully.

"I get that a lot."

Cardinal brings a hand up to the bartender, one finger raising slightly as he adds casually, "Beer." You don't order specific beers in a place like this. You're lucky to actually get beer after all. That hand drops down to the bar's edge, and he turns a crook'd smile back to the ex-spy, "How's the bird?"

In Sasha's mind, tactile telekinesis does not mean grasshopper mimicry. He's taken by surprise by the speed and swiftness with which Magnes moves, and has just enough time to bring an arm up to block, but even this does not protect him from the blow. Magnes' knee knocks against his elbow, and Sasha's elbow slams into his nose, bruising cartilage and bursting blood vessels, which leaves a vibrant red splatter across the front of his chest.

Logan's negation kicks in around the time he's blowing excess blood and snot out of his nostrils and clasping a hand around Magnes' right bicep, too late to prevent the knee from connecting, but timely enough that it gives him the opportunity to fight back. He takes advantage of the momentum generated by Magnes' leap and slams him, face first, into the side of the cage. Weight bears down on his back, and the younger fighter can feel the Russian's haggard breath rolling over his neck as he holds him in place from behind.

This is usually the part where he's pulling a knife from his belt and thrusting it between his opponent's ribs, but both weapon and sheath are still on the bench where he left them. Magnes is in no immediate danger. "Anonymity won't protect you from whatever it is you have to hide," he hisses. "I've tried."

"You're probably a terrible person, most people here are terrible people." Magnes strains out as he's pressed against the cage, already noticing the absence of his ability, something that's a part of his life every waking moment of the day. "You're a negator. That board lied." he notes, but finally has a chance to learn to fight without his ability, maybe even walk properly.

"But that's alright." He doesn't try to wiggle out of Sasha's grip, instead he swings one swift leg up to slam him in the testicles, and if that loosens his grip any, sends his head backward to give the Russian's nose a ram of the back of his skull.

"Oh, she's fine," Raith says absently, frowning at he watches the fight unfolding at center stage. Solemnly, he turns back to the bar and says, very plainly, "Better get him a glass of ice, too." Sasha, that is. He's going to need it. Then, then he refocuses his attention on the Ghost of Cardinal Sin. "What brings you back from the dead?"

A new cigarette is extracted from a pocketed cigarette holder, going through the motions of lighting up though Logan keeps his attention forward. Negation is sporadic, still, almost playful switching off and on, and smirks his approval when the masked competitor fights back anyway — as much as the Brit has his money on the Russian. Silent still to monkey and Ina both, he exhales smoke in one steady stream, kicking back a little as he watches, far less boisterous than the crowd around him.

Cardinal's hip shifts to rest against the bar's edge as he turns a bit to watch the central stage, one hand coming up to scratch gloved fingertips against the side of his neck. "Oh, you know. The usual. I'm sure Cups'd send her love if she wasn't such a raging bitch…" Ah, there's the cheap beer. A fiver's tossed to the bar, and he reaches to accept the cup of it, "Been keeping busy?"

Silence is as Silence does, and Ina remains a feminine sentinel beside the brit, green eyes unmarked by any use of evolved ability or otherwise, silently rooting for the Russian to kick the ass of the masked menace, even as she's indicating with a finger that even she wouldn't mind a cigarette. One could hardly imagine that the pair of observers and betters were ones not usually found amoungst the rabble as such down here. She's very much unaware of Logan's tampering.

The noise Sasha makes is a little like a wilting accordion. It vibrates against the back of Magnes' neck, grip lax enough for him to splinter his nasal bone, creating a fresh deluge of blood that sticks in the bristly hair of the Russian's beard. Not lax enough, however, for Magnes to free himself; when Sasha goes down, he takes him with, and hits the concrete with enough force to knock out the remainder of the breath from his lungs. One arm hooks around Magnes' throat, crushing his windpipe under his elbow, and restricts not only the flow of oxygen but the passage of blood to his brain as well.

If Sasha had any retort, it's lost between frayed gasps and a low growl bubbling up from the pit of his throat. Fingers fumble with the zipper at Magnes' neck and expose a sliver of skin that grows larger when Sasha takes the fabric in his teeth, pinching an ear, and pulls.

This is exactly the kind of situation Ash said to avoid, and yet here he is, getting his ear chomped at and throat choked. He can barely walk to save his life, but he's on the ground, and he still has his arms. He tries incredibly hard to pull Sasha's grip from around his windpipe, but the pain of getting his ear bitten is far too much to actually keep any sort of concentration. The only thing he manages to yell out with his last lung full of breath, is related to the final epiphany he reaches before tapping out.

"Fuck you John Logan!" booms through the entire room, by virtue of his voice modifier's volume getting turned up during the choke.

Sasha wins this match.

"Sure have. Organizing demonstrations, printing fliers, making shirts, it's very hard work." Of course, Cardinal knows that the odds of Raith becoming a non-violent protestor of most things are exactly zero. He also knows that being evasive is what Raith does about nearly everything. The sudden shout is a surprise, sure. Enough that Raith forgets what he was even talking about, for a moment, before shifting both beers to one hand, grabbing the cup of ice with the other, and saying to Cardinal, quite simply, "Walk with me," before he heads back up towards the cage to meet Sasha when he exits. And what will Raith say to him?

"Rocks for your rocks?"

Smoke makes draconic curls in the air when snorted out in a half-chuckle, equal parts surprised and nervous, Logan reaching up a hand to tug off his sunglasses — eyes restored to their usual icy grey-green tone and blinking innocent. "Small city," he comments, and there's only a slight shift of discomfort up his spine — his name being bleated out among Triad central is disconcerting, as much as he might have a semblance of a work relationship with the Shadows.

Offering out his cigarette case for Ina to take from, Logan's other hand skritches through the short, tawny fur of the squirrel monkey's back. "Congratulations, love, you've an eye for talent. Should've figured a casino girl like yourself would do." Sudden attention and flattery! A sly kind of glance back to the cage to see how Sasha is fairing follows, but doesn't get up to greet him — not when others are already and he has an Ina to entertain.

It's a rather startling call, that's for sure, even bringing Cardinal's head up with a furrowed brow — and a snort, his head shaking a little. It's a sentiment he's heard before. Probably will again. Hell, probably from him. At the invitation from Raith, he moves to step along after him, sipping from the cheap beer as he goes.

"right" Small city. Small in that he knows the one fight and the second is screaming his name as an epithet. Small city, or John Logan gets around. "I have an eye for flesh. The russian looks built for fighting, your masked… friend looks built to think he can fight. Serious fighters don't dress like that" Slender fingers pluck at a cigarette, lifting it to her lips so she can let him light it for her. "A little bit of money in pocket, not bad for the night. Might have to come down here more often"

Sasha doesn't release Magnes for several moments until after the bell has signaled the end of the fight, and when he does it's with feral brusqueness, rolling him first onto his stomach before he uses an arm to push himself upright and lever off the youth. Although he lost the fight, Magnes can't say that he didn't get in a few good hits; Sasha has a broken nose to show for his efforts, and a mangled mouth where he caught his own lip between his teeth while biting down in addition to a lesion on the inside of his cheek and sore joints that will become sorer still in the days to come.

He smears his hand across his face in an attempt to wipe the blood away but only succeeds in making more of a mess of himself. His lips part around a wolfish grin tinged pink. "You want to learn how to fight without using your ability?" he asks, voice drawn and hoarse, even as he blinks the sweat from his eyes and skips his gaze over Raith, twists his neck and searches the crowd for Logan's face. "Come find me and I will show you."

Whether or not it's an offer that Magnes has any inclination to consider, he doesn't stick around to hear the answer. A slight limp to his step, he crosses the cage, exits the doors and makes his way down the stairs to meet Raith and Cardinal halfway.

Tabaqui gives Logan one last nip, this time sharp enough to draw a prick of blood from his thumb, and clambers down his pant leg before disappearing into a dense forest of jeans and slacks with his long tail flagged up behind him. At the bottom of the stairs leading up to the gym, a suited man shrouded in cigarette smoke waits with his arm held out, face obscured by the smog.

Slowly standing, rubbing his thankfully intact ear as he catches his breath, he shambles out of the cage and will likely remember Sasha's offer later. He's wobbling closer and closer to Logan's direction, starting to cut through the crowd while he zips the side of his mask and adjusts the volume of his voice modifier to reasonable levels again. "You asshole! This guy cheated! He's a filthy pimp bastard and can negate abilities! Cut his pinky off!" he exclaims to the guards, standing a few levels down from the former pimp, pointing directly at him.

For the time being, Raith elects to ignore the luchador, who is quite clearly insane. Somebody cheated? Well, no shit, somebody cheated. Can he prove it? Fuck no. "I don't know, tovarish," he says to Sasha when the bloodied victor takes his beer and glass of ice, "This raw meat look, I don't think it's going to catch on." With a trademark shift in his train of thought, Raith suddenly gestures towards the man following him and fills in the blanks for the other: "Richard Cardinal. He used to be dead, Koz. If everyone comes back from being dead looking like this, we should give it a try. Looking like that, I mean. We shouldn't try being dead."

Somehow— somehow— Logan is entirely distracted from Magnes' accusations, for at least a few seconds. Having hissed with annoyance at the burying of tiny monkey teeth into his thumb, his head ducks a little and tries to follow the creature's path, almost getting up as if to follow, all ready angles and tension in his shoulders — but it's both too quick, and he has a problem, now. "I bet all the sorer losers say that," he sneers, loud enough for his voice to carry almost as Magnes' voice.

He cants a look towards Ina, with a shrug— "shall we?"— before one of them outwears their welcome. Namely him. An easy kind of glance towards the security to see how they might be responding, though Logan doesn't seem to be counting on a true threat of any fingers getting cut off this evening.

"I wouldn't recommend it." It's agreement from Richard Cardinal as to the part of not trying being dead, one presumes, his tone rather wry — although perhaps not for the reasons that one might assume. The name spoken stirs greater strength to a suspicion he had, as does Raith's acquaintance, come to think of it. One shoulder rolls in a casual shrug, as he notes, "The raw meat look seems to work for Mickey Rourke."

Ina wants to yell back that he needs to prove it. "Sore loser indeed. Man needs to learn to take a beating gracefully and shove off. Lets" She adjusts her scarf, sucking back on the smoke hard as she turns, showing her back to Magnes. "Besides, I didn't see you do a damn thing. Just played with that Monkey. Love to see him prove it. lets go find some drinks, I'm thirsty" Brown hair flipped over her shoulder, attitude that doesn't quite go with the image of her in the wrinkled clothes. "I'll buy"

Logan's probably right. Magnes isn't the first person to have blamed his loss on a negator in the crowd, but he may be the first to be telling the truth. Those in the crowd who put their money on the man passing himself off as a telekinetic take more interest in the accusation than those who didn't; regardless, it isn't long before arguments are starting to simmer between spectators. Trusting the enforcers to maintain order, the bookies at the booth make a point not to react except to trade tickets for cash a fraction faster than at the conclusion of the last fight.

Sasha accepts the beer and ice with a scowl, holding one to his nose while he takes a swig from the other. "Who is Mickey Rourke?"

Tabaqui finds his master's arm as Logan is looking toward security, and at a leisurely pace both man and monkey — one riding the other — ascend the stairs into darkness. As it happens, the Triad enforcers are moving toward Ina and the Englishman, though it isn't clear whether they intend to detain him or want to have a few words just for show.

It's less work than breaking up another fight.

Magnes shakes his head, and walks back over to Sasha for a moment, rubbing his ear again. "I'll take an address, then I'm getting out of here." He glances over at Logan, and back to Sasha. "I'll show Logan not to screw with me again."

If Raith had anything to say about who Mickey Rourke is, it is quickly forgotten when Magnes, in his alias as El Luchador, comes over and starts speaking to, of all people, the Russian. What can Raith possibly say to this turn of events except, "Oh, Mishka, no." Perhaps not so gingerly, he reaches over with his free hand and clasps Kozlow's shoulder. "You can do better than him. Don't settle just because you're discouraged."

Spying the few security men making their way through the crowd, the sound of arguments flaring, Logan's hand reaches out to grip onto Ina's, offering her a brief smile. "Go on ahead — I'll catch up. Should put a few minds at ease before I go." And with that, without waiting for confirmation, he breaks from her side — without a second glance to where Magnes stands by Sasha, he pockets his glasses and greets the Triad enforcers with a broader smile, palms upturned in a gesture of almost coy surrender. "Gentlemen?"

Cardinal doesn't appear to be particularly inclined to explain Rourke or the strange attraction that women seem to have to his hamburger-ized features, pounded in the ring and surgeried into a neanderthal's slouch, keeping silent on the question as he steps along with Raith — just behind and to one side, although not entirely to the side.

The luchador's regarded with a bemused look, one brow lifting a little as he talks to Sasha.

"If you say so" Ina murmurs. "I'll go warm up the car" Leave him to converse with the security and distance herself - at his request it seems - with a small amount of pity. Sore losers, blaming others for their inability to win a fight.

Sasha has no pen with which to write and no paper with which to write on, and his desire to give up an address where he might be found with Jensen Raith standing right beside him is equivalent to having his teeth extracted from his jaw one at a time. A cup of ice for his injuries and a bottle of cheap beer doesn't change the fact that they've spent the past five months on two different sides of the same fight and have tried to kill one another on at least on occasion, and while he might trust his ex-ally not to poison his drink, he doesn't trust him not to track him down and finish what Carlisle Dreyfus started.

If he knew who Cardinal was, he'd be attempting to make the same exit that Muldoon did, minus the flourish and monkey.

He keeps his voice low, taking advantage of the ambient background noise and murmurs something miserable and thick that's meant for Magnes' ears and Magnes' ears alone. This done, he curls his injured lip at Raith. "You would know a few things about that," he says. "Fucking a whore and a heroin addict."

The enforcers guide Logan not upstairs but to one of the back rooms, one on either side of him, and two more trailing behind to watch the door while the interview takes place on the other side. With any luck, Ina won't have to wait for very long.

Magnes nods, and starts to walk off… that is until he spots Cardinal, the man's face fully registering. "What the hell?" is all he asks, even with the mask on, it's clear he's looking right at him. But without another word, he just starts rushing for the door, not even looking back. Clone? Robot? Robot clone… All possibilities.

At Sasha's snappish retort, Raith glares at him harshly. "That was uncalled for," he says, pausing only to take a swig from his beer, "You're not invited to my birthday anymore. C'mon, Rich, let's go. We've got no business hanging around the ol' toolshed." See? Harsh. With one more swig, Jensen Raith stalks off to retrieve his shirt and his coat. No more fighting for him tonight. Way to wreck the evening, Mishka.


As the masked man stares at him and states confusion - surprise - a few things click together in Richard's head to create a terrifying hypothesis. The comic book theme especially seems to clinch that. He starts to say something, then the luchadore's gone, and he merely shakes his head— moving to step after Raith, he murmurs almost absently, "See you around… Sasha."

Past, then, and after the ex-spy. "Jensen, tell me the masked guy isn't who I think it might be?"

"Rich, let me tell you the secret to surviving these kinds of things," Raith says, stopping and turning to face the other man so that there will be absolutely no misunderstand his words, "The less you think about these kinds of things, the easier it is to hold onto your sanity." And then, the ex-spy pauses a moment to think. "I guess when you've come back from the dead, there's not a lot left in the world that'll unhinge you, but I think my advice still stands as sound."

"I think that's probably the best advice you've ever given me," Richard admits, one hand raising to rub against the side of his face, pulling to the side of his eye for a moment with the motion, and then he tilts the cup back to drain the last of his beer. "I think I'll forget that guy entirely. Anyway. You'n me should talk, sometime… not here, though." Too many ears.

Way too many ears.

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