|Could Be Better|
Inside, Kotal Kahn is found armed with his deadly.... broom?
Just in time to greet Serenity and the other fellow. "Ah, welcome back." Kotal wipes his hands with an apron he's wearing and walks over to the door. "Let me help you with that," says the Aztec as he makes a grab for the contents of the shopping cart.
The massive turquoise giant is whistling along as he sweeps the floor of the office, which now looks nothing like what it use to, to say nothing that it smells very differently now. Just as he's making another pass with his broom, an unlucky rat makes the faithful choice of darting right in front of the Aztec. Kotal swipes it with one fluid motion and holds it out a window where a concentrated ray of sun beams down upon the hapless vermin and burns it to cinders.
Serenity 'blinks' eyes inward at the flash and retracts rhinophores a bit into the water, away from the whiff of burned fur. The old man eyes Kotal suspiciously but steps back from the cart to wait. Ren flutters over to offer Kotal a pat on the arm with a damp 'wing', reaching over with the opposite fins to take the broom. Then, Ren circles the cart to sign a tip on the old man's receipt. "Thank you!" Ren hisses. "I imagine that Dante will be eating less convenience foods if you are able to cook for him."
Kotal busies himself putting the shopping cart's contents on the counter whilst Serenity is signing the receipt. Then he bids the fellow goodbye as he depart and glances at Serenity with a smile when his arm is patted. "Think nothing of it, and that would be ideal, yes," responds the Aztec when Serenity surmises correctly that he intends to be the cook now. Unfortunately, he looks less that pleased at the things that Serenity brought. "Hmm.. trash, trash, trash..." he says as he sorts through the items. "Only one tomato and no comal? This will be wholly insufficient," he states sadly.
Serenity waves, then flows back in a ripple of aquamarine fins to 'stand' beside Kotal. "Is adaptability not a sign of skill?" Ren remarks with a smile. "I'm afraid I haven't seen any comals for sale, though I certainly can't identify all the vegetables I see at the market."
He blinks, suddenly snapping out of his monologue to look back at Serenity. "I would like to accompany you when you next visit the markets. Perhaps we'll be able to find something worthwhile if we explore deeper."
"There is no need to adapt to a new environment when you can make it adapt to you instead." Kotal shakes his head but gives Serenity a sympathetic look. "It is, perhaps, not surprising. From what little I have seen of this city, it strikes me as very artificial in nature. The food here is synthetic as is its system, which may be the reason as to why everything is free if there is no quality to it. The automated restaurants, the stores that are open day and night, it feels.. as if it is naught but a mockery of a real city, just the image of one, but one which has no soul..."
Serenity looks up curiously at Kotal as he speaks. "I'm sure you would be a great help to me in choosing items, not to mention carrying them," Ren agrees enthusiastically. Ren then motions outward to the exit. "As for the city, I might agree with your conclusion, but not with your reasons. To me, a city is dense with people and ideas, providing the opportunities to find our make your own place, to spend time and money on what you find valuable and to save it elsewhere. The automation and overlapping schedules make that diversity possible." Ren adds, "That said, the city does seem to have a problem with promoting joy and pride."
But on to brighter topics. "I would love to help you shop and see the sights. There is much of this city that eludes me yet after all. There must be a ray of sunlight hidden behind the veil of this seemingly grim darkness."
Kotal seems pensive for a moment more before speaking again. "I've govern cities before, entire empires even, and I have learned that the two concepts are intertwined. A city that provides its people with no joy, nor pride, gives them no reason to exist, no purpose to better themselves. These people... they might as well be automatons, much like the stores they frequent," says the Aztec grimly. "It troubles me greatly."
"Governed?" Ren repeats inquisitively. "Hhh... you do seem well-read, but I don't typically associate politics with body-building and literal weapons," Ren grins and reaches up to pat a biceps. "I'll help you to draw up your alternative shopping list for the next grocery run. And in the meantime, we need to include the dance club on your tour."
But he deflates almost as soon as Serenity mentions the dance floor. "Oh, right, I had forgotten about that." That was going to be... something to look forward to. "Although in all honesty, I am surprised there is even dancing at all in this gloomy city."
Kotal hmphs proudly and flexes his massive bicep for Serenity to feel, the muscle throbbing underneath rough turquoise colored flesh. "The Osh'Tekk empire, the Mexica, and Outworld were all warrior cultures. If a leader could not continuously improve their fighting capabilities then they were not fit to rule, let alone live." Make no mistake, Kotal comes from tremendously brutal civilizations, it would be folly to mistake his courteousness with weakness.
Serenity frowns at the description of leadership but makes no comment upon that. At Kotal's latter comment, Ren sets aside the broom and makes a pirouette with fins flaring in a helical pattern within the suspended mass of water. "I admit to being curious about those dances you mentioned, but I wouldn't want to pressure you." Ren motions to the stack of boxes and case of beer. "If you would help by getting these to the freezer, perhaps we can think of some other cheerful spot to visit." Ren takes up the lone bit of unprocessed food by holding the bag outside the water.
The Aztec takes a step back to give Serenity some room to maneuver and chuckles when mentions her curiosity. "Nothing quite as flashy as to what you already probably know. I can assure you of that." Nodding, Kotal reaches for the frozen food and beer to carry it over to the freezer, all while thinking of other spots that this city could possibly offer. "Are there any fighting arenas here? Coliseums, maybe? Wrestling rings? Underground fighting clubs? Gyms? Dojos?" Anything? Anything at all pertaining martial arts?? "Surely there must be something."
Serenity nods to Kotal. "I believe the arena, which is associated with the government offices for some reason I can't fathom, is home to martial arts." Ren opens the refrigerator to put away the tomato. "The Usual Restaurant also has its own gym. I'm not quite sure what else might be available, as it's generally not something that I am interested in."
As he finishes putting all the instant dinners in the freezer, Kotal shuts the door and turns to glance at Serenity again. "You seem oddly complacent about all this as well. Have you never had to deal with ruffians of any kind here? Although most denizens here seem to be utterly consumed by pessimism, I sense there are some here that would revel in seeing others suffer." Virgil and that psychopath with the daggers for instance, talk about having bad vibes.
"Really?" Kotal's eyes lighten like a kid given a new toy. Looks like there is yet hope for this city after all! "That was entirely unexpected. Perhaps the government may still use some manner of trials by Kombat. I will have to investigate this personally." The not that the gym is located in the Uusal Restaurant of at all places also draws a frown of confusion. "An odd place to put a gym to be sure. What a strange city..."
Serenity frowns at the question. "Yes, I have experienced some trouble with ruffians on one occasion, who were shortly thereafter removed by other ruffians while I hid." Ren rubs the gill-feathers where the main starts on the head. Ren continues, motioning to the side, "I've also had encounters with apparently malvolent people- insane or simply far too alien, but fortunately I seem to be above notice by such people, particularly when more powerful targets are available."
"How unsightly." Kotal turns his upwards in distaste at the story. "To think that a loathsome wretch would even think of attacking you. They have been lucky thus far that I had not been in the vicinity, but good fortunate is something that runs out." He clenches his fist and brings it to his chest, a scowl on his lips. "Should anyone ever give you trouble, make sure to tell me, Serenity. I will make certain they will never be capable of harming anyone for the rest of their miserable lives."
"I do hope that you are referring to imprisonment," Ren remarks with a frown that suggests that wasn't the first thought to come to mind. "But I appreciate your desire to make the city a more peaceful one. People don't go past dark alleys to dance if they are worried about attack, nor engage in mock fights without an understanding of what is off-limits."
"I aim to change all of that eventually. With your aid, Dante, and Lady Amaterasu, I sense as if the city of Twisted may experience a Renaissance."
Imprisonment? They do that around here? Kotal goes shifty eyed, which is somewhat difficult to tell due to his glowing eyes, but it's noticeable enough to see that he's looking to the sides in thought. "Yes, imprisonment, sure." If there's anything left of them when he's through with them, he adds mentally.
"It may never lose its gloomy atmosphere, but the spirit of its people can surely, at least, be rekindled."
"Such is my hope."
Serenity smiles at Kotal's latter remark. "You sound as though you are running for office again. Should I start looking for your campaign manager now?" Ren continues, motioning a 'wing' toward Kotal, "That's not to say that security is unimportant, but you did mention leadership experience."
He glances out to the window which still has faint traces of scorched rat and breathes deeply. "When I glance outside, I see not a darkened city, burdened by its seemingly inescapable ennui. I see only what can be, its hidden potential and of limitless possibilities and excitement. This is what I foresee for Twisted, not this endless cycle of monotony."
Kotal hmms thoughtfully and glances down, eyebrow arched. "I will not lie and say that I had no considered the possibility." He glances up again. "Leadership comes naturally to me and it is in my nature to want to fix things that are working inefficiently."
Once he has delivered his speech, he turns back to Serenity and makes an uncharacteristic shrug. "But I know the folly of being overambitious. I have yet to meet the leader of this city, this so called Senior Diablo."
"I also have a duty to Dante and this organization now. I do not consider DMC a mere stepping stone for my ambitions. Even if I were to do anything my ties would still be to this place, for as long as Dante would have me."
"I'm sure that Dante would appreciate your assurance of loyalty," Ren remarks with a nod. "Now, when you go to speak with Senior Diablo, I suggest speaking of inefficiencies and other problems." Ren makes a single spin while orbiting Kotal and coming to 'stand' in front of him once more. Ren somehow keeps from dunking the terrestrial fewwlo in the process. "Boredom, however, is not something that I would worry about. The blame for that could only be with the person who failed to get out and meet people." Ren grins and fully spreads fins out to the sides.
"I view loyalty as one of the highest virtues to hold, of course I would also return it in kind." Nods the Cuachic whilst Serenity beings to spin circles around him gracefully, glowing eyes following the movements. "Have you met him before? I have heard very little of what he actually does here. Dante was less that informative on the topic but.." He peers sideways. "He is Dante, so I am not entirely surprised." Kotal has figured out just what kind of person Dante is in the short time he's known him.
"You are right on that regard." Kotal chuckles as Serenity mentions boredom being unfixable. "Many times there is nothing saving people from themselves."
"No, I'm afraid that I've not met him before, but I would like to. I feel rather ignorant of the political situation," Ren replies. "As for opening people's eyes to possibilities, meeting and speaking with new people is certainly a good start. For example, I was living in my environment suit in an air-filled apartment for some time before I learned that the Integra Arms building could simulate exactly the room one would like. Had I not been talking about it, I would never have asked for proper accommodations and I would have gone on being uncomfortable."