15407/Challenge of the Lotus

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Challenge of the Lotus
Date of Scene: 01 August 2023
Location: Private Island, Pacific Ocean
Synopsis: The Lotus Competition starts
Cast of Characters: Black Widow (Romanoff), Phobos, Oracle

Black Widow (Romanoff) has posed:
The invitations had been sent. A single small scroll with a Lotus Blossom in bloom. The wax seal on the scroll bore the mark of the Lotus. Within, an invitation. To attend a tournament that was only known of by perhaps fifty people on the planet. These people were scattered all over the globe but it wasn't something that was talked about or discussed.

There would be no cameras. Nothing to advertise them. No reward. No money or trophies to be won. It was simply a tourney to find out one simple thing: Who was the Best.

Truth be told, any expert might win on any day. There really was no perfect person who always won the event. And sometimes, it would be a relative unknown who would steal the spotlight. Not bragging rights for it wasn't something talked about once people left.

There were multiple steps in the process. The invitation had led to a next step. And that to another. Then to more. But in the end, if one persevered, they would know the meeting place. A private island out in the Pacific. Allowing for the gathering to not fall under the laws of any certain country.

The gathering was social for the first meeting. Casual attire was acceptable. Drinks and finger foods offered in a cocktail party atmosphere. There were some fighters there that were a bit more extravagent in their attire and others more reserved. Yet they all gathered.

In this place there were observers as well for each attendee was allowed to bring a guest of their choosing. Most brought a sensei, trainer, or even a fellow fighter. A few brought their special someone. After all, it was an all expenses paid vacation in essence. One just had to get there and all would be provided for them. For the small price of attending the various fights. Or in some cases, fighting themselves.

Natasha had been invited to attend, something she had no intention of doing. But she had come, bringing Alexander with her as an observer. Unless he got some crazy urge to participate but she doubted that.
Phobos has posed:
    The travel for Agent Aaron and Agent Romanoff had been an interesting trip. For the way they had arrived had been a touch circuitous even after they had spent the time needed to track down the steady stream of riddles and hints that led them on until the location had been revealed. Curiously enough, Alexander enjoyed it. What most people don't realize with him and his line of 'work' is that the main reason he takes part in SHIELD...
    Is because it's an adventure.
    And this was one that felt like it had stepped right off the silver screen. Alex was eating it up and even as he remained comfortably in the orbit of the woman who was invited. He stood a good ten inches taller than her and held a red and orange iced tropical drink in his hand as he looked the place over. Before they left he had spent some time studying SHIELD files which allowed him to say such telling things as...
    "That's Benny Rodriquez. He lost all of his money betting on dog racing and Jai Alai in Florida. Compulsive gambler." A slow nod is given. He then turns his head to the side, "And that is Mana Mana Loana Da. Kickboxer from the Phillipines. Apparently also big into Precious Moments collectible figurines."
    He sips his drink.
Oracle has posed:
Studying that Lotus Blossom that she, Richard and Cass had uncovered during the attack at one of Gotham's tongs had led Barbara down a rabbit hole into a world she hadn't known existed. Secret martial arts tournaments? It all reeked of criminal activity, most likely a cover for something worse. Much worse. And so it was that Barbara found herself going to those designated spots with the blossom she had acquired.

And acing all the steps. Because she's Batgirl. Or rather, because she's quite the smart cookie. And has access to google.

Regardless, she was now at this party for the fighters, slurping on a caipirinha, green eyes roaming here and there as she took over the various people gathered. Some she knew. Others she didn't. Criminals but not only. As for her? She was supposed to be Snapdragon, some low-rate martial artist who worked for the tongs in Gotham. And missing apparently. She had no idea what had happened to her but what would be the odds that someone here actually knew her real face, right?
Black Widow (Romanoff) has posed:
Oddly, it was a mix. There were some criminal elements there, certainly. But they were not the majority. In fact, the majority seemed to be regular people. A few minor celebrities in the world of martial arts such as Mana Mana Loana Da. Though, depending on how deep Barbara ended up digging, there were in fact many benefactors to the tournament.

And every one of those was a legitimate business. In fact the largest was Mr. Wong's Fortune Cookie factory, which was based out of Detroit, Michigan. Because of course it was. The owners just apparently were very into martial arts and had probably watched Bloodsport one too many times when they were children. And now, they came and watched people fight in super secret fighting tourneys.

Though, the truth of the matter was there was illegal activity in the fights sometimes. But that would be explained when the rules were covered by the Lotus himself.

Natasha grinned up at Alexander as she sipped her glass of vodka. It was served chilled in a glass that was just as cold. Though it would warm up quickly in her hand and with the press of humanity in the room. "You've been doing your homework, I see. Yes, some of the best in the world. Though not all. Some don't lower themselves to come to things like this." Such as some of the higher level members of the League of Assassins, for example.

She skimmed the room and her eyes fell on a few faces she didn't know. Not surprising, she'd been out of these circles for a while. A very tall woman drew her eye and she heard someone nearby mention the name Snapdragon. Again, not familiar. "We should make the circuit. Meet a few of the people. Lotus will be out to give everyone the rules in a moment."
Phobos has posed:
    "Alright, I imagine you know enough to make the introductions." Alexander murmurs as he pushes away from where they had been hovering. He fell into step at her side, still holding his glass in one hand. The young Olympian cleaned up nicely for once. He even brushed his hair and had some semblance of... order to his manner. For he wore a pair of tan dress slacks, and a collarless grey button down shirt that was mostly hidden by the business casual jacket he had on. Black leather shoes completed the look and in such a crowd of the wild and outlandish fighters, Alexander did somewhat fade.
    Though the crowd likely were much more inclined to pay attention to Natasha. They knew her, by reputation and skillset. She had a certain mythos wherever she went, and in this particular circle? It was a palpable thing.
    Casually he murmured sidelong, "So how many boys have you brought to things like this?" He asked off-handedly in that way he had of speaking but his features showing an easily given deadpan look.
Oracle has posed:
The tall redhead that's clearly not Snapdragon keeps watching the happenings. The somewhat legit businesses that are here for a sight of some blood. Eyes narrow. Perhaps suspiciously at all that is going on. Maybe she expected something more akin to enter the dragon with all the criminality inherent to such.

And wait? Is that an actual Avenger present? She allows herself to relax just so. And perhaps feel vexed that BATGIRL didn't receive a Lotus Blossom to come fight. Okay, maybe she isn't exactly deserving of one but at least Cass would be.

Another slurp from the lil straw stuck into her drink and then she is hovering close to the other redhead in the room. Nothing like playing with fire. "Didn't expect an Avenger all the way out here." she says, how having closed in with Natasha and Phobos. And as she does so her Frog Brothers shirt is fully visible. Bad ass nerd to the end. And clearly not Snapdragon. "Is this your first one?"

New Jersey accent to her voice.
Black Widow (Romanoff) has posed:
At the question from Alexander, there is a faint smirk on Natasha's face as she answers without hesitation. "That lived to tell about it? None." Then she started to lead the way around the room until they ended up closer to this Snapdragon.

Thankfully, the other woman initiated the conversation first. Allow for her to answer, "Just spectating. Perhaps my presence will lessen the number of fights that go...beyond what is necessary." She gaves what seems to be a genuine smile to the very tall woman who has to be wearing heels. Nope. Those are not heels. There are moments when Nat feels her lack of height and this is one of them. Not that she showed it in the least. She could get an Oscar if she'd gone onto the silver screen as her life's path.

"Mmm. First? No, I've attended in the past." And she didn't elaborate on that because that would be a lot more detail than she gave to anyone. Not just strangers. There were some of her closest friends and teammates in the world that had no idea just how old she actually was, something that she preferred to keep that way.

"Snapdragon, right?" she asked curiously, tilting her head to look at the woman. "You tried to kill me about four years ago I think it was. Nice to meet you face-to-face." And that would let Barbara know that at least Natasha knew she was not actually Snapdragon. But that she also wasn't going to be blowing her cover either. "You certainly are worthy of an invitation. Guess they figure you're one of those that will keep their mouth shut. Some don't get invited because they tend to ...overshare."