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> [fanfic]Initial D - Red Alert, In Soviet Russia..[UPDATED]
Dave Rodgers
  Posted: Jul 25 2008, 11:17 PM


Man who stand on toilet high on pot.
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Ever wondered just what Keisuke's bosozoku days were like? Well, a little relic from his past is about to return to Japan, and when the two cross paths he is unlikely to remember this menace from the Eastern Soviet Bloc....




The iron-grey Russian sea churned like a witch’s cauldron in the gusts, little frothing whitecaps bursting here and there. Katerina drew her coat a little tighter about her body, repressing a shiver. Her patience was starting to run a little thin, and she wanted nothing more than to climb back aboard her ship and put on a kettle of tea for supper. Her crew would be waiting there, with hot food served in the mess deck and probably a bottle of good old Vodka.

“Mistress Ivanov?”

The red-haired woman turned slowly. One good eye, its red iris burning like smelted steel and glittering with malicious laughter, stared out from under her brow. The other was bound by a black patch.

“You are late, comrade Sturlusson. Is this why you brought me to the docksides? To waste my time enjoying this bleak sight and freezing the very marrow of my bones while I wait for you? The seaside is cruelly cold at this time of winter.”

Sturlusson felt his heart quail under that searing red gaze. Suddenly he was glad of the two goons he had brought with him, as all what he had heard of this ravaging mistress of the Russian underworld rang loud in his ears now that he had laid eyes upon her. She talked of the cold freezing her bones, but her one eye was turning his blood to ice. His throat was dry as he swallowed, and as he spoke, he hoped the fear did not sound in his voice.

“My…my apologies. Mistress Ivanov. We hastened with all speed here, but our cars would not cooperate. The engines…they would take time to start, and our tires…”

Katerina interrupted him casually, jabbing a black-gloved finger at the long, low cars behind the man. “Are those yours? I was wondering what sort of fool would bring a luxury car into Siberia. You have good taste, but you also have pease for wits.”

Anger pricked at Sturlusson’s heart, but he chose not to antagonize the Russian woman.

“I assure you, Mistress Ivanov, our offer is well worth the wait. If you would be so kind as to look in the boot of this car…”

One of his men stepped away to open the black car’s trunk. Katerina approached, and looked in gingerly.

“American dollar bills? How quaint.”

She smiled humorlessly at the disbelief writ large upon Sturlusson’s face. His pinched, narrow mouth looked as though he’d just taken a large bite out of a particularly sour lemon. For someone who was apparently a great figure in the Norwegian underworld, this thin, graying man failed to impress her. Had she met him by chance on the street, she would not have even spared a second glance. He was certainly not much to look at, and he made a better salesman than leader. Well, if he tried to sell me a brand new car I probably would have gone along with it, she thought to herself with a shade of amusement.

By now, he had recovered himself. “This is the first of your payment, Mistress Ivanov. The other cars contain the small arms – rifles, pistols, and submachine guns from Germany.”

Katerina drummed her fingers upon the trunk lid thoughtfully. “And I am supposed to see these safely to Japan?”

Sturlusson nodded. “That’s right. Our contacts are in Gunma prefecture, on the main island. Land in one of the fishing ports at Ibaraki.”

“And where do I go from there, comrade? Surely you don’t expect me to use my one small car for all these guns…”

“These three are yours. Consider them part of the payment.”

Katerina surveyed them with a critical look in her one good eye.

“A Mercedes, a Jaguar, and a Lancia. If I didn’t know better, comrade, I’d say you wanted me to race someone to the point of delivery as well.”

“Oh, no. Definitely not,” Sturlusson replied. “But you will need that power to get past the Japanese police. Before you ask, they are on a mountainous island with roads that bend like a serpent’s back, so you will also need their handling.”

Katerina turned away from the car to face him again, sliding her gloved hands back into her pockets. The breeze tugged at her long black coat with insistent, invisible hands.

“And you mean for me to keep these cars. Very well. If you hadn’t, I would have charged you more for making me drive.”

It took Sturlusson some effort not to gape. “But…why? You-“

“I get carsick easily,” the red-haired woman stated in deadpan tones. Her laughing eye, the sharp red eye, glittered menacingly. She was looking not at him, but through him…into the past. She could hear the bone-jarring sound of metal impacting against metal, the crunch of a car frame deforming, as clearly as though the car crash were happening right before her all over again. The salt air of the sea suddenly reminded her of the salt tang of blood – in her lungs, in her mouth, drowning her as surely as the ocean would.

Sturlusson was about to ask why, but something about the shadow that had come over her face gave him pause. “If it is an inconvenience…” he began.

Katerina shook her head slowly, forcing her mind back to the present. “Not at all, comrade. My ship is no smooth ride on the wintry seas, either.” Her husky tones were playful all of a sudden.

Inwardly, Sturlusson sighed with relief. “Hopefully you won’t need to drive at all. You can send your men to bring the goods to the ‘kuza instead. They’re a decent sort, compared to the Triads and the Dragon Claws of China,” he said, while fishing in his pocket for a packet of cigarettes. He could do with a little soothing of his nerves, after all. As he tapped the bottom to dislodge one of the smokes, the Russian held out one gloved hand. Obligingly, he gave up the first cigarette and tapped another one out for himself.

Katerina drew a lighter out from her pocket, balancing the cigarette between her lush red lips. It took a little effort to light it, what with the gusts of wind guttering her flame if she didn’t shield it well enough, but soon the end was glowing merrily. Her mood improved a bit more after enjoying the menthol-laden smoke’s flavour. “I don’t trust the Japanese that much, but I may just do that. On the other hand, I believe in working to earn the money one is paid, and I’d much rather make sure that all your weapons go to their sellers in safety. You have already bartered with them, I assume?”

“That I have,” Sturlusson affirmed. “We have agreed to the sale beforehand, so you don’t have to get your hands dirty with our money. Just deliver the weapons to our contact in Gunma, and you’ll receive your cut.”

”And how shall I know him?”

“He runs a repair shop in the foothills of Mt. Akina. The Red Tiger, I believe it is called. Go there and talk to the owner. He should admit you as soon as you tell him that I sent you.”

Katerina shook off a little ash with a tap of her finger. “I will set sail once night has fallen. Park the cars into the blue container. Lock it and we will load it on. I expect the other half of my payment here, and I would prefer that you not be late, comrade. Good day.”

With a conciliatory nod, she turned and left without another word, without waiting for the man to bid her farewell. Her vermillion tresses of hair flowed behind her, lifted by the breezes whipping at her face and body relentlessly. Yet she paid its sting no heed. In time, she would be south of here, and that meant a warmer, kinder climate.

As she strode down the docks, she couldn't help but smile at the drollness of it all. He had sold her not just one car, but three cars, three very expensive and no doubt stolen cars. All with a few glib words.



---




Further away, on the mainland of Japan, the road was on fire.

The air rang with the din of engines whining near redline, the sharp crack of backfire interjecting like gunshots, and the squealing of tires forced to their absolute maximum, sliding over the asphalt.

Two Mazda RX-7’s catapulted down the mountain at breakneck speed, almost a blur of yellow and white.

They attacked the hairpin turns ferociously, waiting until the last minute as the paper-thin guardrail and sheer drop closed – and then the wheels glowed red, the rear lights flashing as both drivers laid on the brake with controlled power. First the white slid into the turn, rear wheels screaming over the road. The yellow’s exhaust backfired loudly, spitting flame as its driver sent the car into a smooth drift, following the other mere inches away.

They were mere inches from colliding. One small miscalculation would result in a messy tangle of metal and plastic embedded in the mountainside or flung off the sheer drop, to smolder and turn to crumpled soot.

Yet, neither car touched the other. The white, an FC3S with a low-slung stance and an aggressive yet smooth driving style, sped onto the straight first, its rotary engine howling like the Furies themselves. Behind it the yellow FD3S slid down behind it, its rear swinging out a bit wide before coming straight, sending a plume of smoke up into the overcast skies.

Ryousuke allowed his vision to stray at his rearview mirror for a moment, observing his brother’s flashy if rather slow slide. He has yet to control those powerful twin-turbos. All that extra powersliding is scrubbing speed off your maximum exiting speed, little brother.”

He eased the car around a slight bend in the road. G-forces tugged at his body, but his hand was steady upon the wheel even as he felt himself pushed against the seat. But you will have to learn precise throttle control on your own – you would never tame your RX-7 until you realize that you can only drive so well when you merely push your car to its limits…”

Ryousuke proved that now by swiftly punching the brakes and clutch in succession, shifting down and letting his engine aid his rapid deceleration. With a quick pull of the wheel and gentle nudges of the throttle, the white RX-7 dove into the turn like a peregrine falcon. The rear wheels bit into the asphalt, but a surgical amount of throttle forced them to loosen their grip and skid over instead, just barely catching the road as the fronts guided the car through, as though on rails.

Even as his car inched towards the guardrail through the hairpin, even as the g-forces pushed him into the car door, Ryousuke did not even so much as glance out his side window. He applied careful countersteer, guiding the car around the turn until the grey-and-green blue of Akagi’s mountainside gave way to the clear road again. With a smooth hand, he let the car claw at the pavement again, gripping the asphalt and catapulting itself forward. By now, the yellow RX-7 was more than a carlength or so away from his rear bumper.

The end of the mountain road came into sight. Ryousuke’s white RX-7 flew over it first. He applied the brakes gently, coasting down the straight. Looking out at the gloomy grey sky overhead, he was unsurprised to see a white fleck swirling down to land upon his windshield. As Ryousuke stepped out of his car, the yellow RX-7 whispered to a stop behind his car.

“I almost had you,” Keisuke announced as he emerged from the sleek yellow sports car. “You couldn’t shake me off for the entire length of the mountain, bro. All that practice must be paying off, because I might’ve passed you a couple times if I wanted to. You just got lucky this one time.”

Ryousuke smiled slightly and let his brother speak, placing his hands in his trouser pockets. “Not quite. I was running at less that 60% so that you wouldn’t lose sight of me right away. I pushed myself a little near the end, but it was no real challenge. Not as long as you insist on showing off the power of your twin-turbo instead of controlling the power under your right foot.”

“What? You’ve got to be kidding me, man. You were struggling out there!” Keisuke shot back forcefully, in tones of disbelief.

“Not so,” Ryousuke assured him gently, but with a very serious look upon his handsome features. Now he was stern. “But you are improving. I’ve told you time and time again about relying on all that power. For example, my car has only its tuned 13B to rely on for a powerplant, and I don’t have those two powerful turbos to push my car along the corners as quickly as you can. Now, I could greatly maximize my exit speed if my car had more engine power, but even so you’re still losing a lot of power because you insist on sliding more than you really need to.”

It took Keisuke some effort not to let his eyes roll. “You slide more than I do around each turn! Aren’t you the one famous for your perfect drifting? Why should I have to grip onto the road?”

“Because I use every last coefficient of grip possible when I drive,” Ryousuke continued. “My car’s tires slide just a bit because they’ve reached the edge of traction, and the weight is at the front wheels. It has precious little to do with me hammering on the throttle as hard as I can to break them loose.”

Keisuke felt his cheeks burn at his brother’s painfully accurate jab at his driving style. The rub was, Ryousuke was right. But he couldn’t very well give into that, now could he? “I don’t –hammer- on the throttle, bro. I just ease the rear end into the turn a bit with some acceleration. Nothing wrong with that.”

“And I agree. However, it depends on how much you ease it in, and you’re using slightly more throttle than you really need to, without any smooth transition between braking and acceleration. You need to smoothen your driving. You need to stop relying on breakneck acceleration and hard braking to shave seconds off your time, and…

“…approach each corner as a problem to be solved,” Keisuke finished in long-suffering tones. He leaned back against the door of his yellow FD, heaving a small sigh and crossing his arms over his chest. “I know, dude. You’ve told me about a million times already.”

”And so I will tell you another million until you’ve grasped it. You won’t learn much, and you won’t improve if you insist on making the same mistake over and over because of your need to impress the crowd. Pull off all the drifting you want in the straights when we’re coming in, but learn to stick to the road like glue when you’re shooting for maximum speed. The drifting will come naturally to you when you need it.” Ryousuke brushed a few snowflakes from his richly tailored suit jacket. “Hm. We’d better get down-mountain before the snow worsens,” he observed.

Keisuke was already inside of his RX-7 and firing the rotary engine up. “Me first, I’m –freezing,” he declared, before pulling the door shut and running his windshield wipers to clear off some of the flakes. Ryousuke hid a smile and clambered into the sleek, organic cockpit of his own car, shutting the door and enjoying the comforting sense of enclosure, like being cradled. Then he started his own engine.

Winter had finally come. But neither of them would be prepared for the storm that came over the cold Russian seas, as the battered, rusty cargo-carrier thundered through the whitecaps, waves breaking over her bow as she steamed through the ocean. By nightfall, she would have made landfall…

This post has been edited by Dave Rodgers on Dec 12 2008, 08:38 AM
Meteor
Posted: Jul 25 2008, 11:59 PM


Were you expecting something else?
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[OBVIOUS]Interesting. . Very interesting. . .[/OBVIOUS]

I am looking forward to more.
Sanae
Posted: Jul 27 2008, 10:15 AM


IDW Okamisan
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I totally second that Meteor.

Mr Rodgers better has some more coming up soon or I'll confiscate his reserves of Русский стандарт. tongue.gif
Proud Contributor of the Music Section Revival Project
twitchykun
Posted: Jul 28 2008, 03:34 AM


F*ck land I'm on a boat Motherf*cker!
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Russian Mafia? Guns? Vodka?

<3 this fic.
Drew
Posted: Jul 28 2008, 09:32 PM


Bought not Built
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Location: Driving through the night, down the hills...





Only thing I can say to this...

Da Comrade.

Keep that shit up, DR.
Dave Rodgers
  Posted: Jul 28 2008, 09:46 PM


Man who stand on toilet high on pot.
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And now we start with the first chapter.

I - The First Day





“Bro, I’m going out!”

Ryousuke gave an absent nod of his head. “Shall I tell our parents you’re at the library again?” he asked blandly.

Keisuke tugged his black uniform jacket on, leaving it unbuttoned and snatching his RX-7’s keys up off the table. “As usual. Don’t wait up for me.”

“Try to return some time before 5:00 in the morning…” Ryousuke said to the door swinging shut. The ghost of a grin tugged at the corners of his mouth. “…the library closes at 10:00 in the night, after all.” He settled back comfortably into his chair and lost himself in the exhaustively wordy textbook once again, turning over another page.



Keisuke was surrounded by the bright, glittering lights of storefronts and signs as he rolled down the busy Harajuku street. By the time he had hit Tokyo night had fallen, but the district was alive and buzzing with as much activity as though it was midmorning. The lighter-fashioned kogyaru and Ganguro gals were gone.
Tough, leather-booted rockabilly punks wearing black muscle vests strutted about instead, spoiling for a fight. Visual-kei fans leered from the dark side streets and alleyways, clothed in the most flamboyant, cutting-edge fashions, their many-coloured hair looking even stranger under the neon lights. And the pale Goths stalked the streets in dark, funereal clothes, adorned with chains and inverted crosses or pentacles, looking as though they'd stepped out of a modern vampire movie.

Keisuke looked at them all and yet noticed none. He was scanning the crowd for a very specific individual amongst the sea of people. Then he saw her.

The RX-7 whispered to a stop alongside the curb. Almost as soon as it did, the girl checking her pager near the bus stop looked up, noticing him there. She smiled, walking over to the open passenger’s side window and peering in. “Well, aren’t we something. Bringing your car here like some kind of hot-shot racer boy, Kei-chan…” She glanced at the car’s high rear spoiler, and her smile became just a little like a smirk “…and from the looks of it, you’re fixing to become a pilot sometime soon. Why the airplane wing on your trunk?”

“Seemed like a good idea at the time,” Keisuke replied carelessly, in those tones you use when you don’t really know the answer to someone’s question but wish to seem as though you do.

She didn’t seem to be overly impressed. “And I thought that only applied to me when we go somewhere out-of-the-ordinary. It’s nice to know your car gets the same treatment, even if you do spend more money on her than me. Can I come in? It’s cold and windy out here.”

Keisuke opened the doors with a flick of a switch. “Sure. Don’t get too used to that extra seat, I might pull it out eventually to lighten this car. Same goes for the air conditioning system.”

“Kei-chan, if I didn’t know better, I’d think you were trying to make this car even more uncomfortable to ride in!” the girl complained, clambering into the small passenger-side seat. Keisuke had nothing to say about this – he rather liked the way the small RX-7 made them sit close together. The bucket seat’s angle had caused her lacy black dress to pool in her lap, allowing a glimpse of fishnet-stockinged leg and the calf-length, black leather platform boots she did so love wearing. Up above she wore a supple black corset that hugged the contours of her body, pushing up the small cupcake-like mounds of her breasts. The red laces made sure one knew exactly where to go first to free her.

She must have caught him peeking, for that smug grin soon returned. “I know that look,” she announced in sing-song tones. “Kei-chan wants to go to a love hotel!”

“I wish I could, Miyoko,” Keisuke answered tersely. “But you know how Takeichi gets when we arrive at his place late. I really came out here to take you along with me, since you don’t like going to his place alone…”

“Not alone. Just without backup.” Miyoko frowned now, her slender brows creasing in thought. “Takeichi disturbs me a little, Kei-chan. I know he’s your friend and the two of you went through school together, but every time I go over there I’m always nervous. He attracts trouble like a…well, like a lightning rod. If we got raided, I’d want to be with someone useful instead of him. I was rolling with him one time. A simple delivery job to the Kanto plains, complete with a car they’d gotten prepared especially so that we wouldn’t get our stash found by cops. We got on the road to the bayside expressway, and before I knew it the red-and-whites were in his rearview mirror. I seriously thought he was going to piss himself right there.” She sounded less serious than amused now. “He dived out the car and took off so fast on his feet he forgot to put it in park. I had to jump out before I went rolling into the bay…which had been chopped to make sure we’d get past situations like these. The mobster was so pissed when he found out that five pounds of speed just disappeared into the ocean.”

Keisuke couldn’t help but smile. By the time she got to the end of the story he was chuckling. Miyoko was trying valiantly to keep from grinning herself. Soon enough, they were both laughing. “It’s…not…funny! Seriously, I almost got put in jail,” she managed at last, between giggles.

Keisuke shook his head, still snickering a bit. “That’s Takeichi for you. We’ve done a lot of crazy shit, and never gotten caught before…but the way that guy acts, you’d think he was trying to get himself put in jail. You’ll get used to it eventually.”

Truthfully, he was always a little on-edge around Takeichi. Even since childhood, he had been getting himself into so many scrapes that it was a wonder when he was not in trouble. He had been like that for all the ten years that Keisuke had accompanied him.
It was Takeichi’s idea that he should join the local bosozoku, insisting that it would greatly up their status at school.

From there, it had been Takeichi who insisted that they run more errands for the boss. Deeper and deeper they had gotten into the gang, until they were coming into contact with the mouthpieces of the local Yakuza, and it wasn’t long until they were working with actual gangmembers.

He was just starting out when he had run into Shirasu Miyoko.

The mountain passes were nothing new to him even before he’d had his FD. He had carved the supple, dangerous curves of Akagi upon his motorbike many times, and beaten his friends soundly when they raced him to the bottom. But when he had followed her down the mountain, it was an experience he was not likely to forget. He had felt truly alive then. The mountain air was crisp in his lungs, the headwind’s caress sweet even as it stung his cheeks.

And so they had reached Akagi’s peak.


“Kei-chan…hey, Kei-chan…”

Miyoko’s voice stirred Keisuke from his reverie. She had the slightly annoyed look of one talking to an oblivious listener.

Finally he said, “Talking about that guy takes me way back. If he hadn’t brought me into the mob I probably wouldn’t have run into you on the first place…” Nostalgia filled his tones.

Miyoko’s gaze dropped to her lap. “Kei-chan…remember when we visited Akagi? We…”

“…didn’t return till morning.” he finished quietly. Keisuke moved closer to her. The bared skin of her arm was soft as silk under his fingertips. His head lowered to her neck, and he found the soft shallow of her neck, lavishing it with a few soft kisses. All the tension in Miyoko’s face drained, and she tilted her head back, baring that supple white throat for him, her crimson lips parting as she drew in a slow breath.

Eventually she said, “Kei-chan, enough…don’t start something you won’t be able to finish.” Her voice was low and husky, but terse, spurring him to leave off. With almost visible effort Keisuke drew back and let go of her arm, noting her quickened breath and the blush in her cheek.

“Feeling better?” he asked.

Miyoko’s smile returned. “Yeah. We’d better go.”

---


It took Keisuke upwards of fifteen minutes to navigate the traffic-clogged streets of Tokyo even with his twin-turbo enhanced RX-7. He and Miyoko engaged in a little idle conversation and caught up with each other, him sharing news of the Kanto plains while she spoke of the busy city life and the excitement of the Harajuku streets, her stomping grounds and domain of ages past. Keisuke found it relieving just talking to her. It relaxed his mind, and allowed him to forget the small worries that seemed large as mountains back home.

To him, it seemed like merely seconds before they were pulling up to the ratty little apartment complex Takeichi called home. Keisuke parked, killed the engine, and then stepped out of the car. “You too, Miyoko. You’re not going to hide out here while I go in alone,” he admonished her teasingly.

With a cute pout on her lips, Miyoko yanked the door open and climbed out. “God, I don’t know why you’re subjecting me to having to even talk to this guy. You know how he gets on my nerves.”

Keisuke locked the doors with a quick press of his key fob, before pocketing it. “Sorry if I’m not sympathetic, but I’ve been subjected to him for tenyears. A few hours with the douchebag isn’t going to kill you, if years didn’t kill me,” he quipped, before heading for the door.

Miyoko followed, protesting all the way. “But you’re a hardass roulette-zoku racer! You’re supposed to be invincible, it’s the way you boys behave! I’m nowhere as tough and…and impenetrable as you are!”

Keisuke found himself smirking before he could help it at her choice of words. “God, I should hope not,” he muttered, dodging a slap from the chestnut-haired spitfire and opening the door at the same time.

“You are dead as soon as you get in the elevator,” Miyoko assured him as she entered. She found herself striding down the dank, dark hallway alone, having only realized he didn’t follow her in once she had turned to tell him something else. “Kei-chan…?” Miyoko turned and started back down the hallway. She found him still standing there with the door in hand, staring intently at three jet-black cars pulling in behind his yellow FD. One Mercedes SL600, whispering along the asphalt like a ghost. One Jaguar, its V12 engine purring like a contented cat. And a Lancia Delta – the Integrale Evoluzione II. Hunched over its wheels like a bulldog, its turbocharged engine rumbling menacingly, the hatchback looked all too ready to attack the mountain road. It was a car built for the hillclimb, with a tuned engine sending power to all four wheels for darting off the starting line and catapulting out of turns.

Miyoko was not listening to the engine notes as intently as Keisuke, but the imposing black cars caught her attention all the same. A lump of fear rose in her throat, as the only thing a group of cars with black windows and black paintjob could mean was that the criminal underworld’s heavy hitters were on the move. Yet the Yakuza would usually rely on bigger cars, slower and able to take more punishment – these cars were sport-bred and lighter.

Then the doors opened.

At first, Keisuke thought he was observer to a particularly bad promotion for some newly-released wartime flick. Gaijin were stepping out of the cars – not the fat sloppy tourists he sometimes saw in Shinjuku and Akihabara, clutching cameras in their plump hands, gaping like wide-mouthed hippos at everything around them and yelling in English. Their logic dictated that the louder they spoke, the higher the chances were that the poor native might suddenly understand them.

These Gaijin were tall. They had donned black tanker boots and camouflaged BDU pants like he had seen on some American soldiers, but in charcoal grey, black, and white. Despite the cold, they wore only white vests that showed off brawny arms and broad shoulders, seemingly impervious to the chill. In fact, they laughed and joked as though they were enjoying themselves quite a bit, pushing and slugging at each other like small boys. Their shaved heads and cruel, rough-edged faces were anything but, however. They spoke a rough, harsh tongue that didn’t sound a bit like English. It sounded more like the language of the freighter crews and some trawler operators.

“Kei-chan, maybe we should go.” Miyoko’s voice was a shade higher with worry. Her fingers found his and wrapped around them.

Keisuke nodded, feeling little needles of nervousness pricking at his gut. “You’re right. I got a bad feeling about these guys. They look like they’re here to break some heads.”

Then the door of the Lancia opened.

Out stepped a female Gaijin, with skin of ebony and a face that was full of hard-edged, fierce beauty. Rarest of them all, he had only seen one or two dark-skinned female Gaijin before on the street, both in street clothes that he thought only Ganguro and Kogals wore. They wore beads in braided black hair and spoke in English.

This one had long red tresses of hair, falling down her shoulder to her back. One of her eyes was bound with a white surgical patch, but the other stared out at him with such intensity that it seemed to dazzle him like the afternoon sun – as red as hot iron. Her clothes were strangely formal, with a Soviet officer’s cap resting on her brow, and an officer’s jacket with buttons left undone just enough to let one see tempting, dark cleavage. He could swear that she was wearing no bra under that from the way the weight of her breasts pressed at the front of the jacket, straining those remaining buttons. Her utility belt held up a salaciously short pair of cutoff denim pants, the same olive tone as her jacket. They looked skin-tight over the round, firm mounds of her rear. She strode forth on thigh-high black leather boots that lent to her imposing aura. Flung over all this was a black military-style trenchcoat with a high collar and gold-braided epaulettes. The buttons were shiny brass.

He was so busily drinking in the sight of her that he barely even noticed the gaijin approaching him. In fact, she was practically facing him when he finally realized that she was speaking directly to him.

“Zdravstvujte…”

Miyoko looked to Keisuke worriedly. He shook his head, hoping she wouldn’t start yelling at him even louder. The gaijin tilted her head slightly, and then tried Japanese.

“Greetings. You are owner of the yellow FD?”

Struggling to understand her, Keisuke nodded. Her Japanese was terribly rough and cruder than he’d ever heard before - at terrible odds with the sweet red mouth that uttered it. Disturbed at his own ardor, he found himself perversely attracted to her rough speech. She was taller than he thought - he actually had to look up to meet her gaze. “Yes, it’s mine. Should I mo-“

“No.” She cut him off smoothly, looking at her watch. Keisuke swallowed hard, both to calm the hammering of his heart and in relief that her fearsome, laughing eye was no longer watching him. He became aware of a soft humming sound, like a very tiny engine idling.

“It is time we go in. We are…we do not have time for talk now. You wait here until I return and I will talk then. Do not leave here until we finish, come back outside. Do not follow us.”

She turned and left without another word, leaving Keisuke and Miyoko completely confused. After the last of the gaijin entered and closed the door behind them, Keisuke immediately leapt for the door and tugged on the handle.

It was locked. He turned back to Miyoko, whose eyes were big and round with fear. “I…I think we should definitely go,” Keisuke said, trying to quell the churning in his gut. He felt intensely nervous.

Miyoko nodded wordlessly. Not caring who saw, they sprinted for the FD as though the demons of the pit themselves were chasing after. In seconds the yellow RX-7 was roaring down the road, with only the flash of its taillights to mark it amidst the sea of cars…




--



“He’s gone, Mistress,” one of the men confirmed from a window. He let the blind fall back into place, and the little hallway was doused in darkness.

Katerina scowled. “Damn it!” she said, with great feeling. “I knew the silly boy would fly off the moment I let my eyes off him and his squeeze. And to think, I was so sure he was mine. He was undressing me with his eyes dead in front of his girlfriend, while he was holding her hand no less…” Her scowl gave way to a thoughtful look. “Still, we may have use for him yet. I will look up his plates soon enough, after we’ve disposed of our garbage. Pyotr, help Yerik open the door. The charges, if you would be so kind…hurry, hurry now before our little chicken hears us and flies the coop before we can roast him.”

Two of the other men rushed to the door. One produced a tiny pack of explosives, just enough to take the hinges off. He began wiring them together and sticking the tiny bombs into the hinge, where they wouldn’t make quite so much noise. In seconds the detonator was hooked up and handed to the other, who squeezed the switch down.

With a sharp pop like firecrackers, the hinges split apart and the door gave way with a groan, falling inward on the tatami mat. There was a greasy-haired man inside, slurping ramen noodles out of a cup and watching something on the TV. When the door fell in, cup and chopsticks went flying into the air. He scrabbled back on the tatami with a high scream like one about to die, his fingers clawing at the mats as he tried to pull himself to his feet.

But Katerina was faster. She strode forward, and before the man could even sit up straight her black-gloved fingers had closed around his throat. His breath rasped as he tried to draw in air through the pinched tube of his windpipe, his feet drumming on the mats helplessly. His fists slammed against her ribs, but he might as well have been hitting a stone wall for all the force his weak blows made. Her smiling eye, the bright red eye, watched him all the while, her plush, sensual red lips curved in a hearty grin.

She relented a little and he drew in a great gasp of air. “Catch your breath, there’s a good lad. I came all the way from Mother Russia just to speak to one of your comrades, I can wait a while longer while you recollect yourself, for if you decide to make this difficult I might be here a little longer while I help you find your voice, yes?” Her English was crisp, if a bit accented.

Takeichi was so scared that his tongue felt like lead. Yet he found himself croaking out the words in her same language, shocked at his own defiance even as he spoke. “I…won’t…tell you! You’d…torture me…anyway….heard of you from Hitoshi, told me…told me not to say…anything….” Just talking through his bruised throat was torture, after that half-strangling Katerina had done to him. Her eye glittered at the mention of his boss, and suddenly Takeshi’s stomach fell through the floor. All too late, he realized what he’d done.

”I will consider this Hitoshi to be your boss. A pencil-dicked fool like you could certainly not be the local goon boss…you’d have been chewed up, digested, and turned into shit a long time ago by one of the local Yakuza oyabun within moments. Now we come to the crux of the matter…can you locate the Red Tiger for me?” Katerina watched him closely. The flicker of recognition in his face when she mentioned the shop told her that she was on the right track.

But he was recalcitrant. “N-no! I….can’t! If he knows…he’ll kill me.” Takeichi looked up at her with eyes full of fright. He seemed about to burst into tears. "Please...please don't make me say it..."

She laid the back of her gloved hand across his face in a heavy blow, and his world exploded in pain. His vision blurred and his head swam, his cheek feeling curiously numb. Some of his teeth actually felt loose. Laboriously, he lifted his gaze back to hers, blood running from a split lip. Katerina looked as cheerful as ever – in fact, he swore she was smiling like a bride at her bedding.

“Did that refresh your memory a little, comrade? I think you just told me that you were having some little problem of remembering where the shop is, so I gave you a little tap so you can recollect.” She glanced over his shoulder at the TV, noting the bright colours and fluid movement of the anime he’d been glued to for the past few minutes. “All this television’s rotted your brain, friend. Over in Russia, we are lucky if we have colour television! You Japanese are so lucky, staying in your comfortable little apartments and enjoying your color TV’s, your instant meals…if only my home was half as luxurious! Ah, I would never have left it. I-“

Takeichi’s bowels had relaxed in sheer fright. The stench of human feces filled the little apartment, and Katerina left off talking, a look of disgust forming on her features. “Idiot! I have not even begun to torture you and already you shit yourself like a little baby! Oh, you Japanese are such great ninnies! I should have known better to expect more from a country that lets these American hogs run wild and set up bases on their own soil – you just watch those pigs try to do that on Mother Russia’s soil. You just watch. But let me get back to my point before you pass away on me. Tell me how I can reach the Red Tiger.”

Choking down a sob, Takeichi told her.

This post has been edited by Dave Rodgers on Jul 28 2008, 11:08 PM
Meteor
Posted: Jul 28 2008, 10:46 PM


Were you expecting something else?
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[STILL OBVIOUS]This fic is EPIC WIN!1!11[/STILL OBVIOUS]

More.
Sanae
Posted: Jul 28 2008, 11:36 PM


IDW Okamisan
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I like how you manage to create all sorts of tensions moving from one scene to the other. Very well done! And, spasiba tovarischch! tongue.gif
Proud Contributor of the Music Section Revival Project
Drew
Posted: Jul 29 2008, 04:52 AM


Bought not Built
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Damn, DR.

I like the way this is going.
Dave Rodgers
  Posted: Aug 10 2008, 07:45 PM


Man who stand on toilet high on pot.
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…Police are still on the lookout for the suspects behind an apartment break-in that occurred last night in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo. Nothing of value was taken, but the ferocity of which the intruders entered the apartment still has the Metropolitan police scratching their heads, as the door was blown off from the hinges…

Keisuke hunched down in his chair, trying to block out the insistent voice of the newscaster as best as he could. He would have turned the damn thing off, but his brother had the remote and he was too busy trying to eat breakfast before school. Not that he even wanted to eat. The food was ash in his mouth, and his stomach felt like lead. He’d barely slept last night, too. Altogether, he was thoroughly out of sorts.

…The sole occupant of the apartment was beaten slightly and treated at the local hospital for injuries sustained to his head and face from the attackers. The victim was Kawabashi Takeichi, current tenant….

“Keisuke? You look like you haven’t had a wink of sleep. Are you all right?”

Keisuke abruptly pushed his bowl away. His throat was too tight for eating.

“Just a little insomnia. I’m fine.”

His reply was mechanical and wooden. Ryousuke pretended not to notice this for his brother’s sake, but he could not resist prying a little more.

“If you’re worried about your friend, you can go over to his house right from school instead of coming home. Skip school if you’re particularly concerned, I’ll explain your absence for you, but just this once. You won’t get a single thing accomplished if you spend the entire day like this.”

Ryousuke took a sip of coffee. Waited.

Finally his brother replied, staring at the wooden grain of their countertop all the while.

“I…I was over in Chiyoda that night. Right outside of his apartment building.” Keisuke’s voice was full of strain, his face drawn.

“I didn’t even get to go inside. Just as I stepped out of my car, about three black cars – you know the type, tinted windows, black rims, and bright headlights – pulled up to the curb behind me. For a few minutes I was dead-ass sure they were some Yakuza headbreakers come to bust Takeichi’s nuts a little for being late on his payments or losing one of their shipments like last time. I figured going in wouldn’t be such a smart idea, so I stay outside like a f**kin’ dumbass and let them see me standing there right next to my car. And that’s not even the worst part. These aren’t the up-jumped thugs with tattoos you see around the ward sometimes. These guys looked like they were fresh out of Okinawa, except that they didn’t speak English and they were dressed weird. They weren’t armed, though…unless there was a shitload of weapons in the cars that I didn’t see. f**k if I would know, I didn’t even stay around long enough to get a good look at them. It was all so sudden…and when she approached, my nerve broke and I ran.”

“She?” Ryousuke inquired, brows lifting. He had been listening so intently his coffee had cooled a little.

Keisuke nodded, running fingers through his messy, bedheaded blonde hair. He had yet to spike it…maybe today would be one of those days when he went au naturel instead.

“That’s right. It was a woman gaijin that had these dudes running after her like rabid pitbulls. I don’t even think I should be telling you about her, but this woman was taller than I was by at least four inches, I’m not gonna lie. I had to look up to look at her face…which bugged me out enough. That she was dressed up like some crazy mix between a dominatrix and a Russian military officer wasn’t helping. I expected her to get me right between the eyes with a Makarov when she walked up towards me, but instead she tells me “Nice car” and then warns me not to follow her in. I didn’t even need to be f**kin’ told twice, I just got the hell out of there the moment she turned her eye off me.”

Ryousuke looked at his brother quizzically. “Are you sure you didn’t run into some actors at a movie set, in all your confusion? Or maybe she was a particularly expensive escort. Maybe your friend happens to like being dominated – might be one of his little itches that he can’t scratch very regularly, and he decided to treat himself that day. The other men could have been security.”

Keisuke shook his head vehemently. “Nah, bro. I’m dead-ass. If she was an escort, then I’m the f**kin’ Emperor. I’m telling you, she was way too…severe.”

Ryousuke’s brow furrowed. He took a pensive swallow of the lukewarm coffee.

“Right. So you were there just minding your own business, and this woman approaches you out of nowhere, admires your car, and then disappears with a bunch of goons into your friend’s apartment building. According to the news, no one was killed, but-“

“That’s not the f**king point!” Keisuke exploded, standing up so abruptly his chair almost fell backwards. He realized that he was breathing harder than usual, and strove to control himself, consciously taking a deep breath and letting it out slowly.

Ryousuke chose not to pour gasoline on the fire. He poured another cup of steaming back coffee instead, adding a miniscule amount of sugar and some milk for taste. “Keisuke, think this through first. This friend of yours must be alive and well, which means that he can tell you what happened and who these people are. He’s not hospitalized, or we would have known from the TV. Are you worried that this woman might find you and come pay you a visit?”

Keisuke suddenly felt tired. The hours of lost sleep weighed on him, and it was all he could do not to yawn. “Well…yeah. It bugged me pretty badly.”

“And why would she have any interest in you? When you bought your car, I seem to recall that you left the gangster lifestyle behind with your motorbike. You’re nothing to the underworld now, Keisuke. They’ve probably forgotten you existed.”

Keisuke blinked slowly. “….right.”

“So you were just having anr attack of paranoia. Take a day off and relax at home. You could certainly use the rest…if you walked into school looking dead on your feet, people are going to think our parents don’t take care of us.” Ryousuke finished stirring the milk into his coffee cup and sipped carefully.

All of this didn’t quite add up in Keisuke’s mind. But it did make him wonder why this rattled him so badly, given the amount of times he’d gotten into closer shaves than these. His brother might actually be right in this too. Already he was starting to feel a little annoyed at himself for being so cowardly.

“Figured as much. You managed to explain it all away again. Reminds me of the time I first got used to driving something with four wheels, now that you bring it up.”

“And?”

”You knew that I was scared of that big, heavy thing back then.” Keisuke chuckled humorlessly. “As much as I hate to admit it. Just like you’ve worked out my little…erm….problem here after I told you about it. How’d you guess?”

“Keisuke, people are only angry when they have something to fear.” Ryosuke’s voice was sterner now. Yet, he sounded more solemn than angry. “You were obviously angry, and I guessed correctly that you were deeply troubled about something. However, I will ask you something about this incident that you may not wish to answer.”

Ryousuke watched his brother closely as he said this, his expression carefully neutral.

“Go ahead.” Terse and to the point was Keisuke’s reply. Feeling confident that he would get the truth, Ryousuke continued.

“Was someone with you when you went to visit your friend’s apartment?”

There was a flicker in the younger Takahashi brother’s eyes. A second later than he’d have liked, he managed to frame a reply.

”I was. Just a friend from old times.” He looked at Ryousuke sharply. “Why’d you ask?”

“It’s unlike you to be so worried for your own safety, so I thought someone you did not want harmed might have accompanied you there.”

Keisuke lifted his shoulders in a shrug. “Figured you’d say that sooner or later,” he muttered, half to himself. He turned and stalked out of the kitchen, helping himself to one of Ryousuke’s pieces of toast on his way.

“You’re welcome,” the elder Takahashi sibling said to Keisuke’s retreating back, sarcasm in his voice.







The rest of the day was as routine and mundane as it could possibly be, as if the world were trying to assure Keisuke that last night was little more than a nightmare that’d spilled over into wakefulness. He went to school as usual, stood up and sat down when directed to as usual, sat through dreadfully boring lectures as usual.

The school he went to was prestigious. Nothing less would do for the scions of the Takahashi family. Ryousuke was an alumni of this school, and he was going on to University, with medical aspirations in mind. Keisuke would soon be graduating, himself. He looked forward to it, as he hated this school.
The uniform felt like funeral clothing, the food was subpar, the faculty were rude and regularly treated him, like the other students, as though they were lower forms of life, and the teachers were cold and impassive. Here to do their jobs, they came in, read from a book, gave them some simple questions to answer, and then loaded them up with boring, extremely methodical homework that seemed to take hours to finish.

By lunchtime he joined the crowd filing out of the classroom, already thinking about what he’d be doing once he left. A visit to Takeichi’s place to check on him and see if he was fine was in order, of course. His friend would have a little explaining to do, about this new business with Gaijin dropping in at odd hours of the day and telling him what he could and could not do on turf that was strictly under their control. The entire thing made him uneasy.

He wanted Miyoko, most of all. She had been ready, up until the chance encounter with the strange woman on the apartment steps. Then she had wanted to go home right away, even insisting that he let her off at the next block. Keisuke had been too unsettled at the time to even second-guess her decision, but later when he had drove home he found himself wishing he’d just given his brother a call and then gone over to her house for the night.

Keisuke was still brooding about this even as he took his seat in the cafeteria, hardly noticing the taste of his food. He was slurping some cold noodles down and spacing out when his world suddenly went dark. Soft slender fingers were over his eyes.

“Hey, guess who?’

Keisuke chuckled in spite of himself, placing his chopsticks down. “I know it’s you, Miyoko. That perfume of yours is pretty recognizable.”

“I hope so. It cost me a good twenty-eight thousand yen down at the mall, you know.” Miyoko plopped an open can of juice on the table and sat down in the chair opposite his, looking as perky and pink-cheeked as he’d bet her last, a stark contrast with the scared little girl that left his car last night. “Really, Kei-chan, you look solemn enough for a funeral. Lunch not quite what you were expecting today?”

Keisuke glanced down at his bento, seeing the food for the first time that he’d been sitting there. “No, actually. It’s damn good – but look at you! You’re bouncing around as if nothing at all happened last night.”

“Well, at least you’re watching the right places.” She smiled wickedly.

“Pity you weren’t as excitable as this last night.”

“Oh, come on! Wouldn’t you be pretty shaken up by a bunch of Gaijin thugs flocking out of their cars, cornering you on the steps of a decrepit apartment building that barely anyone lives in? You looked ready to bolt the moment the ringleader advanced on you in that ridiculous getup.”

Keisuke picked up his chopsticks and stabbed at the cold noodles irritably. “You can say that now, but I bet you wouldn’t want her to come striding into this room all of a sudden.”

”Now you’re just trying to make up for lost ground.” Miyoko fished a slim black bento box out of her own bookbag, opening it up on the table. As pricey as the lacquered box itself seemed, glossy and smooth-edged, the meal inside was relatively meager. Rice made up the majority of it.

“You ought to save money for better lunches,” Keisuke observed. “Anyway, why are you here? It’s not like you to even bother waking in the morning for it..”

“Oh, stop. The most important thing for me was seeing that you were all right. And I wanted to apologize for just leaving you like that last night.” Her hand found his, and she laced her fingers between his artfully. “Want me to make up for it today?”

Keisuke squeezed her hand back, gently. “Wish I could. I don’t want to cause even more problems for my bro just yet, though. I was out late enough last night.”

“Poor diddums. Then I’ll just have to come over to your house after you’re done with school…”

“I was actually going to visit Takeichi by myself today. See if he was okay after that woman got through with him. He was on the news, you know.”

”I saw.” Miyoko sounded put off now, and she let go of his hand. “I suppose if you really, really wanna do that I can’t stop you.” She broke her wooden chopsticks apart irritably, and began stabbing at her rice with them, breaking the sticky white grains apart into palatable little pieces.

“Why, do you want to come along?”

“No. I’d rather not run into Red Death again, if it’s all the same to you.”

Keisuke watched her scarf down the rice, a quizzical look on his face. “Who?”

“That Gaijin woman! I don’t know her name, but that did come to mind when I saw her. She looks like a trained Soviet commando…except for the fact that the USSR collapsed some time ago. Was she living under a rock up there for the last few years, or is she just one of those people who think that Russia was better under the rule of the Socialists?” Miyoko paused to take a gulp of juice, watching him. Her shiny green eyes were furtive.

“Beats me. I did think she was going to put one right between my damn eyes when she walked up, though.” Keisuke scraped the bottom of his bento box, trying to get the last of the cold noodles. They were unappetizing in taste and looks but he was too hungry to care. The one piece of toast he’d eaten on his way out of the house felt like it’d been a lifetime ago.

Miyoko nodded. “Yep. I was really worried for a moment. I’ve dealt with big bosses before, but never with Gaijin, and especially not when they outnumber you in the tens. They’re really dangerous. One wrong word, one little move they don’t like, and before you know it they’ve shot you and tossed your bullet-riddled corpse in the bay for fish to snack on.”

The imagery made Keisuke feel uncomfortable. Suddenly less hungry, he pushed away what was left of his bento. Miyoko noticed the lightly buttered, spiced morsels of grilled shrimp, and filched them almost as soon as he’d let it go. “Nice. Just as I was starting to think that she probably offered him a nice cup of tea and some biscuits to go with it.”

Miyoko delicately plucked one of the still-warm shrimp up with her chopsticks. She ate quietly, chewing it as though she were personally angry at the little creature. Finally she dabbed at her lips with a paper napkin and spoke. “Kei-chan, I’m sure he’s fine. Just a little shaken up. The police didn’t report any murders in the apartment, or…”

“He was hospitalized, Miyoko. Unless he went there for a bump on the knee, I’d say they did something to him.”

“And if they did?” she shot back. “What’re you gonna do, go on your own little vendetta against them? Sneak up on her while she’s relaxing at home and tweak her toes for being a naughty little girl?” She sounded derisive. “It’s all over our heads, Kei-chan. We can’t do a damn thing about it. All we can do is hope that the scary Gaijin lady gets it into gear and goes back to her Motherland. The sooner the better. I’d like to take it easy again when I’m in the City.”

“You live in the city,” Keisuke pointed out tactfully.

Miyoko scowled. She looked as though she were about to hurl her chopsticks at Keisuke, but then she lowered them and went back to devouring the shrimp instead, tails and all. “Details. I meant more like the district that we went to, you know?”

“Sure. I’d been meaning to ask, though – how’d you get in here? You didn’t pay the tuition fees, I’m guessing…”

Miyoko’s scowl gave way to a cheeky grin. “That’s right. If you ask the right people, though, you can get your hands on a uniform and student idea. I haven’t actually been in a school for…mmm, maybe a year if I’m correct. Some might say more.”

Keisuke shook his head in amazement. “Didn’t know you went to those lengths just to see me.”

“I didn’t,” Miyoko pointed out in a matter-of-fact tone. “Sometimes I deal E and speed to the kids on campus. Security gets irritated if they see people walking around in normal clothes, and I don’t want the police to get involved just because some dickbag security guard sees me and figures that he needs a promotion.” She saw the downcast look on his face, and giggled. “Also, I figured I could get something to eat here.”

“Yeah, you did. Most of my lunch.”

”Weeeell…I’ll need my energy later, what with all the lost time you’ll want to catch up on.”

“Tease,” Keisuke accused her mock-seriously.

“Guilty,” Miyoko admitted lightly. “But only to some. I oughta be saying that to you, since you’re going to be visiting your friend and leaving me all by myself tonight.”

He was framing a reply to this when the high, tinny melody of his cell’s ringtone interrupted. Keisuke shoved a hand in his pocket, and after some fumbling around he drew it out and flicked it open. “Yeah, I’m busy. What?”

“Hey, kid, your friend’s all right.”

Keisuke immediately went cold all over. “Who is this?” he said, struggling to keep the sudden dread from creeping into his voice. Miyoko was watching him closely.

“Call me a guy with your interests in mind. The Mistress isn’t too happy about you scampering off on her last night, you know. She wanted to talk to you about something rather important, and usually she likes to get her way in things.” The male voice on the other end was cold and impersonal, gravelly from too much cigarette smoking from what Keisuke could guess. It was accented similar to the strange red woman’s, but less so, and this speaker’s grasp on Japanese was good enough for him to understand what they were saying readily.

“I really don’t want any trouble. We didn’t do anything to you, so why are you bothering me like this?”

“Take it up with my boss if you want. I’m not trying to make your life a misery on purpose, but when she wants someone she usually gets her hands on them one way or another. You can see what happened to Takeichi when he tried to wriggle his way out of her fingers. Chances are if you don’t want someone to come to your house and smash your lovely car’s body in, and then do you the same way afterwards, you know what I’d do? I’d come over here and have a little chat with her like she wants.”

“And how do I know you won’t just off me?” Keisuke asked tersely.

“Same way you know your ass is sitting on your chair comfortably at school instead of resting at the bottom of Tokyo bay is how. It ever occurred to you, that maybe if we –wanted- you and your little girlfriend dead for snooping around…that we might’ve just shot your mouthbreathing selves right then and there, instead of giving you an entire day to get the hell out of Japan?”

Keisuke actually hadn’t considered this. Not that he was going to give the man the pleasure of knowing, at any rate. “Fine, you’ve convinced me. Where does she want me?”

“Seven o’ clock sharp, at the same apartment complex we met last time. Goes without saying, but don’t tell anyone where you’re going or it might well be the last time they ever hear from you, racer boy. Don’t be late.”

There was a terribly final click as the other speaker hung up. Slowly Keisuke lowered his phone, feeling icy needles of nervousness jabbing him in the gut.

“Who was that?” Miyoko asked, looking at him worriedly.

“Some guy. He didn’t tell me his name. All he said was that the woman we met last night wants me to visit her. Either that or I get visited by some thugs and have my car smashed to bits. Then they’ll smash me to bits, he’s said.”

Miyoko huffed. “He’s just trying to scare you. They talk big, but when they see your house I don’t think-“

“I don’t –WANT- them to see my house, Miyoko! What if they broke in while my family was at home? I don’t want to put them all in danger just because I was too pussy to come by and listen to whatever she has to say! Look, he said that they didn’t want to kill us, and that if they did we already would be. She just wants to talk.”

“Oh, yeah, right. And she’ll offer you a sit-down and some snacks, I shouldn’t wonder. You really want to be in their territory, Kei-chan? Be my guest. But one thing’s for sure…I’ll have to come with you.”

“It’s too dangerous,” Keisuke replied almost instinctively.

“Don’t be stupid. You know I’ve been dealing with Oyabun when I was three years younger than you. On top of that, I’m older, so we’re going to do what I say. Don’t you always listen to your older brother? You live in mortal fear of him, if I recall correctly…him and his infamous lectures.”

Keisuke ground his teeth together. “Not even close. His preaching could kill a man if you left someone alone with him long enough. But this woman didn’t say she wanted to see you…if she did, I wouldn’t have a damn thing to say to stop you from coming.”

Miyoko gestured airily with her juice can. “Don’t worry, I’m sure she’ll be just as glad to see me there as she will be to see you. For all we know, she could actually be a pretty decent person.”

“…and maybe one day, a hundred million yen are going to fall on my head and knock me unconscious,” Keisuke scoffed. “I’ll wake up swimming around in hundred-yen bills, all suffocating in the money. There’ll even be a news story about it…Local Teenager Drowns In Money, Literally, or something like that.”

“If your racing career doesn’t take off, go be a standup comedian,” Miyoko said, mock-seriously. She nibbled at the remaining rice, before closing her now-empty bento and tucking it back inside of her bookbag. A rather promising shuffling came from within, not entirely unlike the sound of pill-bags.

Keisuke took his own bento and closed the lid on it, peering into her bookbag curiously. “Whatcha got in there, anyway?”

Miyoko tapped a finger against her cheek thoughtfully. “Hmmm….ten tabs of LSD, thirty pills of E, twenty pills of Adderall, some Oxycodone…why do you ask?” she said, in angelic tones. She sounded like a Girl Scout listing off the cookies that one could buy.

Keisuke fought to keep his jaw from dropping. “What in the –hell- are you doing with all that on you?”

“Making money.” Miyoko gave a dismissive shrug of her shoulders, a serene look on her face. “The kids around here love their Adderall – helps them study for exams and cram late into the night, so they gobble it up. The tranceheads always want some E. And do you really have to ask why I would carry LSD on me? Everyone wants a tab of bliss. You should have one before you go to that woman’s place…oh, wait, that might be a bad idea. She might shoot you for being high around her.”

Keisuke’s brows furrowed. “Or I might, y’know, crash my car while tripping f**king BALLS.” The bell signaling return to class sounded. With a tiny sigh, he picked up his water bottle and gulped the last of it down before binning it, scooping his bento into his bookbag and getting to his feet. “Well, off I go. You have fun dealing drugs.”

Miyoko grinned. “Sure will. We’ll talk after you leave class.”




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CULTURAL NOTES:

In Japan, it is difficult to get plant-based drugs, so synthesized chemicals and pills like Ecstasy and LSD are really easy to get. They have about fifty different types of Speed down there, and I'm not talking about car racing either. whistling.gif I kinda wish I lived in Japan for that reason, but then I wouldn't be able to toke any more. Sigh.
Meteor
Posted: Aug 11 2008, 09:17 AM


Were you expecting something else?
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Epic update is epic. Shift key not required.
Dave Rodgers
  Posted: Dec 12 2008, 08:35 AM


Man who stand on toilet high on pot.
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In the words of Old Snake from Metal Gear Solid 4...


...Kept ya waiting, huh?

Expect more regular updates. This chapter contains a few shout-outs to people, including Pear if he can figure out where I'm talking about!

Chapter 3


You’re No Good


Great…just perfect.

Keisuke stared at the green-and-black junk heap sitting behind his FD3S as if a long enough look would make it disappear.

As he moved closer to it, the car only looked uglier. Dents and cracks pitted the patchwork paintjob of black, with green panels here and there. Rust had eaten away at the edges of the front and rear quarter panels, orange-brown smears on the parts of clean metal that weren’t scarred or chipped.
From the shape of its body, Keisuke thought that it must have been an older Mitsubishi Starion. It had the slanted hood, the angular front clip and the low, aggressive stance. Years ago it might have been the envy of all who beheld it, but now it seemed to be little more than a dilapidated old sports car, beaten down from years and years of hard use.

A young man was leaning on the hood, a cigarette perched between his lips, watching Keisuke and Miyoko approach. Lanky and long-limbed, his hair seemed as untidy as though he’d just rolled out of bed, his eyeglasses shielding cloudy grey eyes. He was dressed well though he’d intentionally roughed up his appearance a little, having left his blue undershirt’s collar open and without a tie, a wallet chain dangling from his belt. His choice of footwear was odd – black construction boots.

“Either he’s a hell of a driver, or someone who crashes at least once a day. There’s no way he can really work the pedals with those boots…” Miyoko said quietly, voicing Keisuke’s thoughts.

“It’s hard, but not impossible if you’ve got a decent amount of leg space,” Keisuke answered. “That’d probably explain why his car looks the way it does.”

Upon noticing them, the young man straightened and came forward. “Hey. That’s a nice car you’ve got – RX-7, right? Newest model?” He nodded at Keisuke’s yellow FD3S.

His decent grasp of Japanese surprised Keisuke slightly, but he let none of his surprise show in his voice. “Yeah, it’s an FD3S. You like Japanese cars?” he asked, trying not to sound too incredulous.

“Like ‘em? I love ‘em to death, bro! I read all the tuner mags that come out of here – Option, Best Motoring International…got my finger on the pulse of the automotive scene here, y’know? Learned Japanese just so that I could read ‘em. It was hard at first, but…” He glanced towards Keisuke’s car again. “So what’s your thing? Zero-yon, Touge, expressway…”

“Touge,” Keisuke admitted. “My older brother didn’t like straightline racing, and he’s the one who got me into racing in general. There was a time I just used to think cars were these big, slow rolling roadblocks. That was back when I still rode motocycles, though.”

Miyoko, who had been steadily losing interest in the conversation, broke in at this point. “Hate to interrupt the whole little track-meeting or whatever you guys are having here, but I think we were supposed to be going someplace…?” She gave the young man a very direct look.

The youth glanced down quickly, as soon as her eyes met his. “Yeah…sorry, I got a little off topic. We’re gonna take a little drive down to the city if you don’t mind. Can you leave your car here for now?” he asked.

Keisuke gave the RX-7 a cursory glance. It was sitting under the boughs of a spindly cherry tree, well out of the way of foot traffic and passing cars, but he was still a little uncomfortable about abandoning his car for what might very well be a long while. The drive certainly wouldn’t be short, and he had no way of knowing how much time he’d spend there. Getting a ride back might not be guaranteed, either.

A cold raindrop on his skin interrupted his thoughts. Another struck him, and then another. Miyoko looked up at the dark clouds churning above them, wrapping her arms around her body as the wind picked up. “I think we should go. Like, right now…?”

Keisuke finally gave in. “All right, we’ll go in your ride. You’d better get us back here after we’re done with this.”

“That was the plan. Did you think we’d just leave you stranded in Tokyo?” The young man looked incredulous, as though wondering how Keisuke could ever have imagined such a thing.

”It takes a while to get from here to there. Are you sure you’re good for it?” Keisuke asked.

“Now is definitely not the time for this!” Miyoko interjected furiously, sheltering her head under her bookbag from the raindrops that were now steadily pattering down. Keisuke threw her a look, and then turned back to the young man. “Alright, alright…let’s get going.”

They rushed back to the beaten-up car, tumbling into the warm, dry interior gratefully. Miyoko quickly buckled herself in, Keisuke hastening to do the same as their driver started the car…or tried to. No matter how he twisted the key, the starter merely whirled without the engine turning over. He kept trying, turning the key desperately, again and again.

Finally the engine coughed to life. From its asthmatic tone Keisuke gathered that the air filter probably dated back to the factory that the car had been assembled in. Then the car shook under him as its driver shifted into gear. Keisuke could already tell that they’d be in for a rough ride with that first shift, and dreaded the half-hour of being subjected to lurching and shuddering as their driver abused the clutch.

At least his car might die before he throws us side-on into a barrier at 140 kph, he thought grimly to himself. It didn’t bring much comfort.





Much further away Katerina was driving herself to Shinjuku in the comfort of the black Mercedes, insulated from the noise and bustle of Tokyo’s crowded streets. Even the rough patches on the road did not trouble her, as the Mercedes merely glided over them with quiet ease.

Truly a fine car. I should keep this one after I’ve finished this job, and garage my Lancia here until I have need of it…

Stoplights glared red before her, and she eased on the brake. The Mercedes whispered to a stop immediately in spite of its huge, heavy body, its engine purring so quietly she could barely make out its faint note under the soundproofed silence of the cabin. The seats were so large she felt almost as though she were sitting on a couch rather than a carseat, and almost too plush. At the touch of a button the radio would come through on speakers that gave crystal-clear sound, enough to make an audiophile weep tears of joy.

J-pop music is really a terrible thing to waste this fine sound system on. If only I had some CD’s at hand…

She had not known the luxury of driving a car with such a fully-equipped audio system yet. Having a bundle of CD’s at hand as most drivers did these days was something she hadn’t quite gotten into yet, on account of that.

The green light blinked on, and Katerina gently put weight upon the throttle. The Mercedes surged forward without even so much as a jerk – it merely rolled forward obediently and swiftly. It did not slam her back into the seat, and yet the car accelerated so rapidly for its size.

In seconds she had reached her chosen street. She flicked on her blinkers and turned the wheel, giving the wing mirrors a quick check. A subcompact was flanking the large sedan’s left side, keeping her from changing into its late. She applied a little more throttle, and the RPM needle lifted gracefully. Dutifully, the black car slid past the subcompact and into its lane, slowing its pace as she touched the brakes yet again.

It’s heavy, but it stops obediently. Not like some large cars, she thought, approving. The Mercedes rounded the corner as nimbly as a car many times smaller, with hardly any bodyroll. All it took was the lightest touch upon that leather-wrapped steering wheel. She liked that. It was not such a bad change from her favored Lancia, after all.
Indeed, this car would likely be staying with her a while…possibly as payment for the job done instead. Well, a small part of it at any rate.

The bright neon-lit golden dragon coiling up the side of the building caught Katerina’s eye immediately, and as usual there were quite a few cars parked in front of it. She slowed the Mercedes and looked for a place to park, noting all the while that every single vehicle here appeared to be a luxury vehicle, an import, or a sleek, customized car decorated with all sorts of outlandish stickers, lights, and spoilers.

She maneuvered the large Mercedes in between a Toyota Cressida and a Honda Integra. Despite its size, the car was fairly cooperative with her efforts to park it, and in moments she was done. Shutting off the engine and pocketing the keys, she stepped out of the black car and shoved the door shut behind her. A click of the key fob, and the security system chirped once to let her know it was operational.

Then Katerina turned her steps towards the building. When she had gotten close, she could hear the faint sounds of music from within. She lifted a gloved fist and rapped on the thick steel door a few times, then stepped back and waited, wondering if anyone had even heard that.

For a few moments, there was no reply. Just as Katerina was about to hit the door again, a peephole slid open and two eyes stared at her. Almost as soon as it opened, the peephole slammed shut and the door opened, revealing the doorguard – a slight, small man with a mop of shiny black hair. His white shirtsleeves were rolled up to his elbows, and his trousers looked as if they hadn’t been given a good wash in a week. But what Katerina noticed first were the two pistols holstered at each hip. She gave him a careful nod.

The doorguard waved her in with a noncommittal grunt, slamming the heavy steel door shut behind her once she’d stepped in. Katerina carefully made her way through the crowd, stepping aside to let one of the waitresses rush by with a loaded plate of savory-smelling Chinese cuisine, or dodging a customer with one of the very same waitresses in his arms. The restaurant was, as always, full of patrons.

Men in pressed suits of black, with nearly opaque shades that hid their eyes, sat at the gambling tables whiling away money and time over mahjong tiles amidst clouds of cigarette smoke. She could hear laughter from victorious winners raking in money from the pot, or sometimes the groans and curses from bitter losers forced to part with their money or possessions. One fellow appeared to have lost his brand-new cellular phone to another, and he was not taking it well. Voices were being raised and some of the players were rising from their seats

Katerina kept walking, not wanting to end up in the middle of an argument between gangsters or a fight over money. Nearer the center, it was a bit more peaceful, and the sounds here were quieter. Soft conversation filled the air with a pleasant buzz, amidst the occasional clatter and scrape of utensils on dishes. Around her, businessmen allowed themselves to unwind after a long day at the office, with good food, good drink, and of course the waitresses…who seemed more than willing to stay and keep company if they were paid a little extra. After all, there was no shortage of them! Katerina could see one particularly ambitious fellow surrounded by three of them, loudly regaling them with some story about his sexual prowess. Dutifully they would laugh when he did and met his gaze with smiles. She was clueless as to how they could even tolerate five seconds of his drivel, but then she caught sight of the crisp Yen note stuffed into one’s stocking.

The smell of food was making her stomach rumble, reminding her that she hadn’t eaten a thing all day. She turned to find a free table, but before she could take a step forward one of the waitresses had already found her.

“Hi! Welcome to the Pearl Empire bar and grill. Would you like a table for yourself or will you be sitting at the bar?”

Katerina turned and gave the girl a cursory glance. “That was quick.”

”Service is always quick here! Our Mistress won’t stand for us keeping customers waiting, you know. It’s always been like this at the Pearl, ever since I was working here!”

Katerina smiled. “I know. Me and the owner go back a ways…speaking of her, could you tell her that I want a word? Alone,” she added pointedly.

The girl nodded, eager to please. “Yes, of course! What would you like to drink, while you wait?”

“Gin would be fine. And water, afterward.” Katerina shrugged off her heavy dark jacket and flung it over a nearby coathook, tugging her officer’s cap a little further down over her brows. She did not care to be scrutinized by any of the tough-looking black-suited Yakuza prowling about like tigers, with frowns on their lips and furrowed brows, spoiling for a fight.

Her waitress bustled off as she lowered herself into one of the cramped booths, and Katerina watched her go. She caught herself eyeing the girl’s tight, snug-fitting cheongsam, most especially the way the slit up the side showed a flash of her creamy thigh. No wonder so many men end up paying extra to have their waitresses stay…and even more end up taking them upstairs. Li must be rolling in cash… She gazed around, watching one businessman dandle a waitress upon his knee. His hands were steadily creeping up her sides, and she was laughing, possibly at something he’d said.

Just watching the room was entertainment enough, but Kat soon grew tired of it and let her attention wander to the small TV set suspended from the ceiling, watching a game of baseball unfold. She played with the menu, already knowing just what she wanted. Dumplings. I would kill a man with my bare hands for some of the dumplings from here. Forget the girls, the dumplings here are worth a million dollars each, and there will never be a better place to go for them…

Presently the proprietress of the restaurant appeared. Composed and serene, the Chinese woman wore a flowing kimono of many colours, green and gold and red, with flower patterns upon the silk. Her hair was done up in a tight bun, giving her a professional look. Her face was open, calm, yet those stern jade eyes brooked no argument. She carried herself elegantly, her dress flowing about her. “I am Li,” she announced to Katerina firmly. “How may I help you, madam? Is something the matter with your-“

She broke off suddenly, staring at Katerina. All the composure went out of her, and she dropped into the opposing seat, her mouth parted in surprise. Her gaze immediately rolled over the patch on Katerina’s eye. “Kat…my God, what happened to you? I didn’t even recognize you at first glance...you should have told me you returned the moment you set foot on the island! You have no idea how worried I’ve been! For heaven’s sake, would it have killed you to tell me what you were doing, where you were, -how- you were doing while you were gone? Your face…what happened to your eye? How did that happen to you?”

Katerina braved the barrage of questions, letting Li go on without interruption, her gloved hands folded before her. As Li finished, her waitress returned with a glass of gin and a cup of clear, cool water, setting them down before Katerina. “Would you like to order now?”

Katerina replied immediately. “Steamed dumplings with sauce, please Two helpings – one in a dish to take away, if you can. I’d like something to eat later, and I can’t stay here long.”

Once the waitress had left, Li gave Katerina a reproachful look. “You can’t even stay for a while and tell me what happened to you?”

“I will, but first, something really important. I need a garage.”

”A garage?” Li blinked owlishly at her, not following.

“One of those things you put cars in. Or an empty house that you won’t mind me driving a car into. I have four vehicles with enough weaponry to start a gang war across the Kanto plain, and nowhere to hide them except for on my ship, and customs is starting to get suspicious.”

“But of course. However…what are you doing in Japan with all that? You’re not trying to sell them, are you?” Li regarded Katerina suspiciously.

“No. It’s a delivery. Can you do it?” Katerina said, getting to the point as quickly as she could.

“Of course. You know that I can. But…this is a strange way to greet your old friends. Coming in here all of a sudden, telling my girls to summon me…I thought for a moment some ‘kuza was upset because he didn’t get his happy ending after the meal. I was just about to bring in security....”

Katerina hid a smile by taking a sip of gin. “That was the quickest way to get a hold of you.”

”You could’ve waited until I came back downstairs,” Li complained.

“Why?” Now it was Katerina’s turn to stare back, a smile upon her plush red lips. “Were you giving one of the customers a special tour of your chambers? I do apologize if I was stopping you from making money…”

Li blushed a deep crimson. “No! Of course not! You know I’ve finished with that.”

”Good.” Katerina took another sip and set her glass down. “You really want to know how I got this little souvenir from the Red Navy? It’s a hell of a long story, and I’ll probably have to pause a few times to shove food in my face.”

“Try me. You dragged me away from my bookkeeping, as well you pay me for it with a good story,” Li replied, smiling sweetly. She leaned closer.

Katerina knew there would be no putting her off. She fished around in her greatcoat’s pockets, removing a pack of menthol cigarettes. Removing one, she placed it between her lips, rummaged for a lighter in her shirt, drew it out, and lit it. She drew in a deep breath, savoring the minty flavor, and exhaled slowly. “Now…I was in command of a submarine killer back then. Where were we? Ah, yes…”




They were on the Barentz sea, one of the deepest shelf seas north of Russia. The Krivak class Frigate was one of the Soviet Union’s weapons against American submersible ships. They were the defending shield of the fleet, bearing themselves into the teeth of the submarines and vanquishing them, making the waters safe for the big, slow cruisers, carriers and battleships to move forward.

Katerina’s command was one of these, a small slight ship named Razitelniyy – Striking. And strike she did. Submarines had every reason to fear her. She was small, much smaller than any of the bigger ships carrying planes, or big guns capable of putting holes in the thickest plates of armor – but she had a most vicious bite, one that would leave a submarine dead in the water. HerSnowstorm missiles were the bane of anything underwater, and her sensors made sure that her crew’s eyes and ears could reach quite far. In this frozen Artic sea, nothing could be seen for miles over the blue water, save for icebergs floating half sunk in the waves, their white peaks jutting from the waves. The real threat hid under the waves…fathoms below, submarines plyed the depths slowly, hungry wolves ready to leap upon unwitting prey and rip them to shreds.

Oh, she was not alone. Friendly ships were always around, and there were a few submarines on their own side as well, powerful and well-armed, more than a match for the American ships. But it was Katerina’s duty to always go ahead of the fleet, to scout out the waters and ensure that it was clear before signaling for the other ships to continue. Or, she would call in support upon finding the enemy, and the full force of the Red Navy would descend upon them. Her support was always ready, poised to attack the minute she gave the order.

In fact, two of her guardian angels were soaring above the blue waters. Heroic pilots of the USSR, flying carrier-based Yak-38’s bristling with armament, keeping the skies clear for her.

”Hey, Striking, we’d love to stay and ogle you for the rest of the afternoon, but we’re bingo on fuel. Permission to leave and fill our bellies? I’m hungry, too.”

Katerina brushed the communications officer away and took up the microphone herself. “All right, Phoenix 1, I’ll let you get away this time. Save some of that galley food for us, I’ll be coming aboard the Kiev for dinner.”

“Not a fan of the shipboard rations, eh? I knew you’d come back for more of our grub. Permission to sit next to you while you eat, Captain?”

Katerina chuckled softly. Pilots never changed. She knew, best of all, because once the role of guarding the skies had been hers. She did miss it, now and again, but striding over the decks of a ship fully under her control and loaded to her keel with weapons would cure that…at least temporarily.

“Phoenix 1, you’d better get back to your carrier before my First Mate shoots you out of the sky and calls it an accident. He’s already jealous enough as it is, and if you keep that up he’ll be beating you to death with a pipe before the night is over.”

The pilot’s reply was a gale of laughter. “He’ll have to catch me first! Phoenix 2, tell the lady how swift I am. She doesn’t seem to know.”

“Yep, he’s fast. So fast that when the enemy comes he’s usually the first one out of there!”

Now it was the others’ turn to laugh. Even Katerina smiled, as the crewmen around her practically rolled on the floor with hilarity. “Sorry, Phoenix 1, but you stepped right into that one perfectly. I would’ve saved you from yourself, but…it’s you,” she finished, amidst more laughter from her crew.

”You guys suck, I’m going home. Phoenix 1 out,” announced the first pilot, though from the mocking tone in his voice he was merely playing along.

“I’d better go give him his ba-ba before he starts crying, Captain. See you at the carrier!”

The radio cut off with a burst of static. Katerina could hear the low roar of the fighters’ engines above her as they sped up, arcing through the sky smoothly to return. Soon it faded away. She handed the mic back to the communications officer and turned to her crew, folding her arms over her chest. “Helmsman, take us a few points northeast, turn her about, then regroup with the fleet. We’re done out here. If you’re all quick about it, I’ll take some of you with me to dinner with the Admiral.”

This invigorated the men, who rushed to comply with her orders. “Changing course, captain. What speed do you want her at?” asked the helmsman. He was already spinning the large iron wheel to the right.

“As fast as you want, brother Mikhail. Put her at full speed if you think we’ve got the fuel for it. I’m as eager to rejoin the fleet as you are.”

Mikhail smiled. “Your wish is my command, captain. Full speed it is. We’re going back.”

“You heard the man! Full speed! Turn her engines all the way up, make her fly!” bellowed the First mate. In moments Katerina heard the deep, throaty roar of the frigate’s engines spooling up. She moved over to the men poring over the ship’s radar, and watched the screens for a moment. “What is that?” she asked, pointing at a small blip near the edge. The officer there squinted at it curiously, before turning to the man at his right.

”Uh…Petrovich, what exactly is that? It’s been hanging on there for a while…”

“I’m not sure,” came the terse reply. “Seems like it was just staying there, I thought it was no threat…maybe one of our own subs trailing along, or a malfunction. It’s too far away to atta-“

An ear-splitting boom resounded through the frigate. The deck flung Katerina upward, and for a split second she could see her men grabbing onto whatever was at hand to keep themselves steady, just before another deafening explosion filled the air. Something hit Katerina’s head, cold, unyielding, steel-hard, and the world turned black…



…She awoke in smoke, and screams.

Katerina forced herself to stay awake. The darkness was creeping up around the edges of her vision. Her body felt heavy, so heavy she could barely lift her head from the cold iron deck. Something warm, sticky, and wet was on her skin, causing her hair to cling to her face.

She rolled over slowly, a moan of agony bubbling out of her as thunderbolts tore through her skull. That was enough moving for now, and she concentrated on looking upward. Pain, dreadful white pain was lancing through her head. It was so strong, stronger than anything she’d ever felt. The little twinges in her body were nothing compared to this. Bile was creeping up her throat, and she struggled not to lose consciousness, vomit, or do both.

For some reason, she could not focus. The world swam around her, the decks above blurry. Katerina strove to blink, but only one eyelid seemed to obey her. She lifted a hand to her face, and when she pulled it away it was covered in blood. Her own blood, hot, and red, running out of her.

She strove to sit up, clutching one of the consoles and howling in pain as the broken glass chewed her fingers, sinking into her flesh and ripping it. She drew herself up again, slowly, surely. A few times she was sure she might pass out before she got upright, but she managed to stay conscious, if barely.

Then she looked around her.

The control room was wrecked. Consoles and gauges had blown apart under the force of what had hit them, steam and smoke pouring from the mess of broken glass, severed wires that spit and hissed with blue sparks, and metal rent apart with deep gouges and gashes, as if clawed by some savage beast.

Men lay dying noisily around her. One unfortunate soul lay trying to hold his own organs in from the ugly red crater that was his stomach, but he was turning paler and paler as his life ran out of him. Another lay facedown as she had, speared through the head by a piece of railing.
Countless others were dead or dying already, choking on their own blood or stabbed through by the deadly shrapnel that their hull had suddenly become.
She did not know what had happened, but from the looks and the sounds of it, something small and highly explosive had hit her vessel, either a suicide submarine or a very agile torpedo.

Her eyes stung from the blood rolling down her face, dripping into her gaze and burning her, but she forced herself to keep her eyes open. The instant she closed them she was dead, she knew all too well. She could already hear the steady gurgling of the sea flowing into her crippled ship, threatening to pull it down into its cold depths. Her legs were jelly, so she dragged herself, on hands and knees, to the radio. Praying that it worked, she turned it on and pulled the headset on her head, but before she could say a word, a concerned voice came through.

Striking, you have not yet returned to fleet space. What happened? Why are you not replying to our transmission? We sent you a message fifteen minutes ago!”

“Attacked…don’t know who did it…send help…we’re dying…” Katerina wheezed, before the headset slipped from her numb fingers. She sank down upon the deck, thinking of home…






When Katerina finished, Li was very pale. Finally the Chinese woman spoke, albeit in halting tones. “Kat, I am so sorry…”

“Don’t be. She was a crippled old hulk of a ship anyway, I was glad of the excuse to get rid of her,” Katerina said, with a humorless smile. She stubbed out her now-dead cigarette butt into the silver ashtray on her table, thinking. Talking of it made her feel strangely detached of it, as though it were something that had happened to another and not her. She almost wondered if it was some nightmare she’d had long before, for surely no man could have survived that..

But a woman survived, and this is proof that I got out of there… Her hand found the patch over the hole in her face, the empty socket that served as a reminder of what the Americans had done to her. I was cured of many things at once when that happened.

“Kat? Are…are you okay?” Li asked. There was something in her face that Katerina could not make out. Then she realized it was fear. She was frightening the poor Chinese woman, she realized with a jolt of surprise.

Katerina put her hand down on the table. Closed her black-gloved fingers into a fist, and then opened them slowly. “I’m fine. It’s just…I didn’t talk about that a lot. I never even thought about it a lot.” I couldn’t have, or I would have killed myself many days before now and left my crewmen unavenged, she thought grimly to herself.

Her waitress returned with a plate of moist, tender dumplings still steaming away merrily, a bowl of savory sauce as well. Setting them down in front of the mercenary, she gave Katerina a pleasant bow. “Enjoy your meal!” And with that she was gone.

Finally… Katerina tore into the food like a starved lion, soaking the dumplings in the sauce to cool them a little before eating them. Li watched her for a while. “So…so what happened after?” she asked, at length.

“Mm. The carrier came out with a few other frigates and picked us up. They didn’t see anything around for miles, and I figure that the people who did it bugged out immediately after.” Or at least, that’s what they had us believe… She took a deep swig of water and sighed in satisfaction, some life returning to her now that food was in her belly. “They took me into the sickbay on our carrier with two others who survived. One, who was tossed overboard by the impact and missed out on all the fun. The other, who was up at the bows and was only jolted around a little bit. The blast knocked him out, but he was okay. The seas took back our ship afterward, along with most of the bodies of my dead crewmen.” She let out a soft sigh. “They say a captain should go down with their ship, but I didn’t. That’s why I left Russia. I couldn’t stand letting my attackers go unpunished…they didn’t know, or care about those bastards, but I can’t rest until I put the ghosts of my men to sleep by spilling the blood of those who killed them.”

She gazed over at Li, her red eye glittering in the dim light. “When they put me back in the sickbay, my footlocker was right next to me with my service pistol in it. I took it out…and put the barrel in my mouth. I was about to pull the trigger, when one of the nurses pulled it out of my hands. They said I had to live for my country…that I had to go on to captain many ships, to continue my role as guardian and protector of the fleet. How could I protect them, when I couldn’t even protect myself?”

Li said nothing, merely looking at her with wide eyes. Katerina continued, more to herself than anything. “I left to put rest to the ghosts that haunt me still. Every night I look up and I see their faces in the darkness…smiling, merry, trusting me till the end. The two I still have begged me not to leave, but I could not stay with them. They followed me, though…and now they’re here with me, following me on this half-assed journey to nowhere, carrying guns for some Swedish son-of-a-b*tch who wouldn’t know a hammer from a ham. This is what I’ve been reduced to. Running errands for rich, spoilt brats. But I’ve found someone who can help me find what I’m looking for, at long last. He is here. And he will lead me to what I seek.”

“What...” Li gulped, and Katerina could see the muscles of her throat working under the smooth skin of her neck. “What do you seek?” she said, tremulously.

“Vengeance.” Katerina leaned over, grasping the Chinese woman’s hand in her gloved one. “Justice.”
Her one smiling eye stared back at the two green ones, staring right into the other’s very soul, and death was in her gaze as she whispered.

“Blood and fire.”



END OF CHAPTER THREE

This post has been edited by Dave Rodgers on Dec 12 2008, 11:15 AM
Meteor
Posted: Dec 15 2008, 04:44 AM


Were you expecting something else?
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Damn good update to a damn good story.

I found two errors though.
QUOTE
A subcompact was flanking the large sedan’s left side, keeping her from changing into its late.

QUOTE
HerSnowstorm missiles were the bane of anything underwater
(there should be a space between the first two words)


I will now wait for the next chapter.
Dave Rodgers
  Posted: Dec 15 2008, 08:13 AM


Man who stand on toilet high on pot.
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QUOTE (Meteor @ Today at 7:44 AM)
Damn good update to a damn good story.

I found two errors though.



I will now wait for the next chapter.

I really need a proofreader. Chunks of text this hueg are hard to handle.

Thanks for catching them! w00t2.gif