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Synopsis: Joel was just a regular ol’ park ranger, minding his own business when Yukihiro, a recently retired assassin for a Tokyo yakuza family, burst through a window and into his life.

Now, he’s trapped quite figuratively in a web of deceit and danger that goes beyond the usual ‘hilarious misunderstanding’ and driven straight to ‘running away for dear life’.

Will Joel survive the adventure? Will Yukihiro ever explain what it’s all about or why Triads want him dead? Or will everyone just be eaten alive by bears?

Previous Chapter – Chapter 9: In The City


Next Chapter – Chapter11: You Outta Know


Chapter 10: Trouble In The Fields


It was a bitterly cold evening, but dark had already fallen several hours ago. A cold sharp wind swept through the city streets, and snow was slowly beginning to fall over Toronto, covering it like a light sugar frosting.  By morning, it would be more like a full layer of icing, but it would be a pretty enough image while it lasted. He liked cake.

Suzuki stared out of the window of his hotel suite, perched on the edge of his double bed, watching the snow fall. Behind him, those members of his crew who had accompanied him to Canada were sat around the suite’s coffee table, scarfing down take away food, pizza, noodles, curry. He could hear the slurp and chewing noises from ten feet away.

Annoyance bubbled deep inside. Since he had crawled out of his bed this morning, this entire operation had only ever rapidly gone further and further FUBAR.

“Oi, Lieutenant Suzuki, you want some of this? The Indian curry, it’s good stuff man, not too spicy,” one of them mumbled through a full mouth. It was probably Kiriyama.

Then there was a dull thwack, and a grumble of “That hurt man!” Probably Kawada getting him to shut the hell up.

“The Lieutenant is thinking, so let him think, idiot. Maybe you use your head sometimes, save us all some trouble.”

Suzuki decided to let them bicker amongst themselves for a while, the dull chatter acting as a comfort, a security blanket of near normality. It was true that he did have to think. They’d almost caught up to Ohno today in Chinatown, until the police cornered off a whole section of the district. They said something about a shoot out, or at least that’s what he had overheard news crews saying before the police tried to chase them off. After chasing up some contacts in the area, it turned out that the place that had gotten trashed was the Golden Lotus Restaurant, a joint that was owned by the Gao family from Taiwan, who also owned a lot of property down Yokohama way in Kanagawa. Gao Liu was a known associate of Ohno’s, and the two were known to have been pretty chummy with one another for some time now.

The whole thing stank, and Suzuki was not happy about any of it.

Of course, he was angered by Ohno’s lack of trust in him. He had thought that if they were not close friends, Ohno could have trusted him a little at least. He had been his captain once; or did that kind of bond not matter to younger street soldiers now? Why Ohno had thought it was a good idea to steal from the Yoshida family was completely beyond Suzuki.

He was aware that there was history there… Ohno never talked about it much, but then he never talked about anything much, especially about when he was younger. That was the thing that bugged Suzuki the most, the thought that this was something that he might have been able to prevent somehow. He knew it was probably slightly arrogant to think that way, but he couldn’t help it. He hated feeling helpless, it made him feel burned up.

“Lieutenant? Sir, what’s our next move?” Kawada called over.

That was a very good question that Kawada had put forward. What exactly could they do now? The Gao family were probably in the middle of damage control and trying to distance themselves from the whole incident… They would want reparation for young Liu no doubt, but it wasn’t like they had the funds to openly defy the bigger crime family conglomerates either. This meant that turning to the Sun Kee Fong was completely out of the question – they were autonomous in the area, but since a lot of their Japanese and Korean operations relied on Yoshida supplied guns, it made sense for them not to rock the boat. Likewise, the Chang family was powerful, but most of its attention had been pointed internally for the past five years or so, trying to micro manage internal struggles back in Hong Kong before returning to external international expansion of their operations.

The Matsumoto family had cut themselves off from the whole thing from the very beginning. Suzuki had found their reaction very strange. They had not been major players in this game for some time now, given that the Yoshida boss had wasted one of their principle sons over twenty years ago. Either the Matsumoto were good at biding their time for revenge, or they had just lost their nerve and rolled over like beaten dogs. Beaten dogs tended not to make a lot of money in this business.

The Hanaoka family, Suzuki’s own home tribe, had no real vested interest in what had happened. Suzuki was surprised that his boss had given his blessing to this entire operation even going ahead in the first damn place. It could have easily been misconstrued as meddling with a senior family. When he did think about it, the balance of power between the major families had been skewed for a while though, especially in Tokyo. Maybe Old Hanaoka thought that he could find something to redress it; he was an old fashioned Kobe man after all, and was used to doing things in a certain style. This new fangled nonsense didn’t sit very well with Old Hanaoka.

Suzuki really should have thought this through more,

“We need to find Ohno, before the local authorities do and they hand him over to the Barracuda’s men in immigration. If the Yoshida get him before we do, they’ll just kill him without explanation. Old Man Hanaoka probably still wants him as well, but he’ll at least hear him out first.”

“Ah, the Old Boss is a gentleman that way. By the way Lieutenant, we got any idea of what Yoshida wants Ohno for? Apart from the obvious theft and fuckery?”

It gave Suzuki a small measure of comfort that he didn’t even have to turn around and face his men to berate them anymore. Simply growl and snarl, and he had gotten the job done adequately.

“Enough of the idle gossip! Are you men? Or are you chattering snow monkeys? Your concern will be finding Ohno, and any periphery reasons are none of your concern! You’re street soldiers, start fucking acting like it,” Suzuki snarled, before addressing Kawada, still not facing his men.

“Toru-kun, you have met with Gao Liu before. I will need you to lean on his family… Don’t go traumatising his poor grandmother or some such, but lean on his sworn brothers. They’ll be hot-headed enough to want to get back at the Barracuda, no matter how Gao Liu provoked the Yoshida, so it means they’ll be dumb enough to at least let something slip. Be sure you show them patience, but don’t go promising them the moon either. And don’t provoke the Barracuda and his men openly, we’ve got permission to intercept Ohno not flip off the entire fucking Yoshida group.

“Old Man Hanaoka sent us here to try and prevent a major international turf war, not pick sides in one. The Barracuda might only be powerful in the United States, but the Sun Kee Fong are strong in this country. With one of their principle heirs in traction, we can’t expect the Gao to help us too much in this. I want this done tomorrow morning, take two or three with you, but be discreet and don’t over-armour up. Can you do this thing?”

A strange silence seemed to fall on his men. He could hear the sounds of eating had slowed right down completely, the men shifting on their sofas and chewing and quaffing were at a minimum. A rustle of fabric and a grunt of agreement indicated to him that Kawada was nodding.

“Yes Lieutenant, I can do this thing. There’s a tea shop that belongs to them, very family orientated place, sells lots of sweets. I think their younger sworn brothers might gather there. We will go tomorrow, but not too early,” Kawada said.

“Good. Then the others will stay with me and we’ll look for information here.”

Kiriyama piped up again of course, loudly around a mouthful of curry. Apparently he hadn’t learnt from Kawada’s cuff yet.

“But Lieutenant, this is Canada… It’s a quiet place, ain’t it? How are we meant to get information when we don’t even speak the language?”

“Because the people who can think will do the damn talking Kiriyama-kun, not you!” Suzuki snapped, getting to his feet and marching over to face his men now. “This needed to be solved last week! You’ll get out there, get up off of your arses and find out what the hell happened in the Golden Lotus this morning, and you’ll get it done today! You know what all of this means, what’ll happen if we don’t prevent Yoshida and the Barracuda from finding Ohno-kun. Or do you need me to explain that to you as well, Kiriyama-kun?”

Kiriyama tilted his head and studied his tub of curry very intently, his ears turning a very bright red. All of his other men snuck a quick glance at Suzuki and one another before following suit. Suzuki grabbed a fistful of Kiriyama’s shirt and hauled the younger man to his feet roughly, the curried fork was knocked the floor.

“I, well… Erm…”

“War, war is what will happen Kiriyama-kun, fucking war will happen. All out, full out, exploding and destructive war, and it won’t just be restricted to the Kantou or the Kansai regions either. The Sun Kee Fong will support the Yoshida in this, and everyone else will run to take sides. None of you brats have ever seen a full-scale war between the Families; you can’t know what it means. It’s horrendous enough when two clans decide they have a score to settle…” Suzuki said, barking right into Kiriyama’s face. “The last minor skirmish devastated the Matsumoto family. Fuck’s sake, the last big war between clans was back in the Sixties, it was in Kansai. One large family was completely destroyed, and three minor houses were taken down with them, never mind all the side businesses and street soldiers who were killed in the process. Can you even compute the damn scale of an international crime war? Can you even count that high?”

“No Lieutenant.”

Suzuki let go. In all fairness, he hadn’t been an active member during the last war, he’d only been a little kid. But he could remember the affect it had on the neighbourhood where he lived, in a rougher part of Osaka. Civilians had been afraid and hadn’t even known why. But the thought of a major war made his stomach do back flips: he knew that the Hanaoka clan couldn’t afford to get pulled into one in terms of man power, financial power, territory… There would only be one winner, and no one liked the idea of Yoshida ruling the East Asian underworld by themselves.

“Then get this into your thick skull Kiriyama, failure by ignorance is not an option, not for any of us. We need to move quickly, or else Ohno-kun will get bumped off and our entire lives go up in smoke. You’ve all got tonight for your eating and relaxing, but this will be sorted out tomorrow morning. Or a few weeks from now, we won’t have a work to go to.”

There were grumblings of agreement and acquiescence and “Yes Lieutenant”. Allowing Kiriyama to flop back down onto the couch and hide behind his curry tub, Suzuki walked away from his men and went back to the window. He had to be hard, he had to be harsh, he couldn’t give them any leeway or escape. If they failed, then there would be no way out for any of them.

Damn, but he needed a beer.

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Previous Chapter – Chapter 9: In The City


Next Chapter – Chapter11: You Outta Know



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