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Jack Stone: Death Before Dishonor

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Notna
  • Notna

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Posted 12 March 2017 - 06:21 AM Edited by Notna, 12 March 2017 - 10:09 AM.

Hey guys, this is the 2nd part of my first 'Jack Stone' short story collection. I'll probably upload the 1st part as well, but it isn't necessary since most of the stories don't require knowing what happened previously. In short, Jack Stone is an MI6 agent, this time on a mission in Japan.

 

Jack Stone stories are loosely based on our Jack Stone short film series.

 

Hope you enjoy!

 

 

DEATH BEFORE DISHONOR

 

8 JANUARY 2015

TOKYO, JAPAN

1500 HOURS

 

Shadowing was like the cool Uncle Tom of espionage - sometimes it brought exciting toys and memories, but not after sitting in the corner for hours talking about things you weren’t even wanting to understand. It didn’t help most spywork in the field was shadowing, and most often, didn’t lead to anything, at least not to what was desired. Mostly, it was just memorizing the targets daily routines or staring through his window for hours. Nothing more disappointing than when the lights go off and you’re still on shift while he’s making himself cozy.

For the past week, Jack Stone’s days had consisted of all that - actually a little less, but not in a good sense. On the outskirts of Tokyo Bay, he had been stationed to keep watch over a fish factory that had been involved in recent suspicious activity. On paper, nothing sounded less intriguing, but Jack had ended up getting the assignment due to his somewhat fluent Japanese. Little did the service know, he never took a single course, but rather watched a lot of anime when he was 8 years old.

 

Sitting in a street corner behind the wheel of his rented Chevrolet Malibu - he would have preferred a Camaro or Corvette by the same brand, but he understood that might have caught a bit too much attention - Jack kept his eyes on the fish factory, located on the other side of the street. It wasn’t a small factory, but not very large one either, which made it not too hard to keep watch on.

 

The view was enjoyable. It was a quiet part of city, with a couple of cars in sight at all times. The left-hand traffic was familiar to Jack, although he had always thought it was a waste to not h a universal system. He didn't mind it,anyhow, and neither did he mind the view that opened behind the factory. The open ocean was well visible, in all it's glory.

 

Yet, it annoyed Jack how little background information he had been given. Not that there was a lot of it in the first place. The only waterproof intel was that Yakuza, the Japanese mafia, was somehow involved. What made it a case of a foreign intelligence agency, was the fact that Yakuza had recently started funding some internationally notable terrorist groups. According to MI6’s Japanese counterpart, that money was likely laundered or perhaps counterfeited through the fish factory. If Yakuza successfully sponsored a terrorist attack in the west, it would have been a political catastrophe for all countries involved, and London didn’t want to take the chance.

 

Therefore, Jack’s mission was to investigate the factory and shut their operation down, if there was an operation. His only note of worth so far, though, had been how only one car left the factory every afternoon, and returned two hours later. For a business supposed to do a lot of deliveries, Jack thought that was a little suspicious, since one delivery car could not keep the factory running for too long. He had, however, followed the van every day and it did the same route every day. It stopped at a couple of local markets of varying sizes, the courier man took a big box inside the store, got back in the store and continued. Once the van was empty, the car returned to the fish factory, and nothing out of the ordinary ever happened.

 

Jack had figured that if there was something more fishy going on, it had to occur during the delivery drive. Fortunately, it was soon time for it again, and Jack had already started his car as he awaited for the factory’s sliding doors to open and the van to appear. This time, he had promised to himself to not leave anything unnoticed.

 

 

 

At that thought, the white van with the factory’s logo on the side, slowly rolled out of the factory. As it hit the road, Jack calmly pushed the pedal and started following the van as he had already become accustomed to. For a good 10 minutes they drove before the van reached it’s first destination, a small market square in the poorer suburban Tokyo. Jack stopped the car well-behind, as the courier stepped out of the van and opened the backdoors to get a box. The courier was bald, small but stocky, and wore an all-white protective factory outfit. He, however, had black gloves on at all times, which Jack hoped he didn’t - a certain feature in common with all Yakuza members hands could have revealed the man’s true affiliation.

 

After the courier had carried the product to the recipient, the drive continued. Similar to all the other days Jack had followed him, inside the hour they stopped six times at different kinds of nutrition businesses. Jack took time, and never did the courier stay out of sight for more than 45 seconds. Nothing seemed out of ordinary or out of place. Jack was starting to think they had wasted a week spying on a legitimate fish factory.

 

But just as Jack pondered his options, the van suddenly stopped in front of a fish store on the border between downtown and suburbia. To the right of the store, an endless row of other stores followed but to the left, was a small alleyway that took a turn and apparently led to the back of the store. Jack parked on the street across the street. He saw as the van took a little turn and reversed into the alleyway. The van had not taken that stop earlier. It could have been a new customer, but Jack had his doubts. The courier stepped out of the van and picked up three boxes from the back, before taking a turn and disappearing to the alleyway. Jack expected him to be back in a heartbeat, as usual. The courier didn't return anytime soon, however.

 

Minutes started passing. Jack was becoming certain that something was going on. He decided it was worth the risk, and stopped the engine. He stepped out of the car, and crossed the street quickly. Jack looked through the van’s window. The keys were gone. He stepped to the back of the van, and realised that the backdoors were open. He determinedly opened the doors and leaped inside.

 

Jack closed the doors behind him before even taking a good look. The back was full of those black boxes Jack had seen the courier carrying over to customers for the past week. They were large and closed, but not sealed. Instinct told Jack to check the boxes, even though he hated the smell of fish. However, when he took the lid off of one of the boxes, what he found wasn’t even close to what he had expected. The box was filled with money. Close to a million in Japanese yen.

 

Jack opened the other boxes. All similar to the first one. All of them were full of yen notes. Jack grabbed a small stack, and took one of the notes off of it under the rubber band. He inspected it very closely, and noticed that the edges of the printing formed a very slight wave. It wasn’t noticeable to anyone who hadn’t been trained to notice it, but Jack had been. The money wasn’t just any money, it was counterfeit money.

 

Some evidence, Jack thought. Nothing that directly linked the fish factory to Yakuza or international terrorists, but it was a start. He started thinking about his next move, but as he put the lids back on the boxes and opened the doors, he came face-to-face with the startled courier.

 

Surprised, Jack couldn’t react fast enough. The courier shouted something unclear in Japanese and grabbed Jack’s right leg. He pulled on it and Jack fell back first to the edge of the van. He grunted, and grunted again when the courier delivered a big punch to Jack’s gut. The next strike, however, Jack caught into his armpit and hit a devastating headbutt to the forehead of his opponent. Next up was a bicycle knee to the jaw of the courier, but Jack’s right handed punch the man reversed into a lightning-fast judo toss. Jack hit the back of his head on the ground and saw his world shake for a split second. He attempted to reach for his Colt pistol in the shoulder holster under his jacket, but the courier jumped on top of him and grabbed Jack’s head by the right ear. The courier raised his gloved fist, but Jack saw the punch coming. He pulled his head out of the way, and heard how the courier's wrist-bone snapped in half as the missed strike hit the tarmac.

 

The courier screamed in agony while Jack rolled out of his clutch to his right side, lifted his legs around his opponent into a body scissor hold. Jack reached for the courier's neck and pulled him into a rear-naked choke. The courier tried to struggle out of it by crushing Jack with all of his bodyweight, and Jack felt like he gasped for as much air as the man he was just trying to strangle. The seconds felt like hours and Jack could taste death, but he decided it wouldn't be his.

 

Jack used everything he had left in the tank to pull back on the man's neck. He heard something crack in the courier's bone structure, but he was still breathing. Jack tightened his grip to the ultimate maximum, and as fast as he could, twisted to the right. At once, his opponent went silent.

 

Jack let go and pushed the corpse off of him. He decided to leave the mixed emotions connected to killing a man with bare hands, and get on with the task. Once he collected his breath again, he went over to the courier's dead body and checked the detail that most bothered him. He removed the man's glove from the broken hand, and found what confirmed the assignment’s ties to Yakuza - the man was missing his pinkie. In an old school tradition to prove loyalty, all members were required to cut off their own finger. The code of honor.

 

Now, Jack had proof that the fish factory was a cover for a money counterfeiting operation, and Yakuza was involved. But what for? Jack knew there was only one way to find an answer to that question.

 

Easier said than done, of course. Jack expected the factory to be full of gangsters, so he needed a disguise. His white motorcycle jacket, black jeans and Nike's certainly weren't a believable Yakuza outfit, and his facial features weren't exactly Asian either.

 

A risky idea crossed Jack’s mind - he decided to try and impersonate the courier. Jack was aware of the fact that it was a nearly hopeless idea, but it was the best option to get into the fish factory unnoticed.

 

Clothes Jack got off the courier, whose body he had reluctantly dropped into a dumpster in the alleyway. He checked the van's glove box, and found the respirator mask he hoped he would. He saw his own reflection off the window and realised his eyes would be a dead giveaway even with the rest of his face covered under the mask and the factory uniform’s hood. He crossed the street to his own Chevrolet, at the same time looking around to confirm that nobody had heard the fight. Jack took his shaded aviator glasses from the passenger’s seat, and returned to the van. He checked himself from the rear mirror. This time looked a lot less recognisable. The disguise wasn't perfect, but Jack wasn't planning on staying for supper.

 

 

 

The time was close to 5pm, around the time the courier had returned to the fish factory the previous days when Jack had been following him. By the time Jack reached the Bay area, the sunshine had already turned the skyline’s color into a mix of orange and gold. When he got to the fish factory, he determinedly did everything as he had seen the courier do in the days past. As he arrived to the big, sliding doors that led into the side of the factory, he stopped the car and waited until someone inside lifted it. Then, he drove in calmly, while keeping his eyes wide open.

 

Once the sliding door closed again, Jack carefully climbed out of the van. He looked around, and didn’t see anyone. The concrete room was empty, and Jack figured it was a garage of sorts, specifically used as a loading area for the van. Across the room was an another sliding door of large frame, and a normal door right next to it. Jack approached it and could clearly hear men talking in Japanese, but about nothing unusual for a fish factory.

 

As he turned away, he saw that next to the entrance was another small door, but unlike the other one, it didn’t look like it belonged. Jack couldn’t remember the building extending to that direction. He should have known, since he had been staring at the factory for the past seven days. Jack walked to the door, and opened it. To his confusion, he saw nothing but a small space with tiles for walls. The room was more like a closet, or at least that was what Jack thought until he saw a small hatch on the floor. He kneeled, and opened it slowly. A ladder led downstairs to a dark basement, but a metallic glow lighted it. Jack took a better look through the hatch. The basement was full of machines used for counterfeiting. Printers, and so on. A couple of sallow green yen notes laid on the rocky ground. Alone.

 

Jack grinned widely under the respiration mask. It was weird there was no money downstairs next to the machines, but Jack figured they held the fake cash elsewhere. He knew for sure that he was on the right tracks. He got up and he felt a slight relief. First of all, getting into the factory had been much easier than he thought, and secondly, nobody was in sight. Jack closed the secret door. He decided to carry on with the mission as H had instructed in the case he finds the evidence needed - report to the local police department and get the hell out of Japan. Leave it to the locals.

 

But just as Jack was about to dance through the front door and throw away his disguise uniform, someone opened the door that led deeper into the factory. A tall and slim, clean shaven and long haired man in a charcoal suit rushed through the door, shouting.

 

“Kenji! Where have you been?” he inquired in Japanese. Jack sighed cautiously.

“Doing the delivery,” Jack responded using his best Japanese, all the while trying to muffle his voice into the mask. The man looked suspicious. Through the sunglasses, Jack saw the man was missing his pinkie as well. He wasn’t looking forward to getting into a fight with another Yakuza member. Jack squeezed his fists inside the gloves, ready to defend himself as the silence seemed endless.

“You sound like you’re getting sick, Kenji, you should go see the doctor,” the yakuza said finally and turned away. Relief filled Jack, again. He planned to wait for the yakuza to leave and then exit the building. Jack thought the assignment was a case closed, but then the yakuza stopped in his tracks, and turned around.

“What are you waiting for? The boss wants to see you,” he gabbed and signed towards the door.

 

Jack stopped to think for a passing second. What options did he have? He was inexperienced in infiltrating, but was certain that trying to pose as someone else at their workplace didn’t work for too long. He didn’t want to go any further into the factory. Jack attempted to calculate his chances of silently and unnoticeably subduing the yakuza before escaping. By the slight press visible on his grey blazers left chest pocket, Jack guessed the man was carrying a small handgun. The distance between the two was half of the garage’s length, which wasn’t enough for the man to draw his weapon before Jack could reach him. He measured the yakuza in his eyes, and saw he wasn’t any taller than Jack himself. Actually, much shorter. Sure, tall for a Japanese, but the tall impression was created by the slender frame. The yakuza weighed 20 or 25 kilos less than him. Jack’s 188 centimeters and 105 kilos against the yakuza’s 180 centimeters and 80 kilos. Not much of an opponent. Trainers always told to never underestimate an opponent by size, but advantages were advantages. Jack also had the element of surprise on his side, unlike earlier when facing the courier. But it wasn’t the yakuza he was worried about, but the circumstances surrounding. Jack had no idea how many other yakuzas were inside the building. The yakuza could have started yelling and alarming his friends before Jack could even touch him. That would be the end of this mission. Most likely the end of Jack’s missions altogether.

 

Reluctantly, Jack decided to do as the yakuza asked him to. He followed the yakuza into the factory. It was an ugly concrete building from the outside, but even more so on the inside. Dust and rust everywhere. Tables of any metal but surgical were spread throughout the long and wide hall. The place couldn’t have passed any surprise check from a safe-workplace examiner. There was really nothing to examine, though. No fish, no workers. Only half-dozen well-dressed Asian gentlemen with automatic weapons, patrolling around.

 

At the end of the hall, was another big sliding door. It was open, and had a view straight to the ocean. Jack could see the factory blended into a narrow but long pier, where a couple of speed boats were anchored to both sides. The kind of boats used by internationally operating crime syndicates like Yakuza. No fishing boats. Jack hadn’t seen that from the street outside.

The yakuza led Jack through the factory hall. He saw heads turn on the way.

 

“New sunglasses, Kenji?” the yakuza said and laughed while leading Jack, who he still believed to be his colleague. Jack imagined his disguise, and thought he must have looked ridiculous. He muttered a positive reply, trying to somehow mimic the voice he had heard the courier, apparently named Kenji, shout and scream in when the two fought.

 

The hall was long. The walk was long. Probably not actually, but that’s what it felt like to Jack. Kenji. Did Kenji have a family? Wife? Children waiting for Kenji to come home? Jack had killed before. In cold blood, even. He understood that was the name of the game. He had signed up for it, and so had the opposition. However, he had not killed anyone in straight hand-to-hand combat before. Shooting wasn’t so personal, no matter how many shorts or how uninvited. But a physical struggle for life and death. That was completely different. Never before had he gotten himself into a situation where had to choose between killing and dying. He knew he had chosen the only right option for him. It still didn’t stop him hearing Kenji’s neck snap over and over again.

 

Jack slightly shook his head. He remembered what his superiors had emphasized through his whole SAS career. Focus on the task at hand. Jack could hear Captain Harris lecture about that all day long. And the trainers in MI6 said the same thing. The standards were the same.

 

So Jack moved Kenji out of his head and focused on the task at hand. He had no idea where the yakuza was leading him. Jack used the time to think what the task at hand required of him. He would need to successfully impersonate Kenji to his boss. Jack would take the first chance to call the local police department. He had memorized the number during the first 10 minutes of the countless hours spent waiting on the front of the factory. Then, he would dump the disguise, take a taxi to Narita International and catch the first flight back to London.

 

Simple plan. Too simple to actually work.

 

 

They reached the end of the hall and stepped outside. The sun had almost completely disappeared into the horizon, even though the time was closer to 6 in the evening. The outside was well lighted, and there were several stylized lanterns on the long pier. They turned left and came almost face-to-face with an old fishing shack. Jack figured that the building had once actually been a fish factory, until Yakuza came along and made the fishers leave. Or drowned them to the bay.

The yakuza opened the shack door and signed his believed colleague to enter. Jack stopped for a second. No return. He took the walk inside the shack, and the yakuza came along closing the door behind them.

 

Jack was amazed. Following the dusty factory, what he saw was incredible. From the outside, the shack looked tiny and deserted like a 100-year old haunted house, but inside it was a masterpiece of Japanese, highly stylized interior design. Black-colored tatami carpet. Walls were similar, but painted white with some black details in the sealings. Jack thought the tatami used for the walls was probably originally the same as the floor. Two small, white and round chairs on the corners. An expensive, artistic vase on top of both. A non-see through, decorative back window. On top of it hung a black, Japanese sword. Bravely in it’s scabbard. Jack had read about Japanese swords, and figured it must of been a wakizashi. More curve than a katana, but less than a tachi. Probably hundreds of years old.

 

Under the sword, was a black office table. Apart from a closed laptop on the right corner edge, the table was totally blank. It felt like it didn’t belong. Jack was sure the table wasn’t of Japanese design. Japanese tables were notably smaller. This was similar to any table you’d see in an American or European office building.

 

“Boss, excuse me,” the yakuza said suddenly, “Kenji is here to see you.”

Jack looked at the yakuza quickly. For a second, he thought he had been revealed and was being fooled. Then he figured the yakuza must of been crazy. Except them, there was nobody else in the room. Suddenly, Jack saw movement behind the table. He saw a full, slicked dark head of hair rise up to one knee and then to stand nimbly. He turned around and greeted.

 

“Kenji, I’ve been expecting you,” he said. He corrected a ruck in his all black suit and opened the top button of his similarly colored shirt. Jack didn’t reply, and studied the man for a while. His hair was black along with a small goatee. He was small, but average height for his race. Around 170 centimeters. His frame was very athletic. Reminded Jack of Bruce Lee. But Bruce Lee wasn’t Japanese, and wasn’t missing a pinky.

 

“You’re late,” the boss said in an unworried tone. Jack figured it wasn’t the first time he had to correct ‘Kenji’ about his behaviour.

“I’m sorry,” Jack said silently in his best Japanese. The boss stopped and looked boggled. The yakuza besides Jack looked weirded out.

“An apology? From you?” the boss said and looked at Kenji. Jack gasped in his mind. First mistake. Never attempt to imitate a personality you’re not familiar with. Stupid mistake. Maybe fatal. He decided to stay silent for the rest of the conversation.

“You must have really upset your wife working over-time constantly,” the boss said and laughed. “Taught you to behave properly,” he continued and got the other yakuza to giggle slightly as well. Jack stayed silent.

“Mishaps happen, don’t worry. But I need to ask you about the new thing,” the boss said. He was much more serious suddenly.

“How did it go?”

Jack didn’t say anything. He was aware the boss was referring to the new stop during the delivery route. That specific delivery had been different than all the others Jack had seen happen. At the other stops, the courier, Kenji, had taken one box inside and returned quickly without it, but at the new stop, he took inside three boxes and stayed inside for two fistfuls of minutes.

Jack stayed silent. The boss looked to have a doubt in his mind.

“Did it go as planned?” he said.

No reply. The yakuza besides Jack looked really worried.

“What happened, Kenji?” the boss said again. Jack shook his head.

“Did they get the money?” the boss asked. Jack nodded.

“Then what’s the problem?” the boss said, this time slightly furious. He believed ‘Kenji’ was wasting his time.

“If something went wrong, tell me. That’s the most important shipment we’ve shipped during the whole operation. The order came from higher than us, you know that. The kumicho.

 

The kumicho. The leader of the Yakuza clan.

 

Jack was completely lost at what was going on. If the delivery order came straight from the Yakuza leader, something very big was in the works. But what so special could there have been about the new stop? It was different than others, but just in the amount of money delivered. More money being laundered through that one shop. Maybe it was bigger than others. That’s the only reason Jack could think of. But what was so special about that money? Did terrorists have anything to do with the counterfeit operation or Yakuza?

 

He needed more clues. He stayed silent.

 

“You’re starting to irritate me, Kenji. You don’t understand this angle is much bigger than we are,” the boss said while walking back and forward behind his table.

“The ship arrives at sunrise. The Lebanese are coming to pick the product. We can’t have any evidence left that we caballed them. We need to know that we’re in the clear.”

Jack thought so hard he was afraid his ears would start so smoke and burn the hood of his disguise. The ship? The Lebanese? The product? The evidence? The cabalation? He felt the keys to unlock the mystery of counterfeiting-terrorists-Yakuza were in his hands, but he couldn’t find the lock. And he really couldn’t ask for guidance.

Then the boss stopped walking and turned to face him.

“Talk to me, Kenji. Was there a problem?” the boss asked, clearly annoyed. Two minutes had gone by since he first asked. Jack knew he had to answer.

“No problem,” he finally said. The boss sighed and leaned towards the table. Jack could sense the other yakuza had no idea what was going on, but he was preparing for whatever order his boss would shout next.

“Don’t lie to me, Kenji. You know what happens if you do,” the boss said and looked down. Jack had heard some yakuza members were missing more fingers than a pinky due to bad behaviour. Once they ran out of fingers, they ran out of days. Jack knew he wasn’t in danger of losing a finger. He wouldn’t let them get that far. But he couldn’t let them take his glove off either. He wasn’t missing a finger in the first place.

“I’d hate to do that to you, Kenji,” the boss said and glanced at the sword behind him.

“You have served proudly.”

 

Jack didn’t say anything. The boss was getting very angry, but Jack didn’t know was he suspecting something was off or just mad at his servant’s incompetence.

“I need to know right now if there was a problem or not. I will know if you’re lying,” the boss said. Jack shook his head.

“No problem,” he repeated. The boss sighed again. Nodded to the yakuza.

“Take his glove off,” he said. The yakuza nodded and grabbed Jack’s right arm from behind.

 

Jack knew he had to act, but that would blow his cover. It was the only option, however, as no matter what, the disguise would be no-good in the next five seconds. Jack used the one second time gap between the order and the yakuza’s action to think for his best move in order to escape successfully. Would he place his first move before or after the yakuza removed the glove? Before would surely surprise them, as they’d think Kenji had changed sides. However, seeing his five fingers would probably surprise them a lot more.

 

The element of surprise. After, it was.

 

The yakuza swiftly pulled the glove off Jack’s right hand. The boss looked down and Jack saw his eyes widen. The yakuza did the same and gasped in surprise. Jack let the fact they had been fooled sink in, before he wrenched his right hand off the yakuza’s clutch. He placed a devastating, bony elbow strike to the nose of the yakuza. Jack could hear the nose break completely. The boss stepped back and looked furious. The yakuza was holding his nose, clearly dizzy. Jack took a side step and hit a straight right punch to the yakuza’s left temple. Too hard. Not a knockout punch, a kill shot.

The yakuza fell to the floor, lifeless. Jack glanced at the boss, who was searching for something behind the table. For a sidearm, most likely. Jack wasn’t interested to find out. He backed out of the door but as he turned, he faced another yakuza, who was armed with a small MP5K submachine gun. The yakuza was surprised, which worked for the unarmed Jack. Before the yakuza could rise his weapon, Jack swinged his hand back and hit a huge uppercut to the jaw of the yakuza. Third kill. Jack heard the jaw shatter and send a piece of skull rocket through the yakuza’s brain. No time to ponder. Jack kneeled and grabbed the MP5 from the fallen yakuza. He looked into the factory, and saw he had been noticed. The men inside were ducking for cover behind the tables. Suddenly, Jack heard a step from behind. He turned his head but not in time. Everything went black as the boss hit him with a huge roundhouse kick.

 

Jack woke up in a dark room. Couldn’t see anything, no matter how hard he tried to squint his eyes. He wasn’t tied up, but moving was hard. His neck was tight, due to the kick he had taken to the back of the head. Rookie mistake, Jack thought. He had completely forgotten about the Yakuza boss in the shack office. Jack rose to his bottom and started feeling his body all over with his fingers. The motorcycle jacket hadn’t been stolen. Good. He had used half of his first MI6 pay-check to purchase it. His sidearm wasn't in the inside pocket, however. Expectable. Jack hoped he'd be able to retrieve it. Kimber's were very reliable and powerful Colt variants, but it was hard to come by the right one. His watch didn’t have as much luck as the jacket, either. It had been snatched off his wrist. His jeans were ripped by the knees. Jack figured the yakuza’s had dragged him by the arms with his knees on the floor. Wasn’t much of a problem. Fit his style.

For a while, fashion was all he could think about. Can’t do anything about a problem you can’t see, was another motto he had been taught in the Army. Jack reached to his side and found a wall. He used it as support and brought himself back to two feet. He looked around, and squinted again. His eyes were starting to get used to the darkness. Soon, he saw a metallic glow from the corner of the room. Slowly and painfully, he walked towards the glow. On the way, he realised it was one of the counterfeit machines he had seen earlier in the secret basement. He reached his arms out and got a handful of a steel bar. He grabbed onto it and felt at the bottom of it was a stair.

 

The staircase. He was in the secret basement.

 

Jack reached the machine, and tried to inspect it in the little light his eyes had started recognising. He wasn’t a counterfeiting expert, but he reckoned the machine was broken. The lid was shattered in half and the ink cartridge felt like it had holes in it. He looked over the machine and saw something glow behind it as well. He walked around the machine and reached onto the heap. At first glance, it looked like scrap metal. Jack took a closer look, and saw it wasn’t scrap at all. Panels, cartridges and other material that could be used to build machines. Printers. Inkers. Counterfeiting machines, to be exact.

 

Jack returned to the front of the machine. He thought, thought real hard. Suddenly, it hit him. He looked over his shoulder and realised the basement was otherwise empty. All the other machines were gone.

 

Jack recalled what the Yakuza boss had said. Pieces of the puzzle fell into place.

 

The ship. The Lebanese. The product. The evidence. The cabalation. The Yakuza operation was not about counterfeiting money. It was about the counterfeiting machines themselves.

 

Back in the SAS, Jack and his squad had raided a counterfeit factory in North Africa, near Lebanon. There, supporters of notorious terrorist groups printed almost perfect money and put it forward. The terrorists used that money to fund their attacks and operations. Sometimes, however, the supporters printed some of their own money for personal use as well. If their sponsored groups found out, they often claimed they were just testing that the machines worked instead of coming straight out and telling the terrorists they had been caballed.

 

It wasn’t North Africa, no, but the situation was the same. The Yakuza had built the counterfeiting machines in the fish factory, stored them in the basement and tested them. By printing out millions of yen. Then, they laundered it through their various associates throughout the city in order to test ‘the product’ before looking for a buyer. The Yakuza found a buyer in ‘the Lebanese,’ presumably supporters of some Middle-Eastern or North African terrorist group. Before the buyers arrived in their ‘ship’ to pick up the counterfeit machines, the Yakuza had to get rid of ‘the evidence,’ the money they had printed for their own use. ‘The cabalation.’ That’s why Kenji, the courier, had taken more money boxes to one of the stores, in order to get rid of them faster.

 

Then, Jack recalled one more thing the Yakuza boss had said. The Lebanese were coming at midnight.

 

Jack didn’t have his watch, but his inner clock told him the time was a few minutes midnight. He had been knocked out for approximately six hours. He figured during that time, the yakuza’s had emptied the basement and carried the machines to the pier, ready to be picked up by the Lebanese. They had most likely arrived, but not all of the machines were most likely on board yet. There was still time to stop them.

 

 

First things first. Before Jack could do anything in order to stop the Yakuza and the Lebanese. He did not expect that the yakuza’s had left the staircase door unlocked, but couldn’t hurt trying. Jack orientated up the stairs and tried the handle. Locked. As expected. His best bet was finding a tool and opening the door forcefully.

 

He returned to the basement floor and squinted his eyes once more. Still like a cat in a bag, but the darkness was less overpowering than before. Jack returned to the machine and then the material heap. He searched for something strong and thick. Something he could use to either break the lock or wring it open. No luck among the materials. He tried focusing his sight at furthest wall, in case there were some wrenches or hammers left behind, but couldn’t see anything that would be of help.

 

The machine was tempting, however. Jack realised that similar to most old school printers, the machine was most likely built with supportive steel rods. He grabbed onto the side panel. An ordinary man wouldn’t have been able to rip it off it’s screws. Years in the weight room were on Jack’s side, however. He pulled the panel off with ease. Jack let it fall to the floor, and crouched to see better inside the machine.

 

It was built with steel rods, like Jack expected. The problem was that the rods had been welded together into a supportive frame. Pulling a screw fastened panel was completely different than breaking a welded steel frame. No other option, he thought. He grabbed one end of the frame and pulled with all his strength. It didn’t move. He tried again. Pulled with all his strength, but to no avail. He was strong, but not superhuman, after all.

 

Disappointment and desperation filled Jack. Usually, he would stay very calm in high pressure, but it didn’t help he was mildly claustrophobic. The situation was depressing, anyhow. Upstairs, the Yakuza was making a deal with international terrorists that could use their products in order to kill innocent people. In addition, he knew the Yakuza had not killed him on purpose. They wouldn’t be coming back to kill him, offering him a chance to break their necks and escape. They were way more sadistic. They had rather left him to die of hunger in the basement. Or to be eaten alive by rats. Jack could hear there were some, somewhere down there.

 

But he wasn’t planning on being eaten by rats. By the Queen, he’d eat the rats himself if he had to. He would find a way out of the basement and kill every single bastard that caused him to be stuck down there.

 

Jack, now more determined than ever, looked into the machine again and saw a glimmer of hope. He wasn’t certain, but he thought at the bottom he saw an additional rod. It was there as an extra. A replacement in case the frame somehow broke. Easier to keep inside the machine than place it somewhere else where it would just get lost. Little did the yakuza’s know that would be their downfall, Jack thought confidently. He reached for it and it was just what he had been searching for. A brown, rusty but unbroken steel rod. Forearm length, about 40 cm. Tough stuff. As thick as three of Jack’s fingers, but weighed closer to 6 kilos. Not too heavy to swing hard but heavy enough to break a lock. Or a skull.

 

Launching himself up, Jack aimed to the staircase. He didn’t care about the noise, as he presumed it couldn’t be heard over the fake wall behind the door. He ran to the door, and aimed the rod at the lock. He raised it above his head and hit as hard as he could. Both the lock and handle broke in half. They rattled down the stairs. Jack held onto the rod and pushed the door open. He came to the square-by-square fake tile room, and tried the handle of the secret door. It was open. Small push, and he was in the garage.

 

The garage was poorly lighted with one large LED light on the center of the roof, but it was relieving after wandering in the dark basement for 20 minutes. Jack looked around quickly. The van was still there. Both sliding doors were down and locked. No light came from under the door that led outside, so Jack guessed he had been right about the time. A clock on the near-wall confirmed it. Half past midnight.

 

Jack approached the smaller door that led into the fish factory. This time, he heard muffled loud talking. Hard and heavy equipment being moved. Orders and offers. In Japanese and Lebanese. He got to the door, and silently opened it slightly. He peeked through, and saw a lot of action outside on the pier. The counterfeit machines were all lined up. Behind them, he saw a medium-sized cargo ship on the dock. ‘The ship.’ The yakuzas were right next to the machines, shouting instructions to each other as they carried the machines into right position. The men Jack figured were the Lebanese, dressed in suits of shiny materials, were helping them. All had automatic weapons hanging by a strap on their shoulder. On board the ship, a man was operating a small crane. He was in midst of lifting a machine onto the deck. Next to the door, the Yakuza boss leaned to the wall and overwatched.

 

In the factory was nobody but one guard. He was a haggard-looking, balding tall yakuza. Armed with a strapless MP5K, he patrolled the factory about 20 meters away from the door Jack was hiding behind. The guard did not look around at all. Most likely depended more on hearing something out of ordinary. Uneffective technique, in Jack’s opinion. Could easily be used against the guard.

Jack backed back to the garage and closed the door silently. To attract the guard’s attention, he knocked on the door loudly. Instead of stepping behind the door where an intruder would be expected to be hiding, Jack leaned to the wall on the side of the handle. He raised the steel rod with one hand, and waited. As expected, the door opened soon. The guard stepped in and looked just where Jack had figured he would. Game over. Jack leaped forward and struck the guard in the back of the head. Something cracked, and Jack knew it wasn’t the rod. The guard fell to the concrete like a ton of bricks. Jack stepped to his side, grabbed the rod with two hands and totally demolished the guard’s skull with another strike.

 

Jack put the rod next to the guard’s lifeless body. It had been an useful weapon, even more so than Jack expected. Fact remained, however, that a firearm was still a firearm. He grabbed the MP5 from the guard’s hands and made sure nobody was lurking behind to roundhouse kick him in the back of the head, like last time. There was nobody. Jack checked the magazine. 29 rounds in the mag, 1 in the chamber. 30 rounds.

 

Now Jack was armed and had a plan. Ready to do what he did best.

 

Jack’s combat training kicked in and he stopped caring about making noise. He burst through the door. Heads started immediately turning at the pier, but before they could do anything, Jack had already first fired the first shots. The yakuza and Lebanese thought he had missed, but in fact, he was aiming for the counterfeiting machines. There were six of them in a row, and Jack dismantled them all with two shots. 12 rounds used, 18 left.

 

The Yakuza boss shouted something in Japanese and disappeared behind the wall. Probably into the office shack. He used four more rounds to down the two Lebanese. The MP5 didn’t even care to kick, it just killed as told to. The yakuza’s aimed their submachine guns at Jack, but for far too long. He had already slid into the cover of the tables. Gunshots started echoing. His appearance was so sudden and unexpected that not a single shot had been fired at him before he had already used 16 shots and destroyed a fortune. The men at the pier were cursing. Their deal had just lost a lot of value.

 

The firing stopped, and Jack peeked. Seven yakuza’s were on the pier. One of them was shouting something to the ship, which looked like it was about to leave. Some machines were on board, and that was a problem. But a problem that Jack would have to solve later. Focus at the task on hand. The six others were approaching Jack slowly. They had already entered the factory hall, and walked with their weapons pointed at the table behind which Jack was hiding. Bad.

 

Jack checked the magazine to be sure. 14 rounds left. He counted that he could use 12 shots, two for all of the six men. Save one for the yakuza on the pier, and one for the boss. The major issue, however, was that he didn’t have time to shoot all of them. No issue aiming, but it was six against one. Jack figured he could jump out of cover and with his skill level, he could easily take out two of the yakuza’s before they’d fire a single shot. Maybe three. Four was a stretch, depending on their experience. Definitely not five. Five was always too much in a gunfight. Even Doc Holliday wouldn’t have been fast enough.

 

He needed another solution. He looked around, and saw his escape. A side door, about 8 meters way on the other side of the narrow hall. It would require him to run faster than he ever had, but he could possibly take out several of the yakuza’s on the way. They could still hit him, because in a situation like that, misfire was as accurate as aimed fire. But the third option, waiting for them to reach him and kill him easily, wasn’t tempting either. The second option sounded most likely for survival. Maybe 50-50 chances.

 

Jack changed the firing mode from single to auto. Then, a three count. Three… two…

 

Quickly, Jack leaped back to his feet and started running. The yakuza’s were surprised, but couldn’t react before Jack had stretched his left hand out and fired with the MP5. He kept the trigger pulled. Without aiming, two of his opponent’s ate a bullet and let out a muffled grunt as they were sent to their deaths. A third yakuza was hit in the side, an important artery. No chance of survival. At that point, the surviving three got Jack on their aim and fired. They missed the first shots, and by then Jack used all his shoulder strength to jump through the side door.

 

He twisted the fall to his back, and landed on the asphalt outside, next to the factory. He rose to a seated position, felt the weight of the magazine with his hand. Three or four rounds left. He changed the firing mode back to automatic. Just then, the three remaining yakuza’s came to view through the hole he had made jumping through the door. The first one peeked through, and Jack hit him with a single shot between the eyes. It traveled through his brains and onto the forehead of the yakuza positioned behind him. Both of them fell out of sight, revealing the stunned third man. Before he could lift his weapon, Jack emptied the magazine into his chest. The man stumbled and fell through the door, breaking it completely.

 

The weapon clicked empty after three shots. Jack rose to his feet and considered throwing the it away, but it had been proved accurate. Therefore, he grabbed the magazine of the fallen yakuza’s MP5 and switched it into his own. The magazine was the smaller variation, 15 rounds. Not much. But would have to do.

 

Distantly, Jack could hear the sound of a very powerful engine breaking the silence of the night. He heard waves, washing the pier. Caused by movement. The ship was leaving.

 

Not much he could do. But he could try.

 

Jack walked along the factory’s outer wall as fast but as silently as he could. He didn’t want to be ambushed by the Yakuza boss or the seventh member, or any other Lebanese that might have been left on the dock. The closer he got to the pier, he saw more clearly that the ship was already on it’s way out of Tokyo. There was no way he could reach it. He saw the speed boats, and for a second he weighed if it was worth the risk to steal one and try stopping the ship. It would probably be just a suicide mission, Jack thought. He decided to leave that to the Japanese Coast Guard. He’d call them once he’d beat the Yakuza.

 

Jack reached the corner of the factory. He took a quick look and saw the seventh Yakuza on the near-end of the pier. He was a small and chubby long-haired man. Middle-aged. He was knocking the wrecked machines, trying to get some life out of them. No chance. Jack had aimed at the most critical parts - the control panel and the ink cartridge. Perfect hits, he could see by the yakuza’s expression. Not happy.

 

The boss was nowhere in sight. As the ship slowly disappeared into horizon, Jack thought the boss might as well have boarded the ship. Just then, the door of the office shack opened. The boss, visibly shaken at the sight of the dead Lebanese henchmen, questioned loudly what had happened while he hid. He inquired if the other’s had killed the intruder. When the henchman shook his head, he pulled a classic Browning pistol out of his pocket. For a split second, Jack thought the boss was going to execute his own henchman for incompetence. He didn’t, but Jack figured that was more “I need his help killing the intruder” than “I’m not mad even though 7-on-1 didn’t work.”

 

The boss’s pistol was a new problem for Jack, however. The other yakuza was armed with a Chinese M4 ripoff, which was way too heavy and therefore nearly useless on such short range. In addition, Jack was in the cover of the corner and the 10 meter distance wouldn’t have been any problem for Jack to surprise them and eliminate the yakuza. The boss was a different tale. A pistol is very easy to pull up, aim and fire. That could be done in a tenth of a second, if the shooter was experienced. Jack guessed a man of Yakuza boss status was very experienced. The MP5 was fast, sure, and Jack was a really fast shooter, but accuracy would be a problem. MP5’s were reliable too, but it was automatic, and Browning’s were known to be very accurate. Point at something, fire, hit. Way simpler than the MP5.

 

That’s why Jack hesitated. Jack could also see the Yakuza boss was clearly ready for combat - the sword that Jack had earlier seen on his wall, now hung off the boss’s back. Both of the men were constantly in a position that wouldn’t give Jack enough time to finish off both. Jack had to wait for the perfect opportunity.

 

Just then, the opportunity arose. The boss said something in Japanese that Jack couldn’t recognise, and then jogged off into the shady lighting of the factory. The other yakuza turned his back to Jack’s corner, leaving his back an open target. Jack switched the MP5 to burst-fire mode, stepped out of the corner’s cover and pulled the trigger once. Three bullets launched themselves into a few millisecond adventure, before they all struck the Yakuza in the upper back, just under his neck. The M4 flew out of his hands as he stepped forward towards one of the wrecked machines, before falling over it face first into the depths of Tokyo Bay.

 

Jack jogged to the edge of the pier and looked down. He saw the yakuza’s body sank deeper into the water. Suddenly, he heard a loud bang and something traveled past his ear like a bullet. A bullet. Jack jumped behind one of the wrecked machines and cursed in his mind. Another rookie mistake. Get too excited about one opportunity, forget another. The Yakuza boss had, obviously, heard the burst-fire and turned around. Now, he was firing at Jack from about 25 meters away. One shot, two shots, three shots, four shots. Jack kept his head low and avoided showing anything from behind the cover. He kept his massive shoulders tucked in as tight as possible, but the machine wasn’t much cover. He knew the machine wasn’t the strongest build. For sake, he had broken one and seen it’s structure. It wasn’t going to last much longer.

 

The Yakuza boss got closer all the time, and Jack saw only one option. He absolutely hated swimming, but it had been part of his training. If there was something he didn’t get a perfect score on, it was swimming. He could stay on the surface, and he could dive, but not even closely like your average soldier. But he saw only one option.

 

Jack jumped to his right side from behind the machine and fired one three-round burst towards the boss, who was now barely 15 meters away. He missed, but he wasn’t trying to hit. Jack rolled on the pier, got back to his feet and leaped over, aiming for the water on his right. The boss fired one shot towards the airborne Jack, but before the round even left the barrel, Jack had already dived.

 

Jack couldn’t hold his breath for longer than a minute, but he guessed his plan would work. At least it started to. The boss wasn’t certain if he had hit Jack or not, so he rushed to the pier and started firing aimlessly into the water on the right side. Little known to him, Jack had swam underneath the pier. The boss firing revealed his position, and Jack raised the MP5. Firing underwater was a long shot, but Jack did his best to adapt to the situation.

 

Three shots. Six shots. Nine shots. Three bursts shot through the pier from below, more slowly than usually due to the water but still did. Jack heard bullets meeting flesh, but due to the darkness, he couldn’t see if he had hit properly or not. The salty water made seeing even harder. He heard a muffled tumble, which he hoped was the boss’s corpse falling on the pier. Hoped.

 

Different was reality when Jack struggled out of the water and tried to dry himself on the pier. He took calm breaths and threw away the MP5, which had clicked empty. Once he had come back to his senses, he realised the tumbling sound was the boss falling on the pier. But not his corpse. He was still alive. Alive and well, in fact. Jack had barely scratches his ankles. Enough to bring him down. But not to keep him down.

 

The boss pushed himself up painfully, and grunted as he turned to face Jack. He raised his pistol in fury and aimed it at Jack’s forehead. The distance was 2 meters. The distance every person under a gun hated. Too close to dodge, too far to disarm. Jack had to trust his brain, calculation and experience. Jack had identified the boss’s pistol as a Browning Hi-Power, designed by John Browning in 1935. Jack’s favorite gun manufacturer. The original 1935 and .45 caliber variant carried a 10-round magazine, while the more modern 9mm variant had a 13-round detachable box mag. Jack had counted 10 shots fired by the boss, and judging by the sound of the pistol, it was the original .45 caliber. Much louder than the 9mm, which sound was softer. The 9mm was like a children’s version.

 

Personally, Jack preferred the .45 caliber. Especially in this situation.

 

He was right. The boss’s browning was the original .45 caliber. He pulled the trigger, but just an empty click was heard. The boss tried again several times before giving up and dropping the pistol on the pier. Then, he grinned widely. Jack sarcastically smiled back.

 

The boss laughed, almost maniacally. Jack frowned slightly.

“You’re getting on my nerves, whoever you are,” the boss said. Jack frowned visibly.

“Excuse me, we haven’t even been properly introduced,” the boss then shrugged and stepped a few meters back. Jack didn’t move.

“My name is Okada,” the boss introduced himself. Jack smiled.

“And you?” he continued.

“Jack. Jack Stone,” Jack replied.

“Not pleased to meet you, Mr. Stone.”

“The feeling is mutual.”

“How rude of you. As if all this mess wasn’t enough,” Okada laughed it off and nodded to the back side of the factory. Jack’s back was turned towards the factory, and he wasn’t planning on turning around. Okada still had his sword.

Okada noticed Jack’s wit and grinned again.

“You’re not just any dimwit. Not anyone from the police station, who’ve been harassing us from time to time. Something tells me you’re not a native either,” Okada laughed.

“Not quite,” Jack said calmly. He stared at Okada, not letting his eyes off of him for a second.

“I can see where this is going, but first, I’d like to hear who sent you,” Okada said more seriously. Now Jack grinned, and let out a little laugh. Okada responded with a laugh of his own.

“Death before dishonor,” Jack said. “You like that kind of sh*t, don’t you?” he continued and nodded towards Okada’s left hand. He didn’t put it to much note earlier, but Okada wasn’t missing only his pinky, but also the third and fourth fingers. Sign of a long and appreciated Yakuza career. Okada laughed again and nodded.

“Yes, we appreciate loyalty more than anything,” he said and grinned. Then, he grabbed the handle of his sword and pulled it out of it’s scabbard, which he then let fall to the pier. He held the sword tightly in his right hand. It was an amazing, hand-made wakizashi. About 60 centimeters long. Tight curve. Very sharp.

What first looked like a dark design on the silver tip of the sword, wasn’t that. Jack realised it was blood. Dry blood.

“I’ve shed four men’s blood on this sword,” Okada said, grinning sadistically.

“First, I cut my finger off. Must have been 20 years ago. Then, someone got on the kumicho’s nerves. Needed to be erased. Slit his throat. Third was one of our own. Not his finger though. He betrayed us. Stuck the tip through his heart. Enjoyed it,” Okada explained and laughed. Jack didn’t respond. He knew Okada was serious about what he said. Not just bragging.

“Fourth was one of our own, as well. In fact, it was our mutual friend Kenji. His pinky. He was too afraid to do it himself. I got lazy and let it slide,” Okada said, and at that note, looked like he recalled a question he had on his mind for a long time.

“Speaking of Kenji. What happened to the poor guy?” Okada asked. Jack couldn’t tell if he was just playing around or seriously worried about his henchman. Judging by the picture of Okada’s personality that Jack had formed in his head, it was the former.

“Kenji’s dead. I attempted to suffocate him but his throat was too thick, so I broke his neck. Hard snap,” Jack described. Under his clothes, he got chills. He wasn’t too proud. Okada shrugged his shoulders and laughed again.

“How does that feel?” Jack asked.

“I don’t really give a sh*t. Kenji was an asshole anyway,” Okada replied indifferently. Somewhat a relief to Jack as well.

“But he was one of us, and you killed him,” Okada said, now way more serious.

“More importantly, you cost me a lot of money. We were working on this operation for ages. Now the Lebanese are sailing off into the sunrise still with their money and half of the machines we built. Because of you,” he blamed.

Now it was Jack’s turn to laugh. He was done fooling around with these Yakuza scoundrels. He stepped forward, took off his jacket and dropped it onto the pier. Underneath, he was wearing just a tight, black muscle V-neck. He was chiseled, to the bone. Huge frame. Suddenly, he looked very intimidating. Even under the threat of a sword.

“Because of me. What are you going to do about it?” Jack said. He took a fighting stance. Tried to look tough, while in reality he knew the chances to bare-handedly beat a man armed with a half-meter sword were slim.

Okada grinned, once more. He raised his left hand and showed off his cut fingers.

“We do this to ourselves. Can you imagine what we do to our enemies?” he asked. Jack smiled. Took an even better stance. Ready to roll.

“Show me,” he said determinedly.

Okada’s smile congealed. He had probably expected Jack to run away. But he didn’t.

 

Okada grabbed the handle with both hands, or with what fingers were left, anyway. He raised it and let out a chilling war cry, as he charged towards Jack. Jack wasn’t surprised by this, but he was surprised by how slowly the athletic looking Okada moved. He hadn’t seen much combat, Jack figured, no matter how wild his stories were. Okada swinged the sword downwards, aimed at the top of Jack’s head, but Jack caught him off-guard by charging towards him instead of dodging to the side. As Jack’s devastating tackle hit between the ribs, Okada’s grip loosened and he couldn’t deliver the strike to the end. He didn’t let go, however, and only stumbled a few meters back as Jack backed a step away. Okada grunted, raised his fist again and this time went for a blow that reminded a baseball swing. It was easy to roll under, and so Okada missed again. Jack took a side-step and delivered a thrust kick to the shoulder of Okada. Bad hit. Jack had aimed for the head, which could have been a kill, but Jack was positioned badly on the wet pier. He backed away, and almost slipped, which caused a small distraction. Okada shrugged his shoulder in pain before swinging the sword again downwards towards Jack. Jack’s eyes widened once he saw the sword get closer. A split-second decision to jump left instead of dodging right saved his life.

 

Jack felt a sharp pain in his right bicep. The sword had only scratched his arm, but the burn was agonizing. The wound was 20 centimeters in height, and probably half a centimeter deep. Would leave a scar. At least three weeks of additional gym work to regain strength.

 

Sounded reasonable to Jack. Okada had stopped in his tracks to grin again. Jack looked into his opponent’s eyes. A thousand yard stare. Okada got more serious again. He didn’t say a word, just raised his sword and run towards Jack. Before he could swing the sword, Jack grabbed him by the throat with his left hand. He choked Okada so hard he saw blood vessels snap in Okada’s eyes. Okada started to faint, and the sword fell of his hand. Jack lifted Okada up with the unharmed left arm. Okada weighed absolutely nothing. Just as he was about to black out, Jack loosened his clutch and slammed Okada back first onto the pier. Some planks were crushed, but not enough of to send Okada to the ocean.

 

Not enough force. On purpose. Jack wasn’t planning to let Okada drown or swim away.

 

Okada tried to struggle back to his feet. Jack grabbed the sword with both hands, relying more on the left arm. Jack calmly walked back to Okada. His eyes widened when he saw Jack with the sword, and horrified, tried to mutter something. His throat was so sore from the chokeslam that he couldn’t let out a hiss. No honorable last words.

 

Jack wasn’t a fan of baseball. He thought it was boring, and the technique too easy to master. It was just a matter of timing and strength. His timing was good, and strength out of this world. If he had trained a bit more, he’d probably have been able to make a living playing baseball. Instead, he used the technique to decapitate an infamous Yakuza leader.

 

Okada’s head came off easily, even though Jack’s right arm wasn’t up to full capability. It wasn’t nice and clean, though. The wound wasn’t pretty. Not a straight line, like in the movies. It was more like a lightning bolt. A sword and human neck wasn’t like a knife and warm butter. The neck has a lot of tight skin tissue, muscle and hard bone. If it wasn’t for Jack’s 10 years in the weight room, he’d have spent the rest of the night sawing Okada’s head off.

 

 

 

20 minutes later the fish factory bristled with the local police force. They had received reports of shots fired, but they did not expect to find a dozen bodies with multiple gunshot wounds, and one with it’s head cut off. An anonymous caller had soon called and tipped them that the factory was used by Yakuza to counterfeit money. Quickly, they found proof as multiple destroyed counterfeiting machines were scattered next to the pier. In the basement behind a secret door, they had found several lonely fake yen notes and materials that could have been used to build those machines. This call had also caused the Japanese Coast Guard to surround the Tokyo Bay. One medium cargo ship, traveling under the Lebanese flag, was stopped and investigated. Six counterfeiting machines were on board, and the crew was soon arrested.

 

 

 

100 meters away, positioned in an alley on a street corner, Jack followed the investigation. The police had reacted quickly, which, in Jack’s opinion, proved that the local authorities had also been investigating possible suspicious activity at the fish factory.

 

After killing Okada, Jack had picked up his own jacket, searched the office shack and found both his Kimber pistol and his wrist watch. Then, he picked up one of the yakuza’s cell phones and called the police, as he had been instructed to do if found evidence. Given, he had done a little more than look for evidence.

 

The adrenaline had somewhat decreased in Jack’s body, but he still didn’t feel any remorse. The job was done. It was obvious killing people wasn’t his dream job as a child, but one thing was for sure. He had always had the sense to do the right thing. And that he had done.

 

Suddenly, he heard a car throttle towards him. He turned around and grabbed the Kimber tightly in his hand. He kept the pistol pointed at the ground, but just in case released the safety switch. The car’s headlights were bright, but Jack recognised it as a 2015 Toyota Corolla. Matte black. Japanese government issue.

 

The Toyota braked and stopped right in front of Jack. Jack put the Kimber back to his pocket. The headlights turned off, revealing the driver. As expected. Station J had sent her.

 

The right window, the driver’s window, opened. A small head with black, medium length hair tied into a messy but stylish bun, came out of the window. The head shape was traditionally Japanese, but perfect in such way. The jaw was small and sharp. The mouth was small, the nose was small, but the eyes were big.

 

Cute. Even beautiful, Jack thought.

 

“What are you waiting for?” the woman inquired playfully and opened the passenger door with her far hand, “Jump in!” Jack smiled. He walked over to the left side and sat in. The woman switched the gear from park mode to drive, did a quick U-turn and put the pedal to the metal.

 

They drove quickly through the harbour area and entered the highway that crossed the city into the suburbans.

“What are you doing here, Aiko?” Jack asked. He knew damn well what she was doing there, but wanted to be friendly. Aiko laughed.

“You know damn well what I’m doing here, Stone,” she smiled.

“I was listening to the radio. Heard the police reports,” she said.

“You were up this late?”

“On shift, of course.”

“I see. Good girl. And then you decided to come pick me up by yourself?”

“What? To save your ass?”

Jack laughed at her response.

“I thought maybe you had a thing for me. Last time we saw, you seemed like you did,” Jack said.

“Well, sure, I did, but that was when both of us were in training. You became a 00, I was stationed here. Into an office. Probably because I’m from around here.”

“Shame. Waste of your skills. But not enough to lose a thing for me,” Jack said and looked at her. She looked back.

“I know,” she said and concentrated on the highway again. But honestly, it was the big boys who told me to pick you up. Your boss had called mine, and he sent me to pick you up. I guessed you’d be hanging around the fish factory.” Aiko explained. Nice. Jack had sent a message to General Doyle. Back to London. From a continent away.

 

Modern technology.

 

“The report, though. The trainers didn’t fool around when they said you were the best in our training class,” Aiko said, serious. Jack didn’t say anything. He didn’t say if it was appropriate to say he was proud of killing a dozen people. Criminals or not. Aiko turned his head to him again. Jack stared into her dark eyes. So beautiful.

 

“Seriously, Stone. Good work,” she said gratefully. Jack nodded and turned back to the window. They were silent for a long while. They reached a wide, six-lane bridge that led to downtown. On the left side, Jack saw the neon lights of the Tokyo skyline.

 

“It’s a nice ass, though, I admit,” she broke the silence.

“Worth saving,” she said and turned to Jack. Winked.

Jack smiled slightly and let out a little, manly giggle. He looked around again, and saw a small trail left by a plane. Landing. In the opposite direction.

“Hey, the airport is the other way,” Jack said.

“Hey, you’re not going anywhere yet. You visit Tokyo this less, I’m probably not going to let you go home in a while,” Aiko said. Jack sensed obvious flirt and friction between them.

“We’re going to my place,” Aiko said and turned to him once more. She smiled widely. Jack smiled back, turned to the window and laughed gladly in his head. Tokyo was beautiful at night.

 

The bicep still hurt. Jack hoped Aiko would be careful with it.


Mokrie Dela
  • Mokrie Dela

    Killed by drones.

  • Zaibatsu
  • Joined: 01 May 2009
  • None
  • Most Creative [Writing] 2016
    Most Talented Writer 2015
    Most Talented Writer 2014
    Most Talented Writer 2013
    Best Story/Poem 2013 "The Storm"
    Story/Poem of the Year 2011 "Justice in Flames"
    Story/Poem of the Year 2010 "City of Lies"

#2

Posted 26 March 2017 - 09:45 PM

On the whole, a well written piece. One of my pet peeves is how people write and upload without a patient edit process but it looks like you've taken the time despite a few almost insignificant things that had been missed.

I liked the flow of this, simple and with a strong perspective, though I feel you could have done a better job of creating the tension - when he's waiting outside the factory, or following the van, it's too smooth. Even a pro would feel the tension, even if they could deal with it, but moreso I feel the reader needs to feel it. Short, sharp sentences, hints of paranoia over other vehicles - is the target alone? Is Jack himself being watched? How would we know?

There was an element of cheesy-mess with the comment about things smelling fishy, which may have been deliberate, but I liked it; reminded me of old Bond movies.

There are a few misuses of commas, which feel to break the flow in some instances, but infrequent enough for me to highlight each and everyone,

(I also have to question the headbutt to he forehead - wouldn't that injure jack as much as the courier? Wouldn't such a strike be aimed at the softer and more vulnerable face, perhaps to break the nose?)

I liked the fight scene, though. It wasn't too hard to picture and had enough tension in it to fit an action scene.

Jack could taste death, but he decided it wouldn't be his.

I loved this line

Now one thing did jump out at me. I'm not sure if you stated what time of day it was at the beginning. For some reason my mind thought it was late, then the aviators stuck out like a sore thumb (shades at night?), so I thought 'okay it must be day' - then you state 5pm. Is that dusk? Light or dark? When you're showing us the view of then city at the beginning, this is the perfect time to show us the time of day; the lights of the distant skyscrapers reflecting off the black, silk-like water like an oil painting, or the golden smudge of dusk sunlight spread across the river like spilt paint, the orange hue in the sky. The cars you mention - headlights on or off? Some might not, but I had to adjust my image twice, which is jarring.

I have to point out the "he said silently" part I'm sure you can see the contradiction. If he mouthed it voicelessly, then I feel that's the better way to say it.

There's a few instances where you've used the wrong word. Swinged for example, should be swung; when talking about the laptop and table, belonged, instead of belong - these are things that should be caught in proof reads but equally can easily pass through the cracks.
The next thing I noticed is that this is long. I'd have broken it into chapters. I feel that internet/forum-published stories work better when more bite sized. But that's not a technical failing; just my opinion.

All that aside, I commend the effort and keep up the good work. Good to see new stuff posted, and new/different visitors.

Notna
  • Notna

    It's clobberin' time!

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#3

Posted 27 March 2017 - 02:51 PM

Thanks a lot man! Great to hear some detailed feedback. I'll use English not being my first language as an excuse when it comes to comma and word mistakes. And yes haha, the 'fishy' part was deliberate. The whole Stone franchise started as a James Bond parody so that comes from there.

 

The headbutt is a bit of a stretch in a fight but he felt cornered, that's the best way to explain such a hopeless attack. Apparently he knows how to deliver one like that without hurting himself. About the time of day, then, great that you brought that out. I suppose I had the image so clear in my head that I totally missed that missing from the text itself. Great tip, thank you.

 

Yeah, it's long. Actually longer than I expected. The first was was twice as short and I didn't use chapters in that, so I just based the format on that without changing anything. The third one, which is already finished, is actually twice as long as this, so I'll have to think about that.

 

Again, thank you very much!


Mokrie Dela
  • Mokrie Dela

    Killed by drones.

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#4

Posted 27 March 2017 - 05:58 PM

No problem. I would have gone in much more depth, but it took me over a week to read and post that!
I'm still trying to catch up with three other stories, as well as writing my own, whenever I get a few sparse minutes!




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