Chapter 1

TW: Gun violence, injury, and death

(Sunday, January 2nd, before 05:00)

Zero Hr Ch 1“This blood bath wasn’t necessary, Andou,” said Asami.

Andou Seichi, small time yakuza boss, was kneeling at Asami’s feet, weeping.  Andou was a big man though not as big as Suoh Kazumi.   He had narrow eyes and a square jaw.  His long hair hung down to his waist and he kept it pulled back in a tight braid which was draped over his shoulder.  The end of the braid was sitting in a puddle of blood.  Apologies, offers of money poured forth in between his choked sobbing.  Asami glanced at Kirishima Kei, his First Assistant.  Kirishima shook his head slightly.  Behind them were many of Asami’s men, all waiting with their guns drawn.  Three of Asami’s other men, including Suoh, walked among Andou’s fallen subordinates checking for survivors.  So far there were none.

They were in a warehouse in Minato Ward on the waterfront.  Andou’s two sons were lying dead nearby, both shot in the face.  They’d managed to kill almost everyone in a very short period of time, including Andou’s most important lieutenants, even though they were outnumbered.  The organization wasn’t a large one and while there were stragglers, Kirishima knew they would all be dealt with in the next day or so.  The warehouse itself was largely empty with the exception of various cars parked here and there.  In the far corner of the building were shipping containers full of wooden crates.  The rest of Asami’s men were removing crates with firearms hidden inside and loading them onto a large truck.  From the looks of it, they would be finished shortly.

Andou continued to weep.  “I’m sorry!  Forgive me!!” he kept saying over and over.

“I told you what would happen if Jin was harmed,” said Asami.

“Please don’t…don’t kill me, Asami-sama!  I promise, I will tell you everything!  Everything I know!” Andou cried.  Kirishima sighed.  That Andou was being so undignified at the moment of his death shouldn’t have surprised him.  Andou had a big ego but had proven time and again that he wasn’t very smart.  Kirishima glanced down at Asami’s blood soaked shoes.  He would have to have another pair made for him.

A shot blasted through the warehouse less than 20 feet away.  Kirishima looked at Suoh who was standing over the man he’d just killed.  Andou began screaming, eyes wide.  Asami tried to step back but Andou grabbed his legs.  As Suoh approached them, Kirishima noted the blood on his clothes, particularly on his white shirt cuffs.  Though Suoh was a very large man, he moved with grace and ease.  He was loading another magazine into his Glock.

Two of Asami’s men, Taniguchi and Nishio grabbed Andou by the arms and pulled him away.  Asami aimed at Andou’s head and fired two shots.  Andou’s screaming cut off suddenly and he slumped forward.  The men dropped his arms and Andou tumbled to the ground, eyes and mouth still wide open, blood pouring from wounds in his head.  Taniguchi leaned over the body, checking him.  He looked up at Asami and nodded.  Asami stepped back, shaking his shoes one at a time then pulled out a Dunhill.  Kirishima stepped forward to light it.  Sirens approached.

Though Jiro Taniguchi only been with the organization for two years, Kirishima and Suoh had come to rely on him.  He was in his mid-twenties with long dark hair pulled back into a ponytail and a trim build.  He’d come highly recommended by Yoh who was currently serving time in prison in Hong Kong with instructions to gain the confidence and trust of Liu Feilong, the next heir to the Baishe crime organization.  Many times Taniguchi reminded Kirishima of Yoh in both appearance and competence.

Kirishima looked back at the truck.  The men were finished loading the weapons and waiting.  He flicked his hand in a small wave.  The men got into the truck and started it.  Kirishima pushed up his glasses and turned towards his boss.

“How many men are left?” asked Asami.  He began walking towards the warehouse entrance.

“Less than ten,” said Kirishima, keeping pace with him, “We’re tracking them now.”

“I want a full report tomorrow,” said Asami.  He glanced around at his remaining men.  “We’ll leave after I deal with the police.”

They stood around their cars outside, waiting for the police to arrive.  It was still dark.  The truck with the weapons drove out of the warehouse, leaving the scene.  Suoh’s phone rang.  He turned away as he answered it, speaking quietly.

Asami leaned against the limo door, smoke drifting around him.  “I took your advice and wore older clothes.  You were right.  This suit and these shoes are ruined.”  There were blood splatters all over him but the majority was concentrated on his pant legs.  Asami had gone in first, firing without hesitation instead of letting other men go in front of him when they’d arrived.  No matter how many times he and Suoh asked him to stop doing that, Asami wouldn’t listen.  It was similar to Asami insisting that only one bodyguard accompany him at all times.  He and Suoh had tried to talk him out of this practice too but in the end the boss won.

Kirishima watched the police cars approach.   “It’s a shame all those men were wasted because Andou was such an idiot.  His sons weren’t worth anything but I heard his top lieutenants were worthwhile.”  He could see his own breath in the cold morning air as he talked.

“They should not have gotten involved with him in the first place,” said Asami.  He took a drag on his Dunhill.

Suoh had finished his phone call and was opening the limo door.  He removed a briefcase.  “We have the location of two of Andou’s men.  I’ll take care of them after you and Asami-sama leave.”

“Thanks,” said Kirishima.  “You don’t have to do it yourself.  The other men will take care of it.”

Suoh shrugged.  “Might as well.  It’s going to be a while before I can sleep anyway.”  He wasn’t looking at Kirishima while he talked.  Instead, he was completely focused on the officers getting out of their police cars.

“You always did like the thrill of the hunt,” said Kirishima.

Suoh smiled but only a little.

Asami flicked his cigarette away and smoothed out his jacket as he waited for Detective Shirai who was walking towards him.  Kirishima stood to the left of his boss, Suoh next to him, and the rest of Asami’s men fanned out behind them.

Detective Shirai was shorter than Kirishima and had a slender but wiry built.  He kept his black hair close cropped and didn’t smoke like many police officers.  There was nothing exceptional about his appearance.  He was wearing a beige colored raincoat which made him look like the quintessential detective but when he took it off, he easily faded into the background.

“Asami-sama, thanks for the phone call,” said the detective.  He looked through the warehouse entrance at Andou’s fallen men.  “This is quite a scene.  A bit more grandiose than your usual dealings.”

“This is most of Andou’s organization.  There aren’t any survivors.  We’ll absorb the business side of things.  There are a few stragglers but they will be taken care shortly,” said Asami, exhaling smoke.

“The Superintendent General is glad he’s been neutralized.  He was getting difficult to handle on a variety of fronts.  Kept making unnecessary threats about revealing information he knew about politicians and upper level law enforcement officials.”  The detective smiled.  “We don’t like dealing with loose cannons, Asami-sama, so we were grateful when you called to tell us you were going to take care of him.”

“I’m glad to help.”

The detective looked closely at him.  “How’s your boy doing?”

“Improving slowly,” he said. “Thanks again for your help getting him back.  Your information about Andou’s organization was invaluable.”

“Let me know if there’s anything else I can do.” Shirai glanced around. “We’ll take things from here if that’s all right with you.”

“Call Kirishima if there are any problems,” said Asami.  Kirishima followed his boss walked back to the limo.  As he got into the car, he saw Suoh hand the briefcase full of cash to the detective.


Kirishima was changing lanes in the middle of morning rush hour traffic when his cell phone rang.  He answered it quickly, listened, and then hung up without saying goodbye.  He glanced at Asami in the rearview mirror.  His boss was looking out the window, the first rays of daylight illuminating his face.

“What is it?” Asami asked without looking towards him.

“Jin has been moved out of intensive care,” said Kirishima.  He glanced into the rearview mirror again and saw Asami take a quick breath.  “Do you want to go to the hospital now?”

“After we clean up.  Do I have any early appointments?”

“No.  I cancelled all of your early appointments for the next three weeks after the doctors said he might be moved out of ICU soon,” said Kirishima.

“Good.  That’s good,” said Asami.

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