The lights from the holo-signs of the row of shops behind them, colorful and intermittent, drew shadows across the four lanes leading to the garage exit; the exit itself looked like the maw of an oni yawning, ready to swallow everything that they had to dish out. The residential complex seemed quieter than usual, which unnerved Tetsuo to the point where he stretched his trigger finger onto the side of the trigger guard to relax. The tenants in the complex, save for the ones they were looking for, seemed to be asleep and there was no need to alert anyone to anything until the last possible moment. He glanced to his either side, to the rest of his brothers, kneeling on the concrete, directly across the street from the exit, rifles in hand. He saw the same expression of resigned determination that he imagined he himself was carrying on their faces.
Tetsuo had no illusions. Their oyabun was dead. This meant that either there had to be an in-clan discussion about who would succeed him, or, as he had died in the hands of Frank No-R, their gumi would be disbanded, devoured by the others that would move in on their territory. Either way, if he survived the night, Tetsuo’s days as a shatei of Haruka-gumi were over. This, he accepted. What he did not accept, however, was the possibility that those responsible for the downfall of his own to walk away unscathed. His oyabun’s last order had been to find and kill them all, which he would see obeyed at any cost. He knew that the rest of the clan would, too.
Finding them had been relatively easy: a hackstar skilled enough to bypass whoever was ghosting the peripheral feeds had allowed them to follow their steps to the apartment complex. It was one in a long series of residential buildings: shapeless, grey concrete walls rising, littered with perfect square windows at regular intervals, now gone dark, above garage exits, all gaping maws. The other side of the street where they were waiting, across four lanes, was just a stretch of sidewalk that was an island between the apartment complexes and the same types of buildings occupied by shops.
Tetsuo wondered what was taking them so long. He reached for his comm-link, to the kyotai that were stationed right at the other exit: the front door.
“Togusa-kyotai, what’s your situation?”
“Same as five minutes ago. Stop asking. If anything happens, you will hear it.”
“Thank you, Togusa-koytai.”
Tetsuo clicked twice to mute the comm-link and waited. His brothers were getting restless, he could feel it. A twitch here, a head scratch there. Without eyes on the inside, which they didn’t have, they couldn’t…
A sound. Distant, very faint, almost at the very edge of his hearing threshold, but there. It was drawing closer. Another moment and Tetsuo recognized it as the sound of an engine, coming from within a car that was speeding up.
“Ready!” he called, putting the stock of his rifle to the hollow of his shoulder. His brothers followed the same, their rifles clattering as they got ready.
The sound drew closer and closer until a pair of headlights appeared deep in the open maw of the garage exit, with a third light spinning between them. Tetsuo placed his finger on the trigger, ready to fire. The outline of the white van became clearer as the familiar mon of Haruka-gumi, rotating between the headlights, made Tetsuo clench his teeth. Too add insult to their injury, they were coming out with one of their vans, as if they would hesitate.
The van cleared the entrance and it took a second for Tetsuo and the others to realize that the van wasn’t stopping or slowing down. It cleared the garage door and came speeding towards the Yakuza, who leaped out of its way to avoid being run over – one was too slow to move and was thrown to the side. The van continued until it crashed into the first shop in its path, punching through the glass and showering the concrete with shards.
Tetsuo pulled himself up, bewildered, staring at the van wedged into the noodle place it had plowed into, wheels still furiously turning, engine at full tilt. He raised his weapon.
He didn’t hear the second engine sound until it was too late.
The gunfire came out of nowhere and the hail of bullets tore into the Yakuza in a wave, catching them unawares. Tetsuo managed to turn just in time for a round to tore right into his left shoulder, causing him to stumble. Mitchell, his rifle secured on the frame of the passenger side window of a periwinkle blue van, was using the leverage like a mount. The van’s tires screeched as it drifted, its rear dragging, and Mitchell simply kept firing at the Yakuza without even taking proper aim. The assassin, at the wheel, floored it and the van shot forward, with Mitchell firing off the last shots in his clip.
The Yakuza, those who had escaped the initial attack, rose to their feet. Some unmuted their comm-links, some didn’t, but they all leveled their rifles and fired, the best they could, after the speeding van. Tetsuo ignored the pain in his shoulder, lifted his rifle and let out a burst. He saw the back windows of the van shatter.
The Yakuza stood there, staring after it as the white van continued to try and speed up in the background, its tires slowly burning up.
Tetsuo clicked his comm-link as she shouted, “Get to the cars, go!”
Those among his fellow shatei who were able to move took off, moving to the back of the shopping center, where their vehicles were. Tetsuo turned and ran to the noodle shop, to the side of the van. He opened the driver’s side door and climbed in, only to find that the wheel was taped to a metal rod, which was pressing down the gas. He dug into his pocket, pulled out his switchblade and cut the tape loose. He pulled the rod out and tossed it before brushing off the glass shards on the seat and settling in.
Two could play at that game.
He pulled onto the road and stomped on the gas. As he went, he saw the familiar cars belonging to his brothers join his.
They won’t get away, Tetsuo thought, not from all of us.
Thank you for reading!
Below you can find a glossary of terms for clarity purposes. Above that, you will find the previous entries.
This is the first time I am doing the A to Z Challenge – I tried last year, but couldn’t get the A off the ground, let alone continue. This year, I came with a bit more preparation, and am hoping to make it to the end in one piece. Well, okay, making it to the end – one piece is optional.
I lost a day mainly because I didn’t feel like writing all that much, and because I was at a bit of an impasse. As a result, this entry is a day late and so will be the others, I imagine. But I do have a clear path moving forward, which, fingers crossed, will be me sticking the landing this time for a change.
A is for Ante
B is for Blood
C is for Cut
D is for Dummy
E is for Exit Card
F is for Follow Suit
G is for Grand Slam
H is for Heading a Trick
I is for Incorrect Deck
J is for Joker
K is for Kill
L is for Left Bower
M is for Marked Card
N is for Natural
O is for Overtrump
P is for Pot Limit
Q is for Quads
R is for Real Deal
S is for Suck Out