TokyoSix Years Ago
The young detective looked up from his cubicle and felt a jolt of anxiety. Detective Superintendent Mori stood at the entrance of the cubicle with his hands on his hips. Mori always wore a black suit and tie with a white shirt, something no one ever did in Japan unless they were attending a funeral. Everyone called Mori Andāteikā-
- The Undertaker -- behind his back. His pale complexion didn't help combat the nickname. Kato was sure this was the first time the man had laid eyes on him, let alone actually spoke his name.
“Walk with me.”
Kato got to his feet quickly and followed closely behind the older man as they walked through the corridors of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police’s famed sixteenth floor. Home to the Criminal Investigation Bureau, the detectives that called the sixteenth floor home were the best Japan had to offer. At the moment the cubicles were half empty. Despite being the best of the best, most detectives worked banker's hours.
“How are you settling in to Homicide, Kato-kun?”
“So far so good,” Kato said as they reached Mori’s corner office. He was surprised at Mori's use of kun. He either really cared for the junior detective... or he wanted Kato to think he did. The office was spartan in the way of decoration. The Undertaker preferred to let the view do the heavy lifting. And what a view it was. Tokyo lit up at night sprawled out before the eye. To a country boy like Kato, the sight of it always took his breath away. It was so vast and illuminated as far as the eye could see. The most beautiful city in the world. Kato came to that conclusion the first time he had taken the train into the city, and he would always believe that.
“DCI Sato has nothing but praise for you,” said Mori.
The older man plopped down behind his desk and motioned for Kato to do the same.
“He says you’re smart, observant as hell, and a very quick study. You have yet to be lead on a case, but Sato is confident the time to take off your training wheels is fast approaching. Moreover, you have a way with suspects and talking to them. Any old fool can use their fists to get a criminal to talk, but you use your words and mind.”
Kato felt his face warming at the praise. He mustered a mumbled thanks and slightly bowed.
“I’ve looked at your file, Kato-kun. It says you are originally from Hiroshima?”
“Hiroshima Prefecture,” said Kato. “Akitakata, specifically.”
Mori held his hands up and looked puzzled. “Then why come to Tokyo? Why not stay out there and live a nice, comfortable life as a traffic cop?”
Kato allowed himself a smirk. “Because Tokyo is where the bad guys are.”
Mori chuckled and nodded.
“Good…. Good. Your work in Homicide has not gone unnoticed, as you may have already guessed. We have another potential assignment for you if you would so like. A chance to go after the real bad guys.”
Kato leaned forward in his chair. His initial anxiety had washed away. Excitement had replaced it. “I’m all ears, Mori-san.”
“Tell me, country boy, what do you know about the Yakuza?”
“You hooked it!”
Britt Reid cursed when he saw his golf ball disappear into the treeline beside the green. The other three members of his party traded snickers as Britt walked back to his golf bag.
“You’re really bad at this, Britt,” DA Barney Scudmore said with a shake of his head.
“Now your father was an excellent golfer,” said Mayor Wally Holmes. “We never put money on a game if we were teeing off with him.”
“Hell no,” Police Commissioner Mick Walmsly said with a laugh. “Dan would empty your pockets, take you car, and the shirt off you back if money was on the game. The man hated to lose.”
“And who among us actually likes to lose?” said Britt.
The four shared a laugh before Scudmore prepared to tee off. Britt got behind the wheel of his golf cart and watched Scudmore drive his ball on to the fairway. He didn’t care for Mayor Holmes invoking his father’s name so casually. It seemed to be a lazy shorthand to try to get Britt to warm up. Of course Britt knew his dad was a good golfer, but he also knew the man had a very low opinion of Holmes.
Dan Reid privately didn’t care too much for any of Coast City’s political leaders. But he still made nice and played politics. Britt was learning to do the same. He would get along to go along. And it would be a mutually beneficial relationship, he reminded himself. Whatever they needed him for he was sure he could get something in return. If not for the paper, well then… for the Hornet.
“So how are things with the CCPD,” Britt asked Walmsly.
“Don’t answer,” said Scudmore. “Young Britt here is pumping you for information.”
“Remember, Mick,” said the mayor. “From your lips, to his ears, to the front page of The Sentinel
“I know better,” said Walmsly. “Besides it seems Britt is too busy covering the criminals to actually give some ink to the cops.”
More laughs as Britt shook his head.
“The costumed crazies are all the rage, guys. They sell papers.They get page views and clicks. You start giving your officers masks, Mick, and the Green Hornet gets bumped to page six.”
“You know what the best headline is,” Mayor Holmes said before swinging his club. “‘CCPD Apprehend Green Hornet.’”
“Awfully quiet, Barney,” Brit said with a wink. “Don’t tell us you’re pro-Hornet.”
Scudmore shrugged. “Not much to say, fellas. You arrest him, Mick, and I’ll prosecute.”
“As much as I enjoy watching you legends of the links,” Britt finally said after Holmes’ ball disappeared into a sandtrap. “I do have to ask. hy was I plucked from the hoi polloi to join this meeting of the minds, as it were.”
“Hoi polloi,” Walmsly laughed. "The heir to a media empire, richer than all of us put together, but he’s the hoi polloi.”
“Senator Evans is coming through Coast City next week,” said the mayor. “We’re putting together a small gathering with civic leaders. The Senator wants to pick their brains about issues in the area and a roadmap for the next few years. Quiet stuff, nothing to broadcast. We want you there.”
Britt knew Evans by reputation alone. Former mayor of San Francisco, running for reelection to the US Senate. An odds on favorite to sit in the White House one day. The Reid family had always had their hand in California statewide politics. His granddad had started to retreat from that position as their empire started to recede. But even at their heights, the Reids had never had the ear of a president.
“I remember my dad always liked to think of himself as some kind of kingmaker.”
“Dan was to a certain extent,” said Scudmore “At least around these parts. He could throw his weight behind the right candidate and get them over the top. It worked for me.”
“And me,” said Holmes. “And hopefully you’ll see it in your heart to throw that weight behind me again in two years, Britt.”
“Depends,” Britt said as a grin appeared on his lips. “On how these next few holes go.”
“Who’s the prey for tonight?” Kato asked.
He looked up from his laptop at Britt. His employer walked through the study, still dressed in a polo shirt and tacky golf slacks. Britt placed a tablet on the desk and slid it across to Kato. The screen showed a snapshot of tomorrow's Sentinel
“Ax has been working on a story that we’re running with in tomorrow’s paper,” said Britt. “First of a four part series on human trafficking in Coast City and Northern California. Men and women smuggled here from other countries, forced into low paying jobs with no rights. Essentially slaves.”
Kato read over Axford’s story. It took him back to Tokyo. Chinese and Koreans, desperate to escape their home countries and shoved into shipping containers by Yakuza looking to make a quick buck. The dead eyes of those just looking for a better life.
“Who’s behind this?” Kato asked.
“It’s not coming up until part three, but Ax has reports of the gang behind it. Los Hijos de la Muerte
it literally means ‘The Children of Death.’ They’re an off-shoot of a cartel off-shoot. Supposedly worship Santa Muerte.”
“You said gang, Britt. Are they on the street?”
“Axford identified a couple of potential fronts for their businesses, but we’re holding back on that part. Casey is afraid of libel suits, and any potential retaliation from the gang.”
“Right,” Kato said with a smirk. “But the Green Hornet and his nameless bodyguard? They have nothing to fear.”
Britt put his hands in his pants pockets and nodded.
"Maybe we can give Ax's story a happy ending."