Footsteps ... were echoing down a corridor, but muffled through the thick wall. Then the latch on the door clacked loudly. Nervous eyes flicked towards the entryway. A slight tilt of the head let long bangs fall across her vision, also hiding her eyes from the gruff figure approaching. A thick manilla envelope slammed down on the metal table, its contents partly sliding out. The loud noise startled her, but the girl did not flinch. It was an intimidation tactic after all; everything meaningful was on the plex tablet.
“Care for a drink?” He had taken a seat across the table.
She said nothing, nor did her eyes look up to meet his as he stared, sizing her up. He opened the file, going through pieces of her life. It unsettled her, and that was what he wanted. “Takeda Kirido. Orphaned before fourteen, on your own and on the streets for over three years. Word is you prefer ‘Kira’. May I call you Kira?”
Cops liked to make it personal. Either you would slip up, or think you could trust them. Either way it was bad for you. Kira said nothing, nor did she move. Anything she said would be used against her then and there. “Arrested three times, never charged. Petty theft, breaking and entering, shoplifting, trespassing on federal property, assault and battery, and this time assault on a police officer. You have quite the rap here miss Kira.”
He hadn’t gotten a reaction out of her. All of those crimes were to her just a way of life: the way of a homeless teen with nothing to her name and no hope.
“Not many known associates, not any obvious place of settlement,” he flipped through more pages, “but you do have some interesting acquaintances. It says here you frequent the Hakubai restaurant on 185th street, thirteenth ward. More than a few times you’ve been seen there with Matsutoya Shuryuko.”
Matsu was the closest thing she had to family. There were only a few to whom she owed so much. Now he was about to be leverage against here. That got her attention. Her head remained fixed downward, but her eyes dashed up to meet the officer’s briefly. There was a flash of anger amidst her fear that caught his attention. “Matsutoya is a Yakuza enforcer .... but you already knew that. Is he not the one that taught you how to work over two of my best street officers before they got ahold of you? Did he and other yakuza criminals not give you the nickname ‘Shiro Hebi’?”
He was growing confident. He had something he could hold over her. That’s always how it worked when they became arrogant. “We picked him up a few hours ago. There’s enough on the thirteenth ward Yakuza that he you both go down for your little fight club session, or we can start working our way through the whole organization. He’ll take the fall to protect it, you know that ... white snake.”
It was an enormous dishonor for a foreigner to call a yakuza member by their given alias. He knew that too, and did it anyway to irritate her. But it was Matsu that really broke her. He had used Matsu against her to make her give herself up. She glared at the officer and banged her fists against the table. The handcuffs rattled loudly enough to startle him back. “Kare o konomama ni shite oite kudasai!” she yelled at his face.
“Your yakuza friends may speak the language, but nobody here does. I know you know english missy.” Now he seemed angry too.
“You leave him out of this...” she spoke solemnly this time.
“I don’t make deals for free. You want me to let him off the hook, there’s something you need to do for me.”
That was four years ago. Matsu had begged her to undo what she had done when he found out. He told her the risks were too great. She told him that she had to ... for her family. Sometimes she had enough freedom to sneak away from the watching overlords, back down to the slums that raised her to visit Hakubai again. She was still welcome there anytime she could come discretely. With more eyes on her though, all her resources and training were off limits to her Yakuza friends. This disappointed her more than it did them, as those close to her cared more for her well-being than for her taking a place within the organization.
She had traded faded, torn shirts two sizes too big for designer jackets with glowing inside collars. The highest quality neuranetics replaced her old AR contacts, and a set of concealed stun batons hidden in knee-high boots became her new carry over the antique gauss hammer M2211 sidearm she once scrounged. And that was only the start. Training, income, military grade equipment. For someone who lived on only what she could steal, the luxurious life was not quite a comfort. She had zoned out as she went down the street. Causeways were much less crowded here than they were down in the underbelly of the city. The device on her waist beeped loudly, drawing her attention back to the present.
She clicked her small earpiece to answer the call. “Takeda.”
“We have an assignment. We need you for briefing,” a deep, computer-altered voice instructed.
“Acknowledged, anything I can know on unsecure?”
“A team is assembling. You are requisitioned. All further details are eyes-only.”
“Understood, Takeda out.”