Description: Honoka's been framed for the death of a yakuza clan leader. Could pose a slight inconvenience...
This yakuza head named Shoji Kitamura got himself killed. Ugly matter -- one of my yo-yos was kicked into his jaw. Seriously. But they're doing me a favor -- he was the head of one of the gangs that was trying to get into the yakuza consortium the Empress is a part of. The clan's second, some guy by the name of Shosuke, is an imbecile. He's been stirring up trouble with my contacts, completely ignoring the protection contract on our circus. And he won't leave me alone, since the yo-yo literally had my name on it.
I make a point of going to the grocery store in Hamamatsu, supposedly alone -- though of course Sudo and the guys are keeping watch from the mountain overlooks.
Shosuke makes himself real obvious as I leave the store. The five guys with him -- not as obvious, but whatever. He's trying and failing to make the purple yo-yo with my name on it 'walk the dog'. The string was burned down by Vega, so of course it's not going to work.
He flashes me this shit-eating grin. I play dumb, and reach my hand out for the yo-yo. Cue the cluelessness. "Heeeey, that's mine..."
I had forgotten one thing -- these human-trafficking cro-magnons know how to use chloroform.
When I come to, it's still dark, but that's mostly because of the hood they've wrapped around my head. Once it's pulled off, I can tell I'm still wearing the same clothes, along with half a roll of duck tape around my wrists and ankles. This is all supposed to make me feel powerless. I'll play along for now.
My eyes take too long to adjust to the light, but I can still tell there's four guys up there, and our genius Shosuke behind me. Hmm, one of those presences is familiar, but I can't see the rest...
Shosuke pulls me up by the roots of my hair. Classy. I wince -- it's all a show anyway. He pulls the hankerchief out of my mouth, tosses it aside. He's clearly getting a rise out of this. Ass.
"Miss Kawamoto..." It's an older gentleman, and I recognize the voice. Ahh... "Tora" Takanawa, head of the highest-ranking clan of the consortium. Empress has never met the guy in person before, but that'll change, soon. Kinda bulky, three scars across his cheek. He looks like a tiger, hence the name. He continues: "... do you know why you're here?"
I shake my head in the negative -- well, as best I can with Shosuke's death grip on my hair. He makes a point of tugging even harder on my hair, just to rub it in. I wonder if he realizes my hands are juuuust at the right level to punch him in the nuts. Or I could melt his brain, that'd be fun.
Tora: "Your yo-yo was found in a murder."
"I sure am sorry to hear that." Hokkaido accent. It's not hard to slip back into old habits.
Shosuke hauls me around and jams his face in mine. His breath is hot, and he's been drinking heavily. "YOU KILLED MY BOSS! WE FOUND YOUR YO-YO SHOVED UP IN HIS MOUTH, YOU AINU BITCH!" I really want to wipe the spit out of my face right now.
Guh. To look -anywhere- else, I look up to the guys on the desks surrounding me. Second guy -- he's hunched over, looks like he's filed his teeth into dagger points. The third guy? Oh, that's why he's familiar: Pong Kyong Su. Half-Korean, about thirty or so. Mom was killed by Japanese nationalists when he was a kid. That's why he joined his gang to begin with -- and now he's the man in charge. Good on him.
"I am... sorry to hear that..." I whimper out. "But please, if you... if you will..."
Kyong Su speaks up without me even 'requesting' him to. "Let her talk, Shosuke." Dumbass lets me down, slowly.
It's really hard to be -properly- demure when I'm wrapped up as I am, but I manage to bow my head. Scumbag ought to love the deference, it makes him feel strong. But if I play my cards right he'll feel stupid anyway. "... I'm a public figure. You knew where to find me, right?"
I look up to Kyong Su with my best pleading face. Then Tora. "If I were to have murdered someone, it would have been silly for me to leave a sign pointing you to me..."
"SH-SHUT UP!" That'd be Shosuke, screaming in my ear again.
Kyong Su speaks up as I try and wipe my cheek across my shoulder. "Not to mention... the circus itself." I look back to him, but only for a moment -- I don't want to share my thoughts with him right now, or this'll get messy. Besides, he flinched whenever Scumbag spit out the word 'Ainu'. He's marginalized, too; we're on the same sheet of music. "Miss Kawamoto, where were you two nights ago, around seven?" I knew I liked that guy.
I bow my head again. It's a pain in the ass, being so cloying. "Performing for the crowd, sir..."
Kyong Su starts to follow up, but Jaws cuts him off, slamming his palms on the table in front of him. "So what the hell, Shosuke?! She wasn't even -able- to do the job!" These guys are gonna tear Shosuke to shreds -- I -love- it.
Shosuke snaps back: "You're just gonna roll over and take the bitch's word for it?!"
Jaws and this guy go way back, I can tell: "To hell with that! You're the one dragging her into our business! Where's that picture you'd been bragging about?!"
Shosuke makes some angry stomping noises while he whips out his phone. I feel the pressure on my hair follicles ease up, so I let myself slip to the floor. It doesn't hurt as bad as I let on, but whatever. Shosuke stabs his phone a few times with his stubby little fingers and then flicks the phone up to Jaws. Kyong Su, Tora, and the other guy get a look too, looking back and forth between me and the photo. No match -- go figure!
That got awkward. After a cough or three, I whimper out, "Excuse me... I'd... like to make a complaint about my accomodations..."
Tora clears his throat. He's not the least bit happy -- as long as I'm here, they can't talk business. And there's a lot to discuss. Shosuke feels about two feet tall -- I don't even need to look at his face. Glorious.
The fourth guy straightens his papers out upon the desk. Bookish guy, still wearing shades -- I don't know him. "Shosuke, were you aware that Miss Kawamoto's circus is under a protection clause...? This means you could be responsible --"
I wasn't allowed to listen to the rest, but it's fine, I've got contacts for that anyway. Half hour went by with me in another room, nursing the welts across my wrists and ankles. The first two people I see are Kyong Su, with Shosuke's arm pinned behind him. And a really pretty bruise swelling across his eye.
"We're sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused, ma'am. We'll have you back in time for your next show."
I try not to smile too broadly at his forced humility.
Three weeks later...
I love these glasses. They're meant for welding -- pop a sparkler next to them and they instantly darken. Pretty useful, that. Combined with different hairstyle, obvious contacts, a complete change of wardrobe, and a really mean attitude, Tora and Jaws don't even recognize me. They don't see Honoka Kawamoto, circus performer. They see the Empress, second in charge of the Maebara clan, filling in for the head who, gosh, was just too sick to attend today.
Kyong Su flashes me a brief grin as we walk through the halls, with Shosuke tagging along behind him like a dutiful watchdog. Shosuke was thinking he'd get to lead the clan -- he'd thought vengeance gave him the right to do whatever the hell he wanted to. But thanks to his little outburst, he just can't be trusted with the reins for an entire clan. So he works for Kyong Su now.
I might have had something to do with that. Might.
"Shosuke, why don't you go get us some tea?" I'm fine with letting Kyong Su bark the orders for now. If Shosuke snaps and goes into a murderous rage, it won't be me he's angry with.
I stare at Shosuke over the rim of my glasses until he slinks away. Only then do I offer the barest hint of a smile to Kyong Su -- this is business. "Ah, yes. Any word on Mr. Kitamura's nighttime visitor?"
Kyong Su shows me his phone, and I finally get a better look at the photo Shosuke was sharing around -- Kitamura's killer. Not sure who this chick is... but I know she works with Vega.
"Send it to me. I'll run the photo by my people. We'll find her."
Log created on 23:37:34 12/28/2015 by Honoka, and last modified on 23:51:24 12/28/2015.