By Carla and Jewelle
Written for Petfly by: Peter Lance
internal thought in * *
~~~~ Act I ~~~~Jeff Caine, the evening DJ, watched as scantily clad dancers made their winding circuit on the front portion of the raised stage of the Kobe Club. The club was a popular gathering place for the up and coming thirty-something group (at least for the men).
The club inhabited a high traffic area right on the edge of Cascade’s China town. Jeff grinned as one of the more ‘aggressive’ ladies approached a group of businessmen and offered to do a table dance. The early lunchtime rush was just starting, a good time to make money for the girls. He glanced in the direction of the pool tables. Three of the four had heated games going.
On the other side of the room, three Oriental gentlemen in business suits were mangling "Splish Splash." Jeff was in the DJ booth on the balcony above the stage, getting ready for his evening shift, and had a good view of the antics of all. Grinning at Gina, the afternoon DJ, he gestured to the karaoke singers. "When will they get a clue? Are they tone deaf or something?"
Gina just shook her head and pointed to the earplugs she had inserted when the three ‘singers’ had started. Finishing up his set of music that he planned to play, Jeff lounged back in his chair and grabbed his usual giant size mocha latte, determined to relax for a few minutes as he watched Gina move through her routine. He loved the way she joked and laughed while working, but he had to admit, at least to himself, his style was a little more manic. Fast hard rock with an attitude to match. He was a push over for "his" girls though and he’d play softer music when they asked him to; however few did. “Gina, I know you have exams coming up, if you want to leave early…” Jeff grinned as Gina grabbed her purse and headed for the door.
~~~~~~~~ CRASH! ~~~~~~~~
“What the f…?” Jeff jerked to his feet looking to see what had caused that sound, spilling his half-full cup. It certainly wasn’t a tray of glasses. Gina, halfway out of the booth’s door, turned to look. It was some fool, dressed entirely in black, on a motorcycle.
Jeff watched in amazement as the motorcyclist drove partially up one of the stage ramps, the black mirrored helmet reflecting the club lighting in strange patterns. Club patrons scrambled to move out of the ‘cycle’s path. *What is that idiot thinking? If he thinks this will impress any of the girls, he’s out of his mind!* Half expecting the fool to yell one of the dancers’ names, Jeff’s stunned amazement turned to horror in an instant as the motorcyclist pulled a gun from the small of his back under his jacket. Not even waiting for the shooting to start, Jeff dropped flat, pulling Gina to the floor with him. Listening to the sounds of automatic fire and the screams, along with more shattering glass, Jeff started to pray, as he and Gina huddled together; Jeff shielding his shaking coworker with his own body.
Ninety seconds later, the sounds changed again; the shooting stopped and the motorcycle was leaving. Jeff, feeling extremely foolhardy, carefully looked through the sound booth’s window to check on the chaos below. Seeing the taillights of the motorcycle as it exited through the hole it had created entering the club, Jeff grabbed the telephone off his console as his knees gave out, and he sank back to the floor by his fellow co-worker. “This is the last time I get noble and come in to work early,” he muttered while shakily dialing 911.
Lamont ate the last mouthful of his sandwich with relish. He’d been parking his patrol car here on this corner every Tuesday for the last 15 years, and eating the same sandwich from the same deli. It was a classic. He’d introduced at least ten new partners to the wonders of the pastrami on rye, double mustard, hold the mayo. The newest, Kerry Miles, was looking at him as he finished with a grin on her face.
"What?" he mumbled, his mouth still full.
She carried on grinning. "Nothing," she said, "Nothing at all! Well, where shall we head next, Lamont? Arizona Street or Pine Street?”
“Beep … Beep … Beep … One David 15, see the man, report of multiple shots fired at the Kobe Club at 1515 Pacific Street, cross street 9th Avenue, injuries reported, ambulances have been dispatched, assailant reportedly fled the scene."
Hurriedly stuffing everything back into the deli takeout bag, Lamont James handed it to Kerry to take care of and started the car to respond to the call. "Well," he complained, "I’d say we’re going to Pacific Street. Damn it, Kerry, when will you learn NOT to ask where we should go next?"
When they arrived at the scene, the two officers saw the once elegant glass fish motif doors of the Kobe Club shattered into millions of small shards. Several possible witnesses and by-standers were gathered on the sidewalk in front of the club. Lamont and Kerry climbed out of their squad car and cautiously approached the club entrance. Even though the assailant had reportedly fled, it paid to be cautious. When the two uniformed officers entered the club… they saw several bodies on the floor, but thankfully most of the club’s inhabitants were sitting up, moving, yelling or crying. Lamont noticed one lady sitting on the floor wearing one ridiculously high-heeled shoe, while holding the swollen ankle of her other bare foot. Lamont grimaced; the shoes won that battle.
"Hey, Lamont, do you recognize this guy?" Kerry asked from the floor by one of the DBs.
"Yeah, now that you mention it, he does look familiar," Lamont habitually rubbed his chin while thinking. "Got it. He’s part of Kadama’s gang, isn’t he? We’d better call it in."
"Yeah, that’s him. We don’t call homicide on this one. According to the watch commander, we have to call the gang squad and Major Crimes," Miles reminded Lamont as she reached for her radio
Simon Banks stood outside the Kobe Club in the bright afternoon sunlight, wishing he could be inside investigating, but his job as captain dictated that he coordinate everyone else’s efforts. His ‘odd couple,’ Detective Jim Ellison and Observer/Anthropologist Blair Sandburg, were over by a squad car speaking to one the uniformed officers who had been first on the scene. When a grey haired, uniformed officer arrived, he started walking over to Simon, who gestured to Jim and both men went to join the detective and the observer.
Jim looked up as his captain and the other officer came closer, absently noting that Simon’s limp, a result of his misadventure at his high school reunion, was now barely noticeable.
"Hey, Jimbo." The older man extended his hand towards Jim. "What’s this about you having a partner? I thought you worked solo."
"The captain here is trying to keep me on a short leash." Jim gestured to Simon, then turned to Blair. "This is Officer Mike Hurley of the Gang Unit. Probably the main reason why the Bloods and Crips have been kept out of Cascade," he continued with a touch of pride and respect.
"That’s funny," Blair joked, feeling slightly uncomfortable around the older man, as though his character was judged and found wanting. "I thought it was ’cause they couldn’t get the LA Lakers on cable."
"This is Blair Sandburg." Simon ignored the failed attempt at humor. "He’s working with the department. Mike here is old school. Only one in the Gang Unit who still wears his blues." Simon smirked at what was obviously an old joke.
"I got to set an example; keep the young ones in line," replied Mike, not taking the bait.
"Mike, what are you still doing on the force? I figured you’d be up in your mountain retreat fishing for bass," put in Jim. He remembered a time a younger Mike Hurley had invited a rookie to share a group weekend with the more seasoned officers as the four men began walking towards the club doors.
"Yeah," added Simon. "Come on, Mike, 30 years. It’s time to go."
"I’m going to die with my boots on," replied Mike, somewhat more seriously than the situation called for and changed the subject. "They think maybe a biker gang shot this place up. That’s why I’m here."
Once inside the club, Jim bent to examine the skid marks on the floor, while forensic photographers and morgue attendants worked smoothly around them. "Pirelli Super Sports," Jim identified the tire tracks, causing Blair to stare at him, puzzled by his apparent knowledge. "Hey, Jerry," he called out to one of the men taking pictures of the victims. "Did you get a shot of these tracks?" The tech nodded.
"We had multiple rounds fired," Simon repeated the information he had been given. "But only three fatalities."
"So the shooter either knew his target." Jim frowned at the implications he was making.
"Or we were lucky that no one else was killed," Sandburg piped in, finishing Jim’s thought.
"Do we have any eyewitnesses that can provide a reliable description of the shooter?" asked Hurley.
Officer Lamont James approached at that moment. "No, sir. Our descriptions so far have varied considerably, but the guy who called it in said there was a security tape running all the time. He’s getting that for us now." Lamont indicated a thin, dark-haired man, wearing an army surplus jacket and holding a black VCR tape in his hands, who had just joined the officers. "Captain, this is Jeff Caine. He is the DJ here and the one who called 911."
"Is that the surveillance tape?" Simon asked. Jeff nodded.
"Which camera is it from?" Jim looked around and spotted several cameras placed in positions all around the club.
"This one is from over the door." Jeff handed the tape to Simon. "Your officer wanted the one that would have the best view of the stage. The other cameras are positioned so that they can watch the other doors."
Turning to look at that camera, Jim calculated the angles. "Could we look at this here before forensics gets it?" Jim asked, indicating to the tape in Simon’s hand.
"Yeah, there’s a VCR behind the bar," replied Jeff. He took the tape back and went behind the bar to pop it into the player. The tape began to run immediately.
Jeff watched the peaceful club scene change abruptly as the biker burst through the doors. He shivered slightly as he watched the scene he had only heard earlier. "That’s a Harley Electra glide," Jeff heard the tall detective quietly identify the motorcycle.
"Original shovelhead. It’s a ’79 or ’80," Jim continued, paying close attention to the bike and the biker. Blair was again looking at Jim with surprise.
"That’s Race Peters’ bike," said Mike Hurley.
"Who?" asked Simon.
"Race Peters. He’s a bottom feeder," commented Mike with disgust. "He rides with the Void."
"And the Void would be?" Blair looked at Jim.
"The jackasses on bikes in black leather. They run meth labs and worship the ghost of Sid Vicious," Jim replied.
"So what was Peters doing here?" Simon looked around the club. It was obviously not a place most biker gangs would choose.
"Probably rousting the competition." Jim looked around with an expression of grim understanding. * I hope I’m wrong, but with the link to Kadama, it’s more than possible.* The morgue attendants were starting to take the bodies out when he stopped them. "Let me see this body for a second." Jim opened the body bag and lifted the left arm. "Missing digit on the left hand." His expression became even more grim as his search confirmed his suspicions. Jim’s examination continued as he opened the bloody shirt to inspect the chest of the corpse. "Now, isn’t that nice?" He opened the shirt wider, showing the others the tattoos on the body. "See the tattoos? Cancel your lunch plans, gentlemen. It’s going to be a long day," he commented sarcastically, glanced at Mike, then turned to head out of the club.
"What is it?" asked Blair, confused.
"He’s Yakuza." answered Mike, then he turned and followed Jim.
~~~~~~~~Reading his notes from earlier that day, while Sandburg worked at his computer on an older case report, Jim worried about the possible consequences of the shooting at the Kobe Club. Hearing someone walk up behind him, Jim turned to see who it was.
"Hey Jim, I’ve just gotten some information," Hurley told him before heading over to knock on the door to the captain’s office. Grabbing Blair, Jim quickly followed.
"Here is the briefing package from Customs. The Yaks moved into Hawaii about ten years ago, running grind-joints and extortion rackets on Oahu. Now, they own half of Waikiki and the feds say they’re moving east like a bullet train. The tattoos are a Yakuza trademark," concluded Mike.
"Huh… what’s a grind-joint?" Blair looked at the older men, confused and somewhat embarrassed.
"Come on, Chief, surely a world traveler such as yourself has visited a grind-joint before," teased Jim.
"Yeah, Sandburg, I thought you college guys knew all about them and where to find them," Simon continued the teasing.
"If I knew what they were, I wouldn’t have asked."
"They’re also known as strip clubs or topless bars, kid." Mike answered, taking pity on the younger man. "Grind-joint is an old term for it. It comes from the phrase, bump and grind, which was the name for the type of dancing that was done in the clubs."
"Thanks, Mike. Ooh," Blair winced as he looked down at one of the pictures, "What’s with the missing pinky?""It’s called yubitsume," supplied Jim. "When a Yak soldier disgraces his boss or oyabun, as they call him, he has to offer a piece of himself in return as tribute."
"I like that." Simon grinned maliciously. "Take a note of that, Sandburg."
Blair smirked back at him, "Duly noted."
"So, how are they making their money here?" asked Simon, getting back to the matter at hand.
"Gambling, white slavery. And they make a fortune importing methamphetamine to Japan. The Japanese call it ‘the awakening drug,’" answered Mike.
"There’s the connection," said Jim. "Biker gangs have moved speed here since the ’50s."
"Are you saying the Yakuza are trying a Japanese takeover of the crank business?" asked Simon skeptically.
"If they are and they start a gang war, this whole city’s going to go explode," said Jim just as Detective Brown burst into the room.
"Captain, there’s been a report of shots fired at First and Water," said Brown quickly to forestall the ‘knock first, then open the door’ lecture.
"First and Water." Mike snapped his fingers. "There’s a place there where the Void fix their rides," said Mike.
"Let’s move," replied Jim as he headed for the door.
~~~~~~~~At First and Water, Blair waited with the support personnel as Jim, Simon, Mike and several uniformed officers broke into the curiously darkened building that had heavy metal music pounding from within. Light from outside spilled over the gruesome remains of three bodies suspended by the arms from the ceiling and one body on the floor.
"Three Yaks dead at the club and four bikers here," commented Jim grimly. "It looks like they’ve upped the ante."
"Mike… any of these guys Race Peters?" Simon cautiously checked the body in front of him.
"No, but it doesn’t matter anymore. Now the Void will have to strike back. There’s going to be blood in the streets," replied Hurly.
"How do we handle it?" asked Jim.
"Like they do in the Mid-East," replied Simon. "We call a summit before this thing breaks out into open war."
"How do you want to handle the invitations to our summit, Simon?" asked Jim, a little ironically knowing Simon as he did.
Simon simply replied, "We don’t give ’em a choice."
Captain Banks was extremely frustrated. It was almost midnight and he was still in his office; a detailed map of Cascade spread out on his desk. Trying to choose a location for his ‘gang summit’ was turning out to be harder than he thought. Using information provided by Mike Hurley, and the unsolicited advice Sandburg had given him, Simon had drawn lines on the map to indicate territory claimed by the Yakusa and the Void. Simon wanted a location out of either area. That left mainly the areas on the outside of the city of Cascade, most of which was outside of the Cascade PD jurisdiction. Only one area in the city limits was not claimed and it was in the downtown historic area. Simon reached for his address book. *Dammit, I’m going to have to wait till morning to get permission.*
The next morning, after talking to Chief Warren and the Mayor, Simon called in a few favors to get the site he wanted for the meeting. Then, he called Mike to let him know the location, so they both could personally issue invitations. Invitations containing thinly veiled threats about an increase in police surveillance, among other things if they didn’t show up. Mike’s went to the leadership of the Void and Simon’s to representatives of the Yakusa, calling for a meeting at a neutral place at 10:00 A.M. in two days time.
~~~ Act II ~~~Blair nodded in approval for the site. *I guess I wasn’t just talking to the wind; Simon actually listened to me for once. * It was an old warehouse in the downtown historic section that was in the process of being renovated. The building had its own large parking area, a rarity in Cascade, and was being turned into an office building. Two additional floors had been added to triple the amount of floor space available. The first floor shell was almost complete, including windows and doors. No interior walls had been framed as yet and the area was very large and open. It was here that Simon chose to have his summit. Earlier in the day, several officers had hauled a large 5×10 foot conference table into the room, as well as a rolling cart which now contained a large coffee maker, cups, and several pitchers of hot water for tea. Blair pulled a chair up to the coffee cart and sat down. He could see everyone clearly, and he was close to Jim if needed.
Captain Banks stood silently, nodding in satisfaction, watching as his officers checked each gang member for weapons. So far, the Void members had followed his decree of no weapons. He had no intention of letting this summit meeting get out of his control. Members of the Void moved reluctantly to sit down at the table as Yakuza members came in the door, followed by their leader, Kenji Kadama.
Simon walked up as Kadama started to light a cigarette. "There’s no smoking here. Put it out!" Banks bellowed. He watched Kadama drop the cigarette with a poisoned glare at the captain, so he pulled out his own his cigar to chew on, smirking. * Such petty pleasures I have.*
An officer, with a hand-held metal detector, stepped up to search Kadama. The detector beeped and Kadama slowly removed a 45-caliber pistol from a concealed shoulder holster.
Mike was standing near the entrance and gestured to the gun. “You’d better have a permit for that."
"These men are all fully licensed to carry concealed weapons, Officer. They’re part of Mr. Kadama’s executive security detail. The .45 is his own," a young, beautiful Asian woman standing right next to Kadama answered.
"And you are?" asked Jim as he walked over to join the group at the door. * Probably a lawyer. *
"Akiko Keno," she replied, handing Jim a business card. "Chief counsel to Kadama Corp, North America."
"All right, let’s get down to it," stated Simon, gesturing everyone to sit down at the table.
Several hours into the meeting, Simon had begun to wonder if this had been such a good idea. The opposing gang members were sitting at opposite sides of the table. Leader of the Void, Rory Hessman, and his second in command, his brother Kurt, were on one side. The Yakuza with Kadama and Akiko were on the other. Both had bodyguards and they were sitting on either side of their ‘charges.’ Police officers were stationed around the room, Jim and Simon stood by the head of the table, while Blair and Mike were by the coffee cart.
"Tell the geijin pig, I paid four million — that’s US — in taxes last year. And if he thinks he can send his piece of dreck into my club to get me, well, he’s wrong," Kadama taunted the rival gang.
"That’s a lie," growled Kurt, slapping the table. "You whacked your own and made it look like we did it."
"For what reason?" asked Jim.
"Sounds to me like he wants a war," replied Kurt, smugly.
"So, what you’re saying is…I killed my own men?" asked Kadama.
"That’s exactly what I’m saying, Mr. Moto," insulted Kurt, making his face into a caricature of an Oriental.
Kadama and several of his men started to lunge across the table towards Rory and Kurt, who, in turn, started after Kadama and his men. One of Kadama’s bodyguards, obviously assigned to Akiko, moved her away from the table and out of the line of aggression as Jim moved, getting between the two factions. "All right! Settle down! Just back off. Both of you. Now." Jim continued as both hostile parties start to relax, "We can conduct this here in an orderly fashion, or we can take it downtown into a holding cell. What’s it gonna be? Your choice." Jim turned to Kurt and Rory and ordered them. "Sit down." Both men sat.
Akiko gently murmured, "Kenji san…" She placed a calming hand on his arm to urge him back into his seat. Kadama stared hard at her but sat.
"Now, just consider what happens if you go to war," said Akiko, slowly walking back toward the head of the table. "Kadama Corp. has extensive real estate holdings in little Tokyo," she continued, trying for a more business like approach. She went over the coffee urn and poured two cups of coffee. "A big stake in downtown. There’s tourism…recreation…" She set one cup in front of Rory and the other in front of Kadama.
"Is that what you call those grind joints?" asked Hurley sarcastically.
"On the other side, the Void has certain volatile labs," said Akiko, ignoring Hurley’s jibe. "They would surely be sensitive targets if the violence continues."
"Wait a minute, lady." Jim stepped in angrily. "We did not call this meeting so you could divide up the meth market. As of this moment right now, you are out of the speed business. Anybody crosses that line and you’re all going down."
"Sounds non-negotiable, gentlemen," commented Akiko. "What about it?"
"Ah, excuse me. Just where do you get off telling us how to run things?" asked Rory sarcastically, looking at Jim.
"Shut up!" yelled Simon. "The only reason any of you are sitting at this table is because I don’t have enough evidence to run your asses in — yet."
"Kenji?" asked Akiko.
Kadama made a show of thinking things over then said, "Okay."
Simon looked at the Void’s leader. "What about you, Hessman? We’re waiting."
Rory stood, nodded agreement and picked up his cup. "Just don’t bring her along to the next meet," he said to Kadama indicating Akiko. "She’ll be after the pink slip on my bike." He held out his cup to Kadama.
The Yakuza leader looked around the room, picked up his cup, then he and his rival toasted each other and drank.
Hessman put down his cup and turned to Kurt. "Let’s go."
As everyone started filing out, Kadama began issuing orders to Akiko. "All right. I want this situation taken care of immediately. Okay. Don’t waste any time on it. Just get it." They stopped at Kadama’s limo and Akiko encouraged Kadama to get in. "Go on," she said as she looked back toward Jim.
"It was good to meet you, Detective," she said, then noticed his frown. "You don’t approve of me, do you?"
"I was just wondering why someone who appears to be a good lawyer with a lot of clients to choose from would work with Kenji Kadama?"
"The legal system says everyone’s entitled to legal counsel," replied the lawyer.
"That’s not a reason."
"You’re right. Good day, Detective." Akiko climbed in to the limo.
Jim walked over to join Blair and Mike, who were standing by Simon, who in turn was trying to get the older Hessman’s attention
"You better make this work, Hessman," said Simon with a thinly veiled growl.
"Yeah. Well, we’ll see…Banks," Hessman started to reply but began to choke and seemed to be having a hard time breathing.
Kurt ran to catch his brother as the older man started to fall. "What is it? Rory, what is it?" Kurt fell to the ground, holding his brother and cushioning the stricken biker’s fall. "Hey! Rory! What is it? Rory!" As Rory reached the ground, he started convulsing.
"All right, get back," said Jim, trying to get Kurt away from Rory. "Get him back!" he continued, looking at Mike and Simon.
The two police officers pulled Kurt away from Jim, Blair and Rory.
"No, don’t you touch him!" yelled Kurt, struggling in the grip of Mike and Simon.
Blair leaned down to help Jim as the older biker continued to convulse. "What’s going on, Jim?"
Jim had his hands on Rory’s head, trying to maintain a clear airway. "Here," he said to Blair, positioning the observer’s hand in a similar position as his own. "Keep his passageways opened. Just hold his head like that. I’ll get a medical kit. Let’s get a paramedic over here!" he shouted as he ran towards a nearby squad car.
Blair felt Hessman convulse violently once more, then go totally still. "I….I think he’s dead," stuttered Blair, backing away from the body.
"No!" screamed Kurt Hessman, as he broke away from Hurley and Simon. He pushed Blair away from his brother’s still form and grabbed the older man’s jacket front. "Rory! Rory! Rory!"
A short time later, Blair stood watching the activity around the warehouse. The normal controlled chaos of a crime scene was doubled by the added presence of the Void. The anthropologist watched and took note on how the two traditional enemies, the police and the bikers, acted with subdued reverence and marginal tolerance towards each other.*Two traditional enemies yet in this instance not acting in a traditionally hostile manner.* Blair shuddered slightly as he watched the coroner’s men take away Hessman’s body.
Kurt was also watching as his brother’s body was taken away. He turned to the other members of the Void. "You know, I told him not to do this. I knew this was wrong," he said. Several gang members nodded in agreement.
Simon heard Kurt’s declaration and knew he had to try to stop the direction the upset biker was headed. "Kurt, I’m sorry about your brother."
"Get away from me, man." Kurt shoved away from the police captain. "You don’t think I know what happened here? He’s was whacked."
"Whoa. Slow down a second." Jim came over to join Simon. "Your brother was wearing a medic-alert bracelet. Said he had a septal defect."
"Yeah, it was a damn heart murmur. He’s had it since he was a kid."
"Well, was he on any medication?" asked Blair.
"Hey, he was breathing when he walked in there. That bitch served him coffee and now he’s dead." Kurt paced back and forth.
"Easy, easy. We don’t need that kind of talk here." Jim tried to mollify the upset biker.
"Look, things are really hot right now. Let’s wait until all the facts are in before we jump to any conclusions," Simon added.
"Hey, the fact is there’s going to be blood for this," Kurt replied tersely, getting on his bike and motioned to his fellow gang members. "All right. Let’s roll."
Jim entered the bullpen where Simon and Mike Hurley were discussing the case. "Captain, I just got the toxicology report on the coffee cup. Kurt was right." Jim tapped the report he held. "There were traces of strychnine in Rory Hessman’s coffee cup. And guess what?"
"Don’t tell me," Simon groaned, though his face said he already knew the answer.
Jim nodded. "Aside from the victim’s prints being on the cup, the only other set lifted were Akiko’s."
"Any poison on the cup she gave Kenji?" Mike asked.
"No, it was clean." Jim shook his head.
"We better bring her in for questioning," Simon stated.~~~ACT III~~~Blair sat at Jim’s desk supposedly working on a report, but his mind was going over the things he had recently learned about his partner. He was surprised to hear Jim speak with authority about the motorcycle the shooter at the Kobe Club rode and of the Oriental gang of which the dead men in the club were members. Where had he learned these things? The Army would be the most logical answer for the Oriental gang, but the bikes? That knowledge was not something Jim would need for his Covert Op training, would he? Blair’s mental exercises were interrupted by Jim’s approach.
"Come on, Chief, we got to go," said Jim as he reached for his jacket, put it on and then handed Blair’s jacket to him.
"Where are we going?" Blair stood and took his.
"The toxicology report came back. Rory Hessman was poisoned with strychnine," Jim replied, as he headed for the elevator. "The only prints on the cup were Hessman’s and Akiko Keno’s. We’re going to bring her in for questioning."
Blair had been quiet during the trip down the elevator and out of the precinct garage. Now they had been on the road for several minutes, and still nothing.
*He’s too quiet, Jim thought *Something’s up.*
"All right. What’s up?" asked Jim, determined to get to the reason for Blair’s uncharacteristic silence.
"Nothing," came the off hand reply.
"Nothing?" replied Jim skeptically.
"All right, there is something," said Blair, taking a deep breath. "I mean, we work together every day, right? I’m staying at your place and still you’re like this enigma."
"Enigma?" Jim raised an eyebrow.
"Yeah, an enigma."
"What do you mean?" Jim was puzzled.
"That thing with the bikes yesterday, the Harleys. How did you know that bike on sight? You’re like an expert. And about the Yakuza? Where did you learn about that?"
"I was really into bikes in high school." Jim shrugged. "I always wanted one, but my old man was against it. But when I first joined the force, Mike Hurley was one of my training sergeants in patrol. He got me into bikes again."
"And the Yakuza? Where did you learn so much about them?"
"In Japan, when I was stationed there. And from my time in Vice."
"Why didn’t you tell me?"
"You never asked. Next thing I know, you’re gonna want the pin number to my ATM," said Jim, jokingly.
"3-8-4-0. Your parents’ birth dates, remember?" deadpanned Blair.
"See? My point exactly! A man’s got to have little privacy, okay? Just a little bit."
“Look, Jim, if I’m ever going to construct a valid sensory profile of you, I’m going to need everything, the whole mosaic." Blair pulled something from his pocket.
"The whole what?" asked Jim. * He hasn’t talked about the dissertation in a long time. Wonder how he’s doing on it? Is he gonna let me read it? It is about me after all.* Blair’s reply pulled Jim’s attention back to his partner.
"I need to know everything."
"From the moment your mother had that c-section." Blair held out a miniature tape recorder.
"I’ll have to give you a rain check on that. There’s the club," said Jim, sounding relieved as they pulled up and parked next to the club.
"How do you know she’ll be here?" asked Blair.
"I called her office, and they said she was here," Jim replied, pulling out his cell phone and dialing.
"Why not just go in and talk to her?"
"I want to talk to her without her boss around," Jim told him, then said into the phone, "Let me speak to Miss Keno, please."
Inside the club, the bartender, speaking Japanese, called Akiko over to the phone.
Akiko arrived at the bar. "Thank you," she said. "Hello."
"This is Detective James Ellison.”
"Detective Ellison, what can I do for you?"
"There’s been a development in the Hessman death and I need to talk to you about it, without your boss present," said the detective.
"Well I’m a little busy right now," said Akiko, looking at Kadama.
"Akiko," Ellison continued. "The Hessman death is now officially a homicide investigation, and you’re a material witness. Now, I can go in and pull you out with a warrant, but as an officer of the court, I was hoping you’d cooperate."
Akiko stared at Kadama, seemingly lost in thought. "Miss Keno?"
"Oh, I’m sorry Detective. Look, I have an office in the Weyerhaeuser Building, 17th floor, suite 1720. I’ll be there in a half an hour."
"Very good, thank you," said Jim. He then hung up the phone and looked at Sandburg. "Ok, let’s just sit tight."
"Umm, Jim? You know, far be it for me to tell you how to do your job…" Blair hesitated.
"But if she is a murder witness, didn’t you tip her off? I mean, what if you’re waiting at her office over there and she’s on some flight to Osaka?"
"That’s why we’re going to be following her. But I doubt she’ll skip," replied Jim.
"’Cause I don’t think she did it. And her boss, she hates him."
"How do you know that?"
"Instinct." Jim looked out through the rear window of the truck and watched Akiko walking toward a limo with Kadama. He turned up the dial on his hearing in order to listen.
"Where do you think you’re going?" Kadama demanded of Akiko.
"I told you," said Akiko, sounding as though she was speaking to a very spoiled child. "I have got to go talk to that cop and chill things out. We don’t need heat from the cops on top of a war with the Void."
"Well, I say we hit them today while they’re not expecting it." Kadama looked almost as if he were about to rub his hands together in glee.
"No!" shouted Akiko, exasperated. "Do you want to compromise everything we’re building here?"
Kenji took Akiko’s face in his hand and looked her directly in the eye. "Look, you little nisei bitch. Never, ever raise your voice to me in front of my men. Do you understand?"
Akiko looked nervous and a bit frightened as if knew she had just stepped over the line. "Perfectly."
"Then apologize to your oyabun, hmm?" said Kadama, as though coaxing a child.
Akiko took a deep breath, grabbed Kadama by the lapels and kissed him. Apparently satisfied, Kadama motioned Akiko to get into the limo.
Blair turned around and shot a crooked grin at Jim. "Hates her boss, huh? Yeah. You’re a good judge of women."
Jim just started up the truck and discretely followed the limo. When they arrived at Akiko’s office building, she got out of the limo. However, as she started to walk away, Kadama grabbed her by the wrist.
"One hour. Hey. No more. Understood?" he warned her.
Akiko nodded and walked away.
"Wait here," ordered Jim, opening the truck door.
"Hey, where are you going?" asked Blair, grabbing Jim’s arm.
"To follow our primary suspect, who is getting farther away as we speak."
"You’re a sentinel, man. You can follow her without leaving the truck, use your hearing." Blair gestured toward his ear.
"Sandburg, over on the next block is a jack hammer trying to punch a hole in a concrete slab. I dial up and I’ll end up with a headache that won’t quit. Now stay put," Jim ordered, then he turned and jogged off the way Akiko had gone.
Jim had just gone around the corner of the building when he spotted Akiko a few feet ahead, talking on her cell phone. Jim ducked quickly back around the corner, but he could not dial up his hearing enough to listen in to her conversation. Just then, Jim’s cell phone rang. He grabbed it and switched it off quickly, but saw Akiko looking around apparently trying to spot the ringing phone. Her conversation was short and instead of heading into the building like he expected, she headed toward to the other corner of the building. Jim watched as a silver convertible pulled up. A young man hopped out and gave Akiko the keys. She got in and took off down the street.
Blair sat silently bad mouthing the sentinel. * Stay Put, Sandburg… You’re not a cop, Sandburg… I’m gonna change my name to Ispwich. It doesn’t roll off the tongue as easily as Sandburg.* He watched as Jim went around the corner. He was worried Jim would try to use his senses and zone while out of sight of his guide. Blair noticed that Kadama had not yet left. The Yakuza leader was watching Akiko walk away.
Blair then heard the deep rumble of a motorcycle. The bike pulled up to the curb a few cars behind the limo. "That’s the bike from the Kobe Club video," Blair muttered to himself as he reached for his cell phone. The phone rang only once then switched to the ‘no service message.’ "Damn it." Blair snapped the cell shut. He saw Kadama nod to his driver and the limo pull away, with the bike following behind.
*Okay, Blair, make a decision. Do I follow Jim’s orders or do I follow Kadama?* Blair undid his seat belt and climbed into the driver’s seat. He started the truck and followed Kadama and the biker. "Jim is gonna kill me."
Watching Akiko get into her own car, Jim realized he needed his truck in order to follow. Pulling out his cell phone, he turned it back on and called Blair.
"Yeah, hello," answered Blair.
Jim heard moving traffic and the familiar rumble of his truck’s engine. "Sandburg, where are you?"
"Um, maybe ten blocks away from where you are, but don’t worry, I’ve got them covered."
"Got who covered?" asked Jim.
"Race Peters, the shooter at the Kobe Club. He came up behind Kadama’s limo and started following it when Kadama left. He’s chasing the limo now, and I’m about two blocks behind him."
Jim heard Blair gasp, then the unmistakable sound of gun fire and shattering glass. Jim almost started to panic, thinking that the observer was caught in a gun battle, but realized that the sounds were too far away. The gunfire was not aimed at Blair. "What was that?" Jim shouted, "No, don’t tell me. You call for backup and stay behind him — way behind him. You hear me, Chief?"
"Got it Jim," replied Blair then disconnected. Jim looked around for a way to catch up with Akiko. He spotted a tow truck just beginning to attach a car to its rigging. Jim raced up to the operator. "Police emergency. I need your vehicle." He got in and drove away without giving the operator a chance to protest.
Blair was still following the limo and the biker, who were taking potshots at each other. Blair followed the two antagonists to an area around the docks. The limo drove out towards the end of the dock near one of the off loading areas by a warehouse, then made a quick turn to the left. The biker, caught off guard by the quick turn, couldn’t follow quickly enough and ended up going off the dock. Blair pulled over several yards behind the limo. He saw Kadama smirk at the expanding ripples in the water, the only sign that there had been another person involved.
Blair watched, stunned as Kadama signaled his driver and they drove away.
After hanging up from Blair, Jim continued to follow Akiko’s silver convertible. Jim’s confusion multiplied as she drove onto a ferry and the bridge started to lift. Jim leaped out of the tow truck, ran and jumped onto the ferry. He walked up to Akiko, who turned, startled at the sound of his footsteps.
"I’m sorry to interrupt your joyride like this, but I’ve got this thing about people who run out on my appointments." Jim looked around and then realized that he was surrounded by armed men stationed all over the ferry. With guns pointed at him, he noted too late that the ferry was oddly devoid of other people.
A door opened on the wheelhouse and another man, with an attitude that screamed ‘FED,’ joined Jim and Akiko. "I’m Lloyd Killibrew, special agent in charge of this operation." He displayed his ID for Jim to see.
"What the hell’s the FBI got to do with The Yaks and the Void?" demanded Jim.
"That’s classified information. You need to let this go and forget about Miss Keno. You’re in way over your head," Killibrew told him.
"So what’s a Fed of your caliber doing in Cascade?" asked Jim sarcastically. He watched as the agents on lookout duty relaxed marginally, but kept their weapons in hand.
"Working on the US/Japanese trade deficit," was the reply, pulling Jim’s attention back to the federal agent.
"Don’t tell me. She’s a confidential informant on how many fortune cookies are smuggled into the United States each year." Jim was becoming frustrated with the verbal sparring.
"Something like that," Killibrew replied evenly.
"I’m not an informant," said Akiko indignantly.
"Right. So what are you, then?" Jim asked quickly.
"That is strictly on a need to know basis, and you don’t need to know," Killibrew jumped in.
"Fine." Jim reached out and took Akiko by her arm. "Then I’ll just borrow her for a little while since she’s a material witness in a murder. Let’s go, Ms. Keno."
He started walking Akiko toward the ferry ramp but halted as the other agents again trained their weapons on him. "You’d better be prepared to use that on a fellow law enforcement officer," Jim told the nearest agent. "I’m taking her in with me. Now lower the ramp."
Akiko, who was tired of the testosterone battle being fought, looked at Killibrew and said, "Tell him, Lloyd."
The agent looked as if he wasn’t going to do as she requested until she continued, "If you don’t, I will."
Killibrew gave in and pulled a wallet from his inner pocket and tossed it to Jim. The federal badge inside had Akiko’s picture on it.
"She’s one of you?" Jim was surprised. He had truly thought she was an informant.
Akiko sighed, moving slightly away from the other agents. "Special Agent Angela Kimuru. Berkeley. Harvard Law. Quantico class of ’93."
"I don’t believe this! I got a potential gang war that could turn Cascade into a blood bath, and now I got feds playing super spy?" Jim rolled his eyes. This was unbelievable.
"Look, in the history of law enforcement, no agency, and I mean, none, has ever penetrated an Asian gang," Killibrew told Jim, though his eyes never left Akiko. "The Yakuza run the deadliest crime organization on the planet. They make the US mafia look like Disney characters. You can’t begin to know the significance of Agent Kimuru’s penetration. She risked her life to come here and we’re not gonna risk that for some biker boss who sells speed to school kids."
"We’re not talking about one biker," Jim snapped angrily at Killibrew. "We’ve got about eight stiffs already and it’s only a matter of time until innocents are caught in the crossfire." He looked over at the lady lawyer. "Answer me this, did you kill Rory Hessman?"
"Are you serious?" replied Akiko indignantly. "After what it took me to get inside, do you think I would jeopardize it by doing something that stupid? The things that I have to do to maintain my cover…" she continued softly, almost to herself.
"Since when does working undercover include being very….friendly with your mark?" Jim asked quietly.
"Detective, Kenji Kadama pisses ice water, has a temper more volatile than nitro and he’s a hair’s breath from blowing," said Akiko, forcefully. "That man now controls half the meth market along the Pacific Rim and he’s taken on the most violent biker gangs since the Angels. You don’t get close to a man like that by trading business cards." Akiko leaned a little closer to Jim and added quietly, "Besides, bed is the one place where I can control him." She then turned towards Killibrew. "I got to get back."
Jim reached out and took her hand, holding on to her little finger. "Before you lose one of these?" he asked. "I’m sorry, I guess I misjudged you."
Akiko smiled sadly. "Yeah, well, you were supposed to. It’s how I stay alive. You’re good, you know. Nobody ever made me before." Akiko turned and walked back to her car, then backed off the ferry.
Killibrew watched Akiko drive off the ferry, then turned to Jim. "Nobody can know she’s undercover and I mean nobody, including your boss. If she’s compromised, she’ll be dead in an hour."
Jim just nodded, and headed for the tow truck he’d left at the ferry landing. He drove back to the Weyerhaeuser Building and returned the truck to its owner. A quick call to the station told Jim that Blair had called for back-up as he instructed, and that Simon had been a part of that back-up. The uniforms that had answered the tow truck driver’s call were able to give Jim a lift to catch up with his partner.
When Jim arrived, he saw Blair, Simon, and several members of forensic looking on as a large crane pulled a familiar looking motorcycle out of the water.
"Hi, Jim." Blair rushed up excitedly as Jim walked up to join the group at the dock’s edge. "I’m finally getting some insight on why you guys do this stuff. I mean, sure it was a little scary when they were shooting at each other, but oh man, the adrenaline rush."
"Slow down and breathe, Chief. First are you OK?" Jim examined the younger man
"Yeah…yeah, I’m fine," replied Blair.
"Good. Now tell me what happened, from the beginning."
"Oh, OK, well, after you took off after Akiko, I saw a bike that looked like the one on the Kobe Club video,” Blair began his recitation, hands waving.
Jim gave a little grin. * I’ll have to test the theory that he can’t talk with his hands tied one of these days.*
“It parked behind the limo. Kadama was watching Akiko walk off. What happened to her anyway?" Blair asked, getting sidetracked.
Jim looked out over the water to avoid looking at Simon or Blair, not liking the fact he had to hide the truth from his captain. "I lost her."
"You lost her. How?" Blair was surprised at Jim’s admission.
Simon’s voice was heavy with disbelief and sarcasm. "So let me get this straight, Detective. First, your research assistant is involved in a high speed chase, then you…"
"Actually, uh, it’s teaching fellow, Captain," Blair interrupted, obviously trying to deflect some of Simon’s ire.
"Then you lose a murder suspect in traffic," continued Simon, ignoring Blair. He looked like he’d like to continue his tirade, but his phone rang and he moved away to answer it.
"So what else happened, Chief?" Jim tried to get Blair back on track and off the situation with Akiko.
"Oh, yeah, anyway, the limo takes off and the biker is right behind it. I tried to call you, but I couldn’t get an answer, so I decided to follow and see where they were going. Then suddenly the biker, I suppose it was Peters, pulls this big gun and starts firing at the limo. Well, next thing I know, Kadama and Peters are taking potshots at each other as they race down the street. The driver of the limo turns down the dock, and just before they get to the end of the dock, he hangs a quick left. The biker couldn’t make the turn and goes off the end, bike and all. I got out of the truck, and by the time I make it to the end of the dock, Kadama has left, and there is no sign of the rider, just bubbles. A few minutes later, the black and white cars and Simon arrived. Oh, and get this. The tires? Pirelli Super sports. Forensics said they match the tracks outside the Kobe Club," concluded Blair
Jim was amazed that Blair seemed to give his whole explanation in one breath. But, before he could comment on his partner’s recital of the facts, Simon rejoined them.
"We just got an anonymous call about another dead body. 230 Belleview."
"That’s all the way across town," replied Jim. "Come on, Chief, let’s roll." Jim turned and headed for his truck as Simon headed for his car.
"Hey, how about letting me drive, man." Blair jogged to keep up with Jim
"Uh, no thanks."
"Because I got a $1000 deductible on my insurance; you left the bathroom a complete mess; and the Mariners lost to Texas. How many other reasons do you need?" asked Jim, grinning.
The building at 230 Belleview was not in the best condition. It stood as a sad testament to the damage time, misuse and neglect can do to all things. Its facade seemed a perfect backdrop for the block of cement that now decorated its front walk, a block of cement that had a tattooed human arm sticking out of it.
"Officer Miles thinks that this is Race Peters,” reported Simon, gesturing to one of the uniforms on the scene.
"How can she be sure?" asked Blair.
"His rap sheet lists identifying marks such as the tattoo," Jim explained. “Looks like Kadama got back at him."
"Born to lose?" Blair read the tattoo. "Guess he did, huh?"
Jim thought he saw something in the top of the cement, but he didn’t think Simon or Blair could see it. Using his enhanced sight, he zeroed in on the area. The depression he spotted looked deep to him now, but he knew it was barely there. He turned up his sense of touch and ran a hand over the cement.
"What’s up, Jim?" Blair noticed Jim’s preoccupation with the cement. "You find something?"
"It’s a, uh…partial heel print and it’s a deep one, kind of like, uh…a vibram sole maybe."
"What’s a vibram sole?" asked Blair just as Simon’s phone rang again.
"It’s a type of boot used by those who are serious about bikes. Biker gangs, vintage enthusiasts, and some motorcycle cops wear them. "What’s up, Captain?" Jim asked as Simon closed his phone.
"There’s been an explosion downtown at the Bomb and Arson lockup building. Some C-4 may have been stolen about an hour ago," Simon told them.
By the time the two detectives and the observer arrived at the Bomb and Arson lockup building, night had fallen. The flashing lights from the surrounding squad cars cast the hole in the side of the building in high relief. Jim and Simon headed inside, while Blair stayed outside, space in the room being at a premium. Blair looked in through the hole as Jim examined it from the inside. Simon nodded at the woman who was also examining the wall and the debris scattered about the floor.
"Jim, you know Taggart’s assistant?" Simon asked.
"Detective Ellison." The woman grinned briefly and nodded.
"Nice to see you again, Sergeant Dunlap," said Jim.
Simon looked around more carefully. "What kind of psycho uses explosives to break into a locker full of volatiles?"
"It’s worse than that," said Sergeant Dunlap. "Last March, ten kilos of C-4 explosive were stolen from a demolition company. Bomb and Arson recovered it and grabbed the booster. It was stored here pending trial, now it’s gone." The sergeant trailed off as she knelt and examined the hole in the wall more closely. "Captain Banks, this hole was blown out from the inside."
"Are you sure?" asked Jim. Sergeant Dunlap nodded. "Is there any access other than this one door?"
"No," replied the sergeant. "And that door has a double dead bolt, made of reinforced steel, with a six-digit security keypad. It was locked when we got here."
"Sounds like someone knew the code. Blew it from the inside to make it look like a break-in," observed Blair.
Jim grinned. "You’re learning, Chief." He stood up. "Who else had the code aside from our own Bomb Squad members?" he asked the sergeant.
"Just a few of the guys from ATF and the Bureau. We have the only volatiles locker in Cascade, so we sometimes store for the feds," she explained.
Jim joined Blair outside and examined the ground in front of the building. He spotted some oil on the sidewalk. "Let me borrow that flashlight for a second," he asked one of the patrolmen nearby.
"What do you got, man?" asked Blair.
Jim pointed out something on the ground. "This print right here is a vibram sole like the one found in the concrete surrounding Peters’ body. On this one, you can see a thin wear line on the right fore step. That’s usually a mark that is caused by consistent use of a kick starter.
"So, who has the C-4?" asked Simon. "The Yaks or the Void?"
Jim shrugged. "I don’t know. But whoever’s got it has enough explosives to make Oklahoma City look like a truck backfire."~~~Act IV~~~Jim knew he had to find out who had the explosive as quickly as he could. The Void’s inner workings were closed to him; however, he did have an "in" with the Yakuza. He knew calling Akiko could blow her cover, but the missing explosives could kill a lot of Cascade citizens in just seconds. So he stood by the bay, in the cool night air, pacing, waiting for a woman that might not arrive. He was almost ready to leave, when Akiko’s silver convertible pulled in behind the truck.
Akiko got out and approached Jim. "So what’s so important that I had to risk blowing my cover?"
"We found a body in a cement block this afternoon. When we ran the prints, the file came back as Race Peters, but the rest of the file was sealed. That means one of two things. He was in witness protection or he was under. Do you know which it was?" asked Jim.
"You had me come out here, risk my cover to ask about a dead biker! I don’t believe you. Do you have any idea how crazy Kenji is?" Akiko paced up and down the bayside dock. "There’s this Japanese delicacy. Fugu. Puffer fish. Ever hear of it? The venom inside the flesh is so toxic that death comes in a matter of seconds. The chefs leave just enough in the flesh so your lips tingle when you eat it, so that way you know just how close you are to death. Every time he has the fish, Kenji makes them leave more and more of the poison in. He is walking on the edge of a razor, and I am right there with him. I can not afford to be distracted by this."
"I understand what you’re going though. Working with him must be very difficult, but I really need to know the truth. Several pounds of C-4 were stolen today. That much explosive can kill a lot of innocent people," said Jim quietly.
"I’m not sure what the truth is anymore," replied Akiko sadly.
"I found a shoe print in little Tokyo where we found the body. The same print was recovered at the break-in site outside of Bomb and Arson. It’s a vibram sole, the kind of shoes that cops wear. A source inside the Justice Department told me that your boss had the access code. Is it possible that Killibrew is dirty?" Jim wanted to know.
"No. No way. I’ve trusted the man with my life for three years," said Akiko, determinedly. "Why do you think it might be Killibrew?"
"Why not? He’s a career-path fed," Jim speculated. "He starts a war between the Yaks and the Void, and when it’s over, the Yaks’ control of the greater northwest is cut in half, and he’s got an office down the hall from the FBI director. Nobody knows, right? But there’s one catch. You’re caught in the middle. You turn to Kenji, he’s gonna slit your throat. And the other side wants their payback from the loss they suffered."
"So what you want me to do?" asked Akiko.
"I want you to come out from under. It’s most likely that Peters was under in the Void. It’s too dangerous for you to remain in Kadama’s employ."
"No. If I stay in and Kenji does have the C-4, I can warn you," she countered. Just then her beeper went off. "It’s Kenji. I gotta get back."
"This isn’t worth your life," said Jim.
"Kenji has to be stopped. I’m sorry. I gotta do this." Akiko walked back to her car and left the dock.
Driving back to headquarters, Jim started to fit the puzzle pieces together. Federal Agent Killibrew was a logical suspect, but it didn’t fit the character of the man Akiko had described to him. Plus, the idea of anyone in the Void getting their hands on the code for the volatiles locker was just highly unlikely. Both gang leaders had said they hadn’t started the hostilities, and Jim was now inclined to believe them. *Who else would gain from a war between the Void’s and Yakusa….* The sounds from a motorcycle being kick started caught his attention as Jim stopped for the light at 5th and Pine, only 2 blocks from the precinct. Automatically looking for the source, he zoomed in on the bike, the rider and more specifically his shoes. Vibram soles. *Hey that looks like ….* A feeling of dread filled Jim as he grabbed his cell phone and called his own desk.
"Where’s Hurley?" Jim asked.
"He called in sick. Why?" Jim heard Blair putting the call on speakerphone. He also heard the rustle of clothing as someone approached the desk.
"Ask Simon to access his service records," said Jim.
Simon answered before Blair could, "I’m right here, Jim. How far back do you need?"
"All the way. I know he transferred in from State Police. I need to know what division."
Jim heard Simon growl, “Move over Sandburg,” and the clicking of computer keys, then Simon’s voice returned. "Jim, it says he started as Highway Patrol.”
"Motorcycle Division," Blair put in.
Coming to a decision, Jim made a request. "Meet me at his locker. I’ll be there in fifteen minutes. Have the watch commander there, too…with bolt cutters."
Fourteen minutes later, Jim strode out of the elevator to find Blair and Simon waiting on him in the hallway outside the locker room.
"All right, Jim, what have you got?" asked Simon.
"I just got confirmation from an old friend in the FBI, Race Peters was an FBI agent. Which means somebody else did the club. Plus, the Yaks didn’t kill him," said Jim.
"How do you know that for sure?" Simon asked.
"The C-4 was stolen by someone with access. The shoe print that was lifted from outside the arson locker? It had a mark on its sole. The type of mark that would be consistent with the repeated use of a kick starter. Hurley was the only player in all this who knew both the Yaks and the Void. He was standing right next to the coffee pot when Akiko gave the cup to Rory," explained Jim.
"You’re saying that Hurley started this war," asked Blair.
Jim heaved a regretful sigh, "I’m saying we have probable cause to pop his locker."
Upon entering the locker room, Jim waited with barely concealed impatience as Simon convinced the watch commander that opening Hurley’s locker was necessary to an ongoing case. Finding the correct door, Commander Holt made short work of the padlock then moved back to observe the search, as per regulations.
Jim opened the locker, and the first thing he found was a pair of boots on the top shelf. He pulled them out and turned them upside down, exposing the soles to view.
"Vibram soles," Blair pointed out.
"It’s a matching mark," Jim said.
"There has got to be an explanation for this," Simon protested. "Mike is one of the good ones."
"Hey, look at this, there’s a note on this video." Blair looked to Jim for permission before reaching in and pulling out the tape.
"What does it say?" asked Jim.
"Sorry, Jimmy," said Blair, a little sadly.
While Jim, Simon and Blair were busy at Mike Hurley’s locker, across town a member of the Void was accepting a very special donation.
Tossing a duffle bag into the back of a grey van, a man in biker’s leathers said, "It’s all here…except the detonator. What about it?"
Casually dressed in jeans and a flannel shirt, Mike Hurley tossed him said detonator. “Those Yaks sons of bitches have taken over half of Pacific Street. Do something about it," he demanded before stalking off, certain that the punk would follow his order.~~~~~~~ Act V ~~~~~~~Back in Major Crimes, Jim and Blair retreated to the captain’s office to watch the tape Hurley had left for Jim. Turning on the TV, Simon started the tape and they all watched as the image of Mike Hurley, in dress uniform, appeared.
"You’re good, Jim," said the prerecorded Hurley. "But by the time you see this, it’ll all be over. I gave my life to the job. I never had a wife or kids of my own." Mike held up a picture of a woman and a young girl, both smiling for the camera. "Just my sister, Gail, from Spokane and her daughter, Tammy. For 30 years, I did my job; I kept my head down; I made my collars. It was bad then, but not like this, not like now. First, it’s crack, then meth and heroin. It’s getting worse out there. A couple weeks ago, I responded to a call from a hotel room. There was this runaway. She’d bummed a ride to Cascade to find a better life." Mike held up another picture, this one of a young woman sprawled on a hotel bed, apparently dead. "Wound up turning tricks for the Yakuza," he continued bitterly. "The meth that she ingested was sold by those animals in black leather. It was Tammy, Jim, she was only 15 years old." Mike’s voice broke slightly. "Well, soon, it’ll all be over. I’m going to take care of them, Jim.” Hurley’s voice took on a hard tone. “One location to take them all out. I just have to go and keep the damage down. That’s my last gift to the department. There’ll be some money when you find me. It’s the cash for the C-4. Give it to Tammy’s mother." The video ended on the picture of Tammy.
“So…” Simon wearily rubbed his eyes then reached over to turn off the video. “Hurley’s going to take out the Void and the Yaks. But where?"
"Do me a favor, Captain, run it back to that snapshot of Tammy," Jim requested. The tape began to replay slightly ahead of the requested point. “There, right there,” Jim pointed suddenly. “Freeze it. What is that sign outside the window? Do you see it there in the background?”
Blair squinted at the screen. "I can’t see anything but a blur. You’re the sentinel, remember?"
"It’s right there." Jim pointed at the still picture on the screen. " I…O…Y…?"
"Uh, that’s the Shioya," exclaimed Blair. "The same building the Kobe Club’s in. Down on Pacific." Exchanging looks, all three men headed for the door in a hurry.
Outside the Kobe Club, Mike Hurley, now in full dress uniform, watched from an unmarked car as several Void members, dressed as street workers, milled around a gray van.
Inside the van, Kurt Hessman looked at the C-4 lined up against the back double doors. "This is for you, Rory," he murmured, then pulled a detonator from his pocket and activated it.
Mike picked up his cell phone to put his plan into play, fully aware of what was happening in the van down the street. "Kobe Club," he heard someone answer.
"Tell your Obayun boss that someone outside wants to send you all back to Kyoto… Express." He hung up before pulling a second detonator from his pocket and activating it. Imagining the havoc that he had just caused with his not-so cryptic warning, Mike started across the street. He was going to finish this once and for all. Tammy would get her justice.
Approaching the Kobe Club, Jim noticed that Mike was half way across the street as he brought the truck to a screeching halt nearby. Jumping out quickly, Jim ordered, "Stay put, Sandburg." *Not that he ever listens to me,* he thought grimly. "Mike!" he called, jogging toward the other officer. Hearing a small beeping noise, Jim automatically used his eyesight to identify the object in Hurley’s hand as an active detonator. Jim stopped abruptly. "It’s not going to work, Mike."
"Jimmy, I got it all figured out," replied Mike, being perfectly reasonable. "One hit and I do the work of 50 cops. No more dope from these bastards. Now I just need you to back away. This is not your fight. I don’t want you hurt."
"You can’t do this, Mike." Jim saw that other official vehicles had arrived. He also heard Blair softly closing the passenger side door of the truck.*Damn, I knew he wouldn’t listen, but I hoped.* "You’ve already killed an FBI agent." He continued moving slowly towards Hurley. "You’re about kill another," Jim told him. "Race Peter’s was in the bureau, Mike. Akiko’s undercover now," Jim added so that only Mike would hear, regretting the necessity of blowing Akiko’s cover.
"Wh-what? Jimmy. No," was Mike’s stunned reply as Yaks started to pour out of the Kobe Club and Void members started to get out of van.
"Let’s go!" said Kurt, spoiling for a fight.
Akiko, who had been behind the male members of Kadama’s gang, ran out of the Kobe Club, and was immediately spotted by Kurt.
"You killed my brother!" he screamed and aimed his gun at her.
Before Jim could stop him, Mike, now understanding the truth about the woman, ran into the line of fire. "No!" he screamed as he shielded her with his body. He forced Akiko to the ground and took the bullets meant for her. In the process, however, he lost the detonator.
Blair watched as the detonator went flying through the air. Thinking that the C-4 could go off if the detonator were to hit the ground, he took a diving leap, offering up a little prayer to whomever was listening, to try to catch it before it could hit the ground.
"Let’s go. Move! Get them all contained. We’ll sort them out later," Simon ordered his officers, as they started to round up the members of both the Yaks and the Void.
Jim headed over to Akiko and Mike. He helped Akiko up, then checked on Mike, but his examination only confirmed what his other senses had already told him. Mike Hurley was dead.
Most of the Void and the Yaks had never got the chance to open fire at each other. The only one who actually fired a gun was Kurt Hessman, and he was arrested for the murder of Mike Hurley. Unfortunately, there were no charges that Simon could think of for Kadama, so he was not detained. Jim and Blair were leaning against the truck watching as the coroner’s assistants were placing Mike’s body on a gurney.
"By the way, nice catch, Chief. You saved a lot of lives," Jim complimented the younger man.
"Except for one," Blair said sadly as the coroner’s men began to move Mike’s body. "I don’t know how you guys get used to this stuff, man."
"We don’t," Jim said, simply looking at Mike’s body and resting a hand on his forehead. He then, picked up the envelope full of money.
"What do we do with this?" he asked Simon.
Simon took the envelope. "We make sure it gets to Hurley’s sister. Come on, Sandburg, we need your statement about that detonator," finished Simon, directing the observer with a jerk of his head.
Jim took the opportunity to walk over to Akiko, where she was standing with Kadama and other members of the Yakuza.
"Detective, do you have any charges against my client?" she demanded.
"Not right now."
"Then release him or I’ll file for illegal detention."
"He’s free to go, but I do need to speak with you about Hessman’s death. Right now, if it’s convenient."
Akiko looked at Kadama, who nodded. "Make it fast."
Jim and Akiko stepped out of Kadama’s hearing, just slightly around a corner.
"I don’t think you should be going back to work for your boss," said Jim.
"It’s not really like I have a choice. The Void leadership may be gone, but Kenji’s still in business."
"I know. Look, if you ever find you need a quick bolt hole. Come see me, I’ll do my best to protect you," Jim offered.
"Thank you, Detective. I just may do that." Akiko smiled.
"Oh, and by the way…"
"Stay away from the puffer fish."The EndPlease remember to send feedback to our authors. Feedback can be sent to: [email protected]Next week’s episode: True Crime by Crowswork