Chapter 3: Veins of Ice
Sylvia walked with alongside Shinji towards a used car lot. They could see the flamboyant colored banners from halfway down the block along with signs in giant red lettering. Sylvia was carrying a heavy suitcase full of yen in her right hand.
“You said your contact was going to meet us here, right? Are you sure that they’re trustworthy? I told you I only want to work with people who I can trust.” Shinji said, concerned
“You can have faith in her. She’s not some two-bit hitman or a random merc. She did two tours of duty in Afghanistan. She’s ex-KGB and ex-Ukrainian Special Forces. Katarina’s a professional soldier. You don’t have to worry about her.” Sylvia reiterated
Shinji looked down at Sylvia “Oh, I was gonna say, you got a haircut, didn’t you?”
“Yeah.” Sylvia replied merely
“It looks really good. I like short hair on you.” Shinji complemented her with a genuine smile
“Oh, thanks.” Sylvia responded meekly, tucking her jaw-length hair behind her ear and blushing internally.
“Oh my god, are you blushing? You are such a tsundere.” Angel sighed
“Shut up, I am not a tsundere.” Sylvia said out loud, which drew an inquisitive look from Shinji.
They reached the alleyway right next to the dealership, and standing with her heel against the wall was a tall blonde woman wearing a white peacoat. She had a white eye-patch with a red cross through it over her right eye. White stockings ran up her toned legs, and she wore elbow length white gloves to match her outfit. Her blonde tresses fell messily around her shoulders.
“You’re late.” Katarina said stoically in her thick eastern European accent
“Tell her there’s a thing called being fashionably late.” Janice said
“And also tell her she looks like a prostitute.” Angel added
“There’s a thing called being fashionably late.” Sylvia replied “And also, you look like a prostitute.”
“I’m Shinji, nice to meet you.” He said excitedly, extending his hand towards her. Katarina stared at it for a moment and then started to walk away.
They crossed a small street and walked into the dealership where a woman sat behind a gray desk. There was a sign that read “Magic Man Used Cars: Fantastic, Baby!” in Japanese behind them. The lady at the front desk greeted them. Shinji took the initiative.
“Hello, we’re here to see Magic Man about the 1991 Toyota Corolla super charger with the supreme package.” He explained
“Ok, well he should be on his way back to the office right now, please have a seat in the waiting area until he gets here.” The woman replied cheerfully and the 3 sat down.
Sylvia began flipping through a car magazine on the table next to the group of chairs in the waiting area. Katarina sat in the chair, arms stuffed in her coat pockets, staring at Sylvia.
“Something’s different about you.” Katarina stated “Are you wearing lipstick?”
“Y-yeah. Sometimes I like to look nice. Now you, I’m guessing you have to get up at 4 A.M. to do all that.” Sylvia responded, making a waiving motion towards Katarina’s face “Or do you just wake up every morning looking like a sex doll?”
Katarina laughed and shook her head. Soon, a man barged through the door. He was wearing rattlesnake patterned boots with a metal bald eagle figurine on the tip of the toes. He wore an ill-fitting pinstripe suit with a blue shirt and a white bolo tie with a polished brown stone in the center of it. On his head sat a beige cowboy hat, and underneath it, medium length salt and pepper hair that was a bit too untrimmed and unruly in the back. He was of Japanese descent, but he did everything possible to hide it. He walked and talked with the confidence of an upper-class salary man, but carried himself with the dignity of a used car salesman.
“You guys were the ones looking for the super charged Toyota Corolla, right?” He asked in a fluster.
“That’s us.” Shinji replied simply
“Jeez, sorry I’m late. You would not believe how long the line was at the soapland. I thought, it’s lunchtime on a Tuesday, how busy can it possibly be. Shows what I know, right? Anyway, you didn’t come here to hear me blabber on, look at her.” The man said, pointing to Katarina’s indifferent stare “This is a girl who knows exactly what she wants and wants zero monkey business. I respect the hustle. Anyway, follow me.”
They walked past the showroom to the office. The office was small and dusty, with a bunch of books chaotically spread about the shelves.
“Please, take one of my cards.” He said, pointing towards his desk. There was a small container full of black business cards with his name and the business on it. “I do all the essentials, sales, cleanups, anything you could possibly need.” Shinji took one and put it in his back pocket.
After Sylvia had closed the door behind them, he opened a book on the shelf in a white slip cover and then put in an empty space in a row full of other books. On the East wall of the room, a hidden door opened. They walked in and it was another showroom, but this one was cold, dark and empty. The salesman flipped a switch on his desk light and the lights went on, then out of the floor raised about 20 racks full of guns, ammunition and other supplies. Sylvia’s eyes lit up as if she was a child gazing upon a candy store.
“I got everything you could possibly desire here, assault rifles, shotguns, SMG’s, revolvers. Whatever suits your fancy. If you need me just ask.” He stood back while the three shopped around.
Sylvia was instantly drawn to a shotgun on one of the racks. Immediately, Magic Man came over.
“You like what you see? That’s the Benelli M4. Top of the line shotgun, used by the Italian police. Semi-automatic and as reliable as the sun rising in the east. Or is it the west? Either way, the gun won’t let you down in a pinch, I can guarantee you that.”
Sylvia had the gun tucked under her chin and was mimicking putting bullets into it. She flipped it back around and aimed down the red holographic sights with it. She pulled the trigger a few times to get a feel for the action.
“Doesn’t the action on that thing just make ya’ horny?” Magic Man asked with a chuckle.
“Ammo. What kind does it take?” Sylvia said dutifully.
Magic Man went to the other side of the display and grabbed a red box of ammunition.
“12-gauge slugs. 1300 meters per second, FMJ armor piercing rounds.” He said, taking one out and placing it on the edge of the shelf.
Sylvia grabbed the shell and tossed it around in her hand. She nodded and said “I’ll take it, and that box of ammo.”
“Perfect, let me go help your friend over there.” The man smiled
Katarina was busy checking out an assault rifle from one of the racks.
“You digging that H&K g36? He said smoothly
“That is the cream of the crop when it comes to assault rifles right now. Can’t beat that Belgian engineering. And the ACOG scope will have you picking off bad guys at 1000 paces like it’s nobody’s business”
“Firing modes.” Katarina stated coldly, looking over the salesman.
“Semi-auto, full auto and 3 round burst. Standard military issue stuff.” He replied warmly. “Now for ammo, you’re probably going to want the 45 Millimeter hollow points.” He added.
While Katarina was mulling over her choice of ammunition, Sylvia and Shinji were standing impatiently behind her.
“You know, I have to say, you 3 are the absolute cutest group of delinquents I think I have ever seen.” Magic Man detailed
“What does our physical appearance have to do with anything?” Shinji remarked stone-facedly
“Well, I’m glad you asked. If you’re morally gray, but ugly, you’re just evil. If you’re morally gray and attractive, then you get the benefit of the doubt. It’s a marketing thing.”
Katarina grabbed 2 boxes of ammunition off the display. “Body armor?” She asked
“Ah, I’ve got you covered on that too, naturally. This is military grade Kevlar, magnetized steel and as thin and light as it can possibly be without compromising the protection. This will keep you safe from any stray bullets that might come your way. Not that you guys will let them get any shots off, right?” he laughed, holding up a silver and black vest of protective armor. “I wear this myself by the way, wouldn’t leave the office without it.” He continued, opening up his suit to show the armor underneath his shirt.
Katarina looked it over a few times, feeling the armor between her fingers and lifting it up to gage the weight. Suddenly, she reached for the holster on her waist and quickly drew her silenced pistol, hitting the salesman in the midriff with a single bullet. He fell backwards onto the floor, grabbing his side.
“Man, what the fuck!” He roared, grunting in pain. Katarina rolled her pistol around her finger a few times before putting it back in its holster. She sauntered up to him and lifted him up by the shoulders, ripping open his shirt to reveal the armor underneath. She plucked the compacted bullet out of the vest and examined it. She ran her hands over the spot in the vest where he had been shot. There wasn’t any damage to the vest at all, it had caught the bullet cleanly.
“You’re a man of your word, it’s a good product. We’ll take 3.” Katarina said nonchalantly as if nothing had just happened.
Magic Man stood up, still clutching his side. The other two grabbed a vest from the display.
“I think we’re ready.” Sylvia stated
“Well, the shotgun, and the assault rifle, plus the ammo equals about 500 million yen. Add in the vests, and let’s just say, a few hundred thousand for pain and suffering and we’ll call it 600 million even.”
“600 million is an awful lot for 2 guns.” Sylvia commented
“Do you have any idea how hard it is to get military grade weapons into this country? Of course, you don’t. You three get to be cool action stars, and shoot bad guys, and be all sexy and eastern European. Meanwhile poor Magic Man has to bust his fucking balls so you can have reliable firearms when getting a goddamn handgun into Japan is like walking through a police station with black tar heroin wrapped in child pornography.” Magic Man shouted at them. “you should be thanking your lucky stars I’m only asking that much. I should be charging you triple since Josephina Stalin over here decided to break half my rib cage.” He added bitterly.
“Pay the man. I’m leaving. See you tonight.” Katarina said aloofly, walking out of the store room with her items in a case.
Sylvia opened up her briefcase and started removing stacks of yen from it.
“Shinji will take that Makarov over there too.” She said, handing over another brick of cash.
The night was mild and listless; the pale white light of the nearly full moon was skipping off the surface of the harbor’s water. Sylvia and Shinji were waiting in an alleyway about half a block away from the warehouse where their operation was planned. Shinji was sitting on an old blue wooden pallet that had been discarded and Sylvia was leaning up against the wall, flicking her dagger in between the fingers.
Shinji had his hands around the temples and his legs were thumping up and down vigorously. Sylvia put her dagger away in the sheath in front of her waist. She kneeled down in front of him and put her hand on his arm.
“Don’t be nervous ok?” Sylvia stated.
“Yeah, I know. I’ve just never done anything like this before.” Shinji replied
“You’re not gonna die, I won’t let them hurt you.” Sylvia reassured him, putting her hand over his. He looked up at her and their eyes met. He smiled and she smiled back.
“Follow me and you’ll be fine, ok? But don’t be afraid to use your weapon if you have to. I know taking somebody’s life is a heavy prospect, but you have to remember that it’s you or them. Hesitation could mean death.” Sylvia explained
“Got it. Also, I’ve killed people before.”
“Yeah, not on purpose.” Sylvia retorted and the two both laughed. The humor had eased Shinji’s nerves just a tiny bit.
A few minutes passed and finally Katarina had arrived to join them. She was wearing all black including a black eye patch with golden angel wings on it. She had two pistols on her hip. One was her custom Makarov with white paisley engravings. Scratched into the side were the words “Angel of Death.” On the other hip, she had a Colt Single Action Army revolver. She had her silenced assault rifle slung across her shoulders and a few clips of ammo across her waist.
“Ready?” She asked in her usual cold accent.
“You bet.” Sylvia said with a sly smile.
She grabbed her shotgun and put it over her shoulder. She put a belt around her waist that had additional shells and a few clips of pistol ammo. She pulled up her black facemask and the three moved out. They walked across the docks to the back of the warehouse. Just in front of the entrance to the back gate, there was a guard standing with an AK-47. The trio hid behind a group of grimy black barrels to his right. Katarina pulled out her knife and pressed her finger to her lips indicating for them to be quiet. As soon as the guard turned his back, Katarina sprung into action, cutting the side of his chest near his heart and then his jugular in one swift motion. His body crumpled to the floor like his bones had disappeared, but there was no visible blood spilt. Shinji and Sylvia followed her around the back of the building to the side. They were now pressed up against the back of the warehouse, looking down the long side of the building. Two more guards were patrolling with bright yellow flashlights. Katarina turned to Sylvia and stuck out two fingers indicating there were two enemies.
Sylvia nodded and whispered “I’ll take left, you take right?”
Kat bobbed her head in agreeance and the two leaned out from the side of the building, Sylvia with her pistol and Katarina with her rifle set to semi-auto mode. In the flash of an eye, both men simultaneously dropped dead from gunshots to the head. They moved down the long side of the warehouse to the front where another man was standing guard. Before the other two had even seen the watch, he was dead. Katarina had deposited two quick shots to his chest and one to the head. They opened the doors to the warehouse and inside, there were about 5 men, all with assault rifles. They hid behind a few boxes while the guards stood their ground. There were two up stairs on the catwalks and 3 downstairs.
“I think the stealth portion of the op is up.” Katarina said quietly. “We have to take out the ones upstairs first, they have the high ground. I can kill them but our cover will be blown, so be ready.” Shinji and Sylvia nodded to signify they were ready. Katarina popped out of cover and killed both the guards up top, but it alerted the others. Sylvia pulled out her shotgun and popped one of the guards with a slug. The other one took cover quickly and started blind firing over some boxes.
“Cover me and I’ll flank him.” Sylvia called and Katarina started firing fully automatic bursts in the direction of the guard, keeping him pinned down. Sylvia moved around to the far side of the boxes and then took out the guard with two clean shots to the chest. The final guard downstairs had run to the back of the building and was hiding in a doorway firing on their position. Sylvia managed to work her way to the back using various cover along with Shinji, and was leaning up against the outside of the doorway. She took out her dagger and waited for the enemy to reveal any part of his body. As soon as his arm showed outside the frame of the door, she went to grab it, but the man had anticipated her move and instead pulled her through the doorway. Her shotgun had been knocked off her shoulder. He pulled up his gun to shoot with her looking up at him from the ground, but Shinji shot him once in the shoulder, which distracted him long enough for Sylvia to shoot him dead with her pistol from her back.
Sylvia and Shinji looked down a long hallway with 3 doors in it. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a man popped out of one of the entrances and opened fire on them. Sylvia had jumped to the side to push Shinji out of the opening of the hallway and out of the line of fire. She got to one knee and blasted a shot into the door, which blew a massive hole in it. The second slug dropped him. With the moment of respite, she turned to Shinji.
“Nice shot.” She said, rotating her shoulder around and grimacing in pain.
“Thanks, are you ok?” He asked
“No, I think I dislocated my shoulder.” She replied, gritting her teeth as she moved her shoulder around.
“Here, let me reset it for you.” He offered.
“Be quick.” She stated. Shinji grabbed her forearm and her bicep. He pushed to the side and slightly up and popped it back into place as Sylvia grumbled in discomfort.
Sylvia took a moment to start reloading her shotgun. She had about half the shells loaded into the gun, when suddenly, a man burst through a side door into the warehouse. She did a quickdraw of her pistol and shot the man twice in the chest, causing him to collapse. She finished reloading her shotgun, but there were no more people to shoot with it.
Katarina was systematically and efficiently cleaning out the upstairs, leaving a trail of dead bodies in her wake. She had just used the last magazine of ammo for her assault rifle. Kat entered the last office in the hallway and saw a young Yakuza. He was standing in front of the desk; he was skinny and looked like he had just become an adult. There was a revolver sitting precariously on the edge of the writing table. He looked tempted to reach for it.
“Put the piece down cowboy.” Katarina said sternly “You’re young. Walk out of here with your life.”
The young man looked to reach for the gun again and Katarina had her hand twitching, ready to draw the revolver on her hip.
“C’mon, put it down nice and slow, on the ground and walk out. You know how this end if you try to shoot me.” She instructed
The young man was shaking, but he slowly lifted the gun off the table. Katarina wasn’t easing her reflexes at all, still waiting to pounce if the moment called for it. The man had one hand raised in the air as he slowly moved to put the pistol on the ground. His eyes never averted the gaze of Katarina’s. The tension in the air was intense and palpable; Katarina refused to let her guard down for even a moment, even as the young man put the gun down on the floor. As he did, he reached behind him where he had another gun tucked into the waist line of his pants. Before he could even get a finger on the handle, Katarina drew her weapon, fanning the hammer on the single action revolver and landing two shots in the man’s chest, killing him instantly. She spun the revolver around on her finger a few times and put it safely back in its holster.
She walked out into the hallway and gazed upon the bloody mess she had created, with bodies lying around the various doorways. As she saw the carnage in the antechamber, she suddenly was stricken with a bout of panic. Her breathing had quickly become very labored and it felt like she was suffocating, as if the walls were closing in on her. She rushed into one of the rooms, drew her pistol and sat with her back up against the wall. She was desperately trying to control her breathing, but it was of little use. She had seen a brief flashback of something traumatic from her past and it had triggered the panic attack. In the distance, she heard Sylvia and Shinji calling for her. She tried to compose herself as much as possible before the pair found her.
“In here.” She called. Sylvia and Shinji ran through the door.
“Are you ok?” Sylvia asked, slightly frightened
“Yeah, I’m fine. I got shot but the vest caught it.” Katarina lied.
“Want me to check if you’re wounded, I’m a doctor.” Shinji offered, rushing over to her.
“I’m fine. I don’t feel any blood.” Katarina asserted, shoving him away.
“We gotta get out of here before any police show up.” Sylvia reminded them. Shinji helped Katarina up and the three of them made their way to the exit. Sylvia stopped by some crates and read over the sticker on the box.
“Hand me that crowbar Shinji.” She requested
“Don’t hurt your shoulder, I got it.” Shinji replied, popping the top off the wooden box. There was about 5 pounds of copper wire inside the grubby shipping container. Sylvia dug below it and found 2 AK-47 assault rifles, and 3 cheap Chinese handguns.
“Whoever gave you your intel was spot on.” Sylvia mused “This is where they were smuggling in their weapons. I think we have somebody on the inside we can trust for info at least.”
She reached over to the top of the box and ripped the label off, sticking it in her coat pocket since it had a delivery address that wasn’t the current one on it. The three then quickly proceeded back to their vehicles.
The wind had picked up a bit on the waterfront as Sylvia, Shinji and Katarina were standing around their cars.
“My money” Katarina stated emotionlessly, inclined against her white Maserati, smoking a cigarette.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah, you’ll get your money when the job is done. We’ll need you for another one eventually. We’re willing to pay the same rate.” Shinji replied
“Fine, suit yourself. I’m up for it if you are. You know where to find me, Sylvia.” Katrina took one last long draw off her cigarette and tossed it on the ground, the last few embers scattering as it hit the cement of the parking lot. Sylvia and Shinji got into the car and drove back to Sylvia’s place. Neither one of them spoke on the short trip back. Shinji had taken off his armor and was now wearing just a gray wifebeater.
When they arrived at Sylvia’s house, they got out of her car as Shinji’s car was parked behind where she lived in the small lot. As the two got out, they both immediately ran to each other and embraced.
“Oh my god, Sylvia that was amazing!” Shinji exclaimed as the first words that had been spoken between the two since they had gotten in the car. “I knew you could handle yourself in a fight… But… You looked like a fucking action hero out there!” The two had ended the embrace but now were holding each other at arm’s length.
“Well, I couldn’t have done it without the help of my combat medic.” Sylvia smiled, punching him friskily on the forearm.
“I’m just glad I could have a front row seat. That quickdraw was so badass, you were just like boom boom.” He said, mimicking the action of shooting a pistol. “I’m so fucking amped. I’ve never felt this much adrenaline before. I feel invincible. Sylvia, I’ve never felt more alive than I do right now!” His hands were shaking from excitement and energy. Sylvia provided a much-needed calm counterbalance to his vigor as she ran her hands over his forearms. She looked him in the eyes and he looked back with a sincere smile.
“Do you want a bottle of water for the road or something.” Sylvia offered.
“Well now that you mention it, my throat is fucking parched. I could go for a glass of water if you don’t mind.”
“Sure, come on in.” Sylvia replied.
The two entered the small house and removed their shoes. Sylvia grabbed a clear square glass from the cabinet and filled it with water from the sink. She presented it to Shinji.
“I hope tap water is fine.” She joked
“Anything sounds good right about now. Thanks” Shinji remarked in response.
Sylvia went through the sliding partition to her room and turned on the light. She removed her vest and replaced it with a black turtleneck. The light from the room as illuminating her figure and casting a shadow onto the thin paper of the divider. She turned off the light and walked out. Shinji was still drinking his water, but he couldn’t bring it up to his mouth without spilling some on the floor due to his hands quivering.
“Is this your first time drinking or your first time seeing a woman’s figure?” Sylvia joked flirtatiously
“I’m so wired I can’t help it.” Shinji laughed, doing his best to finish off the glass of water. He placed it on the counter and turned back to Sylvia.
“Well, I guess this is goodnight, Yamizaki-Kun.” I’ll see you tomorrow?” Shinji said
“See you around Amaya-San.” Sylvia replied with a wink. Shinji hadn’t even made one step towards the door before he turned around and pushed Sylvia up against the wall, kissing her fervently. Sylvia scrambled to take his tank top off and ran her hands over his muscular physique. They clumsily made their way into the bedroom as he pushed her down on the bed, the weight of his body pressing up against her thin frame. He began to kiss her neck passionately, but eventually she stopped kissing him. Reading her body language, he also stopped.
“Shinji, what are we doing?” Sylvia asked
“I’m so sorry.” Shinji said panicked, resentfully. “I have no idea what I’m thinking. I have so much adrenaline… I-I’m sorry if I made you uncomfortable.” He apologized, standing up and moving away from her.
“No, Shinji… I didn’t mean it like that. I meant it like I don’t do boring missionary bullshit.” Sylvia responded, grabbing the waistband of his pants and pulling him towards her aggressively. She removed the belt. She folded it into a loop and smacked it against her hand. She then proceeded to shove it into his chest forcefully.
“Go on, don’t be shy. Make it hurt.”