Shatterproofby Dare Cheung
The bright moonlight reflected on the tranquil waves of Tokyo harbour. The reflection rippled as a soft breeze blew through the bay. The shipyard was hardly silent, this night. By the docks where the Kokumaru was anchored, loading cranes and forklifts rumbled mechanically. Men oversaw the offloading of crates from the small freighter ship onto flat-bed trucks to be stored into a nearby warehouse.
The first thing to shatter the evening's work was the two overhead helicopters. Their violent, whirling rotorblades created turrents of gusts around the docks and waterfront. Spotlights illuminated the workers below. The surprised men looked up, shielding their eyes, wondering what was going on.
Next came the roar of engines. A large squad of vehicles appeared beyond the chainlinked fence. The motorcade consisted of motorcycles, vans and cars. Once entering the warehouse grounds, the cars split into two groups and flanked the warehouse from either side.
The dockworkers raised their hands at the sight of the armed motorcyclists. The other cars stopped and the uniformed men quickly emerged, weapons drawn. The back doors of the vans opened and more men rushed out in single file, equipped with bulletproof vests and riot masks. They were fully armed, as well.
The situation was already under control, without a single shot being fire. This vexed Kimiko. She expected a full-blown gun battle at the sight of their cars and helicopters. She had even dressed in protective gear, just in case.
Stepping out of her own car, she met up with the commanding officer of the scene. She was their Chobetsu liason on this bust and the agency was taking advantage of the police force's resources. "That went rather well," she commented dryly.
"Good," the sergeant said, "let's hope someone doesn't get trigger happy. But, by the looks of it, the workers are surrendering and we can have a look inside their warehouse."
They stepped inside the small warehouse, surrounded by a few officers for protection. Crates lined the sides, carefully stacked and organized.
A man burst out the office door. The officer's raised their weapons, and kept them trained on the man even though he drew no weapon or had no violent intention. He was still quite angry.
"What is going on here?!"
Kimiko drew an envelope from her vest. "We have a warrant to search and confiscate the weapons that are being illegally stored in your warehouse!"
The man looked confused and still angry. "Weapons?! We don't have any weapons here! I demand to know who is responsible for all this! You're interrupting my men's work!"
"Your men will probably be arrested in conjunction for your operation, sir," she replied. "Somebody get him out of my face."
A young officer obliged by holding the outraged warehouse owner back.
Kimiko grabbed a crowbar lying on a nearby table and approached one of the crates. Prying the top open, she tossed it aside and looked into the box stuffed with packaging straw and foam pieces. Reaching in, she felt around for the weapons they had been sent to look for.
She found something soft and furry. Pulling it out, she held a plush toy in her hands. "What the?" She immediately realized it was just a "cover" crate. Moving the box aside, she found another one behind it. Picking up the crowbar, she opened the crate and found more stuffed toys. Frustrated, she randomly chose another crate and opened it. Again, stuffed toys.
Kimiko stalked over to the warehouse foreman. She grabbed him by the collar. "Where are the guns?!"
"I told you, there's no guns! We're receiving toys!!"
"Bullshit!" Letting him go roughly, she called out to the other men. "Alright, I want every box opened, now!"
The officers who weren't watching the dockworkers looked to their sergeant. He nodded, and they began opening the remaining crates that were in the warehouse.
Kimiko stood and watched, hands folded across her chest. The informant they acquired had revealed the location of the weapons transfer at the utmost reluctance. And, even that took a bit of persuading. She was sure this was where it was going to happen.
A face amoung the crowd of workers caught her eye. Her chest tightened. What the hell was he doing here?! she screamed internally.
She nearly ran over to the man and grabbed him just as roughly as she did the foreman. Perhaps, more so.
"What the fuck are you doing here?!" she screamed out loud this time. She shook him. "Where are the goddamn guns, you son of a bitch!"
The officers just stared with amazement as the man said nothing in his defense. "Where are the guns?! I'm going to make sure you rot in prison this time!!"
The sergeant pulled her off the man she was screaming at. "What the hell are you doing?!" he barked.
She pointed with disdain. "I want this scum arrested and brought in for questioning! I'm sure there's weapons, now that he's shown his face here!"
"We've searched a lot of the crates and we can't find any weapons."
The man smiled. "I run a legitimate business here," he said simply. "I'd appreciate it if your men backed off unless they are going to lay charges on us. Otherwise, I must see to our wares."
"Like hell you do!" Kimiko growled. She grabbed him again and stuck her face right up to his. "Listen, you bastard. I'm going to take you down this time. I swear it!" She punctuated her threat with a fist to his stomach.
The man stumbled onto the ground, clutching in pain. The dockworkers tensed. The man held out his hand, telling them not to do anything stupid. The police officers' guns were still trained on them, despite Kimiko's actions.
"No, it's alright," he assured weakly. He tried smiling, again. "See, this is the ways of the government. They resort to bullying. Pathetic."
Kimiko was outraged. She would have leapt at the man had the sergeant not held her back. "AGENT SOUICHI! THAT IS ENOUGH!!" Kimiko squirmed a little in his powerful arms. "That's it! Get back in the car! This is over! We have nothing!"
Kimiko shot a hateful glare at the man, one last time, before turning away.
The unoffending apartment door was slammed as Kimiko entered. She sat down on the sofa and ran her hands roughly through her hair. Still feeling angry, she kicked the coffee table.
Elyssa came out of her room, holding Pochi-chan in her arms. "What's wrong, Kimiko?"
"The bust was a bust," she answered, not at all trying to be funny. "I don't understand! We had the info! He couldn't have lied to us!!"
"What did you find?" Elyssa asked, putting the lazy dog down on the carpet.
"Stuffed toys. Christ!" Kimiko looked up. "Did you think he was lying?"
Elyssa put a finger to her lip and recalled the entire session with their informant. She wished she could forget a few moments when things got a bit violent. "He seemed absolutely genuine with his information. Unless, he was tricked as well. I mean, the information is completely accurate to the best of his knowledge. We didn't consider that his information may have been planted on him, on purpose."
Elyssa read Kimiko's face like an open book. It was easy for her. "That's not it, though, ne? There's something else that's bothering you."
"Stop doing that," Kimiko muttered.
"Sorry, but it's just the way I am. Do you want to talk about it?"
"No!" the instant reply came, but that was immediately followed by more words. "It's that bastard Akira Masakiho! I know he's behind this! He was there! He was mocking me!!"
The file on Akira Masakiho came to Elyssa in a flash. He was a suspected gun-runner that Chobetsu had been tracking for over a year. They came close to exposing his operation, but somehow, he knew of their actions. They had to back off, failing once. Agent Hakaru Yushido was assigned to Akira. Angry at Chobetsu's failure to capture them, he went without authorization to one of their suspected warehouses. Alone, without backup, he went in. Hours later, an emergency call was made. Yushido was found dead in the warehouse. The owner, Akira, claimed the security guards thought he was a burglar. The autopsy was inconclusive, although there was suspicions that Yushido had been executed. Without definite proof, and without Yushido's actions backed by the agency, they had to drop the matter.
Yushido was also Kimiko's partner, at one time, and they had been intimate.
"He was there, he knew I would be there!!" Kimiko threw her arms in the air. "He's taunting me! After all this time, I know he is! Dammit!"
Although Elyssa had to agree with Kimiko's rage-fueled assessment, she didn't want to, because it would lead to one course of action. Revenge. On the other hand, she thought Kimiko would be so obsessed with bringing him down, nothing she would say could oppose that.
Kimiko got up from the corner of Elyssa's eye. "What are you going to do, now?" she asked the agent.
Grabbing her coat, Kimiko walked over to the closet. Feeling around the wall, she released a latch and slid a panel. Inside the secret compartment was another stash of guns. She pulled out another .44 colt and a body harness for the two pistols. She took out a .22 gauge single-barrel shotgun, sawed off. There were a few grenades she stuffed in her pocket, but not that many. She also tossed a pair of binoculars around her neck.
Fearing the worst, Elyssa asked her again. "Kimiko, what are you going to do?!"
"To finish what Yushido started. Something I should have done a long time ago." She put on her coat and left the apartment.
The sound of vehicles woke Kimiko from her light nap. She was resting on the rooftop of another warehouse near the one they had raided earlier in the night. Taking out her binoculars, she spied what were five trucks coming from the distance. She checked her watch. It was three in the morning. The warrant that had been written up had now officially expired.
Dammit, she swore to herself. They knew the timing of everything. And, the police were stupid not to leave someone behind to watch them. She watched the trucks roll into the front loading bay of the warehouse. Men got out from the trailer and began loading boxes out. They had to be the weapons, Kimiko was certain this time.
She took the binoculars off and left them on the rooftop. She wouldn't be needing them. Grabbing the shotgun lying by her feet, she began her descent.
Akira Masakiho smiled. The guns had finally arrived. The police and the Chobetsu fools had taken the bait he had laid before them. Embarassed at yet another miscue, the government had to back off. Now, he was free to finish tonight's scheduled delivery.
"Hurry it up!" he shouted. Some men glared at him, not too happy to be yelled at, but they knew they were getting paid well. The sooner they were done, the sooner they would get their cash and spend it on their alcohol, drugs and women.
Suddenly, an explosion threw him back a few feet. One of the trucks unloading weapons had burst into an inferno. "What the hell--?"
Another blast rocked the warehouse, this time around the crates. Men flew into the air. Akira pulled out his own handgun. His men did likewise.
Flames lit the destroyed truck. From the smoke, a figure emerged. A woman. It was the Chobetsu agent. "Kill her!" he roared. His men opened fire.
Kimiko tossed her last grenade at the men rushing toward her. The explosion scattered them, killing a score. She raised her shotgun and began firing. She spotted Akira and fired in his direction. Akira leapt out of the way. Kimiko aimed slightly to the left, firing at the man that was next to him. From her peripheral, she spotted a group of men racing to her position. They began firing.
She jumped out of the way, rolled behind one of the trucks. Automatic gunfire danced at her feet as she ran from the truck to a pile of crates. She bobbed up and down, firing at odd intervals. She caught at least three men that way.
The shotgun emptied and she leaned back against the crates, frantically refilling the rifle with more ammo. A man appeared in the stairs before her and fired. She raised the shotgun, half loaded, and fired back. She caught him squarely in the chest, but a bullet teared through her shoulder. Grunting, she instinctively grabbed it.
Gunfire began ripping through the crates again. She got on her feet and peeked around the corner. She pulled her head back as gunfire flew past her. She rolled out of the crates' cover. When she was upright, she fired the shotgun, killing one man. She ran for the next set of crates as the other men returned fire.
This time, she had no chance to stop. Akira spun around a pile of boxes and began firing his handguns. Kimiko leapt into office that was behind her. She kept low as the men outside smashed the windows with gunfire. She covered her head protectively as shards of glass showered her.
All was quiet for a moment. She quickly raced behind a desk and discarded the shotgun. It was too slow for her. She unholstered the two pistols under her arms. As soon as some men raced into the room, she popped up and fired with both handguns. The spray of bullets fell the first few men to walk in. The rest backed out. They fired blindly into the room with their automatic weapons. Kimiko jumped through the broken windows, sideways, and fired at the men outside. She caught most of them dead on.
She sprung up quickly before the bullets could reach her. She sprinted with impossible speed, at the same time, firing her pistols. A man with a short automatic rifle tumbled as the bullets pierced his chest. Spasmic reactions caused his finger to tighten on the trigger and bullets sprayed wildly. Several hit a box of explosives near Kimiko. The explosion sent her flying.
Coughing, she got up and sought shelter quickly. Dead men were literred around the small warehouse, but there was at least twelve or so left, including Akira.
An automatic rifle lay at her feet, still clutched by one of the men she had killed. Putting her pistols back, she picked it up and peeked behind some crates. She ducked as bullets came inbound. Once they stopped, she popped up quickly and fired. She didn't hit anyone. More bullets came. Instead of standing up again, she reached over the top of the crates with her rifle and fired. The men stopped firing and she took that chance to race away from the crates. She found three men unprotected and mowed them down with the rifle before they could even aim. The other men she was shooting at had already found her and began firing. She ducked and ran for cover again. She was getting annoyed.
A glint of metal caught her eye. Someone was on the roof of the low office. She fired at the man. He screamed and fell off the roof. The rifle clicked, indicating it was out of ammunition. Throwing it aside, she took her pistols back out.
She had an idea. Grabbing the end of a crate, she crouched behind it and began pushing. The crate was large enough to protect her, but not too heavy that she couldn't move it. She used it for cover and began making her way to the last group of men. Gunfire exploded around her. When she made a few metres out, she slid away from the crate, along the floor, firing at the same time. Some men were surprised and the moment's pause cost them their lives. She couldn't take them all out, however.
Dammit, where's that bastard Akira? She looked around carefully, avoiding the bullets, racing back for cover. She hoped he wasn't dead yet, as she wanted to deal with him personally.
A large burst of bullets came at the crates she was hiding behind. She risked a peek and saw several men race towards her. Ducking back, she waited for a split second before kicking out several of the crates. They knocked a few of the men down. One man rounded the left corner of the crates. Kimiko fired with her right pistol and at the same time, moved her left arm and fired at the other man coming around the other side. Both men fell.
Someone screamed and launched himself at her. Before she could fire, he knocked one gun out of her hand. She kneed him in the stomach and rolled him off her. With the other gun remaining, she fired at another man jumping over the crates. He fell. She blocked a punch coming at her chest and chopped at the first man's throat, shattering his windpipe. He gasped for air. She picked him up and grabbed the gun in his hand.
Holding him up, Kimiko used him as a human shield. The remaining men fire, but the bullets didn't pass the man's now dead corpse. Kimiko dragged the body with her, using the gun in his limp hand to fire back. Several more men fell. Finding it too heavy, she dropped the body and spun away.
Looking back, a towering pile of crates began falling on her. She jumped out of their way, missing them. A man loomed over her. She raised her arm to fire but he kicked the gun away. It was Akira.
Akira smiled and raised his gun. Before he could pull the trigger, Kimiko swept his legs and he fell. Kimiko kicked the gun away. Whirling her legs, she got back up in a smooth motion. She ignored the pain in her shoulder and readied her fists.
They were alone. Kimiko had taken out all his men, and now, it was only him and her.
Akira attacked first, throwing punches at her body. Kimiko blocked them all, but forced herself back. She hopped over a crate on the floor and landed behind it. She kicked it at Akira's body. He leapt out of the way. Kimiko ran at the same time. She began kicking high at him. He blocked her kicks with crossed arms. Each kick, Kimiko alternated with the other leg and she moved foward. After a few, she changed her weight and swiveled, delivering a roundhouse. She caught him in the midsection while his arms were still protecting his face. He flew back a few feet.
Coughing, Akira staggered up and spit out some blood. He came at her with full rage, screaming. He swung at her with full force. Kimiko was surprised at his speed and blocked with her arms. But, each time he made contact, it hurt her a little more. Kimiko lashed back by swinging at him. He ducked and punched her in the chest. The air rushed out of her lungs and she struggled to breath. Meanwhile, she landed against some crates.
Akira picked up a crowbar and ran at her. Kimiko scrambled up, and danced back as the metal bar swung through the air where she had been standing. She tripped against another box and fell onto the ground. Akira lunged at her, crowbar end coming down toward her face. Glancing aside, she found a long rifle and grabbed it. She blocked Akira's attack, even though the impact of the bar against the rifle hit her face, and she felt dazed.
Akira used the crowbar against her neck and pressed hard. Kimiko began gasping for air. She tried pushing the bar off her neck, but was unable to. He was putting his full weight on her. Kimiko grabbed the rifle again, and bashed it against Akira's head like a club. Several hits and the man fell off her. Kimiko grabbed her neck and desparately forced herself to breathe.
The man came at her again, swinging the crowbar overhand. Kimiko held the rifle in both hands and blocked it. He kept coming at her with overhand strikes and forced Kimiko on her knees. The last hit, they locked weapons. Kimiko used all her strength and threw him off her rifle.
As Akira landed he spotted one of Kimiko's pistols on the floor. He reached for it. Kimiko gasped and lunged for the handgun that was lying near the pile of boxes next to Akira. The two came up with a gun aimed at the other's face.
They got up slowly, eyes locked on eachother. They backed off slightly, but still kept their aim. "Well, well, well," Akira was the first to break silence. "You've caused me quite a lot of trouble tonight."
"I'm taking you down," Kimiko growled.
"I think it's a stalemate," Akira responded.
"Go to hell," said Kimiko.
Akira smiled. "Let's go together," he whispered and pulled the trigger.
There was only a click.
"I ran out of bullets," Kimiko explained about the gun Akira was holding. She nodded to the handgun she was holding. "This one isn't empty, I'm pretty sure."
Akira threw the gun away and held out his arms. "Well, shoot then, agent! Shoot!"
Kimiko risked a glance before turning back to Akira. It was Elyssa.
"What are you doing here?" hissed Kimiko.
"I followed you, because I knew you'd be up to trouble!" Elyssa said. She winced at all the dead bodies before turning back. "Put the gun away, you have him. It's over."
"No! It's not over! Not until he pays for Yushido's death!!"
Akira laughed. "Ah, Yushido. There's a name I haven't heard in a long time. Oh, that's because he's dead!" He laughed again.
Kimiko was enraged. "SHUT UP!!"
"Oh, hit a nerve, hmm?" His eyes narrowed. "You know, Miss Agent, I confess! Yushido wasn't accidentally killed. We caught him in our hideout, snooping around. Wasn't much of a fighter, like you. We kicked him around a few times. And, when everything was done, I stood over his pathetic body, took out a gun and blew his brains out. What do you think of that?" He smiled sadistically.
Kimiko shook with rage. "How dare you! I loved him! I won't forgive you! EVER!!"
"Kimiko!" Elyssa screamed. "Don't do it! He wants you to kill him! Just like he killed Yushido! He wants you to become like him! Just like the monster he is!"
"SHOOT YOU BITCH!" Akira screamed, infuriated now. "SHOOT!"
Kimiko focused. In a final moment, all the emotion ran out of her. All the anger, the rage, the pain. She whispered softly. "It's too late. I became him a long time ago."
A single shot shattered the early morning. Then, dead silence.
Kimiko stood silently in her chief's office. A bandage was wrapped around her shoulder. Despite her injuries, she stood tall.
"You were completely out of line!" her chief roared. "You went in, with no back up, with no authorization! Who do you think you are, taking the law into your own hands?!"
"The warrant had expired," Kimiko explained softly.
"The warrant be damned! You could have called in for support! Instead, you went in with guns blazing and took out every single one of them. It's amazing you aren't dead! This is exactly how Yushido died! What is wrong with the two of you?!
And, Akira Masakiho! He was standing before you, weaponless, and you killed him, in cold blood. Just like that! He had vital information on who was supplying guns to him and we could have shut down the larger operation. Instead, you fucking executed him!"
"He deserved it," Kimiko said.
"DID I ASK YOU WHAT YOU THOUGHT?!" A vein was starting to throb on the chief's forehead.
"No sir!" snapped Kimiko smartly.
The chief paced around his office a few times. "You think it's over, don't you? I may not have been the chief for long, but I knew about you and Yushido. Revenge and rage was what fueled you last night, but that does not give you the right to this vigilantism! We have protocol to follow! We have procedures! Goddammit, we have rules! Because, that's what separates us from the bastards we take down! If you can't see that, then you're not fit to be part of this agency!
"Kimiko. You've been one of my top agents. You still are. But, what you have done has truly disappointed me. What you have done is broken a trust between us. You couldn't come to us, instead you went off on your own. That is an insult to me and to Chobetsu. I don't know how long it will take before we can reach that level of trust again. I am truly sorry. Truly I am. You are suspended for a month, without pay. When you come back, we'll see whether or not you still remain with this agency. Maybe a desk job will set things straight." He took one last look at her and said, "Dismissed."
The chief dropped back onto his chair and began shuffling through his paperwork. Kimiko took a look back, but saw he wasn't paying attention to her. Feeling slightly disappointed, she opened the door and left.
As soon as the door closed, the chief dropped the papers and looked up. Sighing, he leaned back and wiped the sweat from his face. He wondered if he would have done the same thing if his wife had been killed and if he were thirty years younger. In either case, the agency had just lost a top agent for a month, and depending on how he felt when she came back, perhaps more. He sympathesized for Kimiko's feelings, but he was torn by his duties as the chief and director of the agency. He felt liking kicking himself. It was the least he could do for Kimiko.
"So, what now?" Elyssa asked as Kimiko sat silently on the sofa at home.
"I'm suspended for a month. I've got nothing planned. Whatever comes up, comes up."
Elyssa was silent. "I truly thought you should have gave him up," she said finally. "You shouldn't have killed him. But, it wasn't me holding the gun. It was you and your decision. It's something you'll have to live with, Kimiko."
Kimiko gave her a look and got up, headed for the door.
Pochi-chan poked his head up and whined. "Where are you going this time?!" Elyssa called out.
"To see a friend."
Rain soaked through Kimiko's clothes and her red-brown hair. Puddles formed at her feet and the rain created little ripples in them. Before her, a large stone marked the resting spot of Hakaru Yushido.
Kimiko fell to her knees and cried.
The rain continued to pour.