Characters: Yoshino Marina
Yoshino entered her quarters. With only a brief pause to offer Kuri a pat and scratch behind the ears, she went straight to her computer terminal.
“Computer. Open GhostMirror 2.0.”
She watched the display running across the screen.
**New intercepts detected.** **Decrypting ..... decrypt complete.** **Displaying intercepts.** **First intercept** Shonichi-san: I have arrived on Minbar, and traveled to the city of Tuzanor, home base of the Ranger organization. I have studied the background of this organization at some length. In many ways they are kin to the samurai class of our own history; and even more so to the ancient orders of yamabushi. The Minbari, who founded the Rangers over a thousand years ago, and who were its sole adherents until less than five years ago, are a highly spiritual people, even their warrior caste. I regret to inform you that while I was able to locate the woman now calling herself Yoshino, she departed the planet aboard her assigned vessel, the Phoenix, before I was able to make contact. I was not able to ascertain her destination, although a general deployment against the Centauri incursions is now underway. Please advise, what course should I now follow? **Second intercept** Kurogiri-san: Can you infiltrate the Ranger organization? This may be the best means of reaching the woman Yoshino. **Third intercept** Shonichi-san: This may be possible, although you should be aware that it could be difficult and time consuming. While in earlier times the Rangers were relatively quick to accept any who expressed a desire to serve, their screening procedures -- especially with regard to the applicant's spiritual and mental health -- have been tightened more recently. **Fourth intercept** Kurogiri-san: The additional resources have been transferred to your accounts. Pursue this plan and keep me informed. **End of intercepts**
“Computer,” Yoshino said, “Forward copies of intercepts to Captain Hale and Chief Darquin. Cover message: quote: Should we inform Tuzanor of this? Unfortunately, I do not know what Kurogiri looks like. End quote. Send.”
Yoshino sighed. She didn’t know what Kurogiri looked like, but she had heard of him all too well. The assassin of Osaka stood above all the yakuza clans. Once he accepted an assignment, he would complete it, regardless of the time or effort it took. He was extremely intelligent, educated completely, but as ruthless as any Asakusa street scum. She couldn’t help the cold knot of fear in her stomach.
“Message sent. One new message received.”
It was from Paul Maxwell, a simple text message with a sound file attached.
Yoshino-san, I heard about you and the Chief. Good luck. Max
She played the song he’d attached, closing her eyes to listen. It began as a simple, almost fluffy pop tune, but quickly transformed itself into an intense, almost fiercely passionate love song — one that spoke not only of the love of one person for another, but for the love of the whole world.
She played it again, and then a third time, now singing the choruses, burning away her fears with the fire of the music.
She wasn’t alone. She had Darquin; she had Kim, and Miina, and Morgan; she had the band; she had all of the Rangers. Together they would keep Yoshino safe, and the treasure she carried, until the day they could be returned home.
As she finally shut the music down, she drew a deep breath and smiled. “Thanks, Max,” she murmured to herself. “I owe you one.”
Copyright (c) 2002 Jamie Lawson. All rights reserved.