Calling In Fog

Characters: NPCs (Yoshino)

It was one of the rare quiet hours in the Zocalo, more of the cafe tables empty than occupied, and most of those by lone diners. One such poured himself another cup of sake from the bottle in front of him, sipping the contents slowly. It was surprisingly good, for being this far from home.

“Shonichi-san?”

Setting down his cup, the man looked at the new arrival, who greeted him with a deep bow. It was returned with one almost as deep, followed by an invitation to sit. “You have a report, kyodai Morimoto?”

“Our associate in the Abbai system has departed,” the man said, taking a chair and smoothing out his jacket. “After being exposed by the Rangers, he wished to avoid a confrontation with the Abbai authorities.”

“Where has he gone?” Shonichi asked.

“We don’t yet know. If I may be so bold as to venture an opinion –” he paused, waiting for a nod before continuing — “it is not of immediate importance. I’m sure we’ll be able to find him when we need to.”

“I see.” Shonichi tapped the rim of the sake bottle. “What of the item we seek?”

“Our sources tell us it is still in the possession of the woman Takezo, who is one of the Rangers. It seems very likely she knows now exactly what she has.”

“Unfortunate. She will be that much more on her guard against us. And the Rangers are not an opponent to be taken lightly.” He frowned, gripping the sake bottle with his fingertips and knocking it on the table. “Damn that Sasaki. Getting himself killed, probably with the very blade he was trying to get for us!”

Morimoto said nothing, but his fear was obvious from the sudden pallor of his skin. Shonichi looked at him and sighed, setting the bottle back down. His voice was calm as he asked, “So where is the Takezo woman now?”

“She is still with the Rangers in the Abbai system,” Morimoto answered, after drawing a deep breath. “It seems very likely they will be leaving soon, probably to return to their base on Minbar. She uses the name Yoshino now.”

Shonichi nodded, and sat silent for several minutes. Finally, he said, “Very well. Continue to follow this woman Yoshino’s movements. We will wait for an opportune time to strike.”

The messenger nodded, and stood up. “Anything else, oyabun?”

“One more thing. I am leaving shortly to attend to some other business. I want you to locate Kurogiri. Send him to me on Proxima.”

With a nod and another deep bow, Morimoto departed, feeling grateful he could hide his fear. There were not many things in this world more frightening than Shonichi’s anger, but Kurogiri, the assassin of Osaka, was one of them.