Chapter 7:

The deal

Max Caliber

I sat in the passenger seat, studying the sturdy block of steel that Yohan handed me. A custom handgun, pure black, cartridge loaded with 12 rounds. Each one was packed with .50 caliber action express round, which could punch a hole through several car doors.

“You like it. Had it custom made for you. Since I knew you liked to pack some heavy firepower, this just came to mind,” he explained and pulled out another firearm from the bag on his lap. We were well on our way to what Yohan had claimed to be a dangerous meet. Apparently, he wanted me backing him up tonight just in case anything were to happen.

“What more do I need?” I asked as I slipped the spare magazines into the designated pockets of the black trench coat. He gave me this the second I got in his car. It was unsettling how well prepared he was for this job.

“Something for in case they get really close, and you need to make a statement,” he explained and pulled out a sawed-off shotgun. It was double-barreled and loaded with slugs, not buck nor birdshot.

“Where did you get all of this?” I asked as I took the shotgun by the strap and tightened it to a holster point inside the coat. This made it hang loose and hidden at my side.

“From some shady arms dealer down by the docks. But that’s unimportant now. Listen, this deal is going to be with one of the other gangs of the area,” he said and slipped a butterfly knife into my pocket.

“Is it important that it goes well?” I asked. Trying to figure out the situation I was walking into.

“Not really. The only important thing is we secure the merchandise. But I would prefer it if we can do this without a shootout. Because this group is a little bit more developed and set up than us. They’ve got double the men we do and a better sphere of influence. So, a shootout tonight will likely mean more trouble further down the line,” he explained and looked a little bit nervous. He was constantly looking in his rear-view mirror and looking at his blind spots.

“Understood. How many of them are we meeting with?” I asked.

“Not entirely sure. We are meeting in an abandoned factory that they use for deals, so maybe six to ten?” he guessed and rubbed the steering wheel anxiously. This was clearly a dangerous situation we were walking into.

“I’ve only seen you this nervous before a big battle or operation. Got a bad feeling about this?” I asked and cocked the handgun. The cold mechanical click sent a shiver down my spine. It made my own nerves disappear. This would be no different than my time deployed.

“Real bad, but the boss said I’ve got to get the product one way or another,” he said and starred hard past his steering wheel. So, he was working for a boss. I need to find out who this person is and where I can find him. But that’ll have to wait because we pulled into the parking lot of the before-mentioned factors.

It was a dilapidated eyesore that radiated an unsettling aura from it. We got out of the car, and Yohan took a briefcase with us. I summarized inside this case would be the funds to acquire the product. We went up the fire escape stairs. A big brutish man stood and waited for us.

“Yohan?” he asked in a thunderous voice I’d ever heard. His left eyebrow had a slit shaved into it, and his ring finger had a dragon tattoo on it.

“Yes, you must be with the Kirishima clan. I’m here on behalf of the West cartel for the exchange,” he answered. The anxious look he had earlier seemed to be suppressed entirely now. His face was stone, same as mine.

The man nodded and indicated that the two of us were to follow him. We went inside the dark factory and kept close as not to get lost. The man leads us from a dimly lit hallway to a dimly lit staircase. Until we finally came to a double door with a bright light inside. Through we went and stepped out into the factory’s assembly line.

“Boss, he’s here,” informed the brute. My eyes shifted, and Yohan took a deep gulp. This was no small meeting. There were easily twenty of them standing about, and all were armed.

“Finally,” said a scrawny-looking punk with a white vest. His arms and chest were covered in tattoos. Even though he was younger than Yohan and me, he had signs of living a hard life.

“You must be mister Satou, correct?” asked Yohan as we made our way to the table in the center of the room.

“Yes, I am, and you must be mister Yohan. But who’s this?” he asked and nodded his head towards me as Yohan slid the briefcase onto the table.

“This is my assistant. Pay no mind to him,” he said and spun around the briefcase. The young thug kept his eyes on me. As if he were studying every feature of my face.

“Whatever,” he shrugged and snapped his fingers. A few people began to scramble in the room, which made me tense up as my eyes frantically noted what everyone was doing. They scrambled to grab a few cases and wheeled them about.

“I have what you asked for. So, are you ready to make the trade?” asked Yohan as he clicked open the briefcase. Inside were hundreds of packets of Red Ash. I thought earlier that it would be money for sure and this would be the leading supplier.

“Yeah, right here,” he said and stomped his foot onto one of the cases that were wheeled closer. “Twelve creates filled with the firearms your boss requested.”

“Good,” was all Yohan said with a nod and an evil smile. So, the West cartel seemed to be the leading suppliers of red ash, and they used this to get the other necessities for their gang. Clever.

“Alright, you are there. Go make sure it’s the real stuff,” said the man as he ordered one of his lackeys. The goon rushed over slowly took one of the packets from the bottom of the suitcase.

“Go ahead, I assure you it’s premium stuff,” Yohan encouraged the thug. With that, he opened the bag and dipped his pinky into the dust. He quickly slipped his dust-covered finger into his nose and gave a good sniff. The room went quiet as everyone studied his reaction.

“This is it, boss,” he said as his eyes teared up as he put the bag back. Yohan closed the briefcase again and wore a satisfied smug on his face.

“Well then. Pleasure doing business with you,” said the leader as he took the briefcase off the table and signaled his men to leave.

“Wait,” I said. On his way to the cases, Yohan stopped dead in his tracks and the other gang as well.

“What is it, assistant?” demanded the leader as he glared at me over his shoulder.

“Open the cases. We showed faith in our product,” I stated and stood my ground firmly.

“What did you say,” he threatened and spun around.

“Mister Satou, I’m so sorry. He usually isn’t like this,” Yohan interjected and tried to stop approaching the gang leader. He took Yohan by the shoulder and shoved him to the side. Sending him crashing onto the table.

“I said what did you say?” he demanded a second time and pointed at me. I could hear the brutish man that remained behind to watch the exit approach. Two men on top of the overlooking pathways pulled out pistols. The rest of his gang followed them.

“I simply wanted confirmation that we are getting what we asked for,” I reiterated myself holding my stance. I could feel all the guns focused on me. Waiting for me to make a move or for their boss to give the signal. Even with all these eyes on me and mine locked ahead. I felt another’s presence on me. Someone looking from the shadows.

“Who are you to dare insinuate that I’m some kind of a charlatan?” he shouted as he stopped a few paces away from me. This was no good. If I couldn’t figure out where the hidden pair of eyes are staring at me from, I’m a dead man if I act.

“My name is Ludlow Reinhard. A former captain in the Rasia army, and you?” I asked. Trying to buy more time. Regardless of if I could determine where this shadow shooter was. I needed to prepare for the worst. My hand in my pocket gripped my handgun. I flipped off the safety.

“Naoto Satou. Second lieutenant of the Kirishima Clan. Tell me, ex-military man. Where do you get off telling me what to do?” he demanded again. Clearly even more aggravated that I’m not showing any signs of being intimidated. My other arm prepped itself to sling up the shotgun as quickly as possible.

“I think he was only trying to make sure we are treated as equals, mister Satou. Come to think of it. Wouldn’t it be a sign of future goodwill if you humor him?” interrupted Yohan once more.

“Is that so?” the gang leader asked as he kept his gaze fixed on me. “Then someone, open two cases to show our good faith.”

“Thank you, mister Satou,” slipped Yohan in as he tried to deescalate the whole situation. While my staring contest continued. The same lackey as before came to the front. He unclipped and opened two of the cases. Revealing the content.

“Happy?” the second lieutenant asked. I peeked over his shoulder. The cases were fully racked with weapons and ammunition. But just as quickly as they opened it, the lackey slammed it shut again.

“Very,” I replied while holding my ground.

“See, mister Satou. I think with that, everyone’s happy, and we can move on from this,” Yohan said, trying to conclude the situation. But the two of us didn’t budge.

“Reinhard, you said you were a former captain, correct?” he asked.

“Correct,” I replied. I could see Yohan in the corner of my eye, being gripped by a panicked state. His hand slipped into his pocket. Most likely to grab hold of his gun.

“Interesting that you didn’t mention anything about being in the West cartel,” he said. I figured he would’ve made that conclusion.

“I’m not. What of it?” I asked.

“That means, unlike mister Yohan. You’re exposed, alone, and unprotected. A potential victim that will not yield any repercussions,” he said. The words had barely left his mouth, then the entire room echoed with the loading of guns. I was in all their crosshairs.

“I wouldn’t say that. Nonetheless. Are you truly willing to gun down a man with this many people?” I asked as I let my eyes wander around. To him, it looked like I was sizing up how many of them there were compared to myself. But, I was searching for the hidden gunman.

“I wouldn’t dream of something so cowardly,” he said with a grin and signaled over his shoulder. With the simple wave of his fingers, everyone lowered their guns. Some even holstered them.

“Thank you, mister Satou,” added Yohan once more from the table.

“Don’t thank me yet, mister Yohan,” he said and revealed his hand. His eyes quickly darted to my right and back at me. With that, I knew where the surprise attack would come from and wasted no more time. I wouldn’t be killed or threatened by some lonely criminal.

“Now,” was all that the leader said. But as he said the words, I sprang into action. Leaping back and flinging out my weapons.

Real Aire