Chapter 14:


The Forbidden and the Gifted

[2:44 p.m., August 8th 2048, Shanghai, China. The gunshot rings out in the room, leaving Aleksander dead on the floor – the sound doesn’t travel any further than the room because of the soundproof and insulated doors. Shin tosses the gun on top of the dead Aleksander, and him, Yuki and Martial walk towards the others, where Electra was already resting next to Ashe and Kohaku, with his leg still in pretty bad condition. Karina goes to get Drift from where he was lying, and the security guard opens the doors again and signals for the group to head out, and that him and the other staff would take care of the mess]

Ryouchi [To Security]: Y’all are really okay with getting rid of a body, eh?

Security: We have to do this shit every once in a while.

Ryouchi: Where do you even dispose of that kind of stuff?

Security: None of your business.

Ryouchi [Sighs]: Fine, fine.

Kohaku [To Naomi]: It’s surprising that they can turn a place around in such a short period of time, isn’t it?

Naomi: There’s a lot of them coming, so it shouldn’t be that hard. [The other staff enter the room] See? Look at that.

Kohaku: Your right… there’s so many.

Naomi: Say, Kohaku… are you okay with that kind of stuff?

Kohaku: What stuff?

Naomi: Y’know, killing people and all that?

Kohaku: Oh, no, no, I could never.

Naomi: You feeling okay though? You had to watch all of that happen, and you’re probably not used to it.

Kohaku: Oh no, no, no, that’s fine. That’s business after all. I don’t like seeing people die, but this guy was a human trafficker whose part of a group who’s killed that guys – Shin is his name? – [Naomi nods] brother. I don’t like to say that those types of things are deserved, but I can’t really feel bad for someone like that, you know?

Naomi: Yeah, yeah, I get it. That’s good then at least. If you’re feeling weird about anything, just let me know, okay?

Kohaku: Will do!

[The security guard approaches them]

Naomi: Do you want to talk to us?

Security: Oh, no, no. I just need to tell your main guy something.

Naomi: Oh, Shin? He’s over there. [She points to him talking to Martial]

[The security guard walks toward him]

Shin: Could I help you?

Security: You guys are probably gonna fly out after this, right?

Shin: Yeah. Why?

Security: We can only give you so much protection. We can’t let you on the plane with any weapons, alright? That’s a breach of international air travel since you’re going through the public international terminal. In the airport it’s fine, on private international flights it’s fine if it’s covered up – but we can’t do it, even if you’re flying domestically through this terminal.

Shin [Looks at Martial, then laughs]: Who does he think we are?

Martial [Laughing]: Ha mate, who knows?

Shin [Looks back at the guard]: Don’t worry man, we’re not taking shit. We’ll go through security and all that as normal people. Don’t ya worry, alright? Just take care of this mess in time for the finance minister to show up, eh?

[The two keep laughing, as the security guard nods his head and walks past them to signal his other staff to keep working. The group then walks out of the lounge, and walks through the terminal, and back outside to the parking area]

Karina: So, mister bigshot [gestures to Shin] … what now?

Shin: Well, we’re gonna have to get a flight out of here and into Petersburg by the looks of it.

Karina: When you thinking of leaving?

Shin: Well, I wouldn’t mind flying out tonight or tomorrow. Whatever works best for y’all. I don’t think Nats and Dais are gonna mind too much, right?

Karina: They flew out yesterday to London, so I mean, they’re probably gonna get out of there tonight into Petersburg.

Shin: You think they should get there before us?

Karina: Well, they have Hachiro, and he’s probably the best at scoping out an area like that for us, so I think we should give them a day or so for that.

Shin: Yeah alright, sounds good.

Yuki [To Shin]: You know, we didn’t get a ton of information from this guy, did we?

Shin: Well, we would’ve gotten more if we didn’t get interrupted because of that minister or whatever. Five minutes to interrogate someone? Gimme a break.

Yuki: Well, we didn’t get any info from him on this guy – Katarov’s – gift, did we?

Shin [Raises his hand towards his mouth in disbelief, then grabs his head]: Shit.

Yuki: You got a good backstory from the bastard, which – to be fair – couldn’t have been fabricated considering the way he talked – he was nervous, but he wasn’t clenching at straws for information. [Pauses] Still, that was likely just a plot on his part – no matter what beef the two had, he’d try his utmost to not give away his bosses trump card.

Shin: Shit.

Drift [Coughs, and Karina looks to him]: Maybe that’s why the people you see in movies and in Hollywood don’t kill their suspects right away then.

Karina: True, but what other choice did we have? If he got a step on us at any point, he’d probably have his way with all of us. I mean damn, look at what he did to you [She gestures to Drift].

Drift: Yeah. Hell, that guy was strong man, Jesus.

Yuki [To Drift]: You and Elec did good though. I wouldn’t have been able to withstand him at full strength, y’all watered him down enough for me to be able to handle.

Drift: Still, we’re fortunate as hell to have you on our side. That guy was a fucking demon man.

Shin [To Martial]: You did research on all of these guys, didn’t ya?

Martial: Of course I did. I didn’t come here empty handed.

Shin [To Drift]: Did he tell you about this stuff before?

Martial [To Shin]: I just gave him a list of names, nothing more.

Drift: Yeah. I didn’t bring the list with me, so I kinda forgot about a lot of the names, but I recognized this guy’s face even back at the warehouse. Whad’ya think about him though?

Martial: Well, I had him as the fourth most troublesome guy on their side.

Shin: Only fourth?

Martial: He was Aleksander, wasn’t he?

Shin: He was.

Martial: Yeah, from the information which I had collected for you guys, I had him listed fourth. Katarov’s obviously first though.

Shin: What else did you know about him?

Martial: Not much – the info on all their top five guys was kinda muddy and mixed up, since they’re at the top after all. The most I could get was more or less information that he told us; him and Katarov were part of the group who founded Dreadknight, they brought along other people, and he was probably closest to Katarov before they shot into the limelight in the East.

Yuki: When’d that happen?

Martial: When’d what happen?

Yuki: When they’d take power of those Eastern European countries? Considering they were all separate states not too long ago with all their infighting – at least that’s what I can remember…

Martial: No, no, you’re right there. What really got the ball rolling was when Katarov and him, Aleksander, took down Japan’s hellhound – your brother, right? [He gestures to Shin, who nods at him] That was supposed to be the former states trump card, you see? Although those states never agreed on anything and weren’t a collective as they are now, they realized that all of the people in that area – regardless of country – were gonna rebel against them eventually. That damn rebellion started with Katarov, and fuel was only added to the fire when they took down Ichigo.

Yuki: Why?

Martial: He was the ace in the hole – those countries used him as a threat to deter anyone from rising up, but when he was taken out, who’s gonna step up then?

Yuki [To Shin]: I knew Ichigo was strong as hell, but this strong? Really?

Shin: I didn’t know who he was back then or what the hell it was he did, but I knew he was a tough guy, that’s for sure. The only time I saw him fight once was in a bar when some moron tried to shove a tab onto us – Ichi took on that dude and all three of his lackeys and left them in a heap.

Drift [Interjects]: I heard from Takuya as well that he was an absolute demon on his missions – solo hunter but an absolute terror to deal with.

Shin: That’s my brother man. He was blessed to be that strong, but it led him to such a tough ass lifestyle to provide for us.

Martial [Chuckles]: And yet you jumped back into the same lifestyle he had left, eh?

Naomi: Shin’s mom wouldn’t have wanted him to do that! I’m just saying!

Shin: Yeah, she probably wouldn’t have. But she had to move away anyway to provide for me, so me doing this doesn’t bring any danger to her, and I’m old enough to make decisions – whether they’re right or wrong, that should be up to me.

Martial: I like y’all a lot. Exactly my type of group – living on the edge all the time. Shit’s fun, eh?

Yuki: It’s exhilarating for sure.

Shin: I’m only in the business because I got a mission – to kill Katarov. Killing this piece of shit is one thing, but it’s clear that that asshole’s the guy at the top. I couldn’t give less of a rat’s ass unless I take him down.

Martial: Sounds good to me man, I’m just in it for the thrill.

Naomi [Interjects]: Uh, Martial…

Martial: What’s up?

Naomi: Uh, you said that this guy was fourth on your watchlist, right?

Martial: Yeah, he was fourth. You wanna know the names of two and three?

Karina [Interjects]: Y’know, it’d probably be useful. I could send the names to Hachiro and see if he can tail those two dumbasses as well as make sure they don’t get caught lacking by one of them.

Martial: Gotcha, gotcha. The first guy goes by Vlar, but I don’t have a surname for him. He was a pretty new recruit, but he seems to have shot up in Katarov’s inner circles. He’s probably one of their most coldhearted guys – cold blooded assassin vibes from what I’m seeing, and I can’t confirm or deny if the guy has a gift like Katarov – I couldn’t get information from that.

Karina: That’s number 2? Shit.

Martial: That’s 3.

Karina: 3? Really? What the hell?

Martial: Yeah. Not gonna lie, he’s new as hell, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he shot up to two if we were to leave them to their own devices – hell, he’s probably the biggest threat to Katarov’s throne as leader of Dreadknight to be honest. It ain’t that I doubt his loyalty, but he seems to only be in it for power and money. Could be wrong though.

Karina [Shakes her head]: Then who’s two?

Martial: Miroslav Fetistof. He’s one of the masterminds behind a whole lot of their operations – genius informant and diplomat and is also tough as hell from what I’ve heard. He’s one of their original guys too – maybe doesn’t go as far back as Aleks, but he definitely goes back.

Electra [Looks up, taking his arm off of Naomi]: To be honest, that first guy seems more of a pain in the ass than this guy.

Martial: He does, but I’ve heard worse things about Fetistof. Probably because he’s been in the business for longer so there’s more stories to tell. All of his subordinates hate him though, I can tell ya that much. And he’s been uplifted by Katarov – which wasn’t the case with Aleks – he’ll give his all in a fight and won’t half-ass anything for the guy at the top.

Electra: Ah shit, yeah. You know if he’s gifted though? Or just a toughie?

Martial: Supposedly he’s just a tough guy. That’s what I’ve heard at least, but this information’s reliable enough, so I’d trust it.

Karina: Okay, I’ll send both of these names out to Hachiro. [Pauses] Actually, let me just call that boy. He’s probably free right now anyway.

Shin: Hachi’s got long distance coverage?

Karina: He got it the last time we flew to Sydney.

Shin: Ah damn, no way.

Karina: Okay, let me call him and put him on speaker. One sec. [She turns around and opens her phone, and opens to her contacts]

Martial [To Yuki]: Who’s Hachiro?

Yuki: He’s our ace sniper. He’s great at scoping out places and planning a lot of our excursions.

Martial: Oh, a jack of all trades kind of guy?

Yuki: Not quite. He’s kind of shit at fighting or defending himself. He’s great at long distance combat though – he’s got a bullseye for a shot from sniping distance.

Martial: Gotcha, gotcha.

Yuki: Say Shin, you think Sybil’s gonna do anything to help us?

Shin: I told ya before, didn’t I?

Yuki: Yeah, but we’ve never really dealt with them in person before, and it ain’t even Hachi who’s going to deal with them head-on. It’s Nats and Dais.

Shin: I know, I know. Trust those two morons though, they’ll get the job done. Hachiro’s got an important job to keep em alive – they’re important to us.

Martial [Interjects]: Wait, what? You guys are dealing with Sybil?

Shin: Yeah we are. Why? Something the matter?

Martial: Oh no, no. I’ve heard good things about them to be honest. They’re a tough group out in England, but y’all already know that. Having them as backup against these guys in the Baltics gonna be crucial ain’t it?

Shin: Well, I doubt they send their entire crew with us, but we’d appreciate some people at least to help out. Cause if they don’t put their foot down, those morons are probably gonna take their land and supplies little by little.

Karina [Turns around and interjects]: Hachiro just answered guys! Hachi, you can hear me?

[She holds the phone, on speaker, in the center of the group]

Hachiro: Yeah Rina, what’s up? What’s the latest y’all got?

Kohaku [To Ryouchi]: Ooo, he sounds handsome, doesn’t he?

Ryouchi [Confused]: Huh? How am I supposed to know?

Kohaku: You can tell, can’t ya? He sounds dignified.

Hachiro: Why, I’ve never heard that voice, but I take it that’s the girl you saved? If so, I appreciate the compliment and I hope you’re doing fine.

Yuki [Yells]: No you dork, that’s not the girl we saved!

Hachiro: That isn’t? What the hell?

Yuki: No, she isn’t! That’s Martial’s sister, Kohaku.

Hachiro: Oh, well then, hi anyway Kohaku. [Pauses] Wait. Who’s Martial? What the hell? Is Shin just making a harem for himself after sending me and Dais out?

Shin: No, you moron.

Hachiro: Ah, good, good. Anyway, who’s Martial? And where’s the girl y’all had to save?

Ashe: I’m here!

Hachiro: What’s your name again?

Karina: Didn’t we brief this before you moron?

Hachiro: We did?

Karina: Shin, didn’t we?

Shin: Yeah, we did. I’d expect you of all people to remember Hachi. You’re not like the two we’re sending you to tail after all.

Karina: Speaking of which, have you made ground on either of them?

Hachiro: Huh? Wait, wait, tell me who Martial is first. I sure as shit didn’t hear about him before.

Martial: Yo!

Hachiro: Ah, that’s a new voice. You’re probably Martial then eh?

Martial: Yeah boss, that’s me.

Hachiro: Not gonna lie, that’s a weird name, but we’ve got two guys with weird names themselves, so I’ll let it slide [Naomi glances at Drift and Electra]. What’re you there for mate?

Martial: Oh, nothing much boss. They probably mentioned something about an informant to you before…? If that rings a bell, I’m the guy they were talking about.

Hachiro: Ah yeah, I remember Drift mentioning that he had a guy lined up with info on these guys from the Baltics. Your information’s pretty handy, eh?

Martial: Oh it’s not much. I know how much of a stronghold y’all have over the east coast and helping y’all is a two-way street for me after all.

Hachiro: Fair play, getting in with us is bigtime, wouldn’t ya say?

Martial: Yeah. Still, I’m in awe at the fact that Shin’s younger than me.

Shin [To Martial]: Y’know what they say, start ‘em early.

Hachiro [To Shin]: Don’t give me bullshit Shin, you’re only doing this for revenge mate.

Shin [To Hachiro]: Fair play, fair play – to be honest though, once we shred this guy to the ground, I ain’t gonna quit.

Hachiro [Laughs]: Well, no shit. You’ve set up quite an enterprise with Eastern, you’d be an idiot to just hand the reigns to one of us.

[Electra, Yuki and Naomi laugh in the background]

Shin: Fair point you make there mate.

Hachiro: So, why’d y’all call me all of a sudden?

Karina: Well, I already said why, didn’t I?

Hachiro: You did?

Karina: Before you went on your little tangent with Martial…

Hachiro: Oh yeah, right, right, about Natsumi and Daisuke, right?

Karina: Yeah. You caught up to them?

Hachiro: I just got into London Rina, come on now.

Karina: Really? You just landed?

Hachiro: I didn’t get on the same flight as Natsumi, you know that right?

Karina: Really?

Hachiro: You arranged this schedule for me! I had to transit in friggin Frankfurt for god’s sake! I was in layover for a little over four hours just chilling there, and I just passed through immigration and customs here in Heathrow.

Yuki [To Hachiro]: Well, that’s probably the best choice Rina had, you know that don’t ya?

Hachiro: Oh, there ya are Yukes, I missed ya.

Yuki: Don’t sweet talk me now, you dumbass!

Hachiro: But it’s true, I just got into London. So, I don’t got any leads on anyone at the moment. I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to find those two with Sybil’s guys soon enough.

Yuki [To Karina]: You sent those two to Sybil, didn’t you?

Karina: Yeah, that was the first thing I told them to do.

Yuki: So, they’re probably there by the looks of things, if he’s just getting out of the airport.

Karina: Yeah, provided they didn’t stop anywhere.

Yuki: Oh, that would be so like them, wouldn’t it?

Karina: Oh, it would.

Hachiro [Interjects]: Uh, why the hell would you only send those two for this?

Karina: Whad’ya mean?

Hachiro: Like, why did we need to send all of you guys to Seoul and Shanghai for this, but for our first ever in-person meeting with Sybil, we’re sending our two biggest morons?

Karina: To be fair, if anyone can persuade anyone else, it’s 100% Natsumi.

Yuki: Oh yeah, if we’re negotiating anything, I’d want her to do it.

Hachiro: True, but still, why didn’t one of you guys go?

Karina: Ask Takuya about that! He’s the one who said that these guys would be trouble! [She looks at Martial] Didn’t you say the same thing too?

Martial: Yeah, I told Drift that there’d be trouble out there.

Drift: Yeah, so that’s why I cross-checked with Takuya and found he had the same type of info.

Martial: To be fair, I only considered it dangerous cause my fourth ranked guy was present, so I didn’t want you guys to go in understaffed.

Drift: And I mean, it took three of us to take him down.

Hachiro [Interjects]: It took three of you? What kind of steroids was the guy on?

Drift: Mate he was strong as hell.

Hachiro: Stronger than Yukes?

Yuki: Well –

Shin: Yes, he was.

Yuki: Hey!

Drift: Come on now Shin, she was the one who got him after all. Don’t tease her.

Yuki: It ain’t even teasing, it’s just wrong!

Shin: How am I wrong? You beat him after he took both Drift and Elec first!

Yuki: True, but I still withstood one of his punches, didn’t I?

Shin [Shrugs]: Yeah, I guess you did.

Yuki: See Hachi?

Hachiro: Yeah, that’s pretty good, but I already know you’re strong as hell Yukes. [Pauses, while Yuki sulks] Wait… Martial.

Martial: What’s up?

Hachiro: You said this guy was their third strongest?

Martial: Fourth actually.

Hachiro: FOURTH?

Martial: Yeup. I told the others about the other two guys.

Hachiro [Still in disbelief]: I still can’t believe that they’ve got two guys stronger than a guy who was a tough match for three of our guys. Jesus.

Martial: Well, you can rest relieved since I can confirm he’s not gonna be a worry for the foreseeable future.

Hachiro: Y’all got any good info out of him at least?

Yuki: Well, Shin got him to tell us some stuff about his past with the guy who’s running the show behind this.

Hachiro: Oh…

Yuki: It’s the guy Shin’s been hunting down for the past few years.

Hachiro: Katarov? Really?

Yuki: Yeah, that’s what we’ve heard.

Hachiro [To Shin]: Oh, you’ve got a little extra motivation then eh? No wonder you sounded a little more into it than you normally do.

Shin: You bet man. Like I said, I ain’t gonna quit this once I kill that devil, but until I do, there’s no rest on my part – especially now that I’ve got a lead.

Hachiro: But that’s the number one guy I’d take it?

Yuki: Yeah, he’s the top of the food chain for the guys at Dreadknight.

Hachiro: Then that’s probably gonna be the guy we find in Petersburg, eh?

Yuki: That’s what I think.

Martial [Interjects]: Well, it won’t just be him.

Hachiro: Two and three are gonna be there too ya reckon?

Martial: I know the number two guy, Fetistof, is gonna be there. Third’s a wild card, but you can’t count him out of anywhere.

Hachiro: What’s the third guy’s name?

Martial: Goes by Vlar, but we don’t have his surname.

Hachiro: Gotcha.

Karina: Hachi?

Hachiro: Yeah Rina, what’s up?

Karina: We wanted you to keep an eye on those two especially – that’s why we called. Especially the third guy, considering he’s just a wandering assassin.

Hachiro: That’s my job, eh? Watchful eye in the sky.

Karina: You need to make sure that the talks between Natsumi and Sybil go well, alright?

Hachiro: Don’t worry, don’t worry. I won’t let anything happen to those two morons, you can count on me in that regard.

Karina: Can you keep a watchful eye on these two guys too?

Hachiro: Sure. Vlar and Fetistof, was it?

Martial: Yeah, that’s right.

Hachiro: Vlar’s the assassin, eh?

Martial: Yeah, he is.

Hachiro: You think they have any leads on us?

Karina: Well, I doubt that they knew we had leads on us – thanks Martial for those [he winks] – so I bet they have some leads that we don’t know about. But in terms of any new information, they may have gained, I doubt there’s much. These guys took care of the first two lackeys, we scared the other moron off – the main guy who we got rid of did have a short time between first seeing us and us getting rid of him, but still, I doubt he got any new information that could blow our cover.

Shin: To be fair, they probably now know that we’re in custody of Ashe then, right?

Karina: Yeah, but Katarov probably played his cards so that we’d end up in custody of her anyway, don’t ya think?

Shin: You think he’s that much of a tactician?

Karina: This is the guy who took down your brother, right?

Shin: Yeah, yeah, but still, why?

Karina: Beats me.

Hachiro: To be fair, you said there were only three lackeys, right?

Karina: Four.

Hachiro: Yeah, four and the one big boss who got outdone. It’s really one of two things, they underestimated us, or they’re trying to incite something.

Karina: I’d bet on the latter.

Drift: Same, I don’t think Katarov’s stupid enough to just show his hand and fold.

Karina: He’s probably trying to egg us on, but I doubt he knows anything about the Sybil side of things though.

Hachiro: Them and Sybil aren’t on good terms right now though?

Drift: Nah, they’re both competing for room on that crowded European landscape. They aren’t at odds, but they’re definitely not friendly with each other.

Hachiro: So…

Drift: It should be a pretty good time for us to step in, I think. If you could relay this information to Nats and Daisuke we should be in the drivers seat.

Hachiro: So, scrap tailing them from afar?

Drift: Well, I’d think you could still do that for the first bit, but you wanna get this info to them as soon as possible, no? [He looks at Yuki and Karina who nod]

Hachiro: Gotcha. It’ll probably move negotiations forward even faster I’d assume.

Drift: That’s what we’re hoping for.

Shin: Plus, we don’t have forever – we’re probably gonna book our tickets out of Shanghai for tomorrow into Petersburg. You probably wanna talk with the guys at Sybil for as long as you can today before y’all have to fly out to meet us in Petersburg.

Hachiro: Oh, we’re turning around fast are we?

Shin: Yeah, we have to.

Hachiro: Good, good, it won’t be like the mess in Singapore now will it Yukes?

Yuki: That was all your fault Hachi, do not get me started on that.

Hachiro [Laughs]: Really? You’re really gonna blame me for that? Come on now, I thought you’d have matured a bit.

Yuki: Oh, you bet I will.

[Naomi and Electra laugh in the background]

Hachiro: Well, anyway, is that all the info you’ve got to dump on me?

Karina: Yeah. Make sure you meet us in Petersburg with those two tomorrow, alright?

Hachiro: Yeah, we will, don’t stress about that.

Karina [To Shin]: We missing anything?

Shin: Nah, I don’t think so. [Pauses] Oh yeah!

Hachiro: What’s up?

Shin: We saw Higuchi at some place that sells tickets for people like us.

Hachiro: Really? Where?

Shin: When we were in Seoul.

Hachiro: Ha, how was the geezer?

Shin: Same as always. Tried to kill us at first because he didn’t recognize us and it was the dead of night, but all’s well that ends well.

Hachiro: Good, good. [Pauses] Anything else to tell me though? I’ll probably shut off my phone from here on out because I’ll be tailing em for the first little bit before I catch up, and then it’ll be all business from there.

Yuki: Nah, I think we’re good Hachi.

Karina: Make sure you come back in one piece, alright?

Hachiro: Yeah, yeah, don’t worry! Okay, I’m hanging up. See you guys tomorrow then!

[The phone buzzes and then turns off]

Karina: I think he should be good.

Yuki: If he doesn’t run into those two, or Vlar at least, I think he’ll be fine.

Karina: Vlar’s the one that’s got me intrigued and afraid at the same time.

Yuki: Same girl. He sounds deadly.

Martial: Best believe he is scary. As much as I have him third on my danger radar, he’s probably the guy that exhilarates me the most, because he’s so damn unpredictable.

Shin: Well, let’s just hope they won’t run into any of these Dreadknight guys until they reach Petersburg at least.

Karina: Honestly, they probably won’t, that’s just me being a little paranoid.

Yuki [To Karina]: Yeah, I feel you. Let’s just hope.

Shin [To everyone]: Then, should we get going?

Electra: To get the tickets?

Shin: Yeah.

Electra: We gonna be flying regularly?

Shin: We told Natsumi and Daisuke before that they should be trying to not only get manpower but weapons from Sybil, so I don’t think we should take anything or waste time trying to take an off-the-grid type of flight.

Electra: Well then, I’m good with leaving it in their hands.

Shin [To Naomi]: Did you find anywhere we could buy tickets around here?

Naomi: Oh no, I was too busy listening to you guys and Hachiro.

Shin: Man…

Ashe [Interjects]: Uh… I found one place that’s just south of the airport. Should be five minutes.

Shin: Aye, that’s a huge help Ashe. [To the rest] Hop in the cars, let’s get to that place then.

Ryouchi [To Ashe]: Could you pass me the location?

Ashe: Sure thing.

Martial [Interjects]: Oh yeah!

Ashe: Huh?

Martial: Oh no, not you, you’re okay Ashe, keep going.

Ashe: Oh, alright.

Martial [Looks at Ryouchi and pats him on his right shoulder]: I was talking about you, ya little guy.

Ryouchi: Huh?

Martial: You ain’t coming with us to Petersburg. You got things to do back home in Guangzhou, don’t ya?

Ryouchi: Dang, yeah, I got courses to pick… But I can always reschedule – I don’t think the school’s gonna mind too much.

Martial: No, no, I don’t think that’s advisable, now would it be? [He gestures to Kohaku]

Kohaku: Ryou, as much as you’d probably wanna come, it’s too dangerous for you, and besides you have other things to do. It’s like God is telling you that you shouldn’t come with us.

Ryouchi: But…

Kohaku: Come on now. You saw how tough those guys were. I know it’ll be best for you to stay back rather than come with us.

Ryouchi: What about you though?

Kohaku: Sure, I’m weak, but I need to come to hold down Maki, don’t you think?

Ryouchi [Sighs]: I guess…

Kohaku: I know you wanna come, but just sit this one out. We’ll bring back stuff for you and visit you in Guangzhou, won’t we Maki?

Martial: Yeah Ryou, don’t worry. Nothing’s gonna happen. Plus, we’ll keep in touch with these guys like we told that guy on the phone. I’m sure more stuff will happen in the future, won’t it?

Shin: Oh, best believe that garbage happens all the time – it may not be on this scale, but it’ll happen. Once we come back, you’re free to come occasionally. But you gotta make yourself useful, alright?

Ryouchi: Yeah man, I got that, don’t worry.

Shin: Perfect then. Sounds like a plan.

Yuki [To Shin]: So, nine tickets out to Petersburg and one to Guangzhou then eh?

Shin: Yeah, that’s what the expenditure should be.

Yuki: Perfect, I’ll send that to Takuya. I’m sure he’ll be confused as all hell, but it’s alright, he’s just sitting in his office anyway. Anyway, we all ready?

Naomi: Yeah, we’re all good!