Chapter 17:

An Old Face

The Forbidden and the Gifted

[12:07 p.m., August 8th 2048, London, England. Natsumi, Daisuke and Hachiro sit across from Mitchell Lockwood at a table in his private office, with Lockwood holding a glass of beer, whilst his laptop rests in front of him. Two bodyguards stand behind Lockwood, eyeing Natsumi, but she appears unfazed and looks straight at Lockwood]

Lockwood: Well then, do explain yourself. I’m still not understanding what’s the incentive for us to send a whole fifty men with you guys. You guys only have ten guys right now, right?

Natsumi: Heading to Petersburg? Yeah, we only have ten people.

Hachiro [Interjects]: Actually, it’s 11.

Natsumi: Really?

Hachiro: Yeah. Nothing too major though.

Natsumi: Alright.

Lockwood: Well, either way, you guys are still gonna be outnumbered 5-1. So, what’s the incentive then for us?

Natsumi: Well, you see that our main objective here is to eliminate Dreadknight, right?

Lockwood: Yeah, but even with fifty of my men, plus the ten of yours, is that really feasible?

Natsumi: It might be y’know?

Lockwood: Might be? I’m not trying to stand on eggshells here… that’s a big question mark. Especially since you’re gonna be fighting on their turf too.

Natsumi: Realistically though, our guys can keep up in a fight with anyone. [Pauses] Wait… you said you know Ichigo, didn’t you?

Lockwood: Oh yeah right, Taiki. [Pauses] Oh yeah shit, right, his brother’s the leader behind this whole thing, eh? [Pauses] You know, that gives me a bit more confidence in all this.

Natsumi: What’d you know about Ichigo?

Lockwood: He came on a job back when he was alive some five or so years ago, could’ve been less, I’m not really all too sure, but I met him in a bar during his short stint.

Natsumi: Was Sybil operating then?

Lockwood: Oh, it was just a small thing, little under-the-cover jobs and whatnot. Nothing too big. Something about him though, it made me approach him with an offer on the table to join us – sometimes you just get that aura from people, y’know?

Natsumi: Oh yeah, for sure.

Lockwood: Anyway, I approached him and talked to him about Sybil, and when I was done, then he opened up about why he was actually in England and whatnot.

Natsumi: What was it?

Lockwood: There was some Japanese criminal who had fled west, so they had tracked him down to England and he was tasked with finding and getting the guy. Pretty sure the Japanese government put him and whoever he was working for up for it, but he told me that that typa shit’s more common over there.

Natsumi: Yeah, he wasn’t necessarily a shadowy guy – more like a secret service, assassin type of thing if anything, I’d say, right Dais?

Daisuke: Huh?

Natsumi: What would you classify Ichigo as?

Daisuke: Oh, Shin’s brother?

Natsumi: Yeah.

Daisuke: Assassin for sure. Hell, mercenary for hire may be a better term. Either way, he’s something along those lines.

Natsumi [To Lockwood]: Yeah, that’s what he’d be. He worked for a specific agency, though even Shin doesn’t know it and Takuya, his former agent and partner, wouldn’t speak about it.

Lockwood: Yeah, he didn’t mention anything about his actually whereabouts in terms of his job and all that. [Pauses] But yeah, going on with what I was saying before, me and him just talked a bit about what he was gonna do and about us as a group in England, and he told us to start branching out – taking tougher jobs, doing whatever it takes, but making sure that we stay within our own code of morality or whatnot. After he left, I remember seeing a news report the next day about a foreign national who had died in London, and a couple days later, it was confirmed that he was a wanted fugitive from the east coast.

Natsumi: Shit, but that’s Taiki for you. He wouldn’t leave a job unfinished.

Lockwood: I looked him up after that and watched a lot of shit that I could find on leaking sites and all that, and I was in awe at how amazing the guy was. His legacy was part of the reason I continued to grow this agency, cause when I saw what just a single guy was doing, I knew that shit, if I got a bunch of people to follow in those footsteps, something great would come out of it.

Natsumi: That’s the kind of stuff Shin would say that his brother would say – that was just the type of guy his brother was. He was a hell of a person and a hell of a trooper, but his death left a hole for Shin, and that’s what I mean when I saw Taiki wouldn’t leave a job unfinished. Shin isn’t gonna lose to Dreadknight and Katarov. No matter what, Shin will kill this guy, I promise you that. The only reason it took so long was because this is the first lead, we’ve ever got on him, because no one – besides Highwater – ever approached us internationally until now.

Lockwood: So, you’re saying this is the first lead you’ve got on Katarov?

Natsumi: Yeah, but you know he’s hard to track, especially outside of Europe. But one lead’s enough to keep a tracker on the guy for as long as we need.

Lockwood: That’s true and all, but again, I fail to see why I should send more than twenty guys – don’t get me wrong, Ichigo was as integral to me as he was to Shin, hell, probably more to Shin than to me, but still, I’m just banking on one guys revenge tour, right?

Natsumi: You’ve gotta remember though, this is the revenge tour of Ichigo Taiki’s brother. This isn’t just some random other guy – and Shin isn’t just a lackey or a messenger as apart of Eastern. He’s our leader.

Lockwood: I do get that –

Natsumi: Besides, the other thing that makes this worth it for you guys is the fact that you can send your men with us, and this whole thing, head to toe, is an operation by us out east, without your intervention – theoretically at least.

Lockwood: Wait, what?

Natsumi: Yeah, no matter if you send your men or not, who are they to know right? [Pauses] Now I get it, I really do get it, you value your people more than any dollar amount, even your lackeys, and by God do we respect that mentality. But the reward here is the prospect of either a) eliminating Katarov and Dreadknight for good, or b) weakening them significantly and continually breathing down their necks from both sides.

Lockwood: But didn’t you just say that we wouldn’t be involved right away?

Natsumi: I did say that, but I meant that when we go in against them now, they won’t know that you’re backing us up. What that does is it allows us to move against them aggressively if we don’t take them all out in one go now – honestly, it’s highly unlikely we take them all down here and now if I’m being real – then when we move in, you guys can close the gap from the western side as well without their knowledge. That way, we’re essentially sandwiching them without their knowledge.

Lockwood: True, true, true… that seems logistical at least, but I still beg the question – why fifty people? Why can’t you take less? It still seems like a high ask, even if this plan seems legitimate. I do see your visions though, and you guys are definitely smart enough. Does twenty-five sound good?

Natsumi: I told you before, fifty, give or take five, is what we were coming here for. [Pauses] Let me tell you why we need the fifty though, although it’s up to you to decide whether we need it, but I think you should understand, you’re a smart person after all.

Lockwood: Why thank you, I pride myself on that.

Natsumi: So yeah, our original plan was to have a vanguard comprised mostly of your men, but our logic was that we probably won’t be up against a heavy offensive, with their main assassin, that Vlar guy or whatever, out of the picture. Sure, they’ve got a defensive, but I doubt it’ll be able to hold our group of ten from one side, and the vanguard group of fifty from another. They’re meant to be the distraction – and no, I don’t mean it like, they’re just going to die –

Lockwood: Well, I sure hope you don’t, cause that makes me all the more hesitant.

Natsumi: Oh yeah, that was worded wrongly – the thing is, they’re supposed to draw the attention of the defense away from us ten or eleven.

Lockwood: And then what?

Natsumi: We’re supposed to be the main force anyway, so they’ll eventually disperse their troops from them, realizing the distraction, and would turn back for us, but it’d be too late if we’d already snuck through. By then, in the chaos, some of the vanguard would be able to redirect themselves and meet back up with us, but the rest of them would just try and make it out and away, meeting up with one another at a targeted location away from us.

Lockwood: So, they serve as a distraction, but according to your calculations, they shouldn’t be overly affected by the defense lines?

Natsumi: That’s my prediction and calculation – it isn’t guaranteed whatsoever, I’ll tell you that. I like to think I’m spot on, but things happen, you can’t predict everything. I’m not telling you that no one is going to die – people will die, that’s for sure. But what I’m also gonna tell you here and now is that I can’t guarantee that any of your guys survive – any of them. Sure, I’m setting us up for minimal death, but I’m also creating the best model for our best chances at success against Katarov and his guys. This is what I came up with, and I do think our odds are pretty good to both have great success and limit casualties, but I cannot make any promises.

Lockwood: I do understand that, and honestly, I like the model you’re going with as well. Still…

Natsumi: Here’s the other thing, although I don’t exactly know how much this will appeal to you, but I think it’s well worth sharing. You realize that eventually, somewhere down the line, you’ll have to come to blows with Dreadknight over land, right? Whether it’s in Belgium-Holland, or whatnot, something’s gotta give somewhere. Eventually, one of y’all will lose a lot of power and land.

Lockwood: Yeah, I understand that.

Natsumi: Yes, you’d be losing fifty people, but you’ve gotta realize with less than fifty, we’re gonna be talking about a riskier strategy that likely results in more of your men dying. Sure, you’ve only lost 25 men, but if the odds of a single one of those twenty five dying is eighty percent, compared to a single one of fifty dying being thirty percent, which is better odds?

Lockwood: Yeah, you do make a fair point here.

Natsumi: Plus, as I was just saying as well, right now, you take the chance and get the jump on these Baltic bastards early – they don’t know you’re in on this, but you’re lending us a helping hand in taking them down, all for the cost of – at a maximum, which heaven forbid is the case – fifty men, nothing more. They won’t gain any insight on y’all, nothing. We’ll significantly weaken them too, and we’ll be in even better shape for when you guys here eventually push in on them.

Lockwood: I mean, I did want to make a move sometime in the future…

Natsumi: That’s what I’m saying – you’ve gotta strike now while you have us here. Once we’re gone, or if we lose to them because we have less people than you’re providing, or whatever, that’s a missed opportunity. The opportunity cost is fifty people – fifty people who I know are worth well more than just being statistics on a death counter – but again, if all fifty get wiped, chances are, a lot of us – me, Shin, Yuki, these two, would all be wiped as well. And you know Shin’s not gonna die here, right?

Lockwood: Yeah, I know Taiki won’t die so easily.

Natsumi: So that’s why I’m telling you – it’s a sacrifice now, and yes, it’s a  tough one to make. I understand what you’re going through making that, but hell, I’m not gonna tell you to not come with us as well – we could use someone like ya. But you have pressing matters to deal with here in England, right? I get not wanting to send your lambs to the slaughter just like that, but the potential net gain from this is too good to pass up, both for yourself and for us.

Lockwood [Ponders]: Hmmmm.

Hachiro [To Daisuke]: She’s incredible at this, isn’t she?

Daisuke: Oh, she can negotiate better than anyone.

Natsumi [To Lockwood]: Oh yeah, and don’t forget, we’ll be paying you too for the weapons and for the manpower. Nothing short of a hundred thousand, that’s for sure.

Daisuke [Raises eyebrows]: Wooo.

Natsumi: It’s worth it, all things considered.

Daisuke: I know. Still very lucrative though.

Lockwood [To Natsumi]: How does forty sound?

Natsumi: Is forty-five really not possible?

Lockwood: Uh…

Natsumi: We’re paying too, and we’re giving you the benefits of Highwater as well, five more men shouldn’t be too much of an ask, right? And besides, all the weapons, men, everything, they’re yours, just under our name for now. If anything happens negatively, it’s on me – otherwise, whoever and whatever we’re able to bring back, it’ll be rightfully in your hands. It’s a win-win.

Lockwood [Breathes in deeply]: Fine. I understand. I’ll do it. Let’s sign on this, I’ll try and get my guys ready for a flight out. You wanna come and check out the weapons with my bodyguards?

Natsumi: Oh, I’m not very good with that. I’ll sign off on that. Hachi, you can go, okay? Me and Dais will stay here and sign off on anything, alright?

Hachiro: Gotcha.

[Hachiro gets up, as does one of the bodyguards, and he’s escorted out of the room, where the two meet another bodyguard, and they walk down the hall, and towards a separate room. The scene then pans back to Natsumi and Daisuke, with Lockwood finishing up printing out the paperwork]

Lockwood [Opens up another drawer on the table with the printer, grabbing a piece of paper]: Okay, so this is just our standard contract, we don’t need anything fancy right?

Natsumi: Oh nah, nah, that’s totally fine. I’d even be okay with a handshake, but to have it in writing is even better.

Lockwood: So just to iron it out, we’re sending forty-five armed men to St. Petersburg…

Natsumi: Yup, that’s all it is on your end. I’ll just have Hachiro grab some weapons which he thinks are useful and we’ll have your guys bring them – since you didn’t want us carrying weapons across the borders, right?

Lockwood: Yeah, I’ll still stand by that – you guys can meet up with one or two of the guys and have them bring you the weapons once all of you land in Petersburg tomorrow.

Natsumi: You really think they’ll suspect something or find something out if it’s us?

Lockwood: Well, I don’t know if they will, but I don’t wanna risk it with Sybil’s name attached to weapons that are with foreign nationals – if they get a whiff of that, it’s bound to spin them in the wrong direction, don’t ya think?

Natsumi: Yeah.

Lockwood: I mean, your other guy – the guy who just went to check the weapons – he brought that damn sniper rifle, so I guess they aren’t too inspective. Still though, my guys know the ins and outs, and even if they get caught, they’re British Nationals from Sybil travelling abroad. It would be way less of a concern to the Government, I’d say at least.

Natsumi: Still, I’d be a bit concerned about importing stuff from Japan then – like the Highwater stuff from South America, no?

Lockwood: Imports are normally only highly monitored from designated hotspots like South and Central America, as well as a lot of Asia, save for Dubai, Japan, Australia and Singapore. Most of the stuff should be able to pass through, no questions asked.

Natsumi: Where do you even get stuff from nowadays if you can’t get them from places like that?

Lockwood: A lot of what we have is bought from around Britain – some stuff we did buy from America, but it was well over-priced, just as you’d expect. That’s kinda why we can’t mass purchase stuff from them, and we’ve been kinda resting on our laurels.

Natsumi: I get that, I get that. [Turns to Daisuke] You’d be able to him with the processing and shipping of stuff from Sydney to here, right?

Daisuke: I can probably do it, yeah. It just takes a bit of paperwork and hedge jumping, but otherwise, it’s pretty straightforward.

Lockwood: That’s perfect. I’ll keep in touch and ask for you then whenever I ring up Karina?

Daisuke: Yeah, don’t bother with her stupid ass, just ask for me. I’ll get whatever you want done, and I’ll probably be the one making the trips with the stuff just to make sure it ships accordingly.

Lockwood: Perfect, thank you man.

Daisuke: Yeah, no worries.

Natsumi [Interjects]: So basically, contractually at least, we’re looking at the forty-five men on loan essentially, plus say seven or so weapons, in exchange for the one hundred thousand that we agreed on, as well as prospects on potential deals with Highwater in Sydney, not to mention all the added benefits that you’d get if – or moreso, when – we eliminate Katarov.

Lockwood: Yeah, that’s good for me. I’m hoping for great results with minimal casualties, alright?

Natsumi: Again, I can’t make any promises, but my modelling predicts that the majority of your men should survive, so don’t fret too much.

Lockwood: Perfect, thank you again. [He gets up to shake hands with Natsumi, and then Daisuke] You guys are probably busy now then, right?

Natsumi: Yeah, we should probably get going. I’ll give you my phone number… [she hands him a card], you can give that to the top guy that you send so that he contacts me when we’re in Petersburg tomorrow, alright?

Lockwood: Will do. I’ll get a group ready for you – you need tougher guys, right? Not necessarily strong with weapons in long-range combat, right?

Natsumi: Anything would do, but the stronger the better!

Lockwood: Okay, perfect, perfect, I’ll get onto it once you leave.

Natsumi: The funds transfer should be done by tonight as well, if Takuya’s able to do it. If not, he’ll for sure get the money in by tomorrow.

Lockwood: Sounds perfect for me then. You guys good to go then?

Natsumi: Yeah, the elevator’s just down the hall, down to the ground floor, right?

Lockwood: Yeah, ground floor, and walk straight out, you’ll be at the entrance.

Natsumi: Perfect, alright. Tell Hachiro that we’ve already left and that we’re gonna be waiting for him at the café, alright?

Lockwood: Gotcha. Safe travels and come back with good news, alright?

Natsumi: Yeah, we will!

Daisuke: See ya man.

Lockwood: Goodbye!

[The two open the large doors and walk towards the elevators. They close the doors and walk towards the elevator. The next scene then cuts to the two of them at the café, with the two approaching a window table for two]

Daisuke: We’re finally good to talk, eh?

Natsumi: I’d think so.

Daisuke [Pulls out his chair and sits down]: Well then, I can say… [smiles profusely and raises his hand for a handshake] You still got it eh?

Natsumi [Smiles]: What, you thought I lost it?

Daisuke: Well, no, but yes.

Natsumi: What’s that supposed to mean?

Daisuke: Well, I know you still have it – but not like that! I didn’t think you’d be able to talk him back into a deal!

Natsumi [Leans towards him]: Y’know, no matter how good-natured a man is, there’s always something that’ll make him turn against everything he believes in.

Daisuke: Eh… really now?

Natsumi: It’s different for anyone, but everyone has a breaking point – you couldn’t see it in his eyes, eh?

Daisuke: When?

Natsumi: When I mentioned the future conflicts between them and Katarov? He knew that eventually he’d have to come head-to-head with them, but all he has is yes-men in Sybil – no one’s gonna up and tell him that that’s gonna happen, because he’s trying to prevent it from happening.

Daisuke: But it’s unavoidable, eh?

Natsumi: Yeah. From an outsider who’s only here to bargain, he can’t say anything that would shut me up right? So, by reiterating his worst fears, he succumbed. From there, it’s easy pickings.

Daisuke: Then why didn’t you ask for more than fifty?

Natsumi: Idiot! You can push for so much and make a man break, but you don’t wanna repair that breakage by asking for something outlandish. You gotta get that break and toy with em then.

Daisuke: Wow, never thought I’d hear you sounding like Shin, but here we are…

Natsumi: Shin’s got all the tools to be a great negotiator, but he’s too inept to put them all together. What can I say, I’m just the best at it, aren’t I?

Daisuke: I’d play it off, but the fact that you got 45 men for only 100k is absolutely nuts – you think he really thinks that highly about the trade system which we told him about?

Natsumi: He has to, right? There’s no other explanation… cause that’s just a bit over two thousand per head that we’re paying – that’s pennies!

Daisuke: Maybe it’s the wording you used – the loaning of them or whatever?

Natsumi: Yeah, but shit, obviously we’re not gonna keep YOUR men if we came out victorious, right? Like, if we come out victorious, the return we get is gonna make this look like nothing on our end, and if – God-forbid – we come out short, he would’ve lost so many of his men for like two thousand each.

Daisuke [Shakes his head]: All I can say is I’m impressed. Friggin hell. I didn’t think he’d actually succumb to your shit, y’know? I thought he was more level-headed.

Natsumi: Everyone looks level-headed – but like I said, if you prick them enough, they’ll burst. You just don’t wanna let them realize that they’ve burst. That’s the trick.

[The café doors open and Hachiro walks in, Daisuke and Natsumi gesture to him, and he pulls over a chair and sits with them]

Hachiro [Exhales deeply, then looks at Natsumi]: WOW! I mean, holy shit! You’re amazing! Good God! For one hundred too? All that about why this is a worthwhile bet for the future – man, us two [Points at Daisuke] were in awe.

Natsumi [Looks at Daisuke]: So, you were in awe, eh?

Daisuke [To Hachiro]: This is why you don’t give her these levels of props man…

Hachiro: Ha, my bad, my bad. Still, I’m in awe with what we came away with – I bet Shin’s gonna be thrilled. Oh yeah! I gotta tell you what the weapons looked like…

Daisuke: Anything good?

Hachiro: I picked a couple rifles, some which looked like they were American imports, and I got machine gun which looked brand new – pretty sure Elec would like something like that. Oh yeah, and for ya Dais, I copped a shotgun.

Daisuke: Aye, really?

Hachiro: It didn’t look as new as the other stuff, but it looked good, so I got it. I knew you’d wanted to use one, so why not now?

Natsumi [Interjects]: Wait, but isn’t now kinda a bad time to be learning about new weapons, eh Dais? Shouldn’t you go with something you’re more comfortable with?

Daisuke: Nats how long have you known me?

Natsumi: Oh, why am I gonna get lectured now…

Daisuke: Have I ever used a gun before?

Natsumi: Well in gam –

Daisuke: I’m talking real-life Nats. Real life.

Natsumi [Pouts]: No, you haven’t.

Daisuke: Exactly. So, I can start with whatever I want since I’m shit with all of them equally right now. Sorta a blessing or a curse, ain’t it?

Natsumi: Eh… I’d call it more of a curse if anything.

Daisuke: Then tell me, what’re you gonna use?

Natsumi [Looks down, then quietly]: Shut up.

Daisuke: What’s that? I couldn’t hear you.

Natsumi [Looks up at him]: Oh, shut up! I did my share of the work, y’know!

Hachiro [To Daisuke]: She’s right, she did get her end of the job done…

Daisuke: Man, you can’t keep giving her more reasons to feel good about herself!

Hachiro: Hey, I mean a job well done is a job well done, that’s what Yukes always tells me.

Daisuke: I bet you treasure that, because you aren’t hearing that often from her?

[Natsumi laughs]

Hachiro: Eh???? I do my job well enough, mind you! Hell, I even got us tickets out of here to Petersburg before I met you guys! And it wasn’t even Rina who got them!

Daisuke [Smiles]: Well, you do do your job pretty well, I’d say.

Hachiro: Aw, you only say that since you’re saving money with the tickets, aren’t ya?

Daisuke: Maybe I am, maybe I am. We’ll never know…

[The three laugh, as the scene pans towards the window of the café, and away from them. Just past the café is Roy, who turns at the corner, and walks towards a white SUV]

Roy [Thinking]: That has to be it, right?

[He walks towards the SUV’s back door, and the passenger looks him up and down, before opening the door]

Roy: Jeez, why the long inspection?

Driver: Who are you to talk?

Roy [To driver]: Excuse me?

Driver: I said, who are you to talk?

Roy [To passenger]: Is this guy for real?

Passenger: I don’t know, is he?

Roy: I think he is.

Passenger: Oi driver. You being real when you’re saying that shit? Or you bluffing?

Driver: Sir, I’m being as honest as possible.

Passenger: Ah, I see, I see. No matter though. Get out.

Driver [To passenger]: Huh? But sir, I thought we agreed…

Passenger: Shut up. You don’t get to talk that way to anyone. Only I get to. Get out.

Driver: But sir…

Passenger [Lowers his eyes]: Get the fuck out. I won’t ask again. This is my car after all. You don’t belong here. You’re just a for-hire. Get the fuck out.

[The driver looks at the passenger and steps out of the car. The passenger shifts to the driver seat. Roy steps out of the car and hops into the passenger seat]

Passenger [To driver]: Oi mate.

Driver [Standing next to the car, he turns his head back]: Yes?

Passenger [Whispers into the driver’s ear]: You don’t speak a word about me? Alright? You can be mad but keep that to yourself. Spread word on me and I’ll make you regret it for the rest of your life.

Driver [Looks petrified, then nods his head]: Understood.

Passenger: Alright. Then be on your way.

[The driver leaves the intersection quickly, walking extremely briskly. The passenger then starts the car, and drives away]

Roy: You think he got the message?

Passenger: Who cares? If he did, good for him. If he didn’t, good for me. More people to take down makes it all the more fun, eh?

Roy: You’re tough, eh?

Passenger: What, you think I’d have gotten weaker since the last you saw me?

Roy: Well, no one’s seen you anywhere. But I guess that’s what’s gonna be expected from the almighty Vlar, eh?

Passenger (Vlar): Says the rat who’s working for Sybil now.

Roy: Working? Pft. You think I’d ever care about these shitheads?

Passenger (Vlar): I’ve gone by here every once in a while. You look pretty loyal to that Lockwood piece of shit.

Roy: Well, what I am supposed to do? Look suspicious and get him on my tail?

Vlar: You’ve always been a coy bastard, y’know. That’s why I liked ya, but also didn’t like ya. You’re a mysterious one.

Roy: I pride myself on that y’know. Say though, how’d you find out about what was happening though? I thought you’d be off the grid.

Vlar: I was for all of you shitheads – only guy I kept in touch was Kat. That’s it.

Roy: Wow, alright then. What’d he tell ya?

Vlar: Aleks is either dead, or is gonna be dead.

Roy: Eh?

Vlar: Don’t give me that. You should’ve known what Kat’s plan was.

Roy: Well, I did know the rough sketch of it. Still, I thought he’d get out, some way or another.

Vlar: Well, he didn’t, and we’re a guy down now. Not that it matters for me, I’m not going back.

Roy: You ain’t?

Vlar: I got better shit to do here. They can fall for all I care, but I don’t think Kat’s that weak. He’ll be fine if I don’t go. Why though – you going back?

Roy: Yeah, that’s what I was gonna tell you about – that’s why I shot you that ‘I got some shit to tell ya’ text after you sent me that message that you wanted to meet here yesterday.

Vlar: Oh, I didn’t even see that. You sent it today?

Roy: Yeah, recently.

Vlar: Ah, makes sense. [Pauses] So then, what’s the reason?

Roy: Apparently, they made a deal with one of our lackeys to protect their family – so their guys came here to ask for backup, and Lockwood sent me and a couple guys to take care of it.

Vlar [Chuckles]: Ha, that’s perfect. That really is perfect. You really are the greatest con artist, eh? Fuckin hell.

Roy: Well, I’ve made my living this way.

Vlar: Yeah, yeah. That’s interesting though – who’s the sellout piece of shit?

Roy: Mikolev.

Vlar: Doesn’t ring a bell. I mean, it better not ring a bell, it's some damn lowlife anyway. Oh well, just get rid of them whenever you can. [Pauses] Oh yeah, you said that those guys are here too, eh? You wanna get rid of them?

Roy: We’ll wait. You don’t need to do waste your time on these guys. They’re just Japanese guys trying to go to Petersburg. We’ll take care of them when they get there. And regarding, the family, don’t worry. They’re only sending three other guys and me – I’ll kill them before rendezvousing with Kat in that same building.

Vlar: Oh, your loss then. Whatever. You say they’re Japanese though?

Roy: Yeah, they are.

Vlar: So, can you drop the French act then? It’s quite sickening.

Roy: Really? I thought I was doing a pretty good job.

Vlar: Drop the nice act mate. That’s not the RYO I know. That’s not the Ryo that Kat hired either.

Ryo [Drops the ‘Roy’ act, shaking his hair back to a messy state and ripping off his suit]: Roy, Ryo, who cares? I’m still the same bastard on the inside. The same one that you can’t trust, eh? Don’t worry man, I ain’t saving face anymore. I’ll kill those Japanese bastards, starting with that bastard Ichigo’s brother and that piece of shit Takuya.

Vlar: Here’s to you keeping your word.

Ryo: Oh, don’t think I’ll go back on my word. That damn Taiki family… I’ll fucking kill them. If only Ichigo didn’t die – oh how different life would have been... But here I am, on Katarov's side now, and savoring every moment of it, because those partners of mine were to inept to tell a spade from a damn club.