Chapter 18:

Raid part 1

Max Caliber

Thursday night had finally come. Mikey had gone with Albert and are simply waiting for the attack from Kirishima Clan to slip away from it all. But for the past few nights. Yohan had picked me up so that we could stand to watch at the lab. But tonight, would be different. I told him I would make my own way to the lab, he only needed to stop by before he went. This was because my plan was to make sure he was there before going with Yusuke.

Thought that was the plan, it seemed to have slipped his mind because Yusuke stopped to pick me up and Yohan still had to swing by. But now wasn’t the time to let deviation from the plan unravel me. I would simply have to trust that he forgot and went through on his own.

“Come on, get in quick. We’ll be rolling in soon and we don’t want our plans to leak in any way,” pestered Yusuke as he frantically looked around in his car. I strutted out of the house. The massive handgun in hand. The sawed-off hanging on my side. A knife in my boot. Ammunition strapped to me and tucked into any free pockets. But besides the usual. I also had a few other pieces on me. Courtesy of Smolinski, who made sure I was stocked to the fullest. If Judy saw me now, she would think I was returning to the frontlines.

“Yeah, yeah. Calm down. I’m getting in,” I protested as I got into the car uncomfortably due to everything strapped to me. In my other hand, I held a bolt action rifle and from my neck hung a sub-machinegun. None of the guns was loaded yet. That was left for the car ride.

“Damn, I think I’ll leave asking after the legality of those weapons for tonight,” he said as he screeched his tires and sped away.

“Better that way. But I needed to be prepared in case things went south. Besides, I don’t think even with my special jurisdiction. The police force won’t find it humorous if a civilian was blasting away their budget,” I defended my point. I loaded in the clip for the bolt action rifle. It made a satisfying click.

“Fair enough. But listen carefully to what I’m going to tell you now. We are heading to our rendezvous point where we’ll prep for this. You’ll remain in the car. It’s simpler that way. When we are all armed and ready. We’ll head out to the lab location and form a perimeter,” he began to explain. In that time, I loaded the magazine into the sub-machinegun and two slugs went into the shotgun. As each weapon was loaded. I made sure they were strapped into the correct places so that they wouldn’t swing wildly. Nor would they be lost during the fight.

“I get it. Don’t want to explain to everyone who I am and what I’m doing there,” I agreed with his train of thought. With that cocked my handgun and was fully loaded. The slab of steel took its place at my side.

“Correct. Now after the perimeter was formed. My captain will open communications with the gang members. We’ll follow all the procedures, and you are to hold your fire until I give you the green light. Understood,” he continued his explanation. I shifted and took the bolt action rifle in both hands.

“Understood. Don’t want a civilian to draw first blood and start a shootout. But what will happen if they refuse to cooperate?” I asked.

“We’ll only engage in combat if they open fire with the intent to kill. Otherwise, it’s a waiting game,” he explained as he swerved through traffic.

“For all their sakes I hope they surrender, but I’ve got a feeling. This will be a crimson night,” I said and settled in my seat.

“I hope your feeling is wrong,” he said and remained silent.

I watched as the cars whizzed by and he jumped red light after red light. Finally, in the back yard of a warehouse, he pulled in. The Red ash lab was in the industrial district of the city so it only made sense that they would suit up nearby.

But what I wasn’t expecting was the fact that they brought a small army with them. It must have been easily seventy police officers and maybe even more on their way. But I guess it made sense. This was the biggest drug bust the city had ever seen. Every single officer in the driving distance would be frothing at the mouth. The mere thought of being part of the team that took down the Red Ash ring gripped them.

Watching them gate dressed I couldn’t help myself feel a sense of familiar bond with them. I knew something of the same sense but also completely different. But perhaps after this night. I just might enroll on law enforcement. It seems like they could do with someone like me. It will also suit me quite well, regarding my history.

While I was speculating about the future, the present continuous. Yusuke and all the others, now about ninety, were stocking up on protection and arms. I watched as an older man, dressed in the same gear as everyone else. Got up on a car bonnet. He spoke firmly and passionless. Mission debriefing. The grey balding hair, the authority he wielded. This was no doubt the captain. I wonder how Yusuke convinced him to agree to this.

With the mission debriefing over, they all orderly scrambled to their vehicles. Yusuke rushed over and was one of the first to get into the car. Without hesitation, he started it but didn’t fly off. Instead, he waited and looked at something in his rear mirror.

“Your buddy. What are you going to do if they start shooting?” he asked me. The question was a valid one. But the suddenness of it made me turn in my chair towards him.

“You don’t have to worry about that. I’ll take care of him,” I reassured without actually saying anything.

“If you say so. But if he so much as grazes one of the other officers. I can’t guarantee he’ll not be shot,” he warned me.

“I don’t expect anything less. But I’ll return this warning. Yohan might very well have turned into a coward who deals drugs and gets involved with cheap women. But he’s still deadly. It’ll take more than some shootout to kill that one,” I said. Yusuke pulled out the lighter and gave it a few flicks.

“If you say so. But let’s talk about something else. It’s becoming a grim topic,” he said and kept his eyes locked on something in his rear-view mirror.

“Like?” I asked. Resting my head against the window.

“Will you join the force after tonight. We could use a man like you. I know you might not be squeaky clean. But there’s much better in you than evil,” he confessed. But before I could even respond a siren went off. He threw the lighter into the side of the door. Like an unsettling crescendo. All the sirens began, and we began to move.

The entire brigade of cars rushed through the industrial district to where the lab was situated. It is honestly impressive to see the proficiency these men worked with. All while they raced to the site, Yusuke was answering and calling out over his radio. Non-stop chatter and distraction. Yet he remained laser-focused.

“Maybe. Really depends how this night goes,” I found myself saying. Why was I being honest with this man? We were simply using each other as tools. But in a way, he earned some of my respect. I didn’t see him as a friend or an equal. But instead, something else. It was hard to put into words, but there was a bond. But unlike the one, I had ever had in my life. He wasn’t a comrade or even a collogue in any way shape or form. No, I know what he is. He is someone who stands by their principles. Yet, they never let it stay them from pursuing what they know is right. He finds a way and most importantly. He never stops. He never settles for falling short. He was a role model that no one would look up to. Because those that must don’t see this side of him. He is a true hero. But what does that make me?

“Then I hope everything works out. I really hope this isn’t the end of our time spent together,” he said. He wore the most genuine heartwarming smile I had ever seen on a person. It was unfair.

The brigade of cars closed in on their target and like a synchronized swimming routine. They all encircled the entire place. Doors flung open; people immediately took to doing what was asked of them. Some took up positions behind their cars. Others began to sweep the entire area. Then there were even a few that immediately made for the sewers. They were making sure that these people would not be able to escape under any circumstances.

Compared to me, the others were perfect. I sloppily got out of the car and slammed the door shut. Then instead of taking cover I immediately began to look around to see if I could see Yohan’s car.

The usual lot stood full, but his car was absent. Shit, maybe he came with someone else. But as expected. The few people standing watch outside had already rushed inside and sealed off any entrances. From where I stood, I could see the casted shadows inside scramble.

It was a large facility. An enormous main warehouse with two smaller instalments on the side. These two was where they were cooking up Red Ash. But now it served more viewing points for those trapped inside.

While I tried my best to make out any signs of Yohan. The captain was blurting out everything over the mic. It all fell silent after he finished the last of his words. I instinctively ducked against the car. It was the way he said it that told me there would be trouble.

“Come out now with your hand sup. Or else we’ll be forced to act,” he shouted. The silence hung thick. Then the creek of several dilapidated windows could be heard.

“Or else!” shouted someone. Blood followed. The bang of a rifle sounded off. In that intense spotlight that shone from behind the captain. The trail of blood that burst forth sprayed high. It was an excellent shot. Right between the eyes.

The entire police force watched shocked as the slightly overweight corpse dropped the bag onto the dusty ground. Another few seconds of silence and then from the warehouse. A barrage of bullets was unleashed. Erratic firing and stray bullets followed.

Yusuke scrambled to open his car door and pulled the cord of his radio closer. The words that followed had a strange effect on me. But instead of resisting it. I would embrace it. For one last time, I’ll let it come out to deal the final blow that I so wanted from the start. To get revenge on all the thugs that dragged my friends from the path. My revenge for George. My debt to Yusuke. Everything will be solved tonight.

“Return fire. Shoot to kill, I repeat. Shoot to kill,” shouted Yusuke and is relayed to all the others.

“With pleasure,” I heard slip out of my smiling mouth.

Real Aire