Scar stood rigid before the real wood desk, uncomfortable in the opulent surroundings of the saikō-komon‘s office. It was requiring a great deal of discipline to not fidget. It might appear that the boss was paying no attention, but Scar knew better. The wound from the katagi’s bullet still caused his shoulder to ache despite the excellent medical and magical attention he had received.
Without looking up from the data tablet in his hands, the older man finally spoke. “An unfortunate outcome, shatei. A safehouse destroyed, a dozen men dead, 50,000¥ in chips in police hands.”
“Hai, bosu”, replied Scar. Giving excuses would do little but make him appear weak.
“These ‘Rocksalt Boys’ should have been only a nuisance with the backing you were provided. Yet they dared to challenge us. Why is that?”
Scar hesitated, unsure if the question was rhetorical or not, and wary of speaking lest he reveal any incriminating evidence that the saikō-komon didn’t yet have. “There were complicating factors”, he finally said.
“Yes, the girl, and the shin’nyū-sha in the van. They are the unknown factor in all of this. You remain certain they are not working for the Gianelli family?”
Scar unconsciously flexed the injured shoulder, “They were indiscriminate in their use of force, and killed at least as many of Rocksalt’s boys as mine. They were clearly working with the girl, and came to her rescue after we discovered her subterfuge.”
“A shame you were unable to record images for further investigation. The modifications you have are not for show.”
Scar felt a drop of sweat beginning to trickle down between his shoulder blades. “The eye recorders are working properly and were active during the incident.”
The saikō-komon steepled his fingers and looked thoughtful, “Neko-shiro tells me that the recorded files were erased. Clearly security upgrades are in order. No matter, we have other resources to help guide appropriate resolution of the issue.” He consulted the data tablet again, “But there remains the question of Lone Star’s involvement. Unusual timing to be coincidental, no?”
Scar swallowed hard, “Could have been a tip-off from Markie Morris. His agent did know where the safehouse was located…” Even as he said it, he knew it sounded lame, a feeling that was confirmed by the sad smile that crossed the old man’s face.
“Neko-shiro’s traffic monitors suggest that a call was received by Lone Star a few minutes before the Rocksalt Boys arrived at the house. The routing was convoluted, but there is no doubt it originated in the safehouse.”
Scar’s face twitched with tension. If he knows about me and the girl…
But the saikō-komon merely shrugged and added, “Likely the girl, making sure that both gangs would be mopped up by Lone Star.” Scar tried not to let the relief show. He was ready for what came next. Pay the price for failure, make sure it didn’t happen again. He stepped forward immediately when the old man spoke the almost ritualized words, “You must atone for your failure, so that you may remember to perform better the next time.”
But the saikō-komon shook his head as the ganger placed the little finger of his right hand on the metal edge of the desk. “No, shatei. This calls for nothing so crude. Something else will help remind you of your duty in the future.”
The office door swung open and two kyodai stepped through to flank Scar. As the big brothers guided him out of the room, he looked back with uncertainty at the old man’s enigmatic and very un-reassuring smile.
As the door closed, the Yakuza boss connected a call. “Yes, Doctor Takada. Our young friend is having difficulty preventing his biology from overruling his judgment. I’m sure removing the offending orbs will help remind him of his commitment to the sakazuki. Please ensure that he receives the best possible care. There is no need for any unnecessary suffering…”