Nabiki? … Impossible!
Summer's long spell over Japan was finally beginning to fade; cool breezes sweeping in from the north delivered a welcome break to the citizen transversing Nerima's streets. The hustle and bustle of people hurrying to find a quick satisfying lunch made them appear like ants scurrying about a forest floor, all searching never tiring drones trying to maintain their livelihoods in the tough world known as life.
This seemed quite ironic to the well-dressed man sitting casually in a chocolate café booth silently observing the streets. His demeanor conveyed a level of respect and obedience; firm hands toying aimlessly with a stylus over a PDA, occasionally taking a short peek up just enough to look over the top of his menu as if on watch, waiting for someone.
Okura Maeda continued writing, mind set on patience. A local, he was around his late forties, clean-shaven and dressed in a fine, charcoal-black business suit, matching shoes, his dark-gray fedora on a small stack of papers on the table. With him were two men and one woman taking quietly, but frequently one of the men would make a casual look around, eyes filled with caution. The men were also Japanese, but the blonde-haired woman was an American well into her late thirties, although she appeared younger.
Victoria Saffron might have been the best acquisition he ever made. She looked good today, all dressed in a tight beige office dress, low black heels, a scarf draped around her delicate neck. Just the way I liked it, thought Okura with a faint smile. Suddenly, Saffron leaned towards him.
"Okay, so you want to tell us why we decided to come here?" she asked in clear Japanese.
Closing the PDA, he sat back. The other man with them also leaned close. "Yeah, boss," he said in a hushed voice. "Why are we sitting here like ducks waiting to be plucked"
"We are not going to be plucked, Sachi," answered Maeda.
Sachi Hamada moved back and cast a worried gaze on his colleague, Tanyun Kinjo. Both were also dressed ready for the office, Hamada the elder of the two. His dark eyes continually scanned around them looking for the slightest hint of danger or threats. After all, guarding one of the most influential Yakuza lords in Japan was not an easy task, especially when he exposed himself like this.
Kinjo grimaced, nervously rubbing the back of his head mussing the shaggy mane of dark brown hair around. He paused hesitant to speak then shrugged deciding it might be worth it.
"Uh, boss. This side of Tokyo is not particularly a safe place to be rummaging around without some muscle, I you know what I mean"
Maeda continued to appear unconcerned. "We are in no danger here," he answered.
"But we don't control this area," Sachi pointed out. "If the Funoma or Chikungi factions get wind that you're here"
"They do not control this area either, Hamada," Okura interrupted. "Nobody controls this township.
"Nobody?" asked Victoria.
"Nobody. At least nobody of our stature"
That only sent his colleague into further confusion. "Sachi," continued Maeda, "I'm surprised you did not know this"
"Nerima is not high on my list of attention getters, boss"
"Ah, well it should be"
Victoria peered out at the streets trying to interpret her boss's strange interest in this ordinary section of the city.
"I can see why nobody wants this place," remarked Kinjo. "Nothing here to make money off of"
"You're wrong there, Tanyun," said Okura. "Nerima is a virtual gold mine untapped and just begging for exploit"
Sachi smiled. "So we're kind 'a like on a reconnaissance mission, that it boss"
"You can say something like that"
"Great! Better get your note-taking pen ready, Vicky. Going to need that when I come back to convince those stubborn fools who want to refuse our offers"
Victoria eyed Maeda. He was not telling them the whole story. No, she knew him well enough to know when Okura Maeda was up to something, and this had more to it.
"Okura," she said.
He cut his eyes to her, a mischievous glint in them.
"Yes, yes, my dear Victoria," said Maeda, reaching out to pat her hand. "I am planning something"
"What's there to plan, boss?" asked Kinjo. "No one here to fight our moving in"
"And again, no one of our stature. I did not say Nerima was not without any organized infrastructure"
"This is getting better and better," said Sachi. "Some action at last! I'll go rough up"
"There will be no need, Sachi," said Maeda.
He allowed their surprise to pass before continuing.
"You see, Nerima is a goldmine waiting to be plucked. Right now, a very shrewd and resourceful person is managing it. Not one to be taken lightly either"
A figure up the street outside caught Maeda's eye. A slim, very attractive woman with short cut brown hair dressing in a dark business suit, low pumps, and a small bag tucked firmly under one arm walked with a confident gait along the sidewalk almost with an air of royalty. The sunglasses covering her eyes prevented Okura from seeing, but he could sense she was observant of everything around her virtually living and breathing the Nerima Township.
"Ah, and here she comes now," he said.
They all turned and watched as the woman walked along past the shop window. Hamada smirked as she drifted out of view.
"Her?" he said to Maeda.
"You've got to be joking, boss," Kinjo said, "That lanky bitch"
Okura signaled to their waitress asking for the check. "I would not talk that way about my new, soon to be accountant," he replied calmly.
"You've hired her to be our Accountant?" said Victoria with a gasp.
"Not yet. I still have to finalize a few 'convincing' items, but she will gladly accept my offer"
"Well if she comes to work for you, what's going to happen to Nerima?" asked Sachi.
Okura chuckled darkly, a sinister gaze coming to his eyes. "Nerima… why she is going to hand it over to me without any questions asked"
"I didn't get that kind of an impression from her," commented Victoria. She peered out the window again trying to catch sight of the woman. "I got the impression that your 'Accountant' will not roll over and play dead without a fight"
"Trust me," replied Maeda, "There will be no resistance"
Okura nodded and they got up and departed the shop. Once outside, he gazed in the direction that the woman had gone and then drew a cigarette from his jacket pocket.
"So what now?" asked Sachi, lighting it.
Maeda drew in a breath, blowing the smoke up into the air. "We observe, Hamada. We observe"
"Still recon, eh boss?" said Kinjo.
They stared walking in the direction the woman had taken.
"So what's this girl's name?" Victoria asked him.
Maeda paused briefly. "Tendo… Nabiki Tendo," he answered. "And it is time for her unrestrained powers to be channeled properly… with our help of course"
"Oh of course, of course," replied Vicky. "Mustn't allow anything to prevent our gain"
"Well said, Victoria. Well said…"
Nabiki Tendo's route took her down to Nerima's central business district unawares that she had become the subject of a certain Yakuza Crime Lord's interest. Okura and his entourage strolled casually along at a discreet distance watching the underground mogul of Nerima's Business District make her daily rounds.
She crossed the street at the next intersection and both Sachi and Tanyun started to follow, but Okura called them back.
"What's up, boss?" asked Tanyun.
"There's no need to cross. We can observe quite well from here"
Vicky looked down the street. "Observe?" she commented with some skepticism. "What, is she going to rob one of these stores"
"Uh, not quite, but close, Victoria my dear"
"Oh this'll be good," said Sachi. "I get it. We watch the Tendo chick commit her crime then blackmail her"
Maeda's expression drew down into one of disbelief. He looked over at his man and then said, "I know you were not serious"
Sachi shrugged. "Not what you had in mind"
"Be reasonable, Sachi." Maeda gazed back up at the street. "Miss Tendo is a professional. She will not be doing anything blatantly illegal"
"No? Then what are we looking for, boss?" asked Tanyun.
"Watch," answered Maeda.
In total confusion Maeda's associates observed Nabiki Tendo stroll down the street. Ahead of her engaged in a form of craps game gathered a good number of the Nerima local bike gangs. All of them looked extremely rough and at any moment would beat you up with our cause or provocation, but Nabiki walked casually towards them and it appeared that she was not scared in the least bit.
"Okay, so we're going to help her out of a bad situation, huh boss?" asked Sachi.
"What bad situation?" replied Okura.
"The one she's about to become involved in." answered Vicky.
A laugh was the only reply they got as the distance closed between Tendo and the bikers. Abruptly, the bikers all stopped and stood staring at Nabiki. She too had stopped and was gazing confidently around in return. Apparently, the leader of the gang stepped up right into her face staring her down. It looked like Tendo was about to get the stuffing beat out of her when the biker leader stepped to one side and made a sharp gesture with his left arm. Immediately, the rest of the bikers dropped to their knees bowing low in homage to Nabiki.
"Wa-Wa-What was that!" said Sachi in near surprise.
"Yeah! She just made them grovel at her feet?" added Tanyun.
Okura chuckled. "Did you see that display of power, that use of total amicable control," he said.
Nabiki was smiling at the leader now, saying something then held up four fingers. He nodded sharply and quickly pointed to several of his comrades. They popped to their feet like marines in formation ready for orders. Nabiki passed something to the leader and his expression brightened. He bowed as Nabiki and the four passed, then the rest of the gang let out a hardy cheer in her honor.
"Drugs?" questioned Sachi.
"No, probably the best numbers for the local bike races next week," answered Maeda.
"And they fawn over her like that for a few numbers?" said Vicky.
"Keeps them in line and their wallets full. Miss Tendo is truly a professional in all regards"
So saying, Maeda continued his observation of Nabiki Tendo, following along her route down the street. After a short stroll, she stopped at a small convenience store. Telling her escorts to wait outside, Nabiki went in.
"Oh. So she's gone to get her extortion money and if they don't pay up her goons get to work the owners over," said Tanyun.
"Wrong again," countered Okura. "Does everything have to result in violence"
"Nyeah, most of the time, boss," answered Sachi. "It's almost tradition"
Victoria let out a sigh, rubbing the bridge of her nose. "Thugs," she muttered, shaking her head.
Nabiki appeared again with the owner of the shop. Both of them were laughing and carrying on like old friends. With a snap of her fingers, one of the bikers came up and took the small bag from the owner's hands.
"Pack Mules," Tanyun spat out in disgust. "Shameful"
"Allowing themselves to be used like this," Sachi added. "Why when I was in a gang, our women carried all of our stuff"
"It's a new age, gentlemen," said Maeda. "Those with power, us it"
"Meaning I should be taking notes?" commented Vicky.
Okura cut his eyes over to her then said, "Cute," before gazing back at Tendo.
The route continued on throughout Nerima's many districts stopping at stores, shops and even the local banking houses. To Nabiki's observers she seemed like royalty to the citizens of Nerima, and not once did she have to lift a finger to convince them of this. By the time they had finished their circuit of the township all of the four hired 'carriers' were laden with packages, bundles or other stuff heading towards a cab stop. Without questions from those waiting, she went to the front of the line taking the next cab that rolled up. Maeda and his companions stood a few blocks away amazed by the events that had transpired.
"Oh now I've seen everything," said Sachi with a disgusted groan. "Look at the wench! Miss Privileged Princess"
"Please, Sachi," said Vicky, "It's obvious that Miss Tendo has the right connections in this part of the city"
The hard stare Okura was giving Nabiki melted a way behind one of satisfaction, pleased by what he had observed. Turning, it appeared that he was about to break out in cheer as if he'd just won a lottery or something.
"And it is those connections which will give me control of all of the Nerima Township," he said brightly.
"But we still haven't gained control of Tendo, boss," said Tanyun.
The cell phone in Maeda's jacket suddenly rang. "Maeda," he said answering the call. Quietly, Okura listened as the voice on the other end rattled off a stream of information to him. His expression grew brighter and he cast a look out in Nabiki Tendo's direction. The last bit of her day's collection had just been put in the trunk of the cab and she was paying off her help. Just before climbing in, she paused and looked in his direction. Nabiki dipped her shades a bit, squinting to get a better look at him, and then shrugged it off going into the cab.
"That is excellent, Chino. And all of the data has been secured properly?" A satisfying answer brought a smile to Okura's face. "Excellent. We'll be returning shortly to finalize things. Good-bye"
He hung up, eyes still locked in Nabiki's direction. "Yes, Nabiki Tendo. We will be calling upon you here soon, so don't get too comfortable," he said as the cab carrying her sped off. "Your easy life is about to end"
A tap on the shoulder brought him around. "And we are doing what now?" asked Victoria.
Okura tucked his phone away. Giving Vicky a light pat on the arm he answered, "Going back to the estate. There's still much do. Much to do"
"By your expression, I'd think you've got everything just about wrapped up"
"You could say that." Maeda paused giving the street behind him one last look.
"Let's go home…"