The Itawanabe Initiative
Chapter Six
By Ryan Bodle

Sailor Mercury did what she did best under these circumstances. She stayed calm and gathered information. Before she could consciously recognise she was doing it, she had scanned the room for information. The heat had risen furiously in a matter of seconds. Damp in the walls and floor began to generate toxic clouds of smoke that fought to stream out into the open air, but there was so much it filled up the room first, getting thicker and thicker.

She could hear Rosa next to her coughing into his coat. He was kneeling, getting under the smoke. It only helped a little. Between the jagged glass and flames licking the frames, the windows weren't a viable exit. Even if they jumped, injury was guaranteed and whoever threw those bottles could still be there waiting for them. The doorway was equally engulfed in flame and likely under guard.

Rosa had withdrawn his gun and tried to get a vantage point to look out the fire escape. What did he think he could do with that? She asked herself internally, looking at his firearm. She went back to scanning the structure, looking for a weak point they could break through. Already, she was aware, her breathing became laboured as the oxygen burned up.

Behind her she heard the sound of Rosa collapsing to the floor. She checked on him, he wasn't passed out yet, but staying on his knees was a struggle. His gun was on the floor. Time was running out and the walls were all lined with either water pipes or electrical wiring, no viable candidate for breaking down. The external walls were too thick. She scanned the floor. All timber, several decades old, some of it showing signs of wear.

She dropped to her knees and thrust her palms onto the decking. "Mercury Aqua Mist!"

Launching her most basic of attacks, she drenched the floor below her in water, allowing it to seep into the timber and permeate its every splinter. The result generated more toxic smoke as the fire was consuming more and more of the room. She choked on the fumes and her vision started to blur. She blinked out the smoke rising up into her face as a spurt of uncontrollable coughs forced their way from her lungs.

'Don't stop now,' she told herself. Before the wood had time to dry, she summoned up any energy she had left. Palms still feeling the wood below here, she released another attack. "Shine Aqua Illusion!"

The force of the attack at point blank rage ripped through the floor and split the barricade in front of her, creating a gap the size of a manhole. "Detective!" She shouted behind her, alerting him to the new exit.

Rosa scrambled from the floor, fatigue showing throughout his body. Mercury let him go first and watched him slip down feet first. Hearing him hit the floor below, she looked down and saw him crawl up against the nearby wall. Satisfied the way was clear, she expertly jumped straight through the cavity and with cat-like grace, landed below.

The immediate danger removed, she joined Rosa in reclaiming her breath. The smoke trailed its way down with them, but in minute quantities. Together they looked towards the exit, knowing there could be someone out there waiting to finish the job if they escaped.

Rosa pulled out a radio, still gasping for air. "This is Detective Rosa, I need fire and rescue as well as a police perimeter setup at," he relayed the address. He received an affirmative response asking for the nature of the incident. "Property fire and arson. Be aware, suspects are still on site and are definitely armed." He put the radio down and revealed his gun in his hand. "Backup is on the way."

"You remembered your gun?" Mercury asked in surprise.

Rosa shrugged. "I always remember my gun."

"Hey! They're downstairs!" One of the assailants alerted the rest. Rosa shot an alarmed look at Sailor Mercury.

"Take cover," he warned. They both scrambled from the floor, Sailor Mercury kicked down a door opposite them and they both dove inside as bullets rained horizontally into the corridor they previously occupied.

"These guys are pro!" Rosa shouted over the fire. "We need to slip the perimeter they've created before back up arrives, or else they'll pin us in another trap."

"The alley with the fire escape we climbed up, we should be able to get out there," Sailor Mercury surmised.

"It'll be covered," Rosa rejected. "We need to make it to one of the neighbouring buildings, we should be able to break their lines from there."

"How do you suggest we do that?"

"The basement to this building has an outside corridor where they take out the trash. The building behind it has one just like it backed right on the end. They're separated by a six foot wall. If we can jump that and get in the door opposite, we should be safe," Rosa explained.

"A sub-level open air carriageway?"

"Its an eight foot trench and we're as good as dead if they spot us."

"Good," Mercury answered dryly. "For a second, I thought this was going to be easy."

Mamoru felt the life being crushed from his body, but most of all his lungs. He could feel every fibre of those organs scream for oxygen. He looked at the man on the bed, the source of the power and how he looked more a demon. Despite his eyelids being open, Matsui Chiyu looked possessed with his eyes rolled back in his head. One last, desperate act, Mamoru focused his energies into his hand and found the familiar form of rose there. Unable to move his arm, he let the mystical energies of unerring accuracy do the work for him. He flicked his wrist and the rose left his grip like a bullet. He grazed the cheek of his quarry.

Chiyu snapped awake. As he did, the force pinning Mamoru and Luna cut out. The cat slumped to the floor and stirred. Mamoru fell to his hands and knees, coughing and spluttering as he caught his breath.

Mamoru couldn't tell much of what Chiyu was saying after that. It sounded mostly like startled questioning. As soon as the blur lifted from his vision, Mamoru sprung from his spot and leapt at Chiyu. As he did, another rose formed in his right hand, his left outstretched, ready to grab his assailant. His eyes leveled on Chiyu's.

Chiyu looked back without fear. He reached out and summoned the stone, necklace trinket to him. It rushed into his palm obediently and then covered his body in a blue haze. He froze Mamoru in place with the sheer will of his mind. The two were held in a deadlock.

"What are you"? Mamoru demanded.

"Where is Queen Serenity?" Chiyu asked with a low, chilling voice. "And where is the Princess?"

Mamoru narrowed his eyes. He was after Usagi. "Don't know who you're talking about," he answered softly.

"Don't lie to me," the blue haze around Chiyu sharpened. Suddenly, Mamoru thought about his home and Uasgi lying there and how she was defenseless and unconscious. An image of somebody else's eyes hovered in his vision and then the whole image cleared. Mamoru was staring back at Chiyu. A small smirk appeared on his face, like he had seen what Mamoru had and he knew. A rage filled Mamoru and he brought up the will to protect his beloved. It gave him strength enough to push through the invisible barrier that held him. His left hand grasped out at Chiyu.

Matsui Chiyu effortlessly slipped to his right side, deflecting the rose-wielding opponent with his wrist and rolled from his bed. In a slick motion, Chiyu rolled his wrist until he could grab Mamoru's forearm. Mamoru's lunge, kept him going forward and Chiyu used this to twist his arm and pin him to the bed he previously occupied.

Before, Chiyu could apply a tight lock, Mamoru rolled to his left and threw back his right elbow, feeling it connect with Chiyu's side. They both rolled off the bed, Mamoru trying to balance and land his rear into Chiyu's solar plexus, but most of all, trying not to land on his twisted arm and cause a dislocated shoulder, or worse. He heard Chiyu grunt from the landing and continued to roll. His arm wrenched free from Chiyu's grip and he got to his knees.

Chiyu was already up, arm against the wall, steadying himself as he breathed hard. Mamoru tensed, preparing to tackle. Chiyu moved first. He kicked off from the wall and over the bed and stood in front of the window. With a smirk, he fell backwards and out. Mamoru ran to the window. When he looked out and down, he saw Chiyu slowly levitate himself to the floor.

The man with the strange powers looked up and waved Mamoru goodbye, before running off into the night.

Rosa opened the door to the basement level exit with trepidation. Just a crack and slowly increased the margin, bit by bit checking outside as it was revealed to him. Night was now thick in the air but most of the stars couldn't penetrate the city lights. Nobody seemed to be watching this exit. The brief encounter at the front must have drawn them to the main entrance. To be sure, he had to look the other way.

He stuck his head out and made himself vulnerable to anyone lining up the shot the other side. Nothing came. He looked around and drew himself back in the relatively safe confines of in doors. "Looks like they're still watching the front," he informed.

"Good," Mercury pushed past him and out into the open, ever so boldly. She scanned the immediate surroundings. They were in a trench, roughly twelve feet long and six wide. To one side lay concrete steps to ground level, where garbage cans and refuse sacks were stacked up next to it, ready to be taken up on collection day. She walked up to the nearby wall, jumped and grabbed the top and pulled up to peer over and drop back down.

"Its locked and its a fire door, we open it and an alarm will bring them running," Mercury scorned. Rosa turned a cursed. "Well, we can hide in the basement and wait for back up, or we can take them by surprise."

"Surprise? I like surprise," Rosa said reaching for his firearm.

"No killing," Mercury ordered.

"You know what these guys are?" Rosa asked her.

"No killing," she reiterated. "Or you can wait inside."

Rosa returned his weapon to its holster. "Fine, how do you recommend getting the upper hand here?"

"Wait here, when I have their attention, you come in from the other side, I take it you can fight," Mercury instructed. Rosa nodded. With that, she leaped high and climbed to the rooftop. Once there, alone. She stood for a moment and drew a heavy breath. She was getting tired now, and not just physically. She felt herself getting short with Detective Rosa, her patience wearing thin and it wasn't his fault. She closed her eyes and focused herself, exercising her anger. Once ready, she moved along the far side of the building and looked over into the street.

She saw six men keeping a mixture of guns focused on the building. One was about to open the main entrance where she and Rosa were last seen. Acting fast, she jumped behind their circle and picked off one of the rear guards without being seen. A single blow to the base of the neck with her superior strength handled the matter.

Dead in front of her, one of the more dangerous of the group grasped a machine pistol in both hands. He seemed eager to use it. Right next to him, another with a pistol and one last molotov cocktail. She engaged them simultaneously. They both screamed, startled as she body checked the first guy, he dropped his gun. She grabbed the second by the wrist, twisting it so he dropped his bottle and he spun to become a body shield against the rest who had trained their weapons on her. She now trusted Rosa to the next part.

Rosa watched Sailor Mercury disappear over the wall of their failed tomb. He positioned himself on the exiting steps and peered down the alleyway. One of the assassins kept one eye his way but Rosa remained in shadows, and hidden. The detective waited for Mercury to distract him. It wasn't long before the lookout was drawn away from the alley. Rosa broke into a full sprint, not wanting to miss his window of opportunity.

He rounded the corner to find his target inches away and pointing a gun at Mercury who hid behind a captive. With Mercury's human shield, four remained. He acted quickly, kicking out behind the knee of the man in front who yelped and inadvertently fired a round into the air. Rosa wrapped an arm around his and wrestled the gun easily using a wrist lock, then used the butt of the gun to deliver a blow to the temple, knocking him out. The remaining two had circled on him. He dived for one, tackling him to the ground and heard the other fall to the assault from behind as Mercury cleaned up.

Rosa's quarry dug an elbow into his back that made him grunt with pain and lose any air in his lungs. He kept his arms tucked in as they both hit the ground. As they stopped, Rosa brought his arms up inside between them and swung them out in a vertical arc, making sure his opponent didn't have them held together. Quickly deducing which hand held the gun, Rosa rolled onto that arm, stopping the man from raising it and then bringing an elbow down into the guy's chest. In had little impact.

'This guy's tough,' Rosa thought to himself. 'And knows how to fight.' He turned round and twisted the gun from hand. He felt a sharp stinging sensation in his lower back as his opponent went for a punch to the kidneys. Rosa let out a gasp of pain and scrambled away, kicking the gun with him. Not sensing much choice, he grit his teeth through the pain and got to his feet as quickly as he could to face the other guy.

Sure enough, he turned into a hammer of a punch that rocked his jaw. Rosa staggered back, fell to his backside, then threw the weight of his leg over his head. He rolled over and back onto his feet. This time he caught the follow up strike and pushed it to one side. His opponent regained his footing and put up his guard. Rosa looked at him with a steel gaze and studied his movements. Watched another heavy swing come in, Rosa stepped inside the man's guard and pushed one arm out to stop the punch connecting and used his other hand to deliver an open palm strike to the jaw before a counterattack could be made.

Rosa stepped back out as the man fell one step back, arms breaking their tight guard. Before the man could recover, Rosa changed his stance so his legs wider. Then, with a reverse spin, Rosa delivered a powerful and well aimed kick to the head, knocking him down and out.

With the fight over, Rosa looked round to see Mercury observing him. She had easily dealt with her opponent and watched him struggle. "I thought you might be one of those proud and chivalrous types," she said before he could accuse her of standing by.

Rosa coughed a laugh as he started to feel the full pain of his bruises. "I think you might be right," he concluded not caring to dwell on whether she was right or not.

Sirens began to announce the arrival of the Tokyo Police Force. "You better get out of here," Rosa advised. He gestured to the hit men lying uselessly on the floor. "I'll make something up."

Mercury laughed. "You'll be a hero, detective," she said before taking off. Rosa looked about.

"I'll be fired," he concluded. How was he going to explain this to the captain?

Sailor Mercury left Rosa to handle the office fire. There was still more to follow on her investigation and she felt Rosa would be more of a hindrance at the next step. A police officer had many constraints when it came to investigating known members of organised crime, especially those who had already dodged prosecution. If she was to investigate the man Taka Shuya, she would have to do it herself. But first she needed the Intel.

As she guessed, Rosa had a file on him in his office. It had clearly taken some time to put together. Thankfully the office was empty beside her and the lights were all out around her. She began scanning the pages, all neatly typed up by Rosa. Her computer visor referenced every word as she flicked through them, committing them to memory. Known places of business, where he frequented socially and known associates.

A light in the neighbouring hallway flipped on suddenly. She closed the file and hastily replaced it in the cabinet she had pried it from, making a hastened exit through the window she unlocked to get in.

From the hallway, a rookie officer, felt the chill of wind as if someone left a window open. He peered into Detective Rosa's office and scouted inside. The only window was resolutely closed. Still, he walked over and checked it. The latch was not fixed but the window was closed and forming a good seal. He locked the window, looked out briefly and saw nothing but the city at night and left the room.

Sailor Mercury peered from the rooftop, a few stories above, watching and waiting to see if she was discovered. Satisfied, she turned and left to track down a crime boss of the city.

Taka Shuya, a 34 year old 'businessman' sat on the backseat of his BMW. Tinted, bulletproof windows and armoured doors kept the noise of the outside city out. He sat casually on the more lounge like seat with white trimming, the interior was furnished with luxurious red carpet and gold plated fixings. It was garish, but the low lighting dulled the ostentatious tones. He idly sipped a glass of cranberry juice as he read today's newspaper.

Already the press had got wind of the tragic suicide of Koshiro Hiro, a popular and heroic detective in the Tokyo Police Force. Shuya knew differently, of course. The old man was killed, and professionally. Shuya had no dealings with the Itawanabe Initiative and so had no idea why the geezer was killed, but doing so was risky. Someone with a record like his was always going to attract the kind of attention the family could do without and now the boss wanted a meeting. As soon as he was called, Shuya knew the hit wasn't agreed by anyone in management. The moment he got the phone call, he had his boys pull every bit of information they could.

Even though the information was scarce, it was easy enough to read between the lines. The family had been pushing hard on the cops with this Initiative. The idea was gold. They wanted a retirement plan and the family wanted police informants. Once some of the money laundering boys got into the old enterprise, the book-keepers started keeping receipts. Receipts were proof and proof turned most men. Those who didn't turn were either made out to be depressed or accident prone, a wonderful euphemism the "wet-work guys" taught Shuya. Koshiro wasn't a clumsy guy, so his suicide was faked. Just in case the investigation hinted foul play, the boys left a phony trail to a dead suspect. A neat little package.

Except it wasn't so neat. Whoever killed Masahashi made a mess. A big mess. Shuya's informants said there was more liquid than solid remains of the shamed and former doctor. It couldn't have been the work of a man, maybe some kind of animal. But what kind of nut job thought an animal attack would be more plausible than an overdose clearly needed his head checked. The OD was clearly easier to stage too. Something wasn't right. It was like somebody within the organisation wanted the Initiative discovered by the authorities.

Then there was Koshiro's old partner. Rosa Jyou, the half-Hispanic detective was found investigating off shore bank accounts. Shuya didn't recognise them as his own, but he was pretty sure someone in the family owned them. Rumour had it he wasn't alone either. Shuya shook that thought from his mind. The very idea the police were working with fabled super-heroines was as ridiculous as it was scary. He returned to the business at hand.

Shuya was good at business. He turned a profit, moved money and smuggled all sorts of goods into the country without being caught. He kept his hoods in line and stayed clean, out of the law's hands. The only stain on his record was the beating he gave that punk just over a year back. Shuya had been drinking, he was fond of his finer spirits and developed a love for scotch. In one of the clubs he run, Shuya was taking a rare night off. He wooed the local girls, he sat in one of the booths and enjoyed the music for hours.

After a while, he noticed a young graduate hassling one of his working girls behind the bar. One of the better girls. She was smart, in the kind of way that wasn't dangerous. Watched people, talked to people, knew who came and went. Shuya made sure she kept working there. The kid wouldn't listen when told to lay off her. Shuya, having a good fill of whiskey, had the kid taken out back and nearly made his face unrecognisable. Since then, Shuya didn't drink outside his own home. He was still on probation, even now. He had no idea that punk's dad was the son of one of the chief city prosecutors.

A buzzer from the driver interrupted his thoughts. Shuya flipped the switch on the window separating the front and back. "Phone call, boss, its pretty important."

"Alright," Shuya took a phone from him. "What is it?" He listened to the caller without breaking the neutral look upon his face. "Get back to the office and do a full sweep and double the lookouts. We'll talk when I get back." He hung up and passed the phone back to the front.

"Trouble, boss?" His driver asked.

"Nothing you need to worry about," Shuya dismissed. "Pull over out front to drop me off, but don't park there. Stay nearby and keep your phone on! I want to get straight back to the office when this is done."

"Sure thing," the driver complied as he pulled over. Taka Shuya opened his door and stepped out right outside a club with strumming neon lights spelling out Sunrise: Gentleman's Club. Unlike the other nightclubs, crammed from wall to wall with youngsters trying to kill themselves through drinking and unbearable thumping of monosyllabic music, Sunrise was a quiet reserve for those who could afford admission. Shuya liked it, although could barely afford the prices. Luckily his boss allowed him passage for meetings.

The inside was lavishly adorned with real wood joining and soft, red pastels along the walls matching the royal red carpet. Chandelier lighting kept the hall like entrance well illuminated. Security and welcome staff were numerous here but they paid him no attention.

Like he had a dozen times that year already, Shuya walked through the foyer and into the staff elevator. He waited for the doors to close behind him before producing a key from his wallet and unlocking a hidden button on the control panel. He pushed it and the elevator began to climb to the restricted floor, where he was summoned.

The summoner, Usoku Botan, a man in his sixties and yet still a powerful and foreboding figure sat behind his office desk and eyed Shuya coming in. He stood up, his frame that of a wrestler, not and old man and motioned for Shuya to sit. Shuya squared his shoulders and straightened his suit before giving the man a polite bow and taking an available seat. Already gathered were four other mid-level managers just like Shuya.

"We can begin," Botan spoke with a voice like a bellows. "Gentlemen, Detective Koshiro Hiro was assassinated not so long ago and he was a high visibility asset. As you all know, such actions cannot be permitted unless the family agree and I am assured no agreement is made. I hope someone here has an explanation."

Kumoni Ken, a man with a broad stance yet snake like features, stood immediately and bowed low. "I took action Usoku-san," he admitted. "I was ordered with increasing pressure on some other families involved with this," he paused. "Initiative. But the detective stumbled upon our involvement. I had to act quickly before he exposed our people."

"You were not permitted," Botan said firmly.

"I do not seek forgiveness," Ken blurted out quickly. "This detective had much information on our operations and our agents. We would have lost much leverage over the police and the organisation would have been exposed. I acted quickly to protect the family, I hope you understand."

"You reacted to cover your own incompetence," Botan concluded. Kumoni kept his gaze downwards but Shuya could clearly see him scowl. His fists clenched tight but he said nothing. Botan swung his chair to one side and looked out the window beyond the balcony to his office. "What of the police investigation?"

"I saw to it that the detective committed suicide," Kumoni reported, standing straight. "If that wasn't enough, a false trail has been forged and will lead to a prior convict. A homeless doctor with his right to practice stripped of him and a heavy dependency on drugs. The police will find him dead in his squalid bed. They must admit it was suicide or reveal it was revenge, there is no other trail."

Botan leered sideways at Kumoni. "You are certain?"

"What else can they do?" Kumoni asked in reply. "Every other line of inquiry will fail to provide answers."

"Shuya," the old man turned to Shuya. "Where is the police investigation at the moment?"

Shuya swallowed regret. Ever since Kumoni offered an explanation on why he killed the detective, he'd rather have not gotten involved. It would have been preferable to not cross Kumoni. He was unstable.

"There's only one detective on the case of Koshiro's death, his ex-partner. Young, but very smart. He's currently following up financial trails from Koshiro's bank accounts, tracking off shore accounts," Shuya explained. "Thanks to international law, he'll never know who the accounts belong to, but he might be able to tell if those accounts were making payments to other accounts based in banks on home soil. He's tracking those down as we speak. Fortunately, they'll all be tied to shell accounts signed in the name of the dead and will increase the likelihood that others will perceive him as a corrupt officer. To avoid press allegations and a political fiasco, I'm confident this will be concluded as suicide."

Shuya couldn't help notice Kumoni develop a shark's grin. "Does this hero detective seem the kind?" Botan asked.

Shuya shrugged. "Do the job as long as this guy, everyone has their nightmares, it won't be that hard to swallow." Botan nodded.

After considering things for a while, Botan turned and faced them all. "We will wait twenty four hours before taking any action, if any," he ordered. "Interfering anymore runs the risk of exposure to the organisation and this initiative is valuable to the family." He pointed at Kumoni. "You will watch the police, but you will not act. You better hope they believe your little story."

Kumoni bowed.

Botan then dismissed the crowd. Everyone made for the lift, Shuya included. "Taka, a word please." Shuya, whilst his back was facing the old man, closed his eyes and silently cursed. Kumoni smirked from the elevator as the doors closed and the other four disappeared. Shuya faced his boss and waited. Botan moved to a liquor cabinet behind him, pouring himself a drink in crystal glass. "Drink?"

"I've given up for now," Shuya replied as graceful as he could. Botan was all too aware of his previous drink-related incarceration. Botan considered him for a while.

"You look nervous," the older man concluded and glided the glass across his desk, then went about pouring a second glass. Shuya reluctantly accepted and sipped the bronze liquid contents. He was surprised. His favourite scotch. Botan smirked triumphantly. "You have a very good taste."

Shuya looked into the bottom of the glass. "The last time you visited my home," he answered his own question. Of course he offered his keeper the finest whiskey he had when playing host.

Botan sighed heavily. "I've been doing this job a long time, Shuya. Never have I had a man with your talents."

"Thank you."

"What was it you didn't want to tell that punk Kumoni?" Botan asked.

Shuya sighed, he should have figured the old man knew he wouldn't reveal all to an audience. "Rose Jyou, the man investigating this death. He's been spotted outside old operations offices I setup years ago when we first worked the Itawanabe Initiative. And he's working with a senshi."

"A senshi?" Botan asked surprised. "This is a problem."

"I'm sure everything is cleared out and it leads nowhere, but I'm also certain this Koshiro left behind something. Something that could tie the Initiative to us, there's no way the police could have found those places without help."

"Perhaps he said something before he died," Botan offered. Shuya shook his head in dismissal.

"He would have been arrested, the moment he said anything. I think something in his will was activated as soon as his death was confirmed," Shuya mused. "Koshiro meant to take the initiative down with his dying breath."

"Stubborn old goat," Botan mused. "Always was."

"You knew him?"

Botan smiled as he mused, the years suddenly showed in his face as he reminisced. "Yeah, he was one of the Initiative's founding members. Asked me if I could put him contact with some of our book keepers. He did me some favours in return, some knuckle rapping."

"How could you be friends with a cop?" Shuya was confused. The premise was totally flawed.

"Times have changed, kid," Botan explained. "These days we're organisations and syndicates. We say family, but it doesn't much anymore. Back then, you could call us organised crime because we did what the law would not permit, but it wasn't like it is now. People came to us for discretion. Services and vices, and we brought it in. The import of narcotics has always been an unpleasant business but its been going on since before there was a ruling class. The thing about those days, the family would control their own people. The police wouldn't have to worry about fights in the streets and civilians in the cross fire."

"People like Kumoni, I don't think will ever listen to reason," Shuya warned. "He's ambitious and reckless."

Botan finished his drink, humming an agreement. "Tonight confirms what I've been thinking for a while now. He's not afraid of me anymore. You should watch your back, kid. He sees you as competition."

"So, you already knew," Shuya confirmed. "And you brought us here to give him an audience." Botan didn't answer. "So what about his orders? Was he really told to strong arm the Initiative?"

"I don't know, but I wouldn't be surprised. There were some more senior members threatening to take us on. Mostly judicial and prosecutor staff. Its possible Kumoni was sent in as the rabid dog he is."

"If you don't mind Botan-san, I have to keep the situation monitored, I still have boys out there gathering information," Shuya excused himself. Botan nodded and allowed him to leave.

As he left the club, Shuya made a call to one of his boys. "I need a full shake down on everything. Tell the boys to sober up and look out for tails. Secure homes, hideouts, everything. And check for devices. Meet me at the warehouse. Make sure its clear."

His car pulled up as he reached the sidewalk.

Sailor Mercury arrived at a warehouse on the seafront. According to the file Detective Rosa had on Taka Shuya, he owned a packing factory adjacent and this warehouse was his storage facility business. The whole thing was registered in Shuya's name, and she had no doubt there wouldn't be a single shred of evidence that tied Shuya to any of his other businesses or activities. Maybe, though, just maybe, he kept books on his other businesses there. It seemed a good front for smuggling. The air was blanketed with the smell of seafood from the produce being packed in the factory and the several nearby fisheries. Sniffer dogs would have no chance of detecting anything other than food.

She had her computer on infrared scan, tracking locations of any nearby guards. There were nearly a dozen on the perimeter. More than double she would have thought. Clearly this Taka was paranoid. Or aware someone was coming. Either way, she was more assured of his guilt.

It took some time to analyse their patterns and the super-human strength and agility only her Senshi form could provide her, but she managed to slip past the guard and reach the office level of the warehouse from the roof. As soon as she was in, she found the head office and slipped inside. It was unlocked. She didn't turn the light on, but instead used her visor to look through the dark. There was a computer on the desk. She thought about looking through the files, but knew they would not contain anything she was looking for. She looked about for hidden compartments where Taka would hide the details of illicit affairs.

After five minutes, she used her visor to scan the walls and floors for hollow points in the structure and found one immediately in the wall. It slid open without any resistance. A large book was inside. It contained names, dates and values of money, along with a column with a random number assignment. After flicking through some further pages she deduced it was a person smuggling ledger. Possibly for people looking to get into America. It seemed Taka made a considerable profit out of it. This, however, did not tie in with the Initiative or Koshiro in anyway. It didn't help her and her investigation. She put it back as she found it and restored the hidden panel.

'There must be something here,' she thought to herself. For the second time tonight, she was interrupted whilst searching an office. The lights turned on downstairs, and she could see from a window overlooking the floor. Taka Shuya and four others walked through with considerable was talking hurriedly, and loudly. If she bolted from the office, she would be caught. A window opposite on the external wall of the building proved to be her only escape and she took it. Quickly and silently, she climbed out and jumped on top of an air conditioning unit outside. She waited and listened.

"I don't understand what all the raucous is for boss, so a cop got hit, big deal?"

"The problem, is it was Kumoni who made it. He's been working this initiative and trying to turn cops with leverage. He's making a move," Taka responded. "And we're possibly in his sights."

"He always was a careless bastard," one of the four commented. "He thinks he can take on the old man?"

"If he's trying to take power, he'll hit us too," Shuya confirmed. "Make sure all our boys are safe, and then get eyes on Kumoni, I want to know what he's up to."

"You got it, boss."

A third of the group chipped in. "I don't get it, if he's going for Botan, why take you out as well?"

"Because, Shigeru, he knows I'll back the old man if he draws the line. And the other managers won't stand against both of us. Botan's still got a lot of muscle, and we got the network, no one would stand against both of us, especially since the family will back Botan all the way," Shuya explained to his lieutenant. "What's the latest on that cop and his senshi sidekick?"

'Sidekick!?' Mercury thought to herself indignantly.

"Not good boss," the first voice reported. "The office he was checking out, the lease was signed by you personally."

"WHAT!?" Shuya raged.

"You remember that old guy that needed a business history to falsify his tax returns in the U.S? He died whilst submitting his paperwork."

"Oh yeah, we took the raw percentage and gave the family the rest to settle his affairs. He didn't even leave an inheritance behind. Cruel, old bastard," Shuya recalled. "I had to sponsor the lease on the building. How's that been tied to this Koshiro guy."

"It seems Koshiro set up his own shell company based at that address, you're tied into the investigation now."

"Crafty old geezer," Shuya rued. His voice was showing cracks in his temper. "We still have the paperwork for that? We should be able to deflect something as weak as that."

"Yeah, right here," Mercury heard the sound of a folder dropping onto a desk. "That's not the worst of it."

"Well spit it out," Shuya said impatiently.

"Detective Rosa and the senshi, somebody hit them at the office. Its burning to the ground as we speak." There was a deadly silence for a few seconds followed by a thunderous bang as Shuya banged his closed fist on the table.

"DAMMIT! WHO'S GUYS TRIED TO KILL A COP AND A SENSHI!? IN A BUILDING WITH MY NAME ON IT!?" He raged, scaring even Sailor Mercury a little. She jumped a bit from fright and the air con unit groaned as she moved. Nobody noticed. Shuya was too loud.

"We don't know for sure boss, but we can guess. And they went in hard."

"Did they get out?" Shuya asked as he caught his breath.

"Police have the area cordoned off, but there's no ambulance on scene, you can pretty much assume there were no fatalities."

Again silence. "Any problems here tonight?"

"No, why?"

"Dammit Dai! If the senshi knows I'm involved, the first thing she'll do is get all the police Intel on me and come here looking for clues, get everyone to search the building inside out," he barked his order. "Make. Sure. This. Place is Clean!" He shouted.

That was her queue to leave. Sailor Mercury pivoted and changed her weight, ready to jump away from her perch. The unit groaned again and then there was the sound of metal suddenly wrenching free. One of the brackets fell away from the wall as one of its screw and bolt pinged free. In quick succession, the bracket came off and the unit swung in place. Mercury lost her footing and began to fall. She turned and tried to grab the corner of the unit but missed and was in free fall.

She turned in time to brace her impact on the ground below. She landed heavily and stumbled headfirst into a wall. She collapsed as her sight went blurry. As she climbed to her knees, she was aware of someone behind her. Before she could turn, she felt a sharp pain at the back of her head and collapsed unconscious.

One of Shuya's guards armed with a shotgun had used the stock to knock her clean out. He called for others to assist as he went about securing the prisoner.

(A/N: Bit of a busy chapter, that one. And to think my original chapter plan had a little more. I decided to end it there and leave those bits for the next chapter. Getting close to a resolution now. Please let me know what you think!)