Introduction: I wasn't sure I had anything else worthwhile after "Gun Punk" and even stated that viewpoint in one of the forums here. So this is something of a surprise for me also. This was done on a whim so I have had to to make some corrections.
In "Gun Punk" I introduced a character named Lijuan who was introduced as a transition between the "almost" reality of Chinatown, NYC and the later events in Rei Hiroe's Black Lagoon. She was meant to be as fast, as lethal, as deadly as Roberta, Shenhua, Balalaika and the rest with one exception. She didn't take Revy seriously. It turned out to be a mistake...
"Shadow of the Eastern Jewel" is an attempt to work within the constraints of the anime/manga's continuity and the full cast of characters created by Rei Hiroe. All you need to know from my previous story is that Revy's involvement in the death of Aisin Gioro Lijuan, also known as Great White, has some consequences...
The events of this story happen between the end of Fujiyama Gangsta Paradise and El Baile de la Muerte.
Disclaimer: Black Lagoon and its characters © Rei Hiroe
Chapter 1: Bang!
"This place is almost as good as Club 36 in Amsterdam," shouted Benny with more enthusiasm than Rock could remember as they settled down at the table. Benny pulled out his laptop from the travel bag. "It's got good coffee, space cakes to die for, and bhang lassi.Oh, and they got wireless. I mean, the atmosphere here blows away Starbucks."
"Roanapur doesn't even have a Starbucks," said Rock sourly and under his breath. He scanned the surroundings of the newly opened G Spot Bar off of Lachada Street with some trepidation. Apparently while he and Revy had been in Japan, Benny had been branching out past the Yellow Flag. Then again the Yellow Flag was only good if you wanted to get drunk, killed or... drunk and killed. Bao was remodelling again according to Dutch.
The G Spot was a franchise of all things, with multiple locations throughout Thailand. Like Hooters in America, they were known ostensibly for their waitresses who came dancing out on the bar tops in skimpy school girl outfits to a pulsing trademarked beat.
But Rock realized with mounting dismay and embarassment that the G Spot clientele was if possible, far far worse than the dead enders of the Yellow Flag.
"Uh, Benny," Rock said tugging at his collar and looking fervently down at the tabletop. "I'm really not comfortable here."
"Why's that? That new guy Sykes loves this place," said Benny looking up from the laptop screen. "Oh, holy crap - it's a roomful of Rocks!"
The crowd packed tightly together for support around the horseshoe bar in the middle of the floor were all Japanese, male, and drunk. One would have expected less conformity outside the salaryman existence of Tokyo, but they were all dressed as if they were on a formal business trip. White shirts, ties and slacks were the norm
"Another baishun tsua," Benny dismissed them all with a lazy wave of his hand. "It's Roanapur, what do you expect? Honestly, if you're gonna do the sex tour thing, come here to balmy Thailand - it's considered normal. You know, it's incredible -- I mean, you're here to get drunk, stagger out the door five paces to your left to the Goof Fest and have sick, abnormal sex, but you gotta wear a tie doing it. Weird."
"Such is the fate of middle management," said Rock with a sigh, slouching in his seat. With the luck he had, right about now someone from Asahi Industries would stagger over, recognize him and then puke on the table.
"Anyway, to business," said Benny raising his voice over the rising din. "Look, this is important, I've been giving this a lot of thought." His fingers drummed impatiently on the table, "damnit, I'm not getting wireless. Hold on."
Rock sighed again and flinched as the crowd around the horseshoe bar went into a frenzy. Three young girls had just come gyrating down the bar dressed in the trademark schoolgirl outfits, the white shirts hiked up to display their toned midriffs. It wasn't even eleven o'clock. Eleven o'clock on a Saturday morning He hated Benny for getting him up so early on the weekend.
He scanned the floor again, a habit he had picked up from Revy. "Always scan," she had said. "Go left to right and then back, and blink - don't stare - look for what's wrong, what's outta place. It will keep you alive."
"That sounds good, but you haven't looked up from that whiskey you've been nursing all night," he had said in response. Surprisingly, Revy had taken it well.
"I'm supernatural, Rock-baby," she had sniggering, "I don't need to fucking scan. You do."
There in the corner, Rock's eyes narrowed. A shadowed alcove behind them he would have missed except three of the Japanese "tourists" had stumbled over there probably on their way to the men's room and were harassing the occupants. These two were definitely out of place.
Both women were dressed conservatively, but outstanding in appearance. One had ivory white skin and hair. The other woman was more classically Asian in appearance with jet black hair. She vaguely reminded him of Shenhua, though neither of the two had the height of the babbling Taiwanese assassin. Right now they both looked rather aggravated at the unwanted attention being paid them.
"Rock, stop it," grunted Benny. "I'm not big on people skills, and I'd prefer you not exercise yours. I'm sure those two can handle themselves. Goddamn wireless." He leaned back in frustration.
"Anyway to business," repeated Benny. Rock groaned. "No, look I'm serious. Usually I don't poke my nose where it's not wanted, but what's next Rock?"
"What do you mean?" said Rock carefully.
Benny leaned forward, steepled his fingers together in a thoughtful pose. "Let me be an ugly American for once. You banged Revy didn't you?"
"That question is not appropriate," said Rock grimly.
"Pfah, don't be coy with me," said Benny. "She get's a sword jammed into her leg, you're on the run - she's jacked up on all sorts of pain killers and she has to ditch the guns to clear Japanese customs. We're talking dazed, wacked out and vulnerable."
"One should not talk so about a co-worker," said Rock. "You sound like Eda."
"And I'm sure Eda's giving her the shakedown right now," said Benny. "That nun should work for the National Enquirer or the CIA. I'm betting she really does work for one or the other. But you're avoiding the question."
"Which is?" said Rock, determined not to understand. The Japanese men harassing the two women were getting louder.
"This can't last," said Benny seriously. "We can't keep scraping along day to day with the garbage Hotel Moscow or the 14K Triad toss us. That works for Dutch maybe but at some point if we don't get out of here we're going to die, probably in a painfully original way. We have to think beyond. So Janet Bhai and I have been working on something."
"Listening," said Rock distracted by the growing tumult behind them. He resisted the urge to turn.
"I got wireless! Woohoo!" Benny adjusted his glasses. "That's not the G Spot access point. You know, I really hate using Windows, Linux is..."
"I'm listening," said Rock in exasperation.
"Dude, it comes down to survival," said Benny frowning, his fingers started dancing on the keyboard. "The gist of it is this, during the nineteen thirties, there was this almighty bitch par excellence called the Eastern Jewel. Think Balalaika, Revy and Roberta all rolled into one. As far as Janet and I can tell, not only did she coordinate the "incidents" that started the Japanese invasion of China back then, she also made off with like the entire contents of the Occidental First Bank of Shanghai. We're talking gold bullion in the max."
"I know about the Eastern Jewel," said Rock shortly. "And most of her exploits are fictional. She never did as much as the stories claimed."
"Yes she did," said Benny triumphantly, "and I can prove it. Even better, we know the location of the freighter she sent with the gold to Sarkhan and where it got sunk. Now..."
Several short howls of pain punctuated the air silencing the crowd. Rock and Benny both ducked reflexively as the three Japanese men flew through the air and landed with sickening thuds on the bar floor.
"You see," said Benny cheerfully and somewhat tactlessly in the silence, "never worry about women who are alone in Roanapur. This is what usually happens. They're usually maids, nuns, psycho assassins, or kissing cousins of Johnny Winters. Hello girls!"
The two women glided up to them as if expected, not even the slightest bit put out by the commotion they had created. They were too alike feature-wise to be anything other than twins. The albino leaned over Rock's shoulder and let her ivory hair trail across his cheek. He shuddered as she flicked her pink tinged eyes his way in a sideways glance. Her fingers glided up his spine.
"Benjamin," said the black-haired counterpart. She extended a hand, an object fell to the tabletop. A USB flash drive. "Here is the data you asked for. Consider it a favor."
"Thank you Lucy," said Benny with a smile. "See Rock, I've been busy."
"That's great," said Rock wanly, trying to smile in turn. The fallen men were being helped off the floor by their shocked companions.
"We'll be going now," said the woman who called herself Lucy. "We have a deadline to make, you're not the only couriers serving the Roanapur region.
The albino spoke then, the tone of her voice wavering . "Tell the yin wa my aunt remembers her." She removed her hand from Rock's back to his relief. There was something truly unsettling about the woman.
"What the heck was that all about?" said Benny as the two women exited the G Spot. "What's a yin wa?" He took the USB flash drive and inserted it into a port on the laptop.
"Chinese: bad girl, sick girl, something like that," said Rock gratefully taking a swallow from his long delayed beer, it wasn't that early after all. A thought struck him, he turned and looked intently at the alcove where the two woman had just been sitting.
"What the hell?" blurted Benny as the laptop screen burst into a display of light patterns, the speakers blaring noisily. "What kind of a stupid autorun did they put on this?"
The large satchel at the footrest. That was all the confirmation Rock needed. He stood up.
"Screw it," said Benny. He made to pull the USB flash drive out of the side port.
"No!" Rock shouted, diving across the table. Too slow.
All the windows of the building blew out as the blast ripped through the open space of the bar.