Six days had passed since the disasterous party that had ended in the deaths of six JSDF troops working as bodyguards for Kanzawa, six "terrorists" who had never showed up on any of the watch lists maintained by the Koancho, two civilian partygoers who hadn't had the good sense to keep their heads down, and one of Merriweather's oldest friends. Okami still wasn't sure if he was grateful for not having to shoot her or pissed off at her for killing herself. Since the party, Kanzawa had disappeared. Out of sight, out of reach, and beyond the ability of even Japan's internal security agencies to determine his whereabouts. The MP had dropped off the grid completely, a bad sign on a number of levels.
And then there was the new trouble which had landed on Merriweather's secure cell less than an hour ago. A string of digits and one word: Loki. The digits turned out to be GPS coordinates, pointing to a part of Akihabara that was a little less brightly lit and a little less cheerful than the rest of Electric Town. Whatever struggles he'd been having with Yuki's suicide had been shelved once he'd received that message.
Condition Loki was something that had only ever been theoretical, either to the team or to the Agency as a whole. Of all the codewords the team had been taught, "Loki" was the absolute worst-case scenario. It was the codeword that indicated the team had been burned from the inside. A mole. The thought that one of his comrades, one of the friends he needed the most right now, could possibly betray them sickened him. But Dimes had sent the message, and that codeword had never been invoked even in a training exercise. Dimes wouldn't play around with something like that.
Okami quietly slipped up a set of stairs and turned a corner, seeing a door with a pair of eyes chalked on the wall next to the frame. He opened the door and stepped in, immediately feeling the muzzle of a pistol pressing against his head.
"So good of you to join us," Dimes said in a dead flat tone of voice. "Close the door."
Quickly, Okami closed the door, not moving any muscle he didn't absolutely have to. There were at least four working defenses from the position he was in. Okami could have pulled out any one of them if he was dealing with anybody else. Dimes, however, presented a serious problem. The man had been around the block far too many times not to know each one of the normal counters, and there was nothing to say he wouldn't just pull the trigger if Okami didn't do precisely as instructed.
"I think you can take a guess at the drill here, St. John. Lose the piece. Nice and slow." Okami did as he was told. "Now the holdout on your right ankle." Grumbling, he slowly pulled up his pants leg and withdrew the holdout pistol. "And the one up your sleeve."
"I don't have it on me," Merriweather retorted unconvincingly. The muzzle of Tenner's pistol pressed a little harder against his temple.
"You do not want to be screwing around with me, not right now. The sleeve gun, lose it now or I will close your contract right here." Somewhere behind the dead tone of Tenner's voice, Okami caught a tiny auditory glimpse at the hateful seething creature that burned inside the team leader. A demon that would not be satisfied until it had blood to quench it's thirst and flesh to sate it's hunger. A very personal demon to Daryll Tenner.
Sighing softly, Okami flicked his left wrist, popping the second holdout pistol close to his hand and disengaging it, setting it down gently.
"Now the throwing knives up the same sleeve."
"I didn't know you knew about those," Okami grumbled as he withdrew the three Zytel throwing knives.
"I know you didn't. Now, strip."
"If you'll look closely, everybody else in the room, with the exception of myself, is sitting in their undies. And you will be following suit if you have any desire to stay alive."
Looking around, Okami saw that Dimes was correct. Everybody else in the room was sitting in their underwear, all of them zip cuffed to their respective chairs in a large semi-circle. Even Tenner's contact in the Koancho was here, stripped to his undershirt and boxers. If this was how things went on a "Loki" situation . . .
Okami quickly stripped down to his briefs and sat down in the only remaining empty chair without any prompting. Dimes went over and set a pair of zip cuffs on Merriweather's wrists, securing him for the moment. Then he went to the center of the semi-circle and looked at each of them with only barely disguised rage.
"Somebody here has burned us," Tenner begain without preamble, his voice chilled to the level of a superconducting magnet. "Naturally, I'd love nothing more than to spend a few days dragging the entire truth out of the piece of shit that did this, but time is not a luxury I have in great supply. As a result, I am also unusually low on patience. Which means that if it seems to me like you're playing for time, I will come to the conclusion that you are either the mole or you are somebody who has assisted the mole. At that point, I'll shoot you and leave the bodies to rot."
Jacob Marchuk looked at Dimes cooly. "Look, Daryll--"
"Shaddup!" Tenner snarled as he pistolwhipped Marchuk. "You do not speak unless directly spoken to." Trigger glared at his friend, but said nothing. "To continue, when I arrived at the safe house, I got there at the same time as Marlena, Ivan, and Annette. Less than thirty seconds later, all hell breaks loose. Koancho agents in plainclothes with big guns start swarming the place. How we got out of there was nothing less than a miracle. How it was that my safe house and the Agency safe house both got burned is nothing less than a deal made the Devil."
Okami hazarded a glance around the room. One team member was missing from the room. "Where is Nike?" he asked quietly.
"Dead," answered Dimes flatly. "Now, I'm going ask where each of you were. If I smell a lie, I will close your contract. Okami, since you seem so chatty, you first."
"I was just walking through the Ginza, coming back from my friend's funeral."
"Ah, yes. Your friend, the shooter that tried to nab Kanzawa." Okami glowered at Dimes but said nothing. "Trigger, where were you?"
"I was eating tempura, talking with some locals about a kendo dojo that was making a name for itself in the tournaments lately. I have the receipt in my pocket, if you want to check it."
"I was sitting in a café here in Akihabara, trying to track down Kanzawa and the girl."
"I was riding with Nike. We were at a light, waiting, the next thing we knew, somebody opened up with an MP5 and tagged her. She was alive when we reached the safe house."
"Carillon, your turn."
"I had left the Ginza earlier and was already on my way to the safe house."
Dimes nodded slowly, then pressed the muzzle of the gun to Flick's forehead. "I think you forgot something. The steering wheel of a car in Japan is on the right hand side of the vehicle, but Nike was bleeding out of her left side. That's where you shot her, didn't you, Flick?"
The thief scowled at Dimes. "I was rather hoping you'd be too busy trying to get out alive to notice that."
"Who are you working for?"
"Nobody you know, and nobody you're likely to find out about in what remains of your short ass life." There was a faintly smug look on Maughm's face.
"Not going to tell me?"
"That's how the game is played, Dickory, you know that."
"Game's over." Tenner pulled the trigger twice, putting the slugs right into the mole's forehead. He then turned to Ashihara. "Now, Satoshi, having established that I am not in the mood for deception, let's talk straight. Are you on the take or were you planted inside the Koancho?"
"Neither. That is not how they work."
"Who are you talking about?"
Ashihara looked straight into Tenner's eyes. "Your now deceased colleague was correct. It is not anybody you know, nor is it anybody that can be tracked down. They're serious players and they know how to stay out of sight. But I'm not being bribed, and I was never a plant. For some of us, they prefer more subtle methods. Blackmail, for example."
"Like they tried with Kanzawa."
"What are you talking about, boss?" Hyrax asked, confusion written on his face.
"I've been busy, Hyrax. Sometime soon, probably this evening, the media will be informed of the tragic death of Hideo Kanzawa, his body found in his office, apparently a suicide. What they won't be told is that Kanzawa has been dead six months already, and already about half-decomposed. Naturally, the funeral will be closed casket, due to the violent nature of his death." Tenner looked back to Ashihara. "You knew that Kanzawa was dead already, didn't you?" The Koancho agent nodded his head slowly. "You knew about the blackmail, the way they were using his daughter against him?"
"I suspected, but I never let anybody know about my suspicions."
"Where's the girl?"
"I do not know. But if they have not killed her by this point, then they have moved her out of the country."
"What were they trying to get Kanzawa to do?"
"I do not know that either."
Tenner scowled at Ashihara. "Your usefulness to me as a resource is rapidly diminishing. Give me something I can use. I don't want to have to punch your ticket, Satoshi."
Sighing softly, Ashihara cleared his throat. "There's one possible lead you could follow. A Chinese operative, Deng Wei Chiang. He was officially covered as part of the Chinese consulate in Sapporo for several years, then he dropped off the map until about a year ago. Met with Kanzawa on a number of occasions. Nobody's seen him for the last few months, however." The Koancho agent scowled at Dimes. "You realize you're not going to get out of this town. Koancho will have it locked down in less than four hours. And they will be issuing 'shoot to kill' orders."
"Maybe so. But they'll have to find us first, and hiding out in one of your own safe houses will buy us some time," shrugged Dimes. He walked around to the back of Ashihara's chair, then clubbed him with the butt of his pistol, knocking the counterintelligence agent out cold. Quickly, he cut his team loose. "All right, boys and girls, we're on borrowed time. We have to get the hell out of Tokyo and fast."
The team stared back at him with distrust and confusion. Before Dimes could open his mouth, the door to one of the safe house's side rooms opened, a slightly pale looking Nike leaning against the frame. Okami put the pieces together in an instant.
"You knew the whole time who the mole was."
"Yes," Dimes replied, "but I couldn't let him know that. Whatever injuries to your dignity have been suffered, I apologize. But now is not the time for long explanations and lots of questions. We need to scatter. The Koancho will have Narita locked down in a few hours. We can maybe buy ourselves some time if we dump Ashihara outside the city limits."
"You're not going to kill him?"
"If the people he's working for are as bad as he makes them out to be, he's already dead meat. Nothing fancy here, folks. We get the hell out of town and out of Japan. Boat, train, plane, as long as it's outside of Tokyo. Puddle jumpers to Seoul or Hong Kong, ferries to Okinawa, I don't care how you do it. We'll rendezvous in Luzon, go from there." Dimes paused for a moment, hoping his team would understand things later on. "Let's roll out."