by Joel Gn
Table of Contents|
Part 1 appears
in this issue.
Burner stroked the curvature of his shoulder blade. The wound had healed internally, leaving only a chronic numbness that was gradually subsiding.
“I have to admit, the efficacy of your daughter’s surgical skills have helped preserved my life.”
“Ah yes, it has always been Noelle’s ambition to become a doctor. But come; let us deal with more aesthetic matters that concern our trade. Do you know what this is?”
The triad leader activated the hologram viewer attached to his table. Charged photons were arrayed in a vertical pattern, transmitting varying frequencies, which developed the details of the image. It was a hexagonal molecule co-joined by covalent bonds.
“PX60” replied Burner, his eyes focused on the virtual figure. A triangular compound was added and it fused with the molecule, creating a substance the apprentice could not identify.
“This is the GX50, originating form the Karma mycelium that has been newly introduced into the market. Our chemists have concluded that it is more viable and delivers a more potent high. It is easily absorbed, and the effects last longer.”
The Karma, a primordial planet situated within the Alpha cluster of systems. The probes had harvested fungal spores from the nitrate-based waters, and brought the samples back to Earth for modified cultivation.
Gabriel closed the hologram viewer and placed his hands on Burner’s shoulder. His eyes were striking, yet sad. There were many thoughts beneath the frown, memories that no one could ever understand. He closed his eyes and sighed before speaking softly to the apprentice.
“The time has come. I have had enough. We will be bringing five hundred grams of this core material to the Gensai Corporation tomorrow. Thereafter I will announce my retirement, and the council will meet to elect a new leader.”
“Why?” inquired Burner, surprised at Gabriel’s abrupt decision to relinquish his power, “We have flourished under your leadership. The brethren are nothing without you.”
Gabriel drew a cigar from the pocket on the side of his coat. Smoking had become a form of meditative therapy for him, a means of attaining mental transcendence from the brutal challenges he faced in the underworld. He spoke softly, his dry breath mingled with the particles of gray ash.
“The winds of change are here. Someone will arise to reap that which I have sown,” the words were cryptic, implying a dark foreboding. He turned to face Burner. “I want you with me tomorrow, for I believe that there are some in our midst who desire my blood.”
Burner desperately tried to stop blinking, for the darkness that covered his eyes came back to haunt him again. For once, he felt the presence of fear slither through his estranged conscience.
Tuesday January 12th 0630 ZULU
From the top of the Trade center, the entire landscape of the metropolis was visibly serene. It was a well-conceived facade, for the morning light had masked the chaos within.
Matt Cairo stood on the roof of the building, watching the sun gradually make its ascend over the horizon. He glanced at his watch, and it was almost time for the appointment. The man had never once stood him up.
Burner stepped out through the doorway from the top floor. His haggard countenance was evident by his bloodshot eyes and coarse stubble.
“On time,” said the young man, who stood behind Cairo. The inspector folded his shades and tucked it neatly into his shirt pocket.
“As always, but your tracker ceased transmission the moment you found Gabriel, why?”
“He had trackers of his own. There was no way I could send information across when I knew he could blow my own cover.” Burner handed the inspector a stack of crumpled notes. “I wrote all of it down. They will be meeting the Gensai tonight at Junction Bay, eleven-thirty.”
“What’s the gist this time?” asked Cairo, his eyes focused on the pieces of paper in his hands.
“Gabriel has modified a new compound, and the Gensai are the ones responsible for the distribution. He will be electing a new leader once the deal is closed.”
Cairo smiled to himself. For years Gabriel had been the man he was looking for, the prey he could never catch. He had conducted many tedious interrogations that bore no fruit. His superiors had questioned the validity of his opinions, and he assured them that the placement of the mole would produce the evidence needed to incriminate the drug lord.
“It has been hard on you lad.” He placed his hand on Burner’s shoulder. He had brought the boy out of Homicide, educating him on the skills of a covert agent. Burner’s true identity was erased, leaving only a basic profile stored within the inspector’s confidential files.
“I am still a cop, sir,” replied Burner. He tried hard not to think of his family, or the life he left behind. The most distant recollections brought the gravest pain.
“Yes, you are. Don’t ever doubt it.”
Tuesday January 12th 2330 ZULU
The main road at Junction Bay was a secluded place, illuminated by a dim fluorescent tower at the terminal. The representatives of the Gensai congregated there, awaiting the arrival of the triad.
A pair of black caravans stopped in at the mouth of the terminal, doors opening to make way for the triad members. Gabriel and Burner made their way towards their clients, and greeted them with a warm embrace.
“It has been a long while, Junichi, my brother.” Gabriel placed an arm around the Gensai leader’s shoulder.
“Yes, and I heard news that this will be your last venture before you move into retirement,” replied Junichi, with a cigar in his mouth. He was a short portly man, his fair complexion embellished with a deep knife scar.
“Word does spread very fast!” exclaimed the triad leader, who motioned Burner to open the capsule of the core material for inspection. One of Junichi’s men examined the authenticity of the substance, and nodded his head in affirmation.
Flares blazed across the sky, alarming everyone within the terminal. The volume of rotor blades increased as the police choppers made their descent on the triad, raining warning shots around the perimeter.
“Take cover!” shouted Junichi, as both sides fired their handguns in retaliation of the sudden onslaught. The shuttles had arrived at the scene, surrounding the triad. Matt Cairo issued the warning orders, while Chris Leno loaded his weapon, preparing for the kill.
The situation blossomed into complete chaos as both sides were interlocked in a fierce gunfight, their vehicles used as shields against the shells of the opponent.
“Take the car, I will cover for you.” Burner advised the triad leader. The apprentice guarded Gabriel’s life zealously, fighting closely beside him.
“What about you!” voices had ceased to be audible, as the ringing effects of gunshots numbed Burner’s ears. He recognized the leader’s hesitation, thus he took Gabriel’s arm by force, leading him towards the caravan parked behind them.
Burner got Gabriel into the vehicle, an abandoned building offering them temporal cover as the rest of triad operatives fled towards it.
“Don’t worry about me. I will handle them.” He assured Gabriel, slamming the door in front of him. The caravan sped off away the terminal, only to be chased by a police shuttle from behind.
Wednesday January 13th 0045 ZULU
Gabriel grimaced in pain as he sat beside the caravan. He had parked the vehicle in an underground parking lot, several miles north of the terminal. He placed both hands on the wound in his abdomen, trying to curb the bleeding.
The headlights of a police shuttle glared in front of him, the tires screeching to a halt. Chris Leno stepped out as the doors slid open, fixing a sinister grin on his face.
“Its you...” whispered Gabriel, panting for breath.
“Surprised, Gabriel?” said the junior inspector, brandishing his handgun before the wounded man. “Perhaps you had assumed I would stop the cops from thwarting your show, like I did before?”
“Why?” Gabriel’s teeth were soaked in blood, and cold sweat trickled down his face.
“Change must take place, and I will take it from here.” He knelt in front of Gabriel and took the injured leader in his arms.
“Farewell, Gabriel.” He whispered the words into Gabriel’s ear, simultaneously releasing five shots into the triad leader’s chest.
Leno let go of Gabriel’s lifeless body and fired a round into his own leg. He could hear the screaming sirens of the other shuttles not far away.
Saturday January 23rd 0830 ZULU
The morning breeze visited Jefferson cemetery, and Noelle rubbed her arms at the sudden chill.
Burner gave her his coat and stood behind her as the girl knelt in front of her father’s gave. She wore a black cheongsam, a traditional Chinese dress with a slit at the thighs. She had no make-up, and her eyes were sore from her own tears. Strands of her brown hair brushed across her cracked lips, as the rain clouds gathered in the sky.
“You will never know,” she said, closing her eyes. “There were times when he felt human, and I saw it. He told me to be patient, that we could lead normal lives again.”
Burner sighed and bowed his head. She was a strong girl, and all she ever wanted was a simple happy life. He recalled the times he saw Gabriel speak to her, and how her face glowed whenever the leader mentioned his retirement. Now, she had her freedom, but without him.
“Where do you go after this?” He asked.
“Go someplace far away, take a job in the hospital, I don’t know,” she replied, standing up to face him.
“You will not come back?”
“I’ve had enough. The triad council had already made plans for my father’s succession, and I have told the police everything. My hands are cleansed from my father’s blood.”
Noelle walked away, leaving Burner alone in his thoughts. The girl had her freedom, while he had to continue in this masquerade, to exist in another man’s identity with the triad. His conscience was numbed, and he wondered when the peace he lost years ago would return to him.
Monday January 25th 2200 ZULU
Chris Leno stared at the portrait of the black dragon in the meeting hall of the Labyrinth.
The members of the council would be arriving soon, and he would be formerly appointed as their new leader. He unbuttoned his shirt and ran his fingers on the black dragon marked on his chest.
“It is mine, finally.” He had played the cards well, claiming he shot the man in self-defense, thus removing all evidence against him. He had acceded to the request of the elders in the triad to supplant Gabriel, for they felt the former leader had not placed them in high regard.
More importantly, he had exacted revenge on the man who abducted him for the workings of his own vile plans.
He saw images of crying children as he closed his eyes. They were captives, specimens of drug experimentation. Many perished during the ordeal, while the survivors were used as spies within the police force, with no way of escape. Their minds were altered and defiled, their lives violently taken away from them.
Chris broke into a mocking laughter. He now possessed the best of both worlds.
Copyright © 2005 by Joel Gn