After we called Jen’s people, we traveled in silence for quite a bit. Then, suddenly, John said, “Shit… Jen, you left that shotgun! Were you wearing gloves?” He shook his head. “No, you weren’t. They have your prints.”
Jen laughed. “Could you explain to me what’s so funny?” I asked her.
“Do you know how hard it is to get prints off a gun?” Jen asked, a note of amusement in her voice.
John and I looked at each other and shrugged. “I have no idea,” I admitted.
“Honestly, neither do I,” Jen said, “but I have a team of lawyers that can convince a jury that it would be downright criminal to put an angel like me in jail because of that.”
“Are these lawyers certified to practice in Japan?” I asked. In the mirror, I saw Jen open her mouth to reply, then close it and consider something in what seemed to be a growing panic. “I see. I guess I should call Charlotte.” I pulled out my cPhone and dialed her number.
I was halfway through dialing when I said, “Wait, for all we know Charlotte and Eliza are still at Kage Fortress. I can’t ask her for a pickup if a bunch of Defenders are sitting around, waiting for us to slip up.”
“What.” Jen said, obviously dumfounded.
“Don’t ask,” John said, “it’s so stupid, I can’t even comprehend it.”
“Me neither,” I said. “I can just hope that…” My phone rang, cutting me off.
“Well,” Jen said, “that sounds like that problem has been taken care of, at least.”
“That isn’t Charlotte’s number,” I said. John and Jen both opened their mouths. “It isn’t Eliza’s either. It is a cPhone, though.” I put it to my head. “Who is this?” I asked.
“Jacobs-san,” Nakashima said with strained politeness, “you have been very busy, haven’t you?”
“I would apologize,” I said, “but you kind of took a friend of mine prisoner. The only reason I’m sorry is that if I knew you’d taken her…”
I heard Nakashima sigh on the other end. “Don’t… lie. We aren’t idiots. We know you helped my distant relative escape.”
“Before I throw my phone out the window,” I said, “can I ask your first name? It’s going to get confusing.”
“My name is Hiro Nakashima,” he said, “and I would like to point out that you are not the only student of NIU on this island. You cannot win. But you can…”
As he had spoken, I had been lowering the window. When it was done, I tossed the phone out of the car. For a few seconds, the car was silent. Then John’s phone began to ring. He took it out of his pocket and handed it to me. I checked the ID. It was Hiro’s number, so I tossed it out the window as well. As soon as it left the car, however, a third phone started to ring.
It took me a few minutes to find it, but eventually I found the third phone, buried in one of the glove compartments. I tossed it out the window. I only glanced at the caller ID briefly, but I didn’t need to in order to know it was from Hiro. “Guy doesn’t quit,” I said. “Jen…”
“Already ditched it,” she said. “Who was that?”
“Apparently,” I said, “while Mayu was in her little bubble with the other heralds, her ancestors went about life normally. End result is we’ve got another Nakashima who’s good with computers. Like, scarily good. Possibly also an NIU CompSci student.” I paused. “Anyone have any devices that send or receive EM transmissions? Because we need to dump them yesterday.”
“Well,” Jen said, “There’s my tracker…”
“I heard its subdermal,” I said conversationally. “Does that mean…?”
“That I’ll need a knife and some bandages?” I could hear the grimace in Jen’s voice. “Yes. Yes it does.” I opened my backpack and reached for some bandages. I then handed them to Jen, along with my knife. “Thanks,” she said sarcastically as she took them. “Excellent bedside manners, nurse.”
“Sorry,” I said. “I just don’t someone to track us.” I turned to John. “How close are we?”
“About five minutes out,” John said.
“Ok, circle the block until Jen gets her transmitter out. I don’t want the Defenders crashing our RV.”
John nodded and began circling. I scanned the street, trying to ignore the somewhat disturbing grunts of pain from Jen in the back seat. This went on for a few laps. Occasionally, I’d look back and see Jen working on her forearm with the knife. Blood was getting everywhere, and it was starting to look like Jen had murdered someone in the backseat. Eventually, she started wrapping her bandage.
“Ok,” she said, “I’m bandaged up and I can throw this shit out the window.”
“That may be a bad idea,” John said, pointing at the rearview mirror. I looked at it. There, in the rearview mirror, was a cop car, its lights flashing. “What should I do?” John asked nervously.
“Pull over,” I said. “He may be going somewhere else.”
He did. I made sure to seal the bag with the Type 89, M-3, and the PM-9, just in case. For similar reasons, I put my SIG between my seat and the door so I could draw it easily. Then I began to pray that the car would pass us. It didn’t. Instead it parked and a police officer got out.
There was a tense moment as the officer walked towards us. During the time, I tried to see if there was another officer in the car. Eventually, I said, “I don’t think he’s got a partner, but I’m not sure.” Jen nodded.
Eventually, the cop stood out on the driver’s side. “Konbanwa,” he said, bowing. I knew that meant “good evening.” Then he said something else that I couldn’t make out, but I could guess translated as “Do you know why I pulled you over?” Or it could have been “Why is your backseat drenched in blood?” It could’ve been either one, really. Then he must have seen our faces, because he must have asked, “Anata wa nihongo o hanasemasu ka?” That, at least I knew, translated to “Do you speak Japanese?”
John responded in Japanese. I assume at least part of it translated to “I do, but my friends don’t.”
The officer nodded. “Ah. Excuse me. There is explosion. We are stopping everyone to find suspect. Pureasu step out of the vehicle.”
I came to a decision in an instant. I pulled out my SIG and shot him twice in the chest and once in the head. “GET US OUT OF HERE!” I yelled at John.
“What the hell, Nate?” John asked. He stepped on the gas, so I didn’t really complain.
“Do you really think he would have left us go?” I said as the car’s sudden acceleration threw me back into the seat. “And do you really think they wouldn’t have put two and two together and figured out we were responsible for that mess we left?”
“Honestly,” Jen said, “I was afraid you’d ask to keep him.” She shuddered. “God, can you imagine having two prisoners while every cop in the fucking country is looking for us? That’s the definition of a nightmare.”
John’s only response was to grunt mutinously. I sighed. If we were going to get through this situation, I was going to have to make amends with John. “Listen,” I said, “I admit, there were better ways of handling that.” Behind me, Jen laughed incredulously. “Or at least more moral ways. But the longer I spent thinking about them, the less likely they would be to work. Then we’d be in prison, and our only hope would be Charlotte.”
“You know,” Jen said, “I actually doubt Charlotte would have let us rot in prison. Eliza…”
“Has no control over the situation anymore,” John said. “And Charlotte only thinks she does.” He sighed. “You were right, Nate.” He smacked the dash. “God damn it!”
“Hey,” I said, “think of it this way: you’re the only one who hasn’t killed a cop.”
“So I’m an accessory?”
“Well, yes,” Jen said. “The good news is that this is a rather nice city. The cops shouldn’t be too much of an issue. Anyway, there’s the parking lot.”
John pulled into the parking lot. We got out and looked around. “Ah,” Jen said, looking up, “they’re here.” I looked too. There, towering above all the other cars, was the Escalade Jen had brought with us. Making it even more conspicuous was the fact that all the cars in the lot were cheap, tiny commuters and compacts that fit comfortably into their tiny spaces. The Escalade, meanwhile, was not only scraping against the sides of its space, but its rear also hung out over the edge, blocking the road a bit. Apart from the Maybach, it was the only car I had seen in the area over $50,000. Including the Maybach, it was the only one I had seen with windows tinted that dark. In fact, the windows were so dark I wasn’t even sure it was legal.
“Very inconspicuous,” I said as Lydia and Andrew got out of the car. In unison, they both smashed the doors into the cars on either side of them. “We blend in perfectly.” As the door opened, I could hear muffled grunts from inside.
“I told you,” the woman with the burned face said as she exited the vehicle, “you should have gone with something else.” On the other side, her hard-faced comrade also exited the vehicle.
“Hey,” Andrew said, “If we had just brought a sedan could we have done this?” With what seemed to be practiced fluidity, Andrew and Lydia opened the Escalade’s hatch.
I stopped and stared. Inside was a man with a bag over his head and his arms bound behind his back. Apart from his bag and some boxer shorts, he was completely naked. Judging by the smear of blood on the bag, he had been trying to open the hatch by banging his head against it. Or someone had punched him in the face repeatedly. The way the night had been going, I wouldn’t rule either possibility out. From the rear seat, Mayu was watching both us and the prisoner with her standard smile.
“Well now,” John said, a note of venom in his voice, “this, uh, complicates things, doesn’t it?”