“So,” I said as we walked by the second checkpoint, “Now do you admit I was right about leaving those things behind?” By “those things” I meant our weapons and armor.
John sighed. “Ok,” he said, “I admit it. We were almost screwed there. But we could have gone around it. Or we could have gone to the third-nearest consulate like I suggested.”
“Honestly,” I said, “I think we would have encountered some over-zealous police officers with metal detector wands there as well.”
“Yeah,” John said, “but at least I wouldn’t have had to deal with that asshole who patted me down for fifteen minutes. Seriously, if I wasn’t up to anything, I’d sue him for sexual harassment.”
“Well,” I said, looking at the free leather jacket with spiked shoulders I had been given, “we are dressed like bikers.”
The decision to go to a British consulate had been easy. The hard part had been choosing which one. We both agreed that the nearest one, considering we had just been on a murder spree in the city it was in, would be too hot for quite a while. John had wanted to go to the third-nearest one, but I thought it would be too far away. I had wanted to take the Escalade because it had tinted windows to protect us from prying eyes. John had wanted to take public transportation so we’d blend in. He also wanted us to at least bring some sort of weapon, whereas I thought that if we were going to take public transportation, we should avoid bringing anything that would set off a metal detector. Eventually, we had all gotten what we’d wanted and it had worked thus far.
“How much more further until we get to it?” I asked.
“Wait,” John said. He then pulled out a photograph, inspected it, then looked at a building a little down the street. “That’s it,” he said pointing to the building he had compared the photo to. “Should be it, just let me check the address.”
“I’m pretty sure you’re right,” I said. “I mean, it’s got a Union Jack and matching awning.”
“True,” John said, “but it could be some weird theme café.”
“The plan’s for you to wait outside until I come get you in case something goes wrong inside, right?” I said. “If it’s the wrong building, you’ll just see me a lot sooner than expected.”
John nodded. “Good luck, man.” As I walked away, he said, “You remember where the back-up point is, right?”
“Yeah, creepy dump. Hey, if it’s a weird café,” I said as I turning back to look at him, “you want me to get you a coffee or something?”
“Nah,” John said. “Save your money. You may need it for a payphone.” I laughed. “Hey,” John said, “don’t laugh. You might need one.”
“I know,” I said. And damn did I know it. However, I had a sneaking suspicion that if I needed a payphone in this country, I’d be well and truly fucked. I’d have to travel out to the boonies to find a place backwards enough to have them, and even then, there’d be a chance they’d have skipped payphones and gone straight to modern cellphones. Hell, I wasn’t even sure Japan had boonies.
I walked up to the door. Judging by the tinted glass and the sign on it that said “Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth’s Royal Embassy,” it was probably the right place. I flashed John a thumbs-up and then opened the abnormally heavy door. Inside were two metal detectors leaving me no way choice but to walk through. They were manned by a Japanese police officer with an Akita Inu and two Brits in what seemed to be fatigues and Level IIIA body armor. Beyond them was a tasteful waiting room with prominent framed pictures of the Queen and what I assumed to be the Prime Minister and the ambassador to Japan. There were some other framed pictures including posters for British Invasion bands and famous paintings of even more famous British naval victories, all tastefully laid out but not as prominently placed or as expensively framed.
“…the bird’s puttin’ about the fookin’ Statue of Liberty,” one of the guards said in a Scottish accent, “an’ fook all’s ‘appening. An’ like some kinda mastermind, I says to ‘er, ‘the fook you still doin’ ‘ere, lass? There’s nought ‘ere!’ And then, just as I said that, she finds the bloody forklifts. She gets innae one o’ the things and starts rooning people down an’ she says to me, ‘An’ you said there’s nought ‘ere, ya idjit!”
With that, the three guards burst out laughing. The Scottish guard was about to say something else, but before he could start telling another story, I said, “Hi. I’m doing business with Charlotte Blackmoor-Ward. I can’t find her and I think she…”
“Oh fuckin’ ‘ell,” the other guard in fatigues said in a Cockney accent. “One of you.”
“Errr, excuse me?” I said. Everyone else seemed to be as confused. Even the Akita cocked its head and whimpered in confusion.
“Yeah, Purvis, what’re you on about?” the Scottish guard asked.
“When you get as many hours in Embassy detail as I do,” Purvis said, “you get to know the signs. Only the bloody loonies ask for a Blackmoor-Ward. Like ‘ow the Yanks get someone every few weeks askin’ about Area 51.”
“Well,” I said as patiently as I could, “there’s a first time for everything. I’m not crazy, and I do need to see Charlotte.”
Purvis rolled his eyes. “Alright,” he said, “I’ll humor you and see if anyone wants to talk to you.” He turned to head towards a reception desk. Over his shoulder, he called out to his fellow workers, “don’t let ‘im come any farther in unless I give ‘im the ok.”
When he got to the phone, he said, “Got someone down ‘ere, a bloody Two-Twenty-One…. No, not spouting off bollocks, just wants to see… What’s he look like? Got a beard and glasses… Yeah. Yeah.” He suddenly looked at the phone in surprise. “Really? I mean, of course, sir.” He looked up from the phone and said, “Right, you. Go up to the elevator. Third floor, Military Attaché’s office.”
“Thank you,” I said with some accidental venom. I walked into the elevator near to the left, my breath catching as I walked by the scanners. The police officer and his very big dog noticed, but said nothing. As I walked to the elevator, I took a quick note of map of the fire exits by the elevator. Apart from the elevator, there seemed to be only one staircase and exits were only on the ground floor. Luckily, the stairs would take me to the rear of the building.
I shook my head to clear those thoughts as the doors slid opened with a ding. No, I wasn’t going to need to run out of here. This was a secure building. The Defenders of Fuji would have to have someone on the inside to get in here on short notice. Or they’d have to use enough force to attract the attention of local police. I was safe.
The doors soon opened again and I found myself literally right across from the Military Attaché’s office. According to the plaque, his name was Lieutenant Simon Windbrooke. Before I could knock on it, the door swung open revealing a very high-strung man in a green suit with military bits. “Ah, Mr. Jacobs!” he said in an accent Eliza would refer to as “posh as fuck.” “Or is it Mr. Marshall? Either way, I have heard quite a bit about you.” He then laughed. It was the most annoying sound I’d ever heard in my entire life.
“Yeah,” I said. “Uh, I’m sure you realize that the stuff I’m involved in is kinda sensitive.” I paused, waiting for him to take my meaning. “Soooo, can I come in?”
“Ah, yes, of course,” Lieutenant Windbrooke said. “My apologies, I do believe I’ve left my manners in England.” He then gave a laugh somehow even more annoying laugh. “Do come in, I’ve brewed a cup of tea for you.”
He then ushered me into his office. Apparently, there were two rooms: his real office further in and a nicely furnished, if more than a little cramped, area he could meet with guests. On the wooden table was an electric kettle and a cup of tea. “Come now,” Windbrooke said steering me into the seat facing the teacup. “Drink up, drink up. You must have had quite a rough time of it, if what I’ve been hearing is true.”
I sat down. As I did, I noticed that Windbrooke had maneuvered himself into my blindspot. “So,” I said, carefully stirring my tea, “what have you been hearing about me?”
“Oh, Charlotte’s been worried sick about you two, dear boy,” Windbrooke said. “What with you being stuck with that vicious psychopath. Come on, drink up.”
“Which one?” I said jokingly, after lifting the teacup but not drinking it.
“Why, Mayu Nakashima, of course!” Windbrooke said. “Girl’s been trained as an assassin, trapped in some alternate dimension, brainwashed about some mad god or other, and come back to find the plan she’s been programmed to carry out is obsolete. It’s a wonder she’s not a raving loony at this point.” He then suspiciously asked, “Who else would I be talking about?”
I tensed. Before, I had just had nagging doubts about Windbrooke. Like why there was only one teacup that he kept insisting I drink, and how it had been prepared before I had even walked in. Now, for some reason, he knew about the Architect and Mayu, but didn’t seem to realize that I was with Jen and her entourage. If Charlotte had been the one briefing him, he would know about Jen and would have no idea about the Architect or Mayu’s… thing about him.
Still stirring the tea, I asked, “So, how long have the Defenders had you on their payroll?”
An arm circled around my throat. The shock caused me to spill some tea on my leg. It was painful, but it gave me an idea. “It would have been so much easier,” Windbrooke hissed, “if you had AGGGH!”
He staggered back, clutching his face where I’d splashed hot tea in it. Before he could recover, I had gotten up and turned around. Making use of the momentum, I smashed the teacup into his face like brass knuckles. “Drunk my tea?” I asked. I then stabbed him in the neck with the remaining bits of porcelain still attached to the handle. “You first, I insist.”
As I watched him fall bleeding to the floor, I felt an odd mix of self-disgust and pride. Contrary to what you see in films, I’d never had an opportunity to drop a one-liner like that. I tossed the piece of china away, flung off the stupid biker jacket, then checked myself for blood. Luckily, it had only gotten on my face. As I dabbed at my face, I considered my options.
First thing I ruled out was going downstairs to explain what had happened to the two Consulate guards and the cop. At best, I’d be delivered to Charlotte wearing handcuffs. At worst, one or all of them could be working for the Defenders. That meant my best bet would be to get out of there by the rear staircase and hope none of the three decided to go on patrol. After that, I’d get John and start putting distance between us and the Consulate. Which direction, however, was the big question. I decided that I could answer that when I got to John.
Calmly, but purposefully, I left the office and headed for the stairs. Checking to make sure the stairwell door wasn’t set up to trip the fire alarm, I pushed it open. Before I went down, I looked down and listened to make sure no one was coming up. It was clear, so I headed down. As I headed down the stairs, I thanked God nothing else had gone wrong.
That’s precisely when everything else went wrong.