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Bloodstained Illusions

by P L Nunn


Chapter Five


The storm was still raising all sorts of hell outside. It did not bode well for a timely departure from the island. Maria, when Yoji had tracked her down before breakfast, had claimed that it would be entirely too dangerous to risk taking a boat to the mainland until the weather abated. She had given him big, sympathetic eyes when he groused about it.

"A day or two and it should let up a little." She had promised. "It won't be so bad, I'll keep you company."

That brought images to mind that he raised a brow at, lamenting the fact that he'd promised himself not to partake of what she offered- - - well, unless his cover absolutely required it. Then it would be business and Aya would understand business.

The lawyers called the family into a large study next to the office Yoji had visited last night. Tanaka had two brothers and those brothers numerous children, all hoping for a chunk of the Tanaka fortune. Of Tanaka's immediate line, there was only Raymond and Sonny and Sonny was probably filling an unmarked grave somewhere, victim of Krittiker's ambitions.

Yoji leaned a hip on a broad window cill, watching the gray weather outside, half listening to the lawyer's droning voice. Nothing said mattered to him. None of these people's reactions did. He wanted out and back on the mainland where he could hand over the disc to Krittiker and get himself back on a plane back to Venice and back into Aya's good graces.

A smoke would have been nice too, but Maria had said that was a no no in the house. Tanaka had been health conscious - - imagine that - - and Raymond was as well.

He heard Sonny's name spoken and turned his attention from the rain hitting the window to the plain faced lawyer. He caught Raymond watching him from the corner of his eye, but refused to let his gaze slid that way. There was a very large chunk of money in a trust for him. One of his uncles - -not Raymond, curiously enough - - had been named to oversee it. As if Sonny couldn't be trusted to manage it himself. Hell, he probably would have wasted it within a year. He turned his attention back to the storm, wishing it away.

There was a murmur of interest from the room in general. They on to the meat of the matter. The control of Tanaka's dynasty and his interests. If Raymond had expected sole rights, he was sorely disappointed. It seemed that the old man hadn't trusted big brother with more than Sonny's trust. The Tanaka dynasty was to be jointly overseen by Raymond and his two uncles. Those two old men seemed pleased with the outcome. Raymond himself was surprisingly placid, considering.

And that, it seemed, was that. Amidst much speculative conversation the dozen or so relatives walked out of the study and down to the main hall where the breakfast buffet was laid out and waiting for consumption.

"Sonny," Big brother attempted a smile at him. It came out a strained crook of his lips. "I want to talk with you."

"In a second." Yoji was intent for the front porch and the freedom to light up.

"Now." Raymond caught his arm and pulled him to the far side of the room, away from the gathered family.

"What?" Yoji asked, casually attempting to disengage his arm from Raymond's grip. The finger's tightened.

The first round of gunfire shattered the low buzz of conversation. The second coincided with the screams. Blood spattered. Crystal serving ware shattered, spewing into the air along with bits of food and cloth and flesh.

Yoji hissed and jerked his arm away hard, skidding to a crouch behind the cover of the stairwell, eyes darting about the large hall looking for the shooters amidst the turmoil. There and there and there. The over developed goons that served as house security holding automatic weapons, and spraying bullets into the mass of the family. There must have been body guards - - maybe for Tanaka's brothers - - who were returning fire, turning the hall into a warzone. God - - the floor was scattered with bodies and slick with blood. He chanced a glance behind him and saw big brother Raymond still standing in the shadow of the alcove under the stair, hands clasped behind his tailored back, face serene and satisfied.

So, one had to suppose he wasn't willing to share power. One had to suppose he'd known what was in the will - - or suspected and had the solution to the problem prepared. The massacre of his extended family.

He saw movement on the wall to his right. It was Maria, crouched behind an overturned table, eyes wide with terror, blood spatter marring the olive skin of her face. Gunfire still reverberating through the house - - as Raymond's assassins hunted down the rest of the family and exchanged shots with competitive muscle.

Yoji darted to the right, running low, sliding to his knees next to Maria, grabbing her arm and hauling her up and through the service door to the kitchen. There was no sign of the staff. Either they'd been warned of the morning's activities or they'd fled at the first sound of gunfire and were in hiding.

He heard Sonny's name bellowed and thought it was Raymond, ignored it and dragged Maria towards the kitchen door and out into the rain.

"Oh, god, oh god, oh god . . ." she was starting to descend into hysterics. He could feel it in the trembling of her arm, see it in the wildness of her eyes. He shook her, once, hard and jerked her around to face him, the both of them drenched solid the moment they'd set foot out in the kitchen yard.

"Stop it. Now. Get your wits, girl or we're dead. Understand?" She blinked at him, lashes clumped from rain/tears. The rain had washed the blood from her face.

"How do we get to the dock from here?"

She kept staring, as if she didn't comprehend. He shook her again, so that her head snapped back and forth on her shoulders.

"The road - -" she said. "But its a long way - -"

Yoji got her moving, not wanting to be out in the open, wanting cover and wanting a weapon. He wiped hair out of his face and looked around. There, a pickup truck. Maybe the staff vehicle. He dragged her towards it, jerking open the passenger door and shoving her in, then running around to the drivers side and sliding onto the seat.

"Tell me they keep the keys in the truck." If he had to hot-wire it, he would, but he'd rather not waste the time. Maria flipped open the dash and withdrew a set of keys on a ring.

God. A bit of luck. Who'd have guessed.

He saw the figures of several men run out of the house, their features obscured by the storm. He floored the pedal and with a spray of mud, spun out of the yard, careening around the bend of the house to the main drive. He thought he heard a few shots ring out behind them, but it could have been thunder.

It was a perilous trip down the road to the docks. The road was flooded in a few low spots and the truck threatened to quit on him in water halfway up the tire rims. It would be more perilous chancing the ocean, but he saw damned little choice. Either stay on this island and have Big Brother's goons find them or take a leap of faith and try crossing over to the mainland and hope like hell the boat didn't capsize on the way.

There were two boathouses. Yoji chose the biggest boat he could find in the one they entered. It looked like a fishing boat. One of those luxury things with the stacked cabin housing the controls and an array of compartments below deck. It might stand a chance of not being tossed about like some of the smaller launches.

"This is madness!!" Maria clutched at his arm, apparently having gathered her wits enough to recognize just how risky a venture this was.

"Better than getting mowed down by big brother's goons." He shouted back at her, having to catch his balance as the boat rocked from an incoming series of waves. He tossed a life vest at her. "Put it on."

She did, sinking down in a corner of the Plexiglas fronted steering cabin, safe from the wind and driving rain, if not from the pitching of the boat. He got the engines started and burst out into the open water. It was no easy thing, controlling her, as the boat plowed through the smaller waves and dipped up and down over the larger ones. It was hard to see past the rain and the water crashing down over the prow. A particularly ominous wave rose like a wall over them and crashed down, obscuring storm and sky and dwindling hope. Maria made a small helpless sound as the boat turned almost on its side and Yoji thought he might have made a despairing noise himself as he scrambled to hang on to the wheel, the floor gone almost vertical under his feet. But against all odds the boat righted itself, its engines still purring, its prow still cutting through the water.

Yoji clutched the wheel and breathed, thanking whatever fates were looking down on him for that bit of kind intervention. Of course they had another five miles to go and the fates patience was notoriously thin.

It never occurred to him to cast a look backwards. Never occurred to him that anyone would risk the wrath of the storm tossed sea to hunt them down. It wasn't until the boat lurched from an impact that wasn't waves crashing into them that Yoji tossed a panicked look over his shoulder and saw the other boat cruising along just off the port bow. It was marginally bigger than this one, sleeker, faster by the look of it. It rammed them again and Yoji and Maria both tumbled against the side of the cabin wall. He struggled to reach the steering, grinding his teeth in frustration. Why the fuck were they going to this much trouble. It wasn't like Sonny was a threat - - nobody had left him control of anything, including his inheritance and Maria was in much the same situation. She'd be taken care of, but the estate hadn't gone to her.

"Goddamnit," Yoji cursed, pulling her up beside him. "Is it you or me he's after?"

She sobbed, wide eyed and beyond rational conversation, he thought.

The boat shuddered again, hit hard from the side. Yoji caught sight of a man with a dark rain slicker braced against the side, a long cylindrical tube balanced on his shoulder.

"Oh - - son of a BITCH!!" Yoji cried, jerking the wheel hard to the right, trying to veer the boat away from the missile launcher that was being aimed at them. They careening into a crashing wave. The prow tipped up steeply - - the back of the boat exploded in a brief flare of orange flame before the wave washed over them and put it out. But that kindness was only fleeting as it pulled them down with it. There was a moment of utter darkness, of the creaking moans of the boat as the water pressed in against it - - then they surged upwards, popping back to the surface, but listing badly as the boat took on water from its shattered stern.

"Out. Out." Yoji pushed Maria towards the cabin door, the both of them sliding down the floor towards it and out before the ocean could suck them under still trapped inside. Not that outside was that much better. Not with the boat floundering and the ocean trying to beat them to a pulp.

One big wave finished it. It came crashing down and Yoji lost sight of Maria and the remnants of the boat and everything else that didn't consist of saltwater. He went under, pummeled there by the force of the impact, driven down into darkness that had nothing to do with a loss of consciousness. He lost all sense of direction, all sense of sight and sound, other than black/gray and the constant roar of the ocean in his ears. He never would have found the surface on his own, if not for the pull of the life-vest. It knew the right direction and fought against the pull of the ocean to reach surface. Yoji gasped air amidst the water and floundered, coughing up too much water to even gather a portion of the breath he needed to call out Maria's name. Another wave punched him down, overcoming the buoyancy of the life-vest. His lungs were burning by the time he found the surface again.

Something slammed against the side of his head that wasn't water, then slid down and snagged itself in the neck of his life-vest. He was jerked backwards, despite the angry sea, to collide with the side of a boat. Hands reached down and fastened on to his vest, hauling him up onto a diver's ramp on the back of a boat, then up and over the stern where he was deposited, strengthless and gasping, much like a fish out of water.

Hands touched him, and the rushing in his ears subsided enough to realize it was Maria, sobbing Sonny's name, trying to pull him up and over to her huddled place in a corner of the deck. He made an effort, lungs still burning from too much swallowed seawater, head still a little groggy from near drowning. The men on deck with them were cloaked in rain slickers, faceless and dark in the storm and clutching for handholds every bit as diligently as Yoji and Maria as this bigger boat was tossed about in the storm. One of them lurched across the deck to them regardless, legs wide spread for balance, dark hair plastered to a square face.

A fist lashed out and Yoji hadn't the wherewithal to avoid it. It caught him alongside his temple and he keeled over into Maria, bright lights dancing behind his lids. The same fist twined in his sodden shirt, yanking him up, nose to nose with Raymond, who's eyes narrow and oh, so very pissed off. He didn't say a thing. Hell, even if he had, the storm would have swallowed it. But he knew how to get his point across well enough. Another blow, backhanded this time and Yoji sprawled on the deck, struggling to keep the nausea down and the blackness at bay. Raymond snarled at him, jabbing a finger - - then turned on Maria, snatching her up by the hair.

Yoji struggled for his knees - - damned and determined that the bastard wasn't going to slap her around the way he'd done him. But that wasn't Raymond's intent. He withdrew a gun from the pocket of his slicker. Maria's eyes grew large, her mouth opened in a terrified gasp.

"No - - wait, Goddamnit - -" Yoji lunged up and one of Raymond's goons caught him from behind, wrapping a thick arm around his neck and jerking him back.

He didn't even hear the shot. Not really. But the bloody hole that sprouted in Maria's forehead was testament enough that it had been fired. She stood there, still in Raymond's grip for a heartbeat, the horror of it frozen on her face, then Raymond shoved her backwards and her body toppled over the edge, to be eaten by the storm.

Yoji was screaming curses, almost incoherent. He couldn't hear them, he could hardly hear himself think, but he knew well enough he was doing it from the raw ache of his throat. He slammed his heel backwards into the shin of the man holding him, then elbowed him in the gut and went for Raymond with every intention of killing him, even if he had to take him over the side of the boat behind that hapless girl. He got taken down before he took two steps. Two big rain-slickered forms that fell upon him and bore him down, taking his damned accurate blows in return and only giving back as much damage as it took to wrestle him into submission. The damage, it seemed, was Raymond's department. He still had the gun in his hand and for one desperate moment, Yoji forgot his rage over Maria's murder in favor of fear for his own life. It occurred to him that he was going to die, on his knees, with his arms twisted behind him by two faceless goons, soaked to the bone in the middle of a god-awful monsoon and no-one who mattered would know about it. Even if Krittiker told them what he'd been sent to do, Aya still wouldn't know what had happened and where his sorry corpse lay or why he'd really come here to begin with. And Aya would be pissed and that was not the note he wanted to go out on, with him. It was just sad enough and depressing enough to make him gasp on a choked breath and send a belated - - by many, many years - - prayer up to a God that never had held much of an interest for him anyway.

But Raymond didn't use the dangerous end of the gun on him. Turning it instead and slamming the butt against Yoji's temple hard enough to finish the job the storm and his earlier blows had started.

Absolute blackness . . .

Eventually consciousness found its way back into Yoji's brain. It was slow coming and accompanied by a large dosage of pain, mostly centered in his skull. It felt like he'd survived a serious ass-kicking. He couldn't quite recall who'd given it to him, but somebody must have pulled his fat off the fire because he was snug and comfortable - - well as comfortable as the piercing ache in his head would allow - - between the sheets of a soft bed. It wasn't his, which made him crinkle his brow a little, as he always did upon waking in an unfamiliar bed and not knowing who might be lying beside him.

"Aya?" He murmured softly, hazarding a hopeful guess.

There was the creaking of a chair in the shadows and his eyes weren't adjusting as quickly as they ought to the darkness, part and partial of the pain in his head, he thought. It would really be nice if it were Aya - - or Omi, or Ken watching over him - - but the silhouette was too broad and the smell was wrong.

"Welcome back, Sonny." A big hand touched the side of his face and he stopped breathing - - a jumble of vital information flooding back.

The hand slid down his neck to his shoulder, fingers skimming his upper arm. "You got a tattoo. I don't like it."

Yoji blinked and drew a lung full of air, rolling away from the touch, taking sheet and blanket with him to the far side of the bed. He was unclothed, which explained the revelation of the tat. He hadn't particularly planned to get naked in front of folks here, so covering it up had not been high on his list of priorities. But it was no huge deal as far as his cover went, Sonny could have gotten worse in the last decade or so since Raymond had seen him.

"Tough shit, you sick bastard. Get the fuck away from me." He was angry. He remembered that last shocked look on Maria Tanaka's face after Raymond had put a bullet in her head. But not in his. Not his. Why?

"Who's Aya? Girlfriend?" Raymond sat on the edge of the bed, damned threatening even though he wasn't doing anything but staring.

"Like I'd tell you." He had called Aya's name, hadn't he. No harm there either, it was a girl's name and he was happy to let Raymond think what he pleased.

"Don't get an attitude, Sonny. I saved your life. I told you, family above all else."

Yoji gaped, flabbergasted by that staggering hypocrisy. "Family? What family? You shot the family down like dogs - - God, dogs get more consideration. You stood six inches from Maria and gunned her down, you crazy fuck!"

"They weren't family. They weren't blood of my blood. They were vultures, pecking at each other to get what they could of that which belongs to us. And she was just a petty little whore that caught my father's eye. She betrayed my interests - - she betrayed me - - so she deserved to die."

"Son of a bitch. How? She wasn't after your fucking inheritance!" At least that's what she'd said. Who knew, really? He'd never get the truth now. At least not hers.

Raymond leaned forward, fingers curling around the blanket Yoji had twisted around him. "She tried to take you away, just like that other bitch all those years ago. Just like dear old Dad, who kept me from tracking you down. You were my blood. Are my blood and you're not going anywhere, Sonny!"

Too much. It was too much. Yoji clenched his fists, pushing the pounding in his head back, making himself ignore the pain and the slight dizziness. He launched himself across the bed, aiming not for Raymond's face, but for his vulnerable neck, trying to crush his windpipe with one dead center blow. His aim was off - - or his balance was - - just enough to miss that vital spot. His blow still knocked the bigger man off the edge of the bed and sent him gasping to the floor. Yoji scrambled after, slamming a heel down against Raymond's head, smashing his skull against the floor with a carpet muffled thump. Raymond moaned and lay still, giving Yoji the moment he needed to gather his bearings. He was in his room in the house. His open duffel was still on the chair where he'd left it.

There was the sound of footsteps outside the door. A worried query. "Mr. Tanaka? Everything okay?"

Yoji cursed and snatched the most available pair of pants and hopped into them, not bothering for shoes or shirt. Raymond was shaking his head, trying to prop himself up on the floor behind him. Fuck. Fuckfuckfuck!!

Yoji yanked the door open and slammed an elbow into the surprised face of the man hovering on the outside of it, then a knee to the groin. He shoved him out of the way and took off down the hall, trying to get his wits together enough to come up with a workable plan. Out seemed the most reasonable strategy - - but he was on an island, in the middle of a storm that had already proved it was too ill-tempered to take on. Not to mention the fact that they'd probably upped security at the docks by now. He should have stopped to check if Raymond or the goon outside his door had a handy weapon. A gun would have been nice.

He pounded downstairs and into the presence of another set of goons in the process of overseeing the cleanup of the main hall. The was still blood on the floor and spattered on the walls, but the bodies were gone. A few pale, drawn staff were attempting to wash it away.

The muscle yelled at him, but he figured Raymond had gone to enough trouble to keep him alive so far, that the likely hood of them shooting him was slim to none. So he ignored them, darting past towards the kitchen door, which route he was somewhat familiar with from recent use. He ran into a fat woman with flour covered hands. She screeched, no doubt having had one too many frights this last day and lifted her white fists defensively towards him. She blocked his way in her unintentional attempt to avoid him. And again, in a horribly unamusing dance to get out of his way. He shoved her physically to the side finally in his desperation to get to the outside door, flung it open and got two steps out into rain and dead of night before the ring of a gunshot echoed in his ears. It took another step before he felt the sting of pain in his left leg and yet another before that same leg crumpled under his weight, sending him sprawling at the top of the steps.

Get up. Get up. Get up. He railed at himself. With enough adrenaline pumping through his veins, he could walk - - run even, with a bullet hole in his leg. He'd done it before - - it was just the initial shock of the thing that had him down.

Footsteps on the porch. The guards coming after him - - and Raymond with a black stream of blood flowing from his nose in the midst, smoking gun in hand. Yoji panicked. He fought them, despite a fresh bullet wound, when they tried to grab hold of him. Fought hard enough to send him and two men tumbling down the steps and out into the muddy yard, but they won over in the end, dragging him back up onto the porch, twisting his arms so badly his shoulders seemed likely to pop from their sockets. Raymond looked down at him. Pissed off.

"Take him back up to his room." He said. And they did, dragging him cursing and against his will. They kept hold of him until Raymond came in, followed by an old man in staff uniform with what might have been a med-kit.

"You try my patience, Sonny. Your bitch of a mother ruined you. You used to have manners."

"Yeah, I bet I did." Yoji sneered back at him.

Raymond caught his jaw, tilting his head back painfully, stepping in close to look down his nose at him. "I'll re-educate you, little brother."

Something pricked his arm, sharp and quick. He jerked his face out of Raymond's grip and looked down to see the old man emptying a syringe full of something into arm. Great. Just lovely.

It hit his bloodstream and took about ten beats of his heart to make his knees go watery. Thoughts scattered like so many leaves in the wind. The pain in his shoulders and in his leg melted away.

"Let him go." Raymond's voice was distant and echoey. Yoji's back hit the bed and being horizontal made his head spin. He moaned, shutting his eyes, wanting to lift his arms and cover his face to try and stop it, but finding them curiously strengthless.

Someone was pulling at the sodden, muddy tops of his pants and he vaguely registered a dull ache as they were pulled down over the wound in his thigh. Words were spoken, but he was loosing the capacity to make sense of them. Hands prodded the wound. For the second time in less than twelve hours, he passed out. This time, it would be a long, long time before he found his way back to rational, coherent thought.



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