Path of Endurance chapter 23
The loudness of Eddy Wata's "La Bomba" tore Bryan violently from his sleep. He sprung up from his bunk, hitting his head into his reading lamp at the process. Not that he read much, but the previous owner of this apartment might have been a literal genius for all he knew. Throwing himself at his home stereo system, he kept punching the whole damn system until the accursed euro dance ceased to echo in the air. When the soothing silence was back again, Bryan let out a sigh and decided to send an angry email to the Pure Rap 'n' Hip Hop Sound radio station for playing "La Bomba" every frigging morning, no matter how great a hit it was.
But he was glad he was awake an hour before he usually would. This was a big day. Not because today was his first day at work at Hong Kong Interpol Narcotics division, for thus had the Interpol almighty decreed, and not because he got to meet - and work with - his long lost childhood friend Lei Wulong again, but because this was the day he finally got to take the bandages off his neck.
Before taking off from USA, he had paid a visit to a tattoo parlour with one of his oldest possessions; the ancient coffee mug with two tribal-like motifs on it - all designed by Sis. He had specifically ordered the tattooist to be very careful to get it right, and he even ensured it with some extra cash. Now Bryan was carefully tearing off the bandages in his cramped bathroom somewhere in Hong Kong's busy downtown. Some random observer might have thought seeing him committing some sacred, religious ritual, as he took off the layers quarter-inch by quarter-inch, as if having been afraid of breaking the motifs had he just yanked them off.
Gradually the black lines came into visibility under the layers. Bryan found himself adoring the tattooist's fine work, the motifs being identical to those in the ancient mug that awaited him at the kitchen table, filled with black, hot goodness. Before returning to this mug, Bryan opened up the bathroom mirror locker, and took off the upper shelf to reveal a hidden stash of small glass bottles filled with clear, liquid substance, few injection tubes and quite a many hygienically packed injection needles. Casually, he pieced together a needle and a tube, and measured an amount of the substance. In this, he was precise - no more, nor less than what he had his first time. Not enough to get high, just enough to keep the withdrawal symptoms away.
Once Bryan had laughed to all the junkies who had went on crying like babies how "the choice was not theirs" and how "the environment had made them do it". He found painful irony in the fact that those words were now his story. How Interpol chose to send him as a heroin junkie to undercover, to bust certain drug ring. Not only was the bust a total catastrophe, but he became addicted to heroin. Never admitting it to anyone but himself, he kept going like everything was all right. Like now, he sat down lazily on his couch to drink his morning coffee and browse through the New York Times that one Hong Kong shop kindly provided him with. He didn't care it was a bit old news, as long as it was in English.
As luck would have it, first thing in the morning Bryan was involved in high-speed chase. As he informed dispatch he was heading west in pursuit of a black Kawasaki Ninja without licence plates, Lei Wulong broke in through the radio. "Bryan! It's the Ghost!" he exclaimed. "That gear-head has managed to drop dozens of units off his tail with no effort."
"Then send some fucking backups, dispatch!" Bryan roared.
"Unit Delta 05, be advised, backup unavailable. Backup ETA 15 minutes."
Bryan groaned slightly. Ever since the new mob gained footing in Hong Kong underground business, both Interpol and Hong Kong police had been over-burdened. It was impossible to get up in a jam, and even harder to get a Medevac after being jammed. Backups were never available. One would be required to be nothing lesser than a robocop to get the job done.
But The Ghost wasn't connected to any mob so far. He seemed a loner. Bryan began the pursuit near the an area that belonged to a mob, who called themselves the Undead. They named themselves such for the very reason that they used drugs and anaesthetics to numb themselves to any sort of pain. This also lowered their intelligence level greatly, making them even more dangerous. An undercover cop had alerted dispatch of a drug deal taking place behind La Costa Lotta shopping mall, but as Bryan and few others arrived on the scene, so did The Ghost. He came out of nowhere, destroying whole shipment of assorted narcotics, mugging the Undead holding the money case and took off with it. Bryan was glad they had some of their work cut out for them, but he worried about The Ghost's motive. He wasn't a vigilante; he had broken into many legal corporation and stolen currency and valuable artefacts, leaving nearly always a few corpses after him.
Now The Ghost was headed into a more silent part of the city. As soon as he saw an opening, Bryan accelerated, taking out all that the police car engine had to give, and managed to get past the Ghost and block his way. The Ghost braked violently, but ended up crashing sideways into Bryan's car. He flew rather neatly over the car, but to Bryan's shock, he landed on his feet, seemingly unharmed of the hard crash. Bryan sprung out from the car and aimed his trusty old Desert Eagle directly at The Ghost's head: "Freeze! Get your hands behind your head, NOW!"
The Ghost obeyed. As carefully as he ever could, Bryan approached him, ready to put him in handcuffs, but he couldn't help the uneasy feeling in his guts. Every cell in his body told him not to get any closer to that man. Trying his best to ignore it, Bryan just kept staring at the darkened visor of The Ghost's motorcycle helmet.
Without any warning signal at all, The Ghost lunged at Bryan with incredible speed and agility, forcing the Desert Eagle from his hands and dismantling it in a second. Bryan never realized what happened, but the next moment he was lying on the ground and The Ghost was already picking up his motorcycle from the ground. Instinctively Bryan reached for his spare pistol and fired a warning shot at The Ghost's left hand. Bryan saw the bullet hit the back of his hand, but he swore he saw sparks, as if the bullet was reflected from a hard surface. The Ghost, very casually, picked up the bike all the way and only then was bothered enough to take a look at his broken glove. Taking advantage of Bryan's confused state, he attacked; he crossed the car with a cartwheel over its roof, then lunged at Bryan, shoving him off his feet. He landed with a soft somersault when Bryan was still mid-air, and gave a kangaroo kick to shove the cop even further away. Bryan crashed against the alley wall, deflating his lungs of air. As he stood up gasping for air, he already heard The Ghost taking off with his bike. Bryan just watched him leave the scene, confused and embarrassed - usually he was the one flinging people on the walls. Finally he reached for the radio; "Dispatch, this is Delta 05, I've lost the suspect."
"Affirmative Delta 05. Return to the station."
Bryan picked up the pieces of his Desert Eagle, pieced it back together, taking his time to chain-smoke a few cigarettes to calm his racing heart. Who the heck was that guy?
The day was hot and damp. Bryan felt the effect of the heroin wear off sooner than ever before. He struggled until the last bit he could, until he excused himself and re-injected himself in the men's room. He was forced to wear long-sleeve shirts even during the hottest season because of all the needle scars he had on his arms. He had tried injecting himself in stomach or calves, but his calves always ended up cramping or his stomach not being able to hold anything inside. He returned to his desk, lit a cigarette and browsed through the case files that had been dropped into his incoming mail box by the perky errand girl. She always dropped by at Bryan's desk for a few laughs, friendly words and gossips. She was almost an invisible worker, like many messengers, but it was because of that she was always on top of things.
Bryan wasn't really interested in the case files on his desk. From his bottom drawer, he took an old case file - the case file that had actually led him to Hong Kong. It was an old case, Bryan could tell. 13 years, a month, two weeks and four days. It was the unsolved case of the murder of one officer Brianna Fury. Ever since he became a detective, Bryan had been on this case, collecting clues and leads that had eventually led him where he was now. It was obvious that her arrest of Clark Matthews, aka. Don Doe, had eventually led his mob to hunt her down. Bryan himself had only sparse details of the killer - his mohawk, his afro-American accent, his shape and figure - nothing enough to draw a picture of him. Instead, Bryan began his search with Don Doe's circle, and he would have ended in dead ends multiple times had it not been for his silent companion.
Mishima Zaibatsu was the new kid on the block in Hong Kong. Ever led my Heihachi Mishima, they handled everything from gambling, drugs to prostitution in Japan, and now they had a firm footing in Hong Kong. Officially, they were supporting the Hong Kong police and Hong Kong Interpol by providing tips and hints of illegal actions happening in their area, but their aim was to get the police to look the other way when they were taking actions. Their corruptive claws were dug deep into this department of Interpol, including Bryan. He dismissed his consciousness by declaring that ignoring Mishima Zaibatsu's actions didn't make the creeps he arrested with their tips any less dangerous.
Thanks to Zaibatsu's "generous" help, Bryan was closer than ever before to the busting of Sis's murderer. He had been told that the circle Don Doe belonged to was making footing Detroit through him, but the breaking up of his posse had ultimately led to the mob losing their place in Detroit, which lead into Sis's death. Now Bryan had the name of the mob, their location, their actions... they weren't quite the first on the bust list, but in the TOP 5 anyway. Before long, they would cease to be. He needed only one more piece to the puzzle.
The constant lack of manpower was visible in the amount of overtime hours Bryan, Lei and few other detectives had. Bryan didn't risk taking his whole stash to work at the same time, instead, he was only prepared for certain amount of time, but the heat wore him off earlier than he imagined. With no relief left, the withdrawal came on gradually; his muscles began cramping, his nose became runny and he sweated cold. He would've been able to cope with that, but the constant hovering of Lei Wulong around made the situation unbearable. Especially when Wulong lent Bryan a piece of his attention.
"Hey Bryan, are you alright? You don't look too good..."
Giving his best fake "ACHOO!!!", Bryan pretended to blow his nose on a tissue. "Think I'm catching cold," he claimed. "There's been a lot of stuff going around lately."
"Yeah," Wulong nodded, leaning on Bryan's desk. "Why don't you go home and get rest? You've done enough for this day anyway."
"Sure, alright," Bryan stood up, taking Brianna's case with him.
The drive back to his apartment seemed to take an eternity, but once there, Bryan dragged himself into the cramped bathroom and to his stash. Amazingly, he was able to piece the injection together with his shaky hands. He began filling its tube, more and more... just this time, the withdrawal is so bad... just this once... more, more... tomorrow, back to normal dosage... this is an emergency.
Bryan waited patiently until his sight was de-blurred enough for him to have even a vague idea of his surroundings. He had no idea whatsoever what time or date it was, and by looking he wouldn't even be sure where he was. All he had left was to cling onto his recent memories; being at work, coming home, taking the fix... did he move after that? No, he didn't, he must still be in the bathroom... yeah, in the bathroom. Is the door open?
Bryan took a careless, clumsy swing with his hand at the door's general direction. Nothing.
Ah, so the door is open! Now, if only he could crawl on his bed... nah, too far. The couch should be closer. And it will do. It's just past the kitchen, straight forward... well, mind the kitchen stool. Other than that, the course should be clear. Here we go!
Leaning hard on the wall, Bryan forced his legs to lift him up, keeping those thoughts inside his brain. Past the kitchen, straight forward. And mind the...
Nevermind. He would pick the kitchen stool up in the morning.
It took him twenty minutes, but he was finally able to crawl on the couch and fall into a restless sleep, which was, as they usually are, cut short by ringing mobile phones. Still drowsy, Bryan dug the phone from his pocket and eventually hit the right button to answer it. "Yeah...?"
"Detective Bryan Fury?" a Cantonese accent replied.
"Yeah, whaddaya want?"
"We need to discuss our deal, Mr Fury - now that you're close of ridding Hong Kong of the Nessaja, it comes to us to fulfil their place in the black market. They had massive cocaine and heroin businesses going on, and we need to come to an agreement of the details to your... renewed deal."
"Wait, you guys from the Mishima Zaibatsu? You're not my usual contact."
"Times have changed, I'm your new contact. Your previous contact was dispatched to another task. We need to meet you tonight at the warehouse near the harbour. You know the one - it was run by the Working Girls."
Yep, Bryan remembered it well. Working Girls, in other words, ex-porn star hookers. Every straight man would remember busting dozens of women who wore practically nothing except big weapons. Every man on the squad were thankful of their codpieces, which were sturdy enough to hide their excessive excitement.
"Alright. I'll be there. What time?"
Later on, Bryan cursed himself of his carelessness, his straight walk into an ambush. He cursed that he slipped from his normal dosage, his foggy state and unclear thinking. The Mishima Zaibatsu henchmen would never have agreed to arrange a meeting in such a dump, they liked their clean and tidy offices way too much. They never would've used such risky words as "heroin" and "cocaine", everything was encrypted so tight they wouldn't show up in dreams at night. Still, he appeared at the warehouse, pleasantly ignorant about what he would curse only fifteen minutes later.
There was only one, dim light bulb on in the whole building, and it revealed only one, humongous creature of a man. He was bigger than your average heavyweight wrestler, and had scars at least as much as the whole World's Boxing Association together. He was a peroxide blonde with a tight ponytail, but something told Bryan he wasn't a walking blonde joke. This man wouldn't be messed with.
But in the shadows, Bryan was able to sense, there were many restless men, moving back and forth anxiously beginning from the moment he had stepped inside the building. That was the first moment he suspected an ambush, but tried to calm himself down by reminding himself that the Zaibatsu creeps went nowhere without their bodyguards. Taking a deep breath, he stepped forward into the light.
"Detective Bryan Fury?" the giant asked. This took Bryan by surprise, the guys should be able to recognize him by now. Was this a test?
"Yeah, I am," Bryan replied. "Now what's this fuss about? You guys still haven't paid me everything that you owe me."
The giant's pure white row of teeth flashed like a mirror in the dim light. "Do not worry," he smiled. "You'll certainly get your share..."
Now, another man stepped into the light. A tall Afro-American, a mohawk, tattoos all over the body... Bryan felt his heart skip a beat, or cease to beat the instant. "B...Bruce Irvin?" he managed to stutter.
"Long time no see, Bryan," Bruce grinned.
"Okay guys, this ain't funny anymore. What the fuck's going on in here!?" Bryan cried out, taking a few steps backwards. "I thought you were dead!"
"Officially, heh, I believe I am," Bruce laughed. "It's hilarious it never occurred to you, that you were hunting a dead man all these years."
"W... what are you talking about?"
"Your sister's murderer, Bryan ? that's right. I killed Brianna. I killed her a good 13 years ago, in her own apartment in old Detroit."
"I know that, you sonuvabitch!" Bryan growled. His veins filled with rage, not only towards Bruce but also towards himself for not realizing it before, for being in this situation, for waltzing straight into Nessaja's ambush. For being so utterly stupid.
"Well then, what are you going to do?" Bruce asked. "Arrest me? Kill me? Surely your sister's spirit demands it. Come on, Bryan ? you got me, dead bang."
Bryan gazed Bruce straight into his eyes in a way that would've made Clint Eastwood jealous to heck. He moved his eyes not, not even when he heard firearms getting readied in the shadows and being pointed at him. Bruce, however, raised his hand, signing his assassins to fall back for now. "Here's your chance to revenge, Bryan," he said. "You can kill me right here, right now, if you can."
Bryan didn't spare a split second for hesitation. He lunged at Bruce, filled with all the hatred and grudge that had slept within him for thirteen years. It burnt him from inside, so hard it began tearing his sanity apart. Only by giving the parry all his strength, Bruce was barely able to guard himself from the blow, though he was certain his bone fractured slightly. Bryan was already preparing another violent swing, but this time Bruce was on top of things, parrying his fist and countering by kneeing him in between his ribs. Forcing himself to a quick recovery, Bryan swayed backwards to sort out his breathing once more. Remaining in the stance Brianna had taught him, he caught Bruce's cocky attention as he, too, acquired his stance. "Like sister like brother," he declared. "Your style is the same, classless psychopathy your sister raped of Muay Thai. You will never defeat anyone with it."
Using this sermon as a distraction, Bryan quickly swept Bruce's feet from the ground, and while he was still mid-air, Bryan gave a spinning leap kick to send him flying all the way to the opposite wall. Now the white-haired Chinaman stepped forward, but offered no challenge to enraged Bryan while Bruce used his chance to get himself together once more. "You're a lot stronger than I thought," he growled, pulling out a knife from his pocket. Its blade flashed in the dim light, warning of its sharpness and thirst of blood. Bryan didn't give a damn; he waited until Bruce was close enough before jabbing a 1-2 at his face. He prepared to knee him in the guts, but Bruce recovered faster than he thought. Bryan only saw the flash of the blade before he felt the cold steel burning his face, piercing his eye and tearing open his left cheek. Never ever had he cried out like that. Bruce continued the arc of the knife, digging it to Bryan's left collar bone and cutting all the way down to Bryan's stomach. He shoved Bryan down, leaving the knife sticking out of hits guts and turned to the assassins in the shadows.
"You. Hand me over your gun."
Slowly Bryan pulled the knife out of his body, and reached for his mobile phone in his pocket. Not taking it out, he tapped in the Interpol emergency code and let it call. He tried not to care of the pain that burned him, succeeding at some rate, but he couldn't bear the pain that crushed his heart; he had failed to avenge Sis, and now he was slaughtered by the same man. Shame and sorrow filled whatever was left of his consciousness. Just barely he was able to see the muzzle of Bruce's pistol, even though it was just a few inches from his forehead.
"This is it, Bryan," he declared. "This is the end of the line. You failed. You failed to avenge your sister, you failed your career ? your colleagues will surely find out your business with the Mishima Zaibatsu, and you will be ruined. But don't feel so bad. After all, you'll be reunited with your dear Sis again."
Bruce cocked the pistol and aimed at Bryan's guts.
"Tell Brianna I said hi."
Bruce pulled the trigger, the bullets drilled their way into Bryan's abdominals, but he didn't really feel anything anymore, just the sorrow and shame that tore his sanity gradually into nothingness. Bruce was right. He had failed. Failed everything. It pained him to imagine everything that might happen, how he would be remembered as a wreck of a corrupted detective, all his work would be flushed down the toilet like any pile of shit and no one would no longer give a damn as to who killed both him and Sis. Owww, how it burnt. Wulong would make sure all their memories would be tainted with this dishonour - he would never be arsed to investigate what really happened.
Fuck Wulong. Fuck the Interpol.
Bryan was no longer alive when the Interpol hit group raided the warehouse. No one had the time to escape the bust. The Medevac attempted to revive Bryan, but in vain. His funeral was held a week afterwards; he received a hero's goodbyes and was remembered a legend.
This he, however, never got to know.
TO BE CONTINUED
Yes, I know that "Nessaja" is a Scooter song. It's a tribute
The Undead are partly based on the Dead Men of Predator: Concrete Jungle. The Working Girls are also from this game. I couldn't be arsed to invent whole groups for such a brief mention.
"La Costa Lotta" is a reference to Leisure Suit Larry 7: Love For Sail.