Disciple of the Wind - Steve Bein Page 0,1

damn cold logic, though. Koji Makoto, known better by his self-appointed religious title, Joko Daishi, sent a massive bomb into the Tokyo subway system. Mariko and Han spearheaded the manhunt for him, and were always a step behind. Then Mariko ended up on a subway platform with Joko Daishi’s lieutenant seconds before he detonated the device. Mariko put a bullet in his brain and saved the lives of fifty-two civilians, but the department had quashed any mention of the explosives. Better for the press to report a police shooting than a major terrorist threat thwarted at the last instant.

It might have been good PR for the department, but it destroyed Mariko’s reputation. She could have been the hero, but since no one knew of the bomb, instead she became the hot-blooded cop who gunned down an unarmed man. Even at the time, Mariko thought it was the right decision to quash any mention of the bomb, however much that decision stung. Now that she sat across from the man who had made that decision, she felt that sting again.

“You do understand,” Kusama said, resting back in his chair, “it pained me to see you dragged through the mud like that. Even if I had no sympathy for my officers, from a public relations standpoint you were a godsend. The first woman in the department to make sergeant. The first woman to make detective. The go-getter cop with an addict for a sister, working your way up to Narcotics so you could save your family. The stories write themselves.”

Now the sting jabbed Mariko in the heart, the lungs, the gut. “How do you know about my sister?”

“I know everything about you, Detective Sergeant Oshiro. Maintaining this department’s good reputation is what I do for a living. It’s why I got the office with the best view. It’s why I wear captain’s stripes, and it’s why I’m concerned any time one of my officers takes a life. So yes, I know your sister has been in and out of rehab. I know you placed ninth in your division in last year’s Yokohama triathlon. I know your English is flawless, and I’d hoped to use that fact to our advantage with our city’s gaijin population. But that was before you shot Akahata Daisuke in the forehead. Bomb or no bomb, cult or no cult, that’s not the way we do things here.”

“Sir, it’s not like I had a hell of a lot of choice—”

“Tone, Oshiro-san. This is your second warning. Watch it.”

Mariko swallowed. “Yes, sir.” She put her hands in her lap and balled them into fists, trying to keep them below Kusama’s sightline so he couldn’t see her whitening knuckles.

It didn’t work. “May I see your right hand, Sergeant?”


He gave a little smile as if to say, indulge me, and motioned toward her hand with his own. Mariko felt awkward but she had no choice: she placed her maimed right hand on the desktop.

It was still ugly to her, though she’d had a few months to get used to it. The last thing she expected was for him to reach across the desk and pull it a little closer. His skin was soft, softer than hers. That was a detail Mariko would rather not know about a commanding officer. She certainly didn’t want him feeling the kenjutsu calluses on her tomboy hands. She didn’t become a cop because she was fond of intimacy.

“I’d heard you lost your trigger finger,” Kusama said, “but you’ve still got a little nub of it, haven’t you?”

Mariko felt her ears and cheeks grow hot. “Yes, sir.”

“You shot Akahata left-handed?”

“Yes, sir.” Her breath fluttered in her throat.

“But when you stabbed Fuchida Shuzo, it was with the right hand, wasn’t it?”

It wasn’t a question. The incident with Fuchida was the one that first put Mariko in the spotlight. A crazed yakuza butcher with a sword was enough to make the news by himself. So when Mariko was forced into a sword fight with Fuchida, when he maimed her hand and stabbed her through the gut, when she stabbed him through the lungs in return, when both of them flatlined and the paramedics brought Mariko back . . . well, Kusama must have been delighted. She wondered whether he was the one responsible for the headline SAMURAI SHOWDOWN, which had led every major news program for days.

Mariko, the samurai cop. Mariko, the narc with the junkie sister. Mariko, the woman in a man’s world, fighting tooth and nail to get