33. Simple Business Meetings

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Rose Lin – aka ‘Lady Rose’ – thought her crew had done a decent job of transforming a SUPER BUYS storeroom into an office. She took care not to spend too much time in one location and it was always useful to have another secure meeting place. As well as a large mahogany desk and numerous chairs, the office was furnished with a state-of-the-art computer and a few potted plants (all fake). The other essential she had insisted on was a small but well-equipped bar. Lady Rose only drank Taiwanese whiskey. She poured herself a good measure, added some ice, then sat behind the desk. It was to be a busy night and she wondered which of her subordinates would arrive first.

Half an hour later, her bodyguard ‘Little’ Jenny Tsang opened the door and ushered in Nikki ‘H3x’ Brown and Kohana ‘Fei’ Sanchez-Vicario.

To Rose, they were the hacker and the thief: two loyal, capable women who had served her incredibly well. The pair sat down while Little Jenny remained on guard at the door. Rose didn’t offer the new arrivals a drink; this was no social occasion.

‘Ladies, I have a new task for you. Something essential for the long-term future of the Dragons. You’ll have to discuss it between you but it goes no further.’

H3x and Fei made it clear they understood.

‘In recent weeks, some … unexpected opportunities have allowed us to acquire certain assets. Some we can use now; others we will retain until we can fully exploit them. One of these is the prototype weapon you stole from Collingwood, Fei – we cannot reach potential buyers, for obvious reasons. There are also the gold bars secured by Rhino, the cocaine supply we liberated from the Russians, not to mention all the cash we’ve collected. And although we are doing well, the future is not certain. I don’t want all our eggs in one basket. So, I need you two to find a secure location where we can keep some of these valuables. Somewhere no one will think to look.’

Fei, the older of the two, was first to respond. ‘Presumably well away from all our existing properties?’

‘Precisely. I don’t need it right away. Do some research, give me some options.’

H3x spoke up: ‘We can do the groundwork together, then I can prepare a report. I’ll also begin to think about security.’

‘Excellent.’  

—————

Next in was Aulia ‘Gudu’ Saabiq. The Indonesian enforcer entered and sat with her usual grace and precision. She could not have been more different from the bulky Jenny and Rose idly wondered who would win in a fight. Forcing herself to focus on more urgent matters, she leaned forward onto the desk.

‘People are getting lazy. The crew. We’re doing well and there are no cops around so they think we’re safe. But the more we have, the more attention we attract. Everyone still left in the city is going to get more and more desperate; more and more willing to take risks. We’ve already had people trying to rob the store, other gangs scoping our territory. I want you to get the message out, Gudu – anyone steps on our toes, they go down. Permanently. You set the example.’

There were plenty of big, strong men in the Dragons but not one of them was as ruthless as Gudu. Actions spoke louder than words and the diminutive enforcer accepted her instructions with a silent nod.

When she’d left, Little Jenny ambled over to the desk.

‘Something on your mind?’ Rose asked her old friend.

‘I hope she doesn’t go too far. Sometimes she loses control.’

Rose reckoned Little Jenny was in fact more likely concerned about her own position as chief enforcer. She was obedient and tough but Gudu was nothing less than a killer.  

‘An organisation like ours needs a variety of personnel. You all have a role. Go and see if Rhino’s here.’

—————

None of the chairs in the new office were large enough to accommodate him so Jeff ‘Rhino’ Xu stood, hands clasped, jacket straining to contain his frame.

‘You did well with the Armenians, Jeff. Very well.’

Rhino nodded modestly.

‘You’ll have to leave running this place to the others for a while. I have something else for you.’

‘Whatever you say, boss.’

‘I need information. There are other crews still operating but at least they’re predictable: we know how they work, how they think. But I’m hearing about this group with the cops and the military types. They’ve got the experience and training to cause us a lot of trouble. Then there’s this homeless kid and his friends – nobody seems to know what their deal is.’

‘I don’t think we have to worry about them, boss.’

‘Regardless, I want names and I want details – location, numbers, weaponry, tech, assets. Anyone in or close to our territory. Know your enemy.’

Rhino grinned. ‘Good song. Rage Against the Machine – classic.’

‘Sun Tzu, actually.’

‘Ah.’

‘I’ll expect to hear from you soon.’

‘You got it, boss.’

—————

When Rhino had left, Rose invited Jenny to sit. The big bodyguard didn’t like whiskey but looked happy when Rose handed her a Cola.  

Jenny drank half of it then sat back in the chair and sighed. ‘I miss how it was before. It would be nice to take the subway or go to the cinema or go out to the coast. Do you think things will ever go back to normal?’

‘I don’t know, Jenny,’ replied Rose. ‘But I’ll tell you this: whatever happens, the Red Dragons will be ready.’