After a deadly terrorist attack in Tokyo, Detective Sergeant Mariko Oshiro urges her commanding officers to arrest an insane zealot who was just released from police custody. When her pleas fall on deaf ears, she loses her temper and then her badge. Now, Mariko is left with a perilous choice: join an illicit insurgency to thwart a deadly villain, or remain true to the law. The third book in a popular urban fantasy series set in Japan.
Steve Bein teaches philosophy at Texas State University. He has a PhD in philosophy, and his graduate work took him to Japan, where he translated a seminal work in the study of Zen Buddhism. He holds black belts in two American forms of combative martial arts and has trained in about two-dozen other martial arts. His short fiction has been published in Asimov's, Interzone, Writers of the Future, and has been anthologized for use in college courses alongside the works of such figures as Orson Scott Card, Larry Niven, Isaac Asimov, and H.G. Wells. His Fated Blades novels include Disciple of the Wind, Year of the Demon, and Daughter of the Sword.
Praise for the of the Fated Blades novels
"I am utterly addicted to this series!"--Diana Rowland, author of Vengeance of the Demon
"There's no doubting the authenticity of Bein's creation as he elegantly binds all the elements together."--Kirkus Reviews
"A noir modern Tokyo overwhelmed by the shadows of Japanese history...a compelling multifaceted vision of a remarkable culture, and a great page-turner."--Stephen Baxter, author of Ultima
"An authentic and riveting thrill ride through both ancient and modern Japan. Definitely a winner."--Kylie Chan, author of Demon Child
"A meticulously researched, highly detailed blend of urban and historical fantasy set in modern Tokyo."--*Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Praise for the of the Fated Blades novels
When Tokyo falls victim to a deadly terrorist attack, Detective Sergeant Mariko Oshiro knows who is responsible, even if she doesn't have proof. She urges her commanding officers to arrest the perpetrator-an insane zealot who was just released from police custody.
ALSO BY STEVE BEIN In memory of Jay Lake JAPANESE PRONUNCIATION GUIDE Spoiler alert: you''re going to find a lot of Japanese words in this book. Three general rules tell you most of what you need to know about how to pronounce them: 1. The first syllable usually gets the emphasis (so it''s DAI-go-ro, not Dai-GO-ro). 2. Consonants are almost always pronounced just like English consonants. 3. Vowels are almost always pronounced just like Hawaiian vowels. Yes, I know, you probably know about as much Hawaiian as you do Japanese, but the words you do know cover most of the bases: if you can pronounce aloha , hula , Waikiki , and King Kamehameha , you''ve got your vowels. Barring that, if you took a Romance language in high school, you''re good to go. Or, if you prefer lists and tables: a as in father ae as in taekwondo ai as in aisle ao as in cacao e as in ballet ei as in neighbor i as in machine o as in open u as in super There are two vowel sounds we don''t have in English: o and u . Just ignore them. My Japanese teachers would slap me on the wrist for saying that, but unless you''re studying Japanese yourself, the difference between the short vowels ( o and u ) and the long vowels ( o and u ) is so subtle that you might not even hear it. The reason I include the long vowels in my books is that spelling errors make me squirm. As for consonants, g is always a hard g (like gum , not gym ) and almost everything else is just like you''d pronounce it in English. There''s one well-known exception: Japanese people learning English often have a hard time distinguishing L''s from R''s. The reason for this is that there is neither an L sound nor an R sound in Japanese. The ri of Mariko is somewhere between ree , lee , and dee . The choice to Romanize with an r was more or less arbitrary, and it actually had more to do with Portuguese than with English. (If linguistic history had gone just a little further in that direction, this could have been a book about Marico Oxiro, not Mariko Oshiro.) Finally, for those who want to know not just how to pronounce the Japanese words but also what they mean, you''ll find a glossary toward the end of this book. If you have trouble keeping all the Japanese names straight, poke around my website to find a list of characters showing who''s related to whom. BOOK ONE HEISEI ERA, THE YEAR 22 (2010 CE) 1 Mariko would never forget where she was when she heard the news. She wasn''t all that likely to forget that afternoon anyway. It wasn''t every day that she met with the top brass. She saw her commanding officer, Lieutenant Sakakibara, almost daily, but this was her first meeting with his superior, Captain Kusama. And since Sakakibara was also in attendance, things were about to get either very good or very, very bad. There were only so many reasons a captain called one of his sergeants into his office, especially with a lieutenant in tow. She might be promoted to head up a special detail. On the other hand, they might advise her to seek a legal counsel in advance of an IAD investigation. Her partner, Han, had recently endured such an investigation, and come out the other side stripped of his detective''s rank. He and Mariko worked closely together, and he''d strayed outside the lines; was she implicated too? Maybe, but the captain was smiling when he opened the door. Kusama Shuichi was one of those men who only grew more handsome with age. His hair wasn''t thinning, he paid a lot of money for his haircuts, and he kept his office and his uniform as immaculately as he kept his hair. He''d earned an office on the top floor of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department headquarters, with a wall of floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the heart of the city. His desk was polished teak, twice as big as it needed to be, and empty but for his phone and a sleek black laptop. Others might have arranged the desk to face the windows, but Kusama''s desk was perpendicular to them, so that both he and his visitors could admire the view. Mariko didn''t miss this detail, and neither did she miss the subtext: either Kusama was unusually considerate of his visitors or else he wanted to make sure they knew how important he was. Mariko couldn''t say which. "Detective Sergeant Oshiro," Kusama said, "Lieutenant Sakakibara, so very good of you to come. Would you like something to drink?" "Coffee for me, nothing for her," Sakakibara said, his tone characteristically gruff. "She won''t be staying long enough to get thirsty." Mariko swallowed. Was that good or bad? With Sakakibara it was so hard to tell. A line of vertical furrows creased his bushy black eyebrows, but he always looked like that. On this particular afternoon he was especially enigmatic, because even he couldn''t help but take in the view. He crossed the room in three long strides and looked out across the city he''d sworn to protect. Mariko wished she could see his reflection in the window. She was more interested in reading his face than enjoying the Tokyo skyline. "Captain Kusama," she said, "thank you so much for putting us into your schedule at such short notice. I know you must be a busy man." "Think nothing of it," Kusama said. "It''s my duty to be available to those under my command. To be honest, I had already planned on calling you in to my office. Imagine my surprise when I came in this morning and my secretary told me you''d requested a meeting! I suppose you want to speak to me about the Joko Daishi case, neh ?" Mariko gulped. "I wasn''t aware you were following my work, sir." "You? Of course. You were our media darling for a time. Oh, do relax, Sergeant. This isn''t a military tribunal." Mariko breathed a sigh of relief. "I''m glad you said that, sir." He waved toward a chair in front of his sprawling desk and Mariko sat. "Begging your pardon, sir, but it''s not easy for me to relax when it comes to Joko Daishi. He''s dangerous." "And due for release today. I assume that''s why you asked to meet with me." "Yes, sir." Kusama nodded. "I''m afraid what''s done is done." "Sir, you''ve got to do something . This guy isn''t just an ordinary perp. Better to think of him as a cult leader." Captain Kusama sat forward in his seat. "I think you''ll want to watch your tone with me, Sergeant. I don''t take orders from my subordinates." His smile soured. "I''ve read your reports, and frankly, I think ''cult leader'' underestimates how dangerous this man is. ''Terrorist mastermind'' is the description I''d have chosen--but perhaps you''re aware that I was the one who orchestrated the public relations campaign that kept any mention of terrorism out of the press." Mariko winced. She hadn''t known of Kusama''s involvement, but she supposed she understood the logic behind his decision. It was 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
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