"How bad?" said Mouse.
Eddie typed a series of commands on one of the keyboards. Two pictures appeared on the center monitor.
Mouse pointed to the picture on the right. "Corpgeek from last night."
"That is Tetsuo Nakagami. Works for Nomura Financial. Investment company. Company's controller."
I gestured toward the surly-looking type on the left. "The other one?"
"Richard Takeda. Nakagami's boss. Chief Financial Officer. Takeda's related to this bloke--"
Another picture appeared.
"Shit," I said.
"Ah, fuck," said Mouse.
Eddie craned his head back at us. "What?"
I pointed to the new picture and told him about Kyoto House.
"Bloody fuck," said Eddie. "If he's dead, then you're really not going to like this."
"Just spill it, Eddie," I said.
Eddie tapped Big Man's picture on the monitor. "The dead big guy is Joseph Watada. Nomura's assistant Vice-President of Finance. Takeda's brother-in-law. And this is their cousin..."
He tapped out another command.
A new display popped up.
I looked at it. "Son of a bitch."
Mouse saw it, too. "Ah, double fuck!"
The screen showed a file from BCPD's Vice Squad. Subject: Kunio Harada. The wakagashira--second-in-command--of the Hosaka-gumi yakuza family.
Also known as the White Lotus Syndicate.
"The little bastard's in over his head," I said.
"Sounds familiar," said Eddie.
I ignored him.
"Think he knows how deep he's in?" Mouse said.
Then another thought struck.
"Kyoto House," I said.
Mouse shot me a questioning look.
"He's dragged us in with him," I said. "Watada's in a billion pieces. And we were there. It's a good bet those three yahoos weren't the only muscle who came down with him."
"Someone called home," said Eddie.
"Which means Lotus just entered the equation," I said.
Mouse threw up her hands, got off her stool, and started to pace the repair bay, every third step punctuated with a colorful metaphor.
"Still doesn't scan," I said. "He can't be that stupid."
"He's taking on White Lotus," said Eddie. "That's 'stupid' in my book."
"Yeah, but why?"
Mouse stopped pacing. "He's got a death wish. I don't know. And I don't really care. Let's just bug out."
"We promised Staci," I said.
"Promising's gonna get us dead."
"She's family. I don't abandon family. We don't abandon family."
Mouse fixed me with a dagger-filled glare, then spun on her heel and stalked out of the repair bay into the adjoining waiting area and mini-mart.
"She going to be okay?" said Eddie.
"Yeah," I said. "She just needs to let off some steam."
"Never seen her that mad."
He raised an eyebrow. "Lotus?"
On the center monitor, Harada's picture stared at me.
Something wasn't making sense.
I said to Eddie: "What if it's not Lotus?"
"How do you mean?"
"Suppose David has no idea Lotus is connected. Suppose he's strictly after Nomura Financial."
Eddie's brow furrowed. "What makes you think that?"
"When we first ran into David the other night, he was chasing Nakagami. Told Nakagami he was coming for Takeda. Not a word about Harada or White Lotus. How is David connected with Nomura?"
Eddie turned to his keyboard and typed. A moment later, he turned back to me. "He never worked for them."
A thought struck and I suddenly got a queasy feeling in the pit of my gut. "What about his parents?"
"I'll see." He plugged a gold-tipped cable into the datajack just behind his right ear and slumped in his chair.
Mouse stood by the door to the waiting area and mini-mart, arms folded across her chest. I raised an eyebrow. She nodded, gave me a half-smile.
"You were saying," I said.
"Staci said their 'rents were killed in a car accident."
I remembered. And didn't like it. "It wasn't an accident."
Mouse nodded. "Bumped off."
Eddie jerked awake, sat up, and shuddered. He turned to me and grinned. "Bang on, luv. Parents were Nomura employees. Died in--"
"--in a car accident. Staci told us."
"Right. But three days before, there's a notation in their files about a meeting with their personnel department."
"What kind of meeting?"
"That's the dodgy bit. The notation was erased a few hours after entry."
Mouse walked up to the workstation. "You could tell?"
Eddie waggled his eyebrows at her. "We console jocks work in mysterious ways, luv."
She turned to me. "Can I hit him?"
"Their parents," I said to Eddie. "What did they do at Nomura?"
He glanced at the monitor. "Accounting department."
Mouse snapped her fingers. "They found something they shouldn't have."
"Cover up," I said.
"But how does Lotus fit in?" said Mouse.
"Nomura's an investment company," I said. "The higher-ups are two men related to White Lotus's second-in-command. Staci's and David's parents worked in accounting. They had a meeting with personnel but the notation was erased. Three days later, so were they."
"Money laundering," said Eddie.
"Their folks found out," Mouse said. "They tell personnel and get killed for it. And David's going after the person he thinks killed them. Takeda."
"And guess who deleted the personnel file entry?" said Eddie.
"Takeda, again," said Mouse.
"Bang on," I said.
My phone chirped. I answered.
Revell said, "You answer quickly for a dead woman."
Shit. "Where'd you hear that?"
(to be continued...)