Ladies of the Board
“So, you all have your targets?”
The teams nodded as they looked at each other across the large table.
“Excellent – we need all four to be here by 1800 hours, to allow us to perform the actions that need to be taken later. We do not anticipate any issues, and if we are successful, it will be a great help to our superiors.”
Looking at each other, the teams nodded in agreement.
“Good luck – and good hunting…”
Walking down Oxford Street, Miko smiled as she looked into the shop windows. It had been a pleasant break so far – particularly given her husband was in business meetings most of the time, allowing her to be herself.
There was a cool breeze blowing, so she had buttoned up her black coat, as well as wrapping a pink scarf round her neck and tucked into the front of the coat. Under the coat was a grey jumper and black skirt, the grey matching the fingerless gloves she was wearing.
The heels of her knee length black leather boots clicked on the pavement as she walked along, her legs kept warm by the dark tights. As she passed Selfridges, she stopped and looked at the display in the window, advertising a new range of perfumes.
“Interesting,” she said to herself as she walked in, making her way across the shop floor as she looked at the large display. “Memories – remember them? An interesting tagline,” she said to herself as a young woman in a blue dress walked over.
“Are you interested in a sample, Madame,” she said with a smile as she stood next to Miko.
“Possibly – I cannot say I have heard of this firm,” Miko said as she looked at the signage.
“Ah, that is likely – we are a new, but exciting company,” the woman said with a smile. “This is our first launch. So, would you like to try a sample?”
“Oh go on then,” Miko said as she pulled the sleeve of her coat up, the young woman picking up a bottle and tipping it over, then rubbing it on the Japanese woman’s wrist. As she put it to her nose and inhaled, Miko smiled as she said “a most – interesting scent. What are the key ingredients?”
“Ah – I am afraid that must remain a trade secret, Madame,” the girl said with a smile, “would you care to have a further sample? I have an atomizer here I can use.”
“All right then,” Miko said as the girl picked up a second bottle, and then sprayed it into her face. She blinked twice, and then wondered why her head was suddenly feeling so woolly as her eyes slowly closed…
As she started to fall, two more women in blue dresses walked quickly over and held her under her arms, the trio half walking, half carrying her to a staff entrance, then out and into a waiting van. Sitting her on the floor of the van, two of the women picked up lengths of rope and bound Miko’s wrists and ankles together, the third one holding her in a sitting position as they did so.
They then collected more ropes, binding her arms to her sides and her legs below her knees, before a length of brown sticking plaster was pressed over her lips. Laying her gently on the floor, the assistant jumped out of the van, closing the doors behind her before she got behind the wheel and drove off…
“Bring her in here,” the woman in black said as Miko was carried into the room. Sitting the unconscious woman up, they removed the ropes from her arm and wrists and gently removed her coat, scarf and hat, before taking her arms behind her back and re-tying her wrists.
They then wrapped more rope around her arms and chest, forcing them against her body as they framed her chest, and laid her with her head on a pillow.
The juggler was entertaining the crowd in Convent Garden as Suki watched on, enjoying his skills. The forty year old woman had a grey coat over her outfit – a peach jumper over a white blouse, with a matching scarf wrapped round her neck, and white pants with the legs tucked into long coffee coloured leather boots.
As she watched, she was aware of a number of people stopping and watching with her, including two young women clearly in love with each other, from the way they kissed and held each other. She smiled, thinking of her own lover, and then applauded as the juggler finished his act. Looking round, she made her way to a coffee shop and sat down, ordering a cappuccino and watching as the young couple sat at the table next to her.
Taking a sip from her cup, she looked round, and then looked at her phone as she checked her messages.
She looked up to see one of the girls sitting opposite her, the black leather jacket over a white t-shirt.
“Good afternoon,” Suki said quietly, “can I help you?”
“Well, I really hope so,” she said with a smile, “because I have a special offer to make to you.”
“Oh – and that is?”
“That you come with us, quietly and without making a fuss,” she said as her partner came and stood behind Suki, and she opened her jacket, Suki’s eyes widening as she saw the pistol in the inside pocket.
“Please, as I said, no fuss,” the girl said as she stood up, Suki slowly standing as she put her handbag over her shoulder, the peach scarf tied on the handle. The second girl smiled as she walked on the other side of the older woman, Suki looking from side to side as she wondered what she could do.
The trio made their way into a back road, and approached a black van as the side door opened. “Get in,” the young woman said, Suki nodding as she climbed into the back with both of them. The second girl then took Suki’s handbag, removing the scarf and folding it into a band before she used it as a blindfold over the older woman’s eyes.
“What are you doing,” she said as she felt her hands been taken behind her back, and then the rope as they were bound tightly together.
“I think you need to be quiet now,” she heard the young woman say, and then she felt her hands removing the scarf round her neck. “Open your mouth.”
“Open your mouth, Suki,” the girl said, and then she felt the pressure on her back from a small disc. Opening it, she felt the band of cloth as it went between her teeth and lips, pressing on her tongue as it was tied tightly round her head, and she was made to sit down, feeling more rope around her ankles.
“Move out,” she heard the woman say as there was a banging sound, and then the movement of the van…
“Whehehmmhh,” Suki said as she was sat on a soft seat, feeling her coat as it was pulled down her arms, and then her wrists untied as it was pulled off before the rope was tied round them again.
She felt her arms been forced into her sides as more rope was tied round her chest, and then the blindfold was removed. She blinked several times, and then called out “Mhhkkeee?”
“Hmhgghhddd,” Miko said as she saw her friend on the bed opposite. The dark stain in her peach scarf between her lips contrasted with the bright colours, as she wriggled round, wondering who had brought them together like this…
“I am what I am, and what I am, needs no excuses…”
Hana sang to herself as she filled the teapot and put the kettle down. It had been a good day, and she was in a good mood. The fifty year old had seen her husband off to the board meeting that morning – and, if she was been honest, she much preferred it when he was not at home.
She was wearing a black blouse, the collar turned up, with high waisted dark grey pants and long black riding boots. A yellow shawl was over her shoulders, her hair cut short and dyed copper red.
As she heard the knock on the front door, Hana smiled – she was expecting a delivery, and this was about the time she was expecting it to be delivered. Walking to the front door, she opened it, smiling at the young woman standing there in brown cargo shorts and polo shirt.
“Got a delivery for you,” she said as she held a large box in her hands, “and I need you to sign for it. Do you mind if I come in and put this down first?”
“No, of course not,” Hana said as she stood to one side, watching as the girl slowly carried the box into the front room and placed it on the coffee table before she handed the Japanese woman a pad.
“Could you sign there please,” she said as she handed Hana the pad with a pen, the older woman nodding as she looked at the form and signed it.
“Thank you – now very slowly, put the pad down, and put your hands in the air.”
“What did you just say?” Hana looked up to see the woman looking at her, the box now open and a gun in her hand.
“I said, put your hands in the air,” the courier said quietly, Hana staring at her before she slowly raised them. The woman smiled, as she reached into the bag and took out a roll of clear tape.
“Turn round, and put your hands behind your back,” she said to Hana, smiling as she waved with the gun in her hand. The older woman nodded, and did as she was told, looking over her shoulder as the courier put the gun down, tore the end of the roll free, and wrapped it tightly round her wrists, holding them together and her hands palm to palm.
Turning her round, she reached into the box again and took out a red sponge ball, squeezing it in her hand as she said “now, open your mouth, and allow me to put this in.”
“What are you doing this for,” Hana asked quietly.
“All will be explained,” the courier said as she pushed the compressed sponge into her mouth, Hana trying not to choke as it expanded and pushed her tongue down. As she closed her lips, the courier tore a strip of the clear tape off, and carefully pressed it over her mouth, making sure there were no air bubbles or creases in the covering.
“There,” the courier said as she picked the gun up again, and arranged the shawl over Hana’s shoulders, “let’s go for a little walk, nice and normally.”
“What on earth is going on,” Hana said to herself as she was walked out of her house and into the waiting van, the courier making her sit in the front of the van and fastening the seatbelt over her, before she picked up a pair of sunglasses and put them on the captive. Hana was blinded, unable to see as the van moved off, the courier saying “we need to get a move on – the show is due to finish at three…”
Sakura clapped as the next model walked down the raised walkway, smiling as she looked at the outfit. In her role as a Fashion editor, this was a work day for her – and it was a job she enjoyed, especially as she liked to dress smartly herself.
For this event, she was wearing a chocolate brown cowl necked jersey dress – a short one, just covering what needed to be covered when she was sitting with her legs crossed. Her boots were knee length, and made with soft sand coloured leather, with a two inch long square heel.
“Magnificent,” she said as she clapped, the silver earrings visible under her carefully coiffured ginger hair. As model after model walked past, she made careful note of the styles, the designs – all the time with her mind partially on what she was planning to do with the rest of the day.
Finally, the models came out and applauded the designer, as Sakura stood with the others. Picking up her shoulder bag, she talked to one or two of the other women, before she removed her mobile phone and went out into the hallway.
“I should have my article to you in the next few hours – it was an interesting show, and I am sure the magazine will be more than capable of supporting this designer in the future.
“Of course – I will call when it is sent to you,” she said as she ended the call, and stepped into the ladies room. As the door closed, she was surprised as a damp cloth was pressed over her nose and mouth, and she reached up to try and pull it away.
The grip on her was strong, however, and as she opened her mouth to call for help she inhaled the fumes, her mind immediately starting to fog as she looked in the mirror. She could see the blurred form of a woman, wearing a brown polo shirt and cargo pants, as her mind slowly shut down, and she slipped into unconsciousness…
As she was lowered gently to the ground, the door to a stall opened and a tall woman came out, dressed in black. She nodded to the courier as Sakura was put into a seated position, the woman in black binding her ankles with thin rope as the courier held her up, then swapping as the second woman took her hands behind her back and bound her wrists with another length of the rope.
The woman in black then peeled a length of silver tape from her top, and pressed it firmly over the older captive’s mouth, before she lifted her over her shoulder, watching as her partner looked out of the door and up and down the corridor, before they both quickly walked to a rear entrance. The brown van was waiting outside, as the side door was opened and Sakura was carried inside.
“Hsthhrrr,” Hana said as she moved her head round, twisting her bound legs as she did so. There was no response as Sakura was sat next to her, and the van moved off…
“oh my god,” Miko said as she and Suki saw the door open, an armed guard watching as the two latest captives were brought in and laid on beds. They were both free, but they watched the women in brown and black as they made their way to the door.
“You may release them,” the woman in black said, “and explain where they are.” The door was closed behind them, and locked, as Hana raised her head and said “Whtthssshponndd?”
Suki walked over and helped her to sit up, removing the glasses and peeling the clear tape form her mouth as she looked at the other two. “Shkkeee? Mhkkiii? Whttthehllss going on,” she finally said as she managed to get the sponge out of the mouth, and looked at the other bed.
“Yes, that is Sakura,” Miko said. “I fear we have been kidnapped to enforce something on our husbands.”
“But there is one of us not here!”
“For the moment,” Suki said as she untied Hana, “let’s make sure Sakura is unbound – and then we just have to wait…”
“Ladies and gentlemen, please allow me to introduce the chairperson of the Japanese-British Arts Exchange Foundation, Mrs Noa Takeda!”
The orchestra stood and applauded as the tall, slim middle aged Japanese woman came onto the stage, smiling as she applauded them. She had short black hair cut into a bob, and was wearing a pale blue silk dress with a round neckline and short puffed sleeves, a coloured fern pattern printed on it. Dark hose, and a pair of knee length black leather boots, completed her outfit.
“Thank you, thank you all,” she said as she looked out at the audience, “for coming today to hear this wonderful chamber orchestra, and for supporting our continued efforts to promote musical and artistic exchanges between our two great nations. For now, however, I invite you to join us for some refreshments in the next room.”
The audience applauded again as Noa bowed, and then left the stage as one of the waitresses came over.
“My apologies, Madame Takeda,” the blonde said as she made a slight bow, “but your husband is on the telephone. You will find it in that room over there?”
“No apologies are necessary – thank you for informing me,” Noa said with a smile as she went into the room, closing the door behind her as she picked up the handset.
“Darling, I thought you were in meetings all day…
“No, I haven’t heard from any of the others – I thought Sakura was coming here after the fashion show, but I have not seen her yet. Is something wrong?
“No, if I see them, I will send word to you. You need to be in this meeting – I will talk with you later tonight.” As she put the handset back, Noa took her own phone out of her purse and looked at her messages.
“No – nothing from any of them,” she said quietly – and then looked over as a second door to the side of the room opened, and a red haired woman in a matching jersey dress walked in.
“My apologies, Madame,” she said with a bow as she produced a small gun from behind her back, “but you need to come with us.”
“Us?” She turned as the other door opened, and the waitress came in, also holding a gun in one hand and a small holdall in the other. “Please remain calm,” she said as the door closed, “no harm will come to you if you co-operate.”
“Ah,” Noa said quietly, “is there a reason my husband’s fellow directors have not been able to contact their wives?”
“There is indeed – and all will be explained soon,” the redhead said as Noa felt her arms bene pulled behind her back, and the cords as her wrists were forced together rubbing on her skin. She then gasped even more as she felt her arms been pulled together, the rope wrapped tightly round her elbows as they touched.
“May I ask who is behind this?”
“As I say, all will be explained in due course,” the woman said as the rope was pulled between Noa’s arms and tied off, and she felt her coat been placed over her body, covering her arms as the redhead fastened it.
“What makes you think I will not call for help when you walk me out,” she said quietly as the two women stood in front of her.
“It is a fair question,” the waitress said as she went back to the bag, and brought out a roll of flesh coloured tape. Tearing a length off, she pressed it carefully over the older woman’s mouth, before she said “I think, somehow, we will manage it.”
“Shhhchnsheee,” she mumbled as the waitress looked outside, and then she was walked between both of them to a waiting car outside. As she was helped to sit in the back, the waitress came to the other side and sat next to her, before the redhead got behind the wheel. Noa looked at the tinted windows, as the car drove off – and then grunted as a black scarf was tied over her head, acting as a blindfold…
As the blindfold was removed, and Noa was helped out of the car, she saw she was in a courtyard, the two women escorting her into a long building, and then into what looked like a meeting room. She was sat down in a chair, her ankles and legs secured to the front leg of the chairs, before the redhead said “please, wait here.”
“Vreeffneee,” Noa said as she looked round – it was just like a normal meeting room, but with no windows, albeit very well ventilated…
A few minutes later, the door was opened and her eyes opened wide as armed guards escorted in Miko, Suki, Hana and Sakura. Each of them had their upper body bound in ropes, and as they were sat down their ankles and legs were secured to the chair in the same way as hers.
As the tape was removed from her mouth, Noa said quietly “All of us?”
“So it would appear,” Miko said as she was ungagged. “We all have been kidnapped – I presume to force our husbands to come to a decision on something.”
“That would be correct.”
The deep voice took them by surprise, making them almost glow as they heard it, and they turned to see three women in the door. One Noa recognised as the redhead who had brought her here, and one was a tall brunette, wearing a silk sweater and a designer trouser suit. It was her who had spoken – but it was the third person she recognised instantly. Petite, with long dark hair, wearing a black jacket and skirt and white blouse, she inclined her head as she said “Miss Tanaka – so the business is with your father.”
“Indeed,” Tamiko Tanaka said quietly. “My father has been trying to conclude some business with the firm employing your husbands, but with little success. So, with regret, I have invited you with the kind permission of this woman to meet, and to discuss how we approach them to resolve this situation in a – mutually agreeable manner. Please, secure their waists and release their arms.”
“Do as she says,” the brunette whispered as they all felt the ropes around their wrists and arms removed, and their waists tied to the chair backs. “Now,” Tamiko said as she sat down, “let us talk.”
“So this is a way of repairing bridges with the Oyaban,” Penny said as she and the brunette left the room.
“Indeed,” Madame X said with a smile, “a most effective way. Please, ensure the meeting is monitored – you never know what we might learn…”