Safety in Numbers
In the patriarchal business world of Japan, Tanaka Incorporated was the unusual one – unusual because the company was managed by two sisters. Yua and Sakura were twins, and left the business by their father when he died – a business they had helped to grow over the years.
Both were in their mid-fifties, and were walking as they usually did from the metro station to the offices. Sakura was the taller of the two, wearing her long greatcoat over her brown two piece suit, the burgundy red leather boots covering her lower legs as she walked down the street carrying her books. Yua was wearing a military style great coat over a fawn coloured jumper and long skirt, with chocolate brown baggy leather boots.
They liked to arrive in the early hours, the better to react to news from the US, so it was six in the morning when they entered the lobby of the building. “Where is the guard,” Yua said as she noticed the empty desk – and then saw the uniformed man as he came from the washroom, bowing formally as he said “my apologies, honoured ladies – I was…”
“It is unnecessary,” Yua said with a smile as they walked to the lift, the guard watching as they went in before he picked up a walkie talkie.
“They’re on their way up…”
“I always find the silence so comforting,” Sakura said as they walked along the corridor, the square heels of their boots sinking into the thick carpet that covered the floor of the executive suite. So when they walked into their offices, and saw the four young men standing there, they were taken by surprise.
All four were smartly dressed – fitted black suits, white shirts, black ties, highly polished black shoes, and dark glasses covering their eyes – but as one of them produced a handgun and aimed it at the two women, Yua said “Ah – it would appear we have uninvited guests.”
“Good morning,” one of the men said as he bowed deeply, “forgive us, but we have business to conduct here, and it is necessary to ensure you cannot interfere. Please, remove your coats, and then take a seat in these chairs.”
He indicated two wooden chairs, with curved armrests, Yua and Sakura nodding as they hung their coats on the stand, and then took a seat next to each other as a second man opened a large bag, and removed several lengths of white rope.
“You at least are showing respect,” Yua said as the man took her arms around the chair back, and she felt the rope as he bound them tightly together, and then to the back of the chair.
“You are both worthy of respect – and we regret this is necessary,” the man said as he moved behind Sakura, and began to bind her wrists in the same way.
“So why do this?”
“As I say, we have business to conduct here,” was the only response as a third man took two lengths of rope, and knelt on the floor, placing Yua’s ankles together and wrapping the rope round them, the cords sinking into the soft leather as they were secured and then tied to the front leg of the chair.
As he moved over to Sakura, the man who had spoken took a longer length of rope, and wrapped it around Yua’s upper body, securing it to the chair back as she looked at her sister.
“Does this have anything to do with our brother?”
“I could not say – but I would say the chances are high,” Sakura said before she grunted as the ropes were tied round her upper body. “I would imagine we will be unable to talk?”
“That is correct,” the man said as he folded two large black silk squares into pads. “Please, open your mouths…”
The security guard looked up as the main doors opened, and two women walked in. One had long dark hair pulled back from her head, a rubber band holding her hair there as it flowed back, and a long white wool coat over a mustard coloured cowl necked jumper with a matching pleated skirt. Her black patent leather boots clicked on the floor, as she said “another wonderful day at work, Akari?”
“Indeed Sara,” the second woman said. She was wearing a white woollen hat over her hair, the frock coat open over her cream cowl necked sweater, the brown suede skirt down over her knees and the tops of her brown leather boots.
“Good morning,” the guard said as they showed him their badges.
“Where is the normal guard?”
“He called in sick,” the man said with a smile as they walked to the lifts, and then he checked in the rear room – the guard looking up at him over the silver band that was wrapped round the lower half of his head.
“Good morning,” Sara said as the two women walked into the office – and then they saw their bosses sitting in the chairs, the black material sticking out from their mouths, the ropes holding them fast.
“Ah good – your secretaries. Take them into the interior office, and have them do what is required before they are secured.”
Yua nodded as Akari felt the pressure on her back, looking at Sara as they both raised their hands in the air and were made to walk into the inner offices.
“Open the safes,” one of the two men walked in with them said as the other kept his gun trained on the two women. Akari slowly squatted down, her skirt spreading out to cover her boots, as she turned the dials on the cast iron door of the floor safe and then opened it up.
“Excellent – both of you, sit down on the floor, and link your arms.”
Both Yua and Akari looked at the men, before they sat themselves down, linking their arms as one of the men took a length of white rope from several that he had bought in. He knelt beside Akari, smiling as he crossed her wrists in front of her and then bound them tightly together.
“You will stay in here,” the second man said as his partner moved to the other side and secured Sara’s wrists tightly together, “and you will remain silent. If you do not remain silent, we will further silence you.”
“We’ll be quiet,” Sara grunted as the rope was tightly pulled between her wrists, and then watched as the man took more rope, his partner putting the gun down and starting to look through the contents of the safe as her legs were bent and her ankles secured together. The man then took more rope and wrapped it round her legs above her knees, drawing the skirt around her legs before he tied her wrists down to that band.
He then went back to Akari, bending her legs and wrapping the rope round her suede skirt, the material seeming to lighten under the tension before her wrists were secured down as well. He then stood up and took the final length of rope, securing the two of them together as they watched the safe being emptied.
“Do not make a sound, either of you – walk forward, pick one up, and put it in your mouth.”
“I think they’ve arrived as well,” Akari whispered, twisting round as the ropes squeaked while rubbing on the leather and suede, before she heard the sound, and looked at one of the men as he tore a strip of brown sticking plaster from a wide roll.
“Put your lips together…”
Yua looked at her daughter and said “Dwhhtthshshheee.” Her daughter also had her mother’s name, and was wearing a grey beret to one side over her dark hair, the long grey cardigan fastened over her black dress with a matching scarf tied as a cravat round her neck. The tight long black leather boots hugged her legs as she looked at her cousin.
Sakura’s daughter Aol was wearing a purple wool jacket over a striped blouse and long cream skirt, a thin black leather belt round her waist, and tan leather boots. She was holding herself, trying not to cry as the smartly dressed men looked at her.
“Do not make a sound, either of you – walk forward, pick one up, and put it in your mouth.”
Both young women looked at the sponge balls the man was holding in his gloved hands, before they slowly walked to him, and took one in their hands. “Be brave,” Yua said to Aol, the other woman nodding as they compressed the sponges and then pushed them into their open mouths, their mothers watching as the sponges expanded and pushed their cheeks out.
The other man tore strips from a roll of silver tape and pressed them over their lips, as two more identically dressed men came in from the inner office, one carrying a case.
“Secure them while we search the rest of the office. Kneel, facing each other, and put your arms round each other.”
“Whllbhhlrht,” Yua said as she slowly knelt, making sure her skirt was to trapped under her knees as Aol knelt in front of her, her skirt flowing out as they nodded and put their arms round each other.
Two of the men took lengths of rope each and knelt behind the two young women, The soft gasps from their covered mouths made their mothers watch closely, as the wrists of each of them were secured behind the other’s back so that they were, literally, caught in a tight embrace. They could only look over each other’s shoulder, Aol seeing the two bound and gagged secretaries through the door to the inner office, as the men took more ropes and put their feet together, the rope sinking into the soft leather as it was used to secure them together.
Yua and Sakura were struggling in their chairs, the cloths in their mouths getting damper by the second as they watched their own daughters being tightly bound, ropes going from Yua’s wrists to Aol’s ankles and from Aol’s wrists to Yua’s ankles, the tape crinkling over their mouths as they tried to speak.
Aol raised an eyebrow as more rope was tied round their upper bodies, the boost squeaking as they tried to move, hoping and praying their friends would not come into the building…
“Can I help you ladies?”
The guard was looking at two women who had just come in, smiling as they stood in front of the desk. They were identical in terms of height and looks, and both were wearing jackets with a grey check and black sleeves and collar. One of the women was wearing a wide brimmed black hat, the collar of the red blouse over the collar of her jacket, and a long dark blue skirt, with tight black leather boots.
The other woman had permed black hair, and was wearing a white roll neck sweater under her jacket, the skirt made of the same material as her jacket and covering her knees as well as the tops of her own black leather boots. She smiled as she said “my name is Hina Mifune, this is my twin sister Niko. We have an appointment to meet with Yua Akido and Aol Harada.”
The guard looked at both of them, and said “I am afraid neither of them have come into the office as of yet…”
“But we saw them come in a few minutes ago,” Niko said quietly, “so please, allow us to come in.”
The guard smiled and shook his head as he stood up, and then removed the pistol he had in a holster at his side and pointed it at both of them. “I’m sorry ladies, but your plans have been changed. Keep your hands where I can see them, and come with me.”
The two women looked at him, and then raised their hands slowly into the air as he motioned for them to walk in front of him, and down to a store cupboard. He opened the door and looked in, before he said “Get in there, and lie face down, hands behind your back.”
“What on earth is going on,” Hina said as they walked in, the man closing the door and taking Niko’s hat as they both first knelt, then lay down.
“You have unfortunately and potentially compromised an operation,” the guard said as he reached into a pocket, and drew out a roll of black tape. Kneeling by the side of Hina, he crossed her wrists at the small of her back, and then used the tape to secure them tightly together.
As he crossed her ankles and wound the tape tightly round them, Hina looked at Niko and said “I wonder what had happened to the others?”
“I suspect they are similarly unable to have breakfast,” Niko said quietly, Hina laughing as the man walked round and started to tape her wrists together behind her back.
“So do we get to know who you are, and what this is about,” Hina said as she tried to move, hearing the squeak of leather on leather.
“No, I regret to say, you do not, at least from me,” the man said as he secured her sister’s ankles together, and then rolled them over, making them bend their legs slightly before he used the black tape to secure their legs together over the skirt, above their knees.
“I regret,” he said as the two women lowered their legs, the black band clearly visible as they wriggled round, “that you must remain here in this closet.” Sitting them up, he reached to the side of the room and picked up two clean clothes, before he said “open your mouths…”
As the four men left the room, Yua and Aol looked at their mothers as they twisted round, trying to find some give in the ropes that were holding them together and their wrists to each other’s ankles. Their mothers could only watch, knowing there was no way they, their daughters nor their secretaries were going to be able to raise the alarm or call for help as they sat there.
Not for another hour, when the next staff were due in…
The guard closed the door and watched as the four men walked out of the lift.
“Did you get what the Honoured Father required?”
“We did – let us depart,” their leader said as they walked away, while in the closet Niko and Hina were twisting round, the tape holding their arms against their bodies and the cloths in their mouths as it sat between their lips.
The distinguished gentleman sat and nodded as he took the call.
“And my sisters are all right?
“Very well then – see that all are taken care of, and then bring the reports back to me. Ensure the guard is suitable chastised as well.”
He put the phone down and looked at his son as he sat on the other side of the desk.
“It would appear they think hitting the legitimate business my sisters run sends me a message,” he said as the dark haired man looked at his father. “Ensure they know I got the message clearly and completely.”
“Of course father,” he said as he stood up, bowing before he left the room…