Norika Edo paced back and forth next to one of the huge picture windows of her apartment that offered a panoramic view of the Roppongi District of Tokyo. She spoke loudly into a satellite phone and then tossed it onto a couch as she stopped pacing and stared for a long time at the carefully manicured gardens five floors below her. The fifth floor of the Izumi Villa Tower was entirely leased by the Edosan Corporation, an international import company dealing principally in precious stones and gold. There were actually very few employees, as most of their buying and selling was arranged by telephone and computer. Norika Edo was tall for a Japanese woman, in her early forties and still possessing the exquisite features of a woman in her twenties. Due to the sudden death of her husband she had recently become the sole owner of the company. The fifth floor of the tower served both as the corporate offices and her residence. The phone call she had just received did little to alleviate her frustration, a feeling that she unrelentingly passed on to all of her employees and others in her hire.
Norika was making very little progress in resolving a problem that had consumed her every waking moment of the last four months—from the day that the island of Honshu had experienced a major earthquake. The fact that nearly 20,000 people had died, 400,000 people had been left homeless, and a nuclear power plant had leaked radioactivity and caused a meltdown did not bother her. Her concern was for a very small, unmanned watercraft—an escape pod that had been lashed to the aft deck of a freighter that just happened to be anchored in the Miyako Harbor at the time of the quake. The Kanji Maru had turned on her port side and had been pushed under a bridge by the receding tsunami wave, drowning most of the crew as the boat sunk just outside the bay. One of the survivors reported that her husband made it into the ship’s lifeboat which may have remained attached to the ship.
When Norika heard about the tragedy, she immediately ordered a salvage crew to find the sunken vessel and to retrieve her husband’s body and a certain item of cargo, only to learn that they were missing and presumably had become part of the massive raft of floating debris consisting of houses, docks, vessels, vehicles, toxic chemicals, personal possessions, and, of course, thousands of corpses.
For weeks after the tsunami, Norika dispatched search team after search team to find the small escape pod from the vessel amongst the debris that continued to drift eastward across the Pacific. Other teams searched inland in the event that scavengers had already salvaged the pod and secreted it away for later resale. Each day the reports were the same—the pod had not been found. She kept the real reason for the search a secret, leaving Edosan employees and the search teams mystified as to why she wanted so desperately to find the boat, knowing that her husband was most likely dead. Only she and one of her most trusted employees, who had just made a report to her, knew that the little pod contained one hundred million dollars in bearer bonds from an offshore bank in the Marshall Islands and another one hundred and fifty million dollars’ worth of diamonds that belonged to her now-dead husband and his business associates. What the rest of her employees did know was that their boss, like her dead husband, was a Yakuza—a crime lord—and they dare not fail in their search.
Her personal cell phone rang again. Norika retrieved it and looked at the number on the display. It blinked “Unknown Caller.” Her tone was terse as she took the call. “This is a private number. Who’s calling?” she demanded.
“Now, Norika that is no way to greet a longtime associate of your husband.”
“Yuri Matasuba! Even if you had called through my personal secretary, I have no reason to offer any pleasantries to you. And in case you are thinking of hanging up quickly, watch your ass. You may get stuck with a needle filled with puffer-fish toxin.”
“Oh, a most unpleasant lady making such violent threats,” Yuri replied with a voice that was even icier than her own. “So I am pleased to respond in kind. Your dead husband was involved in a certain business transaction with myself and another associate whose identity I cannot reveal. It involves a large sum of bearer bonds and diamonds that now seem to have disappeared from our account in the Marshalls. My source informed me that your husband was the person who withdrew, shall we say, these joint assets. He covered his tracks well, but not well enough! Before he most unfortunately died, the young clerk who assisted your husband told us everything. We would like to receive our share—with interest, of course. You have ten days to make arrangements for the transfer. You will be contacted as to the details. Have a most pleasant day, Norika.”
Norika Edo was both furious and frightened as she threw the phone across the room. She turned to the window facing the east side of the city and beyond. Somewhere out on the Pacific was the escape pod with her husband, the bonds and diamonds. It had to be there, and she had an impossible ten days to find it.