Chapter 11

At Comfort Inn on West 7th street, Zizume sat in her room at the table where the chess board had been placed. Zizume was tapping her finger on one of the enemy's pawns, trying to decide whether to remove it or not. Her facial expression was intense with concentration. June was sitting at the edge of the bed, watching as she finally released a sigh.

"Are you going to remove it or not?" June asked.

"I'm not sure…" Zizume murmured in reply. "It all depends if he's alive or not…"

"You don't know yet?"

"I'm only supposed to receive that information or from the cops." Zizume explained, "I haven't found out yet since Mr. Tanner didn't give me any news yet."

"Why not find out for yourself or have one of your co-workers do it for you?"

"Dad wants me to do this with little help as possible—I only have you and Steve for this mission. Plus, I could blow my cover if I try to check up on him."

"How?"

"What if Hannya tries to check up on him, too? Finds out that I paid a visit or that I had made a call. No, too dangerous—even if I could find a way eventually without blowing my cover, I don't have much time and it's easier to get a call from Mr. Tanner."

"Oh…"

The two women stop talking and the room was practically silent if wasn't for Zizume's finger tapping one of the pawns.

"…You…you don't feel bad about what happened with that guy, do you?" June finally asked.

"No…" Zizume answered, eyes still focused on the pawn. "No, Ryan was a stupid man—I have no close relations, so…"

"But, he did get shot and if he died…and you were the on holding onto him…" June pointed out carefully, trying not to push too much into the subject.

"Look, June." Zizume turned so she could face her friend, "I have shot people before. I have seen people die and I have seen my co-workers injured. This isn't my first mission. I'm not a rooky."

"Then what is bugging you so much?" June asked.

"…Well…Hannya shot her own member…" Zizume began with a sigh, turning back to the chess board. "I haven't really seen that strategy before… I grew up hearing about it, being taught about it and everything…just, I've never seen it. It wouldn't have bugged me so much if she wasn't so young… I mean, to be so young and have that much guts to do that—It just…surprises me. It shows how dead serious she is…how she knows what she's doing. She has everything planned—will to take extreme measures."

"That's bugging you? Didn't expect this?"

"I thought it was a game of smarts at first. But now I see that I've underestimated her." She answered, "This is a game of intelligence."

"What's the difference between game of intelligence and a game of smarts?" June asked.

"Smarts, you can gain through experiences. You learn how to be smart." Zizume explained, "Intelligence is something you're born with."

"…Oh."

"You still don't get it, don't you?"

"Not really."

"Rooky."

"Hey!"

"Listen. Carefully. Anyone can be smart, but not everyone is intelligent."

"Aren't they the same?"

"Of course not! Smart people tend to make stupid mistakes! They learn through experiences—applying what you know. Intelligent people are more careful, more intellectual, being able to learn. Get it?"

"Not really."

"Forget it." Zizume sighed as she gave up. "But that's not the point—I could have made a stupid mistake with my assumption."

June tried to give comfort, "Don't worry, you'll win."

"It's not about winning, June."

"Gosh, nothing satisfies you!"

"I'll be satisfied if I know if Ryan is dead or not."

"…Hey, Zizume…have you ever killed someone before?"

"…Probably without knowing."

"Without knowing?"

"I get into fights, but I never check the damage that I've done."

"So you won't feel guilt?"

"Is there a reason why I should?"

"Geez, are you guys just killers? Assassins? Mafia-Gang? What?"

"You still don't get it, do you?"

"No! Am I supposed to from the get go?"

Zizume began to explain, "The best way I can put it is that The Company is a distorted society. We have our own rules. We have our own leaders. We have our own upper, middle, lower, and working classes. We're made up of individuals and we make our own families. We're a black spot on this world's society. We do our own thing. We're anything we want to be."

"…It's sounds like you've been brainwashed with this stuff since you were a kid." June rolled her eyes.

"If I'm brainwashed, so are you!"

"How?!"

"Weren't you raised with your parents' ideals and ways?"

"Well…yes, but—"

"You then must agree with what they taught you, right? That's what most people do. It's what you were raised and told to think. That's what your society does. They tell you how to think. My society allows us to be what we really are. My dad just gives me the ropes of how things work, but he tells me I can work things the way I want to."

"…God, you're a group of conspirators!"

"Shut up."

"You shut up! …Wait, I thought I was part of your society?"

"No. You have to earn it. You still are stuck with your old ways."

June's special phone began to ring and she answered it, "Hello?"

"Company Member—civilian." Derek's voice came over the phone.

"Derek? What's up?"

"Mr. Tanner gave me some news about Mr. Yount. …Ryan is a live—barely. The two shots hit his upper back, which means they hit the vital organs in the ribcage. One punctured his lung while the other grazed his heart pretty badly. He's alive, but he won't be talking any time soon. He's still under careful watch. Tell Lil' Red this." And then he ended the call.

"…Ryan's alive, but barely. He's pretty badly injured and won't be giving out information any time soon…" June told the message.

Zizume removed one of her own pawns and placed to the side, then she moved one of the opponents pawns forward. "This slows us down…what a gutsy girl she is… I should really stop underestimating her…"

"Now what?" June asked.

"What else is there to do but simply wait for our next turn…"