Arc 2 · Between Two Worlds

7.4 Schemes in Sim City

#adult language

 “Now what reason would a teenage boy and girl come to Fairview Cemetery at twilight and visit the grave of a recently deceased woman, whose death is still part of an ongoing investigation?” Jules dragged out each syllable as he looked out for their tiniest reaction to his words.

So that’s where she heard the name McGinnis from – it was mentioned on GossipNews a few weeks ago. The news anchor had described the couple’s death as a crime of passion. According to the waitress, Saanvi McGinnis had accused her husband of adultery, prompting Manuia McGinnis to shoot her then himself in the heat of the moment.

“Mr Ellis, isn’t the case closed? Everyone says it’s a murder-suicide,” Athena said. “I overheard Marques in school saying he met the murderer that day and that he was a violent man.”

“Yes, Marques Goddard and his father have submitted their statements,” Jules replied. “I cannot discuss case details outside work. What I can tell you is that I’m the lead detective of this case, and I find the idea of two teenagers laying flowers for the deceased of my case to be quite- curious.” Jules emphasised.

“I understand how this looks, sir. But we have a reason for coming here, even if it’s a silly one.”

Athena and Jules turned to Curtis. Jules gave the teen a once-over.

“What’s your name, son?”

“Curtis. Curtis Michael.”

“Michael? That’s your last name.”

“Yes, sir.”

“That’s uncommon,” Jules remarked. “Do you have a driver’s license on you?

Curtis withdrew his wallet and passed his license to Jules.

“A motorbike license. What model do you ride?”

“A ZX-6R.”

Jules raised an eyebrow and shook his head. “Rich kids and your luxury purchases. Make sure you keep to the speed limit.” Rich? Was it just his assumption? Athena will have to silence her questions for now.

“Always do sir.”

Jules returned it after verifying Curtis’s name and noting down his age and address.

“So, what’s the reason for you two being here?”

Athena nervously shifted her eyes to Curtis. Curtis clearly knew a lot more than he let on. Would he divulge what he knew to Jules?

“We came here,” Curtis paused and made a guilty face. “on a dare.”

“How so?”

“We were hanging out at the promenade waterfront,” Curtis said. “I got her those flowers from there. After we left, I dared her to come with me to the cemetery and camp out here until midnight. We were looking for a good spot when we saw the grave and remembered the murder. We checked it out, paid our respects, then you came.”

Maybe she should practice an emotionless look in front of the mirror every day from now on, Athena thought as she kept a straight face for the umpteen time that day. Why did Curtis lie?

“Anyone I can speak with to check out your story?” Jules asked.

“We made a mess at the Strawsome Smoothie café, and the owner of Alami Potted Plants should remember us since we were his last customers,” Curtis replied.

“Most people wouldn’t remember such detail,” Jules exclaimed in alarm. “They usually say that smoothie shop, or that nursery. But your remembering the names of these places does make my job a lot easier.”

Curtis shrugged. “Just being helpful, sir.”

As Jules wrote in his notebook, he simultaneously processed their responses. Athena was how many teenagers would react when being questioned by an officer, jumpy and worried. Her friend, however, is surprisingly calm and composed. Even the ones who were guilty usually displayed some form of agitation or snide. Regardless, they were both compliant and cooperative, even if he did detect the girl’s eyes widening for a split-second midway during Curtis’s explanation. Maybe he should check out their story.

Jules tucked away his notebook and began a lecture. “Alright. Get going now. I don’t know what is it with kids and the need to test your nerves, but you don’t need me to tell you it’s a bad idea. Ms Renteria, crime statistics have consistently proved that women are likelier targets for all sorts of petty crimes at night.” He looked at her sternly. “I hope I don’t find you doing such foolish acts again, especially when you are a good friend of Kian’s.”

They left with Jules’s gaze hanging over them like a forbidding cloud. He looked over the yellow bulbs on the grave before returning to his unmarked car.

***********************************

“Kian.”

Kian glanced up at the mention of his name. “Trev! Your usual?” His classmate took a seat at the bar and caught the eye of Kian’s manager. As Trevor greeted him with an upwards nod, the manager lifted his hand to the top of his head and made a downward gesture, as if motioning Trevor to hide his face. Trevor smiled and waved him off.

“As if anyone would notice that I am underage. I’m only a few months away.” Trevor remarked.

“Can’t blame the man. He’ll get a hefty fine, and I’ll lose my job,” Kian said as he placed a Sea Splash in front of Trevor. “Your dad entertaining clients again?”

“You know how it is in business,” Trevor drank his beverage. “Loosen them up with some fine dining, a little wine, maybe a few girls and suddenly, that billion-dollar partnership sounds like a sweet deal. Except I think my dad’ll be the one to get loosened up tonight.”

Kian shook his head and smiled. “Who’s the high-profile client?”

“No clue. All I know is that she’s beautiful! I’m supposed to network with her tonight. That’s why my dad brought me along. But her bodyguard didn’t allow me to enter so here I am.” Trevor sighed. “Such a shame! I’d charm her off her feet like how I do his other clients, whisper sweet nothings, reignite her passions doused by the calamity of marriage and by the end of the night, dad will get his partnership while I,” he paused and smiled. “What’s life without a sprinkle of sugar?”

“Whatever rocks your boat. I’m glad you found your ‘calling’.” Kian jested.

Unbeknownst to them, there was another meeting being held in the private rooms of Babylon Club that night.

**************************

“I say Fisheye really killed himself. He always was an emotional nut. It’s a murder-suicide from every angle. There’s motive, eye-witnesses and phone records.”

“No. My men told me the lead detective is refusing to close the case. It’s possible they found somethin’. Y’think someone’s out to get us? How’d they find out about Fisheye? His record’s clear enough to rub shoulders with politicians! Now we lost our imports and laboratories in Oasis Springs!”

“Perhaps it is not his record, but his character that made him weak.” The man with the dragon tattoo and heavy jade rings spoke in a low slither. He turned to face them who ruled the streets of SimCity. “As Bane pointed, your late fifth member is a disorderly, rabid dog. It is possible that he made enemies of his own and paid with his life.”

“You– Who the plum are y’callin Fisheye a dog and interrupting us like that!? Y’come in here for the first time and you think you’re better than us or something? Who the plum’s this guy?? Y’don’t even speak our language!”

The circle grew silent, waiting for the man to respond. Masato didn’t, choosing to study Bowser who dared challenged him.

At the opposite end, Vincent spoke.

“I understand your apprehension towards our guest, especially since this is your first meeting with him – in addition to such turbulent times when we’ve lost a member of our circle.” Vincent spoke patiently. “Everyone, I’d like you to meet Masato — my guest tonight. His generous resources and supplies contributed to the monopolisation of the eastern market for over than 20 years now. His organisation has contributed greatly to my – our – position in SimCity. I can vouch and assure you that his expertise will be of assistance to us all. Do welcome him and treat him as one of us.”

“20 years…!? We’ve.. I’ve been plummin’ running this city with you for 6 years now and I’ve never even heard of this! Why the plum don’t I know about him until today!?”

Bowser didn’t realise that Masato had moved towards him. It must have been deliberate, for he was forced to lift his head at an awkward angle just to face the man.

“Simple,” Masato said as he looked down at him. “Your plans are unworthy of my time, nor can you afford my services. Your vision is small. You cannot even control the street gangs under your authority.” Masato gave a sly smile. “I heard the patrols have become so frequent that you’ve ceased operation in one of your territories. Unsurprisingly, one of your gangs had its members arrested soon after – Ricky and Devon under Steve’s command. Will they betray you? It would be no surprise given your lousy direction.” Bowser’s face grew redder and redder while the others cleared their throats awkwardly. “Perhaps Vincent,” Masato addressed his host, “You should consider cutting your losses before the entire ship sinks under the weight of one man.”

“YOU PLUMMIN’—”

“Sit down, Bowser!” Daemon put a firm hand on him to prevent Bowser from creating a scene. Bowser did as he was told, though he was visibly seething. Whoever this man was, he was well-informed. Even Bowser himself didn’t know all the names of the small-time delinquents in his gangs. He usually conversed with only the leaders. How does this outsider know?

“I’d like to stay, but my time is limited.” Masato paced the room. “I would like to present a temporary solution to your dilemma.”

“Go on,” said Vincent.

“You’ve had a huge loss in men and goods. Fisheye’s laboratories are no longer secure,” Masato stated. “I have a contact from Shang Simla who possesses the quality and amount you need for the scale of your operation.”

“How soon can we meet your contact?”

“Arrange a private jet, and you can ensure a full stock as of tomorrow.”

Vincent gave a nod. “Very well. Notify your contact.”

Masato diverted his gaze to Bowser. Though his face remained stern, Bowser swore there was a sneer in his eyes. The man was laughing at him. “Let it be clear that these Shang Simlarians are not my men. You are free to negotiate whatever terms at your own discretion. Of course, I expect compensation.”

“That is no matter. My p.a. will contact you shortly.” Vincent replied.

Masato nodded. “I assume you want me to look into Fisheye’s death?”

“Yes,” Vincent exclaimed. “Find out everything you know about him – family, friends, mistress and crew – Goddard, for instance. We need to know if he really was assassinated, who did it and why.”

Vincent turned to Bane. “Use your connections to have all police investigations halted. We don’t want them to discover Fisheye’s connection to us. Duplicate the evidence reports and send them to Masato. He will takeover the investigation.” Bane nodded.

“If nothing else I shall take my leave.”

Masato checked his watch as the hostess guided him to the stairwell. Exactly 10pm. Right on cue, the sound of footsteps and muffled speech were heard descending from the connecting stair above them. The hostess stopped Masato. “I’m sorry sir. For the privacy of our guests and yours, please let them pass before using the stairs.”

“Of course.”

As Kirino neared the concealed archway that led to the second floor, she could hear the chatter between a guest and his hostess as they wait behind the curtain. She deliberately paused at the archway and turned to her client. “I’m glad we see eye-to-eye Mr Jeong. May we have the most fruitful partnership for many years to come.”

“The feeling is mutual and please, call me Dwayne,” the owner of the largest telecommunication chain replied. “Trevor should be in one of the lounges. I’d like to at least introduce my son to you before we part. He is the heir of my empire. Someday, he will continue the partnership between our companies.”

Masato smiled, pleased at the competency of his own men as he made his way to the ground floor and blended into the crowd.


18 thoughts on “7.4 Schemes in Sim City

  1. Athena remembered quite a lot of details about the case she heard mentioned a few weeks ago on tv, especially the whole names. I usually forget names mentioned on the news within five minutes if they mean nothing to me. 😂
    Jules was acting weird. One moment he pretends he doesn’t know Curtis and then he does. Also teenagers hang out all possible places, especially at and after nightfall. Shouldn’t find it surprising. And also teenagers are weirdly fascinated by tragic deaths and not only them tend to put flowers on graves or places of violent deaths even if they didn’t know the victim personally. I had a classmate who I swear would cry a river anytime she heard about some young person’s tragic death. It was as though she relished in those emotions and grieving for someone she didn’t even know. 😂 I’m not kidding.
    Not sure I 100% understand what was going on with Masato and Kirino at the end of this chapter, but I hope things will become clearer to me.

    1. Wow. I’ve never had such classmates/people in my circle. Maybe we are colder. 🤣

      Jules doesn’t know Curtis. I think I see where I’m making it unclear for readers. Thank you for pointing it out. He’s actually making an assumption that Curtis is rich, but he doesn’t know who he is.

      I know of the practice of placing flowers by accident sites, but I never knew they’d actively go to the grave sites.

      Masato and Kirino’s plans are featured from time to time. Some of them are small plans and the motive will be revealed quickly. This one is a large plan though so feel free to put it on the backburner as they work on it. 😄

      Thank you for such a detailed comment. I like reading your analyses and insights.

  2. Well the confrontation with Jules went far better than expected!

    Haha, I knew the beautiful woman meeting Trevor’s dad would be Kirino. Looks like Masato is running the show, quite the puppet master – seems like taking out Fisheye was just a means to an end towards something bigger for him.

    I do wonder if Kirino has a plan of her own, separate from Masato’s agenda, or if she really is as loyal as it may seem.

    1. Oh yes, if you do have any questions about Masato’s schemes keep them with you, I aim to answer them all. 😄 I promise everything he does is with objective. Nothing is wasted… 😅

  3. What the—was Jules just camping the grave? Where did he come from? And I know he’s on the right track, but he’s being a bit hasty with his deductions. It’s suspicious that Curtis is calm, but not that he remembers the names of shops; they could be regulars. There’s no way he’s going to stop investigating after they hand the case to Masato.

    “Ms Renteria, crime statistics have consistently proved that women are likelier targets for all sorts of petty crimes at night.” He looked at her sternly. “I hope I don’t find you doing such foolish acts again, especially when you are a good friend of Kian’s.”

    Ohoho, Jules, you’re on my bad side now. “Hey, men keep attacking women at night, so instead of policing the aggressive men who make the streets unsafe, I’m going to have to tell you to make yourself a harder target. And then when someone gets attacked, I’ll shrug and say she had it coming; she knew the risks. We cool?”

    Ah, I’d suspected Trevor’s dad was meeting with Kirino. Trevor’s last name is Jeong? I’ll be watching to see how sketch Dwayne’s dealings actually are; I’m sure there’s some level of sketch going on if Trev’s talking about women like objects and tryna seduce people while still underage, but I’m not sure if it’s Masato-level sketch yet.

    Doesn’t look like Victor will last long as the boss, is what I’m getting.

    (‘eye-to-eye Mr Jeong’ -> ‘eye-to-eye, Mr. Jeong’)

    1. Haha! It’s his job to poke and prod. He’s not supposed to jump to conclusions (Though he did. Heh!)

      Ahh! I agree with that! He does have a traditionalist mindset hence his choice of words, though I don’t think he would blame the victim if something bad happens. I’ve met policemen who do though. Ugh. Yeah! Jeong from Vanessa’s line.

  4. It just bothers me that Kian’s dad totally doesn’t remember that Curtis was once his friend. I guess Curtis has changed, and Kian’s dad might not’ve paid that much attention to begin with. That, and Kian’s dad just bothers me. 🙂 But it’s more in a way you intended to happen. The guy’s a douchebag.

    As for the club of evildoers, that was kinda cool. I wish I had a better head for details and stuff, but I’m trying to put some of that info learned in that session in the back of my mind. With all the work stuff I’m learning, I hope it doesn’t get ‘deleted.’ It’s fun going along for the ride tho.

    And now I’m much more curious about Trevor.

    1. Oh yeah! I was going for the kids-have-many friends-hard-to-keep-track-of-them-all for Jules. Ahaha Yeah he’s got some strong biases!

      What are you talking about? Your story is plenty detailed? I especially liked how deep you take us into your characters. Like I get to know them at such levels of depth, their thoughts and emotions. I can’t imagine going any more detailed than that. I’m not sure what you mean by ‘deleted’. I hope it is fun!

      Oof yes Trevor is an interesting one. 😏 I’m excited to know what you think of him when his time comes.

      1. Lol I sometimes think of my brain like a computer. Sometimes stuff gets deleted off the hard drive. Kinda like when you treat a 32GB sd card like it’s a 64+GB sd card, and stuff gets randomly deleted because the amount of “space” is fictional.

        I honestly like Trevor. I wouldn’t be upset to see him turn into a bad guy too. 🙂

  5. Jules is incredibly weird to me, questioning two teenagers putting flowers on a grave. He seems paranoid, honestly. Even if Curtis actually had something to do with it.

    That meeting with Masato was so interesting. I wonder what he and Kirino are up to.

    1. Hm.. It might be a clash of cultural practices then. A few readers have, like you, found Jules acting weird too. This is pretty cool.

      Masato will be featured more in the future 🙂

  6. I had a date in a graveyard once. Not an unusual thing for teenagers. Haha. And there was a gorgeous graveyard park near my second apartment. People used to walk their dogs through there, or run, or walk. I would spend a lot of time there just hanging out since it was so pretty, plus it was fun to read some of the names on the stones and imagine their stories. And sad too.

    This chapter was amazing! I love all the working/moving pieces. I am pretty pissed at Trevor’s dad using his son to help cozy up to married women, or female clients to be. It’s so not okay to use a minor at all, and I don’t care if Trevor is almost 18. Trevor acting all nonchalant about it too – it’s not cool to be a pawn and to trifle in affairs you know nothing about, Trev. I liked you, but now… I’m worried about you because that client is Kirino. All the back room politicking too. Incredible! And the way Masato gave Bowser a proper dressing down was brilliant. I am still a bit confused about their angle here…. what they’re trying to accomplish. Who is Fisheye? Fisheye was the guy who died right? The cheating bastard who’s wife caught him because Kirino edged it along? Or was it someone else? And why won’t Kian’s dad let the investigation go? What evidence does he have?

    1. Wooow this has been incredibly eye-opening. Are your graveyards pretty? Are they parks? In AUS they look pretty too, like you say, people treat them like normal parks. I think when I made this chapter I was thinking about my time in SEA where graveyards can be beautiful like here, but most are… built for functional purposes only so it’s not a practice at all to go to gravesites unless for ceremonial purposes.

      I’m glad you like this chapter! Oof yeah Dwayne is teaching Trevor bigotry for sure. (I think there’s a better word here but this is the best I can come up with for now).

      I’m glad you like this chapter. Fish eye was the grub who cheated. (lol I’m so mean sometimes) I think I recall a chapter where I explained why Jules won’t let the investigation go, so I’ll refrain from answering what evidence Jules has for now. 🙂 I think you’ll figure it out easy though. XD

  7. Several things here! First, my dislike of Trevor has just grown. I just really dislike people with personalities like that, they’re annoying. Not to mention that he’s a minor cozying up to older women to help out his dad with his affairs, it’s just icky. I don’t like it, and I hate how nonchalant he is about it. But whatever, he’s not likable but he’s interesting, so I wonder where his storyline is going to go, especially since it was Kirino that he was referring to… you in danger, boy!

    Jules. Listen, I like him just fine, and the confrontation with Curtis went much better than I expected thanks to some quick thinking on Curtis’s part, but Jules came off as more than a little bit creepy and rude with the things he said to and assumed about Athena and Curtis. I get he’s a cop, AND I get that Curtis is actually involved with the Fisheye situation, but what cop is so immediately suspicious of teenagers? Especially ones he knows (though he doesn’t remember Curtis, which is fair, I assume Jules sees A LOT of people all the time, but is still awkward since Curtis has been Kian’s friend for 10 years). Not sure I’m a huge fan of Jules’s, but like Trevor above, I’m interested to see where his plot is going.

    With the baddies up in the secret meeting; you go Masato, show the lessers who they’re dealing with! It’s interesting to see more of what Masato and Kirino actually get up to, and how they achieve this.

    1. Ooooh you’re so right for both Trevor and Jules. Trevor is.. well interesting is my only description for him because you will see him again and he will outline his thoughts for you to get a better understanding of him. Jules same. But yeah they’re quite far away.

      Im glad you’re invested in their schemy success. Lets see if they achieve it. 😄

  8. Wow! So, Jules let them go with just a warning, even thought he thought they seemed suspicious. And he got Curtis’s address. Interesting … I wonder where it is since he thinks he’s rich because he has an expensive bike. Then Masato probably pays him well and he doesn’t have anything else to spend his money on.

    Trevor .. such a sleeze bag that thinks way too much of himself. And the meeting with Masato and the members of Fisheye’s mob. Interesting. He’s cooking up something big and Kirino is using Trevor’s dad as part of it. Hmmmm.

    1. Haha! Ikr. Where exactly can he use his money on and not rouse suspicion. And what do teens want? Definitely not some yummy spanking new bike.

      Rofl haha. Trevor is full of himself yeah. You’re right. Something is cooking behind the scenes. We’ll put this on the back burner for now. Too many things going on.

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