St. Stephens College
The halls of the college were quiet as Harvey walked up the stairs and then down the corridor towards the office door. He wasn’t surprised it was closed. At this hour most of the campus was already asleep. Harvey knew it was late but he couldn’t avoid this conversation any longer. He needed some answers. Harvey knocked firmly on the door and then waited a few minutes before it was opened.
“Harvey! This is a surprise. What time is it?” asked a sleepy looking Clive Atkinson as he wiped his eyes.
“It’s nearly midnight. I’m sorry Mr. Atkinson for bothering you at this hour but I needed to talk with you.”
“It must be very important. Come into my office and we can have a brief chat. Take a seat.”
Clive indicated for Harvey to sit in one of the brown leather chairs and he sat in the other one next to him.
“So tell me Harvey, what’s on your mind?”
“Who is Jon Malak?” asked Harvey who preferred to take a direct approach.
Clive blinked twice before responding.
“Where did you hear that name?”
“I came across the name when I was looking at some of my father’s personal items.”
Clive nodded his head a couple of times and then prepared himself for a conversation he probably should have had sooner with Harvey.
“Jon Malak served with your father when they were in the British Army together. That’s where I met them both as well over twenty years ago. The three of us became friends.”
“My father served in the British Army? And so did you? How come I didn’t know about that?”
Clive stood up and walked over to his side table. He pulled out a bottle of single malt whiskey and poured himself one straight up. He sat back down and took a big drink from the glass. He cleared his throat to speak.
“I can’t say for your father, but it has never been easy for me to speak about my army career. When I was actively deployed in a war zone life got very messy. It’s one of the reasons I got out of the army and became a teacher. But I would like to shed some light on your father’s past as I am sure you have lots of questions.”
Clive walked over to his bookshelf and pulled out a photo album. He flipped through the pages until he found the picture he was looking for and then showed it to Harvey.
“Here’s a photo of the three of us dressed in uniform.”
Harvey could see his dad standing in the middle of the trio of soldiers. His dad looked young and standing beside him was a very young looking Clive Atkinson. The third man in the photo had red hair and was taller than the other two. The three men were smiling.
“I’m sure that you recognise me, the other man in the photo is Jon Malak. We served with the Special Air Service, more commonly known as the SAS. We were part of an elite unit that was deployed to Bosnia to help with the NATO effort there.”
Clive took another drink of his whiskey.
“My dad never told me he was in the army or that he was in Bosnia.”
“Like I said war is messy. Bosnia didn’t really work out for us. It certainly didn’t work out for Jon.”
“What do you mean?” Harvey asked.
“One day we were out on a patrol. Our mission was to find a group of Serbian snipers and kill them. The snipers had been preying on Bosnian civilians for weeks and their kill count was climbing.”
Clive finished his drink and then continued his story.
“There were four of us on patrol. Your father, Jon Malak, myself and another guy. We found the snipers but they outnumbered us. We drew heavy fire and had to withdraw to our extraction site. Only your father and I survived. It was also my last mission as I resigned from the army shortly after.”
Harvey’s head was spinning as he took in the information about his father’s past that he had never known. But one particular fact he was confused about.
“Jon Malak is dead?” asked Harvey.
Clive stared at Harvey.
“Yes, Jon is dead. He died in Bosnia. But why do you ask?”
Harvey hesitated before answering. He decided to take the leap.
“I found Jon Malak’s name written on a piece of paper that had been hidden by my father. It was dated just before he and my mum disappeared.”
Clive noticed that Harvey had said disappeared and not died.
“There was another name on the paper, Hiro Yamaguchi. Have you heard of him before.”
“Nope, I don’t recall hearing that name before.” Clive replied without pausing.
“There’s one more name on the list.” Harvey took the paper out of his pocket and handed it to Clive. “Here take a look for yourself.”
Central, Hong Kong
The rain had started late Monday afternoon with the arrival of dark clouds and rolling thunder. By Thursday, the sun still hadn’t shown its face and the day was punctuated by intermittent thunderstorms. During the intervals between storms the sky hung a dull slate grey that gave the day a feeling of perpetual twilight.
Despite the weather and more importantly the impending exams, Harvey and Emma still made the effort to join their Muay Thai class in Central. Harvey hadn’t seen much of Emma in the last week since he had heard from Briggs that she was dating Skye Lars. In fact, he wasn’t sure if he had seen her at all outside of class.
They had both been mostly silent as they rode the bus into central sitting in the front seat on the top deck of the double decker. A seat with a view Harvey thought as he watched the bus narrowly miss the branches of wet trees that hung by the roadside. There was a dull thud as they hit one of the branches squarely sending leaves a flutter into the air.
“How’s it going with your studies?” asked Emma.
“Not too bad, Briggs and I have been hitting the books every night but I’m a little more hopeful than he is. How about you? I hear you have a new study buddy.” Harvey asked with raised eyebrows.
A quizzical expression passed over Emma’s face. “Study buddy?”
“Yeah, I heard you and Skye are regularly cramming for the exams in the library. Must be a real challenge bringing him up to speed.”
Emma broke out into a smile, “Yeah, maths is proving to be a bit of a struggle, he should have spent more time focusing in class and less time chatting.”
“I hear you guys have become an item on campus. How’s that working out for you?” Harvey said this in a flat tone to not betray his feelings. He preferred to sound cool and detached than desperate.
“Oh, it’s no big deal. I’ve never been with a true blonde before and wanted to see if they really are more fun,” Emma said with a silly grin on her face. She realised this sounded dumb and regretted saying it. She looked back out the window at the rain falling.
Even though Emma was downplaying her relationship with Skye, Harvey still felt a pang of jealousy, and the light conversation didn’t ease the undercurrent of tension between them. Sure, Emma had dated other guys since they had started secondary school and it had never bothered him before but this time he felt differently. He returned his attention to the landscape passing by outside, trees swaying in the wind as the bus chugged along the hillside.
They arrived at the studio where they took their Muay Thai class just before eight in the evening. Harvey and Emma had started the class in September and enjoyed the vigorous workout it provided. They were familiar with the class routine and started to tape up their hands before the lesson began. The wet weather seemed to deter most of their classmates as only one other person was there along with their instructor Ricky.
“Hey Ricky, how’s your week?” asked Harvey.
“Everything’s all good, how are you two?” replied Ricky.
“We’re about to write our final exams next month. So it is study, study, study every day,” said Emma.
“Well, I’ll make sure we have a good workout so you can take your mind off of school. Okay, everyone. Let’s get ready to start.”
Ricky began the class with some stretches to prepare the body for the vigorous set of punching and kicking routines that followed. He asked everyone to put on their boxing gloves and then they practiced throwing different punch sequences, left jab, right cross, left hook and right upper cut. This was followed with a set of kicks. Ricky was holding large pads against his forearms to absorb the kicks as he trained with his students.
“Okay, Harvey. It’s your turn,” Ricky said as he waved him over. “Boxer stance, jab, cross, right push kick, left side kick.”
Harvey focused on delivering the blows accurately making sure he fully extended his arms as he threw the punches. He gave equal attention to the kicks making sure as he completed the push kick his right foot was angled at the two o’clock position and that he brought his left arm back in a fluid movement while executing a left kick and then jumping back into the boxing stance to start the routine again. They each went through the routine twenty times.
“Now I want us to practice using our elbows and knees. A few blows like this can quickly knock out your opponent. Harvey you work with Emma,” said Ricky.
Harvey was familiar with these techniques. They were particularly effective for fighting someone up close and he knew they would cause a lot of damage. He put on the thick pads so Emma could practice.
“Watch your elbows. Last time we tried this, mine were scuffed and hurting for a few days from the impact on the pads,” said Harvey.
“You just make sure you keep the pads up to protect your head. I’d hate to send you on your ass with one of these knockout blows.” Emma said with a wink and then she started a hard left elbow followed by a right. Next, she grabbed Harvey’s right shoulder and brought his head down towards her knee and delivered a crushing hit into the pads. She pushed his body away and then pulled it forward again to deliver another blow into the pads.
“Looking good Emma, If you let loose on someone with those moves, they’ll need a visit to the hospital. Now it’s my turn,” said Harvey.
By the time they took a break they were both dripping in sweat and Harvey felt his heart was going to pound outside of his chest. It always amazed him how quickly his energy drained during an intense flurry of punches and kicks and he wondered how boxers could survive for three minutes during a round in a boxing match. It gave him a new appreciation for the sport.
The workout for the rest of the class was just as intense and Harvey was glad when it was over. He felt refreshed after the heavy workout but his body wasn’t quite used to the pummelling it took during the class and was feeling the effects. When they left the studio and walked towards the Mid-Level escalator the rain started again.
“Great, we’re going to get soaked,” said Harvey.
Emma pulled a small umbrella out of her bag and popped it open.
“Always be prepared,” she said with a smile and offered him shelter from the rain.
Even though they were still sweaty from their workout, Harvey had to admit he liked being snug against Emma as they walked down the street sharing the umbrella.
A man was walking towards them as they approached the stairs leading up to the escalator. Harvey thought there was something about the man that seemed oddly familiar. He took a closer look as they approached.
Where have I seen that face before?
As Harvey was thinking about this, the man suddenly snatched Emma’s bag from her shoulder. He was able to easily take it from her as she was focusing on holding the umbrella with her other hand over their heads and before they knew it her bag was gone with the man running up the street.
Harvey took off after the man and started to gain on him. As he was about to reach him he remembered where he had seen him before. He had been one of the men at the ski resort in Japan who had chased them, he remembered seeing his face when they were hiding inside the chalet. Harvey felt his stomach muscles tighten as fear started to creep in.
This is no random act of crime, Harvey thought, he was waiting for us. Now an element of danger entered into the equation as he realised this guy wasn’t there to just rob them. He knew who they were and where to find them.
Harvey was about to reach out and grab the man’s arm as they raced down the rain soaked street when out of a side alley another man stepped in front of him and stuck his leg out, tripping Harvey and sending him sprawling into the street. Harvey tucked his head in and absorbed most of the impact with his left shoulder resulting in a sharp jolt of pain as he hit the road. The rain-slick surface caused him to slide slightly away from the men and probably prevented him from suffering a huge scrape or injury to his left shoulder. Harvey got to his feet and felt a surge of adrenalin course through his body.
The man he had been chasing turned around and swung a roundhouse kick at him but the distance between them gave Harvey time to react and he was able to get his arms up to block his head from the blow. The man let out another kick with his other leg but Harvey caught this with his right arm and brought his left elbow down solidly on the man’s left knee, he felt something crunch as he made contact. The man let out an agonising scream.
Harvey let go of the man’s leg and watched as his foe’s left leg gave out and he crumpled down to the pavement. Not knowing if the guy had a weapon, Harvey felt he needed to really immobilise him and let out a right side kick to his head making solid contact. It had the desired effect and the guy went down to the ground like dead weight.
Harvey turned around to face the other guy who had tripped him but he was too late and took a one-two punch combination to the face before getting his arms up to block the next onslaught of punches. The pain was immediate but not as intense as he expected.
Stunned from the punches to his head, all Harvey could think to do was use a push kick to put some distance between himself and his attacker. Even though probably less than a minute had passed since the fight had begun he felt completely drained and his head hurt like hell. He took a few steps back and tried to control his breathing to get a second wind but the guy was quick to react and opened with a round house kick hitting Harvey squarely on the left side of his torso and knocking the wind out of him. He felt like he was hyperventilating trying to get some air into his lungs and was unable to focus on his assailant to see where the next blow would come from. His vision was starting to blur from a steady drip of something into his eyes. He wondered if it was sweat or blood.
Emma had been completely startled by the thief and had not reacted quickly like Harvey had done. She had watched as Harvey took off down the street and saw him about to catch up with the guy when she started running after them herself. She had seen the other guy step out from the alley and trip Harvey. But Harvey had recovered well and took down the purse snatcher. He wasn’t doing so well with the other guy though and had taken two sharp punches to the face followed by a powerful kick that seemed to daze him. The attacker was about to deliver another kick to Harvey when Emma reached them.
Emma delivered a powerful push kick to the man’s left leg throwing him off balance. As he turned towards her, she grabbed his right shoulder and with all her strength brought his head down towards her rising knee. The move was executed perfectly and she was sure she had knocked a few of his teeth out, if not broken his jaw. The man staggered back moaning and put his hand into his jacket as if to pull something out.
“Emma, these are the guys from Japan, the ones who chased us!” Harvey shouted out.
That was all she needed to hear to know her next move, she delivered a powerful kick squarely to the man’s groin and watched him gasp in pain as he crumpled to the ground. She saw what he had pulled out of his pocket, a mobile phone, as it fell out of his hand onto the street. She decided to pick up the phone and then walked over and grabbed her purse off the street. Emma looked around at the people who had witnessed the scene. She noticed two things, the lack of people on the street and the look of total shock on the faces of the few who had watched the fight. It was a look of horror that would stay with her for some time.
Emma turned to Harvey. Her voice sounded distraught and fragile.
“Are you okay? You have an open cut near your left eye that’s bleeding.”
“I’ll live. Let’s get out of here before anyone else turns up to attack us.”
They took off down the street and hailed a taxi at the next corner and quickly got in. The rain had been falling steadily during their ordeal and they were soaked to the bone.
“You said those guys were from Japan?” Emma asked as they sat in the back of the taxi.
The taxi driver didn’t seem too pleased with them getting the back seat of his car wet. His face became a grimace when he looked at the condition of Harvey’s face in the rearview mirror.
Harvey was still trying to catch his breath and struggled to speak.
“I recognised the guy who snatched your bag.” He took a few more deep breaths before continuing. “He was one of the guys looking for us around the ski resort while we were hiding.”
“But how could they have known where to find us?”
“You’ve got me, I have no idea.”
“Harvey, you look terrible. Your face is puffy from where he hit you and your left eye looks nasty. You’re going to be pretty bruised up.”
“It looks worse than it feels,” he lied not wanting Emma to worry and suggest he go to the hospital. He wanted to get back to school as fast as they could. He felt that was a safe place for them.
Emma took a cloth handkerchief out of her bag and firmly pressed it against the cut on Harvey’s face.
“Hold this on your cut until the bleeding stops. Make sure you keep firm pressure. The bleeding should stop soon. The cut doesn’t look that deep.”
“Thanks for being there Emma and taking out that second guy, otherwise it would have been me lying there unconscious on the pavement.”
“You were great Harvey, taking after that guy without missing a beat. I only wish I’d been quicker to act so you didn’t have to take such a beating.”
“You were bad ass, Emma, the way you finished that guy. He was taller than me and probably outweighed you by close to twenty kilos.”
“No one messes with me and my friends,” she said with a fragile smile, then she turned serious. “I’m worried about these guys knowing where to find us. If they can find us here, outside the studio, they’ll be able to get us again. Why would Yamaguchi send them to Hong Kong to attack us, is he that desperate to get the ring back?”
“He must be obsessed with the ring. I think he wants to become one of the most powerful men in Japan and he probably thinks the ring will cement that ambition,” said Harvey.
“You’d think the guy had better things to do than harass a couple of teenagers,” replied Emma. “He probably thought it was going to be easy getting the ring from us. Boy was he wrong.”
“I suspect he’s been told about the rings all his life from his father and has had an uncontrollable desire to obtain them. Either way, he seems to have the means to track us down and send his goons after us.” Harvey gave Emma a meaningful look. “Emma, I need to find out what the connection is between Yamaguchi and my dad. I recently spoke with Mr. Atkinson about finding the Medusa file.”
“What did he say”
“He told me that he served in the British Army with my dad and Jon Malak. They were all friends. They were posted to Bosnia and were involved with the NATO operation there in the early nineties. Jon Malak was killed there during one of their missions.”
“Jon Malak is dead? Then why would your dad include him on the list?”
“I don’t know. And I realise now that I never knew what my dad was doing here in Hong Kong at the British Consul.”
“What are you thinking Harvey?”
“I need to find out what my dad did for a living.”
“Tell me something, Harvey?”
“Sure, what is it?”
“Where’s the ring now?”
Harvey hesitated for the slightest moment before responding.
“It’s in a safe place.” Harvey paused again before adding, “There’s something I need to tell you…”