They came to a track on the left which went into the scrub. The driver did a good racing change and pulled in out of sight of the road. He cut his engine. They listened. The roar of a motor-cycle approached and receded. The driver reversed sharply on to the road and tore off in pursuit. Tiger issued more sharp instructions. He said to Bond, ‘I have told him to try warning the man with his siren and if he doesn’t stop to ride him into the ditch.’
‘Well, I’m glad you’re giving him a chance,’ said Bond, beginning to have qualms. ‘I may be wrong and he may only be a Fuller brush man in a hurry.’
They were doing eighty along the winding road. They soon came up with the man’s dust and then there was the machine itself. The man was hunched over the handlebars, going like hell.
The driver said something. Tiger translated, ‘He says it’s a 500 c.c. Honda. On that, he could easily get away from us.
But even Japanese crooks are men of discipline. He will prefer to obey the siren.’
The siren wailed and then screamed. The white mask gleamed as the man glanced over his shoulder. He braked slowly to a stop. His right hand went inside his jacket. Bond had his hand on the door-latch. He said, ‘Watch out, Tiger, he’s got a gun!’ and, as they pulled up alongside, he hurled himself out of the door and crashed into the man, knocking him and his machine to the ground. The corporal beside the driver took a flying leap and the two bodies rolled into the ditch. Almost immediately the corporal got to his feet. He had a blood-stained knife in his hand. He threw it aside and tore at the man’s coat and shirt. He looked up and shook his head. Tiger shouted something and the corporal began slapping the man’s fece as hard as he could from side to side. The masko was knocked off and Bond recognized the snarling rictus of death. He said, sickened, ‘Stop him, Tigerl The man’s dead.’
Tiger walked down into the ditch. He picked up the man’s knife and bent down and slit the right sleeve of the corpse up to the shoulder. He looked and then called Bond down. He pointed to a black ideogram tattooed in the crook of the man’s arm. He said, ‘You were right, Bondo-san. He is a Black Dragon.’ He stood up and, his face contorted, spat out: ‘Shimata!’
The two policemen were standing by looking politely baffled. Tiger gave them orders. They searched the man’s clothing and extracted various commonplace objects including Bond’s wallet, with the five thousand yen stillintact, and a cheap diary. They handed everything to Tiger and then hauled the corpse out of the ditch and stuffed it roughly into the boot of the car. Then they hid the motor-cycle in some bushes and everyone dusted themselves and got back into the car.
After a few moments, Tiger said thoughtfully, ‘It is incredible I These people must have a permanent tail on me in Tokyo.’ He riffled through the diary. ‘Yes, all my movements for the past week and all the stopping-places on our journey. You are simply described as a gaijin. But he could have tele phoned a description. This is indeed an unfortunate business, Bondo-san. I apologize most deeply. You may already be incriminated. I will naturally absolve you from your mission. It is entirely my fault for being careless. I have not been taking these people seriously enough. I must talk with Tokyo as soon as we get to Fukuoka. But at least you have seen an example of the measures Doctor Shatterhand takes for his protection. There is certainly more to this man than meets the eye. At some time in his life he must have been an experienced intelligence agent. To have discovered my identity, for instance, which is a State secret. To have recognized me as his chief enemy. To have taken the appropriate counter-measures to ensure his privacy. This is either a great madman or a great criminal. You agree, Bondo-san?’
‘Looks mighty like it. I’m really getting quite keen to have a sight of the fellow. And don’t worry about the mission. This was probably just the jolt I needed to get the wind under my tail.’
The headquarters of the local department of the Sosaka, the CID, for .the southern island of Kyushu, was just off the main street of Fukuoka. It was a stern-looking building in yellow lavatory brick in a style derived from the German. Tiger confirmed that it had been the headquarters of the Kempeitai, the Japanese Gestapo, before and during the war. Tiger was received with pomp. The office of the Chief of the CID was small and cluttered. Superintendent Ando himself looked to Bond like any other Japanese salary-man, but he had a military bearing and the eyes behind the rimless spectacles were quick and hard. Bond sat patiently smoking while much conversation went on. A blown-up aerial mosaic of the Castle of Death and the surrounding country was produced from a riling cabinet and laid out on the desk. Superintendent Ando weighed down the corners with ashtrays and other hardware and Tiger called him over with a respect, Bond noticed, that was not lost on the Superintendent. It crossed Bond’s mind that he had heaped much ON on Tiger, or alternatively that Tiger had lost much face vis-a-vis Bond by the business of the Black Dragon agent. Tiger said, ‘Please to examine this photograph, Bondo-san. The Superintendent says that a clandestine approach from the landward side is now very difficult. The suicides pay local peasants to lead them through these marshlands,’ he pointed, ‘and there are recognized breaches in the walls surrounding the property which are constantly changed and kept open for the suicides. Every time the Superintendent posts a guard at one of them, another is made known to the peasants by the castle guards. He says he is at his wits’ end. Twenty bodies have been fetched to the mortuary in the past week. The Superintendent wishes to hand in his resignation.’
‘Naturally,’ said Bond. ‘And then perhaps honourable fugu poisoning. Let’s have a look.’
At first glance, Bond’s heart quailed. He might just as well try and storm Windsor Castle single-handed! The estate covered the whole expanse of a small promontory that jutted out into the sea from a rocky coast, and the two-hundred-foot cliff round the promontory had been revetted with giant stone blocks down to the breaking waves to form an unbroken wall that sloped slightly up to gun-ports and the irregularly-sited, tiled watch-towers. From the top of this wall there appeared to be a ten-foot drop into the park, heavily treed and shrubbed between winding streams and a broad lake with a small island in its centre. Steam appeared to be rising from the lake and there were occasional wisps of it among the shrubbery. At the back of the property stood the castle, protected from the low-lying countryside by a comparatively modest wall. It would be over this wall that the suicides gained access. The castle itself was a giant five-storeyed affair in the Japanese tradition, with swooping, winged roofs of glazed tile. Dolphin-shaped finials decorated the topmost storey, and there was a profusion of other decorative devices, small balconies, isolated turrets and gazebos so that the whole black-painted edifice, edged here and there with what Tiger said was gold paint, gave the impression of a brilliant attempt to make a stage setting for Dracula. Bond picked up a large magnifying glass and ran over the whole property inch by inch, but there was nothing more to be gleaned except the presence of an occasional diminutive figure at work in the park or raking the gravel round the castle.
Bond laid down the glass. He said gloomily, ‘That’s not a castle! That’s a fortress! How am I supposed to get into the bloody place?’
‘The Superintendent asks if you are a good swimmer. I have had a complete outfit sent down from my ninjutsu establishment. The seaward wall would present no problems.’
‘I can swim well enough, but how do I get to the base of the wall? Where do I start from?’
‘The Superintendent says there is an Ama island called Kuro only half a mile out to sea.’
‘What’s an Ama island?’
‘They exist at different places round Japan. I believe there are some fifty such settlements. The Ama are a tribe whose girls dive for the awabi shells-that is our local abalone. A clam. It is a great delicacy. They sometimes dive for pearl oysters. They dive naked. Some of them are very beautiful. But they keep themselves very much to themselves and visitors to their islands are completely discouraged. They have their own primitive culture and customs. I suppose you could compare them to sea-gipsies. They rarely marry outside the tribe, and it is that which has made them a race apart.’
‘Sounds intriguing, but how am I going to make a base on this Kuro Island? I may have to wait days for the weather to be right.’
Tiger spoke rapidly to the Superintendent and there was a lengthy reply. Ah, so desu ka!’ said Tiger with interest and enthusiasm. He turned to Bond. ‘It seems that the Superintendent is distantly related to a family on Kuro. It is a most interesting family. There is a father and a mother and one daughter. She is called Kissy Suzuki. I have heard of her. When she was seventeen, she became famous in Japan by being chosen to go to Hollywood to make a film. They wanted a Japanese diving girl of great beauty and someone had heard, of her. She made the film, but hated Hollywood and longed only to return to her Ama life. She could have made a fortune, but she retired to this obscure island. There was a great to-do in the Press at the time, and it was judged that she had behaved most honourably. They christened her “The Japanese Garbo”. But Kissy will now be twenty-three and everyone has forgotten about her. The Superintendent says that he could arrange for you to stay with this family. They seem to have some obligation towards him. He says it is a simple house, but comfortable because of the money this girl earned in Hollywood. The other houses on the island are nothing but fishermen’s shacks.’
‘But won’t the rest of the community resent me being there?’
‘No. The people of the island belong to the Shinto religion. The Superintendent will speak to the Shinto priest and everything will be okay.’
‘All right, so I stay on this island and then one night I swim across to the wall. How do I get up it?’
‘You will have the ninja outfit. It is here. You have seen how it is used. You will use it. It is very simple.’
‘As I saw from the man who fell into the moat. Then what do I do?’
‘You hide up in the grounds and wait for an opportunity to kill him. How you do that is up to you. As I told you, he goes about in armour. A man in armour is very vulnerable. You only have to knock him off his feet. Then you will throttle him with the ninja chain you will be wearing round your waist. If his wife is with him, you will throttle her too. She is certainly involved in all this business, and anyway she is too ugly to live. Then you escape over the wall and swim back to Kuro. There you will be picked up by the police launch which will visit the place at once. The news of the death will quickly get round.’
Bond said doubtfully, ‘Well, it all sounds very simple. But what about these guards? The place is crawling with them.’
‘You must just keep out of their way. As you can see, the park is full of hiding-places.’
‘Thanks very much. In one of those poison bushes or up one of those trees. I don’t want to blind myself or go mad.’
‘The ninja clothing will give you complete protection. You will have a black suit for night and a camouflage one for the day. You will wear the swimming goggles to protect your eyes. All this equipment you will tow over in a plastic bag which will be provided.’
‘My dear Tiger, you’ve thought of everything. But I’d much rather have just one little gun.’
‘That would be crazy, Bondo-san. You know perfectly well that silence will be essential. And with a silencer, which would be very heavy to swim with, the speed of the bullet would be so much reduced that you might not pierce the armour. No, my friend. Use ninjutsu. It is the only way.’