Empire of the Ring

Chapter 11
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Chapter 11: City of Wind, Baku (3)

Youngho planned on going to Korea for New Year’s Day with his friends who were working as drill instructors in Stepanakert.

When his friends were on their way to Baku, Youngho had just visited the storage in Gerhardt’s house and was on his way to the office. Storages in downtown were too expensive, so he built a knockdown building about 710 sq. ft. big in Gerhardt’s yard. When building the storage, Youngho fixed breakages in Gerhardt’s house and fence as well, and now Gerhardt and his family treated Youngho like a prince. They almost loved him too much since Gerhardt was paid like an executive of a big corporation; and not to mention, Youngho had been sharing food, clothes, and tableware from Korea with them. Even though Gerhardt was a cousin of the Chief of the Department of Public Safety, he was more loyal to Youngho now.

With the backseats fully loaded with teacup sets and clothes, Gerhardt drove the car carefully. That was when they saw a truck on the uphill path, blocking the road. The bonnet was open and the truck seemed to have a problem. As Gerhardt was preparing to walk out to see what was going on, Youngho stopped him. There was another car behind them.

Younho’s danger sensor was telling him something.

It was nothing to brag about, but he was known to his friends for his animal-like instincts for sensing danger.

It was in midday, and there was no car in the road, something which was unusual. That meant somebody blocked the road on purpose to get to Youngho’s car.

Youngho immediately took out the Beretta he was carrying for defense and checked its bullets.

If somebody carried a gun without covering his face at midday in a safe place like Baku, he probably meant to kill. Why would he need a mask when he was going to kill the victim? And that was happening to Youngho. There was no time to ask him what was going on. An evil-looking man pointing a shotgun toward Youngho came near Youngho’s car.

Without even thinking, Youngho attacked him first.

If he was even a little hesitant, it would have been like asking to be killed. He lowered the window a little and shot the man’s thigh with the Beretta. Getting shot unexpectedly, the guy screamed “Aaaahhkkk!” He dropped his gun and grabbed his thigh.

Youngho got out of the car and stood at the side of the car, letting Gerhardt out too. He was experienced with handling shotguns from his special forces training. He picked up the shotgun and gave his Beretta to Gerhardt.

He fired the shotgun toward the man who was getting out of his car parked twenty meters behind. Shotguns were easy to use because of the shotgun effect. Even if you did not aim close, you could shoot your target comparatively easy.

The guy, who was covered with bullets just like his front car door, struggled and fell to the ground.

In the meantime, two people got out of the truck blocking the road ahead and ran toward them. However, with Gerhardt’s shooting, they lay down flat on the ground.

Gerhardt’s shots were not aimed. Although he was just shooting to warn them, it was very threatening to the enemies. When the shooting stopped, the two guys ran back to their truck.

The gun Youngho attained was a pump-action load shotgun which was a favorite in the American army. Its gunbarrel was shorter than the service rifle M16, and it was easier to carry around. Because it could crash a lock on a door at one shot, American cops and deployed soldiers used them often.

He reloaded the gun. With a click, he pulled the trigger of the reloaded shotgun, and little metallic shots from the gun fired out from the muzzle.

With a bang!, the two men running thirty meters ahead struggled.

They would not die because the shots were for short distance. But they would just have to be delivered to a hospital for the little bullets to be taken out from their bodies.

Even though it was not crowded like the downtown area in the outer city, multiple gunshots were heard and it alarmed the fully policed city. Someone might have reported the incident already as well.

Not long after that, policemen arrived with loud sirens blaring. Youngho hid his Beretta and arranged the two shotguns he attained and the other Beretta pistols from the attackers in a row to display. Then he took out a cigarette to smoke until the policemen came.

Gerhardt was explaining what happened in a speedy manner to the policemen.

Youngho called the director on his cell phone and briefly explained the incident. Then he gave the phone to the policeman who was in charge. After a moment, at the director’s order, Youngho and Gerhardt were released soon from the place of attack.

***

At Chunho Merchant store, Gerhardt was busy telling his cousin Karajan and Stephany the recent heroic story on the way back.

“And that was the time when boss fired them with a shotgun.”

“Are they all dead now?”

“No, they are alive. It’s because boss was going easy on them.”

“Phew, that’s a relief. I don’t know who they are, but won’t they avenge themselves in the future?”

Karajan looked worried, but Gerhardt, who saw how Youngho reacted today, seemed free from any worries.

“The police will investigate this thoroughly. Boss is a foreigner who’s staying here for commerce. Don’t you think our government would be sorry that multiple unidentified armed men attacked him? The director already knows; he will take care of us.”

Regardless of Main Police Department, Youngho felt uneasy over the incident. Perhaps it was the other clothing suppliers or tableware traders who were behind the attackers. Because Youngho’s business was skyrocketing, he must have become a target for somebody. It was a serious problem to resolve.

Youngho entered Main Police Department with Gerhardt.

Because Youngho had been making connections with high officials by giving gifts, he was confident that he would get help easily. They would not just neglect a foreign businessman like him.

The director greeted Youngho with uneasiness.

“Mr. Lee, you’ve gone through so much. They were not just muggers.”

“It’s so disturbing. I was a target of the militia and now the merchants in Baku are ganging up on me?”

“Haaah.... I’ve got a few pottery traders involved in here.”

“I know how it is. They are holding a grudge for losing their sales because of my store.”

“This will be treated at the government level. Our country is now trying to build relationships with the western world by maintaining good relationships and expanding travelling businesses. It’s not forgivable to attack a foreign businessman.”

The director was as surprised as Youngho too. Baku was famous for its public peace in the European countries, but the incident was just not acceptable for its reputation.

It was not just a random mugging. It was a terrorist attack against a foreign businessman. The director’s position could get unstable when this incident got picked on by his other political opponents.

“I was going to come back from my trip to Korea this time, but I think I should quit doing businesses in Baku.”

“Mr. Lee, we will help you. Please don’t say that. We owe you a lot. If you leave like this, we will be in a bad position. Will you please reconsider that for me?”

The director was appalled by Youngho’s remark and earnestly asked him to reconsider his decision.

“I am alive only because I was born in a divided nation like Korea and trained in the military. I don’t know how I was able to fight against them.”

Youngho was exaggerating.

The director, who was thinking for a while, said he would introduce a person in Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“Mr. Lee, I’ll introduce you to my superior back in the military who’s now in Ministry of Foreign Affairs. If you get to know him, you will be able to go higher than any other foreign merchants in Baku. How about that?”

The director did not want to lose a good information source who traded with the militia in the Nagorno-Karabakh. He was also anxious that his cousins might lose their jobs.

“I will go back to Korea and come back after a week. I don’t want to make money while risking my life, but your offer is just too sweet not to take.”

“You’ve made the right decision. Main Police Department will investigate this incident completely and punish the guilty, so something like this will never happen again.”

The director was relieved by Youngho’s positive response.

Because he knew that Youngho was struggling with the item clearance process, he mentioned Ministry of Foreign Affairs to appeal to Youngho so that he would stay.

In Azerbaijan, the clearance process was done by rule of thumb. A word from a high government official could make the process easy.

“Since you’ve asked, I will stay here for now, but I am not that desperate to risk my life for money. I don’t have to do business here; Korean products are popular in Eastern Europe too.”

It was not like the director was going to look into Chunho Merchant in Korea, so Youngho lied about Chunho Merchant being a big company in Korea. Well, it was doing well for now from the militia business.

“The two nations’ heads of government visited each other’s country already. If word spread out that I didn’t treat well a Korean businessman here, we will lose our prestige. I will report this to the chief. I will make this right.”

Youngho, who had been complaining for different reasons, came out of the department building smiling. He had achieved his goal.

He knew he would be getting more exclusive information if he gained a connection with a high official in Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Youngho reported what happened in Baku and how he would be introduced to a high official soon to Edward.

Edward worried that Youngho was in danger. He said he would send him assistant agents, but Youngho rejected the offer. He knew that newbie agents could be more problematic than not having any assistant agents.

Although, he thought the story would be different if Edward decided to send any of his friends, the drill instructors in Nagorno-Karabakh, as his assistants.

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