Koslov slammed his fist on the table, causing those within the room to jump. Two of the soldiers who stood around the perimeter of the room jerked as well, hands flinching toward the interior of their suit jackets. The stares of their compatriots were enough to shame them into immobility.
“This is unacceptable!” he shouted. His accent was enough to mangle the pronunciation of the words.
“You have an objection?” Yuri asked from his position at the head of the table.
“These, these vorovskiye zmei,” he sputtered, one blunt finger stabbing toward the trio of Chinese men who sat grinning at him from across the table. “They –“
“English,” Yuri reminded him. It was one of his few rules for summits and discussions.
Koslov took a breath. “They are –“
“All of it,” Yuri cut him off again, his eyes glittering.
“All of it?”
“You called this delegation a name. Repeat it.”
“I was just –“
“Repeat it,” Yuri ordered, his voice like steel. Few people had seen the narrowing of his gaze before, but those who had swallowed at the look he turned on Koslov.
“I called them thieving snakes,” Koslov said, placing his hands on the table and glaring at the Asians. His expression dared them to reply. He was not disappointed.
“We have come here in good faith,” said Sung, staring directly at Koslov although his words were directed to Yuri. “We did not come to be insulted and spat upon.”
“Your men shot up my nightclub!”
“We had no one involved there,” Sung defended, not raising his voice at all.
“Do you have proof?” Yuri asked. Koslov shot him a look.
“We all know they did it.”
“You see? He has nothing,” Lau said with a wide spread of his hands. “My soldiers are innocent of this charge.”
“Your desire for vengeance has you accusing without proof,” Yuri said. He shook his head at Koslov, who slumped back in his chair, but could offer no words to defend himself. Yuri turned back to the Asian delegation.
“If you will excuse us, gentlemen,” he began. “I have some… Let us call them disciplinary matters, that I need to discuss with Mister Koslov. These are not things that should be discussed in present company. I will send a messenger to retrieve you in a few moments. Please, I am most sorry for this intrusion, but I cannot abide disrespect among my soldiers, no matter their current rank.”
The emphasis on the word ‘current’ did not go unnoticed, and as the three Chinese stood from the table, Lau gave Koslov a knowing grin. The trio, escorted by their four bodyguards, stepped from the room, and Yuri rounded on Koslov with fire in his eyes.
Elements: Things that shouldn’t be discussed in present company