Suki Greenberg opens the elevator sliding grate and steps out into the common room of the Katsura Kojo safe house for Haruna Biolabs Special Research Division. “What a load of crap,” she thinks to herself. “More like Special Research Delinquents.” The overwhelming stench of cannabis and stale Sapporo assaults her nose. Bags and wrappers from Bubble Wrap and Meatstick lay strewn under the furniture. The simstim news broadcast blares in the background while Toshiro sits on the couch wearing a VR rig and interacting with some kind of battle simulation. He is screaming bloody murder and has the sound of the game turned up full blast. The virtual reports of gunfire and explosions rattle the windows in the old factory.
“Hi Suki! You’re just in time to see Goro’s epic fail,” screams Bobby Datsun over the din.
Goro is standing in the center of the long room with a throwing knife in each hand. At one end of the room stands Sureji, wearing a ballistic vest and holding a melon. Kozo is similarly arrayed at the other end of the room. Just as Suki grasps the situation and is about to step in…
“Count of three!” shouts Goro. “One, two!” while staring straight ahead at Suki, he simultaneously flicks both arms and whips the knives at opposite ends of the room. One knife protrudes from the melon held by Sureji. The other knife is embedded in Kozo’s shoulder.
“What the fuck, man! You only counted to two! Ow, mother fucker that hurts!” Yells Kozo.
Bobby, Sureji and Goro fall about the room laughing hysterically.
After she patches up Kozo and dopes him up with ‘dorph, she yells “Toshiro, turn that shit down! I’m trying to listen to…”
“Suki give me some of that ‘painless’ too!” says Goro, “I think I kinda threw my arm out. You know, just now, when I hucked a knife into Kozo.” All three start falling over laughing again.
“Shut up I want to hear this!” she yells and rips the VR rig off Toshiro and chucks it into the kitchen. The simstim news broadcasts continues.
“…the number of dead unknown at this time, but believed to be at least 40 or 50, judging by the body bags removed from the main entrance so far. The first responders at the scene of the abandoned Skytree Mall reported a lot of gunfire from within the structure, and the police initially reacted as if a gang war scenario were taking place, by securing the exits, assisting those who were fleeing the fighting with medical attention, by making sure the fighting did not spill out onto the busy pedestrian street, and by making sure no additional gang reinforcements could join in the fighting.
“After about 90 minutes, after the scene had been quiet for several minutes, the police went into the building. The first squad deployed inside, quickly fled back out onto the street firing their weapons behind them as they retreated. One officer was seen with severe wounds to his face and arms, bleeding profusely and was evacuated from the scene in a hover-lance. The police then deployed a tactical armed and armored group that appear to have secured the scene and routed the gang gunmen.
“Let’s go now to an eyewitness who was inside the Mall and witnessed the incident firsthand. Sir, please describe what you saw today…hey you can’t do that!….I have every right to talk to this man….give me the goddamn recorder!”
The camera jerkily pans to two black suited and sun-glassed men who have just stepped out from a black hover car, and they are seen picking the homeless man up and wrestling him kicking into the back of the vehicle. Another grabs the journalist by the face and shoves her hard into the building slamming her head against the masonry, while a fourth grabs the camera and throws it on the ground. The image goes black. The broadcast resumes with the anchors back in the studio.
“…I’m being told by our producers that the situation has been called ‘resolved’ by the police on hand, and that the traffic on Oshiage Boulevard, having been blocked, will soon reopen. Lets’ go back to our story on how one trooper on Tau Ceti is getting a taste of home with a special Hello Kitty backpack sent from her mother…”
“That’s the biggest load of shit I’ve ever heard,” says Suki.
“I know, like how’re you gonna send a Hello Kitty backpack all the way to TC. You know how much that would cost?” says Toshiro.
“Bullshit, it’s not that expensive you dumbass!” says Goro.
“Will both of you shut the fuck up? Somebody find out what really happened down there. Maybe that new guy will know somebody who was down there. The ex-cop. What’s his name again? And where is he?” mutters Suki.
The team all look at each other and shrug. A chorus of “Who? I dunno, What cop? Fuck me if I know,” is heard.
Suki sits back on the sofa, lights a long slim cigarette, strokes the long hair on her cheek and shakes her head.