Zaibatsu 11: The Sesimbra Job

Kozo stares at a stream of numbers scrolling on his monitor. Finally, they come to a halt. The cursor blinks for a few seconds and then ‘Parkfield Biolabs’ returns. “Gotcha.” He mutters.” He types the name into his search algorithm and the simstim reports on the corporation start popping up.

“Industrial adhesive found in the gravy at the Getty Family Restaurant chain… Toshiro, come here now. You gotta see this!” Kozo and Toshiro spend a few minutes scrolling through the article, laughing hysterically. “They settled out of court, but they agreed to force-grow the guy a new colon. It’s too fucking much…”

“What the fuck is poutine?” Toshiro asks.

Kozo sets down his Meatstick, licks the Hiroshima Hot Sauce off his fingers and a few seconds with the search engine later. “Oh. Oh fuck. That sounds terrible. Why would anyone put something like that in their body? I’m willing to bet, it wasn’t the adhesive that blocked that guy’s colon.”

“Well, I sure don’t need to worry about colon blockage.” Toshiro responds. “Gotta take a shit. See ya later!”

“Hey Suki!” Kozo hollers. “I ran down the IDs the guys pulled off those street samurai.”

Suki enters the room, deftly avoiding the spent Meatstick wrappers and empty soda cans that litter the floor, she peers over Kozo’s shoulder to look at the monitor. “Parkfield Biolabs…” She mutters. “Oh god, he didn’t… Did you tell anyone about this?”


“Half the fucking company knows it by now. Goro!” She yells. “Get your lazy ass over here.”

A few minutes later Suko Goro stumbles into the room, wearing only boxers. His thickly-muscled bare chest is swathed in bandages. His eyes are glazed. A joint dangles from his lips. “You called boss lady?”

“Time to debrief.” She snaps.

“Seemed a simple enough thing.” Goro begins as he settles into a chair. “Some douche scientist from Brazil was going to give a talk to a bunch of eggheads and you wanted us to stop him. Said it was going to sink a deal Haruna had with his country to exploit some rainforest shit or something. We were supposed to kidnap the fucker and keep him quiet for a week or so.”

Suki sighs. “That ‘douche scientist’ was Tomas Sesimbra. He was one of the world’s leading ecologists. If he’d been allowed to speak at that ecological summit and news of our deal with Brazil had gotten out we would have taken a major PR hit. You were supposed to kidnap him for a week and let him go. Alive.”

“Whatever.” Goro continues. “So, like I said this should have been a pretty simple snatch and grab. Only trick was the guy seemed to have a fucking security detail. I’d have never thought he could have afforded a couple of armed escorts. Anyhow, we planned to grab him between the airport and his hotel. Kozo figured out the car service that was going to pick his ass up. Plan was: Toshiro would mine the car, blow the fucking tires off it, we whack the guards, grab the professor and go lay low in a cabin for a week.

“So we get us a car. Me and Bobby are sitting with our thumbs up our asses outside the airport. Toshiro and Kitsune get a ride to the airport with that fucking cab driver. Toshiro plants the charges, Tomas, this two-meter tall amazon and his bodyguards climb into the car and take off. The cab driver follows him and Kitsune radios us to get out asses moving. After a while, they notice they are being tailed by a fucking SUV. That definitely ain’t part of the fucking plan, so me and Bobby take some initiative, pull up alongside this car and open up with the riot gun. Fuckers started shooting back at us with one. Punched a nice hole in me. Bobby finally popped the driver. We lost them pretty quick.

“Kept to the plan. Toshiro blew the tires off that fucking limo. The cab pulls up behind it while Toshiro and Kitsune pull their ARs. I come roaring up as one of the goons steps out of the limo to open up on them. He left a hell of a dent in my bumper and a big red streak down the limo. Anyhow, we take the goons and driver down pretty easy. Suddenly, this fucking amazon bitch hops out of the car starts tearing into Toshiro. She was moving way too fast and taken way too many bullets. Fucking android. Military grade for fuck’s sake. Those things are illegal on Earth ain’t they.” He says with a smirk. “We figured you might want to take a look at her, so I popped her in the trunk. We stuffed old Tomas in the car and took off for the cabin.”

“Driving the same fucking car you did the job in?” She grimaces.

“Yeah.” Goro takes a hit from his joint. “That was a fucking mistake. We sat in this shithole cabin in the woods for a day or so and then we see a cop car driving up and down the backroads. Finally these fuckers start going door to door in the surrounding cabins. We figured they must have traced the car to the area. Stupid fucking mistake. Anyhow, we tried to drive on off, but the fuckers spotted us and followed. We took them down some backroad, set up a quick ambush and killed them both. Pushed the car into a ditch and headed out. Broke into a cabin and called Dopinder to pick us up in the hover car. Plan was for Bobby and Toshiro to hike out while the rest of us flew somewhere else to make a plan.

“Thought we could recover from the whole clusterfuck, but we spot this SUV tailing us. Same make as the one me and Bobby had tangled with a few days ago. We tried to pull another ambush on them, but these guys were pros. They sped up and engaged us when I slowed down to let Kitsune and Toshiro roll out. Fuck, that was some fight. I think half of those fuckers were using riot guns with tungsten rounds. I sure got the holes in my chest to prove it. We laid down some covering fire so Kitsune could try to flank them. Almost worked. When the fuckers figured out we’d nailed their balls to the wall, one of them pulls out a fucking missile launcher and lights up our car. I don’t even think old Tomas had time to scream.

“There was nobody left alive. We loaded their bodies into our car along with the dead professor to make it look like they had kidnapped his ass in the first place and then got the fuck out of there.”

“You were supposed to keep him alive.” Suki snarls. “I can’t fucking believe you idiots. I ask you to do one thing and you fuck it up.”

Goro takes a long hit from his joint. “We did one thing.” He replies.

“What was that?” Suki snaps.

“You fucking heard me. We did one thing. We kept that fuckwad from spoiling the deal. Keeping him alive was a ‘nice to have’ if you ask me.”

Suki stares at Goro with hatred in her eyes. The ex-gang banger leans back in his chair and eyes her coolly with his unnerving eyes. The cherry on the joint glows briefly. Finally, she turns around and leaves the room.

“What got into her?” Kozo says beckoning for the joint.

“Fuck if I know.” Goro says ignoring him. “I’m outta here. This room smells like shit.”

Kozo waits until Goro leaves the room, sniffs his armpit, shrugs, then turns back to his computer and muses. “What’s stuck in Suki’s ass? It’s worse than industrial adhesive… Wait a minute…” He peers into the main room. Suki is berating Toshiro about the latest plumbing problem. He gently closes his door and opens up an encrypted folder on his hard drive. “Where did her old boyfriend work again?” He mutters as he scans through the file. He finally comes to the entry: Parkfield Biolabs.

“Oh shit…”


Zaibatsu 10: No Shots Fired – WTF???

Kaito takes the seat across from Suko Goro. The high speed mag-lev train pulls gently out of the Kichijoji station and begins to pick up speed. After a minute the ex-gangbanger rummages around in his cooler for a Sappora and hands it over to the ex-cop who nods his thanks.

“What the fuck was that all about?” Kaito asks, while cracking the beer.

“Fuck if I know.” Goro replies.

“I mean, it’s nice to not get shot at for a change, but they didn’t exactly hire us for this kind of shit. I figured I’d need to bust somebody’s head open. I’m feeling kind of fucking useless here… Who is this Aikiko bitch anyhow?”

“Personal assistant to that Nobuda fuck from Makita.” Goro replies. “Nobuda’s a CFO or VP or some shit. Important guy at any rate. I think he’s got it in for Suki or Suki’s got it in for him. Maybe both. Anyhow, now that Aikiko’s working for us, we got the inside scoop on whatever Nobuda is planning. We can royally fuck him. Anything we do to fuck with Makita is good for our employer, right?”

“Yeah makes sense.” Kaito says after a slug of beer. “I wasn’t in on the planning though and I drank so much on the first trip out the whole thing is kind of hazy. Also, why did we hang a bag of body parts on the Sparkle Clinic and then blow it up? Can you run it down for me before I get debriefed? I’d ask Suki but every time I talk to her I keep staring at that fucking mole… It creeps me out. I swear it was moving the other day…”

“We needed a way to permanently disappear that hacker we pulled out of the Sugar Shack a few days ago.” Goro begins. “Our boys in the lab force-grew some of his tissue. We figured we’d just blow it up, cops run the DNA, see it is Ichioka’s and close the case.”

“Makes sense.” Kaito interjects. “I had enough shit on my plate while I was on the force. If it looked good, I wouldn’t have pushed too hard. Still, why choose the Sparkle Clinic? Shit, my ex got her implants at that place for fuck sake.”

“Blowing up Sparkle Clinic was another way to take that Nobuda fuck down a peg. Apparently he got his start at the there. Always going on about his fond memories of it and how he learned so much and some other sappy shit that plays well on the simstim.”

“And dressing up as Yakuza to hide our involvement in it and maybe getting them off his tail too?” Kaito says. “It’s pretty well known that the Neon Chrysanthemum were after that Ichioka fuck. Really surprised any of you dumb shits thought of that angle though… Now, what’s the deal with that Aikiko?”

“Suki’s been on us to get some dirt on that bitch for a while now.” Goro replies. “We had her routine and she almost never deviated from it. On weekends she goes out to the country and disappears for a day. Sees her boyfriend on Sunday. Other than that she’s at work all the time.

“Kozo did some digging and it turns out she was involved in that whole Tau Families for Peace shit-storm that turned out to be a Yakuza money laundering scheme. Nobuda paid a lot of money to clean up after her. We figured it was bad enough that we could flip her to passing info onto us. We decided to follow her into the country, see what she was up to and shit. Figured we could spring the black mail on her on the train ride once we knew where she was going.

“Kind of made a hash of the whole thing when she gets off in the middle of fucking nowhere and we all detrain with her. Luckily she just thinks we’re a bunch of dumb fucks who got lost. Having a first class dumb fuck in Toshiro made that easy enough to pass off. Turns out there is a pretty big hospice facility in that little shithole of a town Kichijoji. Aikiko made a beeline for it. We spent the day getting hammered. Apparently she took an evening train back to Tokyo while we were drunk off our asses. Next day, you and me continued the party while Toshiro and Kitsune went up to tour the facility. I’m not sure how they did it, but they found the guy she was visiting – in a coma and all scarred to shit. Turns out this fucker is a wanted terrorist, tied up with some Tau Ceti terror cell. Name’s Fukuyo. This fucker was our ace in the hole if she didn’t bite on the other dirt we had on her…

“Anyhow, we followed her out there next weekend. Kitsune sits down with her on the train and lays it all out. She was kind of a fuck about the whole thing, but I wouldn’t be too pleased about getting blackmailed either I guess. Suki worked out a deal to give her man Fukuyo a new clone body in exchange for her working for us. We got guys inside the hospice now to make sure she doesn’t discharge him and run.” Goro concludes, then finishes off his beer.

“Huh.” Kaito muses, as Goro opens the cooler. “All tied up in nice package and not one shot fired. Never would have figured it… Grab me another too.”

Zaibatsu: It’s Just Business

What in the fuck are you doing in there, Kozo?” yells Suko Goro, sitting bare-chested on the stained sofa in the safe-house common room. “Don’t you have lonely Russian women who need you?”

Kozo is in the kitchen frantically scraping discarded food wrappers which have solidified and cohered with spilled beer into a centimeter thick layer covering the Super-tine©floor, and piling the residue into an industrial-sized plastic trash bag, probably stolen from the wig factory floor downstairs.

I’m cleaning. You should try it sometime,” he mutters, kneeling on all fours using one of Toshiro’s tanto knives as a scraper.

No shit you’re cleaning, but why? Just call Suki and get a Haruna cleaner over here,” Goro replies.

I think those guys are really for, like, dismembering bodies at crime scenes and destroying evidence and stuff like that, ” Kozo says as he stands and starts to scrub the huge pile of dishes and bento boxes stacked in the sink and on the counter. He quickly gives up and begins dropping the dishes into the trash bag.

“Is it the stink in here? Did you suddenly smell something kind of pickled or fermented and kind of like stale garlic? Because I’ll give you a hint: it’s not the kitchen, it’s your fucking body that reeks,” Goro bellows so that everyone in the safe-house can hear.

Screw you, Goro. I have a chemical imbalance thing. I can’t help it,” Kozo says.

Yeah, it’s called yellow number five!” Bobby Datsun drawls from the dinette, where he has a disassembled grenade launcher spread on the table. He high-fives Sureji seated next to him.

None of you has figured out that the shit is about to hit the fan here. Suki is on her way over here and she’s beyond pissed,” Kozo says. “I always feel compelled to clean when I’m in an emotionally heated situation.”

That fan is so clogged with shit, it hasn’t even spun since we started working for Haruna,” says Sureji. “What’s different this time?”

You haven’t put two and two together? Suki’s man-friend from Canada? Her vacation? Parkfield Biolabs? “ He is met with blank stares. “After she debriefed us this morning, she left me with some stuff to research. What I found is pretty messed up,” says Kozo. His serious tone grabs the attention of everyone in the room, except Toshiro who is over in the corner firing his virtual Gauss rifle at virtual enemies and screaming “I’ll fucking kill you! Die motherfucker!”

Just then elevator hums to life.

Oh, shit, she’s here!” yells Kozo as he drops the trash bag and runs for the bathroom, where he slams the door, the lock clicking behind him.

Actually, I did figure it out!” yells Goro so that Kozo can hear him through the locked door. “Her man is a Parkfield agent, he put the hit on that Brazilian fuckwad and nearly killed us in the process!”

No actually, Daisuke is not a Parkfield agent. He’s a Parkfield scientist and executive, but he did order the hit on Sesimbra,” says Suki as she steps out of the elevator. Apart from Toshiro’s grunts and maniacal laughter, a hush fills the room as she strides in and sets down a computer deck on the dinette, shoving aside grenade launcher parts. Suki opens the deck and begins to set up a simstim-projector serial attachment.

Parkfield and Haruna had similar interests in the Amazon. Both of us wanted Sesimbra’s findings suppressed. The difference was, Haruna had made some overtures to Sesimbra several months ago and worked out a deal for him to put off his findings until our contract to exploit the rainforest was final. We discovered a few days ago that Sesimbra had been persuaded by unknown parties to publish his research and that he planned to present the paper at the summit. Having a highly respected scientist such as Sesimbra as our man would have allowed us to slow certain aspects of his research, and accelerate others that might be problematic to our competitors. Daisuke at Parkfield also discovered Sesimbra had changed his mind, and ordered the hit, which makes sense from their standpoint. Haruna wanted Sesimbra alive and as an asset. The two zaibatsus’ goals were inadvertently at odds. Obviously there was no pillow talk between Daisuke and myself, or this would not have occurred.. We are both loyal to our employers.”

That proves it, Suki. You’re a fucking angel,” says Goro, scratching at a healing bullet wound. “So who turned the old south-american fucker?”

I just got back from meeting Akikko at the hospice. She just provided proof that Nobuda at Makita was responsible for changing Sesimbra’s mind. He offered Sesimbra the companionship of the large ‘woman’ you met, as incentive to present his findings. Also appealed to his ‘legacy of academic integrity’. Calling upon an old man’s ego, virility and mortality. A good play. But one that has fucked Parkfield, and would have fucked Haruna if the resource extraction contract had not been signed.”

So that means Makita has military grade androids on-world,” says Sureji. “What’s the next move?”

Our lab can’t find any way to trace the pieces of the Scorpion-model android you eliminated, back to Makita. There is an expert on androids I’ve tracked down who might be able to help us. Also, we have an assassination to carry out,” Suki says stoically.

Cool, I love when that is the actual goal of a mission, rather than just collaborative damage,” says Bobby.

It’s ‘collateral’ damage, you dumbfuck, even I know that,” says Goro. “Who’s the target?”

The target is Daisuke.” she replies without blinking. Again there is silence in the room.

Wait, I thought you said Parkfield was already getting fucked by Makita. Why do we want to fuck them twice over?” asks Sureji.

That reminds me of the joke about sloppy seconds….” begins Goro. Suki jumps down his throat.

Goro, shut the fuck up for once!” she collects herself, then, “Parkfield has managed to suppress their involvement with the Sesimbra hit for now. Pulled some long strings with police and media to contain that. But my boss feels that their destruction of our asset cannot go unpunished. Besides we cannot tolerate this kind of covert activity on our soil, so near our headquarters. I will accompany you on this assignment. Get me inside their safehouse and I will do what needs to be done.”

You’re one ice-cold bitch, Suki. Remind me never to fuck with you. Oh wait, too late!” says Goro, searching the room for a high-five, seeing only team members avoiding eye his contact.

What’s the holo-projector for, Suki?” asks Bobby.

That can wait,” she replies.

Are you guys done yelling? I can barely breathe in here,” says a muffled voice from inside the bathroom.

Zaibatsu: Bodies at Rest

The cold rain patters against her umbrella as Suki Greenberg sits in a folding lawn chair on the pebbled roof of the wig factory. She distractedly strokes the long black hairs growing from her facial mole and takes a languid drag from a long cigarette. A blast of loud music, yelling and cheering from her team erupts again from down the open stairwell. She reads the Haruna Biolabs brief again, flipping through the pages, memorizing the details, then removes the black clip holding the packet together and one page at a time, lights the paper with her lighter and lets the burning sheets fall at her feet.

As the last flicker of burning paper goes out, she drops her cigarette which goes out with a hiss in the puddle. She stands and stretches and goes down the stairs into the common room, humid air filled with the reek of cannabis and testosterone.

“Hey, guys,” she says and then again louder, and when no one looks up from the cockroach fighting match set up on the common room dining table, she grabs a bottle of lighter fluid from the counter and squirts a long stream all around the roach arena, and flicks open her lighter. The team all jump back from the table.

“What the fuck, Suki? God, you don’t have to be such a bitch,” says Goro. “We were just having a little fun and killing some time.”

Suki smiles and clicks an electric ignition spark on her lighter and lets it fall, burning, into the miniature fighting ring. The flames surge a meter above the table with a whomp of air. The crackle and popping of roasting roach can be heard in the now silent room. The flames quickly burn down to a small blue glow.

“There goes Mr. Kurabashi,” says Toshiro. “He was totally dominating that match, but since it wasn’t official, you can just pay half what you owe me.”

“Fuck that, you get nothing! Kamakuras was waiting to use his signature move, the double mandible rip!” says Bobby Datsun.

“Somebody clean all that shit up! There’s like thirty Meatstick wrappers on the floor! See them? Well pick ’em up!” Suki yells at Sureji, who happens to be nearest her. He makes a show of slowly stooping to gather up the trash.

“They’re probably Toshiro’s anyway,” Sureji mutters under his breath.

“ Okay you fuckwits, I know you pulled off some good work last week, getting Akikko on board for us. And I know you’re getting a little stir-crazy. You’re in luck, we just got our orders. Wait a minute, Toshiro, turn up the sound on the news.”

The simstim news anchor is reading a story about the cherry blossom festival taking place at a factory visitor’s center, while the scrolling chyron at the bottom of the screen is about a different story.

“ Goro, click on that link,” she says. He does and the main screen switches to a report showing a blasted out retail storefront with police searching through the wreckage.

“….here at the scene, the Sparkle cosmetic surgery center where the bombing took place last week. A detective Sakana will say a few words.” The camera pans to a man in a trench coat and hat with a uniformed officer holding an umbrella for him.

“DNA evidence of the bombing victim’s remains recovered at the scene appear to match the recently paroled hacker Ichioka. The motive for the bombing remains a bit muddled, but some links to organized crime have been established. Clearly Mr. Ichioka continued to be involved with a criminal element and he paid the price for that involvement. No suspects have been detained yet, but the investigation is ongoing….”

“Well done, team. Now, just don’t fuck up the next job. Priority A-one, with a budget to match,” Suki says.

“Does that include money for food on the stakeout?” asks Toshiro from the sofa.

“How about body armor? Can I get some very tiny armor, like cockroach-sized?” asks Bobby.

“Better get the cooler cleaned out and all iced up and some beverages,” says Goro.

Toshiro is calling on the videophone next to the sofa. “Just come pick us up….cuz I said…cuz I said so….because I fucking said so…..yes, hurry up you fuck.” He hangs up. “What?” he says when he realizes everyone is looking at him.

“So, let’s have our briefing first, and then you can go get Meatstick or whatever new simstim game just got released? How about that?” Suki says and forces a smile for her team.

I am so glad I never had children. I would be a terrible, terrible mother, she thinks to herself.

Zaibatsu 9: Remedial Driver’s Ed

Kozo leans back in his chair, his deck resting on his lap. He’s viewing footage taken from a street camera near the space elevator. On screen, an Osaka Seafood Concern delivery truck has collided with a pair of police cruisers. There’s a smoking crater in the street and several police officers lying unconscious or dead. A blurry image of Suko Goro can be seen staggering out of the truck towards one of the cruisers. He reaches inside the car, then starts pushing the vehicle out of the way, while the truck attempts to back up. Kozo rewinds the scene to just before Goro emerges from the truck. He taps a few times on his keyboard. The scene starts playing through again, only this time the image of Goro is replaced by a lanky punk sporting a Mohawk.

Toshiro staggers up behind him with a half-liter can of Red Dragon beer in one hand and a smoking joint in the other. “Hey Kozo. Use the dwarf instead of the punker. I love that little guy!”

“That’d look stupid. The dwarf’s supposed to have bionic legs, remember? Goro’s practically crawling along he’s moving so slow. Nobody’d believe it.”

Toshiro lets out a loud belch in reply. He spins around awkwardly, rights himself and then makes his way across the common room on wobbly legs.

“That’s some fucking hickey Sureji!” He shouts, breaking into a fit of the giggles. Suki, who’s been dressing the bite wounds, pauses to give him a dirty look. Sureji musters the energy to flip him off. He finally drops onto the couch next to Suko Goro, offering him the joint. The ex-gangbanger’s neck and shoulders are swathed in bloody pressure dressings. He winces in pain as he lifts the joint to his lips for a hit.

“I heard Bobby was really lighting things up with my old grenade launcher.” Toshiro begins.

“I still can’t believe you bought that thing when you didn’t know how to use it.” Goro replies while exhaling. “Dumb shit.”

“How was I know it was so hard to use?” Toshiro replies. “Figured, pull the trigger and boom! Shit blows up. But, whatever… Tell me what went down.”

Goro takes another long hit off the joint, exhales slowly, then passes it back to Toshiro. “Fuck you Toshiro.”

“Goro, quit being an asshole and spit it out.” Suki says without looking up from her work. “I need to debrief you and now’s as good a time as any.”

“Yeah, ok boss. Well, once you downloaded old Isumi Mako’s memories, you found a whole bunch of fun shit. She didn’t exist on the grid before five years ago, because she wasn’t on it. She’s an off-worlder. Some kind of child genius or something. Some douche scientist at Makita found her and started training her. She moved up through Makita fast. Apparently had some project to use genetic markers to cause people to glow in the dark? Why the fuck would anybody want to do that? Anyhow, she eventually lands on Earth. Gets on Nobuda’s team. He’s got her taking the glow in the dark shit and turning it into something useful, like making fucking rage zombies.” Goro reaches up and puts his hand on his dressing. It comes back covered in blood.

“Suki, I’m springing a leak over here. When are you going to take a look at this shit?”

“Keep your shirt on. I’m almost done.” She replies testily.

“Apparently this Yakuza underboss Ishii is somehow mixed up in all this rage zombie shit. Doesn’t seem like old Nobuda is too happy about it, but also seems like he didn’t have any choice. Maybe they got him in a bind with that Akiko bitch or something? Anyhow, Ishii and Mako become lovers. Fuck knows if its real or if Ishii is using her. Either way, she convinces Mako to defect to the Yakuza. Guess we know how all that went down, huh? You find out that Mako has got her whole fucking lab packed up and ready to go. All the info on the rage zombie project is sitting on a mainframe at her lab near the space elevator. So, after giving me a fucking lecture about how turning that Akiko bitch into our agent was a top priority, you turn around and tell us we need to get our asses down to Yokohama pronto.

“Dopinder takes the hovercar and drops us off a couple blocks from the place. Lock’s got a retinal scanner and key pad. Luckily we got her eye and her memory. As Sureji starts working on the door, a bullet hits the doorframe right next to him. Sniper across the street. We don’t fuck around, but duck right inside. All the lights are out. I put on my night vision rig and start to look around. Place is a fucking tomb. Bodies lying in the hall, blood spattered everywhere. We pick our way down the corridor, when suddenly one of the stiffs sits up and tries to take a bite out of me. That was fucking something. Guy looked totally dead and suddenly he’s chewing on my neck. We open up on him and finally drop him only to see a pile more pouring out from the garage and surrounding rooms. We head into the stairwell and start moving up. I’m in the lead with my blades, while Bobby and Sureji are taking shots at the crowd gathering in our rear. We make it up to the floor where Mako had her lab, and it’s littered with more bodies. Of course they all start standing up and stumbling at us. Bobby softened a bunch of them up with a grenade, but then it was hand to hand. Fucking Sureji and I were mobbed by these fuckers. We couldn’t shake them and both of us got chewed up pretty good. Finally, we finished hacking them down. We took a bit of a closer look and some of them were scientist guys and others were Yakuza. Guess someone made a fuck-up with the zombie agent…

“We’re in pretty shit shape by the time we get into Mako’s old lab. Surprise, surprise, we see a half-dozen Yakuza have sealed themselves in some sort of chamber. Apparently they are waiting out the whole zombie apocalypse behind a foot of hermetically sealed glass. Of course they’ve got the computer and a tank of this zombie juice sealed in there with them. Like I said, none of us are in any shape to tangle with six guys, so we try and figure out if we can cut off their air or something. No luck there. Finally, Sureji gets the bright idea to poison them, so we ring you up and ask how to mix up some toxic shit. Bobby hurls it into the room and Sureji holds the door shut. Pretty soon their all flopping on the ground like beached fish. After a little while we go in and collect the goods.

“Now, all this science shit is too heavy to throw in the hover car, so we head down and take a look in the garage. Yakuza had brought one of their trademarked limos and a big van along with them. We load the computer and bioweapon onto the van. Sureji gets into the driver’s seat and I take shotgun. Bobby heads up to the roof to try and pin down that sniper while we take off down the street. We proceed to have the sloppiest extraction of any operation ever.

“Cops have got the street blocked off with a pair of cruisers and a black SUV. Sureji turns the fucking truck around and head’s the other way. Meanwhile, Bobby has traded fire with the sniper, then hops into the hovercar. They look for an alternate route for us, but we’re pinned since the cops are setting up a roadblock at the other end of the street too. Sureji can’t seem to get the damn truck to do more than 30 kilometers per hour. I’m thinking I could probably push the fucking thing faster myself. He tries to ram the roadblock and manages to just put a big dent into one of the cruisers. Cops are screaming at us to get out of the car. That SUV has left the other barricade and stops to pick up the sniper down the road. I holler at the cops to clear off or we’ll let them have it. Dumb fucks don’t budge, so Bobby drops a frag grenade on them. I haul my ass out of the truck and push one of the cop cars out of the way. Hop back in, just as that SUV pulls up next to us and starts blasting. Bobby is fucking around with that grenade launcher, Sureji is trying to get the truck into reverse, only the bumper is stuck on the cruiser he rammed. I’m thinking this just may be it when Bobby finally puts a tungsten round from his riot into the SUV’s engine block and then starts peppering the passenger compartment. Sureji finally gets the van moving and we roll off. Anything else princess?”

“No.” Suki replies sticking an air hypo against his shoulder. “I think you earned your ‘dorph.”

Zaibatsu 8: Bloodbath at the Sugar Shack

Suki takes the proffered Golden Bat cigarette from Suko’s pack and lights it up. She takes a long drag, then exhales with a sigh. “So, you just had to go off on your own little field trip, huh? Sureji comes back smelling like a rose, but the rest of you have lost so much blood I needed to restock the plasma. What the fuck? I need you on Aikiko, Nobuda’s personal assistant, not dicking around with some washed up hacker.”

“Fuck you Suki.” Goro grimaces as Suki staples up the slash running down his forearm. “I’m pretty sure that Ichioka guy is going to pay off; provided he survives the surgery that is.”

Ignoring him, Suki continues. “Kozo did some digging and hit pay dirt. She was tied up with that whole Tau Families for Peace debacle. Remember that clusterfuck turned out to be a front for the Yakuza to launder money? She was some kind of board member. She had to know what was going on. Nobuda must have paid a ton of money to bail her out of that mess. She’s practically erased from the whole affair. If Kozo hadn’t stumbled across that memo we’d probably have nothing, but this is big. If you assholes can turn her, we’ll have Nobuda by the balls. We may finally figure out just what the fuck is going on with Makita.

“This is important Goro. Get it? Way more important than Ichioka.”

“Whatever.” Goro mutters.

“From the start.” Suki says applying the final staple with significantly more force than necessary.

“Well, we’d gone down to Meatstick to pick up some lunch when this fucking cop comes up to us all nice like. Says he’s worried about poor Ichioka because he hasn’t seen him in a day. Anyhow, this stupid shit was supposed to be watching him, only Ichioka somehow slipped through his surveillance. Guess he’s hoping we’ll clean the shit up for him or something. The boys and me were game to take a look.

“Kozo ran that software we got from Ichioka and tracked his ass across the city to Asakusa. He’d checked into a love hotel called The Sugar Shack. Figured out what room he was in, so we went on down there to see if he was ok. The Sugar Shack is a pretty high class joint. We got ourselves setup really nice; reserved some rooms on his floor. After a well-deserved taste of sugar, we knocked on his door to see if he was ok.

“The guy was scared shitless. He’s living off the money we paid him for that software and doesn’t know who’s coming for him or why. We agree to get him out of the place and somewhere safe until we can figure out what to do with him. You gave us the ok to bring him in and set up a pickup in 20 minutes. We leave him with Sureji, and head down to the lobby to grab our weapons.

“Now Toshiro, is such a fucking tightwad that he decided to stay outside while we all got our dicks wet. Suppose it was a good thing, because he radios up that a couple of limos are pulling up and a bunch of goons are heading our way. About a dozen of these fucking Yakuza pile out and storm into the place with swords drawn. The hired muscle in the Sugar Shack all pull their pieces and we get our shit going too. Sureji gets Ichioka out of his room and heads upstairs since there’s no fucking way he can get through the lobby. The rest of us start going toe to toe with the Yakuza.

“It was a fucking bloodbath. I don’t know if I even remember what the fuck happened clearly. I remember Bobby lighting a bunch of them up with his grenade launcher before getting hacked down. Toshiro was using grenades in hand to hand combat again. I was holding the stairs. I think I killed four or five of them with my blades, but I was seriously fucked up. One of the fuckers got by me, but Toshiro ran him down and emptied a magazine into the poor son of a bitch.

“They can call it the fucking Blood Shack now. Poor Madame Seishisai was crying – crying real fucking tears – when she finally poked her head up. We fucking bailed when she started screaming at us.

“We needed to get going fast, so we grabbed one of the limos and piled in. Yeah, it was only three blocks to the fucking pick up, but every one of us was cut or shot to shit except Sureji. We figured an armored limo would be a lot nicer than strolling down the open street. Glad we took it too. Fucking Yakuza must have bikers on speed dial or something. A bunch of cycles came screaming at as. Bastards were hucking grenades at us and shit. We cleared them out quick enough and then got to the LZ where Dopinder picked up most of the group. Me and Sureji ditched the limo and made our way back to the safe house in a cab.

“Are you done fucking around with my arm? I really need to lie down for a while.”

“Sure.” Suki responds absently. “Get out of here, I’ll call if I have any more questions.”

She crushes out her cigarette as Goro staggers back towards his room. “I hope that Ichioka is half as good as his reputation.” She mutters to herself.

Zaibatsu 7: A Cultural Outing to the Museum

Inside a seemingly abandoned warehouse near the old docks, Toshiro sits perched on a plastic barrel marked Medical Waste with his gaming rig on. Bobby, Goro and Kozo are gathered around the hacker’s portable TV, watching the late night news.

“Does my voice really sound like that?” Kozo asks.

“You mean like a ten year old boy with his nuts in a vice?” Bobby smirks. “No, it’s more fucking annoying in person.”

Suki emerges from the sectioned-off clean room in medical scrubs. She peels off a pair of surgical gloves while watching Goro fish a Sapporo out of a portable cooler. Goro carefully wipes off the top of the can with his shirt sleeve before popping the tab.

“Isn’t that the cooler you used to transport the head? You’re keeping your beer in it?”

“Beer was there before the head, baby.” Goro says, taking slug. In response to Suki’s open-mouthed stare he continues. “What the fuck? I wiped the blood off.”

Suki suppresses a shudder and motions for Goro to join her a few meters away from the other members of the team. “You hadn’t planned on nabbing her tonight. What happened?”

“Yakuza’s what fucking happened. Looked like they was making a grab for her so we took the initiative. You like that don’t you freckles?”

“Tell it from the start.”

“You want to hear about the shit with that hacker’s buddy too? Fucking Yakuza were mixed up in that too.”


“Right. So Kozo gets a call from that hacker Ichioka. Said his buddy, Oishi, hadn’t given him a call in a while. He was getting a little antsy about the whole thing and wanted us to go check it out. Being the kind-hearted souls we are, we hopped in a cab and went down to his apartment see what the fuck went down. Meanwhile, Kozo starts running a trace to see if he can pick up where he might have got himself too.

“So there’s not any serious security at Oishi’s apartment block. We waltz in and head to his door. Sureji was still too high on pain killers after his little face transplant so we ain’t got nobody to pick the fucking lock. I knock and when we get no answer, I boot the door down. Poor bastard’s laying in the middle of his living room dead. Eyes cut out of his head. It was a message of some kind… Anyhow, we take a quick look and then back out the door only to get a blast of flechettes from this Yakuza bastard who snuck up behind us with a riot gun. We were able to take him down quick enough, but I think Toshiro is still pulling flechettes out of his face. Ichioka ain’t too pleased about his buddy. Tells us he’s got no beef with the Yakuza and doesn’t know why they’d be after him.

“So anyhow, once we come back from that whole clusterfuck, we decide to deal with this Isumi Mako bitch. Apparently she likes to go to the Museum. We decided we’d stake it out, then follow her home; figure out a good place to grab her some other time, right? Since you pulled a Michael Jackson on Kitsune’s fucking nose, we had to use Kozo as our inside man in the exhibit she hangs out at. The rest of us setup camp in the Meatstick across the street.

“Anyhow, after a lot of fucking Meatstick, she walks into the museum. We wait for Kozo to call us. Nothing. Finally Toshiro goes into the museum to see what the fuck is happening. Kozo was looking at mail-order Russian brides instead of doing his fucking job. Toshiro slaps him upside the head, points out the mark and heads back to Meatstick. We wait a long time. Finally, she comes out of the museum. She’s about halfway down the front steps, when two limos pull up. A couple of suits hop out and grab her.

“I’m thinking, ‘Makita’s found out about her little trips and is putting a stop to them. Better grab her now or we won’t get another chance.’ Bobby must be thinking the same fucking thing, because he pulls a SRAM out of his duffle bag and lights up the lead limo. I couldn’t fucking believe it – that missile barely scratched the paint on that car!

“Anyhow, we’re 50 fucking meters away from her and the goons, so Toshiro and I start running across the road while Bobby lays down some cover fire. I’m getting fucking peppered with rounds. Toshiro is pitching grenades around. Bobby’s shooting the shit out of the lead car. Fuck. Anyhow, they push that bitch into the back of the second car and start shooting some more. Finally, I make it up there and cut the arm off the driver of the second car. I haul his ass out and hop in the driver’s seat. In the meantime, Toshiro is mixing it up with one of the suits. I manage to back that fucking limo up and clip the guy he’s fighting. Missed Toshiro though… We finally take the rest of the fuckers out. Once we get a good look at them, we can see they’re covered in tattoos. Fucking Yakuza.

“Kozo’s been pissing his pants behind that concrete statue that looks like a giant pile of dog shit near the museum entrance the whole time. The rest of us hear motorcycles coming fast, so Toshiro and Bobby pile into the limo and we take off. Bitch in the back starts telling us that we’re dead men. Heard that before, but I couldn’t add it up. Sure looked like she was getting snatched by the Yakuza. Why’s she so cool about it? Figured she’d be a wreck.

“We have ourselves a running battle through the streets. Fucking bikes could outpace that limo, but they didn’t last too fucking long against Bobby and Toshiro. We finally find a place to ditch the limo and are getting set to give you a call for extraction when we hear more bikes screaming up. The fuckers come zipping towards us and we open up on them. Managed to take down all but one of them. The fucker skids to a halt in the middle of the group and fucking miss Mako hops on the back of his bike pretty as you please. He peels out while we’re all turning to draw a bead on him.

“I’m thinking. ‘Fuck this shit. I brought my beer cooler in case it went sideways and it’s gone fucking sideways.’ We cut loose on them before they’re ten meters away. Bitch is dead, so I whack her head off, throw it in the cooler, and give you a ring.

“Kozo shows up with the driver and finds an implanted tracking device in Isumi’s head. Toshiro said he’d take care of the fucking thing. Disappeared down an alley and came back with a big shit-eating grin on his face.

“That’s pretty much it. Fucking Isumi must have made some deal with the Yakuza or something. Wanted to get away from Makita? Wanted it to look like a kidnapping? Fuck if I know…

“What I do know is these fucking Yakuza are showing up way too often. Now, Kozo did some digging after our last run in with them and figured out that Ishii is a new Gashira on the rise. Apparently she’s flexing her muscles or something. Wants a piece of the corps maybe? Why does she give a shit about Ichioka?

“It’s getting pretty fucking annoying to have them showing up on every run we make. We must of killed a couple dozen of these fuckers; you’d think her boss would start wondering what the fuck is going on.”

Zaibatsu: Eyewitness Account

Suki awoke alone in her apartment, nestled under her eider down comforter, listening to the incessant rain pattering on the quad-ply perspex window.

“Amiko, One cup of green tea, warm. Turn on the news,” she spoke to her home assistant, and the stimsim viewscreen came to life across the room. An on-the-scene reporter was outside on a busy street filled with police cars with flashing lights, shoving onlookers with clear plastic slickers and umbrellas, crime scene tape, rain and smoking debris. The camera was POV of the reporter holding a microphone up for an excited eyewitness.

“Another terrorist attack,” thought Suki to herself as she propped herself up on her elbows in bed and reached for the tea auto-brewer adjacent on the nightstand. She brought the cup up to her lips and lovingly took a long slurp of the tea prepared exactly to the correct temperature.

“Please describe for our viewers what you saw happen just a few minutes ago here in front of the Leyland-Okuda Museum of Science,” asked the reporter as Suki picked up the tea mug and sat up in bed.

“Sure, I totally saw everything. So, like, these three guys came running out of the museum over there shooting everywhere and trying to blow up two random black cars. They killed those random guys over there then killed some random motorcyclists who happened to drive by. Then they hopped into the other car and, like, cut off the arm of the driver and threw him out onto the street and then totally hauled ass down the road.”

“Can you describe the men who perpetrated the attack?” asked the reporter.

Suki leaned over to the nightstand and reached for her glasses, an anachronistic style choice that her romantic side favored, slipping them on and taking another gulp of tea.

Glancing up at the stimsim, now in focus, Suki was greeted with the image of her hacker team-member Kozo.

“Well one guy had, like, a huge mohawk and safety pins in his face, one was this black-skinned weightlifter with huge muscles, and the last was, like, this little dwarf who must have had bionic legs or some shit, ‘cuz he was, like, super fast sprinting down the street, like boing, boing, boing….”

Suki spit out the entire gulp of tea in her mouth across the room and the cloud of spray distorted the projected image of Kozo smiling into the camera.

“What the fuck have those dumbfucks done now?” she yelled as she hurled the rest of the tea and mug across the room through the still smiling image of Kozo.

“I’m sorry I don’t know which dumbfucks you are referring to,” spoke her home assistant.

“Shut the fuck up, Amiko! Wait, Amiko, query the office and find out how many face transplants the team is allowed per quarter.”

Suki got out of bed and began to get dressed, brushing out her long black hair growing both from her scalp and from the facial mole below her right cheek.

“Suki, incoming call from ‘unknown’ caller. Charges have been reversed,” spoke Amiko.

“Amiko, answer. Collect call, must be….Goro, right?” she spoke to the air.

“You nailed it, babe,” Goro’s voice replied. “ You’re like as smart as face surgeon or something. Speaking of, you got somewhere we can bring you a present? It’s a really cold present. In a cooler. So probably ought to bring it to you pretty fucking fast. Plus I bought you some earrings I really think you’re gonna like.” Suki could hear another team-member snickering in the background.

“Sending the address now,” she said typing the encrypted warehouse address into a bedside comlog. “This is going to be another one of those interesting debriefs, right, Goro?”

“You know it, sweetie-pie,” said Goro. More background snickering.


Meanwhile, kilometers away in a garbage-strewn cobblestone alley behind the Loving Cup whorehouse, stands a beautiful young woman flanked by two massive, almost identical black-suited men with shaved heads and facial tattoos. She is in a tight, dark-colored floral patterned skirt and stiletto heels and holds a beeping tracking device, its rapid pulses telling her the tracer chip implanted in her subordinate should be right here in front of her.

All she sees in the middle of the alley is an enormous still-steaming pile of feces.

Zaibatsu 6: Loose Ends

“Suki baby! Time for my debrief shit, huh?” Suko Goro gestures for her to sit on his knee.

“Quit screwing around and tell me what went down at The Camel Walk. Half the team is shot to hell. You’re the only one who didn’t come back bleeding this time.” Suki says, sitting in a chair across from Suko Goro.

“Well, you got this fucking thing about loose ends lately. Told us we needed to find that techie bitch who’s responsible for all the rage zombie shit that went down at the Skytree Mall. We know she works for Makita, and got a few shitty images of her on the vid we captured, but that’s it.

You tell us some hot programmer, name of Ichioka Bunzo, just got out of prison and is working down at fucking AC/DC Bag in the Akihabara district. Said he’s known to have the best face-recognition software around and we can probably find this bitch if we can lay our hands on it.

“So we take a cab down to AC/DC Bag and have a chat with this fucking hacker. He’s all “I’ve gone straight” and shit, but he gives Kozo a call a few minutes later to setup a deal. Asks us to meet his guy, Oishi, down at The Camel Walk, that night, with 100,000 yen for the software. Also offered to sell Kozo a decent icebreaker, so the little shit hacks into Bubble Tea & Burritos and skims off some money from their latest promotion. Launders it through the Shotguns & Sorcery Crackstarter.”

“What the fuck?” Suki interrupts. “That still hasn’t delivered?”

“Nope. I heard they got Matt Forbeck’s great, great, great, great grandson working on the stretch goals now.”

“Anyhow, we cab it down to The Camel Walk. I’ve been there before. It ain’t too far from the Skytree mall actually. Place’s got like a dozen entrances, so a good place to do a deal. We find Oishi and make the exchange. When he gets up to go, Toshiro, of all people, spots some fuck giving us the eye. He didn’t look like a cop, so we figure one of two things: Either Oishi’s brought some muscle along in case things went sideways or somebody wants to take him out. We follow him out into the street, not too close, just to make sure he’ll make it home in one piece, then all hell breaks loose.

“Kitsune starts yelling about a fucking sniper and takes off across the street. That fucker can move when he wants to. He’s at the bottom of the fire escape across the street when the bastard opens up on Toshiro. Of course that dumb shit responds with a grenade. I watch it sail across the street, hit the rail and practically brain Kitsune as it lands behind him. Luckily, it’s just a flash-bang.

“I lay down some lead to give Kitsune cover while he climbs up the fucking fire escape. Toshiro figures if the flash-bang didn’t work, he’d better throw a frag grenade. He lands it on the ledge with this fucking sniper and tears him a new one. Kitsune takes some shrapnel as well. Both of us go on up the fire escape while the sniper crawls back through the window into the building. We chase the fucker into the hall and I hack his ass down. He’s covered in tattoos: Yakuza.

“Out in the street, I can hear Kozo screaming like a little girl and a lot of gunfire. While Kitsune strips the rifle off the sniper, I head back outside. There’s more Yakuza. One of them is slashing away at Kozo; I think the fucker is just toying with him. Another is carving chunks out of Toshiro. I’m about ready to leap the balcony and give Kozo a hand when Toshiro pulls out another fucking grenade. Fucker rolls it right between the legs of the Yakuza who’s hacking away at him. Man, that was some crazy shit. Kitsune puts a round in the last Yakuza. We can hear sirens, so we beat ass out of there.

“Here’s a fucking loose end for you: We can’t figure out why the Yakuza are there. They want some payback for Toshiro blowing up their fucking restaurant, or are they after this software? If they’re after us for the restaurant, these new faces you put on us did a fuck-lot of good.

“Anyhow, Kozo runs a trace on this techie bitch. Name’s Isumi Mako and she’s a fucking ghost. No trace of her in the system until 5 years ago. She’s either off-world, or someone’s done a hell of a job cleaning up after her. Kozo finds out where she hangs out though. Seems as though she likes the science museum down in Ueno district, so we’ll look her up down there.

“Oh, and knowing how you like initiative and shit, Kozo decided to figure out what Kitsune’s old girlfriend, Goshin, is up to. We can easily finger her for that whole at the Mushashi Insurance. With this new software, Kozo can get pictures of her with Kitsune on their little date and shit. You let us know if you want us to burn her for it, or if we should start squeezing her for info.”

“Ok, I’ll think about it. We’re done here.” Suki says rising.

“Hey boss lady, you never told me how you like my new face.”

“Goro, no matter what I do to your face, it can’t disguise the asshole inside.”

Zaibatsu: A Brief Respite

“I choose my friends for their good looks, my acquaintances for their good characters, and my enemies for their good intellects.”
― Oscar Wilde

“ Rise and shine, fuckfaces!” shouts Suki gleefully into the Katsura Kojo dorm room that is shared by her Haruna Biolabs Special Research Division team members. Various sounds of moaning, low sobbing, and snoring can be heard from within. The droning of the massive wig making machinery from the factory below can be felt as low vibration in the floor.

“Where am I?’ asks Goro, his voice heavily muffled through many layers of gauze. “Ahh my fucking face hurts bad….” he trails off.

Bobby Datsun and Kaito sit at the table in the room playing cards with a large sweating bottle of cold sake and glasses between them. Both of their faces are wrapped in bandages, although it looks like Kaito has torn some of his gauze off to reveal the healing scars beneath. The rest of the team are laid out in their respective bunks, their faces shrouded with wound dressing, barely conscious through a haze of pain killers.

“Nice one Suki,” says Bobby. “You know how to give a party.”

“They’ve all been totally crashed out for about a day and half,” says Kaito. “Except Goro and Toshiro. Seems like their meds aren’t taking the edge off like everyone else’s. I’m pretty sure Toshiro was calling out for his mommy, and Goro’s sheets are soaked from his crying all night.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about. I administered their morphs pretty much the same as everyone else. Time to get back to work you shitbirds!” she yells again.

Goro rolls onto his side and slowly sits up. The rest of the prone team members slowly sit up.

“I think I missed something,” he mutters, “last thing I remember we was having a feast of takeout from Yang’s to celebrate blowing up that insurance mainframe…we drank up our beers then some more beers that Suki brought for us…and then…” he looks at Suki. “The fuck did you do to us?”

Fragments of surreal memories come flooding back to all of them; the takeout and beer supply dwindling, Sureji dancing with Suki and then trying to do the worm on the floor before completely passing out, Goro trying to do his double knife throwing trick and embedding one knife in the kitchen cupboard above Kitsune’s head, the other in the floor right between his big and second toes, Bobby deciding that it was time to clean his SRAM, and passing out at the table in a pile of weapon parts. Then disjointed images and sounds that made even less sense: some white coated guys wheeling in a large device on a squeaky dolly, people wearing masks setting laser scalpels out on trays, laughing about how the poor bastards couldn’t be any uglier.

“What the fuck, Suki?” says Toshiro, feeling the bandages around his face and wincing.

“Sorry boys, it was necessary to give you all a new look. Really I was doing you a favor, I mean did you ever look in a mirror? The thing is, all of you who were in the field were close up ID’ed by a Makita manager, and there’s a shit ton of surveillance that would have survived the bombs. I mean you got the job done, but those guys who dressed up like janitors, their faces are dead. It’s part of the job. One that I actually kind of enjoy and am not bad at, if I say so myself.”

“I didn’t know you were trained in facial plastic surgery,” says Kaito.

“Technically I wasn’t, but I had a semester of reconstructive and B.A.”

“The fuck is B.A., Suki?” says Goro.

“Breast Augmentation. It’s a pretty similar process if you think about it.”

“You telling me I have tits on my face?”

“Would that be so bad, Goro?

Goro pauses.

“I mean do the tits have nipples on them that get all turned on and such?” he asks.

“Go ahead and take the bandages off, guys. The healing has been super-accelerated and the wounds should be done weeping by now.”

They do as they’re told, and as their new faces are revealed they take turns laughing at each other and pointing and jeering at the lumpy mismatched features that are revealed on their teammates faces. Then the laughter dies as each is passed around a hand mirror and they take in their new looks.

“Shit. Sorry, boys. I’ll get better at it, I promise. The swelling will go down a little. Maybe you’ll take some pains to disguise yourselves next time?”

“Where are my nipples?” asks Goro, looking in the mirror, examining his new face with his pinky.

“I have an uncle who got his face caught in a rice cracker-making machine and went to a street doc to get it redone!” laughs Toshiro. “You look even worse than that!”

“Lick my face-nipple, Toshiro.”

“Safe to say, none of you are really worse off than you were, just kind of rearranged the ugly. Now, get your asses up! and let’s get on with the briefing—we have work to do.” says Suki.