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.”

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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.”

“Yes.”

“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.

Zaibatsu 5: What Kind of Policy Insures Against Limpet Mines?

“Fuck Suki, that hurts like hell!” Goro squirms on the couch as Suki inserts a long pair of tweezers into a gash on his side.

“Sit still!” Suki commands, as she probes the wound some more. “You’ve still got a piece of shrapnel in there.”

“Thank fucking Toshiro for that.” Goro grimaces as Suki twists the tweezers around. “Bastard nearly got me killed when he fumbled that grenade. Ouch! Fuck! Bobby’s the guy that can turn off his pain receptors, not me. Oh shit! At least give me some more ‘dorph while you’re digging around in there.”

“Too expensive. Local anesthetic is just fine you big pussy. Now tell me what went down.”

“Well you told us we needed to take out that CPU at Mushashi Insurance and it had to be off the books. No help from Haruna. They’re located in Mushashi Tower down in the Marinouchi. Cops all over the area and shit. The insurance company occupies floors ninety nine to one-oh-nine. You give us a map of floor ninety nine where the CPU is located. We know they’ve got a few guards patrolling the floor, the computer is located in a fucking safe and that’s about it.

“Kozo tries to hack into the system to see if he can get more intel on the building, security, number of guards, anything. He can’t even get through the fucking door. Next, he puts out some feelers for disgruntled employees, hoping for a bite, so we can get the intel the old fashioned way. He eventually lucked out and started laying a trail to pin everything on the poor SOB.

“We think up some ideas for taking the place down. I’m voting hovercar with chin mounted mini-gun, but how the fuck are we supposed to come up with that?

“Fuck! Shit, that hurt.”

“Got it.” Suki says, holding up a bloody, jagged piece of metal.

“Anyhow,” Goro continues, “we decide to send Kitsune in to scout the place out for us. He makes up some BS story about his hovercar insurance files getting deleted or something and gets an appointment with an agent. Once he’s in the building he scouts around and sees this woman getting chewed out by her boss. She hops on the elevator and he puts his super legs to good use and scoots right on with her. Starts chatting her up, name’s Goshin, she’s a manager or some shit and he eventually takes her out to dinner. Fuck, never figured him to be that smooth…

“So turns out this Goshin has royally fucked up. Lost the company several hundred grand or something and is pretty sure she’s out of a job. Kitsune is all ‘there, there, I can help’ and shit. She calls him back the next day and agrees to help us get into the building if we’ll wipe the computer of her error.

“We decide to go in as cleaning crew. We’d staked the place out and knew who cleaned the shitters. That driver, Dopinder, you brought on hauls our asses over there and is waits in the garage to extract us. We hitch a ride up the elevator with this woman as planned. Guards give us some hassle, but Kitsune smooths it over for us. We start cleaning the building and waiting for it to clear out a little.”

The smell of burning flesh fills the room. Suki wrinkles her nose as she starts cauterizing the wound.

“Smells a hell of a lot better than when Kaito got lit up the other day.” Goro says loudly, grinning.

“Suck my dick, Goro!” Kaito yells from the other room.

“Eventually we make our move. Toshiro and I head over to the CPU room and start cleaning. The guards in the control room are yelling at us to get lost. I’m spraying a bottle of Windex onto the camera while Toshiro sets his limpet mines. We duck around the corner, he blows the mines, then we come running back in to take out any survivors. That’s when I got this.” He gestures to the now sealed wound. “Fucking Toshiro drops his grenade right outside the door. I figured I was dead, but he managed to kick it in before it went off.

“So we carve these assholes up. Toshiro gets his remaining limpet mines ready to blow the CPU and Kitsune gets to work on the inner door. Meanwhile me, Bobby, Sureji and Kaito spread out to look for more guards.

“And yeah, there are more guards. Fuck knows where they were keeping them all. There’s a whole crew of them on level one hundred looking down at us, and Kitsune’s girlfriend is with them, pointing us out and yelling. Fucking bitch wants us dead now that we covered up her mistake…

“Some have already come down one of the stairwells. They got Bobby and Sureji pinned down. Sureji goes down. I run over to assist. I’m spraying these fuckers with my pistols, but the rounds are just bouncing off. Does everybody got subdermal armor? Fuck. Anyhow, we’re outgunned so I scoop up Sureji and head for the other stairs. Bobby, Toshiro and Kaito are covering our retreat.

“Kitsune makes it to the stairs and it looks clear, but we hear the door open above as we start on down. Toshiro rigs a flash-bang to go off, while Kitsune starts flying down the stairs. He radios that Dopinder guy to get his ass in the elevator and up to floor 90 to meet us. It’s about then that he thinks ‘how the fuck are we going to get past those cop checkpoints on our way out?’ I’m guessing we’re fucked, but somebody remembers there are probably some hovercars on the roof. This Dopinder guy can fly if we can hotwire one.

“Plan made, we keep moving down the stairs while Toshiro rigs up another grenade to slow our pursuers down. We meet Dopinder on floor ninety, pile into the elevator and start heading up to the roof. Pass a bunch of them Makita goons heading down and one of the stupid fuckers opens up on us through the glass elevator. I was hoping he’d fucked up their lift, but no such luck.

“We’re up on the roof, and we wake up Sureji with a shot of ‘dorph. He starts hotwiring the hovercar when the elevator full of Makita goons opens up. Now, Bobby’s been hoarding a couple of missiles for a while and he decides that now is the time to use them. Sends them into the elevator and we got nothing more to worry about from that end.

“We all pile into a fucking nice Infiniti hovercar and fly away. Left the thing sitting in front of the Skytree mall with the doors open and engine running, then caught a ride back home with Toshiro’s cabbie.” Goro leans back on the couch and reaches over to grab his beer from the side table.

“That was just short of a complete clusterfuck.” Suki says, packing away her medical equipment. “At least it looks like that poor bastard Kozo framed is taking the fall, but you’ve got loose ends. That woman, Goshin, wasn’t it? What if she fingers you guys?”

Goro looks nonplussed. “Yeah, probably should’ve cut her fucking head off or something.”

Welcome Icculus

That’s right, the Icculus, author of the Helping Friendly Book, has agreed to transcribe some of the chapters of that august tome on Filbanto Stew. Of course, the entire content (past, present and future) of Filbanto Stew is already documented in the Helping Friendly Book. It may take you a while to find it because there is no table of contents, index or search function in the book, but I assure you it is there. Have you read it?

The fact of the matter is Icculus has already contributed a lot to the blog and I finally figured out how to add him as an author. I went back and assigned authorship to some of his posts. He’s running Zaibatsu for the group right now!

Zaibatsu 4.1 Team Pep-talk

“What the fuck is that smell, Kaito?” says Suki as she walks into the Katsura Kojo safehouse on a rainy cold morning. She puts her face near his and takes a long sniff.

“Beats the shit out of me, ma’am. Although, there’s a slight chance it could be Toshiro’s vest that he hasn’t taken off in five fucking days.”

Toshiro slouches alone on the sofa, his duct tape-patched VR helmet covers half his face as he sits silently, his head cocked to the side. He chuckles to himself softly.

“Goddamn it, is he doing what I think he is?” Suki asks

Sureji, Bobby, Kaito, Goro, and Kozo all are sitting in the common room as far away from Toshiro as they can get.

“Judging by the amount of drool, I’m pretty sure he’s either doing ‘POV toddler running around the mall hiding under ladies’ skirts’, or ‘VR super hot chicks with hand grenades.’” says Sureji.

“Well, not to overgeneralize, but you all are the most disgusting people I’ve ever encountered. And remember I used to work in a basement butchery-slash-surgery harvesting organs from unwilling victims when I was your age.”

“C’mon Suki, you know you love us,” says Goro and he flicks his tongue wildly at her.

“Ok, I’ll get right to the point of why I’m here, in just a moment after I swallow the vomit in my mouth. And then I will proceed to get the fuck out of here as quickly as possible,” she says as she lights a long cigarette and takes a delicate drag.

“Remember that the key word of the week is ‘initiative’? And I do think you all are really starting to get the idea. Oh for fuck sake Toshiro, take that fucking thing off!” she yells as she jumps up and yanks the VR rig off his head and throws it into his lap.

“Ow! What the fuck, Suki? I was just getting to the good part where all the moms at the Mall are getting samples of ‘l’heure d’bouche’ perfume sprayed on them.”

“Initiative!” she yells and stubs out her cigarette on his stained ballistic vest, “is how we are all going to get promoted, get our fucking clone insurance, get a big fancy apartment and a hover car with a fucking retrogenically augmented driver. What is so fucking funny, Goro?”

“I don’t need retrogenics to augment my driver, Suki, I got it all right here.” He holds up both hands, looking for a high five from Bobby on his left and Kozo on his right. Both move away a little and shake their heads.

She continues.

“Again, I’m swallowing a little vomit. The next practical lesson in ‘initiative’ is ‘planning’. Let’s review what your next assignment will be:” Suki stands in front of them and refers to holo-slides projected behind her.

“Two months ago our enemy, Makita Genetics, began a concerted campaign at a hostile takeover of the Musashi Group, a venerable and very profitable insurance subsidiary of Haruna Biolabs. Ten days ago Makita was successful in acquiring Musashi and in the last week have replaced the entire management and security staff with their own people. This weekend they will conduct an audit of the company, from which they will find that a manager absconded with the large majority of the value of the company before being sacked last week. They will also likely discover that said former manager, having disappeared without a trace from this planet with about a hundred billion yen, was a Haruna agent, which would be very, very, very bad for Haruna, and therefore also for me and for you. So we will be doing something about that, won’t we? Put your hand down Toshiro. I’ll answer questions in a minute.”

“If an insurance company blows up and everyone there is dead does it make a sound?” he chuckles to himself.

“To continue, before the audit this weekend, the Core records of the Musashi Group must be completely destroyed. And there can be no way it is traced back to Haruna. In fact, it shouldn’t even look like the act of a Zaibatsu of any kind. I congratulate myself a little, in advance, that you are the perfect team to undertake this mission. Now the lesson is ‘planning’. Go ahead and ask me as many questions as you can think up, so you can formulate your ‘plan.’ Remember, this mission is completely off the books at Haruna, so you can’t requisition any resources.”

An hour later, after questions were asked and answered, inappropriate gestures were made, and a few small fights broken up, Suki lights another cigarette, and clears her throat.

“One more thing: thanks to my ‘initiative,’ and your hard work at the Mall last night, my boss felt that I was due a small bonus. And what kind of cold-hearted bitch would I be if I didn’t share a taste with you? So you will each find a small token of my appreciation in your mail-slot.”

They all jump to their feet and scramble across the room pushing and shoving to get to the slots. They greedily rip the envelopes open.

“Cut the shit, Goro—they’re all the same!” Suki yells.

Each envelope contains a hundred yen gift card for Meatstick,  a thousand yen giftcard for Haruna Pharma, and a person-to-person credit transfer of two thousand yen.

Bobby wipes a tear off his cheek with the back of hand.

“I never got anything from my own mum at Oseibo. That’s the nicest gift I ever got.”

“Suki, look in the box, I got you a gift too!” yells Goro holding an old takeout box in front of his crotch.”Get it? It’s my dick in here!”

“Good meeting, everyone. Gotta run!” says Suki over her shoulder as she slides closed the elevator grate.

Zaibatsu 4: Skytree Mall Massacre

“Hey Goro.”

“What the fuck do you want Kozo?”

“Just checking on how you’re doing is all…”

“How’s it fucking look like I’m doing? I got shot twice and that Makita bastard laid my side open with his fucking katana. Bitch-mistress Suki won’t give me any more ‘dorph and I can’t find where she hides the fucking stuff.”

“Uh… Can you tell me what went down?”

“Can you get me any more ‘dorphs?”

“I got some Sake…”

“Fuck… I’ll take it.” Goro grabs the proffered bottle and takes a long swig. He takes a look at the bottle, raises his eyebrows, then slugs down some more. “This shit’s not bad, Where’d you get it?”

“Toshiro has a few bottles hidden away in his room.”

“Fuck, you’re ok kid…

“Ok. So Suki’s got some kind of wide-on about that massacre down at the old Skytree mall. I don’t know why she thought it was important. Kept telling us we needed to use our ‘initiative’. I don’t know what the fuck she’s on about. Probably some kind of test or some shit.

“Anyhow, Kaito called one of his old cop contacts and you tried to hack into the PD database for more info, but we got fuck-all for it. We get Toshiro’s fuckwit cabbie friend to give us a lift down there and start looking around. I figure we find ourselves some blood-spattered homeless fuck and ask him what happened. There’s a lot of them standing around, but they’re all sporting new clothes and shit. Fucking weird. Sureji singles one out and starts talking to him. Guy’s fucking nervous and says everybody that got out of the mall got some money to keep their mouths shut. These corp goons told him they’d cut his pecker off if he squealed. We convinced him to meet us near the old subway tunnels to talk things out.

“So, I think to ask the cops a few questions. Figured they’d be open to a friendly little chat. Guess the bastards I decided to talk to had been called to the scene before they got their morning donut allotment. Kept telling me to fuck-off. I had to get a little more persuasive…”

“I think I saw that on the simstim.” Kozo interrupts. “You’re the one who bounced a cop’s head right off the side of the UPV*?”

“And he’ll think twice about telling me to ‘fuck off’ if he ever regains consciousness.” Goro retorts. “Anyhow, the rest of the boys beat down his partner. Then, the top of that UPV opens and some bastard opens up with a machinegun. Bobby takes a fucking burst and then Toshiro gets this shit-eating grin on his face and drops a frag grenade right down the hatch. After the explosion, we take a few seconds to lift the LMG out of the vehicle and then scram before any more cops show up. That’s fucking initiative kid.

“So we find our homeless guy, sweating bullets, waiting for us down in the subway. Guess the bomb Toshiro had rigged up on the poor fuck to persuade him to come did it’s job well enough.”

“Toshiro rigged a bomb to a homeless guy?” Kozo interjects. “What the fuck is wrong with him?”

Goro stares blankly at Kozo for a good thirty seconds. He takes another swig of the Saki and says. “Yeah, I guess that’s kind of fucked up, isn’t it?

“Anyhow, this guy tells us he saw some pretty crazy shit go down. Now, there’s this gang of punks that basically own Skytree mall these days. A couple of them just flip the fuck out. He tells me they was bleeding from their fucking eyes, grabbing people and biting them and shit. Didn’t give a shit if they was in their gang or not. Just started fucking people up. They were moving fast too. I mean real fast. Their buddies opened up on them and couldn’t fucking hit them or shit. We figure those fucks are on some kind of combat drug or something. So we call up Suki and tell her the story. ‘I need a sample.’ She says. Figures.

“We head on down the subway tunnel. When the Skytree was open, there was a train stop below. I knew the new owners of the mall pulled down some of the barriers so we’d be able to get into it from down there. Toshiro and Bobby took point. We come out into this big-ass atrium and maybe 80 meters away Sureji spots a bunch of assholes fucking around. Two of them are maybe 6 levels up, lowering this huge case of shit down to three fuckwits on the ground level. Four of them looked like the same bastards we saw on the simstim pushing that reporter around. Fuckers were packing some artillery. Most had SA-66s, but one of them was hauling a fucking flame thrower! There was some woman with them too. Looked look a techie or something. Toshiro and Bobby open up on them immediately. The rest of us only got pistols, so we start moving up to get in range. I got fucked up pretty good in the firefight and didn’t even get close enough to pop a cap in any of the fuckers. Nothing compared to the barbequing that Kaito got though. That techie ran; smart girl. All the muscle look like they got subdermal armor, like Toshiro, no wonder they were such a fucking pain to put down.

“Anyhow, the bastards top-side scattered, so Sureji helped himself to a new assault rifle, while the rest of us checked out that big case. Looked like it was a portable lab of some sort. Was full of vials what looked like blood samples and shit. Hah, fuckers did our work for us. I hoisted the fucking thing on my back and we started to beat a retreat. Got almost back to the subway tunnels when a couple of those corp-fucks step out of the shadows.

“One opens up with an assault rifle, while the other comes running at us with a katana. The boys open up on the bastard with the SA-66, while I step up to take on the swordsman. Son of a bitch knew his shit and laid me open. Pretty sure I’d have gone down if I hadn’t popped a ‘dorph earlier. Finally cut his ass down shortly after that other fucker went down in a hail of lead.

“We beat ass down into the subway tunnels. Me and Bobby had lost a lot of blood and I was having trouble staying on my feet. Of course we couldn’t walk out of this shit without any more trouble. We’re maybe 100 meters from the next platform when this douche with a mohawk jumps out from a niche in the tunnel wall. Tears into us so fast you wouldn’t believe it; grabbing somebody and taking a fucking bite out of them, then moving on to chomp on someone else. Did a number on me.” Goro gestures to a bloody bandage on the side of his neck. “Hurts like a motherfucker.

“Anyhow, this cocksucker really didn’t stand a chance against us. We hacked the son of a bitch down, but I think he took a piece out of me, Bobby, Kaito and Sureji before I hacked one of his arms off. He fell right into the path of an oncoming train, but Toshiro scooped up his severed arm as a present for Suki. More initiative there! We got fuckwit the cabbie to give us a lift back to the safe-house. I passed out on the ride home. I’m sure that asshole will be sending me a bill for all the blood on his seat cushions or something…”

“Suki and I did some digging while you were passed out.” Kozo says. “Turns out those guys you tangled with are Makita…”

“No surprise there.” Goro interrupts.

“Yeah. That case you lugged out of there had a portable forensics kit and a whole bunch of video equipment in it. I cracked the encoding on the vid. It shows the whole thing. A bunch of punkers come back into the mall. They’re eating Meatstick carry out and suddenly they go ape-shit. Attacking people, biting chunks out of them. It’s horrible. Do you know what this means?”

“They got some bad Meatstick?”

“No! Well yes, they probably got dosed at Meatstick, Makita owns them so it’d be easy… Shit…” Kozo looks up at the ceiling, clearly exasperated. “What I mean is the video. The fact that we have video. Makita set this up. It was a fucking experiment and they used the poor bastards in that mall as their test subjects.”

Goro stares at Kozo for a long minute. “Huh. That’s pretty fucked up alright, killing all them people just to test their combat drug. Sure shows initiative though…”


*This illustrates how the player and GM can get on totally different pages when role playing. When my character went over to talk to the cops, the GM described two guys leaning against a police car with black windows. I’m thinking ‘Toyota Camry’ while he’s thinking Jeep with LMG. I was totally unprepared for how this escalated.