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Chapter Two:Edit

Japan 2026hours 23/10/01-Edit

“ Hey! Up yours!” yells the passing driver.

“ What a meanie!” pouts Mandy, looking at Nick as they drive on.

“ You get a lot of people like that,” says the driver, a 25-year old lady with a headset on. “ Long hours, late shifts, a lot of tourists to deal with. One’s who don’t know what you’re saying. It’s tough.”

“ Mmmm. Tell me about it,” mumbles Nick as he stokes Mandy’s hair. They pass a foodstore and head on, the electric lights of the dashboard computer blinking on and off as the fluoro blue screen guided the car within the traffic laws. The car hummed lightly. “ So you ready for tonight?” asks Nick to Mandy, ignoring the hum.

“ Yeah, I’m okay with it,” says Mandy. “ Would be a lot better if we could just hack into the Cyprus mainframe.” Her eyes are dreamy.

“ Don’t want to alert any attention now, do we?” says Nick with a small smile. “ Don’t worry, it’ll just be in and out. Hopefully.”

“ You don’t sound that convinced,” says Mandy. She sighs.

“ Well there’s a lot going on now. I’m not sure about how this will turn out,” says Nick, turning to Mandy. “ Can’t tell the future. Not yet anyway. Wish I could.” He shrugs, a hand on her shoulder.

“ Doesn’t everyone,” mutters Mandy. “ Look, I’ve pulled through the other ones intact. The one on the communication bug to the Galactic Council was a little shaky, since we had to dismantle that satellite dish with all those Zychas on the roof.” She rolls her eyes.

“ Hmmm. Let’s hope to God that not all these cops are members of their little gang,” says Nick. “ How did you go on Computer-calc?”

“ Sokay. Learning about Self-Aware Machines. Did you know that there are several AI mainframes on the Datanets alone?” asks Mandy.

“ Please, don’t go over that AI shit,” says Nick, holding up his hand. His eyebrows go taut with concern and bad memories.

“ Why? What’s up?” she asks, her own forehead creasing with worry.

“ I just did AI, you know that Steven Spielberg movie in media studies today,” says Nick. “ It was freaky as. I mean, it was disturbing, the scenes and all. Human beings are bad as.”

“ Don’t worry about it. Robots have their rights of being treated. Heck, they own a lot of this place. I mean they have Self-Aware Space colonies and everything, what with all these…” begins Mandy.

“ I don’t want to talk about it,” snaps Nick, holding a hand to his head. “ Shit. I’m sorry Mandy…” He glances out at the street.

“ It’s okay, it’s okay,” says Mandy, her eyes wide as she turns his face to her. “ I’m here, alright? I’m with you. What do you want to talk about? Besides me of course,” she says with a smile.

“ Well, where would I begin in describing you?” he asks with a smile. He and Mandy rub noses and smile as they hold each other. Nick glances over at the place. “ Hey, here’s our stop.”

“ Okay, I hear you,” says the driver, turning the wheel, the car turning admidst the frantic beeps of the annoyed drivers. She pulls into a spare parking space. The doors open automatically.

“ How much?” asks Mandy, her eyes bored at the girl in front of her.

“ Seventy New Yen,” says the driver. Nick holds out his own gloved hand and presses it onto the plate. The scan is accepted and the driver waves as a new customer runs over and grabs the cab as Nick and Mandy head over to the holomax movie theatre.

“ So what do you want to see? One of these old Jackie Chan movies?” asks Mandy, sidling up beside him, pulling her coat around her.

“ Yeah, even though I still don’t think Chan and acting should be used in the same sentence,” says Nick. His watch beeps. “ Hold on a second. I have to take this call.” He steps aside and speaks into it. “ What are you doing calling now?” A familiar voice is heard.

“ Sorry, just needed to check if we’re still going through with it.”

“ We go as planned,” snaps Nick. “ We store the data and then use it to fence our way out of it. If the Zychas want it back they’ll need to provide us some security. It’s time to blow this popsickle stand. Don’t call me. I’ll call you.” He turns to Mandy, looking at the film brochures. She looks up. He smiles. “ Chan it is. Shall we?”

2042hours-Edit

Martin throws the holographic dart at the virtual dartboard as the VR phaces move around them. April sits looking over a purple flowing fountain as the green sky shifts over them.

“ This construct is making me sick,” she mutters, as she adjust the goggles on her eyes. “ Shift to neutral will you?”

“ I like the shifting colours. Kind of hypnotic,” says Martin as he throws a wild dart from under one leg. It goes wild and fades out of reality. “ You know, like you’re on a trip, only more control. You know?” He throws another one. The bullseye is hit dead centre.

“ No, I don’t know because I don’t take drugs Martin,” says April.

“ Well neither do I,” snapped Martin, he heads over across the hotel room to the oven, where he placed a TV dinner of Chicken Tortellini and pressed the nuclear symbol. The lead oven shielding door closed as the fission reaction took place inside. The heat generated from the pea-sized uranium slug heated the TV dinner to a sizzling temperature, then turned itself off, beeping to alert them.

“ You know these things are considered illegal in some areas,” says April. “ It’s a good thing we buy safe.” The beeping stops.

“ Yeah, good thing,” says Martin, taking out the dinner and peeling off the wrap. He plops down on the sofa as the virtual-reality image of the flowing fountain in the virtual park was shown in the living room. April laid across the futon, breathing out slowly as the image of green sky shifted across her focus point. Scattered around the futon were remenants of weapons, fission-fusion pulse bombs, fusion lasers, chaos guns… remenants of fieldstripped machinery scattered.

“ Do you really think we should continue on doing this? I mean all this fighting? Is it necessary to win the war?” asks April.

“ What? You thinking of pulling out?” asks Martin, as he forks in some more of the Tortellini. He pulls off an atomic power cell from the gun and checks the gauge. He clicks it back in. “ You want them to win, April? Is that what you want? For us to be under their control?” He checks the grey cylinder grenades and tucks them in.

“ I don’t know what I want. What I didn’t expect was to be in a hotel room a few hours away from planning what could be one of the many biggest attacks on a Japanese enterprise in world history!” she yells, sitting up.

Martin dumps the gun he’s checked on the futon. “ Alright! Alright! Chill!” says Martin. “ I don’t want to think about it either! All I want to do is eat my dinner. Then I might go somewhere, grab a whore, grab some dope, grab something to put my mind off it and then do this fuckin job so I can go and enjoy my only time here in Japan. Is that so hard to want? Huh?”

“ You want to pull out too, huh?” asks April, leaning on one arm.

“ Geez! Of course I do! The only real reason I’m in here is so I can blow some shit up!” says Martin, grabbing one of the guns. “ Wham, bam, thankyou ma’am. Alright? That’s all I wanted to do, not this planning my life so that I can’t get any sleep at night. Not so that Baz can go run it or something. I want to go live my life. I don’t want this war. I got drafted, just like you and everyone else.”

“ Exactly. We both got drafted. Why not just piss off now and just use these identities we have now to go make some other life?” says April. She gestures to the fake Mitsubishi Bank ID chips.

“ Because I like it better in Australia. That’s why. I was born there. I still have a few mates I only get to see a few hours a day,” says Martin. “ And I know I can’t go anyway.”

“ Why?” asks April, sitting up. Martin tucks his ID away.

“ Because I’m already too involved. I know too much about all this shit going on. About the war, about the people, about everything!” yells Martin. “ And I don’t know what to do! I don’t know what to do!” April reaches up and grabs his wildly gesturing hands.

“ Chill!” says April, getting up, her hand moving against the holograph projector, the VR images flickering and then vanishing. “ Look, Martin. Just because we’re here, doesn’t mean we can’t do anything… Maybe we can do something. Go out, get drunk. Do something good. It’s only nine thirty. Let’s party like there’s no tomorrow.”

“ Yeah,” says Martin, a small smile spreading across his face. “ Yeah. Let’s do that.”

2058hours-Edit

“ It’s gonna be a long night, huh?” says Yolanda as the dark trawlers moved across the black waters of Tokyo Bay. The skyline of the city was draped with searchlight beams piercing the water from the Gyrocopters, the helicopter-based fighter planes with circumvolution stabilisers and twin-jet engines, their sides burning with a blue glow as they hovered over the urban sprawl. The two girls sat on the edge of the wharf, the stench of poor caviar and fried squid filling the air as they looked over the lapping waves. A cruise of merrymakers was just audible over the wind.

“ Yep,” says Sabrina, taking out the bottle and draining the last of it. She holds it out to Yolz. “ Wanna send a message to China?”

Yolanda laughed as she breathed in the air. The shotgun was heavy in the bag beside her, but she didn’t mind as the gulls perched and took off, hanging around for chips and anything else they could scavenge off them. The smell of urine is evident on the port. “ One and a half hours to go. You wouldn’t think it was that soon, would you?” asks Yolz, her nose crinkling up with the stench.

“ Guess not,” says Sabrina as she corks the bottle and then chucks it onto the water. “ You know if anybody catches me we’re gonna be in jail overnight.” A gull cries out above the howl of the wind.

“ That’s the least of our worries,” says Yolanda as she adjusted the hood. “ So what do you think about Cyprus?”

“ Not much to think about. It’s your average modern computer company, makes an average net profit of several trillion New Yen a year. Has agreements with the World Tribunual Acts, doesn’t create any illegal superintelligent AI or anything much worth worrying about and is one of the many megacorps of Japan. Perhaps it runs in the Yakuza, maybe doesn’t. The Yakuza is the least of our worries, ant these are the cutthroat jackals, armed to the teeth in the basic cyberops shit. Real William Gibson stuff. That’s what the people know. What they don’t know is that it’s a front for an army that would make the Yakuza seem like good people to send to babysit your kids. These guys are making Cyprus deal in making more of themselves by attracting the innocent public and luring them into a false sense of security. Unlike most businesses, that lure your public to sell them an item or an idea, these guys are assisting a superarmy, which plans on world devestation.” A ship toots its horn across the bay.

“ And we’re chosen to stop them,” says Yolz.

“ God help us,” says Sabrina, looking over the waters.

“ So how come we don’t hear so often from the Yakuza?” asks Yolanda.

“ They’re basically getting drummed out. They’re only hired muscle. They’re the Japanese mafia, who can hunt, kill and destroy and erase with little to nobody finding out. They’ve been around for a few hundred years and are basically the badass mothers,” says Sabrina, getting up slowly. “ Come on. I want to get some sleep. We’ve been up for a while. I want to get an hour of concentrated REM for a while,” says Sabrina. She yawns and rubs her eyes.

“ Good, I’ll find us a dropspot,” says Yolz. She taps up a number on the PDC. “ We have a euphoria hangout area that costs about $100 Yen an hour. We’ll need to have an hour only. Plus we need to catch a train and get to the spot soon.”

“ Great, just what I need to hear,” snaps Sabrina. She takes a stagger of a step, bends over and vomits.

“ Ooh, I did not need to see that,” mutters Yolz.

“ Note to self. Do not mix Coke with Japanese Rum,” murmurs Sabrina. She reaches into her belt and pulls out a vial and downs it. She leans on Yolanda, who helps her to a park bench, situated by a busstop. Yolanda whistles loudly and taps in a signal. They sit there for three minutes until a cab pulls up.

“ Looking for a ride?” asks a young bloke with an ear-ring.

“ Yeah, Euph Zone Ranch, step on it,” says Yolz. The drive lasts four minutes, the girls go in silence.

“ Fifty credits,” mutters the young man. Yolz scans it in. She steps out at the large low-lit building that goes up for about twenty stories, surrounded by seedy bars and Thai takeaways.

“ Home sweet home,” mutters Sabrina.

2114hours-Edit

Hayley sits up, her head throbbing. Ryan grins at her.

“ Too much Sake huh?” asks Ryan. “ A little cerebral jolt there?”

“ Shut up, Ryan,” mumbles Hayley, her eyes bleary. “ This is not good.” Her temples throb and her mouth feels raw at the top.

“ Tell me about it,” says Ryan, yawning. “ Got about an hour left.”

“ Hotels, hotels all around, but not a bunk to get a good rate on,” says Hayley, a small smile crossing her lips. “ You know I’m meant to be the fastest hacker in the whole gang and yet here I am drunk as a skunk.” Ryan nods, the whirr of sugarush behind his eyes.

“ Come off it. I know you’ve been more drunk than this. It’s just the place here. All this cerebral synaptic neural-net music, neon and glitz and glamour gets everyone tired,” says Ryan. “ You know I finally figure out how these bloody Chaos guns work.”

“ A-huh,” says Hayley, her voice droning.

“ Yeah, Superstring Theory, how these energy bolts just collide and break everything apart. Very cool,” says Ryan.

“ This is a first. I didn’t know you liked science,” says Hayley.

“ Science? What are you stupid or something? I hate it! Can’t stand those formulas and shit! It’s just the effects man. They’re so bloody cool how it all explodes and shit.”

“ Are you trying to tell me you never used a chaos gun in basic training?” asks Hayley, her forehead creasing with lines.

“ Course I did. I just don’t know how these things work. That’s all. I’m a sharpshooter. I just know the feedback and energy creation. I know how the energy is made and shit. I just don’t know how it affected other things. You know… living things.”

“ Oh. I see,” says Hayley, glancing over at a large advert for FUJIFILM in front of a photograph-developing store. “ You… like the explosion effects of the weapon?”

“ Yeah. Not too bad,” says Ryan as he sips the mocha-chill. “ Not too bad. What are you going to do after this so-called attack on the Cyprus Corporation Headquarters?”

“ Maybe get about three hours sleep, which is what I’ll get out of today. It’s Saturday so I can call off work, thank God for that.”

“ Hmmm,” nods Ryan, glancing over at a geisha talking to a sailor in crisp uniform. “ Them sailors come from everywhere don’t they?”

“ Tokyo’s a major port. They have them sailors coming from all over the world,” says Hayley, yawning as she reaches onto her stale coffee. She slurps some. “ Urgh! Where do you get this shit? Starbucks?” She looks over the brown liquid and then sips some more.

“ Nah, not that bad,” says Ryan. He glances to the left and then the right. He reaches into his pocket and pulls out a slip of sticky paper with seven blue circles attached to it. Hayley looks at him.

“ Are those what I think they are?” asks Hayley.

“ Pure adrenalin dermatrodes. Simply slam on and they belt you in,” says Ryan. “ Got them in Ninsei. Good price too. Sorry, no speed.”

“ If Baz finds out, he’s gonna…” says Hayley.

“ He’s not going to find out anything. Just take one. They do you good,” says Ryan. He peels one off. “ Here. I’ll show you how.” He rolls up his sleeve and jabs the circle onto his bare skin. The patch begins to go fainter and redder until it’s a dull pink. He peels it off and tucks it away. “ Here. You try.”

Hayley looks at it and then peels off a single circle. She attaches it to her arm, the rough pinprick edges of the circle digging into her skin, the adrenalin pumping into her capillaries. Her head buzzes as the derm goes pink. She peels it off, the back moist.

“ Not too bad, is it?” says Ryan. “ Not all high-grade of course. Didn’t want to give you anything that would make you go mental.”

“ Ookay, that felt good,” says Hayley. She looks over the Starbucks coffee and then bolts the rest down. Ryan stares blankly at her, blinking as she swallows it and looks at him with a grin on her face. “ That’s good shit.” She looks over at Ryan and then at the stores. “ How much longer till we hit Cyp?”

“ About an hour or so. You wanna keep on cruising these 24-hour shops or just take a break?” asks Ryan.

Hayley grins, her eyes low. “ The hell do you think?” she quips.

2130hours-Edit

Nick moved into the cubicle and sat down, locking the door behind him. His reflection of a tall Korean dressed in a sailor suit flickered for a moment, the briefest of images flashing for a sec.

“ Bloody hell, should’ve changed the batteries,” he mutters to himself. He glances up to the security camera, the red light blinking. He gropes around the belt and comes out with a small cube, about three centimetres each side. He moves it aside and clicks out one of the green orbs. He moves it for a brighter one from the recharger. His watch beeps. He holds it to his face.

“ I thought I told you, for the last fucking time, stop ringing…” he begins. No image appears on the PDC, his holograph holds strong.

“ Caught you at a busy time Nick?” asks the voice of Baz.

“ Baz… what are you doing, calling me? These lines could be monitored you know…” says Nick, smiling.

“ Using the batteries again, Nick? I told you to switch to the nuclear cell. They’re good for a few million years,” snaps Baz.

“ Yeah. I know, I know… Sorry, I snapped. I have a few problems right now. Any… visitors we should be expecting?”

“ None I know of. Why did you use the atomic cells for the holograph?” his voice is bored with way too much knowledge behind.

“ Sorry. Slipped my mind. I need to get…” he sighs. “ I need to get some bloody relaxation here. I had to pull out of a good movie for this. Mandy has got to be worried sick about this and I don’t want to leave her alone in there!” He gestures to nothing with his hand.

“ She can take care of herself. She took on five Zychas once, like she was destined to the eyeballs. She’ll be fine,” says Baz. “ She still carries a fusor on her doesn’t she? Portable?”

“ Yeah, good thing they’re covered in bio-wrap. Would’ve been a bitch getting them through customs,” says Nick.

“ Good thing we don’t fly,” says Baz. “ Okay. I need you guys to be at the Chiba train station in twenty minutes. Sorry if I’m cutting the time short, but lives is important in this job of ours.”

“ I thought it was money,” says Nick. “ Damn, I was so close!”

Baz smiles. “ I’ll make it up to you guys later,” says Baz. “ I…”

“ It’s okay. Fifty billion lives are more important than two. I understand, Baz. It’s alright. We’ve had our fun, short as it is,” says Nick. “ You know, next time you’re buying.”

“ Will do, say hi to Mandy for me, later Nick,” says Baz. The line goes dead and Nick just looks at it for a while. He clicks the holograph onto the nuclear cell, the holograph strong and solid as he flushes behind him and heads out the door into the hall. Mandy stands before the entrance, her face lined with concern.

“ Couldn’t stay away huh?” asks Nick. “ Graph’s fine.”

“ Good, I was getting worried,” says Mandy, her reflection of a young Korean lady appears on the metal wall of the theatre entrance.

“ All works… We have to call the movie short in about ten or so. Need to catch a train, as so it seems.”

“ What? Can’t be that soon away…” says Mandy, glancing at the PDC.

“ It’s nine thirty one. We need to go soon,” says Nick. “ How much more of the movie has to go?”

“ Dunno, about an hour?” says Mandy. “ But it was meant to be our…”

“ Next time. We need to scoot. Don’t want to mess up, not on a night like this anyway,” says Nick. “ Look, I’ll grab us another popcorn. You go in and get comfortable. Might as well enjoy the few minutes we have. Go on, I’ll be alright.”

“ Okay,” says Mandy, leaning forward and kissing him on the cheek. She turns and heads into the entrance, waving behind her. He waves back as the door closes.

“ Shit,” he mutters. He heads over to the Candy Bar and orders a medium buttered popcorn. He scans the New Yen over and then heads back, speaking into the PDC, as it calls. “ Come on, pick up you bastard.” He gets the line on. “ Okay, listen good. Pickup is in an hour. Be there, be ready. I want you with the data at 12. Got it? Good. I’ll be as soon as I can.” He hangs up the PDC. He allows his ticket stub to be scanned by an usher, who bows as he re-enters the cinema. He comes over and sits by Mandy. “ Now. Where were we?”

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