Ghost In The Shell Fan Fiction ❯ Ghost in the Shell: Once Burned, Twice Shy ❯ Once Burned One ( Chapter 1 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]

Once Burned: Part One

Major Motoko Kusanagi walked into the bar, pausing for a moment to carefully scan her surroundings for any signs of possible trouble. She stood there, a shadowy figure at the doorway, dark purple hair falling around her face. Piercing eyes were hidden behind sunglasses, a heavy bomber-style jacket concealing the gun she always carried

The bar was an older place, and not particularly well kept up, but it was quite popular in it's own way. Having been almost adopted by the various intelligence agencies in Japan it was considered to be neutral territory. No forms of electronic eavesdropping, wiretaps or other information gathering activities were permitted within there, with some fairly gruesome punishments coming to you if you dared to violate those unwritten rules.

She knew all of that of course, but Motoko still carefully checked the place out anyway. The major got a few nods of recognition as she made her way through the smoky air towards the long bar,m the crowd giving way with a respectful caution. The barkeep wiped out a dirty glass before he set it down in front of her.

"You're usual?" the bartender asked calmly. The brown haired woman nodded, and the man poured generously before moving off to attend to the other customers. He knew hanging about and listening to conversations could be bad for his health.

"Major," her boss nodded to her as he settled into the seat beside her. Aramaki's ring of white hair stood up all around his bald head, and the shorter man should have looked almost funny, but his eyes were shrewd, piercing through the smoky haze. He wore a casual man's suit, the sort a mid-level salaryman might wear, but he was no ordinary man.

"Right on time," Motoko smiled.

"One for me, too," Aramaki tossed the credit to the bartender and in moments a drink was set down in front of him.

The two of them had started meeting like this not too long after the Major had began running the little anti-terrorist strike team for him. They both talked entirely off the record here, with Aramaki getting a feel for what was going on with his point operative while also keeping her in the know about any political landmines that might be coming their way. Both of them got something useful out of their discussions, and both walked away satisfied.

"Are there any problems from that last job?" Motoko asked him curiously as she raised up her glass ceremoniously, just like they always did with their first drinks.

"To your health," Aramaki tapped his glass to hers gently, and they each took a drink. "The Prime Minister is grimly accepting that we didn't have too many options," he related, "but we're going to have to watch our backs."

"As usual," Motoko agreed. She took another drink, "The unit's shaping up pretty well, even that new kid's pulling his weight."

"I was a bit dubious about your having a mostly human agent on the team," Aramaki calmly noted, "but it seems you were right." He took another drink, "There is something else that I wanted to ask you about, however."

"Here it comes," Motoko smiled, her red eyes crinkling with mirth. She finished off her drink, then signaled the barman for another. She closed her eyes, taking a deep breath of the scent of the place, prefering the stink of decay to the sterility of other parts of town.

Aramaki waited until the bartender left the drink, his gaze on Motoko thoughtful "You've turned down some very qualified applicants for your team recently," he said quietly, "usually without any explanation. I don't particularly care personally, but I often have to explain why. It doesn't help that they've all been women."

"It's complicated," Motoko swirled her drink around in the grimy glass, then drank. She felt the old man's gaze on her, holding up the glass of amber fluid to look through it thoughtfully. She took another drink before adding, "And a bit of a long story."

"I've got time," the older man waved for a refill.

Motoko met Aramaki's eyes, trying to get a sense of how determined he was about this. The bartender refulled both their glasses, then he asked, "Should I leave the bottle?"

"Why not?" Aramaki said dryly.

Motoko let loose a soft sigh, and she sipped a bit more of her drink before starting, "It was a few years back, and I was still working for your predecessor then...

The two women ran up the long hallway together with an almost inhuman speed before taking up their positions on either side of a closed door. Both of them were young looking, dressed in combat fatigues, and carrying some impressive looking weaponry. They exchanged a long glance, something sparking between them, then the purple haired girl shook herself.

She knew that the entire building was locked down tight, but Motoko used the com-link at the base of her throat to crisply ask, "Has the evacuation of this floor been finished?"

A clearly resentful police officer replied with stiff formality, "Evacuation complete, ma'am."

"Baka," Motoko muttered to herself softly. She switched over to her unit command frequency to ask, "Everyone in place?"

"Yeah." "Hai." "Go." came across the system as various officers around the building reported in. Standing right across from her Yayoi smiled coldly as the black haired woman murmured like a lover, "Let's do this."

"Right," Motoko gave her a fierce grin, feeling a bit of fire deep in her belly at that lingering gaze. She pushed her scruffy purple hair backwards, took a centering breath, and then she kicked the door in with the nearly superhuman strength that her enhanced body gave her.

The deal was going down just as they had been told it would be, the proscribed technology being exchanged for the solid gold bars, a nearly untraceable form of payment. The shock of their arrival only lasted for a few seconds, then the opposition's weapons were rapidly broken out. Two large men, quite obviously bodyguards, took up defensive positions even as the two dealers looked around them frantically for any way out.

"Just drop your weapons and surrender," Yayoi softly appealed to them, the slim cyborg being careful to move in a non-threatening way as she stretched out her hand, "it's the only way that you're getting out of here alive.".

"Never," the badly sweating dealer growled. His suit clung to his body, his optic ports looking oddly beady in his fat face.

'They're very nervous,' Motoko thought to herself, 'good.' Hitting a specific frequency on her communicator she softly gave the order, "Go."

There was the sudden sound of breaking glass, Then one of the two bodyguards jerked up slightly. He swayed there a moment, like a puppet with the strings cut, then he dropped to the floor, stone dead from the bullet of her best sharpshooter.

"What the hell," the money man blurted out in shock and fear, his face becoming even more pale than it had been.

"We aren't playing games here," Motoko said to them coldly, keeping her weapon level and aimed towards the money men. "We have gunmen based in the building opposite, ready to fire on my order," she pitched her voice carefully, sounding coldly ruthless, "and that is the only warning I'm giving you. Surrender now, or pay the consequences."

Yayoi met their eyes in mute appeal before continuing gently, "We don't want to see any more needless loss of life, please just give up."

A short time later, all the captives were being led away by the regular police forces and Motoko and Yayoi were sharing a hot cup of tea. "You really do the bad cop role very well," Yayoi smiled up at her gently as they leaned up against one of their unmarked vehicles. The battered car looked like a piece of junk, but a powerful engine lurked under the hood.

"Which wouldn't work at all without your good cop routine," Motoko smirked before leaning over and kissing her gently on the lips.

"Ah, ah," Yayoi chided her gently as she pulled back a bit, "no victory celebration until we go see the boss, lover."

One of the things that Motoko was quite aware of, in dealing with their employer, was that he didn't like her very much. That didn't bother her at all, but it did color the way they dealt with each other. No pleasantries were exchanged, no pleasant bits of chit chat, just getting right down to business so that they could get away from each other as quickly as possible.

"Good work," Colonel Akagi Tonada said not even looking up to meet their gazes, "just a bit excessively theatrical, but quite effective none the less." A dainty female android strutted on past them, bending way over to wipe some sweat from his brow while revealing some impressive looking breasts, and Motoko shuddered slighly.

"It got the job done," Motoko answered him crisply, "just like you asked."

Yayoi raised an eyebrow, pushing her long black hair away from her face, "So do we have a new assignment, or can we take some time off?" She shot Motoko a seductive look, her dangerous smile implying what she wanted the time off for.

"I need you two for a special assignment this evening," Tonoda said, showing absolutely no regret over disrupting their plans. "A body guarding assignment, for an important speaker visiting our city tonight," he said with an odd degree of amusement.

"You aren't talking about that 'Humanity First' wacko, are you?" Motoko asked suspiciously, but he only nodded, his smile widening.

"Gah," Yayoi made a face.

Dr. Gretchen Phillips was a firm believer in humanity, but in a way that Mokoto thought did much more harm than good. She was firmly convinced that humanity's decision to embrace cybernetic enhancement was a mistake of the highest order, and that all of the human race must strive to return to what humanity once was.

'Of course,' Motoko thought to herself cynically, 'a unmodified human probably couldn't survive with all the pollution we've been pumping into the air since the nineteenth century, not to mention the more exotic poisons we've added in the past few wars.'

Yayoi shook Motoko out of her thoughts as the girl pointed out to him, "You know that she's going to hate the two of us on sight."

"Irrelevant," Tonoda said, the fat man shifting uncomfortably, "it's just for one night, then she's out of our region and someone else's problem."

Motoko sighed, "Got it."