Ghost In The Shell Fan Fiction ❯ Ghost in the Shell: Once Burned, Twice Shy ❯ Twice Shy Six ( Chapter 9 )

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

Twice Shy: Part Six

The simulation of a little town was eerily quiet as Motoko and Lain strode down the street, the reddish tinted telephone poles glowing oddly as they passed by. Both of them were dressed in school-girl uniforms, Lain's looking nice on the smaller girl's while Motoko's looked just odd. The taller woman hefted her pistol then smoothly concealed it somewhere in her uniform.

"I'm surprised that you didn't change your clothes," Lain noted, her reddish brown hair falling around her pale face. She nodded towards the uniform Motoko wore as she said, "You can modify the data if you want."

Motoko actually looked amused, her dark purple hair falling into her eyes. "I don't really worry much about appearances," was her simple answer, "and it might make our enemy underestimate me." She looked around her, trying to get a sense of the complex data pathways as Motoko asked her, "So how do we find Mason?"

Lain tilted her head to the side then scowled, eyes flashing. "He's at the school," she sounded angry, "my school. Come on."

They moved with an oddly unnatural speed, unhindered by actual physical bodies. Around them houses blurred by, no people or vehicles visible at all. "This is your place," Motoko murmured, "why would he come here?"

"To show he can," Lain answered her coldly.

The world almost seemed to shift as they came to a stop, the school gates standing wide open. Shadowy figures moved through the gates and around the late twentieth century school, not real people but merely constructs of light and fragmentary data. The data streams converged here, this was a hub of the system providing access to the larger web and maybe even beyond. They walked through the gates together up to the buildings, Motoko calmly pushing the door open for Lain.

"Are you all right?" Motoko asked, noting the pinched look on Lain's face.

"Some of my most precious memories happened here," Lain said crisply as they entered the darkened halls, "the idea of Mason being here disgusts me."

"Then let's take him out," Motoko answered crisply.

A student appeared before them suddenly, the attractive girl gazing at them with dark eyes. "Do you really think it's going to be that easy?" she asked, the flesh of her face melting at the data composing her was suddenly rewritten.

"Cheap tricks aren't going to stop us," Lain answered, walking right through the girl like she wasn't even there. They walked on together for a few moments then she turned to Motoko and said, "Can you go on alone?"

"No problem," Motoko answered her confidently, "just make sure to hold up your end when the time comes."

Lain faded out, her body becoming semi translucent as she said, "I'll be there." With that she was gone, no trace remaining.

"Well," Motoko murmured as she drew her pistol and ran down the hallway, "Time to start doing things my way."


"What is going on?" Yayoi growled.

The lab was normally used for cyberdives, equipment around them set up for monitoring this sort of thing. However, an instant after the dive began the systems lost track of Motoko's exact position, though they did maintain a sense of her physical condition.

"At least you're still all right," Yayoi said. Her long black hair flowed down her back, the woman sitting nervously beside where Motoko rested in the cyberdive rig. Yayoi's eyes studied her friend's empty body with a tenderness she wouldn't have otherwise shown.

"What the hell is going on?" Batou stumbled inside, the bulky man looking into the room in honest confusion.

"You're finally awake," Yayoi scowled. She puffed a breath out, knowing she wasn't irritable with him as she continued, "Motoko has gone into the Wired to try and stop Mason."

Batou looked at her a moment, trying to see if she was serious then smiled wryly. "Sounds like something she'd do," he admitted, running a hand through his short blonde hair.

"Now that's comforting," Yayoi sighed, looking back towards Motoko.

"You and she," Batou said to her quietly, "you've got some history." Yayoi looked back at him in surprise and he smiled wryly, "Not that she'd ever talk about it, but it's pretty clear just watching the two of you together."

"And?" Yayoi asked curiously.

"I hope you'll be sticking around once this is over," Batou said simply, "she could use someone like you in her life."

Before Yayoi could form an answer sirens wailed as she whirled around back to Motoko. Her previously limp body was arching up, every muscle tensed as she shuddered and quaked. Both Yayoi and Batou rushed over, all but shoving her back down onto the bed even as she began to twist and jerk around uncontrollably.

"What the hell is going on in there?" Yayoi repeated, desperately hoping that Motoko was going to be all right....


"Shit," Motoko spat blood onto the ground, dropping to her knees. The knight raised his dripping sword even as Motoko lined up the shot, blowing his head off with one blast of her gun.

The battlefield faded and Motoko pushed herself to her feet. She limped, one leg badly mauled by the demon she had faced in one of the earlier scenarios Mason had tossed her into. Almost as soon as Lain disappeared he had begun using various gaming scenarios to wear her down , the feedback clearly registering on her real body.

There was a moment of silence, the hallway reappearing around her, dissolving up ahead into an intricate data processing center. Motoko hefted her gun and walked forward painfully, cautiously watching for any more virtual traps. The vapors hanging in the air were familiar, just like a science lab, and as she progressed the technology formed an complex web.

Mason hung in the center of the web, his body and the cables blending together obscenely. It wasn't clear where the connections ended and his cyborg body began, the being was so deeply connected to the Wired and through it to the greater web beyond. No hair remained on his body, no trace of organic flaw, he looked like some mad puppeteer's toy hanging there.

Mason's eyes opened, glowing scarlet in the dim light as he studied her thoughtfully. "I thought ten simulations with no safety systems would stop you," he finally said, his voice sounding rusty and unused, "it seems I underestimated you."

"You're under arrest for murder," Motoko raised her gun calmly, "if you attempt to resist arrest I will use lethal force."

Mason laughed, his voice harsh. "That toy?" he said, and Motoko wasn't terribly surprised to see her gun simply dissolve into pixels of data, swirling off into the darkness. "Still, you have potential," he added, "join with me, join with the Wired...."

"Not interested," Motoko answered, meeting his eyes calmly even as she favored her wounded arm, carefully balancing to keep the weight off her leg. Mason's connections began to reach for, black conduits tangling around her but she simply stood there.

"Why aren't you...." Mason looked confused.

"That's because you're an idiot," Lain's familiar voice came from behind him.

BOOM! Mason was violently thrown forward, tearing free from the various links with a howl of shock and pain. He dropped wetly to the floor, staggering slightly as he turned around to see who was confronting him.

"You didn't even notice me severing all your connections to the web," Lain continued, the younger girl looking much more dangerous than she had before, "you were so fully preoccupied with trying to break Motoko."

"Just like we planned," Motoko agreed.

"You haven't won," Mason stood defiantly, "I know about the limits you imposed on yourself,, milady. You can't really hurt me, despite your powers."

"I don't have to," Lain answered, a shimmer of silvery light appearing in her hands. She tossed it at Motoko even as she cried out, "Now!"

Motoko caught the gun easily then with a feral grin on her face leveled it at Mason. He didn't even have a chance to scream as the first shot ate away his arm, the next blasting a deep hole in his chest. It wasn't really a 'gun' she was using, it was simply the virtual manifestation of the virus that Lain had tailored to deal with Mason. She couldn't actually use it, her self-imposed limits prevented that, but there was no reason Motoko couldn't!

"Please no," Mason looked desperately at Lain, "stop her. I can give you back Arisu, the way that you wanted her to be!" His power worked, the brown haired girl's image looking at Lain with impossible depths of kindness and love.

Motoko held her fire as Lain hesitated, then the girl shook her head. "It would just be an illusion," she answered, "and I don't have time for illusions."

"No...!" Mason howled, turning to try and charge at Motoko only to realize she was right in front of him, a deadly smile on her face.

"Good-bye," Motoko said calmly before firing point blank into Mason's head.