Ghost In The Shell Fan Fiction ❯ What's Next? ❯ Thickening ( Chapter 4 )

[ P - Pre-Teen ]

What's Next?
Author: Ilze
Rating: PG13
Category: Drama
Summary: When the huge Megatech conglomerate closes due to a bad public reputation, the value to cybernetic Megatech-made bodies raises in the black market and people begin hunting for these cyborgs. If that isnt enough for Section 9 to handle, the number of recent ghost hackings is beginning to rise.
Disclaimer: I own no part of Ghost in the Shell, characters, or trademarks.
Chapter 4: Thickening
Bateau and Togusa had arrived back at HQ around noon. They brought their captive, Hajime Kitamura, up to questioning chamber and set him down to wait while they checked in with the chief. Togusa remained back at the room, waiting outside and watching Hajime through the one-way window. The bald suspect simply sat there, looking aroud the room nervously.
Bateau made his way to Aramaki's office. He rapped on the door softly then entered soon after. The Chief was warily looking at a computer screen, he glanced up as Bateau entered the room. The large cyborg stood a few feet from Aramaki's desk and crossed his large arms over his chest.
Aramaki sat back and nodded to his agent, "How'd everything go, Bateau?" He asked.
"Not bad." Section 9's Second-in-Command said, "We arrested Hajime Kitamura, he's awaiting questioning. I came to check in before we begin the process."
Aramaki stood with a bit of trouble and frowned. In his old age the Chief's bones were becoming brittle, "I want to watch. Ishikawa and Chigako are still out interviewing black market traders. Ishikawa contacted me a few minutes ago and said they were nearly done. Let's go."
Bateau led the chief out of his office and the two walked to the elevator. They entered and the chief spoke again, "Have you got anything out of Hajime yet?"
"No." Bateau said gruffly, "At first I got the feeling that he was just a puppet. A ghost hacked human but now I'm getting a feeling I was wrong."
"What gives you that feeling?"
Bateau was silent a few moments then shook his head a chuckled lightly, "A whisper." He said in a low voice, "from my ghost."
The chief smiled silently as the two shared in the strange memory of the ex-agent. Their memorys were interuppted as the elevator came to a abrupt halt and the two left. They walked awhile down the hall until they came upon Togusa. The young man turned when he saw them.
"What's up?" He asked as they stopped in front of him.
Aramaki looked in the window and watched the nervous Hajime, "Begin with the interogation."
Togusa and Bateau nodded and entered the room. They greeted the suspect bluntly and sat on opposite sides of the bald man. Togusa started, "What do you know about a man named Saito?"
The trader crossed his arms and shook his head, "Nothing."
Bateau frowned, "Apparently you do." He said and leaned in to Hajime, "We have various suspects that saw you in the Le Francais restaraunt last night. The same ones say that you left with a hacked cyborg." The man was silent, "Did you ghost hack the cyborg, Kitamura?"
Hajime turned to Bateau and laughed, "Me? Hack? Yeah, right." He smacked his leg in amusement, "I could hack my way out of a paper bag!"
Bateau continued. He ignored Hajime's laughter, "Were you in the Le Francias last night?"
The man scratched his dark goatee thoughtfully. He seemed to be trying to think of a way out of the situation. Finally he sighed, "Yeah."
"Did you get into a fight in the bathroom?" Togusa added.
Another pause was followed by a similar yes.
"Did you leave with a ghost hacked cyborg named Saito?"
Hajime paused for a longer amount of time. In frustration, he spoke, "Yeah."
Bateau leaned back and glanced over at the one way mirror. Aramaki spoke over their network, "Ask him about the hacking."
"So, you didnt hack into Saito's ghost?"
"No." Hajime said as he watched Bateau, "I told you, I cant hack."
"Then who did?"
"I dunno his name. He called me up out of the blue and told me where I could find the cyborg. Said he'd handle the rest."
Bateau seemed a bit confused, "Why did you want the cyborg in the first place?"
Hajime leaned back and crossed his arms, "Cash, brother." He said with a brief smirk. The man was obviously used to interoggation, "You've heard about Megatech, right?" They nodded, "Well, ever since they closed. There's been a big demand for MT-produced cyborgs on the black market. You can get big cash for one of them."
Bateau glanced shockingly at Togusa, "So you sold Saito on the market?"
"Not yet. I gave him to a salesman friend of mine. He handles all my sales and I split the cash with him. I havent heard of any offers yet but I have a hunch that your friend might already have been sold."
Bateau clenched his hands into fists, "Where can we get him?" He stood angrily.
Hajime put his hands up, "Whoa! Calm down." He pushed away a bit, "Listen, I'll give you the guy's address if we make a deal."
Bateau was about to shout but Togusa beat him to it, "What?"
Hajime turned to Togusa after glancing uneasily at Bateau, "A lesser sentence. No life imprisoment at all and nothing too harsh."
Togusa waited for confirmation from the chief then nodded, "Done." He said.
The bald traded smirked, "Alrighty then. Got a pen and paper?" He asked. Togusa quickly retrieved his request. Hajime began to write and finished. He handed the note to Togusa, "Here ya go."
Bateau took the note and prepared to leave the room. Hajime spoke up before he could leave though. His voice was serious, "I'm ready to give up my job. I'll serve my sentence then I'm done with the black market." He sighed and laid his arms on the table, "Listen, here's a warning. Your friend, Saito. You're not gonna find him, ever. You'll just find his body. His ghost has been deleted from the cyborg. Compeltly deprogrammed and awaiting a new host. All you'll find is a ghost-less shell."
Togusa and Bateau looked at eachother grimly. Togusa swallowed the lump in his throat and nodded, "Thanks." He said quietly and the two agents left the room.
As they left, a few police officers entered the room to lead Hajime to his cell. Aramaki awaiting the two and turned when they came up to him. He started walking back towards his office with Bateau and Togusa following. The Chief's face was grim and depressed. The group was silent until they made it to Aramaki's office where they entered and sat accordingly. The room was heavy with somber attitudes.
Aramaki broke the silence, "Bateau, let me see the address." He recieved the note and skimmed it over, "When Ishikawa and Chigako get back." He looked at Togusa, "I want you to take Chigako and go see the salesman."
Bateau frowned and crossed his arms. His face was haggard and worn. It was obvious that the large agent hadnt slept in days, "What about me?"
"You're in no shape, Bateau." The chief put his head in his hands, "Plus, I'm afraid if you go you might lose your temper." Bateau seemed about to protest but simply laid back in his seat and stayed silent.
The chief closed his eyes and prepared to contact Ishikawa via network implants, "Ishikawa?" He said through the net, "How's everything going?"
It took only a second for the agent's voice to come over the channel, "Nothing special. These guys are tough street dealers. They arent ones to talk to a pair of cops."
"Head back. We need to talk."
"Right, Chief. We'll be there in a minute." The link went dead.
Ishikawa and Chigako took only a few minutes to arrive back at headquarters. They immediatly went to Aramaki's office and were briefed on what happened. The room was silent for a good few minutes as they reflected on the loss of Saito. Even Chigako, who hadnt known Saito, was silent and somber for the group.
Finally, Aramaki brought his head up and spoke to the four agents, "Togusa and Chigako are heading over to the salesman's place to check the guy out."
Togusa spoke up, "What if the same thing happens that happened with Hajime? We barely got that guy when he ran."
"I have a idea." Ishikawa said calmly, "Before you guys leave, I'll put a call in to the salesman saying that you two are clients interesting in purchasing his cybernetic body. I'll supply fake identitys and stuff. All you gotta do is get into the place then it's all you guys from there. Sound good?"
Togusa stood, "Yeah, that'll work. Ready, Chigako."
The blonde agent nodded and followed suit, "Whenever you are." He said and cracked his knuckles.
Aramaki turned to Ishikawa, "After doing that, I want you get any information from the Net that you can on Megatech bodys on the black market." He then looked at Bateau, "and you. Rest. You look horrible, Bateau. Take some time off and relax."
With that, the group broke apart to go about their seperate tasks.
Togusa and Chigako met eachother in the parking lot of HQ. They took Chigako's car since it looked more like a upper-class civilians car than the Section 9 armored van. It was a dark yellow sports car that Chigako treasured. It wasnt that special really but it was better than most people's rides now-a-days.
Chigako drove, following the transparents map on the screen. Togusa fiddled with his Matever as they drove down the street. Every now and then, Chigako glanced at his partner.
"What's with the antique?" He asked.
Togusa glanced at Chigako, "I like my Matever." He said with a smirk, "Plus, I dont like those new guns. Automatic weapons jam way too much and newer pistols just dont have the great feel to them like the Matever."
Chigako nodded at the answer and made a quick turn, "We're about two blocks from the house. Ishikawa did his part?"
"No doubt." Togusa holstered the Matever and fixed his jacket. He wore a blue jacket and matching pants all over a white shirt. He sighed and leaned back, "Ishikawa always does his part."
"I kinda figured that." Chigako wore similar clothing only his was a black suit with a dark purple undershirt. He would have looked like a regular business man if it wasnt for his long hair and rugged facial hair. He thrusted a hand towards a small home to their left, "That's it."
The car pulled up and the two 'clients' stepped out. They walked up to the house casually and Togusa rapped on the door loudly. A small red semi-sphere moved back and forth on the wall. It was a peephole. It thouroughly examined the two then the door opened softly. A small, dark-skinned man stood at the entrance.
The little man sported a black suit and his dark mustache stood out on his round face, "Hello, gentlemen." He said in annoyingly squeaky voice, "I've been waiting. Come on in."
The two entered and the little man led them through a hall. He glanced at Togusa then at a small card in his palm, "Mr. Gato, right?" He asked and Togusa nodded at his fake name. He then looked at Chigako, "and Mr. Chiang?" He nodded.
The salesman smirked, "I'm Alberto Gonzaga." He said happily, "Go ahead and call me Al, it dont bother me." Gonzaga led them down a small doorway and down another hall, "It's nice to finally have some clients. We got this cyborg a little while ago and havent had any business yet. I guess people are kind of edgy about the whole Megatech thing. Just a little while ago, I heard my partner got picked up by the cops."
He opened another door and they descended down a few metal steps, "So, what you fellas looking to do with the body. It's in tip-top condition. Megatech's best. He actually used to be a cop, I think."
Togusa, or Mr. Gato, spoke firmly, "We'd rather keep that to ourselves."
"Alright, alright. Sorry to pry." The man stopped at a large man size case and smirked at his clients, "Here it is, gentlemen." He opened the case and inside was a horrible site.
Saito lay motionless confined in a translucent, airless bag. His eyes stared lifeless at the cieling. He hadnt changed any since the last time Togusa had seen him but he knew that something big had changed. Saito no longer existed, only a ghostless shell.
Gonzaga smirked, "Pretty nice, eh?" He laughed, "Dont worry about getting caught by the cops. There's no chance in them finding out if this guy had a new ghost but if your still a little nervous then there's some things you can do to hide yourself. Dye the cyborg's hair, change the eye color, skin tone, anything." He smiled and leaned on the wall, "So, what kinda figures you thinking?"
Togusa cleared his throat and frowned. Without saying a word, he whipped out his Matever and thrusted the barrel at Gonzaga. The little man was definatly shocked by the gesture and slammed himself against the wall in shock. He slid to the ground, sitting on his fat can and gazing up into the barrel of Togusa's pistol.
"W-what are you doing?!" He stammered.
Togusa glanced at Saito's lifeless shell and shut the crate, "You're under arrest." He glanced at his partner, "Chigako, take this guy up to your car. I'll get Sait-er, the body." He winced.
Chigako nodded and removed his own gun. He pushed Gonzaga to his feet and cuffed his hands behind his back. Then he forcibly started the man back up the stairs and towards his car.
Togusa sighed and put the gun back into it's holster. He opened the crate once more and frowned. Reaching in, Togusa lifted the Saito-filled bag out and carried it easily up to the car. With a heavy heart, he emerged from the house with Saito in his arms.
While Chigako and Togusa were out searching for Saito, Bateau sat hunched over himself on the dock. He'd been there since Aramaki had told him to take some time off and relax and for the last couple months, the docks were Bateau's place to relax.
He sat humbly with his legs hanging off the side of the pier, watching the bright sun sink over the mountainous buildings on the horizon. In the past, he'd sat there and thought about various things. From Section 9 to friends to life itself but never before had he been so torn as he was now. Ever since the Saito thing had happened, Bateau had been completly stressed out.
However, deep down Bateau knew that it had been going on longer than that. Ever since the end of the Puppet Master case, Bateau's thoughts had been ridden with stress and angst. Things he'd never thought about before now flooded his mind. The thoughts werent exactly welcoming. Bateau would do anything to get rid of the never-ending thoughts about purpose and meaning.
Bateau sighed and stretched. He spoke outloud in a quiet voice, "2501" He said simply. The numbers didnt mean anything anymore. At first, it was simply the codename of a hacker that he was supposed to stop. Then it turned into the secret passcode shared between him and a ghost from his past. Now it was just the code for his car. Nothing special about it.
"2501" He said again as he sat straighter and gazed down at the can of beer in his hand and frowned.
"What's that mean?" A voice said behind his back. Bateau turned to find the owner of the voice and was suprised to see that another person was there with him. A little old man stood behind him. The old guy wore dark green overalls over a white long-sleeved shirt. In his hands were a fishing rod and in the other, a bucket of bait. The old man was definatly in his late 70's or early 80's with a snow-white mustache and brief strings of white hair sticking out from under a green hat.
The old man smiled warmly at Bateau, "Mind if I take a seat?" Bateau shrugged absently and the man sat down next to him. He didnt exactly want company but he didnt care. The man took his rod and put a worm on the hook. In a moment, he casted the line into the water, "So, what were you thinking about?"
Bateau frowned and spoke, "Nothing important." He said as he watched the old guy's line. The man was silent and the quietness seemed akward to Bateau. The large man spoke, "I havent seen someone fish with an old rod like that in years."
The elderly gentleman chuckled, "You cant throw away old past times like this. There's nothing that can replace the calm, relaxing feeling of fishing on a pier." He glanced at Bateau, "You should try it. You seem troubled."
Bateau nodded slowly, "There's a lot on my mind." Is all he said.
The old man absently scratched his mustache, "Sorry for being nosy but what were ya saying earlier. I walked up here and you seemed to be in your own little world. You just kept saying some numbers."
"2501" Bateau said without thinking. He scratched his head, "Just a memory. From the past, is all."
"I see." He reeled the line in a bit, "Whats it mean?"
He glanced at the old man. His wise, gray eyes were gazing out over the ocean. He watched his line but all ears were for his companion. Bateau chuckled, "It's just something I share with an old friend." He smiled mildly, "Someone I miss."
The man nodded slowly. He reached into his shirt pocket and removed a pair of spectacles. He placed them on his long nose, "It hurts to lose someone important. I lost a couple of good freiends awhile back." He sighed and started his story, "I was part of a small group of friends. We were unseperable, the four of us were real close." He sighed and shook his head, "Sorry, it's a old memory. I'll just tell ya that the four of us, we cant hang out any more."
Bateau nodded solemnly, "I understand."
There was a bite on the old man's line and he attempted to pull it in. He reeled the line in but to his disappointment, the fish had gotten away with his bait. Chuckling, the old man stood and fixed his line, "old rascal." He said absently and gathered his stuff. He looked at Bateau, "Listen. Take it easy, son. You'll get what you're waiting for soon enough. Just be patient." He turned to leave, "Maybe I'll see you again here sometime. Next time, I'll bring an extra pole. It'll be good for you. So long, sonny." The old man started off.
Bateau smiled as the old man walked away. That was strange, he thought. Taking a drink from his drink, he looked at the soon to be gone Sun and crossed his arms. "The thing is... I dont know what I'm waiting for..."
To Be Continued...