Ghost In The Shell Fan Fiction ❯ What's Next? ❯ Echo ( Chapter 5 )

[ 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 5: Echo
Bateau entered the operation room of Section 9 Headquarters just on time. Ishikawa, Togusa, Chigako, and Aramaki were already standing on the observatory balcony. They looked down to the floor below where various operators hustled about a single bed. On the bed, laid a very familiar yet unfamiliar site.
Aramaki glanced at the latest arrival, "Right on time." He focused his attention back on the site below them, "They are searching Saito's body now."
Togusa crossed his arms as he watched, "They aint gonna find his ghost."
Aramaki nodded slowly, "I know..." His voice was grim.
Chigako cleared his throat, "I dont understand." He glanced at Ishikawa, who stood by his side, "Megatech was a very high profile, secure place. Dont they have their cyborgs parts on file or something. So that they can trace them?"
"They used to." Ishikawa stroked his thick beard, "but a couple months ago, someone took MT to court and said that the cyborg tracing was an invasion of privacy. The court ruled in favor of the guy and Megatech was forced to remove all tracking devices from their cyborgs." He sighed, "Plus, even if the tracking devices still were installed. This hacker we're dealer with, he's the real deal. I wouldnt be suprised if he could just hack in and get rid of them."
Down below, the operators stepped back. The head worker spoke clearly, "Affirmative. No ghost is present within this cyborg."
The group lowered their heads in despair but Aramaki tried to keep steady, "Very well. Search for any traces of a hacking."
"Yes, Chief." The operators began their work once more.
Bateau frowned heavily, "So, that's it?" He asked as he tried to keep his voice stiff, "Saito's gone."
Aramaki nodded solemnly, "That may be true but there is no time for grief." He turned to his agents, "First, we must find the calprit. The hacker cannot be let go, he's too much of a threat."
"Anyone who can hack good enough to get to Saito is a threat." Ishikawa took once last look at the operators, "but there's another thing. Those MT Hunters."
"Yeah." Togusa now followed as they began to walk away, "I can guarantee that those guys wont give up on a fourtune just because the test run was a failure."
Aramaki nodded, "True. Bateau, Ishikawa, and Chigako. All of you need to be on guard at all times. I want you guys to be monitored 24/7 and to check in every few hours."
The three cyborgs nodded as they followed the chief up to his office. Once there, they all assumed their usual seats. Aramaki sighed and spoke to the operators via the net, "Anything?"
"We've got a trail, sort of."
"We've found traces of a POM-88 Virus. We've never had a case of such a virus, they're virtually unstoppable. It completly wiped out Saito's ghost."
"What were you saying about a trail?"
"Yeah. The POM-88 has never been used before mainly because it's such a complex virus and not many people are good enough to use one. But they also arent used because they leave such a traceable path."
"So, what are you saying?"
"We're tracing the virus back to the exact place it was launched. I dont know if it'll help now but it's all we have so far."
"It's fine. Nice work. Continue analyzing."
"Sure thing, Chief."
Aramaki turned back to his agents, "You all catch that?" They nodded, "I want two of you to investigate the location."
Bateau spoke up, "I'll go."
"Me too." Togusa.
"Fine. Ishikawa, try to dig up anything you can find on a POM-88 Virus. Chigako, hang around in case anything else is found. Alright?"
and with that, they split up once more.
Bateau and Togusa drove to the location displayed on the digital map ahead of them. They were given the spot of where the POM-88 Virus had been launched. It was quite a ways from the headquarters but due to Bateau excess speeding, they made it there in a matter of minutes.
The spot was a expected one. A dark, mysterious alleyway with various trash cans, stray cats, and other expected things.
Togusa got out first, "Well, this is clique."
Bateau looked around, "Seems pretty quiet. Head over there, look for anything you can. I'll check out the alley."
Togusa nodded and took off at a brisk jog down the sidewalk. Bateau removed his automatic pistol and made his way into the dark alley. Looking from side to side, he mainly checked around the ground for anything someone may have dropped. Keys, a wallet, even an ID. Anything that would lead them to a name.
His looking was interuppted however, when he looked up to see that he wasnt alone in the alley. A young man stood at the exit. His hair was long and black and eyes that matched. He wore a tight blue jacket and equally tight jeans. He appeared unarmed but the quietness of the strangers entrance startled Bateau.
He raised his pistol, "Hold it." He said in a low voice, "Stay there."
The young man stared. A bit of a smile played across his lips, "What are you looking for?" His voice was steady, almost a monotone.
Bateau thought a moment. That was a strange question. The stranger was very calm for the situation, "Have you seen anyone hang around here over the past few days?"
The male stayed unmoving, "Are you looking for someone?"
"Answer the question."
The corners of his lips twitched slightly, "No. No one. Why do you ask?"
Bateau looked the stranger up and down mysteriously. His questioning certaintly was strange, "We've recieved information that a hacking occured here." His eyes stayed locked on Bateau's. Not blinking or moving. He simply stared and did nothing. Bateau grew frustrated, "What are you doing around here?"
"Same reason you are, I suppose..."
The response didnt make any sense, "What?"
"Bateau..." Bateau gripped his pistol, "Stay patient. You never catch a cold when looking for one." The man laughed charismatically.
"What are you talking about?" He stepped foreward with gun pointed, "How do you know my name?"
"Your name?" He continued his stare, "Your name is the only thing you have, huh? Thats the only thing distinguishing yourself from everyone else. From your friends and from everyone else." His lips curved into a grim smirk, "Under everything, Bateau, you're just another cyborg."
Bateau gritted his teeth, "What are you talking about? How do you know me?"
"Say hi to Togusa for me. Tell Ishikawa to stay cool. The Chief too." With that, the man turned and began to leave.
He started after the stranger. Lowering his firearm, he ran after him. When he caught up, he grasped him by the shoulder and spun him around. However, as the man turned. He saw a dim spark of electricity and the man fell foreward and lay motionless at Bateau's feet. He stooped down to see if the man was okay and turned him over. The man's eyes stared lifeless foreward, looking just like they did minutes before while they were talking but he was dead. Bateau checked to see what had killed him and found nothing suspicious.
He heard footsteps running down the alleyway towards him and saw Togusa coming up to him, "What happened?" He asked, kneeling beside them.
Bateau shook his head and lifted the black haired stranger, "No idea." He started towards his car, "Let's get back to HQ. I have a lot to tell the old man."
The drive back to Headquarters was long and akward. Bateau was very untalkative and sped down the crowded streets like a mad man. He had set the dead man in the backseat and hadnt explained what had happened. When they got back, Bateau carried the deceased to the operation room where various men were still working on Saito. He left the man there then Togusa and Bateau proceeded to Aramaki's office where the Chief himself was waiting.
Once there, they waited for the arrival of Ishikawa and Chigako then Aramaki turned to Togusa and Bateau," What did you find?'
Togusa spoke first, "Nothing here." He looked at Bateau.
Bateau sighed, "I dont know what I found." He said in confusion, "I searched the alley where the hacker was supposed to be and found a guy there. He said he hadnt seen anyone there over the past few days but then he started acting strange. He knew my name, and Togusa's, Ishikawa's and your's, Chief." The group became equally confused, "When I asked why he was there, he said for the same reason I was. Then he said something about catching a cold and left. Before he left though, he said to say hi to all of you. He left and I went after him then he fell to the floor and was dead."
The room was silent for a moment, "Did you recognize him?" Aramaki asked.
"Not in the least bit but he seemed familiar. Not in looks or anything... It's hard to explain."
"What did you do with the body?"
"Brought it with me. I left him in the operating room." He leaned back and sighed, "I dont understand it at all."
"Niether do I. Hopefully we'll know something at he's checked out." He then looked to Ishikawa, "What did you find about the POM-88?"
He scratched his beard casually, "Nothing we didnt already know. There's only been two other cases where it's been used. One in Canada where a computer geek hacked some chick. The guy was arrested on spot because the virus is so trackable. Same thing happend in Ireland about a year ago. In both cases, the hacker was arrested easily."
The Chief put his head in his hands, "What happened ti the victims?"
"The girl from Canada's ghost got destroyed and the guy in Ireland's cyber brain was totally screwed up. His family had doctors pull the plug on him pretty quick."
The Chief nodded in confirmation then spoke through his mind, "Doctor Hazama, what do you have down there?"
"Well, Chief. We arent finding anything else with Saito. I think we're done with him but we'll keep him down here in case anything else comes up. Bateau dropped off a dead guy a little while ago and we're checking him out now."
"Make him your priority, Doctor."
"Sure thing, Chief. We're on it."
Aramaki leaned back and looked at the group, "You're all dismissed. I'll call you in when the analyzation is finished."
After a few hours, Hazama called Aramaki down to the Operating Room. The Chief met with the doctor on the observatory balcony and the two spoke.
"We're done looking into Bateau's friend." Hazama motioned to the black haired man laying on a bed, "How long ago was it that Bateau met him?"
"Shortly before bringing him in, I think." Aramaki said.
Hazama shook his head, "That's not possible, Chief."
He looked at the doctor, "Why's that?"
"This guys been dead for nearly a month now. Severe brain trauma, we think."
Aramaki stared at Hazama for a moment. Not comprehending. He shook his head, "How is that...? Bateau said he met him only hours ago..."
The doctor crossed his arms, "No way. I think Bateau might be losing it." Hazama started to head back downstairs, "We'll keep the body here in case. Take it easy, Chief."
Aramaki nodded and watched as doctor's scurried around the dead body. Nothing made sense anymore.
Once again, the group of Section 9 sat in Aramaki's office in front of their disheveled Chief. Aramaki sighed and spoke. He looked as if he was aging more and more as time went by, "I spoke to Doctor Hazama about the man Bateau brought in." He looked up, "He said he's been dead for a month."
Bateau frowned, "But I talk to him just today. There has to be a mistake, Chief."
Aramaki shook his head, "Have those doctors ever been wrong before?" He sat straight in his seat, "I dont know what is going on but right now, we have to concentrate on the MT Hacker."
"Do we even have any leads on him?" Chigako asked, placing his elbows on his knees.
"Not at the moment but Ishikawa thinks he knows of a way to catch him."
Ishikawa shrugged, "The only way we could find this guy is to catch him in the act." He looked at the operatives, "There's a very good chance that one of us are gonna be his next target. More than likely, it'll be me, Bateau, or Chigako."
Bateau frowned, "What do you say we do?"
"There isnt much we can do except wear a barrier and wait for him to try hacking one of us. The moment he does, we track it and go catch the hacker."
"It's a very risky plan, Ishikawa." Aramaki said.
"Is there anything else we can do? He's gonna come after us eventually, anyways. You all know that."
The Chief sighed, "I suppose we have no choice. Each of you get a barrier before you leave. Take the night off but keep in touch. If you get even a hint of someone hacking your barrier, call us. Understand?"
Chigako, Bateau, and Ishikawa each nodded in confirmation, "Yes, Chief."
Aramaki stood, "Alright. Everyone, get some rest."
With that, the meeting was over and each of the operatives headed out to finish the day off.
Bateau returned to the dock later that night and made his way to the same spot he sat at the night before. Before he even reached the spot, he noticed that another person that there. He noticed the stick in the man's hand and immediatly knew who it was.
The old man looked up and grinned as Bateau sat down next to him, "Nice to see ya again."
"Something told me you'd be here." He took a sip of his beer.
The elderly man glanced at the drink, "That'll kill ya, ya know?"
He shook his head, "Not me."
"That's what all kids say. Even if ya dont get cancer or something like that, you'll end up getting drunk and doing something that'll kill ya."
"Cybernetic's get rid of all that. My body filters out all that stuff. No disease, no stupor, nothing."
The old man nodded, "So, you're a cyborg then." He reached over next to him and grabbed something that sat away from them. He handed it to Bateau, "I told ya I'd bring an extra for ya."
Bateau chuckled and took the fishing pool, "I didnt think you were serious."
He laughed, "I'm always serious, son. Here, I'll show you how to bait it." The old man took the rod and stuck a night crawler onto the hook. Bateau watched, he'd never been fishing before. The guy gave the fishing rod back to the large cyborg and reeled his own line in, "Now, watch how I cast." He threw the line out into the water.
Bateau bent the rod back and sent his own line into the water. It went about double what the old man's did. The guy whistled, "You got som strength in those bionic arms of yours."
"It comes with the package." Bateau said as he watched his line, "Can I ask something?" He nodded, "How come you never traded in your body for cybernetic parts?"
He was silent for a moment before speaking, "I never really considered it. I've lived for a long time and when the idea of getting a new body came up, I thought it was pretty strange, kinda scary actually. It just wasnt me. I'd be giving away my identity. Get the idea, son?"
"Yeah. I think so."
"Good." He yawned, "So, tell me. What do ya do for a living?"
"I'm a cop." Bateau said flatly.
"What a coincidence. I was a cop back in the day."
Bateau glanced at the old man, "Really?"
"Yep. It was fun for awhile but eventually, I got tired of it. I retired and have just been hanging around for awhile." He silently smirked, "I was thinking about contacting a few buddies of mine though. A couple friends I had back on the job."
He nodded. The two were quiet for awhile, watching their own lines. Niether of them got a bite. Bateau yawned eventually, "I really dont see whats so fun about this..."
The old man just laughed.
"Got ya again." Ishikawa laughed proudly as he looked at his comrade who sat next to him. Two white panels sat on opposite sides of a black screen in front of them. A small white ball bounced back and forth as the two panels moved back and forth, knocking the ball at eachother in attempts to score.
"I dont know what you see in this game, Ishikawa." He said as Ishikawa scored another point against him.
"What do you mean?" He asked, putting the ancient joy stick down, "20th Century games are the best."
Chigako put his own panel down, "Whatever you say." He laughed and stood up, "I dont get what a hi-tech, techno-freak like you would see in such old things like that."
"I'm not a techno-freak, I'm just a fan." He laughed as he retrieved a can of beer for himself and his friend.
He tossed it to Chigako but he declined it, "I really gotta be getting home. My grandparents are waiting."
Ishikawa nodded and set the two beers down, "Alright. I'll drive ya, no use in getting a cab."
"Thanks. My car gets outta the shop tomorrow."
Ishikawa led Chigako out and into the parking lot outside his apartment building. His car was a boring, green car that he'd had since he joined Section 9. They got in the car and Ishikawa started driving.
Chigako yawned, "This MT case is getting pretty wierd, isnt it?" Ishikawa nodded, "I dont really understand it much."
"No one does."
"So, you think this hacker knows all you guys?"
"It looks like that."
Chigako looked out the window, "I wonder who it could be." He tapped the barrier that lay on his neck, "These things really dont make ya feel too safe."
Ishikawa chuckled, "Dont worry about it. As soon as someone starts to hack into ya, the barrier will give you a warning. Then, you have plenty of time to contact someone. The hacker wont even breach your barrier before someone shows up so dont let it get to ya."
"I'm trying but I'm new to all this stuff. How long did it take you to get used to Section 9?"
"Awhile." He made a turn and entered the expressway, "Then again, I was here when Section 9 was first started."
Chigako nodded and the car quieted down. The two didnt speak as the car drove silently on the freeway until Ishikawa made a loud grunt. Chigako turned to see what was happened just as Ishikawa turned the wheel swiftly. The car turned sharply and ran straight into the side of the expressway. It barreled over the sideguard and ran into the grassy area outside the road.
Ishikawa grunted again and looked quickly to Chigako, "Call the Chief!" He shouted and leaned back and looked away from Chigako again, "I'm about to meet our hacker..."
To Be Continued...