Ghost In The Shell Fan Fiction ❯ What's Next? ❯ Follow Me ( Chapter 8 )

[ 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 8: Follow Me
The light from the large computer screen illuminated not only Chigako but the entire security room of Section 9 Headquarters. With the sigh and a rub of his tired eyes, the blonde agent looked at the opened history database. He scratched his gruffy skin a moment then spoke firmly to the AI, "Give me all records on the name Motoko Kusanagi a.k.a Major."
He crossed his arms as the various links came on screen. He chose the first few matches and read through the records on Kusanagi. He read about her stainless record her perfect ability as a agent of Section 9. He read about how she was ths second-in-command of Section 9. After reading through those records, he moved on to the next few.
Now he was reading the personal files of the 'Major.' He skipped most of the reports made by her partners, most of them were written by Bateau. He came upon the last two reports. One was given right before her unexpecte death, the other right after. He opened the first of the two and read through it quickly. It stated that Motoko Kusanagi had not been acting her self those last few days. That she seemed to be 'doubting her own ghost.'
Chigako pondered over the statement a moment. How could someone doubt there own ghost. He left the question for later and closed out of the first report after noting that it too was written by Bateau. He then proceeded to open the last file, this one was given by Bateau as well right after her death.
The report described what had happened in the warehouse that night. It said that Bateau had arrived just as the Major was single-handedly fighting a armored tank! Chigako raised his eyebrows at the accusation. He read on about how Bateau had barely been able to save her ass as she was nearly smashed by the tank. Bateau had left out how he'd saved her, he noted but overlooked. Then, Kusanagi had decided to dive into the infamous ghost hacker, The Puppet Master. Bateau had agreed and decided to monitor her as she went. He did so and Kusanagi dived into the hacker. Somehow, The Puppet Master took control of the dive and cut off all connection between Bateua and Motoko. The two had a conversation that Bateau could not monitor then both Kusanagi and The Puppet Master were assasinated by Section 6 Snipers. It also said that Bateua had tried to save Motoko but only got his arm blown off in the act. Kusanagi's brain cell was never found.
Chigako closed the file and leaned back in his seat. He frowned and crossed his arms over his chest and thought to himself.
"So...." He thought to himself, "Her brain case was never found. I'm guessing Bateua knows more about this incident then he wants to share." Chuckling, Chigako stood and sighed. He'd just get a drink then return to his research. There was something about this case that bugged him... and he was sure he wasnt the only one.
Bateau stopped by HQ once last time before he was to set out for the Megatech building. He entered the lobby of Headquarters and let out a sigh. Sitting down, he put his head in his hands as he thought about what was going on. He was going to Megatech HQ to find the hacker that had taken the life of Saito and tried to do the same to Ishikawa. Also, he knew who the hacker was. He knew it was Motoko Kusanagi, his old friend and comrade. Sighing, he rubbed his temples thouroughly. He knew he was going to meet with Motoko but what he didnt know was, what was he going to do when he got there?
A familiar hand on his shoulder woke Bateau up from his dreamland. He looked up to see Ishikawa standing ver him with two beers in hand. A smile stood out under the beard of the veteran and he handed the beer to his friend and took a seat across from the large cyborg. Bateau nodded to him and opened the beer.
Ishikawa took a long sip from the can, "What's on your mind, Bateau?" He asked, now looking at the cyborg, "You've been acting strange ever since we started this case."
Bateau frowned and looked away from his partner, "I think this case's gotten to everyone." He looked back to Ishikawa, "Right?"
"Of course, it's taken it's toll but that's not it." He leaned foreward, "You've been reminding me of someone lately, Bateau and I'm pretty sure you know who I'm thinking of."
"Bull shit." Bateau said quickly in-between sips of the alcohol, "I'm just ready to get this case over with. You are two, I know it."
"Sure I am." He leaned back, "but whats gonna happen, Bateau? Section 9 is gone. What are we gonna do after it's all over? They'll either put us in some other Section or wipe our brains, take our cybernetic bodies, and throw us on the police force."
Bateau shook his head, "Dont worry about it, pal. Whatever happens, happens. Just concentrate on this case now. Enjoy it. It's probably the last, ya know."
Ishikawa nodded slowly as he gazed down at the beer in his hand. He chuckled lightly, "Guess you're right." He took a swig of the beverage, "Still, it's kinda hard to beleive it's gone, huh? All of us didnt even get one last drink together."
"Save it for Heaven, Ishikawa. We'll have a drink when we're all up there." With that, Bateau finished the remainder of his beer and leaned back in his seat.
Ishikawa did the same then stood with a sigh, "You ready for this, Bateau?" Bateau nodded as he stood, "Come with me. I want to show you something before you head out."
The two ex-agents made their way from the lobby of Headquarters to the small room Ishikawa used as his computer lab of sorts. He sat down before the large screen and plugged a few wires into himself. The screen of the computer flashed on. Playing on the screen was a wire-image of a large building.
Ishikawa cleared his throat, "This is a map of the Megatech Building. I can guide you through the place, help you with key codes, and hack into security nets to help ya out." He pressed a few keys on the board in front of him and the image zoomed in on the building, showing the many rooms within, "I've also began hacking into the security cameras inside. They were turned off when MT closed down but I hacked them into working again. I can monitor every room and warn you of obstacles while you go."
Bateau nodded as he surveyed the map, "You can monitor every room in the building?"
"Except for a few. I go the majority of the hallways down and a few smaller rooms. The larger rooms I couldnt get a hold of though."
"That's fine." Bateau crossed his large arms over his chest, "I guess you're all set then?"
Ishikawa nodded and turned around to look up at the cyborg, "Yeah. All that's left is for you to get ready then we can get this thing started."
Standing, Bateau stretched his large body and started for the door, "You gonna hang around, Ishikawa?" The bearded cyborg nodded as he turned to face the computer screen once more, "I'm gonna go suite up. I'll call when I'm on my way to the MT building."
Bateau left the small room without a word of farewell. He had other things on his mind.
The sound of the radio was the only thing that stopped Togusa from falling asleep as he drove down the dark streets on his way home. He hadnt slept well all week and the lack of it was taking it's toll on the human. Togusa shook his head violently, trying to wake himself up. He tried to think about other things.
He was on his way home to spend time with his wife and daughter, something he hadnt been able to do for quite awhile. Ever since the hacker case came up, Togusa had been tied up with work all the time. That didnt leave a whole lot of family time for the members of Section 9. Of course, the only one that bothered was the only person with an actual family, him.
Togusa thought about his family as he drove. His wife and him had spoken on the phone every night he was gone. Apparently his daughter was catching a bit of a cold. A smile crossed his face at the thought of finally getting to see his young daughter. Her birthday would be coming up in about a week, Togusa planned to make it quite an occasion.
One idea ruined his thoughts of a big party, though. Now that Section 9 was gone, he was out of a job. His wife couldnt work because she was still on medical leave. About two months ago, they had learned that she had a uncurable disease, a deadly disease. The only way they could help her was to give her a cybernetic body. And that's what they did. So now his wife was a cyborg.
Another less happy thought entered his mind as he got closer to his home. Bateau and Ishikawa were still working on the hacker case. Bateau had made a point that Togusa and Chigako both had lifes outside of Section 9 and that he wanted to be the only one to go into the Megatech Building. Ishikawa was just working monitor. Togusa let out a sigh. Although he would much rather be at home with his wife, he felt kind of guilty and had a very bad feeling about Bateau heading into that building alone.
Shaking his head, Togusa tried to clear the thought from his mind. He noticed his home on the horizon and smile lightly. The car slowed down as he got closer to the small home in the rural part of the city. He pulled into the driveway and smiled as he saw his cyborg wife pass by the window. It was well past time Togusa got a chance to spend time with his family.
Bateau typed in the code to his safehouse and waited for the confirmation beep. He then opened the door and entered the empty home. Bateau cracked his knuckles as he turned on the lights of the small home and made his way to the back.
In the back of the safehouse was where Bateau kept sort of a storage area. There he kept various firearms and weapons that he usually got from the Weapons Testing Department. Most of the weapons there actually werent on the market yet. Bateau entered the room and clicked the dim light. He looked about the storage area, trying to decide which weapons he should bring on this final mission.
He easily picked out a hand full of grenades and put them on a belt which he tied around his chest. He traded his required automatic pistol for another pistol with a faster fireing speed and better range. Bateau then grabbed a military-issue Zastaber M-24. The automatic rifle was one of the most reliable guns Bateua had ever used. Bateau slung the rifle over his shoulder and grabbed another pistol just in case. He also picked out some ammunition then left his storage area fully loaded.
Bateau looked around the safehouse once more before he stepped out the door and locked it up. He typed the the code in once more to lock it up. 2501. With a sigh, Bateau turned away from the home and headed out to his car. Just a few days ago, Bateau had thought those four numbers meant nothing anymore. It turned out, that they very well may mean everything.
His car drove silently down the practically empty streets of the city. A sigh passed through his sleeps as he heard the raindrops start to hit the car. The rain quickly picked up and pelted the city loud and hard. Bateau used his net implants to contact his partner.
"Ishikawa, I'm on my way to the MT Building now. You all ready?"
It didnt take long for Ishikawa's voice to click on, "All ready. How about you?"
Bateau thought a moment as he turned a curve. The light from a strangly bright street lamp shone in his eyes. He paused before he spoke, "As ready as I'll ever be."
Ishikawa leaned back in his seat as he heard the last message from Bateau. "As ready as I'll ever be." He sighed as he clicked a few butttons on his keypad and the map of Megatech came up on screen again. He rubbed his eyes and leaned back, "Tell me when you get there, Bateau."
It took a moment but finally his voice said, "Roger."
Ishikawa nodded as he sat staring at the wire-pattern of the MT Building. He silently tried to think of what could be waiting for Bateau inside there. He sighed as hea listened to the rain.
"Later, Ishikawa." A voice said from behind him. Ishikawa turned around to see a man wave to him as he passed by the door.
With a frown, Ishikawa stood and ran for the door. He looked out just in time to see Chigako turn a corner and head down the stairs to the lobby of HQ. He stared a moment and spoke quietly, "What the hell is that rookie doing here?"
The veteran agent shook his head and excused the question as he returned to his seat and looked over the Megatech map once again. With a sigh, he decided to run one last check-up on the security cameras before Bateau arrived.
Bateau's car rolled silently down the wet streets, not even the radio made any noise as Bateau had turned it off. The street lights passed by as his car quickly flew down the street, the light they gave out flashed across his solemn face as he went. The road seemed to hypnotis the cyborg as he drove.
However, it wasnt the road that had Bateau thinking. It was memorys. The memorys of the past, memorys of a woman that he'd lost two months ago, memroys of Motoko Kusanagi.
Although Bateau had no proof, he knew that Motoko was waiting for him deep inside the abandoned Megatech Building. The only proof he had was the most reliable one of all. A Whisper he heard in his ghost. He chuckled and shook his head as he turned a quick corner. The cyborg had heard the other agents of Section 9 talking over the past week. About how much Bateau was reminding them of Major Kusanagi before her dissappearance. Now listening to himself, he knew it was true.
Bateau frowned as he continued to thnik about Kusanagi, more specifically he thought about what she was doing. If his assumptions were true, Motoko was the one hacking into Section 9 agents. She was the one who'd killed Saito, attempted to take Ishikawa's life, and may have been what caused Aramaki's heart attack. If this all was true, Bateau wanted to know why.
He sighed and a familiar quote came to his mind. He looked foreward out the windshield and saw the MT Building on the horizon. He spoke the quote out loud, "What we see now is like a dim image in a mirror, then we shall meet face to face."
The quote had been spoken to Bateau and Motoko in the middle of a lake by The Puppet Master. He chuckled and wonderd how in the world he'd remembered that quote but then, Bateau remember everything about that case.
He sighed and took to contacing Ishikawa, "I'm just outside the building. Get ready to hook me up with that map of your's."
"Ready whenever you are." Ishikawa said calmly.
Bateau parked his car in a discrete location then headed for the front entrance to the building. He looked at the door and shook his head, deciding not to take the front door. He looked around the area for another way but Ishikawa beat him to it, "There's a side window to your left. I hacked the digital lock and opened it for ya."
Bateau nodded and headed for the window. He silently opened it and slid through the slim window. He landed on his feet inside the building, "Monitoring my vision, eh, Ishikawa?"
"You know me too well, Bateau."
The large cyborg let his Zastaber fall into his hands. He double-checked to make sure he had a fresh magazine in the gun then started down the large hallway he was in. Ishikawa came over the network, "Uploaded wire map now. You might wanna pick up the pace, pal. I'm not completly sure I can keep these cameras under my control for long."
Bateau nodded quickly and took oof at more of a sprint. He watched as the red-wire map came over his vision. It showed the many doors and which ones were open and which were locked. He sprinted down the hall and came upon a door, he watched as the wire-frame opened which meant that the door was opened in reality. He smirked as the real door slid open.
Ishikawa spoke once more, "Where you planning on heading, anyways?"
Bateau was silent for a moment then spoke firmly, "The Cyborg Development Center."
"Why there?" Ishikawa asked, "I dont have any view on that place."
"Just show me the way, Ishikawa."
After a moment of silence, the indicators came over Bateau's view. They showed the right way in a blue frame instead of a red one. Bateau nodded and started off at the same pace before down the correct. He silently thanked Ishikawa.
After a few moments of quiet running, Ishikawa warned Bateau that there was movement in the on-coming hallway. He stated that he couldnt make out what the culprits were but he knew that they werent the standard issue security bots. Bateau nodded. The door opened to the hallway that the things were supposed to be in and Bateau immediatly noticed them.
A spray of gun fire flew past Bateau as he took to hiding beside the doorway. Inside the hall, there were three gynoids. It was obvious that they'd been manufactured just to guard something as they had no outer humanoid shell. They were just iron robots with guns, ready to kill any trespasser. Ishikawa shouted over the network, asking what had happened.
"Three gynoids with guns," Bateau answered, "You were right. They arent security bots but someone definatly put them here as guards."
Bateau came out into the open and raised his Zastaber to his shoulder. He fired three short bursts at each of the gynoids. The bullets hit them each. One was hit in the head, the other two in the chest but all three went down at once. Bateau frowned as he stepped past the gynoids, he'd hit their core movement base which completly stopped the gynoids from function. He continued down the hall quickly.
"Those are some pretty cheap ass security bots." Ishikawa said, "My guess is that the Megatech higher-ups put them in here to make sure no one tried to steal anything left in the plant."
Bateau spat on the ground as he turned a corner towards his target, "Just watch out for them, will ya? I'll find out who left them here later."
The rest of the hallways continued mostly the same. Ishikawa warned Bateau of on-coming gynoids and he was easily able to take care of the security bots. Finally, the large cyborg came upon a locked door that led to the Cyborg Development Center.
Ishikawa sighed over the network, "Give me a second and I'll unlock this for ya."
"Hurry up." Bateau said as he turned away from the door. Security Gynoids were heading down the hall with firearms in robotic hands. Bateau sighed as he switched to a full clip and opened fire on the gynoids. They fell one by one as Bateau mowed them down with the Zastaber but they continued their charge. He cursed as the Zastaber clicked empty and Bateau moved onto his second from last clip of ammunition. He started again on the gynoids and shouted to Ishikawa, "How's it coming?"
After a second's pause. Ishikawa spoke calmly, "Just one more second.... There! That should do it."
Bateau started to back up but stopped as his back touched the cold surface of the door behind him. The door should have automatically opened, if it was unlocked. Bateau spoke, "It's not open, Ishikawa. Whats going on?"
"That should have worked..." He stopped a moment then cursed, "Damn. Someone must have changed the lock code. It'll take awhile for me to find the right key."
Bateau cursed as he checked his current magazine, "I dont have awhile, Ishikawa!" He thought a moment as he fired in short bursts at the gynoids, trying to preserve his ammunition. Suddenly, a single thought crossed his mind. He blinked a few times then sighed. Turning from the apporaching gynoids, he hoped that their horrible aim held out. Before he opened the box on the wall that would hold the manual lock pad, he tossed two of the hand grenades he had with him into the pack of gynoids. The explosion rang behind him, followed by a few robotic limbs flying towards Bateau. He looked at the pad and thanked God that it was still activated. He started typing a few numerals just as a wave of gynoid gunfire flew against the wall. He finished quickly and a confirmation bell rang as the door opened. Bateau ran into the room and looked about the dark location.
Ishikawa sounded suprised, "How did you know the code?"
"A guess." Bateau said simply as he stepped lightly into the room and put the question of how he knew that the code was 2501 out of his mind, "Can those gynoids operate the door?"
"Nope, they were built to be 'stupid' robots. Built just to guard a certain area and kill anyone who doesnt have clearance."
Bateau nodded as he looked about the pitch black room he now stood in. He could tell it was large just by the feel he got from being in there but he couldnt see a thing. Just as Bateau was about to operate his night vision, the lights shot on. Without a smile he said, "Thanks, Ishikawa."
"Just doing my job."
With the lights on, Bateau could now looked about the room openly. It was just as he rememberd the CDC. A large pool of water stood about two feet off the ground although Bateau knew that it extended down into the depths of the building. It was the 'core' of the CDC, where the cyborgs were actually manufactured. There were various monitors and computers screens lining the walls and desk in the room and there was also a very large empty space right in the center. The only other notable feature of the room was the observatory balcony that stood quite a bit off the ground. With a sigh, Bateau examiend the room closer.
His head moved from left to right, looking for nothing in particular. He couldnt quite say what drove the cyborg to want to enter the room but he had a strong feeling that he would find something in here. Wether that thing was good or bad, he had no real idea.
Bateau's observing was caught as he looked to the empty space at the center of the room. There was a brief disturbance in the air there, something that no ordinary person would catch but then again, Bateau was hardly a person at all. He quickly knew what caused the disturbance, Thermoptic Camoflague.
He clicked on the heat sensory that was built into his cybernetic eyes and looked at the area once more. What he saw was one very unexpected thing. Sitting dead center in the middle of the CDC were two huge quadraped tanks. Bateau ducked out of the way just as the closer of the two tanks shot a burst of automatic fire straight at his head.
With a loud curse, Bateau took over behind one of the many desks in the room. He holstered his Zastaber and clicked his last magazine into it. With a sigh, he stood over the desk and fired a short burst at the armored tanks. The only way he could see the armored tanks was by use of his heat sensorry vision and that wasnt something Bateau loved using as it tended to slow down his reaction time considerably. He ducked back under the desk as the tanks fired their twin automatics at him. He cursed and dived behind another of the desks just as his last cover exploded in a burst of splintered wood.
Bateua peeked his head over the top of the desk, trying to find some way to get rid of the damn tanks Camoflague. One of the only things that worked to do that was water. Suddenly, an idea popped into Bateau's head.
The cyborg waited a moment for the tanks to occupy themselves with destroying his brief cover then Bateau burst from behind the desk. Running at a full sprint, Bateau fired his Zastaber rifle as he went in an effort to try and find some soft spot. Using his heat vision, it was impossible for him to find out what type of tank they were.
The two tanks turned and followed Bateau's every move. Finally, they fired their guns at him. Bateau cursed and made a last dive for his cover, the large pool on the opposite side of the room. Luckily for Bateau, he was able to roll behind the 2-foot tank just before the bullets hit the very spot he'd just resided in.
With a sigh of relief, Bateau sat a moment and listened as the tanks gears turned as their bodies moved to look at where they knew Bateau hid. Holding his breath, he glanced over the top of the pool just to make sure where they were then set his plan into action. He unhooked two grenades from his belt and pulled the trigger on both. He waited a few seconds before he threw them over his shoulder then listened as they landed loudly in the pool. After a second of silence, they exploded. The explosion sent whatever liquid Megatech put in that pool all over the room. It splashed the tanks and Bateau listened to the brief set of sparks as their camoflague died. He confirmed this with a quick peek over the pool.
Quietly, Bateau used his network connection, "Ishikawa?"
"What the hell is going on, Bateau?!" Was his response.
"I gotta... unexpected guest. Two of them, actually. Tanks, quadrapeds."
"What are those things doing there?"
"I'm guessing another security measure. The CDC isnt cleaned out yet and there's vital info in these computers. You still got visual with my eyes?"
"Yeah but you turned on your heat sensors and I lost the connection. Turn them off and I can see again."
Bateau nodded and quickly clicked off the heat vision. He nodded as his regular vision continued, "You good now?" Ishikawa said he was, "Good. Now, I need you to tell me what kinda tanks I'm up against. I'll give you some time to check them out." He waited a few seconds, "Ready?"
"Yeah, be careful. I only need a quick look."
Bateau nodded and checked the amount of ammo he had left in his Zastaber. Half a clip. With a sigh, Bateau shot out from behind the pool. He looked at the two bright-red, quadraped tanks and fired his last magazine into their armored shells. He stalled about a full second then broke off at another run for his cover behind the tank. The Tanks fired their guns, one of the bullets tore into his arm as he did so.
"How was that?" He asked as he examined the bullet hole in his arm.
"Perfect now here's what I got. Pretty suprising, I must say. They are FRU-93 Model Quadraped Tanks. From what my source says, they're just military use right now."
"You know Megatech."
"Yeah, you're right. Anyways, their entire shell is armored except for the underside of their core area but even that'll take quite a blast to tear it up."
"Any idea whose controlling it?" Bateau asked as he threw his empty Zastaber to the side. He checked his grenade supply, three were left. He then removed the two pistols he'd taken with him.
"Apparently, these are mainly AI controlled."
"That's just great. I'm fighting a computer." With another sigh, he nodded. "Alright. Thanks for the info, Ishikawa. I'm out."
"Roger. Be careful."
Bateau took one last chance to check his gun's ammo then dived out into the open once more. His goal was to knock the farthest of the two tanks back far enough into one of the monitor-lined walls. He'd let his grenades do the rest of the work from there. Firering his pistols rapidly, he walked steady across the floor. He aimed mainly at the farther quadraped. The large tank took the rapid fire thouroughly. Although it was armored, the shots warned the AI inside to back up and get out of the gun fire. The other tank, however, was not warded and open fired on Bateau. The bullets came closer to the cyborg and he dove behind the cover of a nearby pillar. He glanced and noticed that his main target was right where he wanted it.
The tank was shaking off the effects of the multiple gun fire and that's when Bateau took his chance. He unhooked two grenades and tossed them towards the ground. They rolled and ended up laying right under the FRU-93. In a matter of seconds, the grenades exploded into a sea of flames. Bateau hadnt thought about how the monitors on the walls would spark up and they now caused a fire inside the CDC. However, his goal had been accomplished and the tank was no where in sight.
Flames now englulfed half of the Development Center and Bateau cursed his stupidity. The remaining tank moved away from the flames and fired it's weaponry at the pillar Bateau hid behind. The bullets simply bounced off the metal pillar but something caused Bateau to drive out of the cover. A loud beep signified that the tank was fiering it's lone missle at the pillar. Just as Bateua hit the ground, the pillar behind him exploded into rubble.
Bateau stood from his rolling and aimed his pistols at the enemy. The bullets bounced off of the tank as Bateau looked around for another means of cover then he noticed the observatory balcony. He could find no way of getting up onto the high area but then, yet another reckless idea entered his mind.
While hoping his luck would hold out, Bateau broke off at a sprint dead for the tank. He opened fire as he did so and this helped him in distracting the tank. However, his approachment made it easier for the tank to open fire and it did so. Bateau leaped and planted a foot on top of the tank just as it's twin guns fired at him. He took two steps of the quadrapeds hard top and made a leap for the balcony behind it. He came rolling on top just as the tanks bullets made clattering noises on the metalic cieling overhead.
With hopes that he was still alive, Bateua sat up and looked around. He now sat on the empty balcony overseeing the flaming mess where the enemy tank now sat in beffudlment. The FRU-93 model wasnt made for climbing so there was no way for the tank to reach Bateau. With a sigh of relief, Bateau leaned back and rubbed his soot-ridden face with the knuckles of his hands.
It wasnt until Bateau had sat up and looked around the balcony that he noticed that he wasnt alone in the room. Standing in the darkening shadows of the balcony was the tall figure of a woman. As he stared, the flames below made her visible to him. She wore tight-fitting attire and black boots as well as matching gloves. Her body was slender but showed with much muscle as well. Her face, although dark in the dim light, was mature far beyond anyone Bateau had ever seen.
It didnt take much for Bateau to recognize the face of his long-time friend and partner, Motoko Kusanagi.
Standing up from the ground, Bateau stared at the shadowy figure of the Major. To his astonishment, the woman stepped foreward completly shattering his thought that she was simply a figment of his imagination.
Ishikawa came on over the network shouting, "Bateau! What's going on? I'm losing all connection. Someone's hacking into my-" His voice cut off and was filled with static in place.
Motoko now stood in the full blaze of light. Her dark hair swayed a bit and her eyes were just as fiery as they were the last time he'd seen her, that day in his safehouse. Then, she spoke, "Hello, Bateau." She said, "It's been a long time."
Bateau regained his composure and nodded slowly, "That it has. Whats with your body? Last I saw you, you were only about 4 feet tall."
"A child's body doesnt suite me so I made a replica of my old self. Sorry if this insults your taste, Bateau." She crossed his arms over her chest and allowed a small smirk to cross over her face, "Why did you come?"
Bateau chuckled lightly and looked at her through his cybernetic eyes, "Dont play games with me, Major. You were trying to make me come."
"You figured me out." She looked up at him.
"Now it's time for my question." Bateau stepped foreward, "Why did you want me to come here?"
"Well, the Megatech building was just the most secluded place I could find." She shrugged, "I didnt know that there was security here when I first planted those images in that guy's brain."
"But why? Why did you want me to come in the first place?"
"Because..." Motoko thought a moment as if trying to find the right words, "I've been living in virtual reality for two months, Bateau. Ever since I merged with the Puppet Master. When I first started exploring the net, I actually had no goal, nothing to achieve except for some dream that I didnt even know. But now, I do. I now have a goal and I want you to come with me, Bateau."
"What in the hell are you talking about, Major?"
"My goal is to merge with the Net. To create an entire new world that didnt have cyborgs and humans. A world free from similarity and bonds. A world where there is no line between humanity and cybernetics because niether exist. A limitless world, Bateau and I want you to join me."
It was now Bateau's turn for a loss of words, "So you killed Saito to get me to join you in some crazy plan to create a new life? And you tried to do the same to Ishikawa?"
A quiet smile crossed her face, "I didnt kill Saito and you know I would never do that to Ishikawa. Saito... He has already made his decision. He's already merged with part of me and awaits the rest of you."
Meanwhile, Ishikawa sat at the front of a blank computer screen. He typed quickly on the keypad, trying to regain the connection with Bateau. Finally, the lights in his small technology room turned on and the large screen in front of him slowly did the same. However, Ishikawa didnt see Bateau's vision or the Megatech Building on screen.
Instead, the face of a woman appeared on the screen. Her hair blew in a non-existant breeze as she stared down from the sceen at Ishikawa. The bearded-cyborg gapped as he recognized the woman on screen.
"Hello, Ishikawa." Major Kusanagi said, "It's been a long time."
Ishikawa blinked a few times, trying to figure out what it was he was seeing. Finally, he built up enough courage to speak, "Kusanagi?" He said in disbeleif, "But, you-"
She shook her head. He noticed that various colors played across her face as she spoke as if she stood infront of a changing-color light or something, "I didnt die that night with the Puppet Master. I merged with him and have lived within the Net for the last two months."
"But, Bateau!"
"It was all just a elaborate ruse he told for me."
"What do you mean you merged with the Puppet Master?" Ishikawa asked as he sat back down. He calmed himself but still was unbeleiving of the whole thing.
"The Puppet Master and I became one entitity. I now carry a part of him with me every where I go, we are one now and forever."
A sigh came out of the cyborg's lips, "Major... I dont understand a bit of this that is going on but I had a feeling you were alive." He crossed his arms, "You already visited the Chief, huh?"
"I saw Chief Aramaki right before he died, yes."
"But... did you cause it? Aramaki was getting old and his health was bad, I'm sure your sudden return could cause that attack."
Kusanagi's image shook it's head gently, "No, I didnt cause it but I knew it was happening. The minute I entered the room, I saw that Aramaki was dying."
"How the hell could you get in there without someone seeing you?"
"Thermoptic Camoflague, of course. I was also able to hack into the security devices of Headquarters. If you watch the sensroy tapes close enough, you can tell."
Ishikawa sighed, "So, you just watched Aramaki die, huh?"
"Ishikawa, you know me better than that." The veteran cyborg looked up and watched the screen, "I am the hacker you've been chasing this past week but it wasnt to exterminate any of you. I have come to take you all with me."
He questioned her on this and she gave the same explanation she was giving Bateau at the same time, miles away at the Megatech Building. After she was done, Ishikawa nodded slowly.
"So, Saito agreed to everything?"
A slight smile crossed her holographyic lips, "Yes."
"You never answered my question earlier. Did you just watch the Chief die?"
"No. As Aramaki sat there, I spoke to him. I explained everything and gave him the option of either merging with a part of me and joining me or I could just save him by transferring his brain case into a cybernetic body. He chose the first option. Aramaki is with me, along with Saito."
Ishikawa frowned and shook his head, "How could Aramaki merge with a part of you. He wasnt a cyborg."
"Right before his death, I removed Aramaki's ghost and brain case and transferred it to another cyborg. After that, we merged."
Meanwhile, while Bateau was making his way through the Megatech Building, Togusa was sitting at home on the couch. His cyborg wife's head rested on his shoulder as they sat and watched a movie on television. His daughter lay at their feet, sleeping soundly as the night passed. It'd been a long time since Togusa had been able to sit like that and he was enjoying every second of it.
After a few good minutes of watching the film, his wife slowly drifted off into sleep. With a smirk on his face, he gently rose and laid her head down on a pillow as he went to the kitchen to retrieve a drink. However, when he entered the kitchen he felt soemthing strange.
Pausing and standing still in the silent room, he listened intently. He heard something but couldnt quite make out what it was. Reaching down to his belt, he removed the Mataver that remained at his side at all times and peered around the room.
There was nothing there but the sound peristed. As he listened intently, it grew louder and more clear. Finally, he made the sound out to be a woman's voice, quietly chanting his name as if trying to get his attention.
It didnt take long for Togusa to notice that the voice wasnt being heard in his ears but through his mind. Whoever was trying to contact him, was doing it via his network implants. Not many people were capable of doing that, only his fellow agents at Section 9 had the capabilites.
Togusa leaned backand lowered the gun to his side. He closed his eyes and spoke to the voice, "Who is this?" He asked.
The voice paused a moment then spoke, "Hello, Togusa." It said, "It's been a long time."
Togusa was silent a moment. The woman's voice was strangely familiar and yet, he couldnt put a face to it. Whoever it was, must have some ties to Section 9, then it hit him.
"Major?" He asked the stranger.
"Yes, it's me."
"Major Kusanagi? But how? You died-"
"Two months ago." The voice of Kusanagi said, "I didnt die but then... you always knew I wasnt dead, didnt you?"
Togusa frowned, "Bateau told me everything that happened, he said you were killed by snipers."
"It was all just an elaborate ruse he told for me."
He crossed his arms and continued to question the Major. He asked about Saito and Kusanagi supplied explanations for everything. Finally, he asked another question.
"Why are you contacting me, Major? I'm sure it's not just for reminicing."
Kusanagi chuckled, "Right to the point. You havent changed much, Togusa. How's your family?"
Togusa opened his eyes and frowned deeply. He moved to the door to watch his wife and daughter sleep, "What's this about, Major?"
"You know exactly why I'm contacting you. For the same reason I contacted Saito and why I'm currently having this same conversation with Ishikawa and Bateau."
He crossed his arms, "Major..."
"I want you to join me. To come with me to create this new world."
"Kusanagi... You know I cant. My family..."
"Why not bring them?"
"They would never come."
"and why not?" The Major's voice was reminding him just of how she was the last time he'd seen her, "Your wife has a cybernetic body now, right?"
"Right. She had a disease and we could only save her that way."
"She hates it too, right?"
Togusa was silent and thought a moment, "Yeah but..." He sighed, "Even if she wanetd to do this, we cant. I have a daughter."
The Major's voice sounded sincere, almost sympathetic as she started to speak again. "Togusa, I have news for you." she paused, "That disease your wife had, it was hereditary."
Togusa stopped and stared into the room that his wife and daughter slept in. He winced as he heard his daughter cough inher sleep, his wife moved her foot in her sleep to comfort the child, "How do you..."
"You took her to get checked a few days ago, the results havent returned yet. I hacked the doctor's files."
As Major Motoko Kusanagi continued to speak with the three Section 9 agents, the fires within the CDC Room of Megatech continued to blaze. Bateau spoke with Motoko over the roar of the flames and the coming heat.
Bateau frowned, "So, Aramaki and Saito both agreed to join with you and merge with the Net?"
"Yes." She said, "and dont act like you dont want the same thing I do, Bateau. I know you and I've heard you talking these past two months."
"Every thime you enter the net, I'm there with you. Plus, do you remember the old man at the docks?"
Bateau quickly thought of the old gentleman that had quickly become a close friend. He'd gone fishing with him every night that week, "Yes."
Motoko smiled gently, "That was me. The old man was just a disguise I used to talk with you and listen to you."
Bateau took a step back as he finally noticed the stunning resemblace in personalitys the two had. Sure, they looked and spoke completly diffrent but deep inside, Bateau could see the similaritys. He silently recalled the moments when the old man talked about his old friends on the police force and how he was thinking of contacting them again. He knew it was true, Motoko was his dock-side friend.
She continued, "and the black-haired man that had died in the alley that night? The doctors said he'd been dead for quite awhile, right? Well, it was true. I just used his cyborg body to talk to you,." Bateau rememberd the crazy black-haired man, "and the hacker was also one of my 'puppets."
Bateau looked at the ground and was silent for a long moment. After quite a bit of silence, he looked up and prepared to speak to Motoko whe suddenly, a new presence was easily felt.
Looking to his right, he saw that the tank that he'd left on the lower floor had someone found a way to reach it's friend's killer. The tank's guns pointed directly at Kusanagi and Bateau and prepared to fire. Bateau prepared to dive on Motoko in yet another attempt to save her life but the guns never fired.
The tank was suddenly distracted and Bateau could see sparks fly as bullets were shot into it's armored hull. After a moment of enduring the annoyance, the tank turned and prepared to attack the culprit. Gazing over the edge, Bateau cursed loudly as he saw what was going on.
Standing near to the flames on the ground of the CDC with a modified rifle in his hands was Chigako. He fired round after round into the armored tank in an attempt to save Bateau and his unknown friend.
Chigako shouted slurs at the tank as it reared to look at him. He just nearly dodged behind a pillar to miss it's gunfire. Bateau shouted at the agent from the balcony, "Chigako, you dumb ass rookie! What the hell are you doing here?!"
Bateau just caught a glance of the rookie's face and saw a strange smirk plastered on his tan features. He shouted for behind the pillar, "Saving your reckless ass apparently!"
Cursng under his breath, Bateau stood and turned to see Motoko still watching him with those alluring eyes. He frowned, "Dumb ass rookies. They always gotta be the heroes."
No smile came across Motoko's face although he eyes flashed a bit at the statement, "Bateau, you still havent answered me..."
The large cyborg turned over his shoulder and watched the battle below. Chigako had emerged from the coverage of the pillar and it appeared as though his rifle had been lost as he now sported a simple revolver. Bateau cursed and turned back to face Kusanagi, "I gotta help that bastard first."
A smile finally crossed the Major's hard face and she turned to watch the tank, "You never change, Bateau."
Bateau picked up the two pistols from the ground and ignored her statement, "Let's save the rest of this conversation for later. I got one grenade left and it's got that big guy's name on it."
With that, Bateau leaped from the top of the balcony and landed on the ground on the other side of the tank. Chigako was just barely dodging the fatal gunfire of the tank but Bateau unloaded a clip from each of his pistols on the backside of the tank, "Hey, ya big bastard! Fight someone your own size!"
The tank reared around and faced Bateau and Chigako gave his elder agent a thankful look. Bateau rolled out of the way of a rain of gunfire from the tank and landed behind a desk. He didnt get away clean and noticed four equal-sized bullet holes in his left arm. He took the time before the tank blew the desk to splinters to reload his remaining pistol with his still working arm. When he emerged from his coverage to face the giant, he noticed that Chigako had made his way to the top of the tank and was trying his best to pry the lid off it.
Bateau cursed and shouted warnings to the rookie as he remembered what had happened the last time someone tried that. However, Chigako didnt get half as far as the far-more-skilled Major Kusanagi had. The tank grappled Chigako by the leg and threw the blonde agent from it's back. It then pointed it's twin rifles at the grounded agent and prepared to fire.
The bullets never came out of the weapon as it stopped dead in it's tracks. Chigako and Bateau bothed look to see what had stopped the tank and they finally noticed what had caused it. Standing on the top of the tank, Motoko Kusanagi threw the wires she'd town from the inside of the tank to the ground and leaped off just as the tank fell foreward and buryed it's front part in the concrete.
Chigako stood and limped over to where Motoko and Bateau stood. He immediatly noticed Bateau bleeding and bullet-ridden arm and looked shocked at the large cyborg.
Bateau shook his head at Chigako and raised his limp left arm then let it fall back to his side, "It doesnt even hurt. This is just a synthetic arm, I lossed my real one two months ago." Chigako nodded and remembered reading that in Bateau's report.
Major Kusanagi then turned to look up at the cyborg, "Well, Bateau?"
Bateau nodded and a brief smile crossed his face, "Let's do it. A new world, no boundarys or limits. Let's do it."
Motoko nodded and placed a gentle hand on Bateau's good arm. It was strange, in all the time that Bateau had worked with Kusanagi, she'd never been gentle.
Suddenly, a loud rumbling sound was heard from above. Chigako shouted, "Shit! The roof's caving in. The fire and destroyed pillars must be taking their toll."
Bateau looked at Chigako and nodded, "Right. Get out of here."
Chigako turned but stopped in his tracks and turned to look at his partner, "Aint you coming?"
A sympathetic grin crossed his face and he glanced at Motoko, "No."
"What?" Chigako turned around fully and looked at the two strangely.
"I've finally found what I've been looking for." He stepped up and patted Chigako hard on the shoulder, "Get out of here and go back to those old folks of your's. I'm sure I'll see you again."
Chigako stepped back, not wanting to leave the older agent behind. He shook his head, "What are you talking about?"
"Just get the hell out of here, all right?" He turned back and went to stand with Kusanagi. Chigako glanced from one to the other, remembering what it said in their reports. Doubting their own ghosts, completley synthetic. Chigako hadnt been a full cyborg long enough to understand but now, he was finally starting to. Nodding quickly, Chigako turned and jogged for the exit.
Bateua called out to him just before he left, "Hey, rookie!" Chigako stopped and turned around to see him, "Thanks."
Without a smile, Chigako nodded and returned the word. With that, Chigako left the collapsing room. He didnt know what was going to happen but he knew this was what Bateau wanted...
Later that night...
Chigako returned home later on. He got out of his proud car and walked towards the door that led inside to his home.
When he left the Megatech Building, leaving Bateau with Major Motoko Kusanagi, he'd tried to contact Togusa to tell him what happened. He'd tried talking to him through the Network Implants but all he got was static. Chigako knew what had happened to the human agent.
On the way home, he stopped by Headquarters to check in with Ishikawa but all he found was his technology room empty. It appeared to have last been used only moments ago but there was no trace of Ishikawa. The large computer screen at the far end was blank, nothing played on the large screen.
Now, Chigako walked into his home quietly in hopes of not awakening his grandparents. He stepepd through the house and glanced into the living room where his grandfather sat asleep in his recliner. His grandmother was laying asleep on the couch.
With a empty smirk on his face, Chigako walked into the bathroom and peered into the mirror that hang on the wall. His leg still hurt him but that pain was nothing to the strange emptyness he felt now. All of his comrades were gone, swept completly off the planet by someone he didnt know but they all did. The idea was somewhat frightening.
Still gazing in the mirror, Chigako pulled his pistol from his pocket and glanced down at it. Did he want to end up like Bateau and Major Kusanagi did? Doubting his own ghost until his final day. He could take his own life now and not feel any of that strange pain ever.
But, somehing told him not to. He pondered Bateau's last words. "I've finally found what I've been looking for." The statement was strange and cryptic but Chigako somehow understood it. Bateau, Togusa, Ishikawa, and maybe even Aramaki and Kusanagi may all be happy where they were. They all may have found what they were looking for.
Chigako sighed and dropped his gun into the sink. He turned from the bathroom and took a seat in the living room where his grandparents slept and gazed at the still playing tv set.
Perhaps he would try to fiind a nice girl and maybe later on, find what he was looking...