Part One of the Power Struggle Trilogy: Aftermath

The following takes place approximately one year after Muro's plan to destroy the atmospheric processors and kill those without a Daodan Chrysalis.

In an old chop shop that was evacuated due to toxic atmospheric gases that flooded it years ago, Mai sits in her "home" writing her journal on her old data link. She writes uneasily, knowing that tomorrow she will start a course of events that will change the world forever. She writes:

"Last year, I thought that what I am about to do would be impossible. But in three weeks, I will bring complete destruction to the TCTF and the Syndicate.

When I killed Muro, the Syndicate had a reformation in the ranks. They switched to a triumvirate. The Syndicate decided that this was the best way to protect their power. To bring the heads of the Syndicate down, I would have to kill all three dictators at once. That at least is almost feasible. However, if I destroy the Syndicate, the TCTF will move right in and "acquire" all of the Syndicate resources. Warehouses, armories, drugs, everything. The only reason that the TCTF didn't do this when I killed Muro, is because I crippled their special forces by killing Griffin. Unfortunately, if I take out the TCTF, the Syndicate will take over TCTF resources.

So here was my dilemma; I couldn't take out the TCTF or the Syndicate individually. I had to do it simultaneously. I spent weeks in my father's old lab trying to figure out what resources I would have to attain.

Fortunately, as weird as this sounds, one month and two weeks after I killed Muro, the TCTF broke into the lab to destroy my father's records. They were too important to be left laying around. So, three teams of Black Ops forces broke into the lab while I was searching my father's records for the fourth time. I assessed their mission immediately. Standard procedure. Three teams enter. Fourth is outside the door. Fifth is surrounding the building. Four more are one block away. Like I said, standard procedure for someone like me. It was obvious they expected me to be here.

Lucky for me that they didn't know I had hijacked eight trucks of plastic explosive from TCTF procurement forces. I spent the last two weeks rigging the entire building to go. I had just laid in my escape track that past Thursday.

I was sitting in the chair behind the desk, contemplating what I was even doing there. I had a feeling something bad was going to happen about five seconds before they ripped through the door. I had been getting mental omens when something threatening was coming. I was also noticing the increasing effects that hypos were having on me. One completely healed me. And if I used one when I wasn't injured, my skin took on a purple sheen. The glow was still there, but it seemed like it was getting larger and more flame-like. I couldn't get hurt while I was surrounded by the Daodan flame either. I'm getting side tracked.

My plan was to hit myself with a hypo while I popped the hatch under the desk and slide down the tube to the sewer. Connected to the hatch was a switch that was set to blow the building when I crossed the infrared net set six feet below the floor.

My escape plan worked. Almost as soon as the hypo hit my skin, I ignited. I slid down the tube, hit the net, and was propelled by the explosion that took out four square blocks. The sewers were twenty feet below ground level. The flame that spit me out of the tube also ignited all the methane gas contained within the sewer. It was like a blue green wave of fire. It washed over me like a tide. I didn't even feel the heat.

I took the sewer to my backup facility. The chop shop. I knew the TCTF wouldn't follow me there. They couldn't. It was a long way there, and I used the time to think. I had just lost all the records regarding the Daodan Chrysalis, limited as they were. I also realized that I had been wasting my time there. I had been through everything that was there at least three times. There was nothing I could use. I didn't want to face the truth. I was alone this time. Truly alone.

I got to the chop shop and headed for the circuit box. I opened my cargo pocket to get my flashlight when I noticed I could see in the pitch black. My body was illuminating the room because my flame was still active. I used that hypo over six hours ago. Why was I still encompassed by the Daodan flame? It had never lasted this long before. Then I remembered what had happened to me when I killed Barabas and Muro. I was having another Daodan "growth spurt." But this time was different.

I felt it coming. Like that anxiety you get before anything big. It started right above my navel. I focused on it, instantly knowing what was happening. I concentrated on its growth, its strength, its awakening. The entire warehouse went a purple-white. I felt it emerge from its shell, me, and place itself over me, almost like it was now my shell. I felt warm, content, and for the first time in what felt like forever, I was happy, completely happy.

The room returned to its normal black void. I felt around for the flashlight in my pocket when, suddenly, the room was lit. I moved to the circuit box only to see that the main power was still off. I found a reflective bumper that hadn't rusted. My eyes were purple-white. I could have sworn they looked like fire. Maybe it was my imagination. My eyes no longer had distinction between the white, the iris, or the pupil. Just purple-white. I grabbed my flashlight. I shined it toward the bumper. My eyes lost the glow and I felt something slide across my eyes. I brushed my eyes with my hand and then looked at the bumper again. I could see a seam on the outside edge of my eye. It was then that I also noticed that my eye as a whole was darker. It dawned on me. It was similar to the inner eyelid of a frog. It was shielding my eyes from the intense light.

I spent the next month discovering new abilities I had gained. My skin was soft to the touch but hard as diamond to a knife blade. I couldn't discover a limit to my strength. My agility was increased along with my speed. It felt like I was a white noise generator because my movements were absolutely silent. My shooting accuracy was perfect up to 125 yards, and past that, it only slightly decreased. My body even seemed to eliminate the recoil of weapons. When I practice climbing, my finger tips sharpen and seem to dig into the surface I'm on. I have drilled myself in activating and deactivating my Daodan flame, but it is much easier to do when I am threatened. Falling no longer phases me. I have yet to be injured by a fall, although the most I have fallen is 1,038 feet. I found that if I spend an hour and a half in a meditative state, I can stay completely active for the rest of the day without sleep. Recently, I've been using a lot of phase cloaks to spy and it would appear that my body can duplicate the effect. I am sure that there are some things I have yet to see.

I formulated a plan. Complex and difficult, but never the less, a plan. I would get the TCTF and the Syndicate to destroy each other. I would be a double agent. If I could manage to start a full scale war between them and if things worked out right, I could take out the heads of both groups at the same time. Bad luck for me, both groups know and hate me. I was either going to have to manage to stay anonymous, or I would have to convince someone high in the ranks to do my bidding. Of course, anyone could think up this plan. Pulling it off would be completely different.

I felt like crap. I knew how to take the TCTF and the Syndicate out but couldn't do a thing about it. At this lowest point, I remembered something. Shinatama. My only true friend. Her death. Her file? I had read it at my father's lab. Of course. He had a file because Shinatama had been my SLD almost since the Daodan Chrysalis was implanted. Shinatama had a fail-safe programmed into her. The fail-safe prevented the destruction of her consciousness. When she was hooked into that attack module, she had access to the TCTF mainframe. Before she disconnected from that attack module, she could have uploaded her consciousness into the mainframe. She buried it well because if it hadn't, I would have heard about "SLD desire to live" over the news net. Nothing stays that secret at TCTF. Not even me.

I had to contact her. My DNA had to be the key. I hit the streets. I needed tech equipment, and I hadn't had time to install any in the chop shop. I called up an old acquaintance. I saved his life at the airport. Before I left he insisted on uploading his address, name, and tech number to my data link. I'll never forget the way he said that he would do anything to repay me. He didn't say it like a desperate man, more like a man that had just said the most serious and honest statement he would ever make. I pulled out my data link, I was amazed I still had the thing, and pulled that note. I found his address and name. I looked at the tech number and realized that he hadn't been working at the airport. He must have been a passenger because his tech number was that of someone very high up on the corporate ladder.

I threw on my black leather, grabbed my gun, an Mk6, and rode my bike to his place. I arrived at his address. It wasn't hard to miss. It took up just about the entire block.

I stopped my bike at the gate and slid off to talk to the guard. The guard approached me with his stun rod drawn. Didn't surprise me. He asked why I stopped here. I said cooly and calmly, "I am here to speak with Mr. Phillips. I am a recent acquaintance of his." The guard seemed surprised by my calmness and backed into his guard station to use the intercom. He spent about a minute talking to who I assumed was Ryan Phillips. I noticed the surveillance camera turned and looked at me. I looked up at it and lowered my sunglasses. Just about then, the guard came out and told me that Mr. Phillips is delighted to see me here. The gates slid open and I road my motorcycle to the front steps and parked.

I saw Ryan at the top of the steps and a smile crawled across his face. I walked up the steps and greeted him. He invited me in. As I stepped through the door, a buzz was emitted by an unseen speaker. A guard on the inside of the door told me to remove whatever weapons I was carrying. Ryan looked unsure of what to do. He informed me that it was his policy not to have weapons inside the house beside what the guards had, and even they were limited to stun rods. I took my Predator out and removed the ammunition clip. I put the gun into my hip holster and the clip in my jacket pocket. Ryan appeared relieved.

Ryan was obviously fortunate enough to be in good favor of the right people because his house was tricked out. It was the most gorgeous thing I had seen in a long time. He later informed me that a complete security grid was tied into the architecture. He led me to a room that had a few chairs and a low table. I could only assume this was an informal meeting room. He had his servant bring some drinks and a few light snack dishes. I thanked him accordingly. I told him that my name was Mai Hasegawa, and that I needed his help.

He attained a serious look and appeared businesslike in posture. He asked calmly what I needed. I informed him that I was going to need hacking equipment, a DNA scanner, a 3D interface, a top of the line security system, an independent power generator, an expert hacker, and at least 2 million credits.

Before I could spit out the words, I know I'm asking for a lot, he spoke.

"Done. And that will be 4 million credits."

I was speechless. I couldn't believe that he was completely willing to do that. I knew that this house could have only cost him one and a half million credits. I also knew that I had a complete look of surprise on my face and I couldn't manage to get rid of it.

"If I could just ask you one question. What are you planning on doing with this stuff?"

I choked out the words. "I'm going to hack the TCTF mainfra..."

"No. I mean in the long run. What goal are you going for? Seriously."

With the gravest tone I have ever used in my life, I said "I am going to destroy the Technology Crimes Task Force and Syndicate terrorist group for good. I will bring so much chaos to both groups that they won't even consider regrouping for 50 years."

"Well that works in my favor anyway. I work for a genetic research company. I am Vice President of MetaCortex. My company works in advancing DNA research. Our goal is to map human DNA and advance it to the next evolution. Similar to the Daodan Chrysalis you hold inside of your body. Yes, I worked with your father and your uncle on the Daodan project. Unfortunately, MetaCortex wasn't as willing as the Syndicate to kidnap your father and uncle. So now the TCTF baby sits our work, looking for what your father had found, the Chrysalis. The Syndicate also makes regular break-in's to see if we have discovered the Chrysalis. If you destroy both groups, I believe we can make a breakthrough."

"Ummmm.... Wow. That's amazing. I never saw anything about MetaCortex in my father's records."

"That's because MetaCortex's dealings with your father and Kerr were kept off the record to protect each other's best interests. In other words, a lawyer can't burn either of us for doing something the TCTF restricted."

A wave of realization hit me. "So me destroying the Syndicate and the TCTF will not only work in both our favors, but it will lead to the actualization of my father's dream."

Ryan started ordering the equipment immediately. He helped me install everything, but first I had to put up an atmospheric scrubbing net. It cleaned the air within the bubble it created and made it so that Ryan's technicians could work. I was amazed at the speed and accuracy of the installations. It took a month to complete and a week into it Ryan started showing up to keep me company.

We grew to be close friends. The first I had besides Shinatama. It was then that I noticed that Ryan was actually quite attractive. I decided to move that thought to the back of my brain, since a relationship was out of the question at this time.

After Ryan's techs had everything installed, he brought in his hacker, and we started looking. Specter and I decided that we should insert my DNA as our running code. It wouldn't stick out since my DNA is no stranger to the mainframe. Three days into it, we found something. Specter said it looked like a small scratch in the mainframe itself. I think Specter and I determined at the same time that Shinatama could be hiding in a hidden pocket of the mainframe. Specter placed his fingers onto the 3-Dimensional wall of the mainframe and slid his hand onto the scratch. The scratch slowly turned into a piece of paper with a number scrawled onto it. Specter recognized it as a file number for the TCTF mainframe archive.

We headed to the archive and found the file, eventually. The file was Griffin's. Specter and I thought we had made a mistake, but then he noticed a slightly discolored word. He placed his hand on the word, and it slowly turned into a drawer. Specter opened it and was instantaneously thrown from the interface. It took a few minutes for him to come to. He told me that either I had to be the one to open the "drawer," or it's just a booby trap laid into Griffin's file. I couldn't take the chance.

I opened the drawer and it felt like I was sucked into it. At first I couldn't see. Then I heard her voice.

"Scanning subject... Cleared. Hello Konoko."

Oh her voice. So sweet. So innocent. I missed and loved her so much. "Hello Shinatama. I missed you."

"I missed you too Konoko. But you shouldn't have had to access this file. Did I die?"

"Griffin killed you. But that doesn't matter because you're still here."

"Konoko, who tried to access this file before you?"

"That was Specter. He was helping me hack the TCTF mainframe. Oh I'm using my real name now.

"Good. Mai, why did you try to find me?"

"I missed you Shinatama. I love you.... And I need your help."

"What do you need?"

"Well, I need you to help me formulate a plan of action. I'm going to take out the TCTF and the Syndicate. It needs to be done within the next year, before they become too powerful."

"You're going to set them against each other."

"How did you know?"

"We have the same brain patterns, remember? I will download myself to your hookup and leave this file location here. I have created invisible lines to all the crucial areas of this mainframe. Downloading..... Disconnect yourself Mai."

I pulled myself out of the interface and watched as the screen turned into Shinatama's face. I turned to ask Ryan if we could manage to find an SLD to download Shinatama into. Without speaking, Ryan took one large step to his right, and behind him was what looked like an exact copy of Shinatama.

"It's a brand new state-of-the-art SLD. I had her modeled to fit Shinatama's physical parameters. I thought that you deserved to have someone you loved in the tangible world." Specter moved to hook up the new SLD to the computer while introducing himself to Shinatama.

After the SLD had been moved I closed the gap between myself and Ryan. I hugged him, and then that thought I had so recently locked away resurfaced. I kissed him on the cheek and then his lips. My love ached for him, and I had wanted to love him for what seemed like forever. Now I could. And once again, I felt happy. I had two people who loved me with all their heart and I returned their love three fold.

Continued with Part Two of the Power Struggle Trilogy: Laying the Groundwork