The tower rose above the skyline of Megatokyo, casting a long shadow over the sprawling city around it. GENOM Tower was the hub that the whole the city turned around, people said, and it was the focus of the love and hatred of the majority of the citizens. Composed of the latest alloys and armored glass it was one of the tallest structures in the world, as well as one of the best defended.
That was why Sergeant Motoko Kusanagi wasn't even trying to break in there. The red haired young woman moved over the roof of the Genom research facility on the edge of the city, green eyes sweeping the concrete for any security features she might have missed. The plans she had hacked on the cyberdive into Genom's systems should have been up to date, but you never knew what might have been added.
Carefully she secured the cable to the roof then eased herself over the side, the gun-metal grey bodysuit that she wore blending seamlessly with the structure. Carefully she slid down the sheer surface, silently counting off the floors until she finally reached the one that she wanted. A small device was attached just above the window frame, accessing then overriding the local security system. It wouldn't work for very long, feeding pre-recorded false data on the room into the system, but it would last her just long enough.
A thin strip of material was laid down on the seamless glass and Motoko reeled herself back up, triggering it with a small remote. The low powered explosive shattered glass, the difference in air pressure inside blasting the glass out into the air above the city. She smoothly dropped into the window, moving past several of the humanoid robots over to a nearly completed one.
The skull like face was slumped on the wide metal neck, the upper body eerily mimicing a human's muscles and structure. Round, lidless eyes stared out as Motoko eased it forward, cursing softly when she saw the open back and the missing components. The lights in the room came up suddenly even as a loud alarm rang out.
Motoko was almost out the window when the first security Boomers burst into the room, mouths distending to reveal the laser cannons housed within. Throwing herself out the window Motoko drew her pistols and fired, perfectly placed armor piercing rounds striking in both of the laser ports, the malfunctioning systems fireballing both Boomers.
"Damn it, where did she..." Brian J. Mason ran to the broken window, his almost perfectly neat hair and clothes a odd sight amid the damage.
Motoko dropped into the gap between the buildings, the wind ruffling her hair as she tossed a mocking salute even as she drew a matching hood up over her head. There was a shimmer, almost a distortion around the young woman then she simply seemed to disappear.
Of Knights and Ghosts: A Bubblegum Crisis: Ghost in the Shell crossover.
Nearly three hours later in another part of the city Motoko looked into a dirty, cracked mirror before nodding to herself just slightly. Her eyes were now a robin's egg blue and her shoulder length hair was back to it's defaut color of black, the woman's business suit she had picked out earlier making her look sleekly attractive.
'I really didn't want to use the thermo-optic camouflage,' Motoko thought, 'but I really didn't have much choice.' She walked out of the bathroom at the small night club, not caring about all the gazes she was drawing. The street was crowded, people packing the sidewalk, cars racing along the road while she tried to consider the situation.
'That was far too quick of a reaction,' Motoko mused even as she warily scaned her surroundings, 'the standard response time is a minute, not the twenty seconds they managed.' A grim smile, 'Not to mentio that the target was deliberately removed. Somehow, they must have known that I was coming.' She felt certain that the cyberdive hadn't triggered any flags, which meant that the leak must have been at the Ministry.
Motoko felt her lip curl in disgust. Her fondest dream was to lead a elite counter terrorist team, answerable only to the highest authorities, but right now that dream was a long way off. For now she was stuck taking on the sort of dirty jobs her boss over in the Interior Ministry gave her, like this bungled up operation.
The mission briefing had made it sound straight forward, if not actually simple. Genom had been developing a military artificial intelligence, one that might ultimately be used in tanks and advanced armored suits. However it appeared that Quincy was getting greedy and planned to sell a prototype of the system to a foreign power, something the Ministy wouldn't like.
Motoko's mission could be summarized in two points: first, to acquire the prototype AI before it could be sold and second, if possible catch the individual or individuals that were going to be carrying out the sale. Both jobs were something she could handle, it was the other factors that were going to make it complicated.
The noodle place was quiet as she slipped into a chair, placing an order and setting the coins on the counter. At this time of night only a few people were there, each eating quietly as lovely scents wafted over them. The steaming bowl arrived a few moments later and she snapped apart her chopsticks and began to eat, savoring the taste.
'I don't dare call for back up,' Motoko mused, 'if there is a leak it'll just give Genom a heads up on what's going on.' She slurped more noodles, 'Not to mention requesting any more equipment. Just glad I brought enough to start, I think.'
A young man with a crude artificial eye walked in and Motoko felt herself tense up a bit, before making herself relax. She occassionally felt a little guilty on how advanced the artificial body that housed her own mind and ghost was, compared to what was available on the street or even in regular government service. The members of the intelligence community got all the bleeding edge tech, the very best, and her body reflected that.
'Time to go,' Motoko smoothly got up, the night air hitting her face as she slipped out onto the street, 'I still have to try and make contact with her.' Boots tapped softly as she walked a familiar looking street, the building she wanted rising up not to far away.
It wasn't as tall as some buildings, but it certainly was a busy one. Copters rising up from the roof top pad, people in uniform streaming in and out, vehicles coasting out from the underground and heading out on patrol. The advanced or AD Police, the only real police force in Megatokyo these days, and she was here to see an old friend.
She walked up the front steps and into the building, noting the loose security that let her go by unchallenged and frowned slightly. Flagging down an officer in the hall Motoko read her name-tag and said, "Officer Romanova, could you help me with something?"
Nene Romanova smiled up at the taller woman, "Yes, miss?"
'Pink hair? Wonder where she got that done,' Motoko thought with ausement. "I'm looking for someone, Jeena Malso," she said.
"Oh, Jeena," Nene smile widened, taking on a impish edge as he said, "I think she just got in. If you'll just wait here I can go get her."
Motoko felt a certain amount of amusement as Nene trotted off, finding a chair to sit down in. Ther building and faces were relatively new, but the feeling of the place was the same, a group of people who were trying to do a job and being in way over their heads.
"I'll be damned."
Motoko smiled as she looked up from her thoughts, having easily heard her coming up the hall. Short redish-brown hair was held back with a headband, her body clearly muscular underneath the AD Police uniform she wore and her smile as oddly gentle. When Motoko rose they could nearly see eye to eye as she said, "It's been a while."
"I'll leave you to to catch up.' Nene smirked before leaving.
"What was all that about?" Motoko her asked as the two women headed to the front doors, again unimpeded by any security presence.
"Because I don't date coworkers the rumor mill says I'm gay," Jeena sounded more amused than offended by the idea, "and since Romanova's one of the biggest gossips, you'll probably be thought of as my love-slave by morning."
"Well, there are worse fates," the twin doors swished aside as Motoko lead the way out. They walked down the front steps then a short distance away before they stopped, the neon lighting the night as she asked, "How's the arm?"
Jenna flexed her left arm, a flash of metal appearing beneath the uniform and gloves she wore. "Still gone, but I figure I'm lucky the rest of me didn't follow," she replied. She looked over at Motoko thoughtfully, "You calling that debt due?"
"I'm not sure," Motoko said honestly, "I just want to talk about something with someone who's outside my chain of command."
Jenna chuckled softly, "I know how that feels."
Making sure that they were unobserved Motoko sketched in the situation for her old comrade, of course leaving out any of the more classified details. In essence a illegal arms deal, with Genom selling privilaged information to a third party. "I don't know if we've got a leak," she finished, "but the possibility limits my options."
Jenna looked thoughtful as she leaned up against the wall, "The way I see it, you've got two problems. The first is finding the item and recovering it, and the other is distracting of fighting the GENOM security forces while all this is going on."
"Too bad I didn't bring a tactical team with me," Motoko said, "and there's no way I can get the AD Police to lend me one,"
"Maybe not, but there might be something local you can use in it's place," Jenna smiled slightly, "if you can figure out how to point them where you want them to go."
"Oh?" Motoko asked, suspecting where Jenna was going.
"The Knight Sabers," Jenna simply said.
To be contined...
Notes: Jeena Malso is a character from the AD Police manga, though her backstory with Motoko is something I've added. This series is set sometime before the events of the Ghost in the Shell manga or Stand Alone Complex, back during Motoko's younger, less experienced days.