The place smelled awfully sterile. 'Scentless' they called it – free from any sort of fragrance or aroma whether sweet or putrid. It was a smell of emptiness, fitting for a mental hospital. A young woman in her early twenties awoke to this 'scentless' smell and found herself lying in bed.
There were no chains that bound her hands or feet and her body was not wrapped in a long-jacket. The walls weren't even made up of the soft material that prevented suicide. In the room where she lay, there weren't any special means to prevent her from escaping or from taking her own life. Those measures, though, would be rather unnecessary. The young woman was barely aware that she was awake. The young woman barely had the will to breathe – or even to live.
It was another case of 'eustress deficiency', whispered the doctors and nurses amongst themselves as they came and left the room to observe her. They shook their heads but didn't really know what to do. They were already providing her with the best physical and mental healthcare that the state could provide. Her crime coefficient was already markedly low at '8' while her Psycho-Pass was a clear, bright purple. Despite all of this the girl showed no signs of improving. As a matter of fact, the girl had already slipped into limbo.
She hasn't had any visitors since the day she was checked into the hospital. The doctors couldn't find any family members on the Sibyl database to contact and it seemed that she didn't have any friends. Her only affiliation on the database was from her schooling in Mitakihara District, Yokohama over at the Kanagawa Prefecture but that was from a while back already. Her classmates would already have started their careers by now.
Thus, the girl spent her time alone, hooked up to the hospital monitors day and night. Her blank eyes looked up to the blank ceiling sometimes. She didn't wonder what lay beyond the concrete, nor did she wish to go outside. She only wondered when her suffering would end.
One night, this girl did have a visitor. One of the doctors came in at an unusual time – right after the nurses finished preparing to ease her into sleep again. The doctor was tall with a head of silver hair and sharp, golden eyes. In his hands, he cradled a hardbound copy of Goethe's Faust. Then, on his face was a cool and composed smile – a smile that roused the half-dead girl.
Color returned to the girl's eyes and her strength flowed back into her once lifeless arms and back. She sprung up to face the doctor, totally aghast and furious.
Then, the clock struck nine and the tranquilizers kicked in. The girl was robbed of her strength and the image of this doctor started to blur into nothingness.
MSWB Cold Case 088 – A Wrinkle In Time
Second File: Convergence
Shinya Kougami's car sailed through the highway that afternoon on the way to the crime scene at the Upper Minato-ward alleyways. The Inspector was at the wheel while the cadet sat at the passenger's seat and looked out through the window. She was looking intently at the cityscape.
"Kaname-san, you aren't from the Capitol aren't you?"
Inspector Kougami turned to his passenger and asked, startling the cadet.
"Y-yeah… I'm just amazed at how similar this city looks to Yokohama."
"Yokohama, huh? I guess that makes us both from Kanagawa, then."
The Inspector then pulled out a digital ID from his coat pocket and let it display his driver's license. It was a license from the Kanagawa Prefecture. That little fact made the young cadet feel much more at ease. Ever since she had gotten into the car, she felt absolutely tense being with an actual professional Inspector of the MSWB.
"You know, Kaname-san, society has been converging together – more and more with each passing year. Naturally, urban planners are part of society, so their plans start to look more and more alike as you can see. Economists have been talking about convergence for a while now."
"Oh, like Mr. Robert Solow and all of those other theorists."
"Exactly. You know your economics well, Kaname-san."
"Thank you… but isn't it strange, Kougami-san? With the Sibyl system and all… what if everything and everyone just… becomes the same, you know… like…"
Madoka fidgeted as she tried to find the words to say. The Inspector, though, could already tell what the cadet was getting at.
"I don't think that will happen, Kaname-san. Every person is unique and special, each of them born into this world to do something that only they can do. That sort of thing… purpose, maybe, can't be measured by numbers."
Madoka nodded in agreement. It's an archaic thought, but she too believed in 'purpose'. Not just the sort of designation handed down by Sibyl, but some sort of purpose meant only for one specific person. However, a thought lingered in her mind.
"Do you hate the Sibyl system, then, Kougami-san?"
"Not necessarily. It's not perfect, but it does what it's supposed to do. If people can live at peace and find happiness in it, then I have no qualms with it. After all – it's all that we really have now."
That was true. Without the Sibyl system in place, what would be left to protect this town and its citizens? Madoka could only wonder. Shinya, though, would interrupt her thoughts.
"We're almost at the crime scene, Kaname-san. There are a few things I need to go over with you and the others."
The inspector activated a formless digital screen on the dashboard of the car and started to make a call. The portrait of an attractive blonde lady appeared and her playful voice rang through the speakers.
"Oh, a call from the dashing young Inspector, huh? Dropping a line to make a move on me, Shinya-kun~?"
Shinya shook his head and chuckled.
"Trust me, Karamori, if I wanted to make a move on you, you'd know."
The person at the end of the line seemed amused.
"Is that so? So what's up then?"
"Sasayama and I already met up with the Auxiliaries and we've split up to deploy to the three crime scenes. I wanted to have the Auxiliaries' ID's patched into our communications and I need a dedicated operational line for the six of us."
"… okay, and the point-persons for the comms are?"
"Assistant Inspector Tomoe, Cadet Sakura and myself."
"Not Sasayama-kun? Harsh~"
"If I gave Sasayama the point, he'd just try and flirt with the girls in the other team."
Karamori gave off an audible sigh.
"Hah… very true… so that's done and done. Anything else, Shinya-kun?"
"Yes. Double-check for me that the Auxiliaries have authorization to wield Dominators."
The sound of the tapping of keyboards came through the speakers, followed by an emphatic hit of the 'enter' key.
"They've got authorization, but only a limited one was issued. Orders came from that old hag Chief Kasei herself – they can't use anything above the Paralyzer. That's all they'll really need, though, right?"
Shinya's eyes sharpened.
"I hope they won't have to use the Dominators at all."
"Assistant Inspector Tomoe reporting in. We're just outside the tenements now, right on schedule."
"Kyouko here – we're at the shore… uh… over and out."
"This is Shinya Kougami. We've arrived at Upper Minato without incident. Begin your investigations and report in anything and everything you find. Stay sharp, everyone."
"Yech… this place is filthy."
Enforcer Sasayama spat on the ground as he walked towards the front entrance of the tenement complex. The Assistant Inspector shook her head and stepped out of their car to join her ward. The two of them would then see a pair of police drones awaiting them at the entrance, doing a cymatic scan of everyone who entered and left the complex. Two more drones were roving around the perimeter as well and one drone was stationed at the top floor hallways where the crime scene was.
"This place is an old tenement complex that has been long due for renovation. Luckily, there's enough signal strength to operate drones."
Mami explained as she checked the blueprints of the complex from her wristband's digital display.
"The Dominators should be able to work fine too, by the looks of things."
"Hehe, that's good to hear, Tomoe-san."
The two of them reached the entrance and found the MSWB trolley cloaked from plain sight near the two police drones. The transparent trolley became opaque as Mami and Sasayama approached and it opened for them. Inside, there were two pieces of the MSWB's chief weapon – the Dominator. Sasayama drew one of the Dominators as if it was second nature, but Mami picked hers up much more carefully and listened to the directional voice word per word.
"Dominator Portable Psychological Diagnosis and Suppression System has been activated."
"User Identification, Assistant Inspector Mami Tomoe. Affiliation: MSWB Roppongi Auxiliary Office."
"Dominator usage approval with restrictions confirmed. You are a valid limited user."
"Limited user? That means it really is just the Paralyzer for me, huh."
Mami mumbled to herself as she holstered the gun. Sasayama then grinned.
"That's right. So if there's any killing that needs to be done, leave it to me."
"If our perpetrator has a lick of sense, he or she would have run away from the crime scene unless they want to be apprehended by the MSWB. They should know that we'd be coming to sweep the scene."
"Trust me, Tomoe-san, those perps would know that. The problem is, some of them might want us to come. That's why we get issued Dominators at crime scenes."
With that, Mami holstered her Dominator and the two of them entered the complex together. Within the complex, it didn't come as a surprise that the many impoverished residents and the countless informal settlers there were still going about their daily businesses. None of them really paid heed to the police drones or the advisories aired out in the nearby speakers – they rarely did to begin with. Only the top floor, marked with digital crime scene tape, was relatively quiet.
Mami and Sasayama climbed up to the top floor and found the body quite easily, sprawled out in a sorry posture. It looked as if she was beaten down as she was trying to struggle back up to her feet. There were traces of blood flowing from her mouth and dried tears on the bridge of her nose.
"Patricia Reginald, age 25, American citizen…"
Mami read the victim's details out to Sasayama.
"Cause of death is one serious beating – something blunt but with a bit of a wedge… a golf club, maybe?"
Sasayama deduced, squinting as he looked at the body closely. Mami was impressed by how quickly he came to a conclusion – and a logical one at that. The mini forensic spider drones came in and collected data and the ballistics report did, in fact, highlight a golf club as the possible murder weapon. The drones, though, found another peculiarity that escaped even Sasayama's keen eye.
The body was unnaturally stiff – the result of a systematic blood clot that would have shut her body down muscle by muscle. Only the external tissue and muscle, though, was affected. Her internal organs were, by the standards of dead people, in good shape. However, this alone would have made it almost impossible for her to move.
"It would have been as if she was frozen in time. The killer must have wanted them to suffer."
Sasayama jested. Mami wasn't amused. Then, her wristband's display suddenly turned on.
"This is Shinya Kougami. Tomoe-san, how goes the investigation on your side?"
Mami raised her wristband and its screen up to her face and spoke.
"We've had no interference so far. The forensic drones dug up some unusual data. The victim suffered systematic blood clots that stiffened the body but did not kill."
"We found the same thing with our victim. Cadets Sakura and Miki say they're finding similar data as well."
"It's the same modus operandi then…"
Suddenly, an electrical snap echoed through the complex, startling Mami and Sasayama. The residents below were frightened as well. Many of them started filing out of the complex. They were wondering what it was but didn't really want to have to find out. Then, the police drone and the forensic drones that had been gathering data suddenly ceased to operate.
"What's going on?"
"There's a power failure in the tenement. We just lost our relay station so our drones are knocked out, but our communications are still online… our Dominators are working too."
"That's not good. We'll have a team from the Department of Energy come over to investigate and put our relay back online. Can the two of you keep civilians from tampering with the crime scene until then?"
"We will do our best."
The communication link was closed and Mami told the Enforcer about their new assignment. He thought it was going to be a piece of cake. There was only one way to get up to the top floor of the tenement after all and the crowds below were dispersing. With two Dominators at the ready, they could take on anyone who tries to force their way up the stairwell. However, a strange smell wafted around in the air.
Mami sniffed but couldn't put a finger on what the smell was, or where it was coming from. She and Sasayama walked around the top floor hallway but couldn't find the source of the smell. Then, Sasayama's eyes bulged open in realization.
"Tomoe-san, that smell… it's gasoline!"
Sasayama rushed over to the edge of the hallway railings and saw a scrappy man throwing away a freshly emptied container of gasoline onto the second floor's hallway and its walls. The Enforcer pointed his gun at the man, but the man already threw a lighter behind him as he fled down the stairs. The entire second floor - the floor below them - was immediately set ablaze.
To Be Continued