Shining Path


Chapter 33

In Keika 6 the Hynaburu Industrial Group broke ground on its innovative new worker housing complex at Ikebukuro, Tokyo. Before the gold-plated shovels even went into the dirt, the company and its architects received three major international design awards for their "Glowing Bridge to Arcology" architectural concept. Details of what made this huge apartment building different from other huge apartment buildings of that era are beyond the scope, and boring to everyone who is not a student of the history of architecture. It was just an idea that seemed impressive at the time and went nowhere. The only things that mattered 25 years later were that the complex had not only its own subway stations but its own branch line separate from but connecting to all other Tokyo subways; and its entertainment unit was staffed by a full-scale autonomous bunnygirl colony.

Keika 6 was the year of the Yang Water Tiger, and not an auspicious year for starting such a project. If the Hynaburu Group had taken the simple precaution of consulting an astrologer first, they might have made a better decision, but more likely the astrologer would have failed to read the omens correctly, or the company would have ignored the advice anyway. Maybe it was inevitable that they would start their huge project and be forced to cancel most of it in Keika 8 as the Deconstruction changed all the rules.

The subway tunnel was already in place when the blade came down. Most of the structure of the stations was already built; only the decorations were missing. Up on the surface, the central hutch for the bunnygirls and the starter nesting tunnels had been in place since 10-month Keika 7, to allow the colony to stabilize. On 8-day 4-month Keika 8 the Moon's shadow fell on North America, and at about the same time on the other side of the world, where it was already 9-day, the lights went out in the Hynaburu bunny hutch. In Nazas, Mexico, the one place where the astronomical event lasted longest, it was only dark for four and a half minutes; but the lights didn't come back on in Ikebukuro at all. More importantly, the heat, the food pellet dispensers, and most of the bandwidth for the group mind overlay went offline at the same time.

Over the next few days, 85 confused and hungry bunnygirls wandered up onto the site to meet a spectacle of half-built concrete towers and construction workers in robot suits who were unwilling and unable to offer any comfort or advice. The lucky ones made it to the Seru Quarter and assumed positions in professional colonies there. Those were bunnygirls who were not too old nor too young nor yet too emaciated from lack of food, and who had moulted recently enough that their fishnet stockings were intact. No boy wants to play with a ragged bunnygirl. Some of the less lucky ones were picked up by predators, and at least put out of their suffering, eventually. The really unlucky ones ended up on the platform of one of the half-built subway stations under the apartment complex, cuddling each other for warmth, wiggling their noses, and unable to pick up a television signal no matter which way they adjusted their ears. They waited for starvation.

A bunnygirl is a herbivore. She can't live like a wandering joneko on rats, land squid, and whatever else she can catch, supplemented by mouthfuls of protein-rich humanoid body fluids. She needs green stuff, lots of it, and that isn't to be found free of charge on or under the streets of Tokyo. She has a personality constructed by reference to the group sounds constantly streaming into her RF-detecting ears; without a signal source, she is terrifyingly alone and will eventually become psychotic. Bunnygirls are designed, ears to heels, to be subsidized by humanoid men; enjou kosai is coded as a fundamental assumption in the polyvinyl chloride that serves as their genetic material. Cast aside by the managers of Hynaburu, with no other men in sight and the infrastructure ruined, this colony was doomed.

By 25-day 4-month most of the bunnygirls were night-blind from beta-carotene deficiency, but the few who could still see in the dark saw two little blue dots in the distance down the South branch of the subway tunnel, where it would have connected to the Yuurakuchou Line. The pair of eyes moved steadily closer. When the eyes' owner became visible, and turned out to be a gray classic tabby joneko, the bunnygirl colony assumed she had come to kill them, and welcomed it. Joneko do not usually prey upon bunnygirls – it is asking for trouble from the humanoid legal system – but instinct runs deep on both sides, and this half-finished subway platform was far removed from the humanoid-controlled surface.

In fact, the gray tabby joneko leader called Ninth Queen did claw and bite some members of the bunnygirl colony, because they acted difficult when she demanded that their Doe step forward. After Ninth Queen remembered that that is not how the bunnygirl group mind works, and addressed the colony as a whole instead of trying to separate out a leader from it, things became almost amicable.

Negotiations were made and an understanding was reached. The bunnygirls needed a source of food independent of the conditional generosity of boys, who only love you while you're pretty. The joneko needed a location to build a hot-house; and somebody, even a squatter, who could seal a document authorizing their presence, to satisfy certain humanoid-imposed legal conditions. These two parties could find shared interests.

Ninth Queen promised that the bunnygirl colony would not lose even one more member, and she kept her word. Within hours teams of joneko, many of them recently laid off from Glowing Bridge jobs themselves, were creeping through the tunnels installing electrical wire, hydroponic tubes, and LED grow-lamp panels. They planted Daucus, Lactuca, Apium, and Raphanus for the bunnygirls. They planted Turnera, Cannabis, Serenoa, and Panax for the humanoids who would come later. They planted Nepeta for themselves. They tied into the secret extra electrical circuits and water capacity in the municipal grid – the added features that were not on the blueprints, but built in for future uses like this because joneko foremen had overseen all the utility installations, years before. As the bunnygirls regained their health and energy they helped with the digging, adding a maze-like warren of galleries and small, cozy chambers all around the subway tunnels.

Then someone with access to the subway computer system arranged that seven cars headed for the repair shop would be diverted to the main line near the Hynaburu branch and stopped there instead. That section of line was marked as closed for repairs, but no repair crew ever showed up. Instead, dozens of furry bodies packed into the tunnel on either side of the first car and lifted it entirely off the tracks, carrying it into the branch tunnel. Then they pushed it on its wheels in the trackless tunnel – damaging the wheels badly but those would never be used again – and into one of the disused stations. The other six cars followed. Chunks of spare track were welded to the wheels and tack-bonded to the concrete floor to hold the cars in place permanently. The main line was marked as open again, and the computer records indicating that something unusual had happened just never came to the attention of anyone who would object.