Shining Path


Chapter 41

R. Jefferson Miyaki had been trained to always shoot to kill, and he had trained Hamada Chihiro to do the same. They were also each trained to address the most dangerous enemy first. So when he stood in the shadows at one end of a darkened service hallway, behind the Nine Eleven convenience store on the tenth floor of the Tsubasa Building, aiming his weapon at the said Ms. Hamada as she stood with her back to him – he was surprised to find himself lowering the barrel and locking the robo-sight carefully on her plaid-upholstered left buttock. He thought "Hell, I must be going soft" as he squeezed the trigger.

The shot missed, because one of the girls she was talking to had seen the movement and registered enough visible surprise in a split second that Hamada started to move too, reflexively, causing the weapon to lose its lock. She stuck to her own training when she spun around to shoot back, and after that it was just like a video game for a while, or the best kind of movie – all sweaty athletics, and limber youth held up against experience. They chased each other up and down the stairs, from the second floor up to the twelfth and back, through empty offices and retail outlets. Neither was carrying much ammunition to begin with, but there were security caches on all the odd-numbered floors and they both had authorized scents. Miyaki wanted to conserve his real bullets because there certainly weren't any of those in the security caches, but soon enough he was down to standard-issue superplastic safety bullets and well matched to the young woman.

The chase ended not with a superplastic safety bullet but with a fall down an elevator shaft. R. Jefferson Miyaki, panting a little despite his good health, stared down into the dark where Chihiro had fallen. He felt regret that he hadn't managed to win her back to the Shining Path at the last second, somehow. He wondered if she might possibly have survived the fall, no doubt injured but not permanently, and what she would have to say for herself when they next met, in this world or the next. But mostly he wondered why. Such a waste – had she simply, what was the term, "gone amok"? He'd never actually seen that, despite hearing about it when he was in the service, and he thought he remembered that it was supposed to only happen to males. But maybe he misremembered. And had she actually been one of the terrorists all along?

Jesus, the terrorists! After that epinephrine moment when Chihiro's bottom occupied his attention, and what followed, Jefferson Miyaki hadn't noticed the others or where they'd gone. They could be anywhere and doing anything by this time. At least they probably hadn't gotten reinforcements from outside, because the whole place wasn't overrun with the crawling mice yet.

In a sick daze as the catecholamines started to fade and his brain started to catch up to what had just happened, Jefferson Miyaki stumbled around the third floor looking for the other intruders. He found one where she was kneeling beside a filing cabinet, pulling out handfuls of paper from the bottom drawer. He shot her in the back of the head and the body fell forward, head landing neatly in the open drawer, bottom in the air. If he'd already killed one of his own, well, there was no mercy left for just a mouse in the claws of an angry eagle. Miyaki left that office, kicked in the door of the next one, and scanned the interior.

He had sharp eyes but only two, and his brain soon reminded him that he needed a lot more than that. He took the stairs two at a time back to the sixth, not even looking for the terrorists on the way, made it to his office and locked the door securely, and started reading the advisories that covered the computer screen. His phone, which he'd left on the desk, was ringing incessantly, but he didn't pick it up yet. He was looking through the thousand eyes of the security camera network, and didn't like what he saw.

First the good news: the lobby was full of the workers from the first twelve floors, in good shape, nobody unaccounted for. The three guards had regained their feet and taken charge, carefully allowing out any workers who wished to leave, without letting any rioters in. There had been no more intruders. Most of the workers preferred to stay in the safety of the lobby instead of risking the streets, and many of them were gathered around the receptionist's station where someone had tuned the computer into a news threevee stream. It was 8:30, and the streets outside were a little quieter than before, mostly populated by paramedic robots hauling away the injured. Miyaki guessed correctly that the general riot was still in progress but had moved to some other part of the city.

There had been about fifty intruders, split among six elevators. At this point more than half had left the building; most had made it out through the overhead walkways after escaping the elevators. The ones who remained were busily destroying property and infrastructure, but Miyaki no longer trusted himself to go after them alone without rendering the legal situation even more difficult than it now was.

And he had weightier things to worry about just now. According to the computer's log, half a dozen intruders made it out the eighth-floor sky doors and took the parkour upward to get around the 13th-floor blockade. Fortunately, all the sky doors were now securely locked, and those girls were stranded clinging to the outside of the building. But even without any rioters getting in, some kind of contagion had spread into the isolated "safe" zones. All the cameras were out from the 14th to the 21st floors, and he watched on the realtime status display as the telltales for the 22nd went out one by one. Someone was taking out those cameras.

He scrolled through some more channels and saw a scene on the 38th where a group of what he took to be computer programmers had managed to break a solid sapphire window and were throwing desks, computers, and copy machines out the hole, one at a time. Some office ladies on the 40th were doing things with staplers that even Odaka Mio would not have dared to put on film, and one camera on the otherwise normal-seeming 52nd had apparently been torn from its mounting. It just pointed at the floor and a slowly growing puddle of what he hoped was a spilled energy drink. A spilled opaque signal red energy drink that turned brown in the places where it clotted and dried.

This called for helicopters and Kolokol-7 gas and a lot of other things that WCI Security wasn't licensed for even if they had had budget, and Jefferson Miyaki wished he was back in the Air Force. He had by this point forgotten that his phone was ringing at all, but he remembered that when he picked it up to make a call, and he had to sort through the dozen incoming connections for any worth answering. He answered the one from Ueda Tomoko in the lobby, and told her to keep up the good work and put Minoru on the line. Miyaki told Suzuki Minoru that his scent had been authorized for the first-floor weapons cabinets, but to be very discreet about sharing their contents with the other two guards. He didn't want another Hamada Chihiro "going amok" or whatever, not if he could help it.

The other calls, and the text messages, were all from desperate tenants throughout the building, and Jefferson Miyaki made the executive decision not to listen to or read any of them. It wouldn't matter at this point. This situation was far outside what one eagle and three dogs could handle alone. He cleared all the incoming calls and made one of his own to an old military buddy, not that they had kept in touch. Okamoto Gorou, Chief of Tokyo Police.

The call did not go well. It did not help that Mr. Okamoto insisted on calling Mr. Miyaki by a nickname from his cadet days.

"Dick-Jeff, I wish I could help you out, buddy, really I do, but we see a bigger picture at the Keishichou. Do you know what's going on in Blue Three Northeast right now?"

"I don't care what's going on in Blue Three! What kind of tactical geniuses do you cops employ, anyway? Can't you see that whatever this thing in the outskirts is, it's a catspaw? Somebody's planned something very carefully for today, some kind of terrorism or whatever, and they've succeeded in drawing your attention away from everything important! You have a duty and you are failing it, Mister! Do you know how much money the damage in this building alone, is worth?"

What they actually employed at the Keishichou was a "Little Napoleon" tactical/suboperational agent collective from the Wing-FabAI Company, and it couldn't see past diversionary tricks because the city hadn't the budget to license the optional but recommended theory-of-mind module. Of course, without that module the AI really was not much use at all.

The private security dog had touched a nerve, but Okamoto struggled to remain polite, because he did know his place and his job, all too well. "I think I can offer you the 13th Zone Traffic Security Enforcement. A couple dozen officers, good people, you should be fine." Never let it be said the Keishichou didn't serve and protect the citizens who paid for it through taxation.

There was a pause. "I forget how your numbering works – is the 13th armed?"

"We only issue batons, but I think a lot of them carry non-regulation weapons."

That sounded good. But: "Wait. Are they female?"

Okamoto Gorou sighed. "Look, do you want the reinforcements or not, Dick-Jeff?"

R. Jefferson Miyaki was not happy about it, any of it, but he said "Yes."