Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex Custom

Jinrai

Ai Kawashima - June 3, 2032

<AI KAWASHIMA>

[Colonel of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force]

 

The air in the barracks stood still with dead silence. It had been a long forty-eight hours. Sleep was a valuable commodity that appeared to be in short supply. The time was 0330 and daylight seemed so far away. The man standing watch glanced down at his wristwatch, releasing a defeated sigh. He leaned against the wall, rubbing at his eyes as he tried to stay awake. He let out a yawn, clearly exhausted from the previous two days. Before he closed his eyes, a loud bang was heard as light engulfed the barracks. Three drill sergeants stormed into the room, shouting at the recruits yet in bed.

"Get up! Now!" The soldiers clamored out of their bunks, groggy and in complete disarray. Men stumbled about, attempting to clothe themselves. One man nearly lost his balance as he tried to pull his pants on. Another appeared to refuse to climb out of bed. Needless to say, this brought the wrath of one drill sergeant down upon him. The sergeant immediately ran over to the man and began berating him. The soldier simply rolled over, his back facing the sergeant. The drill sergeant bared his teeth as he grabbed the back of the man's shirt, dragging him out of bed.

"Get your ass out of bed! You weren't recruited just to lay around all day!"

The soldier hit the floor with a thud. He climbed to his feet and stood at attention.

"Yes, sir!"

The sergeant spat on the floor before grabbing the man's bedding, tossing it on the floor. He growled at the man.

"Fix your fucking rack and get out of my face!" The drill sergeant stormed away from the man, off to make another recruit's life a living hell. It took approximately fifteen minutes for the platoon to get squared away. Upon inspection, they were escorted outside. A light rain fell upon the earth, drenching the pavement beneath their feet. The thirty-two recruits stood in a single file line, all facing forward. Water dripped off of their caps as one of the drill sergeants barked at them.

"Left, face!" With that command, the recruits made a synchronized motion, all obeying the man's order. Aside from the pouring rain, all was quiet. No one moved, no one spoke. It was as if the air they breathed grew stagnant. Everyone was on edge, unsure as to why they were standing out in the rain. Two of the drill sergeants spoke to one another, both keeping their eyes upon the recruits. Anyone watching the two NCOs knew that they were discussing the line of soldiers. One of the recruits glanced over to the woman next to him, about to whisper something to her. However, all that was heard was one of the sergeants.

"Eyes front!"

The soldier snapped to attention, staring straight ahead. The sergeant marched over to the young man, shouting in his face.

"You think this is a circus!? You think you can do whatever the hell you want!?" He waited for the soldier to respond. He didn't. The sergeant wrinkled his nose and bared his teeth. "Answer me, you piece of shit!" The recruit grew fearful, his eyes almost tearing up. However, he stood his ground and didn't give into the pressure. The sergeant growled and reeled back to strike the young man.

"Attention! Officer on deck!"

The sergeant immediately ceased and stood at attention, turning to face his superior. Approaching the platoon was a woman who stood about 5'10". She had short, black hair. A type of angled bob, almost. Her eyes were a piercing crystal blue. They were the type of eyes that immediately drew your attention. They appeared to have a cold intelligence behind them. One could tell that this individual was fully prosthetic. She approached them, her collar insignia visible under the floodlights. The head drill sergeant approached the woman, saluting her.

"Colonel Kawashima, ma'am!"

Kawashima glanced to him for a moment before giving him a small salute of her own. She folded her arms across her chest and scanned the line of recruits before speaking to the sergeant.

"Which of these have the highest aptitude scores?" Kawashima watched the recruits, noticing a handful of them shifting their eyes towards her. The sergeant clasped his hands behind his back, also examining the group. After a moment, he singled out six individuals. The colonel immediately focused her attention on those that the man had pointed out.

"Extent of cyberization?" She asked.

"One's fully prosthetic, one only has a cyberbrain, the rest are a mishmash of parts, ma'am."

Kawashima looked at the man, speaking in a dry tone.

"Get me the full cyborg and the one with the cyberbrain." She returned her gaze back to the recruits. The sergeant barked at them.

"Kobayashi, Ito! Move your asses up here!" The sergeant firmly pointed at the ground in front of him. A man and a woman quickly jogged over and stood at attention. The sergeant stood off to the side, watching Kawashima gaze upon the two recruits. She said nothing to them. One could tell that they were nervous underneath of her scrutinizing eyes. The colonel looked to the sergeant, waving him off.

"Carry on, Sergeant." She spoke in a quiet voice. With that, the man saluted his superior and returned to drilling the other recruits with his cohorts. Kobayashi and Ito stood perfectly still with Ito shivering. Kawashima's cold blue eyes locked their gaze with Ito. The young man stared at the officer, trying his best not to show any signs of cracking. She was looking for any weakness in him. Needless to say, she found plenty to work with. Her stoic facial expression did not change. She folded her arms across her chest, the rainwater running down the length of her exposed arms, pooling upon her wristwatch before falling to the pavement below. A quiet hum came from her lips.

"Do I make you nervous, Private Ito?"

The young man gave a slight nod, shouting.

"Yes, ma'am!"

Kawashima watched him closely, soaking in his response along with the warm rain. It wasn't a few moments later and a man approached. He was tall, approaching 6'8". There was no mistaking that this man was a heavily modified full cyborg. The only humanoid feature about him was his shape. His face had two large plates that covered where his cheekbones once were and he had no visible mouth. He also possessed two small green lenses in place of eyes. A smooth crest was upon his forehead, making his eyes seem smaller than what they actually were. Two reinforced antennae protruded from the back of his collarbone, further adding to his altered form. The recruits didn't move an inch as the intimidating man folded his arms as he stood next to Kawashima. The colonel didn't look at the man, but gave him an order nonetheless.

"Captain Tachibana. Escort Private Kobayashi and Private Ito to Facility B-6."

Tachibana gave a resolute nod and pointed towards a building, shooting an unnerving glare at the two recruits. They immediately complied, both unsettled by the events that were transpiring. Kobayashi joined the GSDA to pay for college. She didn't know what she was getting herself into. Ito signed up at the request of his father. None of that mattered now. They were in the hands of Colonel Ai Kawashima, who had quite the reputation. They had heard stories. According to others' testimonies, the silent colonel was a domineering woman. She was known to exert her will upon others and instill fear and obedience. It was well known that Captain Katashi Tachibana was essentially her lapdog. He obeyed her every command without question and with reverent eagerness. Tachibana followed right on their heels, glaring at the backs of their heads. As the three individuals entered the designated building, Kawashima glanced back to the platoon of recruits as they drilled, if only for a moment. With that, she turned heel and followed after Tachibana and the new fledglings.

Private Akihito Ito was seated alone in a white-room, drying his face with a towel. The small room had no distinct features, save for a small one-way mirror upon the wall in front of him. He was intelligent enough to know that he was being watched. Examined like a lab rat. What for, he didn't know. He had no idea what he had gotten himself into, or why he was taken from his platoon. Seconds turned into minutes. Minutes into hours. Yet, no one appeared to speak with him. All the while, he knew that he was being watched. He assumed it to be Colonel Kawashima, but he had no way of knowing. Ito propped his head upon his hand, closing his eyes as exhaustion took him. He hadn't eaten anything that day, nor did he receive much sleep. Five hours in the last two days wasn't cutting it for him. The room was shielded, so he couldn't access the internet via his cyberbrain, either. Just as he was about to drift off to sleep, the door whooshed open, startling the private. He sat up straight as Kawashima and Tachibana entered the room, with Tachibana standing guard next to the door. The colonel sat in the chair across him, resting a sealed folder upon the table between them. She didn't look at the young man as she gingerly opened the folder. Her fingers gently thumbed through its contents, with the woman taking her time carefully looking through each and every document that was filed. Ito tilted his head slightly in order to get a better view. To his surprise, the folder was all of the information pertaining to him. His heart sunk when Kawashima's eyes rested upon a certain document, which she took an unusual amount of time inspecting.

"Warrant Officer Akihito Ito. Infiltration specialist attached to an unofficial unit referred to as Umibozu." Yet, she did not look upon him. Instead, she thumbed to yet another page. The woman continued.

"Enlisted in the MSDF at age 18. March 4th, 2027. Graduated with high honors from the Etajima Naval Academy in Hiroshima. It says here that you were immediately scouted by the Umibozu and joined their ranks in 2029." She paused, reading onward. "I see that you participated in the assault on Public Security Section 9's headquarters. You were one of the men who arrested one of their investigators. Pazu, I believe his name is?" She softly closed the folder before looking up at Ito, meeting his gaze with her own cold stare.

Ito blinked. His cover had been blown. He let out a sharp exhale through his nose, watching the colonel, unsure as to what his next move would be. Kawashima picked up the folder and extended her hand towards Tachibana. The massive captain took the folder from his superior and continued to observe the interrogation before him. The colonel crossed her legs and laced her fingers together, cupping her knee between her hands. Her expression didn't change. It was almost like Ito was staring into the eyes of a doll. It unnerved him. Ai Kawashima questioned him yet again.

"I can't say what your purpose here is, but I have a likely estimate, Warrant Officer. The Umibozu are known to be an effective fighting force, but they are also sloppy. Your unit did well during the Nemuro Operation, but my team had to come in and clean up the mess you left behind. 2024, was the year." In a rare display, Kawashima's eyes narrowed. "That's when our equivalent to your unit was formed. Of course, you already know this." Kawashima leaned back in her seat, folding her arms across her chest, her legs remaining crossed.

"You're here to obtain deployment reports and to identify the command structure of the Jinrai." She paused, keeping their eyes locked. "Correct?" Ito averted his eyes, saying nothing. The shrewd colonel gave an amused hum.

"I thought as much." She glanced to Captain Tachibana. The tall cyborg turned around and locked the door behind him, causing Ito to stare at the door with defeated eyes. Kawashima unsheathed her combat knife and buried it into the aluminum of the table, causing Ito to jump out of his skin. Kawashima leaned forward, resting her arms upon the surface of the cold, metal table, staring into Ito's eyes with a look that froze him. Tachibana then made his way behind the young man, slamming his palm upon the top of Ito's right hand before grabbing hold of his index finger with his iron grip. Ito shouted from the sudden pain.

"For a so-called Umibozu, you're rather undisciplined. I expected better of you, Warrant Officer." The colonel's eyes shifted down towards his captive hand before looking back at the worried young sailor. "Had you been fully prosthetic, things may have been easier." Her eyes shifted up to meet Tachibana's face. Ito had no time to think about what Kawashima had told him before Captain Tachibana twisted his wrist, snapped Ito's finger to the side. Ito screamed at the top of his lungs, the captain refusing to release his grip. Kawashima watched the warrant officer squirm, sweat dripping off of his chin. Her unsettling gaze didn't falter.

"I would like you to tell me who else has infiltrated my base, Warrant Officer Ito."

Ito simply glared at Kawashima, refusing to divulge any information to the woman. The colonel tapped her finger once on the table's surface. With that motion, Tachibana broke yet another finger. Another scream filled the room. Kawashima watched Ito shiver. He panted heavily, moaning from the immense pain. She repeated her inquiry. Ito didn't answer and Tachibana broke his thumb, causing it to hang loosely within his skin. The warrant officer screamed at the top of his lungs.

"Kamiyama! Genta Kamiyama! He's the informant!"

Kawashima's gaze didn't falter. She didn't blink. Instead, she spoke in a lower tone. Almost threateningly.

"Who else?"

Ito shook his head violently, shouting to the colonel.

"There's no one else, I swear!"

Tachibana broke his ring finger, causing the finger to stick straight up. The young warrant officer's right hand was a mess. Despite that, he didn't relent. Colonel Kawashima wrapped her fingers around the hilt of her serrated knife and yanked it out of the aluminum. She stood up from her chair and walked around the side of the table, standing close to Tachibana before leaning down next to the young man. She spoke to him in a low, cold tone.

"If you won't talk, then there's no need for a tongue."

With her free hand, violently grabbed the sides of Ito's jaw, digging her fingers into certain pressure points. His mouth was forced open as a result and the tip of the woman's knife inched closer and closer to the soft oral organ. Ito slammed his hand upon the table multiple times, trying to vocalize to her. Kawashima snapped her hand from his jaw to his throat, holding him tightly. Ito frantically voiced his words to the colonel.

"Wait, wait, wait! I can give you information! Public Security is investigating you, Colonel!"

Kawashima slightly tilted her head, listening to the captive warrant officer. Ito tried his best to look at the woman as he spoke. Between Kawashima holding him by the throat and Tachibana pinning him to the table, it was incredibly difficult to do so.

"Section 1! They've been watching you for fifteen months, now! Intercepting your transmissions. Hell, they've been watching you at home!"

Kawashima's eyes narrowed at this news. She finally spoke, her grip upon her knife tightening even more.

"Is that so? Then there is no need for you any longer, Warrant Officer Ito." She flipped her knife so that the blade was resting in her palm. Tachibana grabbed the knife as the colonel released her grip upon the young man's throat. The captain grabbed the top of Ito's head and yanked it back, exposing his throat to the blade of the knife.

"Die with honor, Warrant Officer." Kawashima said as her cold, blue eyes were upon him. With those words, Tachibana dragged the edge of the blade across his windpipe. Ito began to choke as he fell to the floor. It wasn't much longer before the Umibozu agent expired. Kawashima looked to the captain, her eyes ever stoic.

"Salvage his cyberbrain. I want his memories extracted and transferred to an external memory device. Dispose of the body."

Tachibana gave a nod and grabbed Ito's corpse. He left the room with the warrant officer in tow. Kawashima picked up her knife, looking down at the blade for a brief moment before returning it back to its sheath. With that, the woman left the interrogation room. Now, she knew who was watching her. She opened up an encrypted cybercomm channel.

<Give Public Security a false lead. I want all evidence of records between February 2028 and January 2032 destroyed. Leave no trace. No shortcuts, do I make myself clear?>

<Yes, ma'am!>

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