Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex Custom

Sentinel

Katashi Tachibana - July 28, 2032

<KATASHI TACHIBANA>

[Captain of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force]

 

It had been nearly two months since the incident at the Niihama Garrison involving an Umibozu spy. Utilizing his testimony, Colonel Ai Kawashima was able to route out the man's conspirators. Captain Tachibana was usually the tool that carried out the woman's requests, and he did so with an almost fanatical loyalty. Katashi Tachibana was a large man. Standing nearly 6'8" tall and built like an ox, the military grade cyborg was quite the intimidating man. People seemed to shrink at the sight of the man. Though he didn't have the presence that his superior possessed, he commanded respect through his own means. He rarely said anything, as he believed actions spoke louder than words. It was difficult to ascertain what was going through the his mind, as facial expressions were impossible for his tank-like shell. His prosthetic body was most unique. Tachibana opted for a shell built solely for combat. This made it impossible for him to blend within a crowd, as he stuck out like a sore thumb. However, this was of no consequence to him. Public relations wasn't his job. That was left to Colonel Kawashima, who had a much better way with words than he did. In many ways, he was her bodyguard. Her enforcer. Tachibana was also her second-in-command. He was given field command of the Jinrai, a job that he performed to the best of his abilities. The captain would not relinquish command of the unit to anyone, save for Kawashima herself. When not carrying out operations with the black unit, Captain Tachibana was always with Kawashima, accompanying her everywhere. Whether it be with her men or with Public Security, Tachibana followed her like a loyal dog follows its master.

Today was no different. It was time for Colonel Kawashima's monthly maintenance. Both individuals were seated in the colonel's car, with Tachibana behind the wheel. They were both in their work uniforms, with each of their collars indicating the appropriate rank, not to mention their nametags. Kawashima sat quietly, gazing off out of the window to her side. The cityscape slowly passed them by with only the soft hum of the alcohol powered engine to comfort the two cyborgs. Tachibana flipped on the turn signal, switching lanes to pass a slower motorist in front of them. The vehicle steadily overtook the much slower van before the captain once again switched on the turn signal to take his place in the lane. As he rested his right hand upon the steering wheel, Kawashima's voice reached him.

"Turn on Channel 33, Captain. If you would, please."

Tachibana reached towards the heads up display mounted on the dashboard of the car, flipping on the screen. The man quietly changed it to the requested channel before resuming his drive. His gaze shifted from the road to the rearview mirror, looking on the woman in the backseat. Ai Kawashima had not moved whatsoever, nor did she blink. His head tilted as he looked to the screen for a brief moment, listening to the broadcast.

"Police say that they are looking into the explosion that caused extensive damage to the New Port Hotel. In other news, the body of a JMSDF sailor was found last night at the Kohoku Country Club. Authorities were called by the country club's staff after their had been complaints of a foul odor coming from a room on the fourth floor. Police have identified the man as 23 year old Akihito Ito, who was reported missing last month. No suspects have been identified in Ito's murder."

"Thank you, Captain." Kawashima uttered.

The captain switched off the screen and the interior of the vehicle fell silent once again. Tachibana took an exit, vacating the freeway before approaching a busy street. He didn't look back at Kawashima as the car came to a halt at a stoplight. His voice reached the colonel's ears, deep and with a mechanical ting to it.

"It's fair to believe that they'll want reparations, ma'am."

Kawashima blinked once, turning her head to look at the large man sitting in front of her. Her crystal blue eyes stared at the cyborg with unblinking ferocity.

"It's awfully presumptuous of them to think that they can demand reparations after that fiasco with Secretary General Yakushima. They tossed out the right to grovel when they decided to step in on his behalf."

Tachibana said nothing as they continued on their way. After a few minutes, the captain pulled into a parking lot of a large hospital. The two cyborgs climbed out of the woman's car, slamming the doors shut as Kawashima looked up at the large building. Tachibana too, glanced at the imposing structure. The two of them walked into the sterile environment, Tachibana towering over his superior officer. A few visitors to the hospital looked at the two soldiers before returning to whatever task they had been preoccupied with. Kawashima led her subordinate to the front desk, in which the receptionist looked up at them. She forced a smile at the colonel, speaking in a pleasant tone.

"Good morning. Name please?"

The colonel pulled out her military identification and laid it on the counter in front of the young woman in front of her.

"Ai Kawashima." She responded in a quiet tone.

The receptionist took the woman's identification, looking at it for a moment before running it through her work terminal. As Kawashima waited, Captain Tachibana folded his arms, looking around the foyer. It was one of the best medical facilities in Japan. Everything from simple medical checkups, pediatrics, trauma therapy, to prosthetic maintenance and shell swaps was performed here. Most cyborgs in the area found themselves here at some point in time. They were no different. SDF members came to this facility like everyone else, considering the Self-Defense Force was subservient to the civilian run Defense Agency. On a technicality, they were considered public servants and were subject to civilian courts of justice. The receptionist's voice broke Tachibana's train of thought.

"Everything looks good, Colonel. Please follow the blue line." She smiled to Kawashima as she returned her identification.

Kawashima took the card, sliding it back into her ID wallet. The colonel simply gave the receptionist a slight nod and proceeded down the hallway as instructed. Captain Tachibana followed after her, stepping off to the side as needed to allow passersby. After walking for what seemed like forever, they finally reached yet another counter. Tachibana let out an audible grunt from his throat. Kawashima said nothing as they approached the desk. The woman seated behind the counter didn't look up at the two of them. Instead, she spoke with a rather disinterested tone.

"Name and indentification."

Kawashima once again forked over her ID, stating her name. Tachibana simply observed, keeping silent as the woman ran the numbers. A security guard nearby anxiously eyed the two cyborgs, the captain in particular. The man was a monster, standing nearly nine inches taller than the woman next to him. The receptionist handed back Kawashima's ID, along with a clipboard, pen.

"Is this your third party witness?" She asked, looking to Tachibana. The large captain shifted his focus to the receptionist, folding his arms across his chest. Kawashima simply answered in a quiet tone of voice.

"Yes."

With that, Kawashima snapped her fingers, holding out her hand as she shifted her eyes towards the towering man. Tachibana let out a grunt, reaching into his back pocket to extract his ID wallet. He slapped it into Kawashima's hand, who immediately handed it off to the receptionist. She opened up the wallet and examined it carefully before running it through her system. She stared at the man as she waited, clearly displeased with his demeanor thus far. The security guard watched the two, a few beads of sweat rolling down his forehead. Kawashima's gaze merely wandered towards the floor as tension took the room. She simply waited. After a moment, the security guard cleared his throat and spoke up.

"You'll have to check in your firearms." He motioned towards a basket.

Kawashima reached behind her back and pulled out her G33 Advance, ejecting the magazine and pulling the slide back, making sure that there wasn't a live round in the chamber. She placed the pistol and the magazine in basket. Tachibana did the same with his own firearm. Nothing more was said as the receptionist dropped Tachibana's wallet on the counter in front of the man. He swiped it up and deposited the case back into his pocket, following Kawashima who had joined a nurse. The nurse smiled to the two of them and led them down a corridor to a small waiting area in front of an enclosed chamber. She took the now-filled clipboard from the colonel, reading over its contents before smiling to her.

"The doctor will be with you shortly, ma'am." She chirped as she bowed. The nurse then vacated the premises.

Kawashima entered the room with Tachibana following behind her. Seated in the center of the chamber was the machine in which Colonel Kawashima would be restrained in while the doctor performed the examination. Numerous cords and cables flowed from the machine towards a computer terminal nearby. A large glass window separated the room from the waiting area as to allow Captain Tachibana to observe without interrupting the procedure. Kawashima stepped into the changing room, closing the blinds behind her. Tachibana turned his back, folding his arms across his chest. After a few moments, the woman opened the blinds, stepping out of the changing room. The captain turned his head and looked down at Kawashima. The woman was now completely nude, her folded uniform tucked under one arm with her boots clasped firmly in her hand. The man took the articles of clothing from her, glancing at the setup in the room. His baritone voice was heard.

"It would be convenient to have our own facility on base."

Kawashima stood, looking out of the window as they waited for the doctor.

"Yes, it would. The law won't permit it, Captain. You know that." She spoke with her usual icy tone.

Tachibana simply grunted as the doctor rounded the corner. His face was grizzled, a scar laced deep into the side of his nose. He had short brown hair with a stubble present on his face. The captain spoke once again, watching the doctor.

"MSDF or Ministry of Finance?" His deep mechanical voice reverberated throughout the room.

Kawashima too, looked over at the doctor as he approached the door. Her eyes shifted towards Tachibana as her tone reached his ears.

"It doesn't matter. That's why you're here."

A grunt came from the man's throat as the doctor entered the room, carrying the clipboard that Kawashima had filled out earlier along with a file. He examined it closely before looking up at the two cyborgs. His eyes were immediately drawn to Kawashima's form. It took him a moment to regain his composure, his eyes wandering back down to the clipboard.

"Colonel Ai Kawashima?" He looked back up to the woman, an inquisitive look in his eyes.

"That's correct." The woman gave him a slight nod.

The doctor flipped through the woman's file, once again speaking to her.

"Please state your name, rank, and serial code for verification." His eyes didn't leave the file.

Kawashima's voice reached his ears, her words ever cold.

"Ai Kawashima. Colonel. OF-5 JGSDF/2319."

The doctor looked to Tachibana as he spoke.

"I'd like to ask the witness to leave the room at this time." The doctor motioned towards the door.

Tachibana glanced towards Kawashima, who didn't avert her gaze to him. The captain left the chamber, standing on the other side of the glass. He watched as Kawashima stepped into the machine, only to be restrained. The doctor set the clipboard on the desk next to the computer terminal before walking over to a panel on the side of the machine. Kawashima was rotated forward so that her face was parallel to the floor. The doctor plugged several cords into the ports on the back of her neck. Tachibana folded his arms and watched closely. He opened a channel with the colonel at this point in time.

<Colonel, are you able to hear me?>

Static was all that was heard. They had shut off her networking functions and her cyberbrain was no doubt operating in Autistic Mode. The captain let out another grunt, watching the procedure with the eyes of a hawk. The doctor looked down at the exposed cyberbrain belonging to Kawashima. It was a magnificent piece of craftsmanship, perfectly augmented to her organic brain. He pulled on a pair of polyethylene gloves before tinkering with the augmented organ before him. He spoke to the colonel, who hung there, limp.

"I've disabled your basic motor functions. You won't be able to move your prosthetic body for the time being." His eyes shifted down to her face. "For your safety, of course."

Kawashima's eyes remained still, staring at the floor. The man resumed his work upon the woman's cyberbrain, speaking to her.

"I have a question for you, Colonel." He uttered with an inquisitive tone in his voice. "What does it feel like when you're like this? When you're at your most vulnerable?"

Colonel Kawashima's eyes immediately glared at the doctor. She was unable to call upon Tachibana for help, as she couldn't operate any of her muscles. Not to mention that the room was soundproof. There was literally nothing she could do at this point. The only thing that she could count on was her captain. On the other side of the glass, Tachibana wandered off to the side of the room in order to get a better view. The doctor had put himself between the two officers, making it difficult for Tachibana to see what he was doing to the colonel. Fortunately for the large man, the doctor stepped off to the side for a brief moment to retrieve something. That is when Tachibana caught Kawashima's cold glare. He immediately knew that something was amiss. The man quickly made his way towards the door, only to find it locked. His large frame slammed into the door, attempting to open it by force. It didn't give. Tachibana growled, returning to the front of the window. At this point in time, the doctor held a syringe in his hand, thumb on the plunger. He made his way back towards the helpless colonel, ready to stick the needle into her cyberbrain. He muttered to his captive.

"Time to be rid of you."

Suddenly, Captain Tachibana slammed though the window, a loud crash of shattering glass nearly deafening the doctor. The captain seized the man by the throat with one hand, his free hand grabbing the syringe. Tachibana threw the syringe to the floor before crushing it beneath his boot. The doctor's hands flew up to Tachibana's wrist, attempting to pry him off of his throat. However, Tachibana would not relent. He could feel the bones popping in his neck as he gasped for air. After a moment of being choked to death, the would-be assassin's body fell limp in Tachibana's grip. The captain released him before moving to the terminal. His fingers ran across keys, buttons, and the like. The man's gaze shifted towards his superior as the back of her head closed back up and she was released from the machine. Kawashima climbed out of the machine, yanking the cords from the back of her neck, a look of pure rage present in her eyes. The colonel was about to speak, only to be cut short by several footsteps rushing down the hall towards them. A low growl came from Tachibana's throat as the two of them climbed through the shattered window. Kawashima immediately made her way towards her clothes, dressing herself while Tachibana stood guard. The man grunted, glancing back towards his superior as she was pulling her shirt on.

"Thoughts, ma'am?" The augmented baritone voice reached her ears.

Kawashima quickly buttoned up the front of her blouse. She was absolutely furious. To think that they would strike at her at this state. Cowards, the lot of them. Had Tachibana not been as vigilant as he was, she would've been dead. Her eyes shifted towards the large cyborg as she fastened her watch around her left wrist.

"If it was the JMSDF, they would've been much more cautious than this. Section 1 must've tipped off the Ministry of Finance." Her words were filled with venom.

Once she finished lacing up her boots, Kawashima made her way over to the captain. The footsteps of their uninvited guests were rapidly approaching and they were both unarmed. They would be hard pressed to attempt to disguise themselves, due to Tachibana's cybernetic shell. She wasn't about to summon the Jinrai to their aid, either. A special forces military unit storming a hospital in the middle of the day, in broad daylight? That would immediately draw attention. Not to mention, it would paint Kawashima as the aggressor. The Ministry wanted them dead and there was little chance of making it out of here without a fight. Kawashima knew that they were unlikely to take them hostage.

A few men with weapons drawn rounded the corner, determination burning in their eyes. Tachibana placed his hand upon the colonel's shoulder, gently pushing her behind cover. Kawashima obliged, leaning against the wall as she waited. Tachibana let out a growl barreling towards the assailants. They were caught completely by surprise. Tachibana rammed his shoulder into a man, sending him tumbling to the floor. He quickly stepped on his throat, letting off once he turned his attention to another. The man on the floor gasped for air, clutching at his throat. Tachibana ripped one man's firearm from his hands before proceeding to beat him down with the butt of the submachine gun. Another man fired at the hulking cyborg, his suppressor silencing the shots that buried into Tachibana's back. Unfortunately for the man, he felt a boot kick into the back of his knee, causing him to fall to the floor. Kawashima quickly brought her leg up and smashed the top of her foot against the side of his skull. His neck broke with an audible crunch. Tachibana kicked one to the floor before burying a few shots into his head. He tossed the weapon away while his superior was finishing with the last man. Snapping her open palm against his chest, she stunned the assailant before crashing her forearm into his throat. Kawashima then proceeded to hook a blow across his face, breaking his jaw and twisting his head with such force that he was paralyzed. The man crumpled to the floor, groaning in absolute pain. The colonel stared down at the man, only to be caught off guard by one last assassin that came around the corner. Without hesitation, a thunderous noise was heard as the man was riddled with metal shot. He stumbled back before falling against the wall. Kawashima looked from the man to Tachibana, who had his right arm extended outwards. His arm had opened up, revealing a built-in 8 gauge shotgun. The captain pulled his hand back as his arm once again closed. Kawashima simply turned away from her subordinate, stepping over the corpse of the man he had just killed. The captain's voice reached Kawashima's ears.

"We should head back to the garrison, ma'am. It's not safe here."

Kawashima made her way down the corridor as Tachibana followed after her. The woman's eyes burned with anger. A nurse glanced over at the two of them, blinking with confusion. She had not seen the doctor return. Why was Kawashima leaving in such a hurry? Not to mention that fiery look in her eyes. The young woman stepped towards them, a worried look on her face.

"Ma'am? Is everything all right? Where's Doctor Iwata?"

The two officers stopped in their tracks with Tachibana emanating an audible growl from his throat. Both individuals turned their gaze upon the young nurse with the colonel granting her a response.

"The doctor is held up at the moment."

The nurse blinked at this, wandering down the hall from whence they came. Kawashima looked to Tachibana for a moment before continuing on.

<We don't have much time before the police are called. I'd prefer to be out of this building before then.>

The captain glanced to his superior as the rounded a corner, making their way back to the receptionist's desk. He was unsure as to how many lackeys the Ministry had sent after Kawashima. He was surprised that it wasn't the JMSDF coming after them, considering what had happened with the warrant officer last month. Rumors were going around that Colonel Ai Kawashima had been involved in some illicit affairs regarding JGSDF funds. However, nothing could be proven. An extremist group calling themselves the Extropy Front had obtained funds from an unknown benefactor. They were a group that supported the use of prosthetics and advocated transhumanism. Colonel Kawashima had been suspected of embezzling funds, though no evidence was ever found. Even though she was not convicted, Public Security still had an investigation open on the woman.

Kawashima and Tachibana reached the security checkpoint, in which the guard turned to retrieve their respective firearms. Tachibana folded his arms, waiting impatiently. The receptionist behind the desk once again glanced up at the man, sneering in disgust before returning to her work. Before they were able to retrieve their weapons, the nurse from earlier ran past them, coming from the corridor from which they emerged. A look of absolute shock on her face. Kawashima tilted her head to watch the young woman run. Tachibana on the other hand, scooped up his G33 and slid the magazine into the well. The captain looked to his superior, emitting a grunt.

"Colonel."

Kawashima seemed to be lost in her thoughts, as she had not heard her subordinate speak to him. Tachibana placed his hand on her shoulder, speaking in his low tone of voice once again.

"Ai. Your pistol."

Kawashima blinked back to reality, looking from the nurse to her handgun. She picked it up and loaded it before holstering the weapon. With that, Kawashima proceeded to fill out paperwork handed to her by the receptionist. As the woman leaned over the counter to behind fill out the forms, a woman approached the colonel from behind. Without any warning, she brandished a knife and grabbed Kawashima from behind, slapping a hand over the colonel's mouth. She yanked the officer back from the counter as she pressed the blade against her throat. Kawashima's eyes glared at the woman behind her, but she didn't appear to struggle. Tachibana immediately proceeded to draw his pistol, but was stopped by the receptionist, who pulled out her own, setting its sights upon the man's head.

"Hands off, asshole." She hissed at the man.

Tachibana slowly raised his hands up, the red lens on his face focused on Kawashima. She would not be allowed to leave his sight. The security guard immediately reached for his pistol, only to be met with a gunshot from the receptionist. He released a shout, falling to the floor. Taking advantage of this opening, Tachibana quickly reached over and snagged the woman's petite wrists within his massive hand. He squeezed with all of his might, shattering the carpal bones within. She let out a pained shriek as her grip upon the handgun relaxed. It fell to the floor with an audible clatter. Tachibana pulled her over the desk towards him, only to smash his fist into her face. She was knocked out cold from the force of his strike. The security guard opened up a channel.

<This is Kanda! I need security down here right now!>

The nurse from earlier was currently accessing a public terminal, speaking in a frantic tone through the telephone as she watched the conflict unfold in front of her eyes. She had no idea what was happening. In fact, she was terrified. As soon as these two cyborgs from the GSDA showed up, all hell started breaking loose. The young woman didn't fear for her life as much as she feared for the lives of other patients and visitors. In her mind, Kawashima and Tachibana were the cause of all of this. The woman who held Kawashima captive scowled at Tachibana with hard eyes, slowly backing away with the colonel. At this point in time, the captain had his G33 in his hands and the barrel was pointed at the woman. He cautiously kept pace with her, his lens remaining fixated on the two women. The woman hissed at Tachibana.

"You're going to drop that gun and you're going to turn the other way, Captain. If you don't, I can't say what's going to happen to the dear colonel here."

Tachibana didn't falter. Instead, he made one step towards the woman. The woman let out a smirk. However, her eyes grew wide as she gasped. She groaned in pain as her face winced, releasing her hold on Kawashima. The knife clattered to the floor as the woman reeled back, clutching at a deep bleeding wound. The colonel's own blade was held firmly within her fist, blood adorning the sheening metal. Kawashima turned towards the woman, staring down at her with hard eyes. A venomous tone escaped her lips.

"Captain, if you would please."

With that command, Tachibana approached the writhing woman in front of the colonel. Extending his arm, he squeezed off two bullets, both rounds planting themselves within the attacker's skull. Kawashima then proceeded to wipe her knife clean on the dead woman's clothing before sheathing the blade. The two officers then proceeded to vacate the area, steadily making their way down the corridor towards the main foyer. Tachibana holstered his pistol, following the his superior clear out of the building. As they were leaving the hospital, several police cars pulled to the hospital, along with an armored van. Kawashima and Tachibana stepped out of the way of the oncoming SAT members, who stormed the hospital. One officer shouted to them.

"You two stay right there! I'd like to ask you some questions!"

Tachibana let out a growl as Kawashima looked towards the officer. A few SAT members approached the two of them, guns drawn on the GSDA officers while the police officer from before jogged up to them. Both Kawashima and Tachibana raised their hands in front of them. The officer stared at the colonel, noting that she outranked the man next to her.

"Ma'am, do you know what happened here?"

Kawashima put her hands down, folding them across her chest as she proceeded to explain the situation to the man, from her own perspective.

"I don't know exactly what happened, I wasn't there. From what I understand, a group of armed men stormed in and killed a doctor and a visitor. They also shot a security guard. A nurse, Saori Akagi can attest to it, officer." With that, she immediately opened an encrypted channel with a woman.

<Bribe the nurse, threaten her, blackmail her, whatever it takes. I want this cleaned up immediately, Kurosawa. We can't allow the police to trace this back to us, do you understand?>

A woman's voice was heard, a tone of concern present in her voice.

<Yes, ma'am.>

Tachibana watched as the officer proceeded to question the colonel. It was the usual routine. Who she was, what she was doing there, etcetera. After a few moments, the police officer waved them away, convinced by Kawashima's testimony. With that, the captain followed the woman back to her car before climbing in. He started the vehicle and proceeded to leave the parking lot, merging with traffic onto the street. The man said nothing as he drove back onto the freeway. However, Kawashima's voice caught his attention.

"Go to Megatech Body, Captain. This shell still needs to be calibrated."

Tachibana glanced back towards Kawashima for a brief moment, only to catch her staring out of the window. He spoke up.

"What makes you believe that it'll be safer there?"

Kawashima shifted her eyes to meet his form, a displeased look was present within her gaze.

"Do as I say, Katashi. Do you understand?"

Tachibana let out a small grunt, giving the woman a slight nod before returning his focus on the road in front of him.

"Yes, ma'am."

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