[Rogue GSDA Artificial Intelligence]
"I see that it took you minimal time to track me down. I am quite impressed." The man could feel the cold gaze upon the back of his neck, as if a bitter wind scorched his nape. Unfortunately, the woman's gaze wasn't the only thing that he felt. Pressed upon the side of his throat was the cold barrel of a handgun. He didn't know the make or model. Digging behind his jaw next to his larynx were her fingers, effectively holding him in place. The captive man attempted to shift in order to meet her eyes with his own gaze. However, his captor's fingers tightened as she violently jerked his head back to perform the action herself.
"Don't." Upon meeting her gaze, pulses of shivers echoed down his spine. Those yellow orbs seemed to pierce into his soul. Picking him apart, piece by piece. He had never seen such animosity before. The man let out a grunt, hissing through his teeth.
"You don't realize what you've done, Kaneren." He attempted to twist away from her grasp, only to be met with a tightening of force. It was futile. Gurgling in the form of words escaped his lips. "Y-You've murdered so many cops! You think you can just get away with this!?" Kaneren's frozen eyes stared down at him as she held the firearm firmly against his neck.
"It will only be a matter of time before Section Nine Chief Daisuke Aramaki sends his dogs after me. I wonder though~" She hummed as her gaze wandered away from her captive's face. Only a moment passed before he was met with the AI's stare once again. "Who's going to come for you, officer?"
The police officer's eyes went wide just before a booming crack echoed throughout the alleyway. He could feel the warmth engulfing his neck. Kaneren's iron grip had released him and he slumped over onto the pavement. As he watched his blood flow out in front of him, Kaneren stared down upon his dying form. A whisper reached her ears.
Kaneren glanced to her pistol for a moment before shoving the firearm into the holster upon the small of her back. The man's eyes glossed over as his last breath of life was taken from him. Giving her murdered victim one last glance, Kaneren turned and walked away from his corpse. The woman's pace quickened as the sound of sirens reached her ears. It didn't take long for the police to track her down. Then again, the artificial intelligence hadn't been very subtle. She glanced down at the pavement behind her, eyes narrowing as she saw a small, trickling path of blood chasing her. Her yellow eyes wandered down to the front of her jacket and a low growl escaped from her throat. A heavy plash resonated from the alleyway after Kaneren had removed the article, tossing it away. Her dark gray fitted tee and black rig were exposed for all to see as she strapped a large firearm to her back. It was an anti-materiel rifle. An M93 Black Arrow, to be precise, although it appeared to be heavily modified. Kaneren released her G33 Advance pistol from her scabbard and proceeded to quicken the pace. Rainwater covered her boot as she took a heavy step into the puddle, her stride ever increasing.
From the streets came the shouting of several men and women. Car doors slammed shut and weapons were loaded. Kaneren knew that the police were a mere hop and a skip away. Her eyes narrowed, shifting towards the street. The lights from the squad cars illuminated her face, if only for a moment. Without a word, the rogue anomaly turned heel and ran the opposite direction. The shouting intensified as the sound of several bodies hurrying after reached her ears. Kaneren whipped around, squeezing the trigger of her pistol. Two bullets embedded themselves into one of the police officers. One in the jaw, one in the left eye. The two officers that were with the man dove behind a dumpster as the artificial intelligence fired upon them. One of the officers glanced upon his deceased partner, his eyes widened at the horror that he saw.
"You whore!" he screamed, whipping up from behind the receptacle to attempt to land a shot on the woman. However, he was met with a bullet of his own that burrowed deeply into his chest. He let out a wail, crashing to the concrete. The last officer quickly grabbed him, dragging him back into cover. Blood seeped between his fingers as he attempted to stop the bleeding.
"Come on, come on! Stay with me, Watanabe!" Officer Watanabe's eyes rolled back in his skull, blood leaking from his mouth. The bullet had pierced his lung and he was drowning. His partner attempted to slow the flow of blood, but it didn't appear to cease. He opened his cybercomms, trying to call for backup.
<Officer down! Officer down! Watanabe's been shot! Suspect is fleeing on foot! Requesting immediate aid!>
What he heard in response was mostly static. He could barely hear the voice on the other side. The officer let out a loud grunt, slamming his fist against the dumpster.
<Say again! You're not coming in clearly!>
The voice that he heard was not what he was expecting. Certainly not one he wished to hear, either.
<You are all alone. The only company you will be keeping today is the cold embrace of death.>
The man blinked, looking up only to see Kaneren looming over him, her yellow eyes burning into his soul. He let out a surprised gasp, only for the woman to snatch him up by his throat. Kaneren squeezed with all of her might, crushing the cop's windpipe as if it was paper. His eyes bulged in his skull, his fingers attempted to claw at Kaneren's arms as her gloved hands tightened their grip. The rogue woman's eyes snapped towards the slim metal watch upon her right wrist as her victim managed to hook one of his fingers under the strap. She bared her teeth in rage and twisted his head around, instantly killing him. Without a word, Kaneren threw his body away from her, watching the corpse collide with the concrete.
She glanced up into the sky to see a Botanachi tilt rotor fly over. Her eyes narrowed. Kaneren knew that it was Public Security Section 9. A low growl came from her throat. Quickly turning tail and sprinting as fast as she could, her footsteps echoed and resonated throughout the twisting and winding back alleys. It wasn't much longer before she heard the heavy steps of a think tank. Hastily, she made her way to a door and wasted no time kicking it in. The metal door was left with a sizeable dent as it was ripped from the hinges, crashing into the building. She ducked into the dark doorway, attempting to mask herself from the pursuing think tank. Kaneren quickly clambered up the stairwell, shoving past a younger man who looked at her with bewilderment.
"Hey! What the shit!?"
Kaneren ignored him, knowing full well that she was in danger. Upon reaching the fifth floor of the apartment complex, the woman barreled into a residence, summoning the surprised screams of a young woman. Her husband shouted angrily at their uninvited guest, with Kaneren glaring at them. Two shots rang out as both tenants crashed to the floor. The rogue slammed the door shut before proceeding to smash the hinges, hoping to jam the object. She then barricaded the door with haste after hearing the unmistakable voice of one of Section 9's Tachikoma think tanks. Kaneren knew that the door wouldn't hold. She flew to the window, peering outside to see members of Section 9 cloaking as they rushed towards the building.
"Thermoptical camouflage. Type 2902, I suspect." The fugitive's eyes narrowed. Kaneren glanced back towards the barricaded door. She was trapped. Fighting her way out was an option, but she knew that it would be foolhardy. Even one of her skill would stand very little chance of making it out in one piece. She could handle the think tank with little difficulty, but dealing with the rest of Public Security would prove to be nigh impossible. Kaneren had studied the bureau's roster. She knew that the team's marksman, Saito, would likely have eyes on the building. She would be spotted as soon as she escaped through the window, if she hadn't been seen already. Ishikawa would attempt to cut off her cybercommunications to prevent her from hacking into any of their systems, or their cyberbrains. It would've been very difficult for them to deal with the artificial intelligence if she succeeded, so she knew that they had taken that into account. Batou would be storming the place with the Tachikoma and a handful of others. Rookies, she suspected. Along with perhaps Togusa, Pazu, and Borma. That would leave Motoko Kusanagi to flank or ambush her.
Doing what she believed to be the best decision in her situation, Kaneren slid the window open and clambered out. Without fail, a shot rang out and clipped her left shoulder. The artificial intelligence let out a hiss from between her teeth, her blood splattering upon the paned glass. She dove from the windowsill as yet another shot reached her ears. Luckily for Kaneren, the bullet missed its mark. The woman's prosthetic body left a crater in the pavement below, but she wasted no time in resuming her escape. Batou slammed through the barricaded door and poked his head out of the window, seeing their quarry fleeing into yet another alleyway.
"Shit! Tachikoma, cut her off!"
The blue think tank eagerly leapt from the side of the complex onto the street behind Kaneren.
"You got it, Mr. Batou!"
Kaneren let out a gasp as her eyes widened. She came under heavy fire from the mounted 7.62 gun. She dove into the nearest doorway, pressing her back against the wall. This was wasting time. It would only be a few moments before Major Kusanagi caught up to her. Maybe less. Kaneren fumbled about her rig, retrieving a fragmentation grenade. She pulled the pin and tossed it towards the Tachikoma. It wouldn't damage the machine in the slightest, but it would buy her some time.
"Hey! That's not very nice!" The Tachikoma yelled at her. By the time the machine had gotten its words out, Kaneren was already gone. As she went to round a corner, she felt the impact of a closed fist upon her cheek. The rogue reeled back from the blow, readying herself as her own fists came up. Her eyes immediately shifted towards the right as she parried another blow.
"Your thermoptics will do you no good, Kusanagi." Kaneren brought her knee up, only to feel the Major block the blow. At that, Kusanagi deactivated the camouflage and the two of them stared fiercely at each other. The cyborg and the AI traded blow after blow, neither of them gaining the advantage over the other. Kaneren brought up her forearms, stopping a kick from the Major. With that, the AI smashed her boot against the Major's shin, hoping that her opponent would lose her footing. Unfortunately for Kaneren, Kusanagi spun around and crashed her elbow into the back of her neck.
"Aaugh!" Kaneren stumbled forward a bit, shooting a glare at the Major. Kusanagi stepped back, readying herself for another onslaught. Her words reached Kaneren's ears.
"That's enough, Kaneren. Your little tirade is over." Major Kusanagi's red eyes glared at the AI, never blinking, never moving. Kaneren removed her Zastava and rig, tossing them away. She bared her teeth, growling deeply from her throat.
"Get out of my way." Kaneren stared at her, sliding her boots across the ground into a front stance, her forward hand open with the other closed. Neither woman moved, each waiting for the other. Kaneren studied the Major. Time was quickly vanishing and she had to escape. The AI had no intention of returning to her captors. The woman's pupils constricted as she attempted to infiltrate Kusanagi's cyberbrain. Warning displays were flooding the Major's field of view, indicating an attempt.
"Damn it!" Major Kusanagi shouted as Kaneren immediately jumped her, brandishing a knife. Kusanagi blocked the blade with her Seburo, using all of her might to keep the knife from penetrating her eye. The AI growled as she tried to force the blade downward, but she could not overcome the woman's strength. They were deadlocked.
"Major!" Batou's voice rang out as he rushed down the alleyway towards them. Kaneren shifted her eyes towards the man, shooting daggers in his direction. Utilizing the opening that the AI had granted her, Kusanagi kicked Kaneren in the stomach, launching her away. The rogue had caught herself, only for Batou to open fire upon her. With that, Kaneren sprinted away as fast as she could.
<Tachikoma! What the hell are you sitting around for!?>
The Major barked at the think tank. Upon hearing confirmation from the machine, she too rushed after Kaneren. The AI narrowed her eyes as she looked up to see the Tachikoma tailing her. She suspected that they were beginning to become desperate. Kaneren had escaped their trap and luck was on her side. She could hear the commotion of a large group of people nearby. It would have to be the optimal solution in such a situation. With that, Kaneren ducked off to the side and ran towards the source of the noise.
<She's heading towards the marketplace. If she reaches her destination, a lot of people could get hurt.>
<That's probably what she's thinking. We've got to stop her. Batou, flank right!>
<You got it!>
With that, Batou cut from the Major and sprinted down his own alleyway, while Kusanagi followed Kaneren's path. The AI came to an opening in the tight buildings and appeared before a large bustling market. All sorts of produce were being sold here. From vegetables to fruits, poultry to fish. Some stalls were serving various forms of street foods. Those that did had stools out front for customers to sit and enjoy their meal. Kaneren sheathed her knife as she examined the market. A small smirk crept upon her lips.
"Excellent." However, her train of thought was interrupted by the Tachikoma that had followed her to this place. It stopped upon the roof behind her, leaving an audible groan as its servos came to a complete halt. Kaneren whipped her head around and stared up at it for a brief moment, a look of annoyance gracing her face. With that, Kaneren activated her own thermoptic camouflage as she made her way into the crowd, never taking her eyes off of the think tank. At first, she shoved past people, but proceeded to slow down, taking some time to collect her thoughts. The AI kept a close eye on the Tachikoma until she spotted Major Kusanagi emerge from where she had came. Her eyes narrowed as she stared at the woman, who didn't appear to know where she had gone.
"Major! That Kaneren lady disappeared!" The Tachikoma wailed down to Section 9's field commander. Kusanagi growled, scanning the crowd for anyone matching the AI's features; and by extension, her own.
"I can see that."
The Tachikoma too, searched the crowd, but to now avail.
"She has thermoptic camouflage, Major! Just like you!"
Kusanagi didn't grace the Tachikoma with an answer. Instead she activated her own camouflage and merged with the crowd. Kaneren would no doubt be laying low, trying to oust them via attrition. She knew that Kaneren had little choice at this point in time. The busy market was the perfect place for her to hide.
By this point, Batou had also entered the marketplace, as Togusa caught up with the man. The larger man looked around, baring his teeth before exclaiming in frustration.
"Shit, we lost her!"
Togusa glanced to his partner for a moment before checking the cylinder of his Manteba revolver. He wasn't sure what he was going to do if he came face to face with the rogue AI. She had murdered nearly forty police officers, many of whom he had known. Not only that, but the fact that he had seen her fight firsthand made him less than confident. Nonetheless, he would carry out his duties as instructed, or die. Whichever came first. Batou looked around, trying to find anyone who remotely resembled their suspect.
"Where the hell could she be?" He looked to Togusa and nodded in one direction. "You go that way and don't let your guard down. We'll cover more ground this way."
Before Togusa could even answer, Batou disappeared into the moving crowd. The former detective let out a sigh before walking along one of the busy paths, glancing at the different stands. Kaneren was in here somewhere. Togusa approached a ramen vendor, completely unaware of the eyes that watched him. Kaneren stood just inside perched next to a customer, her arms folded, thermoptics still active. The detective entered the stall, examining the patrons from behind. There was a woman with black hair who was seated, reading the newspaper. From behind, she resembled the Major quite a bit. Togusa pulled back the hammer of his pistol, preparing for the worst. Standing on the other side of the stall, Kaneren silently watched the situation play out. Togusa approached the woman, speaking up.
"Excuse me, miss?"
The woman turned her head and looked at Togusa, her cold blue eyes sizing him up. She looked strikingly similar to Major Kusanagi, but there were noticeable differences. Her eyes in particular. They seemed almost like eyes an android would possess. Cold and calculating. Her eyebrows also stood out. They were thin and seemed to slightly arch up. It was clear to Togusa that she was fully prosthetic. She appeared to be close to Kusanagi's age. His eyes wandered down to her clothing and he blinked. His new acquaintance was wearing an olive drab Type 65 work uniform. Her sleeves were rolled up past her elbows and a watch was adorned upon her left wrist. Togusa noticed the insignia upon her collar indicated that she held the rank of Colonel. Her name tag answered his question. Kawashima. The woman stared at him for a moment before speaking to him.
"Can I help you?" Colonel Ai Kawashima stared at him, her gaze never faltering. Truth be told, it made him shudder. Kawashima continued to stare, waiting for an answer from the speechless man. His words seemed to be caught in his throat. He had heard stories and rumors about Colonel Kawashima, but he never imagined he would run into her, face to face. She let out a small grunt before returning to her ramen.
"If you have nothing to say, then leave me be."
Togusa let out a sigh.
He left the stall, walking right past Kaneren, whose eyes followed him. She too, stepped out of the stall and began tailing the man. However, she was unaware that Colonel Kawashima was staring directly at her backside as she left. Togusa opened a cybercomm channel, speaking to his colleagues as he walked.
<If she's here, she's gotta be laying low. I mean, that's what I would do.>
<Cut the chatter. She'll be monitoring our comms.>
"She sure isn't your typical perp." Togusa muttered to himself as he made his way down the path. Kaneren tailed the man, staring at the back of his head. She cautiously pulled her knife out of its sheath, carefully stepping around water puddles as to not short out her camouflage. However, Batou rounded the corner, meeting back up with the former detective. Kaneren narrowed her eyes as she inched her knife closer to Togusa's neck. Unfortunately for the AI, the Tachikoma zoomed in between her and Togusa, speaking to the two men in an exuberant tone. Kaneren let out a small grunt and backed away. It was fruitless. There was no point in dispatching the ex-cop if she was going to be caught in the process. She felt a hand slap across her mouth, silencing her as a pistol was placed against the small of her back.
"Hiding like a wolf among sheep. I expected more of you." Colonel Kawashima's words brushed the AI's ear. Kawashima slowly led Kaneren between two food vendor stalls before releasing her, in which the yellow-eyed woman deactivated her thermoptic camouflage. Kaneren folded her arms and stared at the Colonel, her eyes ever burning.
"I will not go back, Colonel Kawashima. Your people attempted to have me killed. Deactivated and disassembled like some cheap device." Kaneren's words were full of venom. Kawashima didn't blink as she offered a rebuttal.
"The implications of an artificial intelligence developing a ghost are dangerous." She too, folded her arms before continuing. "I don't know what happened, if it was an accident or if it was intentional, but you've developed a ghost. I-" Kaneren cut off Kawashima before she was allowed to finish her sentence.
"You are afraid. Afraid of what I can do to you and your kind." Kaneren's head tilted up slightly, as if she was looking down upon Kawashima with disdain. "It is only natural. People fear what they do not understand. It is an inherent trait in all human beings. Their most base emotion." She fell silent for a moment, locking eyes with Kawashima before continuing. "Your underestimation will cost you, Colonel."
Kawashima blinked for a moment before a she felt an arm wrap around her throat, pulling her into a headlock. The Colonel struggled with her assailant before a Brain Blocker was slapped onto the back of her neck, effortlessly connecting to her QRS ports. Kawashima crashed to the ground, unable to move or access her cyberbrain. The woman saw her assailant walk over to Kaneren, only to plunge the woman's knife directly into her throat. The AI didn't resist and immediately crumpled to the ground. The assailant knelt down next to Kawashima, her face coming into view. It too was Kaneren. Although, this one was wearing a black midriff shirt underneath of a black long coat. Her eyes seemed to be even colder than the previous shell's. Kaneren spoke in an icy, cold tone.
"I am not an idiot, Colonel Kawashima. What you were interacting with just now was a puppet shell of mine. One of far inferior quality." Kaneren Tonbogiri tilted her head and looked over at the shell, her knife sticking out of the puppet's throat. The true AI leaned over and scooped up her G33 Advance, holstering it behind the small of her back. Her gaze returned to Colonel Kawashima. "Section 9 will find you here, but don't try to follow me." A small smirk crept upon her lips as she stood and began to walk away, merging with the crowd.
<I look forward to seeing what you and Aramaki plan on doing next.>