Crash and Burn – The End Of Megatokyo
Piro opened his eyes and found himself staring at a pristine white ceiling. There was a fluorescent light slightly to one side and a rail at the edge of his view on the other. His head was throbbing slightly and his throat was dry. But he lay still, staring at the ceiling and trying to remember how he had gotten there. He couldn't.
After about ten minutes he heard footsteps approach and a woman's voice said, "Good, you're awake at last."
He turned his head a little to the side and saw a European woman in a nurses uniform. In that small movement he took in enough of the room to register that he was in what appeared to be a stereotypical hospital room. Hospital, he thought, there must have been an accident. Maybe Largo blew something up again.
Piro pushed himself gingerly into a sitting position. He asked the nurse, "Where am I?"
"You're in Tokyo General Hospital," she replied and he noticed she was speaking English. "The drug detoxification unit. You've had a bad experience I'm afraid, but you'll be all right. Lucky your friend dragged you in here when he did. Ah, here he in now."
A movement at the door caught Piro's eye and he turned to see Largo walk in, grinning his "winner" smile.
"Dude, you're alive. I thought we'd both bought it there for a while. Whoa, freaky!"
Piro had no idea what Largo was talking about so he took the opportunity to sip from a cup of water the nurse handed to him. Another nurse poked her head around Largo and spoke in Japanese to the first nurse.
"Nurse Meagen, Doctor Trent needs you in Room 14 right now. They've just brought in another one."
"Hai," Nurse Meagen answered. "Excuse me boys, I have to go. The doctor will be in to see you in a little while and if everything's OK you should be out of here tomorrow. Just stay away from pie won't you."
Piro stared at the still-grinning Largo for a few minutes.
"I suppose you blew us up again or something," he said to break the lengthening silence. Largo looked surprised.
"No way, don't you remember anything? I dragged your sorry ass in here three days ago and you've been in detox ever since." Piro thought Largo seemed relatively sane today, yet what he was saying made no sense at all.
"Detox?" he asked. "You mean as in drugs? I took drugs?"
"Not your fault," Largo replied. "They put drugs in the coffee, in the food, in the donuts ... hell, even in the pie. Lamers!"
"Wha ... ? Who did? What are you talking about. Largo, are you drunk?"
"OK, listen up," Largo began. He was looking serious now and flopped down to sit at the foot of the bed.
"We've been in bad trouble and we didn't even know it. You remember that gaming show that we went to when we first arrived? Well that's where it all started. That Erika woman, she's at the centre of it all. Oh, I know, she had me fooled too. I mean, babe like that, who'd have thought. Your friend Tsubasa, he was in on it at first too. He took us to that show, then to Anna Millers afterwards. That's where they first hit us with the drugs. They were in the coffee."
"Wait a minute Largo, what drugs? Hayasaka-san did this?"
"Some new kind of hallucinogen. Gives you all sorts of wonderful visions, it does. Apparently it's pretty popular here in Tokyo at the moment. The cops are all over it, but they didn't know where it was coming from."
"And we've been drugged for how long?" Piro was looking worried now, not for Largo's sanity for a change, but for what had happened and what he might have done.
"Couple of weeks now. Best I can figure we spent most of it in a room over that store. And we gotta go back there too, and get our stuff."
"Maybe you should tell me the whole story first, Largo. I want to know exactly what's going on."
So Largo spent the next hour describing the situation, breaking only for food. He told of how Tsubasa had gotten into trouble with some very shady characters because his girlfriend was a drug addict. Piro didn't even know he had a girlfriend. Tsubasa had borrowed money and couldn't pay it back, and the girl had blown everything on drugs. He'd agreed to work for the drug dealer instead of the alternative, which would have started with two broken kneecaps.
He'd taken them to the gaming show and when Erika saw them, she immediately devised a plan around them. It seemed that Erika was looking to break into the American market with this new drug and needed couriers to get it into the States. Who better than two hopeless and clueless fanboys?
So Tsubasa had taken them to Anna Millers where Kimiko drugged the coffee. Piro interrupted the story here.
"No way, no way! Nanasawa just couldn't be in on it. She'd never do something like that to me. I mean, I know I'm a big loser, but she's not that kind of person."
"Listen dude," Largo replied, concern in his voice. "You're pretty much going to have to forget everything you think you know about everyone we've met since we've been here. Without those weirdass drugs in your system, it's going to look way different. Trust me on this."
A knock at the door interrupted them. A tall man walked in dressed in dark suit, white shirt and a black tie. He wasn't actually wearing dark glasses, but even Piro could sense the air of "cop" about him. He ran a hand through his reddish hair and grinned as he made his way over to the bed.
"Well, I'm glad you boys are all OK now. I'm Special Agent Thompson of the FBI. A lot of people have been worried about you."
"Huh?" Piro blinked. "Are we in trouble?"
"No, of course not," laughed Thompson. "But it's pretty big news when two American citizens are kidnapped by drug traffickers in Japan. Now, don't worry. The doctors tell me you're both fine and we'll have you on the plane back home tomorrow. First class of course." He winked.
"I'll be back to pick you up in the morning. I just have one more item of ... business to attend to before we all leave." And with that he left.
"Whoa! FBI. Cool," remarked Largo. "But that means we have to get our stuff back today. You up to a bit of sneaking around, dude?"
"I feel fine, Largo. But I don't know that we should really be ..."
"You know your precious sketch book is still in the apartment."
"OK, let's go."
A few hours later, Piro and Largo tentatively approached the street where the Megagamers store was located. The area was vaguely familiar, but where Piro remembered a bustling, glossy shopping district, what he now saw was a run-down, dirty little street with tenements and small shops.
Tokyo was generally neat and clean, with everything ordered in spite of the crowds (or maybe the crowds necessitated that order). Here however, there was litter in the streets, flaking paint on the buildings, even broken glass in some of the windows. Shadowy figures lurked in doorways and evil eyes followed the two young Americans as they hurried along. Had it been night, they realised that they probably wouldn't have got very far.
"This looked so much nicer before," Piro commented. Largo only nodded as he glanced around nervously through restless eyes.
They turned a corner and there it was. Megagamers. Only, now it was a dilapidated three-storey building with a ramshackle staircase up the outside leading from a side alley to a landing on the top floor. The store itself was on the ground floor and had a smudged glass window displaying second hand computer equipment and games.
"It's ... it's a pawn shop!" Piro exclaimed.
Carefully they sidled along the street and into the alley. It smelled of garbage and worse. Largo put one finger to his lips to indicate silence, then tentatively led the way up the stairs. Partway up the first flight was a tiny, dirty window into the store. Curiosity got the better of both of them and they paused to peer in.
At an old wooden counter at the back of the room slouched a woman they both recognised immediately.
"Erika!" hissed Largo.
It was Erika but not the bombshell ex-idol that they remembered. Certainly she must have been beautiful once but her looks were faded now. Her face showing the first signs of wrinkles she was perhaps approaching forty years old, maybe a little less. A cigarette hanging lazily out the side of her mouth did nothing to improve the image of worn neglect that sat upon her features.
"She's the one in charge of it all," whispered Largo in Piro's ear. "Even her husband is scared of her."
"Husband?" whispered Piro back. "What husband?"
An older man walked out from the back of the store and approached Erika. It was Yanagisawa whom they had thought of as the store owner. Erika barked something unintelligible at him and he scurried off again.
Piro stared, open-mouthed, at the dingy tableau through the window. Largo pulling on his arm broke his fascination and they proceeded to the top of the stairs.
The door to the apartment was ajar and after a quick glance to see that the place was empty, they went in. The stink in the apartment was different to the alley but worse in its own way. It was the smell of sweat and body odour and stale beer. Rubbish was scattered over the floor with the remains of old computers and other electronics. A dirty mattress lay in one corner. There were a variety of clothes and other assortments.
On the table lay Piro's beloved book bag. He rushed over and clasped it to him as if it was a lost child.
"Grab your stuff and let's get out of here," said Largo. "This place gives me the creeps.
"Largo," asked Piro as he stuffed whatever he recognised into a duffle bag. "How long were we here for? In this place I mean."
"I'm not completely sure," Largo replied, also packing hurriedly. "At least a week as far as I can work out."
"Did that girl Ping stay here with us like I remember?"
"Largo," Piro hesitated. "There's only one bed."
Largo stopped packing and faced Piro. He spoke with what was obviously forced calmness.
"Dude. If we don't talk about it, it never happened. OK?"
"OK," Piro gulped. There was an awkward silence until suddenly they both spun away from each other and found things to pick up at opposite ends of the room.
"Found it!" exclaimed Largo. He held up a shiny sphere, slightly larger than a softball.
"What is it?" asked Piro.
"It's my cool thing," said Largo triumphantly as he stuffed it in a backpack.
Weird, thought Piro, that's exactly how I remember it.
Within minutes they had everything they wanted and crept back down the stairs. As they approached the small window, they clearly heard a raised voice from inside. It was a girl's voice, speaking in Japanese. Piro thought it sounded familiar.
"But I need more of it. I have a test in Tuesday and I have to study all night. Last time it worked great. I wasn't sleepy at all. Please."
Piro looked in through the window and gasped. A teenage schoolgirl was at the counter, apparently pleading for something with Erika.
"That's Sonoda-san! Yuki. The girl I was going to give art lessons to."
"You were what?" said Largo looking in. "Dude, I really hope she's at least sixteen."
"Don't you remember about ... uh ... never mind."
Erika's reply distracted Piro from further questions.
"I told you, no cash, no candy. That's how it works, little girl."
"I don't have any cash," pleaded Yuki again. "Look, this is my Dreamcast. I know it's a bit out of date but I've kept it in perfect condition. You sell this type of thing all the time, it must be worth something."
Erika looked at the proffered appliance sceptically, then back at Yuki. "All right, I must be going soft. But only this once. Next time it's cash or nothing."
A hand of Piro's shoulder made his heart nearly burst out of his chest. He spun around and as he did he saw his own fear mirrored in Largo's eyes. A very large Japanese man stood there, arms crossed, a bandana covering his mouth.
"Junpei think American tourists should not be here now," he said in slightly broken English.
"Junpei, dude," said Largo looking extremely relieved. "You nearly made me crap myself. We just had to get our stuff, we're out of here."
"Huh? I recognize you from the airport," said Piro. "What are you doing here?"
Junpei sighed, hesitated, then seemed to come to a decision. "Might as well tell. Cover blown in 5 minutes anyway. Junpei work for customs service. Doing special deep undercover work for Tokyo police. Very dangerous, get double pay."
"You're investigating Erika?" realisation dawned on Piro.
Junpei nodded. "Go now. Not good time to be caught here."
"Whoa! What's that?" Largo pointed at something on the stairs. Piro got another fright as he saw a large lizard staring calmly back at him.
"Is Junpei's pet iguana. Call him Bento-Zilla, since he steal Junpei's lunch all time." Junpei bent down and scooped up the iguana in his arms and draped the two foot long reptile over his shoulders. "Go now. Work to do."
Piro and Largo got to the bottom of the stairs, left the alley and headed down the street. It was all they could do the stop themselves from running. Junpei casually turned the other way out of the alley and sauntered through the front door of the store.
At the corner of the block, Piro and Largo paused and looked back, catching their breath.
"Piro, Largo! Gee, we're glad we found you." A familiar voice with an American accent.
"Dom? Ed? What are you guys doing in Tokyo?"
"Huh! We've been here for two weeks," said Dom.
"Why didn't you wait for us at the hospital?" asked Ed.
"We had to get our stuff," answered Largo.
"We were worried that you'd gone nuts again. That was some freaky shit you were on you know."
"Uh ... hi guys," said Piro belatedly. "Um ... why are you here?"
Dom started to explain. "You guys were supposed to be gone a week on this crazy holiday of yours. When you didn't get home on time, your Mom started worrying."
"Yeah," interrupted Ed. "She was over at Dom's house crying to his Mom about how you were probably kidnapped by ninja amazons or something. And Dom's Mom was all 'my Dommie will go and find him' and stuff"
"Shut up, Ed. That's embarrassing." Dom punched Ed in the arm.
"Ow!" Ed punched Dom back.
"So, you got time off from work?" Piro knew it was a dumb question but the shock of the situation was starting to affect his thinking.
"It's not that hard to get time off from McDonalds," said Dom.
"McDonalds!" exclaimed Piro. "But I thought you were working for ..."
"Burger King? Nah, that's Ed. He works for the wannabes."
"Watch it, Dom. You know I'd have that job if you hadn't hidden my car keys so I was late for the interview. Anyway, McDonalds is just a big old has-been. Ouch!" Dom punched Ed in the arm again. Ed punched him back.
"Would you stop that," said Largo.
Piro looked at Largo. "These two are our friends, right?"
"I'm willing to reconsider," answered Largo darkly.
"Piro-san, Piro-san," a voice called out from further down the street. A girl in a school uniform was running towards them, long pale hair in pigtails trailing behind her.
"Largo, is that Ping?" Piro asked.
"Keep that crazy girl away from me," said Ed, backing behind Dom. "Last time I saw her she threw a turtle at me. Hit me right in the face."
"Threw a what at you?" said Piro incredulously.
"These Japanese have freaking weird pets," said Largo. "Ed, she chased me with a baseball bat, I think."
The girl reached them and stopped in front of Piro, seemingly oblivious of the other three. She was gasping for breath. Apart from her long hair, what Piro noticed first about her was the huge earrings she wore, and a birthmark which marred her left cheek.
"Piro-san," she said at last. "Have you seen Tohya-san anywhere? I ... I need to get something from her." Now Ping's eyes started to dart around. "I hope she's not mad at me. She's scary when she's mad and won't give me my ... medicine."
"Uh, no, I haven't seen her," answered Piro trying desperately not to think of the dirty mattress in the apartment. Of course he failed and managed only to blush furiously and look at Ping stupidly with his mouth open. Ping seemed not to notice, having worries of her own.
"Where have you been, Ping?" and she was there beside him, like a snake from it's hole, Miho had slithered silently from one of the darkened doorways nearby.
"I've been waiting for you and you weren't where you were supposed to be. Customers don't like to be kept waiting, Ping. Even for a pretty little thing like you. Or maybe especially for a pretty little thing like you."
Ping looked terrified. "I, I'm so sorry Tohya-san ... but I ... Tohya-san, I need it now, please. I have to have some now. I'll do whatever you want, if you just give me some ..."
"I'll deal with you later, you stupid bitch." Miho cut Ping off abruptly. "Hello, Piro, Largo. Nice to see you back." And again Piro was reminded of a snake, paralysing its prey with a stare before it struck. Uncomfortably, he realised that he was the prey in that analogy.
"Watch out, dude. This one's evil," warned Largo, edging away.
"Why Largo," she smiled slyly at him. "Just because I make my living giving people what they really want. That doesn't make me evil does it?"
"You're a drug dealer and a pimp," Largo shot back. "That's what makes you evil."
Suddenly, sirens ripped the air apart and police cars appeared from everywhere, tearing around the corner and converging on Megagamers.
"Shit!" exclaimed Miho, then she was gone. The four young men hardly noticed. They were too busy gawking at what was obviously a major police raid.
"Wow, I bet they have guns," said Ed excitedly.
"Big guns," said Dom. "Come on, let's go see."
Dom, Ed and Largo headed eagerly back towards the store, intent on the action. Reluctantly, Piro followed. In the few minutes it took the get there, it was all over. A policemen was pushing a handcuffed Erika towards a police car.
"You bastard, Sonoda!" Erika shouted at his face. "You think you can get away with this? You'll see!"
Largo turned to Piro. "That's Inspector Sonoda. He's totally cool. I met him about a week ago. He pumped me full of beer and that's when he found out who we really were. If not for him, we'd be in deep trouble."
"Why would he give you beer? I can't see any way that would help." Piro was starting to get used to not understanding anything.
"The beer somehow counteracts the effects of the drug," explained Largo, still craning his neck to see what was happening outside the store. A small crowd of wary onlookers was gathering now. "That's why I recovered faster than you. Whenever I'd drink beer, things would start to seem normal again. Then that Erika woman would show up with food and we'd be back in fantasy land again. Fortunately, Inspector Sonoda got us out and used our information to help bust them."
A uniformed policeman escorted a despondent Yanagisawa out of the store, followed by Junpei who dragged a younger woman by her handcuffed arms. She was obviously not happy to go and resisted as best she could. However Junpei was much larger and had little trouble forcing her towards the waiting police cars. As she was pushed into a car, she looked into the crowd and straight at Piro.
"Nanasawa!" he cried. "Largo, that's Kimiko."
"I told you she was involved, dude," Largo said dully. "Everyone's involved."
"Hello boys. I really thought you'd wait at the hospital." It was Special Agent Thompson.
"Uh ... hello Agent Thompson. We were just ..." Piro began.
"We had to get our stuff," said Largo firmly.
Agent Thompson smiled indulgently. "I suppose there's not harm done. Just try and stay out of trouble until our plane leaves in the morning. I see you've found your friends here."
He made some quick arrangements to pick them up in the morning from Dom and Ed's hotel, then wandered over to talk to the Tokyo police. Apparently this had been the other item of business he'd had to deal with.
Activity at the door caught Piro's eye again.
"Excuse me sir," a policeman called out to Inspector Sonoda. "We have a bit of a problem here you'll need to deal with personally."
The Inspector started to walk over then stopped suddenly when he saw who was walking out of the store behind the other policeman.
"Yuki!" he exclaimed. "What are you doing here? How could you ... what did you ..."
"Oh Daddy!" Yuki cried. She rushed over and wrapped her arms around her father, sobbing uncontrollably. "Daddy, Daddy, I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry."
The first policeman looked at Sonoda who stared back helplessly.
"Kids, eh? Always in some sort of trouble," he said. "Sir, you should probably take her home. I can wrap things up here. It's unfortunate that a random schoolgirl got caught up in the raid. I'm sure she was just in the store buying manga or something." He looked knowingly at his relieved superior.
"I'll meet you back at the station later then, sir?" he said.
"Er, yes. Later," said Sonoda and hurried Yuki away.
"Whoa! Is she his daughter?" Largo asked Piro. The two of them were closer to the store than any of the other onlookers because of their conversation with Agent Thompson. "Dude, you're so lucky you're leaving the country tomorrow. The Inspector would be totally pissed if he found out what you'd been ... er..."
"What are you talking about, Largo?" asked Piro, annoyed that Largo had trailed off without explaining.
"Never mind. It's not important." Largo would say no more.
So Piro and Largo headed to Dom and Ed's hotel to spend their last night in Tokyo. They hailed a taxi at the corner. As it drove away, Piro saw Ping. She was sitting in the gutter clutching her knees to her chest, rocking back and forth. He wondered what would become of her.
The next morning Agent Thompson picked the four of them up and took them to the airport. After the FBI agent exchanged some witty repartee in perfect Japanese with the girl at the check-in counter, Piro asked him how often he came to Japan.
"I'm here at least once a month," he replied. "There's always something going on. Besides, I like it here. Makes for an interesting change from Texas, let me tell you. Now, I just have to say goodbye to someone."
Piro watched the FBI agent walk to a small café a little further down the terminal. A woman stood and greeting him with a kiss on the lips.
"Dude," Largo was watching too. "That's the nurse from the hospital. Looks like Agent Thompson is a fast worker."
Dom and Ed guffawed and started making crude remarks to each other. Even Largo rolled his eyes at them.
Some time later, Piro was staring out the airplane window at the clouds below. Largo was in the aisle seat next to him, watching a movie on the tiny personal screen. Dom and Ed were sitting in the row in front playing a game that involved taking turns to punch each other in the arm. Piro really wasn't interested in the rules. He had been thinking a lot since yesterday.
"Largo," he said to his friend. "This story would make a great manga. Maybe I could start drawing it when we get home. At least I could take that from this horrible trip."
"Dude," said Largo. "You can't draw worth a damn."
"What? I know I'm no manga-ka, but I'm not that bad."
Largo sighed. "You might want to look in that precious book bag of yours. Check out your sketch book."
"Fine, I will." Piro tugged it from under the seat, pulled out the sketch book and flipped it open.
Largo turned away as a look of horror spread over Piro's face.
"Oh, no. Oh, no. I really can't draw." Suddenly he was sobbing. He knew now that he had left Japan with nothing. And he was returning to oblivion.
I started out wondering how Megatokyo could actually all be real and take place in our world exactly as it is now. This seemed to be not impossible, since Megatokyo is all about perceptions. So the question then became, what could possibly alter someone's perceptions so greatly that they saw giant monsters and zombies destroying the city, or have beautiful women fall at their feet. There were a couple of answers but I settled on the one above.
This piece is a bit rough but I present all my fanfics pretty much raw off the keyboard with very little editing. I treat it as an exercise in getting an idea across, rather than writing a perfectly crafted piece of prose.
Now that you've read it and you're probably thinking about all the things I didn't explain, try using your imagination and fitting things into the Megatokyo that I've described. It might be an amusing exercise for you.
On a personal note, that's a thousand posts in MT Forums. To me, it seems an awful lot, especially since most of them are substantially more than witty one-liners. At least I won't have to worry about significant-numbered posts for a long time.
In closing, I hope you liked the story. Your comments, good and bad, are as usual greatly appreciated.
... under a blue sky ...