Chapter Eleven:
Shrewd negotiations

Sergeant Kiada Ian looked at his team as he shut off the videophone. The two men sat impatiently, waiting for something to happen. The negotiator was already outside waiting for the target to arrive.

Kiada was only given two men, but they should be enough. He wondered why the STRIKE Team was even needed. It wasn't as though the team was going after anything dangerous – it was just a potential Idol that was going to come along only willingly.

It was a plainclothes operation, but the men were still armed with two
high powered Sony QDP (Quick Deploy Plasma) pistols a piece, with a pair of spare cartridges.

He had wanted to ask Usaka-san why Sony Enforcement was even a factor in this operation. But you didn't question his judgment and expect to still have a job in the morning.

<Okay men, Usaka-san has officially commenced this operation. We will exit the vehicle about 100 meters from the target's apartment.
From there, we will be taking a guard position on the negotiator as we wait for her orders. Is this understood?>

<Sir, yes sir!>
<Alright then, we depart in thirty seconds.>

Exactly thirty seconds later, three men casually got out of the red Honda S2000 and split up. Sgt. Kiada, the driver, donned some sunglasses despite the light snow and walked south towards the apartment building, while the other two were content with just their coats.

One of the remaining two, a muscular brown-haired American named Ray, walked to the end of the block and stayed put about fifty feet from the nearby train station. The final operative, a slightly less built Japanese man, Agassi, followed the Sergeant but went past him to the other end of the block.

Agassi waved to the approaching negotiator. She waved back. Agassi blushed slightly; the girl was quite pretty. But this was the signal, not a date. She was about to make her move on the target.

Inside the apartment, Kimiko sat musing on her career. She never expected life to be fair, but she wanted her fate to be more than "Hayasaka-sama's roommate."
It made her mad that, no matter what she did, she couldn't escape that humongous shadow.

She looked around, at the pictures and decorations. It all screamed "Erika controls your life" to Kimiko now.

She needed to get out of there.

Back outside, the negotiator waited patiently in the snow while the three supporting operatives patrolled as inconspicuously as possible.

She had been working this case for years now, slowly eroding Kimiko's confidence in herself and in Erika.

It was a testament to Kimiko's spirit that it had taken this long, but, now that Kimiko had finally given up hope and Erika had been forced to reenter the limelight, it was time to move in for the capture.

All the STRIKE team had to do was monitor the situation and move in on any potential distractions. The first and most dangerous of these was Hayasaka Erika, who was not only working for Microsoft, but had a prior interest in the target's goodwill to begin with. Thankfully, she was already taken care of for the time being.

Finally, Kimiko walked outside in her coat. It was time.

<Kimiko-chan! Feeling better?>
Kimiko looked up and over at the negotiator. <Oh, hello Megumi-chan, what are you doing here?>
Megumi beamed, <Checking up on you, of course! Is Hayasaka-sama taking good care of you?>
<No, not really,> Kimiko sighed. <She's been really busy and…>
Megumi cut in. <Too busy too take care of a sick friend. Something doesn't seem right about that.>
<I guess…>
<You guess?> Megumi looked at Kimiko <A friend's duty should always be to her friends, before her job or anything.>

Kimiko suddenly felt anger at Erika wash over her again. <Yeah! Yeah, you're right! She's abandoning me…but> she calmed down some, <it's not like I can blame her. I'm just a burden to her now.>
<Nonsense, you aren't a burden to anyone.>
<You're right…I'm just a complete failure.>
<No, no you aren't,> Megumi smiled. <Hey, if you're feeling alright, let's go get something to eat.>

Kimiko smiled back. <Yeah, that sounds nice, Megumi.>

As the two walked off, Kiada could only stare in wonderment. She really was the best.

<Okay, Agassi, follow at a distance,> he called on the radio. <I'll join you shortly at the restaurant.>
<Rodger.>

Agassi followed while the leader called in.

<Sir, all is going according to plan.>
<Of course it is,> Usaka said over the radio. <But don't let your guard down, Sergeant Kiada. Your men have to make sure that the negotiator is able to complete her work. It won't be as easy to do that in a crowded restaurant.>

<Yes sir,> Kiada responded.
Usaka cut off the conversation there.

Kiada radioed Ray and told him to keep a watch on the train station. The EMP they had set off earlier wouldn't delay Hayasaka's arrival for too much longer. She should be arriving shortly.

Ray radioed back, <Sir. The Idol's train is arriving. I'll try to hold her off long enough for the negotiator to get out of the area with the target.>
<I'll back you up, Ray. Just hold on.>

Kiada radioed Agassi to tell him that he would be late, but to keep ahead with Nanasawa-san and the negotiator.

As he pulled out his pistol, Kiada smiled. The job was about to get a bit more interesting, he thought. The sergeant released the safety and raced towards the train station.

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Preview
Hayasaka cares deeply for her friends, but can she convince Kimiko of that?
Will she even get a chance to try?


MegaTokyo TimeLines
Chapter Twelve: Signing bonus

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