Chapter Thirteen:
Signing bonus [part two]

Six minutes, twenty-four seconds ago; Masaua Rail Station…

Sergeant Kiada walked inside the train station. He quickly spotted Ray waiting for the train to arrive and looked upward for a vantage point.

Finding one on the balcony on the second floor, Kiada sprinted up the stairs and crouched behind a support beam where he could see the Idol's train slowing down inside the station. Sure enough, the train doors opened and the passengers emptied out into the station looking flustered from the longer-than-usual ride.

Kiada clicked a tiny button on the side of his sunglasses and a display appeared on the inside of the lenses.

<Scanning for target neurosignatures…please wait…30% completed…>

Kiada sighed. This was the problem with technology; everything took too long at first. He had been briefed on the Idol's appearance, but he couldn't spot her from this distance.

The neurosignature technology Sony had developed a few months ago was still in its beta stage, but the device was useful enough to scan the area for specified targets. Sony Enforcement hoped to have everyone in Japan marked by the end of the fiscal year and everyone in the Western world by the end of 2007.

For now, though, high-profile targets and targeted Japanese and American citizens, such as those working for rival companies, had had their neurosignatures (or energies emitted through thought patterns) scanned into the system. The governments of both countries had put up a fight, but Sony had dirt on enough members of the concerned ministries to shut them up.

<…new targets (6) acquired…85% completed>

Kiada blinked. Six new targets?!

He knew that Hayasaka was important to Microsoft, but five potential guardians?
<Data collection completed. 8 total targets discovered. Compiling information for transfer…completed.>

Kiada's PDA vibrated. He pulled out the Cleo and the six targets' names, photographs, and position in relation to Kiada appeared. He clicked to expand the data on the primary target, Hayasaka Erika. Her address, phone number and her locations for the past thirty minutes appeared. Currently, she was on the ground floor. He clicked out to look at the other acquired signatures.

Ray was scanned in, but all the others were unknown to Kiada. However, all but one worked at Microsoft. Kiada put down the PDA for a second when the com unit also inside the sunglasses turned on. It was Ray.

<Sergeant Kiada, I've spotted the target.>
<Very good, Peterson; keep an eye on her and radio in anything suspicious. I have your back.>

Kiada pulled out his QDP and aimed it at the target.
<Sir, she seems to be with someone.>

<A bodyguard?> Kiada looked at the man next to Hayasaka and, sure enough, his neurosignature had been acquired. <That's one down,> he thought.
<No…he doesn't appear to be built for that. He looks like your standard pretty boy: slim, tall, dressed like he has cash.>
<Appearances can be deceiving. Keep an eye on this new guy too. I'd be surprised if she didn't have any protection from Microsoft hanging around.>
<Rodger sir.>

Kiada pulled out his PDA to look at the other signatures. Finding that four of them were in the train station still; Kiada looked down at the platform again to see Ray looking dumbstruck as Hayasaka walked past him.

<Ray, what's going on there? You just let the target pass you! Stop her, you idiot! Use any means necessary!>
<Yes sir.>

A few seconds later, the sergeant heard Ray bark out that Hayasaka Erika was in the building. All of a sudden, a gunshot went off in the air above Kiada's head.

<What are you doing sneaking around up here?>
<My job,> Kiada smirked as he fired off his QDP into the attacker's chest.
<W-w-w-w-what the hell,> the man stammered as he aimed his gun. The pain of the plasma shot was clearly affecting him, though. Kiada took advantage of it and fired a second shot into the attacker's skull.

The bloodless corpse fell to the ground. Kiada checked it out through the scanner. One Microsoft employee down, three to go. Two others started coming up the stairs after hearing the gunshot.

<This is Kiada; Ray, we have a situation. Microsoft thugs scattered around here. They're in damage control mode. Move to neutralize.>
<Yes sir.>

Kiada charged to the stairs. Firing off a shot down the stairwell, he tried to slow down one of the two men running up. Sure enough, the shot slowed one of the guards enough to give Kiada a shot at him, which he took. The other fired and missed with his rifle as Kiada ducked back behind cover. When the fool reached the top of the stairs, he met Kiada's foot as it was shoved into his face.

After killing him, Kiada called the TPCD to report Microsoft's unscheduled event with Hayasaka Erika. He then proceeded to head down onto the main platform. By now, the place was empty aside from the fanatics that continued to hound Hayasaka even in the middle of a firefight.

The pretty boy was the lone remaining guard in the station, but for some reason, Ray hadn't taken him out. Aiming at the last threat, Kiada looked over at Ray for a split second to see that he was coiled up in pain on the floor.


The crowd surrounding the Idol split open as Hayasaka came running towards Kiada. She elegantly grabbed the QDP, flung it out of Kiada's hand, and flipped him onto his back.

<How,> Kiada groaned, <did…she…do that?>

The pretty boy walked over to Hayasaka. <Nice job, Erika. Remind me to never piss you off.> The fans continued to stand in adoration of their Idol, like mindless zombies.

As he looked at the scene from the floor, Kiada got two communications. One was from the TPCD, thanking Kiada for his assistance. The other was from the negotiator.

<Kiada, the mission is near completion. You can stand down, Hayasaka is no longer a threat.>

Kiada laughed as he gingerly rose. <TPCD will be here soon. We've already won.>
<And who is 'we?'> Hayasaka asked.
<That's of no concern to you, Hayasaka-san.>

The pretty boy pulled out a gun of his own. <Are you sure?>
<Yes. Go ahead and kill me. Like I said, we've already won.>


Megumi returned from the girl's room to the table. Kimiko was still crying from the revelation that Erika auditioned for the part of Kotone in Lockart's Sight as well. Sadly, this was the one thing Megumi didn't have to lie about, even if she had to change the facts around conveniently. Microsoft had bought out the publisher Cubesoft five months ago and, as part of their overall marketing for the Xbox 360, wanted their new poster girl to voice the main character of their big dating sim.

Of course, Microsoft's involvement wasn't divulged to Kimiko, but it would be soon enough, to help her build brand loyalty.

Megumi patted her target on the back. <It's okay. I'm sure she didn't mean to hurt you.>
<But…why would she take that part without even telling me?> Kimiko sobbed.
<I don't know, but I'm sure she has her reasons. But, hey, I have happy news for you too.>
<What?> Kimiko asked as she looked up. <What could possibly be happy news?>

Megumi smiled, <I have a friend that would be very interested in having you as a voice actress in one of his company's games.>
<Really?> Kimiko looked just as stunned as when she heard about Erika's endeavors back into being a seiyuu.

<Yeah. He saw some of your stuff from other auditions and thought you just needed a little boost.>
<I see.>
<So, are you interested?>
<Of course! What company?! What game?!>
<I don't know the game, but the company is Sony. He wants you to meet him tomorrow. Is that good for you?>
<Sure…but how can I face Erika tonight?>
<Well, if you're concerned about it, why don't you stay the night with me and we can figure this whole thing out together?>
<Thanks, Megumi-chan. You're a great friend.>

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