Chapter Twelve | 368 & 521

Lieutenant Takama walked out of the high school, shaking his head slowly. He didn't understand too much, but he knew the situation was dire. He needed to get in touch with headquarters and quickly. If his hunch was right, Sonoda was going to have an aneurysm. But Takama didn't want to panic him needlessly; he needed some more information before he bothered the Director.

<It was odd enough that the girl in the infirmary walked in a minute late,> he thought. <It couldn't possibly be a coincidence…could it?>

A handsome looking man in an expensive Italian suit walked up the path towards the Lieutenant. He smiled when Takama met his gaze, but it was the kind of smile that sent a chill through you. Takama shivered, but regained his composure and met the stranger halfway, extending his arm for a handshake.

<Morning; I'm Lieutenant Takama with the TPCD. Can I help you?>
<Actually, I think you can,> the stranger flashed his chilling smile again. <I'm Sergeant Kiada Ian; Operative 368 with Sony Enforcement.> He held out his badge as proof of his identity.

<And what business does Sony Enforcement have with a crime scene, Sergeant?> Takama asked skeptically. Something didn't click with this guy. Takama didn't like Usaka-san either, and this "Sergeant Kiada" worked for him.

<That, Lieutenant, is none of your business. As I'm sure you're fully aware, Sony's status as a 7A Organization under the Corporate Protection Act of 2005 gives it legal jurisdiction in matters pertaining to its corporate interests. I don't wish to interfere with your investigation, Lieutenant. I just need to be allowed to do my job.>
<I can respect that,> Takama sighed. The law, as much as the recent expanding of corporate power angered him, had him beat. He couldn't stop this guy, suspicious as his motives were.

<But,> he continued, <I do want to talk to your superior first. This is a crime scene first and foremost. I'm sure Usaka-san can understand that much.>
<That's not a problem,> Kiada replied, <but it will have to wait a while. Usaka-san is in a meeting at the moment. Either way, I'm under orders to wait for you to complete your work before doing my own.>
<Very well, but I'm not letting you enter until I talk to Usaka-san personally.>

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Across town, Ed stood outside the apartment building where the EDS unit was supposed to be, waiting impatiently. He wanted to just charge into the building and take the EDS by force, but his superiors would hear nothing of it. Usaka-san wouldn't even talk to him personally; he had his secretary tell him to hold on until the police were gone. Finally, his cell phone rang.

"This is Ed," he answered angrily.
"And this is your Mission Commander," a woman's voice said. "Watch your tone."
"Yes ma'am; sorry ma'am. What's the news?"
"We just got a call from TPCD. They confirmed the tracker you placed on the EDS. It's currently near your location."
"Good; may I move in now?"
"They will bring it to you."
"Very well; 521 out," he said through gritted teeth as he clenched the phone shut. He hated having his work done for him.

A man in a police uniform walked out of the building and spotted Ed. He wore a look that befit one who had seen the morning's bloodshed as he walked through the freshly fallen snow.

<Ah,> he said, <I'm Officer Tetamousa with TPCD. And you must be the guy Sony sent to get the EDS.>
<Yes,> Ed said. <You know, I'm fine with going to get her myself.>
<No, that won't be necessary.>
Ed laughed. <I wouldn't be too sure of that. She is supposedly quite capable of being a major hassle.>

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Upstairs, Ping was proving Ed's point.
<What the hell are you?> the man who had been interrogating her just seconds ago asked.
<I am a Sony EDS accessory for the PlayStation 2 computer entertainment system. My end user has charged me with the protection of the two innocent Americans you wish to kill. I will not let you harm them.>

The EDS vanished yet again, this time re-emerging not thirty seconds later in the same spot. Only now, Piro and Largo were absent from the room, as were all the visible guns in the room but one. The one pistol that remained was clutched in Ping's hand, but not aimed at anyone. The machine's eyes glowed blue as they scanned the room, making hundreds of split-second calculations. A couple seconds later, Ping blinked. Her eyes returned to their natural grey for a second before flashing red. No one in the room could see the earblade's data readout, which stated:

MODE: PROTECTION
STATUS: ACCESSING GAME DATA...COMPLETED
"NINJA MASTER IV" PERSONA INITIALIZED

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