I'm not your daughter; I'm just a carbon copy; of that damned machine
Birthday: May 5, 2023 (Awakened at age 6)
Weight: 66 kg / 145.05 lbs.
A woman in her late twenties, she does not look her age at all thanks to her genetically modified template. She has an “international” look with her more western features such as blonde hair and blue eyes. She ties her hair into a ponytail most of the time and is never seen wearing her hair down with colleagues.
Of slight build, she is never without her “working clothes”, programmable clothing that turns to her company colours and tightens up when she is working and holds loose and white on her off time. Underneath the street clothes is the latest iteration of whatever new skinsuit she is testing out.
Her upbringing was a modern take in Yamato Nadeshiko and she makes a point in looking and acting the part of the stereotypical scientist: worn lab gown, glasses, bashful demeanor, even the Pod she uses for her work is shaped like an old clipboard. Despite her childhood tutoring, she rarely raises her voice and does not seem at all the image of someone brought up to that standard.
While she has no need to do so, she usually works for days at a time, thanks to her Blue Light dependence. Due to the drug’s effects, she usually has a tired look, with circles in her eyes and slow, deliberate movements.
Sketches are located in the Hanako page.
The first biological child of her family, she was engineered to operate in the upper circles of the genocracy. Her birth was interrupted by an unprecedented suicide android attack on the ground floor of their apartment. While safe underground, the pipes flowing through her artificial womb were stained by other chemicals. She was saved from death with all the medical wonders her family could bring to bear, although she would spend her formative years in isolation from others of her age.
Her only companions at the time were advanced bioroid units that handled her education and needs, as well as infrequent visits from her parents, who were consumed by their role in genocratic society.
She would eventually be released into the outer world during her college years, which she would spend in Meishū-Gakuen University. Even here, she would be given special treatment, isolating her from most of her peers. With her enhanced intellect, she would complete her doctoral at top marks in three years.
During college, she finds out that her parents have been raising a bioroid clone of her, taking her place in social functions as well as their attention. With help, she escapes the confines of her home in Kyoto during her graduation party, saying her goodbyes through their “daughter”.
Disappearing into streets and alleys of Shin-Edo, she hides her identity and works odd jobs for food and shelter. She would eventually reveal herself after a few months, selling her designs to the public.
Her disowning of her parents was a public scandal at the time, singling her out as one of the very few genocrats that are seen in public. She would receive many invitations for interviews and other less savory missives during this time, as many activists and personalities would like to make an example or symbol out of her. These would pass in time, as the public eye gazes elsewhere for news and gossip.
She would repeatedly be sent gifts and offers of assistance from her parents, although she largely ignores them. The only gift she would use were the ones received from birth. She would go on to develop advanced skinsuit models, such as the Fractal Suit and has even been in talks with Hargreave-Rasch Biotechnologies for development of multipurpose skinsuits.
With the royalties from her patents, she would eventually put up her own firm, Mori Biomechanical. She mostly leaves her company in the hands of her subordinate androids and specialized AI, although research and development are still directly under her.
She has been working on her latest invention since the patented Fractal Suit for the past year, a melding of nanomachines and a skin suit, which she dubs the “Nanosuit”. The government and certain parties are very interested in her project, although as far as they are concerned, this is just a suit you can put on or off anytime.
Recently however, some of her prototype suits have been behaving erratically, some walking on their own at night or in the most recent case, one of the suits came out of the nanomachine printer with the shape of an Oni. While these problems easily rectified with a few modifications, she has started to wonder if those rumors regarding the Kuro Incident are true…
Complete Synthetic Intelligence construction (as Usagi calls it) is a laborious process and instead of starting from scratch, she has instead used an “Alpha” as a base design. From this Alpha, she created two distinct minds based from her memories, one from her teenage years and another as a child.
The basis of the other two, she is actually the mind of Usagi’s copy. She disappeared a few years ago, location unknown.
The first individual based from the Alpha, she has the memories of Usagi from her teenage years. She is housed in a bioroid body.
The second child, she has what few memories Usagi remembers from her childhood. She is also housed in a bioroid body.
A collection of “off-session” scenes to add some extra detail to the everyday life of Usagi.
07:34 May 5, 2024, Sunday
Kodomo no Hi
In a spacious room, a child sits, staring at a window. Dolls, stuffed animals and other toys go ignored as she plays with the light streaming between her hands. A door slides open from behind as a woman enters the room, bringing food and drink.
“I bought you your favorites”
Placing the tray on the sole table, the woman inches closer, but the child ignores her. Saying nothing else, the woman leaves, closing the door behind her. The child turns around, walking towards the table. Grasping the cup, she raises it to her lips to drink.
Usagi watches the events from within the holo, wearing a strange amorphous device on her head. She stands beside the child, touching her lips with every mouthful. Consumed by the experience, she does not notice the person behind her.
“Hey, that looks familiar”
The person asks, but goes ignored. Tapping her on the shoulder, Usagi jumps up, startled. With a deep sigh, she composes herself to greet her guest.
“Don’t scare me like that Hanako "
Removing the device, Usagi places complete attention on her. Hanako pays no heed to her outburst, and continues her query.
“Is that me, I mean, you?”
Hanako stares at the child, her eyes betraying familiarity at the events unfolding.
“I guess yes on both counts. You, Haruko and I have similar past memories”
Usagi’s eyes wander back to the child, watching her every move.
“Then why watch it? You know how it turns out”
“I need to see it”
Hanako frowns at the answer, voicing her concern.
“Your face says you don’t want to”
An alarm starts ringing from Hanako’s pod, prompting her exit from the room.
The holo, still playing, shows a new visitor enter the room. Wearing a business suit, he keeps a good distance from the child. From the table, the child starts to walk to the man, who pats her on the head in a patronizing gesture as the woman from before re-enters the room, bringing books and writing materials. The child tries to hold on the man’s jacket, and Usagi does the same, grasping the immaterial cloth. All in vain, the child is pushed aside as the man leaves the room.
After watching it all play out, Usagi closes the hologram, covering the room in darkness. In this moonlit room, Usagi stretches her hand into the streams of light. She stares at the playing lights for a moment when the door opens, drowning out the dim lights. Hanako and Haruko enter the room, each carrying a small gift wrapped box.
“We uh, we didn’t know what you’d like, so we both got you something, right Haruko? ”
Haruko stays silent, standing behind her sister. Usagi, not knowing how to react to this gesture, simply bows and takes the gifts.
“Well, go on, open them, we don’t mind”
“I’d rather not, it’s rude”
Frustrated, Hanako berates her on her attitude.
“There you go again, just open them already!”
Usagi, not wanting to spoil the moment, opens the gifts. The first contains a small stuffed animal. Before she could say anything, Hanako speaks out.
“I’m not very good with gifts, alright? It was the first thing that came to mind”
After opening the second gift, Usagi looks at them with a smile.
“Thank you, it’s my favorite”
06:15 April 3, 2034, Monday
A calm morning sun rises between the towers of Meishū-Gakuen, marking the start of the school year. Most students are already tenants inside the school’s many dormitories, continuing from the previous year or arriving weeks ahead. The population is gathered at the roof deck, in preparation for the opening ceremonies.
A stiff wind washes over the crowd, as moments later, a helicopter lands nearby. The door parts for a group of men exiting the craft, escorting a young girl. The scene takes the crowd’s attention, with the men making a path for the girl, who sits in the front row. The guards eventually leave with the start of the ceremony.
Ending without incident, the students, standing up, leave the assembly, headed for their classes or back to the dorms, waiting for their schedules. Riding down the many escalators, the girl reaches the dormitory levels. At the end of a hallway, she stops at a double door, with her name labelled on the front. She turns around, addressing one of the men following her.
“Thank you Mister Matsuoka, but I’ll be safe inside my quarters”
“Of course, Ms. Mori. We will be in the area if you need us”
With that, the men leave, with the students filling the space they cleared.
She takes a step back, the doors sliding for her. In front, the students, as if waiting for something, watch. With a second hesitant step, she retreats into the room, the doors closing shut.
03:01 June 13, 2037, Saturday
Meishū-Gakuen’s library was open 24/7, although with the opening of the new ones, there was no reason to ever visit. Only couples or the solitary come here. One light is turned on.
Usagi sits in a corner, reading books on biomechanical theory, but her mind was elsewhere, or rather nowhere. Rifling through her pocket, she pulls a syringe filled with a strange blue solution. They say varsity athletes use it to study until late morning after practice or that it’s a new drug under evaluation by the board. She got a good deal for it, she thought, simply asked by some disheveled student who wanted to take her picture.
Feeling her arm, she lists off for a moment before snapping back when a book falls from a shelf near her. Freezing in place, she scans the rows and the spaces between books for movement. Eventually, a couple raise their heads above a shelf. They see her, syringe in hand, and quickly remove themselves from the vicinity.
Gripping the injector, she picks up a book and throws it across the aisle near a common table. Thinking about it, why is she here? She could easily have privacy in her lavishly furnished room.
No, why is she here.
She should be in Kyoto, learning how to run their company, but instead she’s in Shin-Edo learning about subjects her parents pay other people to work on. Collecting herself for no one, she stands up and walks toward the book. Before reaching it, she feels herself sway side to side. She loses her balance and falls as the world shakes violently and comes crashing down. Her vision dims and fades to black as something heavy falls on her.
Awakened by a familiar voice, she finds herself prone face up on the floor, a tide of books and shelves atop and around her. Half-awake, she looks up to a holoprojection of a news feed.
“… at Meishū-Gakuen which suffered little damage from the earthquake. There are no reported fatalities but medical teams are inside now. We also have a comment from one of the school board members”
“We deeply regret this state of affairs and are sending all available rescue units on site now. We would like to assure the public that all dormitory and living spaces are located in the lower floors to facilitate rescue and relief efforts. That is all.”
She sees her father in his usual attire, always in that office. Fatigue sets in again as she continues to watch.
“That was a message from board member Mr. Mori, we also have on-site Ms. Usagi who is directing the android teams. Do you have a message for your fellow students? ”
“Yes, of course. Don’t worry everyone! Help is on the way!”
She locks eyes with the camera, reassuring smile and all, before continuing with her work. The cameras follow her every move. Helping with first aid, directing the rescue teams, giving media updates, she works with the nation’s eyes on her.
Below a pile of old books, fighting the weariness, Usagi stabs her arm with the syringe, blood and tears pouring from her. She wants to be awake for this.
10:28 January 11, 2038, Sunday
Made, not Kept
In a dress room, Usagi sits in front of a mirror as her face is attended to by two androids. She smiles and makes expressions at her reflection, practicing a speech as the sounds of fanfare and a crowd are heard from outside. As she stands up, the androids hold her hands and before she could say a word, she blacks out, a blow struck from behind.
The door slides open as two figures enter the room. With a word, the two androids collapse, smoke rising from their heads. One of them kneels by Usagi, inserting a needle behind her neck, attaching a wire from a pod to the needle. A display appears in the air, showing vital signs and other data. With a command, the pod flares with activity as Usagi’s closed eyes move rapidly. A red light emanates from the display, showing a query. The other figure looks over the display, who asks:
“I said I’ll help you get out, but this is crazy”
“This is what she deserves”
Without answering, the needle is pulled away, leaving no wound or bleeding to mark its passing.
“Alright, the shikansen has a schedule to Shin-Edo in fifteen minutes, we should go”
Leaving the room, they are let through by attendants, and guards do not note their passing as they exit the building. Arriving at the station in a cab with bags in tow, they reach the platforms, with a crowd already forming at the edges. With a look to each other, one of them asks:
“Are you sure about this Usagi?”
“I don’t want you to get harmed over this”
Pulling out their Pods, they purge their files and throw away the empty units. Out of his pocket, he places a small pendant in her hand.
“Here, something to remember Kyoto. Made it myself”
She smiles, but looks away embarrassed that she has nothing to share. Changing the subject, she asks:
“What will you do now?”
“Well, I still got a few years left in MG. Maybe I’ll come find you”
“Is that a promise?”
Usagi looks at him, waiting for an answer, but he just gives a knowing smile. Before they can continue, a voice is heard over the speakers, announcing the boarding of the train. Picking up her bags, she looks at him one last time as he sees her off. As the train lurches forward, four men run up the platform, shoving aside people in their haste. Usagi sees them run past her accomplice, chasing the train in vain as she disappears into the seats.
As the train speeds across the countryside, she looks at the pendant, where a hovering flower appears, swaying to an invisible breeze.
03:02 January 13, 2038, Wednesday
A loud ring wakes Usagi, a floating prompt appearing for an extended stay. Looking at a sensor, it displays her balance and refuses an extension. Rolling to the side, a wall lifts open to a hallway, where she drunkenly stands up. Adjusting to the light, she sees row upon row of stacked cylinders lain to their side, most with a red light on. A small compartment opens at her feet, dumping her bag on the plastic floor, spilling the contents.
Kneeling down get her things, she hears a crunching sound doing so. Looking down and raising her shoe, she sees two broken vials seeping a dark blue liquid on the floor. With a sigh, she packs her belongings and heads to the restroom. Taking a dropper from her bag, she applies a liquid to her eyes, giving them a misty white hue. Rubbing her eyes changes the color to a powder grey. With a sprayer her hair turns to a black sheen, leaving no trace of the sunrise yellow.
Even at this time, Shin Edo is very much awake with activity, especially here in Kabuki-Cho. The lights and sounds give the illusion that it is the middle of the day, with people crowding the streets and doorways.
Pangs of hunger lead her to an automated dispenser serving quick meals. Pulling out her last bill, she slides it into the machine, and a push of a button rolls out her bill, its color changed to a lower denomination. A moment later, the machine drops a small box to the bottom. Opening it shows a warm cup of noodles with little else. It will have to be enough.
22:47 February 15, 2038, Monday
Craned over a table, Usagi works on a thick fabric, binding wires and photonic cells into the weave. Working in a small electronics store for what the owner could spare for food and shelter, she works at whatever items people need fixed. Thinking she was some guttersnipe from the red light, he didn’t ask too many questions once he saw her work.
A buzz on the door catches Usagi’s attention as two men walk into the establishment. Roughly dressed and augmented, they immediately eye Usagi over the counter. At the side, the owner looks at the two men, asking what their business is. Before he can ask further, one of them pulls a pistol, shoving it to his head. The other one goes to the counter, grinning at Usagi as he walks. With his mechanical arm, he crushes the cashier, ripping the cash box out as bills go flying. When the man tries to grab her, she panics and drops the welder in her hand, blinding light flashing for a moment
Mistaking the flash for gunfire, the one across the room shoots at Usagi, while his partner runs with the loot. Usagi drops to the floor, gripping her abdomen. Staying behind to finish the job, he shoots the owner in the head, and starts to move behind the counter. She staggers to her feet, struggling to get away, but the man takes aim and fires more rounds at point blank, tearing right through her clothes.
He walks over, taking aim at her head. Lying face up, her tears dilute and wash away the dye, revealing her blue eyes. His gantai immediately picks up her new identity. Without a second thought, he leaps over the counter and runs out the door.
Still in shock, Usagi pulls herself to her feet, looking around the store. Finding the dead owner and hearing a crowd forming outside, she limps through the back door, freezing rain greeting her. Her hair turns to a golden yellow as the rain washes away the dye. As she stumbles through the alley, pipes and scrap metal rip away her tattered shirt, revealing a white, translucent film wrapped around her. Deformed slugs fall from her body, leaving bloody, bruised skin. Sirens blare in the distance as she disappears into the back alleys, trying to escape.
00:06 February 16, 2038, Tuesday
Winding through the narrow spaces between buildings, Usagi avoids the main thoroughfares and sensors looking down on the streets. The adrenaline rush of her flight from the store subsided hours ago. The cold helps numb the pain, but also slows her down. Within the labyrinthine alleys, she stops at a back door, the flickering light above barely holding its own in the midnight shower. Fishing through her pocket rewards her with nothing as the cloth gives way and two keys fall down to a puddle.
She tries to reach down but it was all she could do as she doubles over in pain, nursing her stomach on the ground. As she helps herself up, blood rushes to her head and blurs her vision. For a moment, she sees someone behind the fog, before being cast away by a breeze. Ignoring the figure, she reaches for the keys and opens the door. The inside is filled with various containers and broken devices, all covered with a thin layer of dust. The place is sticky from the humidity and the dust clings to her whenever she touches anything.
Making her way to a stack of low containers covered with dirty rags, she doesn’t lie down so much as collapse onto it as her legs give way from exhaustion. Looking out, the door was left ajar and the occasional fine mist wanders into the room, mixing with the dust. A figure enters the room, but she can’t make out the details, her eyes struggling to focus. Inching closer, the figure takes its time, touching objects it passes by, the dusty surfaces of the clutter turning a darker hue from the moisture.
Helpless in her state, she can only watch as the figure stands over her, the details indistinct even this close. It says something, but the patter of rain echoes in the small room, drowning out the words. Whatever its intentions, it leans over her, the light seeming to pass right through it. She feels something wet caress her cheek, before a gust of wind washes cold mist in her face, awakening her from her fugue, if only for a moment. The figure is gone from the room and the only thing outside the door is rain.
Without the strength to stand, she contents herself with rolling to the side, facing the wall away from the door, trying to ignore the noise.
22:54 February 24, 2038, Wednesday
Far from the main thoroughfare, the sights and sounds of Ueno Park give way to silence and darkness. On a bench, Usagi holds her hands together, unable to sit still. Cold sweat running down her forehead, restlessness puts her ill at ease. From around the bend, a man carrying a weathered randoseru stops by one of the lamp posts. Seeing the bag, she breathes deep and stands up, walking up the path as the man looks away. Pulling a wad of wrinkled bills, she hands it to the man without a word. With a single look at the cash, he gives it back and goes on his way. After he turns around, she pulls at the man’s jacket, trying to find more money from her pockets.
Giving a few more bills, the man produces a small vial from his bag. Just before she can reach it, the man pulls it away, dangling it in front of her. With nothing else to give, she tries to unlatch her pendant, but trembling fingers stop her. In desperation, she snaps the necklace and offers up the trinket. Scratching his head, the man accepts and gives the vial, walking back up the path.
Alone in the lamp post, she quickly pulls out an injector from her pocket and doses herself with the vial. The shaking stops and she allows herself a satisfied sigh. As fatigue leaves her mind, a sharp pain erupts from her abdomen. Crossing her arms around, she starts walking down the path, trying to ignore the pain.
23:51 May 4, 2038, Tuesday
Sold, not Bought
Hands in pockets, head low, hood on, a young woman walks the back alleys, avoiding as much contact with people as possible. Kabuki-Cho is never more alive than in the dead of night, and even the side streets offer little respite.
An old messenger bag on one shoulder, clattering with various things, she makes a living fixing things for various establishments around the ward. Rounding a corner, she spies a familiar dispenser, the holo console flickering from wear. Kneeling down, she gets to work, rummaging through her bag for tools. As she unlocks the panel, a faint scratching sound comes from behind the machine. Her body tense, she slowly inches toward the sound while reaching for a tool. Peering behind the machine, a child huddles by the wall, looking straight back at her.
Unsure of why there would be a child here, she tries to open up first.
“Have you eaten?”
The child stays silent, the features obscured in the darkness.
Not giving up, she opens the console, coaxing the machine to work. A moment later, a small box drops to the bottom.
“It’s my treat”
She extends the steaming box to the child, trying to put up a friendly face.
“I’m not hungry”
From behind the shadow of the machine, the child’s eyes stay locked with hers.
Before they can continue with their conversation, a man runs up the alley. His oily, fluorescent hair shows his affiliation, and the smile gives away his vocation. Grabbing their attention, he moves toward the child.
“Hey Fuyu, thanks for finding it”
Pulling the child by the arm, it stands up, the features now visible in the dim light. Brushing her shock white hair to a side, Fuyu now sees it in more detail. The child’s bright expression in contrast to its clothes, sullied by the filth of Kabuki-Cho. Leaving a few bills, the young man leads the child down the alley, the establishment at the end their destination.
Putting the box down by the wall, she turns to work on the machine, trying not to think about what will happen next.
19:47 June 1, 2038, Tuesday
XX:XX XXXXXX XX, 2043, XXXXX
09:28 September 20, 2038, Monday
Motes of dust play through morning light as Usagi stares at the ceiling. Her skin is pale through the suit and her breathing shallow. Letters, images and sounds fly past her senses as she drifts under the currents of information. A passing article catches her attention, a government commission. Reading the contents give her energy as she lifts herself up. Sending a message, she immediately receives an AI reply. Gathering what few things she has left, she leaves for the outside. Coming out from an old apartment, she takes a deep breath, and starts walking.
With her suit steadying her steps, she makes her way through the streets. People take note of her as she passes by, some even going out of her path. Soon after, a few people start following her, trying to get her attention. Removing her gantai, she keeps walking, trying to ignore the questions. A few blocks later, she comes to a stop near a government building.
Reporters start shouting questions at her, asking about her activities before this point. She ignores the voices, and heads into the building. Inside, the reporters do not relent and continue to get their story. Security try to hold off the massing crowd, but there are too many and more continue to pour in. Disoriented by the noise and flashing lights, she loses her direction and is surrounded by the media. They bombard her with more inquiries, but one question resonates with her:
“You were missing for over nine months, do you have a message for your parents in Kyoto?”
Parents. The word brings to focus the memories she has. With the experiences still raw in her mind. She stops in her tracks and utters her answer:
“I’m not your daughter; I’m just carbon copy; Of that damned machine”
Follow up questions arise as to what she is talking about. Saying nothing else, she wades through the crowd, eventually reaching the security. A few moments later, the Japanese Neoweb is ablaze with the news of the reappearance of a missing genocrat. Mori Biotechnologies is unavailable for comment.
08:41 September 22, 2038, Wednesday
Rays of dawn creep up the towering Jōtatsu commercial complex’s side. A cold and clear sky greets Usagi as she rises from bed, still weary from recent events. An alert blinks nearby, regarding the unanswered messages she has.
Artists, activists, academics, politicians and many more. All asking for one thing or another. With a press of a button, a reply is sent to all of them, all bearing the same answer. Next come the personal solicitations. From a camera feed comes the view of a crowd already at her door, all waiting for her. This she ignores. She has not left in the past week, all her needs taken care of by automated systems.
The morning news is still going on about the Mori Scandal, as it has come to be known.
“Mori Usagi, daughter and heiress to the Mori Biotechnologies was a top graduate from Meishū-Gakuen and responsible for the organization of the rescue efforts during the quake of 2037. She has yet to give a follow up statement regarding this decision.”
Playing behind this report is the looping footage of her declaration
“Both parties offer no comment on the matter but we have resident academic Ikeda Yuki on this theory regarding this incident…”
Having heard enough of it, the holo closes and she leaves the bedroom.
Without so much as changing, she resumes her work, an incomplete schematic appearing in sight. It is simple enough for her, skinsuit designs, custom wear for the rich, androids, all done before noon. Her work complete, she resumes creating her workforce. Licensed AI profiles fill the roles of accountants, marketing, sales, logistics and more, all disembodied entities performing their roles within computing systems. Handling the bureaucracy, they leave her to the task of building the products. A company of one.
Looking up, light has already retreated from the city, blanketing it a dull orange. Looking down a window, she sees her reflection behind the glare. Staring back at her, it has dark circles around the eyes and pale skin. In the span of over nine months, many things have happened.
The doppelganger gives her an idea.
05:45 September 23, 2039, Friday
12:01 April 23, 2042, Wednesday
In a corner, Usagi sits, reading a dog-eared book on biomechanical theory. She tries to digest the contents of the yellowed pages, but instead finds herself looking for something. Producing a syringe from her pocket, it’s filled with a strange blue solution. A potent stimulant that is borderline illegal, it has yet to have any decision from the board. A useful substance, one she can easily synthesize.
Scanning the moonlit shelves, she looks for anyone – or anything – that could interrupt her. Satisfied, she aims the aperture at her arm, holding her breath before pulling the trigger. At the last moment, a light from the far side of the room glows. In a rehearsed movement, she waves her hand and the library before her disappears, reverting back to an office. A second later, in comes Hanako, holding her little sister in tow. Usagi tries her best to hold the injector out of their view, below the table.
“Hanako, what did I tell you about knocking?”
Usagi tries to lecture her, but Hanako ignores the remark.
“Lunch is here. I hope you like French”
Haruko stays silent at the exchange, simply looking at the both of them. Usagi notices this and answers:
“Alright, I’ll be with you two in a moment”
Unsatisfied with the reply, Hanako notices the object on the table
“What’s with the antique look?”
“It’s not that old”
“That thing’s probably older than all of us. Why not use your pod?”
“Sentimentality I suppose”
“Well, your sentimentality is costing us to fund MG’s old library”
Hanako summons a statement of accounts, summarizing their sponsorship costs. Haruko looks at the dancing lights, trying to touch it with her fingers, but they lie beyond her reach.
“We can spare the credits”
“We should turn it into a bio lab”
“One costs more than ten vintage libraries, and we gave them two”
“Libraries don’t give us partial rights to designs made in them”
“I told you to waive that!”
Their gaze turns to the new voice, the both of them looking at Haruko. Stared down, she runs away, leaving the two of them alone in the room. Trying to avoid each other’s eyes, Hanako makes the first move.
“I’ll get the table ready”
Turning away, Hanako follows her sister out as Usagi just stares at the object in her hand, trying to ignore what happened.
23:06 September 22, 2042, Saturday
Usagi drops in and out of the waking world, trying to steady an injector. She loses balance just before Hanako catches her.
“You’ve been working for four days”
“I just have to finish this last project”
“And then just start right on the next one, is that it? You always do this”
“This one is important”
She grabs the injector from Usagi’s hand before she could react.
“Jeez, you can’t even see how many fingers I’m holding”
“I just need a pick me up”
“You need eight hours”
Usagi climbs back on her chair, trying to open a hologram, but Hanako grabs her hand.
“The deadline can go to hell!”
“I can do this!”
Usagi, struggling to break free, whips her hand from Hanako’s grip, slapping her on the cheek. Usagi is silent, trying to find the words, but Hanako speaks her mind.
“Go kill yourself for all I care!”
Hanako stomps out of the room, taking the injector. Left alone, Usagi opens the hologram again. It shows a skinsuit schematic. Her alarm rings with a special reminder:
XX:XX XXXXXX XX, 2043, XXXXX
10:11 April 16, 2044, Saturday
In a shrine in Bunkyo, Usagi waits in plaza, stealing glances of the people passing by. In her vision, names, addresses and other information stream by, but the faces themselves go ignored. A nudge from inside her ear prompts her to open a new image in her sight.
“How are you holding up?”
A voice comes from inside her head, that of Hanako. With a thought, Usagi replies.
“Alright I guess. I don’t see him though, maybe I should go”
“He’ll be there, just wait. Not everyone’s a former genocrat”
Usagi frowns without noticing, as if disapproving of those she looks at.
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Nothing. Wait, he just contacted me again”
With that, a new voice enters Usagi’s mind.
“Usagi-san, I’m almost there. Are you okay meeting here?”
Without warning, the call transfers to Usagi. In her surprise, she stands up, speaking aloud.
“U-Uh… no worries, I took a shot before getting here”
“Okay, I’ll be there real soon, I can already see the shrine”
Switching the lines, Usagi talks to Hanako.
“A warning would be welcome next time”
“Well, I thought you would like to talk to him as soon as possible”
“Just give me a second”
Brushing her hair, Usagi sits down, but overshoots the lip of the bench. Losing her balance, she falls straight down to the ground, but a hand catches her in time. Looking up, Usagi sees her old accomplice, with a calm smile on his face.
“We have to stop meeting like this”
Pulled back on her feet, Usagi looks away, trying her best to put up a smile.
“Yeah, I owe you twice now”
“Really? You’re still counting?”
Sitting down, Usagi waits for him to do the same. Eventually, he asks:
“Is it alright if I sit next to you?”
“What? You don’t need-“
“- to ask that?”
Without saying anything else, he sits next to her. A voice comes ringing from within Usagi’s mind in the silence.
“Come on! Ask him about something! Any-”
Closing her eyes and rubbing her temple, the voice cuts off.
“Hey, are you alright?”
“Yeah, I’m fine. It’s nice to see a familiar face again”
“Oh, I have something for you”
Out of his pocket, he places a small coin in her hand. A hologram of an Azalea appears from it.
“It’s to go with the other one. Something to remind you of your new home”
Usagi clasps her empty neck as he looks across to the blossoming flowers.
She tries to mouth a word, but says nothing.
00:30 February 4, 2045, Saturday
From within pool of liquid rises a sheet of black film. With both hands, Usagi lifts the dark substance, showing it to be a form of skinsuit. To no one in the room, she says:
“I’ll be out for the night, I have to do a test run”
Echoing from the walls come a response.
“Okay. Are you sure it’s working?”
“It’s working. It should be enough for the show”
With a mental note, her clothes shed from her body.
“You mean my show. And don’t tell me I have to do that”
“No, I’ll have a roomier one for you by then”
Unencumbered, she starts to slip into the suit, wearing her clothes back on top.
Opening a holo of Shin-Edo, she marks a line from the office to around the city.
“I’ll be using this route, can you escort me just to be safe?”
“And what, freak people out?”
“They won’t see me, remember?”
In a blink, Usagi’s body disappears into a near-transparent silhouette. When she tries to exit the room, it fails to open for her. After a moment, she touches the panel and it slides away. In the entrance hall, Hanako witnesses the poltergeist clothing, barely holding a fit of laughter.
“You cannot believe how silly you look right now!”
“The suit isn’t working? I thought it was just the door”
“What? No. Oh man, I am so saving this!
In a moment of clarity, Usagi sheds the clothing again, leaving nothing else to mark her presence. She proceeds to the elevator with Hanako in tow, still suffering from a snicker. With a ding, the elevator opens with half a dozen people. From Hanako’s vision comes trailing text from her partner.
“You first, I’ll follow. And take care not to look my way”
Following the command, Hanako takes her time, brushing lightly with the people around her. With Usagi in the corner, Hanako makes small talk with some of the riders. Outside, the last falls of snow give fog to the area. From behind, a cold hand clasps Hanako’s shoulder, followed by scrolling text.
“No insulation, let’s move on”
At a brisk pace, they walk to the nearest station. Time of day ensures there are few passengers. The turnstile parts for Hanako, while Usagi walks through the exit arch. Save for some youth and the night shift workers, the car is sparsely populated. A young man approaches Hanako, who stands beside her. Hanako teases Usagi by flirting with him, giving a wink and a pod number. Just beside herself, Usagi trips the young man during a curve on the rail, who falls backwards. After standing up, he awkwardly walks away as Hanako waves him goodbye.
At the first chance, they alight at the next station, exiting just outside Akasaka. The cold starts to cling into patches of frost, Usagi’s breath steaming through the mask. Hanako holds onto a railing, taking time to rest. Looking around, she catches a glance of Usagi, who is starting to shiver from the cold. Removing her coat, she places it over her.
“You can see me?”
She removes the mask and pulls the hood over her head.
“Yeah, the cold must have gotten to it”
“When did the suit fail?”
“I don’t know. Whatever, looks like people didn’t notice you anyway. Let’s get a cab home, I’d rather not take the train again.”
With a shrug, Hanako starts to interact with her pod, summoning a YellowCab taxi from the road. Usagi looks far ahead, into the intersection, with pedestrians crossing the lanes.
“Yeah, I guess they didn’t”
20:05 May 4, 2046, Friday
The Mori Biomechanical clinic was almost empty this Friday, no one wanted to spend a holiday lying on a bed. That did not stop Usagi from working, however, as there was one patient. Lying on the examination table is Hanako, wearing a clean skinsuit. She fidgets on the table, trying to find a comfortable posture while Usagi for her part stays professional in the procedure.
“You know, padding on the table would go a long way for patients”
“I’ll be sure to keep that in mind”
“Are you sure you should be the one doing this? You are my mother”
“You could always get a second opinion”
A device slides down onto the table, carrying an array of tools, blades, tubes and the like. Hanako winces at the thought of how they are used. Usagi assuages her fears by pulling down a small tube, which she rests on her forehead.
“This is still a physical right?
“What’s with the tube? I didn’t ask for a facial”
“Why would I clean your face?”
A hologram appears, showing vital signs and mental activity. Satisfied, Usagi raises the device and helps her off the table.
“Nothing’s wrong with you, just don’t stay up so late and you’ll be fine.”
“You’re telling me to not stay up late? Have you looked in a mirror?”
Hanako summons a hologram. Dark circles in her eyes and working hours this week round out her argument.
“I’ll be fine, just take the day off tomorrow. I have some other things to do”
“Alright, but this better not come out of my allowance”
Her suit changes to a coat and she takes her leave of the clinic as Usagi continues with her work. Fitting a plated glove and attaching wires, her left hand changes color, slowly disappearing from sight. As she looks at her phantasmal gauntlet, the lights go out. No emergency light switches on and she is left in darkness. From the ether she hears an all too familiar voice.
“What a nice little family you have”
“Have you ever told them about me?”
Reaching out, Usagi touches cold skin. At that same moment, a chilling hand caresses her cheek. Startled, she staggers back and falls on the examination table. A deafening, grinding noise comes from above as she feels something wet drip on her. Emergency lights flicker, showing glimpses of the presence with her.
“Have you ever told them about their REAL mother!?”
From above, a bloody, slender hand strangles the life out of her. With her last breath, she reaches for a blade from above and thrusts upward. The hand loses its grip and she gasps for air, almost choking on the dripping fluid. The lights flicker on and she is frozen in fear as she sees her attacker. With a garbled voice it taunts her.
“Maybe I’ll start with our youngest”
The room is once again bathed in light as voice fades away. The panel above drips with blood from one of the tubes, a clean hole punched through by a scalpel. With shaking hand and heavy breath, she lets go of the blade, which is slowly pulled back into the panel. The tube spills more fluid before it cuts off, as Usagi quickly sits up on the table, nursing her throat.
Trying to understand what just happened, she feels her neck, her left hand tracing perfectly the bruise on her throat.
Remembering its last words, she stands up on shaking knees and runs up to their apartment.
08:31 November 2, 2046, Friday
Burning both Ends
“-are you alright?”
Usagi snaps out of a trance when Hanako calls her attention.
“Yes, I’m… I’m fine. What’s the schedule for this morning?”
Wiping her face to dispel the weariness, she does her best to focus on the task at hand.
“Well, first on the list are the deaths caused by two of our worker models.”
With a wave of her hand, a holographic image appears.
“From reports, they don’t seem to be related, though both happened last night”
“I see, have you held a press statement on the incident?”
Usagi reviews the reports, trying to hold the information in her memory.
“Of course, last night when the news broke. You were busy teaching her, so I didn’t want to be a bother”
“Oh, I’ll see to these reports to find the problem”
With a gesture, the trailing reports disappear and she rubs her eyes in preparation for more reading.
“Don’t worry, that’s the only thing we have for today” She hesitates before continuing. “Haruko told me about going to school”
“I guessed as much, and you want to take her outside?” Usagi looks at the reports, avoiding her gaze.
“Maybe” Hanako walks right up to face her, “You should come too”
Usagi swivels her chair away, “I’m sure you can guide her better than I can. Just be back here before dark.”
Hanako turns for the door, but before leaving, “Right, there’s also a visit from one Achika Matsuoka for a personal interview tonight”
“Wait -” Before Usagi could protest, she is gone from her office. With a sigh, she opens the details: A request for an interview to be used for a student report on the personal lives of the genocracy.
Usagi stands up, producing a glass capsule from her pocket, she looks at the azure liquid playing in the sunrise beams. Elsewhere, two sisters leave for the outside.
00:31 November 3, 2046, Saturday
Patient: Otoha Hoshikawa. Age 16.
Diagnosis: Damaged prosthesis, right arm. From use past safe limits?
Treatment: Replace prosthesis. Under warranty – free of charge…
Usagi writes a short medical note about the operation to be done. Otoha was still in the prep room with her friend. Sanitation is a must with these operations. Breaking off her mental concentration, the holo disappears and she looks at Hanako, holding a hermetically sealed prosthetic arm.
“Is this the one you wanted?”
“Yes, that’s the one”
“Are you sure?”
Hanako places the arm on the table, her eyes lingering at the attachment point.
“Yes, it’s the closest fit to her dimensions”
“I don’t know”
“I’ll just need to adjust it a bit. Don’t tell me you’re going to miss it?”
Rubbing her left arm, Hanako gives a candid answer.
“Well, it was mine first. It just feels weird”
“It’s a bad memory is what it is”
“Can’t you just grow her a new one?”
“You know that’s both expensive and-”
“-we can’t let other people know that’s possible, I know”
Changing the subject, Hanako moves toward a wall. A portion opens up to reveal a shelf stocked with small cubes.
“Do you need any help?”
“Thanks, but you should get going. Haruko doesn’t like rain storms.”
“She’s already asleep. And you’ve never done an operation this late”
Hanako starts looking for a clean suit pack, but Usagi clasps her on the shoulder. With a tired smile, she says:
“I’ll be fine, just look after your little sister for me”
“If you say so. Just try not to make the news again”
Hanako walks to the door, taking a hesitant step before exiting. A few moments later, Otoha enters the room in a clean skinsuit. The door closes and the operation light turns on.
1. Who was the group that attacked her family? Was it just coincidence or something more?
2. What is the cause of the aberrance with her suits? Could her – or her daughter’s – suits be subject to these issues?
3. Are there parties who know the intentions of her design? Could they be willing to force her to instead make these nanosuits for them instead?
4. Her parents have spent a great deal of money in her, are they willing to just let her go?
1. She is always soft spoken and polite in conversations and somewhat awkward in social situations.
2. It does not help that her entire workforce is artificial or automated.
3. She has tired look, with circles in her eyes and slow, deliberate movements.
4. She is just beside herself when the topic turns to her parents.
5. She usually works into the next day, with help from her Blue Light dependence.
6. She has the misguided belief that society will accept her if she looks and acts the part of a scientist.
Objectification and one’s role in society. She is part of a social class that is largely unknown to the general public and she is society’s window into that world. Of course, her upbringing means that she knows little of the world at large and her parent’s actions only means she distrusts the genocracy.
She operates in the misguided belief that society will accept her if she looks and acts the part of a scientist, or any other role they expect one of her “stature” to be in.
1. She wants to be accepted by society, and she plans to do so by acting as society expects her to act.
2. What she really needs is to find her own identity and possibly, her place in the world.
3. The internal conflict is in how she does not know how to differentiate between the two and ends up exclusively playing a role rather than being herself.
4. Her conflict with other characters is that they may end up distrusting her as she probably acts differently with each of them, and her previous life does not help matters.
5. Her problem with the world is about trying to be accepted by a society that may forever see her as apart from it.
1. The multipurpose suit as a device showing her journey into reconciling the different roles she’s had to play in her life. The latest , being a step in the wrong direction.
2. Haruko as a way to relive a childhood she could never really take back, and repeating her parent’s mistakes.