Future Memories - Memories Of Home
"...Hey Rookie, you there?"
Blinking his eyes a couple times he looked up to the man addressing him. "I'm listening Batou, what's happening?"
"Section 3 has finally gotten a lead on those damn Syndicate yahoos who've been putting the pressure on in Old Town. Section 9 has been formally asked by the government to bring them in, alive. Feel up to the task?"
Looking back towards the wall he said, "Sure. When are we moving?"
There was an odd silence and he felt a heavy hand come to rest on his shoulder. "You okay, Rookie? You've been acting zoned all morning..."
Stepping over the unconscious body of his father, he hoisted his backpack and walked away from the Tendo household. Not even the shocked looks on his host family's faces stopped him.
"I've had enough."
"...Ya, I'm fine. Just thinking about some old stuff."
"Okay, whatever. Anyhow, let's go. The Major and Togusa are already on-route, she wants to get this over with quick."
Climbing into the passenger seat of the car he asked, "...where are they working out of?"
"The Syndicate group? They have an old warehouse near the Waterfront district that they're using. No residential or commercial types near it. Perfect as far as I'm concerned. Ishikawa has been diving the nets and tags the group at an even dozen with ninety percent probability."
"Works for me."
He wandered through the back streets of Hong Kong, tired and hungry. Need to get some money, he thought, maybe a short-term job or something...
"There's the place now."
"Okay." Mentally throwing a couple of switches he turned on his Tac-Comm-Net and started an internal system diagnostic. Everything checked green.
<Major here. System check. Sound off.>
At that moment Aramaki's voice, director of Section 9, cut into the channel. <Now remember everyone, we want these people alive. Get to it.>
Slowly Batou drove around the block as they both scoped out the place. Two story building, vehicle doors at the rear, a single lobby entrance, and two fire escapes.
<Set an ambush. Disablement is your specialty, pick a place.>
Taking another quick look at his options he replied, <The vehicle bay doors were left open. I'll take them there.>
<You heard him everyone. I'm taking the lobby, Batou and Togusa take the fire escapes. We want lots of noise, but nothing stupid. Move it.>
Batou pulled to a stop half a block away and he climbed out of the car, starting towards the spot he picked.
Stopping, he asked, "Ya?"
"Keep your head out of the clouds, okay? Time enough for day dreaming tonight at the party."
Still looking away he nodded saying, "Sure," and then he was walking. A quick jerk on the chain that held the gate doors shut broke the lock. Slipping inside he didn't see anyone, but paused anyhow to up the audio feed and verify it.
Dropping his armored jacket to the ground he approached the back bay doors while taking a close look. Spotting a ceiling girder just inside he nodded to himself and headed in.
She'd been headed towards the boarding house from the diner, a sigh on her lips at the irony of using the curse once again to get a job, when she'd heard the scream. Recognizing it as a woman's from an apartment building across the street, she cursed to herself as she ran towards it.
Shaking his head he answered, <Fifteen seconds.>
Slipping his shoes off in favor of more traction he stopped just inside the bay doors. Arming an anti-IR smoke grenade he tossed it halfway between himself and the inside entrance.
Taking a moment to admire the selection of plush cars he then pulled his silenced 14mm and proceeded to put a bullet into all the front tires. That done he reloaded and then tossed the other smoke grenade he carried. Just before the smoke cut even his vision, he set himself and jumped straight up twenty-five feet, grabbing the girder.
<I'm set, reel 'em in.>
Taking a quick half-second to focus her ki, she took a running jump and hauled herself over the third-story railing of the apartment that the screaming had come from. Pausing just long enough to kick in the glass patio door and she jumped inside, where a dozen masked men turned towards her, guns raised.
The sound of yelling and short bursts of automatic gunfire came to him, and he activated the experimental global radar system, his vision suddenly plunged into a digital virtual- reality. While only having an effective range of about 10 meters, it was almost hyper-accurate at half that, which is all he needed.
He heard the entrance doors open. Automatic gunfire ripped through the space below him as the Syndicate thugs laid down a suppressive fire. Getting no return fire, they stumbled down the stairs and by feel tried to find their way to the cars.
As soon as he heard the shuffling sound below him he let go, and with only a slight twist in the air managed to land his 400 plus pound frame on the gunman below him, squashing the man flat and effectively taking him out of the fight.
Using his amplified hearing and global radar he moved in the direction of the main group, eating up 10 meters of distance in just over a second.
He used a simple hand-strike breaking someone's shoulder followed by a foot-sweep to lay them down. A mule kick from the squatted position crushed another man's pelvic region. Pausing for a second and then jumping ten feet forward to land feet-first on another person he flashed through a quick hand sequence dropping a fourth person.
Again he moved towards a third group, this time leading with a jump kick. As that person dropped he turned towards another only to be flung backwards as automatic gunfire slammed into him.
Dodging to her left she plowed into the men in the room, fists and feet lashing out furiously. She knew that as long as she mixed herself within the group they probably wouldn't shoot, but then she heard another scream.
Looking towards the front of the room she spotted a woman trying to shield two girls as one of the masked men took aim at them. Throwing herself across the room she landed on top of the woman, and the sound of gunshots as pain exploded across her back was the last thing heard...
Rolling with the impacts he deactivated the global radar to find out that the smoke was quickly dissipating. Pulling his pistol he rose to one knee and took aim. A quick squeeze of the trigger and the man dropped, screaming as his kneecap was blown off.
Pushing himself off the ground he turned to cover the last few people while yelling, "You're surrounded! Drop your weapons!"
A couple light caliber rounds struck his chest and he turned putting a single round into someone's shoulder, dropping them. Turning to cover the last two, they slowly dropped their weapons.
<This is Saotome. I've got a wrap here, but need some support.>
<You okay, Rookie?>
<I'm a mess, but I'm still standing.>
A few moments later both the Major and Togusa entered the vehicle bay, weapons drawn After taking a quick stock of the situation they slowly approached him.
"How many we need medical for?"
Turning towards the Major he answered, "Four. Two for gun wounds, and two with major bone breakage. The rest can just be patched for now."
Nodding she walked towards the open bay doors, probably talking with someone else on a channel he didn't have access to. Sitting down he ran another internal diagnostic, getting an inventory of everything damaged. It was an extensive list.
Turning towards Togusa, he glanced up to look at the man.
"You okay? Nothing broken?"
Glancing at himself, at the synthetic blood from various bullet wounds as it soaked his shirt, he finally said, "The smoke dissipated faster then I'd thought, and I don't have the fancy thermoptic camouflage that the Major does. No serious damage though."
Shrugging Togusa said, "Hey, Megatech has their fancy thermoptics, and Arasaka has their new sonar interface. Keeps everything balanced." Glancing around a moment, Togusa then added in a lower voice, "You sure you're okay? Everyone's kind of noticed you haven't been your usual today."
Taking a good long look at the man, he decided that the concern appeared to be sincere. Shrugging his shoulders he then looked away.
Again Togusa's soft voice spoke, asking, "You want to talk about it?"
He shook his head.
Three years since he's seen her....
He opened the door to find his father standing there. With a growl he asked, "What do you want Pop?"
"It's taken almost two years to find you, boy. I'm taking you back."
"I don't have time for this, old man. I've a job to do, something important now." Shoving past the man he slammed the door behind him and stepped out into the street, the rain pouring down on him. And then froze.
Turning back to the wide eye expression of his father, hiding under a large umbrella. Hearing the man suddenly exclaim, "A cure...."
"No it's not. I'm not cured, what happened was... I can't say. You DON'T want this, Pop, believe me."
Stepping forward the man grabbed his shoulder and started shaking him. "Tell me, damn it! Tell me how, or so help me...."
The fight started out ugly...
He woke lying on his bed, his clothing laid out next to him, just like every other time he underwent class one maintenance.
Dressing himself he glanced at the time. Nine in the evening, Batou's party was probably in full swing now. He splashed some water on his face and was headed for the kitchen when he noticed the message light flashing on his phone.
"Hey Saotome, it's Togusa. I'm passing on the party myself, but thought I'd invite you over to talk if you're interested. Here's my address."
It took a long to come to a decision.
It was eleven when he finally knocked on the door, and it took over a minute for Togusa to answer it, dressed in shorts and a sleeveless shirt. Wiping the sleep from his eyes he said, "Hey Saotome, wasn't expecting you this late. Come on in."
Stepping inside he heard a woman's voice softly call down from upstairs. Turning towards the stairs Togusa said, "It's okay hun, just a friend. Go on to bed, I'll be up later." Leading him into the living room Togusa stepped into the kitchen briefly, coming back with two beers. Handing one to him, they both sat down.
He looked at the drink in his hands for a long time before setting it on the coffee table, unopened.
"While you're thinking, do you mind if I ask a couple of questions, Saotome? There are just some things that, well, I'm curious about. Hell, we all are. You don't have to answer them if you don't want."
Shaking his head he said, "Call me Ranma. Sure, ask away."
Biting his bottom lip a moment Togusa finally asked, "Why do you have a male shell?"
With a groan he flopped back into the couch. "Listen, I don't care what my medical file says about the gender of my brain. I was born a male, my ghost is male, and I'm one now. What happened in between is... a long story, one which I just don't want to go into right now. Got it?"
Waving his hands Togusa said, "Okay, okay. Was just curious. Believe it or not there was a pool going on about that."
"Really? Well now that I've opened my big mouth, who just collected?"
"The Major and I."
He laughed saying, "That figures." Glancing up at his host he then asked, "Why did you bet that way? Specially with the medical record saying otherwise?"
This time it was Togusa who was grinning as he sipped his beer. "I've learned to trust the Major's instincts."
He nodded, suddenly deep in thought once more.
"Which brings me to my second question since the topic conveniently moved in that direction. How the hell did you get the Major to cut you slack so quickly? Damn, it took almost two years before she started treating me as anything more then an annoyance."
Thinking for a moment he suddenly asked, "Just how old is the Major?"
"She turned sixty-five a month ago, why?"
Closing his eyes he answered, "Well you know how old I am. Hell, barely old enough to drink that beer in some countries." After a moment he then added, "When I was first loaned out the Major decided that she wanted to know how good I was. Open-hand combat, no limiters."
Wincing Togusa said, "I've seen the Major play. How bad did she work you over?"
He couldn't help himself, and let the old Saotome Ranma cocky grin out just one last time.
"I dropped her five out of five."
The spray of beer covered half the table separating them, and then Togusa was beating his chest and choking. After a moment of this he asked in a wheezy voice, "Holy shit. You're joking, right?"
Shaking his head he said, "Ask her yourself. She's good, very good, and knows some nasty tricks that even I haven't seen before, but I'm better." Pausing, he then added, "Oh, and don't mention this to Batou. She told me that if she had to put up with any razzing from that corner, next time we're using firearms."
After taking some deep breaths all Togusa could say was, "Damn."
Nodding his head in agreement he lapsed into silence once again. It was several minutes before he managed to push himself into opening his mouth once again.
"I've been thinking about home."
Not hearing any reply he added, "About a lot of things, really. I have a lot of... of people, that I knew back in Japan, and I've just been wondering how they've been. I'd... I'd like to see them again, but I don't think I'd be welcome."
"You know that for certain?"
"Well, no, but I do know that it probably wouldn't be pretty."
"What about your family?"
With a sigh he answered, "Definitely not pretty. I had a run-in with my father just before I was loaned out to Section 9. My father and I both suffer from a... condition, and with me wearing this shell now I'm inadvertently cured. When he found out, he demanded to know how I did it. It ended real nastily."
It was another long silence before Togusa asked, "Your mother?"
A frown on his face he answered, "I don't know." Suddenly jumping to his feet he began pacing, violently shoving his hands into his pockets. "Damn it, and that's the whole thing. I... seeing the rest of them would be nice but not... I just..." with a jerk he turned away. "I just want to see her again."
It was another minute before his host spoke.
"So why don't you just call her?"
Shooting an angry glance he said, "It's not that easy!"
Shaking his head Togusa finally said, "Listen Ranma. What's so hard about it? Either she's going to talk to you or she's not. If she does, great, if not, then at least you know."
Growling out loud he said, "Thanks for the beer" and left.
He wandered the streets for hours, taking random alleys and window-shopping as he past all the closed shops.
Was it that easy?
And then he was stopping at a phone booth, taking a deep breath as he dialed a phone number that he'd memorized over three years ago, and closed his eyes.
After the fourth ring the phone was answered by a woman's sleepy voice.
Feeling a growing lump in his throat the second he heard her voice he opened his mouth to speak, but nothing came out.
"Hello? Is someone there?"
Fighting not to choke up right there he finally said, "Mom?"
There was a long silence, so long that he almost began to panic, when he finally heard her whisper, "Ranma?"
"Uh, ya. Mom, do you... do you have time to talk?"
It was then that he heard the sniffling over the line as she said, "I've missed you."
Opening his eyes he glanced up as he felt the first drops of rain.
"I've missed you too Mom."
And the skies cried with him.