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Woman: ...What about his wife, hm? Does she know?

Trainee: Off to the ladies' room?

Trainee: Looks that way.

Trainee: Do we go after her?

Trainee: Hang on a second. The walls and floor in the restroom are completely tiled. The windows have fixed fittings with aluminum bars on the outside. She could probably break them easily, but I doubt she'd do anything as violent as that.


IN: Kusanagi's Labyrinth; affection


Togusa: It's an oven out here. Phew... Hey, are you thirsty? Beer... That's gotta be nice, being able to break down alcohol in your system so you can't get drunk. By the way, don't you think that the difficulty level of this test for new recruits is a little out of whack?

Batou: Get serious. If you haven't got what it takes to beat something like this, then you don't have the right stuff to make it as a trainee.

Togusa: Well, yeah, that's true, but even so...

Motoko: Batou.

Batou: Yeah?

Motoko: What's the situation over there?

Batou: Just reading the paper and drinking some coffee.

Motoko: I wasn't referring to you. I meant them.

Batou: So did I. They're totally relaxed.

Motoko: Do you think it simply hasn't dawned on them yet that they might have been implanted with false memories?

Batou: That's the first thing I taught 'em how to spot.

Motoko: How many are left?

Batou: Six people in three teams.

Motoko: Let's move on to the next set.

Batou: Roger.

Motoko: Is this the last team?

Batou: Unfortunately, it is.

Trainee: I'm sorry, sir. I lost the target!

Batou: Did you now? OK, then, what's your next move?

Trainee: We'll try doing another sweep of the area.

Batou: You will, huh? Well, good luck with that.

Togusa: You're being a little hard on them, aren't you?

Batou: Well, pity won't help 'em. Major, it's over. Let's head back to the office. Major?

Togusa: Major?

Batou: I'm not getting through.

Togusa: Think she got ticked off and went back?

Motoko: Is this a hack? Batou. Batou? So this really is a hack. I didn't feel anything slip past my four layers of defense barriers. If the trainees are behind this, they're pretty impressive.

Motoko: So, this is the finish line, huh? What is this sensation? My skin's touch receptors are definitely picking up real tactile responses. But in spite of that, this whole thing doesn't seem real at all.

Motoko: Prosthetic bodies?

Proprietor: Aren't they adorable? The children, I mean.

Motoko: Are you the proprietor?

Proprietor: Something like that. So, young lady, what would you like me to take care of for you?

Motoko: Take care of?

Proprietor: That's right. I provide a service: my customers leave their external memories here in my shop, and I look after them. To another person, all of the items in this place may seem to be utterly worthless dust collectors, but each and every one of them is packed full with the unique and special memories of its owner. That's the reason I sometimes feel as if I'm suffocating. The air in here is thick with the psychic imprints that emanate from so many of them.

Motoko: Psychic imprint...

Proprietor: Let me guess. You were drawn to this place because they attracted you, too? These are rare collectibles, they were created back in the early days of full prosthetic bodies. The memories surrounding these two children are always a source of sadness and pain for me. However, at the same time, it also lets me experience the joy of serving as a care taker for the memories of my customers.

Motoko: So, tell me. What sort of memories do you sense between...

Proprietor: Oh, dear, it's this late already? Where does the time go? I'm terribly sorry, but I'm closing early today. Please drop by again when you have the chance to stay for a while. I'll tell you all about them then.

Motoko: Oh, now I get it, that strange sensation... It was nostalgia...

Togusa: C'mon, Boss. What do you say? Let's call it a night, too. Why don't we just wait and make our report to the Major tomorrow, huh?

Batou: Dammit, Major, don't up and disappear on us like that again. You wanna tell us where the hell have you been?

Motoko: Here and there. So, how many applicants do we have who look like they might make it onto the team?

Batou: One guy who came up through Military Intelligence. He came highly recommended to us by that man the Chief knows.

Motoko: That's not very reassuring.

Batou: I can't deny we're lacking quality material, but I also can't deny that we urgently need more personnel.

Motoko: But if we lower the standard of difficulty any further, it's only gonna weaken us overall.

Togusa: So what do we do? Have follow-up testing at some later date, then?

Motoko: I'll talk it over with the Chief and decide.

Batou: Hey, what do you think? Am I cut out to be an instructor?

Motoko: Batou, in my opinion, if you're not cut out for the job, then no one is. I'm calling it a day. Hold down the fort.

Togusa: Huh. Look, don't worry about it. I was the same. Before I came to Section 9, the Major would've shaken me in no time.

Batou: You? No, that's a shocker.

Togusa: What's with you? So, you're trying to tell me you can stalk a target who can up and vanish the way the Major does and tail him right to the bitter end?

Batou: Hm. You bet your ass.

Ran: A waking dream?

Motoko: I'm not sure, but I think it might've been something more spiritual.

Ran: When I roll over in my sleep, I'll sometimes have an out-of-body experience and see some pretty weird stuff.

Motoko: Really? Say, have you ever sensed any psychic energy from something that you own?

Ran: Hmm, let me think. Well, I've had the sensation of my car being an extension of my arms and legs while I'm on a long drive, if that's what you mean. Hey, why don't we call Kurutan and go crazy for once?

Motoko: Sounds fun. But I'd better pass. There's something that I have to do today.

Batou: What the hell is the Major doing, retracing the same route she took yesterday?

Batou: What the...? She realized I was tailing her?

Proprietor: I've been waiting for you. I had a feeling you'd be coming right about now.

Motoko: Why's that?

Proprietor: Because these children were getting tired of waiting, too.

Motoko: Oh. Let's not waste time. I wanna hear about them.

Proprietor: My, but you're impatient. All right. To begin with, I've been caring for these two little bodies for quite some time. They've been meticulously preserved by the boy, who's now grown into a man.

Proprietor: When the boy was six years old, he was in a plane crash. Apparently, it was a terrible accident in which most of the passengers were killed. I've heard that even those who were rescued died soon afterwards from their injuries. There were no survivors except for this boy, and a girl who happened to be in the seat next to him. The lives of these two children were amazingly spared; however, the girl was in a coma and never regained consciousness. As for the boy, he was completely paralyzed except for his left arm. When the boy's injuries had healed, he suddenly became aware of the situation and the effects the crash had had on his life. Such as the fact that his parents, who were aboard the plane with him, were dead, and why it was that his distant relatives, who so thoughtfully came to visit him at first, quickly began distancing themselves from him. It was difficult for the lad to accept all this in his young mind but he tried as best as he could. It was then that he began to think of the little girl who was sleeping in the bed next to his, this child who was in the same straits as he was, as his only friend in the world. "Please, let her wake up." He prayed that again and again as he painstakingly continued to fold paper cranes with his one good hand. But then...

Motoko: Something happened to the girl, didn't it?

Proprietor: A while later, the poor girl's condition took a sudden turn for the worse.

Nurse: BP 60. No diastolic.

Doctor: Give her one unit each of lidocaine and epi!

Nurse: I can't get an ECF reading.

Nurse: BP's down to 40.

Doctor: Prep the OR. Stat!

Proprietor: The next morning, the boy asked what had happened to the girl. He was told that she'd gone far away. Two years passed. During that time, the boy spoke to no one. He simply spending his days silently folding pieces of paper into cranes. It was almost as if his continual creation of these folded birds was a grave and necessary duty that had been assigned to him.

Nurse: Did he say anything today?

Nurse: Just that he wanted some white paper.

Proprietor: Then one day, when all the legal proceedings and whatnot from the crash were finally over, a relatives of the boy arrived with a young doctor. This is what they said to the boy. "We came here to offer you something. If you're interested, there is a procedure that will allow us to completely replace your paralyzed body. Are you brave enough to give it a try? If it goes as planned, you'll be able to live a normal life, just like you used to." The boy didn't answer. He said nothing. But it wasn't because the boy lacked courage, not in the least. Do you know why? It was because the boy had no incentive, no desire to return to his old, normal life. After all, the boy no longer had an interest in anything at this point except for making his origami cranes. And so, eventually, the adults around him gave up trying to talk him into it. The boy simply would not be persuaded. But there was one person, a little girl who gave him the nudge that he needed to open up.

Motoko: That's who the girl is.

Proprietor: Yes. She was about the same age as the boy, and had already successfully undergone the full prosthetics procedure. I imagine that the young doctor introduced the two of them as a last resort to convince the boy to at least consider having the same treatment. It seems that the little girl came to visit the boy at the hospital every day. She was a cheerful, energetic child. It must have been very difficult for her to become used to a full prosthetic body, yet, in spite of that, she never uttered a single word of complaint about it to the boy. In fact, when the topic came up, she even recommended that the boy get a full prosthetic body, as well. The boy listened to her in silence, but one day, he suddenly blurted out to the girl, "Can you fold origami cranes with your prosthetic hands? If you can, then I guess I wouldn't mind getting a full prosthetic body, too." However, even though the child could support herself and move around, she was unable to convey commands to her body that would permit her to control her fine motor skills. Maybe the child was competitive and didn't like to lose. Because this little girl tried again and again to fold a paper crane. I think that due to persistence in this endeavor she was a source of hope for the boy. But they were still both very young... The boy became dejected by her failures and said, "If I won't be able to make folded cranes for the girl who died, then I'm fine with staying just the way I am." After that day, the boy never saw the girl again. She left, telling him, "I'm going to practice making origami cranes so that I can fold them for you some day, okay?" Yes. She was the girl who'd been injured in the crash with him, the one who he thought had died. Why didn't she tell the boy this? You're undoubtedly wondering. I don't know. But she must've had a very pressing reason not to. But that day, the boy made up his mind. He decided to get a prosthetic body, too. He also swore to himself that he would go and see the girl who had vanished from the hospital. Some time later, the boy changed into a full prosthetic body and endured the difficult rehabilitation process, evidently he grew up to be a first-rate prosthetic user. Because there weren't many children with that type of body at the time, the boy's adjustment to his new physical form must have been harder than anyone could imagine. But when he thought of how that little girl had endured the same suffering, he was able to easily overcome his own discomfort with the transition.

Motoko: So tell me, did he ever locate the girl?

Proprietor: A girl with a full prosthetic body who survived a plane crash? You'd think that alone would've been enough of a clue to go on. But no, I'm afraid he wasn't able to find her.

Motoko: Then how did he manage to find the girl's prosthetic body?

Proprietor: I understand that he stumbled upon it when he was at a lab in college. Apparently, it was being preserved there as a specimen. The moment he saw, he recognized that it was the girl he was looking for, but he was never able to track down the girl herself who by then had swapped into a more mature body. That's why I don't pick up any memories from this girl. Even now they are completely blank.

Motoko: So what happened to the boy, then? Is he...

Proprietor: In the final days of the war, he was shipped out overseas and he never returned. He hasn't been back here since I haven't heard from him at all, I suppose it's possible that he's dead.

Motoko: Oh... Thanks for telling me the story. I'll bet that even now that girl is still searching for the first boy she ever loved.

Proprietor: The first boy she ever loved?

Batou: The ice in your iced tea has melted.

Motoko: Yeah, I know. What's up?

Batou: I wanted to bounce something off you regarding the test for the recruits. I'm considering resetting the level of difficulty, and letting 'em have another go-at-it. What do you think?

Motoko: So what brought this on, all of a sudden?

Batou: Nothing. I was just remembering how I didn't have my act together, either, when I first joined up. I was wet behind the ears, and couldn't get the hang of things, and my commanding officer gave me a royal chewing out.

Motoko: Why not? It always takes time to be good at something. No one's an expert right off the bat.

Batou: Yeah. You know, to hear you say that, sure takes a load off my mind.

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