Ishikawa: Hm? Hmm... HQ, I just got back from the peninsula. I managed to lay my hands on some juicy intel on Kuze.

Batou: The old ape and the Major are out right now. They got called in by the Prime Minister. They said for me to listen to your report here.

Ishikawa: What could be more important than this?

Batou: Phew. To be honest, we're looking at the possibility of a general refugee uprising.

Ishikawa: That's bad news.

IN: The Fact of Being There; ANOTHER CHANCE

Kayabuki: Ever since the commotion caused by the Individual Eleven suicides, I've been receiving reports from across the country about refugee activity. They're gathering at Dejima in response to rapid increase in anti-refugee demonstrations. Not surprisingly, the media has been fanning the flames by interpreting this is a prelude to an all-out uprising. Do you have any comments that you would care to make?

Commissioner General: Well, I do have to admit that I've been getting reports on this matter also. Rhey refer to the escapee arrest rate going up, but connecting that to an uprising would probably be premature. The sea would stop refugees flow into Nagasaki.

Commandant of Japan Coast Guard: That shows a certain lack of understanding of the situation. My Coast Guard patrols encountered a number of suspicious vehicles this month alone. Of those, they prevented two ships and sixteen boats from docking at Dejima. It's as plain as day that there's refugee traffic into Nagasaki.

CG: I see. Nevertheless, the police are dealing with several other hot issues at moment that need our attention.

CJCG: The individualists, you mean? If that's the case, what has the Public Security Bureau been doing? By allowing these instigators to run free, I feel that they're largely responsible for this situation.

CG: As for that group of Individual Eleven who killed themselves, it's unreasonable to expect Public Security to have known their whereabouts beforehand. In spite of the fact that most individuals laud the group's actions, those same admirers also say their radical finale went above and beyond what they themselves would ever do. At any rate, I'm of the opinion that the Defense Agency should be held accountable for this escalating refugee problem. After all, they were so hungry for an arms buildup that they held a live-fire exercise right under the refugees' noses, inciting those normally quiet masses.

Minister of Defense Agency: If you want to get into a "chicken or the egg" debate, let's have at it. I'm game. From where I sit, it's you people in the Security Department who are always squabbling over jurisdiction, even now!

CJCG: If you're gonna bring that up, then why is the Maritime Self Defense Army turning a blind eye? Before touching on jurisdiction, I'd appreciate some cooperation from you, since we're the ones putting our neck on the line!

MDA: To my knowledge, with the situation having reached this point, the authority over the refugee issue has been given to my people.

CG: Impudence! Need I remind you of Security Treaty dispute last century? No disrespect to my defense lobbyist colleague who got involved in this too late, but the police are going to maintain the country's public order during this matter as well.

Kayabuki: It's imperative to debate such issues. However, what we need now is a consensus among the various government bureaus. Let's adjourn for the moment and take a break.

Kayabuki: Hm...

Aramaki: I see that you can't even spare enough time to clear your head.

Kayabuki: Part of the problem is my lack of clout, but everyone is focused on their vested interests and losing sight of the problem at hand. The refugee issue demands cooperation from all of them, but they...

Aramaki: I know. Prime Minister, are you aware of the number one reason behind the weakening of any given country's military and defense agencies? It happens to be the very thing that you just mentioned. When those at the top of an organization start to use their affiliations as a tool to further their own agendas, the institution then dies a slow death.

Kayabuki: As always I value your observations. However, I do feel badly about giving the Coast Guard the short end of the stick.

Aramaki: Well, don't lose sleep over it. There's no guarantee that my own section won't be visited by same misfortune.

Kayabuki: Yes. By the way, have you succeeded in obtaining any solid information about the actions of the refugees?

Aramaki: Yes. Tell me, madam, do you know what a hub cyberbrain is?

Kayabuki: I don't.

Aramaki: All right, then, Major. Please explain.

Motoko: If you please, Prime Minister, may I link directly with you?

Kayabuki: Go ahead.

Motoko: Originally, the concept of a hub, or core, didn't exist in the network. But lately, we've been witnessing a phenomenon where a host causes isolated consciousnesses on the network to move in a single direction. By doing this, it creates a sort of collective entity by inviting them into the host's own cyberbrain. Up until very recently, this type of thing was limited to something on the scale of communes that were centered around small religious sects or charismatic artists. But now, someone has emerged among the refugees with the ability to win them over and get them to stay in his cyberbrain. I suspect this is the cause of the refugee flow into Nagasaki.

Kayabuki: Is it a solitary person? Someone who we should regard as their leader?

Motoko: From a practical standpoint, it's hard to believe that this could be a single person. I can't say it unequivocally, but I don't think that any one cyberbrain is capable of influencing the consciousness of three million people simultaneously. But if I were asked whether this collective is something like a leader to them, then I would have to say that it is.

Kayabuki: I see. The appearance of someone such as that is the primary threat facing the government at this time. Continue to stay on your guard.

Motoko: I intend to.

Kayabuki: When I repealed the Refugee Special Action Policy, my intent was to curb profiteering against refugees. I've wanted to resolve the problem, starting with the taxation issue.

Aramaki: Which must mean that one of your political opponents used it to his advantage. Don't worry about it unduly, ma'am.

Kayabuki: All right. Actually, there is one other matter I'd like you look into for me.

Aramaki: Yes, ma'am?

Kayabuki: There is a defense lobbyist who's in collusion with the former Greater Japan Technical Research regarding the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty.

Aramaki: Huh?

Kayabuki: As I'm sure you know, our country has the world's only radiation scrubber technology, and the American Empire has relied on nuclear deterrent in the past. I believe that this new Treaty will put us on an equal, if not greater, footing with them. If this should prove to be untenable, then I'm perfectly willing to postpone a new Security Treaty. However, certain industries and assemblyman aren't interested in that type of ideology. The course of action that they're taking will never make this country fully independent.

Aramaki: Where did you get this information?

Kayabuki: From a source in the Foreign Affairs Ministry.

Aramaki: Under the circumstances, we'll begin right away by following the money trail. But, one thing. How may ask you, should I look upon these orders, ma'am? As a result of your political beliefs or your personal interests?

Kayabuki: You shouldn't have to ask that.

Aramaki: I understand.

Kayabuki: Phew...

Motoko: I'm surprised that I didn't notice it earlier.

Aramaki: Hm?

Motoko: Prime Minister Kayabuki, she is exactly your type of woman, Chief.

Aramaki: What, you just now realized that?

Motoko: You win every time. Do you think this "defense lobbyist" the Prime Minister mentioned is Chief Cabinet Secretary Takakura?

Aramaki: Probably.

Motoko: But it's hard to imagine that his objective in this is simply to score a few kickbacks. Takakura was a pro-American neo-conservative, wasn't he?

Aramaki: Hm. He's an old-school industrial-military, so he still has blind faith in the American Empire. There's his point of view. Our country should take its radiation scrubber technology, the price which took a dive after the war, then join with the American Empire and use it as a new deterrent against others. That's sure to drive the price of it up. By so doing, he's skillfully laying the groundwork for his bribes and he saves face for the conservatives without going through a needless arms buildup.

Motoko: The Prime Minister can't be pushing for that. It hardly sounds like the "independence and cooperation" policy. Plus, he's a Cabinet Intelligence Service kingpin. And Goda's resume includes overseeing the production of "Japan's Miracle" at the former Greater Japan Technical Research. Inciting refugee terrorism, and the Japan-US Security Treaty, and nukes. Sounds like it's worth it, helping her to get her revenge.

Takakura: Everyone's growing tired of waiting for you, Prime Minister.

Kayabuki: I'll be right there. Phew...

Azuma: Togusa.

Togusa: Yeah? Oh, Azuma.

Azuma: Um, we were wondering, sir, I know we weren't asked to come to the meeting, but are you sure we shouldn't sit in on it?

Togusa: What about your Individual Eleven investigation?

Azuma: There's been less activity on their part than from the refugees, so, you know, we were getting bored with it. Eh-hehehe...

Togusa: You dumb bastard! So what if it's boring!? It's your damn job! I swear, you two are so green it's not funny!

Batou: That was right about the time when that pointless war for Eurasian hegemony was finally winding down.

Ishikawa: Back around then, I sneaked into the peninsula on a few occasions, they were already pretty modernized by that point.

Togusa: Hey, have you guys started?

Batou: Not yet. We were just warming up while waiting for you to finally blow in.

Ishikawa: What do you say we begin now?

Togusa: A thousand pardons for putting you straight back to work so soon after your return.

Borma: (not dubbed)

Togusa: Oh, thanks a lot.

Ishikawa: It was 2024, and nations around the globe were exhausted from a fourth world war. The peninsula was in the throes of a civil war, and when the world conflict ended, the American Empire called for the UN to send in troops. This was the direct impetus for the Self Defense Army being dispatched there.

Batou: But the truth is, the American Empire was looking to get back on its feet and reestablish itself as the dominant world power. Weren't they were using the deployment to force the unified government to give them the mining rights to the uranium deposits that were buried in the northern peninsula?

Ishikawa: Yeah, that, too. But even though their ulterior motives were transparent, Japan couldn't refuse the UN, not when they were drooling over the idea of war procurements. Aside from the battle to recapture Nemuro, the Self Defense Army had managed to avoid seeing any combat through two world wars. This would be their first trial under fire.

Togusa: But during the war, the Boss Man and the Major were both overseas in an unofficial capacity, weren't they?

Ishikawa: Right.

Batou: Unofficial, 'cause the PM who was killed by a terrorist bomb back then was one of the few politicians that held an international outlook.

Ishikawa: Anyway, with all this going on behind the scenes, the government clamped down on the media to keep domestic public opinion in check. And the location chosen to deploy the PKF troops was Sinuiju, which was considered relatively safe.

Togusa: I can still remember the uproar over the deployment. But I guess everybody eventually lost interest when the only footage of it shown on the news reports was the bored-looking SDA soldiers hanging out with the locals.

Ishikawa: It figures. But the real situation was entirely different. And the ones who run the press control from the shadows, they turned out to be the forerunners of today's CIS. They're the former Cabinet Press Agency.

Batou: So, what's the real story then with the PKF?

Ishikawa: Well. From what I understand, things were much more tragic than we were led to believe.

Ishikawa: The last of the main forces to be sent into the country was a mechanized unit. Kuze was attached to that outfit. At the time, Sinuiju was a special administrative area as well as a trade center. Therefore it was off everybody's list of designated targets. But the place where the fleeing remnants of the People's Army chose to make their last stand after the unified government was set up was in a rural area about twenty klicks to the east of the city.

Batou: Once you cross the border there, isn't it a mountain area?

Ishikawa: Yeah, but it's more like a mountain pass. The elevation there is 800 meters at best. Because of its topography, the place was perfectly suited to guerilla warfare. The cyborg infantry unit was to be deployed in two companies as guerilla suppression groups. They began moving into the mountains almost as soon as they arrived right in the dead of winter. This was their first large-scale deployment on the front lines. Even so, the hybrid PKF prosthetic bodies probably weren't pushed anyone near their limits, not even when trudging through snow in sub-zero temperatures. Around that time, the main force was on a heightened state of alert after receiving intel that the last elite troops of the People's Army were planning an assault on Sinuiju. The plan was to have the company Kuze belonged to circle around from the north and launch a preemptive attack. But Kuze's platoon, which had moved out ahead, discovered a refugee camp sitting on the river that flowed along the border. This piece of information wasn't in their intel. The scene they stumbled upon was that of a brutal raid underway by soldiers of the People's Army. These men who were soldiers in name only had been reduced to nothing more than mountain bandits. Seeing this, Kuze and his platoon were spurred into action by righteous indignation. It was a battle of 30 against 120. It was all over in the blink of an eye. Their quick victory was no surprise, Kuze's platoon was an elite cyborg unit. Besides, even though the people attacking the camp were ex-military, they were mostly flesh and blood, and every last one of them was suffering from starvation. Although their unit received several reports after this incident of sightings of the People's Army, it was the only time they saw combat. They were beginning to feel nerveracked from the extreme cold and not knowing if or when the guerillas were going to attack. The main forces, however, which had set up camp inside the city, had it fairy easy.

Togusa: I remember seeing this footage.

Ishikawa: Yeah. But before long, trouble arose in the squad camp out in the rural area.

Batou: Let me guess. PTSD?

Ishikawa: You got it. Post-traumatic stress disorder. The experience of going through combat for the first time, and a one-sided slaughter at that, slowly began to eat away at the spirits of the young unseasoned soldiers. Those who still had their own lungs and other internal organs desperately tried to escape the flashbacks and nightmares of the massacre. They found relief from the horror by turning to synthetic alcohol and hashish that the refugees had brought them. Up until then, the Self Defense Army had earned a reputation for being highly disciplined. When it began to break down, the media in Japan started to hold them up to harsh criticism. Because of the press blackout, the factual account of the massacre at the refugee camp never reached the ears of the media. This caused their criticism of the men's behavior to be all the more scathing. As a further result of the blackout, the freedoms of the soldiers were restricted because the press wasn't allowed to report the stories about their shameful actions. It eventually got to the point where they weren't even permitted to return to Japan.

Togusa: Almost sounds like an isolation ward.

Ishikawa: Yeah, and to top it all off, news of the camp massacre was leaked to certain media outlets. Rumors even began to circulate that it might have been the work of Japan's Self Defense Army. The residents of the rural area came down hard on them, demanding an explanation. But yet again, the strict news blackout worked to the detriment of the soldiers. Neither they nor their commanding officers were able to utter a word in their own defense. They could do nothing but remain silent about the incident and hide in their tents. One day, after the situation had gone on for some time, a local reporter allegedly said the following to one of the soldiers. He probably intended it his remarks to be a dig since the young man he spoke to no longer possessed the lungs he was born with.

Reporter: Hey. Buddy, do you have any ideas where the term "assassin" comes from? It stems from an Arabic word meaning "one who consumes hashish." There was a Muslim sect of killers who attacked Crusaders after the recapture of Jerusalem in the 11th Century. They'd smoke hashish and carry out ruthless murders as if in a dream. They say that the Crusaders became terrified when they saw this, and they called them "assassins." Is that what you guys did? Smoke that stuff and think this place was Paradise? How long do you people make yourselves at home after you marching into somebody else's country? Bunch of filthy murderers! Huh!? Wha-What do you want?

Kuze: You're right. We did consider ourselves as guests at first.

Reporter: Ahh!?

Kuze: I'll trade you... one of those.

Ishikawa: Saying this, Kuze traded his weapon for a camera. He then wandered into a refugee camp.

Batou: Hm. What then? What did he do inside the camp?

Ishikawa: Apparently, he didn't do anything. He had merely observed the refugees going about their lives through the camera's viewfinder from time to time, and fold various origami figures.

Togusa: Why? I don't get it.

Ishikawa: Yeah, I don't have the slightest clue what his real intentions were, either. But after he'd been in there for a while, something strange began to happen. First, the camp's elderly started to take an interest in Kuze, and eventually offered him drinks. Next, the children begged him to make paper airplanes for them. One by one, they befriended Kuze, who never spoke a word. Shortly after that, even the young adult men and women approached to quiet stranger, they too warmed up to Kuze and took turns talking to him. He would simply gaze happily at them and occasional snap a picture.

Batou: Hm. And then?

Ishikawa: The People's Army surrendered. Kuze kept this up until three months later, when the SDA was relieved of its duties. From the moment on, nobody in the media so much as mentioned the infamous massacre again. And the day before the SDA was scheduled to return to Japan, Kuze suddenly vanished from the camp. A single photo from when he was there still exists.

Togusa: Hm. After that, where did he go?

Ishikawa: It was rumored that he crossed the border and headed west, but that's not reliable information. No one knew for sure where he drifted, but during the course of my investigation, I spoke with a fellow who had come back from a refugee area in Taiwan. He told me that he'd seen a man there who'd fit Kuze's description. This guy said that the man's prosthetic hair had turned completely white, but even so he was positive it was Kuze. He said the proof is obvious. Wherever Kuze went, a crowd of happy people always gathered around him.

Old Woman: Are you Japanese?

Kuze: Yes, I am, ma'am.

Man: Well, I'll be. You can talk? Why didn't you say so before?

Batou: Hm? Oh, hey, Major. You been here long?

Motoko: Yes. I heard everything. I admit it's a fascinating story.

Kimura: Hello, sir. I had difficulty with the hub cyberbrain's filtering array, but I've managed to run a back-trace on the refugee's cyberbrain finally. As you thought, representative, he appears to be in Dejima. I've asked the NSA to provide verification, so I expect to have visual confirmation momentarily.

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