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Guard: Hmm?

Cleaner: Huh? What in the world?

Deleted Medicine / RE-VIEW

Inspector: The signal is stable. What next?

Ishikawa: Show me B14 through 16.

Inspector: The memories we extracted correspond with her testimony. It therefore means that everything she said is true. The woman isn't lying.

Motoko: She processed papers without knowing what they were to be used for.

Togusa: But it's been established that the memory overwriting of the Nanao witnesses was carried out under the directions of the legitimate paperwork filed by her from the MHLW! If that's the case, isn't it safe to assume that there's a mastermind among the ministry's top dogs? Plus, let's not forget the ministry was hacked from the vocational aid center where I blew that undercover investigation I was on. Look, I'm telling you! There has to be something relevant to the Laughing Man incident in there that they're trying to keep secret!

Motoko: It could be, or it's the manipulations of some third party that needs to make us believe that.

Togusa: If that's the case, let me go dive into the ministry's database again!

Batou: Ishikawa and Borma have trawled that data so much they never wanna see anymore of it. And not once they even spotted trace of a falsified record. The thing about data theft is that whatever was stolen is still in place, so you've gotta find another way to go about this.

Aramaki: Something is shady at the ministry. Even I will admit to it. However, if we're going to start an open investigation, our quarry will become forewarned of our activities. If we do plan to run with this, the return has to be at least proportionate to the risk.

Togusa: I shouldn't work at the table... Hum... I'm really sorry.

Togusa's Wife: Don't worry. Try the food. The potatoes are delicious.

Togusa: Hmm.

Togusa's Wife: They're so flavorful today, aren't they?

Togusa: Yep! Sure are.

Togusa: Just because people didn't know me, and because I didn't know anybody. I thought what I'd do was, I'd pretend I was one of those deaf-mutes. I thought what I'd do was, I'd pretend I was one of those deaf-mutes. What I'd do... was I'd pretend... Or should I...?Wait a minute...!

Motoko: So, I hear you're pursuing the Salinger angle.

Togusa: Yes.

Motoko: It's well known that he wrote a short story titled "The Laughing Man," and there's no shortage of people who point out the similarities between his story and the crimes. But special investigations HQ has already analyzed every possible interpretations of that story. I don't think there's any new take on the subject that's gonna break the case.

Togusa: But you heard "Art imitates life." The opposite should be true, too. You know, I can't help but think that the boy I met, the one at the aid center was actually the Laughing Man.

Motoko: Hey, there have been countless suspects. They all seemed certain to be the Laughing Man. So, in light of that, what basis do you have for thinking that this kid is the genuine article?

Togusa: Major, are you familiar with the wording around the Laughing Man logo and the meaning of it?

Motoko: Yeah. "I thought what I'd do was, I'd become one of those deaf-mutes." I understand that's a quote from chapter 25 of The Catcher in the Rye.

Togusa: Uh-huh. Like I included in my report, I saw some of it written on the center's wall. At first, I convinced myself it was verbatim from the story. However, I came across a line. In the book here, there's a sentence that directly follows "one of those deaf-mutes." "Or should I?" As in, "Or maybe I shouldn't." That had been added. You don't suppose it's a conversation he was having with himself, do you? Asking himself if he should break his silence and go back out into the world. Tell me something, Major. Have you ever felt like this? For instance, when you try to imitate an artist you admire, you wanna get close to the original work, so you try to make a perfect copy. But here, we have a boy who dared to modify Salinger's quote. He was able to rewrite the end of it because this young man was the original.

Motoko: That theory is awfully dependent on your personal views. You realize that it's far too weak for you to base anything on, don't you?

Togusa: Regardless of his cutting-edge super-A hacking techniques, the Laughing Man personally kidnapped CEO Serano, and he did it at gunpoint, no less. He's a criminal whose outdated actions don't fit at all with his technical abilities. Couldn't this mean that the Laughing Man, despite the fact that he's so good at hacking, or should I say because he's so good, didn't place any value at all on electronic media, something that can be rewritten? Wait a minute. Think about it that way, and maybe we discover what he was after was information that's physically stored.

Motoko: In other words, stored on paper documents.

Togusa: Right.

Motoko: I was gonna stop you if you were doing this out of emotional revenge for that center fiasco. But it could be your Ghost has finally begun whispering to you, too. All right, fine! Go ahead. Do what you want. I'll fill in the Chief.

Togusa: I appreciate it, Major!

Phoebe: How's it coming? Well?

Togusa: Finally I'm done. So, I can look for the answer now.

Phoebe: I thought you'd give it up after the first few days, but you're determined.

Togusa: Well, it's part of the job. I'm sorry about earlier.

Phoebe: Oh, it wasn't your fault. It's part of your job.

Togusa: Found it!

Phoebe: Found what?

Togusa: More precisely, something isn't here which ought to be. The "List of Murai Vaccine Recipients." That file is the only one missing.

Phoebe: You're right... I wonder if it got sorted into the wrong box.

Togusa: What is this... vaccine?

Phoebe: The Murai Vaccine; special medicine, effective against cyberbrain sclerosis. At the time it was announced, micro-machine therapy hadn't been implemented yet, so the vaccine became a hot topic. But ultimately, it wasn't approved for medical use.

Togusa: Why not?

Phoebe: Well, there was no argument that the vaccine had a definite effect, but no one clearly understood the mechanism. It just works. However, if the effect of any medicine can't be paired up with a cause, it won't get a stamp of approval.

Togusa: Ah, I see.

Phoebe: That's the reason the drug evaluation council couldn't just okay it right there and then. Also, cyberbrain sclerosis wasn't Dr. Murai's specialty. It was one of those accidental discoveries. You see, it wasn't exactly smooth sailing at the very beginning. After a long period of try and error, he managed to perfect the vaccine.

Togusa: And the list of people who inoculated with it is now missing.

Phoebe: How long has it been gone? I don't see how stealing something such as that would do anybody any good, though.

Togusa: Is there anyone you can think of who would want it? You know, someone the file might be a value to?

Phoebe: Um, well... If I had to say, I guess the Sunflower Society.

Togusa: Sunflower?

Phoebe: I'd better write up a report by tomorrow.

Togusa: 2019 A.D. During that year, just when cyberization was starting to become commonplace, cyberbrain damage of unknown origin flared into a heated issue in the medical community. In areas where cyberization had been performed, gradual hardening occurred resulting in brain death. This condition later came to be known as "cyberbrain sclerosis." Although the probability of symptoms manifesting is exceedingly low, anyone who's been cyberized is susceptible. And because there was no basic treatment once the symptoms appeared, it was called the incurable disease of the 21st Century, following in the footsteps of tuberculosis, cancer, and AIDS. The Murai Vaccine is a tumor suppressor developed as a specific treatment for that disease by an M.D. named Chitose Murai. However, the medical association back then was dominated by proponents of micro-machine therapy, and many of them voiced the opinion that the doctor's vaccine was a step backwards. They were concerned that if his research was approved, it might even hold back the development of a micro-machine treatment. Perhaps for that reason, approval for the vaccine was shelved, and in February of 2021, the doctor, who carried his dream of a vaccine therapy to the very end, died a broken man at the age of 68, without seeing a decision from the drug evaluation council. Then, in April of that same year, the vaccine, which had been denied acceptance, was hastily sanctioned as a fee-based clinical trial drug for use by specially designated patients. The approval was never made known to the general public, and the official position on that today is that there are no patients being treated with the vaccine. Even now, one group remains actively interested in this fact; The Sunflower Society. A nonprofit organization that offers support to individuals who want to take major companies and government agencies to court by filing lawsuits against them. In the past, they've repeatedly requested the disclosure of information from all relevant government offices regarding the vaccine and those who received it but the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare always turned them down, using the Personal Information Control Act as a shield.Maybe I'm jumping to conclusions thinking there's a connection between the Sunflower Society and the Laughing Man.Their logo...

Nogi: Interesting... Looks like you've certainly done your homework, I'll say that. So, you're a freelance journalist, are you?

Togusa: My situation is this. I lost my father to CS a few months back. He'd been given micro-machine treatment up until the very end, but after he passed away, I heard about your group, and about the Murai Vaccine.

Nogi: Oh, I see. Sorry for your loss.

Togusa: If only someone had told us sooner about the vaccine and the excellent results it's had, my father might be alive today... The thought of it is killing me. You see, before now, I never took interest in this. It didn't concern me. But if it can save those who suffer from my father's disease, I'd like to offer you my services.

Nogi: Very kind. A lot of people who are filled with determination like you used to come here. But every single one of them ended in failure.

Togusa: They failed? Why is that?

Nogi: There are many individuals who don't want the public to turn its back on micro-machines. Individuals from everywhere.

Togusa: Yes, just as I suspected... As luck would have it, I have some pull in the entertainment industry. From what I've heard from all of my inside sources, there are even people in the biz who have been secretly receiving the vaccine. It's not easy to spread unpleasant news like this. So, if you want to get people talking about it, I guess you'd need some sort of scandal, wouldn't you?

Nogi: Well, it's obvious you didn't come here to see us out of some temporary emotion. It so happens we just acquired a certain file.

Togusa: A file?

Guy: Bar association contact confirmed.

Gayle: Man, what a crappy code encryption. Hey, are they screwing with us? I swear, the amateurs nowadays piss me off.

Guy: Arrival in two minutes.

Nogi: Here, come take a look.

Togusa: Isn't he an author?

Nogi: That's right. There are also artists, former star athletes, and this man is a professor at Niihama University's medical school.

Togusa: I-I'm shocked... There are even names of politicians.

Nogi: Yes. And someone even more critical to our cause is taking the vaccine. Can you spot him?

Togusa: Hisashi Imakurusu... Chairman of the Board of the Central Drug Evaluation Council!? Are you saying the chairman who rejected the Murai Vaccine is dependent on that same medicine?

Nogi: Yes. The file arrived here yesterday from Mr. Imakurusu himself.

Togusa: What does all of this mean?

Nogi: He's claiming that he's grown exhausted from having to remain silent all these years about what they've done. He knew that it was effective, however, he deliberately suppressed the Murai Vaccine out of ulterior motives. Now Imakurusu has given his solemn oath to stand up in court in front of a Judge and divulge this motive that only he knows!

Togusa: Do you mean the Drug Evaluation chairman is going to testify as to why he wouldn't have approved the vaccine?!

Nogi: Uh-huh. This time, victory is ours.

Togusa and Nogi: Huh?

Togusa: The DEA's Narcotics Suppression Squad?!

Gayle: C'mon, C'mon, hurry up and kill 'em! We can take our time and look for our target afterwards. But first, kill 'em all!

Togusa: They're from the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare.

Nogi: Then they...want the file?

Togusa: You have got to get out of here. These people are trained assassins. They will kill you.

Nogi: Just who are you?

Togusa: I'm with Public Security.

Togusa: This way looks clear. Let's go!

Nogi: Uh, I'll leave the file with you. Because you have to tell the world what happened here. Someone has to let the public know the truth. It's inside this file!

Togusa: No, that's your job! C'mon, hurry up!

Nogi: You have a better chance of getting out. Please go now.

Gayle: Hey, what's the story with that room down there?

Togusa: C'mon, let's get out of here.

Gayle: Oops. Some of our boys got taken out.We need to take some losses on our side, too. That's just how reality works. Right?!

Gayle: Go search the corpse.

Togusa: A cyborg!

Gayle: Now things are getting interesting. Got a survivor. Get over here.

Gayle: Tell you what! I'll give you a running start before I shoot! Ah, damn. That was our own truck, I just shut up. Go on! Get down there and kill him!

Gayle: Bureau Chief. Op is complete. But the item is a copy.

Niimi: What did you say?!

Gayle: We know where it came from. It was Imakurusu.

Niimi: Do you mean to say you've got the original, you son of a bitch?!

Imakurusu: No, no! I wasn't the one! I'm not to blame!

Niimi: I heard that the file that the Sunflower Society had was a duplicate which was sent to them from your office! Don't tell me you're feeling repentant for all this time.

Imakurusu: What do I have to gain by doing that? Someone was passing himself off as me, that's all.

Niimi: What the hell is your name doing on the List of Vaccine Recipients, then?!

Imakurusu: I...

Niimi: Tell me! Do you have cyberbrain sclerosis?

Imakurusu: It's been quite a while now... They tell me it's already in the final stages.

Niimi: Why didn't you come talk to me first about this?! How could you leave your records on that list, you fool?!

Imakurusu: Sorry... It's just that the vaccine really works...

Niimi: But we've known that all along, you idiot! We'll talk later!

Gayle: What would you like me to do? Eliminate him?

Niimi: Shut up! I'll get back to you. Final stages? That fool...

Togusa: Shit... Maybe I should've gone full cyborg, too...Major... Chief... I've been shot...

Togusa's Wife: So sleepy...A storm?

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