Halo Twenty-Three: Kimiko:
My name is Miyashiro Kimiko. I am in deep trouble.
I have done things that I am not proud of. I first got pregnant when I was eighteen. My boyfriend at the time said that he would be there for me and my parents convinced me not to get an abortion. Said it would bring dishonor to the family and all of that bullshit. I get mad just thinking about it. Excuse me a minute.
I’m better now.
Long story short, I was the ideal daughter and then I made some poor decisions when I was seventeen. I ended up the single mother of two beautiful little girls and trapped in an endless struggle to make ends meet. My decisions are nothing compared to the one I made six months ago. There was some hope for me though. I have been good with computer since I was a kid. It started out with just light things like playing around with different settings for the heck of it. As I got older, I became curious. Hacking cannot really be taught. There are trades and tips, but you either have the skill or you don’t. I am in the former group.
I just fell into, really. I watched others do it. Then, I tried it out myself. I did have help with learning html and programming. It took practice to get to the skill level I needed to be at to gain access to the deep web. (I don’t mess around with the dark web. That place as some fucked up shit.) My skills around the deep web landed me in a handful of jobs to help support my daughters and myself.
My blessing turned out to really be a curse.
My current job is on the fifth floor of Rampo Biotech. But, I am not here by choice. Circumstances from my last job placed me in this situation. Now, I am nothing but a slave to the Tandeki Group. If I try to leave, I will risk going to prison. If I stay, my daughters will have a better future. Either way, I lose big.
I am not the only one.
They are holding our relatives and loved ones’ well-being in hostage to make us work for them. I looked around from my computer. There are a small number of programmers employed here. Twenty-three tops. We all are prisoners here to our keyboards. The pay may be really nice, but it’s killing us inside. Even when I go home, I dream that I am working at my computer in that dimly lit office. Sometimes, I don’t go home until three in the morning.
I dropped my head in my hands.
I don’t know how much more I can take of this.
Shion walked through the streets on Ikebukuro.
“We’re here,” she said. She reached down and patted her companion on the head.
“Stay by me, okay? Things have gotten worse. My, it’s gotten active around here lately,” Shion said. “Really creepy.” Tiny hands grab her kimono.
“There, there,” she said. “I will keep you safe. It’s been my job since we first met. I am not about to stop now.” They stood at the crosswalk, watching the light.
“You know I brought you here with me today?” Shion asked. The spirit woman smiled. She leaned to her companion’s ear.
“We’re going to see your mother today,” she whispered. Shion put up her hand shushed her companion.
“Shhh. Easy there. Calm down. I figured that you deserved after hanging around me for so long.” She knelt down in front of her companion.
“Now remember,” Shion said. “You can’t try to directly contact her yet. She’s not a virgin anymore, but you haven’t been conceived yet. It’s not time right now.” Shion noticed her companion frowning.
“I don’t know when that date will be,” she said. “You know how your father is. But he can’t fight fate with you. You will be born, I will see to it myself.” Shion sighed and smiled.
“Yes, I mean it,” she said. She patted her companion on the head again.
“There you go,” Shion said. “Let’s go see your mom.” She took her companion by the hand and led them across the street.
-Mikado and Masaomi-
“I’m back,” Masaomi said.
“Welcome back,” Anri said. Mikado sat by the window, staring out without saying a word. Masaomi looked between both of his friends. Mikado and Anri tried their best not to look at each. The tadpole boy drew his knees to his chest. Saika’s mother trembled. Masaomi looked at both of them with a confused look on his face.
“Uh… Did something happen while I was gone?” he asked. Both friends froze. Anri kept her head low as she walked outside.
“Where are you going?” Masaomi asked.
“Um… I have to run to the store to get something,” Anri lied. “I’ll be right back.” She dashed out the door before Kida could say a word.
“Anri?” he asked. The door slammed shut. Masaomi lowered his hand.
“What was that all about?” he asked.
“It was my fault,” Mikado spoke up.
“Huh?” Masaomi asked. His friend looked up at him with desperate eyes. Masaomi wandered over to him.
“Mikado?” he asked. Mikado lowered his head.
“I did something really bad,” he said against his knees.
“What do you mean? What happened?” his friend asked. He noticed the desperate look in Mikado’s eyes.
“Talk to me. What’s the matter? What happened while I was out?” Masaomi asked.
“I slept with her,” Mikado said in a low voice.
“What?” Masaomi asked. It took about ten seconds for it to sink in. The look of a naughty child with a juicy secret came over his face.
“Oh!” he said. “Oh! Oh wow! Way to go, buddy!” Masaomi playfully nudged Mikado on the arm.
“No!” Mikado said. He looked down at his knees.
“It wasn’t good?” Masaomi asked.
“I don’t know.” The tadpole trembled. “It just kind of… happened.”
“Do you remember what happened?”
Masaomi never took his gaze off of him. “Do you want to talk about it? I mean, the bare details of what happened. You don’t have to tell me everything.” Mikado didn’t say anything. Masaomi’s eyes shifted back and forth.
I didn’t mean for it to sound like that.
“I know,” Mikado said. “But that’s not what I’m worried about.”
“What do you mean?” Masaomi asked. His friend looked out the window.
“If I sleep with her again, she’ll get pregnant,” Mikado said in a low voice. “And then, that poor little baby will be subjected to the same hell I went through.”
“What are you talking about?” Masaomi asked. “Why would Anri be getting pregnant?” Mikado slowly shook his head.
“Look,” the Yellow Scarves leader said. “You just made a mistake. You weren’t thinking clearly and things just happened. I am here now. You don’t have to worry.”
“How is Saki-san?” Mikado asked.
“Good,” Masaomi said. “She’s doing great and still alive.”
“Are you still worried about her?”
“Yes.” Masaomi pulled Mikado into his arms. “But, I will not leave you.”
“I will not leave you. I have a few guys to watch over Saki for the time being. Everything will be alright.”
“No, it won’t,” Mikado muttered against his chest. Masaomi pretended not to hear him.
-Deal with Devil-
Six Months Earlier…
Kimiko took freelance hacking jobs to pay her bills, her family’s basic needs, and schooling for her daughters. (Yes, those types of jobs do exist on the deep web. You just have to know where to look.) Things had been going smooth lately, but Kimiko had a bigger goal in mind. She looked at the brochure for the top elementary school in Ikebukuro. This job would get her that much closer to her goal. At best, she could get her older daughter in before the slots were filled. Kimiko took a drink of her canned tea and booted up her laptop.
The job started with an e-mail. Already, this was strange because clients never e-mailed Kimiko first. She would come to them through the deep web job sites. All of those zeroes behind a number in the subject line was enough to hold her attention. Without another thought, Kimiko clicked on the e-mail. The job was simple. Do a little spying on Rampo Biotech and see what they were up to. There were reasons behind it. She didn’t know much about the client in question. When she e-mailed them back with her usual inquiry, Kimiko only got one response.
“We just want the information,” they wrote back. “We cannot tell you anything else. Red flag number two, but the need to get her babies in a decent school took over her judgement. Kimiko said that she would take it.
She started on her job with hacking into Rampo Biotech’s database. Kimiko didn’t know exactly what she was looking for. They didn’t tell her exactly what they wanted her to do. She shrugged to herself as she started looking around. At first, everything looked standard. Personnel files, schedules of the staff, and a couple of light research projects. Nothing huge caught her eye.
That’s when she saw that damned file.
What was this? Kimiko’s eyes widened as she clicked on the tiny little icon. A video popped up on the screen. A confused look came over her face.
“Huh? What the hell…?” she asked. “Welcome” popped up in red Kanji. The message looked so happy to see her. It turned and disappeared. Bright colors flashed across the screen. The video played no sound. The clip couldn’t have longed no longer than ten seconds at least. Then suddenly her laptop froze.
“Huh?” Kimiko asked. She stood up and slapped the side of her monitor.
“Come on. Come on!” she said. Her laptop turned off in a flash. Panic started to wash over her face.
“No… No!” she said. Kimiko whipped her head around when she heard her phone ringing. She reached as felt around for it.
“Shit,” she muttered when some of her papers fluttered to the floor.
“H-H-H-Hello?” she asked.
“You do know that hacking is a felony, right?” a man’s voice asked. Kimiko’s eyes widened when she looked down at her phone.
“Who is this?” she asked.
“Your would-be victim,” the man said. “Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Kitano Katsuhiro. Nice to meet you Miyashiro Kimiko.” Kimiko about jumped.
“How do you know my name” she asked. “How do you know my name?!”
“We are watching you,” Kitano said. She frantically looked around the room. It felt as if the darkness was closing in on her, suffocating her.
“You messed up big time, Miyashiro-san,” he said. “The way I see it, you have two options: I can press charges against or you can come work for me.” Kimiko started to open her mouth.
“If you can work for me, both of your little girls will be easily secured into that fancy new school you have been eyeing for quite some time. Sounds better than your babies ending up in the system. So, what will it be Miyashiro-san?” Kimiko lowered her eyes as she could see that her fate was sealed.
Kimiko stood in front of Rampo Biotech before taking a deep breath and walking up to the glass doors.
Chiharu felt it again. By now, all of her memories as F started to resurface. The smell of rotting flesh made her stomach turn. Her phone rang again. She groaned aloud as she threw back her head. That bitch had some nerve.
“What?!” Chiharu growled.
“Now, now,” Junko said. “That’s no way to talk to your dear sweet mummy.”
“My mom is dead, you cunt!”
“Your human mum, of course. But, that’s beside the point, isn’t it?”
“Don’t you ever shut up?”
“Uh oh, someone’s cranky from not eating properly.”
“I won’t do it!” Chiharu clenched her teeth as she growled this.
“My, my, my. Don’t you get it? It’s in your nature to feed, dear F-chan. You are an angel after all.”
“I am not an angel! And don’t call me F!”
“Why you just accept the truth? You are the original angel F and it is your nature to feed. Otherwise you will waste away and be pitiful. Now I can’t have you like that, can I?”
Chiharu screamed as she threw her phone across the room. Junko laughed on the other line.
“You can fight it all you want, but you and I know that it’s true,” she said. “We will talk later.” The other line hung up.