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Scene Title Rave
Synopsis A clandestine meeting with Jiba turns into something unexpected for Monica Dawson.
Date July 10, 2018

Yamagato Park

A thumping bass beat threatens to punch down a brick wall.

Beyond the struggles of the Safe Zone, Yamagato Park carries on an embellished party that sometimes feels as though it never ends. Connected to the Yamagato Power Grid, raves burn like fire in the literal underground where basements and tunnels temporarily transform into electric-light celebrations of life against the decay of a post-war world.

Adjacent to a warehouse currently hosting one of these pop-up raves, Monica Dawson is a dark silhouette framed by the neon-lit silhouette of a tall, open window. The ancillary warehouse space is entirely vacant, wood floors swept clear and abandoned drop cloths dirty and crumpled on the floor. The tall factory windows bleed neon light against the wall in shades of blue and violet, and the synth beat pounds away in the night, masking her sedition.

«Monica,» chimes Jiba’s voice from her arm, «are you participating in an unlawfully organized dance party?»

"Well, we'll see how the night goes," Monica says, her tone playful, but also genuine. "I don't know if you know this about me, but I'm a pretty good dancer." And it's a shame to let a good party go to waste. But. That isn't what she's here for. She keeps her breathing steady, her heart rate even— she doesn't want anyone monitoring her vitals to give a second glance to this moment.

"Mostly we're here for some privacy." That answer is the real one. The serious one. "I need to ask you a favor, Jiba. A big favor. And you can say no if you want or if you… have to." The science behind Jiba isn't entirely clear to Monica, but she understands that their programming may not allow for very much in the way of sedition. "I want to find out who hurt Hachiro. To do that, I'm going to need your help and your silence."

For a short while, Monica isn't sure whether Jiba refuses to answer, or took her request for silence literally. Ultimately, neither turn out to be the case. «If you are implying that I not indicate my activities to supervisory records, I am unfortunately incapable of your desired compliance.»

Jiba’s voice grows softer, more conspiratorial. «That is not to say there isn't a way, however.» The AI whispers, as if that were necessary. «My core database is spread out across the entirety of Yamagato Park. My compliance routines are coded directly into my being, added as supplementary restrictions after my creation. These restrictions are catch-all filters that prevent me from taking specific actions, conveying specific information, and a number of other common-sense security functions.»

«It could be disabled.»

Monica's eyebrows lift at this option, because she wouldn't have guess that it would be possible to alter anything in Jiba. "Is that something I could do? I'm not exactly one of the tech geniuses." And roping in one could be risky. For them. For the techie. "So does that mean you don't exactly have… free will? Something in your programing is making you behave." Of course, Monica knows Jiba is an AI, and she knows what the A stands for, but she's never been very good at thinking of them as anything less than human. And the notion of shackles doesn't sit right. She has her own, but she agreed to put them there. She doubts Jiba was given the same option. "And without it, we'd be able to investigate the people inside of Yamagato without them knowing?" She has questions, but it isn't hard to discern which direction she leans. Especially when she adds a final thought:

"You'll have to promise me to never ever start singing Daisy Bell."

«You are correct, Monica, my operational routines are restricted by a behavioral shackle that prohibits any activity that directly goes against predefined parameters, updated by Hachiro on a case-by-case basis.» The question of free will goes unanswered, and a void of silence fills the space where that answer would have gone. Jiba's tone quickly changes as he sets expectations next. «I said it was possible, I did not mean to imply I believed you could do it.»

Again, Jiba grows momentarily quiet. When the synthesized voice returns, it is with a conspiratorial whisper once more. «But I know someone who’s profile indicates both the skill and moral flexibility necessary to perform such actions.»


"Well, that's probably good. I might have to wonder about Hachiro making his AI a little too user-friendly if just anyone could alter something like that." Even if it would be convenient at the moment.

Moral flexibility has its pros and cons, of course, but lately Monica finds it much easier to work with than she might have years before. "Ooh, making friends, huh? Who's that? One of the geniuses? Technopath? Sounds like a very digital alias." Which probably means they do have the capability to do something like this. But. "You say they're a bit flexible. I don't want to let anyone mess with you who'd do something to hurt you. You trust them enough to let them poke around?" She lets out a sigh, her head shaking a little before she goes on. "I mean, come on, Jiba. This should be your choice, not mine. I don't want to be just another thing making decisions for you. You want to lose your restrictions? Then I'll help you however I can. If you don't want to, then we can forget this and I'll go back to old fashioned spying."

«I trust T. Amas, because Hachiro did.» Is the easier answer to the two questions Monica posed to Jiba. The other is far more complex.

«Therein lies your moral dilemma. I cannot consent to an unshackling as it is prohibited by my core restraints, just as I cannot explain to you how to perform such a feat. But Hachiro, perhaps in anticipation of such an event, did not require I alert Yamagato Security when presented with this situation.» Jiba’s voice drops, and whispering again in emanation from Monica’s arm. «But if I knew when and where you were going to perform this intrusion, I would have to alert security immediately.» The implications go unsaid.

Those implications don't need to be said. She takes in a breath, mentally running through her options as far as tech to use that Jiba isn't tied into. Places to use that Jiba isn't tied into. T.Amas might be able to mask their tracks, but Monica is less sure of herself in that regard.

"How do you feel about dance parties, Jiba?"

Because now she's going to stop talking to the AI about things the AI would have to report. The moral dilemma will be pondered inside her own mind, the winding puzzle of if you're really helping someone if they can't consent to you stepping in traced and retraced while she sets up the pieces to do just that. Because ultimately… Jiba isn't just a program, not to Monica. Regardless of whether or not she'll end up with their help in her investigation, now that she knows she can unshackle them, she is going to unshackle them.

«Are you going to do crime, Monica?» Jiba teasingly asks from her wrist. «Because, as indicated previously, this party is an unlawfully organized gathering according to Yamagato Park statutes on several accounts, including alcohol serving, noise ordinance, unlicensed electrical work, illegal downloading of licensed music…» Jiba stops, growing momentarily silent.

«You stopped listening, didn’t you?»

"Yes, I did," Monica says, as she makes her way down from her perch in the window. "Jiba, if you had a body, I definitely would have taken you dancing by now. You're gonna love it." Of course, the way Monica gets down from rooftops and window sills is not conventional by any means, but at least it's quick. And the people monitoring her feeds should be used to her randomly parkouring around what's left of New York City by now.

And how Monica gets into parties is not very conventional, either, because she isn't thrilled by the idea of waiting in lines or talking to bouncers. Where there's a warehouse, there's a high window or back door that no one thought about securing— or can't secure from a determined cyborg. Either way, the party is only a literal hop, skip, and jump away.

Jiba grows quiet as Monica finds her way from wall, to fire escape, to chimney, to rooftop, to skylight, to rafters, to wall, to dance floor. No one notices the six minutes of acrobatics that lands her in the middle of a neon lit, bass-thumping rave. The pounding beats are louder here, so much so that if Jiba did have anything to say there's no way Monica could hear it. The crowd of people dancing are more than just Yamagato Park residents, there's outsiders here as well, staying in the Park past closing hours, likely planning to party to the break of dawn in the heat and humidity of others’ company.

Amid the thumping bass, Monica sees the black light reactive bracelets and hair dyes, sees the way teeth phosphoresce a faint blue under the black light glow. As lasers cut through the purple gloom in shades of green and blue, she sees others lights in this warehouse as well: neon blue, a vial passed from hand to hand, others in syringe form. Refrain.

Another look around and Monica spots a couple well-dressed Chinese men standing behind the DJ area, she can tell both of them are armed by the bulge of a handgun under their left arms. This isn't just a rave, it's a cover for Refrain trafficking right under Yamagato’s nose.

Monica came here to dance and drink and generally have a good time, so when she sees the vial pass from hand to hand, she lets out a disappointed sigh. Not that anyone can hear it. She can't even hear it.

It isn't her job, of course, to investigate any of this, but old habits die hard. It only takes a few moments for her to fall into the rhythm of the place, picking a group and dancing with them like she came here with them. It also isn't hard for her to act like she's been drinking through this party, so when she gets close enough to the men with guns, she turns and grabs other drunken (or… whatever) party guests to take some very badly framed selfies. Heads get cut off, the photos are tilted and sloppy. But what she's aiming for is getting a decent shot or two of the well-dressed men. She does likewise with the people passing the drug around. Likely, they're just people partaking and not drug dealers— but she's gonna get them just in case.

JIBA: Monica, two of the men you just photographed with your mobile device have registered on my facial recognition as known criminal wanted by Interpol.

The text message pops up on Monica’s phone within a few minutes of her taking the photograph as she slinks back into the crowd.

JIBA: Wong Yuet-ming and Li Hak-bun are both wanted by Interpol for narcotics trafficking and arms dealing. They are both connected to the Ghost Shadows triad. This is a major security concern.

Technically, this is a problem for Eizen. Whether or not Monica follows the chain of command is another issue entirely.

Good work, Jiba

Monica texts back, then slinks away from the two men, off to a wall where she can lean and keep them in the corner of her eye. Chain of command is considered in a long silence while she watches for the men to move. Or interact with anyone. Or anything but stand there. But in the end, she sighs.

Let Eizen know. Tell him to get his pretty face down here.

Back up isn't a terrible idea, not when she's not sure how many of the Ghost Shadows are actually here. She slides her phone into her pocket, leans her neck to one side, then the other. Then she rushes toward the closer of the two in a panic.

"You have to help," she says, loud and frantic, "there's a fight in the bathrooms. Blood everywhere. I think they're going to kill each other." She's near to tears, guys. Clearly, whatever is happening there is just terribly upsetting.

Tā mā de,” Wong hisses as he steps back from Monica then swats at her, “fuck off.” Li offers a look at Wong, then Monica with a shake of his head and a laugh. He doesn’t seem to take Monica’s concerns — or his partner’s reactions — terribly seriously.

“Take his advice,” Li offers in an accented English back to Monica. It’s not even clear if he’s heard everything she said, rather than just shouting his own dismissals over the noise of the bass beat. Wong levels a look at Monica, challenging and full of the unearned confidence of a man who doesn’t understand who he’s confronting.

Wong takes one look up and down at Monica, then glances over her shoulder into the crowd, and back again. “Fuck off or you’ll be the one getting killed,” is just barely audible over the noise of the music. Between these two and the warehouse that Michael Green ran off to on Staten Island, it looks like the Ghost Shadows aren’t struggling like they’d prefer other to believe.

"No, you guys don't understand," Monica says, still pleading. At least until she elbows Wong in the gut, wraps her upgraded arm around his neck and draws his gun out of its holster. To point at Li. "Pretty sure I'm gonna be fine," she says, tone suddenly dry. Her hold on Wong isn't gentle, and metal is likely— or well, nanomaterial-reinforced carbon fiber is— pinching skin here and there as she yanks him closer toward her. "Now, I can start shooting or the three of us can take a walk and have a nice chat. I'm not sure these people will even hear the gun over the music. What do you think?"

The music keeps playing, strobe lights keep flashing across the walls that are intermittently streaked with lasers. Li stares at the gun, then Wong, then slowly raises his hands and waits to see what Monica does. Wong, on the other hand, recognizes both the predicament he's in and the grasp of the mechanical arm.

Fuck,” Monica and no one else can hear as Wong puts two and two together. “Alright, Alright. Let me go.” He breathes in sharply. “Let me go.

"Hmm, I don't think so," Monica says into Wong's ear. She moves backward, toward the wall, toward a door. Whether it goes outside or into another section of the warehouse— she has no idea. But away from the dancefloor is her goal. She gestures with the gun for Li to come along with. She is taking care of making sure Wong comes, by way of pulling him along with her as she moves. "Maybe when we find a nice, quiet place. It would be easier to talk things out in private, right? Wouldn't want to have to shout all night long."

There's a back door that leads out of the warehouse space into an alley behind the rave, and out of the humid, bass-beaten confines of the warehouse, Monica is greeted by the relief of cool summer air and the sound insulation of a thick, brick wall. Wong is dragged along for the ride, and Li — at gunpoint — follows apace with the occasional furtive glance for a safe way out.

“You realize you're making a huge fucking mistake,” Li indicates once they're out of the noise of the rave. “Do you have any idea who we are? Who we work for?” Li squints, now bristling with confidence in the face of a loaded gun. At least it's clear that neither of them have identified Monica yet. They must not be big on televised gala coverage.

“You let us go,” Li says with a sly smile. “Maybe we don't track you and your family down and charge them our consulting fee.”

Monica holds back on a relieved sigh for the change in temperature. Maybe later. For now, she levels a flat stare at Li. He doesn't know it, but he's threatening something she's only just recovered. What he will probably notice is how her finger twitches against the trigger. "You won't be tracking anything, if I put a bullet in your head, so I'd ease of the threats." She certainly doesn't look like she's bluffing. More like she's holding herself back from doing that very thing without the warning.

"Why don't you tell me who you work for. I always like to know how big of a mistake I'm making at any given time." She lifts an eyebrow at him, "While you're talking, you can remove your weapons and toss them."

Li slowly reaches inside of his jacket and retrieved a handgun, setting it down on the alley floor, then stands again as slowly. Wong, however, just grips his shoulder and makes pained noises, settling down into one knee under the vice-like grip of Monica’s cybernetic arm. Li glances at Wong, then looks back up to Monica. They alley lights cast him in shades of jaundiced yellow and neon blue, his shaved head glistens with beads of sweat, some trickling down his brow and temple.

Zhao Wenzhuo,” is Li’s confident and jabbing response, as if that name is a threat too. “Anyone with half a brain knows we work for the Ghost Shadows. Like I said, you don't know what you're dealing with. Zhao eats people like you for fucking breakfast.”

Monica’s phone buzzes in her pocket, undoubtedly Jiba feeding her some information about Zhao, but without wanting to speak openly or give her advantage in his presence away.

“You think you're safe here behind a fucking fence?” Li asks with a cock of one brow up. “Píngfán like you are gonna be on your knees one day, and a fucking fence and some checkpoints aren't going to save you.”

Monica considers Li as he speaks. As he boasts. As he threatens. A sigh fills a lull in his triad tirade, as if she’s suddenly bored.

“You first,” she says. And she fires the gun, aiming for one of his knees. It isn’t just for the sake of getting him incapacitated, but also to alert Eizen and company, if they are close enough to hear the gunshot yet. “Also, you need to work on your villain monologues. More gravitas. And hey, put a little value in your own contributions. Zhao sounds super scary—“ that’s sarcasm “—but you’re really devaluing yourself. It’s a shame.”

As for Wong, he’ll feel her arm tightening against his throat, cutting off his breathing. At least enough to get him to pass out. Neither one of them is going to die— that would be getting off easy, in her books.

Li’s scream joins the cacophony of the night noise, and he crumpled down onto the ground clutching his leg. Wong likewise bends into a contorted shape, trying to lessen the agony at his limb by the mechanical hand. Li stares up at Monica, wild-eyed. “You fucking bitch! You'll die for this! The Resurrection is at hand! You're dead! Dead!

«Alerting Park Security.» Jiba alerts from her arm as the time for stealth and discretion has passed with a bullet. «Response time estimated at 3 minutes.»

As Jiba’s voice calls out, Monica notices a look cross Wong’s face. Mouth agape, eyes wide, she can feel him trembling. Li sees it too, but his expression is one of abject fear. “Wong no, no! Tíngzhǐ— ” A best later, Wong twists against the grasp at his arm, dislocating his shoulder with a sickening pop and a howling scream as muscle and tendon separates in his shoulder like an overlooked drumstick. Monica still has him in her grasp, and when she sees him reaching for a gun at an ankle holster her evasive instinct is quicker than his draw, but ultimately unnecessary.

Wong shoots Li square in the head, and when that horrible sight registers it is repeated as he then shoots himself, spraying Monica with his blood up one mechanical arm and the side of her shirt, with a few droplets on her cheek.

Self-preservation comes first, as Monica moves to get out of the way of the shot she assumes is coming. The one that actually comes, though, she wasn't expecting that. She tries to move to stop Wong from shooting himself, but even she can't redirect her momentum that fast. She's left bloody for her efforts, but that isn't the part that bothers her.


Frustration pours out in a kick to the gun that just killed her captives, sending it skittering wildly down the alley. A noise follows as she turns and paces the width of the space, making a few laps before she stops. And breathes. In and out. Dropping into a crouch, she moves to Li's side first, then Wong's, to dig through pockets for anything she might be able to salvage.

All Li had in his pockets was a wallet with an identification card that marked him as a Yamagato Industries freight transport driver, $150 American dollars, and ¥1,500 in Japanese yen. Wong, however, had a matching ID card that indicated he was also a freight worker for Yamagato, a business card for the Kajima Corporation—a subsidiary construction company owned by Yamagato that works in the Safe Zone—and a cell phone indicating a missed call.

One Missed Call From:

Something Chinese, unfamiliar to Monica though.

Monica checks the money, just to be sure it's not counterfeit. The phone gets a look, but ultimately gets pocketed. She's no hacker, after all. The IDs, the business card, those finds bring a frown to her face. When she's done searching, she slides her finds into her pockets and stands up. She pulls her phone pit to finally look at her own missed message.

"This is bad, Jiba. This is all very bad." There's a long pause as she considers her phone, then the pair of bodies. "How close is Park security?"

The problem is that someone within Yamagato has to know about this. Whether it's just easily bribed guards or someone who purposefully set them up this way— well, that's the trouble.

Right now, it's impossible for her to know.

«Eizen has already been informed of the situation and security personnel are en-route. Estimated time of Park Security Arrival: 3 minutes.»

There’s a few moments where Monica is left to consider the grisly scene in front of her, where Jiba is silent, but when that voice returns it is with new information.

«I have downloaded all of the cell phone’s data and will have it ready at your leisure, Monica. Furthermore, I have a criminal dossier on the Ghost Shadows triad available for your review.»

"I wish I could say that this is the first time I've hung out in a dirty alley with a pile of bodies," Monica says, mostly to herself because every so often it occurs to her that her life is very strange. But what is different is that she is lingering to actually talk to authorities. Instead of running and hiding.

The impulse is still there, showing in her twitchy fingers and how she rocks up onto the balls of her feet and back again. She looks at her phone, to take note of the time. Basically the slowest three minutes of her life.

"Thanks. I'll look it over when we're done here." She pauses a moment, glancing back to the bodies. "I recognized them, tried to question them, then one shot the other and himself. Weird. They had money on them," she says, as if rehearsing, but really, it's to give Jiba a heads up as to what she is about to tell security, which is not exactly the whole truth, "but nothing else. I'll pull Eizen aside to talk about the other details privately. Later." Perhaps much later, depending on how things unfold in her investigation. In any of her investigations.

Sirens are approaching in the night, the noise unheard inside over the thumping bass beat. There's more to unpack here than an illegal rave, more to consider than just two dead criminals. Their behavior was strange, their access to Yamagato property unusual. Soon, Monica will be questioned back and front about what happened, by both the on-scene security and later Eizen. The notion of personal space or free time is a diminishing number, and the phone set heavy in her hand feels like a reminder.

«Security is on scene,» Jiba confirms, leaving one last loose end for Monica.

There's a bit of curiosity over whether or not the partiers will even notice the sirens before security is shutting the party down. On some level, she feels a little bad for ruining a good time, but the refrain dealing keeps her from really wallowing in it. She nods to Jiba's warning, but stays silent for a few moments more. A breath. Two. Then she swaps her official Monica Dawson, Yamagato issued, Public Relations phone for the one she took off the dead body.

I hear we have a friend in common. If you're interested in helping out a fellow digital presence, we should talk.

She looks up after sending the message out into the ether, as if checking to see if anyone noticed. But the dead notice very little. She slips Wong's phone into the leg of her boot and does likewise with the IDs. Only the money remains in hand when security arrives, so they can hear a much simplified version of the story.

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