Wake From Death And Return To Life


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Scene Title 起死回生
Synopsis In the wake of Kimiko Nakamura's death, Marlowe Terrell returns to the Safe Zone.
Date February 8, 2021

The neon-lit skyline of Tokyo is a surreal wash of colors on a rainy night like tonight. Soft music plays off of the tall windows of a marble-floored penthouse overlooking the heart of downtown Minato City. From this vantage, the slowly flashing lights of Tokyo Tower are just barely visible through the rain.

A television on elsewhere in the penthouse streams to a transparent display in part of the window, allowing Marlowe Terrell to keep up with international news as she unwinds from a long day in the corporate headquarters. The sprawling penthouse afforded to her new station is fit for a queen, riddled with Yamagato Industries’ most advanced technological conveniences. A broadcast on parliament’s vote to repeal portions of the Shibuya Act maintains a level of tension in her jaw.

Any day now a decision will be made that impacts the lives of millions of Japanese expressives. Leaving the Safe Zone wasn’t the vacation others said it would be for Marlowe, it only put her further away from the goings-on back home, and left her steeping in greater concerns and broader horizons. The tablet in her hand, with a half-composed speech to be delivered tomorrow to Yamagato Industries’ board of directors may well go unfinished.

A soft chime emits from all around Marlowe, a text message streamed from her phone to the window.

Sent: 21:24, 16/01/21

The tablet falls to the floor.

Twenty-Four Days Later

Floyd-Bennet Airfield
NYC Safe Zone

February 8th
6:12 pm

It’s cold, dark, and rainy in New York the day Marlowe returns. The limousine waiting for her at the airport is self-driving, but it isn’t unoccupied. Standing on the tarmac with a bag in one hand and an umbrella in the other, Marlowe finds herself met with a sleepless Eizen Erizawa. The bags under his eyes look heavier than the one in her hand.

“I thought we could talk in private,” Eizen says, sliding to the side to make room for Marlowe to enter the limousine.

From outside appearances, Marlowe looks 180-degree opposite of a Sleepless in NYC Eizen Erizawa. The dress-suit seemingly has no wrinkles, and her hair carefully put up so it’s sheltered under her umbrella with only a few purposeful strays hanging to compliment the earrings that glimmer even in the dim evening light. Makeup, light but present and applied evenly. Like she hasn't just stepped off a 15-hour non-stop flight from Tokyo-Narita to the Safe Zone. A singular look inside the limo cabin revealing only one other passenger draws mixed feelings at the sight of Yamagato’s top security man. But ultimately, Marlowe collapses the rollaway's handle and hoists the luggage in before climbing in herself. "Beats trying to hail a cab in this weather," is her first response. But after another skip of a beat, she adds, “お忙しいところ、迎えに 来てくれて ありがとう。大丈夫か?”2

"When's the last time you slept?" She asks the all-important question that plagues engineers and security alike.

“I forget,” Eizen says with an awkward smile, a break from his normal dour mask. The door to the limo slowly swings shut and Eizen says to the air. “Yamagato Building. Enable Privacy Mode.”

A familiar, long-missed voice chimes in the air. {Engaging Privacy Mode Mr. Erizawa.} Jiba has no presence back in Tokyo. Hearing his voice is like reuniting with a long-lost friend. {It is wonderful to see you back in the Safe Zone, Marlowe.}

Eizen eyes the ceiling, as if to emphasize that he called for privacy, and Jiba has nothing further to say. “How much do you know already?” Eizen thinks to ask. But this time, Marlowe has been largely out of the loop. The world moved on while she toiled in the Tokyo highrise.

"Aww, I missed you too, Jiba," Marlowe speaks warmly to the air, heart emojis practically effervescing into visual manifest. But soon she sobers back to the face of calm, open listener. "Barely anything," comes the soft confession, a drop of her gaze down to where Eizen's hands idle. "Hachiro texted me. After that, it's… it's a bit of a blur. Board meetings, blueprints, and barely contained outbursts."

Her eyes lift, finding his tired face. Her gaze sharpens, filling from the edges in with so much inquiry wanting to reach out and shake him down for answers. Instead, she settles for, "You wouldn't believe the things being said in hushed whispers back at home office… about company investments and asset values and not, you know… that Kimiko Nakamura, last of the Nakamura family as we know it, is dead." Marlowe clenches a fist loosely at her side, taking a steadying breath.

"But you were there first," she recalls of rumors and reports. Her brow angles up even as her volume dips despite knowing they're in Privacy Mode. "We don't have anything to go on? The others?"

Eizen’s answer is a slow shake of his head. His dark eyes level down to his lap, hands wringing together and jaw flexing. She knows that look in his eyes, when he’s struggling to compose his thoughts. It doesn’t come often.

“Kimiko was on a call, she had set Private Mode in her office when the stroke hit.” Eizen begins, hands curling tightly closed in his lap. “No one knew what happened until it was too late. By the time we managed to force our way into her office…” Closing his eyes, Eizen shakes his head in a small, rough motion.

It takes a moment for Eizen to collect himself. He looks to the spot in the car where Jiba’s symbol flickers silently, indicating that he is nearby. His expression softens, eyes glass over with emotion.

“Ms. Nakamura had a very specific set of instructions in her living will,” Eizen explains. “She was braindead by the time we got her into medical.” He blinks a dark-eyed stare back up to Marlowe, jaw set tightly. He has another thought, one that eats at the back of his mind. Instead, he asks Marlowe a very specific question:

“How much do you know about Hachiro’s ability?”

A Short Time Later

Deep Vault
Yamagato Building Sub-Basement

The basement levels of the Yamagato Building isn’t some dark, concrete-walled industrial nightmare. Instead, everything has a sterile whiteness to it. The walls, plated in curving metal sheathes, look like the interior of a space station rather than a basement. Beyond the elevator lies a small glass-walled security booth with rows of black metal racks containing assault rifles, body armor, and helmets. A pair of uniformed Yamagato Security officers watch Eizen and Marlowe as they arrive.

The single door out of the foyer is an arched checkpoint with another armed guard carrying his snub-nosed assault rifle on a shoulder strap. He checks Eizen’s security card and Marlowe’s, then holds up a wand for both participants to breathe into; an aerosol biometric scanner. The light turns green for both, and each is issued a color-coded lanyard.

From here the pair navigate the winding corridors of Yamagato Industries’ most secure level, the building’s foundation and power plant, codenamed Deep Vault. Laboratories of the company’s most clandestine research are contained behind glass-walled partitions where red-clad researchers work in sterile environments on advanced mechanical prototypes. Marlowe catches a glimpse of some sort of automaton chassis out of the corner of her eye. The project does not look familiar to her.

At the end of the hall is another armed checkpoint, guarded by both flesh-and-blood security and armed TX-Tetsujin construction drones, militarized robots illegal within the United States and existing in a gray area within Yamagato Park. Another round of biometric screening allows Eizen and Marlowe to pass through a series of foot thick steel security doors, past an internal armed checkpoint, and finally into a room that hums with the presence of softly vibrating rectangular pillars of vented black polymer some seven feet tall each in rows of six.

The room vacillates between extreme cold and temperate warmth near any one of the towering servers. Hachiro is here, waiting for Eizen and Marlowe, head bowed and hands folded behind his back. Running a hand over his brow, Hachiro places his hand to the server closest to him and brushes his fingertips across its surface, then turns his attention up to Marlowe.

“She hasn’t woken up yet today,” Hachiro says in a hushed tone of voice, eliciting a tightness in Eizen’s jaw as he stops a few paces behind Marlowe. “She is not… all there. Her neural pathways had already begun to collapse by the time I…”

Voice failing him, Hachiro slowly lowers his hand and looks back to the server. “I saved as much of Kimiko as I could. We are the only three that know.”

Beyond the basement levels is not a place Marlowe has traveled often, even if she and the engineering teams had in fact participated in its construction years ago, part of its maintenance more recently. But the Deep Vault? This is definitely beyond what had come across her workspace. Then again, she couldn't have expected the situations she's been presented with over the past few years. It was something she inwardly berated herself for on those quieter nights: good engineers were problem-solvers, great engineers were problem-anticipators. They were living that classic dilemma: what to do if someone on your team is hit by a bus.


Her rising stare upwards marks each tower, her expression holstering the sense of wonder and awe balancing precariously counterpoint to dread and anxiety after she and Eizen passed the armed drones and security doors. In the car, it was already difficult to put into words the feelings, well and ill, towards what she was about to see. Standing there in the presence of what was described, however…

Marlowe steps in to Hachiro's side. Her hand lifts, fingers slowly reaching with an urge to do an exploratory touch. But she stops short. It feels wrong. Non-consentual. Her hand drops back down but her eyes don't leave the black towers as she considers all that she has come to learn, and the impact that is only the three of them knowing. "Was there something in her will in the case of irreparable damage?" she asks after swallowing back the unease, a bold push entering her tone bordering on annoyance. No, anger. "The transfer is permanent? Secure against tampering?"

Finally, she turns back to the men, expression calm. Hachiro knows too well, the swan's grace above and all the work churning below the surface. "And, what about Ami?" Her head shakes, and her arms fold across her chest. Fingers curl. "Gentlemen, this is the third instance in which not just a woman, but a mother, and a family have been attacked by parties unknown and we still don't have connections or causes. How is this even remotely acceptable?"

“It isn’t.” Eizen says with a tightness in his voice. “But we also aren’t as blind as it seems.” Unwilling to dig deeper into that point, Eizen looks over to Hachiro. “Explain this,” he says with a gesture to the systems, “like you did to me.”

Hachiro nods, then walks closer past a bank of the humming servers. “This was all Kimiko’s idea. It… isn’t the first time we’ve done something like this, but it’s the first time it was done intentionally. This server hub is actually Jiba’s internal network infrastructure. Jiba isn’t the name of the AI we developed, but a computational cloud that rests inside the entirety of Yamagato Park. Jiba is Yamagato Park, effectively.”

Eizen’s expression steels, his jaw flexing as Hachiro continues to speak. “Jiba is short for Jibakurei. The guardian spirit of myth.” Hachiro glances at Eizen, then back to Marlowe. “Jiba was created as a shell to house the first digitized consciousness.” He glances at Eizen again, then looks to the floor. “Miko. My daughter.”

Casting her gaze back to the black, blinking towers, Marlowe follows Hachiro's path as he explains the purpose of them. Her next breaths draw in shakily despite having gone still and hollow as a open grave. She purses her lips. "Miko," she repeats the name softly, breath steadier as time to process continues, "You're saying that Miko's been…alive this whole time?"

The implications rush over the woman in a tidal wave of both possibilities and potential consequences. Marlowe turns to the pair of men, staring as the previous calm crumbles on the edges. Their mutual conspiracy isn't the crime, rather that they would secret it away from her. "彼女を見破られないように隠したのか。さらにジバは正体とか仮面とか、この説明は本当に現実ですか。"4

"And you're trying to do the same to Kimiko. This is what she wanted?" Marlowe shakes her head, shock and incredulity swirling as she wraps her mind around the concepts unveiled. "But… why?" Her hand lifts again, and this time she does lay fingers gently on the server's surface.

Eizen looks, for all his worth, like he demands the same answer from Hachiro. But his demand is delivered wordlessly and with a smoldering stare. Hachiro shrinks under the scrutiny, looking to the servers.

“Jiba is a simulated intelligence,” Hachiro says carefully, “based off of what was left of Miko. I didn’t act quick enough and I… she was not all there. The core of who Miko was as a person bleeds through into Jiba, but it is not her. But I see Jiba as… a grandchild.”

Hachiro looks back to Marlowe. “Kimiko was planned. When I saved Miko, I told Kimiko but she ordered me to keep this a secret. The discovery of artificial digitization of human consciousness was… we both knew the risks of wider revelation. But Kimiko wanted this. A planned restoration of her consciousness because… she does not trust anyone with Yamagato Industries.”

“Especially not Kawahara.” Eizen says in a steely tone of voice, reluctantly tearing his gaze away from Hachiro. “It isn’t that Kawahara is a traitor or an enemy. He is a businessman and he will approach everything as though it were a nail and business his hammer. Kimiko cares about this city, its people, and its plights. Kawahara sees this as a business opportunity and the citizens as commodities and consumers in one.”

Hachiro shakes his head in regret, looking to the floor for a moment, then back to Marlowe. “And we aren’t trying to do anything with Kimiko. It is done. It is simply…” he tries to find the right word. “She is acclimating. It could take days, or weeks, or months. We don’t know how long.”

Delicately, Marlowe runs her fingers along the cool humming metal as she takes in the similarly delicate - or perhaps more accurately, precarious - situations involving the three of them now. Her eyes don't return to the men until Hachiro lays down the final statement. It is done. "Is it though?" the woman questions softly. "And if we have no way of knowing how long it could take, there's always the possibility of zero return."

Dropping her hand off the server tower, Marlowe turns and lays her next verbal stone down. "Still, I know the saying. 出る釘は打たれる5 My grandfather has drilled that into me plenty, as did my drill sergeant. As for Kawahara… well, he does not know this city the way we do." Even as they aren’t truthfully New Yorkers, their experiences are not the same. Marlowe’s implied pathway appears directed at the two men, laying out a bridge to them. She smiles, the expression faint, but confident when she straightens and searches each of the other men's faces. "Well if I know anything about Kimiko, she would be standing here waiting for nothing. There is still much work to be done."

The smile fades as she tightens the reins on the internal quaver. "Where are we with figuring out Miss Damaris' situation? And have we scoured Jiba's analyses on the affected parties of the Event? We're going to need to prepare… for guests." Wanted, unwanted, she doesn't specify.

“Ms. Nakamura has kept a very close fist around our information pertaining to her kidnapping,” Eizen explains. “I know what pertains to security concerns, which is minimal and primarily filtered to Yamagato Industries through SESA.”

“Kimiko had research into their predicament handled by the biosciences division rather than ours,” Hachiro feels obligated to note. “Cora Wenyi reported directly to Ms. Nakamura about all findings. The only information I have is what came through the cybernetics department after the surgery on Yi-Min Yeh.”

“Ms. Damaris is an easier solve,” Eizen notes. “We have her under surveillance throughout the park via Jiba. Whoever or whatever we’re dealing with is clearly an impostor, but at present she hasn’t attempted to gain access to unexpected information and has largely maintained a normal working schedule. We’ve provided her with false intelligence but we have no indication that she has made any communications back to her handlers except for two occasions.”

“I can brief you on our planned solution more effectively in a couple of hours.” Eizen says with a look to the door to the server room, then back again. “We want to make sure we have Ms. Damaris in hand before we make a move on her supplanter. Hayate Kawahara is the more immediate concern.”

Hachiro nods slowly, looking briefly to the servers, then back to Marlowe. “Kawahara has already begun tearing through Ms. Nakamura’s personal files. He has already scheduled for meetings with Raytech and Renautas-Weiss. I believe, very firmly, that he intends to take quick control of the company and solidify his position with the board.”

“Mr. Kawahara is an outspoken critic of Kimiko’s. Ever since he was passed over for the role of CEO after Kaito’s death.” Eizen explains, drawing in a steady breath.

"I'll expect to see that full report from Cybernetics on Ms. Yeh's surgery. And as for Damaris' movements by biometric scans, I'll download a copy of that data into KISAKI, and maybe we'll see where she's really going," Marlowe considers aloud as she looks between Eizen and Hachiro. They've seen the plans, but the product was in its last stages - read: last pieces - before she had left for Tokyo. Particularly, Eizen receives a longer, lingering look to gauge his reaction to the implications of the project's completion. One more brick laid on the path.

Marlowe purses her lips to withhold any outbursts of annoyance at the news of Kawahara's swift moving actions under his newly acquired power. "Can't we lock those down with the legal departm—"


The voice, synthesized and uneven sounding, rumbles through the entire room with a heavy derision in its tone. The lights dim and flicker as if from an extreme power draw with each syllable. Hachiro and Eizen freeze in place, eyes alighted to the ceiling.

M a r l o w e?

Kimiko Nakamura’s voice echoes as if called up from a deep cave. The reverberation behind each word makes her feel even more disembodied than she already is.

Marlowe. Good. 私には、あなたが必要です。7

The lights flicker again.


The rumbling voice in the room surprises and interrupts Marlowe’s train of thought, also drawing eyes toward the walls. "Jiba?" Even after so long away, the habit to talk to the AI hasn't left. Not that Jiba has ever so boldly sounded derisive, let alone called anybody an opportunist. For a moment, she thinks, Miko?

Wrong Miko.

A short peek at the pair of men with her yields little to go on from their frozen, silent states. Marlowe sniffs lightly in shaking off nerves and moves on, addressing the surrounding air as if Kimiko were simply standing in the room with the three of them discussing business as usual.

"Yes, I am here. どんな要件でも遠慮なくお申し付けください。8 At your service, Kimiko."

I need you to protect my company.

Hachiro looks at the servers, then to Eizen, and finally Marlowe, before looking up into the air. “Ms. Nakamura,” he says hesitantly, “how… do you feel?”


Hachiro sighs softly. “I’m not so sure—”

What is t̶̼̪̱͆̿̚̕ẖ̵̛̦͉̉̽͌ė̸̡̬̦͛ ̷̥͘s̷̢̢̳̮͑t̵̺̼̹̕͠a̵͙̽̏͆̍ţ̴̤̙͒̐̒ụ̷͖̇s̸̡̥̰̼͆ of Kaydence?

“We are moving on recovery and detention,” Eizen says crisply, hands folded behind his back. “We have everything under control.”

You must protect t̵̨̖̽́ĥ̸̢̝̅͑ë̸̛̠͈́̇͠ ̸͖̓́͊̃i̶͖͕̅̾͒͂n̸̳̤̠̠̔̚h̸̢͛̅e̷͈̘̚r̴̡̢̦̀̓́̇ͅi̵̢̹͔̫͂͂̕t̵͎̘̙͓́͑̈́à̶͚͍̺́n̶̠͇̘̩̽̇ĉ̷̦̙e̴̳̬͛. Kimiko says with distortion in her voice. I will not let Kawahara r̷͔͌͆̓ų̵͎̝̳͌͠î̷̭̠̯n̸̯̗̲̔̂͗̈ ̴̝̀̽̈́ę̷̖̩̾͊̀͆v̷̩͙͍͝e̸̹̓ŕ̶̗̯͜y̸̩̐͑̎̓t̴̥̆͆̐͜h̴̝̤́i̷͎͙̬̍͐̉n̸̹̳̮͐̄g̸͙͈͐̅̇͘!

Kimiko’s synthetic voice falters and sputters like a low-bandwidth video with too much compression. Marlowe, I need you to b̵̭͐͘ű̴̧͍͓͜i̸̯͙̭̼̅l̶̳̼̞͌͆̓ͅd̷̠͗̾͝ me a b̸̨̩͔̬̉o̶̡̖̕̚ḍ̴̢͗ỵ̸̻̆̉ so-so-so—

Kimiko’s voice cuts out and does not speak up again.

Lowering his head, Hachiro brings a hand over his face, shifting his weight from one prosthetic foot to the other. He scrubs at his eyes in silence. Seeing her like that was too hard.

“Is that normal?” Eizen asks Hachiro accusingly.

“She is still recuperating, but she… is also still Kimiko.” Hachiro says with a slow shake of his head. Then, with a look to Marlowe it is clear he isn’t telling her something. But whatever it is, Hachiro keeps his silence on it.

Even though her posture remains still, Marlowe catches Hachiro's look exchanged in silence. The requests from the surrounding sound voice are still running through her like the audible rumble from the servers had. Only when Eizen levels with Hachiro does she exhale a long sigh. Fear withheld, releases as if through a pinched balloon.

“全く、そんな怖い顔しないでください。”9 Turning to Eizen more fully, Marlowe pins him with an evaluatory stare, gauging the enigmatic man's manner. She had heard the distorted words, and there are questions. But for the moment, she doesn't ask. "So we have been given our tasks," she instead says slowly, her tone taking on the grave implications of the next, "Kawahara is set to take control and his doing so might, as she put it, result in this company's ruin. Unless we figure out what he and his supporters within the board plan to do."

Her fingers interlace before her. Marlowe raises her hands up to briefly rest her forehead on her knuckles, as if in utterance of prayer. Or, a knight pledging service upon an invisible sword. "Protect 'my' company," she repeats, quieter. When Marlowe drops her hands back down, she nods to the pair. "How do we secure this room? And whatever we need to boost the power to ensure… her smooth recovery?"

“Hachiro can order more hardware to distribute Jiba and Ms. Nakamura more evenly over the network,” Eizen suggests, but Hachiro has another thought.

“There’s another option,” is how he chooses to brooch the topic.

Eizen lifts a hand to pinch forefinger and thumb at the bridge of his nose, eyes closing. “Which is?”

“We unshackle Jiba.”

Eizen blinks his eyes open and fixes Hachiro with a look. “Let him out of the Park? Are you out of your mind?

“Jiba has been nothing but good to us. If we allow him to spread out beyond the borders of the Park’s network we free up all of his processing cycles within the mainframe for Ms. Nakamura. Her recovery could move tenfold faster.” Hachiro says, delivering each point in rapid succession. He’s been thinking about this a while.

“Think about the other benefits, Eizen. Jiba could be the ally, out there, that we need.” Hachiro motions to the exit from the lab, implicating the greater world.

Eizen’s mouth presses into a thin line, brows furrowed and jaw set. “We can’t secure this room from Kawahara if he decides to check up on it, but we can hide records of what is done here and make it seem uninteresting and unappealing. Hide it in plain sight.”

“As for Hachiro’s suggestion…” Eizen says, taking a breath between thoughts before turning to Marlowe. “What do you think we should do?”

"Faster recovery would be of exponential benefit, if we're talking about helping achieve what Kimiko intends. We'll need to make sure the requisitions for the hardware aren't suspicious enough to be flagged. I can handle Kimiko's… request…" Marlowe doesn't look to either man, turning instead to look at the sleek server towers, hoping maybe the pattern of lights blinking within their frames might reveal more insight. It's about the same as reading tea leaves.

Marlowe approaches a tower to run her fingers along the surface again, using a tactile sensation in stalling her opinion about unshackling Jiba. Or, perhaps, to organize it. "やってみるのではなく、やるのだ10, isn't that how it goes?" She turns to Hachiro and slowly nods to him. There had always been a hope shared between them in all their endeavors, and she shares a thin smile as the feeling forms again.

"Let's do it. Not saying to completely let the cat out of the bag to the rest of the world, but Jiba may be able to find something we otherwise have been unable to: the ones who did this. To Kimiko, to the others." As reassurances go, it's what she can offer to Eizen. But it's to Hachiro that Marlowe settles on, fixing a similar long look upon the older man that belies her confidence in the matter of actual actions to take. "Hopefully," she adds solemnly, "we would not be releasing a vengeful spirit upon the Earth's digital network."

Her hand drops back to her side, looking back to the security chief, expression softened and a touch weary. "Now if you don't mind, it's been a very long flight. And there's still so much work to do."

Hachiro and Eizen both share a look with one-another, and Eizen’s response is a tacit nod of understanding before he makes a wordless departure. He knows what has to be done next. But, so too does Hachiro. As he turns to the servers, then Marlowe, there is trepidation in his eyes. “I hope for all our sakes…” he says with shake of his head.

“…that we’re making the right choice.”

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