nagia: (rk; a/m; catch me on the ground)
YOUR CHILDREN DESERVE LEXCORP JETPACKS ([personal profile] nagia) wrote in [community profile] terzarima2011-10-06 12:23 pm

Rurouni Kenshin; Rated T; "Catch Me On The Ground" [1/7]

Title: Catch Me On The Ground
Fandom/Pairing: Rurouni Kenshin; Aoshi/Misao
Rating: ESRB Rating of T for Teen
Summary: Takani Megumi escapes Takeda Kanryuu's clutches. Makimachi Misao is looking for Sagara Sanosuke. And Shinomori Aoshi appears to have a plan. Based on the scifi character designs.
Notes: By way of explanation: the sci-fi redesigns.

Catch Me On The Ground

She said, "Lately, falling's been easy on me
A lot like breathing used to be,
And call me crazy, but I was thinking
Maybe you'd be waiting on the ground
To come and catch me."
—Matt Nathanson, "Wings"

Kyoto, Meiji Cycle 11: Summer

Makimachi Misao folded the cooling cape over her shoulders, triangular cloth hopefully helping the heat slide off. Kyoto in the summer could be miserable; she'd never understood how the geiko could stand to go out in the traditional Heian era clothes.

She was just approaching the main door of the Aoi-ya, absently loading her throwing knives into her sheathbelt, when Okina's voice trickled into her ears. She couldn't make out his words, but she had a feeling she knew what they were anyway. Looked like her visit to a place where she could read the underground newslinks would have to wait.

She tiptoed up to his office, her braid swinging along her back as she did. The tip of her hair was tapping a beat against her knees as she went up the stairs. The syntho-wood of the door was cool underneath her fingers, almost cold.

Yep, he was in his office.


She could hardly see him for the holo-data in front of him. He had to have at least fifteen different infovids open, and a text-com, and what from the back looked like… she squinted, but the holo projector built into his desk suddenly clicked off.

"Misao-chan!" That ridiculous little bow in his beard bobbed as he spoke. "Come here, come here! Sit down!"

Warily, she approached. One of the chairs hovering in front of his desk whirred away, leaving only the blue one. She zipped forward and took a seat.

"You've been begging me to give you a mission lately," he began. His expression told her exactly what he thought of her wanting missions. "I recently received a reply from somebody."

He pressed a button. The holo-data all reappeared. He quickly closed out of a view that she wasn't sure she wanted to identify, rearranging his tabs until all she could see was a picture of a man with hair spikier than an iron rooster's crest and a text-com.

She skimmed the text-com, then re-read it. Something about an offer, and that he wouldn't mind taking the job, since he was scheduled for a tournament on C1-7 around that time. It was all phrased casually. Carefully so.

"You want me to find this gladiator?"

Okina nodded. "You'll be our middle man. You'll be the one to find him and take the cargo from him."

"Cool!" She grinned, found herself doing a little mental calculation and grinned wider. "Does that mean I get to take the car?"

Okina blanched. The little bow in his moustache seemed to droop.

"No, no, wait! If it's small, I can take the speeder, right?"

"If all goes well, you'll be piloting a ship back home."

"You're getting a ship?" It came out as a shriek. "I'll be piloting it?!"

"The ship isn't the only important thing! The cargo is more important than the ship." He smiled at her, handed her a list hand-written onto some clear flimsy. "Items are listed in order of importance."

"Jiya," she said, shock making her nearly drop the piece of flimsy, "are you having things smuggled on-planet?"

He didn't say anything, but his expression told her. It also told her to keep quiet about that. You didn't verbally admit to something like that, even with someone you trusted. Never knew when the government might drag you into the night and put a reader in front of your eyes. Fortunately, evidence from readers was always fiddly and usually didn't show up in court. Kind of like hear-say, actually.

"I'll be good," she promised.

"Be safe and be fast." He paused. "And don't play nice."

"Love you too, Jiya." With a wink and a wave, she stood from the chair.

Outside, the sun had never felt brighter, and the heat had never been better.

The café was one of those strange seedy half-places. It was just a few consoles on the floor with women dressed like video game characters bringing you Voltage! served in tall glasses, or maybe coffee, if you asked for it instead.

Misao didn't ask for anything. She just slid a few wrinkled bills over the counter, took the passcard they handed her, and went to the console a girl dressed like Samus Aran pointed her to. She swiped the passcard through the console, began tapping immediately at the holographic keyboard.

The government ran the newspapers, of course. It even ran most of the major news blogs. But there were a few independent ones.

She logged into her favorite and began scrolling through. There really wasn't all that much going on in her usual sections of the site. The "just in" box, however, had an interesting link.


Other links relating to Takeda Kanryuu 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 More

According to inside sources, Takeda Kanryuu, infamous crime lord, has hired a new mercenary group as his heads of security. While their identity remains secret, the inside source is confident that they are related to Kyoto's own Oniwabanshuu.

"They wear black and purple uniforms," says the source, who would prefer to remain anonymous. "One of them wears a mask that's just horns. The rest aren't human."

What happened to the last guards? Nobody's sure, but there are rumors that the previous captain of Takeda's guard ended up in pieces in the common room of a Yoshiwara teahouse.

"They're all real scary guys," says the source.

Scarier, it seems, than the previous band.

A mask that was just horns? She remembered one of those. It had been a white duraplas visor. There had been no facial features. Shiny and completely opaque, though he somehow still saw through it. Hannya could even see in the dark, she remembered.

He had raised her. And if Hannya and a bunch of "not humans" were working together, then that could only mean the missing Oniwabanshuu. The ones who had followed Aoshi-sama that rainy night, who had left Kyoto not even ten years before.

And that meant Aoshi was among them. The article didn't mention him, though. Maybe the source had never seen him?

She gnawed her lip, dug another wrinkled bill out of her pocket, and raised her hand. A girl who could have been Chun Li except for the gas mask and a faux machine gun appeared promptly at her elbow.

"A Caf-Pow and a yatsuhashi," she murmured.

Zombie Apocalypse!Chun Li plucked the bill out of her fingers and vanished into a screened area. After a few moments, she returned with a yatsuhashi wrapped in light wax paper and a tall glass of Caf-Pow.

Misao accepted the treats, gnawing on the koto-shaped sweet while she clicked more and more links relating to Takeda Kanryuu. Every short article painted him as a bigger dirtbag than before. They'd linked the death of a charity doctor to him, and the disappearance of a young med student, and the disappearances of several small children. One of the links was nothing but unsubstantiated rumor, claiming that he was working with the Yakuza to make a new kind of opiate available to junkies.

It was all crazy and she was sure some of it was a lie. But the horned mask, the blue and purple uniforms, the lack of humans—some of it fit.

She'd just have to find out the truth when she went to Tokyo, she supposed.

The bi-operational speeder was—hands-down, no contest whatsoever—her favorite possession. She'd worked part-time as a runner from the time she was twelve to the time she was fourteen to earn the money. If she'd proven that she could use it right, Okina probably would have bought it for her.

But it was hers. She had earned it. She took obsessive care of it.

Her fingers tapped a certain sequence on the security keys. The armor retracted until it was just a regular two-wheeled hover speeder, its body slightly longer than her own. The armor didn't retreat all the way; some of the hardened durasteel remained near the seat. It would hopefully minimize any damage to her should she go spinning, but she had yet to find out from experience.

She let her smile vanish under her helmet, mounted the speeder, slid in the ignition-tab. The speeder hummed to life, electric blue light spinning around the wheels. The holo display in her helmet flickered into existence.

She flicked her wrist. The engine purred. The null-gravs made hrmmmmv sounds when she flipped the hover switch and kicked off from the ground. She clenched her grip on the throttle, laughing as the speeder shot forward, into traffic. She leaned into the turn, came to an abrupt stop behind a green liftcar.

The hovertraffic all honked. Kids on speeders were notorious amongst Kyoto-natives for being reckless and crazy, often hopped up on something—and if they weren't, they were completely fearless daredevils. Nobody liked a small person on a speeder.

She leaned forward over the speeder's body, revved it again, and shifted into a higher gear at the same moment the light they were all waiting for turned green. Traffic was the one thing in Kyoto that showed a non-traditional face in public. Soon enough, every vehicle in the stream was jostling for a better position. People would just as soon slit throats as signal if they wanted to get into the turning lane.

The outbound J-11, naturally, was just as crazy.

Tokyo, Meiji Cycle 11: Summer

Finally, reports that did more than make him wonder why he was still in Tokyo. Before his thoughts could go any farther, he crushed the anticipation, the concern, the relief beneath the discipline Okina had taught him.

Then he deleted the encrypted message from his datareader. And deleted the encryption key he'd written for it. In their place, he wrote a quick auto-search function and set it to flag his inbox on a simple if/then conditional.

That done, he resumed his inspection of the new resident wing. No part of the house was under construction — it had all been finished years ago, before he'd even received word from Takeda — but 'structurally complete' did not necessarily mean 'ready for habitation.' Particularly when the intended inhabitant would be a prisoner in this part of the home.

That the wing was nearly a blur of core-style rooms spoke both to Kanryuu's tastes and his own state of mind. Aoshi forced himself to stop moving, to survey his surroundings with both the practiced eye of an omitsu and the desperation of a captive.

Despite the core planet's apparent love of gleaming heavy wood and plush, vibrant upholstery, he spied very little heavy furniture near the windows. Anything heavy enough to break a glass window was either too heavy for a woman of Takani's size to lift or was perma-bolted to the floor.

He dug his boots into the floor, testing the carpeting. Soft, yielding. She wouldn't think to do herself any injury by throwing herself off something.

At long last, he stopped in the intended bedroom. The mattress was strapped down, all furniture perma-bolted to the floor. There was even a kinetic barrier blocking the window. Takeda had spared no expense in refurbishing this prison.

But the generator's buzzing was off-pitch. He tilted his head to listen closely, adjusting his glasses out of habit. Another man might have smirked or nodded in satisfaction.

Aoshi simply turned on his heel and walked away.

Hannya was waiting for him at the entrance to the Oniwabanshuu suite. The other onmitsu wasn't immediately visible, but the holoprojector thrimmed, and the illusion of an empty corner ceased to be.

Hannya's expressionless duraplas non-face looked chilly. There was a faint sheen in the light, but Hannya's mask almost always gleamed.

"Kanryuu's preparations are satisfactory?"

"To hold Takani," he replied. "Next item?"

"Critical discussion of our employer's home security." To one who had not known him for most of both their lives, his voice would have been toneless. Aoshi detected a faint note of amusement.

"Electronic and artificial security systems are tolerable." He'd had a look at both. They didn't match their blueprints at all, and didn't quite match the statement Takeda had given city authorities.

All to the good, in his opinion. Takeda was filth, but at least he wasn't stupid filth. He just apparently hated everyone and everything with the exception of money and the man who visited from Beijing every so often.

"And the support?" Hannya's tone wasn't enough of a question to be genuine. The other onmitsu apparently knew what he was going to say, or thought he did.

"Needs work," he said, tone going sour.

Shikijou's presence was sudden, even for him. One moment, the sharp-toothed man wasn't there; the next, he was. It was a better entrance than even Hannya usually made.

"They're cannon fodder," Shikijou said.

And cannon fodder meant, they all knew, that Shikijou thought they would taste better than they would fight. Shikijou's family had been unscrupulous carnivores. Those teeth occasionally reminded him that Shikijou wasn't always particularly discerning.

He was good at his job and one of the few men Aoshi would truly call a friend, but he was a happy carnivore on a moon full of vegetarians.

"You're suggesting we leave them as found?" Aoshi raised an eyebrow.

"Exactly as found. Anything that can beat two security systems can take down any number of cheap guards." Shikijou's teeth made a clicking sound as he grinned.

Aoshi didn't look. Sometimes Shikijou's lower lip got caught on one of the upper teeth and then tore. "Hannya?"

"Fair point," Hannya allowed.

Aoshi rubbed at his glasses, pushing them along the bridge of his nose. "Double the numbers on the main grounds. I want standard shift rotations."

He could hear fabric moving as Shikijou stretched. And without needing to see it, he could hear the smile in the manshark's voice. "Just because he's dirt doesn't mean we don't do it right."

Takeda Kanryuu kept a private office in the style used on the core planet. He apparently liked to sit in a central-style chair while he read reports on bits of flimsy and listened absently to a young man's voice on holovid, destroying and creating businesses with the occasional flick of his stylus.

Aoshi supposed he could understand. There was a certain power in appearance. The swiftest knife to any intelligent man's hand was his enemy's imagination. Powerful, subtle images could be used to shape opinion, and through opinion, shape reality.

He went in through the window, rather than the door. The window hissed shut behind him, clicked locked.

Takeda didn't look up from his flimsies. He circled something on one of them.

"I'm doubling your ground floor security."

He raised an eyebrow. "And I'm paying for that, why…?"

"Because the expense is worth the peace of mind." To a civilian, anyway. Aoshi had seen enough that his own peace of mind would never come so cheaply.

To onmitsu, peace of mind meant you slept with your back in a corner, one eye open, and your weapon in your hand.

"Your peace or mine?"


"You think I'll be under attack?"

"It's easier to ask which of your colleagues doesn't hate you. I'm certain."

The filth masquerading as a businessman looked up, then. He searched Aoshi's face for something. Aoshi hoped his non-expression didn't give it to him, but apparently Takeda was satisfied. The sudden delighted—if still ironic—clapping made it clear.

"Splendid! It's not paranoia if they're out to get me, is it, now?"

Aoshi said nothing.

"And how's my dear, lovely Takani-san doing?"

If Takeda had an eye for the female form, Aoshi would grind his glasses into both of his own. He didn't so much as twitch. "Her new quarters are ready. Reduce her available space if she refuses. She'll break soon enough."

He threw back his head and laughed. "Aoshi, Aoshi, Aoshi. You've really got a nasty mind, you know that? It's like a poisoned trap."

Aosi said nothing. So long as Takeda's opinions did not affect his men, Aoshi didn't care what he thought.

"I'm sure the opportunity to do charity work would make her feel better," the businessman murmured, setting a stack of flimsies aside.

He crossed the room silently. When Takeda gave no indication that he cared, he left through the door.

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