A Trip to Tokyo, Chapter 1

Chapter 1: Friends ███ Together

Clubs blared their music over the sounds of public crowding. An array of neon lights shone up and out in defiance of night's dark. Nobody in their right mind would be trying to get any sleep at this time and place in Shibuya, among the liveliest sectors of Tokyo.

However, it's a completely different world behind the flashing lights and booming sounds in the alleyways where glamour turns to grime. A gang of four youths converged in one such thoroughfare, squatting and leaning against walls. A restless air could be seen hanging over them, some tapping away on their phones. A lean mohawked punk in a mock-camo jacket groans and swings his phone-hand, pretending to throw his phone.

"Where the hell is Kagai? Why isn't he picking up? Mari-Ane-san isn't going to like it if we're all late!"

"We're all late as it is." All turned their head to the approaching figure stepping under a decrepit light.

Dressed in a black jacket with a hood raised over her beanie, 'Big Sister' Mari cuts an intimidating presence and a merciless glare. The squatters rise and the leaners stand straight.

"Nobody knows we're here? No family, no friends followed you here? No one watched any of you come here? Good. We don't much more time. We are long overdue for providing results for Esbeth-ane-san. Tonight, we shall deliver. Germ Squad, Tokyo cell: Show of hands."

"Otsuko." A fairly thin girl, her hair tied in a bun and constantly scratching at her throat.

"Manabu." A fat boy with the girth of a sumo wrestler, his shirt straining against his folds.

"Oitsuwa." An older youth in his early twenties dressed in little more than shorts and a tank top, flexing his well-built arms.

"Sarada." The mohawk-punk in the mock-camo jacket from earlier raised his hand.

"Will it be enough, just the five of us? Hrrk." Otsuko finishes scratching her throat and hocks phelgm into a drain.

"We will make do. I'll go over things on the way."

"But Kagai-" Mari cuts Sarada off.

"He's probably chickened out. Shikata ga nai, we can make things work without him. We will sort him out later, even if he's your friend. Am I clear?" Sarada swallows and nods. Mari turns her eyes, staring into the dim lights of an alley to their side.

"Someone's been making a lot of noise in there. Is it a rat? It must be an incredibly large rat."

"Food, food, food~" The figure of interest within the dumpster hums away as a trail of cans, wrappers and other assorted junk fly out from between her legs, having traded her traditional yukata for the trappings of a bum.

A white shirt turned beige with dirt and stains, a hole-y pair of shorts, a patched up jacket, a red cap blackened with soot; It wasn't too hard to find discarded old clothes to help her pass off as one of the locals… Even if people give her filthy looks a wide berth. She's not here to make friends with the local stupid humans, anyway. Maybe next time she'll scavenge up a cleaner set of clothes and walk around inside the buildings.

It's been a good night of petty thievery and scavenging so far, as a stuffed single-strapped schoolbag (the other having torn off long ago) bouncing on her back can attest. Her MO was simple: Stare from the front of these glass-paned shops, then find her way in from the back to nick little odds and ends… Nothing too important, anyway. As much as she's hated the abrupt change in Japan's scene, she can't deny there are so many interesting new things to look at (and nick). And this seafood restaurant, the amazing smells coming out from the front! Surely, in its dumpster, there's got to be some good scraps…

She gasps in excitement. "No way! Otoro?!1 A whole slab, and it's still fresh! Wasteful humans, letting such good food go to waste…" She carefully gives the marbled flesh a sniff, trims the bits that smell slightly off, and greedily wolfs down the rest. Her blissful chewing is rudely interrupted by a series of footsteps behind her.

She turns her head around to see some fellow teens staring at her. She slowly shifts her legs amongst the dumpster clutter to face them.

"…Who the hell are you punks? Wanna fight?! You filthy mutts are fifty years too early to take me on!"

"I don't think she was spying on us, Ane-san. I don't-hrrk-think she even heard us." Spoke the thin girl, beginning to rub her throat.

"Why the hell would I give a shit about whatever you little shits were saying?" The girl vaults off the dumpster, adopting an aggressive stance and raising her fists.

"She's got spirit!" The muscular showoff laughs.

"The hell's that supposed to mean, teme?"

The girl in the hooded black jacket points to the vagrant. "Search her."

"What do you think you're doing - don't touch me, you filthy dog-? HEY!" The vagrant stops striking at the big guy's hands and spins about to her back, her bag somehow leapt meters away into the hands of the weirdo with the splotchy green jacket and the ugly haircut. "Give that back!"

"Blank papers, scissors, some ink and brushes and snacks. Mari-Ane-San, I really think she's just homeless. Like how some of us started off." The aforementioned 'Big sister' calmly nods at Mohawk's assessment.

The fat punk begins lifting the hem of his shirt. "She's really noisy. We're going to attract unwanted attention at this rate. You want me to get rid of her?"

Thin throaty girl hisses at him and slaps at his shoulder. "You stop that! Open up here and you'll-krrk-make things worse!" She then turns to Mari of the black jacket, who is obviously the boss of this little get-together. "I agree with Sarada; She really is just a random homeless scavenger, Ane-san. I believe we're not compromised." Mari rubbed her chin thoughtfully.

"Random… or a fortunate encounter?"

"What the hell are you punks talking about, teme?" The vagrant is interrupted by Mari walking right up to her.

"Hold still. That look in your eyes… Such anger. I've got a good feeling about you!" Mari gestures, and the good strap of the bag is placed into her hand.

"What the hell do you want from me?" The vagrant slowly reaches out, and snatches her schoolbag of goods back from Mari's offering gesture.

"Like you, we're the cast-off trash of a civilization who never gave a shit about us!" The vagrant girl raises an eyebrow.

"'Trash'? All of you look too clean."

Mari hmphs out loud in amusement. "Don't you feel it like we do? Standing right now amidst all this wastefulness, all this filth and decay that's hidden behind the bright signs, the hollow songs and the fake smiles? That there's a sickness behind humanity, and that it must be corrected?"

"I…" The drifter pauses, clearly in thought. "…It isn't really my business, how the world's gone and changed for the worse."

"But what if you had the power to help change things for the better?" The vagrant pauses at Mari's question, almost wanting to say something but holding it off. "Here you are rooting amidst the trash and eking out a miserable life while mere meters behind these walls people wallow in excess and decadent finery. Dare you consider yourself truly content in this way of life?"

The dirty scavenger concluded her thoughts with a scowl. "…If you're asking me if I want to live like the pigs you described, you can go choke on cowshit."

Mari bursts into laughter. "Oh! Oh, I like you! Really, I do! What's your name?"

"Mishio." The vagrant girl replies earnestly, revealing one truth of herself so far. Mari nods in approval, extending a hand for a shake… then retracts it understandably as Mishio gestures her tuna-greased hands.

"Well, you've already heard mine: Mari. I'm the leader of this little gang of Shibuya's misfits: Otsuko, Manabu, Oitsuwa, Sarada, who we all are in turn part of something greater. Join us, Mishio! I have a feeling that you'll fit in just fine."

"And what if I refuse?"

Mari smiles and blows the declination off coolly. "Then do as you please! You'll change your mind soon enough. We'll be right by your side when you make that decision."

"Pft! Good luck with that."

And with that, Mari signals to the rest of her gang to follow her, this deviation in their schedule concluded amicably. Mishio stands perfectly still on the other hand, watching the gang shrink in the distance…

In a different sector of Shibuya's underbelly where neon and pink red lights glowed hazily with promises of forbidden pleasures, the gang huddled about a crude blueprint. Mari pointed here and there upon the schematics, her eyes glazed over in focus… and memories.

"The compound is chiefly staffed with handlers. Security is minimal in exchange for a well-hidden front. They cannot operate in a city so extensively nor openly without drawing too much attention. Most of the…" Mari briefly pauses to gather herself, "…produce… here are finalized and awaiting delivery to their final destinations. There's only one way in and out to prevent potential escapes. Assuming… Assuming nothing has changed."

Mari clutched her head and gritted her teeth. "I believe… They should have increased their security presence. After I previously…" She forces herself to continue talking through the memories. "Guns! They're most likely packing pistols and submachine guns. Nothing too big or dangerous, don't want to be too loud or damage the… goods. Other than that, it will be cattle prods and torture tools, nothing the rest of us can't handle." Mari clears her head and points to each member of her team.

"Oitsu, you will suppress the threat from security."

"Nothing I can't handle!" Flexes the muscular boy.

"Otsu, take care of all physical barriers." Otsuko clears her throat and nods in acknowledgement.

"Sarada, I trust you can get the locks and alarms bypassed without Kagai?"

"I was teaching him the ropes. I've got the locations on the blueprint memorized. I can." Mari nods in approval.

"Manabu…" Mari pauses briefly, knowing what the fat boy is capable of. "…Do what you do best." Manabu smiles.

"And… If our hidden guest can kindly reveal itself?" Mari gestures to the garbage dumpster in the distance as her underlings stared in alarm. A figure stumbles out from behind: none other than Mishio. She points a finger at them.

"What are you all up to?"

Mari confidently approaches Mishio, taking slow and long strides with hands on her hips. "I could ask you the same. Why are you following us, Mishio?"

"You said that I could do as I please, so I'm watching you lot."

Mari nodded. "Fair is fair, I did say that. Also, you're really good. You've snuck after us all this while without any modif- I mean, by your skill alone? That's really impressive."

Sarada squints from behind Mari. "You're not thinking of getting in our way, are you?"

Oitsuwa claps a meaty hand on Sarada's back, knocking the breath out of him. "Relax. She doesn't look like someone the police would care to listen to, anyway."

Mishio scowls. "I'm just watching. I don't care for that."

Mari smirks. "Hmph, fine! Just don't say I didn't warn you about what's coming next." She gestures for the rest to come along to their destination.

"I've probably seen worse, anyway."

"Nothing like this, I'm sure."

"What do you want?" A leery pair of eyes peered behind the door's open slit. Otsu quaked in her boots, teary-eyed under the gaze of a camera.

"I got lost from my school group and I'm scared, I don't have anywhere else to go… Can I please borrow a phone?"

A hum came from behind the door, the shifty eyes looking left and right. The guard turns about to consult with a set of voices from behind, then back to Otsu as a series of bolts and shackles began to be undone.

"Heh heh. Well, little girl, come on in and make yourself at-"


Chapter 1: Friends Get Together

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