By Any Other Name…

A Get Backers Fanfiction by Aoikami Sarah

 

Written February 26th 2003

 

            The sun was just setting. Shadows were long and twilight obscured the shapes of trash receptacles and cardboard boxes. Amano Ginji stepped into the mouth of the alley.

            “Kadsu-chan?” he asked the stillness. “I’m here, what’s up?” He smiled and pretended not to be worried, but his eyes told the truth. A cat jumped onto an old-fashioned tin trashcan. The lid crashed to the ground. Ginji jumped at the sound, and then gasped in alarm as a gloved pair of very strong hands grasped his arms. “What the...?” he began. Something sharp pinched his arm and he crumpled.

 

.x.

            Mido Ban looked at the clock on the wall again and sighed melodramatically.

            “What’s wrong, Ban-san?” Natsumi asked as she dried a coffee mug.

            “He’s late,” Ban frowned. “That idiot. He knows we’ve got a job.”

            Paul looked out at the skyline. Mugenjou looked twice as threatening in silhouette with the bright red setting sun behind it. “Red sky at night…”

            “Sailor’s delight!” Natsuki finished.

            “Too bad we’re land-locked,” Ban snorted.

            The bell over the door jingled, echoed by the tinkle of the bells in Kadsuki’s hair as he stumbled into the Honky Tonk. One hand was clutching his shoulder, which was bleeding. “Mido-san,” he whispered. “They got Ginji…” Kadsuki fell against the bar.

            “Kadsuki!” Ban leapt up and helped him to a booth. “What the hell happened?!”

            “I don’t know who they were. These women. They were so strong… three of them. They tried to abduct me. Said they already had Ginji…”

            Ban looked feverishly at the clock again. His partner in the retrieval business was an hour late. “He said he was going to meet you!”

            “And so, I was told to meet him. I was set up.”

            Ban snarled and got the details. Kadsuki had been told to go to a secluded location. He assumed to talk with Ginji about the days of VOLTS without upsetting Ban, who disliked his dragging up the past. When Ginji didn’t show, three, incredibly strong women in plain, black suits appeared. They didn’t seem to want to kill him, but Kadsuki narrowly escaped being captured. Ban wasted no time. He jumped in his Subaru 360 and rushed to the scene.

 

            In the abandoned storefront on the edge of Mugenjou, Ban saw a smattering of blood that Kadsuki had left from his encounter with the mysterious super-women, but not much else in the way of clues. Kadsuki had no idea where Ginji had been told to meet him. It could have been on the other side of town for all they knew.

            It was dark. Ginji had still not appeared. Ban crouched and shone a flashlight on the dusty floor. He saw the footprints of three sets of stiletto heels and the longer prints of Kadsuki’s shoes. He could re-create the scuffle from the evidence. Any idea that the he could have lied about the attack disappeared from Ban’s mind. Kadsuki’s trademark strings were scattered everywhere, severed by something fast and strong enough to fight them. Among the traces, Ban saw a small collection of longish, red curly hairs, perhaps pulled out during the struggle. He took these with him.

           

.x.

            The following morning, disguised as a lab technician, Mido Ban snuck into a genetics research facility and ran a test on the red hairs he had found in the storefront. He noted the date the results would be available (two weeks from then) and seamlessly snuck back out again.

            “Two weeks,” he growled as he walked down the street. “I don’t have two weeks.” Ginji had still not returned or called to say he was all right. Something was very wrong. Ban had done his best to shrug it off for the sake of Paul and Natsumi, but Kadsuki knew very well just how serious this could be.

            “Hey, Snake Boy.”

            Ban kept walking. “So Kadsuki told you, eh Monkeytrainer?”

            Fuyuki Shido was leaning against a wall in a shallow alley as Ban passed. “You don’t sound like someone who’s concerned.”

            “So sorry,” Ban snarled sarcastically.

            Shido followed him. “Kadsuki sent me to find you. I have been sent a similar note to the one he received before his attack.”

            Ban spun and shouted at him. “Where?”

            “Tonight, a construction site east of Mugenjou. I know I can’t stop you from following me…”

            “You mean you need the backup!” Ban grinned.

            “You saw what happened to Kadsuki…” Shido didn’t rise to his taunting. “And we still don’t know what happened to Ginji.”

            Ban narrowed his eyes and cursed under his breath. “So you and me have a date with some tough chicks tonight. We’ll have to show ‘em a good time.”

 

.x.

            As the sun set that evening, Shido noted Ban’s position and approached the meeting place. The large raven on his shoulder squawked in alarm. “They’re here already, eh?” He drew upon his power to see in the shadows. His eyes became yellow and slitted. “Come out from behind there, ladies. I have some questions for you.”

            The first was a blond with a long braid. The second had short dark brown hair and the third had shoulder length red hair. All three wore plain black women’s suits with short skirts, white shirts and skinny black ties. Their eyes were hidden behind dark sunglasses.

            The brunette did handsprings toward Shido while the other two rushed him from the sides. He managed to knock two of them away, but the fifth latched onto his arm and pulled what looked like an oversized pen out of her breast pocket.

            “I’ll take that!” Ban shouted as he swung down from a girder two stories above them. He snatched the pen from the woman and stood back to back with Shido.

            “Always gotta make a scene, eh, Snake Boy?”

            “Shut up, Monkeytrainer. Just be lucky she didn’t get you with this,” he held out the pen for him to see in the fading light. He clicked the top to expose a rather large hypodermic needle.

            “Sedative, eh? So maybe these chicks aren’t as tough as we thought.”

            “Let’s find out.” Ban clapped his hands together. “Red,” he called out to the red haired woman. “I’d like a word with you about a friend of mine.”

            All three women paused, nodded in silent agreement and leapt up into the air, leaving three smoke bombs behind them. Ban and Shido tried to follow, but the smoke was noxious and they were forced to give up.

            “Damnit!” Ban slammed his fist into a steel girder.

            “At least we got a souvenir.” Shido commented. “Perhaps it will lead us to Ginji.”

            “Perhaps,” Ban muttered in disgust.

 

.x.

            Ban took the hypo-pen back to the rented computer space above the Honky Tonk and dusted it for prints. He logged these and looked for any sign of a maker’s mark. The only thing he found was the make of the needle inside. He looked up the brand and found that only one place in Tokyo had bought a supply of them in the last year. “Genco Industries,” he mused aloud. “Don’t think of doing anything without me, Kadsuki,” Ban shouted to the silence, sure that the string user had bugged the place. They might have been on the same side, but there was little trust between Mido Ban and the two former Kings of Mugenjou.

            The other interesting thing about the needle was that it wasn’t typical. Such a large type was for veterinary use. Perhaps it had been stolen from somewhere, but at least they had a place to start.

 

            In the wee hours of the morning, Ban set out for the headquarters of Genco Industries on the outskirts of the city. The industrial district was lonely and quiet, between shifts of factory workers and arrivals of trucks full of raw materials. The Genco building appeared deserted. Ban assessed the security cameras and leapt the fence. He rounded several large tanks marked with an explosive warning and broken in through a maintenance entrance.

            Once inside, Ban took down two heavily armed security guards and followed his ears to an open area. Below him, he could see a wall of eight-foot tall cylindrical containers. He could now hear what the men were saying.

            “…In two more days.”

            “Very good. And Amano?”

            “Complete. Would you like to see, Maestro?”

            The men walked around a corner. Ban straightened up to see where they were going and felt something heavy come down on his shoulder blade. He crashed to the floor of the metal cat-walk, slamming his chin on a rung of the railing as he went.

            “Well, well. If it isn’t Mido Ban,” the red head from earlier smirked. “We’ve been looking for you.” She pushed her sunglasses closer to her face.

            “Shit!” he hissed.

            “Like the shades?” she purred. “We know all about your evil eye. You’re quite the specimen. You’ll be a wonderful addition to Maestro’s collection.” Red pointed not a gun but a grenade launcher at his head.

            “If you were a guy I’d say you were overcompensating for something…” Ban sneered as he got to his feet. He put his hands behind his head. “But since you’re not, I guess you’re just an idiot.”

            “Shut it!” She hefted the launcher onto her shoulder. “Move. Down stairs.”

            Ban did as he was told, hoping to get closer to this Maestro person and hopefully find out where they were keeping Ginji so that he could come up with a plan.

 

            Below, a half dozen men in white lab coats and one particularly corpulent man in a grey, tailored business suit were supervising a bank of scientific looking equipment. Ban recognized life support and monitoring devices, but not much else. They all seemed to be attached to the wall of cylinders. The place wasn’t very well lit, so he didn’t see what they contained till he was brought face to face with the man they called Maestro. He gasped at the sight. They were in a circular bank of about 10 units, five of which he could see from this angle. Three of those cylinders he could see contained people, suspended in a sort of pink liquid. Their EKGs blipped in chorus.

            His cool composure fell. “What the hell…?”

            “Welcome, Mido Ban. We’ve been hoping you would find your way here some how,” the fat man began.

            “Where’s Ginji!”

            He laughed and pushed his sunglasses closer to his face. “Oh don’t you worry about your friend. You should be worried about yourself.”

            The blond pulled a hypo-pen out of her pocket and approached him. Ban weighed all the factors in his head, but before he could react, the pen flew out of the woman’s hand.

            In seconds, the room filled with din of thousands of scurrying feet as multitudes of rats poured in through every crack and crevice. The brunette pulled the sticks out of her hair and threw them at Ban. They sliced into the flesh of his arm as he dodged. She chased after him, pulling more of the razors out of her clothes and almost out of thin air. The blond watched the wave of vermin as it came closer to the computers and equipment.

            “Don’t let them near the cables!” Maestro shouted as he made a hasty retreat. She stood firm and opened her mouth. Shido called off his rats quickly as he saw them turn and flee. He held his ears against her attack.

            “Shido, what did she do!?” Kadsuki asked as he tangled up a bunch of armed thugs. “I don’t hear anything!”

            “It’s too high pitched!” Shido shouted.

            Blond grinned once the rats had gone. “Too high for you? Try this!” She opened her mouth and again no audible sound came out. This time, the floor buckled and Shido was bowled over backwards. He slammed into the concrete wall and slumped to the ground.

            “Shido!”

            Ban turned as he heard Kadsuki shout. “This is a mess!” He bum-rushed the brunette, taking a razor in the side but was able to lay into her with one of his 200kg punches. She slammed into one of the cylinders, cracking it. He made to run around to the other side. ‘Ginji… I’m coming!’

            “Forget about me?!” Red shouted, and fired off her grenades at him.

            “What are you, nuts?!” Part of the un-occupied bank was blown to bits. He opted to charge this woman as well, knowing he could do nothing to her as far away as he was. She looked confused, but crazy as she set of a volley of blasts which detonated all around. Ban knocked the weapon from her hands and grasped her throat. “Knock it off!”

            She simply grinned wider and produced three lit bombs from her pockets in each hand. ‘She gonna blow herself up!?’ he thought wildly. Ban pushed her away and she threw the bombs into the air with a wild cackle.

            “Mido-san! We have to get out of here!” Kadsuki shouted.

            “No!” Ban started to run around the bank again, but one of the bombs detonated in front of him. Further behind that, an enormous explosion sounded as one of the fuel tanks just outside the building went up. It shook the whole place, causing bits of the ceiling to fall in. Ban growled and tried again. This time, the second container blew. The only thing preventing him from being killed instantly was the bank of cylinders, but his path was completely blocked. He could hear the third container start to groan as it got hotter and hotter from the heat of the first two.

            “Ginij!!!” he shouted as the fire spread.

 

            Shido and Kadsuki had to drag him out just in time. The last tank blew, and with it the entire laboratory. Ban watched the blaze, felt its heat on his face and he knew his friend was gone.

            “Ginji…” he choked.

            Sirens alerted his companions. All three of them disappeared into the dawn.

END Chapter One


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