By, James Pyles
Part 3 of 3
June 2017, Tokyo
For the past six years, Project Chalkydri had been her home, her sanctuary. Even after she started to yearn to go outside, she wasn’t allowed to. So when Daniel Hunt suggested a short vacation, she thought she’d be excited. Well, she was in a way, but also terribly intimidated.
Naoto Abe had been the only outsider to see her, and her senses told her, even knowing who she was, that he was completely convinced she was a human being. Now she hoped, walking with so many others in the city, that she really was just like all of the other women around her, at least skin deep.
She stopped in front of Kirariot Ginza. The twelve-story shopping center was considered a Tokyo landmark containing numerous eateries, jewelry, bridal, and accessories stores.
Bridal. Her facial expression didn’t change as she looked though the display window. Externally, she still appeared like other shoppers. Inside, she fought a war to dominate the turmoil. Fortunately, Daniel had built-in a means of controlling what might have otherwise been unendurable anguish.
She had been seeing Ichioka for about six months when the accident happened. He was a young university engineering instructor, far from achieving tenure, but full of hopes for the future. They had met by chance at a bookstore when they both reached for a mathematics text at the same time. She impulsively accepted his invitation to lunch, and then to dinner, and then to other things.
Mikiko had expected him to propose. Much later she found out that he had even bought an engagement ring, though it wasn’t very common to provide one anymore when asking a woman to marry. Daniel had been gracious enough to provide her with a report on her former life, though she had to ask more than once.
As far as the world was concerned, including her lover Ichioka, Mikiko was one of the people who died in the Fukushima disaster on that day in March six years ago. He finally married last year, a lovely primary school teacher. They would have their first baby in September.
The neural circuitry suppressed extreme and harmful emotions, but that didn’t include some few tears at imagining the loss of who she had been, and the life she would have lived.
Then she recalled a few years ago when she still looked and felt like a broken doll. That’s when she decided to ask Tashiro for a favor.
Her neurologist Rosemary had been visiting Mikiko in her room as she had lunch.
She looked up at the doctor and smiled like a scared and needy child. “I’m glad Tashiro put duct tape on the handles of my eating utensils. I still can’t manage chopsticks, but at least I can feed myself.” She paused. “I still tend to dribble.”
“Give it time, Mikiko. You’re doing great. In a year you’ll be doing somersaults.”
“Hey, that’s my department.” Tashiro’s voice came from the open front door to Mikiko’s hospital suite.
“You promise to teach me somersaults, Tashiro? I never could do them before. Now in this body…” She stopped as a sudden flood of memories assailed her. Her former life, her perfectly human biological life came back to her in a rush. Then the neuro-circuitry system came into play, and the expression of twisted horror contorting her face was replaced by calm and serenity. She looked back at her trainer again. “Promise?”
“I promise, Mikiko. I’ll even throw in some handspring flips.”
She remembered looking into Tashiro’s eyes and seeing them become wet. This was one of a thousand times when she knew the men and women who had been helping to rebuild her didn’t consider her just a job. They had become her closest friends.
Still standing on the street, she was wearing a long, cotton skirt, a gift from Brigit, a silk blouse, and light jacket. The leather boots came halfway up to her knees but she didn’t think her apparel would get in the way.
Mikiko’s senses told her that crowds of late afternoon shoppers in Toyko’s Ginza district were momentarily distracted when a young woman perfectly executed six handspring flips on the sidewalk. As Tashiro might have said, she “stuck the landing.” Then, as if nothing strange had happened at all, Mikiko started walking again back toward the train station. This time though, she was smiling.
# # #
July 2017 – Heathrow Airport – London
She could have been any young Japanese tourist but she wasn’t. She had been issued a passport and other identity papers in the name of Mikiko Kojima. She didn’t know if this was to be her permanent name or one issued just for this assignment. She was supposed to be a junior member of Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority visiting London for an international conference. She was twenty-seven years old, married, no children, residing in Niigata Prefecture, an intelligent, well-educated, but otherwise unremarkable person.
Her “travel agency,” an unnamed international security organization, had booked her a room at the Premier Inn Heathrow, a budget hotel which was befitting a minor member of a governmental agency.
After arriving at the Premier Inn, she would be met by her control operative, a man who she’d seen only once before. Geoffrey Colins was ten years her senior, tall, and African-British. Mikiko felt embarrassed and awkward when she found she was attracted to him. Fortunately, if he noticed, he said nothing.
The mysterious Sandman was supposed to be staying at the Park Plaza and the conference would give Mikiko a cover. Mikiko was the last person he should suspect of pursuing him, but she had to find him first. With only a fragment of information about his appearance and habits, the authorities came up with clothing carrying his scent. Even in a crowded hotel during a convention, she would be able to find him.
Six years ago, a young nuclear technician named Mikiko died. It took her those long six years to become resurrected, and now that she had risen from the proverbial grave, she wasn’t that woman anymore. On a fundamental level, she might not even be human.
Daniel said her recovery was complete, but Mikiko felt like she was still a woman under repair. She knew she would feel that way until she could find the notorious human trafficker who had murdered scores of young women and sold so many more into slavery.
Mikiko Jahn had been given a second chance at life through extraordinary means. Now her passion, her driving force, was to give that same chance to other women, to free them, to save them. Then she would be whole.