‘Alright,’ said the director, reaching out and stroking the assistant’s hand, ‘let’s proceed.’
The assistant held her gaze for a moment, and then grabbed the caressing hand.
‘But Ms Director, I’m so hungry!’ clasping the hand to her cheek, almost purring, ‘Can’t I just go down there and… tear up the place?’
The stern glare she received answered her demand, and so the assistant let the hand drop. But then the director grabbed the assistant’s hand back. She turned it over. There was something throbbing beneath the assistant’s palm.
‘Behold, the seed. It grows!’
‘Director, director!’ Athena waved, ‘What should we do now? Start again? Move on?’ and then her face dropped as she recognised the director and the woman crouching beside her. It was obviously Vice and Mature, the two agents of the Orochi clan, previously plotting to bring about the end of the humanity, and now, even worse, in TV production. Was that actually worse? Well, it was along the same lines, just at a much slower pace, well, moderately slower, at least.
This would explain why the director was always standing in the back, communicating literally from the shadows; why they had never met face to face, ugh, how did her agent end up signing this contract with a literal snake? This was bad, really bad. She started to stress. Or, perhaps, they had turned a new leaf? She laughed to herself, just a little hysterically.
‘Athena, dear’, said Mature, maintaining the pretense, ‘let’s get an answer to that last point.‘
Athena looked to Mary, the only seemingly sane person she could rely on-
‘There once was a scroll,’ mused Takuma, as Geese’s ears pricked up and his eyes shifted towards him, ‘it’s power was so great, so capable of destruction in the wrong hands, that the teacher decided to stop teaching it, and sealed it away. I ask you, young man, does that give you the right to steal it?’
Geese clenched his fists.
The young man scratched the back of his head. ‘I’m… not sure that’s the same thing’, he said.
‘Knowledge is power!’ Geese stood up again ‘You must seek it out!’
Mary stood up in response ‘You would disrespect the wishes of your teacher?’
Geese shot her a look in fury ‘This teacher obviously didn’t respect the ability of his students’
Takuma sat sagely, closing his eyes, ‘Do you presume to know better than your teacher?’
Geese was getting angry: ‘Only the weak would wait to surpass their teacher’
Mary was provoking: ‘Would you bully the weak?’
Kensou still had no opportunity to answer as Geese burst out with ‘The weak shall perish! There’s nothing to be done!’
Sensing his lack of control, Mary went in: ‘If your teacher was weak, would you remove them?’
Geese slammed the desk with both hands ‘What are you talking about? The strong rule, that is all-’
Mary was poking the bear ‘What if your fellow student was stopping you from getting what you wanted? What would you do then? Tell us, Geese!’
Terry stood up in the audience. He knew he had to hold back but the old resentment was building afresh.
‘I’d do what has to be done!!!’
‘You’d kill them?’
He paused, he wasn’t falling for this. It was clear she was trying to get a confession on tape. She’d have to try better. He’d play along, however.
‘I’ve had enough of your prattle, you don’t want to test me, Ryan. Whining fools begone!’
‘Are you threatening me, Mr Howard?’ as she shrugged and smiled. ‘Or are you all bark and no bite?’
‘So you’re challenging me to a match? Bring it on!’ Against the light, Geese’s face was just a black shadow with white grinning teeth.
‘Wait, we weren’t talking about that-’ flustered, she tried to bring them back on topic-
Geese turned to the crowd: ‘The detective Mary Ryan vs the leader of South Town, Geese Howard! Who would like to see it?’
He beckoned to the crowd, who obviously being full of fighters, cheered the idea. He could only laugh.
Mary had to pause. That was not what she wanted.
‘oh and another thing’ piped in the hooded young man, ‘with the roms you can make your own adjustments and modifications, and translate them into different languages’
‘We think exactly alike, young man, hahaha, how would you like to be head of my new games division? Join me, Kensou, you know it makes sense’
‘Ah well, you know, hey wait, what? What do you mean, Kensou, I’m not Kensou, really I’m not!’
Athena began to go red in the face. It was bad enough Geese was taking over the show.
‘Come on, it’s obvious, right?’ Geese looked around the audience. Most were nodding, like ‘well, yeah, it was pretty obvious’ while others were like, ‘well it’s not like you were that sandman guy with the hood, and he’s much taller and sexier too’.
Suddenly on the screen, the light in the room turned on, revealing Kensou’s face completely.
‘Onii san, what’s going on?’ said a young voice. The camera swivelled to show a young boy with an oversized hat and pyjamas, rubbing his eyes.
‘Bao, turn the light off! I mean, little boy, who is definitely not called Bao and –
‘Why are you shouting at me? Waa’
Momoko ran over, ‘there there, Bao, Kensou is a big silly, waking you from your nap, he’s sorry, aren’t you Kensou?’
‘yes-no, my name’s not Kensou!’
Kensou pulled the hoodie further over his head.
he whimpered, ‘can we edit this part out?’
The laughter from the audience was humiliating. Athena struggled to control her rising anger. And still, the director (she refused to mention her by name) hadn’t called for a cut. What is this? Totally unprofessional. Or were they planning to broadcast this and embarrass her? Was it all a plot to damage her professionally, and then swoop in for the kill after she had lost everything? With all the possible consequences, she felt light headed.
Blue Mary’s vision was also starting to blur, and even though the laughter wasn’t aimed at her, it felt directly like it most certainly was. Her plan had gone astray, and she didn’t have a back up plan to fight this monster, or rather, to avoid fighting this monster. Her head was spinning, and now all she could hear was Geese laughing, and then she could see him, in the caged arena, arms folded in his yukata, laughing, standing over her. She looked to the crowd to see Terry, Andy, Joe, Mai, they were all laughing. She just wanted to curl up and die, or at least get out of here. But there was no escape. Her client would ask for a refund, her friends in the force would pat her on the back condescendingly, and nobody would pay her rent. Everywhere she looked, the laughter became jeers, sneers, heckling. She needed an exit. She instinctively reached into her pocket and could feel the shiny gloss of her lipstick. The dark, much darker, blue colour. Somewhere in the depth of her subconscious, a hand was reaching out… and it was turning into a fist.
Mature looked over the glowing dials and smiled.