It’s almost criminally easy to get the mark’s boyfriend alone on their second ‘date,’ and even easier to slip him a roofie. After that, all Tak has to do is let Arthur and Eames in through the back door.
Arthur stands guard while Tak and Eames go under.
She goes prepared for violence, has them dressed in tactical gear.
The place should be a loose approximation of Yokohama (they can see the ferris wheel in the distance), but it’s obscured by the noise and fire of a riot.
“This is the drugs, yeah?” Eames asks.
“Yeah, he took something before I got here.”
“Nice. He’s found something that makes the sub cons into a screaming batch of incoherent apes. I can already see we’ll get loads of information out of them.”
She looks at him (he’s grinning). “This is enough like Yokohama that he’ll have populated his drug stash. There’ll be something there. And even if it’s useless, we’ll have logged some experience against these drugs of his.”
“You’re not scared, are you, Cat?” she teases.
He shrugs. “If darling Arthur is to be believed, I’m not intelligent enough to have a sense of fear.”
She smiles and jerks her thumb toward the club where she’d met Makio. “Let’s go.”
Whatever the drug is, it doesn’t seem to make the sub cons especially coordinated or attentive—just violent. They manage to sneak their way into the back of the club without incident. Their first real trouble comes as they’re working through the VIP rooms: a guy with a machine pistol, a few girls with knives, but they go down pretty quickly.
Just as they reach the door to Makio’s room, Tak gets a bad feeling and yanks Eames to one side in time to dodge a hail of gunfire.
“You missed,” sighs someone with Arthur’s voice. “I even told you they were coming and you missed. Why am I surrounded by useless people?”
“Shit,” mutters Eames.
“Is there something you’d like to tell me, Cat?” Tak hisses, anger making her accent slip. “Because the real Arthur is guarding our sleeping bodies and that is sure as hell not my stray projection in there.”
“Never you mind, just kill it and disarm the boyfriend so we can get to his stash.”
“This is a problem,” she insists, blocking him from going into the room. “If you’ve got strays leaking out, you can’t know the layouts.”
“Can we talk about this later, please?”
She punches him in the arm. “I know you, Mr. Eames; when you say later you mean never. But I promise you I will tell Arthur if you don’t give me a damn good reason not to before we wake up. For now, just take me hostage.”
Tak didn’t want to use this forge if she didn’t have to—it’s imperfect. But she forges the mark with mussed hair and a torn dress, drops her rifle and takes Eames’ sidearm, which she holds behind her back.
“Utenaide!” she cries, and lets Eames shove her into the room.
“Hanako!” Makio says, lowering his gun.
“Oh, you idiot,” mutters the projection of Arthur, stealing the gun from Makio just as Tak shoots him in the head.
Makio tries to fight, but Tak puts him down with a bullet to the knee and a kick to the face.
“So.” Tak toes the stray projection onto its back. “What the fuck is this doing in here? It’s the same one that was in the classroom level the other day.”
“Yes,” Eames says, even though she wasn’t asking. “Doesn’t matter, I’m handling it.”
“Handling it so well it told the subject we were coming? If this thing follows us onto the real job, it won’t matter how good our levels are or how well we forge. If this were just a stray projection, I’d let you go on keeping it a secret…but this thing tried to fuck us over, and I’m not bouncing on my first job because you have unresolved issues with our point man.”
He clings to sullen silence for a while, so she lets him.
In the stash, she finds details about the chemist and a few tidbits about the mark. Nothing particularly useful, but every little bit helps. Arthur will add it to his collection and have that much clearer an idea of how he thinks they should do the job.
She forces herself to calm down, to observe.
Eames looks badly shaken, angry at himself.
Sighing, she shoots Makio in the other knee to make sure he stays down, then tugs Eames onto a nearby couch to sit. “What are we going to do about it? Worst-case scenario: it finds the information before we can and destroys it. Next-worst: it bounces us until we give up.”
“I honestly have never had to deal with this kind of thing before,” he admits.
“Well, we can try confining it inside your subconscious. Tell Arthur I’m teaching you to forge Makio, go into your subconscious, lock the bastard up somewhere. I’ve never tried it on someone else, though… It’ll get out eventually.”
She nudges him. “It’s a projection of Arthur. So that’s where the problem is. You need to resolve whatever-it-is fast.”
He rubs his eyes. “It’s not. The problem, I mean. It’s not with Arthur—or just with Arthur, anyway.”
“Well, talk to him. The way you two dance around each other is maddening. Why can’t you just sit down somewhere like a pair of rational adults and talk about what’s going on between you?”
“All that happens when we talk is that he gets more annoyed with me.”
Tak throws her hands in the air. “Oh, for God’s sake…men are such babies. I swear, after this job is done I’m going to buy each of you a drink, have a nice long chat with him myself, and then lock the two of you in a closet until either the moaning stops or I get bored listening to you insult each other.”
Eames makes a hysterical little noise.
“Relationship jokes aside, this is deadly serious, Cat. Let me put it in terms you can understand,” she says, and goes on in a thick Cockney accent, “Sort it out live-o, or I’ll resort to drastic measures.”
“Not every Brit is Cockney, madam,” he says with a raised eyebrow.
She thumps him in the chest with his own sidearm. “Please. You think I can’t spot a London boy a mile off? We have what we came for, so let’s go.”
He stops her with a hand on her wrist. “Be careful…when we go back under.”
“I can take care of myself, Mr. Eames,” she assures him.