The rubble of the abandoned church is a holy sight all of its own.
The weapons of war used against what was once a place of worship… The wood reduced to ash and the asphalt parking lot torn to shreds… A place I’ve been to countless times is no more than a pile of rubble.
And worst of all, the bodies are gone. The injured and dead have been fully cleared out and erased by Blyth’s crew. Except for eyewitnesses and blurry portable PC camera footage if we’re lucky, there will never be proof that helicopters launched missiles at this building. It can be played off perfectly as an electrical fire gone wrong, a terrible gas leak, even if it looks nothing like either of those.
It’s dangerous digging through all of this, but I have to search and see if they missed something. Anything.
I’ve found the makeshift throne, broken up and burned and destroyed to the point that it could never be repaired. In a less symbolic find, I see some pots and pans in the rubble, including the very same pot Jones and I cooked with just a couple days ago. That’s about the extent of it, though. Barely a trace left of what was once a friend’s home. My home, in a way.
The lack of R8PR parts is maybe encouraging. The lack of Jones parts is slightly less so.
And then, after a few minutes of searching, I find them–Jones’s magi-knives, both of them laying underneath a pile of rocks. I activate them, and they turn on just fine.
These things stabbed me back in the day. I got a full-on broken arm when Jones ambushed me in her own neighborhood. And somehow, I’m getting nostalgic over them. Maybe because they bring me back to a simpler time when I could focus on just solving a case and staying alive. Not solving a case and making sure the entire city isn’t destroyed by a cyborg maniac.
Maybe nothing was ever that simple, though. Maybe I was just too naive, too ill-informed.
“You’re a bit stupid to be out here all on your own,” a voice says. A low-pitched, scratchy, female voice.
I’m a bit too tired to be snuck up on by people I know today, and this isn’t making me any happier to be forced into a conversation I desperately don’t want to have with a person I have no intention of being friendly with.
Nonetheless, when I turn around to face none other than Yuri Motokawa, the Mercenary Prince, I do so with a snarky smile and a snarky comment: “Some people call me stupid, yes. But do they know the Konami Code by heart? I doubt it.”
Motokawa isn’t wearing a suit like she usually does. She has on a tanktop and tight pants, and that’s about it. Her metal arm shines bright against the sun above us. So I take it she didn’t come here for a social visit–she came here for a fight.
After she sizes me up and sees my positively ruffled appearance, she takes a few steps forward and says, “You’re stupid because you have too much heart. But then again, so do I.”
I take a step back and in my hands I put a firm grip Jones’s knives. “Not today, Motokawa.”
Suddenly, she bursts out laughing. The first sign of happy emotion I’ve seen from her since… ever.
“You really are a bit stupid.” She resumes her callous exterior. “Donald Blyth hired my employees for a mission. He sent them into a trap an didn’t even bother to tell them. Then he killed most of them with helicopter missiles. I’m not here for you, Harding.” She kneels down and picks up a piece of rubble. She examines it with scorn.
“Then what are you here for?” I ask.
Motokawa glares at me with her single eye and says. simply, “Revenge.” She balls up her cybernetic fist and crunches the stone she was holding. She opens her hand and only dust comes out.
“You don’t backstab my employees and get away with it,” she says. “The blood spilled here will be the blood spilled across Blyth’s forehead as I bash his skull in.”
“Well, uh, technically, I think he’s had some cyborg transplant surgeries and his skull no longer has any…” I cut myself off.
“So, one last time… You and me are going to team up.”
“Sounds about right,” I say. “He has my friends. And I’m going to save them, no matter what.” I’ve decided they aren’t dead. That’s the only thing holding me from tears at this point. I have to hope.
“Do you know where he’s gone?” Motokawa asks.
“No, but I think I know a person who can find out.” I realize that I still have a death grip on these knives. I guess I should put them away, but… I guess I should have brought a tote bag or something. “I know where to find you,” I tell her. “I’ll meet you in a couple hours and we can go from there.”
“Understood.” Motokawa turns around. “I’ll get my best suit.”
“I hope you do.”
She walks away.
I start to, but I hesitate and look back at the First Temple of the Rock Baptist Church one last time. We had some good times here.
And then I leave.