Chapter 02

As the elevator headed for the 13th underground floor, like an unexpected dream, the two kachigumi salarymen praised each other on today’s hunting results via IRC.

#KOKESHI:SATOU: If we sell the ears we bagged today, we should get about 2 million yen, you think?
#KOKESHI:NAGAMU: Correct. That should upgrade the CPU clock in our implants as well.
#KOKESHI:SATOU: You’ve gotten used to killing sumotori quite well.
#KOKESHI:NAGAMU: You could say that. I don’t feel mercy. Bio-sumotori are harmful beasts that have overpopulated themselves.

The Kokeshi seventh commercial district was once a place where middle class citizens used to hustle and bustle. But since the bio-sumotori cultivation plant -- a joint development project between Yoroshisan Pharmaceuticals and Omura Industries – exploded in an accident, the area was designated as no-man’s-land under government decree. The citizens were allotted new housing complexes and were evicted by force.

The large number of feral bio-sumotori who escaped the factory were set loose in all parts of the seventh commercial district and they ate everything edible, especially rice, in sight. After that, Yoroshisan Pharmaceuticals and Omura Industries concocted the novel idea to convert this biohazard district into a massive game range for the well-to-do upper class thus putting this idea into action.

Of course, their plans like all marching orders of mega-corporations were carried out behind a veil of secrecy. No matter how much you search cyberspace for information linking these two corporations to the bio-sumotori, you will find nothing, not even a hit. While some journalists took an interest in the explosion, all of them were “dealt” with via Soukaiya agents.

In addition, the seventh commercial district currently solicits volunteers for bio-sumotori “conservation” and operates under the following pretext: in exchange for the ears of hunted sumotori, the government will pay a healthy bounty. This way the game participants not only get kill for pleasure but also get to satisfy their egos through the actions of contributing to society and the environment.

As our two ecological heroes ride the service elevator headed towards the depths of the 13th underground floor at the Kokeshi Mart, they arrive with a slam. Maybe the elevator wires were decrepit, who knows. As the iron cage shakes violently, sparks fly from the green panel that displays the floor buttons.

#KOKESHI:SATOU: Oops! Is this the 13th basement floor? Didn’t you push the first floor button?
#KOKESHI:NAGAMU: Maybe the elevator is broken. Shall I send an IRC rescue message to base camp?
#KOKESHI:SATOU: …But the penalty charges will be high if we do that.
#KOKESHI:NAGAMU: Then let’s try and work it out on our own.

The elevator is completely out of order; no matter what button they push, it won’t move. The door opens and closes halfway over and over again. These two sure as hell don’t need being-trapped-in-an-elevator on their permanent records. So they decide to venture into uncharted territory, a place they have never stepped foot, a place called the Level 5 Contamination Area. They begin their quest on the 13th underground floor in the Kokeshi Mall.

BOOM-BOOM-BOOM. BOOM-BOOM-BOOM. “Cheap, cheap, actually cheap.” The all-too-familiar Kokeshi Mart theme song lyrics mixed with the monotone bass uncannily reverberates. While the thrill is still there, the fear is gone. If everything else fails, all they need to do is sent a rescue message to the management.

As these two warriors dressed in kendo style armor exit the elevator, the feeling of cold air greets them. Rotten mold that smells like cheese reeks from the floor. As they brighten the area with the maglites on their weapons, they figure out that this area of the Kokeshi Mart was once used as storage for perishables.

Amongst the endless tombstone-esque line of silver commercial refrigerators, banners hang down that promote rhetorical flourish catchphrases like “100% Domestic Bio-Wagyu Beef” and “Simply Delicious”. A rail for holding a slaughter winch runs along the ceiling at an angle with yellow and black stripes on either side. The floor is stained in several places from non-descript bio-organisms.

Moving forward a bit, a red lacquered fence between each of the cold storage chambers bars their way. Yellowed paper carrying a warning notice handwritten with a shodo calligraphy brush has been glued to one of the shelves.

#KOKESHI:SATOU: Look at that.
#KOKESHI:NAGAMU: Authorized personal only?
#KOKESHI:SATOU: What do you reckon?
#KOKESHI:NAGAMU: Probably left over from when this place was operational.

Our two heroes kick in the fence setting forth into the silver maze hoping to find the emergency stairs. While guarding each other as they move between the cramped ravine of refrigerators, they proceed ever so carefully. Satou-san walks point with his flamethrower while Nagamu and his shotgun protects the rear. Their camaraderie is perfection in motion. No matter where the enemy might attack from, they can handle it. But just then…