Final Snippet! Don't miss it!
Shinjuku City District Tokyo, Japan
Yuko and Eve walked through the building’s open first floor, discussing the placement of walls and rooms as they went. The real estate agent walked a respectful distance from them, allowing them privacy while staying close enough to respond if either had questions. He didn’t know who these people were, but it was not often he got a call from the Prime Minister’s office requesting that he show a property he had listed to a dignitary.
“Eve, what do you think? This seems to be a lot of space to start out.”
“It is a little over sixteen thousand square meters on this level and another six thousand square meters on the second. We will have plenty of room to set up apartments for Koda and Asai on that level, along with workspace to repair damaged units and storage for replacements. The first floor gives us plenty of room for the sims and room for food vendors and party spaces to rent out for events.
“Some simulations I have in mind allow for multiple players, so we will need different size rooms based on the game. If anything, this may not be big enough soon. I suggest we also purchase the site next door in case we need room to expand.”
“The one with the condemned building on it?”
“Yes. We will need to hire a crew to demolish the remaining structure, but since the earthquakes almost completely collapsed it, the job will mainly require hauling off the debris.”
“Is it available?”
“According to my research, the government took possession after the owners quit paying taxes and refused to remove or repair it. They have been looking for a buyer, but with the cost of the cleanup and the availability of vacant buildings, no one has shown any genuine interest.”
Yuko smiled as Eve told her this. “I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to contact the liaison and see what he can find out. Maybe we can get a deal on it.”
“I am certain that he will help. He got you the information on this site within a day of you asking. As for getting a deal, the government has a surplus of property now. So many businesses relied on exports that when the world collapsed, they quickly failed. That was before the earthquakes destroyed so many more.”
“It looks like we are going into business, then. How soon will you have enough simulations and hardware ready to start?”
“I have fifty-two simulations in testing now. The hardware is taking a little longer. We need to find a company that can make some components and put in the stuff we supply. If all we had to do was create the neural interfaces, it would go much faster.”
“See what you can find for a company to do the things you need. You take the lead on the negotiations. You know what our budget is as well as I do. If you have any trouble, let me know.”
Eve felt a sense of pride when Yuko let her know she trusted her to deal with this. It made her feel like the partner she was.
“I’ll get on it soon as we get back to base. Should we close on this one today?”
“Have you researched the price of buildings like this in the area? Are we getting a good deal?”
Eve stopped and got the look on her face that Yuko knew signaled she was accessing data. A few seconds later, she turned to Yuko and in a low voice told her, “This property has been on the market for over two years. There have only been three comparable to it sold in this area during that time, and the price is within range. We could probably negotiate the price down some if you wanted.”
“No, I like Yamota-san. He has been very easy to deal with and has responded to all my requests promptly. If the price is in line with the others, I would rather not negotiate on this. We may want to use him again and it could be helpful to have a friend in the business.”
“Yamato-san, we will take it. Draw up the contracts and call me when you are ready to close the deal. If you could recommend some good contractors to divide this space up like we need it, that would be most helpful, too,” Yuko called as she motioned the agent back into their space.
“Certainly, Yuko-san. I will get the contracts to you along with a list of reputable contractors by the end of the week, if that is acceptable to you.”
“That would be perfect, Yamato-san. I look forward to hearing from you then.”
Yuko and Eve left the agent and walked to a wooded area about a kilometer away. The building was on the outskirts of what was becoming a thriving business district. It was also located close to an area that was the site of an extensive park and several temples and museums before the WWDE. The business area was showing signs of life again, but the park had become overgrown in places and made a perfect site to bring in the Pod.
Before the earthquakes and the collapse of trade across the world, Japan had imported most materials for construction. It had taken time to get local manufacturers producing the needed products. Trade was returning as well, but it was a slow process with the lack of easily acquired oil and fuel for the enormous container ships that had traveled the seas by the thousands before. There was a small fleet of ships that used electric engines and solar power making inroads to China, Russia, and Korea, but they were still few.
The lack of petroleum imports had been devastating for the local populace. Many people now had to walk or use other methods to get around since the government had seized control of most of the oil and fuel made in Japan. They needed it for the Navy and the fishing boats that protected the country and kept them fed.
“Someone should work out a personal transport system that runs on another power source than oil. There are a few electric vehicles on the road and the trains run on electricity, but almost everyone has to walk to get around the areas where the trains don’t run,” Yuko mentioned as they walked along with the throngs of people heading home from work.
Eve looked around and saw what Yuko was referring to. “Etheric-powered vehicles that ran on a grid controlled by an EI would work. There could be small passenger vehicles for local trips, bus types for traveling major routes, and cargo haulers to move products around.”
Yuko looked at Eve with a thoughtful expression. That she had assessed the problem and found a solution so fast was not a surprise. That she had given her the seed for their next business venture was.
When they entered the overgrown park and had moved to an area that offered privacy, Eve summoned the Pod that had been holding above them since they had arrived. In moments, they were above all the people and speeding back to base.
“We need to go to Kume and see Koda and Asai soon. It’s been a few weeks since we checked on them in person,” Yuko told her when they got back to base.
“I will check with Akio and see if he would like to go, too. We can head over in the morning if you like,” Eve replied.
Riko’s Noodle House, Shinjuku City District, Tokyo, Japan
The door opened into a dimly lit back room of Riko’s Noodle House, a popular restaurant that served lunch to the working people from the tall buildings surrounding it.
“Muto, may I speak to you privately?” Sero Ogai walked in unannounced.
“Did you forget how to knock, Sero? Can’t you see that I’m in a meeting, here?” He laughed.
His meeting consisted of a barely eighteen blond girl wearing an unbuttoned shirt and a miniskirt that was pushed up to her waist.
“I’m sure your meeting can wait a few minutes. I have information on the people our Chinese friends are asking about.”
Muto pushed the young woman off his lap. She landed on the floor with a squeal. “Go get something to eat, or something. Fix your clothes before you go. I run a classy establishment,” he growled.
The woman looked like she wanted to protest, but a glare from Muto made her face turn pale. She quickly slipped out of the door.
“This better be good, Sero. I was just starting to enjoy myself.”
“Its more information on the ones we were told to find than we have had in months. One of our people saw the woman and what looked like a child looking at a nearby property for sale today.
“I called the listing agent and was told the property was pending a sale. I have put watchers on it, and we will know as soon as the woman or the man show up there again.”
“That’s excellent news, Sero, and smart to put people on it. We’re being paid well for this so be sure they cover the building around the clock. Offer a bonus to whoever finds where they live. Say, twenty thousand Yen and their pick of any girl in any of our brothels, free for one night. That should make them pay attention,” he chuckled.
“I’ll see to it.”
“See that you do. Send the girl back in when you go. Don’t disturb me for at least two hours. I think this meeting will take a while.”
Sero laughed. “You’re incorrigible.”
“You’re just jealous that all the girls prefer me to your brooding ass. Now, get out of here and don’t forget to send her back in when you go.”
OK, I don't know about you, but I can't wait to see Akio put those creeps in their place!
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