The news drone hovered in the purple shadows between two emptying Diet office buildings, waiting for a shot.
Black umbrellas mingled with animatronic hover-covers, blocking the drone’s line of sight.
One drop of rain hit its dark carapace. Then another.
The drone continued to wait.
By the time the downpour truly started, most of the members of the House of Councillors had exited their annex offices, heading for Nagatacho Station, or the dark-windowed private half cars waiting out front to take the more senior councillors home.
During a break in the rain, the wind picked up and the drone spun slowly, water droplets spraying off its back. Its cameras caught the swing of one door at the Committee Room Annex across the road. The news drone moved slowly in that direction, holding tight to the turbulent and shadowed air.
Tokyo Councilwoman Nakagawa Misato, her dark suit, high collar, sensible pumps, and crisply pulled back hair barretted at the nape of her neck all speaking to her well-known personal motto of self-control under pressure, struggled with her own dark umbrella as she emerged from the committee room. Behind the junior member of the Minshinto, a wave of insults pelted the evening.
The drone logged two familiar faces, members of the Nippon Saisei Party. As it was programmed to do, it generated an instant graph of the video-captured councillors’ recent voting records to send back to the news desk. Nothing unusual. Today, Asahi Miyake was notable for his vociferous disavowal of the ongoing gaikan zai debate. His closest ally, Maru Shinobe, was no less fierce.
Both were now shouting at Nakagawa, calling her weak and telling her to “go back to the kitchen.”
Nakagawa, known for her own fiery retorts, gave up on the umbrella and whipped around to face her opponents. The rain started anew and the drone filmed the wind pulling her hair loose from her barrette, the fierce set of her chin, the force of her intense glare.
The councilwoman did not appreciate these men at all.
The drone logged her statistics, flagging the oft-repeated point that she had aspirations to higher office.
“If you think that allowing China to manipulate our currency as it is already doing is not foreign mischief, and unworthy of punishment as such, councillors, you have already chosen sides. You’d best join your allies to the west before the vote is final.”
Nakagawa paused to see her shot land, then turned on her heel, glancing just once in the direction of the drone, as if she knew it would be there.
Then, with perfect precision, and without any trouble, she unfurled the umbrella and crossed the street to the train station, disappearing within.
While her adversaries were still searching angrily for a reply, the councilwoman calmly headed for home.
The news drone clicked and whirred, its algorithms already processing the needed percentages to flag its home news desk that trouble was once again brewing in the Diet.
The drone’s software highlighted two upcoming votes, several days away, both on foreign mischief. One dealt specifically with currency abuses. The drone noted that Nakagawa had co-drafted the eventual resolution.
And now Shinobe and Miyake were organizing the opposition vote.
The drone captured the councillors’ outraged and reddened faces, pausing for a moment on each as the rain came down harder.
“I’d like to have her murdered on the floor of the Diet,” Shinobe muttered behind his hand, but the drone picked up his voice.
“I’d help you hide the body,” Miyake whispered.
Buffeted by the wind, the news drone packaged the file footage, flew the two dozen meters to Nagatacho Station, and used Tokyo Metro Wi-Fi to send its footage and graphs via whisper-link security to its studio, time-stamped eight thirty p.m.
At three thirty the next morning, Inspector Koreda’s sleeve rang, jarring her awake.
She stared at her dark ceiling for a moment before groaning a What now? to her sleeve’s personal assistant. “Station dispatch, Koreda-san,” came the perfectly soft, half-laughed reply.
Miyako was already scanning the news channels reflexively. Perhaps she could find the disturbance before dispatch told her what had happened.
But there was nothing on the newswires.
On her data sleeve, the third-shift dispatcher remained silent, waiting for Miyako to acknowledge them.
They must be young, Miyako thought.
“There’s a fire in Iriya,” the dispatcher finally said. “Arson suspected. Please proceed with all haste to the logged location.” Miyako blinked: up near Ueno Park. That was far.
The icon on Miyako’s sleeve pulsed with each word: a glyph of Ninth Step Station, her home base. No personalization. The dispatcher hadn’t even been working with them long enough to make themselves an avatar.
“Perhaps you’ve called the wrong...