It was a beautiful morning in Odaiba, and the tourists milling about the promenade included a Chinese father and his ten-year-old daughter. At the father’s request, their driver had parked several hundred meters away so fewer people would see the flags on the diplomatic vehicle.
Now the father was on his mobile phone while his daughter ran circles around him. Her excited screeching and the crowd noise were making it difficult to conduct his call.
“Wait,” the father said in Mandarin, then pulled the phone away from his face to look at its screen. “I’ve only got one bar on this garbage phone. No, it’s a loaner from the embassy. My phone won’t work this far into the Japanese sector.”
“There it is!” His daughter jumped up and down. “Baba, you see it? It’s right over there!”
“Okay, good,” the father said. “Stay close to the statue. Don’t go anywhere else, Annie!”
His last sentence was shouted at his daughter’s receding back.
The father sighed. The head of the Unicorn Gundam statue was just visible on the other side of the building next to him. His daughter had fallen in love with giant robots—“mechs”—and had been begging to visit this tourist trap ever since he was assigned to Tokyo, after the war.
“I’ll find a better signal,” the father said into his phone.
He made sure he could still see his daughter’s ponytail bobbing up and down as she skipped toward the statue, then turned off the main pedestrian walkway and went southwest toward the water.
The noise from the crowds crescendoed. The father looked back toward the promenade and saw two distinct groups of protesters converging on the Gundam statue. One group was marching with signs and banners saying NO FOREIGN MISCHIEF, if his Japanese was accurate. The other group’s slogans included GOOD BUSINESS WITHOUT BORDERS and FREE ECONOMY = PEACEFUL ECONOMY.
“I’ll call you back.” The father hung up his phone.
He jogged toward the statue. Loud, fast footfalls approached, and he saw uniformed Tokyo MPD officers running at the protesters. The father called out his daughter’s name. His military training kept panic at bay and kept him focused on his objective.
One protester threw a punch at another just before the officers reached the statue, and the two opposing waves of people surged and crashed into each other. Police whistles sounded all around the plaza.
The father had nearly reached the police line when his driver appeared and grabbed his arm, holding him back. “Careful, sir! Nobody knows you’re here.”
“Annie could be getting trampled in there!” the father cried.
“She’s not in there!” The driver held up his arm, showing a local map on his glowing data sleeve. “Her sleeve location is this way.”
The driver led the father toward the side of the building. He continued calling for his daughter with increasing distress.
“Behind that sign.” The driver pointed. “She’s probably hiding, just like you taught her to do if there was trouble.”
The father ran up to the sign and then around it. He knelt down and picked up a cracked piece of orange plastic.
It was his daughter’s data sleeve.
His world shrank to only one purpose. The father ignored his driver’s yelling and strode back to the police line.
One uniformed officer saw him approaching and held up both gloved hands. “Please go back, sir. The situation is under control.”
The father held up his government identification card and said in Japanese: “I am Lieutenant Colonel Ting Yupei, Chief Liaison Officer to the Japanese Government for the People’s Republic of China! The situation is not under control, and I demand that you summon Inspector Koreda Miyako here right now!”
The riot police unit cleared away the protesters before Miyako and Emma arrived at Unicorn Gundam Plaza. Miyako dimly recalled visiting Odaiba long ago on a school trip, and she hadn’t been that interested then, either. Emma seemed to be more of a fan.
“That is impressive,” Emma said as they stepped out of their vehicle and released it to go park itself. “I mean, I’ve seen pictures, but wow. That is for real a giant robot.”
“It’s just a statue,” Miyako said.
“I know. Don’t you get excited about anything?”
Miyako watched another police vehicle pull up. “I think we’re about to get very excited.”
Superintendent Nishimura tumbled out of the car. He did not look happy. “Inspector! Lieutenant! Explain what’s going on here.”