Maia pulled her baseball cap down tight over her close cropped punk blonde hair and glared at Alice.
“I want to eat with chopsticks!”
Out of the corner of her eye she saw the boy from the hotel opposite Café Aprecio walk to one of the black and white elevated crossings and hesitate. His gaze was lowered and his footsteps seemed unsteady.
“There are no chopsticks, here, no chopsticks anywhere!” said Alice through gritted teeth. Maia knew her best friend was frustrated. Alice had warned her. No chopsticks in Tokyo.
Maia had only seen the boy once before. He frightened her. He looked about the same age as her, 17, but his eyes were unforgettable, deep set with pupils that reflected no light. He had jet black hair, pale skin, a long face, and a tall, slim body like a Kenyan long distance runner. He wore standard citizens garb so he wouldn’t stand out, khaki pants, light grey shirt, thick black belt, and a plain hooded thigh length black jacket with soft leather boots. She hadn't heard him speak. She only knew his name.
The boy looked left then right before ascending, his body lifted with the crowds over the flow of traffic, then briefly over his shoulder when he reached the opposite side as if he were scared of being followed. He had good reason to be.
Maia put her fork down on the bed of rice, sipped her coffee and slid the knife into her pants pocket.
“Now?” she raised her eyebrows at Alice.
Without turning her head to look Alice nodded.
Maia could see Tokyo Bay just past the APA Resort Hotel. The aqualiners ferrying people to Hawaii were heading towards the entrance to the Bay and had almost reached the marker buoys. She could see a dark cloud brewing just beyond the buoys, a bubbling festering mass on the sparkling morning ocean. She shuddered to think that Alice had been held prisoner there.
Maia strode to the door and let spring breeze creep into the café as she turned the handle, brushing the fringes of the two women sitting nearest the door.
She froze, a stab of fear paralyzing her heart.
A man moved out of the shadows guarding the entrance to the hotel, his eyes fixed on the boy, his long dark cloak making him appear to glide across the sidewalk.
Kepler had already turned right down the Makuhari Kaihin Park Boulevard.
Maia followed as quickly as she dared, hoping to stay inconspicuous in the mandatory khaki shorts and black top of the Makuhari sector.
Music flowed down the street from huge speakers mounted above the park power poles. Like Earth, this world was powered by ‘Resonance’ music-generated electrical hubs housed in the core of each major city. Tokyo had more than its fair share of bands, like Maia’s own ‘The Archangels.’
Bryan Ferry and ‘How To Destroy Angels’ pumped out a hypnotic trance like vibration. It seemed barely real that this was the new culture, that this entire world had bought into the likes of The Faith, the world’s leading corporation and government in everything but name. Still, Bryan Ferry’s old song filled her with hope. “Is Your Love Strong Enough?” Anger filled Maia again as she shadowed the Agent. He could hardly be anything else. The man was fifty meters behind Kepler, his right hand submerged deep in his cloak pocket.