Chapter 1:

An Illusion of the Day

Tokyo5: Prosper’s Law

ARPol Enforcer Guidance

Bright12 Level System 

Each Geist incident is assigned a Bright level corresponding to the threat it poses to the stability of the AR substructure. 

The Bright scale was first conceived by Brigadier General Morkus. Starting at 1 and with a peak level of Bright12, the system has been employed by ARPol divisions in every AR city across the globe. 

There has been speculation regarding the existence of levels higher than the Bright codification, tentatively referred to as Radiant6, though the existence of Radiants is at present purely theoretical. 


‘Now, the important thing is not to show how you’re feeling.’

She’d been here six months and the instructor still pissed her off.

‘You may feel like you’re going to pass out. Your body may feel like it’s going to fall apart. You may want to throw up. But at all costs you should not allow the opponent to become aware of this. Geist’s don’t have intelligence in our terms - some of us at least - and lack the ability to recognise it around them, so they react instead to patterns in their environment. Like the cleaning drones in your homes.’

She was patrolling the aisles between the training mats where the cadets stood wincing and gasping for breath.

‘A reaction is a pattern. Throwing up…’ she paused and the class stammered in unison.


A smile crept across the instructor’s face. ‘Try to keep to an economy of movement.’

Every few mats she would make a ninety degree turn, like she was collecting invisible coins in some virtual game. ‘There are those that mistake lack of intention for good intention. I’m sure you remember the LCL march last year.‘

The Lightform Conservation League. Rinako remembered reading about them in the holos. Lightform was some new term they used to refer to Geists. She had to admit, it sounded a lot more palatable.

‘I heard we had to provide a full division to escort them.’ whispered a boy to Rinako’s right.

The boy ahead of him turned back. ‘What’s the point in protecting these people when they’re protesting against us. Just let them go play with the Geists if they’re such great friends.’

‘Lightforms.’ Corrected the first boy, his eyes heavy-lidded and his finger held aloft. The second boy laughed.

The instructor began down Rinako’s aisle. ‘That kind of thinking’s the fastest way to a slab in dePhox.’

All around her cadets were bent double, groaning or trembling as they tried to remain standing upright. It was like being in that abattoir of a nightclub they’d forced her to go to during the first week. She looked at the vomit on the mat in front of training shoes. That night had produced much the same reaction. Yeah, that wasn’t happening again.

How could you not throw up? She closed her eyes as another wave of nausea passed through her. She had just been hit straight on by the pattern-simulator. Even with the Maglar suit it was like being punched in the stomach. Only worse. She wasnt sure what the point in this was. How many Geists floated around with pattern-breakers?

‘In solid-space we tend to think of Geists as being made of light, but dont forget, when you convert you’re light too. What may pass straight through you here will feel like a car crashing into you there.’

Rinako hunched again. She wasnt wrong. A cargo tanker would be more like it. A really… angry… cargo tanker.

The instructor passed beside her. She bent slightly and whispered just quietly enough that the rest wouldn’t hear.

‘I thought you were meant to be from an enforcer family, Furukawa.’

A flash of anger shot through her and she pulled herself upright, her face locked in an expression of silent fury.

A smile passed across the instructor’s features and she walked on.

‘So how about we try it with some real ammunition? Now we’ve finished with the baby stuff.’

The hall filled with groans.



She couldn’t help it. It was human nature. No one was meant to endure those kinds of forces. She wiped her mouth and stood upright.

Next time, she’d drive.

They’d left the car twenty meters back, where the dark abandoned looking streets narrowed into a network of darker more-abandoned looking alleys. It was apparently a warehouse district, very sparsely populated besides the workers’ blocks. Kurama hadn’t batted an eye as she’d painted the concrete with yesterday’s chirashi. He stood at the entrance to the alleys wiping down his pattern-breaker with the hem of his shirt. After a moment he held the gun up and inspected his work. A chorus of chirruping noises sounded as the photo-chemicals sifted inside.

There was a crunching noise as she approached. Rinako lifted her shoe. Some kind of transparent entrails stretched between the thick rubber sole and crushed remains of a shell on the ground. Great.

‘Chikits.’ Said Kurama. ‘They’re drawn to the breaker’s fluid. There are no street-sweepers round here. You get used to that.’

He clicked something tiny that she couldn’t see in the air and a series of whines came from behind them. She looked back. In the distance where the car had been there was now just a rectangular metallic block. If you looked closely you could just make out the faint impressions of the bumpers.

Kurama nodded at her. ‘You might want to take out the breaker. If you want to live, I mean. I dont mind either way.’

She’d been assigned as his partner for three days now and this was probably the nicest thing he’d said to her.

Rinako unclipped the weapon from its leg holster; it gave a small whine on being released. She checked the housing. A glass bulb filled with dull smokey fluid ran into a long clear chamber. Intact. She flicked the pin that opened the gate between them - a small coil of charged copper. The chamber burst into swirls of fiery green as the fluid from the bulb mixed with its own. A shoal of minute reflective particles swam through it, flashing brightly each time they changed direction. There was a strange sucking sound from the weapon’s nozzle and it’s dark rubbery ring began to twitch, retracting, extending, and dilating exploratively. It was alarming how much it resembled the nostril of some little creature sniffing the air. After a few final minute adjustments, it settled into a vaguely hexagonal shape. It had matched the atmospheric frequency.

An ugly blast of interference burst right next to her ear. ‘Ok, it fled into the uradanas. Crime spot is secured.’ It was the voice from earlier, Chizuru, this time from the internal speakers of Rinako’s helmet. Kurama had his fingers to the side of his own. It was somehow comforting that they were both hearing the same thing.

Acknowledged.’ Kurama’s voice came both from him and inside her helmet with no delay between the two. Would that remain the case if they were separated? He tapped the side of his helmet again and a pink holo-visor flickered into being. ‘If I check out here, you don’t have to remain celibate forever. Ten years or so is fine.’

Again, a pause, then the burst of static.

‘I changed my mind. Be as careless as you like.’

A smile played across Kurama’s face. He held the breaker to his side with both hands and turned to Rinako. ‘Alright. Just stay close.’

The rattling of her internal speakers died down when they entered the alleys, the tall warehouses shielding them from the wind. In the darkness her visor auto-adjusted. The near pitch-black of the passageway lightened and the details of dented trash cans and half flattened containers floated into focus. It was strange to see such a harmless scene emerge from the darkness. Colour was the one thing that the visor couldn’t enhance; everything was rendered in a bluish monochrome. Can’t enhance what isn’t there in the first place. Colour was an illusion of the day. Objects themselves simply reflected certain frequencies of light - that was the same in AR as in solid-space. She clung to these similarities between the world she was used to and the one she had entered. In a way, the colours of the world we see were the only ones it didn’t possess.

Pale cross-hairs flickered all over the readout as she looked around, catching on the edges of walls, the corners of the boxes and crates between them. Tiny numerical columns scrolled beside them estimating characteristics, things like dimensions and density - useful if you had to shoot through a wall. Ugh. Not a thought she relished. Judging by the way the values shifted as she moved, one of them represented her distance from the object. As they proceeded through the alleys, an occasional chikit or something equally disgusting would scuttle across the ground sending little pillars of numbers flying across her view.

It was strangely silent. She realised that the rain had stopped or rather the sound of rain had stopped. She looked up where cracks of sky showed between the buildings. The wind must be blowing it at an angle. The image of the toothpaste girl came back to her; she was up there somewhere looking down at them. Still smiling, though now it took on a mocking tone in her mind.

Kurama had stopped at an opening ahead with the breaker trained to his side. The light of the wider street beyond illuminated rain running in streams down one side of his helmet.

‘So… you think this is genuine?’ she said into the helmet mic. She tried to sound as casual as possible.

Over the speaker she heard the sound of something approximating a laugh.


You’ve not seen one have you?’ His voice was now more speaker than human. Unnerving when he was right in front of her. Made him seem like some kind of android.

She said nothing.

‘Only people want to see one, are those that haven’t.’

She felt a flash of annoyance. Mainly because she couldn’t deny it.

‘… I didn’t say I want to see one.’  She said quietly.

Kurama turned back for a moment from the light of the street ahead. His face was half lit in that strange blue monochrome. He was smiling. His mouth opened. But before he could speak there was a flash of movement behind him.