In the Akasaka Plaza Hotel’s VIP room, Ota of the Liberal Party sat with Shimazaki in conversation. He was in a good mood; as a result of his successful passage of an important bill, he had risen to become a star of his party.
"I hear Chairman Matoba suffered a bizarre death--a shame, isn't it?"
Set's avatars, the Apeps, could possess humans and control them however they desired. However, because of the Apeps' innate poison, the possessed would start to rot from within. Matoba had died thus, but Ota had no way of knowing that.
"So, Chief Secretary, what's the deal with the New AI Project? Can it be shut down?" Shimazaki eyed Ota with displeasure.
"Right. Well, since Fujita started it up of his own accord, in theory it should be perfectly plausible to cook up some sort of trumped-up reason to shut it down, but it's being backed by the American Aide to the President. We can't just ignore that. Come on, I've already seen to it that you get all the contracts for the Capital Reconstruction Project. Don’t be so greedy." Ota watched Shimazaki like a hawk as he laughed heartily.
"So why are you making such a big deal about this AI project anyway? Does it interfere with your business somehow?"
"I suppose you could say that." Shimazaki lit a cigarette.
"Fujita's a tough customer. I'd prefer not to go up against him if possible." Ota's face was stern as he spoke.
"Planning to announce your candidacy for the party chair, then?"
"Think whatever you want."
Shimazaki's eyes glinted with cunning. "What do you think your chances would be?"
Within the Liberal Party, Ota was currently thought to be a strong candidate for party chair. His faction only held a moderate amount of backing in the Lower House, with his supporters holding around sixty seats. In order for Ota to win the election, he'd need either another faction to support him or to crush one of his rivals entirely. It was only natural for him not to want to face off against Fujita.
"If only Hamano would support me in the election..." Ota stared at Shimazaki willfully, trying to communicate something implicit. Shimazaki nodded as if he understood.
"I am sure things will turn out just as you would like. There's no need to worry."
"I never asked you to do anything! Still, since when have you been able to wield that much influence?" Ota asked the question in hushed tones.
"I am sure I will get the chance to tell you some day."
After all, eventually you'll get to directly experience it for yourself...
Shimazaki bared his yellow teeth in a grin.