Key the Metal Idol
Episode 7

Version 7: Run

Teaser

Amid the rubble of battle-torn landscape, a red-haired Key is wandering, seemingly drawn toward the sound of a crying infant. An ominous PPOR is still on the scene, stalking through all the destruction it has wrought. As the PPOR attempts to climb onto the roof of a shattered temple, we can see that the source of the crying is a baby that is cradled in the arms of the Shinto priestess. She seems to be singing to the child. As the PPOR gains the apex of the roof to be silhouetted by the moon, one can see it has only one working eye. Key, standing below, suddenly cries out.

Opening Titles

Part A

In Janome's temple, the terrified priest is trying to hold Sergei at bay with Sergei's own pistol. That the little man has likely never even held a gun is evident by his shaking hands and stricken expression. Janome's terrified followers, many the victims of Sergei's bullets, helplessly watch the unfolding events. The mother of the healed boy is trying to shield her son, but the boy struggles up to observe the scene as well.

Blood is dripping to the floor from Sergei's ruined left hand. Tomoyo, barely conscious, struggles to sit up against the wall, apparently dealing with the agony of broken ribs. Just behind Janome, the unconscious and prostrate body of Key can be seen.

Sergei begins to lurch toward the priest, balling his "useless" left hand into a fist. Just before he comes within arm's reach, however, he turns to see Tomoyo slinging another flechette at him. With inhuman speed, Sergei drops to one knee, flinging his overcoat up as a shield. The flechette shrapnels harmlessly into the coat. In that instant Janome fires at Sergei, the bullet creasing the skin of Sergei's left cheek, but then the gun suddenly lands some feet away from Tomoyo. Janome is clutching both hands to his right eye in agony; a bloody marble on the floor nearby reveals that Sergei has used his other "weapon."

Tomoyo stands to face Sergei. Sergei, with a sudden snarl, runs at Tomoyo. Tomoyo, however, whips out a truncheon and delivers a crippling blow to Sergei's left knee. As Sergei, unable to check himself, caroms into the wall, Tomoyo leaps for the discarded gun. Just before he reaches it, Sergei drags him back and lifting Tomoyo by his leg drops him to the floor. Sergei then returns the favor by smashing his heel into Tomoyo's back. As Sergei once again turns toward the helpless priest and his horrified flock, Key, though still unconscious, seems to be troubled in her sleep.

Outside, the PPOR that attacked Sergei in the van is lurching through the rain toward the temple. Not far off, the two remaining engineers of the PPOR field evaluation team are following a tracer toward the PPOR.

At Tataki's, Sakura, still dripping from her dash through the rain and holding onto Tataki, suddenly starts as she hears the "Voice" tape he had started playing a few minutes earlier. "That voice..." she says, almost as if she recognizes it. "Forget about that! Its not important!" exclaims Tataki. "What were you saying about somebody killing Key?!" At the same moment, Tataki reddens a bit as he realizes how Sakura and he were holding on to each other was rather intimate for "just friends." He releases her and invites her in for some coffee. Sakura is shivering, but from the expression on her face, not just from the rain.

At the temple, the PPOR has paused behind a rock to survey the scene. Inside, the people continue to watch as Sergei "plays" with Tomoyo a bit, flinging him to the floor and standing Tomoyo up to weave about on his feet like a half-conscious drunkard. Just as Sergei swings his left arm around to punch Tomoyo down again, the priest orders him to stop. Sergei's fist halts mere inches from Tomoyo's head, with droplets of blood flying from Sergei's fist to Tomoyo's cheek an indicator of the force Sergei was about to apply.

The priest once again has the pistol, and is this time less reluctant. "You'll kill him!" Janome shouts even as the priest fires at Sergei. This bullet does considerably more damage as it penetrates the area below Sergei's left shoulder, but after a moment Sergei to everyone's amazement seems not hampered at all as he turns and steps toward Janome.

The priest, firing blind, does not manage to hit Sergei again (but does come rather close to hitting Tomoyo!) The priest continues to pull the trigger even after the clip is empty, and Sergei reaches out and takes the gun. "Don't fool around with that." says Sergei and he ejects the clip.

In Ajo's tower, Ajo's discordant chuckling is heard as the private theatre screen shows the dormant Miho PPOR stretched out on Ajo's own bed. A moment later Ajo steps into view, standing above the PPOR as he speaks to "Miho." "Now, now..." he muses, "I know you're just pretending to be sick so you can goof off and ignore your job. Daddy knows all about it." Even as he is speaking, Ajo is caressing the PPOR with the flat of a scalpel. "I know you have a lot more left in you. See? Look.."

Ajo uses the knife to cut away the robot's garments. "I can't believe how much trouble you are," he gasps while rubbing his face between the doll's breasts. After a moment, Ajo seems troubled as he looks down at the PPOR's body, muttering, "it's still cold. I want to be able to peel off this skin and flesh...and show your magnificence to the whole world." Ajo raises the knife...

Outside the temple, the PPOR looks at the roof, following its slant up to observe the moon. As it pauses, it vents pinkish Gel vapor into the air.

Inside, Sergei has loaded a new clip into the pistol. He stands above Tomoyo and aims the gun, mere inches from Tomoyo's forehead. Tomoyo looks up at Sergei a moment, then closes his eyes in resignation to his fate. A moment later, however, he opens them again as the creaking of the roof grabs his attention. Sergei also notices the disturbance and turns to look at a section of the roof that is apparently creaking under the strain of a great weight. As the noise moves to the top of the roof gable the distressed beams give way and the PPOR hurtles down, smashing into the altar.

Janome throws himself protectively over Key as debris from the ruined roof and altar--including the massive, headless statue--flys by. Sergei changes clips (solid-fuel boosted armor piercing rounds?) and aims at the PPOR as it rises to face him. Sergei squeezes off several rounds at the PPOR's head in an attempt to knock out the remaining eye-camera and does do some damage, but as he exhausts the clip the PPOR reaches down to pick up the massive golden statue. The PPOR hurls the statue at Sergei. Tomoyo dives to one side, but as Sergei attempts to dodge away, his injured knee gives way. The statue strikes him full in the chest with enough velocity to knock him cleanly through the wall. Sergei, blood starting from his mouth, attempts to stagger up but the PPOR reaches down to grab him by the neck.

The PPOR lifts Sergei by the throat with one arm while at the same time choking him. Tomoyo, meanwhile, has started up his portable computer and accesses a program. Sergei, rapidly being subdued by the PPOR's crushing fingers, drops his pistol and struggles in vain. Tomoyo looks back at Key a moment, and after verifying that she is still unconscious, executes the program.

The PPOR suddenly drops Sergei and staggers back to stand in the middle of the room. It starts venting Gel vapor at a rapid rate. The scene cuts away for a short moment to show Ajo slicing into the chest of the Miho PPOR. Key, though unconscious, twitches an eyebrow as if in reaction to something.

Eyecatch

Part B

As the vented Gel vapor dissipates, the PPOR collapses face-first to the floor. Tomoyo, using the wall for support, staggers over to where Sergei is resting. Tomoyo begins to speak:

"What have you bastards been doing, these forty years? Is all you have to show for it the research that carved these magic bodies? These things that walk around with other people's souls in them? This thing that you've made...this puppet whose strings have been cut...do you know why your puppets go crazy? It is *your* will that forces them into those shells of iron. For a brief instant, some power frees that aggregation of emotions that have always cried out to be released. And when it is set free, it rebels against the master who held it captive. No, against the parent that abandoned it. Clad in iron armor, it rebels."

Sergei has managed to stand, but ignores his gun. Janome is looking on in speechless amazement as Tomoyo continues: "When the spirit is separated from the body, it's the same as dying. But as long as you keep using them as your playthings, they'll always be in your grip, never to break free."

"It seems to me that *you're* the one who is in something's grip," replies Sergei. "By some unscientific superstition when you were living in the mountains." Sergei steps over to look down at Key. "'Some power,' huh? I know everything. I may be the only one, but I *know*." Sergei then stoops down and to the amazement of the others, lifts the body of the PPOR. "You got lucky--this time," he says before limping out with the PPOR on his shoulders.

As Sergei departs, Tomoyo goes over to Key, relieved to find her only in another of her "blackouts." Outside, the engineers finally arrive in front of the temple to discover Sergei standing in the road still holding the PPOR and bleeding from his injuries.

Janome, holding the pistol, demands that Tomoyo leave Key alone and leave. Tomoyo shakes his head, whereupon Janome says that some of his people were hurt because of Tomoyo, and that he won't let Tomoyo take her. Tomoyo tells janome that the gun is empty again, and as Janome examines the gun Tomoyo snatches it away and knocks the priest down. As Tomoyo gathers up Key and prepares to leave, Janome's followers run to aid their priest.

As Janome clutches at his ruined eye once more in pain, Tomoyo speaks to him. "You founded this religion, didn't you? Don't talk to any outsiders about what happened here tonight." "All right, I understand," replies Janome. "But in exchange, if you don't mind, can I talk to the girl one more time?" "I can't give you any guarantees," says Tomoyo. "Anyway, I don't really think you need to." Tomoyo departs with Key.

Janome, angered, retorts that Tomoyo will get what's coming to him but then collapses in renewed pain from his injury. As his concerned followers gather close to him he says to heed Tomoyo's request and to pray for the priest's recovery.

As Tomoyo is leaving the temple foyer the young boy whom Key had healed looks up from the doorway at Key. Tomoyo looks at him a moment then continues on.

At Tataki's apartment, he and Sakura are talking over hot coffee. Sakura is wearing one of his Miho sweatshirts. "I don't know what got into me," confides Sakura. "I'm not the sort of person who goes around babbling like that." "I think you're entitled to, if you really saw what you say you did," replies Tataki. "But it's true! I saw it!" insists Sakura, who is still shaking a little from her ordeal. "I know you don't want to think about it," says Tataki, "but can you tell me why you think that weird, robot-like thing is trying to do something to Key?" "It's just a feeling I got," responds Sakura, "I guess I had a bad feeling about it." Tataki seems nonplussed, to which Sakura adds, "It hadn't been there before, okay? It's not like it tried to attack Key or anything but... it's like it was keeping watch over her, I guess."

"In that case, it was a bad idea to trash it," notes Tataki. "I don't know who is responsible, but now whoever it is monitoring Key knows that you suspect something." Sakura admits that her attack on the PPOR was mostly out of fear, that it was "a hundred times worse than cockroaches!" Tataki tells Sakura that probably the worst thing she did was to throw Key out on her own. Sakura admits he's right.

Tataki then asks if Sakura knows where Key might be. Sakura doesn't know, and suggests that perhaps she called Tomoyo. Tataki asks her if she knew how to get in touch with Tomoyo, to which Sakura sjakes her head. "Some bodyguard!" Tataki accuses. "Where is he at a time like this?" Sakura then remembers the priest Key talked about. As Tataki starts to ask Sakura about the priest, his phone rings.

In Ajo's tower, one of the scientists walks in to the bedroom where Ajo is playing with his PPOR. Ajo, in agitation, snarls at the man not to just barge in like some kind of burglar. The man notes the door was open, but Ajo asks what the man came in for. The scientist informs Ajo that "Het," the PPOR set to watch over Sakura's apartment, has been destroyed. A quick scene of the operations van shows the engineers collecting the remains of the robot from the trash area outside Sakura's apartment. "Who did it, Mima's granddaughter? No, she couldn't have done it," Ajo ponders, then adds, "Was it..what was his name? Wakagi?" "We don't know," says the scientist. "Also, D... D failed."

Ajo becomes very agitated by this bit of news, brows twitching and sweat breaking out. "See?" Ajo gasps. "Didn't I tell him so? Unbelievable!" The scientist, meanwhile, has noticed the Miho PPOR. "Did you open her up, boss?" he asks. "He was scared, so I let him out," replies Ajo, recovering some of his cool. "We had to reinstall him anyway. He couldn't even take a step on his own." As Ajo leaves, he tells the man to cover the PPOR. The screen in Ajo's theatre is still on, showing the Miho PPOR and the first few inches of the incision running from neck to navel. Ajo walks through the room.

At Tataki's, Sakura is talking to Wakagi on the phone, asking him where he is and if Key is okay. Tomoyo is wincing in pain from his cracked ribs and takes a moment to steel himself before replying. "Don't worry, she's sleeping," he says. Sakura learns that Tomoyo brought Key to her apartment and is relieved to learn that Key is allright. Sakura then mentions the robot she saw in the trash collection area outside. Tomoyo turns to look, but says nothing is there now. "You should get back here right away and stay with Key," Tomoyo says, then asks to speak with Tataki.

"How did you know Kuriyagawa was here?" demands Tataki. "Key is fine," responds Tomoyo. "You don't need to take her in in some misguided attempt to protect her. You'll get her hurt. And here's a word of advice: it may be time you stopped chasing Miho around." Tomoyo hangs up the phone. "'I'm a great bodyguard,' huh?" growls Tataki. "'I can do my job just fine on my own,' huh? Well, fine, dammit!" Tataki slams his handset down, then ponders for a moment. "Miho? What does he know about Miho?"

Sakura prepares to leave, saying she will return the sweatshirt after she washes it. Tataki offers to walk her home, but Sakura says its okay. Just as she turns to leave, the "voice" starts singing again. Tataki and Sakura both hear it, and Tataki runs to turn on the DATman recorder. The microphone is sitting in front of the powered-off computer. "That voice," says Sakura, pointing at the ceiling. Tataki motions her to be silent. Sakura persists, but Tataki shakes his head in response to Sakura's hint that it is coming from upstairs. As they listen to the muffled words of the song, the camera pans out across the city, coming to rest in Ajo's main lab where Ajo and the engineers are looking over the remains of the ruined PPOR from the temple.

"There are numerous cracks in the Powerbox," one engineer observes. "There isn't a drop of Gel left inside. It looks like it was probably vented into the air. All of the joints are loose; there's no metal sealant left at all." As the chief engineer touches the PPOR's hand, the hand crumbles. "Something caused the Gel to expand explosively," continues the engineer. The Powerbox couldn't contain it, and the Gel corroded all the joints when it escaped through the cracks." Ajo, who was observing, silently steps away and out of the room.

As Sakura arrives home, she gathers her nerve to go past the trash area. She dashes up the stairs and into her apartment rather noisily. Key is awake. Sakura loads her washer and steps out onto the balcony for a quick look at the street. As she comes back in, Key is kneeling on the floor, apologizing and saying she won't cause any more trouble. Sakura says that they've already talked; time to get some sleep. Sakura climbs into her bed loft and changes into a nightshirt; Key mentions that she slept a little while. Sakura says she knows, but that thanks to Key's running around Sakura hasn't had any sleep that night. "Unlike you robots, I can't operate without sleep."

Sergei awakens to the sound of Ajo calling his name. Sergei's wounds have been bound, but otherwise he is laying naked on a pallet in a room in Ajo's tower. Ajo is standing at the foot of the bed. "Pathetic," says Ajo. "have you learned your lesson? I can't believe you were broken by an offshoot of yourself. Why don't you stay clear of things for a while? The project is finally entering the next process, but with those wounds... Why don't you use this opportunity to rest?"

"Am I being punished?" asks Sergei. "Don't worry, I'll leave you some toys," replies Ajo. "I have something in store for Mima's granddaughter." "Don't, Boss! Y-You can't--!" gasped a suddenly concerned Sergei. Ajo tells Sergei to take his time and rest, then departs, his limo chauffering him to some appointment in the city. As Ajo broods, we see that the engineer with the broken foot has been immersed in a tank of pink liquid and is still drugged, but breathing through a scuba regulator.

Later that day, Sakura returns home and dumps a pile of books on the floor. Key asks what they are for. Sakura says they are reference books, information that will help Key reach her goal. "I don't think you'd ever be able to do it on your own," says Sakura, holding up a freshly-printed business card to show Key. "Let's give it a shot--together."

[Card: Key Productions, Rep. Manager: Kuriyagawa Sakura]

Key looks at the card, the up at Sakura...

Closing Titles and Next Program Series Preview

End of Version 7

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Christopher S. Rider --- syzygy@oldcrows.net