The Tachikomas, Ishikawa, and Borma locate a suspicious file believed to be the Individual Eleven virus, The Major, Batou, Saito go after Kuze, and the Individual Eleven prepare to put their plan into action.
Saito recounts his first run-in with the Major, and how he became part of the group that would eventually become Section 9.
The Major has become worried about the Tachikomas. It appears that their AIs have developed much more quickly and in ways that were not anticipated; they have begun speaking about their "individuality". Worried, the Major calls Batou to a meeting; the Tachikomas, having suspicions of their own, attempt to eavesdrop on their conversation. What will be the fate of Section 9's Tachikomas?
While working late, Togusa gets a call from one of his colleagues from his days on the police force. It seems that he's uncovered something strange happening with the investigators in the Laughing Man Unit, a special task force formed to catch the infamous cyber criminal known only as the Laughing Man. But before he can meet with Togusa, he's killed in a car accident. Now, Togusa only has an envelope full of seemingly random photos to go on--can he put the pieces of the puzzle together?
The Laughing Man, having returned after a six-year absence, threatens to assassinate the Superintendent-General of the police. Everyone is in an uproar over his return. Aramaki, however, thinks it's a cover-up. He briefs Section 9 on the prime suspect, Nanao=A, an incredibly gifted programmer who developed the micro-machines that are currently the foundation of Serano Industries. Still, it's just too perfect. The team splits up and investigates.
As Togusa and Bato track down Nanao, Motoko and Paz are attempting to protect the Superintendent-General at a press conference about the police misuse of interceptors. When the virus does hit, Motoko and Paz have to act fast to save the intended victim. Meanwhile, the road to Nanao=A hits a dead end.
Section 9 is on the trail of Marcelo Jarti, a South American revolutionary hero who has arrived in Japan. However, Jarti is a hard man to catch because he employs look-alikes to deceive people. Nevertheless, Section 9 is convinced that the one they're tracking is the real thing, and after a rather out-of-control gunbattle in an upscale hotel, they track him to an old warehouse. When they split up, Togusa, Batou, and Motoko each encounter Jarti--at the same time!
Motoko's friend Courtin asks her to come to the hospital where she works. It seems a little girl just received a heart transplant, but the donor's family doesn't remember ever agreeing to donate the heart. Seeing the little girl reminds Motoko of her own past. When she mentions this story to Aramaki, he tells them to determine if this is tied to a ring of black-market organ smugglers supposedly run by the mafia.