BGC Post 2040 File 1 – 1: Dominant Species
The Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040 Continuation Fanfic Series
by P. Kristen Enos
Most of these stories take place AFTER the TV Series! So DON’T blame me if I ruin the ending for you because you read these stories first!
Lesbian/Yuri/Shoujo Ai Warning! (Non-explicit — at least in the “PG13″/”R” sort of way.) Just not written for children because they probably wouldn’t get half of it. All rights belong to JVC/AIC, ADV Films and the other creative powers that be. I just want credit for writing the story.
Basic background: This scene takes place right after the Sabers confrontation scene at Sylia’s place in the episode “I Surrender”, when Sylia confesses not only that there was a previous Knight Sabers team who were not successful, but also that the recently destroyed hardsuits were boomers.
There’s a crucial incident in the English dub anime which is referred to, and which inspired this fic: In explaining why she needed not only an all female team to be Knight Sabers, Sylia teases Nene by going nose to nose with her and hinting that she needed to share a “very special physical compatibility” with them. Nene freaks, stammers that she’s not like the way Sylia and Linna might be. Linna reacts with total embarrassment. And Priss just widens her eyes in surprise.
The scene officially ends with Priss already having made a stormy exit at the betrayal of feeling used and being endangered with hardsuits that could go rogue at Galatea’s command, Galatea being the villainess of the piece. This scene picks up after Nene exits at the betrayal as well, though probably not as pissed. Leaving behind Sylia, Linna and Mackey.
On to the story…
* * * * *
For three people left in the room, it was deathly quiet.
Nene’s last words lingered in the air like an imagined echo: “I just can’t, Sylia! I’m really sorry! Good-bye, Mackey! Bye, Linna!”
Linna felt numb, both emotionally and physically. Actually, that’s not quite right…she could feel conflicting emotions war under a layer of her self-control. Dealing with the turmoil of thoughts and memories was bad enough; she didn’t dare let her emotions run rampant, too.
She noticed out of the corner of her eye how Sylia calmly watched her. Perfectly poised on the couch with her hands folded on her lap, looking extremely relaxed and composed despite everything that’s happened. And as if she was wearing one of her dresses rather than that damn skimpy bathrobe.
Linna felt a blush start to creep upon her cheeks and forced herself not to be distracted by that last detail. God, this wasn’t the first time she envied Priss’s poker face.
When Nene had blurted out her suspicions of Linna’s…interest in women, Linna saw out of the corner of her eye the flash of surprise which jolted Priss’s sullen expression. It was a brief look, quickly disappearing as if it was never there. Which meant Priss was really shocked.
Is it possible that Priss never suspected…? But, Linna had thought for certain that they were…similar. After all, they quickly settled into an easy friendship that grew between them once Priss finally let down her guard. In fact, though Priss never expressly stated it, Linna was sure she was Priss’s only friend. Not even the members of the band were allowed to spend time with Priss when music wasn’t the focus. Yet even with that, they never really talked about…romance. Linna had had a hunch the two of them would…get along.
But if all this time Priss never thought…never felt… But why did she stare at her the way she did? The intensity couldn’t have been imagined, could it?
And wasn’t Linna herself surprised at Nene’s words? It was one thing to battle her own suspicions and feelings, but to hear someone else say it out loud. And why did Linna suddenly feel this burn of disappointment at Priss’s shocked reaction?… Did it mean it was really true after all if someone else sees it? Was she really a…a…
Well, if she was, given Priss’s reaction, was their friendship now unsalvageable? Then again, Priss did blurt out a goodbye just for her before storming out…
Besides, there were bigger issues at stake right now.
Suddenly remembering where she was, Linna snuck a look over at Sylia, who still watched her. The other woman’s face looking serenely passive, which allowed her natural beauty to be even more distracting than usual. It reminded Linna just how much Sylia intimidated her even though she did her best to hide it.
Mackey just stared at the hallway Nene had disappeared through without a look back.
After the two women exchanged a mild look, Sylia turned to her “little brother” and said, “Mackey, I’m fine now. Galatea’s obviously distracted for the time being. Why don’t you go home to Nigel’s and I’ll see you in the morning?”
Clearly still concerned, he frowned to protest, but quickly realized it wouldn’t make a difference. Plus, he understood there was a reason why Sylia asked him to leave and not Linna. He bowed, said his goodbyes and departed followed by the silence which seemed to be standard for exits tonight.
Upon his departure, the air felt…different. But Linna didn’t feel anymore relaxed.
Sylia continued to look at her with that mild expression which hovered between friendliness and amusement. It was as if she was able to tell that Linna was not feeling the rage of Priss nor the terror of Nene.
“Well after all this, I need something a little stronger to drink than water. Can I interest you in a glass?” she offered as she stood and walked to her bar.
Linna wanted to ask for an entire of bottle of something but stopped short.
In the silent pause which followed her question, Sylia turned back and flashed a brief smile “Well, if you’re not interested in a drink, how about a swim? It does wonders for relieving stress for me. And since I don’t think I have any suits which fit you, we can forego them.”
Linna gave a startled blink at what seemed like a total non sequitur bordering into flirting, in that oh-so-typical way of Sylia’s. “Uh-beer would be fine. Thanks.” The blush was back, dammit.
Again, there was silence as Linna joined Sylia at the bar, settling herself on the stool while the other woman focused her attention on pouring their drinks, a beer and scotch respectively.
Sylia handed over the glass and came around the bar to lean against the front, next to her guest, “Either you’re waiting for me to say something to drive you away like everyone else, or there’s a chance I can say something which will make you stay. Which do you actually want?”
Linna took a deep breath. It was time to take the bull by the horns, just like she did with all other things in life when faced with a challenge. “I know Galatea needs to be stopped. I don’t know if I would make a difference, but I don’t think I could live with myself if I didn’t try. But… I need time to think before I commit to this, Sylia. It’s so much scarier than before.”
Sylia had been watching her closely again, her expression still deceptively mild. “It sounds like you’ve already made a decision for the moment. So since you’re still here, there must be something else you want… to know.”
Linna felt the hairs on her neck prickle at that purposeful pause. Again, a deep breath, eyes focused on the beer before her. “Sylia, you said the suits were an extension of you at the time of their design…”
Linna didn’t have to look to see the patient but passively amused expression return, as if she was saying what Sylia was expecting her to. God, was she that obvious to everyone?! (Well, obviously not to Priss!)
“Well, you and Priss shared the hotheaded personality. And I can guess that you and Nene have that computer techie thing in common. But what is it about the two of us that’s compatible enough for me to be a better Knight Saber than your previous team members?” Linna knew her entire face was now the color of a tomato but tried to ignore it. She was just amazed she was able to say all of that without stumbling over her words.
“It isn’t enough to say we’re both athletes?” That teasing tone was back.
Linna took a drink of her beer in response, showing she was waiting for the real answer.
She heard Sylia take a long sip from her own drink. Then followed by a deep breath and sigh.
Linna felt her heart race with every waiting second, and she knew Sylia knew it.
Finally, Sylia spoke in a soft voice, “There’s something about you which reminds me a lot of someone I knew in school. You’re both people of heart and passion. And she meant a lot to me. She still does even though we live very separate lives now as people do when school ends…. Linna, your arrival changed the team for the better. There’s a strong dynamic among us that wasn’t there before, and I thank you for it. And because of it–of you–I have the faintest hope that we can be a team again. I don’t think that hope would be there if you hadn’t arrived and all of this still happened. I could be wrong, but I’d like to think I’m not.”
Linna was struck by the sense of real honesty in her words. “Thank you, Sylia… But you still didn’t answer my question. How are we alike?”
“I didn’t?” That teasing tone returned yet again.
Linna didn’t know if she should be annoyed or to play along for once.
She finally let out a soft chuckle and looked Sylia in the eye. “I’m a country hick, remember? I need it spelled out for me by you city folk.”
It was then when Sylia leaned forward, causing the color to drain out of the other woman’s face with every centimeter that disappeared between them. She finally stopped with just the barest space between their lips, that speaking alone could cause contact. It felt like she had gotten miles closer to Linna than she did with Nene not even an hour before. Linna could smell the scotch just as she was sure Sylia could smell the beer.
Linna would like to blame sheer terror for why she didn’t back away, but she knew that wasn’t the case as she remained frozen.
“I am extremely tempted to kiss you right now.” Sylia’s voice was bewitchingly sultry, the barest growl from her throat which indicated that this woman knew how dangerous she was. And every brush of those lips felt like sparks of a fire that would go out of control if allowed.
Linna instinctively closed her eyes and held her breath. Her heart was racing even faster than when she was first catapulted out of the launcher in her hardsuit. She was surprised she didn’t pass out right then and there.
Then Sylia closed the gap, in the most gentle kiss possible. Linna responded without hesitation. She felt like she was floating, and it didn’t matter whether it was from being overwhelmed with new sensations, or from lack of oxygen.
For what seemed like minutes, but was only seconds, Sylia finally pulled away and leaned back. With that infuriating smirk but this time accentuated with a faint blush of her own, she took a sip and said, “But you’re not the one I want…and I’m not the one you want. By the way, that’s a good brand of beer. I’ve never had it with scotch before.”
This was the first time in her life where Linna knew her face was completely red and she didn’t care. Her heart still didn’t stop racing and she was trying to get used to breathing again…But Sylia’s comment about wanting burned in her mind.
Was she guessing about Masaki, the man who seemed to be everything Linna could want but whom she still turned down? Or…or…or…
Her heart actually felt like it sped up instead of slowed down! Linna was holding her beer with shaky hands and decided she needed to empty the contents and put the glass down, which she did so fast she almost gave herself whiplash. After doing so, however, she felt better — barely.
Again, Sylia had been watching her with that mildly amused expression. She finally cleared her throat and said seriously, “Linna, to be a person of heart, you must be able to let yourself feel your heart completely. That’s what Reika taught me. And it’s a lesson I’d like to try to pass on to you.”
Linna looked clearly startled…but with a glimmer of intrigue?
Reading the response with scientific precision, Sylia burst out in a genuine laugh and said, “No, not like that! Like I said, we don’t really want each other. And though I like to tease, I’m not a woman of convenience! And I’m pretty certain you’re not either! Priss and Nene already hate me now. I don’t need have you hate me in the morning!”
Damn blush, Linna growled in her thoughts.
Sylia reached over and picked up the bottle of scotch to pour some into each of their glasses. “You, Priss and Nene taught me the price of keeping secrets, despite the best of intentions. The three of you reminded me there were some risks worth lowering your walls for. That was something Reika also tried to teach me but I guess I didn’t learn it very well. If I promise to be a real friend from now on, will you do the same to me, and to yourself? And if we don’t really succeed, at least we can say we made that effort? I would really like to try.”
The offer triggered a change in Linna, like a weight she carried her entire life suddenly start to lift from her shoulders. As if for the first time, she had someone she could really talk to, a chance at honesty she never even allowed herself, or even with Priss. It wasn’t only someone she could talk to, but someone who would understand.
“So,” Sylia said as she sauntered back to the couch with both her glass and bottle. “Why don’t you tell me why you really came to Tokyo?”
Linna looked at the glass of scotch on the counter, then to the smiling and waiting woman just a few meters away. Well, if this was Sylia’s version of a slumber party, why the hell not?
With a big grin, she grabbed the glass and joined her friend on the couch.
“I honestly came to Tokyo to become a Knight Saber!” Linna declared good naturedly. “But I also admit I had to get away from home too…”
….The End for now….
Part 1: Stripes in the Jungle
Chapter 1: White Noise
Linna couldn’t help but be fascinated as she stared out the airplane window at the landscape before her. True, she had seen the news shots, and heck she was even down there at its worst, but to see Tokyo from the sky like this was just breathtaking. From this high up, you would never have guessed how much destruction the city went through in the past decade, through earthquakes and a “boomer revolution”.
Only three years have passed since Galatea turned the city into a jungle of twisted metal due to rampaging boomers which fused with every piece of machinery in sight. Once the threat ended as mysteriously as it began, most of the citizens returned home to sift through the wreckage and rebuild their lives, just the same way they had rebuilt their beloved city right after the disastrous earthquake. And ironically, boomers were also there to help with the work.
At first, Linna was shocked by the last fact because of all the testimonials on the news by people who had sworn off the use of boomers once their metallic janitors and waitresses attacked them. However, the necessity created out of rebuilding Tokyo as quickly and as efficiently as possible caused people to quickly overcome their fear and reluctance. When the general consensus was softened enough to evaluate the use of boomers again, public outcry and fear of liability caused everyone to agree that this source of labor would be used with the strictest safeguards possible against going rogue.
Not that that these people truly understood what made the boomers go rogue in the first place, despite Leon, Nene and Daily’s brief attempt to educate the public during the Galatea crisis.
Under the new leadership of Quincy Rosenkreuz III, the Genom Corporation lead the redesigning of boomers both as a P.R. damage control maneuver as well as to regain the loss of profits Galatea’s orchestrated rampage had caused. Branded as “rogue-free”, the new generation of boomers were modified to become less sophisticated than the previous generation. Gone were the subroutines that reacted and responded to human social interactions. Also gone were the designs based on human anatomy structure. This new generation of boomers seemed to be a throwback to old robotics, bulky, slow machines which were good at simple tasks, and always required human supervision. Nothing about them would make a person think he or she would suddenly have his or her orders questioned or be attacked out of the blue. And none of them had gone rogue…”yet” (as Sylia would add cryptically even though Linna thought Galatea’s death would have ended that possibility.)
Unfortunately, the new boomer designs had one significant flaw…at least as far as the former Knight Sabers were concerned. The crude tampering with the boomer’s core (its brain), caused a high frequency squeal to constantly emanate from the machine. This sound was heard only by the four women who had been mentally linked due to both Sylia and Galatea’s efforts.
Sylia was the first to notice it, which was not surprising since her brain was where Galatea (and all subsequent boomers) were born. At first, she complained of minor headaches whenever she visited Tokyo, falling back on her usual remedy of scotch and pills (much to both Mackey and Henderson’s dismay.) When she visited the site of her destroyed home and shop where construction boomers were in full force, she practically collapsed as soon as she stepped out of her car, overwhelmed by the piercing pain of what sounded and felt like constantly grinding metal.
It wasn’t long before the other three former Knight Sabers all felt the same symptoms. So not more than three months passed after saving their beloved city that the Knight Sabers couldn’t stand to visit, much less live there. However, no one else was affected, not even Mackey, Sylia’s step-brother in heart and soul but a boomer in reality.
Of course, Sylia wasn’t one to let the coincidence slide, tapping her resources from the temporary home of her late mother’s mansion out in the country. She and Nene raided Genom’s databanks and pulled the design specs on the new core. Sylia quickly determined the cause and fix but was stymied as to how to address this problem. After all, no one alive in the new Genom Corporation viewed her as anyone other than the little girl of a brilliant scientist, not as a scientific resource herself. To maintain her low profile and privacy, Sylia had purposefully not gone to university, preferring to continue her education in private, using her father’s notes as her scientific bible.
Nigel was still a scientist and mechanic on paper, even if his credibility was undermined by having a run down machine shop in the less than savory part of Tokyo. But it was agreed that it would be useless to pitch the changes to Genom Corporation when the end result meant for the company to go through the cost of recalls and modifications just because four unimportant women were suffering through chronic headaches whenever they were within 100 meters of a boomer. And with thousands of boomers rolling off the assembly line every day, the problem became even more futile.
Nene once suggested that maybe they resurrect the hardsuits, buffer against the mental assault, and spend their time modifying every boomer to get rid of what the group now termed “white noise.” Everyone laughed at her suggestion, congratulating her on her joke, but Linna did notice a shadow pass across Nene’s face that showed she was serious. But Nene never brought it up again, and by then the team had resigned themselves to taking a much deserved vacation, thinking that either the white noise problem [would] go away over time due to most of the construction boomers not running around Tokyo as frequently, or that perhaps the sensitivity levels in the women would build up on their own, like an immunity.
So four months after the final battle with Galatea, the women who were once the Knight Sabers went their separate ways, vowing temporarily, but one never knows.
Sylia stayed in her mother’s home with Henderson, while Nigel and Mackey moved back to Nigel’s machine shop in the city. Nene had transferred to the regular police department in Akihabara. Linna had transferred to the Hugh-Geit’s Osaka office. And Priss went on her much longed for world tour, with a very happy and unemployed Leon in tow.
Linna grimaced to herself as that last thought passed through her mind. She tried to be happy for Priss but that connection of Leon always caused a little burn of jealousy. She had hoped time and distance would ease the wound of losing out on what “could have been” with Priss. But at the same time, she genuinely wanted to be happy for her friend no matter what her personal selfish issues were. The feelings didn’t seem to get any better as the days go by.
But the twist was that Priss had become a different person after their outer-space battle with Galatea. It was as if the rage and fire in her had been put out, leaving behind a very quiet, introspective person minus her usual tension. She and Linna never really had the chance to talk about everything once all of the chaos began, especially since Leon never left Priss’s side once the team was reunited.
The way Priss performed on stage changed too, as if she was taking on the persona of someone she used to be whenever she sang her more angst filled songs. The crowd never noticed though, being in awe of her on stage charisma and talent. But the change in Priss was noticeable to everyone who saw her outside of the spotlight, and no one seemed to be brave enough to openly stake a claim on whether it was a good or bad thing.
Of course, it was easy to dismiss the cause of this change in Priss as being two days of suffering from heatstroke and dehydration in the African desert. Leon and Nigel had only found her by using a tracking satellite to locate the remains of her hardsuit (due to a tip from Galatea, by way of Mackey, as a dying act of kindness). Priss had wandered so far from her initial landing area that they wouldn’t have found her if a sandstorm had erased her footprints in the time it took for the men to commandeer a plane and fly out to retrieve her. And she never told anyone about her final confrontation with Galatea, stating that it was enough to know Sylia’s twin was gone for good.
Linna and Nene had faired better, being dumped on a tropical island not far from Hawaii. Fresh water and coconuts sustained them in the day it took for Sylia and Mackey to pick them up. The only real inconvenience was dealing with the fact of not having any clothes, much to Nene’s horror when she saw Mackey step off of the plane, causing her to try to hide behind the equally nude and embarrassed Linna. Oh sure, Nene was happy to see that Mackey was indeed alive and well, but there were other things which quickly sunk in and made the reunion bittersweet. Sylia just watched the shenanigans with her ever present amused smile, punctuated with a wink to Linna, which made the latter woman blush even deeper from head to toe.
Linna sighed and closed her eyes, trying to clear her mind of the flood of memories. So much had happened in so little time. She needed to focus on what was important right now, which was moving back to Tokyo.
Finally, a year after Galatea, Sylia had come up with a core design which corrected the white noise problem, maintained the limited capabilities of the new generation of boomers, and was more energy efficient. It was this last angle which caused Sylia and Nigel to feel comfortable pitching the design to Genom. Well, Nigel pitched it since Sylia wanted to remain in the shadows.
And sure enough, Genom snatched up the new design, anxious to deploy it on the newer boomers as well as offer upgrades to their existing clients, knowing this would add to their positive public relations spin as well as profit margins. Nigel was credited with the design and given a cut of the profits, which continued to be dumped into an untouched bank account. He’d rather have it transferred to Sylia’s account, knowing she would greater use for the funds, but that would just cause too many raised eyebrows, and plus she never asked for the money. So they both agreed the funds could stay there for a rainy day – such as if another Galatea problem ever arose.
The Knight Sabers team now felt there would be an end to the white noise problem sooner rather than later, allowing them to finally come home.
Nene was the first to test the waters, making frequent visits to both see Mackey and to check on the white noise level of Tokyo. She had finally moved back three weeks ago, sending Linna phone messages and emails begging her friend to return as well.
With Nigel overseeing the reconstruction of her home and shop, Sylia herself was making arrangements to move back to the city, but probably wouldn’t make it until at least another month or two.
Priss was still on her world tour, with no immediate plans of returning to Tokyo – white noise or not. Every couple of weeks, Linna would get a “Here’s Where We’re Playing Tonight” email, with an attached picture of Priss and her band looking like happy wandering minstrels, and Leon as the roadie/groupie. Since Priss wasn’t a letter writer or phone person by nature, Linna had given up on thinking they could ever have a real conversation as long as they weren’t in the same room.
And so Linna would sigh, send back a quick response of “Glad you’re doing well. Hope to see you soon!” and file away the correspondence while fighting the urge to blow Leon’s pixels into cyberspace with an imaginary gun.
Linna shook her head to clear her mind again. She felt the plane start its descent into the airport and thought of what she wanted to do as soon as she got there. After all, Hugh-Geit had only given her the weekend to move. She could have taken vacation time, but she wanted to save that for an extended visit to her parents later in the month. She didn’t have that many belongings anyway, filling up not even one moving van. However, she thought grimly, if that van doesn’t show up as scheduled, she was screwed.
And then there was the task of just rebuilding her personal life. While she had decent friendships in Osaka, she truly missed Tokyo, the other Knight Saber women, and her parents. She knew her stay in Osaka was temporary, so she purposefully kept people as arm’s length.
At least, that was her excuse for the atrocious dating experiences she had with the handful of women she took a chance on. None of the dates resulted in even a good night’s kiss, much less anything more serious.
Once the plane landed, Linna gathered her belongings, flashed a pleasant smile at the man who sat next to her, who weakly returned it. He had unsuccessfully tried to chat her up as soon as she sat down for the flight, clearly hoping for more meaningful plans once they reached Tokyo. She got out of conversing with him by stating she had a sore throat and was recovering from a cold. In fear of getting sick himself, the man proceeded to ignore her, much to her pleasure. She made a mental note to thank Sylia for that little travel tip.
All the while, Linna passively checked for any signs of mental discomfort and found none. And with every step off the plane, she felt herself relax as her fear proved unfounded. When she tried a visit to her parents a year or so after Galatea, she couldn’t last ten minutes in the airport. And she hadn’t been back before this final trip, making her moving arrangements all by phone and Internet.
Linna stepped out into the airport and scanned the waiting crowd for the familiar face who was going to be her welcoming committee. Before she was done looking around, she was immediately tackled in a bear hug by the young woman who was more petite in frame but with more than enough energy to make up for her size.
“Linna! I’m so glad you’re here!” Nene squealed happily.
Linna happily returned the hug and said, “I’m glad I’m home!”
–End Chapter 1–
Chapter 2: Girl Talk
“So what’s this big news you’ve been dying to tell me?” Linna asked as she tossed Nene a can of coffee drink. They had settled themselves on her living room floor of her new apartment in the midst of opened boxes and piles of packing materials.
Nene gave a sniff of feigned offense and said, “And what makes you think I’ve been holding back on something?!”
“Because all day you’ve been hinting left and right that you’ve got big news, so spill already!” Linna teased with an exasperated roll of her eyes.
“Well, if you insist!” her friend responded a little too quickly and energetically to be credible. “You remember my friend Daley Wong? He was Leon’s partner in the A.D. Police.”
Linna had to think for a moment as she came up with the face. “The good-looking dapper guy who can’t fly a copter if his life depended on it?”
“Yeah, that’s him!” Nene confirmed, not batting an eye at the insult. “About half a year ago, he transferred back from Osaka regular police to be a detective. He helped to create a new division they’re calling Neo Tech Crimes. And he’s got me a position as one of the support staff!”
“Neo Tech?” Linna repeated blankly, afraid that this would be one more concept that her country girl education wouldn’t let her understand.
“Yeah, we’d catch people who commit more sophisticated technology-based crimes, like the simple stuff from corporate database raids to creating illegal high-tech weapons.”
“You mean everything that Sylia does?”
Nene’s face fell for a moment. Then she stated firmly, “We’re out to catch people who are ‘criminals’ who commit ‘crimes’.”
Linna wisely hid her smirk behind her can and took a sip before asking, “So what do you do?”
Nene’s eyes lit up again. “I get to help figure out how the criminals do the things they do and create ways to nab ‘em! — Linna, it is so cool! I started yesterday and the stuff they have in the lab is incredible! — I mean, nowhere near as wild as Sylia’s lab, but still, it’s amazing the things they have! And some of it I haven’t even heard of before! And the computer they gave me is to die for!”
Linna was genuinely pleased for her friend but still a little puzzled, “But why would they create such a department? It sounds like a version of the A.D. Police.”
“It kinda is. I mean the staff is pretty much the same, for those people who are still around from those days. I don’t know if you heard, but a few months ago, but there was a crime spree involving a gang who managed to virtually shut down the electricity in bank buildings and jewelry stores before breaking in and stealing everything. They didn’t just zap the lights but all of the connected security systems as well, even shutting down the support systems of the security firms hired to protect the businesses. Because of my computer experience, Daley got me to help them with the tracing and development of the program which would counteract the shutdown commands. But by the time we were able to stop the crime spree, thirty stores throughout Tokyo had been hit in the course of just four months, with a loss of millions of yen, most of which was never recovered. I think the big brass realizes there’s a need to have a division to handle the crimes that are beyond the knowledge and technology of regular cops and detectives.”
“Then maybe they should resurrect K-Suits as well,” Linna commented dryly.
“Don’t think the NTC Division doesn’t have a group of them waiting on standby.”
“Then it almost sounds like we should have our hardsuits ready too,” Linna said, getting the appropriate giggle in response. Then she frowned and asked, “So, Nene, do you ever miss being a Knight Saber?”
“All the time,” her friend answered seriously. “I even asked Sylia once if she ever thought she would need to make hardsuits again.”
Linna felt her heart skip a beat. “And her answer was…?”
“She said she would ‘think about it if there was ever a time that the police proved they couldn’t handle something that we could.’”
“Then if you want to be a Knight Saber bad enough, it sounds like you’ve got a reason to sabotage the work of your new department to make it happen.”
Nene’s face fell once again. She answered carefully, “Well, after hanging around Sylia’s lab as much as I have the past couple of years, I wouldn’t put it past her to have a stash of hardsuits somewhere in that big old mansion just in case. And even though everyone considers rogue boomers to be old news, there’s concern that people can still use them for criminal activities.”
“Even though they’re really limited in functionality?”
“Just the same way someone can pick up a hammer and use it for a crime. Boomers are the same way. Plus, there’s been news that old model boomers have been smuggled in from outside of the city for private use. It’s believed that some people feel that the rogue boomer problem was confined to those created in Tokyo since the boomer revolution didn’t spread to other cities. And Tokyo’s the only city that’s made a public stance against old gen boomers. Plus, they’re not even illegal here.”
Linna had to remind herself that this was true. It had been a shock to transfer to Osaka and find that boomers were still operational and well used, though probably not to the degree of matching their height of popularity in Tokyo. The news of the boomer revolution was enough to almost cause a collapse of the boomer industry, but not quite.
“Do you honestly think these models could go rogue?”
Nene shrugged, “I asked Sylia and she doesn’t really say anything definitive except ‘the possibility is always there.’ I don’t know if Galatea just left a really bad experience in her mind that she thinks it’s possible even if Galatea’s not around to instigate anything anymore.”
“What do you think?” Linna persisted, trying to get an opinion that felt a little more knowledgeable on the matter than her own.
Nene kind of squirmed and said, “I honestly don’t know. I asked Mackey what he thought and he firmly believes that with Galatea gone, the rogue risk is gone too. I guess it’s something he and Sylia disagree on. And I’ve never asked Nigel what he thought because he probably wouldn’t tell me anyway.”
“Well, I like not dealing with old model boomers on a regular basis,” Linna stated firmly. “After the Galatea crisis, Hugh-Geit got rid of the managerial boomers, so my job is now tolerable, even if I don’t really like it.”
She smirked at the thought of never having to face Manager 0352 again, and she regretted not being able to witness that thing morph into mechanical monstrosity the synthetic female-based exterior hid so well. That was one core she regretted not having the opportunity to crush personally.
“So, are you always going to be an office lady?” Nene suddenly blurted.
Linna blinked in surprise at the rather direct question. “I, uh, don’t know,” she admitted with a blush at the truth in the statement. “I mean I moved to Tokyo to be a Knight Saber, not an O.L. But I really don’t have anything else I can do.”
“You could always be a cop,” Nene suggested, eyeing her critically as the idea seemed to have positive implications in her mind. “I think you’d be a good one. And you’re still young enough to be accepted into the academy.”
It was Linna’s turn to squirm as she answered, “Let’s just say I don’t relish the idea of fighting something without the protection of a hard suit. Plus I’ve seen and heard enough through you that I don’t think it would be a good career choice for me.” And there would be comparisons with Leon she didn’t even want to contemplate.
“If you say so…” Nene teased, indicating that she was going to let the subject drop even though her opinion was quite clear on the matter.
“By the way, have you talked to Sylia recently? I haven’t really spoken to her since the beginning of the year,” Linna asked, noting that it was now May.
“Oh yeah. She’s moving her stuff back bit by bit. I think she’s got the challenge of trying to break down her lab at her mom’s mansion after transferring it from here to begin with. She should be back permanently by the end of the month. She’s planning to reopen her shop by mid June. It’s kind of weird because she actually seems excited about it,” Nene mused. “I never understood why someone like her ran that shop to begin with. I mean, no one would have suspected her Knight Saber activities even without the storefront.”
Linna smirked and said, “She once told me she had it as a hobby of sorts. It allows her an outlet where she can look but can’t touch.”
Now Nene was thoroughly bewildered. “Hunh?! If she’s not supposed to have so many clothes, then why would she have a clothing store?”
Linna stared at the blond and contemplated what to say next. It was in these occasional moments which reaffirmed the fact that all the computer smarts in the world didn’t always make up for some common sense.
Then again, to be fair to Nene, she didn’t think Sylia was necessarily open about her bisexuality to the other former Knight Sabers, or anyone else for that matter. Oh sure, Sylia teased and flirted outrageously with women, but Linna didn’t think most people took it as anything deeper than someone who just wanted to get a reaction for her own personal if weird amusement. Besides, the fact that Sylia was in a long term monogamous relationship with Nigel tended to put a blanket over the issue. When Linna was trying to come to terms with her own attraction to women during the Galatea crisis, Sylia offered her own kind of support by telling her about a lover she had in her school days.
On the other hand, Linna didn’t think Sylia was ashamed about the fact of her orientation. Linna was starting to realize that the other woman probably had lots of secrets but would only own up to them if you could actually guess what they were, which would be nearly impossible. And to be truthful, Linna liked sharing something with her in what has become a private joke between them. In the beginning, Sylia openly teased Linna in front of everyone; now she just did it in private, or when no one else was really paying attention. Linna eventually learned how to tease back, much to Sylia’s obvious pleasure.
Finally, Linna took a sip from her can and said, “I guess I must have misunderstood her. You know how bizarre she can be sometimes.”
Nene nodded, for some reason suddenly flashing on the one time Sylia came close enough to kiss her and just smirked at Nene’s flustered babbling that she wasn’t “like that.” Suddenly another question burned in Nene’s mind.
“Are you dating anyone yet?” she blurted out.
It was Linna’s turn to have her face fall.
“No,” she answered finally. “I’ve tried a couple of dates with some women I met in Osaka but nothing came out of them. So I’m still looking, but I admit not actively since it’s so hard to meet someone I’m attracted to, much less find interesting. Of course, if I still bomb out romantically now that I’m emotionally ‘home’, in the biggest city in the country, then I might as well accept the fact I’m not meant to be involved with anyone at all. It’s almost enough to make me rethink my stance of ‘no men’… Well, I’ll give it a few more years before I goes that far. After all, that’s desperation territory, and I’m only twenty-four.”
“Well, I’m hardly one who can give dating advice,” Nene admitted sheepishly, obviously referring to her own relationship with a sentient boomer.
“Things going well between you and Mackey?”
“Great. He’s the sweetest guy. And luckily, I still don’t look that much older than him. But I don’t know how much longer that’s going to last before people start to think I’m just a cradle-robber.”
“Oh,” Linna said, not realizing before how awkward it would be to have a relationship with someone who would never physically age beyond seventeen years. “Is there anything that can be done about that?”
Nene shrugged. “Well, it’s only something I’ve started to notice. I just haven’t yet figure out how to bring it up to Mackey. I mean, I definitely don’t want to break up with him. But it’s…well, you know…”
‘No, I don’t,’ Linna thought, but she nodded in sympathy to her friend.
— End Chapter 2 —
Chapter 3: Visionaries
The spacious lab was empty save for four figures. The three humans were focused on the other, a boomer with the realistic yet metallic curves of a physically mature female, which stared blankly forward as if it had no awareness of the world around it.
Quincy Rosenkreuz III, a man of thirty-nine with a lean build and clothed in the finest gray Italian suit with tasteful punctuations of jewelry, walked carefully around the stationary boomer, eyeing her critically and appreciatively. In and of themselves, his lean features were short of being considered handsome, but a friendly smile added well to his charisma. It also helped that he looked young for his age, with barely any trace of gray in his trimmed black hair and beard.
The other figure was Madigan, his right hand assistant. A petite and trim woman of forty-two, her small size easily led people to overlook the steel in her personality, which showed clearly in her dark gray eyes behind her glasses. Despite having a very efficient and professional demeanor, she was extremely style-conscious herself, dressed in a stylish dark blue business jacket and skirt. She kept her extremely long gray and dark-brown hair in a braid, which went half-way down her back and then hooking upwards to finally drape over the front of her right shoulder.
The final human figure was Dr. Sho Yamada, a heavy but pleasant man of thirty-two with receding black hair. Dressed in the standard suit and lab coat, he cut a competent picture of a scientist even though he was understandably nervous as he waited for his superiors to make a comment about his team’s latest effort.
Quincy finally paused and flashed the scientist a warm smile. “I am extremely impressed with the modifications your team has made to this prototype, Dr. Yamada. The proportions appear to be extremely accurate even without the skin and hair supplements.”
The scientist broke out into a pleased smile as he felt himself finally begin to relax. “Thank you, Sir. As you can see, she’s still somewhat tall for a standard human, but this is the most compact frame the team can build while maintaining the capacity to house the original requirements. She weighs about three times the mass of a woman her size, so we realize we may have to factor some environment checks when she starts to be tested outdoors, like avoiding elevator and stairs where weight capacities might be an issue.”
“Yes, she does seem somewhat Amazonian,” Quincy admitted, his eyes still raking up and down the form. “I think if we offer Caucasian model options, that should make the size somewhat more acceptable even if we can’t make them blend in to a crowd completely. What do you think, Madigan?”
“I would think our clientele would be open to models which can be shown off under the right circumstances,” she answered before turning her attention to the data pad in front of her. “If these are accurate, her performance marks have also increased substantially from the last check.”
“Yes, Ma’am,” Dr. Yamada agreed hastily, clearly more unnerved by the woman’s critical assessment than that of the other man. “We have focused on the required skills such as marksmanship and hand to hand combat. She maintains 95% accuracy with pistols and rifles, the other 5% is still within acceptable parameters. At this point she is also the equivalent of a second level black belt in judo and karate.”
Quincy had been scanning through his own data pad and asked, “So are we still on target for the demonstration?”
“Um, well, Sir,” Dr. Yamada admitted with clear discomfort, “We’ve been having problems with the synthetic skin and body temperature simulations. I mean, they’re still above par from older recreational boomer models, but not enough to be passable for human, yet.”
“I’m certain part of the struggle is because of your team’s excellent standards for acceptability,” Quincy commented with a reassuring smile. He turned to the data which continued to scroll before him. “So if we were to still hold to the demonstration deadline, which requirements have the highest level of jeopardy?”
“The status and projected completion date for all requirements are on the progress matrix labeled ‘Sylvie.6’,” the scientist answered as he looked at his own data pad. “I’ve pointed out all of the outstanding development items which would directly impact what I’ve understood to be your intention for the demonstration. The others are obviously not as target critical.”
“I see… Madigan, what is your recommendation from this list?”
“Sir, I believe the priority should be related to anything cosmetic and tactile. After all, our biggest selling point of this model will be the ability to pass for human at even the most casual of interactions.”
“I concur, however, let’s refine that a little. I want top priority given to skin and facial expression simulation. The speech simulations can be prioritized last for the time being. However, I do want oral tactile and functional refinement to continue. After all, replacing rubber dolls will have a higher priority than providing conversation.”
The comment immediately drew a blush from the scientist, though Madigan didn’t bat an eye as they followed along on their own pads.
“Y-Yes, Sir. Anything else that should be of priority, Sir?”
“If it helps, you can lower the capacity requirement for the person recognition file from twenty down to three, in addition to myself and Madigan. I will also authorize a 5% bonus per additional requirement met beyond these basics by demonstration day. I expect final confirmation Tuesday that we will meet that date since the invitations are set to be sent out then. However, I want to make certain you do not over commit yourself personally, Dr. Yamada. I am very well aware that I can’t have you show up at your wedding an already spent man. Just do what is reasonable.”
Dr. Yamada bowed gratefully, “Yes, Sir. And thank you, Sir, for your generosity. I am certain my team will be suitably inspired to bring greater honor to Genom Corporation at this demonstration.”
“I trust that you will.” Quincy then turned his attention back to the boomer and smiled appreciatively. “So her name is Sylvie, hmm?”
“Yes, Sir. It helps to give names to projects, especially when you’ve work with them for such a long time. It’s for the benefit of the team only, though. We will of course call her whatever you wish once she is formally christened.”
“No, keep it. I like that name.” Quincy then bowed and said, “Good work once again, Dr. Yamada. If you’ll excuse us.”
Bows were exchanged and the two executives left the lab, each perusing their data pads as they walked down one of the empty corridors of New Genom Tower.
“Sir, I wanted to wait until after our meeting with Dr. Yamada to point out that we’ve received the file on the Perry Electronics buyout.”
“Oh?” he said, as he opened and skimmed the file in question.
Madigan tucked her own pad under her arm as she reported the information from memory. “Yes, it’s been confirmed that Chang Enterprises is the buyer and will take over as of July. A public announcement is expected to come out at the end of the week.”
“Chang Enterprises? They ring a bell for some reason. They’ve never been a competitor of ours before, have they?”
“No, they’ve never had a direct part of any of the technical developments or manufacturing affecting us before. Apparently, they’re a family corporation, extremely old money based on the premise of making certain promises were kept and people were protected. Because of that reputation, they are considered quite a formidable presence in the international circles, Hong Kong especially. Their current leadership is under Richard Chang, a man who has made quite a name for himself and his family business, with much more reputable and lucrative business practices in the area of shipping. It is speculated that he pursued Perry Electronics to devote proprietary research and development towards security products.”
“And this is noteworthy to us how?” he prompted.
“Perry Electronics is also a parts manufacturer for many types of technologies, over half devoted to boomer parts. Traditionally, their research and development department has been solely devoted to enhancing the performance and longevity of said parts.”
“Ah, I see. And so there’s a chance Chang Enterprises may creep into our territory either as a competitor if they go into boomer development, or as an ally if they just stick with parts manufacturing. Or they may lose their importance if they decide to drop that aspect of the business completely.”
“There’s one other piece which may influence that decision,” Madigan added as they came to the elevator and waited. “Richard Chang’s personal facts.”
“Let’s see… Age fifty-two, born in Hong Kong and raised in Tokyo. Married for thirty-one years to Mitsune, also age fifty-two, socialite. Has two daughters. The oldest Reika is twenty eight, single and lives in America as an actress…. Still single?”“Suspiciously so.”
“Ah. Second daughter Irene is twenty four, engaged, lives in Tokyo as a physical trainer. Set to marry Dr. Sho Yamada on June 30th…. I see…” The man mused as he trailed off into a noticeably unhappy silence.
The elevator finally opened and the two walked into the empty car. Upon the closing of the doors, Quincy hit the “stop” button and looked at Madigan seriously. “Give me the theorized worst case scenario at this point.”
As if prepared for such a request, Madigan immediately replied, “Due to their acquisition of such prime technical research and development resources, Chang Enterprises may consider entering the world of boomer development. With both powerful leadership and financial backing, they could quickly position themselves as a serious competitor. Should that happen, or because he is an acknowledged resource connected to the family that may actually instigate that situation, Dr. Yamada may feel honor bound to quit Genom Corporation and work for his in-laws. His personality profile would fit such a type. It is also possible that he would feel committed to completing his current project, but his level of quality could be compromised as well as the fact we would be losing an even more knowledgeable resource upon the project’s end.
“There is also the fact that Chang Enterprises has no immediate successor given that neither daughter seems to show an interest or aptitude for any of the family businesses. Therefore, as the only son-in-law, our Dr. Yamada would be the most logical and viable choice. And given that he’s clearly proud of his involvement with our project even though the general public would not approve speaks of a man who is capable of making his own priorities.”
Quincy scanned the pad darkly for a moment and then said, “I want all possible contingency plans against any kind of risk by tomorrow morning. Make it the top priority of your team. I want to know all of my options before deciding on a course of action.”
“Yes, Sir,” she said as she started to make entries into her pad.
He hit the “stop” button to allow the elevator to continue moving upwards. Then a small smile quirked his lips as he added, “Just in case, make certain an invite to our demonstration is sent to Mr. Chang. I think such a man would be worth meeting in person. Providing nothing happens to him before then.”
“Yes, Sir. That would be unfortunate.”
— End Chapter 3 —