BGC Post 2040 File 1 – 12: 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.
Chapter 33: Power Games
Upon receiving the news that his guests had arrived, Quincy gave a final glance to his waiting display of boomers. Each female standing perfectly at attention yet ready to act upon any command without hesitation. Satisfied that everything was ready, the President of Genom Corporation gave a final adjustment to his tie and took his place by the warehouse door.
The black limo pulled up as expected, drawing to a stop with smooth grace.
Both back doors opened, revealing the men in suits that Quincy had recognized as his guests personal bodyguards. They held the doors open for the other occupants of the vehicle to exit, moving with all of the style and power they commanded.
The next person to appear was the familiar tall and extremely lean figure of Largo Watanabe. His features were Japanese with long, straight black hair that was so dark that it almost looked blue. At the young age of 28 and with the smoothly handsome looks, he could easily be mistaken for a model or an actor instead of one of the most powerful men in Tokyo, if not all of Japan. Dressed in a fashionable suit with dark sunglasses and a white trench coat, he exuded the aura of the Yakuza boss that he was.
Simultaneously, another figure emerged from the other side. Even if Quincy hadn’t know who she was by name and description, there was little doubt upon seeing her of what her connection was to the young man she accompanied. Yoshiko Watanabe was also tall and lean, as beautiful as her twin brother was handsome. Her hair matched the exact shade of his, and would have appeared longer if it hadn’t been combed back. Also exuding the aura of absolute power and money, she wore sunglasses and a dark gray trenchcoat over a stylish pantsuit.
A third figure emerged from the limo, a person new to Quincy, and unexpected. A young woman in her late twenties stepped out from Yoshiko’s door. Though also Japanese, she did not seem related to the siblings judging by her pretty features that were half hidden by her black bangs that were combed over half of her face. She wore sunglasses and in a pantsuit under a long coat. Also tall and lean, she clearly had the presence of someone who had more athletic value than administrative support.
“Mr. Quincy,” Largo said with a bow of acknowledgement as he took off his glasses upon entering the building. “Sorry to keep you waiting. My sister’s plane was late in arriving.”
“That’s quite all right, Mr. Watanabe. Such things happen,” Quincy responded with a bow in kind. “The girls are ready whenever you are.”
Quincy noticed how the two women lingered behind, apparently ignoring the men’s conversation. The second woman pulled out a cigarette for Yoshiko and lit it for her while whispering something in her ear. Yoshiko let out a puff of smoke and gave a barely noticeable nod in response before turning her attention to the waiting men.
Upon seeing that her attention seemed to be finally focused on him, Quincy bowed deeply and said, “Ms. Watanabe, it is a pleasure to meet you at last. I’m honored at this opportunity to provide this special demonstration for you and your brother, since you missed the original demonstration.”
Not taking off her sunglasses as she entered the building, she gave him a nod and said with a trace of an Italian accent, “Your boomers have been quite the talk lately among international circles, Mr. Rosenkreuz. My curiosity has been piqued.”
Quincy then nodded to the other woman, who remained a couple of steps behind Yoshiko. “And may I ask who this is?”
“This is Mei Asakawa,” Yoshiko introduced. “She’s also an expert of sorts in boomer combat technology so I thought this demonstration would be of interest to her.”
Mei gave Quincy a bow but said nothing, her attention far more captivated by the boomers in the background. She took off her sunglasses to see better in the indoor lighting and in doing so allowed Quincy a glimpse of her face hidden beneath the hair. He briefly saw the white streak of scars running from her forehead, over her eyelid and across her cheek, which piqued the man’s curiosity — such cosmetic flaws could easily be corrected with today’s medical technology. Her one visible eye looked a little off, but he couldn’t quite put his finger on why or how.
“Then let us begin?” Quincy suggested, signaling to the waiting Madigan and his staff.
“I’m glad I was finally able to watch such a full demonstration live,” Largo mentioned to Quincy as his sister and her companion continued to talk to Madigan in more depth about the boomers. “It’s definitely not as satisfying hearing third-hand accounts or watching videos…. Speaking of which, the public is still crying out for resolution to our special demonstration. Have the police come any closer to solving the case?”
Quincy shook his head. “Nothing concrete according to our sources. However, there is a very smart detective who may stand in the way of closing this case as unsolved.”
“That’s what our sources tell me as well. Are you going to need a sacrificial lamb to settle the matter once and for all?”
Quincy mulled it over a moment and said, “I don’t know yet. I may have to take you up on the offer should Detective Wong prove persistent.”
“Well, let me know and we can coordinate something. Quieting government officials is far easier than satisfying a public crying for justice,” Largo responded. “It’s the least I can do since you accommodated my request for the demonstration so satisfactorily. Is there any status on this missing witness?”
“Yamazaki? No. Not yet. But we are keeping an eye out for all possible leads, including watching her apartment as well as her parents’ home for any form of contact or clues to her whereabouts…” Quincy paused as a stray thought hit him. “Out of curiosity, what is your opinion of the Knight Sabers?”
An extremely amused look appeared on Largo’s face as he commented, “Researching local urban legends, Mr. Rosenkreuz?”
Something about his tone and wording sparked an even more intense interest in Quincy. “Some people would consider men like us urban legends as well. And I’ve found that there is always a grain of truth in myths for the masses.”
Largo let out a chuckle. “Too true. As for the Knight Sabers, I recall hearing that your grandfather had a particular interest in them. He may have been considered delusional by the end of his days, but this was one matter where many people shared his hallucination.”
“I’ve never had to deal with the matter of rogue boomers, so they didn’t matter to me personally. However, other people I know were particularly fascinated with them,” he answered as he continued to watch his sister and Ms. Asakawa. “And what about the Knight Sabers has captured your interest?”
“Just doing my homework in case I get a pop quiz.”
Finishing their discussion with Madigan, the female guests came up to them.
Yoshiko seemed to be looking at him even though she had never taken her glasses off. “I’m quite impressed, Mr. Rosenkreuz. Ms. Madigan tells us you’ve already had orders for over 75, with the earliest delivery hitting the streets as soon as by the fourth quarter. However, I am curious to know where the one called ‘Sylvie’ is. She made quite an impression on our representatives.”
“Sylvie is in the upgrading process,” he answered smoothly. “We are already implementing the enhancements to bring her to the next version, which will have the integrated capabilities we’ve beta-tested for your brother… I have to admit, Mr. Watanabe, that I’m surprised at your willingness to wait since some of your strongest rivals have already placed substantial orders.”
Largo didn’t look concerned as he answered, “That’s why I asked my sister and Ms. Asakawa to come here. Their weapons technology expertise and strategic experience hardly leaves us vulnerable during this waiting period. Plus, I would be curious to see what our rivals plan to do with their new toys, if they are indeed going to be used for defensive purposes, or they’ll perform tests of their own. Of course, that’s providing they haven’t already contacted you in those matters just like we did, Mr. Rosenkreuz.”
“I do what my clients ask of me,” he answered simply, “as any good businessman would.”
A slight smile actually appeared at the corner of Largo’s mouth before he turned to his sister and asked, “Have you seen everything you need to?”
“I did. Mei?”
The other woman nodded.
“Well then, Mr. Rosenkreuz,” Largo said, “Please let us know when the new version of Sylvie will be available for a demonstration. As well as your male prototype.”
“Of course. Your eagerness is my eagerness…”
“We should buy at least one so we can study it in more depth,” Yoshiko noted once the three of them were alone in the back of the limousine. In the privacy of the car, she finally took off her sunglasses, revealing dark violet eyes. “It doesn’t hurt to at least begin our education on this new model since there’s a good chance they’ll become standard accessories in our circles.”
Mei was seated next to her and her brother sat in the seat across from them. Their bodyguards had been sent to the front cab to allow them maximum privacy in their discussion.
“I had thought the same but do we have the expertise to make it worth our while and expense?” Largo asked. “In the past, we’ve always relied on direct support from Genom’s resources so we never maintained our own technology staff for such matters.”
Yoshiko nodded, “When we get back to Rome, I’ll prepare my team for what’s coming. I’m certain there are a couple of people who would be very interested in broadening their horizons with such a challenge. Don’t you agree, Mei?”
The other woman nodded and answered in a soft but firm voice, “I’ve noticed some have become bored and this may renew their interests and commitments appropriately.”
“Hmm, Genom may have something in that boomer loyalty can be far more reliable than humans at times,” Largo mused.
“Providing they don’t go rogue,” Mei pointed out as she stared out the window with her one visible eye.
“Do you think we may have possibilities with these?” the man asked.
Mei shrugged. “The only one who would know that best would be Sylia. And I’m certainly not going to call her to ask.”
“Speaking of which,” Largo said, “Rosenkreuz actually asked me about the Knight Sabers while we were in there.”
Both women looked noticeably surprised.
“Did he say why he was curious?” Mei asked.
Largo shook his head. “No. But I do think it’s interesting that this is the first time he’s mentioned them since he took over Genom Tokyo. Either he’s come across old but still valuable information, or something new has happened to pique his curiosity.”
“It makes no sense if it’s something new,” Mei pointed out, clearly troubled by the subject. “There haven’t been any reports of rogue boomers, even through our channels. So there’s no reason for Sylia to activate her team again.”
“Unless there’s something personal involved which would still require the firepower and capabilities of these Knight Sabers,” Yoshiko pointed out. Then she slyly grinned and said, “I would look forward to seeing them since I missed them the first couple of times around.”
Mei frowned slightly to herself but said nothing.
Largo remarked, “To do that, Dear Sister, you would have to move back to Tokyo.”
She gave him a smirk. “Well, I don’t think my curiosity is that strong. Rome without Knight Sabers is still far more interesting to me,” Yoshiko answered as she motioned for another cigarette. “What about you, Mei? Would you rather move back to Tokyo to catch a glimpse of them again?”
The other woman didn’t answer at first as she pulled out a cigarette case and a lighter. Then she commented cryptically, “I’ve seen more than enough of them to last me several lifetimes.”
— End Chapter 33 —
Chapter 34: Calm Surfaces
Daley stared over his terminal out at the view of the Tokyo skyline. His fingers gripped a pen as the words of that morning’s conversation still played over and over in his mind.
“I need results, Wong!” his gruff boss Nick Roland had yelled in his usual unrestrained fashion. The open door negated the fact that the two of them were in the privacy of his office. “Top brass is expecting something concrete after that hospital sting operation you pulled without their prior knowledge or approval! It’s giving them more weight to close this case if this sting didn’t produce court evidence!”
“I’m telling you, sir, we should have answers soon!” Daley had insisted as he had tried to maintain his composure. “My team is still researching -“
“What team, Wong?! I’ve checked. The labs aren’t doing anything special for you, nor are the other detectives. Romanova’s been putting in only half time in the office so you can’t tell me she’s doing your research work! Do you mean to tell me you’ve got your own private staff at your disposal? If so, I’d like to know who they are so I can put them on payroll!”
“Sir, I NEED you to trust me on this one!” the normally composed detective blurted. “I’ll admit right now I have no evidence even though I’m damned convinced I know who’s behind it and how they did it. All I ask is for another week to be able to produce something. If nothing pans out, you can suspend me, fire me, whatever. I don’t want these killers to get away with this anymore than you do!”
Roland paused and stared at Wong. Then he took a breath and said in a much calmer voice, “Fine. You have one more week to prove there’s a reason why this case should remain open. And that’s it.” Then he added with a wry smile. “I used to think the harebrain schemes were all originally Leon’s idea but now I’m wondering if I wasn’t a little off.”
Wong had grinned at him and said, “Maybe his influence rubbed off on me?”
“Nice try. Now get your ass back to work. Or I’ll be tempted to hire your boyfriend in your place!”
Daley frowned at the memory of those words. Even though the last comment was said in jest, it particularly stung.
Once Yuuji’s “sources” informed him of the mysterious goings on at the hospital – which he knew was timed with Daley’s sting operation — he used his investigative reporter’s skill at research and interviews to dig up as much dirt as possible. He ended up painting a picture of some sort of conspiratorial cover-up regarding a missing witness to the Plaza Slaughter. Adding fuel to the fire, the public never knew this witness existed since that was previously kept as confidential information. And since Yuuji worked for the most prestigious newspaper in town rather than some tabloid rag, everyone knew that there was substantial truth to be had in the front-page article.
Since then, things had not been very cosy in the Wong/Akamatsu home despite their agreement to leave their professional lives at the front door. At least they were now being civil to each other even though it was clear a very obvious subject was being avoided in their otherwise pleasant conversations. It was probably just as well since their apartment was being bugged and they didn’t dare remove any of the devices since that would tip Daley’s hand too much. At least he got Yuuji to agree to being “ignorant” about the spying given what was at stake here.
Daley sighed and stared at the phone, once again resisting the overwhelming urge to call Sylia to get some sort of status. They had agreed to no contact because of bugging and surveillance, and that any substantial news would be reported in code through Nene. And his assistant hadn’t uttered a word of anything positive yet.
Still, there were other cases to work on, though none anywhere near as high-profile or as important.
He then looked over at the young woman who shared his office and found that she too was staring out the window, which was unusual for her, since she usually found some way to occupy herself through her terminal.
“Hey, Nene, want to go for an early lunch? I think we both need some fresh air.”
“I’m not really hungry,” she answered, not turning her gaze from the view.
Daley’s eyebrows shot up. Now this was serious. “Are you feeling ill? Perhaps you’ve been overworking yourself?”
“No, that’s not it.” She paused and then finally looked at him with a deadly serious gaze as she asked, “Daley, do you think I’m immature?”
Realizing that this was a loaded question, Daley pushed his glasses back in place and asked instead, “Did someone imply that you were?”
“Well, not directly… I just… I guess I don’t know what I’m trying to say,” she admitted with a huff of breath. “You know, I asked Sylia about that ‘drunken make-out session’ comment that Reika woman said about her and Linna. She told me it happened during Galatea and that they didn’t ‘go all the way.’ She said they just took a ‘partial trip.’ Whatever that means.”
Daley could make some educated guesses even though he admitted he definitely had no personal knowledge or interest in lesbian foreplay and sex practices. “Well, they obviously found some sort of resolution about it if they’re friends now and aren’t seeing each other — like that, I mean.”
“It’s not even so much knowing about the two of them,” Nene admitted. “I just had no clue. I don’t go around thinking about sex and stuff even though it appears everyone else seems to.”
“Well, um, what about you and Mackey?”
Nene’s face turned completely red. “No, of course NOT! That’s what I love about him. He’s not the stereotype of hands and hormones that I’ve heard others complain about. But now I’m wondering if it’s because of me, and he’s only accommodating whatever I want to do, or don’t want to do.”
Daley narrowed his eyes as a picture started to form, “Has he shown interest in someone else?”
Nene now frowned and muttered, “Yes. And it would be some tall Amazonian goddess who seems to be perfect for him.”
“Perfect? Do you mean -“
“So is this how you waste the taxpayers dollars? Gossiping on the clock?” Leon McNichol said as he leaned in the door way, dressed in the jeans and t-shirt that had become his standard attire of the past three years.
“LEON-POO!!!” Nene squealed happily as she jumped up from the chair.
“Hi – Hey!” he retorted just as she tackled him with a bear hug. However, his initial annoyance was immediately swept aside by her genuine enthusiasm.
Daley chuckled and got up from his seat to shake hands. “Well, howdy, ex-partner. They let you in here unescorted?”
Leon flashed his visitor’s badge and said, “Apparently I still have a trustworthy face around here.”
“I had no idea you were coming!” Nene exclaimed, her excitement barely contained. “When did you get back?”
“Actually, just now. I came from the airport, and Priss is heading over to Sylia’s to talk to her.” He paused slightly as he suddenly saw Daley pull out a notepad and madly scramble something down while motioning for him to continue speaking. “And I admit I have pretty selfish reasons for coming here first in that I was wondering if either of you could put us up temporarily until we can find our own place.”
Daley handed him the note which read ‘Office is bugged. Careful of talk about K.S.’ Leon nodded in understanding.
Not caring about the note exchange, Nene declared, “So you’re back to stay?!”
“For now,” he admitted, though his tone didn’t sound completely sure.
“Well, I’d love to have you two, but you wouldn’t fit in my apartment with all of my computer stuff,” Nene admitted.
“I’d have to call Yuuji to okay it with him but I don’t see why you can’t use our guest bedroom.”
“Hey, I’ll finally be able to meet the man at last!” Leon declared.
“You know,” Nene said, “Sylia has plenty of room at her place. You and Priss could stay there as long as you need to and you wouldn’t be in anybody’s way.”
“Ah, I’d rather not explore that option unless we absolutely have to,” Leon said with a slight frown.
“Hunh? Why not -?“
“Let me call Yuuji now,” Daley said quickly as he pulled out his cell phone, picking up on the deeper meaning.
Leon grinned and teased, “Well, isn’t this domestically cute? Bet you’re the totally whipped boy, Wong.”
Daley glared at him, pushed his glasses back in place and stated, “Don’t throw stones, Leon-poo!”
— End Chapter 34 —
Chapter 35: Prodigal
Priss ran her hand along the handlebars, finally resting on the shell covering the engine. A deep smile appeared on her face as she regarded her long time friend.
She turned to the waiting mechanics of K’s Garage and said, “Thanks, guys, for keeping her for me.”
“You should thank Mackey especially,” Nigel noted with a drag of his cigarette. “He kept her polished and ran regular checks on her to make sure she was ready at a moment’s notice.”
“Well, we were never sure when or if you were going to come back,” he sheepishly admitted.
“Mackey!” Nigel said sharply, another signal that the younger man had put his foot in his mouth.
“It’s all right,” Priss said with a slight curve of a smile. “I’ve wondered that myself. And, thank you, Mackey.”
“So are you back to stay?” Mackey asked, feeling encouraged to be nosy.
“It all depends how well and how quickly Linna recovers. And a couple of other things.”
“Have you gone to see her yet?”
“No, this was my first stop. But since Sylia knows to call me as soon as she gets news of Linna waking up, I guess there’s no rush.”
She paused and looked around the garage, noting that it didn’t seem to have changed much in the past three years. Of course, Mackey looked the same, but Nigel had actually started to gray at his sideburns, which shouldn’t have been too surprising since he was now over forty. She then noticed another item in the corner covered with a gray cloth; its size and shape were too familiar. It was Linna’s scooter.
Priss smiled to herself at the sight and then frowned when another thought occurred to her, “Guys, um, Sylia didn’t give me any information about the boomer that attacked Linna. Was it rogue or not?”
Mackey opened his mouth to speak but Nigel cut him off, “It’s a bit complicated. You should really talk to Sylia and have her explain it.”
Realizing that was Nigel’s way of closing the subject, Priss nodded and pulled on her motorcycle helmet.
“Welcome to the Silky Doll,” greeted the tall, Caucasian beauty with the long white-blonde hair. “How may I help you?”
In her familiar leather biker’s outfit with the helmet gripped in her hand, Priss stared at the friendly sales girl, waiting for some sort of twitch of the mouth or arched eyebrow to expose a more sarcastic intent behind the pleasant words. None came as the other young woman tilted her head expectantly for some sort of response.
Some nearby customers were already giggling and murmuring in the background.
Priss ignored their attitude and focused on the puzzling fact this new sales girl actually seemed genuine in her offer to help.
“Look, uh -“ she glanced at the name-tag, “Sylvie, I’m an old friend of Sylia’s. My name’s Priss. Is she around?”
A look of recognition suddenly lit up her eyes as she said, “Ah! Yes, she mentioned you would come some time today but she wasn’t sure when. I’m sorry she’s not upstairs right now. But perhaps you’d like to wait for her by trying on this dress in the dressing room over there.” Sylvie picked up the nearest garment available and offered it to her.
Priss stared at the pink dress before her and then narrowed her eyes at the other woman.
Sylvie just tilted her head and smiled sweetly. She didn’t give any indication that she was being less than sincere in her actions.
Suppressing a frown, Priss carefully took the dress and said, “Fine. I’ll go try this on.”
Priss was feeling déjà vu at the looks and giggles as she stiffly walked her way to the dressing room. When she stepped inside, she looked at the mirror before her and saw Sylvie watching her intently from the background. They stared at each other through the reflection before Priss slid the door closed behind her.
Following the familiar routine, Priss ended up in the secret elevator to make her way down to the darker depths of the building. As the floors whizzed by, she pressed her hand to her chest at the sensation of her increased heartbeat. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath, staying that way until the elevator finally came to a halt and opened to the familiar open space of the pit.
She frowned to see worktables, tools and machines that indicated massive activity was the norm for the laboratory these days.
“Welcome back, Priss,” Sylia greeted from her place at one of the tables, where she seemed to be tinkering with what looked like a fancy palm-sized remote control. “How was the flight from London?”
“Great when you go first class,” she commented as she tossed the dress on the nearby table before coming over to lean against the table where Sylia was actually working.
“Yes, I was surprised you wanted to take that kind of flight, especially as a last minute expense.”
The singer shrugged and said, “Well, Leon and I don’t have much opportunities to really enjoy ourselves with living from gig to gig so I thought we’d splurge this time. Plus, it helped to be guaranteed a space rather than waiting on stand by. And we do realize we owe you for the tickets and we’ll pay you back once we start to earn some more money when the rest of the band catches up with us…. By the way, since when did you have shop help?”
“You mean Sylvie?” she responded without looking up from her task of soldering some circuits together under a magnifying lens. “I tested her out yesterday afternoon and she seemed to catch on quickly. This is her first day without my assistance and I’ve received some great reports from the occasional spot checks I’ve done. I’ve never trusted my customers to anyone else before, but they all seem to take to her.”
“Yeah, well, power to her if it means more time for you to be able to get to the bottom of this incident with Linna.” Priss then crossed her arms and said, “So now that I’m here and this place is about as secure as we can get, are you going to finally tell me what happened?”
Sylia finally stopped her task and looked pointedly at her before asking, “Did you hear about the Plaza Slaughter?”
Priss frowned, not liking that opening at all. “Yeah, people went out of their way to tell us about it since they knew we were from Tokyo. What does it have to do with Linna?…”
“…I didn’t become a Knight Saber just so I could baby-sit rich bastards who don’t play nice with their overpriced toys,” Priss stated bluntly.
“And I didn’t create the team to do that either,” Sylia responded, showing her annoyance as well. “But the fact remains that innocent people like Linna get caught in the cross-fire, and that’s where being a Knight Saber becomes critical.”
“It looks like you already got your boomer,” Priss said with a pointed thumb towards upstairs. “If you want to get to the heart of the problem, you take out those rich bastards. You don’t need to be a Knight Saber to do that.” She grabbed the dress and started to walk out.
The singer froze in her tracks but didn’t turn around. “Yes?”
“I will still call you when I get news of Linna,” Sylia said in a firm, low tone. “Yet keep in mind that although you were her best friend, you weren’t around during the other times when she really needed you. And showing up after the fact doesn’t make up for your absence. She’s moved on in more ways than one.”
Priss remained frozen and then said softly, “Thanks for the f.y.i., Sylia. But that’s a matter between her and me.”
Not another word was exchanged between them as Priss stepped into the elevator to go back to the top. She pressed her fingertips at her chest and frowned at the racing rhythm of her heart.
With the pink dress in one hand and her helmet in the other, Priss finally emerged from the dressing room.
“So do you want to try on something else?” a pleasant voice asked her.
Priss turned and looked at Sylvie with a totally new sense of awareness of just who, or more precisely what, was before her. And the stare was returned without a blink.
After a moment, she handed over the dress and said, “No thanks. There’s nothing here I want to wear.”
Priss leaned against her bike and stared out at the waterfront, as the cool breeze from Tokyo Bay washed over her. It was also one of the few scenic views in the day where she didn’t have to look directly at any construction sites filled with boomers, at least not up close.
She knew vaguely in the back of her mind that she should call Leon to find out if he secured a place for them to stay for the night, but she didn’t feel any rush about it at the moment.
She pressed her fingertips at her chest and noticed that her pulse hadn’t slowed down. She couldn’t tell if it was from excitement, panic, both, or even something else altogether.
It was as if her heart was begging her to be let loose, to feel… real again. And she didn’t dare let it because she knew it would be a point of no return.
— End Chapter 35 —
Chapter 36: Outside of the Box
“Have you started feeling hungry yet?” Sylia asked as she studied the readings on the monitor before her.
“I believe so. My mind has been preoccupied with thoughts of food when I am not currently engaged in a task, and sometimes even then,” Sylvie responded as she sat perfectly still on the examination table while cables connected her to Sylia’s terminal.
“I’ll be certain to have Henderson set an extra plate at the table for you tonight. Once you’ve eaten, you’ll probably notice an increase in your energy level as well since you’ll eventually be weaned off of the direct electrical feeds we’re giving you each night. You’ll also start to feel signs of sleepiness and exhaustion. Apart from the duplication of human cycles, it’s also your body’s way of regulating your energy consumation and expenditure. I think we’ll hold off on the next set of enhancements until we see how well you adapt to these.”
“I will let you know the results…. Have you uncovered any evidence yet to help with the Plaza Slaughter?”
Sylia shook her head. “No, not yet. Even though we still have quite a bit of code to wade our way through, I have the sneaking suspicion that you were purged of such data before you were deployed on your last mission. But I don’t want to tell Daley anything until I’m absolutely certain there’s nothing we can do. Capturing you was an extreme chance we knew we were undertaking from the beginning.”
“If you knew beforehand that I did not hold any evidence, would you have captured me alive?” Sylvie asked.
“No,” the woman admitted. “I would have destroyed you upon sight. You were there to kill one of my best friends. That’s not something I tolerate.”
“Yet, you let me move about your home even though you have not yet been able to purge or override my assassination order. Why is that?”
“Consider it a conditional sort of trust,” Sylia answered. “I never hid the fact from you about the kill-switch I’ve implanted around your core should you take any action that betrays my trust in you. I do believe you are potentially trustworthy, given where you are in your personal evolution. However, you have that post-hypnotic suggestion that is still extremely dangerous. That’s why I can’t let you leave unsupervised or gain access to any information which would result in your knowing where Linna currently is.”
The boomer was quiet for the longest time before asking, “If this assassination command were no longer an issue, then would you remove the kill-switch?”
Sylia frowned and said sincerely, “I would like to say yes. But I can’t commit to that right now.”
“I see… So what are you going to do about Priss?”
“Do?” the woman responded without looking up from studying the monitor. “I can’t force her to fight again. Though it was nice to see some fire in her again…. And what gets me is that I agree with her, but there’s a problem that I don’t have the luxury to ignore. I’ll just have to find some way to work around her and hope in the mean time that nothing else happens before I’m healed well enough that I can return to active duty.”
“Nigel won’t like that. Even if you are fully healed.”
Sylia looked up sharply.
“He won’t,” the boomer stated. “He frowns when you mention going into combat the same way he frowns when you flinch from your wound.”
Sylia let out a deep sigh and then said, “How do you feel about running the shop by yourself today?”
“It was challenging but fascinating,” Sylvie admitted. “I’ve found that people’s expressions and body language don’t always match their words.”
“Well, you are in a high priced clothing store. That’s to be expected,” Sylia said with wry grin. “Did anyone engage you in conversation for subjects other than clothes?”
“Yes, several in fact. I was clearly an object of fascination to them. When I told them I was your cousin, they asked several more questions about myself, and about you as well. I think I was successful using your guide of being ‘evasive yet flattering.’”
“I couldn’t have come up with better virtual socialization lessons for you. I’m glad you seem to be enjoying them.” Sylia gingerly sat down in the nearest chair, wincing at the pain at her side, waiting for it to pass.
“Your wound is getting worse,” Sylia noted, her shifting gaze the only indication that she had been watching Sylia. “Returning to active duty status will become almost impossible if you do not take better care of yourself.”
A dark look passed over Sylia face as she regarded the boomer. “I suppose there is a reason why you pointed this out?”
Sylvie actually paused for a moment. “Of the four Knight Sabers, Nene is the only one able to engage in combat should the need arise before the case is settled completely. Judging by your past comments, Nene was also the weakest fighter of the four of you. It would seem that your comfort level would increase tremendously if you had someone of her fighting skills or greater also currently available for duty. Is there a particular reason why you have not considered me as a viable candidate?”
Sylia’s eyebrows were practically at the top of her forehead at Sylvie’s words.
She cleared her throat and then said, “Well, there’s a very good chance you would be fighting your sisters. How would you feel about that?”
“If you mean the other prototypes, I have no loyalty to them. I do not consider us to be part of the same group anymore,” the boomer answered. “And my past actions are not actions that I am proud of. I would look at this as an opportunity for redemption.”
“How do I know you won’t betray us?”
“You ensure my compliance to your wish that I remain within the confines of this building with the kill-switch you have implanted in me,” Sylvie pointed out matter-of-factly. “I would assume the same insurance would be available and used if I was elsewhere doing other things.”
“But do you want to do it?”
Sylvie turned and looked at her. “You are helping me to achieve sentience and freedom. I wish to return the favor by assisting with a need you have… If having me as regular member would be unsuitable and too risky, then perhaps at least consider me as a last resort option should something happen before you can get another member available.”
Sylia studied the boomer from head to toe with a new analytical eye as the words turned in her mind. A small smile actually curled Sylia’s mouth.
The boomer waited patiently for a verbal response.
Then Sylia chuckled and commented, “Well, we never played by the rules before. Why should we start now? Let’s see how you are in the simulator booth, if it’ll even work on you….”
— End Chapter 36 —
— End Part 3: Casualties —