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 12

“Wow! It helped that much?!” Nene exclaimed as she saw the final shell diagrams on the main screen of the command booth.

“Yes,” Sylia answered as she studied the computer image highlighting the few areas of Mackey’s proposed shell which were still missing from their inventory. She sat back in her chair and frowned. “While we definitely had a windfall in terms of acquiring parts and materials, the whole case is curious. The break-in was at one of their highest security underground labs, so whoever did it was clearly professional and well connected. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was done with a lot of inside assistance. But the most curious part is that the culprits stole boomer parts similar to what we required for Mackey, so that’s why it was so easy to make additional parts ‘go missing’ without raising too much of a red flag.”

Nene frowned as her own wheels started to turn. “Are you saying that they were trying to steal all the parts for a male boomer?”

“I don’t know if we can pinpoint it down that much. The parts were still in raw form, meaning that they could still be customized to any desired body frame, male or female. That also means whoever stole them has the resources and expertise to make use of them. The vandalism may have been done to cover up anything else that might have been taken. Right now they’re still doing an initial assessment so the final log of what’s gone won’t be known for another day or two. I don’t know if the timing is coincidental but I called Reika this morning and found out that Genom had just announced a demonstration to introduce Adam, their male equivalent to Sylvie.”

Sylvie’s dialogue box lit up and the words appeared: ‘Perhaps a competitor of some sort? But wouldn’t it be too obvious if another company rolled out a similar product so shortly after Genom publicly introduces theirs? After all, the first order of the female version had been out in the open market for only two weeks.’

“There’s a very good possibility it’s a competitor,” Sylia responded. “But they could dull public suspicion if they allow enough time to pass before they put their version on the open market. The value for them would be not having to spend the money and resources for actual development if they have the materials and documents that can be studied… Of course, there are other possibilities besides commercial exploitation. As much as your common person on the street views boomers as glorified gadgets, there are quite a few who realize the full value of that much raw power and sophistication. Military organizations would have the motive and resources to make use of those materials too.”

Nene shuddered and said, “I don’t know if I’m comfortable with the idea of dealing with an army of boomers like Sylvie.”

“I’m not either,” Sylia replied grimly. “Nene, keep your ears and eyes open for anything at work. I already know Daley’s been contacted to take a look into this matter once the police and Genom can negotiate reasonable boundaries for the investigation. Sylvie, keep an eye on Genom’s communications and see how they’re reacting. I’m certain they’re not happy about this matter. Otherwise, all we can do is wait and watch.”

* * * * *

Linna took careful steps as she walked across the open commons in the center of the Chang Enterprises Complex. She was using her lunch break as an opportunity to practice walking unassisted, but with her cane in hand just in case. After finally crossing the fifty meters of distance along the pavement, she collapsed on the nearest empty bench to assess how her leg and hip were reacting to the exercise. She really wasn’t so much concerned about collapsing as much as making her strides return to their natural smoothness.

A single pair of clapping hands drew her attention.

Rei Tomizawa, her new supervisor, walked up as she applauded, joined by a handful of other coworkers who had been nearby and watching curiously, which naturally caused Linna to blush.

A woman in her late forties, Rei was as straight-forward in her appearance as she was in her personality. Dressed in a beige slacks and a white button down shirt, she wore her long gray-streaked black hair tied back in its regular ponytail and her glasses hung from the strap around her neck. She had a slightly plump frame resulting from too many hours in front of a computer instead of burning off her meals and junk food.

“Very impressive, Yamazaki. Looks like you’ll be able to compete in the company sports day, after all,” Rei complimented as she came to stand near her. “Mind if I join you? I promise I won’t blow smoke in your direction.”

“Certainly, Ms. Tomizawa,” Linna said as she stood and bowed in welcome. “I want to thank you again for being so willing to help me, especially since I’m here under unusual circumstances.”

“No problem,” Rei responded with a casual wave as she lit a fresh cigarette. “You’ve got a good head on your shoulders. And I like the opportunity to mold someone from scratch as opposed to getting a newbie who’s been cranked through all of the artificial training they give in school these days. Though I have to admit the secrecy of how you got such an opportunity has the rumor mills burning big time in this place. They’re gossiping about you even in departments like Marketing and Finance.”

Linna felt her blush return. “Oh. I hope it’s flattering.”

Rei chuckled as she took a good drag from her cigarette and blew a smoke ring. “Everyone loves a mystery,” she commented with the smug confidence of someone who was in on the secret, at least to the point of knowing that Linna had high connections to be given such a job out of the blue. “You’ve already piqued the interest of a few men in the company, too. By the way, I’ve already warned all of the men in my department that they’re to stay completely hands off with you unless it’s business. The fellows from the other departments, however, are a different matter. Some have already approached me to get the scoop on your availability. Is there anything you want me to tell them?”

Linna’s face was really red as she bit her lip and mulled this over. She knew enough of corporate life to know that OLs were considered a prime part of the marriage market for a company. She hadn’t thought the same would be true of women in more important positions, but then again, a job is no security against romantic loneliness.

She looked out of the corner of her eye and saw the wedding ring on Rei’s finger, which complimented the pictures of two grown sons and their families on her desk.

“Well, um, I’m not currently available,” Linna answered carefully, trying to weave in as much truth as possible. “I’m dealing with some pretty strong heartache right now.”

“Ah. Understood. I’ll let the gang know,” Rei said. “But you do realize that it’s only going to stall the inevitable.”

“I realize that,” Linna answered with a smile.

Just then, across the courtyard, Linna saw a cluster of individuals emerge from the main building, heading towards the next structure. In full business attire with pinned up hair, Reika lead the group of powerfully dressed men and women. Exuding confidence and charm, she was clearly in command of the conversation as well as involved in telling each eager individual what he or she should know.

Following a couple of steps behind the group of executives, Kou watched every interaction with seasoned vigilance.

Linna gazed in fascination at this side of Reika she knew existed but had never seen in action before. This woman seemed so incredibly different from the one she knew, but in a way that was extremely impressive.

Rei noticed the shift in Linna’s attention and watched the group of executives as well. “Many people are impressed with Ms. Chang. There was a lot of skepticism about whether or not she could follow in her father’s footsteps. It turns out she’s a natural at wearing the president’s hat.”

“I’m glad,” Linna said softly. She broke out into a wistful yet pleased smile. “She deserves to have everything go well for her.”

* * * * *

Leon was driving on a familiar stretch of road that wove through the hilly neighborhood and almost swerved into the railing when he saw an even more familiar figure leaning against her bike as she stared at the view of the city before her. He stopped his car at the curb and debated whether he should get out, especially with the way his heartbeat sped up at the sight of her.

“Ah, what the hell,” he muttered to himself as he shut down the engine. “The most she could do is toss me off the cliff.”

Priss didn’t turn at the sound of the footsteps, not even to offer an acknowledging tilt of her head.

Leon paused a few feet behind her and the bike, wondering if it wasn’t too late to turn around and run.

Still no response.

He swallowed and said, “Hello, Priss.”

There was a pause and then she answered, “Hi, Leon.” She didn’t move otherwise.

“So, um, have you been doing okay? I noticed you guys haven’t publicized any new play dates even though Hot Legs was packed for your concerts.”

“We’re taking a break. Enjoying being home for a change.”

“Yeah, it’s definitely good to be back and having a regular routine again. I really -“

“So, Nene tells me you’re helping to command the Combat Unit now.”

Leon blinked and smiled at the hint that Priss actually had a discussion about him. “Yeah! We’re really whipping the team into shape. It’s been tough but we think we’ve got a good chance at making them into a good unit.”

“You haven’t been tested in a real situation yet.”

“No, but our guys will be ready when the time comes.” He paused and then said, “So maybe you and the other girls can finally retire after all.”

Priss actually tilted her head a bit at him but still faced forward. “I’ll believe it when I see it for myself.”

“I assure you, we’ll be more than ready for anything that comes up,” he said firmly, reacting to the skeptical tone. “Things are different now.”

Priss finally turned and looked at him, her stare as formidable as always. She put on her helmet and climbed on her bike. She then gave him a look before turning on the engine and said, “Until you guys can really prove yourselves, if you ever do, stay out of my way.”

“We’ll see about that!” Leon manage to blurt after her as she drove away

The man stood alone and frowned to himself. With a frustrated grunt, he stormed to his car as he thought over the fact that it had been a mistake to stop after all.

— The End Chapter 12 —

— The end of Part 1 —

Part 2: For The Common Good

Chapter 13

Thursday, Lunch Time, Oct. 13th

“Ready to spend two weeks out in an isolated world of nothing but miserable police officers?” Daley teased over a sip of tea as the three of them sat in the crowded restaurant.

Leon paused in eating his lunch and flashed a grin, “Yes, but this time around I’m the one who gets to tell everyone to run laps!”

Nene made a face as she slurped up a noodle. “I still get chills about my days of cadet training. Those obstacle courses were murder!”

Leon gave her a provoking look and said, “I think I could pull some strings so you wouldn’t have to attend the camp if you want to join the unit and pilot a K-Suit. You’re a natural, after all!”

“I’ll stick with what I have and pass on the walking clunkers, thank you!” she retorted. “Priss took on your entire squad the last time. And Sylia before that, before our suits were upgraded. You guys are lucky you never had to take me on!”

Frowning at the reminders of the past, Leon grumbled, “Thankfully, as far as the rest of the world is concerned, the CU still has some pretty competitive equipment.”

As if a thought suddenly flashed through her mind, Nene looked at Daley and said, “Did you find out any more about that Genom break in? Sylia said it’d be really bad news if those parts were stolen to create a squad of Sylvie-bots to do stuff on behalf of criminal or terrorist organizations.”

“You mean, like an illegal army that’s virtually unstoppable?” Daley said as he pushed his glasses back into place. He watched Leon wince but the other man kept quiet. “There was a part of me hoping that Genom had staged the whole thing but more and more I’m finding they’re acting a little too peeved for it to be a charade. They definitely got caught with their pants down and they’re out to make someone pay. That reminds me, Leon, I want you and/or Jeena in the meeting I have with them tomorrow morning. Depending on what the risk read-out is from the Genom reps, you may have to postpone your boot camp trip for a bit if they’re feeling CU presence is still needed within the city.”

Leon nodded. “Yeah, you’ve got a point about that.”

Daley sat back in his chair and waited for a bit before he said, “Leon, um, are you actually seeing anyone romantically speaking?”

The comment obviously caught the other two off-guard as they stared at him wide-eyed.

Leon shook his head in bewilderment. “No! I’m not interested in anyone else. Why do you ask?”

Daley frowned as he was clearly puzzled. “Apparently Aya in Records has the impression that you are. And knowing how connected she is to the gossip circles, if she didn’t have actual proof, her impression must be based on a rumor.”

Leon glared at Nene, who immediately blurted, “I didn’t say anything about you and Jeena to anybody at work! It’s your own fault you act like you’ve got a third-grade crush on her!”

Daley’s eyes widened enough to match the rims of his glasses at the mention of Jeena’s name in this conversation.

Leon’s face was now completely red as he slammed his fist on the table and bellowed, “Damnit! I’m not attracted to that woman!!! I’d rather stick hot pokers in my eyes first!”

Nene, Daley and the rest of the restaurants’ patrons all stared at him with wide eyes.

Realizing that he had made an impression on more people than he had planned, Leon went back to eating his meal even though his blush didn’t subside one bit.

Nene’s lips curved into a devilish grin as she said, “Oh yeah! I really believe you now!”

Leon calmly cleared his throat and said firmly, “I’m still in love with Priss. — By the way, Nene, um, how is she doing these days? I saw her once on the road, but it was really brief.”

Nene shrugged and remarked, “Well, she’s back to being mean again. But I don’t really see her that much. I almost feel sorry for Linna since they’re living together now.”

“What?!” Leon blurted in surprise. “I thought she was moving out when Linna came home!”

Nene rolled her eyes and said, “That was the plan, but then they decided to try to be roomies. They almost killed each other on the first night, though. But Linna told me last night that they’re going to try to look for a bigger apartment, one with two bedrooms so Priss can have her own space.”

As the blood drained out of Leon’s face, Daley quickly said, “So, Nene, how’s Mackey doing these days?”

“Really good!” she declared happily. “We, um, got a lot of stuff done and it’s progressing faster than we had planned.” She wasn’t sure if she should mention how Sylia used the Genom break-in to get some parts, even if it did potentially confuse Daley’s investigation into the original crime.

Daley looked impressed as he asked, “Do you think he’ll be ready by the time your mom comes for her visit.”

Nene held up crossed fingers and said, “Don’t know yet but I’m really hoping!”

* * * * *

After Lunch

Leon peered into the open doorway of his supervisor’s office. “Nick, you called for me?”

“Yeah, McNichol, come on in,” Nick said as he rose from his desk.

Leon walked in and saw Jeena already sitting in one of the available chairs. They greeted each other with a look of acknowledgement but that was it. Despite himself, Leon felt his face turn a bit red but hoped it was ignored.

There was a young woman in the office, a face he had definitely never seen before, and who looked quite out of place for the police station. She was trim and petite, though probably a bit taller than Nene, with pretty, delicate Japanese features with a hint of Caucasian blood by her blue eyes. Dressed in a red blouse with a white miniskirt, with glasses and black hair that hung freely down to her shoulders, she could pass for a college student. The only thing that truly distracted from a seemingly unobtrusive appearance was her visitor’s badge that also had the red warning letters “PRESS” on them.

“McNichol, this is Lisa Vanette of the Tokyo Sun,” Nick introduced. “Lisa, this is Detective Leon McNichol. He’s also Acting Second Commander of the CU, reporting directly to Jeena for the assignment.”

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Detective McNichol,” said the young woman as she bowed in greeting to him. “I look forward to working with you as well.”

Now thoroughly confused, Leon bowed back. “Um, likewise.”

He gave his boss a desperate look, seeking for an explanation for why a reporter from the leading newspaper in Japan would be in this office saying such a thing.

As if clearly reading his mind, Nick chuckled and said, “At ease, McNichol. Lisa’s actually here to help us, in a manner of speaking. Because we seem to be rock-bottom with all of the public approval polls, Commissioner Suzuki actually thought it would be a good time to do a P.R. piece on the work you and Malso are doing to reshape the CU. Lisa will be working with you two, doing progress reports on your various activities so the public can get a feeling that we’re actually addressing their concerns about our competency and heightened priority for safety. Lisa, is there anything you want to say in addition to that?”

She gave the older man a pleasant smile and said to the two other officers, “Even though this assignment was quite tantalizing for my peers, Uncle Nick only gave me approval to do this assignment because he trusts me to be fair, and I intend to be. As a member of the public myself, I have the same concerns that your average person on the street would and I appreciate this opportunity to have my own questions about the CU answered as well. I’d like to schedule an opening interview with you two tomorrow so we can run an introductory article in Sunday’s paper. We will also be placing an open call for questions the public may have, and I will ask the ones that are most critical and interesting.

“From there we can coordinate other interviews and demonstrations that might provide articles of interest. For example, before you arrived, Detective McNichol, we were discussing the possibility of me coming out for a day or two to watch your unit at the boot camp you have planned. And, naturally, I would be interested in hearing anything you two might suggest as potential ideas for articles.”

“Oh,” Leon responded, not quite sure what to think. “Um, how long is this assignment supposed to last?”

“We haven’t decided yet,” Nick stated honestly. “Definitely through this retraining period. Commissioner Suzuki would like Lisa to cover your next public case as a climax piece.”

Hit with the sudden fear that the next case might prove that CU may not be completely up to par, Leon tensed as he shot a look at Jeena. The other officer merely looked back at him with expressionlessly.

Jeena then stood and bowed to Lisa, “Thank you, Ms. Vanette, for this opportunity. We appreciate whatever you can do to help restore the public’s faith in our police force. Detective McNichol and I will help you in every way possible. In fact, consider Detective McNichol your primary contact for this piece, as I’m certain he’ll be willing to answer all of your questions as well as give you any tours or demonstrations you may require.”

“Thank you very much for that, Sergeant Malso,” Lisa responded politely, not seeing the death glare Leon gave the other officer. “I will be certain to use Detective McNichol as my main resource.”

— End Chapter 13 —

* * *

Chapter 14

Friday Morning, Oct. 14th

“ — Initial lab reports indicate that they were killed early this morning, prior to being dumped into the water,” Daley said as he walked through the video presentation for his two Genom guests. On the television screen were pictures of the team of officers and medical personnel focused on the task of fishing the three bodies out of Tokyo Bay. “So that means all of our leads are now cold unless you are able to produce any others.”

Kate Madigan just stared at the screen, the faint hint of a frown at her brow the only sign of her reaction to the news about the former Genom employees.

The man sitting next to her watched the screen with appalled fascination, clearly showing that he was not at all comfortable with the current subject matter. Dr. Hiroshi Yuri was a gaunt man with a trim crown of brown hair. In his late thirties, he was the picture of scientific professionalism in his three-piece suit and glasses.

“We’re still searching their email accounts and file directories for any potential clues,” Madigan finally said as she gave her NTC hosts a reserved look. “But given how polished this entire operation was, I will admit that I doubt we will find anything more than what we have already offered you.”

“Then, perhaps as long as Dr. Yuri is here,” Daley said as he sat down between Jeena and Nick, “you could give us a couple of potential scenarios of what we’re faced with.”

After an approving nod from his superior, Dr. Yuri cleared his throat and said, “The masterminds behind this theft took all of the parts needed to make three complete bodies. Given how precise their robbery was, they most likely have the resources and expertise to develop them into fully functional boomer models. But even with our own ready labs and experienced technicians, it would take us at least two months for this last stage of development. Whoever stole them couldn’t complete them in anywhere near that amount of time, no matter how well they had researched what they needed.”

“So any guesses on whether they were stolen as an act of corporate competition or of public endangerment?” Leon asked, not at all liking what he had been hearing for the past hour.

Madigan arched an eyebrow at him and replied dryly, “The world is a very big place, Detective McNichol. And we have a lot of enemies. Frankly, your guess is as good as ours at this point.”

Daley frowned and said, “Well, it seems like we’re quickly reaching a stalemate, but we will naturally continue our investigation as best we can. However, it would help if you would give us access to the lab and warehouse space so we can look for clues ourselves rather than rely on what you’re giving us. ”

“I’m afraid that is still out of the question at this time, Detective Wong,” Madigan stated. “As unhappy as we at Genom are about Wednesday’s break in, there is still quite a bit of proprietary material in those areas that we don’t want to risk further exposure by letting in non-employees.”

Leon slammed his fist on the table and blurted, “There’s more at stake than just worrying about your corporate secrets! The public is at risk because of this incident and we as the police have a right to investigate so we can stop a crime, or worse, from happening!”

Clearly not intimidated, Madigan looked at him and answered, “Detective McNichol, we have just as much of a stake in the public well-being as you do. While you spend your limited resources investigating this crime, the perpetrators are assembling the latest model in weapons technology. By the time you’ve made any possible progress, our model boomers will have already been deployed for dubious intentions, and you have nothing in your arsenal that can stop even one of them. Unless, of course, the Knight Sabers are under contract with the NTC?”

Her mouth curved into a slight smile at the sudden red flush to Leon’s cheeks at the remark.

“I have brought Dr. Yuri here with me today to talk about what we can do for the NTC CU in terms of advancing your own weapons technology to match our boomers, or the Knight Sabers, for that matter.”

Jeena and Nick both looked noticeably surprised and intrigued, but Leon and Daley kept their expressions grim.

“You guys gave us so-called ‘weapons technology support’ when we were the A.D. Police,” Leon growled. “We weren’t able to deal with the old model boomers with the hardware you gave us. What makes you think we’d jump at your offer of support now?”

Madigan smirked. “As critical as you are of the original equipment we provided you, Detective McNichol, is it not the same equipment you’re using now? Do you have any better options for assistance? Or are you planning to rely on the Knight Sabers, just as you did back then?”

“Look, you -“

Jeena cut him off by saying, “What Detective McNichol means is that we’re interested in hearing what you have to say. I think we all agree that it’s a very different game this time around and the old rules don’t necessarily apply.”

Madigan merely gave a frowning Leon a smug look before turning to her companion. “Dr. Yuri, I believe you can take it from here.”

The scientist once again cleared his throat and said, “We’re willing to take a look at your entire armory to see what kind of upgrades we can make. We also have readily available models that we have developed for other military contracts that you can look at and see if anything fits your immediate needs. We admit we do not have anything in the battle armor area that is currently even comparable to the level of the Knight Sabers. But that doesn’t mean we can’t start immediate development on the matter, especially given how effective this form of equipment has turned out to be when it comes to the area of controlling and, if necessary, destroying boomers. We are frankly offering to partner with the NTC CU, which means we will do the design and development, and you provide your requirements and test volunteers.”

Despite himself, Leon was intrigued as this speech continued.

“What’s the cost to us?” Nick asked. “We may be the most advanced force around, but we are still under a government budget.”

Madigan answered, “We’re willing to do it as a ‘public service’. Our image is still suffering from those rampaging construction boomers, even if they weren’t technically rogue. And the risk of future public harm from the break-in is also a concern of ours. It serves in our best interests to show the public that we do not take breeches in our own security and misuse of our products lightly.”

This seemed to satisfy Nick as he looked at his CU commanders and asked, “Well?”

Jeena nodded. “I would be interested in having further discussions, however, we are planning to take our entire unit out to a retraining retreat for the next two weeks. Is there any way we can arrange a meeting, either by having your personnel visit us or over a video conference, so not too much time is lost?”

“Of course,” Madigan said with a pleased smile. “We look forward to a very solid relationship with the NTC CU. Hopefully any past blotches in your relationship with Genom will be erased with our future cooperation.”

Leon snorted but didn’t say anything.

* * * * *

“So is this too good to be true?” Jeena asked when she, Leon and Daley had returned to the CU Command office. “You guys obviously have far more Genom history than I do.”

Daley shrugged as he leaned against the doorway. “That Madigan is one corporate hack that I can’t get a good read on. At least with Mason, you could see his slime trail a mile away.”

“As much as I hate to admit it,” Leon grumbled as he plopped down in his chair, “she’s got a point that no one with the expertise and resources has ever given us a hardware overhaul before. As much as I don’t trust them, Genom does do quality work. If the product does something shady, it’s usually because they did it on purpose.”

“Yuuji told me about Lisa Vanette being assigned to you guys,” Daley said. “Are you going to tell her any of this?”

Jeena shrugged and said, “Well, that’s up to Leon since he’s her main contact.”

“And thank you for that, by the way,” the man in question grumbled. “The last thing I need is to deal with a reporter, even if she’s Nick’s niece.”

Daley smirked and said, “Gee, Leon, after Priss, I thought you’d be able to handle any woman!”

“Shut up, Wong!”

Jeena arched her eyebrows but only acknowledged the outburst with a mild smile.

A beep came from inside Daley’s coat pocket, signaling a call. “Excuse me!” he said, pulling the phone out and started to walk back to his office. “It’s probably more news from the lab!”

Once they were alone, Leon stared at Jeena, who merely returned it.

“Yes?” she finally prompted.

He scowled and said, “So did passing Vanette off on me have a point? Or were you just having some ‘fun’ at my expense? I would’ve guessed you’d want to be the sole spokesman for the CU, especially if you don’t trust my big mouth.”

She smiled and shook her head. “I’ve had more than my fair share of dealing with the press in spokesperson capacity. If you’re going to command, then you need to learn how deal with outside inquiries. View it as a career growth opportunity, McNichol… And while we’re on the subject, I noticed you seem pretty interested when Dr. Yuri mentioned needing volunteers for developing the hardware.”

Leon nodded. “I want to make sure whatever they develop for us is the best quality stuff. I know what today’s technology is capable of, and I don’t want them fudging on any of it.”

“Then you can approve the development requirements and design specs, but you can’t be a volunteer for equipment testing,” she said firmly, even though she could see he immediately wanted to protest. “That’s risky work meant for the people in our unit. Command staff should not be putting themselves in potential jeopardy, especially in a non-crisis situation.”

The man didn’t respond at first except to stare. He finally growled, “I guess that’s always what’s been the bottom line difference between us, Malso. I believe in walking the talk instead of hiding behind a command chain and protocols. I’ve never believed a commander should put their officers into dangerous situations they themselves aren’t willing to tackle.”

Jeena narrowed her eyes at him. She took a deep breath and then turned her attention to her computer terminal. “Yes, I guess that’s always been our real difference. But that doesn’t change the fact that I’m not authorizing you to take part in the hardware development. When I’m back in Osaka and if you take over, then you can change the rules. Subject closed, McNichol.”

Leon glared at her as she proceeded to ignore him in favor of her own work. He stood and decided it was a good time to go get some coffee.

— End Chapter 14 —

* * *

Chapter 15

Friday, Late Morning, Oct. 14th

“ — I’ve already spent most of this week studying archive footage and articles from the A.D. Police days,” Lisa Vanette said, glancing through the stacks of NTC data pads in her lap as she sat in the chair before Leon’s desk. “There’s a surprising amount of information to weed through. And I haven’t yet figured out the angle for Sunday’s introductory article. I’m thinking I have to push the printing deadline again on this one. It needs just the right touch, especially since it’s such a sensitive topic.”

Leon tried to hide his wince, aware that it was probably not positive information that she had been exposed to and therefore it probably wouldn’t be a complimentary article. Then again, being Nick’s niece might bias her towards a more positive article for the sake of her uncle.

Jeena sat quietly at her own desk, seemingly absorbed in writing a report on her computer.

He forced a grin and said, “Well, if there are any particular questions you might have, Ms. Vanette, feel free to call me since you have my direct line. Are you planning to visit us while we’re at boot camp?”

She nodded with a smile. “I plan to show up a couple of days just to get a feel for the training program that you’re putting your officers through. I think it presents some good photo opportunities, especially with you being such a handsome guy and all,” she said with a wink from behind her glasses.

Leon blushed and gave her a sheepish grin. Jeena paused in typing, but then continued.

Suddenly, Lisa lit up as she glanced at both officers and said, “As long as I have you both here, I would like to take this opportunity to get some basic background information to help me with Sunday’s article, as well as to provide some foundation for future questions or story ideas.”

“I’m up for that,” Leon said with a genuine grin. “Malso?”

The other woman continued to type for a bit, as if finishing a sentence before she stopped and gave them a pleasant smile. “Of course. Ms. Vanette, what would you like to know?”

“Well, I have the write-ups about you two that you’ve submitted,” she said as she scanned her own data pad. “I just want to verify and expand on some points. It says here, Sergeant Malso, that you are on temporary loan from the Osaka Police Department, where you used to be the Commander of their Special Forces Unit. Why did you decide to take this assignment?”

Jeena cleared her throat before she gave a polished answer, “I was presented with this opportunity at a time when I felt like I needed some new opportunities without leaving the area of high technology and specialized police assignments that I had been used to. A chance to work for the Tokyo Police Department is a dream for any officer in Japan.”

Lisa used her stylus to quickly tap in Jeena’s answer, a friendly smile never quite leaving her lips. “And when is this temporary assignment supposed to end?”

“That has not yet been determined,” the officer admitted. “I have been told that at the six-month milestone an evaluation will be conducted to measure the improvement in the NTC CU’s performance record. I have been told that the length of the assignment could vary at my discretion, depending on how much work I feel I have left to contribute, and whether or not I’m satisfied with the leadership that will take over when I am done.”

“I see…” Lisa said as she continued to take notes. “Is there anything else you wished to add at the moment?”

“Just that I’m very honored to have such an opportunity and I plan to give my best effort.”

“Thank you for that, Sergeant Malso,” Lisa said with a concluding bow. Then she turned her attention to Leon while also again scanning the data on her pad. “Detective McNichol, according to my notes, you have been with the NTC for only a couple of months, and you had been on a leave of absence from police work in general for over three years before that.”

“Yes, but I was with the A.D. Police as a detective,” he added quickly, caught a little off guard by the frank assessment. “My absence started at the time of the Boomer Revolution, when many people, not just myself, had to rebuild our lives from scratch. But I’ve been an officer as long as Sergeant Malso. In fact, she and I were cadets in the same class.”

“Ah,” Lisa said as she typed in his answer. “So what did you do while you were gone for three years?”

“Um, I was a roadie for my ex-fiance’s rock band while they went on a world tour.”

Lisa paused and peered up at him over her glasses. She then flashed him another pleasant smile and asked, “So have you ever had a command position before in your career as a police officer?”

Leon blinked and answered carefully, “No, not really – at least officially. I’ve always been just a cop’s cop.”

“And yet, you are now second in command of the most powerful police unit in Japan?” Lisa asked, her brow arching curiously.

“I am responsible for his appointment,” Jeena said quickly. “Having had such a long work-history with Detective McNichol, I knew he just needed an opportunity to prove himself in this capacity. And it has worked well in this situation because a majority of the CU officers have come from the AD Police, and therefore have a built-in camaraderie with him that just needs to be groomed into command potential. Their response has been very positive so far.”

Lisa pursed her lips for a moment and then asked, “So Detective McNichol, are you planning to take over command of the CU upon Sergeant Malso’s departure?”

He squirmed and answered, “I was planning to go back to being a detective since my only order was to whip this unit into shape.”

“So then, there’s no one currently being groomed for long-term command of the CU?” Lisa asked, looking at both officers.

“That is an item we plan to address at the planned boot camp,” Jeena answered. “In the focused environment, we plan to look at our officers and assess the career potential for each one. I’m sure we will come up with some candidates by the end of the retreat.”

“I am glad to hear that,” Lisa said with a flash of a pleasant smile.

* * * * *

Friday Afternoon

“Well, if it isn’t the Princess come to grace us commoners with her presence!” Yuuji yelled out from his seat at the appearance of Lisa on the pressroom floor filled with low cubicles.

She laughed and growled, “Shut up, Akamatsu! You’re being a drama queen again!”

With a weary sigh, she plopped down at her desk, putting down the bag of NTC books and data pads on the floor. “This shit weighs a ton, especially with heels on!” she grumbled as she kicked off her shoes and indulged in a stretch of her toes under her desk. She also took off her glasses to rub her weary eyes.

“Oh, Lisa, you’re back!” Jayne, the administrative assistance called out. “Call Nathan! He said he found your phone under the couch!”

“Thanks, Jayne!” she said as she quickly picked up her phone receiver.

“So how was it?” Yuuji asked, once she was done responding to the message. “Everyone’s been eating their hearts out while you were gone!”

“That’s right!” Maku Aro declared as he stood to lean over the cubes. He was a chubby man in his forties with bushy, black hair. “This is the juiciest assignment on the table right now! Short of trying to expose the Knight Sabers, of course.”

She smirked and folded her arms over her chest. “Well, maybe this is a sign from the gods that you get rewarded if you aren’t trying to dig up the secret identities of the Knight Sabers.”

Maku rolled his eyes and said, “And just what kind of spirit is that for an investigative reporter to have? To not want to know the real identities of the most famous women of our time?”

“I never said I didn’t want to know!” Lisa clarified. “Of course, I want to know. I just don’t see any good coming out of trying to expose them like that! It’s one thing if they willingly came forward for an interview. But they clearly have reasons for wanting their privacy. And as long as they’re doing more public good than the entire police force combined, I’m perfectly happy with leaving them alone in that manner.”

Yuuji shrugged and remarked, “I’d take a similar stance but the only reason why I’m not researching the Knight Sabers is that all of my leads dried up.”

“I’ll bet your detective knows a lot more than he lets on,” Maku pointed out.

“Oh, I’m sure of it,” Yuuji replied with seeming casualness. “But we have that damn rule about never discussing work at home. And, well, he does trust me to not go behind his back, even if I did fudge it with that Plaza Slaughter article.”

“Yeah, but you did it because the spirit of truth ultimately helps everyone! That’s every reporter’s motto!” Maku pressed. “Imagine what it’d be like if we all knew who the Knight Sabers were, and then we could proactively contact them for help, or ask them to share their technical expertise.”

“I assume you mean that in the sense of the greater ‘We’?” Lisa asked, a mild curve of a grin at her lips.

“Of course,” he replied, his hand held up in oath. “So back to the NTC CU: How does it look so far?”

Lisa rolled her eyes and shook her head. “There are some things that should be kept from the public… But then again, this is just the beginning. I have to be fair and let them prove themselves. Yet in the meantime, I have an introductory article to write and I still don’t know what angle I should take with this since it pretty much sets the tone for all future coverage.”

“Well, do you show complete devotion and support in the spirit of giving positive motivation towards their success?” Yuuji mused aloud. “Or do you take the typical Vanette approach by forcing them to address their weak spots by pointing them out for all the public to see?”

Lisa merely grinned in reply.

— End Chapter 15 —