BGC Post 2040 File 7 – 3: Web of Lives
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 9: Precautions
9:14 p.m., April 29th, Tokyo
“… Very impressive,” Reika commented as she walked around the stone-still Caucasian boomer and eyed him up and down. She unconsciously flexed her right hand, relishing the freedom of not having a cast. “And you actually got rid of the rest of your bodyguard detail because of him?”
Kentarou Tsuji nodded from his spot on the plush couch in the center of the hotel suite’s living room. With his bowtie undone and his shirt unbuttoned enough to show a distinct patch of chest hair, he was a man who prided himself in projecting the full aura of physical virility and social power. What he had thought would be a very boring event of the reopening of the earthquake-damaged Watanabe Grand Hotel in Tokyo provided a very unexpected opportunity.
“A lot more discretion and freedom, if you know what I mean,” he said with a wink. Though he spoke of the boomer, his eyes never left the form of the woman in the blue evening gown before him. “He even protected me from a car accident the other day.”
“An accident or an assassination attempt?”
He shrugged casually. “We’ll never know. He dispatched the driver in the process. Better safe than sorry.”
“True… Well, I must say that seeing such a model up close does make me want to get one myself,” Reika surmised.
“He’s also fully functional down below. It just takes one command from me to make him available for a test drive for you.”
Reika looked at the man coyly and asked, “Now what makes you think that would be something I’d be interested in?”
He chuckled and motioned to the empty suite. “You can’t tell me that after all these years you’ve finally consented to be alone with me just to check out my boomer. After all, did you even tell Densuke that you’re here with me?”
“He doesn’t need to know what I’m up to every hour of the day,” she said as she continued to look the boomer over.
“So, how about it, Ms. Chang? Want to try him out?” he asked, with a certain more lecherous intensity in his words.
She looked at him pointedly and asked in response, “Are you only going to watch or are you offering to join in as well?”
He looked momentarily stunned at the counter comment before bursting out into a raucous laugh. “I just knew those dyke rumors about you weren’t true! Though you could improve a little in your taste in men. You know I could twist Densuke into a pretzel with my pinky.”
She actually laughed herself. “That may be the case if we were to do a man to man comparison. But you know full well that the Watanabe family money and fortunate trumps yours any time.”
He had to concede on that point. “Ah, that female pragmaticism just makes you all the more sexy in my eyes. As if that was even possible. How about we forget the boomer and just make it a passionate encounter of two equals? There’s not going to be a better time and place. It might be my last chance to convince you that you’re going to tie the knot with the wrong man.”
“Then what about him?” she said, pointing to the bodyguard. “Do we just leave him out here?”
Seeing the opportunity was near, Kentarou jumped to his feet and his glass of scotch in one gulp. “I can leave him out here on standby mode. It’s not the first time I’ve done this.”
Reika looked a little concerned. “What exactly does standby mode mean?”
“He’ll stay put as long as he doesn’t hear or see anything alarming.”
“So we shouldn’t do anything involving screaming?” she asked with coy innocence.
The man looked momentarily speechless before he swallowed the sudden build of saliva in his mouth. His mental wheels spinning furiously, he said to his boomer, “Arnold, go to reserve mode. Ignore any noises you’ll hear, until I give you the order to reactivate. Oh, and that includes anything you might see.”
“Yes, Sir.” Not moving from his spot, the boomer shut his eyes to confirm his understanding of the order.
“Now,” Kentarou declared as he looked at the woman ravenously, “where do you want to start?”
Giving him a focused smile, Reika walked up to him and grabbed him by the front of his shirt. She easily led the man into the waiting bedroom, which automatically lit up the lamp lights upon their entrance.
Once they were by the bed, she toyed with his chest hairs with a playful finger. “How much time do you have?”
“As long as you want. I came alone. Well, Arnold doesn’t count. What about you?”
“At this time? No one is going to dare to question my absence.”
He pulled her to him and gave her a gentle kiss. He was amazed how perfect she felt in his arms as she returned his kiss with as much passion. With skilled fingers, he undid her back zipper and slid the straps off her shoulders to let the dress fall to the floor. To his pleased amazement, he quickly realized she wasn’t wearing any underwear.
“Well, aren’t you just full of surprises?”
She gave him a coy smile and pulled him to her for another deep kiss.
With surprising ease, he picked her up and placed her on the bed. He stretched her out on the bed like a trophy as he worked to remove his coat and undo his shirt.
As he stretched out on top of her, he looked at her face and saw that her expression was very sleepy, like she was quickly losing consciousness. No sooner than he thought that, she stopped moving completely, her eyes staring blankly at the ceiling.
His heart started pounding from panic than desire. “Reika?! Are you all right?”
He tried shaking her when he noticed that he couldn’t think clearly as his own brain started to shut down. Seconds later, he collapsed on top of her.
* * *
Triggered by the awareness of intense pain in the back of his head, Kentarou struggled to consciousness in the darkness caused by a blindfold of some sort. He aware he was sitting up in a chair and his hands and feet were bound to the arms and legs.
“What’s going?!” he declared angrily, as he felt his heart start to race in panic. “Where’s Reika?!”
“Hush now,” an electronically altered voice ordered from nearby. “No one can hear you. Even Arnold. We just need you to do say a few things in order for us to get what we need.”
In instinctive defiance, Kentarou clamped his mouth shut but was horrified to feel and hear himself speak the words, “Testing. Testing.”
Somehow they were controlling his muscles. That must be the reason for the pain in the back of his head.
His whole body started to shake with the pounding of his racing heart. He’d never felt so helpless. He’d been in the underworld long enough to know the signs that his captors were extremely professional.
He wanted to beg for his life but instead felt and heard himself give the order for Arnold to go into active mode.
* * *
Collapsed on the suite’s couch and wrapped in a bathrobe, a groggy Reika continued to sip the hot beverage that was the drug’s antidote. She could still taste the lingering traces of the laced lipstick she had tried to wipe off, a mild taste that could easily be hidden under stronger substances like alcohol.
From the bedroom, she heard occasional metallic and hissing sounds, showing that the operation was fully underway. Suddenly, one of the Watanabe henchman appeared from the bedroom with a briefcase handcuffed to his hand. He gave her a nod before being escorted out the door by three other men.
Still dressed in an evening gown herself, Yoshiko emerged from the same bedroom, typing some things into her datapad. Sounds of activity could be heard coming from the bedroom as the team continued with their tasks.
“What was that?” Reika asked curiously as she pointed to the group that had just left the suite. She knew it couldn’t be the tissue sample because Sho was waiting at a nearby lab to do the extraction.
“It’s the decoy beacon for Arnold. As long as it’s still relaying signals back to Genom, there shouldn’t be anything to alert them that something wrong. I’ve told my men to take it to airport so that we can dump it in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. By then, we’ll have everything covered.”
“So it was a success?”
She nodded. “We’re putting Arnold in the stasis chamber now. We got a bonus boomer out of this.”
“And what about Kentarou?”
“We’re draining his blood in the bathtub right now to minimize any chance of drug testing showing something positive. Once that’s done, we’ll do a chemical trace wash and then dump him in the bay.”
Reika was genuinely stunned. “You killed him?!”
Yoshiko actually paused in her task and gave the woman a very focused look that on anyone else would have translated to “Did you just ask what I thought you did?”
“That wouldn’t have been necessary!” Reika insisted angrily even though she was barely able to sit up herself.
Yoshiko replied evenly, “You were the last person he saw before losing consciousness. If he didn’t figure out you were an accomplise, Genom certainly would have. Given what we’re trying to accomplish, I don’t think you want to take such risks until you have the right protection. And even then he would have been unnecessary threat.”
“You could have kept him alive until then!”
She brushed off the angry tone and stated, “For every time you’re faced with a life or death decision, and you choose to live, it’s a guarantee that someone is going to take your place. The sooner you grow up and accept that, then the easier it will be for all of us. But if you’re willing to take such frivolous chances, wait until you and Densuke are married. We Watanabe’s are more than willing to take care of your Clan if you won’t.”
Reika could only glare in response.
Seeing that nothing more needed to be said, Yoshiko left the room and the other woman to her stunned thoughts.
– End Chapter 9 –
– End Part 1!!! –
Chapter 10: Priorities
11:32 a.m., May 13th, Tokyo
“Even though his V.P. admits he doesn’t know where Tsuji is, he still won’t admit he’s actually missing,” Daley reported as he leaned over Nene’s shoulder so he could be seen by the viewers on the other end of the video call. The two police officers had made certain that their door was closed to prevent any casual eavesdroppers. “He gave some vague comment that Tsuji travels a lot and likes to take off by himself even though we don’t have any record of him leaving the country. But with a man of his connections, that’s not always a foolproof measure.”
“So you think his V.P. is covering something?” Sylia asked from the main computer room of the pit.
Mackey, Cynthia and Nigel were listening in the background to everything that was unfolding.
Daley nodded. “Tsuji made his fortune off of international arms smuggling, so any government on Earth could make a man like him disappear.”
Nene frowned as the pieces of information didn’t fully make sense to her. “Why wouldn’t the people who lived and worked with him help us find him? I know that they don’t have any love of the police but this is serious.”
“This is a crowd that is afraid of providing information, especially if it can get back to them in a really bad way. Even if it means one of their own is missing. The only reason why we know for certain something’s really wrong is that Tsuji’s own mom doesn’t know or care about underworld protocols. The woman wants to find her son.”
“Cynthia, have there been any additional signs of his boomer’s signature on the Genom satellite logs?” Sylia asked.
She focused internally for a moment and shook her head. “There’s no response since the last status ping that indicated he was in Hawaii last week.”
“And my sources still haven’t reported any unusual boomer parts showing up on the market. What about yours?”
The two officers shook their heads.
Daley pushed his glasses back in place and said, “And that’s the part that disturbs me the most. Whoever did this knew how to get past the best personal security system on the market. It’s got to be an inside job. Otherwise, we’d have major collateral damage reported somewhere.”
“Do you think Genom is worried about how this looks?” Nene asked.
“Of course. I’m sure they’re sweating. They may not advertise their clients, but they make their business off of good word of mouth. And Kentarou Tsuji was a very credible spokesman for them.”
“We did notice a several call attempts from Genom’s satellite that matched Tsuji’s boomer,” Mackey reported as he double checked the logs on the terminal next to him. “It was as if they’re trying to track it down. They’re still sending out search pings but not as often.”
“So we’re back to thinking it could have been some government group that could have done him in?” Nene asked anyone who could give her an answer.
“I’m not sure about that,” Sylia said as her mental wheels were clearly turning. “A couple of weeks ago, I had an influx of clients shopping for dresses for a black tie party to celebrate the reopening of the Watanabe Grand Hotel. It would be the type of event Tsuji would attend. And the timing fits.”
“So you think he could have crossed the Watanabe’s?” Daley asked, thinking that he’d rather place the blame on government henchmen.
Sylia shrugged. “Either that, or he just happened to be the unfortunate one who came to the party with the latest model boomer in tow. Didn’t your people suspect the Watanabe’s in the Genom break-in last year?”
“It was a wild theory that didn’t go anywhere because we didn’t have evidence, naturally. But this would make sense that it would be easier for them to snatch a complete one off the street to make up for the parts they didn’t get the first time around. Do you think they could be creating their own boomer?”
Nene frowned again. “But to do that, wouldn’t they need Genom level boomer experts? That kind of knowledge doesn’t just graduate from college.”
“I think we’re in wait and see mode,” Sylia suddenly said. “Nene, Mackey, widen our scanning frequencies. I want to see if we pick up any unusual signals of that boomer suddenly coming into circulation. Thanks for the report, Daley. Keep us posted and we’ll do the same.”
The group ended the call to plan their next steps.
Nigel remained in the background as he watched Sylia with slightly narrow eyes.
* * *
6:07 p.m., May 15th, London
In his work office, Dr. Sho Yamada carefully packed up his data pads into the secure and padded carrying case to cushion them against potential bumpy flights. The weekly trips to Rome or Tokyo were tiring, but he knew he had to make the appearances in London to keep anyone keeping tabs on him from becoming too suspicious.
Luckily, he was now at the phase of the project where most of his work could be done on a computer rather than having to be in a laboratory, though he would prefer the latter.
“Ready?” Mei Asakawa asked from the doorway. She was dressed in a stylish pant suit with an overcoat that concealed the arsenal she always had.
The timid man jumped slightly at the sudden appearance of the woman who was assigned to be his shadow during this project. Even though he knew she had boomer augmentations, he felt a certain sense of security in her intimidating presence alone. Of course, he would remain happier if her services wouldn’t be needed at all. Since entering the world of the Hou Bang Clan, he became used to living with two bodyguards and a mansion of servants. However, something about Mei’s presence actually made him feel like he was really in danger.
“Y-Yes, let me just grab my suitcase.”
Before he could move, one of his regular bodyguards took it for him and he gave a sheepish grin of thanks.
The small entourage then made their way through the Perry Industries Headquarters to the waiting limo outside. Sho sat in the back seat with one of his bodyguards next to him and Mei on the seat opposite. The other bodyguard sat in the front seat with the driver.
Once inside the vehicle that was now making its way through parking lot, Sho let out a deep breath of relief. He pulled out his phone to call his wife when suddenly everything lurched and the sound of squealing metal pierced the air. Screams of agony could be heard from the front cab of the limo.
Mei whipped out what looked like a flare gun from shoulder holster. “Stay put!” she ordered to all of the men, who weren’t about to disagree.
Sho’s own bodyguards placed themselves
Before she could open the door, a fist slammed against the bullet-proof window, causing a spider-web crack. Changing her tactic, she yelled, “When I give the word, get out!”
The attacker’s fist now smashed through the damaged window, and Mei locked her arm around it. “Out!”
Everything was a blur to Sho, who was pushed out of the vehicle by his bodyguard. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw her aim the gun at its torso. He hit the pavement just as Mei fired her weapon, which lodged a micro-size bazooka shell into the boomer assailant. The explosion could be heard from several blocks away.
Curled up in a fetal position to protect his head from any potential debris, Sho didn’t move until his bodyguard got off of him.
While he was unscathed, he was horrified to see the man dripping blood from some glass and metal shards that had lodged in his back. The limo was still intact even though the explosion had blown out the doors and windows.
Before he could say anything, he looked up to see Mei standing over him. Her clothes were tattered and dripping in blood. For the first time, he saw her full face, which had fresh cuts and burns on top of the twist of scars. The glass covering of one of her eyes had been fractured, revealing the boomer organ underneath.
Casually examining her dangling arm, which glistened with blood and metal, she said, “We’re lucky it was only one. But that means Genom has finally decided to take precautions of their own.”
* * *
“I’ve stabilized Mei until the Watanabe medical team can get here,” Sho explained as he spoke into the video phone of his office. The screen was split in half with Reika and Irene on one side and Yoshiko on the other. “She’s in pretty bad condition but luckily the lab makes a good hospital substitute for her.”
“What about you?” an alarmed Reika asked as she noticed Irene clutching her shoulder in worry. “With Mei down, aren’t you more vulnerable?”
“We’ve already got reinforcements at his office,” Yoshiko answered for him. “They’re not augmented like Mei but they should make up for that fact with sheer numbers. But we do have to get you out of there as soon as possible, Yamada.”
“I want to go to Rome,” Sho said firmly. “This just means that we now have a real deadline for getting Anri up and running. We’re so close with her.”
“How much time do you think you’ll need?”
“Two days maybe? I’m going to need you to be here for the activation process.”
“Of course. I’ll have Jun make arrangements at once.”
“And once I’ve got her activated, then I can head to Tokyo and finish reprogramming Arnold.”
Yoshiko nodded. “The Watanabe’s are committed to your protection so wherever you wish to go, we’ll be there.”
“But we can’t go back to our London home afterwards,” Irene said, placing her hands tensely on her bulging abdomen. “I’ll order the staff to pack up our belongings and send them back here. The compound is far safer than London.”
“I agree,” Reika said, “Yoshiko, we need to fully deploy any anti-boomer measures for all of our homes.”
She nodded. “We’ve already started making the arrangements. Anything else?”
“No, you’re good to go. And thanks.”
Once Yoshiko hung up, Irene said to her husband, “Sho, please be careful! I love you!”
He gave her a warm smile and said, “I love you too! We’ll get through this.”
Reika watched the exchange between the two of them and felt a distinct pang of jealousy. “I’ll let you two have some privacy. And, Sho, I am so sorry about this.”
“Reika, we’re family. It’s all right,” he said with a firmness that surprised her.
She realized she suddenly developed a newfound respect for him.
Reika stepped out into the hallway and collapsed against the wall with a sigh.
“Is there anything I can do?” an anxious Jun asked, glad to have a break in her pacing.
“I – “
The crash of dishes suddenly came from the hallway which led to the kitchen. Concerned, the two women joined the other nearby household staff to the source of the sound. Mrs. Takeuchi was curled up on the floor with her hands clutching at her heart.
– End Chapter 10 –
* * *
Chapter 11: Ache
4:11 a.m., May 14th, Hou Bang Compound, Tokyo
Dressed in a simple blouse and jeans, Sylia paused before the closed oak doors of the master bedroom. Despite the early hour, she knew very few people, if any, in the compound were actually asleep. She could hear muffled sobs from various surrounding bedrooms as each person dealt with their grief. Yet, she didn’t hear anything from the other side of the doors before her, which could be due to the soundproofing she knew to be the privilege of the master bedroom.
She gently knocked on the door and waited. Not hearing anything right away, she wondered if she knocked too softly. She tried a slightly louder knock and said, “It’s me… Sylia.”
The door immediately creaked open, showing that Reika had been in the process of answering when Sylia had made the second attempt.
Though there was only the light of a single lamp at the bedside, Reika’s haggard state was all too evident. Dressed in an oversized t-shirt, she looked like a complete mess from having been crying though she didn’t seem to have been in the middle of a crying session at that moment.
Sylia felt her heart ache at the sight. She wanted to embrace and comfort her but something made her stay still.
Reika stood in the doorway and locked eyes with her. Then with a pained smile, she said softly, “Thank you for coming.”
“Thank you for letting me know.”
With an absent-minded glance around, Reika seemed to realize that Sylia couldn’t enter the room so she took a step back. Once the door was again closed, she stepped forward and pressed herself into Sylia’s ready arms.
Dismayed at the feeling of tears once again forming in her puffy eyes, she murmured into the firm shoulder, “I didn’t even cry this much when my parents passed away. But maybe because I was in so much shock that I’m making up for all of it now.”
Sylia merely squeezed her tighter, quietly taking in the warmth and the pounding of the other heart. She felt her own eyes start to mist as she thought about the elder woman who had been a presence in all of the years she had known Reika. While she did not view Mrs. Takeuchi with as much emotional significance, she knew she would miss the always calmly smiling figure.
Suddenly a brisk knock came from the door, slightly startling both women.
“Reika? It’s Densuke. Are you all right?”
To Sylia’s mild surprise, Reika eased out of her embrace and said, “Could you wait over there? I need to talk to him.”
With a nod, Sylia moved over to the edge of the bed and sat down. She watched Reika’s back curiously, not seeing the usual tension and dread that always accompanied the man’s appearance.
Reika cleared her throat in an effort to gather some composure before opening the door.
Densuke blinked in surprise at Reika’s appearance. He wasn’t used to seeing her look so… fragile. “I – I, uh, got on a plane as soon as I heard the news. How – “ he stopped abruptly when he glanced over her shoulder and saw the age-old rival waiting on the edge of the bed.
Knowing where his attention was now focused, Reika said, “Thank you for coming, Densuke. I just need to be left alone for a while. Can we talk later?… I may need your help with managing the funeral arrangements.”
His mind now spinning with confusion, Densuke responded, “Um, of course. Just let me know when you’re ready to talk.”
She gave him a nod as she started to close the door. “It won’t be until noon, or later… And I sincerely mean it when I say ‘thank you.’”
His face was flushed red as he bowed in acknowledgement.
Sylia crossed her arms curiously as she watched Reika walk towards the bed. “That was surprisingly… civil.”
Taking a deep breath, Reika sat down next to her and explained, “He and I came to an understanding a couple of weeks ago that he needed to work on being a respectable father. He’s actually been in rehab in Hawaii.”
“Oh.” Sylia was clearly shocked. Then a frown darkened her face as if an unpleasant thought crossed her mind that she didn’t want to articulate.
“He and I agreed that we’d have children through artificial insemination,” Reika said.
Relief flooded Sylia’s face, followed by an embarrassed blush of her own. However, she became distracted by the faint scars on Reika’s right hand. She carefully reached over and held it up for inspection.
Now she felt the tension in the other woman’s body.
“The doctors say that it would take two more minor operations to completely remove the scars. I’m debating on whether to do them before or after the wedding.”
“What about mobility?” Sylia asked grimly as she tenderly traced the unnatural lines.
“I’m still rehabilitating. I don’t have full movement, and I’m already noticing some limitations… In the beginning, they had tried to convince me to do a boomer transplant instead. Obviously, I declined,” she commented dryly.
“That was quite a fall then.”
Feeling the slight edge in those words, Reika gently pulled her hand back. She forced herself to say, “I know we haven’t talked since I was at your place. And while I think the timing could be much better, there are some things we need to discuss.”
“I’ve wanted to call several times,” Sylia admitted somberly. “But I feel like I don’t know how to talk to you anymore. I’ve never had this feeling with you before. Even when we fought, I knew what to say.”
“Me too. And all because we had a little bit too much to drink.”
Sylia frowned at the comment but let Reika continue to speak.
“I really do have a lot of things going on in my life right now. And they’re not things of my choosing. I’m being reminded daily that decisions I make are life or death not only for me but for other people in my life. – “
“That doesn’t worry me,” she interrupted. “You know I can take care of myself.”
“And that’s part of the problem, Sylia. I need to… partner with people who have as much at stake in what happens as I do. You don’t have that role in my life anymore. And I don’t in yours. We can both walk away at any moment and it would be like we never crossed each others paths again…”
Reika paused, not wanting to say what was next but she knew she had to. “You’ve already proven that you have a conflict of interest with me. You chose the Knight Sabers over me once. I can’t risk getting into a situation with you where that would happen again. And I think you know that I have to choose the Clan over you.”
“Do you honestly think it could come to that?” she asked seriously.
“I can’t take that chance that it might. But as I said, that’s only part of the problem… Even before yesterday, I’ve been painfully lonely. And interacting with you, especially that night, really makes it difficult for me. I know I’m as much to blame for this, but I can’t have you hurt me that badly again – not when I have so many people now depending on me to make sound choices.”
Sylia felt as if she had been punched in the stomach by a boomer. “So—So, are you saying that you don’t think we can be just friends?”
Not able to meet the other woman’s gaze, Reika answered, “Not when things are this chaotic for me. I need to figure out the rest of my life right now. And having you around reminds me too much of the past that’s gone, which is not helping me determine what my future should be. Maybe when things have settled for me, we can try being friends again. I mean, of course, you’re still welcome to attend the funeral, and the wedding. But I can’t be alone with you like this anymore.”
“… All right…” Sylia answered stiffly, not looking at all pleased but she didn’t have any better answers herself.
* * *
7:19 a.m., Nigel’s Garage
Letting out a sleepy yawn, Nigel leaned against the kitchen counter and waited for the coffee maker to finish its job. Still dressed in his t-shirt and boxers, he liked starting his day at an easy pace but the caffeine kick would help.
The buzz of his security system let him know that someone was approaching the back door, which was his private entrance. With a glance at his watch and a frown, he walked over to the terminal on the counter and pressed the button to see what the cameras had to show.
Sylia was about to press the intercom button when the front door suddenly buzzed to unlock itself for her.
When she walked in, a concerned Nigel was waiting at the top of the stairs.
“I thought you were going to be at Reika’s for a while,” he said, showing that he had indeed gotten her early morning message.
“I just came back from there,” she admitted as she slipped off her shoes and started to ascend the stairs. She had a grim expression with dark circles under her eyes. “She’ll be okay. I left… because I’d just be in the way.”
He opened his arms and welcomed her into his embrace. “Do you want to talk about it?”
She shook her head as she pressed her face against her chest. “Nothing really to discuss… Am I interrupting your morning schedule?”
“Nothing that can’t wait,” he said simply as he tried to hug away the tension in her body.
– End Chapter 11 –
* * *
Chapter 12: Appearances
1:37 p.m., May 14th, Hou Bang Compound, Tokyo
Reika shook her head adamantly to everyone in her office and on the video screen on the wall. “I refuse to subject mourners to a weapons search! And, Grandpa, you pointed out yourself that such measures won’t stop a boomer from charging into the cemetery and wreaking havoc.”
Even though she was only dressed in a baggy t-shirt and shorts, her rage made her the focus of everyone’s attention. Irene, Sho, Jun and Kou stood by while a stunned Densuke sat in the chair in the corner. The elder Chang and the Watanabe twins were shown on the video screen in their separate call frames.
“We need to show Mrs. Takeuchi much more respect than that!”
Letting out a sigh, her grandfather then looked at Kou and asked, “How many guards would we need to deploy to make the temple and cemetery secure? I want you to answer as both the head bodyguard and a grieving son.”
Kou closed his eyes as he thought for a moment. After taking a deep breath, he opened them and looked the elder man square in the eye. “Sir, we have the resources to secure the places from a standard weapons assault…” He trailed off into an awkward pause.
Kou gave Reika a small apologetic glance before stating, “I do not feel we would be able to efficiently take care a boomer-level threat without causing significant risk to the civilian attendees and staff. Our anti-boomer weaponry will cause a lot of destruction should they need to be used.”
“Sho, are you certain that you cannot activate her boomer bodyguard before then?”
He sadly shook his head. “Even if I had left for Rome instead of coming here, I wouldn’t be able to have her ready by the funeral. That includes shipping her here for activation if Reika couldn’t go to Rome. And we can’t use Arnold because he needs to be reprogrammed.”
In the silence that followed, Largo cleared his throat to focus attention to himself. “Even though Genom made an attack on Dr. Yamada, do you feel you need to take such measures if he does not attend? Of course, that would also include Irene.”
The husband and wife in question looked at each other. Even though she clearly didn’t like the suggestion, Irene kept her mouth shut and waited for the outcome of the meeting.
The elder Chang thought about it and nodded. “I can support that if Reika also does not attend. I can represent the family. If anyone still tries anything, my loss is a small enough risk for the Clan to take.”
“Everyone, please leave,” Reika said firmly. “I would like to speak to my grandfather alone. Largo, Yoshiko, thank you for meeting with us. I will call you later if anything changes.”
Once she was left alone in her office, with only her grandfather on the video screen, Reika stood before him and said, “If I don’t attend, wouldn’t that show the fear and weakness that Delun has accused me of?”
The old man blinked and chuckled. “Reika, you are actually thinking like the true Clan leader after all. But our priority needs to be your safety. You know we already thwarted two assassination plots from Delun’s supporters. We cannot take unnecessary chances until we know your safety is assured, even in such appalling circumstances as to think that someone would disrupt a funeral in such a way.”
“So if I can arrange to have appropriate boomer-level security, then you would approve my attending the funeral?”
He looked skeptical but said, “If you can solve that, then I will never question your judgment again.”
“… Is that a promise?” she asked.
“Let’s discuss that again if you’re able to do it.”
* * *
Later, The Silky Doll
The ding of customers walking through the store entrance caught Cynthia Henderson’s attention. She paused in arranging the new stock in the window display to go and greet them.
The buzz of an incoming call on the store phone line made her pause in mid-step. She mentally tapped the phone line and saw that the caller was Reika Chang. She triggered the “hold” message before apologizing to the customers to go answer the call.
“Hello, Reika,” she answered, trying not to think that the other woman had accidentally called the wrong number. “How may I help you?”
* * *
“She was right to call you and ask,” Sylia conceded to Cynthia as they stood in the Pit control room. “You’re free to make your own decision. I’m not your owner.”
Nigel, Priss and Mackey listened attentively.
“True, but you are my boss… and my friend,” Cynthia said. “Even though she offered to pay me for my services, I want to help her anyway. But I know that if something happens that I expose my boomer abilities, I could also expose all of you.”
“That could be solved by changing your appearance,” Nigel said. “Which we can easily do before the funeral… Sylia, aren’t you going?”
“… Yes, I am.”
“Then I can go too,” Mackey offered. “As your escort.”
“But can you fight?” Priss asked skeptically.
He blushed. “Well, no, but I can be a look out. I can spot another boomer or a boomer augmentation. I would think any little bit would help.”
“Okay, you’ve got a point,” Priss admitted. “So count me in, too.” She noticed the confused faces. “I’m not saying that I’m going to attend the funeral. But I can be on standby in a hardsuit.”
Cynthia gave her a pleased smile before saying, “We can ask Nene and Linna if they want to help too… Sylia, do you want to tell Reika we’re willing to help?”
She smiled at her and said, “I think you should tell Reika. After all, she called you. I can call Nene and Linna to see if they’re willing to help.”
“I hope that we’re doing all of this for nothing,” Mackey said.
“Oh, you just know something’s going to happen,” Priss muttered.
* * *
5:09 p.m., Hou Bang Compound
Jun walked down the hallway and almost passed by the open door to one of the studies but paused when she saw the lone figure sitting in front of the fireplace. She peered in to make sure Densuke was indeed alone.
She hadn’t seen him since the meeting about the funeral security. It worried her how stunned he looked by everything that had been discussed.
With hesitant steps, she walked into the room.
At the clicking of the heels on the wooden floor, Densuke look over at her.
Jun abruptly stopped when she saw the open bottle of scotch that he cradled in his hands.
He held it up so she could see that it was half empty. “Are you going to report me for this?”
She shook her head as she sat down on the edge of the nearby chair. “I’m sure everyone will understand that there are exceptional circumstances.”
He shrugged and focused his attention back on the fire. “Jun, how much did you know about what was going on in that meeting?”
“Most of it. Though I don’t know who ‘Arnold’ is… Is that why you’re drinking?”
“Hardly,” he said with a derisive snort. “It’s moments like that where I’m glad that I’m pretty ignorant of everything that goes on with my family. I just didn’t realize that Reika… Well, never mind.”
“I just heard that they managed to increase the security for the funeral services,” she offered cheerfully. “Reika seems to be relieved that she can attend.”
“Good for her,” he murmured sincerely. “And once again, it just shows how completely useless I am in her eyes… I’ll just bet Sylia had something to do with it.”
Jun was completely baffled by that comment. Then the name triggered something she had forgotten.
When her father had given her the final briefing for her to take on the duties of being Reika’s personal secretary, he mentioned that Sylia Stingray was ‘very important’ to Reika. He didn’t give details but he looked very red with embarrassment as he continued to emphasize that anything to do with Sylia should be given the highest priority to Reika. However, since Sylia never appeared in the past months she had been working for Reika, Jun had completely forgotten about her.
And given what had happened in Los Angeles with that Leslie woman, Jun now understood why her conservative father was very uncomfortable in that discussion.
Still, she was confused by Densuke’s comment that was driven by apparently exaggerated jealousy. “Why would you say she had anything to do with solving the security problem?”
“Just a hunch… I’ve known Sylia for a long time too. Everyone thinks she’s just a socialite with an overpriced lingerie store. But I know…” He paused to take a swig before stating, “Well, too bad for Reika that Clan tradition won’t let the two of them marry. But, I guess that’s the only reason why I’m still in the picture. So hurray for tradition! Nothing can make you feel more emasculated than having your biggest rival be another woman.”
Jun had absolutely no idea what to say at that point. Part of her wondered if this was her cue to get the bottle away from him before he said anything else too… frank. At least she was the only one hearing all of this.
She glanced at his bowed head and slumped shoulders. She felt the urge to get up and hug him from behind to offer what little consolation she could.
When she realized what kind of impulse she just had, Jun stiffened with horror.
“Excuse me,” she said abruptly as she stood and left as fast as she could.
Densuke watched her quick departure with a frown before he took another drink and went back to staring at the fire.
– End Chapter 12 –