BGC Post 2040 File 7 – 7: 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 25: Lifeline
9:01 a.m., June 17th, The Watanabe Grand Hotel, Tokyo
“It may be a good thing that she shut down,” Nigel grimly reported from Sho’s phone screen. “My team just figured out that little code snippet was an assassination order for Reika. Anri’s little rebellious nature may have been a good thing after all.”
The younger scientist was genuinely shocked and glanced around at the other people on the rooftop to see if anyone was paying attention. But they weren’t, especially the boomer that had still been frozen in place for almost an hour.
Sho scratched his head furiously as he tried to think. He tried his best not to rumple his suit despite the rooftop wind. “Well, to do that would mean it would have to be someone internal who planted it. Then I probably shouldn’t take her back to any of my laboratories until we can figure out who it was… But we can’t leave her up here either.”
“Well, how were you going to take her down?”
“We were going to figure that out after the ceremony. Probably by airlifting her via helicopter.”
“If you let my team take care of her, I’ll have some friends pick her up. It’s probably just as well as I take custody of her since we now know how to identify and remove these little Easter eggs.”
“Um, have you let Reika know about this yet?”
“I left her a message but I don’t know if she got it. Given that Anri’s now not a threat is may not be urgent.”
* * *
Once she had been zipped up, Reika did a careful spin in her wedding dress to allow the layers of white plume in full elegance to the appreciative responses of everyone in the bridal suite.
Her grandfather beamed with a smile as he declared, “Your parents would be proud!”
As everyone chimed in with the same sentiment, Reika stared at herself in the mirror. Then, for a brief moment, her own smile faltered and she suddenly seemed very self-conscious.
She looked at everyone and smiled graciously, “Thank you, everyone, for helping. Jun, how much more time is left?”
“Almost twenty minutes.”
Reika then took a deep breath and announced, “I’d like a few minutes alone please. I’ll meet all of you down there. Irene, can you stay please?”
“Of course,” her sister replied. She handed the bundled baby to Jun, “Can you take her down to Sho?”
Once the sisters were left alone in the bedroom, Reika didn’t bother to hide her trembling hands in the folds of her dress.
“I’d tease you about stage fright but that’d be in incredibly poor taste,” Irene commented.
“It’s less stage fright than feeling like a complete hypocrite.”
“… Are Leslie’s words getting to you?”
“I think I’m panicking. I’m replaying bits of that night in my mind. I’m trying to fight the urge to check my phone to see if Sylia actually called me even though I’ll be very relieved if she didn’t…” She shrugged and pressed her hand against her rapidly beating heart. “I forced myself to this point under the belief that I was doing the right thing for the greater good. It’s how I got myself through everything… But…”
“Do you want to call it off?”
She thought deeply about it for a moment and then shook her head. “No, I’m prepared to go through with this. But it’s sinking in that it’s not really just my decision… Densuke came to me last night to call a truce between us, to try to become friends for the sake of our children.”
Irene’s eyebrows were at the top of her head but she kept quiet.
“However, he doesn’t know that I’m not certain that it’s wise for me to have children. After all, that’s what the Watanabe’s get out of this deal as well.”
“And you think you should tell him about it now,” Irene surmised. “Though I doubt it’s going to make a difference, to tell you the truth.”
Reika gave her a wry smile and said, “Yes, but it’s a sad day when Densuke takes the higher road than I do.”
“Touché. So how do you want to do this? Call him? He may not have his cell phone on him though.”
Irene glanced around the room and spied her purse on the nightstand. “No, but Jun would, and she should be down there by now.”
All of a sudden, the lights went out but since it was still morning, the day light still filled the hotel room.
Reika frowned as she noticed the clocks were also out. “A power outage?”
“Well, that’s bad timing,” her sister muttered as she rummaged through her purse.
She picked up the phone on the nightstand and noted no dial tone. “The phone is dead, too.”
“No signal here either,” Irene noted once she looked at her own phone. “What the hell is going on?”
Just then, Reika looked out the window at the cityscape and saw something disturbing. What looked like a flock of a dozen birds on the horizon were very apparently a squadron of helicopters that were headed in the direction of the hotel.
Pointing out the cause of her concern, she ordered, “Irene, let’s find our way down to the ground floor now!”
“Of course,” she said as the two of them slid the heavy bedroom door open.
Because the next room was the living room portion of the suite, Kou and three bodyguards were waiting for the women. They were apparently assessing the lack of power and connectivity when the women appeared.
“Kou, there’s a dozen helicopters on the horizon heading this way!”
Now on full alert with his gun out, he nodded to two of the men to push open the suite door to the pitch black hallway. It was as if even the back-up generators were not working either.
Using their cell phones as make-shift flashlights, the group cautiously made their way down the hallway. Because this floor and the ones above and below were purposefully left empty for security purposes, the group was on high alert for any noise.
Just then, the building rumbled and shook slightly as faint noises of explosions could be heard.
Reika glanced nervously at Kou, who said in his best attempt to remain calm, “Yoshiko said they armed the hotel with anti-aircraft weaponry. So hopefully they’re using them.”
Just then, the sound of explosions and machine guns could be heard.
“The stairs are over here!” one of the other bodyguards announced.
Keeping the women between them, the bodyguards split to have two lead the group down the stairway and Kou and the other one remained in the back to keep an eye for any surprises from behind. Voices of other guests and staff could be heard from both above and below as people were trying to make their way through the dark.
With Irene’s help, Reika bunched the hem of her dress up, more concerned at this point about taking a misstep than the air battle that’s going on outside. She couldn’t help but think that would be a very embarrassing and ironic way to die.
In the back of her mind, she also couldn’t help but think she would feel a lot more secure if Anri was nearby, faulty behavior and all.
Bright lights suddenly flooded the stairwell, blinding and surprising everyone. And then the lights went out again.
With her eyes squeezed shut, Reika had to grab the railing to steady herself from a misstep. She quickly grabbed Irene’s arm to steady her.
A cry of pain suddenly came from the darkness below them, with sounds and flashes of gunshots. Then came the cries of someone being pitched into a the empty center of the stairwell, which ended with gruesome crunching sounds and new screams from the bottom.
Reika forced her eyes open in time to sense someone slip by her in the darkness. She gripped her sister’s hands and was relieved to feel her squeeze back.
More sounds of fighting and more gun shots. A lot more gun shots.
And then silence.
As if everyone in the tall stairwell was too terrified to breath.
“Kou?” Reika called out cautiously into the darkness.
“He won’t be able to answer you anymore,” an unknown female voice calmly answered.
As she felt the barrel of a gun press against her forehead, Reika fought to control the growing terror inside her. “Who are you?!”
The building rumbled in response to another explosion.
“We’ll get reacquainted later, Reika. Sorry, Irene, this is a private conversation from now on.”
There was a single, blinding gunshot and Reika felt Irene’s grip lurch and falter. A second gunshot quickly followed and then her sister’s hands went limp.
* * *
Stingray Country Home
Sylia abruptly sat up in her chair, quickly realizing she had fallen asleep again at her desk. ‘Sleep’ was a polite way of describing her collapse from exhaustion due to chronic overwork.
Her skin felt chilled and yet covered in sweat. She was trembling with a vivid and horrible sensation, of complete and absolute despair. She tried to remember what dream was that she just had but her mind was drawing a blank.
She glanced at the clock and frowned at the coincidence of start of the wedding ceremony.
Normally she would just go back to work but the chills wouldn’t leave her. It was far more intense than when she woke up a few nights ago due to she another bad dream she couldn’t remember.
She decided it was time to force herself to get some much needed rest by taking her now ever present sleeping pills.
– End Chapter 25 –
– End Part 3 –
Chapter 26: Siege
10:07 a.m., June 17th, The Watanabe Grand Hotel, Tokyo
In the privacy of the luxurious suite, the four Watanabe siblings regarded each other quietly. The three men were in their finest suits while Yoshiko wore an elegant kimono.
“Well, Densuke, this day has been a long time coming,” Largo said as he eyed his youngest brother. “Even though you will now be a Chang, we know you are still a Watanabe at heart.”
He gave a slight bow and said, “Of course. This is a union of our families. My children with Reika will honor both blood lines.”
Ryoko, the third oldest sibling, gave him a playful slap on the shoulder. “Never thought you’d actually be serious about settling down as a family man. I guess stranger things can happen in this world. Good going, Little Brother.”
All eyes then settled on their sister, who had remained quiet until that point.
Yoshiko stepped forward and gave him a slight smile. She planted a gentle kiss on his cheek and said, “We’re proud of you.”
He genuinely smiled in return. They were, after all, family.
Largo’s phone suddenly buzzed in his pocket. “I suppose that’s our reminder that several hundred people are waiting on us downstairs,” he said as he pulled it out to check who was calling him.
Minutes later, Densuke was in the hotel lobby, greeting well-wishers.
Driven by curiosity in the back of his mind, he scanned the faces and was puzzled to not see the one he was looking for. He knew she was no longer the maid of honor but he had assumed she would still attend the wedding. Not that he actually asked anyone specifically about her attendance status.
He thought about hunting down Jun to ask her, using this as a feeble excuse to initiate conversation but then thought better of it.
He then ran into Largo’s personal assistant and asked if Sylia Stingray was on the guest list. He was genuinely surprised to learn that she wasn’t expected to attend.
He was also surprised that he felt more concerned than anything else. This must have meant something big had happened between her and Reika. This realization bothered him more than the news of Leslie’s death in a car accident.
Just then, the hotel ballroom plunged into darkness as the lights went out.
* * *
10:49 a.m., Three Blocks Away from The Watanabe Grand Hotel, Tokyo
“So we’re sure that was the only one?” Nigel asked the two women who were displayed in their separate video screens in the mobile pit.
Behind him, Mackey was focused on monitoring the readings of the terminals hooked up to the frozen boomer.
In standby mode, Priss and Cynthia observed the conversation.
“I didn’t find any other hidden commands,” Linna reported from her office at home.
Also at her home, Nene nodded. “Neither did I. But I already wrote a patch that we can still in her program. She’ll only lose today’s memories but it’ll get her started again. It should only take an hour at the most. And I can do it from here if you free up a connection for – “
Both phone screens suddenly went dark and started to display a “No Service” message.
“What the heck?!” Nigel mumbled as he tried reconnecting them without success.
“We’ve also lost all of our connections to the outside, even to the Silky Doll,” Mackey reported as he also tried to re-establish a connection.
“My phone isn’t receiving a signal either,” Priss announced as she tossed the device to the side.
Both Cynthia and Mackey suddenly straightened up in alarm at noises only they could hear.
“There are several helicopters coming from the north!”
Nigel glanced at his watch. “Timing’s too coincidental. Get into your suits!”
* * *
“Cynthia? Can you hear me?” Priss asked into her helmet once she had propelled up into the air with a jump. She had her suit still in stealth mode, knowing that surprise was the only way the two of them could have an edge against a dozen helicopters.
“Yes. I’m right behind you.”
She breathed a sigh of relief that by being up in the sky they must be out of range of the signal disruptor.
“Suggestions on where to start?” she asked as they flew towards the speeding choppers.
“There’s several blocks of construction sites to the west. If we knock them in that direction, it should minimize bystander causalities.”
“Got it! I’m heading for the one in the front!”
Priss focused her attention so her suit could respond with a rocket boost from the last jump off of an office building rooftop. In the next second, she collided into the side of the lead helicopter, knocking both of them into the direction of the construction site.
Embedded into the out of control machine, Priss mentally kicked her boosters into full throttle to propel her catch as deep into the construction zone as possible. She forced herself not to worry too much about the crew, thinking that this was their chance to save themselves before the impending crash landing into the metal framework. Hopefully, she could keep the vehicle from exploding upon impact.
The mass of metal crashed into the top of a partially finished building, knocking down several layers of the top floors before wedging itself into the core of the building.
Priss quickly freed herself from the wreckage so she could rejoin the fight. Just then, she saw the pink Knight Saber whiz by with two choppers in tow from cables she used as a lasso.
She was about to smile in pride at her woman when she was distracted by a large explosion back in the direction of the hotel.
A helicopter had burst into flames and dropped towards the ground in a fireball.
Another chopper in the swarm was also caught by anti-aircraft weaponry and exploded in mid air.
Priss immediately jumped back towards the action even though she knew she was too late to catch any of the falling debris from hitting any of the more occupied areas. The best she could hope for was to get this battle under control as quickly as possible.
* * *
The explosions and gunfire outside eventually stopped and everyone huddled inside the large hall started to exchange whispers if it meant the worst was over. Then the lights came back on and everyone seemed to breath a sigh of relief at once even though the sounds of sirens could be heard from outside.
However, the heads of both families were furious as they exchanged looks with the understanding that they needed to talk privately now!
Standing at the front of the hall, Largo focused everyone’s attention and announced, “I’m sorry, Everyone. But as you may realize, we need to assess what just happened. Please bear with us. In the mean time, there is food and drink available in the next room. I will make another announcement as soon as possible.”
Moments later, the members of the Watanabe and Chang families and their key personnel were gathered in an office near the lobby.
“Reika is not picking up her phone, nor is Irene or Kou,” Jun reported nervously to the elder Chang. She couldn’t help but meet Densuke’s gaze every once in a while, like they couldn’t help but make eye contact even though their mutual concerns were clear.
The old man looked grim as he gripped his cane with almost trembling hands. He then whispered to his own assistant and said, “I want every Clan Elder to be considered a suspect, even if they’re attending this event.”
“They said no one is in the bridal suite,” someone else relayed from his side of a phone conversation.
Sho bit his lip as he cradled his daughter, who thankfully remained asleep through all of the commotion.
With his phone to his ear, a solemn Largo raised his hand to get everyone’s attention. “They’re casualties in the south stairwell number three. There are reports that there had been gunfire involved.”
As the group now moved to urgent action, Yoshiko watched the activities with a stone expression. She then pulled out her own phone as if to make a call, thought better of it and decided to put it away for the time being.
* * *
Stingray Country Home
Stretched out in the bed, Sylia stared up at the ceiling in the dim light that still made it through the closed curtains. Her body felt like complete lead, a sign that her sleeping pills were in full affect, but her brain wouldn’t let go of consciousness. As if there was just something incredibly wrong.
She closed her eyes and tried to force all thoughts from her mind. And sleep still eluded her. But now she suddenly had a strong impulse to call Nigel.
With full concentration of her stiff arm, she reached over to the nightstand and picked up the phone.
When she saw Nigel’s face, the mixed expression of surprise and worry were all too evident to her.
“What just happened?” she managed to croak, her voice not having been used in days.
The man took a deep breath and answered. “There was a raid of the hotel, with military-style helicopters. Priss and Cynthia managed to take care of them. But I’m monitoring the communications in the hotel. There’s confidential word going out that Reika is missing and is believed to be kidnapped. The people who were last seen with her, including her sister Irene were found dead.”
It was only the fact that Sylia was lying down and literally already sedated that kept her from responding to his words with sheer emotion and panic. She finally cleared her throat and ordered, “Send someone to fetch me. I’m not in a condition to drive any vehicle right now.”
There was a mild look of relief in Nigel’s eyes as he answered, “I’ll try to get someone out to you within the next half hour.”
Once the call ended, Sylia laid back down on the bed and finally felt herself slip into a much needed sleep even if it would only be for a few minutes.
– End Chapter 26 –
* * *
Chapter 27: End of the Tunnel
12:04 p.m., June 17th, Matsumoto Industries Factory
Putting the battery powered lantern on the ground, Mei stood over the unconscious form in the blood splattered wedding dress that was stretched out on the muddy basement floor of the abandoned warehouse. She pulled out the medical injection gun and inserted the small vial. She was hardly a medical expert but she had been through the process more than enough to know the basics of giving someone a shot.
Once she had emptied the contents into Reika’s forearm, she stood back and waited.
While she knew she was on a time-limit, she wanted to relish every second possible. She loved the sight of this normally pristine beauty being covered in the filth.
As the new drug started to counteract the sedative, Reika started to slowly stir back to consciousness. Once her eyes opened, she seemed alert and bewildered by her surroundings as she looked at the mud that covered her and stuck to her hair. But once she glanced over and noticed the other woman, she froze and her eyes narrowed with a hateful glare.
“So you must have remembered everything,” her captor said, “Good. Anri was supposed to kill you. But for some reason she malfunctioned. And so I decided to initiate Plan B, which is me. What you see before you is a boomer shell that now houses the brain of Mei Asakawa.”
The information was a momentary surprise to Reika, who then immediately started to take stock of their surroundings.
“We’re a couple of floor underground,” Mei explained as she made a general motion towards the almost collapsed ceiling. “It’s the part of Tokyo that the government decided to not bother rebuilding after the last few earthquakes.”
Reika clearly had several questions on her mind as she tried to focus. She finally asked, “Was Anri supposed to kill Irene as well?”
“No. It was an unexpected opportunity that I had decided to take advantage of. Your lead bodyguard as well.”
“… And so you brought me here to finish the job,” Reika concluded. “Was killing me always your plan?”
Mei’s face went dark. “I don’t know. But it’s all I can think about these days… This body is the second time I’ve cheated death. And even then, it’s only a temporary measure. My brain has been going through accelerated deterioration for years because of the boomer technology that I’ve been exposed to. Even though this shell is now the ultimate indestructible form, it’s estimated that my brain will start to lose the ability to manage critical functions in less than three years. I already don’t remember a good portion of my childhood, even through my teenage years… Yoshiko doesn’t even know any of this.”
“Was she part of this assassination plot?”
“Of course not,” she answered grimly. “And it won’t take long for her to figure everything out. So my time with you is limited… Yes, my end goal is to kill you, but if that doesn’t happen, I want to make certain that you ‘understand’ me as much as possible.”
Prompted by Reika’s look of concern, Mei explained, “That night you walked out on Sylia was the start of when everything really fell apart with the Knight Sabers. She became an obsessive maniac and made battles decisions based on that. At least when you were there, she had some sort of balance.
“But you had left and the rest of us stayed. And I did it willingly because I believed in Sylia and her cause. As a result, I was rewarded by becoming a mechanical freak while you went and lived the life of the poor, whiny little princess. Now, that is not fair, is it?”
Clearly fearful but cautious, Reika stayed perfectly still, not breaking the eye contact with harsh glare.
“And I tried to let it go. To live my own life. But when I heard that Sylia was expected to be your Maid of Honor?! It may have been for a short time but that was just unacceptable! You should not be rewarded for betraying her. You make her weak!”
Reika cleared her throat and said, “So you orchestrated all of this to get your revenge?”
“Don’t flatter yourself!” she growled. “I merely took advantage of the enemies and mess you made on your own. They just needed someone who could provide some guidance and inside assistance when needed. I just didn’t tell them that your head was mine alone… But the clock is ticking…” With that, she turned pulled out another vial of liquid and loaded it into the injection gun.
“Mei, you have someone who truly loves you and is devoted to you. That’s far more than what I have.”
The woman paused for a moment and said frankly, “You’re right. And that does make me feel better, but not by much.”
Seeing that what was going to happen next was inevitable, Reika focused the attention on the loaded injection gun. “What is that you’re going to give me? You’re going to knock me out again?”
Gripping the other woman’s arm like a vice, Mei held up the device proudly. “No, this is the real starting point. Even though someone might need a boomer prosthetic, there are definite compatibility issues that limits the type of persons who can have them. But even with that, most people try to do it anyway because the perceived benefit of having almost normal human capabilities are just too much to pass up. This is the first true test of compatibility: it’s a vial of the serum that focuses on making a person’s brain and body conditioned to work with the boomer nanobots that are required to control the prosthetics.
“Of course, when taking this kind of treatment, doctors always warn people about side effects. The usual: dizziness, headaches, blurry vision, et cetera. Every person who has gone through treatment has had a reaction of some sort. Obviously, the more mild reactions are the people who become successful boomer cyborgs. And there are quite a few people who have severe reactions, some even fatal. But, the one side effect that affects everyone equally is permanent sterility. After all, boomer brains aren’t made to replicate all human functions.”
Before Reika could even react to the words, Mei immediately pinned her down and injected the needle into the base of her neck.
As the liquid entered her body, Reika grit her teeth to try to keep from crying out. It felt as if acid seared through her veins and flesh. She soon began to shriek in complete agony as she writhed on the floor.
Mei stepped back in surprise. She had never expected this intense of a reaction. But as she watched the other woman scream and convulse, her lips curved into a pleased smile.
* * *
The Silky Doll
Sylia had just stepped foot into the Pit command room when excruciating pain suddenly flooded her brain. She gripped the edge of the nearby console to steady herself.
Already concerned by her haggard and gaunt appearance, Mackey immediately stood help to catch his sister should she fall. “Sylia, maybe you need to rest first!”
“We don’t have time!” she snapped. “I just need to take some aspirin.”
Mackey flashed a desperate glance at Nigel, Priss, Cynthia and Henderson.
Priss shrugged her ‘what can we do?’ response, which was the shared feeling of the rest of the group.
“I’ll get some!” Henderson announced as he urgently exited into the elevator.
“So what leads do we have?” Sylia said as she tried force composure.
“Unfortunately, we have too many leads,” Nigel stated softly. “The helicopter attack and the power outage made a perfect cover for whoever took Reika. From the communication we’ve heard, the families are trying to figure out who’s behind this too.”
Sylia frowned and immediately typed into the nearest keyboard to initiate a video call. The main screen lit up with the name Yoshiko Watanabe before the image of the woman herself suddenly appeared.
Now dressed in a simple suit, Yoshiko was apparently alone in a hotel room. She was clearly surprised to see more people than Sylia on her phone screen but she quickly focused on the other woman. “Yes?”
“What do you know?” she firmly demanded.
Clearly reluctant to answer, Yoshiko said, “I have… a suspicion that I haven’t been able to confirm yet.”
Sylia narrowed her eyes at the hint of hesitancy. “… Was it Mei?”
“I don’t know for certain. But she was the only one who could have pulled this off given that there were clearly inside elements to this. She was supposed to be visiting her mother in Kyoto but she hasn’t been seen since last night.”
“And there’s no way to track her?”
“No. And you wouldn’t recognize her if you saw her. Her brain has been transplanted into the original boomer shell that we had stolen from Genom. –”
Nigel jolted slightly in alarm but he kept quiet.
“– If she hasn’t killed Reika by now, it’s going to be soon.”
Sylia looked as if the wind had been knocked out of her as she braced herself against the console.
“I have my people looking at all possible places she could be. Our network is monitoring any possible way she might try to leave the country.”
“Fine. Report any status back to me. I’ll get my own network on it.”
Yoshiko gave a brief nod before ending the call.
Sylia looked at her anxious team mates and said softly, “We’ve got work to do…”
* * *
12:58 p.m. The Watanabe Grand Hotel
Along with several dozen other reporters, Lisa Vanette sat quietly in the hotel meeting room that had been quickly prepared for the press conference. While this was definitely front-page newsworthy, she was skeptical on what she could write. The two families in question had shadow reputations that would limit what she could put in print. And with war zone level damage to the building and in the surrounding neighborhood, she knew that the full details weren’t going to be publicly disclosed, at least not this soon after the event. This was another case of hurry up and wait, which was part of her job.
Finally, a group of very well dressed men and women entered, though clearly for the standards of the wedding that had been expected to take place two hours earlier.
Lisa made a mental note that besides Largo, who was leading the group, she didn’t see any other members of either the Watanabe or the Chang families present.
With an air of absolute authority, Largo approached the podium and spoke into the microphone, “Thank all you for coming. The Watanabe and Chang families apologize for the inconvenience that this afternoon’s unexpected activities have caused. We’ll will take full responsibility for all damages, including to any unfortunate persons who may have been harmed in the nearby neighborhoods.
“As for the reason for this attack, we do not have a firm statement to make at this time on the matter as we’re still looking into it with the assistance of several government agencies. Many of our guests are prominent members of the world’s political and business communities so we have not ruled out the possibility that one or more of them could have been the real targets.
“The wedding will be postponed indefinitely but all of our guests and staff will remain in this hotel while all preliminary investigations are being conducted. Our staff will let you know when we will have the next press conference. I’m sorry, but at this time I am not able to answer any questions but I hope I can the next time I speak before you.”
With that final statement, Largo then turned and led his entourage away, completely ignoring the questions shouted by the hungry press.
Lisa kept quiet and made sure that her recording of his speech was saved for later.
In the back of her mind, she knew she could probably dig up more information by using her resources, but a part of her decided it was best to let things unfold as needed for the time being.
– End Chapter 27 –
* * *
Chapter 28: Full Circle
3:48 p.m., June 17th, Matsumoto Industries Factory
It took hours but Reika finally stopped convulsing on the floor, collapsing in a gasping heap in mud and her own filth.
And Mei watched every moment in fascination. She was especially pleased when the writhing woman started vomiting a mixture of food, blood and black sludge, all the while whimpering and groaning in agony.
Satisfied that this step had reached its completion, Mei walked over and knelt down by her victim. She reached down and tapped Reika on the forehead to check how conscious she was.
Reika, who had been staring wildly into space during her fit, suddenly focused her sight on Mei. She snarled and clutched Mei’s throat with both hands.
Not at all concerned by the attack, the other woman chuckled at the primal response. This is just getting better and better!
“Good! I was hoping you would finally fight back!” she declared as she gently gripped Reika’s right upper arm and started to slowly squeeze her boomer hand.
* * *
Sylia’s sheer force of will looked as if it was finally feeling defeat as she started to nod off in her chair.
As Henderson gently wrapped a blanket around her, the three exchanged a look of agreement to be as quiet as possible.
Both Nigel and Mackey were hunched over their separate computer terminals, each absorbed in their tasks of searching and gathering information.
Suddenly the woman bolted upright in her chair, her expression wide-eyed and panicked.
“I can feel where she is!” Sylia said as she stood with groggy steps.
A bewildered Mackey was about to say something but Nigel signaled for him to be quiet.
She quickly regained her physical control and started to walk towards the elevator. “I have to go to her now! Get the others to follow my signal”
Nigel was on his feet in an instant and grabbed her arm, “Sylia, wait!”
Sylia froze and stated in a deeply emotional tone, “Nigel, I have to go! There’s no time!”
Keeping his tone as calm as possible. “I know you do. Take me with you. There’s a good chance she’s going to need medical attention!”
For a brief second, Sylia was clearly speechless as she stared at him. Then she stood on her tiptoes and gave him a brief kiss before taking him by the hand to the hard suits.
Mackey let out a sigh of relief as he started the process of alerting everyone.
* * *
Matsumoto Industries Factory
With fresh blood dripping from her hands, Mei stood over the still figure and watched for any movement beyond the occasional twitch and spasm.
At the least, Reika was bleeding to death. With both of her eyes gouged and her right arm snapped off, she was surrounded in a pool of red and brown muck. Her right leg was crushed and twisted from the thigh downward.
To kill her now would just make the inevitable end come faster.
Mei frowned to herself as she thought that it would be an act of mercy, and that was not the point of this exercise. And she hadn’t even done all of the damage she had planned to do.
The faint whine of a hardsuit landing nearby caught her attention. She didn’t have to guess to know which one it was. Intense feelings of anger and betrayal once again absorbed her thoughts.
Mei turned to the trunk of equipment she had nearby and readied herself for a real fight.
* * *
In the bright sunlight, Sylia easily punched through the rusted metal doors of the warehouse, which was filled with the ruins of concrete and metal from the collapsed roof and upper floors. She stepped forward and immediately caught sight of the lone figure who stood on top of the tallest pile of rubbish. The person was dressed in black military style suit with a helmet and several weapons.
Sylia’s rage drove her to leap right at the calmly waiting target. She nailed the woman with a tackle to the stomach, sending them both flying towards one of the still standing walls. Just before they collided, Sylia felt the blow of some sort of explosion against her helmet. It was only a moment of disorientation, but enough for Mei to get the upper hand and shoot more rounds of the anti-boomer guns into the white hardsuit body.
Upon seeing Sylia swat Mei into the air, Nigel tried to ignore the sounds of fighting as he focused on his task at hand to find Reika based on Sylia’s verbal descriptions of where she might be. With the weight of his special backpack, he immediately spied the door that led to stairs leading underground.
It didn’t take long for him to see the glow of the lantern that had been left behind and he stopped in his tracks when he saw Reika sprawled out on the floor. He grit his teeth at the immediate thought that if she wasn’t dead, she might be better off that way.
Pushing that thought away, he frantically rushed to her side and opened his special backpack. As he tried to put some pressure to her open limb, he pulled out the container of the special mixture of blood and serum and inserted the tube into Reika’s neck. Almost immediately, he thought he could see Reika start to relax as the fluid started to spread through her.
He couldn’t help but think it was ironic that he had been inspired to develop this special medical kit because of the very battle that had started to turn Mei into what she had become. And he always thought he would use it on a Knight Saber — not Reika, of all people.
He then pulled out the special scanner and waved it over her body. Sure enough, her human vital signs barely registered. However, her nanobot signs were at maximum levels. He noted that her own body’s sources must be involved because the serum mixture didn’t contain enough to cause such a strong reading.
He pulled out his phone and called Mackey. “I’m with Reika! Direct Priss and Cynthia my coordinates! We need to get her to a medical facility ASAP!”
“I’ll let the hospital know — !”
“Wait!” Nigel ordered as an idea hit him as he watched the scanner continue to show maximum nanobot readings for the fallen woman. “We’re taking her back to the Silky Doll! Prepare tank two with solution seventeen.”
“Um, all right,” a confused Mackey responded, knowing better than to question or argue.
* * *
As she pulled herself out of the pile of concrete, Mei knew she was sustaining damage, but it was simple to ignore the signals coming from the implanted part of her brain. She could have just let Sylia kill her to end everything, but her own emotional turmoil and drive for survival wouldn’t let her do that.
With her swords out, Sylia leap at her again, though it was clear she wasn’t moving as fast or efficient as she should be. But it was enough of a lag to make a difference in a fight like this. And the explosions hadn’t actually penetrated her hardsuit but dents and cracks were apparent.
Mei dodged Sylia’s attack and once again shot an anti-boomer shell into the crack in the clear torso. The hard suit finally gave way and Sylia screamed in pain as blood spurted from her abdomen.
As she watched Sylia crash into the wall, Mei heard the whine of two other Knight Sabers approaching. But instead of landing to help Sylia, they were focused on ripping open the floors above where she had abandoned Reika.
Now Mei was mad again. The Knight Sabers were supposed to be committed to helping their leader, not the one who abandoned and rejected them! This is all messed up!
From the crumpled door of the warehouse, Yoshiko aimed her own anti-boomer rifle at Mei’s neck and pulled the trigger.
The single shot was all that was needed.
* * *
4:42 p.m. The Watanabe Grand Hotel
“Reika has been found but she’s in critical condition!” Largo announced to the anxious members of the family.
A mixed response of relief and concern went through the group. Several people were still immersed in grieving for Irene and the others who had been killed.
“However, in agreement with the Chang Family, we’re going to refrain from making any announcement about her until her condition is more… conclusive. We’re also keeping her whereabouts a secret for security purposes. So I think at this point, those who do not need to be here should head home. Again, we apologize for any inconvenience this has caused you.”
Once Largo’s announcement was done, Jun looked over and saw Densuke sitting quietly by himself in the corner. He seemed to be staring down at the still full glass of scotch in his hands.
She cleared her throat to announce her presence as she walked over to him.
He looked up at her and managed a faint though tired smile.
“So are you coming with us?” she asked, referring to the handful of people who were going to head over to Sylia’s home to see Reika.
“Of course,” he said as he stood up and brushed off his suit. He put the drink on a nearby table.
Feeling compelled to say something, Jun said, “Despite her condition, I’m glad they found her. It’s a small amount of hope with everything that has happened.”
Densuke gave a solemn nod. “It’s probably the first time I have ever been grateful that Sylia was in her life.”
– End Chapter 28 –