By Andy Skuse ~ firstname.lastname@example.org
A Bubblegum Crisis Fanfiction (C) 1995-2000
Based on characters copyrighted by Youmex, AIC, Artmic
Chapter 5. A Distant Whisper
Sylia Stingray stood quietly in front of the huge window that overlooked MegaTokyo's downtown core from her apartment. Hundreds of headlights moved haltingly through the main streets as the night took hold of the city. Serpentine files of pedestrians wound their way along the jammed sidewalks to their destinations amid the bright flicker of neon light and constant traffic noise. A media barge moved slowly through the skyscraper canyons just overhead, spewing its never-ending loop of announcements and news clips. Bright spears of white light emanating from the barge's belly scanned the streets and buildings below in a sweeping, circular pattern. No sudden, abrupt changes. No strange, violent occurrences. Just life as usual. Smooth and uninterrupted. She continued to watch the relatively calm scene as a vague feeling suddenly swept over her. Like someone whispering her name in the distance.
While Priss'instinct had unveiled immediate dangers that usually manifested themselves in the form of Boomers, Sylia's inner vision was focused on the arrival of impending danger. Nene jokingly called it her 'women's intuition' but it was more than that. A nagging feeling that something was interfering with the normal flow of things. That feeling had saved the Knight Sabers more than once and now that feeling was resurfacing, almost unrecognizable in the wake of years of inactivity.
She turned away from the window and looked carefully at the faces of her friends assembled in her penthouse living room. Nene sat bolt upright on the couch with her fingers laced in her lap and one foot tucked under the other, staring into space in the direction of Sylia's brother Mackie who tapped away at a computer console in the corner. Linna sat slouched in her chair, and looked blankly at the TV which spewed out the evening news. Vandalism, burglary, rape, murder. AD Police cars in hot pursuit down the main parkways of the city. The same as the night before and the night before that and the night before that. The surprising fact was the crime rate had plunged to what it had been twenty years ago- before Genom showed up.
Sylia regarded her brother at the computer console, noting the similar features that she saw each morning in her own mirror. Brothers could be a pain sometimes, but they could also be extremely loyal and helpful in their own way. Sylia watched him continue to type on the computers keyboard slowly and erratically, as if searching. Searching for something to happen.
Linna looked up as Sylia approached and then sat down on the couch beside Nene who continued staring at Mackie. Linna sat up, her gaze intensifying until she could stay quiet no longer. "Sylia, is there something on your mind? You look a little worried."
Sylia turned and smiled faintly at Linna. "No, I'm fine. Just wondering where Priss is. Late as usual."
Linna returned the smile and switched her gaze to Nene who was now staring at Sylia with concern in her eyes. Linna caught Nene's eye and they volleyed glances of quiet confusion between each other until Nene spoke up, "Sylia, do you think we'll ever have to fight boomers again?"
Mackie's head snapped around to the middle of the room at the sound of Nene's voice while Linna groaned and fell back into her chair, rolling her eyes.
Sylia paused to think about Nene's question then answered slowly,"I hope not Nene. I really hope that we never have to face another Boomer as long as we live. Genom is long gone and things have been quiet for some time. I really hope it's over."
Nene smiled grimly at the last remark, and looked back at Mackie who was now watching his sister. The worried look on Mackie's face stole Nene's fleeting smile and replaced it with a frown. It was now clear to all that Sylia was bothered by something but what?
Linna, Nene and Mackie watched from the corners of their eyes as Sylia stood restlessly, and then returned to her self-imposed post at the window.
Sylia stared thoughtfully after the hypnotic spotlights of the media barge as it slipped between several tall buildings a few blocks away and disappeared. 'If they could see my face now', she thought, continuing to stare out the window at nothing, 'They'd know there was something really wrong. How long has it been since we've had to stop the rampage of an out-of-control, prototype boomer? Did the people of MegaTokyo still need the protection of the Knight Sabers?'
Genom was officially bankrupt but she felt there was more to their demise than the media reported. Genom's swift rise to power had put scheduling pressure on most of the corporations that Genom relied on for discrete projects. The dissolving of many of those corporations eventually left Genom standing as the lone target amid a growing wave of dissatisfaction with their moral conduct in local and international circles. Coincidental changes in the AD Police hierarchy led to more freedom to investigate the activities of the corporate giant, finally resulting in an intense investigation.
Commenced two years ago on a tip that the Genom corporation was involved in the kidnapping of lower-income citizens of Mega Tokyo for horrible human tolerance experiments, the AD Police soon found enough evidence to effectively shut down the cybernetics mogul. As the AD Police began to dig through the thick layers of information that filled Genom's vaults, the charges against the company of human brutality and mistreatment mounted, until there was no use in filing any more charges. They were beyond acquittal, no matter who defended them in the courts. This much was known publicly. The lowdown on the net and in the underground, was that before their downfall, Genom had developed some kind of new 'weapon' that would have furthered their cause by tenfold. No-one ever offered any suggestions as to what this weapon might be, but Sylia had her suspicions.
Those suspicions were later confirmed by Fargo, that it had something to do with Boomer mind control. And Fargo had added, rather dramatically as she recalled, that the weapon had never been recovered by the police or any of the investigating teams brought in by the government. So, the rumored boomer mind controlling device remained at large, waiting somewhere for someone with the wrong intentions and the right skills to find and misuse.
Her thoughts were suddenly interrupted by the vague feeling that she had experienced a few minutes ago, a distant whisper calling her name. She refocused her eyes to stare into the window, looking at the reflection of the room behind her. Her guests were all quietly engaged in the activities they had been occupied with when last she looked. So where was this voice coming from? Had she really heard something?
Her eyes turned from the reflection of the room to stare at her own image gazing back at her. She smiled at herself weakly and chided herself for her foolishness, 'Voices- right. You're just looking too hard for problems my dear. Maybe you should worry more about the problems closer to home.'
Her conscience was convincing. The Knight Sabers had changed over the years along with the police and Genom. Unfortunately not for the better. They weren't training regularly anymore- it was getting harder to convince the others that it was still necessary. She and Linna had kept in shape but Nene was getting good at creating excuses and Priss- she sometimes didn't show up at the meetings at all. There was something going on with Priss that she could not fathom, and she refused to talk about it with anyone. That was not a good sign. They were all used to Priss' inner turmoils but sooner or later the source of her problem would surface, whether Priss wanted it to or not. This time the problem lay buried beneath her friend's cool exterior, making for very short and intense appearances at the meetings that she did show up for.
If there was ever a time that a new enemy should strike, it would be now. Of all the things that were on her mind, this troubled her most. They were vulnerable now, the result of complacency. It would not be easy but she thought it might be prudent to change her recent unofficial policy of letting people excuse themselves from basic training and meetings. As long as there was some shred of information existing, that proved that Genom or anyone could still use her father's ideas to further their own greed, then the Knight Sabers must be ready to intercept them.
Across the room, Mackie stopped typing for a moment to consider his sister's mysterious concern . He knew that whatever it was that bothering her, it was something more than Priss not showing up on time. Anything that worried her sister had a habit of showing up in a big way.
No sooner had he finished his thought when the police scanner frequency
suddenly erupted to life. "Hey I think we got somethin'!"
Linna and Nene stared at each other with open mouths, disbelieving what they had just heard. Mackie adjusted the scanning equipment trying to get a better signal. Sylia continued looking out the window but cocked her head as the reports of the break-in continued to flood in over the scanner.
She looked down at the street and the heavy traffic as it continued to flow through the intersections, realizing that her wish to get the Knight Sabers back into shape may be too late.
Turning slowly to face the expectant looks of her companions she began issuing instructions, the immediacy of the situation just now solidifying, "Mackie get the van prepped. Linna see if you can locate Priss. Nene see if you can get a better description of these 'unknown' boomers from someone on-scene. I'd like to know more about what we may be dealing with."
Nene's face brightened as she sat down at the now vacant computer console and began her search. At least we don't have to wait around any more, she thought.
Sylia watched the others concernedly, as they set about their tasks with
new energy. Turning once more to regard the view of the darkening city, she
had only one other immediate problem left to deal with. Where was Priss?
Blackie stood in the open doorway of his apartment with his hand on the light panel and stared at the sleeping form on his couch. Her voice was still in his ears as he stood there, wishing she would wake but wanting her to rest. He checked to make sure that the note he'd left on her jacket hadn't fallen on the floor and then closed the door quietly behind him.
Priss awoke to find the apartment dark and herself the only occupant. Her head felt sore but the pain had subsided to a dull throbbing. She fumbled about in the darkness and finally found the switch panel for the lamp beside the couch. Cursing the soreness as she sat up, she noticed a small piece of paper on top of her jacket. Leaning over slowly, she snatched the note and read Blackie's surprisingly neat handwriting :
Hope you're feeling better if you read this before I get back. Gone to get us some dinner.
She smiled to herself and folded the note in half. After tucking it in her jacket pocket, she turned on the tiny TV at the foot of the couch and sat back gently. The sound of a TV news reporter speaking frantically to a live camera shook her from her pleasant state. Priss stared in growing disbelief as the camera panned around the parking lot of a large military building revealing dozens of AD police vehicles and a few military vehicles as well. Armed officers had positioned themselves behind their vehicles, weapons pointed at the building they had surrounded. Helicopters thundered overhead.
The reporter's voice suddenly broke through the noise of the tense
Priss stood up and winced as her head protested the quick movement and reached for the vidphone handset. She fumbled hastily with her jacket and upon finding her telnet card, inserted it into the vidphones console and dialled a number. As she put on her jacket, Nene's face appeared in the viewer. She greeted her with a look of anxiety on her face, "Priss? Is that you?! Are you okay?"
"Yeah Nene it's me. I'm fine. What the hell's going on at the military base?"
Priss watched Nene turn and inform the others that it was Priss that was calling. She heard Sylia's voice mutter something in the background, and then Nene came back into view. "Priss, it looks like possible Boomer trouble. But nobodies really sure. Where are you?"
"I'm at a friend's place downtown. Can you meet me over at The Legs? I've got to pick up my bike there."
Nene turned away from the viewer again and mumbled something to someone behind her. She turned back abruptly, and nodding vigorously said, "Yes! It's on the way to the base. We'll meet you there in fifteen minutes."
Priss yanked her telnet card out of the vidphone's slot and grabbed her helmet. She then picked up her gun and headed for the door, checking her pockets for her keys. It was then that it struck her that her departure seemed a little hasty.
She looked around the room searching for something to write with, and upon finding a thermal-ink pen, on the back of Blackie's note she scribbled :
Thanks for the tea. I'm feeling much better thanks to you but I had to go. I have your number and I'll call you soon. I promise.
Priss walked gingerly to the door and then took one last look around the
room her gaze coming to rest on the tapestry by the window. As the
moonlight filtered through the dusty window pane and illuminated the wall
covering, she could see the ancient setting depicted on its surface. Taking a
second to absorb the beautiful scene amid the grey shambles of the apartment
she smiled briefly to herself, and then locked the door and closed it behind
Inside the Matsumi Military research facility, four tall, human figures stood silently in the darkness of the unlit main hall. Standing in a circle, each figure faced a side of the building, watching, listening and waiting. Thirty-one frightened hostages lined the walls of the hall, sitting wordlessly, staring at their strange captors. On the marble floor before them lay the shattered body of the thirty-second hostage, an example of what to expect if anyone tried to escape.
The intruders had repelled several attempts by the police and military to enter the complex and after each successful defense they returned to the main hall to wait. As the police tiptoed about on the roof, the four figures would communicate the changing positions of their targets, calmly using a rapid series of sharp, high-pitched clicks and whistles. The exchanges were brief and without debate.
The movement on the roof suddenly ceased, and now they stood silently once again. Waiting, listening and watching with softly glowing, blue eyes.