Story: Mecha Wars! (all chapters)

Authors: Shanejayell

Back to chapter list

Chapter 1

Title: Project A-ko!

Mecha Wars: Project A-Ko

Biko looked out the jet's window thoughtfully, considering just why she was having to visit a city like Mega-Tokyo. One of it's leading companies, Genom, had a small problem, and if they had a problem, so did all their various business associates. Like her father's company, for instance. She scowled, wishing her father had kept him mouth shut about her.

"Are we there yet?" Eiko complained to her from across the aisle. Biko was struck by how childish her rival sounded, and had to fight back a smile.

"Soon," Biko said with a little smile. She opened up her laptop, and began to call up the files that Genom had sent to her on their little problem.

"Corporate Terrorists on the Loose!" was the first banner headline, and then "Menace to Society!" followed it. Some artist's conceptions of the Knight Sabers soon appeared on the screen, all of them looking suitably menacing. Finally, a list of damage the Knight Sabers had done began to scroll by, coupled with what little technical data they had on them.

Having read some of it over Biko's shoulder, an amused Eiko quietly commented, "A little biased, maybe?"

"Just a little," Biko agreed with her dryly. She paused for a moment, then more softly said "Thank you for coming along."

"I should be thanking you. It got me away from my dad," Eiko said with a smile. "He's still trying to get me to wear that damn costume," she added, shuddering at the very idea of wearing skin tight red and blue spandex.

A little smile quirked Biko's lips. "You'd look good in it," she remarked.

Eiko blushed, "Don't you start that again!"

The jet landed, and both of them were soon in a limo bound for Genom's tower. A mercifully short trip ended up with them standing in an massive office, the head of Genom itself, Quincy, sitting behind the desk there.

"Welcome to Mega-Tokyo," Quincy said, stepping up to them to shake their hands. He was gray hared in a distinguished kind of way, if you ignored the slime.

Biko's nostrils flared as they caught something odd. There was an scent about him, one that instantly triggered the memory of her familiar work room back home. She carefully touched a switch on her wristband, and a display appeared on her LCD contact lense. 'An android,' she noted, 'he's not even here. Interesting.'

"So you want me to try to deal with your Knight Sabers problem, correct?" Biko asked him calmly, taking a chair in front of his desk.

"They are a bit of a problem," Quincy admitted, adding, "I'm certain our own forces can bring them to justice eventually, but not without cost."

"And my mecha design skills brought me to your attention as a potential solution," Biko noted. "Not to mention an attack on one of my father's facilities," she said coldly. Over a dozen employees had been killed, it appeared by the Knight Sabers.

"I hope we'll be able to stop these criminals with your assistance," Quincy said, a small smile teasing his lips.

The two girls left the office as quickly as possible. "That guy's a robot!" Eiko exclaimed as soon as they were out of the building.

"How did you know?" Biko asked curiously.

"How creepy he acted," Eiko said with a shudder.

Biko chuckled softly at that. "Actually, the real Quincy acts that way too," she added with a grin, "but that was a robot."

They walked to the hotel they were staying in silence. Finally, Eiko asked "So how do we find these Knight Sabers, anyway?"

Biko grinned at her, "Don't worry, I have a plan."

Not too much later, they stood in a deserted alley, accompanied by various sounds of grinding and clanking metal.

"I hate this plan," Eiko complained to her bitterly. She twisted this way and that, trying in vain to get the boomer costume she was wearing to sit a bit more comfortably on her body. "Why do I have to be the bait, anyway?" she asked plaintively.

"Because you can take anything these Knight Sabers can dish out," Biko commented, adding under her breath, "trust me, I should know." She tinkered with the costume a bit, "There, now you'll register as a real boomer. They seem to react to any out of control boomers, so act like one and you will draw them out."

"You are so going to owe me for this," Eiko sighed out softly. She adjusted the suit one more time before saying over her shoulder, "Wish me luck."

Eiko then proceeded to run off down the street, her arms and legs in exagerated motion, hollering loudly in what could, if one was charitable, be called an attempt to sing. Biko sighed to herself softly, activating her suit's sensor cloak. 'Who ever these Knight Sabers are,' she thought, 'I just hope they're gullible.'

"Wow," Nene said softly.

"Well, that's new," Linna said dryly. "Priss, have you ever seen a boomer doing that?" she asked her friend over the radio.

"Nope," Priss admitted. She passed the question on to Sylia.

"This may just be a first," Sylia admitted.

The rogue boomer was standing in what would normally be a busy intersection, dancing. A bit awkwardly, admittedly. There was not too much sense of rhythm there. But it was dancing, none the less. The A.D. Police hadn't arrived just yet, so the Knight Sabers were taking a few moments to enjoy the show.

"Well, as entertaining as this is," Sylia said to the others coolly, "it could try to hurt someone. Let's go, Knight Sabers!"

Priss took the point as usual, leading the charge towards the dancing boomer. She got near, drew her arm back, and then swung at it. Only to find the boomer wasn't there.

Eiko quickly sidestepped the blow, firmly grabbing the blue Knight Saber's arm. She spun her around and then swung her forcefully towards a nearby lamp post, head first.

Bong! The metal post shook violently, ringing just like a bell. The blue suit staggered backwards, and then it flopped right over, it's pilot out cold.

"Priss!" Linna cried out. Her cables tore into the boomer's body armor, but stragely it just seemed to break away in pieces revealing a young woman. The red headed girl grinned at her, before hitting her armor with incredible force.

"Don't make a move," Sylia heard a strange voice say over her suit's radio. She quickly turned around, only to see...

A woman floating in the air dressed in what looked like a metallic one piece swimsuit. Gloves, boots, and a helmet completed the outfit. Sylia brought up her heads-up display, and whistled softly. The thing had powerful forcefields, and substantial weaponry.

"We would really prefer to arrest you all peacefully," Biko said to her calmly, "but we'll use force if it's needed."

"What do we do?" Nene asked Sylia frantically, "they're both human beings!" Out of the corner of her eye she saw Eiko punch through a wall, so she added, "I think."

Linna danced backward, trying to avoid any more direct hits from the girl. The last punch had made her head ring, though she did notice that the girl was dodging her punches too. 'This is so crazy,' Linna thought, dropping and using a sweep kick to knock the girl down.

Quickly assessing the situation, Sylia leaped and tackled the flying girl down to ground level where they were on more even terms. "What are you after us for," she asked her, even as she tried to keep the girl's missile launcher under control. 'What sort of maniac wears a weapon like that on her wrist, anyway?' she thought frantically.

"I'm here to bring you in for the deaths at the Daitokuji plant!" Biko hissed out. 'If I could just get my missiles ready,' she thought.

"But it wasn't us, an out of control boomer did that," Sylia said, sounding honestly surprised at the girl's acusation.

"What?" Biko said, surprised. 'The information we got about the attack did come from Genom,' she realized with a sinking feeling.

"Don't you ever watch the news?" Sylia demanded.

From the corner of her eye she saw both the green and pink Knight Sabers trying to dogpile on Eiko, without having very much success, but Biko had other things to worry about. She accessed several news programs, reviewing reports for the last few weeks, and with a sinking feeling realized the Knight Saber was right.

"Oops," Biko said to her sheepishly.

Once she saw the fight had gone out of her opponent, Sylia let Biko up. "Let me guess," Sylia said, "Genom told you that we attacked the plant, to get you to come after us."

"Looks like it," Biko sighed. She turned to the still struggling Eiko and yelled at her, "Stop fighting! Genom lied to us!"

From somewhere under the dogpile they all heard Eiko yell, "I knew we shouldn't have trusted that slime ball!"

Priss staggered to her feet, leaning on the lamppost heavily for support. "Lemme at 'em!" she slurred out, "I c'n take 'em!" Then she fell over, again.

"I don't like being lied to," Biko said dangerously. She exchanged a look with Eiko, and they both exchanged an grim little smile.

Quincy looked very startled when the office's window exploded inward. Before any of his boomer bodyguards could react, Eiko was all over them. She moved like the wind, disabling them with what looked like childish ease.

Biko ignored them, going right for Quincy. "You lied to me," she said dangerously. A evil smile appeared on her face, "I know you're just a robot, and that the real Quincy is safe. But I also know how much a decoy like this costs..."

And then she blew it up quite spectacularly.

The jet they were taking back to Graviton City was right on time, and a lot more comfortable than the last one. "And you call that dancing?" Biko commented from the couch. "I'm surprised the crowd didn't try to stop you!"

"I can dance just fine," Eiko shot back. "Besides, I didn't see you coming up with any better ideas," she said with a frown.

"That's not dancing," Biko said dryly. She got up from her seat, crossing the broad aisle to offer Eiko her hand. The redhead took it, and she smoothly pulled her to her feet. "1, 2, 3," Biko counted under her breath as she waltzed the redhead around the cabin.

Eiko blushed a bit, looking into the blue hared girl's eyes. Biko gently pulled her tighter, and she felt her own generous proportions meshing with the other girl's. "This... feels kind of nice," Eiko admitted to her softly.

Biko smiled slightly. "This feels even better," and she gently kissed her.

Chapter 2

Title: Catgirl Nuku-Nuku!

Mecha Wars: Cat-girl Nuku Nuku

The two techs carefully rolled out the massive container from the special cold storage unit, looking it over curiously. Finally, one quietly spoke up to the other, "Hey Joe, what the heck is this old thing, anyway?"

"Some kinda early experiment in cyborg based technology," Joe answered him in his usual deadpan delivery. "Back from the turn of the century, I think." His eyes widened a bit, "Hey, watch out on your side, Mac!"

It tottered, wobbled a bit, and then finally just fell right over, the glass front shattering loudly. A figure spilled out onto the cement floor, laying there deathly still. It was a teenaged girl, red-headed, and dressed only in a bathing suit. As her body rapidly warmed, a mist rose from her body, obscuring her from their view.

Mac waved his hands around, trying to clear the blinding mist, when he realized something: the girl was gone. He looked around wildly, but didn't see a trace of her. "Joe, she's gone!" he yelled rather desperately.

"Boss ain't gonna like this," a deadpan Joe said to his friend, shaking his head mournfully. He walked to a nearby phone, passing by a sign reading "Genom long term storage facility" and began dialing a number. He said calmly, "Sir, we've got a problem. Project number 1261-NukuNuku seems to have escaped."

The redhead bolted down the crowded side-street, running with incredible speed. Suddenly, in a cloud of dust she screeched to a stop beside a little fish market. "Hmm, fishies," she sighed to herself softly, licking her lips. She straightened up, shaking her head as she reminded herself, "No! I've gotta find Ryunosuke!"

She took off, trying to find any familiar looking landmarks. Coming around a corner, she saw a short young woman dressed in a police uniform walking along the street. A little cartoon appears above the red-hared girl's head as she thinks: A chibi-police officer equals help, and help means finding Ryunosuke!

She walked up to her, "Excuse me, but can you help me?"

Nene looked up at the tall girl in surprise. 'What in the world is she doing running around town in a swimsuit?' she wondered. "What's the problem?" she asked her.

"I'm lost," the girl said mournfully, "and I need to find Ryunosuke."

Nene pulled out a notepad and wrote that down, "And you are?"

"Nuku Nuku," she answered her cheerfully.

Before the conversation could go any farther, two men dressed in poorly fitting business suits came up behind Nuku Nuku, one putting his hand on her shoulder. "You're coming with us," he said to her in gravely tones.

"No," Nuku Nuku said, shrugging off the hand to the suit's obvious surprise. They exchange a look, then both suits try to grab her arms.

"Hold on a second," Nene loudly protested this, "I'm with the AD Police, and this woman was asking for my help."

Both men look alarmed at hearing that. Their bodies swelled up, the fabric of the suits tearing open, then suddenly the skin itself ripped open, revealing dark metal underneath.

"Boomers," Nene squeaked out softly, suddenly wishing that she had her hardsuit with her right about now.

Nuku Nuku shook her head, and what looked like a pair of metallic rabbit's ears popped out on either side of her head. She easily tore one of her arms free, taking the startled boomer's arm with it. She shook the detached hand off, then swung her fist at the other boomer's head! It bounced nicely off a alley wall, sliding to the floor.

Two other boomers came from around the corner, and Nuku Nuku made a quick decision. She picked Nene right up in her arms and then bolted away from them at top speed.

"Wait," Nene hollered, "put me down right now!"

Nuku Nuku pretty much ignored her, barreling along as fast as possible. The boomers were following right behind them, firing at them wildly. "Then again," Nene quietly said, looking over Nuku Nuku's shoulder at the racing boomers, "maybe not." She pulled her phone from her pocket and hit the speed dial.

Sylia Stingray reached across the desk to pick up the phone, "Hello?"

"There are," Nene said, checking over Nuku Nuku's shoulder to count again, "four combat boomers chasing a red headed girl downtown!"

"And how do you know about that?" Sylia asked her, already paging the other members of the Knight Sabers as she did so.

"Because she's carrying me along with her!" Nene cried out.

"We'll be there as soon as possible," Sylia reassured her.

The young man read the monitor in disbelief, pushing his scraggly brown hair up and out of his eyes to do so. He quickly brought the inter- office communication system up, and soon a auburn haired executive was on his view screen.

"Mom," he quickly said to her, "that data tap I put on Genom's computer systems came up with something!"

Akiko frowned slightly, "I don't know what you're talking about," and she smiled, adding, "at least not officially, Ryunosuke."

Ryunosuke rolled his eyes at that. "Nuku Nuku's awake," he reported. "And her survival instincts are as good as ever. She bolted the first chance she could," he said with a smile.

"Stay here," Akiko barked, as he was about to get out of his chair. "I'll take care of it," she added softly, a determined look in her eye.

"Like you did last time?" he asked her skeptically.

Her expression softened. "I promised your father, Kyasuku, that I'd save her, son. You know I keep my word," she said softly.

He nodded his acknowledgment, and she disconnected. She reached for her phone, then stopped. A smile appears, and she quickly dialed, "Arisa, Kyouko? It's Akiko. I need your help with a little unfinished business I need to take care of."

Sylia, Priss and Linna suited up, as the van hurried down side streets to try and catch up with the chase. From up front Mackie reported, "There's at least six boomers after them, now!"

"So why is Genom after her, anyway?" Linna asked, her helmet resting in her lap.

"There were always rumors in the robotics community about a miracle robot. Somehow, it combined organic and computer brains to create something greater that the sum of it's parts," Sylia explained to them coolly. "I think the red head's that robot."

Mackie shouted to the back, "We're about a block or so ahead of them, but they're coming up to us fast!"

Their helmets were donned and the three of them headed out on to the street. Nuku Nuku was still maintaining a fairly good lead, but the twelve boomers that were now chasing after her were starting to catch up.

"Let's go," Sylia said crisply, and led the others right by Nuku Nuku and into the very surprised boomers. 'I don't very much like these odds,' she thought grimly, 'but it's not like we have much of a choice.'

Nuku Nuku skidded to a stop, surprised. "There my friends," Nene said with a grin, "they're the Knight Sabers!"

"They're outnumbered," Nuku Nuku said softly, watching them fight the mob of boomers on her behalf. Four against one wasn't easy, but the Knight Sabers were trying their best. She put Nene down, "I'm going to help them!"

Before Nene could say anything to argue that decision, Nuku Nuku was gone, charging like a shot into the wild melee. Nene looked around her wildly for the Silky Doll truck, but couldn't see any sign of it.

Linna struggled, her arm pinned behind her back, then suddenly she was free! Nuku Nuku flipped one boomer back towards Priss, who blew it away mid air. A broad smile stretched across Nuku Nuku's face, as if she was having a great time.

"Is she crazy?" Priss asked Sylia over the radios.

"I doubt it," Sylia answered, "but she's pretty much invulnerable. This likely is fun to her!"

A screech of tires, and a armored jeep came around the corner, nearly clipping Nene. "Sorry," Kyouko yelled out to her from the driver's side window.

The top popped back, and another woman stood up in the back seat, carrying a big weapon. "Just like old times," Arisa laughed, and fired off a guided missile into the battle field!

A boomer exploded in a massive fireball, then another as the Knight Sabers and Nuku Nuku pulled back from the fight. Akiko picked up another rocket launched, and between them they managed to deal with the majority of the boomers.

"Are any of the head's still intact?" Akiko asked those around her quickly.

Priss looked around, then picked one up. "What do you want with it?" she asked.

"To send Quincy a little message," Akiko said with a dangerous little smile. Priss handed her the head, and Akiko looked into the eyes as she said, "I'm sure this is being monitored. Nuku Nuku is not Genom's property, and was acquired by the company illegally. If you attempt to go after her again, I will fight you in court with all of my resources."

An evil smile crossed her face as Akiko softly added , "I know how financially overextended you are, Quincy, and I really doubt you can afford to play lawyers with me right now."

While this conversation was going on, Sylia signaled to Linna and Priss. She figured the situation was well in hand, so she silently led the two Sabers away. Nene gave them a wave, but decided to stay and keep an eye on Nuku Nuku.

Nuku Nuku looked thoughtfully over at Arisa and Kyouko, a odd look on her face. "I know you," she exclaimed, pointing, "we used to play together!"

"Play," Arisa echoed, rolling her eyes. An aside to Kyouko, "Can you believe that's what she calls out attempts to blow her up?"

"There, there, love," Kyouko smiled, gently taking her hand, "you have to admit we all had fun back then."

Akiko tossed the boomer's head aside casually as she walked towards Nuku Nuku and the others. "Do you remember me?" Akiko asked her softly.

Nuku Nuku nodded, "You're Ryunosuke's mama."

Akiko chuckled softly at being called that, "Yes, he sent me to get you."

"But where's Papa?" Nuku Nuku asked her plaintively, "Where's Kyasuku?"

Akiko smiled sadly, putting her hand gently on Nuku Nuku, "He died several years ago. But I promised him I'd take care of you, I'm just sorry it's taken so long."

Nuku Nuku, Akiko, Arisa and Kyouko walked towards the jeep together, and Nuku Nuku quietly asked, "Can you take me to Ryunosuke?"

"Sure," Akiko said, smiling fondly at Nuku Nuku's loyalty, "we'll go see him and Eimi next. Then you can all play together."

Nene shook her head, watching them go. It was almost sickeningly cute to see, but still touching, somehow. The jeep roared off, Nene still smiling slightly. Then something occurred to her.

"How am I gonna get home?" Nene wailed, looking around her wildly.

Chapter 3

Title: Angelic Layer: One

Mecha Wars: Angelic Layer Part One

Priss ducked under the kick, but only just barely. 'If that had connected, it would've taken my head off,' she thought, looking over at her odd looking opponent.

To her suit's sensors it scanned just like a typical boomer, but it looked mostly like a human. She wasn't as tall as Priss was, and the red- head was dressed up in a odd, skintight costume. She was incredibly fast and strong, but what really made her dangerous was her fighting skills!

Normally, even the best combat boomers fought badly, with no style or skill at all. But this thing was great, anticipating all her attacks and striking back with a variety of moves. A series of kicks and blows drove her backward, and Priss' head rang with the blows.

Suddenly, the red-head stopped fighting and raised her head, looking off into the distance. It seemed to be considering something, and then it was just gone, bounding over the rooftops to get away from her as quickly as possible.

"Priss, we're on our way," Sylia's voice came over her radio.

"She knew they were coming to help," Priss said under her breath. "We've got a problem," she said more loudly to Sylia.

The figure slowed, then it stopped on one of the rooftops, before kneeling down, seemingly waiting for something to happen. A Genom corporate helicopter swooped down on the roof to collect it, even as elsewhere...

Misaki Suzuhara took off the visor, gently setting it down on the table beside her. She got up and walked over to the Layer to collect her angel, Hikaru. "It's been a long time," she smiled, carefully picking up her angel and cradling it in her hands. The young woman was in her thirties, still slim and boyish, but quite attractive as well.

Madigan smiled at her, "I was quite impressed by how well you did against the new combat drones we've designed for the Layer."

"Thank you very much, for the opportunity to play Angelic Layer again," Misaki beamed at her. "Four against one odds are a bit difficult, though," she pointed out, pushing her hand through her short brown hair. "I'm just glad you gave me the option of performing a retreat," Misaki admitted. She didn't like the idea of running, but facing four computer generated opponents was a bit much.

"We'll be actively recruiting other former Deus for our Angelic Layer revival," Madigan quickly reassured her. "I hope to have news for you when you next come in, in a few days," she said with a cheerful smile.

"I hope so," Misaki smiled over at the executive cautiously. Madigan led her to the exit of the Genom research facility and ushered her outside before locking the door behind her. She smiled slightly, and walked over to the Layer before remembering what she had to do.

Madigan pulled out her cellphone and hit the speed dial before waiting for the pick up. "Sir, our first test of the new Battle Doll prototype went quite well. The Blue Knight Saber was nearly outmatched by Misaki's fighting skills," she reported with a smile.

Madigan listened for a moment to whomever she was calling, "No, she's quite unaware of what's going on, she thinks she's fighting computer generated opponents on the Layer. Thank you, sir." Madigan closed up the phone, looking over at the Layer table.

'Who would have thought that a twenty year old child's toy could become such a powerful weapon?' Madigan mused. She felt a little twinge of guilt, and quickly surpressed it. 'Yes, I used to be a Angelic Layer fan, but that was when I was a kid,' she thought grimly, 'and this is business.'

Misaki walked down the sidewalk, a slight frown on her face. There was something kind of familiar in those simulated opponents, even in the blurring of the computer generated images. 'But what is it?' she frowned.

She shook her head, trying to think about something else. Misaki smiled slightly, thinking about some of the Deus' she had faced back during her day. 'I wonder who they'll recruit to compete in this revived Angelic Layer?' she wondered. A face suddenly appeared in her memory, dark hared with intense eyes that still burned in her mind's eye.

"Hatoko," Misaki softly said to herself.

Priss winced, as Linna helped bandage up her broken ribs, her side black and blue where the enemy had managed to land a blow. "What was that thing, Sylia?" Priss asked, gritting her teeth as Linna pressed down on another bruise.

Sylia pressed a switch, activating a screen and displaying an image of the red-head. "It appears to be a non-intelligent combat drone," she started to say, only to be interrupted.

"It was plenty intelligent," Priss protested that angrily.

Sylia held up a hand, "I mean, it's a remote controlled unit. I've analyzed the data your suit collected, and detected a constant exchange of data with a unknown location."

"So a really good fighter was running it from somewhere else," Linna nodded.

"Where have I heard of that before?" Nene asked herself thoughtfully.

A schematic appeared on the screen, and Sylia began to point out features. "This is just an extrapolation, but I believe it was designed for speed and maneuverability. Observe the joints, here," she pointed, "but I also think it has a great deal of strength as well."

"I could barely land a punch on it," Priss admitted. "It dropped out of the sky at me, then started fighting immediately. We spared for a bit, it felt like she was getting my measure, then she started going all out," she sighed.

"It could be a improvement on the technology that Quincy uses for his decoys," Linna pointed out.

Nene was still staring at the image on the screen, an odd look on her face. "Angelic Layer!" she suddenly burst out.

"What?" Linna and Priss said at almost the same time. Sylia's eyes widened, and she began to work her computer keyboard.

"Angelic Layer was really popular with young girl's in Tokyo for a while before the 'quake hit," Nene explained. "You fight each other with customized remote control dolls," she started to say, when Linna spoke up.

"Just like Priss' sparring partner!" Linna nodded.

Sylia finished manipulating the computer and a stylized egg with angel wings appeared, then images of dolls streamed by the screen only to come to a stop. One doll expanded, matching the image of Priss' enemy exactly.

"Angel Hikaru," Sylia read softly, "and her Deus was Misaki Suzuhara."

Misaki pushed the door open and walked into the Genom facility. The Layer was just as she had left it, but a young woman stood nearby. She looked at the Layer, a broad smile teasing her very familiar looking face.

"Hatoko?" Misaki asked softly.

Hatoko Kobayashi turned on hearing the voice, smiling at her broadly, "Misaki!" The twenty year old ran at Misaki, throwing her arms around her in a fierce hug, "It's good to see you!"

Misaki laughed happily, "You, too!" She pushed Hatoko away gently to look the young woman over. Her black hair was as long as ever, but she had grown, filling out quite well. She was a bit taller than Misaki, and she had to fight feeling annoyed at that. "Is Suzuka with you?" she asked.

Hatoko held up her Angel with a smile, noticing that Misaki cradled Hikaru gently on her arm. "So," Hotoko asked teasingly, "are you still seeing my loser brother?"

Misaki smiled gently, "No, Koutarou and I aren't together anymore."

"I'm so sorry," Hotoko apologized.

"No, you didn't know," Misaki reassured her. "We both just grew up a bit, and discovered we really didn't have as much in common as we thought," she shrugged.

"If there's anything I can do," Hatoto offered, gently placing her hand on Misaki's arm.

"Thank you," Misaki smiled, a bit of a blush appearing on her cheeks. "So what have you been doing?" she asked her curiously.

"News broadcasting," Hatoko smiled, "I decided to take after your Aunt Shouko."

Misaki chuckled softly, remembering how her Aunt used to react to being called that. "Robotics," Misaki admitted. "I got into it after I left Angelic Layer," she smiled.

"Well, look who's here," a cool voice said.

Misaki turned to see the tall blonde walk into the room, a angel cradled in her hands. Her hair was still short, but she wore pants and jacket, not the school uniform of the old days. The expression on her face lived up to her nickname: the Ice Machine. "Sai Jounouchi," Misaki squeaked out nervously.

Hatoko smiled, "It's good to see you."

Sai smiled suddenly, making her look much younger, "Nice to see you, too."

Another young woman with long brown hair walked in, and as she smiled sweetly at them all Misaki was suddenly reminded why the woman was called "the girl with the healing smile." Kaede Saitou didn't look like she'd changed very much at all.

"Glad you made it," Hatoko smiled.

"It's really good to see you," Misaki bowed.

"I'm glad to be playing Angelic Layer again," Kaede smiled.

Sai smiled down at her, holding out the seat for her. Kaede sat with a grateful smile even as Sai said gruffly to the others, "Let's get to it, shall we?"

All took their seats, and pulled their visors on. Misaki sent Hikaru into the layer, then Hotoko and Suzuka, Kaede and Blanche, and finally Sai and Shirahime.

"Let the games begin," Madigan said, watching from a hidden control room.

Chapter 4

Title: Angelic Layer: Two

Mecha Wars: Angelic Layer Part Two

"I am getting really tired of running!" Priss growled out even as she dodged the white garbed android. The thing almost looked like an living ice statue, but she fought like an expert, and her blows packed a real punch.

"Tell me about it," Linna grumbled, ducking a vicious kick from the dark hared, kimono garbed android she was paired up with.

Sylia didn't sound very apologetic as she said, "We need to move around as much as possible to trace where the control signals are coming from." While she engaged the red-headed android Hikaru, she asked Nene intensely, "How's the triangulation going?"

"I've nearly got the signal traced," Nene tersely replied as they ran across the rooftops of Mega-Tokyo. Right behind her the final android bounded along, the white clad figure glowing softly in some kind of overdrive mode.

"Why can't we just take these things out?" Priss griped. "My cannon or Linna's blades could do some serious damage on theses things."

"And then Genom will just build more," Sylia replied. "We have to deal with this at the source, and prevent them from doing this again," she explained.

They passed a certain point, and the androids slowed, then came to a complete halt. "What in the world?" Priss wondered aloud.

"There must be a limit to how far they can operate," Sylia murmured. "Nene?" she inquired of her dangerously.

"I've got the location!" Nene exclaimed.

"What's happened?" Sai growled, staring at the frozen opponents on the Layer.

"I'm sorry," Madigan came down to apologize, "the system's frozen." Privately she thought, 'Actually, the Knight Sabers got out of range of the tower's broadcasting abilities.' She hit a switch, and shut the Layer table down, as well as secretly calling the retrieval team for the Battle Dolls that were still out in the field.

"I'm not used to opponents fleeing," Hatoko said with a frown, picking up her angel Suzuka from the Layer table.

Sai retrieved Shirahime, "I hope we can finish this contest as soon as possible." She fixed Madigan with a 'Ice Machine' gaze, "I hate leaving a fight unfinished."

Kaede cradled Blanche, "I wish the images of the opponents were clearer."

"Our technical people are working on it even as we speak," Madigan reassured them, "and I'm sure the system will be up and running tomorrow."

"I hope so," Misaki cradled Hikaru in her hands as she smiled at them cheerfully, "I've really been enjoying playing Angelic Layer again." A slight frown as she thought, 'So why is this situation starting to bother me?'

Later, as Misaki walked away from the Genom facility, she thought, 'It almost feels like when a opponent's holding back on the Layer. There's something wrong, but I can't seem to pin it down."

"Misaki!" a voice cried out to her, and she quickly turned to see Hatoko running up the sidewalk to catch up with her.

"I'm sorry," Misaki smiled at the younger woman, "If I had known you wanted to walk with me, I would have waited for you." The tall, darker hared young woman reached her side, hardly out of breath at all. Hatoko had mentioned she was in broadcasting, and looking at her Misaki felt she was beautiful enough to be doing it.

"It's all right," Hatoko smiled at her sunnily. They walked together a moment, "Did something about all this strike you as... odd?"

Misaki nodded glumly, "There's something we're not being told."

"That's what I thought," an amused voice said. They both whirled around to see Sai and Kaede standing behind them. Sai continued, "I don't like this situation at all."

Misaki looked over at Hatoko, and saw a odd glimmer in her eyes. With a slight smile, "Why do I get the feeling you have a plan?"

Hatoko smiled back at her, "In fact, I do. Why don't we all sneak back in there tonight? We can check out the machinery, and maybe figure out what they aren't telling us."

"Not much of a plan," Sai noted. "What say we talk about this a bit more?" she suggested. A cafe was nearby, and the four retired there to prepare for tonight.

On a street corner not that far away, four other women stand there. "Well, we know they're in this general area," Nene said defensively.

"Just about every building in this district is owned by Genom," Linna growled.

Nene scampered to hide behind Sylia. "It's not my fault," she protested.

Priss looked around with a fairly disgusted expression. "There's no way I'm searching the area without some coffee in me, at least," she sighed.

Linna nodded her agreement, "Considering how long we had to run around before we lured those androids out of hiding, we could all use a cup." They walked towards a nearby cafe, as another group of young women were walking inside as well.

"We'll have to lure them out again," Sylia sighed, "see if we can narrow down where they're based from." She led the way inside, and took a look around. It wasn't too bad, a little old fashioned, probably designed to appeal to executive types. A corner table was available, so they grabbed it before someone else could.

A waitress came up, "Coffee, black," Priss ordered.

The waitress looked quite bored as she rattled off, "We have mocha, mocha cinnamon, cappuccino, chocolate float..."

"Coffee, black," Priss repeated in a quite dangerous tone. It registered, this time, and the rest of them gave their orders. "I hate this kind of place," Priss grumbled.

Linna hid a smile as she drank her expresso. "I think searching is a waste of time," she sighed, "so do we wait until they show up again?"

"I think we're going to have to," Nene admitted while taking a small sip of her chocolate. "What do you think, Sylia?"

Sylia didn't answer a moment, an odd look on her face. "Did any of you notice who's sitting at that table over there?" she said quietly.

Priss looked over where Sylia was gazing, and nearly leapt out of her seat. "That's Misaki!"

"There were four of those things we fought today," Linna softly said, staring at the four women, "want to bet those are the pilots?"

Nene was looking at them in no little awe, "Misaki Suzuhara, Kaede Saitou, Sai Jounouchi and Hatoko Kobayashi. Four of the best Deus in Angelic Layer." She noticed everyone looking at her, "What, I used to be really into it in high school."

"So why don't we..." Priss started to get up out of her chair, only to have Sylia gently push her back into her seat.

"What, exactly, do we say to her? We have no evidence she and her friends are involved in anything even remotely illegal," Sylia sipped her drink.

"So what do you suggest?" Linna asked, fairly certain from the tone of her voice that Sylia did, indeed, have a plan.

"Stick around, and follow them," Sylia shrugged. "A bit of an old fashioned plan, but it usually works," she smiled.

"We're being watched," Sai noted. The four women were sneaking glances of them while drinking their coffees. They were trying to be subtle, but not managing very well.

"Could be Angelic Layer fans," Kaede smiled serenely. "I still get recognized now and then," she admitted.

"I'm just glad that most people don't seem to connect an adult, fully grown woman to the Miracle Preschooler and Goddess of Victory," Hatoko said as she used her old nicknames in self mocking tones.

"Well, you certainly look like a goddess," Misaki found herself saying. Her cheeks flamed as she thought, 'Where did that come from?'

Hatoko just smiled at her warmly, "Thank you." She paused, and more shyly, "You look pretty good yourself."

A slight smile crossed Sai's face as she watched them. "Back to business," she smiled, "we're resolved to try this tonight?"

Misaki and Hatoko nodded agreement. Kaede simply gently took Sai's hand, and a bit of a blush appeared on the cool woman's cheeks. Kaede took a bit of pity on her, "So how do we get past the security?"

Misaki said, "I work in robotics, but I've got a good all round knowledge of electronics. I might be able to override the systems."

Sai looked at her with a bit more respect, "I've been working in programming, so if I can get at the Layer table, I can probably play the visual recordings of our fights. Maybe that way we can find out who we've been sparring against."

"My broadcasting experience behind the cameras might just come in handy, too," Hatoko volunteered cheerfully.

"Then let's go do this before I loose my nerve," Kaede smiled. They got up from the table and left the cafe, not realizing they were being followed.

Misaki bent over the lock, working with her small tool kit. "Do you bring that with you everywhere?" Hatoko asked quietly.

"Well, Hikaru might have been damaged," Misaki shrugged. A soft chime, and the doors slid open silently. The hall beyond was pitch black, no lighting at all. Misaki gulped audibly and said quietly, "I guess we go in?"

Sai took a look beside the door, and found a light switch. With a gesture, the hall was light up as bright as day as she asked, "Better?"

"Much," Kaede said with a regal nod and lead them inside.

Priss blinked as they watched the four women go inside. "Want to bet they didn't lock the door?" she smiled.

"I wouldn't take that bet," Linna answered.

"Head for the truck," Sylia smiled coolly, "and let's get the hardsuits. We have no idea what we might be getting in to here." With that, the four of them took off.

In the Layer room, Hatoko hit the switch to bring the table on line. Misaki crouched down to look underneath the table, tracing the connections. "There's an extra lead," she noted quietly. She traced the cables to a computer console, hidden behind a hastily constructed wall.

Sai took over the console, studying it for a moment before tapping the keyboard. On the Layer table, an image appeared of their last battle, the distortion still visible on their opponents. "There's some kind of pixilation effect," Sai frowned.

"Let me take a look at it," Hatoko volunteered. She smiled, "Just like the one we use to protect witnesses." A few keys, and she heard a soft gasp from the others. She looked up and saw.. the Knight Sabers.

Their images, anyway. "We were fighting a simulation of the Knight Sabers?" Misaki looked deeply confused. "But why?"

"Or," Sai started, then stopped. "Kaede," she said, "could you use Blanche on the Layer, please?"

"Certainly," Kaede said, smiling easily. She put the visor on, popped the wings up, and then released her angel into the Layer.

"Well, well," Hatoko murmured, looking over Sai's shoulder. "One data stream from Kaede is going to Blanche, but where's this other one going to?" she asked.

Misaki frowned, "Why not cut off the data to the Angel, and see what happens?"

"Not bad," Sai smiled at Misaki, and hit a few switches.

Kaede blinked in honest surprise as the view from her visor changed. "I see a room, it has the Genom logo on it," she reported. She concentrated, and they head a crash nearby, then a nearby wall crashed down.

A life sized Blanche stood there, gazing at them with a calm expression.

"We were actually fighting the Knight Sabers?" Hatoko's voice rose to a squeak at the last.

"It looks like it," the calm voice came from behind them.

Misaki moved instinctively, putting her body between them and Hatoko. 'In person, the Knight Sabers were pretty scary looking,' she thought worriedly.

"I'm sorry," Sai said as she bowed with a great deal of dignity, "we didn't know until now."

"I think I believe you," the armored figure who was obviously the leader conceded. "I'm sorry, but we can't let Genom continue with this."

"I understand," Kaede said, taking off her visor to gaze regretfully at Blanche. "But," she said as she looked at the others, "give us a moment, please."

"Why?" Misaki started, then she got it. She, Hatoko, and Sai put their visors on, and summoned their angels. Misaki smiled, and her angel smiled back, before she regretfully pulled the visor off. "Thank you," she said to the Knight Sabers with a smile.

The building and the broadcast facilities it contained for the Battle Dolls burned quite well, Misaki noted. She shivered a bit I the cold, and a arm was slid across her shoulders. She smiled up at Hatoko, "There goes the Angelic Layer revival."

"If it helps any," Hatoko smiled, "I bought a Layer table a few years back. I'd enjoy you coming over to play, anytime."

"I'd love to," Misaki smiled as Hatoko gently pulled her closer.

"They're cute together, aren't they," Kaede smiled as she took Sai's hand.

The tall blonde smiled, then Sai asked "I wonder if they'd be terribly shocked to know that Genom tracked us down so easily because we live together?"

"Somehow," Kaede chuckled as she watched Misaki and Hatoko cuddle together, "I doubt it." She laughed as she pointed out, "Remember all those fan girls you used to have?"

"Youthful indiscretions," Sai shrugged.

"You've got that look on your face again," Priss frowned at Sylia on a nearby rooftop.

"What look?" Sylia asked innocently.

"The look that usually means trouble," Linna sighed.

Nene nodded, "Exactly. So tell us, already."

"I've thought about having a group of people in reserve," Sylia said quietly, "in case something disastrous might happen to us all. But I've never seemed to be able to find just the right mix of people." She watched the four walk away from the burning building, "But I think I may have just found them."

The End?

Chapter 5

Title: Iron Man: One

Mecha Wars! Iron Man: Part One

"Sylia," Priss said quietly, "who is that lady staring at you?"

Priss, Linna, and Nene had decided to stop in at the Silky Doll together supposedly to shop, but in reality to check up on Sylia. Things were awfully quiet lately, Genom laying low again after the 'angels' debacle had been leaked to the public. Amusingly, it had caused a revival in Angelic Layer, but that kept Sylia from making any serious attempts to recruit the four Deus that the Knight Sabers had tangled with.

Sylia with too much time on her hands was never a good thing, so Priss and Linna decided to perform an intervention, dragging Nene along for reinforcements.

Sylia turned to look where Priss was staring, and she simply froze.

"Sylia, what's wrong?" Linna asked, looking towards the strange lady.

The brown hared woman was looking around her with a bemused expression on her face. Dressed in an expensive business suit, she handled the frillies carefully, as if she wasn't all that used to them. Her hair was more than a bit messy, and despite being very well dressed she still managed to look just a bit scruffy.

"Tony?" Sylia murmured softly, a expression of shock clearly evident on her face.

It was barely a whisper, but the woman managed to catch it. She looked up, a shy smile on her face as she walked towards them. "Hello, Sylia," she smiled, "it's been a long time."

"Tony!" Sylia laughed, hugging her closely.

The three young women gazed at them in surprise. "Who on Earth?" Nene asked Priss and Linna, who both shrugged eloquently.

Sylia shook her head, "Where have you been? It's been years." Her tone was amused, but there was just a bit of hurt in her voice, too.

"It's a bit of a long story," Tony smiled sheepishly. She pushed her hair back, revealing short nails with a bit of grease still under them. A look at the three women watching them and she asked Sylia, "Are there friends of yours?"

"Priss, Nene, Linna, I'd like you to meet an old friend of mine," Sylia smiled as she gestured, "Mrs. Antonia Stark-Richards."

"It's Miss Stark again," she smiled a bit sadly, shaking hands with the three of them, "and you can just call me Tony, everybody does."

Sylia and Tony obviously wanted to spend some time alone, so Linna quickly made up an excuse, dragging the others along after her.

"Hey, I wanted to stay," Nene protested.

"Sure was interesting to see how Sylia reacted to her," Priss frowned, "I wonder who she is."

Linna gave Priss a disbelieving look, "Stark? As in the head of Stark International, one of the biggest multi-nationals?" She shook her head at her friends' ignorance, "If she's that Stark, then she's one of the richest women on Earth."

Tony looked around the apartment with a smile on her face. "When I looked up your address, I certainly didn't expect to find a ladies boutique," she said. A soft laugh, "I almost thought that I was at the wrong place until I saw you standing there."

"I certainly wasn't expecting to see you here," Sylia smiled. She carried cups of tea over to the couch, gesturing Tony to a seat.

Tony sighed, easing herself down to a seat. She carefully picked up her cup, looking into it thoughtfully, "You have no idea how much my father wanted to be here, for your father's funeral. They were friends for so long, it nearly killed him when he died."

"What happened?" Sylia asked. Tony raised an eyebrow, and Sylia continued, "The press hushed things up about your dad."

"He fell back into the bottle," Tony sighed, "relapsed into alcoholism."

"But, he was doing so well," Sylia looked honestly surprised.

"I had to stay, help take care of him," Tony said softly. She drank some more tea, "Knowing that you were here, grieving for your father all alone, I so wanted to come, but I just couldn't."

"That was then," Sylia said quietly, "but what about afterward?" She looked up, meeting Tony's eyes, "I could have really used a friend back then."

Tony set the cup down, "It's not common knowledge, but my father never really recovered." A soft sigh, "He's lucid, most days, but he really isn't that reliable any more. I've pretty much been in charge of running the company for the past five years, or so."

"I'm sorry," Sylia sighed softly. She gently put her hand on Tony's, "I wish you had told me. I'd like to have helped."

"You've had your own problems," Tony sighed. A frown, "I read the police reports on your father's accident. They're rather spotty, aren't they?"

Sylia looked at her childhood friend, silently considering what to tell her. "Very spotty," Sylia finally settled for reasonable caution.

A ghost of a smile crossed Tony's face as she said, "You're holding out on me." At Sylia's startled look, Tony explained, "Back when we were kids, you could never lie to me and it looks like it still holds true now."

"I could never seem to lie to you," Sylia agreed with a bit of anger in her voice, "but you certainly lied to me."

Tony flinched, "I'm sorry."

"Sending me that wedding invitation, without even a word of explanation why," a clearly angry Sylia said.

Tony flushed. "This obviously was a bad idea," she said, getting to her feet stiffly. She took a few hesitant steps, then swayed, almost falling.

Sylia jumped to her feet, steadying her, "What's wrong?"

Tony's face had gone pale, her eyes wide and her breath coming rapidly. "I think I need to sit down," she managed to say, and Sylia carefully eased her back into her seat. Tony fumbled in her pockets, pulled out a small vial and swallowed a pill. She sat back, the leg of her pant pulled up, and Sylia's eyes widened.

This close, it was obvious that Tony's leg was artificial, not a boomer model but an older type of prosthetic leg. Tony puled a bit on her collar, and Sylia caught the hint of a fiery red, newly healed scar along her shoulder.

"Tony, what happened?" Sylia asked, shocked.

Tony pulled down her pant leg angrily, "It's pretty ironic, considering. A car accident." She took a breath, "The driver's side was hit, pinning me inside as the car burst into flames." She forced herself up, "I'd better be going."

"Wait, Tony," Sylia started, but Tony smiled sadly.

"I didn't come here looking for sympathy," Tony said softly. "I'm staying at the Hilton for business in town the next few days. Maybe we can try lunch," she said hopefully. She walked across the room silently, and soon was gone.

"What is it you want, Quincy?" Tony asked him grimly.

The message had been at her hotel when she got back to the hotel last night, a tersely phrase request that she visit Quincy at Genom. Her first response had been to delete the message, but Genom was a business partner, and it never paid to piss off a partner you might need later on.

The gray haired man smiled smoothly, "Why, I believe that someone may have infringed on one of your father's patents." He tried to look grandfatherly, "I know how hard you work to protect your father's intellectual property."

"Who, and how?" Tony asked, suddenly looking much more attentive. If someone had acquired some of her father's weapons technology, the consequences could be disastrous.

"The Knight Sabers," Quincy said, bringing up imaged of the four armored figures up on his screen. "You'll note the similarities to some of your father's early designs," he pointed.

'Not that similar,' Tony mused. The basic solutions to building human powered armor were almost always similar in appearance, the simplest answers closely matched. But they triggered a faint memory, just out of her grasp...

Noticing that Quincy was looking at her curiously Tony said, "Thank you for telling me. I'll certainly have our techs look into it."

"I had our people assemble a data-file," Quincy picked up a disk, "it might be useful to your people in investigating this."

"No, thank you," Tony smiled. She got up carefully, "I'd prefer my people to start out with a clean slate."

She took a few steps away when Quincy asked, "Do you think your agent, Iron Man, might be making an appearance?"

Quietly, Tony answered him, "I don't know."

The door hissed shut behind her, and Quincy gazed after her thoughtfully for a moment. "Madigan," he said coldly.

"Sir," she stepped out of the connecting room.

"You monitored?" Quincy asked. At her nod, he said, "Keep an eye on her. I want her pursuing the Knight Sabers, not interfering in our operations here. Understood?"

"Yes, sir," she smiled.

Chapter 6

Title: Iron Man Two

Mecha Wars: Iron Man Part Two

Tony Stark sighed softly, sitting down on her bed at the hotel. The past few days, so far, had been a series of unmitigated disasters. First her attempt to go see Sylia yesterday, and then having that bastard Quincy sneering at her across his desk this morning.

She closed her eyes, laying back on the bed. 'Too hard,' she thought, wriggling her shoulders to try and get more comfortable. Absentmindedly she unhooked her prostetic leg, letting it thump to the ground, and she sighed with relief.

"Computer," Tony said aloud, "is Sylia Stingray's telephone number on file?"

"There is only one Sylia Stingray in Mega-Tokyo's directory," the female voice answered. Tony asked the address, and nodded in confirmation.

She sat back up, turning on the phone beside the bed. She debated silently for a few moments on the wisdom of what she was thinking of doing. "Please connect me to Ms, Stingray," Tony finally instructed the computer.

The phone rang for a moment, then the computer spoke up, "There is a screen in place. Do you wish to identify yourself?"

"Antonia Stark," she said with a smile.

The screen went blank for a moment, then Sylia's face appeared on the small screen. "I'm sorry," the image said, "but I am unable to take your call. Please leave a message after the beep." She smiled, "Beep!"

Tony disconected, deciding not to leave a message. "I wonder where she is tonight?" she wondered aloud, and turned on the room's TV. As soon as the news report came on, she sat up and took notice.

The reporter smiled, "Several construction Boomers seem to have gone on a rampage. AD Police are on scene, and Genom's public affairs officer has given a statement that they obviously must have been tampered with."

She noted an update, "This just in, the Knight Sabers have also been seen in the area. More on the story as it develops."

Tony shut the screen off. She closed her eyes for a moment hoping the problem would just go away, and then she reluctantly reached for her briefcase...
Sylia, Priss and the others watched grimly as the Boomers rampaged below them.

"It's a set-up, isn't it?' Linna asked grimly.

"That many boomers going rogue at one time?" Priss shook her head, "Of course it's a set-up. But how do we handle it?"

"We have to go in," Nene sighed.

"She's right," Sylia agreed, "even if it is a set-up, those boomers could hurt someone. We have to try and stop them."

Priss grinned, "Any excuse to thrash Boomers is all right with me."

"Let's just watch each other's backs, shall we?" Sylia sighed.

Nene and Linna nodded, but Priss was already running towards the Boomers. She brought her cannon arm up as she dropped in the middle of trhem. She blew the first Boomers' head off even as she dodged another's blow.

Linna was right behind her, slicing the Boomer that had tried to hit Priss. "One of these days you're going to regret rushing in," Linna snarled.

"Not today," Priss smiled, blasting another Boomer.

Sylia was like poetry in motion, weaving through the Boomers while her blades flashed. They exploded in flames behind her, all but one.

Badly damaged, it subled forward even as Nene cried, "Sylia, look out!"

Sylia turned just in time to see the Boomer cut in half by a energy bolt from above. She looked up, and saw a figure in red and gold armor floating there, thrust from it's boots and backpack keeping it aloft.

"Iron Man," Sylia murmured.

"The Knight Sabers, I presume?" Iron Man asked. A shoulder mounted cannon turned, laying down supression fire on the few remaining Boomers.

"Should I?" Priss asked, crouching to leap at the armored figure.

"No," Sylia gestured. Looking up, "I think we have a common enemy for now," and she nodded to the Boomers.

"You have a point," Iron Man admitted, and the five of them turned on the Boomers. A very short battle later, and the five were standing concealed on a rooftop, watching as the AD Police cleaned up the mess.

"Thank you," Nene said quietly.

"You're welcome," Iron Man said, rising from the roof on his boot thrusters. "I'll see you again." was all he said and he was gone.

"What was that about?" Linna asked.

"I don't know," Sylia frowned, watching the suit soar off. It simply faded away, disapearing from their view as she murmured, "I just don't know.".

"Cloak, on," the armored figure ordered at it flew across the city. It's skin shimmered as it dropped from view even as it flew onward, soon nearing the Mega-Tokyo Hilton. A soft thump was heard as it landed on the balcony, then the patio door hissed shut, then closed behind it. "Cloak off," and the suit reappeared.

Red gauntleted hands reached for the helmet, pulling it off smoothly. Antonia Stark shook out her hair, smiling grimly, "Well that was interesting."

Tony popped a small computer disk out from her glove and set it on the bed, before stripping herself of the armored suit. The suit rectracted into a few small segnents, each of which she pached away into her silvery briefcase.

One leggedly, she made her way to the bed and lay down. The suit could function in the place of her leg, but she felt the strain on her body once it quit. She took out her laptop, plugged in the disk, and images of the Knight Sabers appeared on the screen.

"Where have I seen those designs before," Tony muttered, before pulling the computer closer to her and getting down to work.
Sylia rose the lift to the penthouse, even as she considered what had happened tonight. 'That was obvious, even for Quincy,' she thought grimly. She shook her head, 'What did Genom hope to gain, pulling an attack like that?'

She went into her suite, and heard the soft chime of a message being held for her. Sylia raised an eyebrow, "Display message, please."

It was only a few seconds long, but Sylia still froze when she saw Tony's frowning face appear on the screen, then disappear without saying anything.

"Delete message?" the computer enquired.

"No," Sylia barked. Softly, "Save message."

She sat down on the couch where Tony had sat that morning, and imagined that she could still feel the day old warmth from her body. 'I wish I hadn't said those things,' Sylia thought to herself grimly. A smile tugged at her lips, remembering...

Her father and Tony's had begun exchanging letters, eventually meeting face to face at a trade show. They hit it off immediately, and arranged to meet again in Tokyo. Anthony Stark had brought his daughter, Tony, and she had tagged along with her father.

Sylia had seen the older, brown haired girl and immediately developed an enormous crush on her. It didn't help that Tony seemed as equally smitten with her, as well. They spent most of their time together, while their dads discussed engineering and, eventually, the coming Boomer problem.

Every couple of months for the next few years they would visi, and each time Sylia would eagerly await Tony's return. They pledged to be friends forever. Sylia blushed, remembering a much younger Sylia promising a smiling Tony that she wouldn't have to marry any yucky boys. Instead, Sylia would marry her.

Sylia's expression grew grim. And then her father died.

Tony disappeared along with her father, and Sylia didn't hear from her for years. It wasn't until she was an adult that she recieved any word, and that was the wedding invitation of Miss Antonia Stark to Mr. Franklin Richards.

She still didn't know why it hit her so hard. She knew the promises they had made to each other as little girls didn't really mean anything, but she had looked at the gilt card and cried. Before getting angry and shredding it, of course.

'And all that hurt bubbled right up again once I saw her again,' Sylia thought. She got up from the couch, pacing about the room like a caged beast. 'Should I?' she wondered.

"Connect me to the reception desk at the Hilton," Sylia finally said.

"Yes," a officious looking young man asked.

"I'd like to contact one of your guests, Ms. Antonia Stark," Sylia asked cooly.

"Whom shall I say is calling?" he asked with an irritating little sniff.

"Sylia Stingray," she answered, and the young man became much more respectful.

"Oh, Ms. Stingray," he smiled, "she left word that you be put right though." He pressed a few switches on his control panel, and the image changed.

Sylia had to fight the urge to laugh. Tony was intently studying a computer screen, chewing absentmindedly on a pen. She was so focused on her work that she haddn't even noticed that she was connected to someone.

"Ahem," Sylia finally cleared her throat loudly.

Tony looked up in surprise, then saw Sylia's face on the screen. She spat the pen out, blushing furiously, "Sylia. I was hoping you'd call."

Sylia noticed a few cowlicks in Tony's hair, leaving little tufts of hair standing up. "I wanted to invite you out to dinner," Sylia smiled at how cute she looked, "and maybe apologize for making such an ass of myself yesterday."

Tony sighed, "I gave you plenty of cause." She brightened, "And I'd love to go out to dinner with you. It's a bit late, do you want to go out tomorrow?"

"I'll come by the Hilton to pick you up tomorrow night, then," Sylia smiled. "Is six all right?" she asked.

"I'll be waiting," Tony smiled back at her.

Chapter 7

Title: Iron Man Three

Mecha Wars: Iron Man Part Three

Tony smiled and even hummed to herself softly as she finished downloading the data she had collected into the mini-projector. When she had met the Knight Sabers, she had wanted to ask one of them to just stand there, while she circled around it. Under the circumstances, that wasn't possible, so this would just have to do.

The hologram formed, an all around view of the leader of the Knight Saber. Tony would have expected the fighter to be the leader of the team, but instead the intense woman with the blades was. 'It really looks a great deal like the older Iron-Tech,' she mused.

She walked around the image, studying the design. 'Primarily defensive, and some strength magnification,' she mused. The suit's components meshed together elegantly, meaning it was a whole design not simply cobbled together parts of other systems. The decision to insert the primary weapons systems in either the gauntlets or shoulders was an inspired move. It meant that many of the parts from all four suits could be swapped into the others in emergencies.

'Swords,' Tony thought, looking at the arm mounts that concealed those deadly weapons. 'Why would someone pick something like that as a primary weapon? Unless it was for some personal reason...' Her eyes widened, and she thumped down to sit on her bed, the cane she occasionally used clattering to the floor.

The memory was crystal clear: a cute, dark haired girl swinging on a rope, waving the sword in mid air playing the swashbuckler. 'Sylia,' she thought, 'could it be?' She closed her eyes, letting herself analyze the situation.

'She certainly has motive, with her father's death,' Tony thought, 'and the know how to repair and maintain the armors.' Even as little girls, Tony had been impressed at how smart Sylia had been. 'No wonder I was surprised to find her running a ladies boutique,' she thought with a sad smile. 'I bet she also has the funds, her father would have made sure she was well taken care of,' she thought to herself grimly.

'But where did the basic design for the suits come from?' she wondered. She closed her eyes. letting her memory play back, trying to ignore the memories of Sylia and instead focus on her father and Dr. Stingray. 'What was it they were always talking about?'

"The potential for Boomer problems," she said aloud. Tony's eyes widened, then narrowed, "Dad gave him this design!"

The laptop was on her bed, and Tony quickly called up her 'Armory' files. She had put together the catalog of her dad's designs as a child, refining and updating it as she drew up. She took the data on the Knight Saber, and ran a comparison to her father's work. A few moments later, and she got the confirmation she was looking for: it matched his designs in all the major points, even though it wasn't listed in her files.

"Now what do I do," she muttered to herself aloud.
"This is what we ran into yesterday, ladies," Sylia said, activating the view screen beside her. An image of an armored figure dressed in red and gold appeared. Muscles were sculpted into the metal, giving the impression of a male bodybuilder.

"The Iron Man is the corporate symbol of Stark industries, and was first created by Tony Stark back in the turn of the century," Sylia lectured. "Primary weapons are the plasma weapons on each palm, the high intensity chest beam, the shoulder mounted rockets," she highlighted one weapon, "and the shoulder mounted cannon." She highlighted the other.

With a grim smile Sylia added, "The suit also operates as an exoframe, providing strength amplification and impressive defense capacity."

"Can we take this thing down?" Priss asked bluntly.

"Probably," Sylia answered her with a sigh, "but it won't be very easy. This suit isn't just cutting edge, I'd call it bleeding edge technology, and at least some of the primary weapon systems are fully automated."

"Which means?" Linna asked quietly.

"The pilot can assign a weapon system to a target, and it with automatically follow it," Sylia said with a certain amount of admiration.

Priss sat forward, "You mean that Iron Man can assign one weapon to me, one to Linna, as well as taking you on at the same time?"

"That's what I said," Sylia nodded.

"But is Iron Man an enemy?" Linna asked.

"That's the most important question," Sylia admitted. "Iron Man is the bodyguard of the head of Stark International, at least officially," she said, "but the elder Tony himself piloted the suit at least some of the time. He used it as an adventurer, as well as actively opposing the agents of other multinational companies."

"Which means he works for your old girlfriend," Nene said.

Both Linna and Priss visibly winced at that bit of pure tactlessness.

"She's not, and has never been," Sylia said frostily, "my girlfriend." She took a breath, "Stark is associated with Genom, but only casually. From what I've been able to glean from newspaper reports, Quincy has managed to antagonize Antonia on several occasions."

With that, the meeting ran down and they moved on to more casual topics. Sylia poured a few drinks, and let the three casually talk about work and their lives. She listened to Linna talk about yet another boyfriend, and wondered if they'd ever see him. Personally, Sylia was beginning to think Linna made up the boys, just to appear straight.

Sylia noticed that everyone was looking at her, and realized that she'd missed something. "What?" she asked.

Priss rolled her eyes, "I asked, how did your talk with Antonia go?"

Sylia just had to smile, seeing all three ladies looking at her and eagerly awaiting her answer. "Not very well," she sighed.

Linna looked a bit disappointed, "That's too bad."

"Hopefully, our dinner tonight will go better," Sylia said casually, and hid her smile as she waited for their reaction.

A moment of silence, then, a shouted "What?"
Tony looked into the mirror, wondering if she should wear the suit she had packed, or the dress she had just bought today. She thought of Sylia, her presence and intensity, and smiled. "Dress," she said with a nod.

The black one piece was a bit unoriginal, Tony had to admit, but it suited her nicely. She wore dark stockings, and smiled at how they hid her prosthetic leg. Her hair was styled, and she had used her makeup cautiously, just a bit to highlight her eyes.

"I'm acting like I'm going out on a date," Tony muttered softly. She blushed, remembering the childhood games that she and Sylia plaid. Playing house, Sylia the daddy and her the mommy. It had meant a lot to her as a child, more than she had been comfortable to admit.

A soft chime gently reminded her that it was nearly six. 'Time to go,' Tony thought as she grabbed a light coat and headed out into the hallway, locking the door behind her. She fretted in the elevator, wondering if she had made the right choice. The doors popped open, she got a good look at Sylia, and had to sigh in relief.

Sylia's light blue suit looked good on her, a man's style but tailored to hug her form nicely. She was obviously a woman, even if she was a handsome, boyish young woman. It should have startled Tony, thinking like that, but it didn't, somehow.

Sylia's smile warmed Tony as the dark haired woman said, "You look marvelous."

"So do you," Tony smiled back. Sylia offered her arm, gentlemanly taking the weight from Tony's injured side. 'Smooth, very smooth,' Tony thought as they walked outside together.

"Your chariot awaits," Sylia smoothly opened the passenger door, helping Tony in. She went around to the driver's side and gracefully climbed in.

"Where to?" Tony asked softly.

"I was thinking of the Rose," Sylia said as she pulled out into traffic, "they serve a good variety of both Western and Asian foods." Privately, she added, 'And they don't throw a fit if two girls are there on a date together.'

"Sounds good," Tony smiled.

Tony looked over at Sylia, noticing the care the woman had taken. Her hair was neatly gelled, the suit was crisp, the creases starched, and she smelled wonderful. 'Obviously, Sylia is taking this seriously, too,' she thought, a warm feeling welling up inside her.

Sylia took a breath, "I wanted to say I'm sorry, for how I grilled you before."

"Don't apologize," Tony said quietly, "I was out of line, too. I assumed I could just waltz back into your life like nothing had changed."

Sylia chuckled softly, "We're quite the pair." She smiled slightly, looking out at the road, "How about we both start over, then, as if the past day or so hadn't happened?"

"I'd love to," Tony answered quietly.

They drove on silently for a few moments. "So why are you visiting Mega-Tokyo?' Sylia asked her conversationally.

"Business." Tony smiled, "we're looking into opening a new office in town." A soft laugh, "And I was hoping to look up an old friend while I was here."

"Thanks," Sylia reached over, gently squeezing Tony's hand.

They coasted to a stop in front of a little restaurant on the outskirts of the bustling city. An old fashioned kind of building, it reminded one of an earlier era. Sylia got out first, going around to help Tony out, then they walked to the door together.

The girl at the front desk confirmed their reservation, and a young waiter led them to a back table. He passed over menus, offered drinks, then made himself scarce.

"Nice place," Tony looked around, "have you been here before?"

"Once or twice," Sylia smiled, sipping her glass of ice water. "Are you planning to stick around after opening your new office?' she asked softly.

Tony met her gaze, a little smile on her face. "Yes, I am," she admitted. She took a breath, "I wish I had let myself come back here to see you sooner."

"I guess," Sylia said softly, "I'm just glad to have you here, now."

Tony blushed, taking a moment to sip at her glass of water.
'God, that was just too soon,' Sylia fretted. 'I should be pumping her for information on Iron Man, not sitting here flirting,' she thought.

'She's cute when she blushes,' Sylia looked up to meet Tony's gaze. The little black dress she was wearing had nearly made Sylia's eyes pop, and her gentle, ladylike manner had nearly disarmed her.

"I'm glad to be here, too," Tony reached out, putting her hand on top of Sylia's. The waiter arrived, and with a blush Tony drew her hand back. He took their orders with a gentlemanly smile before politely excusing himself.

Sylia leaned forward, putting her head on her hands as she asked, "What happened, Tony? Why did you end up marrying Franklin?"

Tony smiled wryly, muttering, "I knew that question was coming." She took a deep breath, "To convince myself I was normal."

Sylia blinked, looking at her in surprise. "Normal?" she echoed.

Tony slipped her fingers into Sylia's as she confessed, "When we were girls, I loved being with you." A sad smile, "I'd look forward all year to being in Japan with you, and the boys back home just couldn't compare." A sigh, "I realized, eventually, that it made me unusual. And poor Franklin was my attempt at a cure."

"I looked forward to your coming back, too," Sylia admitted. The food was delivered, but they didn't separate, still holding the other's hand. "So what now?" Sylia asked her gently.

"I'm not so scared of being unusual any more," Tony looked up to meet her eyes.

'I'm in so much trouble,' Sylia found herself thinking.

"There's something I have to tell you," Tony said softly. Sylia saw her take a deep breath as Tony said, "I know about your connection to the Knight Sabers."

Chapter 8

Title: MEANWHILE....

Mecha Wars: Meanwhile...

'She knows?' Sylia looked across the table at Tony, mildly stunned. The beautiful woman calmly continued to eat her dinner after dropping that bombshell, and Sylia sighed to herself softly. 'I wonder if the other's night out have been as interesting as mine?'


Nene sighed softly, wishing that things weren't quite so slow at AD Police headquarters. Not that she really wanted there to be trouble, exactly, but things had been so quiet lately! A little smile, at least the Knight Sabers have been busy.

She casually called up the files on Antonia Stark, browsing her history. 'I wonder what she wants with Sylia," Nene thought, then she grinned, 'other than the obvious!' The way the lady had looked at Sylia, it was obvious that they had once been more than friends.

'Why can't I get a boyfriend?' Nene thought mournfully.

"Nene-chan!" a happy voice cried.

Nene looked up to see a pretty redhead bounding across the office, reaching her desk to throw her arms around Nene's neck. "Nuku Nuku?' Nene squeaked.

"Sorry about this," Akiko pushed her short brown hair out of her eyes. It had a bit of gray, but other than that the business woman looked fit and attractive. "Nuku Nuku remembered you were with the AD Police, so she wanted to see you," she explained.

Her co-worker was watching this with a great deal of interest, not to mention amusement. "It's a slow night," she pointed out with a smile, "why not leave for an early dinner? You can spend some time with you friends."

Nene hesitated, and Nuku Nuku smiled at her cheerfully, "Please?"

Nene looked over at Akiko with a smile, "You mind?"

"Might be fun," Akiko smiled, adding, "and I wanted to thank you, anyway." Nene grabbed her jacket and the three of them retired to a nearby cafe. "I'm sorry you got mixed up with our little Genom problem," Akiko said quietly.

Nene raised her eyebrow, "Quincy isn't still causing you trouble, is he?"

"Beating up Boomers is fun," Nuku Nuku said cheerfully.

"He's tried a few snatch and grabs," Akiko chuckled. She grinned across the table, "Nuku Nuku's begun to look forward to them."

"They're almost as fun as Arisa and Kyouko," Nuku Nuku confided, referring to her former sparing partners. A waiter put dinners in front of Nene and Akiko, and a plate of sardines in front of her. "Fishies," Nuku Nuku exclaimed happily, and began to scarf them down.

"Cute," Nene chuckled softly.

Akiko watched Nuku Nuku fondly, an almost motherly attitude to her. "It's hard to believe I used to try to destroy her," Akiko smiled.

"What?" Nene blurted.

Akiko grinned, "Nuku Nuku was caught in the middle of my and my ex's custody battle. I had the resources of a major military arms manufacturer, and my husband had Nuku Nuku." A short pause, "We were pretty evenly matched."

"Having seen you fight," Nene smiled at Nuku Nuku, "I believe it."

Nene turned back from Nuku Nuku and noticed Akiko looking across the table at her thoughtfully, a little smile on her face.


Linna paused, looking at the new Angelic Layer gaming center. 'What the hell,' she thought, going inside. She was pleasantly surprised to see a broad range of ages, little kids to adults.

She heard cheers, and moved through the crowds to one of the Layer tables. She had been into this as a girl, but had put it behind her as she grew up. 'Wonder if being good at this helped me be a better Knight Saber?' she wondered.

A dark haired woman was playing, and it was clear that her opponent was vastly outmatched. The dark haired, kimono garbed Angel moved in a blur, delivering devastating blows. A smooth final strike, and the other Angel was flung from the table in defeat.

"Hotoko and Suzuka win!" a young man declared.

Another young lady stepped up, "We're having a special contest today! Last a minute against Light Speed Suzuka, win a prize."

Linna hesitated, then she smiled as she spoke up, "I'd like to try."

A few moment's later she was 'loaned' a lightweight model of Angel, and sat down across from Hotoko. The woman smiled, "Let's both have fun."

Linna smiled back, "Thanks." She slid the visor on, popping up the winds to activate the connection to the Angel in front of her.

"Angelic..." the young man paused dramatically, "Fight!"

Suzuka stood there, then she simply... disappeared. 'Just like the old days,' Linna thought admiringly, remembering some of Suzuka's victories. She waited calmly, then the Angel reappeared in front of her own, struck, and missed!

There was a gasp of surprise from the crowd as Linna's Angel dodged, managing to tag Suzuka with her return blow. Hotoko showed no large reaction, but her eyes widened just a bit. "Nice," she murmured softly.

Linna grinned back at her, then focused back on the Layer table again. Suzuka chased her relentlessly across the table, clearly demonstrating why she was a Angelic Layer champion. But Linna drew on her memories of their previous encounter, and kept ahead of her. Just barely.

But she could stay out of her reach only so long. Suzuka got her into position, coiled her body, and struck, the force of the kick throwing the other angel right off the Layer!

"The rolling thunder kick, one of Suzuka's special moves!" The announcer sounded awed, "It's only rarely seen, and massively effective."

"Hotoko and Suzuka win!" the official declared.

Hotoko stood up and collected her Angel even as she smiled and said, "But she did last well past one minute."

There was a collective gazing at the clock, which showed that the match had indeed lasted nearly a minute in a half. "Congratulations," the announcer smiled at Linna while vigorously shaking her hand, "No one's managed that today."

"Thank you," Linna smiled. She collected her prize, a deluxe kit for the creation of a Angel, but before she could leave a gentle hand laid on her arm.

"Good match," Hotoko smiled.

"I enjoyed it," Linna smiled, looking at the dark haired twenty year old.

Hotoko looked at her thoughtfully, a little smile on her face, "I could have sworn we've fought before, recently."

Linna blinked, not sure what to say.


Priss toweled herself dry, feeling a bit of relief that the show was over. It had been a bad crowd, her and the band called in as a last minute replacement. The crowd had not been happy, and were quite vocal about letting them know about it.

"Hey, Priss," her guitarist said, "there's a lady waiting for you at the stage door." He leered, "You finally going for the groupies?"

Priss casually slapped him upside the head. "She say who she is?" she asked.

"Owwee!" he whimpered, rubbing the side of his head. "No, she didn't," he sniffled.

Priss kicked him out, then changed out of her sweaty clothes. 'Wonder if Linna or Nene came out to see me? No way it's Sylia,' she thought. She grinned, their boss in the Knight Sabers had been a nervous wreck all day, waiting to pick up Antonia.

She grabbed her jacket, deciding to keep her guest waiting. The lady had brown hair sprinkled with gray, obviously not Linna or Nene. She turned, and Priss slowed a bit, startled to see eyes the same color of red in her own.

"Priss Asagiri?" the lady asked quietly.

"Yes?" Priss asked suspiciously.

The lady smiled, pushing her short hair back nervously, "My name is Natsumi Tsujimoto, and I think I'm your aunt."

A moment of dead silence, then...

"What?!" Priss exclaimed.

Author's Note: I wanted to take a bit of a break from the ongoing "Iron Man" plotline, so... The first Meanwhile follows up on my Nuku Nuku Episode. The second is Angelic Layer. In the third Meanwhile, Natsumi Tsujimoto is from the anime, You're Under Arrest!

Chapter 9

Title: Nine

Mecha Wars: Chapter Nine

"What do you mean, you told her?!" Priss looked over at the calmly smiling Sylia in shock. The other three standing around the small office at the Silky Doll had similar surprised expressions on their faces as well.

Sylia shook her head, "I didn't tell her anything she didn't already know."

"So how badly compromised are we?" Mackie asked softly.

Sylia pushed her hair back from her face wit a hand. "She knows about me as financier, tech person, and member of the Knight Sabers. What she doesn't know," Sylia looked up to meet the other's eyes, "is anything about all of you."

"Why didn't you tell her about us?" Linna asked her quietly.

Sylia smiled wryly, "I'm willing to trust my own safety to my gut, and to an old friendship. It doesn't seem fair to ask you to put yourselves at risk, too."

"So what does she think?" Nene asked eagerly.

"She wants to help," Sylia smiled. 'She and her alter-ego, Iron Man," she thought. Somehow, Sylia hadn't been too surprised when Tony had told her that she was Iron Man. It made sense. She met her fellow Knight Sabers eyes, "Now, what do you want to do?"

"I'm in," Mackie nodded. "I remember Tony from when we were kids, she was a good lady. No way she'd be involved with Genom," he concluded.

"Pass," Priss shook her head, "I want to get to know this lady, first."

"You trust her?" Nene looked at Mackie and Sylia. Both nodded, "OK, I don't mind her knowing about me."

"Sorry, I'm with Priss," Linna admitted, "I'd like to get a feel for the lady, first."

"Good," Sylia smiled.

Priss looked at her and got a sinking feeling. 'Why do I get the feeling I walked right into something she planned?' she thought.

"What?" Linna asked suspiciously.

"I've set up a party for tonight," Sylia smiled, "and Tony, a few guests, and all of you are invited. There will be enough people that she won't automatically know you're Knight Sabers, and this will give you a chance to get to know her better."

Priss shook her head, "You know us too well, Sylia." She frowned slightly, "I may not be able to come though. Something personal has come up."

Sylia instantly went into her command mode. "What is it?" she asked, then somewhat more gently, "Is there anything I can do to be of help?"

"Yeah, maybe," Priss admitted, "you and Nene. Last night I met a woman named Natsumi Tsujimoto, and she thinks she might be my aunt."

"I thought your family died in the quake," Linna looked at her in surprise.

"So did I," Priss sighed. Softly, "Nobody came to the orphanage to claim me, and I lost my memory of anything that happened previously."

"Do you want me to check into her?" Sylia asked.

"Please," Priss smiled. She looked over at Nene, "She said she was with the police, before she went private. Could you look into that for me?"

"No problem," Nene nodded.

"So what was it like, meeting her?" Linna asked curiously.

Priss sighed softly, "Awkward."

The meeting broke up pretty soon afterward, and they each went their separate ways. Priss climbed up on to her bike, and after smoothly sliding into traffic she went on autopilot, considering what had happened last night.

The two had stood there by the stage doors a moment, gazing at each other, then Natsumi Tsujimoto had quietly suggested that they go to a nearby cafe to talk. They walked over to a rear table, ordered coffee's, and sat there silently.

"I'm sorry," Natsumi looked up to meet Priss' eyes, "for not trying to contact you sooner."

"Why didn't you?" Priss asked, curious to hear this stranger's answer.

Natsumi sighed softly. "I've been out of touch from my family for a very long time," she admitted quietly. "I was the black sheep because of my involvement with bike gangs when I was younger, and in my family's eyes joining the police force wasn't enough to make up for it," she finished quietly.

'She's a biker, too,' Priss thought, looking across the table, meeting those very same red eyes. "I don't remember anything that happened before the quake," Priss said to her quietly. She sipped at her coffee, "The only reason I even knew what my name was because of my school id. So I'm not sure..."

Natsumi smiled gently, "You don't know what to make of this stranger who says she's a relative." She finished off her coffee, standing up and drawing a business card from her wallet, "I'm living and working in town." She put the card on the table, hesitantly adding, "I'd like to get to know you, maybe become a real Aunt to you."

With that, she turned and was gone. A few moments later, and Priss heard the distinctive sound of a motorbike start up, and Natsumi drove by the window with a farewell wave.

Priss pulled up to her trailer and glided to a stop before going inside. She opened up her fridge, pulling out a can of beer, popping the top and taking a long pull. Her answering machine light was blinking, and she hit the switch to check the messages.

Sylia's cool voice came over the speaker, "I did a preliminary check on Natsumi Tsujimoto, and her story does seem to check out so far." A pause, "I'd like to see you at the party tonight." She sounded a bit amused, "If you like, you could even invite Natsumi."

Priss made a face, taking another drink. "Sure Sylia, use guilt on me," she sighed. 'No way I'd invite the mysterious Natsumi to this,' she thought, 'but...' Without letting herself think to hard about it, she pulled the business card out of her pocket and dialed.

"Hello?" Natsumi's voice answered quietly.

"Hi," Priss said quietly, feeling nervous.

"Priss, it's good to hear from you," and there was honest pleasure in Natsumi's voice.
Tony adjusted her dress nervously, "Are you sure this looks good?"

"You look fine," Sylia smiled, looking decidedly butch in her ladies suit. There was a familiar knock on the door, and Sylia called out, "Come in."

Mackie looked nervous, his white shirt and black pants starched and crisp. He smiled at Tony, "I'm not sure if you remember me."

"It's good to see you, Mackie," Tony smiled, shaking her hand.

Mackie grinned, "I'm also one of the primary repairmen for the Hardsuits." The surprised look on Tony's face was priceless, and both Sylia and Mackie smiled.

"We talked about telling you this morning," Sylia explained cheerfully.

"Thank you for trusting me," Tony smiled back at Mackie and Sylia.

There was a soft chime, and Sylia checked her watch. "The first guests should be arriving soon," she noted.

"Right," Tony nodded nervously, "I can do this."

Sylia gently took her hand as they walked, "Don't be so nervous. It's just a few of my business associates, friends, and a Knight Saber or two." Softly, she added, "I'm sure you've faced much worse as Iron Man."

"That's true," Tony admitted, "but I'm still nervous."

The door chimed, and Sylia walked over to answer it. "Biko," Sylia smiled at the tall blue haired woman.

"Hello Sylia," Biko smiled. A red head stepped up beside her, and Biko introduced her, "This is my lover, Eiko."

"Congratulations," Sylia shook both their hands. She led them both inside, and noticed a look of recognition pass between Biko and Tony.

"Hello, cousin," Biko nodded to Tony.

"Good to see you," Tony shook her hand with a smile. She tilted her head to the side, "You two are lovers?"

Eiko blushed a bit, "She's a little blunt about it, but yes."

The door chimed, and Mackie got it this time. "Hi, Nene," he smiled.

"Excuse us," Sylia smiled, taking Tony's arm and leading her over to Nene.

"Hi, I'm Nene," she smiled, shaking Tony's hand, and quietly so they wouldn't be overheard she added, "and I'm also the pink Knight Saber."

Tony grinned, "Maybe Sylia and I can upgrade your suit."

Nene got big hearts in her eyes, "Could you?!"

Sylia laughed softly at Tony's surprised expression. "Nene really loves high technology," she explained.

Nene walked over to introduce herself to Eiko and Biko, being careful not to let on that she had met them before. 'Of course, I was in my hardsuit at the time,' Nene grinned.

Another new arrival, and Tony got the door next. "Hi," Linna smiled at her, "I'm Linna. And you're Sylia's friend Tony, right?" Linna hoped she looked good, dressed in one of her better stockbroker business suits.

"Nice to meet you," Tony smiled, "Nene, Sylia and Mackie are over there, and a few of the other guests have arrived."

They talked quietly for a few moments, and Linna quickly came to see why Sylia liked her. She was calm, cool, and kind, Tony's eyes showing honest interest in Linna, but especially focusing on whatever Sylia said to her.

Sylia went to get the door next, and was pleasantly surprised to see the distinguished older woman standing there. She had sent her an invitation, but hadn't really expected an answer. "Good evening, Akiko, it's good to see you," Sylia smiled.

"Thank you for the invitation," Akiko pushed her short brown hair out of her eyes. It had a bit of gray, but other than that the business woman looked fit and attractive. She looked into the room, and her eyes widened in surprise, "Nene?"

Sylia raised her eyebrow, "You know her?"

"Long story," Akiko smiled, "involving my sort of adopted daughter Nuku Nuku."

Nene looked up, seeing Sylia talking to someone. 'What's Akiko doing here?' Nene blinked. Akiko moved her way through the groups smiling and nodding, eventually reaching Nene's side. "Hi," Nene said with a smile.

"Fancy meeting you here," Akiko chuckled softly.

Linna heard the door ring and moved to open it, bumping into Tony. "Sorry," she smiled, then reached over to pull the door open. "Hey, Priss," Linna grinned.

Priss wore a black leather jacket and black pants, a snow white shirt on underneath. It looked sort of formal, but still fit Priss' style. "Hey, Linna," Priss imitated her tone perfectly. She looked over at the woman beside Linna and smiled slightly, "You're Tony, right?"

"Right," Tony nodded.

Priss shook her hand in a firm grip before leaning forward to say, "Sylia is a good friend of mine. You hurt her, you answer to me."

"Priss!" Linna looked at her in surprise.

Tony's glance was respectful as she said, "I'll try my best not to, I give you my word."

Chapter 10

Title: Ten

Mecha Wars: Chapter Ten

The party was soon bustling, groups forming as people familiar with each other gathered. Sylia smoothly moved from group to group, speaking a bit to each, making the required social moves. Priss was a bit of a hit, a wilder figure moving through the many high society types. Tony, Biko, Eiko and Linna were talking, the stockbroker and the redhead barely managing to keep up with all the technobable.

"You want to try speaking English?" Sylia reminded Tony gently.

Tony and Sylia looked surprised, then they noticed Linna's blank expression. "Sorry," Biko said a bit sheepishly.

Eiko laughed softly, "They do that all the time." She grinned at Linna, "Wanna go try some snacks while they talk?"

"Sounds like a plan," Linna agreed, and the two headed off.

The door bell rang, and Sylia excused herself to answer it.

"Thank you for the invitation," Sai Jounouchi smiled, reaching out to shake Sylia's hand. Her brown hair was cut boyishly short, her gaze intense.

Kaede Saitou smiled sweetly as her longer brown hair fell around her shoulders, "I love the dress you recommended me, Miss Stingray."

"It looks lovely on you," Sylia agreed, taking in the two of them. Sai was dressed in a tailored men's suit, mostly in black, and Kaede was in an ankle length white dress. They looked almost like they were wedding bound, like a husband and wife.

Hatoko Kobayashi and Misaki Suzuhara came in after the other two, walking hand in hand, even though Misaki was blushing brightly. Hatoko had a broad smile on her face, even though there was a bit of a blush to the black haired woman's cheeks, too.

"I'm glad you decided to come," Sylia shook their hands.

"Thank you very much," Misaki squeaked nervously, her short brown hair suddenly developing a bit of a cowlick.

"Let's go get some snacks," Hatoko said, gently drawing the slightly shorter Misaki inside.

"The Angelic Layer champions" Akiko noted as the four of them walked by. The older woman smiled at Nene, "Sylia certainly knows a broad variety of people."

"That's true," Nene nodded. She blushed faintly, "I went into the silky doll to buy a nightie, and ten minutes later Sylia had me telling her my life story."

"I can imagine," Akiko chuckled softly. More seriously, "My ex- husband was a business associate of Dr. Stingray's. I was terribly sorry to hear about his death."

"You never quite know what to do," Nene said as she remembered some victim notification calls she had gone along on, telling a wife or child their parent or loved one was dead..

Akiko nodded thoughtfully, "At the funeral Sylia stood there alone, her expression blank. I wanted to go over and help, but I didn't know how." She shook her head, "Sorry, it seems I'm in a morbid mood tonight." She smiled down at Nene, "Have you eaten yet?"

"Grazed a few times on the snack trays," Nene shrugged.

"Then let's get something a bit more substantial, shall we?" At Nene's nod, Akiko slipped a hand under her elbow, gently guiding Nene through the crowd.

A slight blush appeared on Nene's face as she thought, 'That feels kind of nice.'

Akiko looked down at her thoughtfully before tentatively asking, "I may be completely out of line, Nene, but I was wondering if you had ever gone out with a woman before?"

Nene's eyes widened as the last piece of the puzzle fell into place. The meaningful glances when they had ate together, Akiko seeking her out at the party... 'She's attracted to me,' she thought dazedly.

A sad smile flickered on Akiko's face, "I've shocked you, it seems. I'm sorry." She turned, and took a step away.

Nene found herself catching Akiko's arm. "You surprised me," Nene admitted, softly adding, "pleasantly so." Akiko turned, meeting Nene's eyes steadily, as a smiling Nene asked, "Could we talk about it, maybe?"

"Why not," Akiko smiled, and they continued on together.

In another part of the room, Tony was surprised by a gentle hand on her arm. Sylia smiled at her, "You really should try to mingle."

"Sorry," Tony blushed. She smiled at Biko, "Later, cousin?"

Biko nodded, "I'd look forward to it." Eiko slipped out of the crowd with two loaded down plates, handing one to her lover.

As they were walking away Tony quietly asked Sylia, "So who gets to talk my ear off now?"

"Priss wants to talk to you before she takes off," Sylia smiled.

Tony actually laughed softly, "Priss made it clear that if I hurt you, I'll regret it."

Sylia shook her head, "That's our Priss."

They caught up to her just as she was making her way to the door. "Curses," Priss smiled at them, "foiled again."

"I'm sorry that you're leaving so soon," Tony smiled.

"I've got to go see somebody tonight," Priss shrugged. "But before I left, I wanted to tell you something," she said. A short breath, "I'm also the blue Knight Saber, which means I can really hurt you bad if you dump Sylia."

"Priss!" Sylia barked indignantly.

Tony grinned, "Consider me officially warned." With that, Priss was out the door and gone. She looked over at the faintly blushing Sylia, "You certainly inspire loyalty in your friends."

Over by the buffet table Hatoko was watching the proceedings while she and Misaki loaded up their plates. "I'm surprised to see so many couples here," the dark haired young woman remarked.

Misaki blinked, "Couples?"

"Eiko and Biko," Hatoko pointed, "Tony and Sylia, and a few others I'm not sure of."

"And Sai and Kaede," Misaki blushed.

Linna brushed by the shorter woman, and smiled at the two of them, "Hello."

"Hello again," Hatoko smiled at her. She turned to Misaki, "She's the one I told you about, who lasted a minute against me."

"You like Angelic Layer?" Misaki asked, her eyes sparkling.

Linna smiled back, "Yes, I do." With that, they easily fell into conversation.

Hatoko sipped her drink, watching Linna thoughtfully. She had analyzed their fight the other day, and realized where they had fought before. She felt certain the Linna was the green Knight Saber she had fought, but she wasn't sure what to do with that information.

Biko walked over to Tony and Sylia, and nodded to them respectfully, "There was something I wanted to ask you, Miss Stingray."

"Yes?" Sylia asked cautiously.

"The Boomers that Genom produces," Biko asked her, "is there a fundamental design flaw in them? And if so, why isn't there anything being done about it?"

"Yes, there is," Sylia answered simply, "and I feel certain that Genom considers it to be too expensive to recall or repair."

"Even with the lives lost?" Biko asked grimly.

Sylia felt some sympathy for the young woman, remembering the employees of Biko's father's company who had been slain. "Quincy," Sylia said as gently as she could, "is not terribly concerned with those lives lost."

"That's what I thought," Biko said. She turned away, walking over to Eiko's side, the two of them talking together softly.

"I wonder why she was asking," Tony murmured.

"Hopefully, she wants to do something more about Genom," Sylia answered quietly.

Linna separated herself from the four Angelic Layer champions, walking over to Tony and Sylia's side. "You two look like you're having fun," Linna smiled, It was true, Sylia seemed to take on a happy glow around Tony.

"We're trying," Tony smiled.

"How are you enjoying the party?" Sylia asked.

"Had a few interesting conversations," Linna answered. She looked over at Tony, "I'm going to be leaving in a bit, so I thought I should tell you I'm the green Knight Saber."

"You've collected the whole set," Sylia smiled up at Tony impishly.

"Why did you decide to trust me?" Tony asked Linna quietly. "We haven't even had a chance to talk much yet," she added.

"Watching the way you are with Sylia," Linna shrugged.

"Huh?" Tony blinked. Sylia also looked at Linna curiously.

"You follow Sylia with you eyes all the time," Linna smiled. "Anyone who's that madly in love would never hurt the other," she said simply.

Both Sylia and Tony went red at that.

Out in the city, a sleek red bike hugged the curves as it sped towards an appointment. A second bike in blue came up beside it, and they kept pace together down the twisting city streets. They raced, both bikes pushing the limits as they egged each other on, finally running down the straight road, the red bike inching ahead.

The blue bike signaled, and the two of them slid to the side of the road. The blue biker slid her helmet off, and Natsumi smiled, "Not bad at all."

The red biker tugged her own helmet off, and Priss grinned back at the older woman, "You're not too bad yourself." They stood there silently for a few moments, looking out at the towers of the city of Mega-Tokyo.

"How did you know it was me?" Natsumi asked. "I just got this bike," she slapped the side of her shiny new motorcycle.

"I couldn't see your face," Priss shrugged, "but I recognized the style of your riding." An odd look crossed her face, "It reminded me of mine."

A woman's amused laughter, "She even sounds like you, Natsumi."

Priss saw an older woman walking towards them, about as old as Natsumi. She was clearly in good shape, and only a bit of gray in her long brown braid gave a hint of her actual age. Priss looked over at Natsumi, "Friend of yours?"

Natsumi took a step over to the other woman and took her hand. She smiled at Priss, "I'd like you to meet my partner, Miyuki."

Priss silently resolved not to ask what kind of partner Miyuki was. She rather suspected that she knew, anyway. "Please to meet you," Priss shook her extended hand gently.

"Sorry to surprise you like this," Miyuki smiled, "but Natsumi's been so pumped about meeting you that I had to see you for myself."

Priss looked aside and saw a blush on Natsumi's cheeks. "Yeah, well," Natsumi looked down in embarrassment.

"I hope I wasn't too much of a disappointment," Priss shrugged, "not remembering and all."

"I wasn't disappointed at all," Natsumi said firmly.

Miyuki shook her head, looking back and forth between them and at those striking scarlet eyes. "The resemblance is almost scary," she sighed. She took a breath, "There's a pretty nice restaurant near by. Would you care to join us for dinner?"

Priss hesitated a moment, and noticed Natsumi's pleading gaze. 'My aunt,' Priss thought, then aloud she said, "Sure."

Chapter 11

Title: You're Under Arrest

Mecha Wars: You're Under Arrest!

Natsumi and Miyuki lead Priss into the little restaurant before she could change her mind, and Priss hung back a bit to watch them walking together. Natsumi was the taller of the two, and seemed very protective of the other woman. But Miyuki's eyes shone with her intelligence, and it was clear she was more than Natsumi's equal.

Natsumi quickly claimed a corner table for them, then she held out a chair for Miyuki. After smiled up at her gratefully, Miyuki sat down gracefully. Natsumi sat beside her, while Priss decided to sit across from them.

A waiter soon appeared, and both Natsumi and Miyuki ordered the same thing. Priss looked at the menu for a moment, did a quick mental calculation on what she could afford, and then told the man, "Medium steak and potatoes, please." She looked over at Natsumi and Miyuki and said, "I'm paying for mine."

Miyuki blinked, "But we invited you out to..."

Natsumi gently put her hand on her lovers arm, looking across the table at her niece. With a slight smile, "It's OK, Miyuki."

Miyuki looked back and forth between Natsumi and Priss, startled again by how alike they looked. And how stubborn both of them were, too. "This is some butch thing, isn't it?" she asked with a little sigh.

Priss just smiled and said, "Thanks." The food was quickly delivered to the table, and they began cautiously eating. Priss finished chewing a bite, sipped some of her wine, and asked, "So how did you find out about me, anyway?"

"You can blame Miyuki," Natsumi looked over at her lover with a grateful smile. She remembered what happened, only a few days ago...

It was part of a regular background check that had to be done so that they could maintain their security clearance. For a private investigator, certain kinds of government work could save or sink an agency, so keeping their clearances updated was essential.

Miyuki was doing a background check on Natsumi, making sure that a 'net search wouldn't produce something that might come back to bite them on the butt. A cross check on her last name brought up a few hits, and an odd listing. The simple line, 'Earthquake survivor' connected to a link. She clicked on it even as she flipped her long braid back over her shoulder, read the newspaper report, and gasped in surprise.

"Natsumi," Miyuki squeaked, "get in here!"

"What?" Natsumi barreled into the office a few moments later, her short brown hair in disarray. "What's wrong?" she asked, looking around worriedly.

"Read this," a rather pale Miyuki pointed her to the computer screen.

Natsumi bent over to read, and her own eyes grew wide. "My sister," she murmured softly, "had a daughter? And she's alive?"

Miyuki turned around in her chair, "You didn't know?"

Natsumi slumped into a nearby chair, her expression grave. "No," she shook her head, "my family and I have been out of touch for years. I knew she had been in Tokyo during the 'quake, but my relatives said they all died."

Miyuki looked at Natsumi for a moment, then loudly called out, "Yoriko?"

The girl with long brown hair walked in Miyuki's office a few moments later, pushing up her round glasses. When Natsumi and the others had decided to go private, they had invited Yoriko along too. The woman was the luckiest person any of them knew, bar none, and they figured they could use that kind of luck.

"What's going on?" Yoriko asked.

"Could you do a full search on this lady?" Miyuki asked, highlighting a name on the bottom of the article: Priss Asagiri.

"No problem," Yoriko settled into the seat once Miyuki got "Why do you want to know?" she asked even as she leaned eagerly into the computer.

"She might just be Natsumi's niece," Miyuki said quietly as she lead the shaken Natsumi out of the room.

Yoriko looked at the closing door in surprise, "What?"

Miyuki lead Natsumi over to the couch they kept in their little office for customers to sit on, and they sat there together. "Do you want to talk about it?" Miyuki asked her gently.

Natsumi puffed out a little breath of air. "Back when I was a teen," she said quietly, "I fell in with a bad crowd. Bike gang, fighting, all that. My dad pretty much disowned me, and my mom and sister went along with it."

"But, you became a police officer," Miyuki protested. "Didn't that make up for..."

"Not in his eyes," Natsumi sighed. She smiled a bit bitterly, "I haven't heard from anyone in my family for years. He just sent a letter after the Tokyo 'quake saying that the emergency forces had declared my sister, her husband, and their daughter dead."

"Obviously, they were wrong," Miyuki said softly. She took Natsumi's hand in her own to quietly ask, "What do you want to do now?"

"I don't know," Natsumi admitted.

The outside door opened and Aoi Futaba strode inside, carrying the take-out bags filled with their lunch. The elegantly dressed woman sat them on top of the front desk before calling out, "Yoriko, lunch is here!"

Yoriko came out of the back offices carrying a file folder which she brought over to Natsumi and Miyuki, "I printed out what I've found on her so far."

"New case?" Aoi asked, reaching out to lightly brush Yoriko's hand.

"Not exactly. It looks like this lady may be Natsumi's niece," Yoriko smiled, the light glinting off her glasses.

"Really," Aoi blinked, nearly dropping the wrapped sandwich she was carrying. She quickly unpacked the other bags, before walking over to look at the pages Miyuki was rifling through.

"Picture, picture," Miyuki murmured. She found one and pulled it out, and all four ladies were soon pouring over it. "Wow," Miyuki murmured.

"She looks so much like you," Yoriko agreed, looking down at the brown haired woman in the print out. She was angry, obviously being photographed unwillingly, and that actually increased the resemblance.

"Check out the eyes," Aoi noted. The woman in the picture had the exact same striking red eyes that Natsumi had.

Natsumi was looking at one of the sheets of paper with an odd look on her face. "She rides motorbikes, too," she said quietly.

"She's the lead singer," Miyuki noted, "with a band called the Replicants. They're Mega-Tokyo based, too," she added thoughtfully.

Natsumi looked at her suspiciously, "What are you thinking?"

"The bands touring schedule is here," Miyuki held up the sheet, "why not go to one of the concerts, see if you can meet her?"

"Couldn't I just phone her first?" Natsumi said nervously.

"And how is that conversation going to go?" Yoriko asked. She mimed picking up a pretend phone, "Hello, Priss? Hi, I'm your Aunt Natsumi! Wanna meet?" She holds the imaginary phone away from her, "Gee, she hung up!"

Aoi chuckled softly, "She's got a point." More seriously, "And I think this would be the sort of thing you have to do face to face."

Natsumi nodded thoughtfully, "You could be right." She looked over at Miyuki and smiled weakly, "So when's the next concert?"

"Tomorrow night," Miyuki handed the schedule over, "they're filling in for another band that canceled at the last minute."

The next night, and Natsumi was arguing with a young man at the stage door. He looked her up and down with a smirk, "No way Priss would be buying what you're sellin'."

Natsumi picked him up by the collar, feeling relieved that she'd told Miyuki that she wanted to do this alone. "Just tell her," she said dangerously, "that there's someone here to see her."

As soon as she let him go he scrambled inside and down a dark hallway. Natsumi stepped away from the door and down a few steps to look out at the street. A few minutes later and she heard movement behind her.

The brown haired young woman stood there in leather, a jacket and short skirt. She looked a bit trashy, but tough, too, someone who you shouldn't mess with. From under the slightly ragged fringe of her hair scarlet eyes looked out cautiously.

"Priss Asagiri?" Natsumi asked her quietly.

"Yes?" Priss asked suspiciously.

Natsumi smiled, pushing her short hair back nervously as she wondered what Priss thought of this older lady standing in front of her. She took a deep breath, "My name is Natsumi Tsujimoto, and I think I'm your aunt."

There was a moment of dead silence, then...

"What?!" Priss exclaimed.

Priss listened to the tale with a smile. "You're friends sound pretty interesting," she admitted, "I'd like to meet them sometime."

Natsumi got an odd look on her face, "They wouldn't..."

Miyuki looked at her curiously, her eyes widened, then she looked around, scanning the tables. A loud sigh, "Four tables over, behind the potted plant."

Priss looked over, and saw two women sitting at the table. The shorter woman with the round glasses on was using a large plant as cover to try to watch them. Her taller companion was reading her menu, looking like she had read it a few times but didn't know what else to do.

Priss snickered softly, "Your friends?"

"Yep," Natsumi sighed.

Priss startled both Natsumi and Miyuki by sliding her chair back and standing. She strode over to the two women, who were looking up at her in shock. "Hi, I'm Priss Asagiri," she said with a grin. She tilted her head to her Aunt's table, "Would you care to join us?"

Yoriko blushed, "Busted."

Aoi got up out of her seat, gently pulling Yoriko up as well. "We'd love to," Aoi smiled at Priss cheerfully, and the three of them walked over to Natsumi and Miyuki's table.

'They're almost as bad as Linna and Nene,' Priss thought to herself with a grin.

Chapter 12

Title: Twelve

Mecha Wars: Chapter Twelve

"Could I ask you something?" Tony came up behind Sylia, gently wrapping her arms around her dark haired lover.

"Anything you like," Sylia gave a seductive little sigh, looking up adoringly into the brown haired woman's eyes.

Tony blushed, "Not that!"

"Sorry," Sylia smiled. "I guess this is serious," she said, leading Tony over to the couch. They sat down there side by side, "Ask away."

"It's about the Knight Sabers," Tony sat forward. Quietly she said, "I've been thinking about it, and I can't believe that they are all that you are using against Genom. You must know that they can only contain Genom, not stop it."

"That's very true," Sylia nodded. She took a remote and pressed several keys, bringing up an image of the screen in front of them.

Tony frowned, "It looks like the stock structure of a large company."

"It's Genom's, actually," Sylia said coolly. "Quincy and his various allies own approximately sixty percent of the company's stock," she said simply, "and the remainder is owned by various other small companies."

Tony's eyes narrowed in thought, then they widened as she cried out, "So who owns the smaller companies!"

"Bingo," Sylia grinned at her, "they're dummy corporations owned by me."

"You're buying out Genom," Tony looked at Sylia admiringly.

"It was the only way that I could see to carry out my father's dream of peaceful human and boomer coexistence," Sylia shrugged. "Once I acquire enough of the voting stock I can force the board and Quincy out, and start to build the boomers that my father had envisioned, not the cheap knock offs that Genom currently makes," she explained.

"So how do you get Quincy to release the stock for you to buy?" Tony asked, rather strongly suspecting what the answer was.

"Every time one of his grand schemes blows up in his face, he needs money to cover it," Sylia smiled impishly, "and he sells stock to get it."

"Poetic irony," Tony chuckled, "every time the Knight Sabers beat him, the leader of the Sabers buys more of his stock!" The two women laughed softly.

Across town at a nice little roadside restaurant, more laughter could be heard. The table had a few beer and sake bottles sitting on it, the five finished meals pushed aside. Four women in their fifties were sitting around it talking with a women in her twenties.

Yoriko grinned at the others, "So this good looking lady strips off her skirt to reveal that she's wearing a pair of boxer shorts underneath! Then the breast forms fell out of her shirt, and we realized that she was really a he!"

"Do you really have to tell that story?" Aoi was blushing furiously.

Priss shook her head admiringly, "I'm impressed. Are you still..."

"I got the latest operations a few years after the quake," Aoi smiled. "After what happened to some of our friends, I decided I couldn't put it off any longer," she finished.

"Not that it didn't create a few problems," Yoriko took Aoi's hand in her own.

"They were lovers both before and after the operations," Natsumi leaned over to whisper to her niece, Priss.

"I guessed that," Priss smiled back. The four of them were so close, showing deep bonds of friendship developed over years of being together. 'I wonder if Linna, Nene, Sylia and I will ever be like that?' she wondered.

"Those two have been together almost as long as Yoriko and I have," Aoi nodded to Natsumi and Miyuki. She smiled slightly, "Though if Miyuki's last boyfriend hadn't been a jerk, I wonder if they would have ever figured it out."

"Ken wasn't that bad," Miyuki said quietly, "and it's in poor taste to speak ill of the dead."

Yoriko winced, "Sorry."

"The 'quake?" Priss asked Natsumi quietly. Her Aunt nodded slightly in reply. Priss looked down at her watch, and her eyes widened, "Shit."

"What?" Aoi looked across the table at her.

"Ladies, it's now well past one in the morning," Priss grinned, finally noticing the weary looks the waitresses were tossing them. "I'd love to keep this going, but I've got a performance tomorrow," she sighed.

"And we," Natsumi got up and stretched, "are probably going to regret this in the morning. Or afternoon, whenever we wake up."

Miyuki counted the bottles on the table, then gave a thoughtful look to the other four women. The only one who wasn't swaying a bit was, not surprisingly, Priss. "You going to be all right to drive?" she asked her.

"I'll be fine," Priss smiled. They settled up on the bill and headed out into the bracing night air. "I'd invite you guys out to my home," Priss hugged Natsumi, "but my place is a dump. Call me, I'd love to do this again."

"What, drink us all under the table again?" Miyuki asked, and they all had a good laugh.

The sun rose the next morning, and by late afternoon there was a mini- conference going on over at the Silky Doll. Sylia and Tony sat together on one of the large couches, with Mackie, Nene, Linna and Priss scattered around the meeting room.

Showing a certain amount of reluctance to be parted from her lover Sylia got up to face the group. "The hardsuits are going to be unavailable for the next week or so," Sylia said, "as Tony, Mackie and I are going to be giving them a bit of an overhaul."

"What do we do if there's a boomer attack during that time?" Linna asked worriedly.

"There's always the AD Police to protect us, of course," Tony offered, and then grinned at the chorus of pained groans that quickly surrounded her. Even Nene, an AD Police dispatch officer herself, groaned loudly.

"Tony's contacted Biko and her partner, Eiko. They're staying around town while Biko investigates Genom's activities," Sylia smiled.

"And I guess they're willing to tackle boomers," Priss said thoughtfully.

"Oh, yes," Tony smiled grimly. "Apparently both of them are quite displeased with Genom's deceptive tactics," she added.

Nene offered, "Akiko tells me that Nuku-Nuku and her fellow android Emi seem to quite enjoy thrashing boomers."

"That's not a bad idea, Nene," Sylia smiled at her. "See if you can convince them to come into town for a few days," she added.

Linna looked over at Nene and smirked, "I noticed the two of you getting quite close back at that party Sylia threw."

"We're just friends," Nene answered, while trying to fight back a telling blush.

"You may just want to be friends," Priss drawled, "but that really wasn't the sort of look that Akiko was giving you."

"Linna," Sylia looked at her, "I've noticed that you've started to become friends with Hatoko Kobayashi."

"Yes?" Linna asked her cautiously. Sylia could be a bit ruthless when it suited her, so Linna was just being reasonably cautious.

"Could you try to feel out how she and her friends Misaki, Sai and Kaede actually feel about Genom?" She smiled wryly, "I'd still like to see if we could recruit them as reserve Knight Sabers."

"Will do," Linna half saluted, half waved.

"Then that's pretty much it," Sylia smiled. As they others got up to go, she called out, "Priss, could I see you for a moment?"

"Sure, Sylia," Priss waited as the others left, leaving just the two of them and Tony.

"I understand you went to see your Aunt last night," Sylia smiled.

"I'm not even going to ask how you knew about that," Priss shook her head ruefully. She smiled slightly, "My Aunt, her partner and the other two members of their detective agency all showed up for dinner."

"I should apologize," Sylia surprised her as she said quietly, "I've actually used their agency before, but I didn't connect Natsumi to you."

"Not that Sylia could have known," Tony noted, clearly disapproving of Sylia taking on any guilt in the situation.

"She's right," Priss nodded to Tony then she looked Sylia in the eye, "you really couldn't have known."

"Thanks," Sylia smiled. She paused, then added, "If you want, invite them over to dinner here one night. It's got to be better than the trailer."

Priss chucked, "One of these days I'll take you up on that." She moved towards the door, "I gotta go, I have a show tonight."

To be continued...

Chapter 13

Mecha Wars: Chapter Fourteen

A wide-eyed Tony looked into the open back panels of the hardsuit, an odd look on her face as she studied the technology within intently. They had been running over the schematics for the first day or so, but now she, Sylia and Mackie were cracking open the suits themselves to really get started on all the upgrades they planned.

After Tony had been staring silently into the suit for a few moments Sylia looked at her with a worried frown, "What's wrong?"

"Sylia, I want to marry you and have your babies," Tony said firmly.

"Urk," Mackie nearly choked on his coffee, developing a slight nosebleed.

"Look at this design," Tony waved admiringly at the exposed circuitry, "I can't believe how efficient this system is! We've got to keep you in the gene-pool." She looked over at the odd look at Mackie's face, "What?"

Sylia was smiling slightly as she shook her head, "Thank you." A pause, "I think."

"Nerd love," Mackie sighed under his breath.

"I heard that," Tony shot back.

Later that day across town and things were getting both loud and crazy. Explosions rang out, and combat boomers went flying regularly, even as people fled the restaurant district as fast as their feet or vehicles could carry them.

"Eeek," Nene gasped, watching a boomer's head go flying by them.

Akiko carefully stuck her head up over the table they were both hiding behind to shout, "Watch where you're throwing those things!"

"Sorry, Mama," Nuku-Nuku shouted back, even as the redhead kicked a boomer right off the ground and into a wall.

"We'll try to be more careful," Emi added cheerfully. The blonde was really quite a pretty girl, if you forgot that she was a robot. To make matters worse, she seemed to be slightly hentai, at least as far as the scanty clothes she was wearing indicated.

Akiko ducked back down and smiled sheepishly at Nene, "Sorry about this."

"Not your fault Genom's still after Nuku-Nuku," Nene shrugged. She smiled slightly, "And I did ask you to come into town."

"True," Akiko smiled back at her. She laughed softly, "At least it's an interesting date."

"Bwa-ha ha ha ha!" Emi had climbed up on the shoulders of a Boomer, pounding down on the head with both hands.

"Interesting," Nene agreed with a laugh. Even more interesting had been how romantic their lunch was, Akiko looked across the dining table into Nene's eyes, her hand reaching across the table to gently rest on Nene's.

And thankfully Nuku-Nuku and Emi were sitting at another table. That way they didn't have to watch Nuku-Nuku scarfing down her fishies, or listen to Emi flirt with Nuku-Nuku, the waitresses or any cute passing customers.

"Wine?" Akiko offered, having found where their bottle had rolled off to. She poured the red into two glasses, handing one to Nene.

"Thanks," Nene laughed as she accepted the glass.

"A toast," Akiko held up her glass. Nene raised hers in reply and Akiko smirked, "To the pretty lady who goes with me on interesting dates."

"And to the beautiful woman," Nene blushed slightly as she continued, "who takes me on these interesting dates."

They tapped their glasses together, both smiling as they looked into each other's eyes.

In another part of town, two figures gazed across the Layer at each other intently while a battle raged between them. The kimono clad Angel Suzuka chased the other Angel relentlessly, a leather jacket clad, brown haired figure that looked oddly familiar.

Hotoko smiled slightly, "What is your new Angel's name?"

Linna smiled back, but kept her focus on the Layer and her opponent, "She's named and modeled after the best fighter I know, Priss."

Hotoko's lips quirked in a smile as she admitted, "I think we've met. So, have you told her about her Angel counterpart yet?"

Linna chuckled softly, "Not yet."

The fight continued, and Linna realized it was looking awfully familiar, somehow. 'The battle dolls incident,' Linna realized, 'this fight is exactly the same as when I fought the life-size Suzuka in my hard suit! Does she know?'

Priss stopped cold, turning back to face her enemy rather than fleeing any longer. Suzuka and her stood there, still as statues, as they assessed each other's abilities and waited for a move.

Hotoko's gaze was on Linna's and a little smile was on her face. "You have a lot of potential," she said softly.

Suzuka suddenly became a blur of movement, Priss barely able to even raise a guard before the blow came. Flung right off the Layer by a single massive kick, Linna barely caught her Angel before it hit the floor.

"But you're not there yet," Hotoko finished with a smile.

The sound of soft clapping announced Misaki's return, the lady beaming happily. "Maybe so," she laughed, "but unlike most Layer players she can actually give you a good fight." She frowned slightly, "But you fighting her looks so familiar, somehow..."

Linna cradled her Angel, checking it for damage. Satisfied, she decided to change the subject, "It must be nice, having an Angelic Layer table in your home."

"Yes, it is," Hotoko smiled, "Misaki is one of the few who can spar with me evenly." She gave Misaki a impish glance, "And it's good for other things.

Misaki went beet red, looking down at the carpet.

"I get the feeling I'm missing something," Linna noted.

"It turns out some hentai," a red faced Misaki mumbled, "has created a series of... anatomically correct Angels modeled after the famous ones."

"Like, say, Suzuka and Hikaru?" Linna mentioned Hotoko's and Misaki's Angels.

Misaki went even redder, while Hotoko shrugged, that little smile still on her face. Linna snickered softly, shaking her head while Misaki went to go get them some refreshments. And to give some time for her blush to go away.

Linna felt Hotoko's considering gaze on her, and sighed softly. 'There was something in Hotoko's eyes when we fought,' Linna thought, 'that convinced her that she knew Linna was the green Knight Saber. And now that both she and Misaki have noticed something, it won't be long before they compare notes.'

'Not that that's my main reason for wanting to tell them,' Linna admitted. She liked them, pure and simple. They were kind, honest and good hearted people, the only reason they had ever been involved with a Genom scheme was because they were lied to.

"There's something I want to tell you," Linna found herself saying. She took a deep breath, "I'm the green Knight Saber."

"I know," Hotoko smiled.

Linna blinked, "That's it?"

Hotoko chuckled softly, "I suspected the first time we fought on the Layer, Linna." She smiled warmly, "What can we do to help?"

"Help who?" Misaki asked, carrying in a tray of drinks.

"The Knight Sabers," Hotoko smiled.

"You mean Linna finally told you she was one?" Misaki beamed happily.

'Whatever happened to a secret identity?' Linna thought to herself dazedly. "You both know?" she blurted.

"The latest fight just confirmed it," Misaki shrugged.

Linna sighed softly.

The day passed swiftly, and in a smoky club that evening, Priss felt that she was right in her element. The Replicants were playing great, her voice was good, and the crowd was loving them. She didn't even mind the costume she was wearing, a leather skirt, jacket, and fish-net top with her usual disguise, the blond wig.

"Who-hoo!" a very familiar woman's voice cheered happily.

Priss' head whipped around, her jaw nearly dropping. 'Can't be,' she thought dazedly.

Her Aunt Natsumi was dancing in place wildly, a wide grin on her face as she watched the performance. Beside her Miyuki tried valiantly to keep up with her lover, and Yoriko and Aoi finished off the set of four.

Priss fought back the urge to pull the jacket around her to try to cover her top. "Friends of yours?" the guitarist asked her mildly.

Priss blew out a nervous breath. 'I can stand up here and crash and burn in front of my Aunt and her friends, or,' she thought, then grinned. "Hurricane, on three," she barked to the band.

Three drum beats later, and the place exploded. People talked about that night weeks later, about how Priss and the Replicants had rocked the place off it's foundations. If the roof had actually blown off, no one would have been very surprised.

"You know," Natsumi noted with an wicked little smile, "I used to wear outfits like that... when I was undercover."

Priss stuck her tongue out, "Why do you think I wear the wig?" She pulled it off and tossed it into a corner as she added, "I don't want any of these guys recognizing me on the street."

"A good point," Miyuki admitted.

"And we're all feeling sort of jealous that we couldn't carry off that kind of outfit anymore," Yoriko said with a smirk.

"Yes, we've come to the realization that we're old farts," Aoi added in mocking tones.

Priss snickered, "Not likely."

The four left her there to change clothes, and went out front to wait for Priss. Back in her pants, T-shirt and leather jacket, Priss headed out just in time to hear Aoi say, "... but I'd still like to know why that lady had us checked out."

"What lady?" Priss asked curiously.

"We got a heads up from another agency," Natsumi shrugged, "it seems somebody ordered a background check on all the members of the company."

Priss suddenly had a sinking feeling, "Did they mention a name?"

Miyuki gave her a look, probably from the odd tone of voice, but she answered, "It wasn't confidential, it seems, he said it was Sylia Stingray."

Priss sighed softly.

"Friend of yours, I take it?" Yoriko asked eagerly.

"Sorry about that," Priss sighed, "it seems she was worried about me."

Natsumi looked over at Priss thoughtfully, "Is she your lover?"

"Was," Priss admitted. At the inquisitive looks all four were giving her she shrugged, "We dated a bit, but quickly figured out we'd probably kill each other if we stayed together."

"So you're single?" Miyuki asked.

"Pretty much," Priss agreed, wondering where this was going.

"Good," Natsumi smiled up at her niece impishly, "I know some nice single girls that I could introduce you to..."

"Oh, no," Priss waved her hands frantically, while the others laughed.

To be continued...

Chapter 14

Mecha Wars: Chapter Fourteen

        Biko grinned ferally, raising her wrist cannon and opening fire. The boomer exploded into flames, and she turned to fire again at another boomer coming up behind her. Eiko backed Biko up, her long red hair flowing around her as she punched and kicked the robots down.

        "Not bad," Biko smiled, gracefully descending to the ground and standing beside Eiko and the four fully scrapped boomers.

        "Not too bad yourself," Eiko agreed, reaching out to take her hand. They walked into a darker portion of the alley together, and Biko changed back into her school uniform.

        The two young women had been back in Mega-Tokyo only a few days, and had demolished more than a few boomers in that time. They had also been enjoying the night life, as well as starting to get to know each other a bit better, away from their families and friends.

        Biko smiled, pushing her long blue hair back from her face. "The Priss and the Replicants concert last night was incredible, wasn't it?" she asked.

        "I was impressed," Eiko admitted with a laugh. "That woman could sing," she added.

        "The bar was a dive," Biko chuckled, "but they were worth it."

        They walked on together for a few moments, then Eiko softly asked her, "What are we going to do about Genom?"

        "My father won't do anything," Biko said softly, "he doesn't dare. He'd loose too much himself if he sued Genom for any damages."

        Eiko squeezed Biko's hand gently in her own and said, "I didn't ask about your dad, what are we going to do?"

        Biko stopped them, looking into Eiko's eyes as she quietly said, "Would you like to share an little apartment in town with me?" With a grim little smile on her face she added, "I'd like to stick around for a while, help out the Knight Sabers against Genom. It's the least I can do, for my father's men that those boomers killed."

        "I'd love to share an apartment with you," Eiko beamed, and gently kissed Eiko.


        The two jerked apart, eyes wide as the Earth shook beneath them. "Did the Earth move for you, too?" Biko asked with a grin.

        Eiko snickered softly, "Guess we'd better check that out."

        The two of them ran down the street, fighting against the press of people trying to go the opposite direction. They rounded a corner, and skidded to a stop as they both blinked in surprise.

        The young woman was surrounded by six massive combat boomers, but she didn't look too terribly afraid. Long, pink hair flowed down her back, and her face was clearly attractive, even looking as irritated as she did right about then. She protected a dark haired girl who lay on the ground right behind her, holding on to her forearm as if it greatly pained her, while a scrapped boomer lay at the pink haired woman's feet.

        "You hurt my master," the pink haired girl said intensely, her body almost glowing with power, "and that is simply unforgivable!"

        The boomers didn't even know what hit them. The woman was a blur, striking fast and hard with immense strength against each boomer, leaving them smoking wrecks in her wake. They tried using their weapons, but they couldn't even get a shot off!

        "I don't think we're needed here," Biko said dryly.

        "Looks like it," Eiko agreed.

        "Are you all right, master?" the pink haired girl asked after finishing off disposing of the boomers and returning to the dark haired girl's side.

        "Thank you Kurumi, I'm fine," the black haired woman said as she pushed up her round glasses a bit nervously.

        "Master Nako thanked me," Kurumi threw her arms around Nako and hugged her fiercely. She let her go and began to bounce up and down chanting, "Banzai! Banzai! Banzai!"

        "Kurumi," Nako tried to stop her, "those girls are staring at us."

        Kurumi looked over at the visibly goggling Eiko and Biko and beamed at the two of them happily, "That's because they're jealous of what a great master Kurumi has!" With that, she hugged Nako's body close to her once again.

        Eiko smiled, shaking her head as she softly said the Japanese word for cute, "Kawaii."

        "Definitely," Biko agreed quietly.

        "Hi!" Kurumi waved at the two of them cheerfully, still holding on to Nako, the young woman's face nearly in her bust.

        "Hello," Nako waved weakly, her face beet red.

        The introductions were quickly made, and Biko asked Kurumi and Nako curiously, "So why were the boomers after you two?"

        "Boomers?" Kurumi looked cutely blank.

        "Those mean robots," Nako gently supplied. She looked over at Biko and answered, "We're not sure, actually."

        "Well, whatever they were after," Eiko smiled, "they didn't get it."

        Across town, the Genom tower rose up over the city, casting a long shadow on all of Mega-Tokyo's people. A massive structure of blue-gray metal, it was the fortress from which it's leader attempted to rule over the city. A leader who didn't look particularly happy right about then.

        "All ten boomers were destroyed?" Quincy echoed softly.

        Madigan winced, checking her notes to buy herself from time. The information hadn't changed much, sadly. "The attack team of six and the four observers were all destroyed," she reported regretfully, "we believe by separate parties."

        "Did we get any data on them?" Quincy's voice had dropped to a dangerous purr.

        "As a precaution I had a recon drone follow them," Madigan said a bit smugly, "this is what it recorded before it was clipped by a piece of flying debris."

        The two women on the image tore through the four boomers like the wind, twin engines of destruction. "Rewind," Quincy ordered, then "stop, enhance image!"

        The figure in battle armor looked quite familiar, as the design was based around a one-piece bathing suit. "Biko," Madigan growled softly.

        It had been a grave mistake, Quincy now knew, to bring Biko and her red-headed little friend to Mega-Tokyo.

        An super-deformed Eiko popped up and waved her arms angrily as she protested, "Her red headed little friend? I do have a name, you know! Jerk."

        Quincy blinked, looking over at Madigan, "Did you see that?"

        "See what?" Madigan asked.

        "Never mind," Quincy sighed, making a little metal note to cut down on his meds. Once Biko had found out about Genom's illegal activities, she began to push her father to try to sue Genom for damages. She failed, of course, because her father was far too dependent on several contracts from Genom itself, but now she was here in Mega-Tokyo, causing trouble.

        "I'm sorry to say there was no scan data on our primary target," Madigan added softly.

        "We need to find the Steel Angel," Quincy said intensely, "it could revolutionize the entire line of boomers! Send out another retrieval team immediately!"

        Madigan cleared her throat softly, and Quincy looked up at her curiously. "We don't have enough in the covert budget to launch another try," she said sheepishly.

        For a moment you could actually hear Quincy grinding his teeth together. "Sell off some of my Genom stock," he growled, "I'll buy it back later."

        "Right, sir," Madigan nodded, even as she thought wryly, 'He always says he'll buy the stock back, but he never seems to.'

        "I must acquire the Steel Angel," Quincy muttered softly as she left the room.

        In another part of the city a computer terminal softly went 'ping,' Sylia reluctantly climbed out of the hot tub and walked over to check it, giving Tony quite an entertaining view of her naked backside along with a softly mumbled, "Excuse me." She reviewed the bulletin and a little frown appeared on her face.

        "Something wrong?" Tony asked, relaxing in the bubbles.

        "Quincy's selling more Genom stock," Sylia noted, authorizing the purchase through one of her various dummy companies.

        Tony eased herself up out of the tub and onto the shelf around it, "Which means he needs money for something nefarious, no doubt." Her one leg dandled in the water, the stump of her other leg a healthy pink beside it.

        Sylia nodded, "Exactly."

        "Your and Nene's suits are still mostly gutted," Tony said thoughtfully, "but we could probably get Linna and Priss's suits operational." She reached over to grab her oversized T-shirt and slipped it on over her nude body, covering the scars on her side and shoulder.

        Sylia shook her head, "Let's complete all the refits first." At Tony's mildly surprised look she added, "Nene tells me that Nuku-nuku and Emi had a great old time destroying boomers yesterday, and I know that both Biko and Eiko are in town. Let's let them handle it first, and the Knight Sabers can step in later if needed."

        Tony pulled her prosthetic leg over and attached it, standing up a bit shakily. "I think you may be right. If necessary, I can don my armor and head out to help," she smiled.

        Sylia walked over to her lover, taking her hand gently, "Only if you have to, love. I know how much it hurts you to wear that suit with your injuries."

        Toy drew Sylia's hand up to her lips, kissing it gently. "We all do what we must, m'lady," she said softly, a twinkle in her eyes as she looked Sylia up and down.

        Sylia looked down and blushed, realizing she was still nude. "I'll go get dressed," she started to move, but Tony kept a firm grip on her hand. Sylia looked into Tony's eyes, and found them warm with admiration and desire.

        "You don't have to," Tony murmured, a quirky smile on her face.

        Sylia smiled back, and pressed her lips to Tony's.

To be continued...

Chapter 15

Mecha Wars: Chapter Fifteen

        Linna grinned as she settled down at the counter beside Priss. She looked up at the waitress' name tag, "Hey, Excel, can I get a burger, fries and shake?"

        "No problem," the blonde said cheerfully, and scampered off.

        "So how's your week been going?" Priss asked her with a little smile.

        "They already know," Linna admitted.

        "What, all four of them?" Priss blinked, wondering if they were actually talking about the Angelic Layer champions.

        "They saw me fighting with an Angel," Linna explained to her, "and realized that I was the same person in the green KS armor."

        Priss shook her head, "After fighting with Hikaru, I'm really not surprised."

        A dark haired girl appeared, dropping off the two fully loaded plates for Priss and Linna. Her face went an odd shade of green, then she just toppled over. As both women looked at her in alarm, the girl began to snake- crawl her way across the crowded club floor.

        "What the hell?" Linna blinked.

        "I thought you two would be used to her by now," the tall, orange haired woman noted. Both ladies looked at her blankly so she smiled wryly, "Your first time here?"

        "Yeah, I'm Priss, this is my friend Linna," she introduced them both before looking up at the woman curiously.

        "Arisugawa Juri," the tall woman nodded, "welcome to the Locket." As she walked away they heard her mutter softly, "Three different versions of them?"

        Linna blinked a few times, then looked over at Priss, "Did that seem odd to you?"

        "Yep," Priss sighed before digging in to her food.

        Linna bit into her own burger and sighed happily, "That's good." She looked over at Priss and asked, "So how's your Aunt?"

        "Not like any Aunt I ever met," Priss chuckled, "can you believe that she went to one of my concerts the other night?"

        "Now I have to meet her," Linna laughed softly.

        As Priss happily munched on a French fry she looked thoughtful, "Yeah, maybe now is the right time. At least we don't have to worry about boomer trouble, with all our suits in repair." At Linna's questioning glance she explained sheepishly, "I told them a bit about all of us, and now they want to meet you."

        "Sylia did say you could have them over at the Silky Doll one night," Linna said with a smile. She frowned slightly, "That reminds me, we're supposed to go over there to talk about the upgrades later today, right?"

        "That's the plan," Priss nodded. She looked at Linna curiously and asked, "You need a ride over there or something?"

        "Oh, no," Linna said quite quickly, "not the way you ride that motorbike! Once was enough." She shuddered, remembering a quite harrowing ride she had shared with her one night. The speed was bad enough, not to mention the way she drove!

        They paid for their meals, carefully making their way through the crowd of young women. They passed the bouncer who gave them a casual wave, and Priss collected her 'bike from where it was leaning directly under the neon sign, 'Arisugawa's Locket.'

        Priss snickered softly, "Wimp."

        "Am not," Linna protested even as Priss drove away. She got into her sporty compact car and was off, merging into the traffic crowded streets of Mega-Tokyo.

        In another part of the city, the hotel district in fact, up in one of the highest priced penthouse suites. In the master bedroom, laying atop a very large bed, two figures are rising quite late in the day. The one woman is older, a bit of gray in her hair, while the woman resting contentedly in her arms is only in her late twenties, at best.

        Akiko gently pushed Nene's hair away from her pretty face, looking down at the girl tenderly. 'How did I get myself into this mess?' she thought to herself sadly, 'There's no way she would ever want to stay with me.'

        Nene's eyes gradually opened, and she smiled a slow, sexy little smile. "Good morning," she said happily. She stretched up suddenly, and gently stole a kiss from the startled Akiko's lips. "Do you feel as wonderful as I do?" she asked.

        "It's afternoon," Akiko smiled back and a bit of a flush appeared on her cheeks, "and most definitely yes." She paused, "Nene..."

        "Yes?" Nene asked her quietly.

        "I don't want this to be just a one night thing," Akiko said softly, looking away from her shyly. 'I shouldn't even ask her,' she thought, 'she'll just say...'

        "Neither do I," Nene said firmly. She took Akiko's hands in hers, staring into her eyes, "I care for you a great deal." A wry little smile, "I might even love you, though I hope you don't mind that I'm too chicken to say that right now."

        Akiko puffed out a breath of relief, "I'm glad."

        Nene hugged her, then drew back. She was about to say something more when she got a good look at the clock. "Oh my god," she squeaked out, "I'm SO late!" She looked around wildly, then began to scramble around trying to find her clothes.

        Akiko tried not to laugh, and picked up a pair of lacy panties, "Looking for these?"

        "Thanks," Nene grabbed at them then hopped about the room getting them on. She picked up her pink bra, struggling with it a bit before turning it all the way backward, closing the clip, and then turning it back around.

        "What are you late for?" Akiko asked, adding, "You don't work today, do you?"

        "No work," Nene agreed, "but I promised my friends I'd meet them after lunch today." She grinned at Akiko, "but other than that, my day's free."

        "I'm glad," Akiko smiled. She hesitated, then offered, "If you want, I could give you a ride."

        "Thanks," Nene smiled at her happily, "we're meeting over at the Silky Doll."

        They both finished getting dressed in just a few minutes, then headed downstairs to the parkade where Akiko picked up her sports car. Then they slipped out of the building and off into traffic, talking together softly.

        "I'm sort of glad Nuku-Nuku and Emi went out early this morning," Akiko chuckled, "otherwise they'd want to come along."

        "That wouldn't be so bad," Nene laughed, "I do like the two of them."

        "So what do you want to do today?" Akiko asked her curiously.

        Nene blushed faintly, "To be honest, more of what we did last night."

        "That, I can promise you," Akiko gave her a naughty smile. They pulled up to the Silky Doll and Nene got out, going around to Akiko's side of the car. "I'll be back here in an hour or so, to pick you up?" she asked Nene.

        "I'll be waiting," and Nene leaned into the open window to give Akiko a farewell kiss.

        "Well, isn't that interesting," Sylia said to Tony softly as they watched the goings on from an upper floor window. "Do you think Akiko and Nene are still just friends?" she asked archly.

        "I wouldn't bet on it," Tony snickered. She turned away from the window to walk over to Linna, Priss and Mackie and reported, "Looks like Nene has arrived."

        "About time," Priss grumbled.

        Linna jabbed her delicately in the ribs, "Give the girl a break, she went out with Akiko last night." Softly, "And I've heard she didn't go home to sleep!"

        Priss raised her eyebrow and asked, "Does that mean we have to send Akiko a toaster for converting her?"

        Sylia laughed softly, while everyone else stared at Priss blankly. "Old joke," Sylia explained.

        The door slid open, Nene staggered into the living room and gasped out, "I'm sorry!" She felt everyone's gazes on her and blinked, "What?"

        "Did you and Akiko have a nice time last night?" Priss asked with a rakish little smile.

        Nene went beet red.

        "Now, now, no teasing poor Nene," Sylia said in her business-like way as she activated a monitor screen. "Let's get the meeting done with," she added with a little smile, "so that she can get back to her girlfriend."

        "Gee, thanks," the blushing Nene muttered.

        "The reason we called this meeting," Sylia continued, "was to give you all an idea of what to expect from the hard suit upgrades." She brought up a basic schematic of a generic 'suit and said, "Most of the changes have been small, but will have a great overall effect on the suits functions."

        Tony stepped up on cue, "One of the major changes we made was in the armor. We're using a new material that is both lighter and stronger than the previous alloy."

        "Which means the suits will be tougher," Mackie jumped in enthusiastically, "and even stronger because they won't be carrying so much weight along with them."

        Linna looked up at the roof casually, "Now if we could just get Nene to lose some weight."

        "Hey!" Nene protested.

        Sylia smiled slightly at that, then she looked fondly at her lover, "With Tony's assistance we've also boosted the flight capabilities of the suits substantially. Most of the other improvements are based around simply upgrading the existing systems."

        The meeting began to wind down a bit, and Priss walked over to ask Sylia nervously, "Could I ask you a question?"

        "Yes?" Sylia tipped her head to the side curiously.

        "Were you being serious when you said I could bring Natsumi and her friends over to the 'Doll?" Priss asked.

        "Of course," Sylia smiled, "I've been wanting to meet them myself!"

        "Thanks," Priss smiled, "I was thinking we could hold another party, I'd like them to meet everybody if we could."

        There was a general chorus of agreement from the others, then Nene spoke up, "Would it be all right if I brought Akiko with me?"

        "Yeah," Priss looked at Nene closely, "getting serious about her, are we?"

        Nene blushed fiercely, "Yes."

        Far away from the friends, the Genom tower reached up towards the sky. In a office in the heart of the facility, a very irritable Quincy received his employees report.

        "There's still been no sign of the Steel Angel?" Quincy demanded.

        Madigan nodded, "Not since the first reported sighting, sir." She tentatively asked, "Is capturing it really that important?"

        Quincy scowled fiercely, "It's reported power levels are far beyond any boomer design we've created, including the so called 'super-boomers.' If we could disassemble it, study the technology..."

        "We can't afford to increase the patrols any more," Madigan sighed, "B-ko and Nuku-Nuku have destroyed too many of our boomers already."

        Quincy grit his teeth, "Then we'll sell some more of my stock!"

        Madigan looked at her boss worriedly and cautioned him, "That means you and your allies will have less than fifty percent of the stock."

        Quincy dismissed that, "No one person owns the stock, I've checked."

        Madigan didn't look very reassured, "Yes sir." Silently she resolved, 'Hope you don't mind if I go check that out myself?'

Author's Note: Yes, that was an appearance of my x-over series Arisugawa's Locket. For those that don't read that series, it's a bar for anime lesbians run by Arisugawa Juri from Revolutionary Girl Utena. Excel and Hyatt, the two waitresses, are from Excel Saga.

Chapter 16

Mecha Wars: Chapter Sixteen

        Flying far above the surface of the ocean, the private jet soared onward, a sleek, powerful craft with a mission. Adorning one of the rudders, a stylized logo was visible in the sunlight: a woman singing, and the name just below was Vision.

        "Reika, are you sure you want to do this?" the dark haired man asked her quietly. The cabin they sat in was luxurious, filled with all the comforts of home, but the brow haired woman seemed very uncomfortable, somehow restless.

        Reika Chang raised her hand, looking at the finely crafted engagement ring that glittered on her finger. "I don't know if I really want to, Kuo," she admitted to him quietly, "but I just can't seem to get her out of my mind."

        In an opulent office of the Genom Tower Madigan looked at the report she had been just handed with a expression of pure dismay. She shot a glance at the young man and said harshly, "You have got to be kidding me."

        "No, ma'am," he shook his head glumly. He activated a monitor and brought up a live security feed onto the screen.

        Almost as soon as she saw the images Madigan groaned softly, "I'll go tell the chairman." She picked up the report and data disk before she strode down the hallway, her expression deeply troubled. 'I hope he doesn't shoot the messenger for this,' she thought to herself grimly. She nodded to the secretary outside his office and said coldly, "Please tell the Chairman that I have the report on the latest special project."

        "Yes, Ms. Madigan," the girl put the message through, the smiled up at her sunnily. "The chairman says come right in."

        "Right into the lion's den," Madigan muttered softly but headed inside, leaving a confused looking secretary behind her.

        "What progress to report, Madigan?" Quincy demanded.

        "It's gone to hell on us," she answered him simply.

        "What?!" Quincy blurted out.

        The phone call caught Linna just as she was heading out the door to her apartment. She picked it up and asked the caller, "Yes?"

        "It's Priss," the slightly rough voice said. "Have you seen the new video by Vision yet?" she demanded without giving any explanation.

        "No, I haven't," Linna blinked in surprise. She knew that Priss had no fondness for Vision or her music, considering everything that had happened between the two of them. "Why do you ask?" she tentatively requested.

        Priss gave a dramatic sounding sigh and said, "Just see it, you'll know why." With that she disconnected, leaving a mildly perturbed Linna listening to a dial tone.

        "Why that," Linna growled softly, then shook her head. She checked her watch, noting that she had some time to spare, and sat down at her computer terminal. It was an older model, pretty slow compared to one of Sylia's, but it did the job.

        Linna checked her list of bookmarks, hit one of her favorite Vision fan-sites, and quickly found a link to the latest music video. It took a second to load it up, but once it did, Linna gaped at the screen in honest surprise.

        Vision played herself, of course, and the other figure was only a computer rendering, but the resemblance to Linna was astounding. As a soft song about finding something that was thought forever lost played, Vision searched for 'Linna' but always seemed one step behind. Threatened in an alley, she was rescued by 'Linna' who held her gently for a moment, slipped a ring on her finger, then she was gone once again.

        Linna returned to the beginning and noted the title: 'Desperately wanting.'

        "What on Earth is going on?" Linna asked herself softly.

        Over in the living room of Sylia's suite above the Silky Doll, the sounds of mirth could be heard. Sylia almost hooted with laughter, even as Tony walked over to take a look. "What's so funny?" Tony asked her curiously.

        "I heard rumors about the Steel Angels being in town," Sylia smiled up at her from her seat, "I was worried we might just have to do something about it."

        "I take it we don't need to?" Tony asked with a grin.

        "Quincy launched a full strike team against the Angel," Sylia was clearly enjoying this, "but it seems he didn't know that there were two of them in town."

        "A bit of a oversight," Tony smirked.

        "They let one boomer go, and followed it back to the base," Sylia waved to the screen, "and now they're proceeding to trash every boomer on the property."

        Tony grinned, watching the image of the red and brown haired figures trashing a small army of boomers with a great deal of enjoyment. "How did you manage to pull this off?" she looked over at Sylia curiously.

        "Just a wee bit of hacking of their systems," Sylia said modestly, "nothing much to it." A bit more seriously she said, "This is going to cost him big-time. Maybe enough to give me the edge to move against him in Genom at last."

        Tony put her hand on Sylia's shoulder, "You know it there's anything I can do, just ask me." She hesitated a moment, "Quincy won't let himself be voted off the Genom board without a fight."

        "Which is why I'm using the shell companies to purchase the stock," Sylia agreed. "I'm protected as long as he doesn't know who I am," she said.

        "I just hope no one at Genom's clever enough to trace you," Tony said quietly.

        Sylia nodded, "So do I."

        Quincy looked at the image sent to his desk in utter disbelief. The boomer storage facility had been reduced to a pile of rubble in the two Steel Angels' wake, along with the hundreds of boomers that had been stored in there. A conservative estimate of the cost of repairing or replacing the facility would be in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

        "How did this happen?" Quincy finally asked weakly.

        "The last boomer in the strike team we sent after the Steel Angel," Madigan said grimly, "was so severely damaged that it attempted to return home for repairs. They followed it back there, and decided to send us a little message."

        Now that her own dismay was beginning to fade Madigan found herself getting angry. 'How dare they,' she thought furiously, 'strike at a Genom facility! What gives them the right?' And under that anger, if she was honest, was a bit of fear. 'What if they come here?" was the question bothering her the most right about then.

        "The shareholder's meeting is in less than two weeks," Quincy growled out, "I can not afford an embarrassment like this on the books!"

        "It's too big of a financial loss to try and bury," Madigan said quietly, wondering for a moment if the old man wasn't going to have a coronary.

        "I know that," Quincy snarled. He called up files on his desktop, reviewing the information intently before saying, "But we can spread the damage across many different divisions, reduce the apparent impact on the company."

        Madigan reviewed the data on her personal organizer and finally nodded thoughtfully, "It could work." She frowned, "But we'll need a fresh infusion of significant amounts of money as well, to help justify the movement of the different costs."

        "I'll just have to sell more stock," Quincy shrugged, calling up his portfolio file. He nodded thoughtfully, "I still will have a majority of the stock, even with the sale."

        Madigan noted the numbers, and her eyes widened. 'Only by a very slim majority,' she thought grimly. And if someone else acquired a majority? She rather suspected that her job security would very quickly disappear.

        "I'll start making the necessary arrangements," Madigan said with a little bow to the chairman. The files and her personal organizer in hand she left the office, completely ignoring the cheerful greeting of the secretary. 'Investigating the companies buying up Genom stock just became a priority,' she thought to herself grimly.

        "Vision put you in her video?" Nene blinked, sitting up in Akiko's arms with the phone pressed to her ear. They were being bad, slipping away to be together like this, but it didn't bother her too much. Linna's news, on the other hand, was a bit of a surprise.

        "Certainly looks like it," Linna sighed. Her stockbroker's office was busy as usual, and she was working on her terminal even as she talked. "What I don't know is what to do about it," she said to her friend quietly.

        "Have you talked to her at all, after what happened?" Nene asked. She giggled softly, from gentle fingers sliding across her ribcage. "Stop that," she whispered to Akiko.

        Akiko tried to look innocent, but a little smile tugged her lips.

        "I can tell what you've been doing," Linna said teasingly. More seriously, "I haven't talked to her. Vision had to go on with her tour, and it's not like we got to know each other all that well when I got caught up in her vendetta against Genom."

        "Maybe you should try to see her, now that she's in Japan," Nene suggested. She tried not to moan, even though what Akiko was doing to her was pretty nice.

        "She's in Japan?" Linna squeaked in surprise. "How come I didn't hear about it on her fan sites?" she quickly asked.

        "It's been kept pretty quiet," Nene said, "I only found out because the AD Police keeps a close eye on her because of what happened."

        Linna sighed softly on seeing a call from a client coming up. "I've gotta go," Linna said regretfully and they said their good-byes.

        Akiko held Nene in her arms and asked, "What was that all about?"

        Nene finished setting the phone back in it's cradle and said, "Vision visited Japan on tour a few months ago, but she also had another agenda." She snuggled in close to Akiko as she explained, "Her sister had been killed as part of a Genom plot, and she wanted revenge. She kidnapped a Genom scientist and tried to use him to get at Quincy."

        "So how did Linna get involved?" Akiko asked.

        "Linna had known Vision's sister, and saw the family resemblance. She followed Vision and got caught by people working for her," Nene edited the truth slightly.

        "So she and Vision spent some time together," Akiko mused.

        "And it looks like Linna made quite the strong impression," Nene agreed. Part of her wanted to tell Akiko everything, but she hesitated. It wasn't just herself that she'd be putting at risk, it would be all of the Knight Sabers.

        "Lets hope that Vision hasn't just come to Japan looking to fulfill some curiosity or something," Akiko murmured.

        "Hmm," Nene agreed. She looked up at Akiko, "My friend Sylia is getting ready to hold another one of her parties in a week or so. Would you like to go with me as my date?"

        Akiko smiled happily, "I'd love to."

        'I'll tell her at the party,' Nene thought, relaxing in her arms.

        Linna sighed with relief as she shut the computer down. The trading had ended a few hours ago, but there was always more paperwork and messaging to do with various clients. She stretched, gasping slightly at the stiffness of her back.

        'At least back when I was working at the gym,' Linna thought to herself as she picked up her briefcase and locked up her office, 'I could get a massage easily enough.' She considered some of the people around here who would likely volunteer to massage her and fought back a shudder.

        "Someone walk over your grave?" the security guard asked sympathetically. The black haired woman had a pleasant smile, but Linna was too distracted to really notice it.

        "Odd thought," Linna smiled back and with a little wave 'bye entered the elevator bound downstairs. She walked through the lobby and fought down an strong surge of distaste at the boomer standing guard there. The doors swung open easily and she took a few steps to where her car was usually dropped off for her, only to freeze.

        The woman sat on the hood, sunglasses concealing her eyes, Short, styled brown hair framed an attractive face, her body sheathed in good quality clothing. She saw Linna there and smiled slightly.

        Linna forced herself to take the remaining steps towards her and softly said, "Reika."

        Reika Chang smiled back, pushing herself off the car smoothly. She slid her sunglasses off and said, "It's good to see you, Linna."

        The engagement ring that Linna had slid on Reika's finger months ago was still there, and looking into Reika's dark eyes she didn't seem to be so terribly haunted anymore. "You look better," Linna managed to get out.

        "Thanks to you," Reika said softly.

        "I didn't do much," Linna looked away shyly.

        "Only saved my life, and maybe my soul," Reika answered her. She hesitated, "I wanted to ask you out to dinner, maybe make up a bit for how I treated you last time?"

        Linna just knew this was a bad idea. She hardly knew anything about either of the woman's identities, Reika or Vision. So even she was mildly surprised when she found herself saying, "I'd love to go out to dinner with you."

To be continued...

Chapter 17

Mecha Wars: Chapter Seventeen

        Madigan scowled down at the young man sitting at the computer terminal and looking over at the display asked him, "They're all shell companies?"

        "Yes, ma'am," the young man nodded meekly. "I've started tracing them back, but it's like following ghosts," he explained.

        "So all the recent purchases of Quincy's stock has been through these companies," Madigan summarized. "None of which have any greater existence than a post office box or email address. But why didn't we catch this sooner?" she asked.

        "Because we weren't really looking," the young man sighed.

        Madigan scowled at the visibly pale young man, "I want you to trace the money back to it's source, you can use whatever resources that you need." Her voice dropped to a growl, "We must know who's buying up all that stock, it could be vital."

        "Yes, ma'am," the man nodded.

        Madigan strode away, running the situation through her mind. The stockholders meeting was coming up in less than two weeks, and she didn't want any surprises. It could be that the purchaser of the stocks wanted privacy for some personal or professional reason. A politician, for instance, who had voted in favor of Genom projects and wanted to cash in.

        But that was too easy an answer, Madigan just knew it. Her gut instinct was telling her that this wasn't a simple thing, and after working at Genom for as long as she had, she had learned to trust in her gut. 'If Quincy goes down, I go down also,' she thought to herself grimly, 'which means that I cannot allow that to happen.'

        Linna settled down in her chair even as Reika sat in the seat opposite her. The restaurant Reika had chosen was high class enough that Reika felt comfortable, but not so high class that Linna felt too uncomfortable. She wondered if Reika had learned to make that kind of choice in business school, or if it was just something she had picked up from her family?

        "Thank you, for agreeing to go out with me," Reika smiled at her gently.

        "Your welcome," Linna smiled back.

        A server arrived and Reika ordered for them, selecting out a dinner and wine to go with the meal. Linna recognized a few of the more expensive dishes and thought about protesting the cost, but held herself back. If Reika wanted to do this, it was her choice. The food was delivered swiftly, and the servers left as quickly as they came.

        They ate silently a few moments, then Linna looked up, finding herself meeting Reika's eyes. She smiled slightly, "I saw your video for 'Desperately Wanting' this morning."

        Reika actually blushed, looking down at her plate. "I'm sorry about that," she said softly, "I don't really think I had considered how you might feel on seeing it."

        "The song is beautiful," Linna said quietly, then she grinned, "the video, on the other hand, I haven't quite made up my mind about."

        "I'm glad you liked the song, then," Reika blushed. She toyed with her food a bit, "It's about you, more or less."

        "You don't really know me," Linna said as gently as she could. She wasn't quite sure what Reika was expecting, and she didn't to hurt the lady.

        "I know," Reika nodded, "but I'd like to." She put her fork down, looking across the table, "My sister mentioned you a lot in her letters, you know. Then when I met you, it came as a surprise how... kind, even caring you were to me."

        Linna blushed, looking down. Almost as soon as she had met Reika she had been concerned about her, worried about the intense young woman. She still didn't understand where that rapid connection between them had come from, but it had been deep and strong.

        Reika reached across the table, gently laying her hand over Linna's as she said, "I just want to get to know you a little better. If something else develops, that would be fine, but I'd be happy just being your friend."

        Linna looked across the table, trying to read Reika's brown eyes. "All right," she smiled at her, "lets try to be friends."

        "That's it?" Priss blurted out, looking over at Linna in surprise the next morning. She hadn't really expected to see Linna out and about that early, especially after she heard that Linna and Reika had gone out together that night.

        "Yes, that's it," Linna said grumpily.

        "She was practically throwing herself at you," Priss waved her arms in the air, "and you didn't take her up on it? I know there's armies of Vision fangirls who would give their right arm to be where you were last night."

        Linna looked down with a blush, "I'm not a Vision fangirl." A bit defensively, "And I am not such a smooth operator as you are, all right?"

        "Somebody ought to be giving you lessons," Priss sighed. She shook her head, "All right, so what are you going to do next?"

        "I'm not sure," Linna sighed. "I was thinking of showing her the sights around Mega-Tokyo, take her over to that underground golf course I showed you..." she trailed off at the look on Priss face. "Bad idea?" she asked her meekly.

        "Golf," Priss sighed, shaking her head.

        "There's nothing wrong with golf," Linna said with wounded dignity.

        "I should track you down the old 'Dating for Dummies' book for you," Priss shook her head. She looked over at Linna, "You like Angelic Layer, right?"

        Linna blinked in surprise, "Well, yes."

        "Bring her over to one of those tournaments. At least there you can try to impress the lady while doing something you like," Priss offered.

        "That could work," Linna nodded thoughtfully, "That way, I can tell them about that party Sylia's organizing."

        "Just make sure that Reika doesn't think that you're involved with any of the Layer players," Priss thought to add.

        "They Layer players I know are all couples," Linna said with a great deal of dignity.

        "Doesn't stop a threesome," Priss smirked.

        "Priss, you're a pervert," Linna sweatdropped.

        Priss just laughed.

        Later that day Priss smoothly coasted her bike to a stop in front of the office building. She read the directions again off the business card her Aunt had given her and nodded thoughtfully, 'I guess this is the place."

        She made her way into the lobby, the human security guard looking up at her suspiciously. The dark haired woman asked Priss stiffly, "Can I help you?"

        Priss narrowed her eyes, instantly not liking the young woman's attitude. Even though she was in her biker leathers, it didn't mean the woman should jump to conclusions. "Priss Asagiri," she dropped her wallet open to her id on to the desk top, "I'm here to visit the A.M.N.Y. agency. They know that I'm coming."

        The woman checked the name against a computerized list, her eyes widening slightly as she spotted the name. She handed the wallet back with an apologetic look, "Sorry, Ms. Asagiri. You can go right on up. They're on the tenth floor, and have the entire western wing."

        "Gee, thanks," Priss snarled as she stepped into the elevator. As the doors were closing she turned to see the pale face of the guard. 'I guess a complaint could get her fired, or worse, replaced by a Boomer,' Priss thought. She smiled wryly, 'And from the look on her face, she isn't going to make that little mistake again.'

        The elevator opened up on the tenth floor, and Priss blinked at how upper class the place looked. 'I guess detective work pays pretty well,' she thought. She headed west, eventually coming to an older style door with frosted glass in it. Etched into the glass was, 'A.M.N.Y.' and underneath was, 'Investigation Agency.'

        Priss knocked, and heard Yoriko's cheerful voice call out, "Come in."

        "Hey, Yoriko," Priss waved to the woman behind the reception desk. When Priss asked her Aunt about it she had explained that theoretically they all took turns sitting there, but usually it was either Yoriko or Aoi, because of their good naturedness. Other than that the reception had a few plants and a fair sized couch for customers to sit on.

        "Hey, Priss," Yoriko answered cheerfully. "Natsumi and Miyuki are in their offices," she explained with a smile.

        Priss looked around her with raised eyebrows, "You all have your own private offices?"

        "Yep," Yoriko bounced up out of her desk to lead Priss back into the office suites. "Of course, we don't mind trading off gear if we need to," she added, "like when I used Miyuki's computer to do research on you."

        "I guess that makes sense," Priss agreed. They knocked on Miyuki's office door first, but got no answer, so they moved on to try the next one. Priss raised her hand to tap when they heard an odd noise coming from inside Natsumi's office. Priss exchanged a long look with Yoriko before asking, "They wouldn't be...?"

        Yoriko blushed slightly and shrugged, "Dunno."

        Priss tried the door handle, finding it unlocked. With an evil smile she turned it and swiftly pushed the door open, catching Natsumi and Miyuki necking on top of the desk.

        "Oh, god," Yoriko covered her blushing face with her hands.

        "Priss!" Natsumi went beet red, both she and Miyuki getting off the desk as quickly as possible. She tidied her short hair, even as Miyuki checked her braid and straightened her skirt.

        "Priss, hum, you're early," Miyuki was blushing fiercely.

        Priss made a show of checking her watch, "Actually, I'm right on time." She smirked, "I guess you must have lost track of time, somehow."

        "You couldn't have stopped her?" Natsumi raised her eyebrow at Yoriko.

        Yoriko smirked, a blush on her cheeks, "Why? It was so educational."

        "What was educational?" Aoi came up to them to ask. She nodded to Priss, "Hi, Priss. How's it been going?"

        Yoriko beamed at her lover, "Priss caught then necking at work again."

        "Again?" Priss raised her eyebrow at that. She shook her head, remembering why she had come by today, "My friend Sylia is holding a party at the store she runs, the Silky Doll, and I've arranged for you all to be invited."

        "A chance to meet all your friends, I take it?" Natsumi asked.

        "Pretty much," Priss nodded. "She's invited a few other friends, too, so it won't be too much of a grilling," she smiled, "but there probably will be some."

        Natsumi exchanged a glance with Miyuki before nodding, "We'd love to go."

        Yoriko and Aoi both agreed as well, "We're in."

        "So when is this party?" Miyuki asked reasonably.

        "In one week," Priss smiled.

To be continued...

Chapter 18

Mecha Wars: Chapter Eighteen

        "You're sure this is going to work?" Linna asked as she stood at the very edge of the building. Mega-Tokyo traffic was streaming by below as the other Knight Sabers stood just behind her, Iron Man waiting by their side. The sun had set hours ago and the near darkness was the perfect cover for what they were about to attempt.

        "If anything does go wrong," Tony's calmly reassuring voice came over Linna's helmet communicator, "I'll be ready to catch you."

        "Gee, thanks a lot," Linna answered dryly as she drew on her courage and boldly stepped right off the edge of the roof.

        Newly instaled systems swiftly came to life, powerful thrusters placed on the boots as well as mounted on the hardsuit's back flared to life, and Linna found herself hovering there in midair. Unlike the old suits that could only boost their powerful leaps and help guide and slow a fall downward, this suit was actually flying.

        "I'll be damned," Priss said admringly, "it actually works."

        "The theory was sound," Sylia pointed out with a smile.

        "You mean you didn't test it first?" Nene squeaked out.

        "We ran a series of very demanding computer simulations," Tony said to them with her grin evident in her voice.

        'Forward,' Linna thought, and the cybernetic interface threw the suit forward, right towards a skyscrapper. 'Much too fast,' she realized, twisting herself around to get her feet pointed in front of her body. 'Max thrust,' she thought wildly, and blasted away back towards the others. She came down on the roof hard, staggering a few steps until Priss caught her.

        "How was it?" Sylia asked.

        "It was great," Linna laughed wildly as the adrenalyn high slowly began to subside. "It's going to take some practice with it, but once we all get used to flying the boomers won't know what hit them," she eagerly said.

        "Just watch the fuel consumption," Tony warned them, "even with my suit, long range flight can burn my fuel levels to dangerous lows. Don't fly unless you really need to."

        "Got it," Priss said as she took a running start and with a leap soared off the side. Nene was a bit more tentative in her stepping off, but she was soon maneuvering out in the air gracefuly, leaving only Sylia and Tony standing there.

        "Together?" Tony asked as she offered Sylia a gauntleted hand.

        "Together," Sylia agreed as they both launched themselves into the sky.

        Within a small office in the center levels in the massive Genom tower a group of computer technitians was burning the midnight oil once again. "All right," one of them muttered softly, "we've traced the money off shore, where it appeared from there into shell companies and then into banks to buy up the available Genom stock."

        "We can't trace the money back," another tech moaned softly, "it was channeled through numbered Swiss accounts."

        "And the shell companies are all dead ends too," a woman added, "they are all post office boxes, rented through various intermediaries electronically."

        "Wait a minute," the first tech sat up, an odd look on his face, "maybe we're grabbing at the wrong end of the stick here."

        "What do you mean?" the woman leaned forward eagerly.

        "Who owns the internet systems that connected all the parties we think were involved in this?" he asked the other two eagerly.

        "Cyberdata," the other young man said. His eyes widened slightly, "Which is a fully owned and operated subsiderary of Genom."

        "I bet if we can get access to their confidential system management files," the first tech had a dangerous gleam in his eyes as he ran his hand roughly through short brown hair, "we can track all the signals right back to home."

        "Completely illegal," the woman noted with a slight smile, "but I doubt Madigan cares. Let's do it, and I won't tell if you won't."

        "Let's get to work," the third figure agreed.

        The sun was rising when they finally fell back into their seats, exhausted. "We've got it," the woman said softly.

        "Looks like it," the brown haired man yawned, "now we just have to wrap it all up into a bow for Ms. Madigan."

        "Either of you hear of this lady before?" the other man waved the data disk around.

        "Sylia Stingray," the woman shook her head slightly, "it rings a bell, but not much else."

        The email was prepared with the data they had accessed, then sent to Madigan's desk. It was marked urgent, of course, but that didn't mean much with the amount of paperwork that a company the size of Genom produced. It could be a day or so until they all heard back from their boss. Tired to the bone they stumbled out of their office and headed home, to catch some sleep before they were called back into work once again.

        A car pulled up and the brown haired woman straightened up from where she was waiting, taking a moment to make sure she was neat. "Linna," Reika smiled and walked over to give Linna a friendly hug that lasted just a bit longer than necessary.

        "Reika," Linna smiled, just for a moment savoring the feeling of the woman's arms around her. Pulling away a bit reluctantly she said, "Shall we go in?"

        The two casually dressed young women walked into the Angelic Layer stadium, and were soon surrounded by people of all ages carrying Angels of one type or another. "Incredible." Reika looked over the mob thoughtfully, "I knew that the Layer had become very popular, but I didn't realize it was quite up to this level again."

        "It's really hit it big," Linna agreed, "many of the top players or Deus are treated almost like rockstars, especially the top four."

        "And they are?" Reika asked as they made their way to a reception desk, mildly surprised at Linna's knowledge on the subject.

        "Misaki Suzuhara, Hatoko Kobayashi, Sai Jounouchi and Kaede Saitou," Linna said, "if you like, I can introduce you later."

        "So we're here to cheer your friends on?" Reika asked.

        Linna chuckled, "Not quite." She produced her member card, then quite gently drew her angel Priss from inside her jacket. "I'm here to compete," she smiled.

        Reika smiled back, "You're just full of surprises."

        "Thanks," Linna said, "I hope you don't mind. I promised I would play a while back, and I hate going back on my word."

        "Actually, I'm curious to see you in action," Reika smiled. She looked thoughtful, "So you're a stockbroker, you play Angelic Layer, and you have your... other job."

        "Pretty much," Linna agreed.

        "Have you been.. dating much?" Reika asked her softly.

        "No," Linna answered her as she led Reika down through the levels of seating towards the front rows, "I've never dated as much as I'd like my friends to think I have." A slightly sad smile, "I guess I've just never found the right one."

        Reika squeezed Linna's hand gently, "Let's hope that's changed."

        There were several open seats in the front, and nearby four young woman stood talking. "Hey Hotoko," Linna waved.

        Reika felt a moment of worry when she saw Hotoko's friendly smile to Linna, but quickly realized that the four women were all paired up. Hotoko stood with a smaller redhead, while the tall, icy blonde stood with a much more pleasant looking lady.

        "Hello Linna," Hotoko visibly welcomed her into the group, "who's your friend?"

        "Reika," Lina introduced her, "I'd like you to meet Misaki, Sai, Kaede and Hotoko. They're the four top Deus I mentioned earlier."

        "It's good to meet you," Reika shook hands all around.

        "Girlfriend?" Hotoko asked Linna very softly while Misaki and Kaede kept Reika occupied.

        "Not exactly," Linna blushed.

        Sai raised her eyebrow, "Not exactly?"

        "She wants to be," Linna explained, "and I'm a bit nervous about the idea."

        Sai rolled her eyes, "She's a babe, Linna. Go for it."

        "You sound just like Priss," Linna grumbled.

        Priss Asagiri groaned as the knocking on her door roused her from a sound sleep. Not only had they run all those suit tests last night, but Priss had also preformed with her band the Replicants later that evening, too. She was wiped, and she didn't want to deal with anything else.

        "Go 'way!" Priss managed to yell, but it didn't stop the knocker.

        Swearing under her breath Priss levered herself up out of her bed. She took a step forward, themn stopped, looking down at the oversized T- shirt and panties that she was wearing. 'It's probably just Sylia bugging me,' she scowled and started forward again.

        "What?!" Priss flung the door open. Taking one look at the women who were standing there Priss went red and ducked behind the door, "Aunt Natsumi?!"

        "Nice to see my niece has grown up into a healthy young woman," Natsumi smirked. Behind Miyuki had gone beet red, peeking out from between her fingers. "This almost makes up for you walking in on us necking," she laughed.

        "Natsumi," the still fiercely blushing Miyuki scolded her lover.

        "Sorry," Priss kept herself concealed behind the door, "I wasn't expecting you."

        "So you were going to meet someone else at the door in that outfit?" Natsumi asked archly.

        "Just give up," Miyuki smiled at Priss, "you can't win."

        "I'm gonna go get dressed," Priss sighed, "wait here a moment, will ya?" She shut the door, looking around at the disaster her trailer was. 'No way in hell I can tidy this up,' she thought as she quickly pulled on some pants, frsh shiry, socks and shoes.

        "Not bad," Natsuki grinned once the fully dressed Priss came to the door.

        "Thank you," Priss said dryly. "What's going on?"

        Miyuki took a peek past Priss to see the disaster area inside and remarked to Natsumi, "Looks just like your bachelor place did before you moved in with me."

        "I wasn't that bad," Natsumi protested. She looked over at Priss, "I thought we'd take you out to lunch, and you can give us an idea what to expect tomorrow night."

        "You don't need to be afraid of Sylia and the others," Priss laughed, "Sylia wouldn't hurt a fly." She paused, "Well, only if the fly really deserved it."

        Madigan didn't make it back in to her office until night was falling over the city, sitting down tiredly behind her desk to review all her email. She gave a quick once over to the various files and opened one that was labeled 'urgent' quite casually. But reading what it contained jerked her right out of her complacency very quickly.

        "Sylia Stingray," Madigan murmured, "where have I seen that name before?" Her eyes narrowed slightly, and she called up a list of the various shareholders. Her face went pale as she reviewed the totals, her mouth a tense line.

        Downloading all the relevant files Madigan all but ran out of her small office, hurrying to the elevators and up to the chairman's office. She barged right by the shocked secretary and inside, visibly startling the older man.

        "What is the meaning of this?" Quincy demanded.

        "We have a serious problem," Madigan replied quietly.

        Quincy quickly assessed the situation and sent his secretary back outside. "What's going on?" he asked her softly.

        "The small companies that were buying up your stock are all owned by one person," Madigan revealed, "Sylia Stingray." She put the disk into a terminal to call up the relevant files, "Using shell companies she's bought up over 40% of the company's stock."

        "Not enough to threaten my hold on the company," Quincy sounded relieved.

        "You don't understand," Madigan said with a certain amount of force, "she already had 10% before all this started. You counted it with your supporters because she hadn't actually voted against you before now."

        Quincy went pale. "She has over 50% of the stock?" he murmured.

        "Yes," Madigan practically hissed, "and the shareholder's meeting is only days away."

        "Then we must make sure she doesn't make it to the meeting," Quincy said grimly. "How many boomers can we divert before tomorrow night?"

        "I'm not sure," Madigan said softly, "a substantial number, certainly." She looked at him thoughtfully, "You are planning to..."

        "Boomers rampage across the city fairly regularly," Quincy said softly, "tomorrow they're simply going to do it at Ms. Stingray's home."

To be continued...

Chapter 19

Mecha Wars: Chapter Nineteen

        Reika Chang smiled slightly as she picked up Linna at her door. 'I'm glad I decided to wear a skirt,' she thought, looking over the black tuxedo clad Linna with an admiring smile. "It suits you," Reika smiled, hoping that Linna didn't mind the pun she was making.

        "You.. look good too," Linna gulped.

        Reika was wearing what amounted to just a strapless black silk sheath. It hugged each and every curve, leaving very little of the brown haired woman's body to Linna's imagination. Around her neck she wore a simple silver necklace, and the engagement ring that Linna had given to her remained firmly on her finger.

        "I'm looking forward to meeting your friends," Reika said as she took Linna's gentlemanly offered arm. They made their way down the middle class halls of Linna's apartment and out to the street and Reika's car, talking all the way.

        "Considering the teasing I've been getting," Linna admitted, "it should be interesting."

        Reika raised an eyebrow as she slid them out into traffic, keeping an eye on the road ahead as she said, "I hope I didn't get you into too much trouble."

        Linna found herself smiling slightly as she said, "You're no trouble, believe me."

        Reika actually blushed slightly, "Keep saying nice things like that, and I'm going to stop being quite so careful around you."

        "Maybe so," Linna agreed with a gentle smile.

        The sports car pulled up out front of the Silky Doll, the store level of the large building quite brightly lit despite being officially closed up for the evening. Linna gently helped Reika out, and then the two walked forward together.

        "Your friend Sylia's using her store for the party?" Reika asked.

        "There's quite a few people coming tonight," Linna grinned as she used a keycard to get them past the locked front doors.

        Mackie smiled ruefully, looking much like a waiter dressed in his black suit. "Hi, Linna," he smiled weakly.

        "Ah, you look so cute," Linna grinned.

        "There's something every young man wants to hear," Reika grinned, "that he's cute."

        "Sorry," Linna gave him a smile as they swept inside.

        The lower level wasn't entirely filled up with the guests, but there certainly were more people than could comfortably be crammed into your average sized living room. The clothing displays had been covered with tasteful decorations, the lighting altered slightly to make them less noticeable, while a extravagant buffet table was up against one side of the room. Along side that was a well stocked bar, set up to automatically prepare requested drinks. Oddly, there were no humanoid boomers being used to serve food or drink there.

        "No boomers," Reika quietly noted, nodding to several strangers even as Linna lead her through the crowd.

        "Sylia doesn't trust the models produced by Genom," was Linna's truthful answer.

        A faintly blushing Misaki watched the two of them go by, "She and Reika look good together, don't they?"

        "Almost as good as you do," Hotoko smiled happily, the younger woman letting Misaki lead their dance to the slow songs.

        "They're almost too cute together," Sai grumbled, running as hand through her blonde hair.

        "Grump," Kaede said to her lover fondly, a gentle smile on her face.

        "And there Sylia is," Linna murmured to Reika as they reached their hostess.

        "Hello, Linna," Sylia said casually, the dark haired owner of the Silky Doll looking slim and capable in a woman's suit. Beside her Tony was smiling slightly, taking in how Linna and Reika were standing so close together.

        "Sylia Stingray," Linna performed the introductions with a certain amount of amusement, "I'd like you to meet Reika Chang."

        "It's an honor, Mrs. Chang," Sylia shook her hand, "I quite enjoyed sitting with Linna and friends at that concert you held."

        "I remember," Reika looked at her thoughtfully, "there was you, that cute little AD Police officer, and another lady there, correct?" It was clear the Reika was adding certain things up in her mind, but she decided not to ask just yet.

        "Priss," Sylia supplied the name.

        "Ms. Chang," Tony smiled slightly grimly, "it's been a long time."

        "Back when we were competing for the New York mergers, correct?" Reika offered. She grinned suddenly, "Stark beat us out nicely, I must admit."

        Outside, in the sprawling city, they began to move. Here and there, all around the Silky Doll, Boomers began to trickle in. One and two at a time, gathered from industry, public service, and other tasks, they were carefully diverted to a new destination.

        Back at the store itself Priss led her Aunt and friends inside. "Don't worry," Priss smiled, "Sylia promised there would be a fair number of people here tonight." They passed into the Silky Doll itself and Priss looked surprised, "And so she did."

        Aiko and Biko stood nearby them, giving Priss a respectful nod. Not too far from them Nene was dancing with Akiko, while Nuku-Nuku and Emi were raiding the nearby buffet tables. Misaki, Hotoko, Kaede and Sai were talking together, and a bit farther in Priss could see Reika Chang standing with Linna, Sylia and Tony.

        "I'm impressed," Natsumi looked around admiringly.

        All of the members of the detective agency had dressed up for this, each in their own way. Natsumi and Miyuki had gone for a suit and dress respectively, both in a simple basic black. While both Aoi and Yoriko were wearing dresses, having picked out matching police style blues.

        "Sylia must be a very good friend indeed to do all of this for you," Miyuki looked up to give Priss a thoughtful look.

        "No, she's not still carrying a torch for me," Priss quickly anticipated that question, "in fact, she has a new girlfriend now."

        "Too bad," Aoi murmured, the tall woman looking clearly amused.

        Deciding it would not be a good idea to let them pursue this, Priss lead them over to where Nene and Akiko were slow dancing, seemingly oblivious to the world outside. They separated rather reluctantly and turned to look at the band of five women.

        Nene smiled up at Akiko, "I'd like you to meet Priss, my friend as well as being a substitute mean older sister." Akiko chuckled softly as Nene looked over at Priss and bravely said, "Priss, I want you to meet my... lover, Akiko."

        "Congratulations," Priss grinned, slapping Nene so hard on the back that the shorter girl would have fallen right over except for Akiko's fast reflexes. Priss gave the older woman a smile, "You're a lucky woman."

        "Ahem," Yoriko cleared her throat loudly.

        "Sorry," Priss blushed, "Nene, I'd like you to meet my Aunt Natsumi, her lover Miyuki, and their friends and business associates Aoi and Yoriko."

        "Priss must get her good looks from your side of the family," Nene grinned at Natsumi.

        Natsumi chuckled softly, "I think we're going to get along just fine."

        Akiko was exchanging murmured pleasantries with all four woman. She looked over to where Nuku-Nuku and Emi were still eating and smiled wryly, "I guess their introductions can wait till later."

        Priss looked up, noticing that Linna and Reika had finally moved away from Tony and Sylia. "Excuse us, Nene," Priss grabbed hold of her Aunt's arm, "I want to introduce them before I have to deal with Vision."

        "See you," Nene waved as the five off them scampered off.

        "You know Nene," Akiko murmured so softly that the other woman had to strain to hear it, "that's the first time you've called me your lover in public."

        Nene looked a bit worried, "Was that all right?"

        Akiko leaned forward, cupped Nene's face in her hands and kissed the younger lady quite thoroughly, "It made me very happy, Nene."

        Nene blushed, "If I keep calling you my lover, will I get more kisses like that?"

        Akiko grinned, "As many as you like."

        Dozens of Boomers milled about in the shadows, just far enough to be out of range of even the most advanced security systems. It was nearing the time, they were nearly ready to move, but there were still a few others they were waiting for. The attack had to be overwhelming, no matter whom might attempt to interfere with them.

        Sylia looked up and smiled, "Here comes Priss."

        Tony raised an eyebrow, "I can certainly tell who's her Aunt. The resemblance is uncanny, especially around the eyes."

        "Sylia," Priss looked a bit nervous as she said, "I'd like you to meet my Aunt Natsumi, Miyuki, Aoi and Yoriko."

        Sylia had to smile, it so was cute seeing Priss being this nervous. "It's very nice to meet you," she said as she firmly shook Natsumi's hand. She gave the others a gentle smile, "Priss has told me a great deal about you all."

        "Thank you," Natsumi returned the handshake as good as she got.

        Looking into Sylia's eyes a moment, Natsumi could tell that Sylia meant those kind words. They had looked into Sylia's background, of course. She had ordered them investigated, so it seemed only fair. This woman had seen a great deal of tragedy in her time, and Natsumi was sure Sylia was hoping for the best with Priss' new Aunt.

        Miyuki looked at Tony thoughtfully as she nodded to Sylia, "You two are..?"

        "For a few months now, yes," Tony agreed. She shook hands all around, "Antonia Stark, but you can just call be Tony."

        "Priss has some powerful friends," Aoi murmured to Yoriko softly.

        "Just walking through the crowd told us that," Yoriko answered softly. She smiled slightly, "but at least the ones we've met so far seem to be nice."

        Not far from that conversation Reika looked over at Linna thoughtfully, "Would you mind telling me why you hustled us away from your friend Priss?"

        "Because Priss doesn't like you very much," Linna answered simply.

        Reika looked surprised at that, "But I don't think I even met her before..." she trailed off. Her eyes narrowed in thought, then she murmured, "The blue Knight Saber. Damn, I'd almost forgotten about how I hurt her."

        "I'm not going to confirm or deny that guess," Linna said with a slight smile. "But it's certainly safe to say she really dislikes you," she added.

        THOOM! Boom! THOOM! Boom! THOOM! Boom! THOOM! Boom! THOOM! Boom! THOOM! Boom! THOOM! Boom! THOOM! Boom! THOOM! Boom!

        "Explosions, outside!" Sylia barked, touching a control on her wristband.

        Reika scanned the crowd and was surprise to see such calmness. There was no panic, just a sense of.. anticipation from the women all around her. 'Yes, I suspect the Linna and friends know some very interesting people,' she thought.

        "They know," Sylia murmured, her eyes dark, "Genom knows."

        "Most probably," Tony calmly agreed with her, then conversationally asked her, "The outer defenses?"

        "They'll kick in automatically," Sylia said to her coolly, "but I doubt they'll be sufficient against a sustained assault on the building."

        Metal shutters began to quickly drop down over the large windows as metallic figures rapidly approached them, their eyes glowing red in the night. Glass shattered, and a few boomers made it inside before the armor sheets fell into place. They stood, looking about them wildly for a moment, then they locked in on their primary target: Sylia Stingray.

        The office was dark in Genom's Tower as Quincy looked down at the countdown on his desk. He had been here all day, off and on, making the preperations. He had to be sure that the threat Sylia Stingray represented to his hold on Genom was dealt with.

        Once the counter reached zero Quincy smiled grimly, "It begins."

To be continued...

Chapter 20

Mecha Wars: Chapter Twenty

        The group of Boomers that had managed to get inside the building before the lockdown looked about them wildly for a moment, their systems swiftly locking onto Sylia Stingray. But before they could move, four figures smoothly stepped out of the crowd and into their way.

        Nuku-nuku shook her head, and what looked like metallic rabbit ears suddenly popped up on either side of her face. "C'mon, Emi," she waved to her sister android.

        Lightning arched between Emi's hands as the blonde grinned, "This is gonna be fun."

        "Indeed," Biko flung her dress to the side, revealing the light bathing-suit combat armor that she was wearing underneath it.

        "For once I'm actually glad you're wearing that," Aiko muttered, pushing up the sleeves of her own dress to reveal metallic bracelets. She looked over her shoulder even as the sound of boomers hammering on the outer barriers could be heard. "We'll hold them off as long as we can," Aiko said simply, "but see if you can get us some help soon."

        "Got it," Sylia said with a crisp nod as the four young women charged at the invading force of Boomers.

        "What's the plan?" Linna barked.

        Sylia pressed a switch on the wall, opening up a hidden elevator there and knowing that she was revealing that there was much more to the building than her guests had thought. "Everybody inside," she stepped aside from the door as she barked out the order.

        There was a short moment of surprised hesitation. "You heard the lady," Priss growled as she pushed her Aunt Natsumi, Aoi, Yoriko and Miyuki forward. Right beside her, Linna hustled Reika and the four Angelic Layer Deus in and Nene made sure Akiko was in before they, Tony, Mackie and Sylia crammed themselves inside after them.

        Sylia could barely reach over the mob to flip up a part of the control panel on the wall, revealing a big red switch beneath it. "Going down," and she hit it. The elevator didn't descend, it dropped, sending them rushing to the lower levels. It seemed only seconds later that the door opened, spilling the group out into the hidden base of the Knight Sabers.

        "I'm impressed," Reika managed, looking around the large open chamber. Not far away were the hardsuits, standing in their racks ready to go. Oddly, what looked like an Angelic Layer table sat nearby, set up for four users.

        "Something you wanted to tell me?" Akiko said softly, looking over at Nene with an odd smile on her face.

        Nene blushed slightly under her gaze as she confessed to her lover, "I was going to tell you all about this later on tonight."

        The older woman smiled gently. "It's all right," Akiko smiled, "I rather wondered how the Knight Sabers got involved with helping Nuku-nuku so quickly."

        "Lets move Knight Sabers," Sylia said before turning to Tony, "You get to brief the Deus on the new Layer we set up for them."

        "Got it," Tony saluted.

        "Mackie, Monitor things topside while we change," Sylia ordered.

        "Right!" Mackie ran to the security monitors set up on a far wall.

        Priss paused for a second, smiling sheepishly at her Aunt Natsumi as she said, "I'll explain everything later."

        "I think we've mostly got it," Aoi offered with a smile, "get moving!"

        Tony smiled at the four Angelic Layer Deus as she quickly lead them over to the Layer table, "We were going to ask you about all of this a bit more subtlely, but this has kind of forced our hands. You all remember how Genom used to to fight the Knight Sabers?"

        "Of course," Sai pushed her light brown hair back smoothly.

        "Same idea," Tony gestured to the table, "except this time you'll be controlling what Sylia likes to call the Saber Dolls." She hesitated, "We won't press you into doing this, but I do think we might need your help."

        "Linna's my friend, and I have no fondness for Genom," Hotoko said firmly. The dark haired woman smiled grimly, "I'm in."

        "Where she goes, I go," Misaki reached over to take her lover's hand, and Hotoko smiled down at her brown haired older lover.

        "The chance to take on Boomers using life-sized Angels? Of course I'm in," Sai grinned, while Kaede just nodded beside her.

        "Not quite Angels," Tony hit a switch, splashing light on the four sleekly female forms nearby. They looked almost like Knight Sabers, but slimmer, obviously not carrying a pilot within. One in red, one blue and white, one pinkish and one in a dark purple.

        "The four of them actually took out the entire first wave of Boomers," Mackie breathlessly reported from where he was keeping an eye on the security monitors upstairs, "but the mob of Boomers outside have broken in!"

        "Lets get to it," Misaki said seriously.

        Sitting at his desk Quincy frowned, trying to call up information from the field. "Why aren't we getting any status reports?" he scowled.

        "Officially there aren't any status reports to get," Madigan remarked from the doorway. She didn't look anxious, exactly, but just a bit worried. She activated a station and tried to bring up the data, "There's somekind of interference."

        "I want to know what's going on," Quincy scowled.

        "Sir, we've put well over one hundred Boomers into this operation," Madigan said to him patiently. "Even if the Knight Sabers were to show up to help them, those numbers would be overwhelming," she explained.

        "And if their allies turn up?" Quincy asked pointedly.

        "Even then" Madigan said to him confidently, "the Knight Sabers and friends are going to be outnumbered by at least ten to one."

        "Then let us hope that will be enough," Quincy said grimly.

        Aiko stood in the wreckage of the Silky Doll shop, wiping a bit of blood from the corner of her mouth. It was pretty hard to actually hurt her, but she had discovered she could be worn down, eventually. Her allies all looked similarly spent, but the piles of Boomer parts around them showed the success of their efforts. Only problem was, there were a lot more Boomers waiting outside.

        "Anyone have a plan?" Emi asked. The blond android was slightly sooty, having been just a bit too close to an exploding Boomer.

        "We could always charge them," Nuku-nuku offered. The redheaded android had an odd eagerness about her, as if she enjoyed these battles.

        "I don't think so," Biko said with a wry smile as she checked her wrist missile launcher. It was still empty, just like the last time she had checked. She looked over at Aiko and very softly asked her, "Are you all right, love?"

        "Yeah," Aiko smiled up at her, realizing that Biko had seen her moment of weakness. She took a deep breath and sighed, "But we're not going to be all right for very much longer if some help doesn't appear very soon."

        There was a soft rumble, as if the entire building itself... shiftled, just slightly. The floor seemed to move under them, and the four quickly jumped aside.

        "What in the.." Biko blinked.

        A section of the floor slid backwards near silently, and from beneath the building a platform rose up, a group of figures riding on top of it. Nine different armored figures rose up, with six other people carrying some very impressive looking cannons riding along with them. Four of them were quite clearly the Knight Sabers, and right beside them the symbol of Stark Enterprises stood, the Iron Man. Beside them four slimmer armored figues stood, obviously created by the same creator as the Sabers, but of a very different design.

        "Let's go, Knight Sabers," Sylia ordered them. The four armored figures took up positions in a half circle, ready to move on the appropriate cue. They stood balanced, ready, comfortable in their refit suits and set to go at a moments notice.

        "Just like we talked about," Misaki murmured to her three companions, willing her own Saber Doll forward. Her Red Saber gracefully stood by Priss' Blue one, the two of them swiftly joined by the battered but clearly unbowed Aiko.

        In moments Hotoko's Purple Saber backed up Linna and Biko, Sai's Ice Saber joined Sylia and Emi, and Kaede's Pinkish Saber stood by Nene and Nuku-nuku, the teams of three ready to launch the attack into the army of Boomers.

        "Are you all right, Nuku-nuku?" Askiko hefted the cannon with a professional competence, as did the former police officers Natsumi, Miyuki, Aoi and Yoriko. Beside them Reika Chang slapped a explosive charge into her weapon's chamber with a loud snap.

        "Be careful, Mama," Nuku-nuku called back.

        Akiko hefted the cannon and lined up one of the Boomers in her sights. Boom! The scrap fell to the ground in a burst of light and fire. She smiled coldly, "Looks like these Boomer busters that Sylia and Tony built work like advertized."

        "Time to frag some Boomers," Natsumi smiled, the expression on her face very like one Priss might have had under similar circumstances.

        "I'm going to enjoy this," Reika agreed.

        "Go," Priss cried, and they moved out swiftly.

        The merry band exploded out of the building into the massive force of Boomers, Hotoko and Misaki leading the charge. Like a shot Hotoko ripped into the Boomers, living up to the nickname she had earned in Angelic Layer, 'lightspeed.' Just befind her Hikaru's Doll was like a dancer, striking swiftly and moving away.

        Priss fought like she sang, hard and passionate, tearing through the Boomers like there was no tomorrow. But she also fought smart, keeping an eye on her back up and especially watching her Aunt, blasting Boomers left and right.

        Aoi picked up Yoriko even as she lined up and blasted a Boomer. She grabbed her lover's glasses and helped her get them on, "Are you ok?"

        "Yeah, thanks," Yokiko blushed.

        "Heads up," Miyuki barked, shooting just over their heads to blow another Boomer to scrap.

        Sylia grinned, her twin swords gleaming as she ripped into Boomers left and right of her. Up above them, Tony laid down a steady cover fire, picking off some Boomers while Sai's icy blue Saber used her strength and speed to watch Sylia's back.

        Linna's cables sliced delicately, her movements almost like a kind of dance. 'I've got to write a song about this,' Reika Chang noted as she blasted a Boomer to ash. Biko used brute strength and an odd powered whip to aide her, while Hotoko bobbed and weaved through the mob.

        "Watch yourself," Emi tacked a Boomer about to nail Nene.

        "Thanks," the Pink Knight Saber managed to look embarrased,"Uhm, I'm trying to do something, could you keep them off me?"

        Kaede nodded gravely, while Emi gave her an odd look.

        Nene's suit extended it's communication panels, working to jam transmisions even as she tried to decipher a piece of difficult code. "I intercepted a communication," Nene excitedly broadcast to Sylia, "they didn't come here after the Knight Sabers!"

        "So who were they after?" Sylia asked.

        "You," Nene admitted, "Quincy wants you dead."

        Tony dropped down to Sylia's side as the sounds of battle began to die down. "Over my dead body," she vowed, reaching out to finish off one of the surviving Boomers.

        All around them, for nearly an entire city block, the shattered wrecks of Genom's Boomers littered the ground. Blasted, cut, burned and pummled, the army of humanoid machines was now so much wreckage.

        "We actually did it," Linna murmured softly, only then revealing any doubt that they might have not actually succeeded.

        "Anybody got any idea how many Boomers there were?" Natsumi asked casually.

        "Well over a hundred," Priss swiftly got the information from Mackie. She grinned under her helmet, "If we can do this much damage when we're caught by surprise, I wonder what we could do in a planned attack on Genom's tower?"

        Tony turned, her armor gleaming red and gold in the fading sunlight, catching sight of the ruined shell of the Silky Doll. "Oh, Sylia," she murmured softly, "I'm so sorry."

        "Shit," Linna cringed.

        Sylia gazed at the gutted ruin of her home, standing there silently. "It all can be rebuilt," she finally said, "I'm just glad that no one here was hurt." She raised her head and spoke firmly, "We'd best get out of here, before the AD Police see us. I'll seal off the underground labs, the AD Police will never know they're there."

        "I wouldn't mind getting some answers," Natsumi said softly, looking over at her armored niece searchingly. Now that the adrenalin was wearing off, they were all wondering about what was going on there.

        "And you'll get them," Sylia agreed, "later." She activated her communicator, "Mackie, get the Layer table and Deus aboard the Knight wing. We're moving out."

        Moments later the Knight Sabers, Saber Dolls and Irom Man launched into the air as the hybrid flying wing took off from the concealed hanger on the roof of the Silky Doll building. Carrying their friends the armored figures flew aboiard and the wing was gone, leaving the wreck of the Silky Doll and the destroyed Boomers behind them.

        Madigan read the data from the terminal yet again, her expresion one of numb disbelief, "It isn't possible..."

        Quincy looked at her, knowing it was bad news.

        "They've been destroyed," Madigan said softly.

        "The Knight Sabers managed to destroy a great many of them before they were taken down?" Quincy asked hopefully. Replacing a large number of destroyed Boomers would be difficult, but not impossible for a man of his resources.

        "No," Madigan was still starting at the screen as if she could change the information there by sheer force of will, "the Boomers were destroyed."

        "ALL OF THEM?" Quincy roared.

        "Yes," Madigan visibly reigned in her temper.

        "That's impossible," Quincy flopped bonelessly into his chair.

        "Well, it seems they've managed it," Madigan rubbed at the crease between her eyes, feeling a migraine coming on. "So what do we do now?"

To be continued...

Chapter 21

Mecha Wars: Chapter twenty-one

        The Knightwing swiftly soared across the city, soon arriving at what appeared to be an old, long abandoned warehouse. A signal was sent out and part of the roof smoothly pulled back, revealing a concealed landing pad. They all disembarked once it landed, taking an modified industrial elevator down into the massive warehouse itself.

        On the outside it was abandoned, but within was a fully equipped headquarters. One part of the floor was broken up into living quarters, what looked like an armor repair/ upgrade section was nearby, several moto- slaves were waiting to be used, and a sophisticated computer center monitored the city of Megatokyo and Genom.

        "I think I'm impressed," Reika Chang noted, the normally cool brown haired executive looking around her in surprise.

        "I set up several backup bases like this a few years back," Sylia shrugged slightly, still dressed in her suit of armor but carrying her helmet under her arm, "in case of just such an emergency."

        "You promised an explanation," Natsumi reminded her, the brown haired private investigator smiling slightly. "We're all pretty clear on you four being the Knight Sabers," she looked from Sylia, Linna, Priss to Nene, "But I wouldn't mind knowing why."

        "Genom ordered the murder of my father," Sylia said quite simply. She looked a bit tired, somehow, as if the strain of the day's events were finally showing on her, "Let's get out of these suits, and I'll try to fill you in a bit better."

        "C'mon," Priss nodded towards her Aunt Natsumi and friends, "I'll tell you what I can." Natsumi, Miyuki, Yoriko and Aoi all followed her over to a more private corner where the younger woman began to strip her armor off.

        "Why do you do this?" Natsumi looked over at her niece curiously, "it seems like it would be extremely dangerous."

        "Genom hurt someone close to me," Priss answered her crisply, "someone I loved." She hesitated, thinking of Sylvie and Anri, "Not to mention taking away a woman that I could have loved, if we were given a chance."

        "I'm sorry," Miyuki offered softly.

        "I got over her," Priss smiled sadly, "but I'll never forget what happened to her." Her eyes narrowed, "Or stop wanting to see Genom pay for it."

        "Are all of the Knight Sabers driven like Sylia and you are?" Aoi looked over at her.

        "We all have different reasons for doing this," Priss answered, "you'd have to ask them."

        Reika reached over, carefully taking the green helmet in her hands. "Can I help?" she asked Linna with a slight smile.

        "Thanks," Linna blushed a bit, reaching down to her sides, disengaging the locks and slipping free of the suit. She could feel Reika's admiring gaze on her leotard clad body and quickly grabbed a set of clothes out of a nearby locker. Matching green sweatpants and shirt were pulled on easily, slippers put aside for her feet.

        "You're lucky green is a good color for you," Reika chuckled. They stood there a moment silently, "Why do you put yourself at risk like this?"

        Linna smiled a bit wryly. "For money, originally," Linna admitted, "Sylia paid very well, and I knew the risks." She looked over at Reika, "Then was targeted, and it all stopped being a game for me." A short pause, "Then I met you."

        Reika leaned forward, gently pressing her lips to the startled Linna's. "When we met, things changed for me as well," she said softly before they headed back to the others.

        "I meant to tell you about this after the party tonight," Nene admitted sheepishly, standing by Akiko, Nuku Nuku and Emi in a pink sweatsuit.

        "I can't say I'm happy about the danger it puts you in," Akiko admitted, the older woman taking Nene's hand and squeezing gently, "but I understand."

        "Can we help you thrash boomers?" Nuku Nuku asked eagerly.

        "Yeah, can we?" Emi bounced happily.

        Nene had to laugh, "You'll just have to ask Sylia, all right?"

        Not far away Antonia Stark gave Biko a slightly rueful smile. "I didn't intend to get the two of you involved with this, Cousin," Tony shrugged.

        "I'm glad that we are," Biko smiled, "it gives me the opportunity to avenge the employees of my fathers company that were killed by Boomers." The blue haired woman threw her head back dramatically, while keeping close to her redheaded companion.

        Aiko nodded firmly, "And I'm sure my father would expect me to help out."

        Tony folded away the rest of her armor, packing it all away in the silvery suitcase she always kept with her. "I'm glad," Tony sighed softly, "because I think we might need your help again before this is all through."

        "We're in," Biko nodded firmly, Aiko joining in.

        "I wanted to apologize," Linna walked over to smile shyly at Misaki, Hotoko, Sai and Kaede. She took a breath before she started to explain to the Angelic Layer Deus, "I didn't actually know what Sylia had planned, but..."

        Misaki beamed, her boyishly short brown hair a bit messy with her enthusiasm, "Sylia let us operate life-sized Angels again!"

        "Near enough, anyway," Hotoko grinned, taking her shorter lover's hand. The black haired broadcaster added, "It wasn't my Suzuka, but certainly good enough."

        Kaede smiled gently at Linna, "Besides which, you couldn't have known that boomers would attack the party and force the activation of the Saber Dolls."

        "And it was a hell of a fight," Sai added seriously. "I wouldn't say it was better than Angelic Layer," she smiled suddenly, "but it was close!"

        "See," Reika chided Linna gently, "they aren't even upset."

        Kaede looked at Linna thoughtfully. "By the way," she said innocently, "is that a new shade of lipstick you're wearing?"

        Linna went beet red, realizing that some of Reika's lipstick had come off on her own lips.

        Sylia Stingray emerged, dressed in her own set of gray sweatpants with a slight smile on her face. 'I'm glad to see things going so well,' she thought, having listened in covertly to the various conversations that were going on.

        "Ladies and gentleman," Sylia nodded to Mackie, "we have much to discuss." She hit a switch, opening up a spacious meeting room just off from the suites, "We'll be more comfortable doing that in here, I think."

        The mob filed in, surprisingly finding spaces for everyone to sit. Linna looked around her thoughtfully, 'Did Sylia actually plan to raise an army, or did she just expect to acquire allies?'

        "All right Sylia," Priss stood up from her seat to ask, "why were the Boomers out to kill you, and not the Knight Sabers?"

        "I'm going to need to do a bit of a lead in before I answer that," Sylia said just a bit apologetically. "You know my father helped invent the Boomer, and that his designs would have produced a safe, efficient model of Boomers."

        "Unlike Genom's models," Akiko said dryly.

        "Genom built a cut-rate model instead," Sylia explained grimly. "My intention has been to provide a balance to Quincy's criminal actions while hoping that he would be displaced from Genom's board. Seeing no progress on that front, I resolved to remove him myself."

        Reika nodded thoughtfully, "You've been buying up Genom's stock, trying to get enough to oust him from the board."

        "And I used shell companies to conceal those purchases, to keep Quincy from tracing it back to me," Sylia agreed. She frowned, "I must have gotten sloppy somewhere, because it appears he has realized I have the stock."

        "Then the shareholder meeting must be pretty soon, to have Quincy try something this bold," a frowning Nene noted.

        Sylia took a casual look at her watch before saying, "Since it's just past midnight, the shareholder's meeting is tomorrow evening."

        "So all you have to do is vote with your shares and Quincy's gone?" Linna sat up in surprise.

        "It's not quite that simple," Tony sighed.

        Sylia nodded grimly, "The regulations that Genom set up are quite explicit. To vote Quincy out, I'm going to have to be there in person."

        "Which means that Quincy is going to throw everything he has left at you to keep you from attending the meeting," Natsumi noted.

        "Then I guess we'll just have to make sure you get there," Aiko said casually, the room filling with murmurs of agreement.

        "Thanks," Sylia smiled.

        Quincy had his eyes closed, his face surprisingly pale, and Madigan didn't look much better. The wiping out of one hundred Boomers was bad enough, but their complete failure to eliminate Sylia Stingray was possibly even worse.

        "We need to prevent her from reaching the meeting," Madigan said unnecessarily.

        "We mobilize all the available Boomers," Quincy said grimly. He paused, "And I want the combat models used as well."

        "Sir," Madigan looked at him in alarm, "you know that use of combat models in Japan is clearly prohibited! If we're caught.."

        "The possible consequences won't be any worse than if Sylia succeeds in ousting me," Quincy said to her grimly.

        Madigan nodded thoughtfully, "Understood sir, I'll set things in motion."

        The office was quiet as Madigan left, her mind occupied with her own thoughts. 'If Quincy goes down, he'll take me with him,' she thought grimly. A cold little smile, 'Then I guess I need to make sure that doesn't happen.'

To be continued...

Chapter 22

Mecha Wars: Chapter twenty-two

        Linna looked at her office's computer screen, trying to focus on her work, but after a few moments the stockbroker shook her head in defeat. 'I can't concentrate,' she admitted to herself, 'not with what's going to be happening tomorrow.' With a soft sigh she shut her computer down, picking up her briefcase from beside her chair and grabbing her coat.

        Sylia had sent them all home to rest up after the meeting ended, feeling that they would all be reasonably safe for now. Sylia was the main target, not her friends, so she asked them to go about their regular business while she began to make the preparations for tomorrow's attempt to reach the board meeting at Genom.

        'I hope Sylia's got a good plan,' Linna noted as she exited into the lobby, and headed out, 'because we're going to need it.' As she stepped out of the door her eyes widened slightly, noticing an attractive, dark haired woman leaning up against her car. "Haven't we done this before?" Linna asked her with a smile.

        Reika Chang shrugged, "I was feeling a bit anxious." She pushed herself off the car, giving Linna an admiring glance, "You look good."

        "Thanks," Linna blushed slightly. She unlocked the car doors, and the two climbed inside. A look over at Reika, "Any word yet?"

        "My contacts got some information," Reika noted as the car slid out into traffic, "it appears that Genom's moving combat models into the city."

        Linna's fingers tightened on the steering wheel, then relaxed. "I guess I was sort of expecting that," she admitted.

        "You're looking not too terribly worried about this," Reika quietly noted. She was still a bit surprised, every now and then, by the calm acceptance that Linna and the other members of the Knight Sabers had, how easily they all dealt with these situations. Not that her own background didn't prepare her for this, but still...

        "Yeah, I'm worried," Linna admitted, "but I'm confident, too." She gave Reika a slight smile, "Genom doesn't know the full capabilities of our upgraded suits, and they certainly aren't aware of the allies we have." With that she reached over, gently squeezing Reika's hand.

        "Am I... just an ally to you?" Reika murmured, looking down at Linna's hand on her own.

        Linna Looked over at her shyly as she continued bringing them across town, "You're much more than that to me, Reika." The car slowed down, and she smoothly pulled up in front of the older apartment building.

        "This is your building," Reika looked up in surprise.

        Oddly, Linna looked much more nervous than she had when talking about the combat Boomers. "I was wondering if you'd care to join me upstairs for dinner..." she started.

        Reika's eyes widened slightly, "I'd love to."

        "... and maybe stay after," Linna finished, a bit of a blush appearing on her cheeks.

        Reika looked over at her in surprise, realizing what Linna was offering her. "If you're sure," she said as Linna nodded firmly, "then I'd love to."

        Across town Nene sighed to herself softly, luxuriating in the warmth and safety of Akiko's arms. Both of them were nude, enfolded in the sheets of Akiko's large bed, a place that they had retreated to almost as soon as they had gotten there.

        Akiko chuckled to herself softly, ruffling the younger woman's hair as she murmured, "I should give you a ring more often if it makes you that enthusiastic."

        Nene twisted a bit, gently kissing Akiko. "It wasn't just the ring," she sighed happily, "the proposal helped, too." They lay there a few moments, "Why did you decide to propose now?"

        "I wanted to propose to you a bit earlier," Akiko admitted, tightening her arms a bit around the younger woman, "but I had the feeling that you were keeping something from me. Once I knew what, I felt it was time to ask."

        Nene nodded slightly, "I wish I had told you earlier, then." She hesitated, "What does your son think of all this?"

        "Ryo's happy for me," Akiko reassured her, "he knows that my primary interest has been with women these past few years." She smiled a bit wickedly, "He would like to meet you, though."

        "Oh, boy," Nene sat up in surprise, her face going a bit pale.

        Akiko chuckled softly, "Don't worry so much. He's a tech geek too, so you two should have a lot in common."

        "Yeah, maybe," Nene conceded, snuggling back into the safety of Akiko's arms. Quietly, "Tomorrow's going to get pretty hectic, Akiko. I want you to stay out of it, please."

        Akiko gently tipped Nene's face up, "Just because I don't have a suit of battle armor doesn't mean I can't take care of myself, love." She stroked the cheek, "I promised Sylia I would help, too, and I'm a woman of my word."

        Nene made a face at that, "Remind me to get Sylia for that." Akiko opened her mouth to protest and Nene smiled up at her wryly, "I know, I know. You're determined." A deep breath, "Just be careful then, please?"

        "Always," Akiko answered. Nene snuggled a bit closer, and Akiko's eyes widened as Nene's hand slid up her thigh. "Again? You're insatiable!"

        "I don't hear you complaining," Nene purred.

        Akiko laughed, "Of course not, I'm insatiable too."

        The motorbike sped along the seaside, the waters shining beneath the afternoon sun. The rider pushed her bike, riding hard and fast, the wind whipping by, then slowed. The little rest stop looked just the same, the shack and vending machine sitting by a good view of the water, while not far away the shell of an old Genom research station stood.

        The rider put the kick-stand down, taking off her helmet and standing by the bike to look out at the water. "It hasn't changed," Priss sighed to herself softly.

        With a burst of pain Priss remembered the last time she had visited here, with Sylvie. The sexaroid had been kind, her eyes shining with happiness as she and Priss rode out there together. They had bought their snacks from that vending machine, eating and talking together. Sylvie had made her feel... special, in a way that Priss had missed.

        "Wish I had been just a bit braver," Priss sighed to herself softly. Even if Sylvie had turned her down, it would have been worth it. But Priss had kept her mouth shut, and Sylvie had died before she could tell her about how she felt.

        The sound of a motorbike brought a flash of irritation, then surprise as she looked up and recognized the bike. Her Aunt Natsumi put the kick- stand down and pulled her helmet off smoothly, shaking out her short brown hair. She walked towards Priss, the singer wondering how Natsumi was out here with her.

        "No, it's not a coincidence I'm out here," Natsumi anticipated the question, "Sylia thought that I'd find you out here."

        "Could have guessed that," Priss smiled,

        "I wanted to ask you something," Natsumi put her hands in her coat pockets nervously, "have you thought about what you're going to do once we beat Genom?"

        "It isn't guaranteed we're going to win," Priss said dryly.

        Natsumi waved a hand, "Your Sylia is quite the tactician, Priss. Personally I'd bet on her against Genom any day."

        Getting back to the original question Priss conceded, "No, not really. It's been the focus of a lot of years for me, and I'm having a bit of trouble believing it all might be over."

        Natsumi looked away nervously, "How would you like to work for me?" At Priss' surprised look she continued, "Our detective agency, I mean. Aoi, Yoriko and Miyuki all like you, and I think you get along with them pretty well, too."

        "That's true," Priss admitted, the look on her face thoughtful. She frowned, "But I wouldn't want a job based on just being your relative."

        There was a soft snort of laughter from Natsumi. "You've seen our agency, right?" she asked. "We're high on brains, but not many of us have muscle. You're smart, you know the streets, and you're remarkably tough," she smiled.

        Priss had to smile slightly at that. "Not bad," she murmured, "not bad at all." She gave Natsumi a considering glance, "Let's give it a try, see how it goes."

        "Glad to have you," Natsumi shook her niece's hand firmly.

        Sylia Stingray smiled to herself slightly as she watched her lover make more fine adjustments to the small device. "Tony," she smiled over at her gently, "we know that they work, so take it easy."

        "I know," Antonia Stark rubbed at tired eyes, "I guess I just want to be sure." She frowned, "Your life may depend on these working," she gestured to the row of little black boxes.

        "I designed them," Sylia smiled tiredly, "and I, you and Mackie helped build them." She shrugged, "I'm confident in your skills."

        Tony smiled back at her, "Hell of a plan, too." She got up from the work bench, stretching out tiredly. She smirked, noticing Mackie collapsed snoring away on the couch nearby. She still couldn't get over how comfortable Sylia had made this warehouse base, how homelike it was.

        "There's no guarantees," Sylia stepped up to gently take her lovers arm. Together they walked towards the suite that they planned to share, "I am reasonably confident it'll work."

        "When we all move out tomorrow," Tony stopped them at the doorway to say softly, "I'm going to be by your side, Sylia."

        "Once Genom figures out what's going on," Sylia cautioned her, "being beside me is going to be a very unsafe place to be, love."

        Tony smiled suddenly before she asked, "And that's going to be different from my day to day life exactly how?"

        "A point," Sylia admitted, having heard about some of Tony's adventures as Iron Man.

        A bit more seriously Tony said, "I'm in love with you, Sylia Stingray. No matter the risk, being beside you is what makes me happy."

        "Me, too," Sylia agreed, pressing her lips to the slightly taller young woman, at least until Mackie's whistling got their attention. "And how long have you been awake?" she asked her little brother crossly.

        "Long enough to get a good long look," Mackie smirked.

        "We're going to bed," Tony gave him a cold look, "don't even think of disturbing us, or I'll have to take certain steps."

        "Ah, right," Mackie paled.

        "Tomorrow morning is when we order the Boomers that we've stationed around the city to move out," Madigan reported quietly, the nearly complete darkness of the upper story office unnerving her just a bit.

        "Good," Quincy didn't even look at her, instead he was gazing out at the twilight over the city of Megatokyo. Quietly, "I've run things here for a very long time, Madigan. I refuse to yield my place to that young upstart."

        'You may not have a choice,' Madigan noted silently. She continued, "We've downloaded the bio-readings and other data we acquired on Ms Stingray into the Boomers." A short pause, "How did you acquire that data, if I may ask?"

        A cold smile on Quincy's face, "Stingray paid us a courtesy call a few years ago, and on that visit we scanned her for that data." There was a note of satisfaction in his voice, "Once she leaves her hiding place, we'll have her."

To be continued....

Chapter 23

End Run: Part One

        The morning sun was just rising as they all gathered as quietly as possible at the apparently abandoned old warehouse. Sylia Stingray directed them over to the large meeting room, looking as supremely confident as she usually did with her lover Antonia Stark standing by her side. They settled into their seats, the Knight Sabers, Priss' Aunt Natsumi and her friends, Reika Chang, Akiko and her android daughters, Misaki, Hotoko, Kaede and Sae and finally Aiko and Biko.

        "All right Sylia," Priss finally asked the question that was on everybody's mind, "what's the plan to get you into Genom's Tower?"

        Sylia smiled, giving Tony a fond look. She gazed back at the group as Tony dimmed the lights and activated the viewscreen behind Sylia, "Here's what I propose we do.."

        ... and hopefully that will do it," Sylia finished a few minutes later. As she finished speaking Mackie stepped up to get the lights, grinned slightly.

        Reika Chang looked at Sylia admiringly, "You know, you have quite the evil streak."

        "Thank you," Sylia smiled.

        "I like your plan," Natsumi stood up, "but it might help if you had a larger group of people to help confuse things."

        "In fact," Aoi smiled wickedly, "we have an older armored troop carrier that we bought used, one we usually just use to haul our more extreme bodyguard clients. Supposedly it can even take combat Boomer fire."

        "It would help," Sylia admitted, "but it would put you in substantial danger."

        Priss was looking over at her Aunt and friends thoughtfully. "You're determined?" she asked crisply. They all nodded and Priss looked at Sylia, "I'll go with them. One of us would need to anyway, for your plan to work."

        "We'll form another group," Akiko spoke up, Nuku Nuku and Emi nearly jumping with eagerness. "Nene?" she looked over at her lover.

        "I'd better go with you," Nene agreed with Akiko, a gentle smile on her face, "just to keep you all out of trouble."

        "Where Linna goes, I go," Reika said crisply.

        "Cousin?" Tony looked over at Biko.

        "Aiko and I can accompany Linna as well," Biko nodded.

        "Should be fun," Aiko agreed, cracking her knuckles loudly.

        Sae stood up to speak for the other three Angelic Layer Deus, "Would you like us to accompany you with the Saber Dolls? You'll be Genom's primary target if this fails."

        "It won't fail," Sylia said firmly, "and I want the Saber Dolls mobile, causing as much chaos and confusion for Gemon's forces as possible."

        "I don't know if I like the fact that you and Tony are going to be out there on your own," Linna finally admitted.

        "It's a risk," Sylia admitted, "but I think it gives us the best chance of success." She paused, looking over the group, "I have to remind you all of the dangers involved. This is a purely volunteer mission, and I won't think less of anyone who backs out."

        Priss got out of her seat, walking over to Sylia's side. She smiled slightly, meeting her friend's eyes as she took her hand, "I was here at the beginning, I'll see it through to the end."

        "That goes for me, too," Linna placed her hand over the other two.

        "The Knight Sabers always stand by their own," Nene agreed with the others firmly, laying her hand over theirs.

        "I think they speak for all of us," Miyuki rose up with a smile to speak for the others there, "we're in this till the end."

        "Then let's do it," Sylia agreed. She looked over at Mackie with a fond smile, "You get to start work early, little brother. You and Nene are going to hack Genom."

        Mackie grinned evilly, "Let's go."

        Nene smiled back, "They'll never know what hit them."

        With that, the two computer hackers hurried over to the main data banks. Each grabbed a seat, and with a long-time familiarity they went to work. Despite their levity they knew how serious this situation was, and how little time they had to do this before they moved out.

        "The suits are all prepared," Tony smiled. Four silvery boxes waited over by the side, about half the size of a person standing. "I'm still trying to talk Sylia into reducing the suits down to a suitcase container," she explained.

        Linna grabbed the handles on the top of one box, grunting as she picked it up about a foot, then thumped it down. "Not light," she managed to gasp.

        Aiko reached out, hefting it easily. "Oh, I don't know," she smirked.

        Everyone rolled their eyes at that. "You've got a bit of an advantage, you know" Biko pointed out to her lover wryly.

        "So we just have to get to our positions around the city, and we'll all go at the same time." Priss tapped one of the cases, "And the new modules are on them, right?"

        "Yes, they are," Tony smiled wickedly. "There'll also be modules on the Saber Dolls, too. I just wish I could see Quincy's face one we activate them all," she chuckled.

        The upper floor office had a expanded viewscreen against one wall, a tactical display of the entire city showing on the screen. Boomers across the city showed as bright green spots on the gray background, and sensors planted on those Boomers were all set to detect one thing: the unique biological information of Sylia Stingray.

        Madigan looked up at the screen, then over to her employer behind his desk and came to a simple realization: he was desperate. This entire strategy was dangerously volatile, and if any of the Boomers went rogue it would be a disaster. Not to mention what would happen if any of this was leaked to either the media or the board.

        "When is she going to move," Quincy growled, staring at the screen.

        As soon as Sylia's unique bio-signature was spotted, it would appear on the screen as a red marker. The data would then be instantly passed on to the Boomers now patrolling the city, and they would all converge on the target. With the mix of military and regular Boomers that were out there, it would be a massacre.

        "There's still two hours before the meeting," Madigan kept her voice calm and steady, "and if she's smart, she'll stay under cover for as long as possible."

        "True," Quincy sighed. From the look on his face, he seemed to be deeply in thought. "How could I have underestimated someone so completely," he murmured, "I never even suspected that she might be moving against me."

        Madigan decided to answer that as seriously as she could. "Sylia's occupation was the perfect cover," she pointed out, "I don't think anyone would have considered the operator of the Silky Doll lingerie shop to be a major player in Megatokyo."

        "She is her father's daughter," Quincy murmured, still staring at the viewscreen.

        There was a loud chirp, and both looked up. A red mark had appeared, on the north part of town. Madigan smiled grimly as the Boomers began to move, "We've got her."

        Another loud chirp, and a red mark appeared to the south of the city. Then a blip appeared on the west side, then four more blips began to move out from seemingly nowhere, creating even greater chaos. The small army of Boomers seemed unable to choose a target, as the blips all began to converge on Genom's Tower.

        The two of them gazed in surprise at the screen, then Quincy began to laugh. "Sir?" Madigan looked over at him in concern.

        "Sylia deduced what we were going to do," Quincy chuckled softly, "and she's parried us. We've got to split up the Boomers, try to stop all of the blips."

        Madigan grabbed a terminal, working to reassign the boomers to attack each target in their respective sectors. "Who could she have gotten to pretend to be her?" she asked, typing quickly on one of the control panels.

        "The Knight Sabers," Quincy said to her grimly, "she had to have hired them to do this. Them, and three of their allies."

        "Dividing our forces means we have less chance to stop them," Madigan finished the programming, her finger hovering over the execute key.

        "Do it," Quincy said simply.

        The blue Knight Saber stood on top of the armored transport, the vehicle bumping a bit as they raced down the street. "Look's like it's working," Priss reported in over her suit's radio, "the Chameleon modules has the Boomers thinking all of us are you."

        Sylia's voice came through loud and clear, "Watch yourselves, everyone. The boomers won't stay confused for very long."

        "Called that right," Priss murmured as the first few Boomers appeared in their path.

        Before she could even move her Aunt Natsumi stuck her head out of the passenger's side. The Boomer-buster coughed once, even as Yoriko popped the sidedoor and opened up. The Boomers fireballed, the armored carrier bouncing through the flames.

        "Save your firepower," Natsumi ordered crisply, "we're going to need it when we get nearer to the Tower itself."

        "More Boomers coming," Yoriko yelled, light glinting off her glasses.

        "I see them," Miyuki yelled, twisting the wheel hard as she reached over to help brace her lover Natsumi. "It's going to get rougher before we reach Genom's Tower."

        "I know," Aoi murmured, hefting a Boomer-buster awkwardly

        In another part of the city a motorcycle came around a corner, two figures riding together. Before the Boomer waiting there could even react a missile shot from the bike, reducing it to scrap. "I have to ask Sylia how she designed these Motoslaves," Reika grinned, handling the bike like a pro.

        "Good luck," Linna murmured, riding just behind her lover on the cycle.

        Biko curved back, flying down to their side to report, "More Boomers are coming, though I dropped out Aiko to deal with another group." There was a loud series of explosions and the armored woman smiled, "I think she has the situation under control."

        A few moments later Aiko came running around the corner. The redhead's clothes were trailing smoke, but other than that she was unharmed. "That was fun," she beamed.

        "Oh, grow up," Biko muttered.

        "I don't see you holding back," Aiko shot back.

        "Do you think Tony asked us to take them along as some kind of punishment?" Linna whispered to Reika, and the other woman shook with laughter.

        Meanwhile, in another part of the city a battered jeep barreled along, Akiko and Nene sitting in the front seat together. "Gotta watch out for those near misses," Akiko muttered as she used her fist to clear out the remaining broken glass from the windshield.

        Nene's pink armor had it's antenna array spread out, the pilot listening intently to what was going on around them. "The Boomers are badly scattered," she reported, "and the Saber Dolls are confusing things even more."

        "Yeah!" Nuku Nuku beamed as she ran along beside the jeep, the android's long hair flowing behind her like a banner.

        "We'd better stay ready," Emi cautioned, flying just above them, "there's still a ways to go until we reach the Tower.

        "Oh, shit," Nene murmured, seeing the flight of Boomers that were now heading towards them, "combat models."

        "Whee, fun," Nuku Nuku beamed, even as Akiko and Nene both sweatdropped.

To be continued...

Chapter 24

End Run: Part Two

        "Go, Hikaru," Misaki said with a fierce smile, using her will to manipulate her Angel on the Layer table while out in the real world, her Saber Doll fought on. She casually ducked the Boomer's swing then struck, punching right through it's chest.

        "It's not really Hikaru out there," Sai murmured, running Shirahime through her paces. As the kimono clad angel moved on the Layer to deliver a devastating kick upward, the Saber Doll out in the real world completed the move, turning Boomers into scrap.

        Hotoko laughed, "Close enough." Her Suzuka moved like a blur, getting behind another group of Boomers before launching a devastating series of attacks.

        Blanche fought with precision out on the Layer even as Kaede continued to smile gently. "I just hope that Sylia and Antonia are still all right," she said as another Boomer fell into rubble, "or else all of this will be pointless."

        Anticipating their request Mackie spoke up from where he sat at the computer station nearby, "It's hard to pinpoint Sylia's location because of all the Chameleon Modules, but there haven't been any reports of her capture."

        "And if she is?" Sai asked as she guided her Angel through a series of complex maneuvers to destroy three Boomers in a row.

        "Then I'll dig out my suit of heavy armor and help rescue her," Mackie smiled dangerously, nodding towards the large suit of battle armor waiting nearby.

        "She will make it," Misaki leaned forward, face intent, "I just know it."

        The building they perched on was less than two miles away from Genom's tower, but in a way it was like a thousand miles. The two figures there were shimmering with an odd distortion, one seemingly concealing them from the Boomers flying patrol in the air nearby.

        "Are you all right?" Sylia asked, the light blue/gray armored figure connected directly to the other's armor, not using radio or other transmission methods.

        "It's all right," Tony said, her voice showing the strain. "The Iron- tech cloak produces a strain on the pilot," she explained, "and it's of limited effectiveness when we're in the air."

        "We've flown so close," Sylia muttered, "we only have a short ways to go!" She paused, "If we move out now, could we..."

        "There are still a lot of Boomers out there," Tony answered grimly. She paused, "I'll shut down the cloak, distract them. You might make the Tower that way."

        "No," Sylia said firmly.

        Then the Boomers circling in midair paused, as if something else had caught their attention. Suddenly, an powerful explosion echoed through the metallic towers as a vehicle barreled forward. The armor smoked on the troop carrier, wheels flattened as it bounced towards the Tower.

        "Whoo-hoo!" Priss laughed, her blue armor chipped and battered. Right beside her on the roof Natsumi and Miyuki laid down cover fire, the two former police officers suits burned and torn.

        "Do you think we'll hook up with the others," Aoi grinned from the driver's seat, the windshield only a gaping hole in the front.

        "We ought to ask for our money back," Yoriko laughed, her glasses sliding down, "we only got to run down two combat Boomers before the tires went!"

        Priss shifted her visor to the frequency Sylia instructed her, and grinned as she picked up the two cloaked figures, "They made it."

        "We've got company," Yoriko yelled up at Priss.

        The battered jeep came up on their one side with Akiko at the wheel. The normally stylish looking business woman was a total mess, her brown hair in disarray, but she had a wild grin on her face. Beside her Nene used her suits weapons to pick off Boomers, even as she monitored Genom's communications. A bit ahead the androids Nuku Nuku and Emi trashed anything in their way with a great deal of glee.

        "Everyone all right?" Nene yelled over at them.

        "We're doing fine," Aoi yelled back, "it's been a blast!"

        Akiko snickered softly as that, getting a glare from Nene. "Sorry, love," she gave her lover a grin, "but I like her attitude."

        "You would," Nene smiled back reluctantly.

        "Mama," Nuku Nuku waved, slamming two Boomers together so they exploded, "there's so many to play with!"

        "She's got that right," Emi muttered, an electrical burst disabling more Boomers.

        "If we're both here," Priss said thoughtfully, "that should mean..."


        A Boomer hurtled by them, smoking, then a motorbike slid into place on their other side. Reika Chang rode with a determined expression on her face, Linna skimming alongside her in her green suit of armor. Running in a ragged schoolgirl's uniform Aiko kept pace, while above them in her sleek armor Biko kept an eye on them all.

        "Nice to see that we all made it," Linna said, looking up and noticing the four Saber Dolls converging on their position. The group formed a kind of wedge, pressing forward as a veritable army of Boomers descended towards them.

        "Time to finish this," Aiko grinned, the light catching on her slivery wristbands.

        "Indeed," Biko agreed, her visor cracked, her eyes having a dangerous intensity.

        "Is Sylia here," Reika asked softly, "did she make it?"

        "She's in position," Linna confirmed to her lover quietly, "the endgame begins."

        Within the Tower itself Quincy finished pulling on his jacket, adjusting it so that he presented the proper image. Make-up had erased signs of worry from the older man's face, along with a hearty shot of booze. But his eyes, they still looked worried.

        Madigan studied the readout, her face pale as a bit of her long purple hair fell into her eyes. She brushed it back impatiently as she murmured, "The losses in Boomers are... apocalyptic."

        "Being a little dramatic?" Quincy inquired, adjusting his tie.

        "Sir.. we aren't going to be able to hide these kind of losses in the budget," Madigan said to him softly, "the deficit we'll have this quarter.."

        "Will be worth it," Quincy said firmly, refusing to even look down at the readout. His eyes narrowed slightly, "The meeting is in only a few moments, and they have succeeded in preventing her from reaching here."

        "Unless she pulls another surprise," Madigan offered.

        Quincy's hands shook slightly as he pulled his suit jacked down into place, "There's nothing left that she can possibly do."

        'I wouldn't bet on that,' Madigan thought to herself grimly as a soft chirp came from her personal organizer. She pulled the device out of the inner pocket of her coat, called up the information and her eyes widened. "Sir..?"

        "What?" Quincy asked without looking over at her, already knowing that he wasn't going to like what he was about to hear.

        "The Knight Sabers and their allies have reached the Tower and are now fighting against the security forces," Madigan reported, her voice soft with shock. "Boomer forces are converging on the lower levels to hold them back."

        "It's not possible," Quincy hissed.

        "And we still don't know exactly where Sylia Stingray is," Madigan said grimly. She shook her head, focusing on what they needed to do now, "You'd better get going sir, the shareholder's meeting starts in a few minutes."

        "Right," Quincy strode off. Down the hallway from his office was a meeting room, one filled with person's of power. As Quincy entered he felt their eyes on him, sensed fear in the air. Taking control of the meeting he announced, "We're all here, let's get started."

        "It's not quite time," a shareholder mentioned. He smiled slightly, "And I understand that there's a shareholder still absent."

        Quincy glared at the smirking man. "If he or she does not arrive on time," he managed past his irritation, "she will not be allowed to vote."

        "It's time," Tony said, firing her boot thrusters and rising up into the air. They rocketed forward, the mob of Boomers that should have been going after them were tangled up with the other Knight Sabers and their allies.

        "Damn it," Sylia scowled.

        Far bellow them the Boomers were swiftly moving in to try to overwhelm the others. The team formed up into a circle, weapons blazing as they cut down the enemy, but they were tired. It had been a very long run to the Tower, and they were running on empty.

        As Priss was rocked backwards by a near miss, her Aunt Natsumi slapping a hand on her back to hold her up Sylia groaned, "We've got to help them."

        "We will," Tony opened up the afterburners, exploding up. Internal schematics of the Tower rushed by her eyes, information acquired by Mackie and Nene. "There," Tony murmured, then loudly said, "brace yourself!"

        "What.." Sylia started when Tony bodily threw her at the building! Rolling into a ball the silvery figure crashed through the meeting, bouncing off the top of the table before hitting the floor with a loud clang.

        Tony dove back down, all weapons firing as she drove the enemy away from her friends, both old and new. "Good luck, Sylia," she murmured, opening up with the mini-missiles and repulsers, "it's all up to you know."

        "Security!" Quincy bellowed, jumping to his feet.

        "HOLD IT!" Sylia used the amplifiers in her suit, making her voice sound something like a roll of thunder. She disconnected her helmet, pulling it off bodily before letting it fall to the carpet with a soft thump. "My name is Sylia Stingray," she looked at the horrified expression on Quincy's face, "I'm sorry I'm late, but I was unavoidably delayed."

        "You're still in time, Ms. Stingray," Madigan said to her respectfully. There was a slight smile on her face as she added, "The meeting hasn't started just yet."

        "Damn you," Quincy muttered, possibly to Madigan or Sylia herself.

        "Check your consoles, ladies and gentlemen," Sylia looked around the room calmly, "I'm now the majority shareholder of Genom." She tossed a look at Madigan, "You might want to shut current operations of the Boomers down, as a gesture of good will."

        "Of course," Madigan pressed a few keys on her personal organizer.

        "For the first thing on the agenda," Sylia continued on calmly, "I would like to propose the removal of the current President of Genom. As these files on the losses that the company has suffered today prove," she pulled a data disk from her suits arm and tossed it down on the table, "he has clearly lost his perspective."

        "You planned all this," Quincy looked at her in shock.

        "Not all," Sylia answered coolly, "your own decisions helped a lot."

        Outside the Boomers slowed to a stop, pausing as they received new orders. One or two, then more and more of the Boomers left, scattering to their places around the city. Standing in the center, still undefeated, the Knight Sabers and their allies remained.

        "Sylia made it?" Nene finally had to ask, flipping up her visor tiredly.

        "Yes, she did," Tony grinned, her own face-plate up, hair ruffled by the wind.

To be continued....

Chapter 25

Aftermath: Part One

        Antonia Stark just had to grin, looking down with a certain amount of pride at the newspaper display at the airport terminal. She and the others had helped make those headlines, after all! 'Genom Chairman Arrested.' one banner headline read, 'Revolution in the Boardroom' was on another, 'Knight Sabers Revealed' and finally, 'Boomer recall!' What had happened just a few short days ago was still leaving shockwaves across all of Megatokyo.

        "Thanks for seeing us off, cousin," Biko smiled at her warmly, the tall, blue haired woman offering Tony her hand.

        "It's the least I could do," Antonia shook it firmly. She smiled at Biko and Aiko, "And I wanted to thank you both personally once again."

        "Hey, we had a lot of fun," Aiko grinned. "I'd stick around to see the fall-out," the redhead sighed, "but our families want us home."

        "Sylia wanted to be here, too," Antonia shrugged wryly, "but with everything that's been happening she's got her hands full."

        The final boarding call rang through the terminal and Biko smiled as she said, "I think that's our flight." She reached out to put her hand on Tony's shoulder, "Take care of yourself, and tell the others we wish them well."

        "Good luck," Aiko agreed as they headed off, the pair walking onto the plane.

        Tony left the airport, leaning on her cane as she made her way outside where the car awaited. "Everything okay?" Mackie asked, his dark hair falling into his eyes.

        "They're on their way safe and sound," Tony said as she climbed into the passenger side. She looked over at him curiously, "Are you really qualified to drive this thing?"

        "Oh, yeah," Mackie chuckled as he slid them into traffic. He reported with a smile. "By the way, we finally heard back from the AD Police."

        "So are they going to try to arrest Sylia for being involved with the Knight Sabers?" Tony asked, knowing from his smile that the news wasn't going to be bad.

        "Nope," Mackie smiled wickedly, "the District Attorney's office had decided that there are extenuating circumstances."

        "Circumstances like the fact that the police botched the murger investigation of Dr. Stingray," Tony said grimly, "and that an case against Sylia would bring all of that to light."

        "And that Sylia is now one of the most powerful women in Megatokyo," Mackie added.

        "You've got that right," Tony nodded, rolling the window down a bit to enjoy the breeze.

        They drove on for a few minutes, then more seriously Mackie asked her, "So what are you going to do now?"

        "Eh?" Tony looked at him in surprise.

        "I care for my sister a great deal," Mackie kept his eyes on the road, a faint blush to his cheeks, "and I don't want to see Sylia hurt. If you plan to go back to America or something, tell her soon, don't let her get her hopes up."

        "I'm not planning on going anywhere," Tony said firmly. She smiled at the young man, "I love your sister very much, and I hope we'll be together from now on."

        "Good," Mackie sighed in relief as they began to ascend the roadway built around Genom's tower, moving up to the corporate levels.

        Reaching the right level they both got out of the car, moving into the building itself. "Well," Sylia looked up with a smile as they entered her office, "how do I look?" She got up out of her chair, turning to model the metalic gray business suit she was in.

        "Marvelous," Tony murmured, not even looking at her suit. Instead, her gaze was totally focused on Sylia's face.

        There was a soft knock on the door, and Sylia's new secretary came in. She had short black hair, and wore large, round glasses that slid down her nose. "Here's the documents you asked for, Ms. Stingray," Nako beamed. Sylia took them, and the girl left with a smile.

        "So what happened to Madigan?" Mackie asked curiously.

        "Well, after I opened up Genom's files to the AD Police, they have a shopping list of charges to go after Quincy with," Sylia said, "and Madigan has agreed to testify in exchange for clemency in her own court cases."

        "Well, she did help him pull a lot of that stuff off," Mackie noted.

        "And now the fun part begins," Sylia sighed, "I have to clean out the rot in this company before I do anything else, and I could use some help."

        "I'm not going anywhere," Tony reassured her. She paused, "I've made the decision to move the Stark corporate headquarters here, from now on."

        "Oh, Tony," Sylia hugged her, being careful not to knock her lover over. They held each other close for a moment while she softly said, "I'm so glad."

        "I'll be here," Mackie chuckled, "and I think the others will back you up, too."

        "They have their lives," Sylia reminded him while still encircled in Tony's arms, "but I know they'll do all they can."

        In another part of the city, Linna felt her lips pulling into a smile as she saw her, waiting outside her office building once again. "You know, people are going to talk," she offered as she walked to the woman leaning on the sports car.

        Reika Chang just grinned at her, "Good, I don't mind the idea of people talking about us." She gave her an impish look, "Wanna give them something to really talk about?"

        Linna laughed softly, hugging Reika close to her. "I'm just glad that no one knows you're the singer Vision," she murmured into her ear, "I think there's members of your fanclub that would kill to be me right about now."

        Reika opened the passenger door for her, then went around to the driver's side. "Speaking of Vision.." Reika trailed off.

        "Yes?" Linna asked, looking over at Reika worriedly.

        "You know I've been touring less often," Reika said as she started up the car, "and I can record my albums where I want to." She looked over at Linna, "Do you think you could help find a place for a mostly homeless singer?"

        Linna hesitated, feeling a smile tugging on her lips again. "Oh, I think I could find room in my apartment," she finally said.

        "I know this is all been kind of sudden," Reika focused on the road, moving through the traffic, "but this is all very serious to me."

        "Me, too," Linna agreed. She put her hand on Reika's on the wheel, "This is all pretty new to me, but I want to explore this."

        "You know I'd love to help you explore," Reika gave her a dangerous smile as she dropped her voice down to a sexy purr.

        "I'm being serious," Linna slapped Reika's arm. She sat back in her seat, looking up at the car's roof, "I think I love you."

        Reika froze looking over at her, then the screech of wheels reminded her to keep her eyes on the road. "Sorry," Reika blushed, "I've just been trying to figure out how, exactly to say that!"

        "Good enough," Lina shifted over, putting her head on Reika's shoulder.

        "So what are your friends the Angelic Layer Deus doing?" Reika asked as they drove towards Linna's apartment building.

        Linna chuckled softly as she revealed, "It seems that they're keeping the Saber Dolls. Sylia is putting them on a substantial retainer, to keep them available to back us up in case something else happens, which it probably will."

        "So the Knight Sabers are continuing after all this," Reika said thoughtfully. She sat there a moment then smiled, "Good."

        "Good?" Linna looked a bit surprised.

        "Not that I really want to see you risking life and limb," Reika continued on, "but in an odd way being a Knight Saber suits you. You wouldn't be you without it."

        "Maybe so," Linna agreed as they pulled up in front of the apartment. She gave Reika a smile, "Would you care to join me, tonight?"

        "I thought you'd never ask," Reika laughed.

To be continued....

Chapter 26

Aftermath: Part Two

        Priss Asagiri smiled, her brown hair falling into her eyes as she looked into the mirror at her new image. "This is going to take some getting used to," she admitted. The black business suit hugged her slim frame but the tie was just slightly off.

        "You look good," her aunt Natsumi grinned, reaching over to adjust the tie so that it hugged the neck a bit more securely. She wore a matching suit for the client meeting, the fact that the two were relatives clearly visible.

        Together they walked out of the private office, heading down to the meeting room down the hall. The set of offices that the detective agency used were surprisingly opulent, with separate offices of all four of the original members. The carpets absorbed the sound of their footsteps, and the walls were hung with fine art prints.

        "I'd love to know how you managed all this," Priss looked around her curiously.

        "Yoriko happens to be as lucky in her investing as in everything else," Natsumi chuckled softly. "She got us into renewable energy sources," she explained, "right before the price of the stock went through the roof."

        "Remind me to put my money into the pot," Priss said with a grin, "I've put aside a bit from working for Sylia."

        "I'm looking forward to it," Natsumi pushed the meeting room doors open, the two heading inside. Aoi, Yoriko and Miyuki sat at the table, a large brown envelope sitting there on the tabletop.

        "You do clean up pretty good, step-niece," Miyuki beamed at Priss, her long brown braid falling down her back.

        "Not bad at all," Aoi laughed gently, while Yoriko smiled.

        "Gee, thanks," Priss felt herself blushing slightly as she and her Aunt walked over to where the others were sitting.

        "Here, this came for you today," Miyuki handed the official envelope over.

        Priss recognized the licensing board symbol and tore open the side nervously. The papers fell out, and along with them an plastic sealed id card. "I passed," Priss grinned, holding up her private investigator's license jubilantly.

        "I knew it," Natsumi clapped her on the shoulder, nearly knocking her over as the others offered their own congratulations.

        "So who are we meeting?" Priss asked as they settled into their seats around the table.

        "Me, actually," a familiar voice said as Sylia Stingray strode inside, Antonia Stark at her side. The black haired business woman looked Priss over admiringly, "I may faint."

        "Don't you start," Priss said warningly. She looked over at Tony with a laugh, "Good luck putting up with her."

        "I manage," Tony grinned, leaning on her cane. Brown hair fell into her eyes, her own business suit a simple gray color.

        "So what do we owe the pleasure?" Natsumi asked.

        "I'm here to offer you all a job, actually," Sylia said with a smile as she passed a contract over for Yoriko to look over.

        "Well, well," Yoriko murmured before passing the contract on to the others. She looked up at Sylia, "You're offering us a substantial retainer, and in return you want us to hunt down rogue Boomers alongside the Knight Sabers?"

        "Genom is discontinuing the manufacture of any Boomer designs that go rogue," Sylia said simply, "along with recalling those types. But it's going to take time before we can do that, and there likely will be more cases of Boomers going rogue."

        "So the Knight Sabers stay on call," Natsumi nodded towards her niece, "while we use those Boomer Buster cannons you designed to back her up."

        "We'll also be providing those cannons to the AD Police," Tony added, "so we'll have additional backup. It'll be a while before those weapons get into general use, so we'll have to be ready to take up the slack."

        "Is it such a good idea to produce more of those guns?" Priss asked with a frown.

        "Once something has been created it acquires a life of it's own," Sylia said regretfully. "It isn't that hard to extrapolate the design of the guns from the effects on the destroyed Boomers. They will be produced, it's just a choice of me or someone else doing it."

        "Makes sense," Aoi admitted.

        Priss hesitated then said, "Sylia, you know I'm in as a Knight Saber, but the others will have to decide for themselves."

        Natsumi gave her niece a smile, then the members of the agency looked at Yoriko. She nodded firmly, and Miyuki turned to Sylia, "You've got yourself a deal."

        "I'm glad," Sylia shook hands all around, then looked over at Priss. "Could you come up to the Tower in a hour or so? The others are meeting us there."

        "No problem," Priss grinned, "I'm looking forward to it."

        A short while later a sports car approached the Genom Tower, driven with a smooth style. "Thanks for giving me a ride," Nene smiled, her pinkish hair falling into her eyes.

        "You're welcome," Akiko laughed softly, her brown hair blown back by the wind. She looked over at her lover with a smile, "So why do you think Sylia wants to see you all?"

        "I'm not too sure," Nene frowned slightly. With a soft sigh she added, "I hope it's not to disband the Knight Sabers."

        Akiko reached over to pat Nene's hand, the matching rings they wore glinting in the light. "Whatever happens," she said softly, "I'll be here to back you up."

        "Thanks," Nene smiled. She tilted her head to the side, "It's going to be interesting in the AD Police from now on. Sylia's providing us with new weapons and I've heard she's helping redesign the old battle movers, too."

        "Do you think you'll be going out into the field more?" Akiko asked curiously, keeping the worry out of her voice.

        "No, I don't think so," Nene didn't notice Akiko's soft sigh of relief as she continued, "but I may try for advancement. Because of the Knight Sabers I needed to stay where I could get at the information that we needed the easiest."

        "Chief Nene," Akiko offered with a grin, "I could see it."

        "I wouldn't go that far," Nene said as they coasted into the parking lot of the Tower. They walked over to the lift, Nene using the access card that Sylia had issued her. Together they rode up silently, then exited on the executive level.

        "Well, let's go," Akiko said as they strode down the hall. The meeting room door was open, and Nene found herself smiling as she took in the other two Knight Sabers standing by a long meeting table.

        "Took you long enough," Priss offered, surprisingly dressed in a suit.

        "Who are you," Nene gave her a look, "and what have you done with the real Priss?"

        Priss laughed before saying dangerously, "Want me to prove I'm the real thing?"

        "Break it up you two," Linna grinned. She nodded, "Hey, Akiko."

        "Hello," Akiko smiled. She took a deep breath, "I hope that none of you mind that I came along with Nene?"

        "If so then I'd be in trouble," Reika came in to walk over to where Linna stood.

        "Couples," Priss rolled her eyes, "you're all attached to the hip."

        "I resemble that remark," Sylia said, Tony standing right beside her.

        "So what's going on?" Nene asked.

        "I've got a bit of a present for you," Sylia smirked, "as well as wanting to explain the current situation. As I told Priss," she nodded to where Priss sat, "Genom is discontinuing manufacture of old-style Boomers and recalling them."

        "That's a relief," Linna noted.

        "However it will take time for these changes to go into effect, and there likely will be continued Boomer incidents." With a smile Sylia said, "We're still in business, ladies."

        "So what's the gift?" Priss asked with a little grin.

        "This," Tony passed three silvery briefcases over, one each to Priss, Nene and Linna according to the nametags attached.

        Nene took her case, popping it open curiously, only to freeze. "Oh my," she murmured, looking at the armor components in surprise. It looked like pieces of her hardsuit, modified but...

        "With some tinkering we figured out how to apply Tony's Iron-man tech to the hardsuits," Sylia said. "The cases have charging systems built in, you just have to plug them in."

        "I'm impressed," Reika murmured softly. She looked up at Sylia, "I thought that you normally didn't like the Sabers doing solo actions?"

        "Yes and no," Sylia said, "that, at least, is going to be changing."

        Priss tilted her head to the side as she asked, "So you're giving us these suits, and the freedom to use them?"

        "That's the idea," Sylia agreed. She looked around at them, meeting each of their eyes, "I trust you, and know that you won't abuse the gift I'm giving you."

        Linna got up from her seat, moving over to Sylia's side. "Thank you," she said softly, "I'll do my best to use it well."

        "We all will," Nene agreed.

        "I'll try not to get into too much trouble," Priss agreed with a grin.

        They stood there together as a group, four women with a lot of shared history between them. So different in many ways, they were people from different worlds who had come together fighting for a single cause. That had created a bond between them, and no matter what happened now, that bond would never be broken.

Mecha Wars: The End.

Mecha Wars: Author’s Notes

        Well, twenty-six chapters is a pretty good run for what I had originally thought of as a series of mostly unconnected short crossovers with various characters. Thank you to everyone who sent me requests for characters to be featured, as well as commenting on how the story continued. Below are notes on the different series I've used...

        Also, a few people have asked about Reika Chang. She first appeared in the original BGC OVA #7, where she fought the Knight Sabers in a crusade of vengeance against Genom. When she met Linna they developed an almost instant bond, and in the end Linna convinced Reika not to give up her life for the sake of vengeance.

Part One: Project A-ko

        A-Ko=Eiko, B-ko=Biko, based on how the names were dealt with in the subtitled anime. I assume the spelling is based on how you’d likely pronounce those names.

        In the story the line, “skin tight red and blue spandex” refers to the costume of Eiko’s probable father, the DC comics character Superman. Her mother is also very likely Wonder Woman. No, I’m not kidding...

        Also, Biko’s father appears to be designed after the civilian identity of the Marvel comics superhero Iron Man, Tony Stark. He’s much less creative, though, which is why he depends so much on Biko’s genius at mecha design. I’ve decided that he’s related to Tony Stark as a brother or cousin, that’s why Biko calls Antonia Stark ‘cousin.’

        So why did I do a x-over with Bubblegum Crisis? Well, both are near future series, and the timelines aren’t totally dissimilar. Graviton City may or may not be Tokyo in the Project A-ko movies, but I just assumed they were separate places for the purposes of the story.

        I do have a fondness for Biko, which is why she’s the most competent one in the story. Of course, both she and Eiko get conned, but she’s the brightest of the two.

Part Two: Cat-girl Nuku Nuku

        As the ads for the OVA series put it, “The touching tale of a boy, his cat... and a major military arms manufacturer.” Nuku Nuku is caught in the crossfire of one of the world’s worst custody battles, with Ryunosuke’s mad scientist father Kyasuke on one side and his arms manufacturer mother, Akiko, on the other.

        Working for Akiko were her office ladies Kyouko and Arisa, who quite willingly broke out various arms and mecha belonging to Akiko to try and destroy Nuku Nuku. Of course Nuku Nuku found fighting them fun, and looked forward to their regular visits.

        Ideally, Ryunosuke would like to see his parents happily together, but both adults seemed to derive more enjoyment trying to KILL each other on a regular basis. Toss in the hentai semi-evil android Eimi into the mix, and you have a recipe for regular explosions and property damage.

        So why am I trying to pair up Akiko and Nene? Well I’ve always wanted to do an older woman/ younger girl couple, and I thought they might make an interesting pair.

Part Three: Angelic Layer

        Here’s how I’ve fit Angelic Layer into the BGC timeline: it was very popular a few years before the big quake hit (2010?). During and after the recovery process, it fell out of favor except for a small group of die-hard fans, and by the 2030’s, it’s pretty much forgotten.

        Misaki, Sai and Kaede are all over thirty years old in this fic and Hatoko is about twenty, give or take a few years. Why pair up Misaki and Hotoko? Well, if you read the manga or watch the anime, there’s a very odd chemistry between them. “Don’t lose to anyone but me,” Hotoko said to Misaki at one point, and it’s a promise that Misaki keeps. Sai and Kaede are always together in the anime, as well as the manga. Not to mention they’re such a cute couple, too.

        I like the idea of Sylia considering them as back-up pilots for the hardsuits, a storyline I’ll be adding to later on. Linna will sort of become Sylia’s connection to them, because of her fondness for playing Angelic Layer. 'Saber Dolls' is a combination of Knight Sabers and Battle Dolls, something that the Angels are called in Japanese ads for Angelic Layer.

Part Four: Iron Man

        I was inspired in part by the very cool female Iron Man who appeared in the Marvel Comics Mangaverse series. Visually, the KS suits and the Iron tech do look rather similar, though that may simply be a coincidence.

        The back story is based on Tony Stark visiting Japan and working with Dr. Stingray, as well as their being friends. Their daughters, both small kids, became friends as well, and the younger Sylia may have had a crush on the older girl. Of course, sometime after the Starks returned to the U.S., Dr. Stingray was killed...

Meanwhile: You’re Under Arrest!

        Natsumi Tsujimoto and Miyuki are such a cute couple, aren’t they? I’m assuming that the cast of You’re Under Arrest survived the big quake, and eventually left the police force. Going into private investigation, the pair of them, along with Yoriko and Aoi, have recently learned about Natsumi’s niece, Priss Asagiri.

        I’m not the first to think that Priss and Natsumi might be related, by the way. Chris Davies did it in his stories, and I’m sure there were others. For the fans of my other stories, you can just assume that this is a continuation of my YUA story “Friends and Lovers.”

        While I don't plan to continue "Mecha Wars" I am tempted to do a series on the YUA characters and Priss Asagiri. If I do it will be in mid 2004, with the tentative title of 'Going Private."

Back to chapter list