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."