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...