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."