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.