Macross Frontier: Conspiracy
Going to add further that any other fiction stuff (characters, concepts, weapons, etc.) that don't belong to Macross Frontier or to me are under the copyright of their respective authors/holders. So there. Don't sic the pack of lawyers on me, okay. Thanks a lot and have a good day.
Chapter 2: New Days
February 28, 2059
Bedroom, Penthouse Floor #1, Almighty Support Enterprises Frontier Branch Office, San Francisco Area, Island 1, NUNGS Macross Frontier
Today was a normal, average Friday for everyone in Macross Frontier. But today was not an average day for Marc Chua.
Ever since he was appointed as the official bodyguard of pop star Sheryl Nome, it meant that he was needed to be on 24/7 duty. This also meant that he needs to take leave from school if Sheryl needs his presence, even though being a private military contractor was only meant to be a temporary job.
So tired from that long press conference she gave.
Marc was on the king-size bed, still sleeping after a long night in his red pajamas with blinders that covered his eyes. Even in his sleep, he was also complaining about the long hours that he did.
Maybe I should've chosen another part-time job again to get away from this gig. Even though Mikhail told me to get this one. But I just find it that my guardian, who happens to be the head of ASE's Frontier branch, happily accepted my application.
The contractor and student was content to sleep for the entire morning. This is why that his smartphone was switched off. He couldn't care less if Grace or Sheryl herself would call her. He just wanted to be left alone. It was also a good thing that there wasn't any classes today due to a teacher's convention that required all of them somewhere in another Island to attend it.
The teen was fast asleep that he didn't notice two people had entered his room.
"Sheryl," Grace whispered to the pop star. "I still don't think that this is a very good idea to visit Mr. Chua's room. We're invading his privacy..."
"I know, Grace," Sheryl whispered back to her manager. "But this is something that I can't afford to pass up. Besides, I am curious to see what his room looks like despite the fact that he's a part-time security contractor with the ASE."
Grace groaned, knowing that Marc will probably yell at them for whatever Sheryl is planning to do. That girl...
Sheryl was now in front of the king-size bed. She looked at the sleeping student/contractor with a smirk on her face.
Here goes. She inhaled and exhaled her breath for a few seconds before she shouted, "HEY! WAKE UP!"
When Marc heard the shout, he was jolted awake. Unfortunately for him, he almost forgot that his blinders still covered his eyes.
"Ah, crap! We're under attack!" The young man removed the blinders as fast as he could. Unfortunately, he got his legs tangled up in the blanket that he tumbled over to the floor, his arms hitting it first after he tried to get up. "Dammit!"
It didn't help that his eyes refuse to cooperate in opening up.
The pop star's manager sighed in frustration, putting her right hand on her face as she began to wonder how she can handle the potential fallout from Sheryl's antics.
"Well, I hope you're happy, Sheryl."
"That's not fair. He provided me with some entertainment and I was able to test something..."
Marc began to get up slowly from the floor, palms pressed on the floor to push his body up.
"Ladies... If you don't leave by the count of ten, I am about to do something very unpleasant that you wish that you didn't try and wake me up like that."
Grace quickly pushed Sheryl out of the bodyguard's room. The manager was not willing to test how far the pop star's own bodyguard was willing to go to make his point.
February 28, 2059
Rooftop/EX-Gear runway, Mihoshi Academy, Island 1, NUNGS Macross Frontier
Mikhail was the first to arrive at the rooftop of Mihoshi Academy after the gates to the school opened up. He timed himself to have at least less than 30 minutes to practice his movements while wearing MA-issued EX-Gear in preparation for Sheryl's big debut concert. He was also placed in charge of ensuring everyone selected for the concert performance is able to secure their own EX-Gear and are also qualified to handle them.
Good thing the school allowed me and the others taking part in the concert to have these suits. The blond teenager went to work by conducting stretches with his arms. It was certainly an issue for those who wear the powered suit, being cumbersome to move. It was very handy for various PMCs to use them in drills and exercises as a form of punishment by not operating the suit in full power.
"Good thing I'm not one to break the rules in SMS a lot or I'd have to wear an EX-Gear with its internal power turned off." Mikhail did recall a few incidents when he saw new recruits, most of them from the civilian sector, get into trouble with their instructors for breaking a lot of rules that were not considered troublesome for them.
After he did the arm stretches, Mikhail went to concentrate on stretching his legs by doing squats and holding it for a minute. When a minute was over, he would stand straight to straighten his legs before he did another squat.
"I didn't receive a call from TruthSeeker a few minutes ago." He checked the smartphone he left on the bench in front of him. "He's probably busy with school, just like me."
Previously, he got a SMS from him that mentions his involvement in getting his hands on a MPC report on the death of Jessica. However, the information broker said that it was only in the initial stages because of a MPC counter-intelligence sweep, targeting on hackers and other unauthorized access towards the death report. He apologized to Mikhail and told him of a possible delay for a few days.
I never expected NUNS' Military Police to conduct a sweep against anyone who wanted to get their hands on the report, even though JAG said that her death wasn't reported as a criminal case. He frowned after he read that SMS message. But why do that anyway? I thought the MPC declared it to be a close case? So what's with the interest?
With the squats over, Mikhail checked the smartphone and noted that time was almost up.
"I better raise the issue with TruthSeeker again." Mikhail looked over the railing and noticed some of his classmates entering the school grounds. "I find that message to be of great concern to me."
February 28, 2059
Dining Room, Penthouse Floor #1, ASE Frontier Branch Office, San Francisco Area, Island 1, NUNGS Macross Frontier
Grace could clearly remember how Marc yelled at Sheryl for rudely waking him up and getting inside his room without his explicit permission. Grace apologized and said that she'll take responsibility on behalf of the talent agency back in Macross Galaxy if she has to.
This couldn't have taken a bad turn. The woman took a seat at an empty dining room chair, trying to figure out how not to get on his bad side that during his angry rant, he was ready to ditch his ASE duties to be her bodyguard if Sheryl would continue to keeps her antics up.
"Grace." The strawberry blonde teen huffed when she stared at Grace. "You know that I was just kidding, right? That guy just needs to lighten up once in a while. I just noted that he always look so serious when I did my press conference at Frontier Records."
For today, Sheryl wore a light yellow blazer jacket with a red pencil skirt and high heels. Her Oversized shades were seen on top of her head, the temple and temple tips placed on her ears. Grace, on the other hand, wore the same green pantsuit and pencil skirt when she first came to Macross Frontier.
"Besides, I was trying to do him a favor."
The blue-haired woman raised an eyebrow. "A favor, Sheryl?"
"Yeah, a favor." Sheryl boasted her answer when she placed her hands on her hips.
"Just what kind of favor are you trying to get from Mr. Chua?"
"I heard a lot of things about ASE. Especially since it's considered to be an elite multinational specialist company that helps its clients solve their problems, no matter what the cost or how hard the situation is."
That certainly is correct. Grace already knew about the reputation ASE had, which dates back from its establishment in the 20th century. What made the company different from the other specialist companies that handles troubleshooting for clients who need their help is with the recruitment of various operatives, specializing in various fields with a 100 percent completion rate.
But by the end of Space War I, ASE has further diversified their portfolio that they have ventured into security and VIP protection while retaining their client specialist troubleshooting portfolio.
"If Mr. Chua is going to be my bodyguard for the duration of my story throughout Frontier until we can go back to Galaxy, then I have to make sure that he's on his toes 24/7."
"But Sheryl, I don't think walking in to his room and shouting at the top of your voice is a way to check his skills. After all, he is human like all of us. We do need to get some time off to rest."
Grace and Sheryl were interrupted when Marc showed up at the dining room. He almost had the same clothes that he used yesterday, except that he wore an ordinary NUNS shirt since today wasn't that cold.
"I was told that her interview wasn't scheduled to be until early in the afternoon." Marc scratched the back of his head before he yawned.
"That part is true, Mr. Chua," Grace agreed with Marc's assessment. "But there was a shuffle in the schedule of 97.1 Cool FM."
"One of the regular programs scheduled in the morning was canceled due to the sudden illness of one of the regular DJs involved," Sheryl explained with a smug grin on her face. "So I was informed that my interview was moved at 11:30 in the morning from 1:00 in the afternoon."
Marc went to check his smartphone after he booted it up. When he looked at the main screen, he noted two new SMS messages that came from the ASE.
Dammit. Must've been sent to me in the morning.
He kept the phone on his belt clip, reminding himself to look at them later. "Unless you two are willing to stick around and ask why someone working for the ASE has a residence in said building, I may as well make sure you ladies get to your next destination."
February 28, 2059
Ozma Lee's Office, Strategic Military Services Frontier Branch Office, Island 1, NUNGS Macross Frontier
Ozma was in his office in SMS's HQ when Gilliam presented himself.
"Reporting in as requested, sir." Gilliam saluted Ozma when he entered the former's office.
"Thanks for seeing me on short notice." Ozma saluted Gilliam back. After the latter entered, the sliding door opened and closed. The ex-NUNS officer had closed the door to make sure no one interrupts their meeting.
"It's fine. I have little work to do," Gilliam replied before he asked his superior. "Is there something that you need to see me about?"
"Indeed I do." Ozma closed the curtains behind him.
Okay. Why are we doing this cloak and dagger stuff? The man couldn't help, but wonder about his superior's purpose in maintaining a lot of secrecy, even in his own office.
"Sorry about that." Ozma took his seat in front of his desk. "Don't want the NUNS or SHIELD to be snooping around since what I'm about to tell you is very secret."
Gilliam swallowed his saliva before he said, "You mean... the Vajra?"
"Yeah, but there's more than that. The reason why I called you here is that I need to ensure a secret of mine is kept in case something happens to me." Ozma leaned back on his chair after he said his piece.
"Is... is it about Ranka?" Gilliam just stared at Ozma, wondering what he was going to say. "It's no big secret with her adoption papers and all. Heck, even most of the guys in the company know that you adopted her after you found out about her mom's death years ago."
"But that's just it. There's more to it than why I adopted Ranka."
Ozma handed to Gilliam a compact disc inside a tinted compact disc case.
"I understand." Gilliam got the CD case and kept it in one of his jacket's interior pockets for safekeeping.
"Gilliam, make sure to keep that safe." Ozma cracked the knuckles on his hands. "I bet you with my fingers that there's going to be a lot of interest if people learn of Ranka and her conditions, given with those bugs out there in space."
"Don't worry, Major." Gilliam's face remained calm despite the news Ozma told him. "I'll keep this safe and sound from the buggers before they can lay a hand on Ranka."
February 28, 2059
Radio Studio Room #2, WFB-FM Building, San Francisco Area, Island 1, NUNGS Macross Frontier
Sheryl was inside one of the radio studio rooms of WFB-FM 97.1 Wave Jam FM, where she got ready for the upcoming interview after she placed her headset on with the assistance of one of the studio engineers. Grace was nowhere to be seen, her presence needed in Frontier Records to prepare for the upcoming concert.
For now, Marc was told by Grace to make sure the Galactic Fairy is safe and sound throughout her interview.
After preparations were complete, the engineers gave the thumbs up to the DJ, who was a female in her mid 20s with Southeast Asian features and long black hair in a ponytail with a white San Francisco Area shirt, jeans and rubber shoes. She too had her headset on as well.
"Your Campus Radiooo..!" The DJ began to play a recorded track on the airwaves, which was the radio station's tagline. "Jane Spinner! WFB-FMMMMMM!"
"This is DJ Jane Spinner saying a very good morning to all of our listeners!" The DJ smiled at Sheryl and gave a thumbs up as she spoke onto the microphone in front of her. "This is 97.1 WFB-FM. Apologies for the sudden change in our programming for this morning. DJ David's in the hospital due to food poisoning, so we won't be able to air Top 20 Hits for the meantime. The good news is that he's getting better and he should be back here in the studio by the end of this week."
A recorded track was played again, this time with the sounds of applause from people clapping their hands.
"And in the studio today, we have a very special guest today who's gracing us with her presence. In Frontier is the lovely Galactic Fairy, Ms. Sheryl Nome."
The same track was played again, only this time Sheryl smiled and clapped her hands too.
"Thank you so much for hosting me in the studio, Jane." Sheryl spoke onto the microphone after she finished clapping her hands. "I'm very happy that the listeners of Wave Jam are listening in to my interview. I hope that I do get a chance to interact with the fans..."
February 28, 2059
Outside Radio Studio Room #2, WFB-FM Building, San Francisco Area, Island 1, NUNGS Macross Frontier
Marc kept an eye on Sheryl as the interview started in the building for 97.1 Wave Jam. As much as he's a fan of the radio station for broadcasting old and new pop, rock, techno and trance hits, he opted to not listen to the radio since he has a "live seat" in front of the studio room. He was seen in the corridor with his back on the wall. He chose not to take a seat, the benches being next to him.
Not to mention that he can see Sheryl from outside. If he can see her, it means that she can see him too.
Least I may not be bored listening to Sheryl's interview. Marc adjusted the radio frequency on the portable two-way radio clipped on his belt. In a few minutes, he was needed to check in with his superior in the ASE to determine Sheryl's current location.
"This is Control to Fulcrum, I need an update on Fairy's status."
Marc heard the encrypted transmission from ASE on the earpiece. He looked left and right on the corridor and saw no one was around, except for the surveillance cameras mounted on the wall.
With the throat mike on and working, the PTT button strapped on the left side of his belt. The wires were hidden thanks to his jacket, which made him less suspicious to the public eye.
"Fulcrum to Control," Marc replied on the mike. "Fairy is doing well in the interview, live as we speak. Over."
Everything was silent on the transmission for a few seconds. When he looked at the studio room, Sheryl was seen waving at him.
I guess the show's having a break.
He sighed and waved back when he heard another transmission.
"Fulcrum, be advised that the President is sending someone over to the WFB-FM building as we speak. We've been told that you need to work with said person again."
Marc felt that he might be familiar with the person. "Is this person someone I know, Control? I don't want to work with someone who's going to be a potential pain in the ass again."
He suddenly heard some faint footsteps in the corridor. When he heard this, he turned to the side and saw a very familiar person in NUNS military uniform.
"I believe she will be, Fulcrum. She should be a familiar sight to you by now. Remember, you need to work with her. She's the liaison with the Frontier government for Fairy until she leaves Frontier for Galaxy."
Catherine was not surprised to see Marc doing his bodyguard duties in the Frontier colony.
"After all, President Glass personally made the call to the ASE himself."
I'm really going to hate those guys back at ASE. "Understood, Control. I'll go and speak to her as soon as I can. Hopefully, this'll be a cakewalk for me. Over and out."
"Morning, Lieutenant Glass." Marc greeted the NUNS officer after he ended the transmission with ASE HQ. "Ms. Nome is resuming her interview for WFB-FM as we speak."
"Then it's a good thing that I didn't miss anything." Catherine gestured to the security guard that he can leave now. "It seems that things have started ahead of the usual schedule that I had a few weeks ago."
"It's my understanding that you were suppose to be here first before I was due to arrive with the VIP." The young man resumed his duties as the interview was now underway again.
"I know that," Catherine sighed when she took an empty seat near him. "but I was told a few minutes that Ms. Nome has her schedule changed. I heard on the radio that it was due to one of the DJs having a case of food poisoning."
"Well at least you can tell the president that the Fairy is in safe hands with the ASE." Marc yawned and kept an eye on his wristwatch for a time check. So tired.
"I'll be sure to keep that in mind." Catherine got up from her seat. "Since her interview may be long, I'll go and get some coffee."
"Sure. Knock yourself out."
February 28, 2059
INITIATE BOOTUP SEQUENCE...
BOOTUP SEQUENCE. LOGIN COMPLETED.
After the black screen flickered on once more, the names of Wōdanaz, Freyja and Tiwaz showed up on it as the only ones present. A conference was now taking place in the digital airwaves.
"MAY THE FATHER OF UNDERSTANDING GUIDE US...!" Wōdanaz started the meeting by reciting out loud the motto of the group like he did at their last meeting.
"MAY THE FATHER OF UNDERSTANDING GUIDE US!" Freyja and Tiwaz responded together in unison in reciting the motto.
"Let us begin this meeting. I apologize for starting at such short notice since I was informed that the others could not join us at this time from Galaxy." Wōdanaz started the meeting with Freyja and Tiwaz, with frustration hinted in his digital voice. "I'm still working with them so that we can establish communications and hopefully, they can join with us on future meetings."
"I do wish to make something clear with our agents in the Frontier-based NUNS forces as we speak." Tiwaz volunteered to speak to Wōdanaz and Freyja.
"Really..?" Wōdanaz was amused to see some initiative from Tiwaz. "And what is it, if I may ask?"
"It's regarding the alliance we made with... that group." Even when Tiwaz mentions his objection, he didn't show any signs of hesitation in his tone, even when digitally altered. "Are you sure that it's wise to do so? I do remember that they were taken out by SHIELD when it was reformed under the aegis of the United Nations many years ago..."
"...after the end of the first Space War..." Wōdanaz sarcastically finished Tiwaz's sentence. "You should know that we are all familiar with the history of SHIELD. It's been public for years now."
Freyja decided to intervene in the conversation before it goes off-topic. "Gentlemen. Please. We mustn't derail the meeting if you two are going to continue being like that."
"Freyja has a point..." Wōdanaz sighed and agreed with her. "But I do take your suggestion very seriously, Tiwaz."
"Thank you, sir," Tiwaz was grateful that he recognized his point.
"I have received information that they are rebuilding again, this time very slowly under the public eye. I was told that they've learned from the mistakes of their predecessors."
"I hope that it is the case, Wōdanaz."
"Freyja, I want your report on Fairy 9. How is she doing in Frontier so far?" Wōdanaz ignored Tiwaz's sarcastic comment and ordered Freyja to report in.
"She's doing very well, Wōdanaz. Right now as I speak, she's being interview by WFB-FM as part of Frontier Records' public relations campaign to have her latest music released throughout the colony. Her popularity is rising, according to the latest polls released by FR."
"I see. I believe that we can use this to our advantage in the long run."
"We can use her charisma as a pop star to help us gain control of Frontier step by step. Even if something should derail our plans, I always have a second plan ready for such a scenario."
All was silent between the three digital avatars after Wōdanaz made his point.
"Freyja." Wōdanaz began to issue his order to Freyja. "Keep an eye out for Fairy 9 before and after her concert. Let me know at once if something has happened. Even if it seems minor, I want your report on it."
"Tiwaz, I trust that you're able to get MPC to suppress any unauthorized access to the report I mentioned?"
"Yes, sir. The cover story I gave them was the rumor that someone may try to break into MPC headquarters or hack into their database. I've gotten a progress report that says that all physical and electronic copies are safe."
"Excellent. That will teach those meddlesome bastards to not take us lightly." Wōdanaz went to end their meeting. "And this meeting is now concluded. We meet up again after a week for updates on Fairy and the progress of our agents embedded within NUNS forces."
"Understood, Wōdanaz!" Freyja and Tiwaz replied in unison.
"For now, let us end this meeting today. May the father of understanding guide us."
"May the father of understanding guide us."
February 28, 2059
Outside Radio Studio Room #2, WFB-FM Building, San Francisco Area, Island 1, NUNGS Macross Frontier
Catherine returned back from her hunt of getting coffee for herself. She found Marc still waiting outside the studio room with the interview in progress.
"Found your coffee?" Marc asked Catherine, keeping his eye on the studio room glass to observe Sheryl.
"Yeah." Catherine sat down again and drank her coffee from the grande size paper cup with a cover on top of it. "So how's she doing?"
"She should be fine. Looks like the Fairy finishing wrapping up showcasing her old songs on the radio airwaves before getting to Q&A with the fans."
Marc suddenly got another SMS message on his smartphone. "Give me a sec. Got another message."
When he read the contents of the SMS, he felt very frustrated at it. Not another fanboy from the class.
Catherine looked concerned when she saw Marc looking very upset. "Is something wrong?"
"Nothing. Just got some SMS messages from my classmates when they found out that I'm the official bodyguard of Sheryl in Frontier until the day she leaves."
"Really?" Catherine raised an eyebrow when she heard his answer. "I never saw you that frustrated before."
Marc didn't give Catherine a reply. Instead, he showed her the various messages on his smartphone's inbox.
"Dude! Can u take a selfie with Sheryl?"
"Ur my nw bstfrnd if you got a pic with her."
"Can u ask 4 hr autogrph?"
"Marc! Ask d Fairy if she has a bf."
"A lot of guys r alrdy getting jealous that you're her bg."
"Yo! Ask hr to shw up at our schl! It'll be awesme!"
Catherine giggled when she read the messages on his smartphone. She had to control herself from laughing out loud.
"What's so funny?" It was now Marc's turn to raise an eyebrow at the officer.
"Nothing." Catherine was able to calm herself down. "I sometimes forget that you're just a part-time security contractor with the ASE and really just a high school student."
"I sometimes wonder about that myself whenever I concentrate too much on the job." Marc holstered the smartphone back to the belt clip. "Hopefully the day would end after Ms. Nome's done with the interview in WFB-FM." He then continued to observe Sheryl from outside the studio. "I just hate people who want to be friends with me just for benefits on their end."
February 28, 2059
Computer Room, Mihoshi Academy, Island 1, NUNGS Macross Frontier
It was now lunch break. Mikhail took the first opportunity out to the cafeteria to get an early bite to eat from the cafeteria. He didn't join up with the other selected students from his class to practice with their EX-Gear suits.
Instead, he went to the nearest computer room. He was fortunate that no one was using the computers with a teacher on standby to help students or faculty in case they need help with using one.
Let's hope he's around. He told me via SMS to make contact with him on the messenger again.
The blond teen logged in with his own username and password, which resulted in a fast connection thanks to the school's good connection to the internet.
"Good..." Mikhail murmured. "He's online."
TruthSeeker is requesting for a chat.
Mikhail responded to the prompt when he used the mouse to move the cursor on the screen. He then clicked the "Yes" prompt. A chat window then opened up, with a message already typed up by TruthSeeker.
TruthSeeker: You're very prompt to talk to me if you needed something from me.
DaGreatestMan: Indeed I do, TruthSeeker.
He waited to see what the information broker had to say, but he decided to ask first.
DaGreatestMan: I heard that you're having a hard time gaining access to the MPC report that has details on my sister's death.
Silence then lingered on the chat window for a few seconds. Mikhail saw TruthSeeker type out a reply.
TruthSeeker: Apologies for that short notice. My associates and I are trying to wait a while since MPC is conducting sweeps against any form of unauthorized access.
DaGreatestMan: I thought that maybe you guys may have better equipment than them?
Mikhail's reply to TruthSeeker was the first thing that came to his mind. After all, he assumed that the broker had better equipment and perhaps, some manpower to help him retrieve said report.
If TruthSeeker says that his group is having an obstacle in securing the report on sister's death, then whoever's in power in Frontier has the power, resources and manpower to order the MPC to block off any unwanted access to it.
TruthSeeker: That is true. But it seems that the enemy has expected this move.
DaGreatestMan: Then how can you secure the report?
He felt worried with TruthSeeker's assessment on the situation with regards to his failed attempts to secure an inquiry report on Jessica Blanc. Does this mean that the bad guys have won and he has no choice, but to simply throw the towel and allow them to have their way?
TruthSeeker: No need to worry. We have a mole in the MPC who can inform us when it's safe to get that report.
DaGreatestMan: How will you know?
TruthSeeker: He's a trustworthy one. He's also responsible for getting in and telling us when the time comes to move in, so it gives us a good position to secure it below their noses.
TruthSeeker's reply was not only very quick, but also confident. This somehow gave Mikhail more confidence to trust the information broker on his word. After all, he never breaks his word when he insist that his information is accurate. He also makes good on any promise that he makes.
TruthSeeker: We'll monitor MPC comms to see if they'll stop with their counter-intelligence sweeps. For now, I'll operate under the assumption that someone influential within Frontier-based NUNS forces gave the said order. In the meantime, I'm preparing to send a package to your place. Expect it within the day. And before you ask, you'll know.
The new reply had stunned Mikhail. He didn't even expect TruthSeeker to send him something. For all he knows, the mobile phone TruthSeeker covertly acquired for him was more than enough for the two to communicate with each other without anyone doing electronic surveillance on the young man's phone.
DaGreatestMan: All right. Do I want to know what you're sending me?
TruthSeeker: No. And it's best if you didn't ask right now. It's for your own safety.
DaGreatestMan: Okay... I'll take you up on that.
Mikhail looked at the wall clock and noted that he has half an hour before lunch break would end. He made a quick reply to TruthSeeker.
DaGreatestMan: I wish to contact you again when it's possible. For now, I have to go.
He then logged out of the messenger and deleted any logs that pertain to the conversation between him and TruthSeeker. It was better to be safe than sorry.
February 28, 2059
Outside Radio Studio Room #2, WFB-FM Building, San Francisco Area, Island 1, NUNGS Macross Frontier
Grace was escorted by a security guard when she arrived at the building. She was greeted by both Marc and Catherine when they spotted her arriving outside the studio room.
"Ms. Grace." Marc greeted Sheryl's manager. "I take it that things are doing well?"
"Yes." Grace smiled and nodded. "Thank you so much for keeping an eye on Sheryl for me while I was away at Frontier Records. The spokesperson wants to see me regarding the details on her upcoming concert."
"Not at all, ma'am. It's part of the job after all."
"Good to see you, Ms. 'O Connor." Catherine greeted the manager in turn.
"Hello, Lieutenant Glass. I humbly apologize for any inconvenience that has happened due to the sudden change in the radio station's schedule."
"It's all right. I'm just glad that's over earlier than usual."
Sheryl and the DJ got out of the studio after the program was finished. The two shook hands with each other.
"Thanks for handling the interview, Ms. Jane." Grace thanked Jane for handling Sheryl's interview.
"It's not a problem." The DJ smiled and thanked Grace. "I really enjoyed my time with Ms. Nome during the interview, especially with the Q&A when she answers the fans' questions."
"Thanks a lot, Jane." Sheryl thanked the DJ after they finished shaking hands. "Are you going to cover the live concert as well?"
"Ah yes. We will be. But I'm not the one who's going to be the host of the event."
"All right. Thanks a lot. Do drop by the event, okay?"
"Sure. It's not a problem."
At least this interview is going to be the only thing Sheryl's going to do for today. Marc waited for Sheryl to finish her talk with the DJ and Grace. At least by tomorrow, I can get some alone time.
"Mr. Chua." Grace approached him after she and Sheryl were done talking to the DJ. "Unless there's something else that has to be done here, we're going to be heading to the Tenkumon Park to oversee the preparations of the concert hall for the upcoming event on March 2."
"All right, ladies," Marc replied and nodded at Grace. "I'll have to go to the toilet and relieve myself. Excuse me."
Sheryl asked Grace when she saw her bodyguard enter the male toilet. "Is it just me or he just seems to be bored?"
"I believe that it has something to do with his friends." Catherine offered an answer to the pop star.
"What about them?" Sheryl asked the officer. From the way he interacted with me and Grace so far as my bodyguard, I never expected him to go to school in Frontier.
"It has something to do with being... a friend for benefits."
Sheryl slowly nodded, knowing what Catherine said.
After Marc had left the toilet, the four proceeded down the main lobby and went off to the Beijing Area to proceed to the Tenkumon Park via limo provided by the PSD. The ASE bodyguard went ahead of the limo on his motorcycle.
He wore his helmet, got on the bike and looked around. He gestured to the limo driver after he visually confirmed that the path was clear.
February 28, 2059
Ozma Lee's Office, SMS Frontier Branch Office, Island 1, NUNGS Macross Frontier
With Gilliam gone, Ozma reached out for the top drawer on his desk. Inside was an empty manila envelope, which was below a loaded JH Industries Tachi pistol. When the contractor pulled the slide to conduct a brass check, he saw that the sidearm was already loaded.
"Can't leave home or the office without this now." The ponytailed man holstered the pistol at his shoulder holster, located under his left armpit. The said holster was hidden from plain sight thanks to his official SMS windbreaker jacket.
He had long considered to be in grave danger, even after he was officially discharged from NUNS' space forces. He knew a lot about what had happened to Ranka's own family many years ago when he was assigned to protect the expeditionary fleet in space.
But adopted brother or not, he made a promise to himself that he would do everything he can to ensure Ranka's safety. And to see that the green-haired girl can live a normal life and move on from the tragedy.
Let's check. Ozma opened the curtains and peeked outside to see if anything was suspicious. Better not be MPC, SHIELD or some conspiracy group out there.
Ozma then closed the drawer and left his office. After the sliding door closed behind him, he entered his personal four digit code to get the door locked.
For now, Ozma needs to do his job as a hired contractor for SMS. But for Ranka, however, he was assigned to the company's human resources division.
February 28, 2059
Backstage, Seido Hall, Tenkumon Park, Beijing Area, Island 1, NUNGS Macross Frontier
Marc was the first one to enter the backstage of Seido Hall alongside Catherine. After they noted that only concert hall personnel were the only ones present (with their IDs worn on their necks for security measures), the former gestured to Sheryl and Grace that they can proceed to the area.
"Looks like the backstage is doing nicely, even though the concert's only a few days from now," Grace commented when she saw most of the props and equipment needed for Sheryl's live concert already in the backstage. Space was allotted for the concert crew to store them until two days before the events would commence.
"But even at that, I still want to inspect the stage to see what it looks like." Sheryl said to Grace before she faced Marc. "You and Lieutenant Glass can stay here. I'll be with Grace since I need to inspect the stage."
"Knock yourself out." Marc shrugged. "I can wait with the lady and her manager." He pointed at Catherine with a hitchhiker's thumb.
The officer wasn't sure if he was being serious or sarcastic with his reply to the pop star's instructions.
"Let's go, Grace." Sheryl stepped out of the backstage when she walked onto the stage. "I need to double check the stage and make sure that I can get a feel for it." She began to inspect it, starting with the stage lights.
Marc got to sit on the nearest chair. He found another one and showed Catherine the empty seat next to his.
"Thank you." Catherine sat down next to him. "I could use a few minutes to rest while Ms. Nome's inspecting the stage with Ms. 'O Connor."
The ASE bodyguard stared at Catherine for a few seconds, noting that she was a bit tired.
"Is there something wrong?" The brown-haired woman asked. "You stared at me a few seconds ago."
"It's nothing." Marc shrugged his shoulders. "Just that you sitting there reminds me of the time we first met. Back when I was in my second year of high school."
"Yes," Catherine replied, who crossed her arms in front of her chest. "It was during the Foundation Day holiday when I saw you participate in a march with your school's military cadet corp on Island 1."
"That was two years ago when I first saw you on the stand after I received the award from the president on behalf of my school for being the best cadet corp. And right now, I still can't believe that I'm working alongside you with the Galactic Fairy's visit."
"The same goes with me. And even at that, I first assumed that you were just an ordinary student. Until when I worked alongside ASE to protect Myung Fang Lone."
"Heh. Those who were good times..."
Catherine and Marc spent the next few minutes talking about the good and bad times when they worked together to ensure the safety of the ex-manager of rogue virtual AI idol Sharon Apple.
February 28, 2059
Blanc Apartment, Shibuya Area, Island 1, NUNGS Macross Frontier
Mikhail had arrived earlier than usual from his class in Mihoshi Academy, thanks to a last-minute decision to use the cable car because he didn't feel like walking back to his house.
Besides, walking all the way back from the school to the house would make him tired. As such, it gave him time to scan through TruthSeeker's messages.
A rectangular box was left in front of his house with an ink stamp that said "FRAGILE! HANDLE WITH CARE!".
"What the hell?" The SMS contractor didn't know what was inside, which was sealed up with packaging tape and rope, but he quickly picked it up and went inside the house. "I wasn't expecting any mail from anyone right now."
And to lock this door up to give me much needed privacy.
Mikhail placed the box on the empty bar table after he got a boxcutter from the nearby cabinet. He noticed that his right hand was shaking a bit after he got the boxcutter's blade out. Got to stay cool.
Studying the box's layout, he took note that the box had a lid on top of it, similar to how one opens an ordinary shoebox.
Placing his left hand on his right wrist, the young man gently squeezed it until he can visually confirm for himself that his right hand was not shaking anymore.
All that shaking won't be able to help me solve the mystery of Jessica's death if I'm panicking here right now.
Mikhail gave himself a few seconds to inhale and exhale. He learned from the physical fitness training at SMS Headquarters that doing it helps one reduce blood pressure and heartbeat rate, not to mention that it also helps in concentration.
Okay. Let's try that again.
Putting the tip of the blade on the packaging tape, Mikhail carefully sliced it into two, following where the edges of the lid are located. With the tape taken care of, he peeled it off and removed the lid carefully. Even if the package was from TruthSeeker himself, he needed to be careful due to the possibility of enemies the broker has made over the years.
He stored the boxcutter's blade and placed the instrument next to the box. Afterwards, he placed the lid on top of the boxcutter. Mikhail got his hands on the bubble wrap and removed it, being the only contents of the box.
"Looks like it's wrapped around two small... mobile phones?" Mikhail was now wondering what the heck was TruthSeeker thinking after he used the boxcutter again to cut up the bubble wrap. He took out the two smartphones from it and placed them on the bar table. They also included the needed phone chargers.
I'll throw them away later. Mikhail's phone vibrated, currently in the right pants pocket of his Mihoshi Academy student uniform.
I see that you got my package. If you're wondering why am I sending you two Apple smartphones to your residence, it's because you need a trustworthy ally if you're going to continue your search for the real answers behind your sister's death.
Mikhail raised an eyebrow after he opened the SMS message. "An ally?" Hn... There seems to be more.
Assemble your team for this investigation, Mr. Blanc. And choose your people wisely.
"An open challenge from TruthSeeker, huh?" Mikhail nodded when he read the message. He grabbed the empty box and held it upside down to see if there was anything else inside.
The only thing that fell out of the box was a colored 8x10 photograph of someone's face. He saw a sticky note that said "WE RECOMMEND THAT YOU START WITH THIS PERSON".
"What the?" Mikhail knelt down on the ground to pick up the colored photo to see whose face was on it. When he got a closer look at it, Mikhail was a bit shocked to see who's face was on it.
February 28, 2059
Lobby, SMS Frontier Branch Office, Island 1, NUNGS Macross Frontier
"Good thing that you made it, sir Ozma. I was about to call for you."
A SMS security guard approached Ozma after he showed up at the building's lobby.
Ozma was a bit shocked that someone was about to call for him. "Why? Is there something wrong that needs my attention?"
"No, sir." The guard shook his head when he heard the man's question. "Mr. Bilrer and Captain Wilder wants you to meet him in person. He'll be stationed in Frontier with us for a while."
"So where is he then?"
"Over here, sir."
The guard assisted Ozma when he pointed to him someone seated near the entrance of the building. He was in full SMS uniform, including windbreaker jacket. The veteran contractor noted that he had Eurasian features with neat orange hair and green eyes.
Orange hair? That's an interesting feature.
"Are you with SMS?" Ozma asked the young man who waited in the lobby.
"Yes, sir." The orange-haired man saluted Ozma when he saw the man approach him. "I'm suppose to be stationed here as part of my training with SMS."
"I see." Ozma saluted him in return. "What's your name?"
"Leon, sir," Leon replied when Ozma asked for his name. "Leon Sakaki. I was recruited from SMS' Sepheela branch."
Leon Sakaki (Miyu Irino/Gabe Khouth)
"Pleased to meet you. I'm Ozma Lee of the Strategic Military Services."
"So you're Major Ozma Lee." Leon was a bit surprised to see him in person. "I was told many stories about you, particularly with one mission that you did a long time ago."
Ozma shook hands with Leon. I almost thought that he served in Sephira. Must've heard that wrong. "I never hear the end of that." The man smirked before he asked Leon. "Do you mind if I ask you something? I'm not sure if the name is familiar, but did you serve alongside someone by the name of Rod Baltmar?"
"Yes, I did." Leon nodded when he heard the name Ozma mentioned after he shook hims with him. "I haven't seen him since we parted ways after I was honorably discharged from the NUNS."
"I assume from something personal?"
"Partly the reason why I decided to leave, Major."
"All right, I understand. Just be sure to follow the guard to get acquainted with the facility. I assume that Captain Wilder will work on the other details."
Ozma watched Leon go with the guard to check out the facility. He wondered if the young man would also suffer like him since his reason for joining SMS mirrors his own in some way.
Is SMS going to be made up of contractors who have wretched and troubled pasts? If I don't do anything to help him, I can't help but think that the Sakaki kid is eventually going to follow in my footsteps.
His train of thought was then interrupted when he got an incoming call on his mobile phone. When Ozma looked at the caller ID, he saw Ranka's name on it.
"Yes, Ranka?" Ozma was quick to answer the call. "Oh, you need to know what time I'm going back home from SMS HQ?"
Ozma stared at the digital wall clock to get the current time. Its three in the afternoon. If anything, the captain's not having anything major done now. I can probably go home by six.
"It's fine, Ranka. You just called me up at a good time." Ozma smiled when he spoke to his adopted sister on the phone. "I can be back by... how does 6 in the evening sound?"
February 28, 2059
Lobby, Ritz-Carlton Frontier Hotel, Island 1, NUNGS Macross Frontier
After Grace and Sheryl were able to survey the stage at the Tenkumon Concert Hall, the latter told her bodyguard and Frontier government liaison officer that she would head back to her hotel and call it a day.
"Thanks to you two, things went smoothly without any interruptions." Sheryl thanked Marc and Catherine for sticking with her for the entire day.
"I'll try my best to contact you again if there are sudden changes that could go beyond my control, Lieutenant." Grace slightly nodded her head. "I apologize again for any inconveniences to you today."
"It's quite all right." Catherine waved her hands to try and downplay the manager's apology. "Things like this sometimes happen. Regardless, I'm still going to be your liaison officer throughout your stay here in Frontier."
"You're heading out?" Marc asked Catherine as she was about to leave the hotel. Sheryl and Grace went to the front desk to speak to the manager in charge.
"Yeah." Catherine sighed, feeling very tired from today's events. "I'm heading back to the President's Office to clear some things up and then go home."
"Okay." Marc nodded.
"Is that all you have to say?"
"Yeah... Did you want me to say anything else?"
"No. Never mind..."
Catherine was about to leave the hotel lobby when she stopped. She then turned her head around and spoke to the bodyguard again. "In case something like this happens again, just call me on my mobile phone. You got it?"
"Yeah, Catherine. I can do just that." Marc nodded when he heard Catherine's suggestion. "But I don't have your mobile number. I don't know if it was given to us in the first place..."
"I'll just send the details over to ASE later then," Catherine told him before she added one more thing to her response. "And one more thing. Just call me Cathy."
O... okay. Marc was silent, never expecting her to insist that he should call her by her nickname. Now that's a first. Before, she never told me to address her as such when we first met back with the Myung protection detail a few months ago.
"Good." Catherine smirked before she turned around and left the lobby.
Marc was now happy that work was done for the day. He looked at his wristwatch to check for the time again.
"Almost ten minutes before seven." Marc wiggled his left wrist, feeling some pain from it. "I better get something to eat." He went to get his wallet from the left pocket of his pants when he felt someone grab his arm.
When Marc turned around to see who grabbed him, he saw that it was the pop star herself.
"Are you heading out somewhere?" Sheryl asked her bodyguard after she removed her hand from his arm. "I saw you grabbing your wallet while I was talking to my manager."
"I am." Marc checked his wallet if he had enough money to get some food later. "I thought you ladies were speaking to the hotel manager."
"Well, she's taking care of that." Sheryl pointed to Grace, who was now speaking to the manager, with her right thumb.
"If there isn't anything else, I'm heading out to get some food before I head back to my place to get some rest." Marc finished counting the money inside his wallet and tucked it away back in his pants. "I had a long day."
"All right, all right." Sheryl sighed when she heard his answer. "I get the picture."
"I'll see you later in your next outing," Marc said to Sheryl before he excused himself. "If anything else happens, you can get your manager to contact me through the agency."
Sheryl nodded and waved goodbye to Marc when he stepped out of the hotel lobby.
A few minutes later, Grace approached her and tapped her on the shoulder.
"So the bodyguard already left?" Grace asked Sheryl when she saw him ride on his motorbike.
"Yeah," Sheryl replied as she watched him leave. "Too bad though. I would have offered him some money as a reward for staying with me throughout the day when the schedule got a bit complicated."
"It's true." Grace then checked her wristwatch. "Well, tomorrow is Saturday. So I assume that you want to get in some rest before the big day on Sunday?"
"That'll be fine." Sheryl shrugged her shoulders before she walked with Grace to the elevator. "And there's one more thing I need to do. But it's... kind of trivial?"
"Trivial?" Grace was confused on what she was talking about.
Sheryl grinned at her. "Since I'm going to be in Frontier for a while, I want to ask my bodyguard on the things that you can do as a tourist in the colony."
"Alright." The blue-haired woman understood what Sheryl was getting at. "But are you going to ask him? The chairman of ASE's Frontier branch did provide you and me with his contact numbers in case you need to talk to him."
"Of course I am," Sheryl replied with pride as she pressed the UP button to call for an elevator car. "After all, I think it's best to ask for what you can do and where you can go in Frontier through the eyes of a local."
Grace was a bit hesitant, worried that her schedule will be messed up like what happened a while ago. "Okay, Sheryl. Just be sure to consult me if you want to do something that won't conflict with the schedule set by the agency."
"Okay, okay." Sheryl stepped into the elevator car before Grace followed. "I'm not too sure on a couple of dates, so can you give me a hand there?"
"Of course I can." Grace inserted the Ritz-Carlton hotel key card into a keycard slot before Sheryl pressed the penthouse button. "Like I said, just let me know if you want to go somewhere or do something outside of the schedule, okay?"
"You know me, Grace."
I have a bad feeling about this. If there's anything that Grace knows about her is the opportunity is that she may go off beyond what they have agreed on. It's only a good thing that it rarely happens, which can make itself present during Sheryl's days off at the wrong place at the wrong time.
February 28, 2059
Mikhail's Room, Blanc Apartment, Shibuya Area, Island 1, NUNGS Macross Frontier
"Is that it? All right, Jack. Thanks for the update. Let's meet up again at Mihoshi Academy again as usual to practice for Sheryl's concert. Be sure to tell the others, including Alto."
Mikhail had ended a call from one of his classmates when he got it from his SMS-issued mobile phone, who was also selected to be with him as part of the stunt crew from Mihoshi Academy.
He looked outside the window of his room. It was now getting dark.
"I almost thought that TruthSeeker would call back." Mikhail stared at the smartphone the broker had brought to his place, currently on top of his table. The colored headshot photo was seen below the smartphone. Currently, it was not turned on yet. But Mikhail was told by TruthSeeker to boot it up after he charged the smartphone's battery for the night.
He had previously discarded the burner phone he got from Griffith Park by going to the nearest electronics recycling center. He took the liberty of removing the nano-SIM card before he handed in the phone for recycling.
That ought to do it. Mikhail got a hold of the nano-SIM again after he got a pair of scissors. With one cut, the nano-SIM was destroyed after it was cut into two pieces. With it, there shouldn't be any traces made to him or TruthSeeker about their secret conversations.
The nano-SIM pieces were now thrown into the trash can. Tomorrow, he would have to bring out the trash from the house to the apartment's trash chute in order to dispose of it alongside his usual garbage.
For now, Mikhail was content to get a warm shower and get some sleep. He still needs to practice alongside the others at Mihoshi Academy again in order to prepare for Sheryl's first major concert in Frontier.
He just hoped that nothing would get in the way.
Even if those damned Vajra would show up near the colony. Just like what he and the other SMS contractors in other parts of the galaxy have been briefed on.
Chapter 2 END
PS - I guess I had to expect people asking why the names of the characters (with accompanying names of seiyus/voice actors) are in italics. That part (in terms of narrating the first appearance of characters) is based on the Metal Gear Solid series, which first started that. You can search in youtube for MGS cutscenes when a major/important character is introduced with the character name and his/her voice actor name in parentheses. It's kind of my take on how Frontier can be done if an English version is viable without any interference from the legal battles with the Macross franchise and Robotech and if geographic restrictions aren't a big deal for voice actors/actresses based in Vancouver, Los Angeles, Texas and to a degree, New York. I hope that helps.
So it looks like this in a Metal Gear Solid-type cutscene:
Solid Snake (Akio Otsuka/David Hayter)
Hopefully that helps with the explanation.
In the meantime, I handled Ozma very differently from the TV show/movies maybe so that he has a "very good" reason on why Ranka does not know much about her past or why the big brother has never told her about it. Just showing off the spy fiction stuff alongside the military stuff of Macross. In the spirit of technothriller writing, he's going to have a semi-paranoid view on... "certain things".
Apologies if the FM radio station name is kinda lame... maybe. Not good in that department. I based on the old DWLSFM 97.1 FM program that used to air in English in the Philippine before the big change. Let's say that I hated it and this naming is a tribute to the DJs and engineers involved. I hope those guys are doing okay out there in their current jobs.
You will notice someone from Macross' 30th anniversary game. Regardless if you know him or not, I decided to get him into SMS early than what was depicted in the game. Though I probably will need more info on the entire story since there's not much info on the game. Probably with the exception of Japnaese wiki sites that do show up around the net.
Anyway, sorry for the late delays. Been playing Watch_Dogs and Siren: New Translation. These are quite awesome though. So yeah... In the meantime, feel free to let me know how the chapter is when you read and review it. Also feel free to let me know if I made a mistake somewhere.
And just a teeny bit of trivia note. If any of my stories do get a TV Tropes entry (since I hang out there lately when I'm not doing anything important), feel free to let me know when the page was made.
Title is from the same name of a BGM piece from the Persona 4 OST.