Macross Frontier: Conspiracy

Chapter 5: The Man Who Never Lied


March 4, 2059

Outskirts of Cypress Memorial Park, near outskirts of San Francisco Area, Island 1, NUNGS Macross Frontier


Ozma was now driving in his black and white Lancia Delta HF Integrale Evoluzione towards the main entrance of Island 1's Cypress Memorial Park. Accompanying him was Ranka, who sat in the car's front passenger seat. Due to the state of emergency imposed by the Frontier Government, it would take a few more days before it would be eventually lifted.

Ozma wore his SMS uniform jacket and gray tactical pants with black boots. For Ranka, she chose to wear a black mourning dress and high heels. While most schools and other places in the island were not that badly hit, Ranka was offered some time off since she was nearly killed during the Vajra incursion. For this, she thanked the principal for allowing her a few days off.

"You know, Ranka." Ozma spoke to his adopted sibling. "You don't have to come if you're not up to it. We can go visit the place at maybe some other time."

"It's okay." Ranka shook her head to reassure him. "I still want to go because I need to pay my respects to him for saving me from being killed."

Ozma smiled at her. "Sure. I think we can do that."

The car was later seen driving towards the central area of the memorial park.


Central Area, Cypress Memorial Park, near outskirts of San Francisco Area, Island 1, NUNGS Macross Frontier


At the memorial park's ASE mausoleum, several uniformed ASE contractors were present after they arrived. Most of them had arrived early in the morning. They wore their ASE black jackets zipped up with their black berets donned on their heads with the emblem on it. Said emblem was the insignia of the Earth with a wreath around it, symbolizing the company's commitment to do its job regardless of where their branches are located.

Marc's BMW K1600GT had just arrived at the ASE mausoleum. He just had it parked behind a 4x4 SUV.

Everyone from the Frontier branch is here.

The student took off his helmet and stored it at the bike's mounted helmet case when he spotted two familiar faces in the crowd.

"You just arrived?"

Marc was greeted by a tall and muscular blond man with a big chin.

"Hey, Fred."

Fred Jones V (Kisho Taniyama/Frank Welker)

"Everyone's just waiting for him to show up with the chairman." Fred explained to Marc after he locked up his motorbike.

"I thought that he'd show up right now..." Marc replied before he stopped when he saw a black Peugeot 908 RC arrive. When the driver parked the vehicle adjacent to the mausoleum, two people emerged right out of the car.

One of them was Michael Yeo, the current head of ASE's Frontier branch as its chairman. He appeared to be of Chinese descent, in his early 50s with combed hair and some wrinkles on his face. The other man was a ASE contractor, judging by his uniform. He was seen speaking to the driver, who was told to sit inside and wait until the chairman returns.

"Chairman." Fred greeted the chairman by saluting him when he came to the steps of the mausoleum. Marc did so as well.

"Good work with ensuring the safety of Ms. Nome." Chairman Yeo placed a supporting hand on Marc's left shoulder.

"Thank you, sir." Marc nodded.

"When I have time, we'll sit down and talk about the arrangements we have with the president and Frontier Records."

"Understood."

Chairman Yeo then walked inside towards the mausoleum, going to speak with the immediate family and relatives of the deceased ASE guard who got killed in the line of duty.

"Seems you're doing well." The ASE contractor who accompanied the chairman greeted Marc and Fred.

Phil Coulson IV (Manabu Muraji/Clark Gregg)

"Good to see you, Agent Coulson..." Fred saluted Phil in response. Marc did the same thing.

"Please guys." Phil waved off the salute. "You don't need to address me as Agent. I don't have that title anymore since I left SHIELD for a long time."

"Sorry." Fred chuckled. "Old habit."

Marc asked the older and more experienced contractor. "So what's going to happen now?"

"We still continue with the job. At the same time, the chairman's going to unofficially open up an investigation with regards to who was responsible for trying to harass Ms. Nome when she arrived at the Frontier spaceport."

"I though the FPB's trying to investigate it."

"Officially they still are. But unofficially... the Commissioner's considering to just sweep it and call out the suspect who's just using his emotions to try and humiliate a pop star without thinking of the consequences. The details will come later after we regroup back at the office."

"Dammit. It's not going to make my job any easier if I don't even know who I'm dealing with in terms of stalkers."

An ASE contractor waved to the trio to get their attention. "Come on! The chairman's about to start the ceremony!"

"Relax." Phil reassured Marc. "I'm sure I know what the chairman's doing."


ASE Mausoleum, Cypress Memorial Park, near outskirts of San Francisco Area, Island 1, NUNGS Macross Frontier


Chairman Yeo was speaking to Gary Hayter's family. They consisted of his wife and three children, two girls and one guy. The three were studying in university with the two girls as the older siblings.

"We'll make sure that your children can finish university, Ms. Hayter." The chairman was seen shaking hands with the wife before he spoke to the children for a few minutes.

"Looks like your uncle's doing his things now." Fred said when he saw the chairman talking to the family. "He's the reason why ASE's doing so well."

"As long as there's no more armed incursions..." Marc sighed. He spotted the memorial park's chaplain enter the mausoleum.

At once, the civilians sat down in plastic chair while Phil motioned to all the present ASE contractors to form up with two lines standing near Gary's coffin on both sides.

"Attention!" Phil gave the order for all the ASE contractors to stand at attention while the chaplain began to give his eulogy.


Blanc Apartment, Shibuya Area, Island 1, NUNGS Macross Frontier


Since Mikhail was allowed to get some time off with Luca since they were involved in the SMS operation to drive off the Vajra from Frontier, he took the opportunity some of the things NUNS gave back to him after Jessica passed away.

He was in the attic, checking the boxes that held her possessions to see if he can strike dirt and find a clue or two.

"There's got to be something in these boxes that can be a potential lead." Mikhail groaned after he was able to put back Jessica's PC up in one of the unused rooms in the apartment. As a safety precaution, he chose not to hook it up to the internet as a safeguard since he needs to secure it. Due to his sister's line of work, he expected her to put some security measures on the PC whenever she brought work with her.

"Here it is." Mikhail found a box that had the label WORK STUFF pasted on top. He opened it up and saw numerous documents related to her work in NUNS' military HQ in Frontier. "Let's see what kind of documents are they..."

Browsing over the folders, the blond-haired student noted that most of them are just reports submitted to her by her subordinates or reports done by her prior to submission to her commanding officers.

However, there was one folder that caught his eye.

A folder on complaints? I never heard of this.

Mikhail grabbed the folder that had the label COMPLAINTS written on it. When he browsed through it, he noted that it had complaint reports filed by Jessica, some of them submitted to the Military Police.

"Some of these are dated back prior to her court-martial." Glancing through one of the reports, it had a written statement on the record that her superior officer was harassing her over some claim that they had an affair.

"I remember hearing her complaining about this whenever she gets back home." Mikhail went to Jessica's PC and turned it on. "I'm not sure if it's a good sign to start with."

He placed the papers down and waited for the PC to fully boot up. When it finished loading, he saw a password prompt was required.

"The door." Mikhail the doorbell twice in a row. He ran up to the door and opened it.

"Sorry I'm late." Luca greeted Mikhail when he arrived at his residence. "You said that you got something urgent?"

"Yeah." Mikhail showed him inside. "It's about some things my sister had before she passed away..."


ASE Mausoleum, Cypress Memorial Park, near outskirts of San Francisco Area, Island 1, NUNGS Macross Frontier


All of the present ASE contractors stood at attention after the chaplin finished his eulogy. Chairman Yeo was next to speak to everyone present.

"I'd like to thank everyone for coming." The chairman said when he addressed them. "Especially friends of the deceased. It means a lot to the family present. I apologize if my eulogy isn't good. I just heard about his passing yesterday when I helping with relief efforts."

Ozma sighed when he heard the speech start. Ranka moved a bit in her chair due to the dress making her skin itch a bit.

"Mr. Hayter's one of the best contractors I ever met since the day he was recruited back by my predecessor a few years ago. He showed his love and dedication not only to his job, but to his family."

He gripped the podium a bit tight with his hands.

"I... I'd like to say that in ASE, I treat all of the employees as family too. I want everyone to remember Gary for who he is. A loving and caring father and a hardworking man who brings a smile, even when they're down. I will do my best to make sure that the Hayter family is taken care of so that the kids can finally finish college. "

Chairman Yeo bowed in front of the audience.

"That's all. Thank you very much."

"ATTENTION!" Phil gave the order. Marc and the other contractors lined up stood at attention as ordered.

"SALUTE!" All of the contractors saluted Gary's coffin before it would be inserted into the mausoleum's liquid vat. Inside, the coffin would eject the body in order to dissolve it entirely, including the skeleton.

The crowd bowed their heads in silence for a few minutes to pay tribute to him. Ozma and Ranka joined in as well.

During this time, Sheryl's Tata Pr1ma parked outside after it arrived. A FPB PSD officer stepped out to open the rear passenger door, allowing Sheryl and Grace to come out. Both women were wearing black mourning dresses as they went inside to pay their respects.


Blanc Apartment, Shibuya Area, Island 1, NUNGS Macross Frontier


Luca took a seat in front of the table so that he can get a good look at Jessica's PC.

"So this is the one that you told me about over the phone?" Luca asked Mikhail when he pointed at the screen.

"Yeah, that's right." Mikhail nodded. "I don't know who to talk to. And within SMS, I know that you're one of the best when it comes to matters concerning electronics, especially computers."

Luca pondered over what Mikhail said before he replied. "I don't know. I mean... I never tried hacking a computer before." He reached out to his backpack and opened one of the exterior pockets. "But I think I have something that could work."

"What is it?"

Luca took out a small flash drive and inserted into a USB port. "I got a program that should try to unlock the password by using a brute force-style attack."

"How long do you think the program needs to make it work?" Mikhail saw that a progress bar popped up when the program started.

"Should take a few minutes, depending on how strong the password security is."

The two waited for the program to do its work. Mikhail remembered that the password had six alphanumeric characters.

They waited as the program continued to decipher the password's characters. It took a total of eight minutes to break into the PC.

"There it is." Luca began to do his work when he chose to press enter when the program prompt showed that the password was already cracked.

A mix of alphanumeric characters. I don't blame her. She worked in the military after all.

The password prompt, however, caught his eye.

What's this?

TINPIE

"Do you know what kind of password is this?" Luca asked his upperclassman when he pointed to the screen.

Mikhail shook her head. "No, I don't."

"Mikhail, are you in troub..."

"You're familiar with what happened to my older sister, right?"

Luca nodded.

"Then I'm going to tell you that you may potentially step into murky territory..."


ASE Mausoleum, Cypress Memorial Park, near outskirts of San Francisco Area, Island 1, NUNGS Macross Frontier


Marc saw Sheryl and Grace present in the ASE Mausoleum, which sort of startled him. He was told by the FPB that she'd stay in the hotel all day and will not be having any public appearances, in part due to the massive cleanup being done all over the island.

"I didn't know that she'd come." Fred said when he and Marc were talking to Phil as Sheryl and Grace were talking to the Hayters.

"Me neither." Phil nodded. "This was probably arranged by President Glass as a chance to help boost her popularity with the locals."

"I really think I need to clear some things with her." Marc massaged his left temple.

"That bad, huh?" Fred asked when he placed a hand on his right hip.

"Yep. Got to see some of her dark side when things don't go her way." Marc said with sarcasm in his voice. "You should've seen her I was preparing to escort her to a shelter near her hotel."

"Ouch." Fred said in a sympathetic tone.

"Regardless of what you feel, we need to honor the contract the chairman with Ms. Nome's record label." Phil told Marc after hearing him out. "Just hold on out for a bit longer."

"Well she does need an adjustment in attitude..."


Unknown Location


INITIATE BOOTUP SEQUENCE...

.

.

.

BOOTUP SEQUENCE. LOGIN COMPLETED.

When the black screen flickered, Wōdanaz, Freyja and Tiwaz showed up as the usual names online. This time though, another name was logged online.

The name Thor showed up.

"MAY THE FATHER OF UNDERSTANDING GUIDE US...!" Freyja took the initiative in starting the online meeting.

"MAY THE FATHER OF UNDERSTANDING GUIDE US...!" Wōdanaz and Tiwaz said in unison.

"My apologies for being so late." Freyja opened the meeting by speaking first. "I was able to get in touch with Thor as of an hour ago. He's now ready to join in the meeting."

"Good" Wōdanaz was next to talk. "As long as Thor's with us, then there's no way that our plan will ever fail."

"I'd like to report that our mole in the FPB has passed me some reports that the investigation into the person who attempted to assault Ms. Nome has ended as of 1000 hours." Tiwaz was next to report. "He's being painted as a mere fan who got in over his head after I sent in information about Ms. Nome's past back in Galaxy. The rest, as you can see, is history."

"As long as the media believes that the assault was due to an ex-fan gone delusional, I'll let it stay that way."

The channels went silent for a minute.

"Do you have a report regarding Thor, Freyja?"

"No I don't, Wōdanaz. But I wish to report that Thor has been conducting some recon against Almighty Support Enterprises' main headquarters in Island 1."

Wōdanaz sighed over the line when he heard what Thor was up to.

"I assume that ASE hasn't detected his movements yet?"

"None, sir. You have my word."

"Very well... I want to hear his report."

"My recon on ASE's headquarters is successful. They're on full alert due to the Vajra incursion on Island 1." Thor reported in a serious, monotone voice. "I have not been detected by ASE security forces before and after I left the area."

"Has there been any developments from within, Thor?"

"None that I can report. They're still working on providing close protection for Ms. Nome."

"Good. We stay the course and make sure our tracks are hidden. Anything happens that can affect our plans for Frontier, report via backup channels. Is that understood?"

"UNDERSTOOD!" Freyja, Tiwaz and Thor replied in unison.

"MAY THE FATHER OF UNDERSTANDING GUIDE US...!"

The four started to log out of the session, one by one.

ENDING SESSION...


March 8, 2059

Lobby, SMS Frontier Branch Office, Island 1, NUNGS Macross Frontier


SMS has issued its order for all its contractors to report in for an immediate debriefing regarding the clearing off debris throughout Island 1, since it's the main island where the Vajras hit it hard aside from taking out some of the colony's defense fleet.

"That debriefing went on and on as expected." Mikhail yawned, feeling tired despite having slept well last night. "Only by an hour or so."

"Yeah, I know." Bobby agreed with the young contractor's sentiment. "If he kept going on for another hour, it's going to ruin the wrinkles I've been trying to get rid of."

Mikhail sighed, even though he knew of his sexual orientation.

"Hey, there you are! Thought I won't see you after the debriefing!"

Mikhail turned around to see Luca run up to him.

"I'll catch you guys later." Bobby said his goodbyes to the two. "I got some shopping to do."

"See ya, Bobby."

Mikhail and Luca were by themselves in the lobby as most of the contractors went off to do their business. Only a female employee manning the reception desk and two security guards outside the building were present.

"Mikhail..." Luca whispered to Mikhail. "I ran the data I got from your sister's computer a few days ago. And I was able to get in."

Mikhail frowned a bit when he heard the news.

"Did you find anything?" The blond-haired teen asked when he led Luca away from the lobby in case someone would overhear whatever Luca was going to tell him.

Luca didn't say anything, except to show his personal electronic tablet to Mikhail. On the screen was the data he obtained.

"What the hell?" Mikhail murmured when he went through the data. Most of them indicate that they came from the databanks of the Frontier-based government and military.

Is my own flesh and blood a spy?

He gripped the tablet tightly in his hands when he read the info.

"Mikhail..." Luca was worried that Mikhail looked very serious.

"Say Luca," Mikhail handed the tablet back after he regained his composure. "Can you do me a favor and copy the info you got?"

"O-okay."

"And don't tell this to anyone."

"Sure."


Somewhere on Island 1, NUNGS Macross Frontier


Leon was seen in Island 1's downtown district, now wearing civilian clothes as he was now off duty for the meantime. He looked around to see that there was major progress in cleaning up the area, thanks to the government's reconstruction crews with some assistance from ASE in sending in volunteers to help out.

"Over here."

Leon heard a voice from the back. He was about to turn out when he heard a command.

"Don't turn around. It's dangerous here. Let's go to a safer place."

Leon nodded. He and the stranger walked off towards a nearby alley.

"What is it?" When the chief of staff turned around, he saw that the man's face was covered with a black hood and metallic-type facemask. The rest of his clothes appear to be black.

"Our masters want to see whether there's interference in the hands of the ASE." The hooded man asked Leon, who noted that the man's voice was digitally altered so that his identity won't be given away as a security measure.

"Tell them not to worry. They haven't got a clue that we have a presence here in Frontier." Leon advised him. "On the other hand, being overzealous will make them turn the city upside down just to hunt your group down. They're one of the best PSCs when it comes to criminal investigations."

"I understand. What of Ms. Nome?"

"My master insist that she's still vital. We're waiting on further assistance from our comrades back at Macross Galaxy before we move on to the next stage of the plan. For now, we're waiting to see if the Vajra incursions will force us to change our timetable."

"Of course. I thank you for your time, Mr. Mishima. Wait for us to contact you again. Wait for 5 seconds before you turn around."

Leon didn't wait for 5 seconds to go to waste. He turned around and was about to draw out his Walther PPK pistol, his thumb placed on the slide's safety lever raised up to make the weapon fire.

What the? Where did he go?

He didn't see anyone in the alley besides himself, which made him concede and lower the safety lever to render it safe. After he tucked it on the IWB holster in his waistband, Leon walked down the alley towards the other side of the block.

Why the hell can't I do secret communications via electronic means?


March 11, 2059

Somewhere in Griffith Park Hill, Island 1, NUNGS Macross Frontier


In the afternoon, Alto passed by Griffith Park Hill on the way home when he got a SMS message from Ranka. Apparently, she wanted to talk to him.

"I wonder what she wants with me?"

Alto decided to take Ranka up on her offer. Besides, he knew her from way back. So everything should be okay.

"Alto!" Ranka smiled and waved at him when she saw him arrive.

"Oh, hey Ranka."

Alto walked up to see Ranka. The two of them were now standing near the walls, looking over the horizon of Island 1.

"How are you holding up?" Alto asked the green-haired girl out of concern.

"I'm fine." Ranka replied, brushing a strand of her hair back away from her eyes. "Just getting over the shock over the invaders that breached here a few days ago."

"And your brother?"

"He's doing well. As far as I know, he's got some more paperwork to finish."

Alto leaned over the wall, his hands on the railing. "So did you want to tell me something?"

Ranka leaned on the wall, her left foot on it, as she looked at the blue ponytailed teen. "Yes I do. I... I decided that I'm going to enter the upcoming Ms. Macross contest."

"Are you sure?" Alto was a bit startled by her statement. "You know as well as I do that your big brother won't allow you to go and enter the contest."

"I know." Ranka sighed. "Which is why I'm going to do it without him." She then pointed her finger at him. "I wanted to sing. I loved every minute of it..."

"Ranka..."

"Just listen to me for a bit, okay?" Ranka placed a hand on Alto's right arm. When he nodded, she placed her hands on her chest.

"Aimo, aimo..."


Sheryl was seen walking towards the center of the park, wearing her usual yellow blazer jacket, red pencil skirt and high heels with her oversized shades. She was there to get away from public attention, most of them being the press asking her about her safety and whatnot. The idol had told them that Grace will be happy to answer any of their inquiries.

The nerve of them. Intruding on me when I'm having my meetings with Frontier Records.

Marc wasn't present near Sheryl's side. ASE had Phil take over for doing close protection duties until he's ready to be back on duty.

Sheryl had told him to wait near the car since she wanted to be alone for a while.

"Aimo, aimo..."

She heard a melody that sounded so... familiar to her ears.

"That song..."

She walked faster and faster, hoping to catch a glimpse of whoever was singing.


Blanc Apartment, Shibuya Area, Island 1, NUNGS Macross Frontier


Mikhail just got back to his apartment, already putting in the memory stick up to the PC formerly used by his sister. He didn't plug it to the internet network his apartment has as a safety measure to whatever incriminating files Luca may have found.

"What kind of things happened in the military that Jessica had to sneak these files out?"

The blond-haired contractor browsed the files Luca got. So far, some of the folders he looked at mention communiqués regarding the destruction of the 117th Research Fleet back in the late 2040s.

"The 117th Research Fleet?" Mikhail murmured when he read the various announcements made by the NUNs. "What's important about this?"

Continuing to look at the other files, he encountered other folders that mentions photos.

"What's inside?"

Mikhail opened the folder to see several digital photos were inside. Most of the photos had Mishima meet up with the vice president, the two of them speaking to VIPs who were from Galaxy.

This is getting more interesting than I thought.


Somewhere in Griffith Park Hill, Island 1, NUNGS Macross Frontier


Ranka was singing Aimo in front of Alto, the two not paying attention that Sheryl was standing near the former.

"Huh?" The high school student stopped singing when she heard someone clap their hands. She turned around to see that it was Sheryl.

"I'm impressed by your singing, young lady." Sheryl removed her shades after she finished clapping her hands.

"Ms. Nome." Ranka was shocked to see the Galactic Fairy in person. Alto too was a bit startled.

"Do you mind if I ask you one thing..." Sheryl said before she trailed off, trying to see if she can get Ranka to tell her name.

"I'm Ranka." Ranka bowed her head a bit as a courtesy when she introduced herself. "Ranka Lee."

"Of course, Ms. Lee." Sheryl nodded, now knowing her full name. "Do you mind if I ask you where you learned the song Aimo?"

Ranka was confused by the question. "What do you mean by that, Ms. Nome?"

"That song was only known to the Nome family for many generations." Sheryl started to explain her question to the girl.

"Um... I..." Ranka was at a loss to explain.

"Hey!" Alto yelled at Sheryl. "Do you do this to every person after you formally introduce yourself?"

"Of course not!" Sheryl shouted her answer. "But it's because Ranka here sang a song only my family knows."

"I'm so sorry, Ms. Nome!" Ranka said when she apologized to her. "I really don't know where I learned the song! I just... I just know it from fragments of my old memories."

Sheryl sighed when she heard her answer. This is before the sound of a mobile phone ringing and vibrating was heard.

Alto and Ranka looked around to see where the sound was from. The two then saw that the vibration came from... Sheryl's chest.

"What the?" Sheryl gasped when the mobile phone, in the shape of a takoyaki, leaped out of her dress shirt. Alto and Ranka blushed, when the former glanced away fast while the latter covered her face with her hands. The takoyaki phone then hopped between Sheryl's hands before she was able to grab it tightly in her left hand.

"Dammit... Who's interrupting me at this moment?" The idol angrily said before she answered the call on her phone.

"Hello?" Sheryl answered the call on her phone.

"It's me, Grace. I'm very sorry to interrupt your free time, but your presence will be needed back in the city."

"Wait a minute! I'm in the middle of something right now...!"

"Bye, Sheryl! I'll go and make contact with Mr. Coulson after this!"

"Wait! Wait a minute...!"

The conversation ended abruptly, leaving a disgusted Sheryl to simply squeeze her phone in frustration.

"Darn you... This is all the thanks I get for just only a few minutes of my time off from the media spotlight..."

"M..ms. Sheryl."

Sheryl stopped whatever she was doing and saw Ranka a bit nervous.

"What is it?" Sheryl asked the young girl after she kept her phone.

"To be honest, that song was the first thing that came to mind when I was adopted."

I guess I can't blame her if she says that it came from her memories...

"I mean... I really like singing. After all, it cheers me when I'm in a bad situation."

The Galactic Fairy placed both of her hands on Ranka's shoulders.

"I don't usually help out," Sheryl spoke to the girl. "but allow me to give you some advice."

Alto looked on the conversation between the two, hoping that Ranka would get something positive from the pop star.

"Don't give up. That's the number one thing to keep in mind. Regardless if it's singing..." She then looked at Alto for a few seconds before she looked at Ranka. "Or if it's trying to get someone's attention."

"H-hey!" Alto was a bit alarmed by what Sheryl said. "Just what the hell are you trying to insinuate back there?"

Sheryl only smirk before she continued her conversation with Ranka. Alto only growled in anger by that act.

That girl...

Their conversation lasted for a few more minutes before Sheryl departed ways with Ranka.


March 18, 2059

Somewhere in San Francisco Area, Island 1, NUNGS Macross Frontier


Mikhail was now in civilian clothes, out of school/SMS uniform, as he made his way towards the downtown area of the San Francisco Area.

The next rendezvous is in this area? Well it's a good thing that there's nothing much to do in SMS right now aside from being on immediate standby.

He was told to specifically wear a dark blue hoodie, though he was allowed to wear his usual pants/footwear of choice. According to a SMS message, it was one way to get in touch with him from the crowd.

How long do I have to wait until I get in touch with someone?

The blond contractor waited near the Powell & Market cable car turntable. He would later be approached by someone from the rear with a challenge question as mentioned in the SMS with the challenge answer provided.

It seemed to be an eternity for him when waited for almost an hour in the area. It seemed that no one was approaching him.

"I never listen to music in my house."

Mikhail turned around to see a man who appears to be in his mid 30s. He had a brown ballcap worn over his head in a way that it covers his eyes to prevent him from making a positive ID. He also had a blue windbreakers, jogging pants and white running shoes.

He nodded and answer the man's statement.

"I listen to music in the car."

The cap-wearing man walked next to Mikhail and spoke in a low voice for the latter to hear. "Come with me. Don't do anything to give us away, you got it?"

Mikhail slowly nodded. "O-okay..."

The two walked down the sidewalk away from the Powell & Market turntable.

"I assume that you're armed?" Mikhail asked the cap-wearing man.

The man did not reply and instead, continued walking.

"What do you want to meet me for?"

"We made contact with the one person based on his history with you."

The man gave Mikhail a colored photo for him to examine. On it was Mikhail and Marc posing for the camera in their respective school uniforms during the inter-school interactions between the various secondary schools throughout Macross Frontier.

"So we knew each other from way back." Mikhail stared at the photo before he glared at the man. "What then? What's your endgame?"

The man replied. "We found someone who may have information you need regarding the ones responsible for killing your sister."

The part-time contractor got the photo from the man. He turned it around and saw something was written at the back.

Hue Lounge and Nightclub

447 Broadway Street

San Francisco Area

"I heard of this place." Mikhail said when he read the address.

"Good. That where you and your friend are going."

"Wait a second..." Mikhail was getting really furious over the man being secretive. "How the hell do we...?"

"You don't." The man said before he started to walk down the street as fast as he can. "We'll contact you again in a few weeks."

"What if you're lying..."

"Do I look like someone who lied after we offered our assistance?"

Mikhail didn't say anything to stop him when the man walked down the street before he disappeared into the crowd, using them to hide his tracks from anyone trying to look for him.

Dammit... Just how am I going to proceed from here?

Chapter 5 END


PS - Happy New Year to everyone! I'm just heading back to fic writing in 2016 and this is the first of many updates for the year. Apologies for the very, very late update. A lot of things happened, including travels to Bhutan and getting acceptance to my first job ever after relocating to my parent's house with a community college degree to start with... Later, I also got my first job as a research analyst in a think tank firm.

You'll notice that I had the descendants of Phil Coulson and Fred Jones appear in the chapter. Yes, they're descendants of the first Phil and Fred since they're some of the most awesome characters in fiction. Just to clarify that Fred's distant ancestor (I think I got this terminology right) is based from the Mystery Inc. cartoon version. Coulson is already obvious. I'll explain that more in later chapters if and when I can. I hope I don't forget this.

Anyway, I'm showing Sheryl in a positive light. While she's such a snob to things that don't go her way, she'll try her best to support someone who wants to sing. Just like how she did things to help Ranka from behind the scenes in canon. Bout time I try to redeem her. XD

I made a change or two, but it wouldn't be that noticeable anyway. Decided to do so since I though it was going to get redundant. Otherwise, everything else is still the same.

Title is taken from Maroon 5's album Overexposed.

Hope you guys enjoy reading the chapter. Let me know what you think about it and do let me know if I made a boo boo or something. Thanks! XD