I wrote this story between January and March of 1999, when I was 15. My first attempt at a fanfiction, and the beginning of a saga that a lot of people seem to love...so lo and behold: Part 1 of Next Gen!

It is the year 2054 A.D. The Knight Sabers have long gone their separate ways, each of them trying to advance their own careers. With no Boomers on a rampage, they decided to call it quits just two years after the "Bubblegum Crash" era.

Sylia is still running her Silky Doll lingerie shop, which has been a huge hit in MegaTokyo and now has several chains throughout Japan. Linna has quit her job at Phoebe's and now has started her own acrobatics gym. Nene is no longer working for AD Police, since they were no longer needed after Boomers stopped coming out. She has instead decided to work alongside Sylia in her lingerie shop, and is actually having the time of her life.

And of course, who could forget about Priss.

Priss has decided to take another shot at a professional debut, and succeeded. After coming back from a world tour, she decided to take it easy for a while. That 'while' turned out to be three years when she suddenly gave birth to a baby girl. She refuses to name the father, and all that is known is that she was raped soon after coming home from her tour. Priss decided to keep the child, whom she named Yumeko (meaning "child of dreams").

And now, Yumeko is sixteen years old, and full of energy. She does not yet know who her mysterious father is, nor does she realize the dangers of being the child of a Knight Saber...

"Bubblegum Crisis - The Next Generation"

(apologies to the creators of Star Trek)

Written by Amanda Stair

I suppose I could be what people call a 'normal' teenager. I like hanging out, eating, and cruising around on my new motorcycle. I sleep in till noon when time allows it, and I occasionally cut classes when I don't feel like going to that particular class. Oh, and my mom's a singer too.

My mom, Priss Asagiri, is lead singer for a rock band called Priss and the Replicants. After performing in a nightclub called Hot Legs for a time, they decided to go pro, and boy did they ever!! By my count anyway, they've released four albums (every one of them going multi-platinum), and gone on three world tours. Mom says she does it because she enjoys it and "it's better than sitting behind a desk all day long like some of those half-wits out there."

Although Mom made it to the World Top 10, she and I don't live in a big, fancy mansion like some other famous people do. Instead, we live in a small apartment in District 6, where the rent is moderate and life is just, well...life.

"I don't like servants," she'd say whenever I asked her why we don't live in a mansion. "They make you into a damn invalid, doing every little thing for you and all. If I wanna do something, I'll just do it myself, thank you very much." She paused. "Besides, I want to feel human, not like some...queen on a pedestal having everyone at her beck and call."

In this day and age, it's hard to know what's human and what's not. There are humans and Boomers wandering the streets wherever you look. Boomers are basically mechanical humans, slaves to do what no one else will. Some would be pretty simple, just doing their job, whatever that would be, and nothing more. Others are so complex and advanced that they look and act just like humans. Back in the 2030's, there'd be Boomers whose circuits had gone haywire going around and destroying everything in its path. Mom would say the special police force created to destroy any Boomer that went nuts, the AD Police, weren't worth shit when it came to handling Boomers. They'd get slaughtered like so many flies. Then the Knight Sabers would step in and kill the Boomer as if it were nothing.

Mom said they appeared around 2031 and left the spotlight four years later, when Boomers rarely went on rampages anymore, and any that did could be handled even by ADP. From the way she talked about the Knight Sabers, you'd think she'd personally witnessed every fight they ever fought or something...

I heard someone knocking on the door. Groaning, I sat up in bed, rubbed my eyes, and looked at the clock. 8:21 A.M. I cursed under my breath and got dressed, pulling on some old, worn jeans and a blue sweatshirt. The knocking persisted and even my mom started groaning about the noise.

"I'm coming, already!" I yelled to the person on the other side of the door as I sprinted towards it. After opening the door, I saw a few reporters with some cameras. "Do you mind?" I snapped. "It's eight-thirty in the morning."

"Sorry," one of the reporters said, obviously not meaning it. "We have a few questions for your mother."

"She can't come to the door right at the moment."

"But we really need to talk to her," he persisted. "It's about her next album."

"Well," I said, "she needs her rest so she'll be able to perform well, doesn't she? And the more you come here at eight in the morning to pester her with questions, the longer it's gonna be before she releases it!! You got my drift?"

"But...we were just..."

I slammed the door in his face and went to the kitchen. I had just gotten myself some coffee when Mom came in. Her hair was rumpled from the rough night she had, and I though I saw circles under her eyes as well. That was becoming routine lately, as she had been working a lot in the past few weeks.

"Morning," she grumbled as she poured herself some coffee and sat down. "What'd they want now?"

"They wanted to ask you more questions about your next album."

"Figures. They still at the door?"

"No, I told them to bug off."

"Good," she said, brightening a little. "Reporters really piss me off. They're like moths drawn to a flame or something."

I nodded in agreement. It seemed that whenever Mom was going to be releasing an album or going on another tour, the reporters really were like moths drawn to a flame. They would never leave her alone, even though they knew perfectly well that it annoyed her more than almost anything. A few times, she almost punched a photographer because he wouldn't stop taking pictures of her.

"You don't look like you slept well," I pointed out.

"I didn't," she groaned. "I've been at the recording studio pretty late lately, and those reporters coming here early in the morning isn't helping my mood any, either." She took another sip of her coffee.

"Hey, you're not the only one who's not a morning person," I said, smiling.

"I see that," Mom said, also smiling.

We heard someone knock on the door again. Both Mom and I slapped our hands over our faces, not wanting to hear from any more reporters. I got up and stormed towards the door, ready to give them an earful, when I heard a cheery voice from the other side of the door.

"Anyone home?" I heard Aunt Nene call out happily. Nene isn't really my aunt, I just call her that because she and I are so close to one another. If I felt I couldn't talk to Mom about something, I would turn to Nene for advice, or less often, Aunt Linna or Sylia. I opened the door and let her in.

"Morning, Yumeko," she sang. She wasn't much shorter than I was, maybe two or three inches. Her lovely red hair framed her round face that flushed with happiness. Her green eyes were sparkling brightly even in the dim light of the apartment. She was dressed in a blue jacket with a white blouse under it, with a matching blue skirt. Her purse was swung over one shoulder. Even though she was approaching middle age, she still looked like she was only twenty or so. I'm sure Mom envied her for that.

"Hey Nene," I said. Nene turned to Mom, who was slugging down her coffee.

"Oh gee, is someone grumpy this morning?" Nene asked sarcastically.

"Sorry, but I can't get up at the break of dawn like Linna does," she said.

"Reporters came again," I mumbled.

"Again?" Nene asked. "My, aren't you the popular one, Priss."

"Oh, shut up," Mom spat.

"Well," Nene said, ignoring Mom, "I just came by to say hello, and to see how everyone is doing." She turned to me. "Oh Yumeko, I heard you finally got your license. How do you like finally being able to drive?"

"It's ok," I mumbled. "Better than walking everywhere, or taking the bus."

"True, true," Nene agreed. "Well, I gotta be going now. Sylia's really strict when it comes to being on time." She started for the door.

Mom spoke up. "Why the hell did you do that to your hair, Nene? It looks terrible." She was referring to Nene's new haircut. Originally, it had been long and flowing, practically as long as my mom's hair was. Now it was cut short, only coming down to the middle of her neck. It was attractive, but I preferred her with long hair.

"Doesn't matter if you don't like it, Priss," Nene shot back. "I happen to like it very much."

"Well good for you," Mom said sarcastically.

Stopping at the door, Nene turned to me and said, "Watch out for her attitude, Yumeko. I swear, if looks could kill..."

"I heard that," Mom yelled from the table, where she was downing another cup of coffee.

"Dontcha think I know that?" Nene called back. "Well, I'll be leaving now. Oh, and when you see Linna, tell her I said hi, ok?"

"Ok," I said. "See ya later, Aunt Nene."

"Stop calling me that," she said, annoyed but smiling at the same time. "It makes me feel...old."

"Well, you ARE forty, right? Sounds like old age to me," I joked.

"Oh ha ha."

"I thought it was funny," Mom said with amusement in her voice.

"Later, all," she sang out again as she left, leaving just Mom and I alone in our small apartment.

Mom stood up and went to our bedroom to get dressed. The apartment was a pretty small one, with only two so-called rooms: the living room/kitchen and a single bedroom, which she and I shared. Sure, sometimes it felt like living in a closet, but hey, it was home.

"Aw SHIT!!" she yelled as I heard her run around the bedroom frantically. Mom was hardly ever on time for anything, even when it involved her precious singing. She was supposed to be at the recording studio at 9 o'clock. It was 8:55 now.

"Gonna be late again, I'm guessing?" I inquired.

"You got that right!" she bellowed as she ran into the living room, dressed in her usual blue blouse, jeans, and red boots. She snatched her jacket off of the couch and yanked it on. "I think there's some stuff in the fridge you can fix up for lunch. If I'm not home by dinner, eat without me."

"You've been working late a lot lately, Mom. Maybe you should take a day off," I suggested.

"Believe me, I wish I could, but the damn recording company won't let me have one for some reason," she complained as she headed for the door. "Well, I gotta run. Later, Yume." That was her nickname for me instead of just calling me Yumeko.

"Later Mom," I said as she closed the door behind her. I looked out the window, down at the front door to the apartment building. Sure enough, there was a horde of reporters waiting for her to come out. Once she did, they immediately surrounded her, not leaving her in peace as she walked to her motorcycle, put on her helmet, and started up her bike.

I sighed to myself, thinking, being a celebrity isn't all some people think it to be, is it? Looking out the window still, I saw Mom take off down the street, the reporters trying in vain to catch up to her on foot.

Ah, the start of another lovely day, I thought sarcastically.

I sped down the highway on my bike, heading nowhere in particular, but just for the fun of it. I loved just cruising around town, not a care in the world. Except, of course, getting pulled over for speeding, but I didn't really care about that. Right now, I felt nothing could spoil my day, not a rotten ticket, not even being chased by reporters.

Deciding to stop for a rest, I pulled over. Yanking off my helmet, I just sat back, closed my eyes, and let the cool wind play across my face. The peacefulness of the moment didn't last long, however, as I heard a motorcycle pull up next to me and stop. I opened my eyes and saw a large man climb off his bike.

"Didn't think I'd see you this early in the morning," he smirked.

"What do you want, Masahiro?" I growled.

"Hey, what's with the bad attitude, babe?" he asked, still smirking. "I know you're not the morning type, but hey, you're not usually this grouchy."

"I just don't feel like talking, that's all," I said, brushing him off. "Now if you'll excuse me..."

I headed back towards my bike, but Masahiro stepped in my way. He didn't scare me one bit, although it looked like he was twice the size I was.

"Why don't you come over to my place? There's more...privacy there." He grinned evilly. I was starting to get real pissed off.

"Get out of my way."

"Why should I, babe?"

"One, there's no way in hell that I'm gonna get into bed with a creep like you, and two, I'm not your babe! So move it!"

I started to walk around him, but then Masahiro grabbed me by the shoulders, stopping me in my tracks. He pulled me towards him and leaned down, as if trying to kiss me. "Don't you wanna have some fun?"

"Not your kind of fun, I know that."

"Just this once, babe. Give me a chance."

"Didn't you hear me the first time?!"

"Nope, I sure didn't."

I had first met Masahiro at Hot Legs, the club where my mom performed early in her career. He had seemed nice at the time, but after a while, I saw that all he wanted was to get me in bed and then dump me like an old pair of shoes. Other people had told me that he'd done that to several girls, and I wasn't about to become one of them.

"Would you let go?!"

"Come on, Yumeko," he whined. "You're the first girl that's meant anything to me, and I won't let some other guy come and snatch you away."

"That's what you've said to plenty of girls, I've heard," I snapped.

"Those bastards are just saying that cuz they want you for themselves. Now come on, let's go somewhere where we can be alone, shall we?" he asked.

"Wanna know what I think of that, Masahiro?" I asked, smiling innocently.


I brought my knee up between Masahiro's legs, making him double over in pain. He rolled on the ground, cursing me out. I simply continued towards my bike, pulling on my helmet as he yelled, "You bitch! You don't know what you're missing!"

"I know perfectly what I'm missing," I called to him as I started up the bike. "I'm missing my first chance at a broken heart. Thanks, but no thanks." I roared off, leaving him still down on the ground and calling after me.

I walked into the apartment, worn out from the day's events. As if being woken up by reporters was bad enough, I had run into that bastard Masahiro, gotten a speeding ticket (again), and Aunt Linna had wanted me to lead her exercise class for a while when I'd stopped by there for a visit. I hated exercise, almost as much as cleaning, but Linna said she was busy with something else at the moment, and had insisted on me leading the class for an hour or two. I yanked off my biking gloves and laid back on the couch, just wanting to rest for a moment.

That hope didn't last long. I heard the door being thrust open and slammed shut as Mom cheered.

"Finally it's over!" she yelled as I opened my eyes and saw her standing there with a huge grin across her face.

"Hm?" I said tiredly. "What's over?"

"We finished recording today. Now hopefully those reporters'll stop pestering me," she sighed, running her hand through her hair.

"I wouldn't count on that anytime soon."


I sighed as I remembered the incident with Masahiro earlier in the day.

"What's wrong, Yume?" Mom asked.

"That son of a bitch tried to make a pass at me again."

"Masahiro?" She snorted. "Reminds me of a certain guy I know."

I knew she was talking about Leon McNichol. Even though he and Mom had met over twenty years ago, he was always asking her to go on a date with him, despite the fact that she refused every time. She'd only 'go out' with him if she was out of cash, considering she knew that he'd foot the bill for the meal. But of course, since she went pro, Mom never needed to rely on Leon to get her meals anymore. It still didn't stop him from trying to ask her out, though.

"Doesn't Leon ever take a hint?" I asked.

"Obviously not," she grumbled. "So what happened with Masahiro?"

I told her everything, including the part where I had kneed him, smiling as I did so.

"I shoulda done that to Leon long ago," she smirked. "He was even so desperate at times that he'd ask Nene out. She never did, of course, the excuse being 'Oh, my mom doesn't like me staying out late.'" She chuckled at the memory. "Personally, I never did trust guys, knowing all they ever wanted was to get me in bed."

"But what about...?"

"What about what?"

"You said you used to be in a biker gang, didn't you?"

"He...he was different," she sighed, apparently not wanting to drag up bad memories like this one. "At...at the time, I needed someone to care for me, someone who'd listen to me when I had something important to say. No one did that in the orphanage, listen to me, I mean. The leader of that gang would listen, though. He was the only person I knew at the time that really cared about me. But of course, after he was killed...I didn't have anybody caring about me anymore. And that upset me, it really did...though at the time, I never would admit it to myself."

"And that's when you met Sylia, right?" I asked, remembering that she had told me about this before.

"Yeah. She helped me get over his death and continue with my singing. Hell, it was that gang leader that helped me land that job at Hot Legs in the first place." She sighed. "Knowing that, it was hard for me to continue with it at first, but then I realized that moping and crying wouldn't bring him back, and I had to move on. So I did."

"Sorry about bringing that up. You always did say you didn't like talking about those bad times."

"Hey, it's ok. I guess...I guess I got so caught up in talking about guys that..." She stopped. "Well, how'd your day go?"

"Well...I got a speeding ticket, Linna wanted me to lead her class for a while..."

"Doesn't surprise me," Mom interrupted. "After all, you're the daughter of Queen Speed Demon." Both Nene and Linna had called her that on numerous occasions, and she'd gotten used to being called by that name.

"So that makes me Princess Speed Demon," I laughed.

She laughed also. "I suppose it does, doesn't it?"

We were rudely interrupted by a pager beeping. Mom cursed and looked to see who was paging her.

"Damn, I forgot," she muttered as she started for the door.

"Wh...where are you going?" I asked, confused.

"I got an appointment with Sylia and the others. We're supposed to go to the gym for a while and work out."

"Every week though?"

"Yeah, it's a royal pain in the ass, but well...it's the only time we really get together anymore." She reached the door.

"Like I said, you should take a vacation," I pointed out.

"Well, now that I'm done recording for the new CD, I'll have plenty of vacation to take."

"You could use it."

Walking out the door, she turned and said, "Yeah, I could. I gotta jet, Yume. I'll see you later tonight, ok?"

"Ok," I sighed.

"Bye." She closed the door.

As I walked to my, or should I say OUR, bedroom, I kept thinking the same thing. It always seemed like every week, Mom, Nene, Linna, and Sylia would suddenly disappear and go to the gym for a few hours. Sure, I knew it did a person good to go and work out every now and then, but they did it so often, it was like a ritual. They never skipped a week or anything, except when Mom was on tour, but even then, they still went without her. And another thought hit me: what 'gym' were they going to? Whenever they went to the 'gym', they claimed, I would try and find out which one, just so I could bring Mom some dinner or something, but they never were at any of the ones I checked. Just what in hell is going on with them?, I wondered.

Trying to put those thoughts to rest, I searched through a stack of CDs until I found the one I was looking for: it was entitled Priss and the Replicants: Anata Dake (Only You). Putting it in the CD player, I selected the song I wanted, and sang along with it as it came on. And which song? Of course it was Mom's (supposedly) most popular song, Konya wa Hurricane, I was singing along to.

In the distance, as the music played on, I heard a motorcycle roar down the street.

I tossed and turned in my bed, trying to find a comfortable position to lay in. Damn, it was no use. I just couldn't get to sleep. Sure, I had rough nights every now and then, but this time, I don't know if it was the summer heat keeping me awake, or if it was the neighbors blasting their music again.

I turned over and looked at Mom's bed. Empty. Dang, she's not home yet? I thought. Ah, well. She was probably out having a good time with Linna and the others. But at two in the morning? Something didn't seem right. I got out of bed and got dressed, ready to go out looking for her. Hopefully, I wouldn't find her drunk in one of the many bars around here, like I'd done more than once. Sometimes she just partied a little too hard...but at least she didn't do certain things when she was drunk like Nene did. I laughed at the thought of catching Nene in one of her drunken stupors, dancing and stripping down to her birthday suit in front of a large crowd.

I knew of a bar where Mom might be hanging out at which wasn't too far away, so I decided to walk instead of using my bike. Easier to drag her home this way, I thought. After making a few shortcuts, which included cutting through some less-than-safe alleys and streets, I realized something didn't seem quite right...

I looked around, trying to find out why I felt so uneasy all of a sudden. I couldn't see much in the dim light of the alley, but I was sure no one had been following me, nor could I see anyone hiding behind a dumpster, possibly planning to ambush me. I sighed and walked on.

I was almost out of the alley when I heard footsteps behind me and spun around. Before me stood a tall, black-haired woman dressed in a long red coat. She said nothing, but just stood there, no emotion in her face.

"Who are you?" I demanded.

The mysterious woman just stood there, grinning.

"Have you been following me?" I asked, getting a little nervous at the way she was staring at me.

Suddenly, she started walking towards me, still grinning and saying nothing. I backed away, startled when I stumbled over a can. The woman continued to advance.

"Hey...wha...what the hell do you want?" I said, my voice shaky.

I got my answer. The woman held up her hand, and suddenly her nails grew to be five inches long, and glowing. A Boomer!! I screamed in my head. No way!! This can't be happening!!

The woman lunged at me and picked me up by my shirt, catching me off guard. I struggled to get free of her, but her iron grip held me fast. I punched her in the face in an effort to get away, but only ended up with a sore fist as I remembered that she wasn't exactly made of the same stuff people are.

Oh God, this is it, I thought as the Boomer raised her claws, ready to impale me. What a way to go! Getting stabbed by a goddamn Boomer!!

Just when I thought I was having my last moments on earth, a shot rang out. The Boomer's head exploded simultaneously as she dropped me. Her head was hit with several more shots as she fell to the ground, dead. My heart still racing, I stood up and stared at the Boomer's headless body. Then I looked up and saw Mom standing there, a smoking gun in hand, a stone-cold expression on her face.

"Wha...wha...Mom?" I said dumbfoundedly. I couldn't believe it!! My own mom had shot a Boomer dead and not even blinked!!

She looked down at the Boomer, mumbling to herself, "What the hell is a Combat Boomer doing out here? I thought they weren't being produced anymore..." She saw me and rushed over to my side. "Yume, you ok?"

"Uh...y-yeah..." I said, still trembling all over. "How'd you do that?"

"Do what?" she asked. "Oh, kill that Boomer, you mean? Well, I've done that more than once before. Of course, I didn't think I'd have to do it again so soon..."

"You could've gotten killed saving me from that thing!"

"You have any idea how many times I've been told that?" she smirked. "And besides, what are you doing out here at this time of night?"

"Looking for you."

"You didn't need to do that. I was just on my way home when I heard you screaming and well..."

Suddenly a thought struck me. She had killed Boomers before? But...but how? She couldn't possibly have done that before unless...unless she had been in the AD Police, or unless she had...

I gasped.

"What's wrong, Yume?" she asked.

"You...said you'd killed Boomers before, right?"


"But the only way you coulda done that was if you were in the ADP, and you said you hated the ADP, so that means..." I stopped.

Mom sighed, as if she'd been expecting something like this to come up. She just stood there, looking at me, and then made the most astonishing revelation I was to hear from her yet.

"You're right. No ordinary citizen could just take out a Boomer, especially a Combat Boomer, just like that. No, I wasn't in the ADP...not like they could take out Boomers easily anyway. But I was part of another group, a group that could handle them more easily than the ADP ever could."

I held my breath, about to hear what I thought I'd never hear from her.

"Yume...I was a member of the Knight Sabers."

I waited for her reaction to what I'd just said. Didn't seem like Yume was gonna do much else besides stand there and look at me as if I was crazy. Couldn't blame her, exactly. After all, not every teenage girl has a Knight Saber for a mom...

Finally, Yume spoke.

"You...you're kidding, right?"

I sighed. "Nope, I'm not kidding. I used to be a Knight Saber."

"I...I didn't think YOU'D be one of them!" she exclaimed. "I mean...how...?"

"Looks like I've got some explaining to do..." I started walking towards my bike. "Come on. Let's go."

Yume just stood there. "Where...where are we going, Mom? Home?"

"Nah. I'm gonna take you to someone who can explain everything better than I can." I got on and pulled on my helmet.

I heard her mutter to herself, "I don't believe this..."

"You better believe it, Yume," I said, turning to her as she got on. "No use denying it. You'll just be harder on yourself if you try to do that. Take it from someone who's been there."

We rode down the street in total silence, each of us alone with our own thoughts. I knew I'd have to break this to Yume someday...just didn't think it'd be so soon. Oh well, like Linna would say, 'no time like the present.'

"I don't get it," Yume yelled over the roar of the motorcycle, "That Boomer back there...it just attacked me for no reason at all!!"

"No it didn't," I yelled back.

"What?! It didn't?"

"Boomers don't attack without reason unless their circuits got screwed up. That Boomer you encountered...I've seen Boomers like her before," I shouted, flashing back to when Linna's friend Irene had been killed. All I'd been told was that a female Boomer was after Linna and Irene, and that I had to stop it from hurting them. By the time I'd arrived though, the bitch had already killed Irene. I never did like seeing people get hurt, and Linna managed to keep me from going after the Boomer alone. I got angry just remembering that scene, Linna holding Irene's body while the Boomer drove away with no one following her...

Yume snapped me out of it. "Mom, you ok?"

"Huh? Oh, yeah..."

"So why did that Boomer come after me?"

"I don't think it was after you."

"Ok, then try explaining why it almost slit my throat back there!" she snapped.

"I think it was after me," I admitted.

Yume almost laughed out loud. "You? No one knew you were a Knight Saber though!!"

I didn't respond.

"Uh...right?" she said hesitantly.

We pulled up in front of the Lady 633 building, where Sylia still lived.

"Hey, this is where Aunt Sylia's apartment is," she said.

"Right. Let's go," I said.

"W-wait," she said nervously. "Are you saying that...that Sylia is...?"

"Is...?" I smirked.

"Oh no. No way. Sylia can't be a Knight Saber too!! No way!!" she yelled.

"Come on," I urged gently, pulling her up the stairs.

"Sylia, she...she doesn't look like she could harm a fly!"

"Welllll..." I drawled. "She's done more than just harm a fly, I'll give you that."

"I don't believe this!!" she said again as we reached the front door to Sylia's place. I knocked on the door.

"Mom, it's pretty late. I don't think she's up right now."

"She's up."

"How do you know?"

"The light's on."

"Oh...under the door...duh." She smacked her head, making me smirk. Then, I heard someone on the other side of the door get up and walk towards it.

"Who is it?" I heard Sylia ask politely.

"Just me," I responded. Sylia opened the door.

"I was just about to call you."

"Huh? Why's that?"

She suddenly noticed Yume standing next to me. "Priss, why is Yumeko with you?"

"That's what I came here for. She needs to know some things about...you know..."

"Oh, I see." She stood back to let us enter her penthouse. "Come in, won't you." Yume and I did so, and were surprised to see that we weren't the only company that Sylia had.

"Hey! Linna! Nene!" Yume exclaimed.

"Hi," Nene said.

"Out a little late, aren't we," Linna pointed out. We all sat down.

"Well, before I explain why you're here, Linna, Nene, Priss says that Yumeko wants to...know a few things," Sylia said, setting a coffee tray down on the table. "Do you want to tell her, or should I?"

"Um, what would you like to know, Yumeko?" Nene asked nervously.

Yume just sat there, nursing her cup of coffee. "W...well, Mom told me that she used to be...a Knight Saber."

Nene nodded. "So she did."

"You...you mean you knew already?" Yume asked, shocked.

"Of course we did," Linna said. "Nene and I were the other two Knight Sabers, after all."

I didn't think it was possible for Yume to pale any further than she already had, but she did, turning stark white. Damn, looked like a vampire had sucked all her blood or something like that. I snickered. Couldn't help it.

"This must be a lot for you to take in, I'm sure," Sylia said. "Well, Yumeko, when did Priss tell you this?"

"Just a little while ago, after she saved me from this Boomer—"

"A Boomer?!" Nene yelled. "A Boomer attacked you!?"

"Yeah...this female one. She just about gutted me when Mom came and shot its head off."

"Yup, that's Priss for ya," Nene joked. I frowned at her.

"She had these huge nails that looked like knives, and she just came after me, and I hadn't even done anything to her!"

I heard Linna sigh. "Just like the one that murdered Irene..."

"That was a while ago, huh?" Nene asked. "Twenty-two years it's been, if I remember right..." Linna nodded.

"What were you doing out this late at night, Yumeko?" Sylia asked.

"Goddammit, is everyone gonna ask me that or what?!" Yume snapped.

"No, we're only asking because we're concerned about you," Sylia said coolly.

Yume snorted. "I was looking for Mom, cuz she wasn't home yet and I was worried about her, that's all."

"Isn't that sweet!" Nene exclaimed.

"So Sylia," I said, "why's everyone here?"

"Well," she began, "as you all know, I've been monitoring Genom's movements for some time now. But just a few days ago, I found out something."

"What's that?" Linna asked.

"Genom is starting to manufacture Combat Boomers again. For what purpose, I don't know, but they are up to something."

"But why would Genom wait so long to start making Combat Boomers again?" Nene asked.

"Well, as you know, Genom's had more than its fair share of financial problems these past two decades," Sylia explained. "The Gulf & Bradley company suing over a 'breach of contract', among others. But it seems like they're past all that now, and they want to pick things up where they left off."

"There's no AD Police now though!" Nene yelled. "What's everyone gonna do if Genom sends out more Boomers to wreck the city like they've done so many times? It's not like the Knight Sabers can miraculously come back into existence or something!!"

Sylia smiled slyly. Apparently Nene got unnerved by that. "R...right?"

"Why do you think we've continued our training for all this time?" Sylia asked coyly. "We had to keep in top shape in case Genom tried anything. But of course, to wait this long...it shocked me as well."

Linna's jaw dropped. "You mean we're going back to work?"

Nene laughed. "But aren't we a little...too OLD to be doing this anymore? Having a bunch of middle-aged women come out of 'retirement' to fight Boomers again is like old man Quincy trying to run a marathon."

"I've thought about that," Sylia said, obviously trying to keep from laughing. Too late for Linna and me. We were already laughing so hard our sides hurt. "That's why I believe we could use some extra help. Some youthful energy to help us get the job done." She looked over at Yume, who was staring in shock.

"You...you mean you...want me to join...?" she stuttered.

"Well, Genom is bound to have even tougher Boomers than before. That would require more manpower to defeat them," Sylia said.

"But...I'm a little..."

"Young?" Nene asked. "Don't worry, Yumeko. I was your age when I first joined the Knight Sabers."

"You...you were?"

"Uh-huh. Enjoyed every minute too."

I burst out laughing. "Enjoyed?? You enjoyed getting beat up every battle?" I asked mockingly.

"That's not what I meant!!"

"Well, you WERE," Linna added.

"I meant that...I really liked helping make the city safer for everyone. The battles were fun, even though we sometimes got beat up. And we saved MegaTokyo from getting blown to smithereens a few times, right?"


"Like when we fought the D.D."

I spit out my coffee in surprise. Nene turned to me.

"Uh.. you ok, Priss?"

"Oh, dandy," I coughed.

"I...guess that's still a sensitive subject for you, huh."

"What are you guys talking about?" Yume asked. "What's a sensitive subject?"

"Priss'll tell you about it later," Linna said.

"S-sure," I said. I'd wanted to keep the memories of that long-ago battle dead and buried, but Nene had just torn the scab off the wound. Killing a dear friend in order to save the city had been one of the last things I'd imagined I'd have to do, but I did it, although hesitantly. I relived the moment in my head for the thousandth time as Nene kept apologizing for mentioning it.

"Look, I...didn't mean to bring it up. Really."

"Well," Sylia sighed, "perhaps we should call it a night. We can talk more another time. In the meantime, Yumeko, I'll let you think about whether or not you'd like to join us."

"Um...ok," Yume said.

As Yume and I rode back to our apartment, she asked lots of questions. Why didn't I like talking about the D.D.? Were we sure about starting up again? What would we do if one of us were hurt? Or killed? Why didn't I answer her when she asked if anyone knew I was a Knight Saber? I told her I'd explain it all soon, but just not now.

Now wasn't a good time.