I had barely started part 2 when the shooting at my school occurred. Took a few months for me to get going again, but anyway... Here is part 2, written between April and December of 1999.

Oh, how I loathed school.

Hey, just because I had a new job as a Knight Saber doesn't mean I was allowed to forget about my education. Still had to go to school, do loads of homework, not to mention being bored out of my skull all day long. I mean, how could someone NOT fall asleep while listening to the teacher lecture us for two hours straight about the structure of an atom? I couldn't see why we had to learn about that sort of shit, anyway. When in the world would we be using that sort of thing? Unless all of us were to become scientists or some crap like that, I just didn't see the point of it all.

Anyway, I sat there in class while the teacher, Mrs. Sasaki, handed out a math quiz. I ran my eyes over the page. Thirty-five questions, all on calculus. And only thirty minutes to do them. Had to show all the work too. Ugh. How the hell was I supposed to do this stuff?! Not like I could just say to the teacher 'sorry, I couldn't study last night cuz I was out fighting Boomers.' No, that wouldn't work. I sighed and tapped my pencil on the desk. What to do, what to do. I closed my eyes and tried to think. Calculus...just another useless tool in life, just another waste of time. Now art class I didn't mind. Same with music. But science and math...that was a different matter entirely.

"Huh?" My eyes snapped open as I felt something tap me on the head. Looking up, I saw Mrs. Sasaki standing next to me, a ruler in hand.

"Are we sleeping in class again, Ms. Asagiri?" she inquired while some other kids nearby snickered.

"Uh...no ma'am," I answered hastily. How long had I kept my eyes shut?

"All right." She walked back to her desk and turned to the rest of the class. "Ten minutes left." Shit! Ten minutes?!, I thought. And I only had three problems done. Oh well, another flunked test. Wasn't my first, wouldn't be the last. I tried to finish up the rest, but I was nowhere close to done when Mrs. Sasaki told us to hand in the quizzes.

"So, how do you think you did?" a classmate, Michiko, asked me after school.

"I'm guessing another F," I said, pulling on my motorcycle helmet.

"You should study more."

"Maybe I would if I saw a point to learning all those numbers."

"Well, I know something that'll take your mind off that." She handed me a flyer for an upcoming audition for a play. My eyes widened.

"Romeo and Juliet?"

"Yup. Thought you'd be interested. The auditions are tomorrow and Friday. You're probably gonna try to get the part of Juliet, aren't you."

"I'll think about it." I'd always liked acting, ever since I was a little kid. Whether the play was one about a bunch of geisha girls or a reenactment of World War II, I tried out for them all. Got a part every time, too. I handed the flyer back to Michiko. "I gotta get going."

"Ok." She took the flyer. "See you tomorrow, Yumeko."

"Later," I called back as I sped away. Romeo and Juliet, huh?, I thought. That'll be a nice change from fighting Boomers, that's for sure. Wonder if I'll get to be Juliet. I smiled at the thought. Better not get my hopes up. There'll probably be tons of girls trying out for that part. Maybe I could try out for the part of Nurse instead...nah. I'll go for Juliet. No reason why I can't get that part!!

"Oh, you're trying out for a school play?" Nene exclaimed when I told her.

"Yeah. Auditions are tomorrow and Friday and I don't wanna screw up my lines. Could you give me a hand?" I asked. That was the one thing that I had trouble doing when it came to plays; memorizing the lines. It was probably why I'd never managed to land a lead role in anything.

"Sure! I think I still have a copy of that somewhere..." She stopped. "Um...which play was it again?"

"Romeo and Juliet."

"Oh, I loved reading that when I was in school! Dying just so they could be with each other...isn't that romantic?"

I helped Nene dig through some boxes in her closet, finding some interesting things while at it. I found some old dolls, school essays, little kids clothes...I couldn't believe she'd saved all that through the years. I also found many books, but none of them were what I needed.

"Find it yet?" Nene asked.

"Not yet...huh?" I picked up an old book that had a broken lock on it. A diary, perhaps? I asked her.

"Yeah, that's a diary. Don't all girls have diaries when they're young?" she joked. I flipped through the pages. Nearly all of them were filled up. When I came to the last entry, I looked at the date. 13 August 2038. I burst out laughing. "What's wrong with you, Yumeko?"

"You still had a diary when you were in your early twenties?" I laughed, trying to catch my breath, I was laughing so hard. Her face turned as red as her hair.

"What's wrong with that?"

"I guess when Linna said you were a little childish back then, she was right!"

"Let's just look for that book," she said, obviously wanting to get off the subject, and went back to looking through a box.

"Ok," I said, secretly stashing the diary in my backpack at the same time. I knew it was wrong, but maybe Mom had told her something about who ambushed her. I knew it was a very slim possibility, but I was dying to know the details of that time, even if I didn't show it. After I was done reading it, I would put it back without Nene ever knowing it was even gone. Yes, that just might work.

"Here it is!" Nene exclaimed, holding up her copy of Romeo and Juliet. She wiped the dust off it and flipped through the pages to make sure none of them had fallen out. She handed it to me. "Hope this helps."

"Thanks, Nene," I said, taking it. "You sure you don't mind lending me your copy?"

"Not at all. It's no trouble at all, really."

I stood up and stretched. "Well, I have to get going. I'll catch you later, ok?"

"All right," she said, opening the front door for me. "Tell Priss I said hi."

"I will," I promised, walking out the door.

"Maybe I can take you out to lunch this weekend or something. We should spend more time together, after all."

"I'd like that. Bye," I said, waving to her. She smiled and waved back as I walked down the hallway towards the elevator. Once I was in the elevator, I took Nene's diary out of my backpack and looked at it. It was just a beat-up-looking thing with yellowing pages and hearts all over the cover, nothing real special or anything. Yup, that's her taste, all right, I thought, laughing. I opened the book to the first page. The date read 4 September 2037. I read the entry for that date:

Today's been just another boring day for me. Go to work, fill out papers all day, then come home and pig out on cheesecake. Honestly, I have to get out of this rut my life is stuck in. Linna won't stop teasing me about my weight. I swear, it's not like it's HER problem or anything, so why the heck does she have to tease me about it all the time?! Well, at least Priss isn't joining in. She can't anyway. She's still on her tour. I think she's supposed to come home in a week or two. I can't wait!!

Leon told me today that he thinks the A.D. Police is going to be shutting down soon. "We were created to protect the city from Boomers," he says, "and if there aren't any around, then this whole place is gonna be flushed down the drain soon." I hope what he says isn't true. I've been a part of ADP for the past six and a half years! They can't shut down now! What job would I be able to get if they did? I try to tell myself to calm down, that ADP won't shut down, that everything's gonna be just peachy, but I can't help but panic. Oh, well. Won't be able to do anything about it if A.D. Police does go pop. I'll just have to wait and see what happens.

By the time I was done reading that entry, the elevator had long since stopped, and several people were standing there, waiting for me to get off. I blushed with embarrassment.

"Uh, sorry!" I said quickly, stuffing the diary back into my backpack and running out. I hurriedly put on my helmet and sped home, wondering what secrets Nene's diary could possibly hold. I'd have to brace myself, in case I found anything I didn't expect to find.

I sat down at the desk in my bedroom, taking Nene's diary out of my backpack and setting it down on the desk. Mom said she had to go to a meeting to help plan things for her upcoming tour, so this would be a perfect opportunity to read the diary without getting caught. I opened it to the next entry, but didn't read yet. I couldn't believe I'd stooped so low as to steal a good friend's personal thing, but I didn't want to bug Mom about it. She was still sensitive about the whole thing. She'd said before that she'd tell me about it when I'm old enough to understand, but here I was at sixteen, and still she hadn't told me. Aren't I old enough yet?, I asked myself, annoyed that she was keeping it stuffed inside. She's probably afraid of hurting me, I'm willing to bet. But I don't see how anything can surprise me anymore. After all, I've already killed a few Combat Boomers and all. Oh well, if she wants to keep it to herself, that's her business, not mine.

After contemplating for a few minutes whether this was the right thing to do or not, I decided to go ahead and read. The sooner I was done, the sooner that I could return the diary and the less chance of Nene finding out. I spotted the next entry and read.

Priss came home from her tour today, the entry for 10 September 2037 started out. Me, Linna, and Sylia went over to the airport to meet her, and geez were there a lot of other people waiting for her! Probably just autograph seekers, but the police held them back so they wouldn't mob her when she got off the plane. Anyway, we just stood there for about an hour waiting for the plane to land; I'm guessing it probably ran late because of all the fans holding Priss up (laugh).

Well, after what seemed like a lifetime, we looked out the window and saw the plane land. Everyone rushed to the windows, hoping to get a glimpse of her through the plane window; no such luck. A few minutes later, we saw Priss, wearing her usual street clothes and sunglasses. I jumped up and down, shouting her name. Took her a second to find us, but once she did, she took off her sunglasses, smiled, and shoved her way through the crowd towards us. I ran towards her, shouting her name again.

"Priss!" I finally reached her and gave her a huge hug. Oh, I was so glad to see her! She'd been on tour for the past year, going to New York, Berlin, Moscow, those kind of places. I'd wanted to go to all of her concerts, but I couldn't afford it, so I'd only managed to go to the one she had in Tokyo.

"Hi!" she said. "Musta missed me, huh?"

"Yeah! It just hasn't been the same without you here."

"Nene's been crying for you every night for the past year," I heard Linna joke as she and Sylia walked up behind me.

"I have not!" I snapped.

"Oh yes you have. Well anyway, Priss, how about I take you out to dinner? Call it my 'welcome home' gift."

"No, how about I take YOU out? I can actually afford it now," Priss teased.

So Priss took all of us out to dinner. We went to one of those fancy-shmancy restaurants where just an appetizer costs 3,000 yen. I couldn't believe the prices! I'd probably use up my life's savings just to eat dinner here! Just about lost my appetite just looking at those prices, but Priss said to choose whatever I wanted; it was her treat.

Anyway, Linna kept asking questions about her tour, who she met, and if there were any cute guys that she'd met. That's Linna for you. Priss said she met plenty of famous people, but it didn't matter to her; she said she'd rather be with her friends. Suddenly, this little kid walks up to her, all big-eyed and stuff, and asks, "Are you Priss?" Priss stopped talking, looked at the little girl, and bends down to her, all smiling, saying, "Yes I am." The girl then says, "Well, um, Miss Priss, would it be ok if I had your autograph?" I saw the girl's mom a few tables away telling her not to bother her, but Priss, being that she loves kids and all, took out a pen and signed the picture that the kid held. The girl then hugged her, said thanks, and went back to her table. Normally she doesn't give out autographs, but for a little child, I suppose she'd do anything.

After dinner, while we were all walking out to our cars, I asked Priss when she'd be starting on her next CD. She said not for a while; she wants to just kick back and relax right now. I don't blame her. All that traveling around MUST make a person want to take it easy for a few years (laugh). Well, I'm just glad she's back now. Just get things back to, well, as normal as they could be.

20 September 2037

Sylia just opened another Silky Doll shop a few days ago. Appears that her lingerie is getting to be pretty popular around here. I think this is the third one she's opened in the past few years. I'm starting to wonder just how far it'll expand. Farther than my career, that's for sure.

Well anyway, we had another one of our training sessions today. Went and played some paintball games at Survival Shot again. And yes, Priss and Linna lost once again and had to pay for dinner once again (laugh). They should come up with some better tactics if they don't wanna keep losing. Oh well, free food for me (laugh). But I'm starting to wonder what the point is of continuing our training. I mentioned that at dinner and Priss pointed out that it's been only two years since we broke up, and that the 'Boomer vacation', as she puts it, probably won't last for too much longer. From the looks of it, Linna and Sylia seem to agree with her. If that's true, then I'll just have to keep a lookout for any Boomer incidents from ADP HQ. It would be nice to see some action, I guess...

I yawned and stretched. It was getting late, and if I wanted to get a part in that play, I'd have to get some sleep. Couldn't go for an audition if I was still half-asleep. Then it struck me.

I hadn't even taken a look at the book yet.

Well, too late now, I thought, cursing myself out for having forgot about it. There were two days for auditions, after all. I'd have plenty of time to look through the book later. So I got into my usual bedtime apparel -- a large shirt and some boxer shorts -- and climbed into bed. I wonder what kind of stuff I'll find in that diary, I wondered as I drifted off to sleep. Must be something in there that Mom told Nene and nobody else. There must be...

I stood in the auditorium after school, watching other people trying out for Romeo and Juliet. So far, people had mostly tried out for -- go figure -- either Romeo or Juliet, but there'd been a few that tried out for Tybalt, Mercurio, or Benvolio. Michiko stood there with me, wanting to try out also.

"I'm not gonna try out for Juliet like everything else, though," she reminded me. "I'll try to get the part of Nurse. She's the one that watches over Juliet, after all. And she doesn't have that many lines either. Maybe since you have a problem with memorizing lines, Yumeko, you should probably try out for a lesser role."

"No way," I said. "I've been working on my lines, and there's always room for improvement, right?"

"Right, but you've been saying that for as long as you HAVE tried out for plays," she said, laughing.

"Oh, very funny. But this time it's the truth. I'll get that part no matter what."

"But remember..."

"Remember what?"

"If you do get the part of Juliet, you'll have to do a love scene with whoever is Romeo."

I grimaced. Ugh. I forgot about that part. And what if...no, he wouldn't try out for this. Masahiro would never get that part. But then again, since I was trying out, there just might be a chance he would too. Probably only trying out because he wants a love scene with me, I thought, shuddering at the thought of calling Masahiro 'my dear Romeo.'

"You know what part you're going to do for this?" I asked.

"Yeah. Have all my lines memorized and everything. This'll be a cinch. You just watch."

"I'll watch, I'll watch, trust me."

As the kids who had just done their auditioning left the stage and sat down, a teacher called out the next person's name.

"Michiko Ishiodori, you're next." Michiko's eyes widened as she stood up.

"Wish me luck," she said, smiling as she walked towards the stage.

"Already am."

"You were great," I complimented as Michiko and I walked outside.

"You think so?" she asked. "I dunno if I was all that great..."

"Bull. You're gonna get that part for sure. No one else could outplay you as Nurse in a thousand years!"

She laughed. "Aw c'mon, you're just kidding me."

"Why would I be kidding you? I'm telling the truth."

"The results of the auditions get posted next week, don't they? We'll get to see if you got Juliet's part then!"

"I'm telling you, you're gonna have that role. Just wait."

"We'll see."

We both walked to my motorcycle, me jabbering on about how Michiko was sure to land the role as Nurse, while she said we'd just have to wait and see. I asked her if she needed a ride home, which she said she did, and so I offered her one.

"You sure? I don't wanna be too much trouble for you."

"It's ok, Michiko. You can use my helmet if you want to."

"No, no, it's ok. You should wear it."

"I'm hard-headed as it is," I joked. "I don't need it."

"Well, if you insist," she said, reluctantly taking the helmet and putting it on. "You sure you'll be fine without it?"

"Of course I will. Better get on or I'll leave ya behind."

"Oh, Yumeko..." she laughed.

She got on, and then we sped off, leaving school behind until the following day would beckon us back to learn some more of life's stupid lessons. Michiko lived about six miles away from our high school, and although there were several other schools closer to where she lived, she said she wouldn't want to go anywhere else. I wouldn't want to either, although I hated several of the teachers there with a passion, Mrs. Sasaki notwithstanding.

On the way to her apartment, we stopped and bought some soft pretzels for a snack. As we ate, Michiko wanted to ask a few things.

"I've been thinking, Yumeko..."

"What is it?"

"Priss goes on tour again in April, doesn't she?"

"Yeah. So what?"

"That's when our senior year begins. Are you gonna be traveling around with her, or are you gonna stay here?"

"The sooner I'm out of high school, the better. I do like going touring with her, but if I skip that whole year just to go on tour with her, I'd have to come back only to have to make up my senior year anyway. If I stay here, I'll be able to get it over and done with."

"True. Oh hey..."

"What now?"

"Have you ever seen the Knight Sabers actually fight a Boomer?"

I nearly choked on my pretzel.

"No," I coughed, banging on my chest to get some air. "Why...why do you ask?"

"I was just wondering, because I've seen them. With my own eyes."

"R...really?" I asked, trying not to act too surprised. Just the week before, a Boomer had gone nuts just a half-block from her apartment. I'd been hoping that she hadn't got caught up in it, but when she showed up for school the next day, I thanked God ten times over.

"Yeah. I could see 'em from my bedroom window. They just came and trashed the sucker. The purple one does a pretty good job at it, too."

"The purple one?"

"Yeah, I mean, for an amateur. When the Knight Sabers were fighting Boomers in the '30's, there was only the white, blue, red, and green ones, right? There was no purple one until they reappeared six weeks ago. Kinda makes a person wonder how they find new recruits for their group, doesn't it?"

I couldn't help myself from paling at her words. Damn, I hope she hadn't seen anything that would connect me and the purple Saber... Wouldn't that be just great; not even two months on the job, and someone would already figure out who the purple Knight Saber was? I'd be screwed over for sure...

"Are you all right, Yumeko? You don't look so good," Michiko observed.

"What? Oh, um, I guess I'm just tired from staying up all night reviewing the lines for that play."

"You should get more sleep. Can't act if you're asleep, y'know."

I laughed. "That wouldn't be too good, would it?"

She looked at her watch for the time. "We should go."

We both finished up our pretzels, got on my bike -- Michiko using my helmet again -- and drove down the street. I ended up having to take a different route to her apartment because the Boomer had trashed the street I normally took to get there.

Almost at her apartment, I suddenly heard something in my back pocket start beeping. It was the pager Sylia had given me to use so in case there was an emergency, she could contact me.

"SHIT!!" I cursed aloud, slamming on the brakes and stopping abruptly.

"What's wrong?!" Michiko asked, alarmed.

"Something just came up. Do you mind walking the rest of the way home? I'm really sorry, but I have to go."

"Well...ok. Don't forget your helmet," she said, taking it off and handing it to me.

"Thanks, Michiko," I said, putting it on. "I'll see you tomorrow, ok?"

"Ok. Bye, Yumeko."

"Bye," I yelled as I turned around and drove down the street, Michiko waving to me. Dammit, dammit, dammit, I thought. This is the fourth Boomer in three weeks!! How many of these things are there gonna be?! Talk about Genom wanting to get back in the act, geez...

Pulling up in front of Sylia's building, I immediately ran inside and downstairs. When it came to fighting Boomers, we had to get out there as soon as possible to minimize the damage and casualties inflicted. I wasn't in a hurry for that reason, though. I was hurrying because I loved fighting Boomers; it let out a lot of stress, plus I hardly ever got hurt. Trouble was, I couldn't exactly go out and boast to everyone, 'Hey, guess what I did yesterday!!' It kinda sucked, but oh well, life gets like that sometimes. But to actually be part of a vigilante group...now THAT doesn't happen 'sometimes.'

I reached the door and put my hand on the fingerprint scanner. After a second, it beeped and said on the bottom of the screen, "WELCOME, YUMEKO." Then I hurried inside, only to catch everyone else in the middle of dressing. I blushed.

"Er, sorry," I apologized.

Linna pulled up her innerwear, fastened it, and shrugged. "You don't need to apologize. We're in a hurry. Now, come on and suit up."


So we did our usual thing: strip down, suit up, pile into the equipment van, and head out. Sylia filled us in on what Boomer we'd be against this time: a BU-33B Combat Boomer, one of the newer things Genom had come up with. She said the SWAT team came in and tried to take it out, but even they couldn't destroy it, and it ended up wiping most of THEM out, killing two-thirds of them so far.

"They can't do anything right," Mom said aloud, leaning back and folding her arms behind her head.

"They're trying their best," Nene said. "Without any K-suits, how good do you expect them to do? They're not exactly us, you know."

"They proved that a long time ago."

"All right," Sylia interrupted. "We're almost there, now listen up. This isn't just a 55C like we were against the first time. This is a BU unit, so it has considerably more firepower and is considerably more dangerous. It's like being against about ten 55Cs at once. I want you all to be extra careful this time, do you understand?"

"Roger," I responded.

Sylia turned to Nene, who was at the computer terminal. "Nene, you stay and monitor things from here, ok?"


"Let's go," she said to the rest of us.

Wandering around the streets, I scanned for the Boomer, but kept coming up with nothing. Where in the world was this thing? Nene had said she'd spotted it in this area, but... Maybe this thing couldn't be scanned? No, that couldn't be right. If she'd been able to spot its location, then it must be able to be scanned for. Maybe my scanner was broken.

"Nene, are you sure you said it was here?" I asked over the comm.

"Yes, Yumeko," she replied. "It should be just a short distance from you."

"My scanners aren't picking anything up, though."

"Well, keep searching."

I sighed. "Fine. But if the scanner is broken..."

"We checked them before we left. Everything's in working order."

"Are you SURE it's here?"

"Yes!! Now look for it before—"

Oh, what timing Nene had. Before she could finish what she was saying, I heard a loud explosion not too far away. Oh God, I thought, spinning around to face it. From behind a building, I saw smoke starting to rise.

"It's here!!" I heard Linna scream over the comm. "Get over here, quick!!"

"Um, never mind, Nene," I said, disconnecting. Shit...I had to get over there before Linna got hurt. Oh, that bastard would pay if it touched anybody. Opening my flight wings, I launched myself into the air and flew towards the explosion. Immediately, there was another one, throwing me off guard and making me lose my balance in the air for a moment.

"Linna, are you ok?!" I yelled over the comm. All I got was static. This wasn't good. I slapped my helmet on the side, trying to clear up the static, but to no avail.

"Linna, answer me!!" Just more static. I started to get frantic.

I landed near the explosion site and looked around, running my scanner at the same time for her. After a few seconds, it beeped and indicated she was just ahead. I ran towards her, and gasped when I saw her; she was sprawled out on the pavement, her breathing coming in deep gasps, her shoulder covered in blood. I trembled with fear as I prayed that it wasn't as bad as it looked.

"Linna!!" I bent down and examined her. I wasn't any doctor, but from the looks of it, she'd been hit with a pretty powerful blast and ended up being pretty badly injured by it.

At the sound of my voice, she lifted her head a little and looked up at me.


"Yes, it's me," I said, trying not to let the tears that started to well up in my eyes blur my vision too much. "You feeling ok?"

"Don't let it...sneak up on you. It's pretty strong..." She tried to get up, groaning when she leaned on her injured shoulder for support. I put that arm around my shoulders and helped her up.

"I better get you back to Nen—" Suddenly, I felt something slam into me hard from behind. I screamed and fell to the ground, taking Linna with me, my back screaming with pain. What the hell was that?!

"So you're the new kid on the block, huh?" I heard a deep voice ask. I turned onto my back and looked up at its owner: the BU33-B we'd been chasing.

"That'd be me," I answered, wincing at the burning pain in my back.

"You shoulda stayed in the little leagues, kid. You're playing with real fire now."

"Who are you calling a kid?" I snapped, jumping up and taking a swing at him. The bastard didn't even do anything. He just caught my fist in mid-air, grabbing it by my wrist, and started squeezing.

"You, kid. Maybe you should just go home and play with your little toys with the other kiddies." He squeezed harder on my wrist, making me groan with the pain. I tried to yank away from him, but he was too strong. I cried out again as he squeezed my wrist even harder and picked me up by it, dangling me in the air.

"Let go!!" I aimed my other arm at its head, about to fire one of my discs through it, when he went and grabbed it, too.

"You're pathetic," he laughed. "I don't know why I'm bothering with you." He tightened his grip on me. "Maybe I should play with your other friends. By the way, weren't there more of you besides your little green friend?" I looked back at Linna, or at least tried to, seeing that she was just now getting up.

"Don't you touch her!!" I yelled, kicking it in the stomach using my Leg Bombers, which didn't help matters any. Tightening his grip on my wrists even more, I screamed as I felt my right one snap and as a wave of pain shot up my arm, almost causing me to pass out, it was so great.

"Oh, I think I will. I haven't had my fun with her yet." He dropped me and before I even hit the ground, kicked me in the stomach, knocking the wind out of me and sending me crashing into a wall.

Trying to get my breath back, I slowly stood up, my whole body aching from the impact. I saw the Boomer turn to Linna and head towards her. I couldn't let it hurt her more than it already had. This was more than I could handle. I tried to yell to her to look out, but it was too late. Just as she turned around to face it, the Boomer started beating her up, punching her over and over again.

"You...son of a bitch...!" I said, aiming my arm at its head. The moment my HUD said "TARGET LOCK-ON," I fired one of my discs, flinching with the pain it caused to do so. The Boomer heard it coming, but didn't have time to react, for when it turned around to face me, the disc cleanly sliced off one of its arms, fluids gushing out of the stump. The Boomer let out a holler in both rage and in pain and started to charge towards me again. Oh boy, here we go, I thought, backing away from it.

The Boomer reached me quicker than I thought, and with its remaining arm, took a swing at me. I ducked just in time to avoid the punch and heard its fist smash into the wall. I tried to run away, as painful as it was to try, but the Boomer saw me and grabbed me by my neck. I gasped with surprise as he picked me up and turned me so I would face him.

"Just where do you think you were heading off to?" the Boomer growled, obviously a little more than pissed at me. He started squeezing my neck, choking the air out of me. I gasped and tried to wiggle out of the thing's grip, but it didn't work. Suddenly, I remembered something; there was still another weapon of mine that I hadn't used yet. I grinned and looked up into the Boomer's hideous face.

"Hey, think you could smile for the camera?" I asked.


"Uh-huh. Say cheese," I said, grinning slyly as I opened up my pulse-strikers and activated them.

"What the hell are those?" it tried to ask, but couldn't; the pulse-strikers were already taking effect. When Sylia had told me that the glow in them would paralyze Boomers, I hadn't believed her, but that was exactly what they did. The Boomer immediately dropped me and backed off, trembling as it tried to resist the effect of them.

"Go to hell!!" I heard a familiar voice yell out as I saw a blue hardsuit leap out of nowhere and slap an S-Mine on the Boomer's torso. Mom leaped away just as fast and then, I felt someone wrap an arm around me and take me far enough away so as not to be hurt when the mine exploded.

As it did -- effectively wiping out the Boomer -- I wearily looked up to see who was holding me. It was Sylia.

"S...Sylia..." I whispered, just about ready to collapse right there.

"It's all right now, Yumeko. We're here." Mom appeared again, this time holding a very beat-up-looking Linna on her shoulder.

"What did the bastard do to you?" Mom asked, heavy concern in her voice.

"Beat us up," I said, getting to the point. "Can we get out of here now? Linna looks like she could use a doctor right now."

"So do you."

"Come on," Sylia said, helping me back to the van, and Mom helping Linna back as well. What a night, I thought, clenching my hand into a fist, flinching with the pain it caused, as it was my broken one. I hope Linna's ok. I don't give a damn about myself, I just hope she herself wasn't too badly hurt... I'd rather not think about how badly she'd be hurt if she didn't have her suit on...