A deep sigh was heard over the intercom system as she made the announcement.
In frustration her brother tore off his training gloves and threw them hard towards the nearest wall. Once again he had failed the hologram battle simulator. From within the booth Sylia felt pity for her young brother and wanted to give him comfort but this was too important to coddle him right now.
Mackie, you re still thinking too much out there. This program is designed to test your reflex skills. In a real battle you only have enough time to react to a possible target area. If you have to think about it, think about how you re going to attack it then your window of opportunity will disappear.
Watching from inside the booth she realized that he wasn t truly listening. He was still too angry at himself. It had been a struggle to pass even the lowest stages of the simulation and the pounding his ego was taking was making him surly and aggravated. If it had been any of the girls she would have forced them to do it again until they got it right and they d understand. However with her brother a new tact would be needed.
All right Mackie. That s enough for this morning. Take a shower and try to calm down. Well do this again tonight. Its all right. You ll get the hang of this. Even Nene couldn t get past level five for the longest time.
As soon as the words left her mouth Sylia wished she had said anything else. After all Mackie was still fighting to pass level 3 and mentioning Nene was an additional mistake. Her sibling didn t get angry though. His head simply slumped and he sulked his way out of the training area.
Taking off the training outfit Mackie tried hard to forget his mistakes in the training room. According to Sylia there had been rumors that GENOM was about to go back into action and in that case the Knight Sabers would be needed. As it stood right now he d be more of a handicap to the group than an asset and he knew that. All the more reason why he had been training so hard. The Knight Sabers had been nothing but supportive of him during the preparations and for that he was thankful. No jokes, not even in jest or snicker when he made mistakes. A new suit had been recently been completed for his use and now he needed the skills to make the suit work right and he wasn t sure he was going to get to that level in time.
Linna and Priss walked into the recording studio to lay down the tracks for their upcoming CD. They had to wait a few moments before entering because a large red light was on outside the door indicating that recording was going on. The moment the light went off they knew it was safe to enter. There they met Vision their recording crew. In the performance booth they could see their band that were laying down the background tracks being coached by their engineer. He apparently wasn t happy with the last take.
That last take was terrible. Now come on we re way behind schedule. I thought you people were professionals at this. I ve heard junior high school bands showing more talent and potential than you ve shown. Now we re going to do a pickup from the start of the 3rd chorus again and this time I expect you to get this right.
Looking on Priss and Linna wondered if this was the man who would be working with them for the recording of the song. Before having to think about it Vision interrupted.
This is Mel. He ll be your engineer. I admit he looks like a control freak and a slave driver. Actually to a small degree he is. However he is also very good at what he does and can get the best out of people. I prefer using him when I m recording though at times I ll also admit I ll sometimes want to take the microphone and throw it through the window at his thick skull.
That piece of information amazingly calmed the fears down a bit. For if Vision supported him then he had to be good and all sides wanted this recording to be the best work they had ever done.
Turning around Mel finally acknowledged the presence of Priss and Linna.
We should be ready for you in about 30 to 45 minutes if these animals can get their damn act straight.
For the first time in many days the ADP office didn t have the feel of a death knell surrounding it. It had been leaked to the morning papers that Nene Romanova s condition was improving enough to allow her to be taken out of her medically induced coma. The news was greeted with a few loud cheers from Leon but mostly there was a bunch of cautious smiles from the rest of the crew knowing that while the young women was going to live it would be a long time before she could ever come back to active duty. Still that didn t stop Naoko from early planning for a party when her best friend would be released from the hospital.
Still in a business where tragedy is such a common thread any excuse to cut loose and celebrate is a good reason. It took the presence of the temporary police chief to put things into perspective.
People. I know you re happy over the news over Officer Romanova. However we still have a job to do. The rest of the public still need our protection and we need to focus our attentions on doing THAT job. Now if you want to do these other things that s fine. Just do them on your own time. I m sure when he comes back Chief Todo would tell you the same thing.
The temporary captain didn t want to come down so hard on his department but he also felt he had to quickly reestablish the professionalism that was needed to do their jobs well.
Once again Sylia began working on Mackie s hard suit to get it ready for the time when he would need to be a member of the Knight Sabers. Making sure that she had not missed a detail in its design, That the laser would be ready if needed and hoping it wouldn t need to be used. That the electronics were as up to date as possible to protect the Knight Sabers from any form of interference that could render their hard suits useless.
Taking a breather she looked to her left where Nene s hard suit was standing in its storage area silently waiting for the day when it s owner and occupant would return to it. Going over to the suit she pressed her hand against the glass case. Her mind went back to day the day her original hack test had finally been cracked. She could not believe that such a young girl could have broken it as easily as Nene did. Part of her wondered if she was a child prodigy along the lines of Mozart.
She had proven herself worthy of being called a Knight Saber time after time. Her becoming a member of A.D. Police proved to be an equal vital asset. She was able to also provide intelligence via the same police force on Genom and their boomers. Though her immaturity would occasionally be a cause for concern she just as often showed courage, and acted in ways that were well beyond her years. Even though it was that same courage that has currently caused her to be hospitalized.
The recording session proved to be more demanding on Priss than she had anticipated. As the band was clearing out after their session Mel talked to Priss about her arrangement. Going over certain portions of the he understood the directions she wanted in the music before he started giving her any directions. His knowledge of the music field impressed her even before he admitted to her he tried his hand at being a singer himself with less the satisfying results. During this time another individual for the company had taken all the tracks from the various instruments and merged them into a scratch recording to give Priss some background music to help her in her session. This rough draft wasn t smooth like the finished product would be but it would give Priss her timing for her singing portion which would be put on a different track to start with.
The first portion of the recording went well for Priss. The tracks for the first and second verse went smoothly and it appeared that this recording could be one of the fastest on record. However as she began her 3rd chorus she heard a sound on the track that affected her. There were the sounds of violins that gave an angelic sound to the music. She knew she had put that instrument into the song. It was suppose to sound sad in her mind reflecting the feelings she had felt towards Nene. The sounded caused her voice to choke up and caused her emotions to show. It was quickly realized by the studio engineer.
Priss? Is something wrong? Are you all right? , Mel asked with genuine concern in his voice.
Taking a tissue from a nearby table she blew her nose then went back to the microphone.
I m fine. This part gets to me. It got to me when I wrote it and I guess it s getting to me now singing it.
Do you need a moment to composure yourself. Our time factor is excellent. We ve got the studio booked for another 6 hours. Linda, bring some water to Priss. Take 5 and we ll get back to work.
It was little wonder why Vision thought so highly of this man. Yes, he could be a slave driver and a control freak, but he also knew when it was time to ease up and how to work with the talent. She looked through the window toward Linna who gave a thumbs up to Priss allowing her to know that from where she was standing the recording was going very, very well.
Walking through the halls of the hospital Chief Todo and his niece Lisa Vinette had come to visit Nene. This would be the last chance for the chief to spend so much time with his subordinate before his suspension ended and he would be back at work. Lisa was there during a school break and had been begging her uncle to let her see Nene. The two had forged a close friendship during her one week vacation before. She was also the keeper of Nene s secret. Originally planning on exposing the Knight Sabers for having destroyed her original camera that attitude changed when those same people saved her during an attack on the A.D. Police building by boomers. To show her future intentions when her time with Nene was over she gave her the picture showing her as a Knight Saber and the disc from the camera.
Good morning. Any new info on Nene today? ,asked Chief Todo to Mrs. Romanova as he entered the room.
Well she s off the coma medication. Still haven t woken up yet though. A couple of times during the night I thought I saw her hand twitch slightly. Not sure if I was dreaming that though. For now all I can do is sit ..and wait ..and wait ..and wait some more.
With the grownup conversing between them Lisa grabbed a chair and placed it at the head of the bed to sit down. She spoke softly to the women she eventually learned to idolize.
Hi Nene. It s me Lisa. Sorry I haven t show up before now but school was still in session and everything. Please Nene, you ve got to get better. I need you, the ADP needs you, the ..
Stopping before she said the words loud enough to be heard by the others in the room she whispered softly into Nene s ear so only she could have heard it.
The Knight Sabers need you. Please, you ve got to wake up.
During the rest of her time at the hospital Lisa whispered comments to the unconscious figure as her uncle Chief Todo looked on. He still remembered the day Nene was injured and the phone call he received from his niece. She was obviously distraught then and now seeing her friend brought all the emotions back to her.
By the time Priss and Linna were done with the recording session the sun was beginning to set. The cool breeze felt good against their faces after being in the stuffy rooms of the recording studio most of the day. The whole session was full of surprises. When she had finished her song the first time Priss believed the session was over but Mel wanted her to re-record certain parts of the song he wasn t sure came out as well as it could have. It was an eye opening education about the workings of the recording business that until then she had never known or experienced.
It was an equally educational experience for Linna. She marveled at how Mel knew when to push Priss around and when to back off. There were times she was sure Priss would get into his face and tell him quite colorfully what he could do with his instructions. Yet somehow she never did. Maybe she wanted this song to be the best work she would ever do just like Mel wanted it to be the best thing he ever did. Maybe she did it because she knew what was produced could lead to further songs she wrote being able to be heard by the public and she wouldn t want to risk that by behaving like a diva.
Even at the end of the recording session when she should have been exhausted Priss was still energetic and alert. No doubt there was still an adrenaline rush involved but even with that consideration Linna would have expected to be more exhausted than her.
Tell you what. Lets celebrate. I ll take you out for dinner. My treat. , offered Linna.
Before the rock star could respond the watches they were wearing started beeping. That could mean only one thing. That the Knight Sabers were needed.
Looks like I ll have to take a rain check on that dinner. ,admitted Priss.
Without another word Priss mounted her motorcycle while Linna got into her car heading to the place where the entire Knight Saber crowd would meet.
Back at their headquarters Sylia Stingray grappled with a difficult decision of her own. Should she include Mackie in this mission. After all his failure in the simulator proved he wasn t up to hand to hand combat with the boomers. However he was still a member of the team. To leave him off would indicate to him and the rest of the team that he wasn t worthy to be part of the Knight Sabers. That might prove to be too big a blow to his ego, especially given how much time and effort he had been putting in with his training. In the end there was only one decision that could be made. Picking up the phone she called the auto repair shop where he worked.
Hi Mackie, its Sylia. Drop what you re doing. We ve got a job to do.
Back at the hospital Lisa continued her vigil over Nene. Her uncle and Nene s mother had stepped out to get something to eat. But the niece claimed she wasn t hungry. It made her feel so helpless just sitting next to the bed. The beeps of the heart monitors in their droning rhythm.
Then without warning the pace of the beeps changed as did their pitch. This got the young girls attention. As she looked she noticed Nene s eye s were slightly open for a the briefest of moments before they began to close again. Lisa wasn t sure what had happened but she went and called for a nurse.
A young women appeared and listened to what Lisa had to say. Double checking the EKG graph she studied them intently. Taking her cel phone out she dialed a number then closed it. Within 5 minutes Nene s mother and Chief Todo arrived at the room. The mother looked at her daughter then to the nurse.
What s going on? What happened. , the mother asked.
Nene just had her first attempt to wake up. We were alerted by this girl here so we didn t actually see it but she did. Also her neural stimulus spiked for a few seconds. The medication is still strongly inside her but this is a good sign that she ll be coming out of this soon.
For the first time in what had seemed like an eternity it was the best news the mother had heard.
The Knight Sabers drove down the highway. Already dressed in their hard suits Linna drove the vehicle while Priss paced back and forth in the van. Meanwhile in the back Sylia and Mackie sat in a private conference in the back. The brother had been uncharacteristic in his silence.
Nervous? , she asked.
Yeah. I m afraid I m going to screw up. Just like I did in the simulator. ,her brother added
Just remember your training. React, don t think. Besides your only job on this assignment is to watch out for electronic virus s that could compromise our software. You won t be asked to do any fighting. Just make sure to stay far enough away from the action but close enough to be able to monitor us. You ll get your chance for action soon enough but I m not going to endanger you if that is possible.
As the van arrived at its destination the door slid open and the Knight Sabers proceeded into battle. The girls entered the fray as they had done many times before and as instructed Mackie remained a safe distance away watching the monitors inside his suit and calling out to the Sabers when any part of their suit was on the verge of being compromised so they could take appropriate actions. Though the battle was difficult for most of it the Knight Sabers were possessing the upper hand.
Without warning however a boomer landed right in front of Mackie alarming him to the point that he couldn t react for the briefest of times. It was enough of a delay for the boomer to strike at the face of his suit. With that one blow all of Mackie s visual monitors were knocked out. Not being able to see where the boomer was he tried to cover up like a boxer. With his back unprotected the boomer struck a pair of strikes to the area causing him to lose his balance.
Help, I m in trouble. , was all the words he could call out before the boomer struck with a kick knocking him onto his back where his suit was starting to short circuit. Luckily the insulation within the metal protected him from being shocked but with no electricity he couldn t move. His hard suit had no become a tomb with him locked inside of it. There was no way to get out by himself. He could hear the boomer strike several more blows to the suit until it was satisfied that he had been immobilized before departing leaving Mackie alone and in trouble.
The first thing Mackie realized was that he must not panic. If he did then the limited amount of air within the suit would be consumed too fast. His sister had explained that this suit had been made to be leak proof in case the fight had broken out in water. That otherwise air would be recirculated through the machine. Now with the power supply gone every breath he took was releasing carbon dioxide into his limited atmosphere.
His mind began to wander. He recalled the times when he listened in to the discussions of the Knight Sabers. How his sister kept pressing the point that the team be kept at a sharp edge because one mistake against a boomer could easily be the last thing they ever see. Only now did he realize the fullness of that statement.
In the past when the rest of the team had been called into action he had always been afraid that one or more of them wouldn t come back alive. While he naturally had concern for all the ladies his most pressing concern had been for Nene. She wasn t as physically tough as Priss or have the endurance of Linna. Her brain power matched that of her sister but even then her physical abilities weren t as strong. Now he started to wonder if she ever felt the same way within the suit that he was feeling now.
He could feel himself starting to sweat inside the suit wondering if his message for help had managed to get out. He began to feel his eyes starting to flutter wanting to close. Mackie realized that if he allowed his eyes to shut there was a good chance he would die from the lack of breathable air. His mind kept telling him to stay awake. Stay alive. Stay alive. Stay a ..
The eye s opened up. The first thing that was noticed was all the white.
Am I in heaven? , was the only thought in the mind while the eye s tried to scan their surroundings to make sense of their situation. It wasn t until the eye moved to the left that they saw a familiar figure. One that hadn t been seen in a while.
Lisa? , a weak voice pronounced.
Then to the right two more figures were spotted.
Chief Todo? Mama?
Lisa was quick to throw her arms around Nene s neck to kiss her cheek. She could see her mother with her hands clasped in a prayer of thanks for this moment. Even Chief Todo a man not normally given to displays of emotion seemed to be tearing up.
Nene tried to respond to the hug with one of her own but her arms did little more than flop around her young friend. This caused her to be concerned.
What s wrong with my arms?
Her mother provided the information. That it had been explained that since she had been in a medically induced coma for the last several days a little muscular uncoordination was to be expected. However the damage wouldn t be permanent and that with a little practice she would once again have use of her arms.
For the rest of the day Nene asked about what happened. The last thing she remembered was the building collapsing. She was told how Leon saved her life with his actions at the scene and that he even donated his own blood to keep her alive. That the ADP collectively had flowers delivered to her room. It made her feel very special. It was followed up by the heroic efforts made by the doctors and nurses to keep her body alive until this point. It made her realize just how lucky she was to have made it this far.
In a supply closet a solitary figure produced a cel phone and began dialing. After a few moments its picked up.
This is White Angel . The cop just woke up .I tried to but it was difficult to make the accident happen with that girl s mother and the cops hovering around her ..Yes we re definatly going to have to go with plan B ..I understand. Bye.
The figure closed the phone and waited a few minutes before opening the door a crack. When it was clear that nobody could see her the figure exited. Smoothing out her nurses uniform she began to move about as if nothing was out of the ordinary. At she neared one of the nurses stations a page was heard on the P.A.
Emergency team to room 3-203 STAT!
Even though she had been paid by Genom to make sure the cop didn t recover she was still a nurse who had been employee at the hospital to heal the wounded. Now she went to the indicated room to do that duty.
By the time the other Knight Sabers found they were unsure how much time had passed since his broken transmission. His non-response to their calls let them know his suit had shut down completely and that he was running out of air.
Priss picked the suited figure in her arms and the three quickly made their way to their van. Inside Sylia pulled some electrical cables out of a cabinet with the vehicle. Just after Linna had plugged in the device to the power grid for the vehicle Sylia pulled off the emergency power outlet from just above Mackie s suited head. Punching in the override code to allow the suit to open up there was relief when the suit began to crack open. Helping move the upper portion of the suit they saw Mackie with his eye s closed and his breathing very shallow.
Quick, get the oxygen tank. , Sylia commanded.
Priss had the tank and mask in hand even before it had been asked. Turning the knob to release its concentrated contents Sylia hooked the mask over her brothers nose and mouth. She gently slapped her the face of her younger sibling calling out his name hoping for a response. The leader of the group began to fear if she had just condemned her own flesh and blood to his death.
With a couple of cough s Mackie began to come back to the living. His hand now freed from the suit tried to take the oxygen mask off but was not allowed to by his sister. With the other hand Sylia cupped it around his cheek as she muttered apologies for what she had just put him through.
Not your fault sis. I failed you. I failed Nene.
Authors notes: Yeah, its taken me a long time to write this chapter. This is the part of the story where I begin to try and start closing out the story, start closing loose ends. A lot more will happen I m sure with the next chapter which if my calculations are correct will be the next to last or last one. Now that this tough chapter is completed hopefully the next one will be done a lot faster.
P.S. The member of my family who I mentioned got stricken with cancer in my authors notes last chapter has made a complete recover and is now cancer free. Just wanted to share that bit of good news with everybody.