Disclaimer: I own none of the characters from Bubblegum Crisis, they all belong to AIC and ADV, I'm only borrowing them for awhile. This can also be considered a reboot, much like 2040 was a reboot of the first series.

Bubblegum Crisis: Stage Three

Part One

Sylia Stingray sat in the back of the black limo, her short black hair falling around her face as the young woman watched traffic race on by on the streets of Tokyo. Thoughtfully she counted all the cars that had been made by Genom owned companies but stopped after a minute and already reaching a hundred. Instead she turned her brown eyes to the paperwork on her padd, a ultra slim computer evolved from the primitive Blackberry.

Today was the day... after reaching legal adulthood Sylia was finally gaining ownership of her father's company, Genom International. Over forty years ago Dr. Katsuhito Stingray had created the company's greatest product, the artificial humanoid called Boomer, as well as guided it into becoming one of the most powerful companies in the globe. Why, Genom's Tokyo tower itself employed nearly half the sprawling metropolis, and it was only one of dozens of such facilities all around the world.

The limo pulled up to the base of the tower and onto the main access ramp, stopping in front of the gate. A male-type guard boomer scanned their paperwork and the gate opened, the security force field snapping back on once they drove through. The car followed the curving road past the lower industrial levels of the facility and stopped about half way up, where the administrative levels began.

"Here you go, Miss Stingray," the male boomer driver in the impeccable black suit said as he opened up her door.

"Thank you," Sylia said to it with reflexive politeness, standing in the cool shade provided by the tower as she watched the regional manager hurry out along with the soon to be retiring vice president. 'The gate guard must have been programmed to phone ahead when I arrived,' she thought, amused.

Brian J. Mason pushed back his black hair as he smiled at her charmingly, the taller man looking just a little nervous. "Miss Stingray, we weren't expecting you to arrive so soon," the manager said, "you just got back from overseas."

'From my years in a foreign boarding school,' Sylia smiled back calmly, but inside she felt a flash of annoyance. "I thought it would be good for company confidence if I showed due diligence," she answered calmly.

"Of course, of course," Quincy Rosencroitz said quickly, the old man standing straight with the assistance of metallic braces added to his legs. His voice was strong for a man in his eighties, too, not reedy like some might be as he said, "It's good to have you here, Sylia."

'Is this what my father's voice might sound like now?' Sylia wondered sadly, knowing he had been in his fifties when he fathered her, having died only six years after. "Thank you, sir," she answered him respectfully as she continued, "and thank you for all your efforts watching over the company for me."

Quincy smiled back a little sadly as he explained simply, "Why, it was the least I could do for your father."

Brian looked between the two of them then smiled nervously as he asked, "Maybe we should go inside?"

Sylia saw the tiredness that Quincy tried to hide and nodded politely as she answered, "Of course, let's go in."

Inside the main entrance hall the whole upper staff of the primary tower had been assembled, mostly made up of the heads of each division within Genom. Along with Mason there were reps for Boomers, Autos, Music and entertainment, computers and other products Genom created. Along with them was the head of Genom's security force the AD Police, Jeena Malso, who met her gaze with cool intensity.

Unlike most machines Boomers had a very low failure rate, only one in a hundred, and most of those failures were minor. But with the booming business in them the failures did crop up, and Occasionally proved dangerous. Serving their primary purpose the AD Police were called in, capturing or destroying the Boomer as needed.

"Commander Malso," Sylia shook her hand, "you do good work."

"Thank you," Jeena shook it, the older woman smiling tightly.

As expected for the arrival of a new president Sylia gave a short speech, a mix of 'thank you for all your hard work,' and 'let's do our best together' along with a bit of 'the future shines brightly on the company as a new era begins.' It was all cliche but Sylia knew the way the game was played and played it very well.

"Nicely done, Miss Stingray," Mason murmured as he lead her into the elevator and off on a tour of the facilities.

"I did some reading on this kind of thing," Sylia admitted as they stopped on the music and entertainment floor. Headed up by Reika Chang they handled everything from themes for Genom's commercials to managing a music label that Genom owned.

The secretary in front of Reika's office was a attractive brown haired woman with a athletic look about her, despite the sleek suit she wore. "Miss Stingray, Mr Mason," she smiled, her green suit hugging her form as she rose respectfully, "should I check if Ms Chang is available to see you?"

"No need, Miss Yamazaki," Mason nodded. Turning to Sylia he said, "Linna Yamazaki is one of our top executive assistants... in fact I've tried to steal her for myself many times but she's distressingly loyal."

Linna blushed as she pushed her short hair back, "You exaggerate, Mr Mason."

"Nice to meet you, Linna," Sylia nodded, almost unwillingly noting how attractive the slim woman really was. 'This is not the place or time,' Sylia reminded herself firmly, 'she works for you.'

The tour took most of the day and Sylia felt rather annoyed that she couldn't get right down to work. Still, it was only her first day, and there was plenty of time to begin on the changes she ultimately planned.

The next few days were spent learning the lay of the land, primarily studying the computer system. Of course before now Sylia had access to the Genom mainframes from home, but only as a standard user. With her ascending to the presidency she gained unfettered access to the global system and the ability to go anywhere.

"Isn't that interesting," Sylia muttered as her hands flew over the keyboard generated in the smooth surface of her desk. The office on the top floor of the tower was beautifully decorated and offered a terrific view of the city, but Sylia's attention was focused on the holographic screen. Again and again the messages popped up: insufficient access, fatal error and more.

'This doesn't make sense,' Sylia mused as she sat back, 'I have root access. There's no way I can't get into this memory block.'

Archives for Genom were saved every year, dating back to the year that Genom had been founded. But mysteriously the memory stored during the year Sulia's father had died was inaccessible... according to the computer, there was literally nothing there.

Going through the system directory Sylia checked with maintenance first, making sure the hard drives were all still intact. The data had been extracted in the past and transferred to modern storage, but those high density drives checked out fine. Once she confirmed that she moved on to step two, contacting the head of computer services and asking what the status of the box was.

Lisa Valante was a young woman, very nearly as young as Sylia, but that wasn't an impediment in the world of computers. Young people were nearly raised with data access, and the more talented kids were quickly recognized and shunted into the correct programs. Lisa was sharper than most prodigies, having skipped over much of high school and university to pursue a self constructed program of computer research.

The dusky skinned blonde smiled wryly as Lisa addressed Sylia, "There's nothing wrong with that unit."

"Easy for you to say," Sylia answered dryly, "so why can't I get into that unit?"

"It was sealed by a authority higher than yours, I'd guess," Lisa answered.

Sylia frowned as she sat up, "But there is no authority higher than mine in Genom!"

"There is one, in theory," Lisa answered, meeting Sylia's irritated gaze coolly, "your father. If he ordered it sealed before he died..."

Sylia visibly made herself relax, sitting back in her chair. "Is there any way to confirm that?" she asked as she watched the image on the screen.

Lisa gave Sylia a apologetic look as she answered, "I'll do what I can, but you might need a better hacker than I am."

"Do you have anyone on staff?" Sylia asked while also considering her various school mates and friends.

"Actually, there's someone I know...," Lisa conceded.

Nene Romanova was not whom Sylia had been expecting. She was small, redheaded, and oddly irreverent as she looked around Sylia's office, always wearing her white gloves. She was a loaner from the AD Police, a officer in their cyber-crime department. Part of her job involved reconstructing data hacks, developing quite a talent herself.

"You understand I require confidentiality on this?" Sylia stressed. "While it's not forbidden for the president of Genom to pursue this sort of puzzle, a adversary could use it to imply I'm unstable or unsuitable to lead."

"Of course," Nene sniffed. She hesitated as she began to pull off her gloves, "Besides, I can understand keeping secrets."

Sylia didn't gasp because she was used to seeing prosthetics on her classmates, especially the self-styled cyberpunks, but she felt a twinge of surprise at the clearly visible artificial hands. "Those are Boomer tech," she noted, "why not get the skin color changed to match yours?"

Nene set herself up using a portable terminal as she answered, "I had some grey-market interface tech installed. Using a added layer of false skin might interfere with the system access filaments." With that she sat by her terminal, tiny almost invisible strings of material extending from her fingertips to plug directly to the terminal, data streaming by on the holographic screen without her pressing a single key.

"I'm impressed," Sylia murmured as she tried to track Nene's process on her own computer, "maybe I should get that done."

"I wouldn't," Nene said, eyes closed as she concentrated, "you can get fired for having this kind of enhancement." She frowned, "I started out in the regular Police before they fired me over my hands."

"Their loss was our gain," Sylia noted.

"Heh," Nene said as the data streaming by slowed slightly. "Here we go... whoever put this lock in was a paranoid, it's asking me for multiple word and number codes. I'm processing now... oh damn!"

Sylia sat up, "What!"

"I triggered a flag of some kind," Nene scowled, "I don't know what..."

With a loud crash they heard something break out in the hallway, then continue towards the suite. Sylia got up from behind her desk as she ordered, "Disengage, now."

Strands of material smoothly retracted into her hands as Nene asked, "Do you think the flag I tripped...?"

"Probably," Sylia answered as something tore into the door.

To be continued...