Bubblegum Crisis: Stage Three

Part Sixteen

"What the fuck?" Priss Asagiri blurted as they met in the converted warehouse later that day. Unlike in the office she wore baggy shorts and a t-shirt, looking somewhat relaxed on a day off from their body guarding duties.

"Don't swear," Reika Chang chided gently.

"Sorry," Priss said quickly. She looked at Nene, "You're serious? A Boomer bought Lisa Valente's identity?"

"It appears so," Nene Romanova said calmly, "she bought the papers to get into Japan not long after the Russian/Chinese war. Since Hong Kong got slagged in the war, there was no one to say the name wasn't hers."

"Think she's involved in the attacks on Sylia?" Linna Yamazaki asked. She was dressed in a business suit, having been shadowing Sylia today on her errands.

"I don't think so, actually," Sylia admitted, looking as sleek as usual in her off-white business wear. She leaned forward, "Think about it. If she was involved with whomever is attacking me, she would have had the access to build a identity from scratch. Why buy a dead woman's papers and go to all the trouble she did?"

"True enough," Reika said calmly. "I can't say I'm comfortable knowing a liar of that calibre is in out midst, though."

"Keep digging, if covertly," Sylia ordered both Nene and Reika, "we need to be sure what she's doing in Genom is legal. An if not, we need to take steps."

"I'll give Nene access through my system," Reika noted, "it should help her do the searching into Lisa's identity and activity in Genom."

Nene looked thoughtful then nodded, "Should work."

"Any updates on what happened to that snake, Mason?" Linna asked curiously.

"Police are still convinced it's a drug killing," Sylia sat back with a sigh. She rubbed between her eyes gently, "I have... put some pressure on certain officers in the Tokyo Police to investigate."

Put some pressure, Priss decided, probably meant bribes. Or blackmail?

"After a more complete investigation they agree the killing stinks," Sylia admitted. "However they are being told by their superiors to drop it."

"Who would be powerful enough to do that?" Linna wondered, "The Mayor? Someone in Genom? Or...?"

"Could even be someone in the Japanese government," Reika noted thoughtfully. "They rely on funding from Genom, anything that might be endangering that would have to be stopped."

"You're as cynical as I am," Priss noted admiringly.

Everyone ignored that as Sylia continued, "I think we can be certain that this is related to my case."

"Can we really?" Nene asked. Meeting the others eyes she said, "Yes, it was murder. Yes, it was not a drug deal, that's a smoke screen. But Mason was DEEPLY involved in black ops for Genom, any of which could have bounced back at him."

Sylia looked at Nene in concern, hearing the deep loathing in her voice. "What did you find, digging through his files?" she had to ask.

Nene gave her boss a weak smile. "What haven't I found?" she asked wryly. "Just digging through the files I've decoded I've found murder for hire, blackmail, fraud... he was involved in so much dirty deeds I'm surprised someone didn't whack him sooner."

Sylia reached over and patted Nene's hand, her touch lingering a moment.

Priss waited a moment for them to finish, then continued, "So, you think he got killed for something unrelated?"

"I wouldn't go that far," Nene conceded. "But until I go through his files, I can't be sure something he was up to didn't come back to haunt him." She shrugged, "And so far, I've found nothing indicating he plotted against Sylia."

"I guess that makes sense," Priss conceded as Sylia subtly let go of Nene's hand and tried to look business-like. It was cute, in a odd sort of way. She looked at their boss, "Anything new we gotta cover? I promised to take some friends of mine out later."

Sylia tried to give Priss a disapproving look, but it didn't have much heat behind it. "Not from me," she admitted, "Linna? Reika? Nene?"

"We're covered, I think," Reika said after exchanging a glance with Linna, "there's contracts to review in the music division, but that's my area."

"If my assignments are cutting into your work...," Sylia started.

Reika smiled as she quickly said, "I'll let you know if I can't handle it."

"Fair enough," Sylia conceded. She looked at Nene, "Any other updates?"

"Not really," Nene shrugged, "at this point I'm still sifting data. As soon as I get something, I'll let you know."

"All right everyone," Sylia nodded, "dismissed."


Leon McNichol, Tokyo PD, really hadn't expected to be put in this kind of situation. There were several figures with guns surrounding him, he was alone, and the chances of backup were slim to none. Clearly, looking into this alone had been kind of dumb.

He had been assigned to assist in the Brian Mason investigation, but as a junior officer all he was supposed to do was interviews and data entry. He had reviewed Mason's file, finding it damn slim for such a famous public figure, then went to Genom to interview his co-workers. At the same time his seniors in the force were chasing the drug angle, one that was much more likely to lead to results.

The problem was, when you investigating things, you could find stuff you didn't expect. Interviewing people at Genom he learned about Mason... and a series of attempts on Sylia Stingray's life. Attempts, as far as he knew, which had not been reported to the Tokyo PD.

It was something out of bad science fiction. MULTIPLE android assaults on Sylia, hacking attacks on Genom itself and bombing attempts. If he had seen it in a ction film Leon wouldn't have believed it. And worse, due to wrinkles in the law Genom's own internal police, the ADP, could carry out the entire investigation. Which struck Leon as a horrible idea.

Not that Leon had anything against Jeena Malso, the head of ADP. She was a former high ranking cop who hit the glass ceiling, he had heard. Getting tired of banging her head against walls she quit the regular cops and took a position with the ADP. She quickly rose through the ranks, and now rand the internal police force of Genom.

Sadly, most of the rest of the ADP were glorified security guards or washouts from the regular police. Yes, Jeena did her damn best to keep everyone in line and functioning like real cops, but there was only so much one person could do. These people were, at least in Leon's opinion, in no way capable of investigating a attempted murder.

And worse, Leon had no juristiction there either. All he could do was look into the Mason case, which his superiors thought was just a drug deal gone bad. But Leon reasoned that Mason's death and the attack on Stingray might just be connected, and if he investigated one he might find some answers to the other.

Which is how he found himself in an alley, with a group of gangbangers trying to kill him. "Folks, you really don't want to do this," Leon said calmly, keeping his open hands away from his body.

The Revengers were a tough gang, one that ran over on Tokyo's docks. They were also the guys to talk about in the city's drug trade, which was why he was there. The men circled him warily, even as their leader looked at him with annoyance. "What the hell, man?" the older gentleman noted, his short brown hair streaked with silver, "We paid you bastards this month."

Leon made a mental note that someone on the Tokyo PD was on the take. "I'm not here to shake you down," Leon said calmly, "I just want to ask a few questions."

"Can I kill him?" the redheaded woman asked.

"No, Eve," the old man said thoughtfully. He looked at the other gangsters, "Scatter. Eve can take care of me and we'll handle this."

Several guys protested that, but shut up once Eve glared at them and ordered, "Go." They slipped away into the shadows, leaving the three standing alone. "We're clear," she told them after a few moments of listening.

"You IDIOT," the older man suddenly slammed Leon against the wall, rattling his bones. "What the hell were you THINKING?"

"Hey, Buzz," Leon smiled weakly, "it's been awhile."

Basil 'Buzz' Nikvest was a cop, one that worked undercover in the city's gangs. He was a older man, a cop who learned survival on the street and was as touch as nails. If you looked up 'hard boiled cop' in the dictionary, you'd see a picture of his old face, before plastic surgery.

"I repeat," Buzz scowled at him, "what the hell are you thinking? You could have been killed!"

Not to mention blowing his cover," Eve noted calmly.

"That too," Buzz sighed. He looked at Leon, "Well?"

"I need information," Leon admitted, "and you might be the only guy I can get it from." He tossed a wary look at Eve, not quite sure what to make of her.

Eve quickly realized his discomfort as she answered, "I am a police model Boomer assistant, assigned to Buzz for this case." She paused, "You could consider myself his bodyguard."

"More like a nursemaid," Buzz muttered. "Well, get on with it," he asked Leon.

Leon puffed out a breath, more than a bit disturbed that Buzz had this boomer as his only backup. Still... "The Revengers, do you still have a lock on drug traffic in the city?" he asked.

"I wouldn't say a absolute lock," Buzz said cautiously, "but we're the biggest player." Something flickered in his eyes, pride at his success mixed with disgust at what he was doing. He was becoming the most powerful drug dealer in Tokyo, all in hopes of crippling the networks in an out of the city.

"Good, you know about Brian Mason's death?" Leon asked.

"About time someone came to see me about that," Buzz snorted.

Leon looked at him in surprise. "The lead detectives didn't contact you? Not even through the safe drop system?" he asked.

"Not a peep," Buzz answered, "in fact I was expecting to hear from someone, eventually." He frowned, "What's up?"

"Looks like my superiors have decided not to look to hard," Leon muttered. He looked at Buzz and Eve and said, "Mason was found with drugs, and gear was found at his home. Was he a user?"

"If so, it wasn't from anyone connected to me," Buzz said, blowing a massive hole in the theory Mason died in a drug deal gone bad. "And there is no way a major player like him would be buying and I would not know."

"Crap," Leon breathed out, knowing things had just gotten much more complicated.

"Indeed," Eve agreed.

To be continued...

Notes: Buzz and Eve are characters from Parasite Dolls, the BGC 2040 related anime spinoff. I mostly just used the characters names, rather than getting the details right...