Sticky Fingers

Leon spotted three stars in the sky above Tokyo and growled.

They were moving.

"Floor it, Daley!" he shouted at his partner. "Those damn Knight Sabers are going to beat us to the scene again!"

Maigee couldn't move, couldn't scream, her eyes wide as saucers as the monster that was a waitress-boomer minutes ago howled into the air. Its body contorted, strained, and enlarged, turning into a shape only vaguely human.

The young girl cowered under the table where she and her family were having dinner when the boomer went rogue; serving drinks one moment, turning over tables and rampaging like a beast from a nightmare the next. It was a beautiful night and a rare outing for the family of four, enjoying their meal on the restaurant's patio, the glittering lights of Mega-Tokyo as a backdrop. Where were her parents? Where was her older brother? These questions barely registered in her young brain, the monster consumed all of her attention.

Tentacles stretched out from the creature, grabbed a parked car, and threw the vehicle over Maigee's head and into the restaurant behind her. Maigee screamed, but still remained frozen to her hiding place under the table. The boomer's head turned toward the sound of her voice. Its neck elongated and lowered toward the ground, stretching for the table Maigee hid under. The creature's glowing red eyes found the girl, a mouth filled with needle-sharp teeth widened, preparing to consume the child.

"Get away from her you bitch!"

Nene put her hands on her hips after hearing Priss' exclamation. "Melodramatic quips like that aren't like you, Priss."

The creature's head swiveled away from the child it was terrorizing and roared at the Knight Sabers who had just arrived on the scene. "It did the trick, didn't it?" Priss responded.

"No time to argue strategy," the third Knight Saber shouted. "Duck!"

Priss fired her hardsuit's thrusters and leapt straight into the air as thick tentacles shot out of the boomer's body. Nene screamed and tumbled away from the appendages as they lashed out. "Thanks for the warning, Linna."

The girl in the green combat suit rushed at the body of the creature. It swung its tentacles at her, but she spun away from them, her power-ribbons trailing her, cutting through the liquid-metal. The appendages dropped heavily, cracking the concrete roadway.

Priss landed, positioning herself away from Linna and the boomer. "Nene, grab the girl!"

"Right," the Knight Saber in the red hardsuit nodded, spotting the little girl still frozen with fear beneath the table.

"I can't do everything myself here," Linna called out as more tentacles grew out of the boomer. It grabbed a bus and threw it at her. Linna screamed in fear, but tumbled away from the projectile as it flew over her head and into the restaurant.

"Hey there."

Maigee pulled her eyes away from the monster and turned them on the woman in armor kneeling next to the table. "Hey," was all she could think of to say.

"I need you to come with me," the armored woman said. "I need to get you to some place safe."

"Okay," Maigee said hesitantly.

The woman's hands were soft and warm, but her body was hard and cold. Maigee put her hands around her neck. "What's your name?" the woman said, her voice sounding mechanical through the suit's audio-filters.


"Have you ever flown before, Maigee?"

The girl shook her head. "No."

The woman in red armor gripped her around the waist. "Well hang on. And don't puke on my armor; I just got it cleaned!"

Nene fired her suit's thrusters and leaped for the restaurant's roof, the girl screaming in terror in her ear the whole way. She landed lightly on the roof five seconds later.

Maigee squealed as she put her down. "Do it again! Do it again!"

Nene tilted her head. "I guess you weren't nearly as scared as you sounded, were you?"

The little girl shook her head. "Can we do it again?"

"Nene, get down here!"

"Not right now," she told Maigee. "Maybe later?"

"Okay," she sighed.

"Don't move," Nene said, firing her thrusters and shooting into the air. "I'll be right back," she called, diving over the roof's edge and back into the fray.

Daley slammed on the brakes. "Damnit!" Leon shouted, slapping the dashboard. "They beat us here again!"

"I guess they didn't have to deal with traffic," Daley said, watching the red Knight Saber do a backflip off the top of the five-story restaurant and into the battle with the boomer.

Leon grunted, climbing out of the vehicle and pulling out his revolver. "If they keep that thing busy, back-up might get here in time to pick up the pieces." He looked at his gun, useless now against the monstrosity in front of them.

The boomer reached out with its mighty tentacles and grabbed a pair of cars, tossing them at the blue Knight Saber who tumbled and dodged the makeshift missiles. Leon hated to admit it, but the Knight Sabers were always impressive; battling boomers in a mixture of chaos and coordination. He wasn't much of a dancer, but he knew an impressive performance when he saw it.

The red Knight Saber fired several needle-like projectiles into the boomer, the ensuing explosion causing it to stagger into the restaurant. The building shook, but the boomer didn't fall.

"Leon, look!" Daley shouted, pointing to the restaurant's roof where a young girl peered over the edge.

Leon gasped. "That building is going to collapse soon, killing that girl with it!"

"We've got to do something!"

Leon looked at the ongoing battle between the Knight Sabers and the boomer, and then raised his eyes to the girl on the roof before holstering his weapon. "Daley, grabbed the emergency inflatables."

"You're not thinking what I think you're thinking, are you?" Leon's partner said as he opened their car's trunk.

"You're damn right I am," Leon said, rushing into the building, searching for the stairs that would lead him to the roof.

Linna sliced another tentacle off the creature, dodging two more in the process. The boomer slumped. "I think we've got it on the ropes! Be ready, Priss!"

Priss clenched her fists, activation her knuckle bombs. "I'm-." Her fist locked-up. "Oh, no!"

"Priss, your battery!" Nene shouted.

The blue Knight Saber stumbled away from the fight, barely able to move in the malfunctioning hardsuit. "I'm almost out. I can't finish the fight!"

"I've got some power left," Linna said, "but not much."

"Nene, hit it with your needles again," Priss ordered. "Linna, go in and grab its core while it's off balance!"

"Right," Nene and Linna responded in unison.

"We've only got one shot at this!"

Leon finally reached the roof, but was blocked by a locked door. He drew his revolver and fired into the lock. "Finally, something I can use this thing for," Leon said, shouldering his way through the door and holstering his weapon.

The little girl jumped and spun at the sound of Leon barging through the door. "Who are you?"

"A.D. Police," Leon said, flashing his badge. "I have to get you down from here."

The building shook as something slammed into it. "But that woman in the red armor said she'd come back for me."

Leon rushed to the roof's edge to find that Daley had set up the inflatables perfectly. "Ready when you are," he waved from below.

Leon grabbed the girl. "But the woman in armor-."

"She's a little busy right now, sweetie," Leon told her, lifting her up and wrapping his arms around her waist. "We've got to get off this building right now."

"Are we going to fly?"

Leon took several steps back from the edge. "Sort of," he said before breaking into a sprint.

The girl screamed as Leon hurtled the roof's edge and started to fall.

Linna punched her way into the boomer's chest, wrapped her fingers around its pulsating core and pulled it out. The massive technological monstrosity collapsed, shriveled, and died.

The sound of the boomer falling muffled the sound of Leon and the girl landing in the crash-mat. The wind had been knocked out of Leon, but the girl was able to gasp out, "Let's do it again!"

"Hang on, I've got to go back for that little girl." Nene said.

Linna threw Priss' arm around her neck. "It doesn't look like you have to worry about her anymore."

Priss looked up to see Leon crawl out of the crash-mat, the girl jumping up and down, wanting to jump off the building again. She locked eyes with the A.D. cop. "Good work," she said, but only Linna and Nene could hear her.

The Knight Sabers launched themselves into the sky just as the restaurant collapsed behind Leon and Daley.

"Smart thinking, partner," Daley said as the dust settled and curious citizens returned to the scene, Maigee's parents among them, hugging the girl tight. "At least we got a rescue out of it."

Leon coughed. "Are you kidding, Daley? As far as that little girl knows, that young woman in the red hardsuit rescued her," he said, watching the girl chatter away as her parents listened attentively.

Daley cocked an eyebrow. "Do I sense a hint of bitterness?"

Leon shrugged. "Just a hint."

Armored back-up and tanks arrived a minute later. "Where the hell have guys been?"