****I took the liberty to ease your pain in this very long story, I hacked it about neatly in half and split it into two chapters now hoping it will be easier to read for you all sorry about that amateur mistake lol.****
*This story is a spin off of Bubblegum Crisis, out of my own mind but heavily influenced by the original among other Fan Fictions by other writers. I lay NO claim to any of the characters or whatever may be deemed Bubblegum Crisis original, I am simply using the format because I LOVE Bubblegum Crisis and this story is an extension of intellectual fantasy. We would all love to see BGC continue with it's original creators at the helm, but until then we are stuck in the realm of Fan Fiction.
The new girls in this story are of my own creation, Masane, Shiori, Kei and Ayame as well as Yuri, Miho and a few scattered other lesser characters. ALL the glory's, honors and credit go to the creators of Bubblegum Crisis, Crash and so on. I wish them good health and future prosperity, with out them we would not have this beloved and treasured anime. I'm just a hack who has a wild imagination who loves writing, there are far better writers than I out in the FanFic realm. Due credit and rights go to...
And Everyone that had a hand in bringing us all Bubblegum Crisis, without you we wouldn't have this treasured and beloved anime.
In addition I would like to thank the following Fan Fiction authors for inspiring me to write, their stories inspire and delight the senses and serve to give new life to BGC and for that I thank you all big big.
DartzIRL (Thanks for the advice on writing proper, I HOPE that this story dose some justice to the advice. Your stories in the BGC world are so detailed and spell binding, I always hope to see more! Meg kicks ass.)
Amanda Stair aka The Purple Knight Saber Yumeko (Thank you for your extraordinary stories in the BGC realm, whenever I hear the song "Itoshiki Rival" I will always think of Yumeko Asagiri. And also thank you for your kindness during the short conversations we had in the past, I'm a bit of a ham and you gracefully dealt with me lol.)
Bert VanVelite (Not much that likely has not already been said about this Knight in Shining Armor lol, all one can do when reading his stories is...Trust Him and hang on for the ride lol! At any rate thank you for the awesome stories, I hope that what ever life has thrown at you that it all gets better soon, life has a way of getting dark but always look to the future fellow wordslinger.).
Oh and btw...as you read and come cross some thing like (Crisis Ikari wo komete hashire), these are songs that I listened to while writing certain parts of the story and I think they make a great background if you want to cue the songs as you read the parts and visualize. I wrote this story doing a LOT of visualizing, my characters came to life and this story has become very special to me.
And now, without further adieu...
Knight Sabers : Legacy
"Never The End"
Mega Tokyo 2078, a vast super city the pinnacle of technological advancement as well as one of the most dense centers of human population on earth. A bastion of advancement and prosperity, but under the surface are also homeless and slums as with any city with it's own problems of poverty and crime. However boomer crimes in the recent decade have fallen to almost zero, it seems that the previous problems with rogue boomers has been solved and so the city rests a bit easier in that knowledge and life went on.
In the past there was a need to mitigate the problem when some models boomers that tended to go mysteriously rogue the city along side Genom Corporation assembled a special police unit specially train ed and equipped to handle such situations, the ADP was born. At first the ADP managed a fair job solving random rouge boomer problems, but things seemed to just escalate and with the emergence of combat boomers namely in the BU-55 series among other variants the ADP were soon getting to the point where containment of the boomers was nearing impossible without high amounts of collateral damage.
It was then that a mysterious band of vigilantes named the Knight Sabers appeared, four women armed with advanced weapons and donning extremely advanced hardsuit technology would appear and demolish boomers in situations where the ADP were proving extremely inadequate and put a stop to the death and destruction. Dubbed mercenaries and for the most part that was a correct term as they did take select jobs that paid, some seen them as criminals that needed to be arrested others though saw them as heroins that the city truly needed and still some were on the fence.
For some years the battles between ADP, rogue boomers and the Knight Sabers. Several times the Sabers saved the city and perhaps the world, not to mention many many lives the seemingly eventual decline of boomers going rogue. Genom Corporation began to become embroiled in legal battles and scandals in the world theater causing some economic hardships, though those did not last long but the mega corporation had to tighten it's belt in many areas and some have said that was the cause of the decline in rogue boomer incidents but nothing official has ever come of such statements.
Eventually due to the new peace in the city the ADP had their funding cut and the special branch closed, and as for the Knight Sabers...they too seemed to disappear and for years it stayed like this and the memory of boomers tearing the city apart began to fade a bit eventually.
The day was bright and clear over the city, fall was in the air and Halloween was close coming and some people in the city were getting into the festive spirit. The newly finished Yokohama highway that encircled and ensnared itself throughout it's major areas gleamed like a steel and pavement snake in the morning sunlight, traffic was sparse today as it was a Sunday.
(Crisis Ikari wo komete hashire)
A lone motorcyclist passed a slow moving minivan like it was standing still the driver of the van swerved slightly startled at the sudden passing of the bike, it's turbine screaming as the rider twisted the throttle back pulling yet more power from the sleek aggressive super bike. The motorcycle shimmered in the sun it's flame red paint accented with racing stripes of slick black and navy blue, the rider encased in a form fitting two piece leather racing suit. The fit accentuated her feminine form her gloves made of the same material as the suit and were embedded with the same titanium ceramic matrix composite armor as the suit and same went for her boots. Her helmet bore the same paint job as her bike, music was playing inside the helm from an illegally installed micro sound system and the music served to make her speed fast approaching the one hundred fifty five mph mark.
She managed to make the off ramp into the east side of the city without seeing a single cop and she slightly smiled inside at the fact, last week on the same rout she had been stopped and ticketed and having to pay a hefty fine had sucked it was the second time this month and it was almost the end of the month. Though she figured it could have been worse, like having her license pulled and having to do safe driving courses that they wouldn't even let her sleep through. Coasting to a stop at a red light she checked her mirrors and adjusted the collar and zipper of her jacket to let some of the cool air in, she had installed her suits wind stopper lining and it did fine at speed but in the city it got stuffy and she hated sweating in this weather.
The license plate read ASAGIRI1, negotiating the afternoon traffic had her nearly pissed off as she got cut off several times by several taxi's and a few idiot moving vans...'getting you where you need to go'...sure whatever. A few minutes later she arrived at her destination parking her bike engaging the kickstand powering down the engine and slipping her gloves off then unfastening the chinstrap she slipped her helmet off hanging it on the throttle, unzipping her jacket and checking her hair absentmindedly in one of the mirrors.
Her hair was a deep lustrous brown with lighter highlights and extremely short in the back but it gave way towards the front to feathered bangs and two long lengths that framed her jawline just ahead of her ears, deep red eye's smoldered beneath those bangs her ears sported two piercing's both of them thick eight gauge studs. She sat astride her bike listening to the low random ticking sound as the turbine cooled in the crisp air, she was parked in front of a modernized brownstone type apartment building waiting. She enjoyed the cool breeze filtering into her open jacket as she waited, soon though an excited sounding voice came from a door on the building swinging open.
"Masane chan! Sorry I'm running late, mother was stalling me forever."
Masane Asagiri simply smiled brightly to the girl who ran to her, she was fifteen and was dressed in school attire with a winter jacket wearing a backpack that seemed to be loaded down. Her medium length blond hair was pulled back into a single pony tail.
"That's alright Yuri, I take it your mom is still not liking the idea of me driving you around?"
Yuri Tanaka giggled as she carefully mounted the motorcycle seating herself on the pillion seat behind her, Masane unstrapped a spare helmet she had fitted for Yuri while back and handed it to the young girl giggling herself as she slipped it on and fumbled with the chin strap eventually Yuri let Masane do it.
"You could say that, but really though she likes you she just thinks you need to get a car like everyone else in the city...saying it's less dangerous."
Her voice muffled slightly by the helmets anti fog mask but this was typical and easily interpreted, Masane had began taking Yuri to school and other functions a couple of months since her mother had fallen ill and her mother was just concerned but no matter how she reassured Mrs Tanaka she always seemed against her bike but always let Yuri go though which Masane took as a bit silly.
"Well I guess I can see her point in a way, but I like my bike and wouldn't be caught dead driving one of those stuffy cages on four wheels. You ready to go Yuri?"
With a nod she started up the bike the turbine coming to life and spooling up she donned her own helmet zipped her jacket partially and a moment later they were off, Masane didn't push it with Yuri on the back with herself it felt OK but she didn't want anything to happen to her friend so she took it easy. It took fifteen minutes to negotiate their way through downtown to the inner east side where Yuri's school was located, she had a school concert to attend as she played the flute in school.
Yuri just loved showing up with Masane, it made her one of the coolest girls in school to show up on a fast motorcycle. And Masane's was with little doubt one of the fastest bikes in Mega Tokyo, she had a couple degrees in the technician field and done all her own work. Her fellow students took to Masane a bit as she definitely looked the part of the rebel, she chalked it up the the fact that not many women dressed, looked or road a bike like she did.
She didn't mind a bit really, it was a kick and it made Yuri some cool friends and all she had to do was show up it sort of reminded her of when her grandmother would pick her up from school some times. But it would also remind her of the loss of her beloved Priss who had passed away some time back, the issue was still raw and hurt like hell.
"I still wish you could come Masane chan, I hope that job interview goes well though."
Yuri handed the helmet to Masane after she finally managed to get the chin strap undone, Masane raised her visor.
"I know, I'd like to hear you play too but it came up last minute and well I kinda need the job considering how many tickets I gotta pay off too...maybe next time. Anyway thanks me too, I'll pick you up after your performance though...so I'll see you then. Knock'em dead."
Yuri nodded then laughed, she waved bye and soon was surrounded by several girls from her class as she walked to the school they were talking and eying Masane as they did. She lowered her visor and revved the engine making it howl a little for them and got those wide eyed grins and pointing fingers she expected as the turbine spooled up and she raced off, she always got a chuckle from that.
Some time later she found herself parking her motorcycle in an underground parking garage, she checked the slip of paper making sure she had the right address and it was. It read.
Downtown Lady 633, ground floor The Silky Doll
She set the anti theft system of her bike but figured there was no need here but force of habit, she had never worked in such a place before and she had no idea how this interview was going to go but more than likely upon seeing her they would have second thoughts. Her bike being her only transportation she looked the part of a biker, she would have dressed a bit more the speed of the place but fat chance in hell that she would ride unprotected in this city.
The place was really posh on the outside and when she walked through the front door of the establishment it was even more so, a soft ding sounded as she passed through and into the woman's boutique. She immediately felt out of place, it seemed to be a fairly specialized place. Lingerie running 300.000 yen and up was pretty dominant, as well as other intimates at equally extravagant prices. Heads turned in her direction as she looked about for the proprietor, customers seemed to stare at her leather clad appearance as she stood out like a sore thumb.
A second later though a soft musical voice gained her attention, she was slightly younger than herself with fairly short black slightly curly hair tied up in a fashionable bun. The young woman was impeccably dressed in a crisp elegant ivory colored silk blouse coupled with a black knee length skirt, she gave the air of an elegant and young modern business woman that she apparently was.
"Hello and welcome to The Silky Doll Miss. Ah you must be Miss Asagiri, we spoke over the phone the other day about an opportunity for employment at my fine establishment. Please just follow me, Miho...could you take over for a bit while I take care of our applicant? Thank you."
Masane was amazed that she hadn't been given the boot right then and there, she wasn't told that the place was so upscale and her hopes of a job to help pay some of her debts dwindled next to nothing. Oddly enough she was being ushered off abruptly to a back room, if that wasn't a sign she didn't know what was. So she followed the girl into the back and what they came to was a back changing room instead of the posh office she was expecting, confusion washed over her and then her irritation began to rise placing a hand on her hip she started to open her mouth to utter a few choice words about how she thought it was bullshit to sweep her off to a back room in order to tell her to get lost.
When suddenly the huge full length mirror on the back wall of the fair sized changing room opened quickly in one smooth silent motion, revealing a sleek and extremely high tech elevator behind which looked to be able to fit four maybe five people into with a slight squeeze. Masane' jaw almost hit the floor and her anger gave way for a moment to utter surprise and bewilderment as she just stared at the elevator that shouldn't be there, so much so that she didn't even hear the soft chuckle come from the lady that had lead her back until she was snapped out of it when she spoke.
"It IS quite a trick isn't it? Excuse my rudeness Miss Asagiri my name is Shiori, Shiori Stingray...now follow me we shouldn't keep our meeting waiting nor a customer if they should wish to use this fitting room."
Masane didn't argue as she followed Shiori, she had no words yet for her astonishment and she had a feeling that there were more 'surprises' to follow if the elevator had been any indication. She stepped aboard and the mirror slipped closed in the same quick silent way it had opened followed by an extremely resilient looking blast type looking door, then more lights came to brilliant rich led life then the elevator began to move down picking up speed Masane gripped a railing as the elevator consisted of what appeared to be clear glass with a sparse industrial cage frame.
Finally after a moment of being too dumbstruck for her mouth to form any words Masane did catch her tongue and managed, but what came out was not exactly what she wanted to ask but what came instead was more reactionary than thoughtful.
"W-what the hell IS this thing?"
The question seemed to have struck Shiori as awkward as well she she let a soft giggle slip restraining the mad urge to say 'an elevator', Masane shot her a glare with her red eye's that stated she did not see what was so funny about what she had just said until the dumb blatant obviousness of it hit her.
"My apologies, it is something that was installed by my great aunt...it allows access to the lower not so...public levels as it were."
"Do you pull this stunt with ALL of your new applicants?"
Shiori giggled heartily at this though still keeping her cool professional composure, she adjusted a file folder sized digital assistant tucking it under her arm and demurely brushing a errant curl from her brow.
"Oh no, special clientele only I'm afraid. Only two others as of late have been down here, and if you decide after the 'interview' to take the job you will be introduced to your future co workers."
Masane raised an eyebrow, she wondered just what the hell she had gotten herself into.
One Hour Twenty Minutes Later
Masane found herself sitting astride her bike helmet in hand staring off into space, five minutes had passed like that before she managed to shake herself out of it and check her watch and saw that it was nearing 4:20pm. "Shit" She muttered which gave her twenty five minutes to get to Tokyo High school to pick Yuri up, she slipping on her helmet and securing the chinstrap turning the key and pressing the ignition button letting the engines turbine spool up and taking off.
The rest of the day went normally enough, no earth shattering surprises or out of the ordinary techno marvels or offers to be an armored vigilante for that matter. She tried playing off as normal but Yuri saw right through it almost immediately, Masane knew she was a sharp girl much like herself when she was Yuri's age not at all that long ago...they were at a Funy Day burger joint picking up a small bite before heading back to Yuri's mom's house when she popped the question.
"Hey...what's up with you Masane chan?"
The question caught her right in the middle of another of those thoughts that ate at her as she nibbled absentmindedly at a fry, enough to make her words stumble a little giving herself away.
"Huh? Oh sorry was I spacing out?"
"Well duh, it's not like you unless...don't you go and get all depressed and play that little miss recluse bit on me again Masane chan. So! Tell me, did you finally meet a cute hunk?"
Masane's eye's got big for a minute then picked up on her slight emphasis on the word 'finally' part, she tossed a fry in a mock gesture and got one in return from Yuri both laughing.
"Well? C'mon, spill it, you KNOW I wont leave you alone till you tell me...juicy bits and all! That's it isn't it?"
Masane laughed a bit, in a way she kinda wished it had been some Mr Right as Yuri said it...but it was far more complicated than that and well...she was 'forbidden' from mentioning a word about what happened or what she was told. And anyway, even IF she did it wasn't like Yuri would buy THAT one bit.
"No, that's not it...though I kinda wished it was. Ah it's just that job interview thing I had to go too."
Yuri's smile faded for a moment then brightened again suddenly forgetting about hunky guy's for the moment, she was at that age when that and gossip all mattered a lot.
"Ohh! I almost forgot Masane chan! How did it go? Well I hope!"
Masane shrugged and bit off of her burger, chased it with a sip of Coke the ice gave a slight tinkle in the Styrofoam cup.
"That's just it, I can't make heads or tails of it truthfully. It was by long and far the most oddball job interview I've ever been too, boss seemed nice enough though she pretty much gave me the works on an immediate tour of the place then insisted on a physical that was just short of a friggin cavity search and DNA test. Then in the end told me I could think it over and if I decided to take it, to pretty much stop in on the fourth which is next Friday...so I suppose that's enough time to think it over I guess."
Yuri nibbled at a fry and rubbed a finger along the side of her Coke listening, then perking up.
"Oh who is the boss? Sounds extensive, likely security reasons I would guess."
"Oh, well her name is Shiori Stingray...she owns that high class clothing place..."
"The Silky Doll? Holy crap, YOUR going to be working there?"
"Hey! I AM a girl you know!"
Yuri giggled a bit and apologized, shocked at the idea.
"I'm sorry Masane chan, I just couldn't picture that being your thing is all. Stingray...hey I think I knew some one who went to school with her, real high cost private school if I remember right...isn't she some relation to the woman who used to own that chain...Sylia Stingray?"
Masane finished up her meal and packed the wrappers and empty Coke on the tray, shrugging her shoulders her jacket hanging loosely on her shoulders.
"I guess so, I know the girl has to be bloody rich the way she dresses in clothes that I couldn't afford saving for a year likely not to mention she looks and acts a few years easily older than she really is I would bet my bottom dollar on it. C'mon lets get moving before your mom has a conniption for being too late getting home and chews my ass, I'll tell you a bit more some other time."
Masane dropped Yuri off at her mom's and waved bye and sped off after seeing to it she got in safely as the day was just beginning to lose light, any place in Tokyo deserved a bit of caution specially at night it was a huge city and all types were every where even in nice neighborhoods like Yuri's. Characteristically Masane while at a stoplight just before taking the on ramp onto the Yokohama Bay Highway she keyed up a few choice tracks on her helms internal digital media player, and as she merged onto the now mostly empty six lane a pumping back beat then the first notes came pounding into her ears as she shifted gears and began to twist on the throttle instantly getting her blood pumping and her thoughts began to naturally flow freely.
(Konya wa Hurricane)
/Did you know/On the stormy highway
/Did you dream/You were spinning on the lonely highway
/Did you lie/Elusive dreams, memories of yesterday
/Did you know/Visualizing illusions
/Did you dream/ Was my way of life
/Did you lie/The howling wind strips them all away /no, no, no, my heart/.
The sound of her grandmothers singing and the tempo of the song had always gotten her to unthinkingly laying on the speed, it felt very fitting on this ride to listen to some of the tracks she had uploaded to her helmet that Priss had wrote and sung from the heart. Masane naturally leaned tucking herself into the motorcycles tank as she kept gaining momentum the vibration-less turbine pushing her forward like an unseen hand of some god of speed urging her to push it passing an unsuspecting motorist in a little hydrogen ran Genom model compact, the song ended melting into the next as it came in smooth and clear rocking her sending a mix of emotions through her mind and body.
I don't want to cool
this raging passion
until my sadness
is torn to pieces.
Don't stop your love, your love...
(Tell me, what do you want?
Tell me, how do you feel?)
This one seemed to so truly fit the bill for her day, namely her seeming initiation by Shiori earlier.
"Tell me what do you want...tell me how do you feel..."
She road for what seemed like forever when in actuality she had taken the full circle of Mega Tokyo once before deciding to take herself home before she ran her bike out of fuel, which was going to be coming soon if she didn't take the off ramp to the next station...luckily the same off ramp wasn't far off from the one she would take home. With the modifications she had made generated quite a lot of horse power, but it also made it mandatory for the modded turbine to guzzle fuel.
That night sleep did not come easily as thoughts raced through her mind at a constant rate, to her it was like bickering neighbors she couldn't get to shut up unless she sent a few rounds from her fifty caliber handgun their way and even then it was a toss up. She just couldn't believe that there was a whole file on her not just her but Priss and even her mother...she called bull but Shiori countered with details that would never be known to anyone else but the people in question, and then the big kicker...that her grandmother Priss was one of those armored vigilantes called the Knight Sabers she had only heard stories about from back in the 2030's and was even shown her armored suit called a 'hardsuit' that she had fought boomers in.
Shiori had given her the full rundown from that little digital assistant and also from a state of the art data bank computer down in what Shiori dubbed the 'Training and Simulation Area', that not only projected what was already on the assistant but much more including digital video logs referring to everything from brief designs of various things as suits to what got Masane most...actual live footage of long past battles from suit 'flight recorders'. Then came seeing the actual suits that were used back then, and what Shiori called a 'preview' of the new suits that were in the process of being built custom, namely Shiori's was the only one so far nearly completed the other two looked not even half way as they looked like bare frames attached what looked like high tech cherry pickers for old motors.
"Masane, I know this is a lot to take in especially considering the way I've placed it on you so I do not expect an answer right away. If you join our meeting next Friday it will be all the answer I will need to begin planning your hardsuit, your physical gives me a lot to go on...however proper fitting and design of your suit will require much more of a hands on approach."
That statement echoed through her mind last just as she drifted off into a restless sleep...
October 31st 2078 Halloween
"Hey c'mon Yuri or there wont be any candy left in all of Tokyo!"
Yuri was dressed but was still fussing over her costume, it was pretty complicated and she hadn't told Masane just what it was...only that it would blow her mind.
"Oh hush, I almost got it...snap!...Yeow! Darn elastic!"
Masane and Yuri's mom both giggled at this, they were sitting in the living room while Yuri fussed over her outfit in the bathroom not far down the hallway. Mrs. Tanaka smiled a warm dream like smile, she had been sick all year so far with what they called walking pneumonia and she was having a really tough time shaking it. Although unless you looked closely you could not tell it, she had been in the performing arts and knew how to cover such things that would appear on your face such as illness.
"This reminds me of the times when I was so young and healthy, fussing over a silly costume and going out looking for all that candy. I will bet though that when you see this costume you might need an ice pack for your chin after it hit's the floor, I did it simply is one of a kind she has borrowed it from a friend of her's that dose that Cos Play stuff."
Masane smiled in return some what relaxed but remaining respectfully traditional, technically she too was an adult but she could not yet see herself as one and so she still worked with the same courtesy among adults as if she weren't one herself.
"Now Masane, wont you call me Tsubaki? We ARE both adults, I know you feel you must follow those old ethics among adults but you are one of us now so please I would feel much better now if we dropped some of those stiff old formalities."
This caught Masane a bit off guard, she never thought she would be referred to as anything but 'Miss Asagiri'. Tsubaki Tanaka was looking at her with solemn eye's though that faint smile still played across her thin lips, she still looked youthful even as ill as she was still and she had a way that made Masane feel slightly guilty even if it was for nothing.
"I'm sorry, I got so used to it... I can do that. Hope you have been better than you have, have the doctors said any thing?"
Tsubaki waved off the question, she didn't much talk about it it had become an old topic for her.
"I feel more well today, that is what counts. However I wish I could be going with you two, Yuri loves this holiday has ever since she was able to walk. Masane, I want to thank you for all the help you have been to us since I became ill. It means a lot to Yuri and to me as well, if it weren't for you she would be stuck riding the Magleve which isn't a thought that sits well with me even in these peaceful times in the city.
Your the big sister she's never had Masane, I know I have in the past given you a hard time about many things. It is because I worry a great deal over Yumi, the motorcycle no longer worries me I know you don't speed when she is with you. However what did worry me a great deal for a long time was weather or not you were involved in 'other' things, do not think that I have not seen the bulge in the back of your jacket."
Masane froze at that, the bulge she was speaking of was the handgun she carried in a draw holster just above her waist on her back. Their eye's met and Tsubaki let a wry grin slip.
"Umm...I'm not into anything, I just...carry it because some times there are people out there that need the little extra hint to leave me alone."
"There illegal in the country though Masane, I noticed several times that you carried a gun and it worried me. If Nene had the time and means all of the time I would have had her do what you are doing for Yumi, but after getting to know you I relented this fear...and Nene doesn't have the means to do what your doing. I take it you know Nene Romanova, we have known each other a while now old friends. May I see it? I'll give it back, it has been a long time but I know a bit about firearms."
Masane didn't know just how to react except comply, she gave a nervous smile reached back and slipped it from her holster. Hitting the magazine release she placed the loaded magazine on the table then pulled the slide checking the chamber, finding it empty she released the slide and placed it on the table.
"My my, I knew it had to be bulky for me to notice it under the sort of jacket you wear all the time but it is quite a large hand gun for a lady your size."
Tsubaki picked it up feeling the weight, her eyes flitted over the big machine it was old but modified and updated heavily.
"Magnum Industries Desert Eagle, chambered to fifty caliber AE originally. Modified to what? This is an antique, but you've had some one that knows how to machine parts it looks."
She sounded fairly impressed causing Masane to relax a bit more, not many would know a lot about this sort of gun as it was indeed old but she had gotten it from a long time friend of her families and so she kept it and while back decided to have it modified to fire what was called anti boomer rounds...much like what the ADP carried named Red Hawks. The modifications were done by Mackie, a favor done some time back for Priss on her behalf. She didn't know Mackie well enough and vice versa, but since it was Priss who asked and she was Priss' granddaughter Mackie relented easily enough.
"It was given to me, when I got it it still fired those old AE shells. To me the things I keep around have to work or there just baggage, since it was given to me by an old family friend and I wanted to keep it I had some one modify it so it could be useful in this day and age. It is now more sturdy but relatively the same weight unloaded, I had it modified to fire the same ammo as the old ADP issue handgun's called Red Hawks...anti boomer rounds. I've never used it, except a lot of target practice out of town it has good recoil but I've gotten used to it enough to put out a clip with good groupings."
Tsubaki nodded slightly as she looked it over, noticing an engraving on a blank spot on the slide it read 'Member Four'.
"Very nice work, though I still say it is fairly ludicrous in size for a lady such as you...but to each their own...I would bet against my intuition that you are a good shot with it regardless of what I might think. I know a bit because my husband used to be in the military, he taught me a bit and I have some limited experience with them myself. Might want to put it away, I don't want Yuri seeing it. Thank you for being honest with me, and letting me see it."
Masane took it and slipped the clip back home in it and re holstered the heavy gun, it was a weird gun it was only heavy once it was loaded the anti boomer rounds did that on their own. She didn't bother to mention that she had an old ex ADP issue Red Hawk at home along with another semi auto called a Spit Devil, she carried the Spit Devil now and then in place of her DEagle but she preferred the DEagle over it because of the heavier ammo and old revolver Red Hawk was really heavy and sagged her holster too much to keep it concealable it had not been designed to be carried that way but more a hip or thigh carry.
"I only carry it to be safe, I know there illegal but you can never be too safe. We've never had a conversation like this...Tsubaki, sorry if I seem taken off balance by the suddenness of it."
"I am fine with your carrying it, knowing that you are not into any thing immoral and yet carry that makes me feel a little more at ease when Yuri is with you. Some how I have the feeling that you would use that, and more than likely die for her if it ever came to that."
Masane's eyes got wide for a moment hearing that, though her poker face went right back over her obvious shock nearly the second it came over her.
"She is as far as I am concerned my little sister, and your right...I would. I..."
Just then the bathroom door swung open hard enough to bang against the wall guard, and in came Yuri practically skipping into the living room. Masane's jaw dropped and she found herself voiceless, she was expecting a good costume but this went so far over the top it blew her away as Yuri giggled and did a pirouette.
"Pretty rad isn't it! Friend of mine is a genius at making things she made this, it looks so real...you can't tell it isn't real! I am SO getting all the candy now!"
Her costume was to a tee a Hardsuit replica, of course not the real thing no real armor or electronics except a small light built into the inside of the helmet that lit up when she opened the visor. It was green, it was a replica of Linna's suit it even had the mono filament ribbons those were made of some flexible glowing plastic but the thing LOOKED real enough to say the least.
"Wow speechless huh Masane? So is everyone else when they first see it, I always wanted to be a Knight Saber...too bad there not still around. I troll for anything I can find on them on the net, a lot of it these day's is a bunch of fanfics and garbage that isn't true. My fave was the green one, sexy and dangerous!"
She giggled madly and flipped the visor back down taking a martial art's like pose in it, and then saying albeit a bit muffled "Knight Sabers...Sanjo!"
Yuri...if only you knew...
Masane held back a sarcastic giggle that would give her away and lead her to a stern questioning by Yuri, she thought about it and how Yuri would react if she saw a real hardsuit and not just that but to figure out it was her in the blue hardsuit. Who knows she thought to herself, maybe one day she could meet us all...with out revealing who we really are at any rate...and on good terms and not having to save her life that would be one hell of a birthday present.
"Ready to go Masane? It's getting late and I wanna get out there and show up all those other kids, it is one of my last years doing this so I wanna make them count!"
Masane laughed and complimented her, standing and adjusting her jacket a minute.
"Wow where the heck dose your friend get the info to make some thing that looks so original, looks fantastic though...your going to embarrass everyone else with that sharp costume...sure let's get going."
"It's NOT a costume...it's a Hardsuit thank you very much! Ok! Hooray!"
"Now remember ladies I want you both back before nightfall, and NO eating candy on the way...Masane and I will help you check it over when you get back OK? Now go have fun, and be careful and stick to the Trick or Treat map for the neighborhood."
"We will mom, see you soon!"
As they went down stairs and exited the buildings front doors Yuri turned her visor still up, she gave Masane an odd glance.
"What? What's that look for?"
"My mom called you Masane, she never done that before...she must finally be starting to accept you."
"Yeah I know it's new to me too, she wants to be on first name basis now she said...took me off guard I wasn't expecting it."
"I bet! Well that's always a good thing though, so you ready to do ALL this walking?"
Yuri giggled, the suit made her look older some how and of course made her think of Linna.
"Sure thing Yuri, let's do this we gotta hit all these places before nightfall...I think we can manage it!"
Off they went trolling all the places on the neighborhoods trick or treat map, Yuri's costume got rave reviews from everyone they met they even ran into her friend Namiko that had made the suit. She wore one similar to it, but her's was a deep midnight blue which gave her a slight chill...she was in a way still in a daze over the fact that she was going to take the helm of the blue Knight Saber. A role Priss her grandmother had originally filled, it was surreal to see the two young girls dressed up in really real looking hardsuits.
"Now all that is missing is White and the Pink one."
The two girls giggled at this Namiko making a note of this remark.
"Well funny you mention it, I have those two in the works too. I just finished this one earlier today, next year we'll have all four members."
The two 'Knight Sabers' joined up to raid all the places on the map, Masane was joined by the girls mother who's name she learned was Motoko. She was about Masane's height with jet black hair in a short style, she walked with the air of ex military or some similar swagger Masane also noted that she had Ethernet ports on the back of her neck. One wouldn't normally notice these as they were very well blended in by false patches, coverings that mimicked the natural skin around them they were state of the art.
She learned along the way that she was employed by Genom and worked in the data field as a specialist, she merely did what a file clerk would do long ago but these day's it was much easier as it was all digital and she simply 'jacked' in and let her brain do all the work while connected to the secure network. They all had fun trick or treating, watching the two girls trick or treat as much as pretend to be Knight Sabers the duo managed to get two hulking bags full of all sorts of goodies. Eventually though the sun was starting to set and they parted way's, they got back to Yuri's apartment on time.
They had fun talking about all that they had done while out, Yuri going on and on about all the compliments she and her friend had gotten. They went through the contents in the big bag, as with countless Halloweens before one could never be too safe specially in a big city. Yuri fell asleep in her hardsuit and had to be woken up to get changed and go to bed, Masanae and Tsubaki chatted a little before she herself decided to retire and go home. It was a really nice change of pace for her, doing these things with Yuri lessened her time to be depressed over some things as she normally was prone to do.
November 4th 2078 6:25pm
The small group were all seated with the exception of Shiori who had yet to make an appearance in her own penthouse since the girls started showing up, Miho had prepared and set out with care little appetizer finger foods as well as a two pots one of fresh piping hot coffee and another of freshly brewed tea with china cups numbered out per expected guest. On one trey there were assorted little sandwiches, on another were assorted pastries and another smaller one with crackers and a cheese spread generous for a small group meeting.
Kei was seated on one of the overstuffed leather loveseats sipping on a hot cup of tea nibbling a small turkey and cheese chatting with Ayame about their current prospects excitedly with some apprehension, and also both girls wondering who the fourth girl was who would be on the team and debating on weather or not the girl would show. Upon meeting each other at Shiori's place none had any idea as to just who was being inducted into the team until they arrived, so to Kei and Ayame's surprise to find each other there for the same reason it was a welcome one however.
Still the question on the fourth lingered as the first meeting was due to start in a couple of minutes at six thirty exactly, and then six thirty came and went by one minute and Shiori made her appearance from a back room and greeted them. Minutes later as they were all seated and about to begin when a knock was heard from the penthouse door, Miho excused herself a moment to answer the door as Shiori paused with a some what odd knowing look on her face.
A moment later Miho came back into the room followed by a Masane, dressed in her trademark red and black armored leathers gloves tucked into her jacket pocket which was unzipped in the front and from the waist making the suit a two piece her hair ruffled slightly as she ran her fingers through it totally ignoring the fact that she was late, the others looked at each other. Shiori simply smiled.
"Masane, it is so nice to see that you decided to come after all. Please take a seat where ever you like, and do help yourself to some refreshments. We were just about to begin, everyone we will start again with introductions now that Masane is here."
Masane apologized slightly and decidedly took a seat on the one love seats that hadn't any other occupants, and she simply kicked back in it. When the introductions were made they all decidedly got an odd look, and that odd look gravitated to Shiori questioningly. Shiori put a hand up, deciding she did have some explaining to do on her part.
"I see you all have caught the relevance in most of your last names, yes...all of us except for Ayame are related to one of the original Knight Sabers."
Shiori commenced the first official meeting of the new Knight Sabers, spotlighting on each members family connection with the group Ayame's being indirect of course giving each past members involvements and details in glancing depth mentioning that each member would be free to use the data bank to more thoroughly research their respective family members Knight Saber related details. She also covered structure and of course the ten rules of the organization, which the last one always had a shock factor but Shiori like her great aunt did not state anything to the contrary to make it sound like it WOULDN'T be enforced.
After almost two hours she allowed a question and answer period where all the girls could fee free to ask any thing they would like, and much of the questions ranged from things like the hardsuits to pay and to insurance oddly enough but it was a well placed question. Masane was quiet the entire time, this did not escape Shiori's attention and eventually she called upon her asking if she had any questions.
"How exactly ARE we going to get paid? Your rich I have no doubt Shiori, more to the point though is...we HAVE NO WORK."
The room fell silent for a good moment, Shiori was about to speak when Masane interjected.
"I mean sure this might be fun and all believing in keeping the Knight Sabers going but...where the hell is your point Shiori, there haven't been any mad boomer rampages in well over several decades and what there have been has been what? A store front mannequin going wonky and scaring customers with clothes racks? I mean shit the regular police handle that stuff, it's hardly a cause for hardsuits...let alone anyone offering a rag tag band of vigilantes with a defunct cause a million yen let alone multi million job contract under the table. It might have worked for our grandmothers and great aunts and so on, but that was back in the 2030's...but times aren't like that any more."
All the girls stared at each other in surprise like reality just dawned in their eye's, Shiori waited to make sure Masane was done and began speaking unshaken by the facts as she knew what Masane did all too well.
"Very good points Masane, I am glad you brought up these facts...I had intended to do the very same soon enough. It is very true that currently and for quite some time there has been no need for us, however that dose not dismiss the possibility of a resurfacing of old problems nor the importance of this organization or it's purpose. The purpose for forming a new line up and the updating and building of new equipment is a practice in preparedness and ensuring that IF the need ever arises, we will be able to answer the new threat whatever that threat may be...be it combat boomers or any thing else coming from the USSD, Genom or any one else. And as for pay, as I know most of you did come initially for employment that would pay I can promise a salary so to speak that will be divided amongst you weekly to your respective bank accounts and will be accounted for as you all working in various way's for the Silky Doll that will come directly from me."
Shiori went on with perks and even provided contracts for each member, which of course alluded nothing to the real purpose of their employment on the payroll but extremely high quality legal and infallible paperwork that would stand up to any scrutiny ensuring benefits and pay wages that were set and were pleasant if not extremely lucrative far more than any of the girls would get from run of the mill jobs they could normally attain.
"I think you will find the terms for current employment to your satisfaction, yes while some of you might be looking for conflicts in which to use your currently under development hardsuit's I realize...that will have to wait. But I can assure you that if things do start to change in the peaceful climate of today, whatever pay we will be offered on any job will be divided out evenly among you on top of your usual salary but be aware that with battle comes the eventual price of upkeep of systems and equipment as well as any other 'extra' costs that might be incurred."
"So...what will we be doing in the meantime? Not that I'm complaining or anything, but I find it hard to believe that we'll be getting paid for nothing."
Kei chirped in finally, she had at least some of Linna's old money savvy to her credit.
"Valid point Kei and one I will address, over all at this immediate point in time since we will call it down time we will begin 'Training'. I already have a template in mind to get us up to speed at a good but fairly relaxed pace...enough to not over tax any of us yet to gain maximum benefits in a short time, I will need three day's a week from each and every one of you from here on starting on the 7th which is Monday in the evening after the hours of the Silky Doll. I will require you to do so on Monday, Wednesday and Friday's. And Kei, I will be consulting with you at a later time for suggestions with the physical training aspects since you are the most athletically inclined among us."
By the time the meeting was ready to be wrapped up they were all tired and had a LOT to mull over in their minds for the coming week, physical training as well as technical training they were to start the simulator training on the second week from then on. As it wound down and they all began to file out of Shiori's for the night, Masane being last she was stopped by Shiori.
"Masane may I have a moment? Would you be available tomorrow afternoon, I would like to get you into the hardsuit lab to begin on your suits design."
Masane shrugged, she didn't have much to do tomorrow except drop off and pick up Yuri which she could make the exception and just drop her off and give her the excuse that she had to work that that should go over with out a hitch. Besides there was no school tomorrow, Yuri normally went to a friend's house or two for the day.
"Sure, I have to pick up a friend tomorrow and drop her off so I can come over after I do that."
Shiori nodded a small smile played across her lips as she saw Masane out.
"Thank you. Drive safely Masane, see you in the afternoon."
November 24th 2078 Thanksgiving Day
It was hot and a lot of work, the air conditioning working over time almost constantly running to compensate. Shiori and Miho had woke early and prepped their turkey a handsome twenty five pound bird that they had picked up in the market, it wasn't a Japanese tradition but it felt right this year that they observe the celebration they were now after all a family including Masane, Ayame and Kei.
Miho had the initial idea to have Thanksgiving, she had spent a good deal of time in America in her educational pursuits and some of the customs had gained some roots with her. Shiori thought about it and concluded it was a great idea as they could all spend time together as friends and family, but boy was it hard and tiring work and it wasn't the normal but she found some happiness in it as she and Miho worked.
Everything appeared to be a big train wreck from the kitchen to the dining area, the turkey wasn't alone they were also preparing candied sweet potatoes with marshmallow's melted on top brown sugar and cinnamon. Chicken with home made noodles in a huge pot that smelled delightful, herb and sage stuffing same that was in the bird along with mashed potatoes with gravy. The others were expected at any time and they were bringing a dish a piece as well, Shiori wiped a bit of dampness from her brow and smiled as she watched her sister bring out two pie's from the second oven a delectable pumpkin pie she had made from scratch and it smelled great.
"Wow those smell good, I have never had pumpkin pie before."
"Well sis then your in for a treat, I got the recipe from a friend of mine in America. Whew it get's hot cooking all of this food, Shiori would you mind opening one of the bay doors to cool us off a bit?"
Shiori nodded and soon the penthouse began too slowly cool a little bit the hot air flowing out the door and the cool winter air flowing in, Shiori stood in the doorway a moment letting the crisp cold air flow across her in small gusts it felt wonderful cooling her body. Miho checked the turkey and the indicator had popped up showing it was done, every thing else was also about ready as well and soon their friends would begin showing up.
"Shiori the bird is done, please come and help me get it out of the oven the thing weighs a ton."
They giggled and the two took a side a piece and hauled the bird to the large counter space reserved for it, the thing looked huge with the two ladies carrying it as they were. As soon as it was in place a knock came at the door, it was Ayame.
"Hello Ayame, please come in. The others haven't arrived just yet."
"Hai Shiori and Miho, mmm oh my god what IS that luscious smell? I brought a apple cobbler, I found an old recipe that belonged to my grandmother and thought it might be a good thing to make up and bring along."
"Smells wonderful Ayame I think it will be great, the place dose smell good doesn't it?"
Ayame's jaw almost hit the floor when she saw the turkey, the bird was huge and now with out it's tin foil covering it revealed it's golden brown color along with the colorful garnishment's that Miho was busy prepping.
"Wowww...I knew Americans went big with things, but omg that looks absolutely wonderful albeit a bit large but come to think of it we might be needing it."
Ayame giggled as she placed her cobbler on the counter, she helped Shiori and Miho where she could setting the table mainly and getting things ready when another knock a short time later came to the door. Ayame answered and it was Kei and Masane, Kei wearing a big smile on her face practically beaming. Masane surprisingly was not in her leathers but wearing a pair of boots faded jeans and a button up short sleeved shirt that was a faded red, she was carrying a medium sized old bag which she figured held her leathers and helmet.
"Hey guy's! Ohh smells great in here, HOLY crow that's a huge bird!"
Soon they were all gathered talking about random things all of which did not include Knight Saber stuff or the Green Dragon, they all wanted to forget for a day about all of that stuff and have a nice dinner. Kei had brought a big trey of pork dumplings, she wasn't too familiar with the tradition and could not decide what to bring so with some help from Linna she had cooked up a batch of her dumplings. Masane also never had been exposed to western cooking brought apple cider and a twelve pack of beer, she placed them in the fridge and shrugged her shoulders and grinned.
"Damn...I think that's the biggest bird I have ever seen, what is it some sort of giant duck?"
Everyone had a giggle along with Masane, who had opened a beer and was perusing all the different foods most of which she'd never seen before.
"So how close are we to eating, stuff smells great though I dunno what half of it is."
"Oh everything is about ready just waiting on the rolls in the oven, they have about four minutes left. Hungry Masane?"
Miho giggled, she was glad that was all that was left it had been a very long day and she would be glad to have all the cooking end finally. She had forgotten how much work such a holiday required, it wasn't some thing that she did often only twice in her time as a student in America. Masane turned and regarded Miho and Shiori for a moment as if a little hesitant, she took a sip of her beer and sighed.
"Well, since we were all having this in the afternoon...I invited some one. One of my best friends to come and celebrate with us, I just came from her place having brunch with her and her mom...I invited Yuri, hope you don't mind...she doesn't know anything about our 'thing'."
Everyone gave each other a glance for a moment, Shiori smiled softly and spoke first.
"Oh? Yuri Tanaka right? You've spoken of her before you help her mother take care of her, that's a fine idea Masane not to worry."
"Oh cool, I didn't know she was coming she's a sweet girl. Why did you think we would mind Masane, it's not like were going to be in our hardsuits anyway, that reminds me Linna and Nene should be arriving any time too."
And just as Kei spoke of that there came several knocks on the door, before anyone could answer it it opened and Linna's head poked in wearing a big grin and her trade mark green headband.
"Anyone home? Oh wow that smells great! Hey everyone, were here and you'll never guess what we found on the way up!"
Linna strolled in followed by Nene and behind her was Yuri, all of them wearing bright smiles Yuri came carrying a big pan and a pie in a covered pan Nene took the pie and helped Yuri place then with the other food's.
"Hey kid howed you get here with all of that, don't tell me your mother forced herself again last time she nearly didn't make it back home in her condition."
Yuri grabbed Masane in a clench hug happy to see her, her blond hair up in twin pigtails today with orange ribbons.
"Oh no, I told mama to stay in bed and rest after you left I made sure she wouldn't have to do much while I'm gone. Nene knows mama from way back, and since I had baked these things this morning and was wondering myself how I was going to get it here mama called Nene and asked if there was a way for me to get down here. So they came and picked me up in Linna's van, it was really no problem. Wow, you guy's really did go all out huh?"
"Oh ok, she worries me with as hard headed as she is some times. Thank's Nene and Linna, and by the way I didn't know you made anything Yuri...what did you bring?"
Yuri had made and brought some thing called green bean casserole and also a pecan pie, neither of which any of them had had with the exception of Nene. They all greeted each other and talked, Shiori called Masane over to her at which Masane figured it was going to be 'the talk' and she was partially right the two making sure they were well out of earshot of Yuri.
"Not that any of us minds Yuri being here, but don't make it a habit to her Masane. Nothings wrong with it at all unless she starts coming here herself, just remember that this place serves a dual purpose...the only reason I am bothering mentioning it is for her own safety just in case."
Masane smirked at that, she saw no problem in Yuri coming and apparently no one else did either she knew what Shiori meant and didn't figure it would need elaborating.
"Well no shit Shiori, really though we should cut any conversation about this till Linna and Nene aren't around you know...they might be getting on in years but there not stupid."
Shiori nodded and smiled.
"Well said, you know all of that guess I was just gilding it a bit much. You know...there going to find out sooner or later, oh well let's just have fun...no more Saber stuff."
Introductions went around and talk dominated for a while drinks went around as well, cider, iced water and for those old enough beer as well as some wine. Yuri brought a spark to the party and everyone felt and acted in their prime, Linna and Nene never acted their age and one couldn't tell that they were older than the rest specially Nene who was exuberant as playful teasing went around between her and Linna every one was laughing.
"Ok everyone! Everything is ready, let's eat."
Miho got every ones attention, everything from there went great the meal was huge and the large table of family and friends gathered around the big table Miho traditionally lead them with a prayer then they dug into all sorts of familiar and new tastes. Compliments and conversation went about freely and relaxed, and by the time dinner wound down every one was so stuffed it took all they had to get up from the table with their drinks and moved to the living room area to sit and relax.
"Holy crap am I STUFFED, American's eat this way ALL the time Miho? No wonder there fat and lazy these day's, crap if I ate like that every day I'd be the same and not fit in my leathers."
Masane said nursing another beer, she sounded positively full as she lounged in her seat on the sofa. Everyone giggled, and to Linna and Nene she looked at that moment just like Priss but they had happy memories and no sadness came this day over those they remembered. Miho laughed at this, she shook her head.
"No not all the time, but quite a few of the holiday's do include large banquet like meals like this one but Thanksgiving I think is the biggest meal of the year asides Christmas dinner...but that's small in comparison as well."
"Hey! I'm Amrican Masane, were not ALL fat and lazy."
"Hey I forgot alright, besides your an exception to a lot of things Yuri. I think your the only American I know that I don't see as a gaigin, only way I can tell your American is some of your way's and now and then in your pronunciation."
"Mhum lil miss can't speak English, I been trying to teach you it and so far all you've gotten right all the time is the swear words."
Linna and Yuri bellowed laughter at this, Masane threw her hands up and gave in.
"Smart ass, you got me there. Hey I'm trying ya know, it's just a complicated language sooo many things means so many diff things it's really a headache."
The 'Smart Ass' she'd said in English but with a heavy accent, she had been totally stumped by things in the English language that had L's in them as a native she had never used L's as the Japanese language doesn't incorporate the L so it was some thing she had trouble grasping and it always came out sounding like an R the word Last she pronounced sounding like a heavy R and sounded like she said Rast.
"Well Japanese isn't so easy peasy either you know, I worked really hard on it even before we came to live in Mega Tokyo. Oh well, you'll get it eventually I think though. Oh that reminds me, would you mind giving me a ride home in a while Masane chan? I'll was the dishes I came with, but I'll have to come back for them tomorrow."
"Sure Yuri, I got your helmet on my bike so whenever your ready, just let me recuperate a big longer though."
"Oh don't worry about it Yuri, Nene and I are staying to help Shiori and Miho with the clean up and left overs when we leave we'll drop them by on our way home."
"Thank you Linna I could help you know, but if your sure it's alright I wont argue I suppose."
As things wound down talk went on ranging from everything from school on Yuri's part to old times with Nene and Linna, Masane was entertaining opening her own business as she had degree's as a motorcycle technician but had so far not done any thing with it and she also was entertaining the idea of getting the old Replicant's back together which got Linna and Nene in the conversation they thought that would be a great idea if the old members could still play and perform. Masane had switched to drinking warm cider, beer and driving never mixed so she decided to leave the beer at the penthouse.
Soon enough they all had started going home, when Masane and Yuri left there was Shiori, Miho and Linna and Nene. Masane and Yuri still felt stuffed to the gills as they fastened their helmets in place and began pulling out of the underground parking garage, as they stopped at the entrance stop sign waiting for a spot to pull out and into the flow of traffic the first snow flakes began to fall melting on their visors the two taking silent note of it both smiled under their helmets as they took off through the downtown traffic.
November 25th 2078
Things for the new generation of Knight Sabers were going well, all were leading their normal lives as it should be and all were adjusting well and settling into their new training regimen and progressing well some by leaps and bounds and the brand new state of the art hardsuit's were nearing the final stage before completion. Shiori and Miho were the experts in that department and Ayame ended up having a big hand in the programming of the operation suits of each, her technical computing prowess adapted and they found that she was a real ace at getting the bugs out they could not.
They marveled at the suits as there was truly nothing else on earth like them, excitement grew around them as the completion date was nearing. Even though that meant that they would have to begin extensive testing and a new training regimen would be added to their over all activities, the girls didn't seem to mind as it was the most exciting part. Once they were finished then they could begin fitting weapons and other tactical systems, Shiori had tinkered with the old hardsuit tech but those did nothing to help with the new one's even though they were spawned from the old platforms they were just so new and building them from scratch was a technical nightmare.
However once finished they would be easy to take care of as they were modular in design, repair and replacement of parts if needed would be a snap it was just the task of building them from the ground up that was the most difficult part. She could see why her great aunt tended to smoke now and then, being a Knight Saber was difficult being the leader more so and they had not even had their first operation yet. So far today Shiori, Miho and Ayame had been tweaking servo armatures, adjustable linkage pivots and the extremely important but huge headache...the strength augmenters and limiters and power cores and power routing. Shiori wiped a few beads of sweat from her brow with the sleeve of her sullied white lab coat, she glanced at the digital clock displayed on and inner wall systems display and breathed a tired sigh.
"Alright girls we've done enough for today, the others should be arriving soon so let's get showers and a change of cloths before we begin today's training."
Ayame groaned in genuine dismay wiping her face off with her sleeve as well, however Shiori and Miho began to laugh and she eyed them bewilderingly...little did she know that the sleeve she had just wiped her sweat dampened face with had a smear of servo grease on it that had had transferred to her face leaving it with a garish war paint like look.
"Huh? What? What?"
Some time later the four Sabers met up in the holographic training room's controller area, all four of them dressed in new and updated soft suits. Shiori was also in one unlike her great aunt Sylia she had not had the training that would allow her to comfortably sit out in leisure, plus with a new team she had very early on decided to lead by example on all levels she had also trained Miho in running the holographic simulator so there was no problem there.
"Aww darn...can't I skip today's training? I mean I been helping with the suits...'yawn'...I could use a nap."
Everyone giggled and made random comments on the intensity of their day, Shiori and Miho were at the terminal readying it for today's trials while Masane and Kei were chatting about their hardsuit options as well as more normal stuff in which Kei did most of the talking about her studio.
"Sorry Ayame but no one said any of this would be the easiest thing in the world, we've all had a trying week thus far. Alright everyone, who wants to go first?"
Shiori soothed the ruffled Ayame out slightly she knew how she felt she was feeling the same but that didn't mean she could let up or skip, doing so she knew would mean creating a weakness in the cohesion of the team no matter how slight and that in the future could be dangerous.
"I'll go first! I wanna see if I can't get past that pesky holographic on level eight, been itching since last time!"
Kei was ahead of even Masane a fact which Masane shook her head at with a wry grin, she enjoyed seeing how far she could push herself but Kei was like a damn machine but she felt better about it as they were both on the same level in the simulator. Once Kei was in position Shiori spoke over the com and hit a few buttons after being given the ready by Kei, level one began and ended quickly as Kei steadily leveled one after the other defeating the holograms with seeming ease until she reached level eight.
"Oh boy here it comes, wonder if she'll beat it this time."
"Well Masane she is one of the most active on the team physically, were all active but Kei seems to be able to push herself much like her grandmother Linna...we'll see."
Shiori commented smoothly, and what she said was very true too and no one was going to bother with any thing negative.
"That reminds me Shiori, you mentioned before that you knew that Linna and Nene DO come down here every so often to upkeep the place. Do you think they'll pop in on us at some point? And why haven't we said anything...I think they might have very mixed emotions about all of this especially if they catch us."
Shiori didn't take her attention off of the simulator, but in her usual demeanor gave her opinion on the matter.
"They do, after all they ARE the last two remaining original Knight Sabers. I haven't felt the need to plus we are more than busy getting our operations up and running, and truth be told...their approval was never needed if they dislike it then Sylia can explain it."
Masane whistled a bit, she knew Shiori a bit by now and knew that she was a cool person. But damn she could be ruthless if not a little cold but she was right most of the time, they all had the utmost respect for Linna and Nene and that respect would never be broken it was a matter of course.
Meanwhile Kei was having a hard time, the hologram on eight was giving her hell but she had pulled out her bag of stamina and with a little luck she finally managed to eek out a fatal blow to it's kill spot when it BARELY missed with a tentacle shot that was meant for her head. She stood straight as the hologram disappeared phasing out as the system prepared to cycle level nine, Kei was sweating and looked like she was about spent as she stood there her hands on her hips breathing deeply.
"Excellent work Kei very good, when you are ready I will begin level nine for you."
With a nod from Kei level nine began but soon ended after a close fight, dodging several strikes in quick succession Kei managed to hit the holograms kill spot but it also got her at nearly the same time it had just been faster on the draw. Kei swore at the ceiling but seemed grateful at the same time, she was worn out to be truthful as she plodded out of the simulator, Shiori tossed her a bottled water as she came into the control room Kei catching it and sitting down on the bench with towel and water in hand.
"Your up next Ayame."
"Whaa? Aww man...I am so going to suck."
"Suck it up Ayame, just do your best and concentrate and you'll get passed level six. Today."
Ayame stuck her tongue out at Masane for the comment but grinned as she drug herself down to the training room, this went on for a while until they all had gone through. Kei gained a level and was now on level nine, Ayame did pass but just barely and is on level seven, Shiori didn't gain a level she remained on level eight same as Masane though she came the closest to getting onto level ten and was tied with Kei on level nine. Most were fairly even though Ayame was making good progress, she needed to work on her slight ability to be a klutz the others joked.
After freshening up and changing they all met in Shiori's penthouse for a short meeting, discussing events and training as well as suit progress and also the subject came up about the issue of Linna and Nene mostly the others were concerned about them just popping in since they still had master access codes for the lower levels.
"I would not stress too much over Linna and Nene, they have acted as care takers in my great aunts stead. I refuse to change their codes, they are family to ALL of us they are two founders of the Sabers and went through more than we can imagine in the roles we are now taking the helm of. We will keep on and deal with that when we have to, the only thing we cannot grant them is the decommission of what we are doing."
"How are the Dog's coming along Inagawa? Well I hope for your sake, these old things should be easy to recommission with your skills. The Green Dragon will not tolerate failure, we have leaked our demands as well as a vague idea of what will happen if the Genom Corporation dose not comply."
The man speaking is Shinji Asahara or aka Oni, one of the leaders of a global terrorist group known as the Green Dragon. He wore typical military attire for field operations, he got the name Oni for his temper and coldness towards even his own men. Ken Imagawa is a cybernetics specialist that used to work for Genom Corporation but was fired and lucky to have not been offed by them for leaking secrets to a rival company, had Genom in recent years not been in truly expensive legal battles as well as under extremely close investigation he would have and thus the stoppage of the supposed mad boomer rampages.
"Things are going well sir, being the only one working on the boomers it is taking some time but most of them will be done well in time for your plans. These Doberman models are dated yes, but they have lost none of their bite I assure you. With luck I should be able to have all eight of them battle ready, however I don't understand why Dobermans?"
"Why is not a matter of issue for you IS it? Imagawa we pay you to do a job for us, not ask your damned questions of things not pertaining to you. But it IS very brilliant, with any luck the UN will THINK that Genom loosed a few of these puppies...I think Genom will submit to our demands with what implications an incident like this can have on them in their current state."
Imagawa scratched his head, but it did make sense to him even with things they way they were with Genom. But he still sensed it was a bad idea, Genom may be under a microscope atm but that did little to blunt their teeth if they chose to bear them. Oni simply walked away smiling smugly to himself, Imagawa shook his head. "Greedy moron" He thought to himself, he just had a bad feeling about this but he was getting paid too well...he just hoped he could get his money and get out before what ever was going to happen happened and pray it wouldn't follow him.
December 8th 2078
Masane was just dropping Yuri off at school when the pager on her watch started beeping, Masane rolled her eye's and growled as she pressed the buttons to respond that she got the alarm, Yuri cocked an eyebrow at her a moment.
"What is that? You got an alarm set or some thing?"
"No it's Shiori...god dammit I am supposed to have a day off, I'll have to go see what she wants you go on I'll see you when you get out later ok?"
"Ah ok, why don't you just call and see...might be able to get out of it never know!"
"I wish it were THAT easy, have a good one Yuri."
Half an hour later Masane was on the elevator heading down to the hardsuit bay, for a moment when she arrived she had trouble remembering the button combination that would let her access the hidden floors of the complex but they came back to her. She wondered what the hell was so important to drag them all down to the bay on a day off, it was then that she had a sneaking suspicion that their suits might be finished and that gave her a strange butterfly effect in the pit of her stomach.
It was a mix of excitement and also a bit of fear, because if they had managed to finish them that meant that there was the distinct possibility that in the future they might be facing down things that could kill them and the only thing between those 'things' and them were the hardsuits. Finally the elevator stopped and a soft monotone sound came signaling her floor had been reached, when the door to the inner bay opened there stood the others including Miho Shiori's sister. She had kept expecting each time she came down here to run into a pissed off and confused Linna and Nene, well she didn't know if they would be ticked off but it was likely she always did kinda feel like she was in the wrong place down here.
Shiori turned and was wearing a warm smile unlike her normal small smile she usually wore, she greeted her and waved her over cheerfully.
"Oh there she is, come over here and join us Masane there is some thing I am about to unveil to you all in a moment."
After a few moments Shiori stepped over to several large things draped in white lab drop clothes, she knew it...they were done and she didn't know weather be excited or to get sick. Shiori cleared her throat and made sure that she had everyone's attention, apparently it wasn't needed and everyone seemed to know just what those covered forms were as well.
"Attention everyone, I apologize in advance for interrupting your day. Also for using the communicators for such a purpose, from here on keep in mind that you will NOT hear those go off unless it is a true emergency. I thought that you would all like to see the fruits of our long and hard labors, ladies let us introduce you each to your sword and shield."
Shiori stepped next to the one of the far left and Miho to the far right there were four in all, then they began pulling the white cloths off in quick succession revealing slick and sleek painted armor that gleamed in the over head lights. All of the suits were closed and the helmets were in place so as to display what they would look like when worn, and each was help upright and in place by heavy biped support carts. Everyone gasped in utter astonishment as the sight of the four new hardsuits, they had all seen the four old models and those were impressive even today.
But the new ones were breathtaking in design the new paint on the armor was of such a new high gloss it made them look more than eye catching, then they all started coming close and exclaiming compliments and so on.
"Oh my god I had NO idea that they would look so good, it almost makes you forget that they are for battle. I've NEVER seen ANYTHING like this."
Kei sounded nearly in love with her suit, it's body streamlined the way the armor sectioned out was flawless disposing of any weak spots the old version had and that went for all of the suits. The helmet was of a slightly different shape more aggressive but streamlined the visor took on a more smooth prismatic sort of shape, parts of the armor were more aggressively shaped not just for style but in the same breath upped the armors rigidity.
Everyone goggled their new armor and expressing their elation and the beauty of them, Masane on the other hand was standing next to her's silently her hand coming up to it and came tentatively to the exterior of the chest. It was expectantly cold and smooth she could almost feel the strength in it, she looked closely at the blue and black paint adorned here and there with her trademark flame red racing stripes and she could see through it upon closer inspection seeing a small and very intricate honeycomb like weave pattern underneath. She remembered Shiori saying some technical stuff, some thing about the armor being comprised of a brand new technology called she thought was some thing like 'Composite Matrix' or some thing.
The armor was sleek and pretty damn sexy she thought to herself, but she could see some thing else as well...some thing dangerous and violent. She had no illusions about what it was designed for and what it could do, it gave her a thrill the thing also had a fem fatal thing going on. On first sight it looked like Priss' hardsuit, but some how the new aggressive looking styling made it look a hell of a lot more dangerous. The visor was slot-less and had a bit of an edgy curvature to it, both the left and right hands were mechanical and armored with the redesign with the obvious knuckle bombers built in on both amongst others like the rail gun and retractable palm particle cannons the armament on both arms had doubled in a mirrored fashion.
"I see your getting to know her Masane, I hope the design is what you had hoped for...there is much more than meets the eye too. This model looks very similar to Priss', however with the redesign this suit will be packing close to double the original armament and firepower."
Masane nodded wordlessly and Shiori turned to everyone, getting their attention was one thing getting it back was another but she managed it.
"Ok everyone! I want you all in the locker room."
Everyone looked confused for a moment, they were so caught up in going over their new suits.
"I want you all in your non training soft suits, today we are going to all suit up and run some basic tests on the new hardsuits."
It didn't take long for them all to clamor into the locker room and begin getting suited up, Masane however was already finishing up with her soft suit and was the first back into the bay when everyone was present Shiori helped them all get acquainted with the technicals of getting into the new suits it was simple really.
She went first climbing a small stepped area on the holding platform for her suit she gripped several areas on the hip section of the suit and with a clack and a hiss the suit split down the middle on invisible seams and opened the chest and arms reclining forwards from the rear down to the boot area, from the step of the platform she placed one foot at a time into each of the boots and mounted the suit standing her weight activated an internal system that closed the legs to the knees.
From there she leaned forward into the chest slipping her arms into the the arms of the suit gripping her hands into the internal holds activating the arms with which she used to reach and grip the streamlined hip holds and with that used the suit to pull herself into an upright position the suit naturally folding up and in completely sealing her inside with another clack and a series of hisses', she grinned and Miho handed her the helmet which she had disconnected before the opening of the suit and slipped it on a series of small clicks were heard and a nearly silent whir sounded as the suits systems booted up and came online and the suit went from near dead weight to full power.
"White Saber is online and ready, alright everyone try them on."
When Shiori spoke in the suit her voice was processed by the suits computer and sent through hidden external speakers some where in the suit and it sounded feminine but very indistinguishable, it was designed that way so in case they needed to converse with people authorities and pretty much anyone outside their suits they couldn't be identified by their voices. Shiori raised her visor and also raised the shatter proof glass shield that lay under disconnecting the direct com in process and grinned to the others.
Soon all of them were fully suited up none had trouble with it seeing it done they took to it quickly, soon all four were standing and running through HUD and other systems. Then came walking which they got used to fairly quickly, soon as Shiori explained to them all it would be time to schedule a night where they would load up in the truck and take it to a deserted spot in the fault and do some live practice sessions in the hardsuits.
December 11th Sunday 2078
Masane was glad to have her insulated inner wear on under her leathers, it was cold as hell today and the sky threatened snow again. It had been snowing on and off the past couple of weeks but none of it so far had stuck with any sort of permanency, yet every one knew the big one was going to come and it might be soon. It was a somber ride for her today though, the melody of a song long written by her grandmother pulsed into her helmet seemingly to emphasize today...titled 'Remember' and just before she got to where she was going 'Never the End' began.
She slowed and entered through the big iron gates slowing down to a crawl, her eye's were already slightly misty. She brought the bike to a stop deploying the kickstand dismounting the warm frame of the bike, a cold gust of wind hit her soon as her helmet came off giving her a chill her bangs snaking along her face as she hung the helmet on the throttle as the machine wound down powering off.
She unzipped the bag on her pillion seat retrieving two flowers in a hard plastic protective case, she hadn't known which to get so she got both kinds that she tended to like. One was a traditional red rose the other was known as a stargazer lily, she never was much good with flowers and the like but she done it each time she came here the Mega Tokyo Memorial Cemetery.
She took a deep breath and began making her way among the grave markers and stones, finally coming to a fair sized one adorned with musical notes along with a more cryptic symbol that looked to Masane like a hardsuit visor with a K in it not some thing anyone without intimate knowledge of the Knight Sabers would begin to guess at.
Priscilla S Asagiri
July 19th 2013 ~ July 31st 2076
In Loving Memory
Friend, Mother, Grandmother.
In smaller print below this was a caption, Sylia and the others thought it to be endearing and they were right.
Songbird of the Fault
Your voice and who you were
Will live forever in our minds, sing in our hearts.
Never give up, always remember.
Masane knelt and placed the flowers on the marker, she had a lot to tell Priss and she wished she were here to tell her just how to go about some of it.
"Hey, it's me. Been a while since I been out here, I've been...busy...hell you know all of that already but I'll tell you a bit of it any way just to get it off my chest since there isn't any one else I can tell about it. First off it is official now, I'm a Knight Saber. Shiori Sylia's niece restarted it at Sylia's request, we honored that request...I got to see my finished hardsuit while back. I've never seen anything so...beautiful but so damned scary and not much scares me.
I guess you'd know all about that though, I not so long ago found out that you were a Saber. Sorry about the flowers, I don't know if you liked any of them but I felt I should bring you some thing when I visit and they seemed to be a natural thing to do so I hope you like them. I just wish you were around so I could talk to you about all of this, it's really hard and a lot of other things too. I miss you, would figure the time I would need you most I would have to deal with it on my own but that's alright the world isn't perfect."
Tears hot and wet began to flow down her now flushed cheeks, she did not cry often mostly when she came here she felt she could let them flow freely. Other than these times no one hardly ever seen her cry, and when she did the gaps between them usually lasted a year or more she believed that it was a weakness and she hated it but the times she did let loose she felt a bit better after words. She really meant it when she said she needed Priss, her world was never a perfect one far from it she had trials and tribulations ever since she could remember. She had always confided in Priss when things reached the toughest point, it helped a lot and she would help guide her through some of the toughest spots in her life.
"Your gone physically but your in my heart, and I know you would tell me right now that I know enough and that I'm strong enough to muscle through whatever I am going through. That Asagiri girls are made of sterner stuff, but dammit it is so hard right now to make heads or tails out of what I have in front of me and what I really want. The whole Sabers thing has turned everything upside down, it was probably the same for you too I guess."
She went on a while, then wiped her tears and just sat silent for a little while contemplating things.
"It feels right though, and we have Linna and Nene though they don't know it just yet. I hope they don't get too mad at us, when they do find out. Guess I'll go with the flow and see what happens, if and when we do go out the others and me...I'll try and make you proud."
Masane stood and bowed customarily, then slowly made her way back to her bike. She took a moment to think a bit as she put her helmet back on, then started it up and slowly made her way back out into the city heading home trying her best to will herself not to get drunk when she did get home...and when she did get home, she just went to sleep dreaming of her grandmother and even of the others...in their suits and what might be in store for the future.
One Week Later December 17th 2078
The fault was a desolate wasteland where few dared go, the section that was dubbed 'The Proving Grounds' was the most remote and out of sight especially at night. The four new Knight Sabers were there this night testing their new hardsuits and getting the feel for them, breaking them in and putting them through their paces playing cat and mouse games as well as using live weaponry on the large chunks of junk that was scattered about. Out here they could really open up and see what the suits could do, and all of them including Shiori and Miho who had most of the work put in on them were positively amazed at the new found power quickness and utter grace they were beginning to achieve as they were going on four hours in their suits.
Masane was chasing Kei through the rubble moving blindingly fast quickly bounding from the ground and hopping up a massive jagged step like section of rock employing their thrusters and stabilizer jets in synchronization, they trailed long arcs of spent ions that glowed in opalescent arcs in the air for a split second each time the thrusters engaged.
"Ok everyone I hate to ruin your good time, but from my HUD I can see all of your power cores are running low including mine may I suggest we get loaded back up and return to base."
Almost in unison the others groaned but soon they were all back in the truck seated on the industrial bench seats, helmets came off all of them frankly looked like drowned rats from the sweat and the soppy wet hair they all sported.
"Whew! Hot damn I didn't think I was this tired when we were out there, I sit down and next thing I know I feel like I ran a marathon...I need a shower and some sleep."
Masane grinned running her fingers through her soaked hair, she felt totally drained despite all the training they had been doing prior to the suits.
"I second that motion Masane, keep in mind that without these suits we could never come close to performing on that level let alone for that long. I timed our exercises to a few minutes off from four total hours spent and much of that was being used at a good pace, I think it is safe to say that the new tech power cells our suits employ can last more than double the time the predecessor hardsuits could."
Most of the others were lost on what she was talking about though the gist was understood, Shiori smiled doing a few small calculations on the mobile terminal she was already extremely eager to get all of the recorders from the others suits and feed them into the main computers back in the bay and see the statistics.
Later that night Masane practically collapsed on her couch not making it to her bed, she fell into a deep dreamless sleep that just seemed to carry her off in it's soft velvet blackness as snow began to fall lightly outside.
Next Day December 18th 2078
"I think we have really done some thing here sis, these statistics are off the scale in comparison to the data on the old suits. And they weren't even pushed to their upper limits, the only thing as exciting as this is the anticipation of how the new armor will perform."
"Well it is indeed exciting Miho, however we do have to realize that yes...the Knight Sabers have become extremely advanced but so has the rest of the world with the march of time. We've made it a point though to get our hands on the absolute cutting edge and some of the stuff we have employed is some what experimental like the armor, even though samples have passed an insane barrage of tests and we have went through hundreds of them and through the same tests everything from 9mm parabellum to direct hit particle beam blasts and they performed well."
Shiori and Miho were in the penthouse's terminal room as Shiori liked to call it, it was an updated version of Sylia's. The two sat in plush leather executive chairs having coffee going over the hardsuit data packs from the night before, from performance statistics to weapon effectiveness and reliability issues. All of which checked out in the green with no problems, which was a relief to the two.
"Sis. Can I ask you a question?"
Shiori took a sip of the lush black coffee and nodded.
"Is there some thing wrong? You haven't quite been yourself since this morning."
Shiori gave the briefest of pauses then sat her cup down and then pulled a small drawer open retrieving a pack of cigarettes, taking one she tossed the pack onto the desk top and tapped the cigarette a few times before lighting it taking a drag and letting it out with some what of a cheated look on her face that was brief.
"Shiori! You've never smoked before, what is wrong?"
"And I don't think I want to either, the taste is...it leaves a lot to be desired."
She reached over laying it on the edge of an crystal ashtray, taking another sip of her coffee.
"Yes. Yes there just might be some thing wrong Miho, this morning I got word from one of my sources that there is some thing going to go on in the time around New Years Eve. Have you ever heard of a group called the Green Dragon?"
Miho took a moment to consider, then shook her head.
"They are a global terrorist group, from what information I have gathered there a very unsavory organization. Mostly a grass roots type of terrorism but still quite large, I've learned that they DO have a cell here in Mega Tokyo however details on their plan and the exact date is still not clear. But from what myself and my sources have gleaned so far is that currently they have some sort of grudge against Genom, but who doesn't?"
"This isn't good, it sounds like whatever it is that they are planning will turn out to be a very possible 'public' affair. What are we going to do, any plans?"
Shiori took a drag from the smoke and blew the blue smoke out her lips curling slightly and she stubbed it out, again taking her coffee to cover up the taste.
"Well that doesn't run in the family... But yes, that is exactly what I am afraid of. A terrorist cell is the one thing that is most likely to just blow up a crowed of innocent people, so I think it is safe to say that is just what we should expect but not necessarily a bomb. As for a plan, no there isn't one at the moment. What we are going to do though in the meantime is keep doing what we are doing with training but no more long stints with the suits like last night, if things do come unraveled around New Years I want the hardsuits fully powered armed and ready for immediate deployment...but until then I want everyone on their toes to be able to drop everything and answer the call if the need arises."
They both sat in silence for a few long moments, Miho then refilled their cups from the porcelain thermal pot.
"It has been around forty three years since the world has seen the Knight Sabers, how do you think people will react? Sis...what we have been doing here I feel it is some thing great and exciting, carrying on some thing noble and resurrecting it with you has given us back our time together as sisters. But now knowing that you will all be going out there soon putting yourselves in real danger gives me mixed feeling's, on one hand I have the fear for your safety...and on the other the tightness in my chest of excitement knowing that the world will once again have their armored vigilantes fighting for them again."
Shiori stopped mid sip placing her cup on a coaster on the table, then she couldn't help but giggle a little bit at Miho's words.
"Your really quite poetic you that know sis? I have mixed feelings too, but that tightness isn't in my chest but a ball in my stomach, I know very well the dangers and yet when the time comes I have a feeling I will not hesitate to lead us out there and stop these people. I just hope that things will turn out as we all want them to, I don't want any one but those assholes getting hurt."