August 26, 2035 Abandoned Wiz-Labs Facility MegaTokyo, Japan 1400 hrs. Inspector Leon McNichol stood in a tangled mess of scrap metal and machinery. He knelt down to touch the remains of what appeared to be a Bu-55c combat boomer. The remains were still warm to the touch…a testimony to the power of the incendiary device that was detonated there. He shook his head in disbelief…things were just going crazy these past few days. It all started yesterday when his unit responded to an incident concerning a rampaging boomer. While engaging the rogue machine, a civilian bystander entered the fray and went head to head with the boomer while Leon had been incapacitated. Then the Knight Sabers showed up and a quick fight broke out when the Sabers tried to prevent the man from leaving. Eventually, the police succeeded in capturing the man who was identified at HQ as one Richard Chase, a freelance mercenary. When the ADP attempted to question him, Chase’s employer, the CEO of Metagen, showed up with a team of lawyers. The ADP had no choice but to let Chase go or face several lawsuits. But despite all this, it didn’t bother Leon that much. Chase’s entering the fray saved Leon’s life, so Leon was willing to release Chase…besides, it was the only way to find out what the hell was really going on here. Something big was going down in MegaTokyo, Leon could feel it. First, the boomer rampage from yesterday, then the C12 breakout later that night, the Dobermans rampaging on the outskirts of the city, and now an explosion at the old Wiz-labs resulting in the death of a Genom research team. But the biggest shock of all came to Leon when someone called him at HQ and requested him to lead the investigation. That someone was none other than Chairman Quincy himself. The chairman said he wanted a competent officer on the case, so Leon found himself standing in the charred remains of what appeared to be some sort of excavation site. Well, one thing is for certain, he thought. Whoever did this didn’t want Genom sniffing around. A noise from behind made him spin around. “Ah, Inspector, it is good to see you.” Leon kept his face neutral, but he wasn’t able to keep the hostility from his voice. “Chairman Quincy,” he hissed as he bowed his head slightly. The old man regarded the young officer for a moment, then threw his head back and laughed. “I like you, McNichol, always willing to let someone know how you truly feel about them.” He paused for a moment and his expression changed from merriment to sadness. “It’s too bad that your kind are fast becoming an extinct breed.” “Yeah, we’re being replaced by sycophants who will do anything their corporate masters tell them.” Quincy laughed again. “That may be, Inspector, that may be…so tell me, what have you discovered so far?” “Not much, only that the device used pretty much incinerated everything here. Anything remotely human was reduced to ashes. The machinery was warped and as for your boomers…” Leon paused as he pointed at the warped remains of a combat boomer, “I wouldn’t plan on salvaging any electronic components. Whoever was behind this made sure that everything was destroyed and that meant electronic as well as physical evidence.” “So you have no idea who was responsible?” Leon shook his head. “No, but I can make some observations. One observation is you insisting I handle this case discreetly tells me that you are obviously after something, but you will merely deny it and come up with some other pathetic excuse if we go public. Another observation is that you are scared.” “Scared?” Quincy arched an eyebrow. “And what brings you to that conclusion.” “Because in two consecutive days, things are happening and you don’t seem to be in control of the situation. In fact, since the so called ‘boomer revolution’ from last year, you’ve been getting sloppy. It used to be that when a boomer went berserk, Genom would be able to provide a cover story, but that didn't happen yesterday. Then C12, the most secured prison facility in the world, built and financed by Genom, gets hit by a terrorist attack and several more boomers go crazy. Don’t bother trying to deny that, I had several squads out there dealing with the rogue Dobermans and I’m certain that there were plenty of witnesses, seeing as how all the incidents took place in heavily populated areas. Something tells me that your PR crew must be having nightmares covering this up. And now, just a few hours ago, one of your science teams gets fried along with the three or four combat boomers you had protecting them.” “Are you going some place with this, Inspector?” Quincy asked as he leaned on his cane. “Because I am certain that you have other things to do than ramble on about nothing.” “Oh, don’t worry,” Leon assured him, “because I have a theory that you will find interesting. Someone knows that Genom is not as strong as it used to be and has decided the time has come to strike.” Quincy shook his head and chuckled. “This is very amusing, McNichol, but I think you underestimate Genom’s status.” “Maybe, but I am certain that Miriam Yoshida won’t.” For what was probably the first time ever, Quincy’s jaw dropped open in surprise. “Wh-what?” “Oh yeah, Miriam Yoshida, remember him?” Leon didn’t bother hiding the smile on his face. “Psychotic little engineer who used to work for Ebisu Electronics, the man who basically created the advanced power boosters that your boomers use, the man who you treated as second rate and hates you for it…it seems that someone busted him out of C12. It also explains how those damn Dobermans were reprogrammed.” Quincy quickly regained his composure. “This is may be a problem, but it is not a major one. Yoshida is only one man, and he cannot take on Genom alone.” “Yeah, well, you go ahead and think that, Quincy. Because whoever bailed him out has made it clear that you are no longer the powerful giant you thought you were.” Quincy’s eyes narrowed. “Be careful of what you say, Inspector. People who make statements like that tend to have fatal accidents.” “And so do corporate bigwigs who don’t listen to warnings.” Quincy was about to say something but suddenly changed his mind and simply nodded. “You will follow up on this, Inspector.” Leon gave the man a mock salute. “Whatever you say, chairman. Have a nice day and get the hell away from my crime scene.” He then turned away and resumed his investigation of the site. Quincy was furious. How dare that man talk to him like that! As he made his way back to the limousine, he was joined by two boomers that were disguised as human bodyguards. “Is everything all right, sir?” one of the boomers asked as he opened the passenger door for the chairman. Quincy fixed the boomer with a cold stare that actually made the machine flinch. “What do you think?” he snapped. As he got in the car, he felt something he hadn’t felt for a long time…fear. McNichol was right, Genom was not as strong as it once was. In fact, if the truth were known, Genom suffered some major setbacks due to Largo’s damn “boomer revolution” that nearly destroyed MegaTokyo. As a result, Genom’s reputation was damaged and its stock plummeted, leaving Genom open to attacks both overtly and covertly. Granted, Genom was still able to hold most of its enemies at bay, but there were a couple, like Pacific Technologies and the Consortium, who posed a deep threat to Genom’s future. But that did not have to be, and Quincy was hopeful that this newly formed pact with Metagen would help his corporation regain its former strength. The enemy of my enemy is my friend. But once the Consortium is dealt with, I will have no need for an ally, and you, Jason Chandler will be removed permanently…and then I will have total control of the Pacific Rim Market. Quincy smiled again. Yes, it would be risky, but achieving success always meant a certain amount of risk and this would be no exception. The risks were great, but the reward would be greater.
August 26, 2035 Tinsel City District MegaTokyo, Japan 1500 hrs. “This sucks,” Priss grumbled. She, Sylia, and Mackie were sitting in the back of the Silky Doll truck and watching a viewscreen while, across the street and at one of MegaTokyo’s most expensive clothing stores, Chase and Linna were doing some shopping. “Sylia, why don’t we just nail his sorry ass to the wall and be done with it?” Sylia shook her head. “Because we don’t know what is going on exactly and, until we do, we can only sit back and watch. Besides, this is probably the easiest way to track him.” “But he knows who we are.” “I wouldn’t be too sure of that,” Sylia said. “Huh?” “His employer definitely knows who we are, but I don’t think he knows.” Mackie looked confused. “Um… sis, would you mind explaining that theory to me?” “Jason Chandler jumped you and then dumped you on my doorstep along with a message to stay away from Richard Chase. I’ve read Chase’s file, that’s not his style. He would have warned us off himself, he wouldn’t have his employer do it. That was a private message from Chandler to me.” “Then how do you explain Chase’s chance meeting with Linna at ADP headquarters?” “That was pure coincidence. After all ADP arrested him because he was involved.” “Yeah, well, I’d still think we should wax the damn boomer,” Priss muttered. “He’s not a boomer, Priss,” Sylia said. “Oh yeah, then explain how he knocked me flat on my ass.” “Maybe he was lucky,” Mackie offered, “or maybe you’re slipping in your old age.” Priss fixed him with a cold stare that actually made him flinch. “Don’t start with me, Mackie. You’re already in trouble with me for those photos.” “Hey, I gave you all the money I made from those, what more do you want from me?” “Your head on a stick for starters-” Sylia suddenly waved for both of them to be quiet. “Shhh, they just got out of the store.” “So what are they doing?” Priss asked. “Chase is signaling for a taxi.” She paused for a moment to listen to the headset. Priss yawned and rolled her eyes. “Booooring. I’m sorry, but if something doesn’t happen really soon, I’m going to scream.” “You know,” Mackie began, “they’re conducting a study in Munich concerning the psychological state of those who go insane from lack of physical activity-” he suddenly stopped when Priss leveled a pistol at his forehead. “Shut. up.” Mackie sighed as he returned his attention to the screen. “I rest my case.” Sitting in a small van that was parked just a couple cars in front of the Silky Doll, Marcus was suffering what humans called a severe case of boredom. He picked up a cell- phone and dialed a number. A female voice answered on the other end. “Hello?” “Followed the target from his hotel room to a restaurant…boring. He met a girl and had lunch with her at the restaurant…boring. And now…we’re sitting in one of Tinsel City’s most expensive shopping centers.” He raised the phone even closer to his mouth. “This…IS…REALLY…BORING.” “I know, Marcus. But Yoshida has ordered us not to engage the target.” Marcus moaned. “But Nadia, wouldn’t it be easier if we just killed him?” “According to our reports, the target took on a 55c combat boomer and walked away. Now the last time I checked, you were a 33s, and not built for combat.” “No, but I could take him out with a nice high powered rifle. Either that, or have Klaus crush him.” “Negative, we are not to engage.” There was a pause for a few seconds. “Speaking of Klaus, where is he?” “Getting a couple espressos.” “What? You two are supposed to be on surveillance!” “We are on surveillance…but we’re also dying of boredom.” He looked up as the passenger side door opened and a large man got in the van. “Hey, you’re back. What did you get?” The hyperboomer handed Marcus a plastic cup. “One twelve ounce double shot mocha smoothie for you and for me…” he paused as he took a sip out of a larger cup, “…a forty-eight ounce quadruple shot espresso shake with chocolate, sprinkles, chocolate whip cream, and heavy on the chocolate syrup.” “Ewww, a little overkill don’t you think?” Marcus asked. “I can’t believe you two!” Nadia snarled over the phone. “You two are supposed to be monitoring the target, not sitting around and drinking coffee!” “Yeah, yeah,” Marcus said as he terminated the connection and closed the phone. “I’m telling you, Klaus, I’m starting to hate that lady.” “Yeah, she is a little obsessive. But hey, she’s one of those mission oriented boomers…she knows how to do operations like this.” “Yeah, she sends us out here to do nothing.” Markus watched Chase wave down a taxi cab. “Aw, isn’t that sweet…the perfect gentleman. Why don’t we just waste him now and then I can hit on his girlfriend.” Klaus shook his head. “Sorry man, she’s too classy for you.” "Thanks a lot, buddy." "Don't mention it." Marcus flipped open the cell-phone and hit the redial button as he watched Chase talk to the woman. "Yeah, he's fallen for her. Too bad he won't live long enough to enjoy her."
As I signaled for a taxi, it hit me. Richard, my mind asked, what are you doing? I wasn't sure how to answer that. In fact, I wasn't sure I understood the question. You are supposed to be on assignment, not hitting on some girl you barely even know. Yeah, that was true, but Jason did say this was something of a vacation as well. Uh-huh, yeah and when has Jason ever told YOU the truth? Another valid thought, but despite all the crap that had happened in the last couple days, this trip to MegaTokyo wasn't that bad. Oh yeah, you're just thinking that because you met some mystery woman. She was not a mystery...well, okay maybe she was at first, but at least I was able to get her last name from her...Yamazaki....Linna Yamazaki...it was an interesting name. I had to admit, though, I was surprised at how quickly she and I seemed to click. It wasn't even twenty-four hours and I already had a date with her for tonight...of course, she only went along with it because of a joke I wanted to pull on Jason, but something told me that there was some form of chemistry between us. Yeah, it's called you're falling for her...hard. I am not, I thought to myself. Are too. Am not! Are too. Admit it, she's attractive, intelligent and has a sense of humor. Not to mention the fact that she's truly human...unlike Artemis. Hey, I thought back, there was nothing wrong with Artemis. Oh no, she was just some AI that took possession of your dead girlfriend's body. I winced at that thought, that was a low blow. “Ouch, that was low.” I muttered. Linna suddenly turned to face me. “Did you say something?” I shook my head. “No, I was just thinking.”
Linna studied Chase closely. “What about?” she asked as she started to load her bags into the back of the taxi. “Things in general.” He shrugged and shook his head. “Ah, never mind.” She couldn’t help laughing. “There you go, you have that look again.” “What look?” “I know we’ve only just met, but you seem to have this look...it’s kind of a blank look but your eyes seem to be wandering all over the place.” “I do not.” “You do too,” she said. “Speaking of which, we never did get around to finishing our conversation from last night.” “What conversation?” “The one about dreams.” Briefly, for a moment, the playful attitude vanished and she could see it in his eyes. It was the same sad look she saw in the café the previous night. Then the look vanished as he shrugged and laughed. “Yeah, well, I’m not sure what kind of dreams one in my profession would have. We usually don’t live long enough to worry about things like that.” A smirk spread across her face. “What did you say to me last night…oh yeah, I remember: ‘Your dreams vanish forever, and you simply dissipate into the system that becomes your life...a cog in the machine.’ Sounds to me like you were speaking from experience.” “Maybe, then again, it could have been something I just made up on the spot.” Linna shook her head as she got in the cab. “I don’t think you’re that superficial, Chase.” Chase shut the door and leaned in front of the passenger window. “Really, what makes you say that?” “Two reasons,” she said. “The first being that I wrote the book on superficial.” “And the second reason?” Linna smiled. “Unlike, most of the men I’ve gone out with, you’re honest.” “And maybe you’re too trusting,” he said “And maybe you’ve fallen for me,” she countered. Chase was about to say something but the roar of the cab’s engine cut him off. Sylia leaned back in her seat as she watched Chase walk down the street. This is not good, she thought as she terminated the viewscreen. From what she had seen and heard, it was quite obvious that Chase did seem attracted to Linna. That didn’t bother Sylia too much, Linna was always good at manipulating men….however, Sylia was beginning to wonder if something really was developing between the two. No, her mind assured her. The attraction maybe there, but Linna would never let herself become involved with a potential enemy. Mackie cleared his throat, interrupting Sylia’s thoughts. “So, sis, what now?” Sylia turned to face her brother. “Well, I guess we crash a party.”
August 26, 2035 Setagaya District MegaTokyo, Japan 1600 hrs. It had once been a place of worship...but the old catholic church had been long abandoned since the great Kanto quake. Largo however, apreciated the irony of it all. His private sanctum and base of operations a former place of holiness...what better place for a god to plot his return? It had been couple years since he had last used this place, but that did not matter. It served him well in '33, and it served his purposes once again. Only this time, he thought, I will suceed. He returned his attention to a chess board sitting on a small table. Various pieces were placed in different groupings around the board. He chuckled slighty and the cold sound echoed through the empty building. "So the players have gathered...as I have desired. And soon, the world shall be mine." A sudden sound startled him. The slow clapping and a voice full of confidence made him turn around. "Oh what a tangled web we weave...for the world is a stage and the people are its players...or some shit like that." The man appeared to be in his mid-twenties and was dressed in espensive, albeit casual, clothing. His spiky blond hair and the smirk on his face was the arrogance of youth, but Largo recognized the cold calculated look in the boy's eyes...for they mirrored his own. "Hello, Brian. It's been awhile" Largo nodded. "Indeed it has, Jason." Jason Chandler shrugged as he walked over to where Largo was standing. If he was aware of how dangerous Largo was, he showed no sign of it, which meant he was either incredibly brave or incredibly foolish. "So, playing a new form of Chess?" A tight smile formed on Largo's lips. "You could say that. You were foolish to come here, Jason." Chandler looked up at him. "Really? Why is that? Because you're going to kill me now that I've discovered your top secret base where you..." he paused for a moment before speaking in an overly dramatic tone, "hatch your nefarious schemes for world domination?" Largo actually laughed. "Well, that's one way of putting it." The young man shook his head and smiled. "You won't kill me." "And what makes you so sure of that?" Jason Chandler looked him straight in the eye. "Because I know you, Brian. You wanted me in on this game of yours. Come on, did you really think that I was unaware that you practically handed me that data unit? No...you like playing your opponents against eachother." "If that is the case, and you are aware of my manipulations, then why are you still in the game?" Largo folded his arms and and studied his former protege's actions. "Because," Chandler replied, "in every situation where the odds are stacked against you..." Largo finished the sentence for him. "There is always the chance of turning it to your advantage. Very good, Jason. But I'm afraid you are way out of your league on this one. You do not even know what you are fighting for and you have no defined objective in this scenario." Jason picked up a black rook off the board. "In this situation, one must define their own unique obejectives. Quincy's motivations are clear, he wants whatever lost secrets can be recovered, especially if they can save his crumbling empire." He placed the rook back on the table and picked up the black bishop and three pawns. "This would represent Ackerman and his desire to sieze Genom's assets. The white bishop over on the opposite corner would be me trying to keep Ackerman from getting his hands on it. And I suppose the black king at the opposite end of the board, standing alone, would be you watching us fighting and double crossing eachother until only one of us remains. And then there's this..." Chandler moved to the center of the board and picked up the white queen that was positioned in the middle. He studied the piece for a moment, twirling it through his fingers. "This must be Sylia Stingray. And from the way you have her postioned away from the rest of the group, I think you have something else planned for her. How am I doing so far?" Largo nodded, his eyes full of praise. "Very good, Jason. Your analysis of the situation is accurate. But even so, that will not stop me from achieving my goal." "What, achieving your so called 'godhood' and control over the world? Getting a little delusional there, Brian?" Largo turned and fixed the man with a dark look. "Believe what you like, Jason. But what you refer to as delusions, I call visions of the future." They stared at eachother for a few moments, each studying the other's gaze for any sign of hesitation...then Chandler laughed. "Damn, you have flipped." Largo shook his head. "Poor Jason...you had so much potential. Do you really think you can stop me?" "Let me put it to you this way, Brian. By the time I earned my degree, I managed to engineer the downfall of my father and assume control of his company while you were still playing second string to that fossil Quincy. I think it's safe to say that I've succeeded where you have failed." It took a lot of control, but Largo contained his anger. "Metagen is not Genom, Jason." "Oooh, did I hit a nerve there?" Chandler asked. Largo didn't bother trying to answer. This pup was beginning to annoy him, and there was something else in the boy's voice that was unnerving...something that told him that Jason Chandler may be greater threat than he thought. But it doesn't have to be that way...good-bye, Jason. It's been fun. He spun around, arm raised, releasing a force blast that would have ripped Jason Chandler in half...except, Chandler had vanished. The south wall of the church exploded outward, scattering stone and wood. Largo looked around and scanned the whole area. Though he was momentarily angry about his target eluding him, he could not help but smile at Chandler's instincts. The boy had learned much from him, and he had put it to good use. "Nicely played, Jason, nicely played. But the game's not over yet."
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