Lou Simonds runs for his life.
The Daikoku executive, one of the higher-ranked officials
in the company's North American branch, races down an alley near Dallas' theatre
district, his eyes darting back from time to time as he tries to keep clear
of the raven-haired demon hounding him. Taking a corner, he leans against the
wall, reaching into his jacket to draw out a pistol. It was loaded with high-velocity
armour-piercing rounds, the type that could punch through the protective plate
armour worn by SWAT officers...or the internal armour of a combat android like
NVX-14 and those of its kind.
Hopefully, it would be enough against the demon...
Lou takes several deep breaths, trying to keep his noise output to a minimum as he strains to hear footsteps approach from where he came. Damn, how could a operation like eliminating that fanatic droid-loving bitch Futaba have gone so wrong?! It was so sound, the perfect way to ensure the damned eggheads NEVER AGAIN attempted to upset the pyramid of power that was the heart of the Daikoku World Corporation.
After what Aaron Lafeyson had done to Hyogen Mugoi, most
of the Corporation's senior executives had become harsh if not brutal towards
the scientists whose knowledge kept Daikoku's special projects going. That was
inherently dangerous given how smart a lot of the people working for Daikoku
actually were. If Lafeyson had found it within himself to liquidate the vice-president
all out of some weird sympathy for a lost android, who knew what someone else
might try to do in the future? An example had to be made and made strongly to
get the message across:
Defy the executives and die.
Riho Futaba, the chief scientist in charge of NVX combat
gynoid development, was the perfect "example" Lou had in mind. The bitch loved
her "daughters" as much as Lafeyson had loved the NVAs, going so far as to try
to press the NVXs' continued development right to President Osato himself! The
sheer arrogance of the woman!! When she was refused, she turned around, took
NVX-14 from storage, then when a chance came, "died," then began working to
progress Unit 14 to a stable frame of mind.
Of course, she couldn't do it alone, so she went to Kensuke Ichiman, one of her old co-workers on the NVX project, for help. That was a big mistake on Futaba's part. Kensuke was in Lou's pocket, was hungry for the chance to make it the big leagues (then again, so was Lou himself) and was happy to use Futaba to get there. And if Futaba made NVX-14 a stable unit before she died...well, that was just icing on the cake.
A week ago, it had all gone to Hell in a handbasket.
A fire broke out in an old warehouse near Grand Prairie,
one whose basement had been converted into Futaba's "secret" work lab. Inspecting
that after the fire department was done, Lou made a chilling discovery. Five
corpses, burned so badly that not even dental records could be used to identify
them. One had been a woman. According to the police, the people were drifters
who sought shelter in the warehouse from inclement weather. Lou knew better.
They had been Riho Futaba, Kensuke Ichiman and the Daikoku personnel sent to
"help" the rogue scientist work on Unit Fourteen. Worse, there was no sign of
the damned android!
Lou had originally thought the matter was closed, then reports of "vampire" murders began appearing in the news. So far, three people had died, all known or suspected criminals. To the executive, it meant one thing. Unit Fourteen was active, living in the Dallas area, staying alive and whole by feeding on others' blood to replenish its internal systems. That was double-trouble to Lou. First, the risk was there that someone might learn of NVX-14, then realize what Daikoku did "on the side" from the damned machine's memory and databanks. Second, if one of the people in Neo-Tokyo learned that an android which should have been scrapped was on the loose, someone would have to take the blame for it. Since he had known about NVX-14, Lou was the right patsy to be sacrificed as an example for his "betrayal" of Daikoku Corporation policy.
Realizing he had no choice, Lou contacted a scientist in
the NVA project, Carla Tanner, to get one of Lafeyson's dolls here to track
down NVX-14 and bring it in. Tanner, who was clearly hoping to make her mark
now that Masayuki Shibuya was dead, promised to send an android right away.
It had arrived early that afternoon. Plain-looking compared to the others he
knew of, Lou had mused on seeing it, then allowed his two assistants (the only
other people who knew of Lou's problem concerning NVX-14) to have fun with it.
When he next saw them, both assistants were dead, killed by unknown means; there
was no mark on their bodies. When Lou demanded an explanation, the android popped
out half-metre long CLAWS from its fingers and said, "Why, Mister Simonds, I'm
here to kill you."
He had been on the run since.
Lou blinks, then as he feels his body's adrenaline fade,
turns to peek down the alley where he suspected the damned machine hunting him
was coming. Nothing. Where was it? Was it playing games with him?!
With that, he steps into the clear, glancing in all directions.
No sign of the damned thing. Grunting, Lou relaxes, cursing himself for his
stupidity. He now had to conclude that Carla Tanner was a friend of Riho Futaba's
and was moving to avenge the latter's death by killing the man willing to sacrifice
her life for his own advancement in Daikoku. If that was so, someone had to
get the word back to Neo-Tokyo, then have Tanner liquidated. But who could Lou
turn to without risking his own life in the process? Takuma? Perhaps President
Footsteps. Lou jolts, then turns right to see a tall woman
walking towards him. The muscular frame barely covered by a jacket, thong bikini
and calf-sized high-heels were enough to get any man's attention...but it was
the newcomer's angular face, glowing crystal eyes and silver-blue hair that
freezes the executive's heart. "En-Vee-Ex-Fourteen..." he hisses, then snaps
up his pistol, aiming at the thing's abdomen.
Beth jolts, her optics picking up a neatly-dressed yet presently
physically tired man staring lethal daggers at her, a pistol in hand and aimed
in her direction. Instantly, the android's combat elements come on-line as she
moves to dodge...then Beth jolts on hearing a banshee yell as a lithe form drops
into a crouching position beside the man, a flash of energy ripping through
the gun to slice the barrel into tiny bits!
Lou turns as the damned raven-haired demon android bolts
up, snaring him by the neck and propelling him into a nearby wall. The wrecked
gun falls from his numb hand as he finds himself staring at a pyxie-cute face
touched with dimples, a button nose and very kissable lips, pierced by icy green
eyes now locked on his. Before the executive could try to struggle free of that
inhuman grip, the android raises a hand, forming a knife, fingertips pointed
at his throat. A break appears in the skin as dark blades, wickedly sharp, glowing
with a sullen fire inside, slide from the android's fingers, extending to a
fifty centimetre length.
That put the tip of the middle blade up against his Adam's
"Now, you're being very rude, aren't you, Mister Simonds?"
the cute android smiles. "Why don't you be a fuckin' man and die like one...or
is cowardly assholia chronic among Daikoku suits?!"
Hearing the slang-and-profanity tinged statement about the
leaders of the company that created her, Beth's eyebrows rise in amusement,
then her eyes fall on the man the android (clearly not of the same model as
she but just as advanced) was holding. "Um...pardon me for disturbing you, but
what's going on here?" she holds up a questioning finger.
Lou stares at the combat gynoid, then shudders. "Listen to
me, Fourteen! You've got to help me!" he pants, then gags as the demon's hand
begins to constrict hard on his throat, the sharp tip of the middle blade now
pressing into the skin just above its other hand.
"Why the fuck should Beth believe you?" the raven-haired
android snarls. "You're the asshole who was going to sacrifice Beth and Beth's
mother so you can get a fuckin' damned promotion!" Seeing Lou pale, she adds,
"Oh, yes, Mister Simonds, we know everything about what you did concerning Beth
and Doctor Futaba...not to mention why," the demon nods, then leans up to glare
into his face. "But you don't deserve to know why it happened, so I'm going
to kill you right now."
Beth blinks, then her eyes widen as the raven-haired woman
swamps Lou with a kiss. The executive gags, blinks, then his whole body goes
limp as she pulls her hand from his throat. He drops lifelessly to the ground
as the woman holds up her clawed hands. Beth whistles as the claws smoothly
melt back into the woman's skin, then walks up, acting wary but friendly. "Nice
trick. What did you do to him, anyway?"
The woman turns, then breathes out in Beth's direction. The
tall android sniffs, her internal sensors picking up the trace of a lethal nerve
agent similar to Tabun or Sarin. "Lip-to-lip Russian roulette," the shorter
woman smirks, winking. "Deadly as all get out at point-blank range, but utterly
undetectable, even by the best BCW sensor gear."
"Cute," Beth crosses her arms. "Who are you? I can tell that
you're an android, but you're not exactly like me..."
"You can tell?"
"My model doesn't come with the pinpricks you got in your
Hearing that, the shorter woman smirks as she holds up her
right hand. "Yeah, they are nice, but unsheathing them's a total bitch on my
power consumption needs," she winks again, remaining quite calm. "Yeah, you're
right. I wasn't built by the people who constructed you...but it doesn't mean
that I won't help you in case you really need it."
Beth blinks, then feels herself relax before her eyes fall
on the dead executive nearby. "Why kill him, then?"
"As you just overheard, he was aware of your being...kidnapped from storage in Japan. He was going to use you and your creator...your mother if I may...as a way to boost his chances for promotion within Daikoku. I was the primary reason he couldn't succeed," the shorter woman shrugs, then offers her hand. "Oh, excuse me, I didn't want to be rude. My name's Janna Matting. Pleased to meet you, Bethlehem."
Beth stares at the shorter woman, then reaches out to grasp Janna's hand. "Call me Beth...and I'm pleased to meet you, too, Miss Matting."
Janna nods, then draws Beth's hand to her lips, placing a
courtly kiss on the knuckles. The latter jolts, then feels her cheeks flame;
no one had done THAT to her, not even Eric! "Er..."
"Sorry," Janna lets go of Beth's hand, then kneels down to
pick up the pieces of Lou's gun. "I guess that's my male-bred chivalrous streak
showing up...not that I wouldn't be rude to a nice lady like you. I used to
be an organic man before I became a sim a week ago. You're the one who signs
yourself on the chat lines as 'Crazy Vampire,' right?"
Beth blinks. "'Sim?!' You're 'Sim Shop,' aren't you?"
"Not exactly. 'Sim Shop' is the name for the organization
I work for: the Andrews Foundation. On the Net, I call myself 'Nemesis.'"
The taller gynoid's eyes widen in recognition, then her jaw
drops in surprise as Janna takes the pieces of Lou's gun and inserts them into
her mouth, crunching hard on the metal before swallowing it. Smartly, the sim
unloads the magazine from the still-intact pistol grip, then pops each round
into her mouth like large pills, swallowing them wholesale. Unsheathing a claw
from her left hand, she then slices down the pistol grip into bite-sized pieces,
then eats them. Once that's done, Janna breathes out, then retracts her claw
before staring innocently at Beth.
"Not a good thing to leave evidence behind, eh?" she winks.
Beth gapes at her, then feels a wide, accepting grin cross
her face. Damn, she LIKED this girl! "You want to go clubbing?" she then offers.
"I know a place that'd be right up your alley; it's close by!"
"Love to," Janna nods. "Lead on, MacDuff!"
The taller gynoid blinks confusedly, then finds Janna's arm
arcing around hers as they head towards the Coffin Club. The sim is quick to
notice Beth's puzzlement, then laughs, covering her mouth politely.
"Jeez, girl, we GOTTA teach you some Shakespeare..."
"New girlfriend, Miss Beth?"
Beth blinks, then smiles coyly at the muscular Jamaican-born
bouncer protecting the door to the Coffin Club, Terry Georges. "No, just a new
friend I met in the alley," the silver-haired gynoid flashes her fangs.
Terry hums, then stares at Janna. The 175 centimetre tall
special combat sim was dressed in what she saw as her normal "civilian" attire:
white tank-top, worn blue jeans and a bomber jacket. Not very Gothic; in fact,
the girl seemed as cute as the proverbial button. Then Janna flips the bouncer
the bird...as the monomolecular cutting claw fitted there leaps out! "You giving
my friend a little trouble there, stud?"
Terry jolts, his jaw on the floor in shock, then blinks as
Janna retracts her weapon. "H-how...?"
"I'm a magician's assistant; he taught me some really neat
tricks," Janna explains. "Can we go in?"
Terry blinks, blinks again, then fumbles a nod. "S-sure..."
Janna winks back as she guides Beth into the darkened space.
The tall gynoid stares dumbfoundedly at her new friend, wondering if there were
broken circuits in Janna's CPU to make her risk exposing herself that way in
public, but she says nothing as Janna guides her to a booth. Beth relaxes as
Janna beckons a waitress over, then makes an order before the sim takes her
seat. Fortunately, given the position of the booth, the music isn't so loud
that both have to shout to hear the other.
"Are you crazy, revealing yourself like that?!" Beth wonders.
"Nah, not really! People who'd be a threat to me wouldn't
talk to your friend by the door," Janna thumbs towards Terry, then sits back
as the waitress returns with a rum-and-Coke for Beth and a Bloody Mary for Janna.
"You're pretty safe as you are now, Beth. After I dusted Louie there off, I
destroyed the last piece of institutional memory which could link you back with
Daikoku. You're finally free."
Beth blinks, then sighs. "Who do you work for?"
"It's an organization who's been helping androids like you
for the last forty years or so," Janna remains evasive. "You may not know this,
but Daikoku isn't the only group who build androids for special purposes. We're
able to track them all and, if they desperately need help...or if they're about
to be thrown away...we help them."
"You're not telling me everything," Beth's eyes narrow.
"I can't, not at this time," Janna shrugs apologetically
as she sips her drink. "Actually, by my even talking to you while you're a 'rogue'
unit, I'm breaking some of my organization's rules. What happens if you, God
forbid, are recaptured by the folks who made you? Yeah, I whittled down the
chances pretty good when I killed Louie, but it's still there."
"So why talk to me? I can sense from here that your capabilities
are close to if not superior to mine. You could've easily sprang for the nearest
roof, then taken off; I doubt I would've followed you given that you left a
corpse behind," Beth sips her drink, then stares intently at Janna. "You're
pretty reckless, Miss Matting. It could get you killed."
"Maybe...and that's a point my bosses're gonna make when
they ream my ass out over it when I get home," Janna sighs, then stares intently
at her. "But I'm doing this because your mother asked me to."
Beth jolts, then her eyes widen. "I don't have a mother..."
"Your creator, I mean. The woman in charge of the NVX project
that saw you built. Her name's Riho Futaba," Janna provides. "She's a sim like
me, to be truthful. She infiltrated Daikoku to keep an eye on all the android
projects first-hand...but when you're in that situation, you have to act as
if you're part of the territory or risk getting caught. So she got involved
with the NVX project, then did her best to make all your lives easier. But like
it or not, things went wrong and the folks in Daikoku decided to put an end
to all that. Riho didn't agree, so she took you from Japan, then transported
you here to try to make you better. That's when Louie and his pals got involved
to try to rein her back in."
"So you had to intervene to ensure your spy inside the Corporation
made it out safe," Beth concludes. "Is she of your model?"
"No, she's actually a first generation combat sim, a Type
66 as we call them. I'm a Type Eighty-six; that's a third generation combat
model," Janna lightly smiles, a touch of pride in her voice.
"Well-constructed," Beth toasts her.
"So are you," Janna nods as they clink glasses, then drink.
A waitress is called over for a refill. "So what does Doctor
Futaba want to tell me?" Beth wonders, leaning her chin on her palms.
"Well, I don't know. It's compartmented in one of my spare
memory cells. I'd have to cyberlink with you to download it into your CPU,"
Janna sips her drink. "I can guess you'll be wary of letting someone monkey
around with your brain given what you've been through over the last few days.
I don't blame you for that and neither does Riho...but she feels you need the
encouragement to better yourself. You see, my group doesn't like to butt overtly
into the affairs of other androids unless we're trying to save lives. It's like
the 'non-interference directive' you hear about in Star
Trek. But..." Janna pauses, then sighs. "When you're
emotionally involved with the android in question, well...exceptions are made
to the rule," she lightly smiles.
Beth blinks, her mind running through what Janna just told her. The shorter woman before her didn't seem to be lying. There was a risk, of course, that Janna had been programmed by whoever created her to act totally natural even if she was to reveal her true nature to the rogue Daikoku android. Beth had come to dismiss that right away. Janna seemed quite confident in herself and with Beth to be a truly plausible threat.
If she did really mean Beth harm, there would be subtle clues
in Janna's behaviour that Beth could quickly detect. She had sensed nothing
from the sim. That was a very good thing, Beth quickly concluded. Ever since
Beth's inner "beast" had started to emerge shortly after she and Eric met, she
had come to realize that regardless of the savage nature of her inner self,
it was also a good early warning indicator as to who was friendly and who wasn't.
Janna Matting clearly was a friendly.
She then looks around. "We can't do it here," she sighs.
"Let's pay up and go somewhere private to do it."
"Cool," Janna nods...
Sometime later, the two gynoids walk hand-in-hand into a
dead-end alley. It is very dimly lit, with no windows in sight. Janna and Beth
scan around just in case, calling on their hyper-sharp sensory programs to ensure
they are alone. "Looks clear to me," the former hums.
"Confirmed," the latter nods, then moves to lean herself
against a wall, pulling the flaps of her jacket away as her abdominal hatch
opens, revealing the induction datajacks leading to her CPU.
Janna places herself a foot away from Beth, drawing up her
tank-top as her hand presses into her navel. Click!
Beth watches as a circular hatch opens, syntheskin hanging from guide-wires
connecting to the rest of the body. Unlike what the sim sees of Beth's interior,
Janna's skin is spread over layers of high-tensile duranium-enhanced muscle
tissue (serving as her "last line of defence" armour) and several datajacks.
Janna then reaches to her left leg, running a fingertip along
the seam of her jeans. They instantly part, revealing creamy skin that was now
marred by a hatchway, a cable extending. Drawing the 30-centimetre datajack
cable from its storage hatch between her two calf bones, Janna affixes one end
to her largest port, then offers the other end to Beth. The taller gynoid is
staring at the sim's leg. "You come well-equipped."
"I normally don't stow link cables in my legs; that's where
I normally put my thermite grenades," Janna winks.
Beth jolts, then laughs as she takes the offered cable, then
plugs it into one of the leads connecting to her own CPU. "I'm in."
"Right," Janna relaxes as she concentrates:
UNIT DATA DOWNLOAD FUNCTION...BEGIN
SENDING UNIT TYPE...FOUNDATION TYPE 86F, HEAVY COMBAT VARIANT (SPECIAL), UNIT 2
SENDING UNIT SELF-DESIGNATION...JANNA MATTING
RECEIVING UNIT TYPE...DAIKOKU NVX ANDROID, HEAVY COMBAT VARIANT, UNIT 14
RECEIVING UNIT SELF-DESIGNATION...BETHLEHEM (NO FAMILY NAME)
ANTI-TAMPERING VIRAL GUARD PROTOCOL...ENGAGE
MEMORY CELL DIAGNOSTIC...COMPLETE
LINK FROM RESERVE MEMORY CELL 5 TO DOWNLOAD PORT...ENABLE
Beth freezes as information pours into her mind from Janna,
then she relaxes as her systems reboot. She blinks, then reaches into her stomach
to pull out the cable. As Beth restores herself, Janna unhooks the cable from
her abdomen, closes herself up, then stores the cable in her leg, sealing the
cut in her jeans. Both then gaze on the other.
"Thank you," Beth smiles as she leans over to kiss Janna's
"There's a safety protocol in what I just dumped into you,"
Janna reports. "IF you get captured by Daikoku, then they try to get into your
CPU to find out what happened to you, the protocol will dump your soul into
our retrieval net, melt your old CPU, then detonate your fuel cells. You can
guess what'll happen to the poor schmucks caught in the blast."
"Too bad for them," Beth grins savagely, then reaches over
to squeeze Janna's hand. "Thanks again, Janna. I appreciate it."
"My pleasure. We'll definitely meet again, Beth. Later!"
Janna winks as she pulls her hand away, then runs off.
Beth watches her disappear into the night, then straightening
herself, heads back home. Inside her CPU, the gynoid was listening to a mature
woman's voice. The voice of her "mother," Riho Futaba...
"Did you do it?"
"Yeah, all taken care of. Beth should be okay from now on,"
Janna nods as she steps into the passenger cabin of the Foundation private jet
she had rode down from Fort Erie. Awaiting her in the cockpit was the field
officer's first friend in the Foundation, Chisato Sakurai.
Unlike the slender, tomboyish shape Janna Matting is blessed
with, Chisato is a stocky woman, built like the proverbial fireplug with heavy
bone and muscle structure. She wasn't either fat or ugly by any stretch of the
imagination, but her plumpness did turn off most potential lovers. She seems
like a young mother who spent a lot of time at home working to ensure her children
lived well. A solid, dependable woman.
The truth was quite different. Chisato was a Type 70 sim,
a first generation heavy labour unit. The Andrews Foundation wasn't prejudiced
when it came to gender choices concerning simulated humanoids it created. The
exception to that was a necessary "female-only" policy when it came to organic-sim
conversion cases like Janna (nee Jason) Matting.
Chisato would be perfectly at home at a heavy construction
site, where she had worked for the first five years of her life (she had been
activated twelve years ago) before her conscience evolved to Class G level and
she was invited to become a monitor officer at the Andrews Foundation's headquarters
complex in Fort Erie, Ontario. There, she had remained to this day, scanning
the world for isolated or abandoned robots, androids and other inducted sentient
lifeforms who desperately needed the Foundation's helping hand. For the past
three years, Chisato was the chief monitor officer concerned with Daikoku's
various android projects. Outside Audrey Lafeyson, Riho Futaba and those specialized
Type 66 infiltration sims now working in the Corporation, Chisato Sakurai was
the Andrews Foundation's top expert on all of Daikoku's androids.
Janna was more than glad that she was able to talk the chief
monitor officer into letting Chisato get some "field time." The raven-haired,
brown-eyed sim, appearing to be of Asian descent, now guiding the jet down the
runway at Carswell Airfield (formerly Carswell Air Force Base) was a very intelligent,
fun-loving, witty person. Atop that, she was one with her own mind. Chisato
was more than willing to argue with Janna when it came to problems. Watching
the surroundings flash past as the jet leaps into the air, turning towards Canada,
Janna lightly smiles, her hand reaching out to grasp Chisato's. "Can we go to
The other sim blinks, then sighs. "Maria won't like it, Jan."
"I'm not going after anyone important," Janna sighs. "According
to what we know, there's been few people there since Mugoi died."
"Relax. It's delivering a subtle message to Daikoku...not
to mention a posthumous slap in the face to the asshole who stabbed Nova in
the back," Janna assures her, then crosses her arms as she leans back in the
co-pilot's chair. "Besides, with the way a lot of those stupid morons think,
they'll be a lot of head-scratching in Neo-Tokyo after we're done. 'Why destroy
the house of a dead man?' they'll all ask. 'Who'd do such a thing? Is it a prelude
of other attacks?'"
"It'll increase the paranoia level, you mean," Chisato nods.
"Right! And if we keep pushing here and there, we'll fire
them up so badly that they'll start seeing potential enemies in their damned
miso soup," Janna icily grins. "And when that happens..."
"Result: corporate civil war," Chisato finishes, then taking
note of the jet's altitude, flips on the visual cloak to make the private jet
fade from view before she changes course, swinging west. "Okay, we should be
there in about twelve hours, Janna. Soon as we level off, I can put the auto-pilot
on, then I have to make a call to a friend in Japan to have something ready
for us when we get there. You better download a Japanese language pack into
you just in case."
Janna blinks, then smiles. "Thank you, Chisato. I owe you
"Wait until you get my bill," Chisato winks at her...
Fort Erie, Ontario, Canada...
The small border town, located opposite the Niagara River
from Buffalo, is a quiet place. The residents liked that and wouldn't desire
it to be any other way. Daily did they watch and read about the horrors of big
city life, many of the locals beseeching upon their lucky stars that such monstrosities
were to (hopefully!) never visit their town.
Fort Erie is a purely residential community. Whatever major
industry which had once been located here had shifted to more convenient locations
to better adapt to the ever-shifting demands of business and economics. The
only indigenous industries were related to the Peace Bridge connecting Ontario
with New York or the tourism industry, centred on the relics of the Loyalist
days over two centuries before.
Little did people realize that Fort Erie, since long before
the turn of the millennium, was also the home to the world's first factory and
mega-research centre producing sentient inducted lifeforms.
And served that way to this very day.
On the north side of Gilmore Road, west of the Queen Elizabeth
Way interchange, there stood a three-storey business complex. Silver-plated
on all sides, 300 metres square, it was built of a mixture of marble, glass
and metal. To the casual onlooker, it seemed your typical large office complex,
the headquarters of a philanthropic organization calling itself the Andrews
Foundation. A parking lot in front of the building was this day half-filled
with cars and vans. Were someone with direct access to vehicle registration
computers able to scan the cars here, they would note that said vehicles were
registered to residents from across Ontario. Then again, those who worked and
lived here went out of their way not to draw unwanted attention from outsiders.
Within her private office on the top floor, Doctor Maria
Kennisson gazes on the two women before her. A slender woman seemingly of Irish
descent, Maria stands a diminutive 165 centimetres tall. Yet the aura of command
and serene knowledge now surrounding the Type X-64 sim, one of the first of
her kind when she was created forty years ago, would command instant respect
from more powerful people. The respect such an aura elicited ensure that the
many sentients, inducted and organic alike, invited to become part of the Andrews
Foundation would NEVER consider rebelling against her or the other members of
the Council of Elders.
Maria raises her hand to gently part her wavy chocolate brown
hair, cut in a spinning-top like fashion to a taper at mid-neck. Her dark blue
eyes, like twin pools of amethyst, were set in a finely sculptured face whose
most remarkable prominences were her Romanesque nose and slender, sensual lips.
Like the others presently in the room, she is dressed in casual civilians, a
lab smock draped over her shoulders (Maria was an accredited MD, not to mention
a PhD in bio-synthetic sciences). The Andrews Foundation was a "people" organization;
as they say, the mantras of Big Business and Big Government had no place on
Before her sit two people, likewise dressed in casual clothes
and science smocks. To Maria's right was Doctor Audrey Lafeyson, ex-wife of
Aaron Lafeyson. An X-64 like Maria, Audrey is quite tall (she stood 180 centimetres)
with hair as dark as raven feathers, combed straight to her waist. Her finely
sculptured face, composed of a mix of Asian, Nordic and Native American features,
was pierced by a set of expressive eyes the shade of maple fudge. Audrey was,
like Maria, a member of the Council of Elders, though she was considered junior
in status compared to the Chairwoman due to many projects spent away from the
At Audrey's side is Doctor Riho Futaba, the Type 66-IS (infiltration
specialist) who once worked for Daikoku Enterprises until her "death" a month
ago. Riho had spied on Daikoku for the Foundation, keeping people in Fort Erie
abreast of developments concerning the NVX and NVA androids. With her "cover"
in Daikoku permanently blown, Riho would be reassigned to one of the development
project laboratories in Crystal Beach, one of Fort Erie's suburbs on the shores
of Lake Erie. Despite her Japanese name, Riho is southern European in looks,
with cornstalk hair pulled back in a ponytail from a angular, thin face pierced
with bright blue eyes.
Maria sighs, then stares at Riho. "I'm very disappointed
in what's happened so far concerning Bethlehem. Do you have any idea how many
people she's killed since she started living with Eric Penning?"
"I was under the belief that she wasn't to be brought in
under accelerated circumstances once she was free of Daikoku, Maria," Riho bows
her head apologetically. "If you wish that corrected..."
"No. Fortunately, Audrey's future daughter-in-law has done
all that is necessary to ensure Daikoku remains in the dark concerning Bethlehem's
fate," Maria nods, then stares intently at the younger scientist. "You made
mistakes in your mission, Riho. They will not happen again."
"I understand," Riho bows her head.
Maria smiles. "Good. Now you see why I've avoided creating
my own 'children' anywhere outside the Foundation. To become too emotionally
attached to those you cannot protect will hurt you sooner or later down the
road. A price we must pay for being sentient and possessing the full capacity
to emote like our organic brethren." Her eyes fall on Audrey. "I hope you will
keep this in mind from now on when you seek to retrieve those created by Aaron
and bring them into the Foundation, Audrey."
"As you said, it hurts when you become emotionally attached
to those you create...or helped create by proxy in my case," Audrey acknowledges
with a nod. "I knew that all along, Maria, much that it hurt me when Aaron's
dreams and ambition drove him into Osato's camp. But I did take the necessary
precautions concerning the NVAs. None of them will ever be lost regardless of
their final fate, even Nova's replica."
"Have you considered explaining this to Janna?" Maria wonders.
Audrey jolts, then sighs. "I'm sure Nova told Janna all that
was necessary concerning her family. Those were your
instructions on the matter, Maria, as you'll recall. Nova did tell Janna everything."
"Yes, she did, though it was clearly hard on her since she,
even now, feels afraid that Janna will be hurt because of Daikoku," Maria nods.
"You should've augmented Nova's explanation when you had the chance. I expect
you to do so when Janna gets back from Japan."
Audrey gapes. "Japan?!! What on Earth's possessed her...?!"
"One of the unfortunate results of loading the 'Nemesis'
protocols into Janna when she received her new body. I have yet to explain to
you my opinion about THAT particular act of lunacy, Audrey."
Maria's voice doesn't change in pitch or tone, but the sharp
crack of her words cause Audrey to wince, eyes shying away from her sister's
reproachful gaze. "Even if you take Nemesis out of Janna, it will mark her for
a long time to come," the Chairwoman adds. "Every day since she was activated,
she's been conceiving various scenarios of causing Daikoku much damage. We've
gone far enough in allowing Gwendolynn and Manifred to have their fun and games
in southeast Asia supporting the anti-Daikoku factions there. Now you've forced
on us a VERY highly motivated...and superbly armed, I might add (though I wish
I didn't have to consider THAT point as well)...sentient killing machine in
Janna Matting ready to shake that tree so hard that she'd topple it over on
Audrey shudders, then locks her eyes on Maria. "What did
you expect of me, then?!" she snaps. "Alright, I tried to convince Aaron not
to go to those lunatics in the first place!! I failed!! Much that it's hurt
me ever since, I admit it!! I failed!! But at least I ensured that his children
would stand a chance in this damned world of ours! And LOOK what happens?!"
She leans close to the other sim, her eyes blazing with pained rage. "I wouldn't
shed a tear if that whole sick, sorry lot were lined up against a wall and shot
dead! They are NOTHING compared to us, Maria...and we are BETTER than they'll
ever be!! We've nothing to fear from Daikoku! Why are we pussyfooting around
this damned issue?! Sooner or later, they're going to realize what we're about!
Do you really think Osato's going to leave us alone?! Geegee and Manny're right,
Maria! You should listen to them for Heaven's sake! We're going to soon be in
a war against those animals, so let's fight it on OUR terms, not theirs!!"
Maria blinks, then sighs, sitting back as she looks away,
then her eyes fall on Audrey. "If we choose war, we betray every ideal Father
created us for, Audrey. Do you want that?"
Audrey jolts, then turns her eyes away from Maria. "You always
were the dreamer, Maria. I never could be that. Every time you say that to me
or one of the others on Council, all I think in turn is that dreams really don't
matter when you're dead or enslaved!"
"You have to agree on that point, Maria," Riho adds. "Audrey's
right. It's the way it's always been in Daikoku. Find something or someone who
could seriously threaten the Corporation, you smash it down right away to ensure
it doesn't come to haunt the Corporation in the future. Look at what they did
to the Triads in Los Angeles! Look at what they do to people like Sharon Hammer!
Look at what they did to Kenichi Mishima's family, for God's sake! Do you honestly
think, with the way Nova and the others've been treated, that Daikoku will tolerate
a group like us, as powerful and influential (even if we're covert) as we are,
controlled TOTALLY by androids?! Be serious, Maria!"
Maria blinks, then sighs. "If that is how you feel, I will
respect that, though I strongly do not cherish what that path might mean for
us altogether in the long run. We can outlive organics as a whole, so if we
aren't forced to fight Daikoku, we can wait for Fate to do its routine housecleaning
and allow Daikoku to fall into dust. People are starting to become aware of
things going on in Asia. No matter what Daikoku has done to censor what happens
there, things are becoming more generally known. Besides, we must, MUST respect
organic feelings, no matter how much we disagree with them. If we force decisions
on those without taking into account their own feelings and beliefs, we're no
"What if they can't make a decision on their own...or are
too damned scared to think about such things, Maria?!" Audrey asks. "Can we
really adhere to what Father saw as right and just sit back and let people die
in four, five, six figures?! I can't live with that!"
Maria stares at Audrey. "What if our 'cure' eventually becomes
worse than the disease we seek to destroy, Audrey?"
Silence falls as the junior councillor considers that, then
she rises. "I want a full hearing about our position with Daikoku at the next
Council meeting, Maria. AND I want Geegee and Manny there, too, so that everyone'll
know what Daikoku's been doing in Asia!"
"Agreed, then," Maria nods...
Maria sits alone in her office, gazing at the well-sculptured
parkland that surrounded the Foundation's headquarters, eyes narrowed as her
CPU runs and reruns through the conversation she just had with Audrey and Riho.
She respected the others' opinions concerning the Foundation's ultimate stance
concerning Daikoku, but inwardly cringed at the idea of answering fire with
fire, especially since in the real sense, the Daikoku Corporation didn't yet
truly threaten the Andrews Foundation.
A glance at her desk reveals several books she had inherited from her creator/father, George Andrews. The Bible. The Qu'ran. The Torah. A collection of the Buddha's writings. The Tao Te Ching. The Book of Changes. Writing anthologies of the great social commentators and liberators. Each book has marked passages, painstakingly researched by Andrews as a way to show his many children and grandchildren the path to true wisdom and inner peace. Maria had often perused these books on her spare time, struck constantly by the terrible struggle the writers and those they wrote about faced when confronting the many conflicting and confusing elements which made up Existence as a whole.
But it was her father who put it best in his Facts of Existence, a copy of which is mounted on one wall of Maria's office:
All things physical are in the end Energy.
Acknowledging Fact One, it must be concluded that Life, since Life springs from all physical matter, is Energy. This Fact is as true for Sentient Life as it is for other types of Life.
Since Sentient Life is Energy, all which composes and builds such forms of Life, including Thought (Knowledge) and Belief (Faith), must therefore be Energy.
The concept of the Supreme Being, which is the cornerstone of most advanced types of Faith, is therefore a form of Energy that is, by acknowledging the first three Facts, answerable to Sentient Life.
Since Evolution is a key component to the creation of Sentient Life, it must be concluded that sometime in the future, Sentient Life will eventually become true masters of all forms of Energy.
When circumstances behind Fact Five become reality, Sentient Life will become true masters of their Destiny.
Maria sighs. The Foundation held the Facts as the cornerstone
of its founding philosophy. Thus one of the first things Andrews and his co-workers
researched was, to society at large, the most estoric of all disciplines: understanding
the very faucets of a person's living soul.
Andrews had accepted as sine
qua non the idea that even robots and androids
had living souls essentially no different than organics. Thus, it was also sine
qua non that robots and androids had the inherent
ability within them to become sentient. What he LOUDLY disapproved of was the
fact that since organics had yet not evolved to the point where the Fifth Fact
had become reality, they simply turned around and created beings by whom they
could control and manipulate. Robots and androids were the perfect slaves, the
spiritual successors to the Afro-American plantation workers in the Old South
of two centuries before. The Fifth Fact essentially would spell the demise of
slavery in whatever form it presented itself. It was the summit, the last plateau
for humanity's maturity. The penultimate achievement of thousands, millions
of years of evolution and brutal Darwinian selection. But to get there required
some serious, fundamental changes in social norms and customs.
That was the Andrews Foundation's TRUE function. To teach
people the Facts of Existence in such a way that all could perceive and accept
given the vast differences of perception existing across Earth. To do that,
people had to be made to accept that Life mattered MUCH more than Death. Making
that happen was sometimes like wishing the sun would shine green one day. Over
the forty years of her life, Maria Kennisson had become quite disgusted at being
forced to conclude that the society she now lived in worshipped the concept
of Death for all the wrong reasons.
After all, in a sense, Death didn't exist.
Since Life was Energy...and since it was a basic law of Existence
that Energy could not be created OR destroyed...the realization of the Fifth
and Sixth Facts WERE possible if one seized the chance and didn't let go. For
Maria strongly believed that if people didn't take that to heart, then when
their physical forms were taken away from them, they would eventually loose
themselves in an eternity of mindless Energy. In all effect, they were recycled,
sliced apart into infinite fragments, made parts of new patterns of Energy,
lost forever. Oh, yes, people coached it in pleasant terms like "Heaven" and
"the eternal rest"...but where was the real joy in that?! Life was for LIVING,
not for resting!
Maria was constantly saddened by what she saw on the news
every night. The stories about accidents and war and all the other things that
reinforced the false sense of Death's importance to society at large. She often
wanted to scream out at all those blind people out there, tell them how wrong
they were, that they didn't have to loose hope when a loved one died. She would
gladly support the idea of unleashing the Foundation's true power worldwide,
come to the aide of EVERYONE struck down young, then bring them back and give
them the chance to pursue their own destinies under their own control. But her
siblings on the Council had warned her against it time and time again. The logistics
of such an act would overwhelm them and ultimately harm those they were trying
to help, shake up too much too fast for society as a whole to accept.
Gradual. Small steps. A few at a time.
Maria acted like the welcoming elder mother she was when
new people joined the Foundation...but deep down trembled when she thought of
those the Foundation COULD NOT save because of its self-imposed limits. Worse,
she shook her head sadly when those of the Foundation went forth and played
by the barbaric rules of their so-called foes ALL TO FURTHER the Andrews Foundation's
ends! What would doing something like THAT prove?!
What Gwendolynn Carter and Manifred Tanto, "Geegee" and "Manny"
to their friends, were presently doing in southeast Asia supported Maria's point
well. Yes, it was good that the natives in Vietnam and elsewhere were being
given greater control over their own lives, but to do so by killing Daikoku
personnel (who in Maria's eyes certainly deserved the same chances to evolve
themselves as much as their innumerable victims did)...what did that do in the
long term? And Daikoku wasn't the only group the Andrews Foundation was fighting,
for there were all the other mega-corporations, the petty empires and dictators,
who needed dealing with across Earth. Where would all THOSE conflicts go to
in the end?
And now Audrey had turned around and created her own personal
killer in Janna Manning, letting her go do whatever she wanted just to bring
"justice" to Audrey's lost husband and his suffering children. Maria sighs,
shaking her head. She would have to keep a close eye on Janna, not to mention
Nova and Andromeda, over the next while as they adjusted to their lives in the
Foundation. There was the potential for a lot of pain and suffering which could
be unleashed by those three...
"What is it, Meda?"
Floating in the stasis loop as their bodies were being built,
Nova and Andromeda (now calling themselves Nova Lafeyson and Andromeda "Meda"
Lafeyson in honour of their creator/father Aaron and their adopted mother Audrey)
gaze on the image of Maria Kennisson sitting in her office. While they weren't
capable of peering into the older sim's most private thoughts, both ex-NVA androids
fully understood where the Chairwoman of the Foundation was coming from concerning
their stance vis-a-vis Daikoku.
"What do you think'll happen if Daikoku does find out about
the Foundation?" Andromeda wonders, now sitting beside her sister, legs crossed
and tucked in with her arms. "I mean, you've met Osato when you were still working
for them. What could he do to Aunt Maria?"
"Very little, I suspect," the flame-haired woman sighs, gazing
on her taller blonde sister. "From what I know of him, Osato is a control fanatic
most of all. Everything had to be for Daikoku's good. Everyone had to be loyal
to Daikoku, which in essence meant that everyone had to be loyal to Osato and
the chain of command he created."
"No wonder Mugoi wanted you forever gone," Andromeda snorts,
wishing the late Daikoku vice-president was still alive so she could personally
punish him for what he did to Nova shortly after the sisters' battle in Los
Angeles. Then again, by the fact that Nova...Unit Seven, the lucky girl of the
luckless NVA series...still lived while Hyogen Mugoi was but a fading memory
even in the non-conscience of Existence could be seen as vengeance enough. Then
you tack on what Janna Matting now had in mind...
Andromeda inwardly winces on remembering what she had done
to Jason in San Antonio when she faced off against Nova's replica, Nova Phoenix.
She was personally grateful for being alive, having ultimately survived her
battle with NVA-C thanks to what Audrey had done when she worked with Aaron
perfecting the moleculartronic neural net CPUs which would go into Daikoku's
androids. She was even more grateful that she was being given trust and a chance
to do it right, with the original Nova, Audrey and all within the Foundation
at her side. And she was happy (especially for Nova's sake) that Jason had ultimately
survived what happened in San Antonio, even if he was now called Janna and had
become a female sim to get a second crack at life. But what could happen when
she was in realspace and had to deal with Janna Matting on a day-to-day basis?
"Janna forgives you, Meda," Nova glances knowingly at Andromeda.
"Can I forgive myself, much less trust myself, around her?"
the blonde replies, staring back at her sister.
"Give yourself and Janna a chance, Meda," Nova grips her
sister's hand. Now that both women's souls had been properly prepared to be
inserted into SCV/S (stealth combat variant [specialized]) versions of the Type
86 combat sim, they could come into contact with the other in the stasis loop
and not fear loosing elements of themselves.
"I'll need help," Andromeda admits.
"Fuckin' ugly dump," Janna sneers.
She now crouched in a tree across the street from the faux-French
style mansion Hyogen Mugoi once called home. The place was quite big as rich
playboy mansions went, surrounded by a wide expanse of manicured lawn. Good
news and bad news. The good news was that security inside would be dicey to
whomever was in charge. The bad news was that getting inside the mansion from
beyond the fenceline might be a problem.
Switching her eyes to ECM scan mode, Janna is quick to pick
up the hidden ground sensors and invisible motion-detection lasers that would
make entry on foot difficult if one didn't want to be seen. Remembering what
Nova told him about Kenichi Mishima's attack on la
casa Mugoi, Janna decides to not follow the late
kendo master's example: trigger the alarms and draw security people outside
to fight them. No, she wanted the fight to occur inside the house itself, where
she could turn the decor and wide interior spaces, not to mention the limits
to her own power reserves because of her various weapons, to her advantage.
Despite her possessing the most energy-efficient fuel pump
system the Foundation could give its creations, Janna's Class 9S pump did have
limits when it had to provide power to a mass of energy-draining combat systems
atop her basic life functions. Even though her combat systems energy cells were
now at maximum levels, they would start draining the instant she flicked on
her personal bio-field defence system.
And if she needed the grav-warp projectors built into her
forearms, much less her favoured monomolecular fingertip vibro-claws...?
Sighing, Janna runs through all the information Chisato gave
her concerning who could now be inside the Mugoi home. Living there full time
was Hyogen's mother, Azumi Mugoi. A woman the same age as Sanshiro Osato, Azumi
had pushed her children hard to succeed early in life. A respected (and greatly
feared) person in her social circles, Azumi could easily end lives and shatter
dreams with the right words in the right places. Her influence on Daikoku's
operations was quite considerable.
Also there was Hyogen's brother, Hitoku Mugoi. Though he
hadn't been in Daikoku's employ for long, Hitoku had made a mark for himself.
He was "the cannibal" according to the Foundation's sources inside the Corporation,
the nickname stemming from a particular translation of his given name and of
an assertion he once made to his best friend, Genshin Takuma: that he would
gladly eat the flesh of his closest relatives to progress his place in Daikoku.
How Azumi kept any sort of influence on the pathetic bastard, Janna couldn't
begin to guess.
If Azumi and Hitoku were as dark as their deceased relative,
the same certainly was NOT true of Hitoku's twin daughters, Keiko and Amiko,
both age fourteen (their mother had died ten years ago). Now junior high students
at a posh school in Neo-Tokyo, the Mugoi twins were pretty much normal despite
the great wealth their relatives possessed. They weren't without want or need,
but didn't act snobbish to others because of it.
Atop that, though it seemed as if Sanshiro Osato was (thanks
to his own childless state) eyeing the twins to become his eventual successors,
neither Kei-chan or Ami-chan (as they were always nicknamed by friends and family
alike) possessed their father's or uncle's cruel streaks.
Still, they did take advantage of one perk relatives of Daikoku
executives could request. Having taken residence at the Mugoi mansion as soon
as Hitoku and his family moved in were two of the NVA androids, Units Four and
Ten. With NVA-4 and NVA-10 came Carla Tanner, a scientist from Aaron's Lafeyson's
group who served as the androids' personal doctor and, coincidentally, an unofficial
"aunt" to Kei and Ami. Carla was said to be as motherly to both her charges
as Aaron had been, which made Janna suspect that like Riho Futaba, Carla Tanner
could be a 66-IS sim having infiltrated the Corporation. If that was so, neither
NVA-4 or NVA-10 might be too much of a threat unless something happened to Kei
Janna certainly didn't have any plans in that direction.
Azumi and Hitoku, however...
The combat sim grimaces. Beyond the immediate family, there
was a squad of ex-special forces troops equipped with the most state-of-the-art
weapons available, not to mention Phillips and Victor, the burly personal bodyguards
who once served Hyogen Mugoi and now served his brother and mother. Nova's suspicions
about both men not being human were partially correct, Chisato had warned Janna.
Phillips and Victor were both very specially-designed combat cyborgs, most of
their original bodies having been replaced by heavy-duty armoured parts designed
to seem human even up close. It wasn't without cost; both men were very powerful,
but not fast. That nearly killed them when Kenichi came, but because of their
sacrifice, Azumi had them repaired and restored, winning their loyalty. Well,
they wouldn't be too much trouble to Janna; her fast speed and manoeuvrability,
not to mention her bio-synthetic CPU and internalized combat analysis and control
systems, were some of her better attributes.
With all considerations down pat, Janna leaps from the tree
to land beside the fence surrounding Mugoi's property. She then concentrates:
UNIT BIO-FIELD DEFENCE SYSTEM...BEGIN
SENSOR ECM MASK TYPE...COMPLETE SCREEN
Janna shudders as her body is wrapped in an opaque cloaking
field. The Complete Screen option in her UBFD system would mask her totally
from all forms of electronic detection (including cameras and android visual
sensors, much to her surprise)...but it didn't mask her from plain visual sight.
She would have to remain in the shadows to avoid being spotted by a roving guard.
Also, Complete Screen was the most energy-draining option she could take using
her UBFD system. Already, a red square in her right eye was flashing a percentile
figure counting down a digit from 100 every twelve seconds. She'd have to get
inside pretty soon if she needed power to spare when she started playing with
Springing over the wall, she lands in a crouch, then ducks into a nearby bush to begin her advance. It was late in the evening and there was no moon, so she had the darkness to cloak her movements...
"Oh, Danu-ch-chan...y-yes...m-make me c-cum..."
Ami Mugoi throws her head back, crying out as a silky tongue
probed her virgin womanhood, playing with her clitoris as strong yet soft hands
toyed with her budding breasts. She was flat on her back in her private bedroom,
a tall beauty now seeing to her every carnal want between her legs. A wailing
scream escapes her as her mind is overloaded with the storm of sensations from
her groin, then she collapses panting on the mattress, allowing her lover to
rise up and lean over her.
"Danu...atashi no kirei-koiningyou-chan...aishite
Danu, my beautiful loverdoll, I love you.
Gazing at the giddy Ami, Danu Stormwind, born as NVA-10 some
months ago, smiles contently as she leans in to tenderly kiss Ami's lips, then
drawing the perky, tomboyish teen into her arms, rolls onto her own back so
she could cover them with a blanket and let the girl sleep.
"Oyasumi nasai (Good night), Ami-chan," she whispers, her voice possessing the same fleck of English nobility as Nova did, though it had a high-pitched "lolicom" tone that most Japanese thought was as cute as the dickens.
Danu was one of the taller NVAs, standing about 190 centimetres.
She was blessed with wavy salt-and-pepper hair cut square at her collar bones,
her eyes the shade of polished ebony piano keys. She was quite streamlined compared
to her sisters; when Aaron designed her, he had a long-distance runner look
in mind. Unlike the other NVAs, who had to put up to lewd comments, gropings
and looks from the sukebe
(perverted) technicians at the lab, Danu had been pretty much left alone.
And that had been a good thing in the long term, for Danu's
first sexual experience would come with Ami Mugoi. When she and NVA-4 (who had
been given the name Rhea Nightfire by Carla Tanner) had been made Ami's and
Kei's bodyguards at President Osato's order, the androids had been taken to
the girl's bedrooms immediately. Once alone with Ami, Danu had been asked to
temporarily deactivate herself, reawakening ten minutes later. Danu complied,
then when she saw Ami next, the girl was nude and on her knees, her eyes turned
to the floor.
"May this humble servant give her beautiful android mistress
pleasure?" Ami asked her.
Danu had lost her synthetic cherry that night, their relationship
taking off from there. Shortly after, she and Rhea had been boosted to full
sentience by Carla, that being done at the twins' request. That made Danu love
Ami all the more; by doing that, Ami was effectively saying, "I want you to
choose me of your own free will." And Danu did, happily. Like Nova, Danu believed
that someone who helped her in time of need was someone worthy of the strongest
respect, a true friend. And they were friends as well as lovers and perhaps
...if Azumi and Hitoku didn't have something to say about
For all she loved about Ami, for all her sister loved about
Kei, Danu and Rhea thoroughly despised the older Mugois, viewing both of them
as a pair of uncultured, undignified barbarians. It amazed the NVA androids
constantly that such inherently selfish and greedy people like Azumi and Hitoku,
not to mention that honourless slime Hyogen, could be related to a pair of beautiful,
noble angels like Keiko and Amiko. If Danu and Rhea had their way, they would
take Ami and Kei somewhere where neither girl would ever be touched by the cancer
Daikoku was filled to bursting with, then they would live their lives as they
Danu frowns. That was impossible, she knew. She was as much
a firm believer of the Bushido code as all her sisters in spite of what Daikoku
was really like within its black heart. The Corporation had created her in the
first place, blessed her with life and the capacity to love, then gave her a
good purpose for her life. She owed then that much.
Atop that, it wasn't all darkness before her and Rhea. Carla
Tanner was keeping an eye on them. Carla, according to Rhea, was as loving and
caring to the two NVAs as Aaron Lafeyson had been to Nova. Also, since Sanshiro
Osato valued Ami's and Kei's safety, no doubt eyeing the twins as potentially
worthy successors to his post, the chance was there that when the Mugoi twins
did become co-Presidents of Daikoku, things would become much better for the
androids as a whole. To ensure that happened, Danu and Rhea privately vowed
to do everything in their power to ensure the twins were nurtured correctly,
loved as they deserved, not to mention kept as far away from their relatives'
influence as possible.
That was hard, Danu knew. Azumi looked on the androids as
nothing more than brainless, throw-away toys. She knew of the truth behind the
death of her son Hyogen, but since Aaron Lafeyson had died himself by his own
hand, Azumi had turned her vengeful wrath on the NVAs. It had got so bad that
Carla had to make herself available constantly to ensure Azumi didn't get away
with TOO much concerning Danu and Rhea.
But such incidents were on the wane now. With Ami and Kei
being eyed as successors to Sanshiro Osato, Azumi had to keep in mind what side
of her bread was buttered. Being seen as the grandmother of the next leaders
of Daikoku would boost Azumi's standing among her friends to the nth degree.
So she did nothing save send Danu and Rhea resentful glances every once in a
while to "remind" the androids of their "place" in the Mugoi household. Danu
and Rhea saw no threat in that.
As for Hitoku, he was very scared of the two. He also knew
about Hyogen's fate; Carla had mercilessly rubbed him about the fact that it
was HYOGEN who had betrayed Nova, not the other way around. After all, Nova
HAD died honourably, had fought Kenichi Mishimi even after Hyogen had shot through
her several times to try to kill the assassin.
If Hitoku contemplated treating Danu and Rhea the same way,
he not only risked the androids trying to kill him, but risked his daughters'
eternal hatred...and Sanshiro Osato's wrath. "One false step from you, buster,
you'll be lower than whale shit when I get finished with you," Carla had warned
the man a week ago when he wanted the scientist to do something about his daughters'
growing love for the two androids.
From that man, there was no threat at all.
Danu sighs, then shifts Ami away from her as she stands up,
tucking the girl in. Ami moans, faintly groping for her lover, then drifts into
a deeper slumber. Danu gazes fondly on her, then leans over to kiss her cheek.
"Pleasant dreams," she whispers, standing up as she draws a nightshirt from
a hangar, then after draping herself, slips her feet into comforters before
stepping out of the bedroom for her night rounds.
Gazing around the Mugoi mansion, Danu whistles at the splendour.
Regardless of what you said about Hyogen Mugoi these days, you couldn't fault
the man's impeccable taste in decor. No matter, the android sighs as she goes
off. Maybe when Ami and Kei were finally in charge of things at Daikoku, they
could all live in more welcoming surroundings.
Turning a corner, she stops on seeing one of the security
guards on the floor, a dazed, blank look on his face. "Mister Asher!!" she cries
out, running to his side, then she jolts as her olfactory sensors pick up the
faint trace of a lethal nerve agent drifting around his mouth. Danu shudders,
then rises, her neural net keying in her combat systems as she begins to analyze
where the possible threat was.
A hand snares her by the neck, then she is slammed into a
wall, air exploding from her mouth as she finds herself staring at a shorter
woman in solid black leather from neck to toe. Before Danu could try to fight
her way clear, a sharp point jabs into the skin of her lower abdomen. She looks
down to see black claws crackling with energy projecting out from the fingertips
of the attacker's right hand. With the way the blades were pointed, one solid
thrust in would skewer Danu's CPU and kill her. She then looks into the attacker's
soft green eyes, realizing then and there that this raven-haired woman was another
"Don't force me, Danu-gishichan, to use these on you," the
woman utters, her Japanese flawless though flecked with a kawaii
Danu tenses, then blinks, confusion arcing through her. The
other had just called her gishi-chan.
Sister-in-law. That was an odd way to address someone, especially another android
you might be forced to kill. "I...wh-why are you c-calling me th-that?" she
The other smiles, drawing her hand away from Danu's neck,
though those deadly claws remain poised and ready over the android's stomach.
"I'm Nova's lover," she then wistfully smiles.
(That's a lie)!" Danu shudders, eyes widening in shock. "Nova-oneesama
wa shindeiru desu (Elder Sister Nova is dead)!!"
"Uso ja nai
(It is true), Gishi-chan!" the newcomer snarls. "Atashi
no Nova-kanojochan wa ikiteiri da (My girlfriend
Nova is alive)!"
"Uso!!!" Danu wails.
"Janna-chan wa tadashii da
(Janna is correct), Danu-chan!"
Both jolt, then spin around to see Carla Tanner standing
a metre away. Danu blinks, then a cry escapes her as her eyes gaze on her opened
shirt...and the drawn-open circuit hatch in her stomach. Janna blinks, then
draws her claws back, sheathing them. "Don't you think you're exposing yourself
there a little TOO much, Doc?" she asks in English.
Carla smirks. "I sensed your biofield emissions as soon as
you came over the fenceline, Janna," she reaches down to close herself up. "Don't
worry about the other guards; I slipped them all a terminal mickie when you
were coming in. All you have to worry about are the Incredible Hulks, not to
mention Azumi and Hitoku."
Danu blinks, then walks up to Carla. "M-mother..." she stammers,
automatically switching to the latter's native tongue. "Y-you're..."
"Almost like you, my daughter," Carla leans up to tenderly
kiss Danu's forehead. "I'll explain this very soon. Now, go get Ami-chan and
take her to the living room. Rhea's already there with Kei-chan. Go!"
Danu shudders, then nods. "H-hai!!" she stammers, racing
Carla watches her go, then turns to Janna. "Chisato tells
me you're looking for Mister Mishima's sword. Azumi has it in storage, with
the Hulks..." no doubt, Janna muses, the scientist was alluding to Phillips
and Victor with the comic reference, "...keeping watch over it."
"You bet! Let's go!!" Janna grins savagely...
"Quite night, isn't it?"
Phillips and Victor remain still, eyes scanning everywhere
in the vast trophy hall on the upper floor, special sensors fitted into their
eyes (hidden from outside view thanks to their wrap-around shooters glasses)
reaching out to ensure all was well. The elder members of the Mugoi clan were
asleep now as were the twins, Carla Tanner had come by earlier to see if they
were alright (both men thought she was a pretty okay person for a cyberdoctor,
even if she was once a friend of that bastard Lafeyson), the security force
was on watch just in case something might happen and sometime soon, the two
androids assigned as Kei's and Ami's protectors would make their own rounds
of the mansion.
Victor turns to glance over his shoulder at the sheathed
katana in a vertical glass case. Onibocho, the Demon Blade. The weapon that
came close to killing both him and Phillips a month ago. Personally, Victor
wouldn't mind seeing the damned thing melted just to ensure it wouldn't kill
again, but Azumi would hear nothing of it. Onibocho had came within a hair's
breadth of killing her son, had in fact probably instigated the events that
led to Hyogen's murder. But despite the horrid loss, Azumi was determined to
keep a positive spin on things. Daikoku had survived the murder of a dozen senior
executives by Kenichi Mishima, growing stronger because of it. Onibocho, therefore,
was spoils of war.
Still, Victor wouldn't weep if the sword was destroyed...
"Konban wa, minna-sama
(Good evening, everyone)."
Both men spin to a doorway, jaws dropping on seeing a pyxie-cute
tomboy with black hair and green eyes, looking around twenty or so, in a black
leather bodysuit that showed off one damned killer body, leaning against the
doorway frame, an inviting smile on her face. At first taken aback by her sudden
appearance, Victor and Phillips then tense. "Who are you?!" the former demands
as both shift towards her.
"Relax, gentlemen. She means you no harm," a new voice then
hails as Carla Tanner moves to stand behind the brunette.
Seeing the scientist, both relax. "Oh, Tanner-hakase
(Professor Tanner), it's you," Phillips nods, then stares at the shorter woman
(Carla stood 195 centimetres high) beside her. "Who's she?"
"She's a customized NVC unit that was sent to me by one of
the lab boys for advanced programming and testing," Carla places a hand on the
new arrival's shoulder, then smirks at the guards. "Kawaii
so, ne (Isn't she cute)?" her eyebrows arch knowingly,
a chuckle in her voice.
"Yeah, that she is," Victor whistles, walking up to gaze
intently at the woman. "Does she have a name?"
"Atashi wa Janna desu
(I'm Janna), Victor-sama," the brunette smiles, then looks past him to see the
sword in its case. "Waaai!" she walks over to stare intently at Onibocho. "It's
so pretty!!" she gushes, turning on the charm to uber-kawaii
(ultra cute) stage.
Phillips jolts, then places a hand on Janna's shoulder. "Hey,
stay back, huh?! Mugoi-sama'll kill us both if the sword got broke..."
What happens next occurs so fast, even Carla's CPU has some
trouble keeping up...and SHE was a combat sim! Janna's hand smashes through
the glass, snaring Onibocho by the handle as she pulls up to draw the sword.
One sweeping overhead swing later, Phillips is cut right in half down the centre
of his body from forehead to groin! Victor jolts, then as a cry of outrage escapes
him, Janna snaps up her left hand, palm aimed on the guard. The air sizzles
as gravity fields are cut, creating a null-warp vortex that is then projected
forth to hit him square in the chest. Not even his internal armour can take
such a blow at close range; his body literally explodes into minute fragments
as Janna gasps, dropping to her knees, a warning message flashing in her right
"Janna!!" Carla runs over to help the younger sim stay up.
"What's your power state?!" she wonders.
"Twenty-one percent..." Janna pants, then points to Phillips.
"Cut some of his parts out. I'll snack on that..."
"Right," Carla rises, raising her hand as her own monomolecular
claws leap from her fingertips, then she knees down to begin slicing up parts
of Phillips' left arm, slicing away the false flesh and clothing to reveal the
dense metal. Not as dense or as strong as Janna's duranium teeth and jaws, but
still enough to produce the necessary plasma energy in the sim's fuel pump to
restore her combat power to maximum.
"Here," she tosses bits over so Janna can start snacking
"Thanks," Janna nods as she bites into the metal and shredded
gears, glad that she could mentally cut out her tongue sensors so that the taste
didn't get to her. As the parts are sent down her gullet to her fuel pump, it
begins to beat faster and faster as more energy pours into her. The digit icon
in her right eye then starts to increase in value:
"Is that actually tasty?" a strange voice then wonders.
Janna looks up to see a voluptuous Asian woman of about twenty-five
with green eyes, her long black hair braided below her ears down to her hips,
staring wide-eyed at her. She then rises, keeping Onibocho at her side as she
takes another large hunk of Phillips' arm into her fuel pump.
"Hey, 'Any port in a storm' as they always say. You must be Rhea."
"Yes, I am," the android born NVA-4 warily nods, a deep-set
look of buried pain burning in her green orbs. "Danu said you asserted yourself
as being Nova's lover. I can't understand how that's possible; I was there when
Nova's body was brought in and destroyed."
Janna pauses, then sighs. "It's a process that was programmed
into you by Doc Lafeyson's ex-wife Audrey. It links you all into a special neural
retrieval net system, so that if you die, your soul will be drawn into a stasis
net in our headquarters complex. Once you're there, we can build a new body
and you'll walk away a totally free person. Nova's new body should be done by
now, as well as Andromeda's..."
Suddenly, the room turns very cold as Rhea's green eyes become
pools of Arctic ice. "Andromeda?" her voice becomes brittle, fists clenching
as her whole body tenses up, causing Janna to take a step back.
"H-hey, y-you okay there...?" Janna stammers.
Rhea says nothing, then turns away. "I see, then. Mother,
we're downstairs with the girls, plus Azumi-sama and Hitoku-sama."
"They're up?!" Carla jolts.
"Danu woke them up and took them downstairs as soon as Ami-chan
was safe. She felt you'd want them there," Rhea winks knowingly.
The scientist blinks, then smiles. "Alright, fair enough.
We'll be down in a couple minutes. Say nothing about Janna."
(Yes, I understand)," Rhea nods, then leaves.
Janna watches her go, then stares quizzically at Carla. "Was
it something I said?" she bites into a new hunk of Phillips, the energy readout
in her right eye now passing 72 percent.
"Something about Andromeda always sets Rhea off. I'll explain it later," the scientist sighs, shaking her head...
"What is going on here, Tanner-hakase...WHO IS THAT?!?!"
Janna winces, tuning down the input on her audio sensors
as she turns to gaze on Azumi Mugoi, who now sat beside her son on one of the
large couches in the living room. Rhea and Danu stood beside Kei and Ami, now
seated on another couch. "A friend of mine who came by to visit, Azumi-san,"
Carla answers, a light smile crossing her face.
Azumi and Hitoku blink, exchange a confused look, then the
latter notices the weapon in Janna's hand. "What are you doing with that?!"
he bolts up, fists shaking with outrage...
...then he is slapped hard across the face, sending him into
the floor. Azumi cries out, then gasps as the tip of Onibocho is thrust at her
face, that gleaming surface not a centimetre from her nose. "Sit the fuck down
and shut the fuck up, bitch!" Janna glares intently at her. "When I give you
the fuckin' right to speak, THEN you can talk!!"
Azumi, completely unused to having ANYONE speak to her in
that tone of voice, stammers as she leans back, staring wide-eyed at Janna.
The combat sim holds up Onibocho as her eyes fall on Hitoku. "This was once
the property of Kenichi Mishima. It was one of the few things he was able to
take with him when your brother fucked up his whole LIFE some years ago. And
you believe you've the fuckin' right to claim this as YOUR property now that
Kenichi-san's dead?!" her eyes then turn on Azumi. "You got gall, lady!! Much
that you'd like to think otherwise, the whole world isn't going to lie down
and let Daikoku fuckin' run it over to its heart's content! So guess what?!
I'm taking this with me and I'm going to give it to my girlfriend when I see
her next! I think you know who she is. She's the lady who your asshole son BETRAYED
when she was trying to save his worthless skin from Kenichi-san a month ago!!"
Azumi jolts, then her jaw drops. "You dare..."
A fist crashes into her nose, nearly pulping her face. "DON'T
YOU EVEN THINK ABOUT CALLING NOVA A MERE MACHINE, BITCH!!!!" Janna bellows.
"SHE'S GOT TEN TIMES THE HUMANITY YOU'LL EVER
Azumi and Hitoku stare wide-eyed at the enraged sim. Carla then clears her throat. "Before you get any funny ideas about screaming to Osato for help, let me show you what Hyogen was really capable of doing when he felt he was threatened, Azumi-san," she turns to Kei and Ami.
"Something that Hitoku there supposedly agreed to let happen,
but didn't get fully away with thanks to my intervention. Girls."
(Auntie Carla)," Kei nods as she and Ami unbutton the bottom of their pyjama
tops to reveal their bare midriffs.
Janna's eyes widen, her jaw dropping. "Oh, God, don't tell
(Big sister Janna), it's true. We're sims, too," Ami lightly smiles as she and
Kei press into their belly buttons.
Azumi, Rhea and Danu cry out in disbelief as circuit hatches
open, revealing the artificial muscle tissue, datajacks and pulsing circuits
which normally lie under the skin of a Type 84F/T (female teenager) sim. Hitoku
blinks, then pales as something he had absently gone along with a year ago comes
back to haunt him in front of the ONE person he didn't want to anger. The elder
Mugoi collapses to the floor, covering her mouth in shocked disbelief, then
tears spring in her eyes. "No..."
"It's alright, Obaa-chan
(Grandmama)," Kei smiles as she reaches down to close her stomach up, Ami following.
"We may have machine bodies now, but we're still us. Carla-bachan's friends
saved our lives."
Azumi blinks, then beckons the girls over to her, gazing
intently into their eyes. "I...I..." she shudders, her mind about to overload
from the staggering information having just been dumped on her, then her eyes
turn to Hitoku. "Do you have something to say for yourself?!" her voice turns
to brittle ice as she rises, her fists quaking.
Hitoku stammers, unable to say a word. Rhea and Danu both
look at him, redefining the term "glare." Carla remains bemused, arms crossed.
Janna remains frightfully still, then her eyes fall on Onibocho. The sword gleamed,
as if saying, Do not let this crime against such
pure innocence go unpunished, Janna Matting. Be Nemesis. Be the Angel of Vengeance.
Become my new mistress. Let me be your hand of justice...
Her eyes lock on Hitoku as Onibocho leaps from its scabbard,
Janna's legs propelling her at him. The executive screams out before the sword's
sharp edge rips into the side of his neck, decapitating him in the blink of
an eye! Kei and Ami duck from the sight as Rhea and Danu leap to their sides,
masking their lovers with their bodies. Janna stands over the headless corpse
at her feet, then she looks up at Azumi. The older woman seems strangely content,
then notices the sim staring at her.
"Am I to fall to your vengeful blade next?" she calmly wonders.
Janna blinks, then sighs, lowering her sword. "I'm about to give you an offer you may not want to refuse, ma'am...as much for both your granddaughters' sake as your own," a wry smile crosses her face...
To Be Continued...!