For Disclaimers See Part 1

The Song's "Elsewhere" and "Circle" are by Sarah McLachlan.

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Chapter 19:

Leon walked around the destroyed interior of the restaurant, taking in the carnage left in the wake of the rogue boomer attack. He'd already interviewed various people including a shifty eyed guy named Yoshi. God I pity the girl that was on a date with that looser! It appeared that the minute there was a disturbance he high tailed it for the exit, tossing various people out of his way until an old lady in a walker beat him over the head with it.

Leon chuckled thinking of the old woman. She may have a frail body but a grip of iron. Guess those body video crazes are actually god for something, granny snatched up her walker frame and kicked that asshole to the CURB!

Leon walked over to the second exit and stood at the edge looking at the mangled form of the fire escape below. After the Knight Sabers had left the entire thing ended up crashing into the ground. He shook his head walking back through the restaurant so he could find his partner. Daily was interviewing Linna so Leon was forced to walk the perimeter and check out the inside. Man why does the gay man get to interview the hot chic?

He walked out onto the street but decided to check out the alley one more time. He came to the entrance and surveyed the damage. God what a mess. Damn those fucking Knight Sabers! Leon kicked at the scorched insignia on the ground hailing that the Knight Sabers had been there. The first time they had done something about a boomer attack he had felt good that somebody was doing something about them. But when he was put into the newly formed AD Police and had to deal with their meddling on a consistent basis it really grated on his nerves. Sure they had what it took to dispatch a boomer but where was their crowd control? Were they even aware of the innocent bystanders that were around them and are around when they battled a rogue?

Leon sighed loudly and took out a cigarette, lighting it and inhaling, the tip becoming a shiny red beacon in the night. He hatted having to explain to his chief that once again the Knight Sabers had gotten there before the police. Hell even when they did get there on time the Sabers would show up and take over. It had gotten so bad that they were mandated to treat the Sabers as if they were rogue boomers as well. Leon couldn't justify using the K-12 suits against those high tech mechs but at the same time, the Sabers needed to learn to leave boomer crimes up to the police unit that took care of boomer affairs.

Leon felt something nudge his pant leg and saw a raggedy puppy looking at him.

"Oh hey there boy." Leon leaned over to pet the puppy but apparently it spooked the dog because the minute Leon touched it, it let it's bladder go all over Leon's pant leg.

"Ohh FUCK! No you don't you little piece of-" Leon chased after the dog but slowed down when he nearly knocked Daily over.

"Whoa boy, what's that fire in your pants hon'?" Daily winked at Leon who scowled at being called hon' by Daily. God the guy's back at the station are going to think that we're a couple or something.

"You okay Leon?"

His attention went from Daily and directly to Linna. Oh reeeeeoooooowww pussy cat. Linna gave him a funny look before he realized that both Linna and Daily were staring at him.

"Oh umm I'm okay thanks Linna, but are you okay?" He put on his most concerned 'sweet guy' face for her.

"Umm yeah I'm fine. Just pissed off about my date. I don't even have a ride home." Leon brightened up, maybe this night wouldn't be too bad after all.

"Well, funny you should say that, would you like a-"

"Hey.. what's that funky smell?!" Daily pinched his nose and so did Linna who nodded her head vehemently.

"Oh I know! All of a sudden it was just there. God it smells like piss too."

Leon could feel the blush stealing up his features and knew he had to get out of his pants and into a fresh pair.. quick!

"Umm I'm sure Daily could give you a ride wherever you need to go so, umm I'll just catch up with you later okay? Thanks babe. Later." Leon walked quickly away from the two who were still trying to get the 'taste' out of their mouths as they hurriedly went over to a place where there was some fresh air. Linna would have said something about the babe crack that Leon had made but the smell of pee was just something she didn't want to have to open her mouth to and take in an unfortunate breath of.

"Whew. Didn't think I'd be able to hold that much more." Daily said as he gulped in a few fresh breaths.

"Oh I know! You don't mind giving me a ride do you Daily?"

Daily simply ushered her over to his police cruiser and opened his door.

"Here you go milady."

Linna blushed slightly and got in. Daily got in on the other side then they were off. The lights from the street lamps briefly illuminated the interior of the car before they were thrust back into the darkness.

"Ohh can you take me to the Silky Doll? I just remembered that my friend wanted me to stop there after my date to tell her how it went. I don't want her to worry about me."

"Ya know Sylia huh?"

Linna arched a brow at Daily who blushed deeply and thanked his lucky stars that it happened after they went past a street lamp.

"Hey a drag queens gotta get her specialty items someplace you know. Most places look at you funny when you grab a bra and head to the dressing room yourself. Besides, Sylia will get things on specialty order. You should just see these black silk boxers I have. Ohh they are lucious. Erm, nevermind."

Linna grinned and patted Daily on the leg.

"It's okay stud. I won't tell Leon your secrets."

Daily snickered at that. He had no doubt that if Leon were to ever see him in anything besides drag and his queer gear that Leon would probably die of a heart attack or an attack of conscience. Hmm there's an idea!

Daily didn't mind his partner but sometimes the boy could just aggravate him to no end. It was at those times that Daily could feel the 'bitch' in him begging to come out n' play with Leon Poo's. Daily had taken to calling Leon Nene's special name just to goad him into an argument. Hell it's better to argue then listen about fishies. Daily shivered, he loved the sisters but sometimes it was just too damn much information if you catch his drift.

"Well my darling here we are. Ya sure yer okay sweets?"

Linna nodded then leaned across and gave Daily a big hug.

"Don't worry mama, yer daughters safe in Sylia's capable hands." Linna winked as she got out the door and went around to the backside.

Oh honey, you being in Sylia's capable hands is what has me worried! With that thought Daily drove off to pick up his lover from the club.


Linna went right to the launch room and was perplexed because no one was there. She turned on the lights and gasped at what she saw. Nene's suit was looking like a bad science experiment gone bad or maybe a junkie trying to find a vein only all over her suit. Sylia's suit was in pieces scattered across the floor and her helmet had some barely dried blood on it. Priss's suit was scattered across the floor as well, the only suit that was at rights was her own which was in it's launch bay.

What the hell is going on? She went up to the computer room and brought up the tapes for the launch pad to a little before the boomer attack. She watched as Nene stood watching Sylia, Priss and a red haired woman get into the mechs and shoot off. Not caring for what was going on then, she forwarded the tape to when she believed they all got back. Her mech appeared and the woman took off her visor. That's the last time yer in my mech honey.

Priss and Sylia came down next. Priss took off her helmet then looked to Sylia. Linna gasped as Sylia suddenly pitched forward and bounced off the launch pad to crash onto the floor below. Linna had tears in her eyes when they took off Sylia's helmet and she saw the blood. The resulting chaos after that was too much for her and she turned off the video play back. Oh my god!

"Yes it wasn't exactly a dull reunion."

Linna stared at the woman whose eyes were dull and seemingly lifeless. The vid loop repeated and she could see an amused sparkle enter the woman's eyes, Linna turned and watched as everyone scrambled around Sylia.

"If I can give Sylia anything she certainly has a flair for the dramatic."

Linna gazed at the owner of the cruel words who wasn't winning any points with her at the moment.

"I'm Greta Langley."

Linna batted away the woman's outstretched hand and backed her till she was flush against the wall. She didn't have time for pleasantries, her team needed her and she wanted to be there for them. Their leader, who was also a friend, was down and they needed to be together to give each other support.

"Where are they?"

"At the hospital if you must know."

"Well.. which one or are you unfeeling enough not to care?"

Greta smirked at Linna then brushed past her to put on the video recording, playing back Sylia's fall, then playing it again in slow motion.

"Sylia, Sylia, Sylia, when are you going to learn hmm?"

Greta's words and actions were making Linna begin to truly dislike her. She thought the woman was just rude before, but the way her eyes seemed to gleam as she watched Sylia fall, slamming into the unyielding ground below was just sickening.

"Sylia's lying injured somewhere and you don't seem to be very put off by that, for some reason I thought you were her friend. As touching as this is in a sadistic sort of way, why don't you just tell me where they are at." Red haired bitch, yer the one that used my mech, and how dare you say the things you've said about Sylia.

Greta swiveled in her chair and grinned maliciously.

"Oh I'll do even better than that. I'll take you there."

"Fine then lead the way honey."

Greta sashayed past Linna who followed her only for the fact that she wanted to be with her teammates.

They drove in silence to the hospital. Linna fidgeted in her seat hoping that Sylia was okay but feeling especially bad for Nene who had looked to be the most distraught over everything. The scene was seared on Linna's memory. Everyone huddling about Sylia, Makie pulling Nene back so that the dark haired man and Priss could look her over. Nene's tear streak faced as she stared down at her fallen leader with her white knuckled grip on Makie's clothes.

Greta and Linna got out of the car to go inside. They eventually ran into the dark haired man who glared at Greta and gave Linna a grim smile.

"I'm Raven, one of Sylia's old friends. Priss and Nene are in the waiting room, Makie's in with Sylia for a bit."

"Hello husband, forget about me?" Greta purred at Raven who gave her a withering glare before motioning Linna to follow him.

Raven lead her back through the halls, the harsh lights making everyone seem sickly despite the pretty watercolors dispersed here and there on the walls. Priss was standing at a window looking out into the night, her jaw clenched, her body rigid. Nene was only a few feet away in a chair, her elbows resting on her knee's, her face hanging down, cradled by her palms as her fingers were twined in her soft blonde hair. She could see a tear drop down to the shiny floor blow and splatter against its pristine glow. Oh Nene..

Linna sat down next to Nene and tentatively put her hand on the girls back, gently rubbing it. Linna could feel the tremors go through the girls body, her fingers pulling on her short locks, twisting them about her fingers in a painful manner.

"Nene?" Linna leaned forward as she whispered to her young friend. Please Nene, talk to me.

Nene abruptly stood up, not looking at Linna as she walked down the hall quickly and went around the corner out of sight.

"Don't hold it against her. Everyone's worried." Priss's soft voice nearly didn't reach Linna as she worried about the young woman.

"What happened?"

"They're not sure really.. but regardless Sylia's in a coma."

Linna's hands clenched into fists. I should have been there with them. If I had been there she wouldn't have had to of gone!

She felt a hand squeezing her shoulder. She looked up as Priss sat down on the chairs arm and awkwardly placed her arm around her shoulders. It didn't matter if Priss was inexperienced giving comfort or not, Linna welcomed Priss's embrace but knew she'd rather have someone else there entirely. She didn't want to be here hoping Sylia would be okay and she didn't want to be sitting there wishing for a comfort that would never come.

"Nene's blaming herself because Sylia blacked out on her once, but Sylia did the same thing around me so I guess to a certain extent we're both to blame. We didn't talk to anyone about it, maybe if we had.. maybe, maybe she'd be okay." Priss's voice was soft but Linna could hear the pain that was in her words. Could hear that Priss was near the breaking point, just a little push and perhaps she'd break down as everyone else seemed to be doing. Maybe it would be a good thing, everyone else could cry, why did Priss have to bear the burden of being the consoler?

Makie came out and smiled weakly at the women sitting together. Nene and Raven came back, both coming to stand on either side of him, putting an arm around him.

"She's stabilized.." Makie's voice quivered slightly, his face strained with the anguish of waiting on news of his sister. "Maybe she'll wake up in a few hours, maybe she won't ever. They don't know.." Makie's voice cracked and Priss got up to pull Makie to her, holding onto him not letting anyone see if he was crying or not. Both women were surprised at how willing Makie was to be pulled into Priss's embrace. The last time either had seen the two together they didn't seem to be all that close. Despite this, Nene rubbed his back, her red rimmed eyes catching Linna's.

Linna's breath caught as she looked into Nene's pained eyes. Nene.. please don't blame yourself! Linna wanted so badly to get up and pull Nene into her arms, calm the condemnation that Nene was obviously feeling. Linna ached to help her friend but realized she didn't know how she could, not after what she had done to Nene.

If I ever asked for your forgiveness would you be able.. would you ever be able to trust me again and let me into your heart as a friend? A small tear fell down Linna's face for all the lost opportunities she was just beginning to realize she'd missed, all because of her stupid fears and self-hatred.

Nene leaned forward and wrapped her arms around Makie and Priss. She needed their warmth, their solidity to keep herself together. It was all too much; her rejection from Linna, her suit getting fucked up in the sewer because of that thing and now Sylia's coma.

"I'm not going to go home tonight, I'm going to stay here, I'll call you guys if I need anything or if there's any change." Makie said as he stepped back from Priss and surreptitiously rubbed his face.

"No I'll stay here with you Mak, I don't want you to be alone." Priss's adamant voice nearly boomed through the empty halls. Makie nodded his head slightly.

"I'm going to go back to the lab, maybe see if there's anything from the suit that could have caused this, I'll take Greta with me." Raven said and shot a warming glance as the woman looked like she was going to protest. The only thing you'd want to do here Greta is poison all around you.

Raven took the keys from his wife and walked over to Linna putting them in her own hand.

"Take Nene home in Sylia's car. Greta and the others came over in it." He whispered as he leaned in close to her ear.

Linna nodded her head, not wanting to say no. She walked over to Nene reaching a hand out but stilling it when she saw Nene's jaw clench up and her eyes wince slightly.

"Ah, I'll give you a ride home Nene. You need some sleep. Priss is here with Makie, we'll come back tomorrow okay.."

Nene looked to Makie and Priss who nodded their heads and gave her weak smiles. Sighing she followed the others as they walked down the hall, but looked back one more time to see Priss pull Makie back into her arms before the wall obscured her view.


The ride was strained as Linna took Nene back home. Dawn was just beginning to grace the sky as they traveled on the freeway back towards Nene's apartment. Each were in their own worlds, mulling over everything that had happened in the last few weeks, it was almost surreal some of the things that had happened in a sense. Linna could feel tears pricking her eyes because Sylia's distinctive scent lingered in the car making the woman think of her mentor.

Sylia was like a big sister, one that Linna had never had but with so much patience for what the girl was trying to learn. It amazed her how Sylia could be so compassionate one moment and then cold the next. Linna realized it was because Sylia didn't want to be hurt by anyone, she could only let people seem some of her otherwise the pain of their leaving her would be too much.

Some sniffling made her come out of her thoughts and look over to see Nene's shoulders shaking quietly. Oh baby, please don't cry..

"You can't blame yourself Nene. Sylia didn't want anyone to know what was going on, she thought she could deal with it but.. she couldn't. We just have to pray that she'll be all right-"

"Oh yeah? Well where has praying gotten me huh? It fucking doesn't matter, do you know how empty it is to pray about something you feel so strongly about but to something you DON'T believe in? There's no faith in that, it's just devoid of anything but a selfish need to keep something to you. I prayed for so many friends when that damn earthquake happened but they died, I prayed for members of my family but they suffered all the way to the bitter end. I prayed.. I prayed.. I fucking prayed for something that would never be and all for selfish reasons but even when you do it for a good reason it doesn't do anything but disappointment you when people leave!" Nene was screaming this as they pulled in front of her apartment building.

Nene fumbled with the buckle to her seat belt, finally getting it off and opening the door. Linna wasn't about to let the girl run off even to her room upstairs without calming down and got out of the car as Nene slammed the door, rocking the car slightly.

Linna ran up and grabbed Nene from behind, pinning her arms to her side, lifting her up off the ground slightly so she couldn't go anywhere.

"Let me GO YOU BITCH!" Nene screamed, her legs kicking out trying to dislodge Linna from her.

"No.. I'm not going to let you go, shh, shhh." Linna's mouth was near Nene's ear whispering gently to her distraught friend as she struggled.

"God dammit just let me go." Nene was beginning to break down, she couldn't hide from everything when all she wanted to do was cry her anger out at the injustice of it all.

"No I won't let you go honey. Shhh, just let it all out."

Nene let herself cry and didn't notice as she and Linna sat down on the pavement, Linna cradling Nene back against her body, shushing her and a hand petting her head as Nene heaved great big lung fulls of air as she sobbed.

Nene eventually quieted down and grabbed her shirt to wipe away her salty tear tracks from her cheeks. She could taste them on her lips and greedily snaked her tongue out to draw the wetness into her mouth, savoring their release from her pain. Linna was rubbing her arms gently and it was both a comfort and a torture. As much as she wanted to stay it wasn't fair to keep doing this to herself.

Nene got up and Linna did the same, slightly confused why Nene was pulling away. Linna had been enjoying holding her friend to her, she had missed the closeness they had shared. Linna hadn't realized just how much she needed to hold and be held by her friend until it was no longer welcome.

Linna gave Nene a questioning look so which Nene smiled sadly and shook her head faintly and mouthed 'no' as a tear leaked out to trail over her pale skin and gently caress her upper lip. Linna stood there and watched as Nene walked away, without a backwards glance to her.

[ Nene and Linna Pic: ]

Chapter 20:

It had been nearly a week since Sylia had lapsed into a coma. Priss had spent a lot of time at the hospital talking to Makie and Raven whenever he was around. Raven and Makie had both been talking in 'codes' around Priss which made her angry until she finally just got Raven alone one day around the corner from Sylia's room and demanded an answer.

Raven stared into Priss's eyes flashing anger. The type of rage that one can only feel for somebody that they love deeply when they are hurt. It wasn't that Makie didn't want Priss to know, but both he and Raven knew about the chip that had been implanted into Sylia as a child and talked about it in terms that were more definitive for them. They referred to it as it's name from the lab rather than in laymen's terms.

"How about you do some explaining right now cuz I know that both of you have an inkling right now why she's in here. I hate being in the dark so start talking NOW!" The grip on Raven's throat tightened until he nodded then he was let down a bit.

"You know that mark at Sylia's hairline?"

Priss nodded her head impatiently, she didn't have time for such questions the guy should just tell her like it is and get it out of the way for her piece of mind.

"Stingray wasn't successful in his first trial when creating a blueprint for the boomers net. His subject died from the shock of rejecting the mapping device.. he.. he used Sylia after the first person died. He drilled a hole into her skull and injected a chip into her brain to map all of its functions, to create the blueprint of a human mind to model a boomer cybernetic net after. The chip and all the subsequent wiring are still in there. She nearly died on the table so we put nanoprobes in her to boost her immune system and make it accept the device. He experimented on her. I think the chip has been flaring up every now and again due to her link with the suit. It's too much stimulation because her brain has that chip in there accessing all sorts of data and assimilating it. She just couldn't handle all the overload anymore."

Priss's grip on Raven had slackened as he'd been talking. She couldn't believe the lengths that Stingray would have gone to to create his precious boomers.

A fist connected solidly with a jaw and Raven fell down to the floor, clutching his aching flesh.

"You bastard you just STOOD there and let him do it to HER.. she was just a CHILD!" Priss was about to kick the man when an overly strong grip pulled her away from him.

Makie spun Priss around and pinned her to the wall shaking his head.

"Don't. It's not worth it and he's been paying for his debt to Sylia ever since. Sylia forgave him but it's the type of guilt that even if you are absolved you still can't believe it yourself and will do anything to make up for it. He has to live with the knowledge that he didn't help her when she needed it most but he can help now. I know he can help Sylia wake up again. He was there so he knows what to do.. just.. just let him do it Priss. I don't want to loose her either."

Priss had stopped struggling when she realized she couldn't get out of Makie's grip and finally listened to what he was saying.

"I want her back too Priss.."

"I want you back Sylia.." Priss whispered softly as she looked down at the woman she knew she had fallen for. It wasn't something she had expected or planned, it just happened. She had woken up one morning and realized that she had been denying these feelings for far too long and needed to accept them in order to have peace.

She stroked the necklace at the base of her throat. She always wore her parent's rings around her neck to remind her that she was loved and had loved somebody in return. It was one of the many small things that she wanted Sylia to know about her if Sylia wanted to be with her as well. She had been thinking about her parents a lot as she watched over Sylia, wondering what they would have thought of the enigmatic woman. Would they have liked her? Could they have accepted that she was who Priss wanted even if it never came about?

That was one of the things that Priss had come to grips with; that her feelings might not be able to be returned in kind. It pained her to think about that because she knew that it was Sylia she wanted no matter what. But at the same time she knew that this might be all she could ever really have. That aloofness that kept her apart from anyone else, that allowed her the safety to care without appearing to do so.

There were many things that Priss had realized while sitting there watching Sylia. Sylia had shown her that she cared for Priss but in the only way she could. It may not be as conventional as a hug or a kiss but it was still something and that gave Priss hope that they could be together. Priss desired that more than anything.

She had found herself stroking Sylia's hairline, right at the scar and wishing that she would open up those hazel eyes and look at her. That she could hold Sylia in her arms and tell her just how much she felt for the woman. How it was like dying and being reborn all at once. Something magical and yet based in reality. Shaking her head she turned her attention back to the song she was writing and testing it out on her guitar.

Maybe it was all-futile, but wasn't the risk of a possibility worth whatever failure there might be? What was the worst that could really happen, they went back to the way it had always been? At least in that scenario, Priss would still be around Sylia, if even just in friendship. Sometimes being around someone could be more important than truly being with them.

Priss's fingers caressed the cords, sliding up and back down as the strummed to the notes she'd created. Priss's friend from the band had brought her acoustic guitar and she'd been singing to Sylia as quietly as she could without drawing too much attention to them in the private room. Priss was sure she'd finally gotten the song just right and decided to try it out on her friend.

"There's a million things I'd like to tell you Sylia but I guess song is always the best way."

Priss decided to do it acapela and sat on the side of Sylia's bed gazing down at her, Priss's eyes misting slightly as she cleared her throat.

"I love the time and in between
the calm inside me
in the space where I can breathe
I believe there is a
distance I have wandered
to touch upon the years of
reaching out and reaching in
holding out holding in

I believe
this is heaven to no one else but me
and I'll defend it as long as I can be
left here to linger in silence
if I choose to
would you try to understand"

Priss watched the rise and fall of Sylia's chest as she breathed, took in the silken tendrils of her silver-white hair touching her hospital gown seeming to shimmer. She leaned closer to Sylia as she sang her hand reaching out slowly..

"I know this love is passing time
passing through like liquid
I am drunk in my desire...
but I love the way you smile at me
I love the way your hands reach out and hold me near..."

Priss was softly stroking Sylia's pale cheek, marveling at its softness as she sang on.

"I believe...
I believe
this is heaven to no one else but me
and I'll defend it as long as
I can be left here to linger in silence
if I choose to
would you try to understand"

This song was everything she felt, it was the people she had lost and her dealing with all that had happened. It was the closing of one chapter of her life and the beginning of another one. Hopefully one filled with the soft laughter of another person, but it would be tough going to get there.

"Oh the quiet child awaits the day when she can break free
the mold that clings like desperation
Mother can't you see I've got
to live my life the way I feel is right for me
might not be right for you but it's right for me..."

Priss knew how hard it was to get through to Sylia so she accepted the things that Sylia would need in order for her to be with her. It would take patience, possibly more patience than Priss had to break down Sylia's walls but this was something Priss would fight for till her very last breath.

"I believe...
I believe
this is heaven to no one else but me
and I'll defend it as long as
I can be left here to linger in silence
if I choose to
would you try to understand it
I would like to linger here in silence
if I choose to
would you understand it
would you try to understand."

Priss closed the distance between the two of them and placed her lips against Sylia's. It was a chaste kiss but it affirmed everything that Priss felt. She was in love; in love with Sylia.


Nene strode into the repair room and took in the scattered pieces of her old mech suit. LED lines went into various junctions and related data back to the console in the corner of the room. After seeing Sylia later in the day when Linna dropped her off at home she decided to go back and discover what had happened to Sylia's suit and her own. Nene had a sneaking suspicion that the two were related, how they were she didn't have a clue but she had been determined to find out.

Nene came to the launch pad and her eyes bugged out since her mech suit wasn't where they had left it. Sylia's suit wasn't there either, only Priss's and Linna's were in their rightful spots.

She started walking hurriedly through the rooms until she found where they were. Raven was on the ground, a little vid pad in front of him and a piece of her mech arm in his hands. Her whole entire suit was in pieces, Sylia's was in a far corner propped up but looking like it was about to share the same fate as her own.

"What are you doing?!"

Raven looked up at her and grunted. My he has as much manners as his brother does, definitely genetic!

Nene strode over and snatched the vid with a tiny cable attached to the mech arm out of Raven's hands and backed up, quickly scanning the vid screen.

"What are you doing?"

Raven scowled and got up, wiping his hands on his boiler suit with "Falcon's Body Shop" emblazoned on one of the pockets. Nene quirked an eyebrow at him, which made his scowl deepen.

"Look kid.. I don't really have time for this so why don't you just give me that back and we'll-"

"It wasn't a suit malfunction Raven; not in the sense that you're looking at. Whatever it was that was down there seemed to react to the proximity of the suitsı, and when it began to interface with my hard suit Sylia just froze. Now Iım betting that it was trying to communicate with the suits and through them it got to Sylia. Since she still has a fragmentary chip inside of her it would have been a sensory overload."

Raven stood speechless as he looked at the little spitfire before him. Okay maybe she isn't as much of a blonde as I had expected her to be; and just how did she know about that chip?!

"Oh and if yer wondering how I knew about that chip.. I have the same scar as Sylia as you can see." Nene lifted her hair away from her forehead; Raven noticed the slight discoloration on her skin, an indentation that no one would really notice unless they had seen one like it before. Nene's voice turned bitter as she let her shaggy lock come back down over her forehead.

"Only I didn't have daddy put it in me because he needed it to help him with his boomers. I was one of the lucky little kiddies who had short-circuits in their brain, but I believe the term was mentally retarded and was a part of the test groups for the 'miracle cure'. Some got worse, and some got better. I was one of the lucky ones who got better." Her voice got softer as she talked till it was but a bare whisper.

Raven was somewhat surprised. He knew that Genom had gotten a hold of some of the data pertaining to that part of the project, but with Genom they hadn't been devious enough to realize it's true intent. And as only Genom would do, they thought they had found another patent to use in the medical field and went right into human testing without really seeing what it would do.

"Well if your so smart why did it affect Sylia more then it's effected you. Why haven't you had blackouts as well?"

Nene quirked a brow at him.

"Who says I hadn't?"

Raven arched a brow back at her and she grinned slightly before her face turned serious.

"Besides the chip I had was modified slightly from the one that Sylia has. I hacked her system recently and stumbled upon the file, there are a few discrepancies because her chip was to map the brain, mine was to restore the pathways."

"What were your impressions after the attack on your suit, and how do you think it connects with Sylia and her chip?"

There were many unanswered questions that Raven wasn't about to ask the young woman because he had a hunch that a lot of her idea's were guesses rather than concrete fact and he hated to admit it, but he needed help. Someone outside of the Stingray family, but he wasn't about to ask the kid for it, he had too much pride!

"For a few brief moments I was able to be one with it's conscious. I think that there's a possibility that someone could do that with Sylia. I haven't tried it out myself but I think if you were able to sync with her like you do in the suit you'd be able to 'talk' with her, possibly get her to wake up. I know what these suits are Raven and we both know what that thing down in the sewer was. If it should ever get to the surface we need to do something to these suits so that they won't be incapacitated as badly-"

"Wait a minute.. we?"

"Makie's not here, I don't know you from asshole or Adam but I don't care, you worked with Stingray and you've worked with Sylia. You studied the schematics for these and I'm willing to bet that you were coming here to upgrade the suits anyway so, you have two choices. Do this on your own and have me interfere doing my own thing, or let me help you and us pooling our knowledge together to get this things running."

Raven stood there for a few minutes mulling it over. He could do it on his own, or use her to help him. She was very knowledgeable about the systems already.. Shit and she hacked into Sylia's system, that's worthy enough of some type of award! His frown returned though.

"I could still do it on my own, why would I need you?"

"Because you've never experienced a suit before and you never will. You're too afraid to interface because of what they are. Since you haven't, you don't know half of what I've experienced. I know when it needs to be calibrated or when the power cell is about to go, I know ever inch of it because I've interfaced and have become it. That's something that you will never be able to fathom and it's why you need my help."

Raven slowly nodded his head. The kid made sense, in a slightly crazy way. There was no way in hell he'd ever interface with one so it did give her an advantage of knowing the operating systems 'inside' and out.

"Okay it's a deal.. now about interfacing with Sylia.."

Nene shook her head and went on with her scan, but her thoughts soon turned from the calculated precision of the instrument in her hand to the confusion she felt with Linna. Why would she be there for me, I obviously know how she feels about me.. Nene unconsciously put a hand up to the cheek that was slapped by Linna. It had hurt, hurt worse than anything Nene had gone through. Even more so than when the chip was first implanted into her brain and that had been a living hell. Nene was always gregarious but it was always a ruse.. something used to make people think she was happy go lucky, which was the furthest thing from the truth. She was always second guessing herself especially when it came to personal relationships, be it friend or otherwise.

Sometimes I wish I was just left as I was, cognizant yet not being able to do anything. Then I wouldn't have this pain in my heart.

Nene was brought out of her musings as the door to the room opened, admitting Greta. Nene scowled. The woman was getting on her nerves. Sure she helped Sylia with the suits and the red one had been hers at one point but she had no business being there. For some reason, the way that Greta acted around Nene put her on edge. Certain questions that she asked about the suits were making her a little edgy. They were things that she should already know.. and if she didn't it was something she'd have to take up with Sylia, who was unfortunately out of commission.

Nene locked out the system with her own pass codes then turned to the woman who was perusing the scattered mech parts.

"Can I help you with something?"

Greta seemingly ignored her as she went around the room slowly, sometimes picking up a piece of cable, a fragmented casing or whatnot and jotted something down into her little vid pad. She bumped Nene out of the way at the console and tried to access the files but then scowled and glared at the younger woman.

"Why don't you let me do my work little girl and let me in the system?"

"Why don't you dye your roots and do something more productive then bothering me while I work here?"

Greta sneered at the young woman.

"You wouldn't be able to comprehend half the systems in the suit."

Nene smiled cordially and stepped into Greta's personal space.

" That may be true but you canıt break my encryption programs that I installed to safe guard the system, buh-bye." Nene effectively dismissed the woman in a badly imitated snooty British accent. She grabbed her scanner to go and search out the original contact point for where the monster had interfaced with her.

Greta arched a brow and tried to get into the system but was rebuffed every single time, getting more frustrated with each Access Denied message. She stalked over to Nene and stood, towering over her.

"Give me the pass code." Her words were clipped and laced with anger.

Nene ignored her and kept going along with her scan, first over the insertion site then where it had spread into her systems.

"That's not a request dear that's a command!" Greta seethed as the light haired woman continued her search of the piece for information.


The door to the lab opened and Priss walked in, glaring at Greta but her expression softening as she observed Nene on the ground, a shit eating grin on her face.

"Raven's looking for you Greta, best to hop along to hubbie."

The woman's face was as red as her hair as she stomped out of the room, pushing over things as she went. Priss shook her head and glanced down at Nene.

"You all right kid?"

"Yeah.. can't help she's an uncouth she-bitch."

Priss grinned and Nene winked, both chuckling at her phrase for Greta.

"I thought you were at the hospital?" Nene turned her eyes up at Priss thinking it would be better for the condition of her neck if she were to stand up, rather than glance up the beanstalk before her.

"Makie and I thought we should bring some clothes to Sylia's room. Maybe put her in one of her own gowns, it's just odd seeing her in something so damn bland."

Nene had to agree, as much as she knew Sylia needed to be in the hospital, she had no doubts that her leader would probably keel over if she ever saw the gown she was in. Nene wriggled her eyebrows at Priss and gave her a wolfish grin.

"Now just why are you going to be getting her clothes eh Priss?"

"Umm, cuz Makie didn't want to go rifling through Sylia's 'unmentionables'." A blush quickly stole over Priss's features as Nene winked at her.

"Aha, sure.. just keep telling yourself that."

Priss was at a loss as to what to say to her younger protégé. Jesus, I can't be that obvious in my feelings for Sylia.

"I saw the way you eyed some of the merchandise downstairs.. bet yer trying to steal some of Sylia's stock all for yourself!"

Priss burst out laughing. Oh I'm trying to get into her underwear honey, just not in the way you're thinking!

"Bye Nane."

Priss walked out of the lab chuckling as she went. On her way up to Sylia's apartment the smile slipped from her lips. I have to pick out clothes for Sylia.. I have to handle her silky underwear and bra's, OH GOD.

Priss felt herself pale at the thought of going through Sylia's clothes now. She'd be in intimate contact with some of the things she had envisioned on her leaders body. Nigel directed her down the hall to Sylia's room and let her in, showing her where a bag was for clothes. Priss smiled at the old codger but froze in place the minute he left the room.

Her eyes ran around the room, noticing the layout and admiring the large bed that Sylia had for herself. There were many drawers and doors that went to god knows where but she realized she needed to start somewhere.

Where to start? Priss started with the first doors she came too. Hmm some sort of computer room.. Obviously what she didn't want she started checking out the row of drawers that she came upon. Opening the first her eyes bugged out as she encountered neatly laid garter belts and hosiery. Images started flashing through her mind of sitting on Sylia's bed with the object of her affection standing in front of her, a pale blouse on with a dark skirt. Priss's hands running up the strong stocking encased legs until she encountered the garter, her fingers deftly unclasping the fine material from it's iron grasp as she lightly brought it down, palms sliding over smooth creamy thighs. Priss shook her head trying to dispel her animated thoughts and moved onto the next drawer. She groaned.

I'm not going to make it to the damn closet! Before her lay a bountiful array of underwear, both conservative and tantalizing. Okay Priss, you're a big girl, just PICK some.

As she perused through the various styles and cuts of underwear she began to think that Sylia had a pair of underwear for each thing in her wardrobe. She grabbed a few satiny black pairs and kept herself from rubbing it on her check. Dear god woman get a hold of yourself! She smirked as she placed them delicately in the bag she was making for Sylia. She soon had a few bra's, some socks, a blouse and slacks before she found her way into the closet.

If she thought she had a problem with the underwear it was nothing compared to seeing the gowns that Sylia had to sleep in. I wonder if she really wears these..? Priss's mind flashed back to Sylia in her robe, how it had slipped off when they were 'fighting' and how it had shocked her. The thought of Sylia sleeping in the buff was a little too much for her so she picked out a few of the negligée's quickly and scurried out of the closet, closing it firmly behind her.

After packing everything in Sylia's bag, she decided to take one more look around the room. There were a few vid chips next to her bed, Priss knew she really shouldn't, after all this was her commanders bedroom and a private inner sanctum. Since when has that mattered, put them on!

The picked them up and grabbed the first one, inserting it into the receptacle on the night stand. 3-D images came to life a few feet in front of the bed. A young girl with dark black hair running around in front of an older woman, her mother perhaps who had silver colored hair. It wasn't until the mother picked up the girl and cuddled up against her from the back and looked up at the camera that Priss realized it was Sylia with her mother. The love she saw radiating from Sylia's warm hazel eyes astonished her. The picture jostled a little and a man stepped around the side to pick up Sylia and plant a raspberry on her exposed belly. She giggled and her parents laughed. This was a very different man than the one she'd heard about, but this happy moment still wouldn't replace all the terrible ones that he would create in years to come.

Sighing, she took that one out and set it aside, she put a few others in that had the same thing on it. Eventually she found one that was labeled P.A. Shrugging she put it into the vid port and watched the screen come alive with a representation of herself. At first she was stunned watching herself training. She gulped audibly as the camera zeroed in on one particular shot. It was when she was learning pins and how to get out of them. Sylia had been atop her and she'd found herself getting excited with the way Sylia was pushing down onto her. She'd gotten freaked and nearly broken her wrist because of it. Sylia had massaged her entire arm, slowly, it had been the greatest torture of Priss's life.

The next scene had her nearly fall off the bed completely. She was undressing but the playing of it had been tampered with so it was slow, as if a strip tease. It switched to a camera apparently in the shower; Priss's head tipping back as water pelted her neck and running down between her breasts. Rivulets cascading over the planes of her stomach to rung down the valley between her mound and thigh, rushing down her legs to hit the floor and away from her body. Priss's anger flared, How dare she do this?!

She got up and started pacing around, glaring at her image on the screen. She nearly walked right into a wall when she watched her eyes look about for anyone watching before slipping a hand between her legs. OH SHIT! It was taken a few days before she left for Germany. She remembered that particular day well. Not wanting to see the outcome and the name that passed her lips when she finally came; a name that haunted her from the very beginning. She stomped over to the night stand and punched the eject button for it, stopping the scene before she had to watch herself betray the anger she'd had at the time with whispering the name of the person she secretly desired.

Oh god.. she knows.

Priss grabbed the satchel of Sylia's hurriedly, bumping into the night stand and knocking it over.

"FUCK!" Priss was not having a good day on many levels and this was just one more thing to contend with.

She tossed the satchel onto the bed and knelt down, picking up the upended table. From one of the drawers fell an object that made Priss's eyes bug out even more than when she had first checked out the underwear and found the lingerie. Laying on the ground, almost as testament to Priss's discomfiture was a sex toy. She put the night stand up to rights and tentatively went to grab the sleek looking vibrator. Hmm, Hitachi Wonder Wand deluxe 8000 model.. not that I'd know or anything. Oh god she's used this on herself! Priss wasn't sure whether to toss the sucker away or stare at it in awe since it had touched her hearts desire intimately.

As Priss sat there on her knees, the vibrator between her hands as if some sort of relic, the door squeaked announcing someone was going to come in.

Chapter 21:

The white light hurt her eyes, it burned her in a way that nothing ever had before yet it was also soothing. She could faintly hear the sound of singing but it was disconnected and garbled yet utterly intoxicating. Where she was it seemed like she was floating, not here or there but just existing, she liked where she was; there was no Genom, no father and no pain. Am I dead?

All of a sudden she was thrown into darkness, it was suffocating her, the shadows were moving and it seemed they were coming closer to her. Please, no more, I'll be good I swear! Her mind whimpered. A light in the darkness flared and she felt the briefest pressure against her lips, she tried to grab onto it, to hold it to her with its safety and comfort.

"Don't leave, PLEASE!"

She soon found herself sitting in a chair, a light hanging over head as if she were in an interrogation room. A mirror faced her and she gasped, bringing her hand up to touch the short, raven locks, haunted hazel eyes staring back at her. She hadn't looked like that in over two years, not since Amber and Yuri.


A wave of dizziness hit her, making her pitch forward but hands grasped her shoulders and helped right her. She found herself looking into her father's dark eyes, the eyes of her childhood before he started working with the boomers. He sat down in a seat that was previously not there and stared at her. His penetrating gaze seeming to dig into her soul.

"We're not so different you and I."

Sylia glared at him, her anger flaring hotter than the corona of a sun.

"How dare you say that."

His gaze softened, the father that she had adored at one point in her life sitting across from her a sympathetic look on his face, then shaking his head sadly.

"It's sad that you can not see what you are becoming.. that you are becoming me. Then again perhaps it's too late. Maybe you already are worse than I ever was."

"I am NOTHING LIKE YOU! I will NEVER be like you!"

His eyes started to change to that of the man whose life obsession was his precious boomers. He waved her off as if the details of something were unimportant to him.

"Oh but we are Sylia. I used you to aid my research and you use your Knight Sabers to get back at Genom."

"It's not the same!"

"How isn't it? I used you to attain my goals no matter the consequences just like you used your first team.."

"I always know the consequences, there's nothing BUT consequences when going against boomers or Genom."

Her fathers look turned petulant, as if he were scolding a child who hadn't yet learned what was right and wrong.

"Did you even properly test those suits daughter? A trial run.. anything?"

Sylia glared at her father. Of course she had tested the suits, who would have done something stupid enough as to not do a trial run. Her fathers malicious smirk unnerved her.

"Oh you did do a trial run Sylia.. but on the original team. Think back, think long and hard."

Sylia felt a niggling of doubt creep into her mind. When she had created the suits she had one thing in mind and that was the destruction of Genom. She was very determined to have those suits ready so that she could destroy the rampaging boomers and bring the masses attention to the problems with boomer workers. I tested them.. I know I did. That was Greta's job she.. Oh god..

"Face it Sylia.. you used somebody and you lost. Unfortunately it also cost you the lives of two women. Two women who had bright futures ahead of them who will never see their loved ones again!"

"Yeah, you used us, took us away from our families and let us die."

Sylia's head whipped to the side her short hair stinging the sides of her face as she observed Amber and Yuri just inside the light, some of their bodies hidden in shadow. Her old comrades faces twisted in anger and bitterness. Sylia's eyes misted over at the memory of that harrowing night. When for the first time in her life she had been humbled by events that were truly beyond her control. It was the first time that she realized she couldn't control everything and that she was as much a subject of consequence as anyone else.

"I-I .. I didn't want you to die."

A snort was her response from Yuri, her lip twisting up into an ugly sneer.

"You were my friends!"

"Friends.. FRIENDS?! You have the gal to call us your friends. We were given orders and we obeyed even when we didn't want to. We followed you because you hired us and because we trusted you. Should have known better than to allow a rank amateur to lead a team of professionals. We taught you everything we knew but still that wasn't enough, you forgot that you DON'T let your emotions rule your actions, not in the field. You were filled with so much anger that you just needed a little provocation and BOOM, out to kill us some boomers. Look where it got US!"

Sylia turned her head away, gasping in a breath from the sight of her previous team members as they stepped into the light. Part of Amber's arm and shoulder were nothing but a shredded piece of meat. Sylia hadn't noticed the drip drip drip of blood hitting the ground until Amber came completely into the light. Yuri wasn't much better with a hole where the boomer had shoved a piece of metal through her, it's tip glistening a dark magenta.

Sylia wanted to wake up, to get out of this nightmare but instead put on her mask, the mask she had worn since the day her mother had died, the one that kept her safe and glared at Stingray.

"And you call me heartless!" He chuckled mirthlessly. "I'd hate to be your friend, appears you can't keep them from harm."

His laughter followed her as the room plunged into darkness, sending her back into the void in which she had been floating. Sylia wasn't sure what she preferred more; her fathers company and her demons, or the abyss that flowed around her.


Greta stormed out of the lab, intent on doing something but she wasn't sure what. Grabbing her keys to the loaner car, she jumped in and waded through downtown Toyko traffic for a few hours. After burning off her rage by cutting people off and creating a ten car pile up by blowing out a cars tire with her gun in the 'tenderloin' of the city, she decided that she'd go visit her ex lover.

Greta snorted. Love.. what would I have ever known about that, you used her just like she used you only she did it better.

By the time Greta reached the hospital and was standing over her ex, she had relived all their times together. How they had become lovers and created the Knight Sabers. Yeah but like she'd admit I helped. A cruel smile played across Greta's lips. Mmm n' what help I did, too bad that little plan backfired on me as well.

She glared down at the comatose woman, looking more like a sleeping princess than anything else. For all her hatred, Greta was still just as attracted to the woman as when she had first met her. Of course Sylia had been a little different looking them. Dark, sable hair and an incredibly sculpted body, one that Greta had loved to feast upon. She always liked being able to grab Sylia's short locks, pulling them roughly and biting down into her then tanned skin. Sylia had been a goddess, an extremely gifted one that had taken Greta in when her father had died in the lab's destruction.

Greta really didn't have much left after her father's death. He had accrued too much debt, but Sylia had paid it off and given Greta an allowance although in the guise of a "trust fund" that her father had set up. Yeah right, daddy never cared enough about me beyond a little punching bag let alone a trust fund to make sure I'd be all right.

Greta's eyes raked over Sylia's prone form, taking in the long pale hair and near translucent skin. How gaunt she had gotten over the years, her body loosing some of her muscles and becoming more willowy. She was still one of the most beautiful women that she had ever met and she had met quite a few. She smirked at that recalling all the liaisons she'd had with various women over the years. But if Greta really thought about it she only wanted the intensity that Sylia could give. There was something about her that dared you to plunge into her world despite if you found hell instead.

Mmm Priss. A saucy smile played across Greta's ruby red lips. Greta knew she had found an equal to match Sylia's aggressiveness and passion in that one. Since the first time she'd laid eyes on the musician she knew she wanted a taste of her. That hard muscled body in those tight leather pants, her flippant nature and lapis colored eyes. A shiver ran through her form.

"Priss doesn't know what's good for her Sylia and I intend on having her. You'd have her as a flavor to be had once then never again. I'd want her for much longer, savoring everything she could give.. or be forced to give." Greta closed her eyes as she envisioned taking Priss, having her tied down and forcing the pleasure out of her body, those blue eyes blazing fire and indignation. Oh yes, Priss would be quite the filly to tame and Greta felt confident that she could tame Priss.. or else.

"You know, I used to hate you for casting me aside. ME! Did you think you would have gotten any better? Anyone who would have taken you on YOUR terms? Nobody can handle you Sylia and nobody ever will because you are too controlling, have too tight a leash on everything and everyone around you to let someone else have a chance to take 'care' of you." Greta's fingers absently ran over Sylia's soft skin, tracing the curve of her eyebrow to slip along the length of her jaw.

"You know.. I think that when you broke it off I might have really been in love with you." Glancing down Sylia's body she frowned.

"You made yourself an enemy that day babe. I will not let you have anything, not the Knight Sabers, not Genom's destruction.. and especially not Priss." Greta leaned down and kissed Sylia's motionless lips and then bit it, drawing blood then licked it away.


Sylia swam through the darkness of recrimination and guilt. Her thoughts had turned back to nit pick over everything in her life, all the bad things that had happened and some of them that she really wasn't able to explain. She floated through that void until she felt herself falling. It felt like she fell forever until a light came back on, in front of her was Amber and Yuri, glaring at her.

"You killed us, you didnıt' even have the decency to say anything to our families. Just a card in the mail.. a little 'who's that woman over there' but nobody knowing you were our employer. We were sent back in body bags for gods sake!"

Sylia hung her head, trying not to look at the grisly specters before her.

The two women vanished and in it's wake appeared a lab, the grunts of people fucking echoing loudly. Sylia knew what was coming. She heard Greta scream her name in pleasure, followed by their ragged breaths as they tried to obtain more oxygen. A sigh of contentment then the moment it broke.

"I love you Sylia."

The sound of clothes rustling and a slight thump.

"Syl.. Syl? Where are you going.. Sylia?!"

"It was fun while it lasted, I have no more use for you."

"But, we're lovers. We've been together for-"

"It was convenient Greta and now it isn't."

The shutting of the lab door as if that of a cell slamming shut and the scream of anguish from a person who had just realized that their lover wasn't what they had wanted them to be or idealized them as.

"Ouch, used her emotions to help you.."

Sylia whirled around and advanced on her "father".

"You KILLED mother.. how can you compare me to you with that."

"At least your mother died thinking I loved her.. you destroyed that woman when you did that. Her bitterness has formed her into the shell of a loving woman she used to be."

"It's not the same-"

"IT IS THE SAME! How many people have you used, how many lives have you destroyed for your vendetta against Genom.. against ME?! Ten, twenty, a hundred.. a thousand?! Shall we talk about the professors you seduced to steal their idea's, the people you've killed when you thought they might turn around and tell Genom about you. You think you are so high and mighty but you are worse than I EVER was. Boomers were children, who needed to be taught to be coaxed and coddled to learn. You.. you do things indiscriminately, nothing matters except your vengeance. Kill or be killed, hurt or be hurt-"

"STOP IT, SHUT UP!" She squeezed her eyes shut and screamed loudly.

She heard shouting in the background and tears leaked out of her eyes. Despite everything she had done this was the worst, the one she couldn't forgive herself for. Her body was lassoed, spread eagle with her head held up in place, her eyes forced open as she watched the scene before her.

"No." Her whisper went and became background noise to the grisly scene before her. A younger version of her with shoulder length black hair advanced on Makie. His adolescent features screwing up in confusion as he watched his 'sister' advance on him.

"Sylia.. Sylia what's wrong?"

The eyes that had been full of life seemed to have a dull sheen to them, an impenetrable wall that was frightening in it's detachment.


"Shut up, shut UP, SHUT UP! You are nothing but an abomination, a hybrid, a twisted marionette and NOTHING ELSE!" A scream beyond anything human or animal tore itself from Sylia's mouth as she lunged at Makie and everything plunged into darkness.

"Makie.. MAKIE?!" The tied up Sylia screamed, trying to see through the blackness to her brother, to make sure he was all right. Lights came back and illuminated the deadly scene in front of her.

Her younger self's eyes returned to their usual luster and an anguished sob tore from her throat as she crawled over to her 'brothers' beaten and bloodied form. She stared in horror at her fingers, her nails having bits of flesh and hair beneath it, her hands covered in synthetic blood.

The door to the room open and Raven stepped in, his eyes going wide as he took in everything before him. He stalked over to Sylia and grabbed her arms, shaking her violently.

"What did you do to the prototype?!" He shook her savagely, trying to tear her eyes away from the bloodied heap on the floor.

"What did you DO TO HIM SYLIA?!" A slap across the face made her look at Raven.

"I-I.. he.. he wouldn't be quiet.. he kept asking where 'father' was and when he was going to come home.. I just wanted him to shut up, I just wanted him to stop talking about Stingray like that."

Raven sighed deeply, a worried frown marring his youthful features.

"Help me get him to the lab Sylia."

With those words Sylia was released from her position to curl up in a fetal position and cry. Sobs raked her form, shaking her violently. Oh god Makie i'm so sorry! I-I don't even remember all that happened, I am so sorry.

She slowly came back to herself and felt a presence near by so she opened her eyes and found Priss sitting in front of her. She could have wept except she realized that this wasn't her Priss, it was a part of her mind and wasn't real.

"I can be as real as you want me to be." A soft smile graced the normally emotionless face, well if you discounted anger and contempt.

Of course it would know that, it's a part of my mind.

"I'm as much a part of you as your guilt for the actions you've taken."

Sylia hung her head and refused to look at the doppelganger.

"You were still hurting Sylia, it doesn't excuse the lengths that you went to get what you wanted but at least it's something. A small part of you knew it was wrong, wanted you to stop but all that pain you put away, put into that tight little box in your heart and mind would come and extinguish your morals, convince you were doing the right thing."

"Why am I here?"

"Why do you think you're here?"

"Punishment.. or maybe.. I don't know."

She felt firm fingers under her chin lifting her face up to look into the eyes that had been invading her dreams lately. Instead of nightmares she had been having some of the most exquisitely erotic dreams of her life. This Priss smirked.

"Or maybe it's just a way to get back at you for being a perv!"

Sylia blushed. She knew what this Priss was talking about and couldn't keep the blush from infusing all of her. Her mind thinking back to the vid she had made and how she couldn't help but relieve herself later. A sigh came through her soft lips, seeming to be nothing more than the wind flying by.

"We all have a past Sylia, even Nene but you already know that don't you."

She nodded her head, Priss's fingers lightly caressing her jaw making her shiver slightly.

"I have a past too Sylia. I'm not this person that you've built me up to be. This salvation that you seem to think I could be. I have a darkness inside me where the shadows live just like you do. There is something to be said about light though, it blinds you to all around you, it encompasses us till we don't know which way is forward or back. With darkness at least we can see the shadows, can see their forms and know what they are as the slither around in the darkness. With light, it blinds us so that we would not see what's really there. And you have been blinded Sylia, by this vendetta that you have against Stingray and Genom. You think you are doing the world a great service by going against them, by challenging everything and exposing what they really are. But in so doing you've built it up to be this wonderful thing, this gift that will set us free, but the only one to be freed by it will be you and no one else. People will still be dependent upon boomers no matter what, because we've become complacent with them doing the menial things in life."

Priss wiped away the tears that were tracking down Sylia's face. She got down on her knee's so she could look at Sylia eye to eye.

"You should be doing these things for the right reasons, knowing why you do them and what drives you. For the longest time you just thought it was to expose the corruption of Genom but you're chasing after a dead man. He's been gone a long time, there's nothing you can do to hurt him that Genom hasn't already done. Look at what they did to his 'children'. They are slaves to humanity instead of equals. What more could you want from him Sylia? There's nothing left, it's all turned to ash and has scattered in the wind along with many other people's lives. If you continue to live in your path then you will truly be stuck here, wherever this is for all times. If you can't learn from this then you are beyond help. I want to help you Sylia, I really do but unfortunately only you can do that."

With that, Priss tipped Sylia's head back and kissed her softly, reverently. Sylia slipped her arms around Priss's neck, her fingers twining in her hair relishing the contact she was being given. Her whole being infused with warmth as she tasted Priss's mouth, it was the sweetest nectar she'd ever been given and had no wish to let go of. Even though she knew this wasn't 'her' Priss she felt it was the closest she might ever get to the woman she knew she was falling for.

Arms slid around her waist and lifted her up till they were pressing together, the heat of their bodies mingling together in what could only be described as perfection in Sylia's mind. It was her boon in the darkness, a benediction that she wouldn't dare waste.

Priss began to pull back but Sylia held tight, her mind pleading for this fleeting contact. It was the first time in a long while that she didn't feel alone, didn't feel cold or worn out.

"I have to go." Was whispered against Sylia's lips, warming them.

"Please, stay."

Priss drew Sylia in again for a deep kiss then began to dematerialize, leaving Sylia grasping at whatever she could hold onto. She didn't want to be left alone again.

"I was never really here.." Was said softly and the vision of Priss faded into nothingness leaving the impression of lips on Sylia.

Her fingers came up to trap the warmth that had once been there then began to float again in the void. This time it didn't feel so lonely, she could still feel 'Priss' with her. As she glided along in the darkness she waited. Maybe she was waiting for absolution or perhaps even the salvation of waking up.

Chapter 22:

Linna was with Priss working on the schematics of their suits. Going over this piece and that trying to understand that components that made up their mechs. Both were having a tough time, their minds on something else besides what they were studying. Priss's mind was on the highly embarrassing situation in Sylia's room, whereas Linna was wondering how she could be 'just friends' with Nene. It seemed to be the only thing that the two women could be.

Linna had noticed that although they'd gotten some of their friendship back on track, the other things were still missing. Nene would avoid being alone with Linna and declined any invitations to lunch or dinner unless someone else was with them, specifically Makie or Priss.

All that they really had were polite conversations about the Knight Sabers and the suits. It was bugging Linna to no end. She wanted to be close to Nene. Wanted to go over to her messy apartment and watch video's and snuggle on the couch. But that isn't going to happen because you blew it you asshole.

Linna sighed and Priss looked at her speculatively. If she and Nene don't do something to work well again I swear I'm going to kick both their asses! It hadn't escaped her and Makie's attention that things were tense between the once carefree friends. She was at a loss for what to do, did she say something and butt into someone's personal life, or just remain silent and see if they could resolve it on their own.

Linna sighed yet again aggravating Priss to no end. Oh if she does that just ONE more time I swear I'm gunna..

Nene entered the room in a flurry of motion and purpose, striding over to the far corner console and bringing up schematic after schematic in rapid succession. Both Linna and Priss went slack jawed in awe with the speed in which she could access the files and look over them. She seemed to be completely oblivious to everyone else in the room and just kept plugging away then jumped up in excitement, pacing about and talking to herself. Her fingers raking through her hair as she thought aloud to herself.

"If I inverted the uplinks from the older model and calibrated it to Sylia's chip, Makie just might be able to piggie back along the line and talk to her! Yes, the link would have to work that way because the treatments were similar in that they needed an open line in order to make one 'learn' what they couldn't at first conceptualize, that's what they did with me. So if Makie were able to break through, Sylia would know she needed to wake up!"

Linna had sat watching Nene's every move, mystified how she didn't notice this dynamic woman more when they had first met. This was the part of Nene that she kept hidden from everyone; the genius that never came out in front of everyone except when a situation called for it. Nene could really be immature and even a bit of a ditz at times, but Linna believed that it was because she had been ostracized so much as a little girl. Seeing the woman for who she was made Linna's pulse race a bit faster than it normally did. Nene was truly a vision when she was in her element, even though Linna didn't understand half of what Nene was talking about.

"Nene what are you talking about?" Priss's slightly raised voice brought Linna out of her ogling and Nene out of her musings.

"I think I can get Sylia out of her coma-"

"Oh yeah like that will happen."

Everyone turned at Greta's scathing tone. Priss slowly stood up and glared at the woman, advancing slowly on her; her blood screaming for her to hit this woman. If Nene knew a way to bring Sylia back, Priss was all for it.

"What was that you said?"

"Oh please you heard me the first time. The doctors don't even know what brought it on, what makes wonder girl over there think she knows how to bring Sylia back. She's just a kid with a computer, not a doctor, perhaps she should just go back to playing her little techie games and let the professionals handle it." Greta picked at her nails as she said this, thoroughly dismissing everyone in the room save Priss.

"You know, instead of bitching at someone who's actually giving a possible solution, you should think about trying to help instead of hinder everyone. Since the day she went into the hospital you've been looking over everyone's shoulder and criticizing them, beating them down because they want to figure out what happened so we can prevent it from happening to anyone else in the future. But no, always a quip to dole out, a snide remark and a biting comment. Grow the fuck up you brat!" Priss was upon Greta and shoving her up against the wall by the lapel of her jacket, her eyes flashing barely controlled rage.

"Priss.. she isn't worth it." A small hand gently grasped her forearm, a lilting voice whispering gently to the enraged woman.

"She's bitter Priss. No one loves her, and no one ever will. She's like a rose, beautiful but prickly because of its thorns, alluring and dangerous. People sometimes only see the beauty, but quickly remember how hurtful she is when they begin to bleed. Just let her go because she truly is not worth it." Nene was stroking Priss's arm gently, feeling the tension in her muscles, the unleashed fury that slowly abated. As much as Priss would get tremendous satisfaction over kicking Greta's butt, she knew that she never wanted to stoop that low. Her back was a direct reflection of that case in point.

"Get-out-of-here." Priss's words were clipped, hissed in Greta's face. The woman merely arched a brow and nodded her head once, leaving the room.

Linna gave a dramatic sigh, to which Priss twirled around quickly, a finger pointed in the air at Linna.

"And you! Quiet!"

Linna held her breath, eyes wide staring at Priss. Nene looked between the two and started laughing. It was really quite comical seeing the tension abate for a short moment and Priss biting Linna's head off, all because of a sigh. Nene's laughter made Priss soften a bit, she had missed hearing the girls giggle, it wasn't right for someone her age to be so wound up and stressed out. Priss turned to Nene and ruffled her hair lightly, giving her a quirky grin before leaving the room.

Nene sat down, giggling still as she looked at Linna's perplexed face. Linna looked so cute with her wide eyes. Nene sobered up quickly, her moment of light heartedness gone as if a switch had been thrown taking her face from youthful exuberance to adult hardness. Can't start that again Nene. She doesn't want you like that and never will. This is all she will get from me, the part of me that is devoted to the Knight Sabers. I can't afford to give anything more, I don't think my heart could take it.

Linna watched the transformation with a heavy heart. I did that to her. Let me in Nene please, I want to make it up to you, just give me a chance to win your trust and I swear I will never hurt you again!

"Nene, please wait." Linna said as Nene started to get up. She froze halfway up, feeling caught between going to Makie right now and helping him with Sylia or fleeing from Linna. She wasn't too sure which one made her get up, but if she were a betting women it would have been on the second.

"Nene.. this is hard for me to say." Linna started and watched Nene flinch slightly. She scooted closer to her friend, wanting to touch her hand but knowing it would be an unwelcome gesture.

"I'm- well I'm sorry for what I did. You can't believe how sorry I am hon'. I overreacted, it's as simple and complicated as that. I was shocked and scared, I didn't know what to do and I just reacted. I'm sorry I hurt you Nene.." Linna couldn't keep still, she had to touch Nene. Her hand slipped over the slim hand of her friend, enjoying the warmth of her. Why did I think that this would be bad? That I could somehow live without being like this with her?

Nene could feel the tears burning her eyes. She didn't know what to say, what to do or what to feel. It was an apology, but it was over due. If Linna wanted things to be okay she shouldn't have waited so long, took so much time. If she had come to Nene sooner with it, maybe they could have had that friendship again, the camaraderie and everything. But now.. it was too little, too late.

Nene took a shaky breath and stood up.

"Thank you for your apology Linna. I know now that you didn't mean to hurt me but you did, and that friendship will never be an option with us, now or ever. Good bye Linna." The last was said in a breathy whisper as the slight woman walked quickly from the room, leaving a spinning Linna to sit there, tears forming in her eyes and tumbling over her lids. It was unfair. She had made a mistake, just one stupid all encompassing mistake and had lost.. everything.


Nene drove from the Silky Doll, tears glittering in her eyes. She never expected to feel this deeply or for it to blow up in her face. Never suspected that her feelings would betray her and be thrown back at her, torn up, battered and bloody.

When does the line between friendship and love blur so much that you can't see it anymore, that you forget there is a boundary and just step over into the next only to be knocked down? Nene wasn't by any means an overly happy person, happy inside. Basically she took it day by day and that's how it went. Some days she was happy to be here, others the past came up so quickly it engulfed her in it's memory, dragging her back down into it's shadowy abyss. It sometimes amazed Nene how people believed her to be this shinning ray of sunshine, if only they knew how she used it to cover who she really was. The insecure little girl who had to have a chip put in her head to be made right. Nene was pretty angry at herself actually.

I always have that sickening bravado that covers everything up, my way of evading things I'm unsure of, sure I can be all cutsey and say Leon Poo's n' the like but.. it gets tiring after a while. I begin to feel so plastic and what scares me is that one day, I may just stay that way!

As she drove towards the hospital with her old box and hook-ups a song softly touched her ears, her eyes slowly filling with tears as she listened to the words; one finally leaked out, traveling over her baby soft skin and gracing her lips.

"..There are two of us talking in circles
and one of us who wants to leave
in a world created for only us
an empty cage that has no key
don't you know we're working with flesh and blood
carving out of jealousy
Crawling into each other it's smothering
every little part of me
What kind of love is this that keeps me
hanging on
despite everything it's doing to me
what is this love that keeps me coming
back for more
when it will only end in misery.."


Closed uplink established-

Session Ready:

Slavemaster: Is everything ready for the test run?

Diamondfire: I believe everything is in place.

Slavemaster: Believe or know? There can be no halfway with this test. It needs to be done perfectly.

Diamondfire: You create the boomer problem and I'll supply the Knight Sabers for you. It shouldn't be too hard.

Slavemaster: Excellent. The money shall be wired to your account per delivery of the Knight Sabers, not before. The specified amount will be transferred and a bonus if the test run is perfect. Consider it a token of my appreciation for your efforts. However, If the test does not go as you have assured me it shall, I will make it my mission to bankrupt you, and believe me I can Mrs. Langley.

Diamondfire: Then believe me when I say Mason that you are not beyond retribution if you attempt anything with me. Do we understand each other?

Slavemaster: Perfectly Greta.

End Session..

Slavemaster sat behind his computer console, a smirk firmly in place as he stared at the "End Session.." blinking on his screen. Oh yes, he could do all that he promised to Greta, but she was merely a small pawn in what he wanted. The Knight Sabers, Sylia Stingray and the greatest trophy of all.. Galatia!


Priss rode through the streets of Tokyo, the setting sun looking beautiful in its amber glow over the sprawling metropolis. Near dusk was always Priss's favorite time in the evening, people were getting home from work and the city was ablaze with color and life.

"ALERT, ALERT, BOOMER SIGHTING IN THE FOURTH QUADRANT REPORT BACK TO BASE." Boomed over Priss's internal microphone. She swore lightly as she turned around and took the five back downtown, weaving in and out of traffic and blasting down into the underground garage at the silky doll.

She ran full tilt to the change room and shrugged off her leather jacket just as Linna scurried through the door to her own cubicle, taking off her shirt as she went. The two undressed quickly and put on their suits, hitting the slim button on their wrist to make the slack material become like a second skin on them.

They quickly made their way to the launch bay and got into their mechs, engaging the locking devices before donning their helmets and strapping themselves fully into the launch mechanism.

"Just you and me Linna, you ready for this." Linna's response was an enthusiastic okay sign with her mech-encased hand. Priss snickered slightly.

"Blue ready."

"Green ready." A small heartbeat was all there was before they were launched into the air, both yelling out-

"Knight Sabers.. GO!"

The two raced up through the building launching into the air. Linna screamed in delight and fear, it was going to be her first boomer dealing without her leader and she was looking to Priss for guidance. Somehow it just seemed right to allow the other woman control of the Knight Sabers. Linna had done many practice simulations in Priss's formal dealings with rogue boomers. Even Linna had to admit that Priss was a formidable person in battle with her suit. Nothing really seemed to phase her and she always got the job done.

They drew closer and closer to their desired destination, bursting from rooftop to rooftop. Never seeing the shadow that followed them, with malicious intent it's only desire as it stalked its prey.


Nene and Makie were at Sylia's bedside, the connectors from the box hooked up to Sylia and her brother. Raven had the calibration device in his hand and a portable monitor in order to watch over the session between brother and sister.

"Are you sure you want to do this Makie?"

"Yes, she's my sister after all."


The words rang in Sylia's numbed mind. She's my sister after all.. was taunting her like nothing she had ever experienced. It was a new torture, one that inflicted deep wounds onto her psyche. Oh yes she was his sister, just as inhuman as he was. Actually now that Sylia thought about it her 'brother' had more humanity than she ever would. He had emotions, he displayed them and wasn't afraid to show that he was needy, in pain or full of joy. Who is the creation and who is the reality Sylia? Perhaps father was right, I'm more like him than I care to admit. I became what I feared all these years, a mimic of life. A sad marionette, a caricature of what humanity is and isn't.

Makie appeared before her, slowly at first, just an apparition in the fog of her mind and began to take shape, filling out with the personality and substance that made him dear to her. His mouth moved but no sound came out, a lone tear rolled down Sylia's cheek as she came to her brother, placing a hand on his cheek.

"You've been silent all these years haven't you? Never voicing the pain I put you through." She caressed his cheek gently, watching his mouth move, little sounds starting to come out.

"Tell me Makie.. tell me how badly I've been to you, how I've let you down." Makie's head shook from side to side slightly and she frowned. His garbled words beginning to take shape.

"No.. Sylia.. out.. here..Greta.. up."

"I don't understand Makie. Oh you poor boy, what have I done to you?" Tears streamed down her face as she watched Makie shake his head even more vehemently, looking as if he were ready to stomp his foot in exasperation.

"I know Makie, I know. I shouldn't have taken it out on you, I'm sorry. I'm sorry for how I treated you, for how I treated everyone.. if you could only know how sorry I am." Makie lunged at Sylia grabbing her arms roughly and shaking her, making her squeeze her eyes shut. It's finally come, he's going to take revenge for what I've done to him, and I deserve every minute of it!


Sylia was shaken violently again and again as Makie kept chanting that word. Sylia's head throbbed dangerously, the pain rising.

"The chip, the chip, the chip, the chip, the chip."

Sylia tore herself away from Makie covering her ears and screaming at the pain in her mind, attacking her everywhere, it felt as if the neural pathways were disintegrating from the net attached to her brain, frying her synapses. Sylia almost thought she could hear the sizzle of her brain turning to mush.


She fell, it seemed like such a long fall, encompassed by the blinding white heat of pain. She felt hands upon her, comforting her, stroking her face and hair gently but it wasn't enough to dull the roar within her head.


"Stop it, break the connection Raven, she's slipping deeper, segments fifteen through twenty two are breaking down. If you donıt break the connection we'll loose them both!" Nene yelled as she watched the data stream flick across the screen in front of her. Raven merely stared at the screen in front of him not seeming to care that Makie's form was beginning to shake minutely. As Nene broke away from her console and strode toward Raven, her vid phone pierced the silence, the open line she had established with the launch bay as a watch dog protocol having been activated with Priss's voice breaking across the link- "Blue ready." Then Linna's voice- "Green ready." Together both yelled in chorus- "Knight Sabers.. GO!"

"Units blue and green have launched for the boomer attack staged in the fourth quadrant. Silver unit is missing from repair area one."

"Oh god, PRISS, LINNA!" Nene's voice shook with trepidation and anger, staring at Raven who's shocked expression confirmed it as he relayed the data to her. The genetic print in the Silver unit was unmistakable and confirmed from an old entry in the system. Greta had betrayed them all.


"SYLIA!" Makie's voice broke through her haze, making things clarify in a world of blurred edges. His hand was upon her temple, trembling slightly, as her pain abated just a bit to let her open her eyes and make out his marred form.

"You've got to wake up Sylia."

What Makie was saying registered but didn't fully get absorbed into Sylia conscious mind. Makie wouldn't want her to wake up, not for what she'd done to him. No this was another thing to hurt her, to punish her for her misdeeds.

"Dammit Sylia the Knight Sabers need you!"

Oh yes they needed her. About as much as Tokyo needed another great Kanto earthquake. The team would be better without her, they wouldn't be hurt by her need for revenge, wouldn't be touched by her type of insanity, her obsession with Genom.

"Sylia someone has your suit, Priss and Linna will be hurt! They could die!!"

She felt a prickling with her senses, something she only felt when she was connected to her suit. It felt wrong, malignant and intensely worrisome. Sylia stilled, her mind engaging with that of her mech, merging into one and feeding her with what was going on before her. Data fed into her chip showing her what the mech user was seeing. Flying below the mech were two indistinct shapes, the image sharpened once, twice, three times till Sylia could see two of her Knight Sabers flying through the air below her mech. The specs on them flying rapidly over the far left corner of the visor screen, showing the week points of the mechs and it's users. A soft voice hissed out in her mind to the dead comm link between all the mechs, "Prissssssss."

Sylia tried to assert control over her mech but she was too weak, her psyche only had enough ability to look through the eyes of her mech. In her mind Sylia strode into the darkness, her eyes burning with anger that someone would dare try to hurt her team.


The box that connected brother and sister popped and exploded into pieces, causing Makie to fall to the floor from the blow but only Raven was there to pick him up with a doctor rushing in soon after. Nene had fled the room the minute she'd realized what was happening and was rushing back to the lab to engage her new hard suit that she and Raven had been working on.

The doctor checked Makie's pulse, his eye reflex's with the light and sighed with relief as the boy moaned deeply.

"I think he'll be okay."

Raven wasn't looking at Makie, he was at Sylia's bed, leaning over it as if he had heard something. The doctor got up and went around to find Sylia staring up at the ceiling, her lips barely moving as her parched lips whispered lightly on the breeze.

"What was the Sylia?" Raven got further down till his ear was barely being brushed by Sylia's lips.

"Save them." Was all that was whispered between the two and that was all that needed to be said.


To be continued in Part 7

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