Bubblegum Cross

By Andy Skuse ~ askuse7@hotmail.com

A Bubblegum Crisis Fanfiction (C) 1995-2000
Based on characters copyrighted by Youmex, AIC, Artmic

Chapter 6. Children of a Metal God

A lone, plain-clothed AD Police officer adjusted his handgun's shoulder holster as he slowly stepped out of his car and surveyed the Matsumi Military Base parking lot. It was a mass of randomly arrayed steel as far as his eye could see. AD Police vehicles were parked at odd angles to the black and green military vehicles that had arrived first. Red and blue flashing lights swept the scene, illuminating the grim faces of officers, soldiers and onlookers alike.

Swearing under his breath, the officer slammed the car door shut, turned, and strode towards a man garbed in fatigues, surrounded by police and military brass. He had heard of General Reeves before but had never met him face to face. From what he'd heard, he was the kind of man who did not like to be kept waiting. But the officer knew that he was coming into this situation as the expert. The only real expert.

The officer broke the group's ring abruptly, and extended his hand towards the general, "General Reeves? AD Police Detective Leon McNichol, Bio-Technical Crimes division. I understand you have some unwanted guests?"

The general turned and shook Leon's hand tentatively, and acknowledged Leon's question with an angry, "Sorry to tear you away from more important things detective."

Leon smiled in spite of the general's sarcasm and firmed up his grip on the handshake, then abruptly let go.

A whiny-voiced lieutenant standing to the General's left piped up, apparently the general's spokesman. "Yes that's correct Detective. Our rooftop team reports four humans, two males and two females. They're holding thirty-two hostages, most of which are base-employed, non-combat prepared, administrative assistants. One of the hostages has already been killed along with the thirteen security guards forty-five minutes ago."

Leon shook his head, "The reports I received on the way over here indicated a possible boomer problem. If the hostage-takers are human than what the hell am I doing here? You've got more than enough people here to deal with these assholes!"

The lieutenant opened his mouth to speak, but the general cut him off impatiently. "Officer, those four . . .*things*, in there, may look like humans but they are definitely not human, and we're pretty damn sure they're not boomers either! We need you to tell us what the hell we're dealing with because no-one else here seems to have a clue! Lieutenant Kent- !"

The lieutenant snapped to attention.

"Show officer McNichol the surveillance video footage we gathered earlier."

Leon followed the lieutenant to a black and green van at the back of the parking lot that was topped with a satellite dish and four L-band, digital radio antenna's. Once inside, he took a seat in front of a bank of small TV monitors, all displaying the same frame-frozen scene. Leon leaned closer as the lieutenant ordered the laser video technician to play back some earlier footage.

On the monitor screens, were the ghostly silhouettes of four, tall, human-looking figures, each facing one of the four walls of the unlit main hall. The lack of light in the hall prevented him from making out any detailed features that might help him make a determination. One thing that immediately struck him though- the figures were not wandering nervously about the room like he would expect. While this observation had possible explanations, something else slowly came to the forefront of his memory. Something vaguely familiar about the outline and posture of the four figures. An image from years ago that he had never forgotten completely, of a one-armed figure standing amid a searing wall of flame, about to unleash doom on someone he cared very much about.

Leon rose, having made up his mind, and exited the van before the video had finished. As he made his way across the maze-like parking lot, the four blurry silhouettes suddenly broke their circular formation on the video screens, and struck at a hostage who had ventured away from the wall. Each of the four figures attacked the hostage from rapidly changing angles with a precision and ferocity that resulted in gruesome wounds, and finally decapitation.

As quickly as the attack had commenced, it was over, and the four figures returned swiftly to their previous posts. The remaining hostages buried their faces against the wall in terror while one of them bravely turned, silently reaching out to the unfeeling eye of the surveillance camera to plead for help. A plea that had only been seen by the video technician.

The general turned as Leon approached the hushed ring of soldiers and AD police officers, with a searching look on his face.

"Well officer, what is your opinion of our 'guests'?"

Leon looked into the general's wide face, struggling for a way to begin explaining his improbable theory when a dark blue, unmarked van skidded to a halt at the edge of the parking lot, flanked by two motorcycle-riding forms wearing battle-armor. Leon sighed in relief as the thought of trying to explain to the general about cyberdroid procreation vanished, only to be replaced with new feelings of anxiety for a certain armor-clad woman who was about to risk her life in a war she hadn't fought in years.

Nene watched nervously from the back step of the utility van as Sylia and Linna strode towards a ring of soldiers and police officers gathered at the center of the parking lot. Suddenly her suit intercom beeped harshly, jarring her from her apprehensive state. Sylia's calm, steady voice replaced the abrasive warning signal. "Nene, I want you to run a level 2 scan on the military base for occupant and opponent status. Judging from the hardware sitting out here in the parking lot I'd say we're dealing with at least combat class. Make it level 1 just to be sure."

Nene turned to Mackie, then Priss, now seated inside the van, and studied their faces as they all registered Sylia's last comment. While Mackie slowly turned in his seat to face the communications console and ready the van's on-board computer for Nene's datalink, Priss clenched her gloved fist a few times and pulled down her helmet's visor. While she wished she could share her companions 'business as usual' attitude, Nene turned back to face the military base, wondering where all the saliva in her mouth had suddenly disappeared to.

After confirming Sylia's request, she activated her hard-suit's remote scanning systems, and combed the ultra-violet spectrum for a secure wavelength to piggy-back her datalink signal on. As she watched the data coming back from her scans on her visor display screen, she slowly wondered why Sylia felt a level 1 scan was warranted.

General Reeves stared in surprise as two, female, armored figures approached him, their heels clicking conspicuously on the asphalt surface. Leon regarded the armored woman in green with a shaky mix of cool professionalism and smoldering fondness. Linna stole a quick glance through her visor at Leon while her primarily white-hued, armor-clad companion addressed the general.

"General Reeves," Sylia began, "As you know, we've assisted the military in these matters in the past-"

The general shifted restlessly, making Sylia bite her lip as she continued, "Though it has been some time since our services were required, I offer them now, for a reasonable fee of course."

Behind her visor, Sylia watched the General's face for any signs of distaste at her last statement. As much as she hated boomers, it had been a long time since they'd upgraded the hard-suits, and if things were stirring up again, she knew that upgrading would eat up more money than her other business could afford right now. Tasteless as it may have sounded, it was a necessary tack.

"Thank-you for your offer," the general replied. "When this take-over began my advisors informed me that it would not escalate to this level. We've employed every means presently available to us to remedy the situation. Now, as I'm sure you can tell, we are at a stand-still. Any assistance you can provide will be compensated. Name your fee."

"Twenty million" Sylia calmly shot back.

General Reeves flinched slightly, but then nodded affirmatively.

While Linna smiled behind her own visor as the amount of twenty million dollars echoed in her mind, Sylia frowned, wondering what could make the military jump at such an obviously exorbitant amount for what she felt was a standard boomer clean-up. She began to think twice about the adversaries that awaited them inside the military base. She suddenly thought that it might be prudent to find out what her new employer knew about them.

Opening the private channel, Sylia hailed Linna on the suit intercom.

"Linna, I think we need to find out more about these boomers before we proceed. See what you can find out from Leon. I'll question General Reeves while Nene finishes her remote scans."

"My pleasure." Linna replied with just a touch of glee in her voice.

Linna's electronically enhanced voice suddenly woke Leon from his troubled thoughts.

"Officer McNichol? What can you tell me about the hostage-takers?" Linna repeated sarcastically, a little annoyed at Leon's inattention.

Leon turned sharply. "Huh? Lin- uhhh . . . yes miss, how can I help you?"

Before Linna could reply, Leon suddenly grabbed her arm and tugged her gently away out of earshot from the still assembled ring of now silent officers and troopers.

Linna noted the genuine concern in Leon's eyes as he began to speak in a hushed but excited tone."Look- this isn't going to be easy to explain but my gut instinct is telling me that those things in there aren't boomers! At least not the kind you're used to dealing with."

Linna stared hard at Leon's eyes as he sought to pierce the dark, glaring exterior of her visor for her reaction. Her instinctual positive outlook tried vainly to suppress the contagious fear in Leon's eyes. "What are you talking about? What kind are they then?"

Leon let go of Linna's arm and exhaled loudly. Turning away from her for a moment, he gathered his thoughts, trying to think of a way to put them into words that would make sense. Linna took a small step back as Leon turned back to her suddenly, with a new fire in his eyes.

"Do you remember when you fought that lunatic who took out half of Genom's Tower sites with that particle beam satellite?"

Linna's helmet remained still for a second then began to nod silently.

"Do you remember what he looked like?"

This time Linna's helmet did not register an affirmative motion. "I never really got a good look at him. My view was obscured by my motoroid when I was targeting the satellite. Priss got a better look at him than anyone, but I know how you feel about talking to her."

Leon appeared to ignore her last statement, but Linna shifted nervously, cursing under her breath for bringing the subject of his painful past with Priss up. "Forget I said that, and tell me what you think is going on. My boss isn't going to be much longer with the general."

Leon glanced over at the general as the white-armored woman, still engaged in conversation, moved a step backwards in the direction of the Knight Saber's blue utility van.

"Alright", he began again impatiently. "I think that super-boomer that you destroyed with the satellite particle beam has somehow survived. Or at least the technology that created him has."

Leon let his words sink in before he continued, though he had no way of reading how Linna was taking his theory with her face hidden behind her visor. "I saw some surveillance video they had. I couldn't I.D. them positively- it was too dark, but there was something about them that just reminded me of that super-boomer. I don't know what exactly . . . the way they stood- you know, their posture."

Linna stared incredulously at Leon. "The way they stood? Are you sure? That doesn't sound like much to go on."

"I know, but you've got to trust me on this. Look at this way- it can't hurt to be a little extra careful, can it?"

Linna shook her head slowly and a faint smile appeared on Leon's face.

"Okay, that's all I ask. I'm not gonna tell you how to do your job but be careful. I want you back in one piece, got it?"

Again Linna nodded, and then turned to go. "Don't worry officer, I'll be careful. Thanks for the advice!"

Taking the cue, Leon's voice rose a bit. "No problem miss! Good luck!"

As his words left his lips, Leon scanned the ring of officers who now stared at Leon with looks of wonder on their faces. 'That's right boys,' he thought to himself, 'She's mine and don't you ever find out.'

Sylia thanked the general as Linna rejoined her. Making their way back through the maze of police and military vehicles towards the utility van, Sylia asked Linna what she found out. Linna made an articulated hand gesture that Sylia instantly recognized. Defaulting to the private intercom channel again, Sylia waited for Linna to speak.

"Well, what did you find out?"

Sylia replied coolly, "Not much. No-one's really had a good look at them. And you?"

"Leon seems to think we may have our hands full with an older type of boomer."

Sylia's stride faulted a bit. "An older boomer? That doesn't make sense. What model?"

Linna answered hesitantly, "He didn't really specify a model."

"Then what class?" Sylia spat out a little impatiently.

"He didn't say what class either."

Sylia halted in mid-step. "Then why does he think we're dealing with older boomers?"

Linna shook her head. "He has a hunch. It has something to do with the boomer that used the OPB satellite to take out all those Genom towers a few years back."

The white-armored figure quickly scanned the parking lot for Leon, and upon spotting him, stared thoughtfully at his 'arms-folded' outline.

"I see," Sylia said, considering the detective's theory, as well as the 'voices' she'd heard earlier that night. "Well, we'll have to be careful then, won't we?"

Linna just nodded, and began her hard-suit's preliminary diagnostic check.

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