A Story of the Starblade Battalion


Episode 7 (2180.06.08)
by Shawn Hagen (all around rapscoundrel and ner-do-well.) (1997)


Starblade Battalion is the Property of R.Talsorian Games.

Opening Credits-Same as before.

Lilith looked from Juan to Diane, wondering just what she was supposed to do. First Juan had increased the Battalion stores by almost one hundred percent, then he dropped an insane plan on her. Anyone else, she might have just kicked them out of her office, but Juan had done what he said, and Diane was armed.

"I don't think we can pull off this operation," she said. "Stopping the Midnight Sun is one thing, I agree we can do that, but everything else," she shook her head. "I just don't see it happening."

"If Juan is right about Miss Vels, I think it will work," Diane told her.

Lilith looked at Diane for a moment. The Marshall had a reputation for a certain amount of recklessness, but she always came through. Juan shared a similar reputation. Both were telling her it could work. "What about the ODF base on Salamanca?"

"They'll never know we are there until it is too late. Then we'll be gone," Juan told her.

"You're sure of that?"

"Sure enough."

"Hell," Lilith shook her head. "Okay, you're on. You have all of thunder team, but I don't think that will be enough."

"It's actually close. We have other sources of personnel," Juan told her.

"Such as?"

"Several other Marshalls," Diane said.

"Wonderful. They are sure to work together well with us pirates."

"I thought you were smugglers," Diane said, smiling slightly.

"But that is the point. You don't think that."

"I think all of us hate Midnight Sun enough to put aside any of our personal feelings," Juan said. "I don't think Personnel will be that much of a problem."


"We'll draw from the Battalion stores. I think we earned it. I suspect we'll need a suit for every site, just in case they have some heavier firepower than a bunch of Troubs. Personal weapons, underwater gear, money, transport, the usual."

"I'll get us some Crossbones, they are rigged for underwater use."

"Sounds good."

"What if nothing happens?"

"I say we give it a week. If nothing happens by then we inform the planet authorities and just bail. We'll call it a training exercise."

"If something will happen, how long do you think we have?"

"Not very long," Diane said.

"Then we had better begin making plans," Lilith said. "We have a lot of work ahead of us don't we?"

"Hold it steady," Tern said, watching Emiko as she tried to bring the shuttle in.

"I am."

"Just relax, you got a death grip on the stick. Keep lined up with those lights."

Emiko did as he said, trying to keep the shuttle steady.

"Better," Tern said, "now, move us closer to the starboard, but do it gently. Any jerky moves at this point and docking control will have a fit."

"Hai," Emiko told him, moving the controls very gently.

"This would be a lot easier if you had a datalink," Tern said.

"Well I don't," Emiko said, trying to keep her voice even.

"Just pointing out a fact. Watch your angle of approach, it is too shallow."


"Shuttle Fox-trot 3, this is control. Do you think you could go much slower, you're only holding up three other ships now."

Tern smiled as he switched the com on. "Control, this is F3, sorry, we got a red light on the port engine and don't want to push it."

"Why don't you chance it. Or you could just shut off the port engine completely, it is not like it would slow you down. Control out."

"Bite me," Tern said, still smiling. Emiko noticed he had not transmitted that. "Okay Emiko, why don't you ease the throttles up a little before they decide to write us up for unsafe piloting."

"It's unsafe to go slow?" Emiko asked him as she gave the shuttle a little more speed.

"It is when a craft behind you slams into you."

"I see."

"Keep it steady, remember, use the lights to keep on track."


Tern watched her as she brought it in. She passed through the huge opening of the landing bay, then began edging to shuttle over towards the docking berth.

"Use the braking thrusters, on, off," he said, tapping his finger against the console. Keep a close watch on your velocity."


"Make sure you know everything going on around you, see that shuttle, we'll be passing close to it, keep and eye on it."

"Hai," Emiko said, she sounded scared.

"Move a little to starboard."


"Good. Okay, I'm taking over," Tern said as he grasped the controls of his station. Emiko transferred control over to him. "This last little bit is tough, watch carefully."

Emiko wanted just to slump back in the chair, but instead she watched as Tern brought the shuttle nearly to a complete stop, right above the docking racks. The robotic arms clamped onto the shuttle and pulled it secure into the rack.

"It's all in the wrist," he told her. "Got to keep everything under control."

Emiko nodded.

"You need work."

Emiko nodded.

"But you're not bad."

"Thank you."

"Go back and wait for the inspectors to come aboard. Be polite, but don't let them bully you."

"Will everything be all right?"

"Don't worry, this place is pretty busy. They'll just want to check the papers, nose around a little, this shuttle has a clean history so they are not going to waste anytime on cracking open all the cargo holds. Be cool, keep calm, and smile a lot. Don't look nervous."

Emiko nodded then undid her restraint harness, got out of the chair, and headed back into the holds.

The shuttle had been ferried to the Primus System by the cruiser Thunder Clap, with a number of other shuttles. She and Tern were carrying some weapons, ammunition, a suit, and several thousand kilograms of ankadilo meat. Juan had told her that the meat was not only an excellent cover, but also sold very well on Salamanca. Juan really confused her sometimes.

The harried looking inspector came on, asked to see all the documentation, asked her a few questions, then gave her authorization to land on Salamanca. Then he was gone and Emiko was wondering if it was always that easy to smuggle things onto planets.

Later, when she asked Tern about it, he told her that much was in the documentation and the ship name. There were a lot of things that just did not raise red flags.

Almost as soon as the shuttle touched down on the landing pad of Township 4, Little Bangkok, Juan had hustled her off the shuttle. Of course it had still been a few minutes. They had had to wait for an inspector to come aboard and okay their paperwork before the meat could be off loaded.

Once that was taken care of Juan had come aboard and literally dragged her out. A short time later they were in a small yacht, heading towards Township 2, Little Vancouver-all the townships had been named after famous, or in some cases infamous, Earth, port cities.

"Here," Juan tossed her a bundle of clothing. "Put that on."

"Turn around," Emiko told him as she began to loosen the neck of her jumpsuit.

"It's not like you have anything I haven't seen before," he said, turning around.

"You've seen similar," Emiko said, unsealing the jumpsuit to her waist then shrugging it off. "I'd rather keep my setup private."

"Ree's right. You are a prude."

"I am not!" Emiko snapped. "Just because I have a little modesty doesn't mean I'm a prude," she pushed the jumpsuit down her legs.

"Do you really blush all over?" Juan asked.

"Urasai!" she snapped, kicking the clothing away from her. She turned her attention to the clothes Juan had brought. She pulled the blouse free then put it on. "So, what is happening?"

"Nothing as far as we can tell. It worries me and Diane."

"Why?" Emiko asked as she buttoned the blouse.

"For one, we might have been wrong. The other possibility is that they are just too good at covering themselves."

"What do you think it is?" she asked, picking up the skirt and stepping into it.

"Neither. I just think they haven't started yet. I need you to check the security computers to see what is up there."

"Is that where we are going," Emiko pressed the seal tabs shut, then twisted the skirt around her so the tabs were at the back.

"Little Vancouver. Holds the city's main security computer. We've got to get you inside so you can check it out."

"You can turn around now. How am I going to get inside?"

"Easy," he walked over to her. "Congratulations Miss Miya," he picked up the jacket and turned it so she could see the front and the insignia on it. "You have just become a sergeant in the Waikiki Police Force, internal affairs division."

"Do I get health benefits with that?"

"Don't be clever," he tossed the jacket over her head.

"Got a map of the building?" she asked as she pulled the jacket off her head.

"Of course."

"Pass codes?"

"A few, most are a bit old. They should let you do some shallow work."

"Back up?"

"Two Marshalls in the building."

"Good. Basic plan?" she asked as she pulled on the jacket.

"Walk in, anyone asks, you are there to see Lieutenant Maria Clai about a bunch of smugglers she busted last night. The Lieutenant is currently out and will be for about six hours. Say you'll wait. They won't think anything strange about it."

"So I got six hours to work with. And when I leave."

"Leave a message for her then go. You'll find some business cards in your jacket."

"What if she gets back?"

"Ask her for her records on the 'Green' case, then leave. If she asks you anything just tell her that you can't say anything about it at the present time."

"Sounds a little cruel."

"It is. But it is a great cover."

"Show me the map."

"Sit down," he indicated a chair in front of computer.

"How recent are these?" Emiko asked, taking a seat.

"Two years old. No major renovations," he told her as he turned on the computer.


"The main security computer is here," an area on the map lit up red. High security area. I don't think you could get in there."

"This is the main computer?"

"Yes. It receives a feed from all the other townships' security computers. Not a bad system, one way gates, nice bit of redundancy, pretty secure."

"How does it get the feed?"

"They have three satellites that they run everything through. I know it sounds a little off, but it is pretty secure. Hard to get a false feed into that."

"Satellites deshou ka," Emiko said, looking at the screen. She tapped a few keys, changing the display. "Atta. Mitsukatta(I found it)."


"This is a feed from dishes on the roof. I should be able to get in from there."


"This room here," she indicated a maintenance room in one of the unsecured areas, "this vent."

"Vents," he shook his head. "Think you'll fit?"

"Tight squeeze, but I'll be all right," she said. It was a good thing she had dropped some weight over the last few weeks.

"Okay. How long?

"Three, four hours."

"That long?"

"I don't think it will be an easy system."

"Okay. Once you've been in, can you get back in?"

"Maybe. I might be able to set up a pulse virus, something that sends out reports every few hours, maybe about once every five minutes. Is there a place I can send that to?"

"We've got a few computers set up. Here are the addresses," he told her, displaying them on the screen.

"After this?"

"Once we know the system is clean, then it is sit tight and wait."

Emiko nodded as she looked over the map. She was looking for escape routes.

"You look horrible," Juan said.

"The duct was smaller than I thought, and a little too warm for comfort," Emiko said as she got into the electric car. Her clothing was mussed, there was dust on her face, and her hair was stuck to her scalp with perspiration.

"No one said anything?"

"I think one or two of them thought I was having sex with someone."

"I'd almost think you'd be insulted by that," Juan said as he pulled away from the curb.

"I was, but it was better than being arrested."

"So what's the news?"

"The system is clean, but someone has been in there. I think they've been figuring out how it works."

"Can you monitor it?"

"I've got a virus in there that is sending out pulses every forty minutes."

"Couldn't get it happening more?"

"I'm cutting it close with every forty minutes. They've got some very good detection programs in there."

"How did you handle those one way gates?"

"Looped it out through another one way gate. Fun game, had to just wander around until I found a way out. Bizarre system, probably part of the security."

"How do you do it?"

"Do what?"

"Hack the unhackable."

"I cheat."


"You couldn't do it with a datalink, the systems are keyed to them. You might say I stealth by."

"You're kidding?" Juan took his eyes off the road for a moment to look at her.


"I can't believe that."

"What's so hard to believe? The people who design the software were hooked up to the computers with datalinks. It makes them surprisingly blind to the simplest things."

"So you're saying that they accidentally leave holes that you can only get in doing it the old-fashioned way?"

"Yes. You have to be very good though."

"Well, you learn something new everyday."

"Please don't sell that information."

"Would I do that?"

"In a second."

"Who is telling you these things about me?"

"Anyone I listen to."

"I'll keep your secret."

"Thank you."

Salamanca was a beautiful world. One huge ocean. Waikiki consisted of a number of aquatic townships, each one the size of a large town, or a small city. Emiko stood on the hotel room's balcony, looking out over the ocean. She could just make out the highest buildings of the Township 6, Little LA. After Leaving Little Vancouver, Juan had brought her to Township 7, Little Yokohama.

"When its full dark, you can see where the other townships are by their lights," Ree told her.

"You've been here before?" Emiko turned to look at her.

"A few times."

"So, what about this wave I've been hearing about?"

"Give it about twenty minutes."

"So what do we do now?" Emiko looked around at the others in the room. Juan was there, as well as Lilith Blackhand, and Marshall Sharp. He was a tall, thin man, whose skin was stretched tight over his face. Emiko did her best to avoid eye contact with him. She felt a little afraid of him. There were some others there, Charybdis, a few others. Most of them were part of the Little Yokohama team. Emiko still did not know which team they were going to put her on.

"We wait," Lilith said. "We wait until they do something, then we stop it."

Emiko wanted to ask how long that might be, but she decided not to. As it was she thought some of the people in the room were thinking her a little useless. Asking more and more questions did not seem the way to improve her standing. Instead she turned back to look out at the ocean.

Some time later she saw something. As first she thought it was a mass of clouds, but then she realized it was something else.

"Sugoi," she said quietly.

"There it is," Ree said, coming to stand beside her.

"The wave?"

"The wave."

"So what happens now?"

"Get ready for the ride."

Emiko watched as the huge wave of water came closer, looking bigger. Salamanca's huge moon, Anduril, dragged that wave around the planet once a day. Smaller waves began to wash up against the lowest part of the colony, breaking, spraying the ocean path with water. Break walls rose up against the water. The water level began to raise, creeping up, putting the lowest levels under a few centimeters of water. Then suddenly the room shook and for a moment Emiko thought that an earthquake had hit.

"They just released the hard anchors," Ree told her.

"Hard anchors?"

"They hold the township tight to the reef, one of the reasons the townships are so steady. Now we float free on the cables."

Emiko looked back down and saw that the water had receded quite a bit, the entire township was floating higher in the water. The water level began to raise again as the forty meter wave got closer and closer. That huge wall of water drew her eyes. The destructive energy in it was impossible to imagine.

"Look," Ree said, pointing.

Emiko looked where she was pointing. After a few moments she saw several dark objects in the water. "What are they?"

"Surf boats."

"Surf boats?"

"Just a sport. They will try to ride that wave. Most of them won't pull it off."

"They'll be killed."

"No. The boats were designed to take it. Tern might be out there."

Emiko shook her head and went back to looking at the wave. Waves were breaking over the break walls again. It took her a while to realize that the water level was not raising anymore. The entire township was climbing over the wave, going up with the water level.

It took some time for them to get to the crest, and then there was the huge slope ahead of them that they had to ride down. Her knuckles had gone white from gripping the railing of the balcony. It was so exciting at the same time that it was terrifying.

When it was all over, when the wave had gone on and the hard anchors had once again locked the township tightly to the reef, Emiko stumbled over to one of the couches and fell into it.

"Great ride," Ree said, dropping onto the couch beside her. "I almost want to give one of those surf boats a try."

Emiko was about to say that she wouldn't, when she realized how much fun it might be. "You drive," she said, smiling at Ree.

Salamanca's economy was driven by tourism and little else. While the water of its ocean was rich in sea life, there was just little need for it. The planet did export some fish off world, but not very much of it. Even the fishing was ultimately tourist related. Hunting the giant crustaceans on the reef, or a working holiday on an old style fishing boat were two popular attractions.

The townships themselves were modeled, to a certain extent, on the cities they were named after. Little Yokohama reminded Emiko a little of certain places in Tokyo where some of the old style of building had been painstakingly reproduced.

She and Ree walked along the tree lined high path, about five meters above the ocean path, enjoying the festival atmosphere. It seemed every night was a Matsuri on little Yokohama. The real festivals made the nightly offerings seem boring by comparison, or so Ree told her.

Emiko had bought a yukata, it had been some time since she had last been able to wear one. It was light blue, with a white, floral design and a red obi. She had tried to talk Ree into buying one, but the other woman had not cared much for the style.

Anduril was fully up by that time. The huge moon, or small planet, was covered in white silica and it reflected twice the light that Luna ever did. And it reflected it through an atmosphere that was as so clear it was beautiful. There was only a slight hazing, caused by the pollen that filled the air.

"Some people think that Anduril is a true lovers moon. Others say that it is the worse," Ree said.


"Few dark places to hide, though that is stupid. What do lovers have to hide from?"

"Disapproval?" Emiko said.

"Hardly a good answer, Emi-chan."

"Maybe some people just have a little modesty."

"Are you modest, Emi-chan?" Ree asked as she reached out and grabbed Emiko's hand. She spun her about, putting her back against a tree.

"Nanda?" Emiko asked.

Ree looked at her, putting a hand on Emiko's shoulder to hold her. "Emi-chan ga," she said quietly, moving closer to Emiko. "suki."

Emiko's eyes opened wider, then she tried to get away from Ree, but pinned as she was, she could not do anything . "Iyada," Emiko said, closing her eyes. There was nothing she could do but wait for Ree to kiss her. She waited. Then she waited a little longer. Then she opened her eyes. Ree had moved her face back from Emiko's and was smiling at her.

"You are just too tense, Emi-chan."

Emiko shook off Ree's hold and moved a few steps away. Then she turned to face her. "Ree no baka!" she shouted, then turned and ran off, her geta clicking loudly.

Ree shook her head, then ran after the girl.

"Emi-chan, it was just a joke," she called after her, laughing.

After a minute Emiko stopped and turned to face Ree. "It wasn't funny."

"Sure it was," Ree threw an arm over Emiko's shoulders, pulling her close, turning her to look out over the water.

"It wasn't."

"You're just too in love with the idea of love," Ree told her.

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"Just what I said, Emi-chan. Now shut up, the fireworks will be starting soon."

"Ree-san no baka," Emiko said softly.

The next day Emiko met the team she had been assigned to, working on township five, Little Murmansk. There were nine other people on the team, though she only had been introduced to the leader, Marshall Kelly Wright.

The Marshall was a petite, pretty woman, who laughed a lot. After Diane and Marshall Sharp, Kelly was a bit of a surprise. Emiko couldn't picture her as one of the few who brought law to the lawless regions of the Cluster, but from what Diane has said about the woman, she among the best.

"Okay," Kelly said, once they were all seated. "For Miss Miya we will go over everything once again. It will also be a good review," she said, at the same time activating a projector. "Due to the daily tidal wave the townships have been designed to ride the wave. They are anchored to the reef with a two part system. The hard anchors and the cables."

"The hard anchors number one hundred and fifty, and they hold the township tight to the reef, keeping it steady not matter what the weather. They are disengaged when the wave comes and at that point the city is only held by ten cables. The cables wind out, then wind back in when the wave goes. Does anyone have an questions?"

"How do they wind?" Emiko asked.

"I'm using the wrong terminology here. Each cable is actually a telescoping pole. There are thousands of tiny motors in each meter of the pole. They control extension and retraction. Understand?"

Emiko nodded.

"Now, we know the Midnight Sun wants to destroy these townships, and there are two, fairly easy, low manpower ways then can do so. One would be to lock the hard anchors and let the townships all be swept by the wave. The only problem with that, is that while it would cause a large number of deaths, it would take two or three hits by that wave to completely destroy any of the townships. On the other hand, cutting the cables after the hard anchors have been released would cause nearly complete destruction. Any questions?"

"What's the latest surveillance tell us?" a woman near the back of the room asked.

"Nothing more than it did yesterday. There is some activity, but it is not conclusive. Any other questions?" When no one had any she continued. "So, to keep this from happening, we kill all the Midnight Sun people right after the hard anchors are released."

"Kill?" Emiko said.

"Midnight Sun have a very distressing habit of killing themselves if they are caught or about to be caught. A number of them also manage to take out some others with them. The fact is a dead Midnight Sun member is a safe one. It is a bit hard, but it is how we have to do it."

"While I agree that they are not likely to do anything until after the hard anchors go, and that hitting them then is the best time, what if they aren't going to cut them?" a tall man beside Emiko asked.

"You mean if they set explosives beforehand?"


"If they were planning on doing that, then it is likely that they would not have obtained so much underwater cutting gear. If they are going to use explosives, we take them out there and then."


"Okay, let's go over this. Aktin," she said.

"I'm there to provide heavy fire support. I bring out my Crossbones right after the hard anchors go. I take out any suits they have first, then cause what damage I can, being very careful not to hit the cables," the woman who had spoken earlier said.

"Good. Where's your suit right now?"

"Stashed it in a cave about a kilometer from the site. As long as a giant crab has not set up housekeeping there, I'm good to go."

"All right, Henderson?"

"I've got the hydrolaser, I play sniper, take out anyone who might cause trouble. I've picked out my perch, scouted the area, set up everything."


"Kill whoever I can."


"Kill whoever I can."

"Okay, I think Miss Miya can guess the rest of the pattern. Got any scuba training?"

"None," Emiko said.


"Kill whoever I can," someone said from behind Emiko.

"Yes," she shook her head. "I want you to show Miya here how to use the gear. You got until the practice this afternoon."

"Can do."

"You ever seen one of these?" Kelly asked, picking up a weapon from the table beside her.

"Gyrojet rifle?" Emiko said.

"Close. More like a torpedo rifle. An underwater gyrojet. Can you use it?"

Emiko nodded.

"Good. All right, Miya, Dinse, get the hell out of here."

Emiko stood and turned to see who her teacher was. Behind her, also standing, was a handsome young man. He had short brown hair and light blue eyes. He smiled at her. "Justice Dinse," he held out his hand.

"Miya Emiko desu," she took his hand.

"Pleased to meet you Emiko," he said.

"Get the hell out of here," Kelly said.

"Let's go," he kept a grip on her hand and quickly led her from the room.

Emiko followed after him, looking down at their hands. His grip was strong, and his hand dry. She could feel the calluses on his palms. She wanted to pull her hand free, yet for some reason she couldn't.

"Do you like swimming?" he asked, looking over his shoulder at her.

Emiko found herself staring into his eyes for a moment before she blinked and looked away. "I guess," she said, freeing her hand from his.

"How good of a swimmer are you?" he asked, heading towards the elevator.

"All right, I suppose."

"Good starting place. We'll have you ready to go in no time."

Emiko was very conscious of Justice's hands on her as he checked her over, making sure everything was on right. Part of her wondered if he was not taking a little too long in doing it, and another part was telling that she was being ridiculous. He was just being thorough.

"How does it feel?" he asked, giving a tug on her waist belt.

"Fine," she said.

"Okay, this will be an easy dive. We're going down about five meters, and we'll swim around the entire township."

"Hai," Emiko nodded.

"Now keep an eye out for red lights, they mark the areas where the boat traffic is. At that point we have to swim under the township to bypass it. There are about ten of those areas. The path is marked by bright white lights."


"The computer in your tank controls the air mix, and keep a watch on the HUD, it will warn you of any problems."

"So all I have to do is kick?"

"That's basically it. Ready?"


"Good, let's go," he picked up his fins and walked to the dive point.

Emiko sighed as she wondered why she couldn't have just remained at a computer, then picked up her fins and followed after him.

She was nervous for the first few minutes after going into the water, but she soon began to feel confident. She really had to do little more than kick her legs and follow after Justice. Once she stopped feeling nervous it actually became fun. The sea was full of beautiful fish, and the sunlight, filtering down through the water, cast odd bands on light on everything. When they had to go under the township things changed slightly. It got darker, and they had to go deeper. She did not like that as much.

They were halfway around, and under the township again, when a warning light went up on the HUD. She was running out of air. She almost turned around and swam for the surface. Instead she forced herself to be calm, then swam forward, attracting Justice's attention. She still had a few minutes left.

Justice pulled out a small cable, plugged one end into his face mask and handed the other to her. She plugged it into her own.

"What is it?" he asked.

"I'm almost out of air."

"Has the backup supply kicked in?"


"Okay, you better do it manually. The controls are on your belt. Slide the cover off, then tap the blue button three times."

"Okay," Emiko nodded as she did what he said. "Nothing happened," she told him. She was beginning to feel a little scared. She had a little more than a minute of air left.

"Okay, reset the computer, tap the red button twice."

She did that. Everything shut off for a second, then came back on line. When it did she saw she still had almost an hour of air left. "It says I've got an hour," she told him.

"Okay, then everything is cool. Computer mistake."

"Does that happen often?"

"No. Usually only when your instructor programs it to do so as a test."

"What? You mean it was a false alarm?"

"You catch on fast."

"You..." she started to say but he pulled the cable free and swam off. Emiko watched him for a moment, then went after him.

After they completed the circuit of the township, Justice got them fresh tanks and they swam down thirty meters to the reef. The sides of the township sloped inwards for nearly twenty meters, then ended in a flat bottom. The two of them sat on the reef, under the township, and talked, or more to the point he gave her more instruction.

It was strange being down there. It was well lit, hundreds of lights ensured it, but it was so alien. There were other divers there as well, and a few times she saw one of the mechs that were used to hunt the giant crabs.

She asked him about them, if the hunting mechs might be used by the Midnight Sun, but he told her not to worry, it was taken care of.

When they returned to the surface he spent the rest of the time showing her how to use all the equipment, having her go through various emergency drills. By the time he was leading her back to the rest of the team, Emiko felt a little more confident about diving. If she had a choice she would still rather stay on the surface, but that she did not was not so much of a worry.

A thought occurred to her. "Justice-san."


"What will it be like being underwater when the wave comes?"

"A bit rough, it causes some nasty currents, but you should be all right. Just don't panic if you get caught up in one of the currents. Keep a clear head, watch the HUD, and head up a little. You may not clear the current right away, but at least you won't have to worry about having your head bashed open on the reef."

"What if you just kept being dragged along?"

"What, around the whole planet?" he laughed. "Don't worry, that won't happen. Longest I ever heard anyone being pulled for is two kilometers. They can be strong and tricky, but they aren't long lived. I've been told it is actually a fun ride."

"Probably some people who actually go looking for them," Emiko said, remembering the surf boats.

"That is true. Here we are," he stopped in front of a door then knocked.

A moment later the door was opened by Kelly. "Just in time, get in."

Once the both of them were in, Kelly closed and locked the door. They were in a large room, a gym, and the rest of the team was there.

"Okay, places," Kelly called out.

Emiko watched as everyone moved around the room, most of them lying down on the floor. She noticed the Henderson had stacked several chairs and was lying atop them.

"This is how we are going to set up down there," Kelly told Emiko. "Of course we are not to scale," she smiled. "You'll be with me, over here," she tapped her foot against the floor. "We are about ten meters from the north part of the anchor ring. We can get to this spot through an underwater cave that has an opening a hundred meters that way. Lie down."

Emiko lay down where she was told and then waited.

"Okay, they are down here, hard anchors have just gone off, we've got currents battering us a little by this point but we're all secured well enough. Aktin."

"Boom, boom, Troubadour, or whatever, taken out of the picture."


"Picked out the likeliest leader or the most dangerous looking person down there. Zap. Gone. Form then on, take out their gear."

"Everyone else."

"Acquire targets and take down," one said.

"Wham," someone else said.

"Pop them as fast as I can."

There were more, Kelly listened for a few seconds, then put up her hand to silence them. "All right, they are thrown into disarray, they are diving for cover, or maybe they just want to get their job done. Now things get tricky. Do it."

Emiko watched as four of them, including Justice moved into the center.

"Seek and destroy," Kelly said, looking down at Emiko. They go in and clean the mess up. At this point you are fire support for Margyndar there," she pointed at a woman with short blonde hair. "She calls for fire, you send it. Don't shoot in any other case, unless you absolutely have no choice for some reason. Okay," she addressed everyone, "we've taken them out, neutralized their tools. At this point they might get stupid so be careful. All right, back to your starting places."

Once everyone was back in place she moved into the center. "What if we have civilians in the target area?"

"Trouble," Henderson said.

"Damn right. At that point, as much as most of you might not like it, you die before they do. Only Henderson gets to stay safe as he continues to blow the hell out of their gear. What is it, Miya," she looked over at Emiko who had raised her hand.

"What if they got a lot of people down there?"

"We don't think they will. They will move into position about a two or three minutes before the hard anchors release. If they hang around too long they are likely to get noticed. That sort of operation does not work well with a lot of people. That said, we might be wrong. You might move into your hideyhole and find a Midnight Sun nasty in there already. If that is the case, kill them then continue as before."

"What if it is really bad?" Emiko asked.

"Then we pop the sea stingers and everyone dies, including us."

"Sea stingers?"

"Little torps, home in on heat and a few other things, then they explode into a ten meter globe of streamlined, razor wedges. Makes a mess of soft targets, hard targets are fine, so we don't damage the cables."

Emiko nodded after a moment. She did not like the sound of that, but it made sense.

"Okay, let's take this from the top. Aktin."

Thirty minutes before the evening wave came around, Kelly had all her team in place under little Murmansk. She lay in the small cave she had found, Emiko beside her. Emiko was looking around, remembering the practice from a few hours before, managing to figure out where everyone was.

All the teams were down, under their townships. While all signs indicated that nothing was going to happen, they took no chances. Emiko watched as plant debris and other things flashed by out in front of her, pulled along by the currents.

Kelly tapped her on the shoulder, then handed her one end of a communication cable. Emiko plugged it into her mask.

"How's your visibility?"

"Not good."

"You can adjust the mask to filter out some of the effects of the water. It would do it automatically if you had a datalink. The manual controls are under the chin guard."

Emiko nodded as she put her hand to the recessed switches and began experimenting.

"The rest of us will be using camera probes to extend our field of vision, but as you don't have a datalink..."

"I understand."

"You're going to have to do the best you can with limited visibility. As long as they leave the lights on, you should be all right, but if they shut them down you'll have some problems."

"What do I do then?"

"Hope for the best."

"Yappari," Emiko said.

Kelly continued to give her a run down on the operation, pointing things out, explaining exactly what Emiko would be doing. She had finished by the time the hard anchors released. Emiko watched it all. Seeing it all happen was different from having it explained to her. It gave her a greater appreciation on how hard it must have been to design the townships to survive that wave.

When it was all over, the township firmly secured to the reef once more, Kelly led her down the tunnel and out the cave mouth a hundred meters away.

The next day went like the first. Kelly gave Emiko another diving lesson instead of Justice though. From the looks of Justice he would have preferred to do it again. Emiko thought she understood how he felt.

Kelly was a better teacher though, and she combined the diving lesson with instruction in shooting. By the time they were all under the township again, waiting on the wave, Emiko felt she could do her job well enough. Maybe.

"Emiko," Justice called to her. "Where are you going?"

"Little Yokohama," she told him.

"Mind if I tag along?"

"Not at all," Emiko smiled at him. She had not had a chance to spend any time with him at all during the day.

"Great. So, what are we going to do?"

"Enjoy the festival," Emiko told him as she walked from the room.

"Enjoyment is good," he said, following her out.

"Is Ree-san here?" Emiko asked Juan as she entered the room Juan and the others were using.

"Still out, should be back soon. Juan Varis," Juan said to Justice, extending his hand.

"Justice Dinse," Justice took Juan's hand. "I'm a friend of Emiko's. We're on the same team."

"Nice to meet you," Juan let go of his hand. "Going to wait?" he asked Emiko.

"No, maybe I'll stop by later. Come on," she said to Justice, heading out of the room.

"See you later," Justice said to Juan.

"No doubt," Juan said, watching them go. Justice Dinse, he thought, the name sounded a little familiar. For a moment he told himself that he was prying, but then he reached for the phone. Emiko was, ultimately, his responsibility after all.

"Hey, Juan," Ree called as she came into the room. "I saw Emi-chan get into a cab with some guy. Who is he?"

"That was Justice Dinse," Juan said, putting down the phone. "One of our Charybdis allies."

"Oh? Know anything about him?"

"According to a friend, he is the sort with a girl in every port. According to this friend he is also a bit of a wolf."

"Why are you telling me this."

"No reason."

"I think I'll go for a walk."

"I thought you might."

"This has nothing to do with Emi-chan," she told him.

Juan only nodded.

"What a beautiful night," Justice said, putting an arm over Emiko's shoulders.

"It is," she said, leaning into him. Her heart was beating fast, she could almost feel it in her ears. Justice was very handsome, and kind, and exciting. He knew the right things to say, and when to say them and made her feel special."

"Almost as beautiful as you," he told her.

Emiko stiffened slightly, suddenly conscious that the face she wore was not really her own. She told herself she was being ridiculous. It really didn't matter.

"Did I say something wrong?" Justice asked, feeling Emiko stiffen.

"No, not at all. Just a chill," she moved even closer to him. "Thank you."

"Come on," he said.


"You'll see," he moved away from her and grabbed her hands, pulling her along.

"It's late."

"Not yet."

She smiled and followed after him, walking beside him. She held onto his hand, feeling good. It was exciting to be out late with a handsome young man. She found herself comparing Justice to Match and felt that Justice was the better man. Match had been too cynical she decided. Justice was young and saw things as they were.

"Here," Justice said, leading her into the area around a darkened shrine. There were tall bushes around it so it was screened from the path.

"What are we doing here?"

"What we have wanted to for about two hours now," he leaned forward and kissed her. Emiko felt a small thrill go through her and relaxed into his arms. His hands slid down her back, resting on her behind. She was a little shocked by that, but did not make him stop.

After a while he broke the kiss, smiling at her. "Let's make love," he said to her.


"It's a beautiful night, the air is warm and we want this," he told her, kissing her again.

Emiko did not know what to say. She had enjoyed her time with him, but was not sure if she wanted to move beyond kissing, and she was not completely sure about the kissing either.

"I'm not going to pressure you Emiko," he said, pulling her close to him. "All you have to say is no and I'll leave. I just don't want to give up this chance, it might be the last we ever have."

He was right, Emiko realized. They could both be dead by tomorrow.

Kissing her once more, he gently backed her up until her legs hit a bench. She sat down, looking up at him. He smiled at her and began to loosen his belt.

"Wait, here?" she asked.

"Think about it," he told her. "It's dangerous. It's exciting," he told her, pulling his belt loose.

Emiko thought about that. There was something thrilling about it all, she thought. The danger of discovery maybe. She watched as he dropped his pants then pushed his underwear down. She suddenly found the buttons of her blouse fascinating as she began to loosen them.

It was going to be her first time, she realized. It would be special. It was supposed to be special. She was not so sure if she wanted it to be on a bench. Still, it didn't matter where it was, as long as the feelings were true. It seemed like a good argument but she was not sure if she was convinced. She was thinking of telling Justice she had changed her mind when she suddenly heard choking sounds and a familiar voice.

"Emi-chan, what are you doing?" Ree asked disapprovingly.

Emiko looked up. Ree was standing there, holding Justice by the collar of his shirt. She had pulled him back and he would have fallen if not for the fact she held him up. He was too unbalanced to stand, and he was pulling on the shirt to keep it from choking him completely.

"Ree-san?" Emiko looked at her.

"Really Emi-chan, what were you thinking?" she backed up, pulling Justice with her. "Mr. Dinse, it was a pleasure meeting you, I hope you don't think me rude but I have to ask you to leave."

"No problem," Justice managed to get out.

"Such an understanding young man. I can see why Emi-chan likes you. We have to get together sometime," she told him, spinning him around and pushing him from the grounds of the shrine.

From beyond the shrine Emiko heard some screams and laughter. Justice had not had a chance to pull his pants or underwear up. She was torn between the feeling sorry for him and the humour of the situation. She was not for long though. She started to laugh.

"Emi-chan, what were you going to do?" Ree asked her.

"Who do you think you are?" Emiko tried to sound angry, but she was still laughing. "My mother?"

"Your mother?" Ree said, walking over to sit beside Emiko. "No, I'm not the mothering type. Your older sister I think. If fact, from now on, call me oneechan."

"Ree-san," Emiko said, deciding Ree was just trying to be silly.

"O nee chan," Ree said, stressing each syllable.

Emiko rolled her eyes. "Fine, oneechan."

"Good. Now Emi-chan, just what were you planning on doing with that young man?"

"Have sex."

"So what were you doing here instead of a very nice hotel room?"

"It was more exciting out here."

"Emi-chan," Ree shook her head. "Do up your blouse. Did you think it was exciting?"

"Well, after Justice pointed it out," Emiko said, doing up her blouse.

"You are such a little twit," Ree said, shaking her head. "It was your first time, and don't tell my otherwise. It was also your first time with a new person. You don't need any more excitement. Let me tell you this. You only do stuff like this when your desperate for sex, which does happen, or when you need something to remind you of the excitement of that first time."

"Are you giving me a lesson?"

"Yes. I'm sure you know all the mechanics and stuff, so I won't waste time on that. I'm going to teach you about enjoying sex."


"Someone has to and it is an older sisters duty to see that her younger sister is properly educated in these matters."

"Do you ever listen to what you say?"

"Be quiet. First thing, what was the first thing Mr. Dinse did when you had decided that you were going to get physical."

"I don't know, directed me to the bench, I guess."

"Acceptable, barely. Then what did he do?"

"Well, he dropped his pants and..."



"Completely the wrong thing to do Emi-chan."

"Well, what is the right thing?"

"He should have been undressing you. He should have been thinking about you. That he dropped his pants tells you exactly what he was thinking of. If the first thing they do is drop their pants, walk away."

"I see," Emiko said slowly, wondering if Ree was drunk.

"Emi-chan, I'm serious. Your partner should be thinking of your pleasure and you should be thinking of theirs. If the first thing some man does is drop his pants, his thinking is messed up. Now what did you do?"

Emiko began to laugh softly. "I looked down at my blouse because I was afraid I'd start laughing."

"When all you can feel when looking at the man you are going to make love to is the need to laugh, that is another good sign you should just get up and walk away."

"Hai oneechan."

"Good. Let's go, I'll buy you dinner." Ree got to her feet.

"Hai," Emiko said as she stood.

"It looks like I am going to have to teach you a lot," Ree said, looking at Emiko. "Piloting and sex. As if I didn't have enough to do already."

"I'm really sorry," Emiko said sarcastically.

"Ah well. Where to start?," Ree wondered aloud as they left the shrine. "What if we hire a professional for your first time?"

"Ree-san!" Emiko said.


Henderson was waiting for Kelly when she and Emiko surfaced. Kelly had given her another lesson and ran her though a few emergency drills.

"What is it?" Kelly asked him as she climbed up onto the dock.

"News just came in. SAC forces hit Ironsun about two hours ago. Looks like the ODF might be retaliating soon."

"Wonderful," Kelly pulled off her air tank. "Any idea on numbers yet?"


"So, this stupid war has finally started."

Henderson did not say anything. He only nodded.

"Any change in our plans?"

"Not according to Captain Blackhand."

"Okay, then let's continue as always. Practice run through in two hours."

Emiko sat down at the computer for a check before practice. She had been checking the situation in the main security computer every time she got a chance. So far there had been nothing of any real interest. It was different this time. There had been an illegal entry a few hours before. Very clean, but she had left a few trip wires of her own. Quickly she searched through the files, trying to find out what they had done, if anything. Then she found it.

"Marshall Wright," she called out.

"What is it?" Kelly asked, leaning into the room.

"They've been in the computer."

"What did they do?" Kelly asked, moving up beside Emiko.

"Set up a false feed. Everything will look fine no matter what is happening."

"About what you would expect. When did they put it in?"

"Two hours, ten minutes ago."

"How long can something like that stay hidden?"

"In this system? Fourteen hours, tops."

"So it will be today."

"They could deactivate it before it is found. It might just be a test run."

"It might, but it might not. Okay, call up Blackhand, give her the news, then get to the training area."

"Hai," Emiko said, picking up the phone.

"Okay," Kelly said. "We have reason to believe that it happens today so we'll cancel the rehearsal stuff. Aktin, get the hell out of here. I want you in your suit and ready to go in the hour. And be subtle, if they are ready to go they probably have surveillance set up."

"Right," she said getting up and running for the door. She almost hit Emiko who was coming through it. "Good luck, Emiko," she said as she left.

"The rest of us, get your kit in shape, then get some rest. We'll be going under in two hours. Any questions?" There were none. "Then get to work."

Kelly walked over to Emiko, "Get your stuff, let's check it together."

Emiko nodded and ran off to the lockers where their gear was kept. She returned to Kelly then they both sat down and looked through all the equipment.

The combat kit was different from the most of the gear she had been using before. The wetsuit was not brightly coloured, but a neutral gray. The tanks heavy duty, with some armor plating, and the mask had armour glass. The rifle was not a hunting model but a heavy military job with an extended clip.

"Okay," Kelly said as she looked over the gear. "Everything here is what you are used to, the diving stuff is a bit heavier, remember that when you have to move, but other than that there are not too many differences. The weapon though," she picked up the rifle. "Is something else. You heard me mention the sea stingers before."


"This is firing the same mini torps. You just have to get it close to the target and they are pretty dead. Once we get our people in there you switch clips. This one," she picked up a second clip. "is loaded with a standard round."

"Wakatta," Emiko nodded.

"Good. Okay, this all looks good. Go over it yourself then get some rest."

"I'm not sure I can," Emiko said. She realized that she was going into combat and would be expected to kill people.

"Try," Kelly smiled and put a hand on Emiko's shoulder. Then she left and began to make her rounds.

Half and hour before the hard anchors were to release three people showed up, moving around the area. Kelly told Emiko they were scouts. They gave the area closest to the anchoring site a thorough search, but the area farther out only got a cursory scan.

Five minutes before the hard anchors were to release the rest of the people came in. They used sea sleds, coming in fast. With them was a beat up old Mason that was fitted with a few weapons. Kelly and Emiko watched them set up.

"See that group by cable five?" Kelly asked.


"They are yours. Good spray into that area will do it."

"I understand," Emiko said. Her throat had gone dry and she had to swallow a few times to moisten it.

"If it helps, tell yourself that they are all terrorists who are willing to kill the twenty-five thousand people above us."

Emiko nodded. The hard anchors released. Emiko watched them as they went, paying more attention to them even than she had before. Then she shifted her eyes to the group of people by the cable. They had activated their gear and were beginning to work on the cable. She centered her sights in the middle of the group and gently squeezed the trigger, remembering everything that Diane and Kelly had taught her.

She could not fire. She could not bring herself to kill them. Then she thought about all the people above her.

"Gomen," Emiko whispered as she fired.

Ree watched as the Troubadour went over, several gaping holes in the chest, air bubbles raising from it. All around her, her team was finishing off the terrorists. They had not come prepared for a fight. That was obvious. It was too bad for them that a fight was what they were getting.

"We've got an unknown suit approaching Township 1," she heard over her radio.

"This is unit 7," Ree said into her com. "Do you need assistance?"

"Negative 7, sit tight. Unit 1 will intercept."

"Understood," she said.

It was probably just an ODF unit, or a civilian suit. She was sure the pilot of the suit under Little Liverpool could handle it. She turned the suit and took out one of the sleds and its pilot.

"I'm moving in on the suit," she heard the pilot of unit 1 say. "Not sure what it is."

Ree moved forward, amongst the forest of the hard anchors and cables. She kicked through a wall of reef that several of the terrorists were using as cover. She probably killed most of them, though any that were alive died in the crossfire they were suddenly exposed to.

"It's fast," she heard the pilot say, It all seemed so far away. "Moving to intercept, wait, I think..." the rest was lost in swearing, then silence.

Ree stopped, the battle around her all but over. "Unit 1, unit 1, come in."

There was nothing.

"We've got a suit on Liverpool. It has just opened fire on civilian targets," someone said.

"Fuck," Ree said. "Sharp, you don't need me, I'm out of here."

"Good hunting," she heard Sharp say.

Ree said nothing else, just kicked the hydrojets up full, making for the surface. The Crossbones was not too fast in the water, its ascent was tortuously slow for Ree. She heard another pilot go against the suit, a scream and nothing more.

As soon as she exploded out of the water she hit the main thrusters. They roared to life, the Crossbones moving across the water at the speed of sound. In seconds she jerked it around, braking, and then dropped it onto one of the dock areas of Little Liverpool. A moment later she took to the air again as the area where she had just been exploded.

She spun the suit, going into a corkscrew, avoiding the first wave of missiles swarming at her, the second she destroyed with the chest mounted phalanx gun. She was in close to the other suit then. It was a black monster, frightening in its countenance. Ree found herself pushing herself back in her seat, almost as if she was trying to get away from it. She gritted her teeth and leaned forward into the controls.

She had only seen picture of that type of suit before. They hardly did the Harbinger justice. It was truly a terrifying machine. She was the best though. She told herself that over and over again as she brought up her gauss rifle and began firing at it.

She only managed a glancing hit before the other pilot was moving, leaping into the air, opening up on her with arm mounted cannons. Ree managed to avoid the blast and felt guilty for doing so. The plasma state gauss rounds had started numerous fires.

"Bastard," Ree screamed, moving at it at full speed, keeping up a steady rate of fire, pushing it back.

Grendel had brought his Harbinger down onto Little Liverpool just to add to the destruction, not that it was needed. With the wave coming all the townships were doomed. He had not expected resistance, but he had handled the first two suits easily enough. He had been trying to raise one of the groups under the townships when the third suit had shown up. He had hardly given it any attention, thinking he would destroy it as easily as the others. That quickly changed.

He now found himself backing his suit away from the other, trying to avoid its fire. The other pilot was very good and he found himself in danger. He hit the suits thrusters and took the the air, opening up with the scatter guns, tearing into the ground where the Crossbones had been--setting more fires.

He had never hoped to hit the other suit with the barrage, it had simply been something to distract the pilot. He fired off the nova boosters for just a moment, rocketing under the other suit. As he went by he reached up and grabbed the lower, port thruster vane of the suit's thruster pack.

He pulled it from the air and hurled into one of the buildings. The suit punched all the way through, and the building collapsed.

Grendel ran his suit forward, lifting the suits huge arms, ready to slash into the other suit with the rippers.

Amazingly the other pilot had their suit up and was waiting for him. In its hands was what Grendel could only think of as a giant chainsaw.

Ree cursed loudly as she forced the Crossbones to its feet. The alarms were flashing at her, trying to get her attention. She ignored them as she yanked the chain cutter from its mounts. She was going to rip that thing apart, she decided, the powerful electric motor coming on, the huge chainsaw shaking in the Crossbones' hands.

From the sudden change in the other suit's bearing she could tell she had taken the other pilot by surprise. She sprang forward, planning on cutting it from right shoulder to left hip. Then another alarm went off. The thrust systems on the lower, port thruster vane shut down. Now she was the one off balance.

She had to change her attack, moving the heavy, clumsy, chain cutter up to block the blade on the other suit's left arm. She was pleased to see her weapon cut right through the other. Unfortunately she could not bring the chain cutter around fast enough to stop the blade on the right arm from cutting into her left shoulder.

Ree swung her suit around, trying to catch the other suit as it passed by. The huge chain cutter once again proved to hard to maneuver and all she did was take off some paint.

Stupid weapon, she thought, leaping after the Harbinger. When the Midnight Sun suit turned she cut its right hand, and the blade as well, off.

Grendel stumbled back, he had not expected the other suit to move in so fast. His suit's right hand, the ripper and part of the barrel for the scatter gun spun off, crashing into a building. He flipped the safety off and opened fire on the other suit with the chest mounted cannon. The other suit took several hits and was knocked back by. He moved forward, laying down a burst of fire with the remaining scatter gun.

Again the other pilot surprised him. Giving up the huge chain saw, the other pilot rushed him, grabbing his suits arms, trying to push him back.

Grendel smiled. Only and idiot would try to fight the Harbinger hand to hand. Laughing, he began to force it back.

That was stupid, Ree realized as the suit in front of her began to push her back. The left arm broke the hold, then it grabbed her suit's wrist. When she tried to break free it pounded at her with its right stump, driving her back.

An alarm began to shrill, the whine almost ear piercing. A moment later her suit's right arm was torn from its socket. Suddenly free, she tried to move out of the way, but the Harbinger, using her own suits arms like a club, knocked her back into a building. It opened up with the chest cannon, cratering the building where moments before she had been. It was nice to see that her suit was still fast enough.

Diving to the side she retrieved the gauss rifle she had earlier dropped. Swinging it around she managed to get a burst off at the other suit before it kicked the weapon from her suit's hand.

Grendel put his suit's foot back on the ground as he brought the scatter gun up. He was about to fire when something hit him from behind, knocking him forward, costing him his aim.

Another suit was behind him, not even a real combat unit but a Troubadour outfitted with weapons. Normally he would have thought it a minor annoyance, but he taken a lot of damage already and knew he was not in the best condition. When he saw the Crossbones had got back to its feet and had readied its heat saber, he knew it was time to go.

Part of him wanted to stay, to fight to his death, but the Nemyss had told him that he must survive at all costs, his work not done.

Grendel was angry as he took to the air, hitting the boosters. He did not like losing and he did not like failure.

Ree watched as the other suit took off. A moment later the boosters in its legs fired up. It was gone before she knew it.

"Unit 7, you all right?" the pilot of the Troubadour called.

"Just peachy," she said, looking around at all the destruction. Damn Midnight Sun, she thought angrily. Next time she met one of those ugly suits she was not going to be so nice. "Let's get out of here."

"I'm with you," the other pilot said and the Troubadour suddenly dropped into the water. Ree remained admist the burning buildings for a moment, then leapt the suit into the water.

"Juan, has anyone ever told you that you are a bastard?" Miki Vels asked.

"Lots of people."

"I can't believe you put my city in danger. Do you know how many people are dead?"

"Sixty two. Some would say that that is quite conservative by Midnight Sun standards. It is still too many. We did not count on the Harbinger."

"That makes me feel so much better. I should have you arrested. I would but none of the townships have suffered serious damage and there are a large number of dead terrorists under my townships. I also happen to think the only good member of the Midnight Sun is a dead member."

"So you forgive me?"

"Forgive is a strong word. So what is it you want for saving this colony?"

"An endorsement."


"You'll understand when the time comes. When that time comes, you tell everyone we were the ones who saved Waikiki."


"You'll understand when the time comes."

"You are usually not so confusing."

"This time I am. I have my reasons."

"Okay. If I can figure out what the hell you are talking about, I'll do what you say."

"Thanks, that's all I am asking for."

"Whatever it is."

"Bye Miki."

"Where are you going?"

"To hide from the ODF people and your security."

"Have fun," she said and watched him go. Why do you have to be so damn handsome? She thought. She would have an easier time saying no to him if he was not so attractive.

Shaking her head she turned her attention to the damage report. Juan was right about one thing, by Midnight Sun standards the damage was pretty minor.

"What's up, Emi-chan?" Ree took a seat beside Emiko. "You've been looking like you lost your best friend, or your best friend slept with the man you wanted, since you got back."

"Sorry Ree-san..."


"Sorry oneechan. I just never killed anyone before."

"Poor Emi-chan," Ree put an arm over her shoulders and pulled her close. "It's going to be all right."

"Does it ever get easier?"

"It does, which is the sad part," Ree told her. "Welcome to the war."

Game Stuff

Character Profiles

Emiko Miya Student (Computer hacker, Starblade Battalion)

Description: 158cm, 56kg, 17 years old, long black hair, brown eyes with green flecks. Quote: "I wish there was another way to do this." (said just before doing it)

Emiko does not live up to anyone's image of the brave hero. She is quiet, polite and modest. Still, there is a core of bravery running through her, mostly brought out by desperation. She is a computer genius, even with the rather large handicap of not having a datalink. She strongly believes in the Gaian philosophy, but also has the ability to look beyond it. Odd for a girl with her back ground. One would think she would either be a die-hard Gaian or have completely rejected the belief.

Close to all her family, she cares for her mother even though she (her mother) is embarrassed by Emiko. She also thinks much of her father, even though he is often away from home. She adores her older brother Makoto.

Stats Skills Attractiveness 8 Personal Grooming 2 Body Type 5 Wardrobe+Style 2 Cool 6 Persuasion+Fast talk 1 Empathy 7 Human Perception 2 Intelligence 9 Social 4 Education 9 Expert Biology 2 Luck 7 Chemistry 2 MA 6 Math 2 Reflexes 7 Language English 5 Tech 9 Programming 8 Blade 1 HTH 1 Athletics 1 Zero G 1 Basic Repair 4 Jury Rig 3

The skills are from the very beginning of the story. By Episode 7 she has added some combat skills and increased a few of the others.

Ryu Abe Gaian Special Agent, plant in the Tokyo Police department.

Description: 175cm, 78kg, 48 years old, thinning brown hair, brown eyes. Quote: "I don't care about the rules. I have a job to do."

Notes: Ryu saw much of the destruction of the Earth first-hand. He lived on the outside for a time, soon realizing that the Earth was a mess and too many people were just fouling the situation even more. He returned to society as a fanatic. A driven man, a blunt weapon. This fanaticism was recognized by some higher ups in the USSA government and he was brought into the fold of what might be called a pre-inner circle.

Ryu has no family left. There are few people he cares about. Threats to the Earth-these days anyone or thing the Inner Circle points him at-are dealt with quickly and fatally. He likes his partner Sam Colt, but feels that he does not take things seriously enough.

Important Stats and Skill: BODY 8 (10), COOL 9, REF 9, Interrogation 7, Intimidate 8, Streetwise 6, Awareness 6, Hand Gun 8, Datalink, Nanobodies, Musculoskeletal Reinforcement.

Sea Stinger

WA -1/ Range 38meters/ Damage 5 hits/Shots 100/Cost 30cp

The Sea Stinger system fits inside a barrel about the size of an oil drum. It is often set up like a mine, left in place, or part of a hardened complex's defense perimeter. It is quite an effective system with a hundred mini-torpedoes being released in a fraction of a second. The mini torps home in on their targets (Smart 1, Skill 8) then explode into a ten meter globe of razor wedges (Blast Radius 1).

Even if the torps do not hit their targets they are programmed to explode even if they get close, with the blast radius and the amplifying effect water has on concessive force, close counts.

To bring it in line with the treaties on land mines and other such systems, all the torps explode once they have run out of fuel. This ensures that no explosives are left around to cause trouble later, and often takes out more targets.

All the materials used in the Sea Stinger are biodegradable and, other than the explosions, the weapons system has minimal environmental impact.

"Watashi wa anata no ane, soshite haha, soshite anata."
--Miyu Kyuuketsuki ga Yui ni itta
Shawn Hagen <hagen@brant.net>

On to Chapter 8