Fate, Reality and Other Misadventures (FRoM)
A CAPOW tale edited by Dot Warner
Post #1 [Dare wrote:]
The meeting took place as scheduled. It had all the proper elements. A gloomy hideout (actually it was someone's basement), dark and foreboding weather (it was really just overcast), and lots of money and dangerous weapons laid out neatly on tables (two pocket knives, a rusty handgun and $5 US, in change). Not to mention the most important item of all: food (two boxes of pizza, one deluxe, one hawaiian/sausage combo).
"This pizza is great!" declared Trumpet as he held up a slice, stuffing it into his face.
"Hey don't it all you pig!" growled Flute. The wiry young man watched with open disgust as the other man wolfed down the slice. "Didn't you learn any manners? Hey! Don't touch me with your greasy hands!"
"Hai, hai! Pass me that kleenex."
Flute did so and then checked his watch. Ten minutes past eleven, where was she? A clap of thunder shook the building's poorly structured walls. The electricity flickered off for a moment, leaving the two in total darkness. When the lights came back on, however, they were not alone.
"KONBAN WA!! (Good evening!!)" greeted the newly arrived woman with a cheerful face and big smile.
"Ahhhh!!" cried the two in unison, grabbing onto each other in fear.
"Anoo...did I frighten you two?"
"No ma'am, not at all."
"Nope we weren't scared."
"Well, maybe a little."
"Get your dirty hands off my shirt, Trumpet!"
"Ahem!" the woman feigned a cough. "Do you have it?"
"HAI!" responded the two. The sat there, smiling and nodding. The woman arched an eyebrow impatiently.
"Well, where is it?"
Flute reached around, grabbed one of the flat boxes and handed it to her. She flipped the lid and took a peek. "Is it?"
"Yes it is, ma'am!"
"Sugoi! Hawaiian-sausage combo!! My favorite!" She tore off the lid and dug into the pizza. Flute and Trumpet sweatdropped. --- "Ah! DONE!" Elyssa released as she fell back onto her bed. The mattress squeaked slightly as she landed. "Let the summer begin!"
Elyssa Au Yeung had reached the day she anticipated for eight months: [the] summer holidays. She had just finished writing all her exams at the International College and relieved she was. Fifteen gruelling hours spent (not at one time) confined to a single desk and forced to answer questions without any aids (well, some aids were allowed) or collaboration. She detested exams greatly.
Picking up the stuffed kitty on her dresser, she let out a "meow!" and nuzzled its face against her cheek. The cat was a gift from a friend from school. His name was Jovian Andrews, a fellow classmate from the UK. They were good friends, often in the same classes and Elyssa got the impression Jovian liked her. However, he hadn't had the courage to say his feelings at the moment. 'Oh well!' Resigned Elyssa. 'If that boy doesn't learn a little courage, how's he ever gonna get a girlfriend?' Jovian left for home a day ago so she wouldn't see him for at least a month.
In another month she would be working too. Elyssa was quite proud of the job she landed at Mashima Heavy Industries working as a lab tech assistant. Her electronic skills coupled with perfect Japanese made her an attractive prospective employee to many companies. She picked Mashima because she liked their president, a woman named Akiko Natsume. She was a woman of the nineties -- Modern, independent, strong and confident. The company reflected that of its president and Elyssa liked that a lot.
But it was another month before she started. And until then, she had her own time. But what to do? She had been holed up at the Lurker's Retreat Annex for weeks studying. She hardly left her apartment except to write exams or buy groceries. She hadn't talked to Madoka in a while and only saw Shinobu whenever she had to pay the rent, but none else. Stuffing her wallet into her pants, she grabbed her earphones, switched on the minidisc player, and left the apartment in search of some activity. --- "If we want to gain some respect with the other gangs, we'll need to prove ourselves to them," explained the woman.
"What do you propose Saxophone-sama?" asked Trumpet with interest. He was considered the more assertive of the three, getting people to see his way, or not see at all, literally.
"I know you'll like this assignment Trumpet," smiled Saxophone seductively. She flipped back the green hair from her face. "I want to assasinate Chichua Moruzoki. He's one of the lieutenants of the White Dragon gang."
"Won't that incur their anger, Saxophone-sama?"
"It will, but we won't be the ones to do it." She turned to Flute. "I want an assassin for this job. The best you can contact. There mustn't be any links between this person and us, understood? I want a clean hit and then disappear." Flute nodded and began rifling through the folders in his briefcase. She turned back to Trumpet. "With Chichua gone, you will offer your skills to the White Dragons. The rest is obvious, ne?"
"I've got it!" declared Flute, handing a plain manilla folder to the ringleader of the small gang.
Saxophone skimmed through the dossier quickly. "Contract killer, professional and expensive. Specializes in bombs, hacking and high-powered rifles. She's perfect! Contact this Ono Miyagami and tell her what she needs to know."
"What will do in the interim, Saxophone-sama?" asked Trumpet.
"Oh?" she responded, sitting back onto the sofa. "You know the drill. Make the call."
"Hai Saxophone-sama!" He opened his cellular phone and punched the first number set to memory. After a few seconds, he placed one hand over the speaker. "Saxophone-sama!"
"Do you want the special combo that comes with tea, spring roll and fortune cookie?"
"Of course! I'm starving here!!!" --- It was a disappointing evening. Once again, the bar was pretty empty. Business was dismal for Madoka as it seemed most of the regular customers were away on some trip of sorts. The regular lurkers who frequented the establishment were not very receptive of Elyssa, despite her outgoing personality and friendliness. She hoped the other residents whom Madoka so often [spoke] of were not as boring. Disgusted, she had left and jogged to St. John's park.
Upon returning to her apartment at the Annex, Elyssa noticed a yellow envelope sitting on her floor behind the front door. It was thick and had a lot of stuff inside, she surmised from its weight. I wonder if this is my pre-registration package from Mashima, she [mused] silently.
She opened the package on her bed. The first thing that came tumbling out was a large wad of money.
"What the hell?"
A smaller envelope came sliding out next. On the front it was addressed to "Ono Miyagami". Elyssa scratched her head. "Who the heck is Ono Miyagami?"
Post #2 [Theria wrote:]
Elyssa ran over the names of the other residents of the Annex. Of course, the weeks of studying had fogged her memory. And hadn't some new people moved in? There had been some very noisy days when she had to turn up her minidisc even higher than usual. Sighing, she slipped the envelope and the large, very large, wad of money back in the envelope. Since the envelope was blank on the outside, whoever delivered it [must have] thought that this 'Ono Miyagami' lived here.
It would give her an excuse to go meet some other residents of the Annex. Not that she really needed one, Elyssa thought, skipping down the steps to the mailboxes in the front of the Annex.
"Whoa," Elyssa stared at the number of new residents. The Annex seemed to be getting rather popular. At least half of the labeled mailboxes had the white labels. Well, it certainly made it easier to read the names.
Elyssa had looked at about ten mailboxes before finding a match.
"Hmm, Lina Miyagami. Second floor. And right above my place," Elyssa mused. So, whoever delivered this just got the wrong floor. Maybe this 'Ono' was living there too. Just to be sure, Elyssa quickly checked the rest of the names but there weren't any more Miyagamis. "Well then, Lina Miyagami it is then. I just hope she's in."
Elyssa slipped her earplugs back on and jogged up the flight of steps.
"Umm, Lina?" Saphiros puffed.
"Next time, we take the elevator."
Ignoring the fact that a place this small didn't even have an elevator.
Lina would have stuck her tongue out at him, but he wouldn't have seen it over the two very large and very heavy grocery bags she was carrying. Saphiros was carrying two and the one that the inept store bagger had place all three cartons of ice cream. Lina just hoped that the bag would hold until they got to their rooms.
Upon reaching the second floor, Lina alternatively thanked the gods for keeping the bag in one piece and cursed them for the heavy groceries. Behind her, Saphiros dropped the heavy load the top of the stairs and sat down with a huge sigh of relief.
"Get up, lazybones," Lina softly kicked him. "We still need to get these into the refrigerator."
Lina turned down the hallway and stopped. There was a girl standing in front of her door. Now, why would anyone--
The girl turned and upon seeing Lina smiled. She pulled out her earplugs.
"Hi, I'm Elyssa. You live on this floor?"
Lina just nodded and managed a small smile. It would have been rude not to smile but Lina didn't really feel up to the effort of acting really friendly.
"Do you know..." Elyssa thought for a bit, "...Lina Miyagami?"
"That would be me," Lina wondered what this girl, Elyssa, wanted with her.
"Come on Lina! Let's get inside already. This ice cream is melting!" Saphiros suddenly came up, towering over his sister. He held up the very wet bag to prove his point.
"Oh, shoot," Lina tried to get out her keys while holding the bags. Elyssa, seeing the trouble Lina was having, relieved her of one of the bags.
"Umm, thanks," Lina murmured, finally getting her key and opening the door.
"GANGWAY!!" Saphiros shouted as he nearly trampled the two girls in his mad dash to the refrigerator.
"I'm sorry about that." Lina apologized.
Elyssa shook her head. "I'm all right." Lina still seemed uncomfortable. Well, having a stranger show up at your door at night would be rather suspicious, Elyssa had to admit. She held out the yellow envelope.
"This was accidently slipped under my door. It's for your brother Ono."
Lina's eyes widened as she looked at the blank envelope.
"I...thought it was meant for me," Elyssa smiled sheepishly."Without any name on the outside you know. So I opened it. There's an envelope inside with his name on it."
Elyssa put the envelope in Lina's hands. Lina looked at the envelope with a suspicious look.
"Everything that was originally in it is still there," Elyssa hastily reassured, misreading Lina's expression entirely.
Lina looked up in surprise. "What- Oh, I wasn't, that is, I didn't mean to, what I mean to say is, oh-" Lina took a deep breath "this isn't mine. Or my brother's."
Lina was waving the envelope when she said that and the wad of money fell out.
"Oops. Guess I didn't close it right." Elyssa picked up the money and handed it to Lina.
Lina frowned as she felt the weight of the money as she slipped it back into the envelope. She had some vague suspicion forming but...Nah, she was just imagining things.
"Anyone in your family named Ono?" Saphiros asked, overhearing everything in the small room.
Elyssa wondered why Lina's older brother said 'your family'. Or maybe he was Lina's boyfriend. Well, one way to find out.
[Editor: Lina and Saphiros are controlled by two different people, and their true relationship has not yet been revealed.]
Elyssa smiled. "My name is Elyssa. Lina's brother?"
"Yeah. Saphiros Silver." Saphiros grinned as he pulled out a black notebook from inside of his overcoat. "How do you spell your name?"
Elyssa spelled it out. Well, maybe their parents were divorced and married different people. There were many different possibilities, given the fractured family structure common now, but there was no really tactful way of asking such a personal question.
Elyssa reached for the yellow envelope and Lina handed it over, somewhat reluctantly.
"Well, I'm sorry or bothering you at this hour," Elyssa bowed. Lina and Saphiros looked stunned for a moment and then bowed back. "Maybe I'll see you again later?" Elyssa asked as she turned to leave.
"Of course," Saphiros grinned again and tapped his notebook. "If you don't mind, I'd like to ask some questions about you."
Elyssa smiled back. "Sure, how about tomorrow morning?"
Lina seemed to be struggling with something.
Lina nodded. "Elyssa...you'd better be careful tonight."
"Why?" Elyssa gave Lina a questioning look.
Lina immediately began looking everywhere else and turned slightly red. "Well, it's just, that envelope..." Lina was fumbled for the right words. "All that money, may get the wrong people's attention."
Elyssa stared at Lina.
"Whoever put it under your door...they may have realized their mistake...and try to get it back..."
"Well, if they do come back, that's even better. Then this 'Ono Miyagami' can get it."
Lina sighed. That wasn't exactly what she was afraid of.
"Why don't you bring the envelope with you tomorrow morning?" Saphiros suggested.
"Maybe by then, we'll figure out if it belongs to one of Lina's relatives."
"Great. See you down by the front then." Elyssa waved as she jogged down the hallway and down the stairs.
Saphiros waved back and closed the door.
"You know that she could be in danger," Lina scowled, all nervousness gone.
"Do I?" Saphiros said, acting dumb.
"An unmarked envelope, a huge wad of money--cash, mind you--and slipped under a door. Nothing suspicious?"
"Ummm, maybe this Ono is an illegal immigrant and that's how she or he gets paid?"
Lina facefaulted. "This is Japan, not America or even California. We don't know how the immigration laws work here and no I don't think that is the reason."
"Well," Saphiros mused. "I think she'll be alright until morning at least."
"Oh, why so?"
"Because you're letting your imagination run away with you. It's just a misdelivered envelope. Now let's get these bags put away. I-" Saphiros gave a huge yawn. "I'm sleepy."
Lina's suspicions wavered. Maybe she was just being paranoid. Too much work lately.
"Let's have a bowl of ice cream before bed hm? Before I crawl through that hole in the wall to my room."
[Editor: See also "Maison Ikkoku"]
Lina's mood lightened and her half-formed suspicions were pushed away and buried deep in her mind. By the time she fell asleep, she had almost forgotten everything about Elyssa. -- Elyssa was sleeping peacefully in her bed, arms wrapped around the stuffed cat. Moonlight softly shown on the yellow envelope on her desk. -- Elsewhere, someone was realizing their mistake...
Post #3 [Damien Roc wrote:]
And elsewhere still (on the tarmac of the Shiro Lhadatt Memorial Spaceport, aka the CAPOW Spaceport, to be precise) a slight fireworks display had broken out.
This particular fireworks display created reason enough to wake General Shin Touma (a holdover from the emergency military command that had been in place during the war between Strauss and the Imperial Empire. Touma hadn't been removed because he was a nice enough sort, for a military man, and didn't poisen the candy he gave to children, which was a rare enough occurance that health-minded mothers need not worry about meeting him) from his customary 4 hours of sleep. It was found that a number of individuals (4) were proceeding to create a large pothole down the middle of runway 3. However, the ammount of energy being put out by these individuals was easily enough to prevent the Spaceport authorities from doing any more than stand at a safedistance (well, not really a safe distance; that would be somewhere in China) and shout "Cease and Desist" orders.
The orders didn't work.
The four individuals involved were not getting along, to say the least. One of them -- a tall, muscular fellow with long blond hair -- was trying to prevent another -- a short red-haired girl -- from obliterating a third -- a squat tank-like thing with legs -- who was being held back by the fourth -- a not so tall nor muscular nor female fellow with neither red nor blond hair -- in a way that was entirely uneffective. (C'mon... how well do you think a guy who doesn't even break 160 lbs soaking wet will do against a walking tank).
[Editor: The four people are, in the following order, Gourry Gabriev and Lina Inverse from "Slayers", and Tarsax Gauss and Martin from CAPOW.]
Needless to say, none of this bothered the two who were arguing, and none of the four would be able to recall what, exactly, had sparked the entire thing. (A comment on what a "real woman" was like.)
So here we stand, the girl manages to squirm away from the tall guy. She raises herself up, takes a deep breath and...
"DIGGER BOLT!" *** Lina Miyagami thrust the thoughts from her mind, and tried to get to sleep. She shut her eyes, ignored the sounds of the outside world (what WAS that whistling sound, nevermind) and was soon breating evenly.
It lasted all of about thirty seconds.
Travelling at slightly more than 200 kph, and rolled up into a tight ball, a human body (trailing a long, blue cape) smashed through the wall above her. *Great,* she thought,*Two feet THAT way and I'd only have to replace the window.*
For some strange reason, this did not reduce the human projectile to a mixture of various formerly living organic substances. Instead, he (for it was a he) popped up and charged straight towards the new egress point in Lina's room.
"What do you think you're doing, sorceress?" he shouted in a not-quite-so-heroic voice. "I, Martin of Talis, shall make sure you pay." He hopped out of the hole. His cape caught on a sharp edge and he began spluttering and kicking. Lina obligingly let him loose and watched as he fell to the ground, collapsed, and picked himself up and began limping quickly towards what seemed to be a small battle with a lot of firepower involved.
Lina gaped as he walked up to a man who easily towered above him (and held a wicked sword with nice sound effects) and began ineffectively beating on the man's chest.
"Well," she murmured, "It can't be any stranger than anything else that happens here."
"Lina," Saphiros yawned, coming into her room, "What happened?"
And Elsewhere still, Elyssa was likewise trying to sleep. She had a slightly more difficult time at it because one does not sleep nicely when one has a large ammount of money that has shown up on one's doorstep for no apparent reason.
In Elyssa's favor, tho, she didn't actually have any sleep to interrupt when the object crashed into her room.
This object was considerably larger and more massive than Martin of Talis. It also looked like it could be smashed into rooms of the Lurker's Retreat Annex without even batting an eye (if it had eyes.)
As it happened, only PART of the object was in Elyssa's apartment; the rest (the legs and such) were above it, for it had come in upside-down.
There was a slight hiss-pop as a vaccuum seal released, and the back of the object folded away and up (but normally down) to allow a man (the pilot) to squirm loose.
He didn't look happy.
"Damn that Lina Inverse," he spat. "She's a woman in dire need of a spanking."
He looked around and noticed Elyssa (who was gaping open-mouthed at this intrusion of her space.)
"Hi," he said, "I'm Tarsax Nemoir... Sorry about this."
Post #4 [Dare wrote:]
Saxophone paced back and forth nervously, [her] hand running through her hair. Trumpet sat on his chair, rocking it back and forth on its legs, waiting for his leader to react. Hopefully not react at him.
"Let me get this straight, Flute has just hired a look- alike of Ono Miyagami, given this person a ton of money and the assignment to kill Chichua?"
"And the real Ono Miyagami, where is she?"
"I couldn't locate her boss-sama."
Saxophone's eyes rolled upwards. "And Flute? Does he know his mistake?"
Trumpet shook his head quickly. "I can't reach him either!"
"Great, he may already be trying to make a second contact with this look-alike." she put a hand on her face and shook her head back and forth. "If the information gets into the White Dragon's hands somehow, we're all toast." She paused and quickly made her decision. Standing up on the coffee table, she struck a dramatic pose.
"As the honourable leader of this outfit, I, Saxophone Reed will rectify this problem and save face for the gang! Trumpet! Break out the heavy artillery."
Trumpet snapped to attention, stood up and gave his leader a sharp salute. "Hai boss-sama! I'll get the coffee-maker ready!"
Saxophone slumped back onto the sofa and cracked her knuckles. "Oh yeah, and have that look-alike killed, please." ---
Post #5 [Ka-Sui wrote:]
Meanwhile in a dark alley several blocks away a strange portal opened up. Coming out of the portal was an imposing figure covered completely by its black cape and fedora. It eyes were concealed by a reflective goggles and mouth was obscured by a huge gas mask with multiple tubes running into the cape. The thing also had the strange breathing problem that Dark Vader had. Strangely, a strange layer of Fog surrounded and filled the alleyway as the creature appeared. The portal soon closed after the thing exited it. Scanning its surrounding it noticed a Drunkard wandering the around the streets just outside the alleyway.
[Editor: I think she meant "Darth Vader", but I'll have to make sure.]
In a few quick strides it stood before the drunkard examining it carefully before saying in colder than cold Dark Vader voice, "Where am I?" The drunkard shrugged and tried to walk away, but the thing grabbed him by the throat with its bandaged cover hand and hissed, "Answer me, Ape."
"You're in CAPOW!" The drunk gasped as his feet dangled high in the air as the thing lifted him up. "Who are you?" He stuttered as he tried to break the thing's vice like grip over his throat.
"I'm the one asking the questions." the creature replied coldly slamming the drunk against the nearby wall. "Where is Lina Miyagami?" it questioned. When the drunk shrugged it growled and pulled out a big single barrel shotgun and pointed it at the guy's head.
"I don't know," the drunk pleaded frantically, "why don't you try to the Annexe, maybe she lives there." The creature dropped him on the ground hard and put away its gun.
Looking back and forth. it asked, "Where is it?" The drunk pointed to the nearby buildings in the distance, before quickly scrambling away. The creature paid the person no heed as it made its way to the complex that also seemed to have smoke coming out from somewhere nearby. The thing pulled out a piece a paper and studied it as it walks there. 'The 9 trillion reward will be mine', it thought as it reviewed the wanted poster with Lina Miyagami on it. I, Kricket, will bring you in, it chuckled to [itself] as it proceeded to the Annex the fog continuing to surround and follow it.
Post #6 [Dare wrote:]
As the dust and ceiling plaster settled onto the furniture of her apartment, Elyssa jumped out of her bed, screaming and waving her hands frantically.
"WHO THE HELL ARE YOU! WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO MY ROOM!?!?!"
Tarsax held up his hands. "Easy, lady, this isn't my fault."
"NOT YOUR FAULT?! NOT YOUR FAULT?" she started repeating, the first obvious sign of hysteria.
Tarsax groaned. Civvies, go figure them. He began assessing the damage. The tank was upside down, legs sticking out into the ceiling, front section and forward batteries lying in the hallway outside the room.
Meanwhile, Elyssa went from jabbering to pacing back and forth nervously. A bit of plaster hit her head, causing her to look up at the ceiling hole. Lina Miyagami stared down from above.
"You okay down there?" she asked, then noticed the upside-downtank. "Whoa, looks like you got the bigger object."
A smaller girl with orange hair peered through the gaping holein thewall from outside. She wore a yellow shirt surrounded by a black cloak with interesting metal-gem-demon designs as shoulder guards. "Ano?" she said. "Everyone okay?"
Tarsax gave her an angry glare. "LINA INVERSE!" he growled and approached her menacingly, stepping over destroyed furniture and fragments of drywall.
"Your name is Lina too?" asked Miyagami from the hole above.
"Hahaha," Lina Inverse laughed weakly. "Guess I overdid it, again."
Tarsax was about to give a piece of his mind when the door (what was left of it) flung open and three men in dark clothing and shades (at this time of night?) waltzed in. They took in the damage, gave each other looks all around, shrugged, and pulled out their automatic weapons.
"Look out!" Tarsax screamed, rushing to get Elyssa down. For it was Elyssa who they were aiming at. She screamed. He knocked her down just as the gunfire started, bullets hitting the walls of the totalled apartment.
Lina Inverse eye twitched. "I see that bandits haven't changed much. Fine, let them taste the wrath of the mighty bandit-killer Lina Inverse! DIL BRAND!" A swirl of dust appeared under the gunmen feet. Suddenly an explosive force sent them flying into the ceiling, through it and up into the second floor.
A big blond man wearing blue armor came in through the hole, holding another man in a cape over his shoulder. The man was futilely beating on the bigger man's back. "Lina! There you are! You know, you might have tossed them at a building --oh." He took a look around, mind catching up to his words and realizing. "Ne, Lina, we're not gonna pay for the damage are we?"
Elyssa got up once more but was speechless. Here she was, her apartment demolished when some crazy guy in a tank comes hurtling through the wall at break-neck speeds. Three gunmen come shooting at her. A crazy girl with magical powers throws them through the ceiling, creating more damage. With any luck, Shinobu would be throwing her out any second.
As it appeared, luck had nothing to do with it.
"ELYSSA AU-YEUNG!" roared the feisty land-lady. She gestured her hand to the entire room, what was left of it. "Care to explain this?" She looked at all the uninvited guests. "And didn't I tell you no guests after midnight?"
Elyssa fell over.
"Well, I can't tolerate this kind of behaviour from our tenants. Honestly, renting to a college girl, what was I thinking?" Shinobu muttered to herself as she began inspecting the damage. "Once the school's done, they're all party animals, trashing the place with their party friends." She noticed the envelope and wad of cash sitting on the dusty dresser. Picking it up, she flipped through the bills, making a mental estimate. She slapped the stack in her hand. "Lucky for you Elyssa that your money here is enough to pay for damages. But as for your renting days, they're over. I want you and your stuff out of here by tomorrow ten am. Got it?" She glanced at Tarsax and the others once more. "And get your friends out of here too." With a harrumph, she slammed the front door on her way out. It promptly fell off its hinges.
A dead silence fell upon Elyssa's room. It was the perfect moment for her to explode.
"YOU!" she snarled at Tarsax, pointing an accusatory finger. "GET OUT!"
"But my tank," protested the pilot.
"GET YOUR FUCKING TIN CAN OUTTA HERE TOO!" Tarsax bit back from having his tank referred to as a 'tin-can'.
Elyssa turned to Lina Inverse. "YOU! STAY AWAY FROM ME!" She glared at the tall blond-swordsman. "NO, I WON'T DATE YOU!" giving the automatic response. The hapless caped man who was draped over the blond's shoulder ceased his batting fists when he felt Elyssa's glare on him. "YOU!" she repeated and paused. "I DON'T EVEN KNOW WHO THE HELL YOU ARE."
Lina Miyagami poked out from the hole in the ceiling to avoid being yelled at.
Elyssa gave each uninvited guest one last angry glare before stomping off to the bathroom and locking the door behind her. Soft muffles were heard from beyond.
Post #7 [Damien wrote:]
Tarsax, Lina and Gourry looked at the closed (well, mostly closed, the walls were slightly warped) door for a few moments.
"Er... Guys?" a voice inquired behind them, they turned around to face Martin, who was peeking through the hole in the wall. "What happened?"
"We were..that is...I don't know." Gourry scratched his head in confusion.
"An arguement of some sort."
"But over what, Lina?"
"You got me, Tarsax."
"Excuse me!" Everyone looked up. Lina (Miyagami, not Inverse) brushed a few pieces of plaster down out of her room. "Could you move this contraption?" She rapped the folded up leg of the Tarsax' Cordan Grav-tank.
Tarsax sighed... This was not going to be his day. "Sure. Get right on it." He grasped the open hatch and did a handstand to slide himself in upside down. There were a few clicks as he strapped himself into place, then the hatch closed with a whirr and vaccuum sealed into place.
"Now how to do this," he mused, his words coming out over the external speakers. "These things aren't designed for upside down travel.
The engines began to whine as they powered up, and a few jets of air blasted out, spreading bits of debris and dust into the air. Everyone else moved back slightly.
With a sudden lurch, the Cordan jerked back slightly, then skewed to the side, the front of it raking along the bathroom wall as it slid back out of the building.
The wall, door, and everything collapsed in the wake of the tank.
"Oops! Sorry about that. Something must be jammed in the maneuvering thrusters." Everyone looked at the new damage.
Elyssa, standing up from the toilet and about to pull up her pants pikued a few times at her new audience.
She grabbed her shirt and tugged it down to cover herself.
Then she screamed.
Post #8 [Theria wrote:]
"Quiet," rasped a new figure stepping out of the shadows. Whoever he was, he was wearing a black cape and a fedora. There seemed to be tubes coming out of his face and he had this terrible breathing problem, sounding like Dark Vadar. Fog was spilling around him.
Elyssa took one look at him, thought about screaming, but decided after all that had happened, this wasn't all that strange or terrible. Nothing could compare with just getting kicked out of the place where you live.
Lina Inverse gave the guy a look and smiled. "Another bandit! This place just seems to be crawling with them." She began to chant.
He/it raised a bandaged hand. "I am no bandit."
Lina stopped but kept the spell ready. "Then who are you?"
"My name is Kricket."
"Hi there!" Martin bounded up to the man(?) and grabbed him in a big hug. Kricket looked down at the man whose arms were currently around his waist. Martin stopped his cheerful greeting for a moment, patted Kricket, and then without warning pulled open the cape. "Whoa what's with all the bandages? You're like an Eqyptian Mummy!"
Kricket yanked his cape down. "I am looking for someone." He held up a piece of paper. Of course since it was night no one can read anything.
"Light," Lina I. muttered and a globe of light floated up from her hand. Everyone could get a very good look at what was left of Elyssa's place.
Elyssa closed her eyes and counted to ten. Very slowly. Then she pinched herself. Nope, everything was still there in its destroyed state. Now where was she going to go?
"Well, let's take a look at this-" Lina Inverse looked at the piece of paper. "EEEHHHHHH!!!!!!"
Everyone (well, except Tarsax who was still in the tank) crowded in front of the paper. "REWARD: 9 TRILLION!!!!!!!!"
Lina Miyagami's ears perked at their scream. She peeked carefully into the lower room.
"9 trillion?" Tarsax's voice came over the speakers. "Who the hell has that kind of money?"
Martin enthusiastically nodded his agreement, pumping his head up and down so hard it looked that it might fall off at any moment.
Lina Inverse immediately began fantasizing. "With that much money I can buy a castle on a hilltop with servants and--"
"Hey, Lina," Gourry pointed at the rather small picture beneath the big bold words of '9 trillion'. "Haven't we seen this person somewhere?"
Everyone looked again.
Martin scratched his head. "Hmmm..."
Elyssa squinted at the very small picture. "This looks like Lina."
Gourry pointed at his companion and Lina Inverse hit him.
Elyssa shook her head. "No, I meant my neighbor upstairs." She pointed to the hole in the ceiling. Funny how that girl (Lina Miyagami) had been mistaken for two different people already.
"EH?!?" The heads looked up at the hole in the ceiling where Lina Miyagami was still looking down.
"This is not good," she muttered.
"You're a wanted person?!" Elyssa wondered what was going on with her life. First that mysterious envelope appeared with that wad of money that was taken by Shinobu, then a tank crashes into her place and demolishes it, a bunch of very _strange_ people show up, some other people come and try to kill her, she gets kicked out of her apartment, and now she learns that the person she just met is a criminal!?! It wasn't even morning yet!
"9 trillion," Lina Inverse drooled. "Right Gourry. Let's get that evil person."
She began to chant a very familiar, very _destructive_ spell.
[Editor: This is the "Dragon Slave" spell that, in "Slayers", always destroys a small-to medium-sized town whenever Lina uses it.]
"Ano, Lina, not THAT spell--"
"Wait a minute," Kriket interrupted her spellcasting. "This is MY catch, you skinny flat-chested runt!!"
The insult did it. Lina's eyes were flaming.
"Who are you to call me that, you Dark Vadar wanna-be!!!"
"Dumb third-rate magician!!""
"Who's Dark Vadar?" Gourry asked Martin. Martin shrugged.
"Rotten Mummy Man!!"
"Well, when you were born your father must have been mortified!!"
"At least mine can be identified!!"
"I hope LucasArts doesn't get us on copyright infringement," Saphiros mumbled right next to his sister, scaring her so that Lina M. nearly fell through the hole.
[Editor: A "Monkey Island" reference. Don't ask.]
"I'm not letting some short flat-chested big-eyed kid right out of the cradle get MY bounty!!" Kriket raged.
"Nani?!?!?" Lina shrieked. "I'm taking that felon in AND getting that 9 trillion reward!!"
"I am not a felon!!!!!" Lina M. screamed back from the hole.
"Who cares!!!" Lina Inverse and Kriket both screamed back at her. "You're worth 9 trillion!!"
"What did I do to deserve this," Lina M. groaned to herself. "I just came here for a vacation."
"Maybe I should collect the money myself," Saphiros mused. "Just kidding." he said hastily as Lina M. gave him a chilling look.
"She's mine!" Kriket cried as he ran past Lina Inverse.
She whipped around, "FIRE--"
She was halfway through the spell when Gourry suddenly yanked her to one side and a dark car came in right past them. Kriket however wasn't so lucky and got [run] over.
"A slight delay," he muttered from somewhere beneath the car and passed out.
The car window rolled down, and Flute stuck his head out. "Oops. I hope I didn't hit anyone. These brakes don't seem to be working very well." ---
Post #9 [Dot Wrote:]
"What are you waiting for?" Flute asked Elyssa, who was still gaping at him. "Get in the car."
Elyssa shook her head.
"Why not?" Flute frowned. "Didn't we pay you enough?"
Then Elyssa realized that the man in the car still thought she was that 'Ono Miyagami' person.
'What am I going to do?' she wondered. 'If I go with him, they'll surely find out that I'm not who they're looking for. If I don't...'
"What happened here, anyways?" Flute continued, completely oblivious to Elyssa's panic. He looked around. "And who are these people?"
Lina Inverse stepped forward. "I am Lina Inverse, sorceress extraodinaire!" (The others rolled their eyes; Flute barely stifled back a laugh.) "Who in the world are you?"
"That's none of your business," Flute answered.
"It's every bit my business!" Lina huffed.
Flute raised an eyebrow. "I don't think so."
"Oh, yeah?" Lina I. rolled up her sleeves to cast another spell. Flute, having had enough of this nonesense, reached into his jacket.
"HOLD IT!" Elyssa screamed.
Everyone turned to stare at her.
"If you want to fight, take it outside!" Elyssa pointed towards the crumbled wall. "Just look at what you've done to my room already!"
Still glaring darts at one another, Flute and Lina I. moved away from the Annex. The others followed to see the fight.
On his way out, Tarsax turned to Elyssa. "Great job."
"Thanks," Elyssa began to relax.
"By the way, you might want to put some pants on."
[Editor: Well, nobody bothered to mention that she hadn't previously. :)]
Blushing furiously, Elyssa ran into what was left of her bedroom. --- Flute regarded his opponent carefully. The young girl didn't look like much, but Flute knew better than to underestimate anyone. He pulled out his gun.
"All right, kid," he growled. "Let's see what you've got!"
"I'M NOT A KID!" Lina I. screeched, leaping forward.
The next thing he knew, he was hit by a searing wave of energy that left him rather charred.
"Ow," he squeaked.
"Take that, fiend!" Lina I. shouted triumphantly.
Then she began to laugh.
[Editor: Dot mistakenly believed that Lina Inverse had one ofthe scariest laughs in the anime world; turns out her ex-partner Naga was the one with the *really* scary laugh.] --- Elyssa, now fully dressed, slunk into the Lurker's Retreat.
'What a night,' she thought glumly. 'First, I get mistaken for some high-profile assassin. Then, that guy crashes into my room--in a tank, of all things!--followed by a whole bunch of other weirdoes. Next, the idiots who hired me try to kill me.' She sighed. 'What else could go wrong?'
Elyssa suddenly had the unmistakable feeling that she was being watched. She turned and found herself looking into the eyes of a young woman. Elyssa felt increasingly nervous as the woman's light grey eyes bore into her.
"Um, hi," Elyssa greeted hesitantly. "I don't think I've ever seen you before."
"That's because I'm new here," the woman replied. "My name is Namida Samui."
[Editor: "Namida" means "tears" and "Samui" means "chilly.]
'How appropriate,' Elyssa thought, before offering her hand. "I'm Elyssa Au Yeung."
The two shook. Samui's chilly fingers startled Elyssa.
'Creepy...even her hands are cold...' Elyssa shuddered.
"What are you doing up so late?" Samui asked after retracting her hand.
Elyssa told Samui what happened, leaving out the part about the envelope full of money. "And you?"
"That's classified information."
Elyssa forced a laugh. "You're kidding...right?"
Samui's expression didn't change. "No."
Elyssa felt a surge of panic rising in her chest. Was Samui sent to come after her?
"My, my, look at the time!" she exclaimed, looking at the watch. "I have to go." she got up to leave, but was stopped by Samui's next question.
"Do you have a place to stay?"
'Doh!' Elyssa wanted to hit herself.
"Um, yeah, I think so," Elyssa lied. Anything to get away.
"Good night. And be careful."
Elyssa, hurrying out of the Retreat, didn't hear it. ---
Post #10 [Dare wrote:]
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. No, corrected Elyssa. It was the worst of times. Definitely.
Upon reaching her dishevelled (and now vacant) apartment, she sighed the long heavy sigh. The one that said, "So what now?" The tank was mysteriously gone from the wall, leaving a gaping hole. And so she couldn't sleep here without some privacy. She thought about the bathroom but the hole extended itself there too. Sighing again, she picked up the various objects off the floor. One was the envelope that was delivered under her door.
"Damn you," she cursed at the unoffending piece of manilla paper. "Damn you to hell!" She crashed to the floor, sobbing.
"Ne, shouldn't you see to her, Lina?" asked Saphiro's through the hole connecting their rooms upstairs. The sobbing of Elyssa down below was muffled by the cardboard covering the hole in their floor.
Lina Miyagami turned over in her bed. "I think she wants to be alone," she muttered in the dark.
Meanwhile, the dark of the night. The four were at it again.
"Lina Inverse!" growled Tarsax.
"Ne don't you think we've done enough damage tonight?" protested Gourry holding back a peeved sorceress. She was trying to get closer to the tank pilot while rolling up her sleeves.
Martin tried to hold back the large Tarsax. "Hey, let's not overreact again! Hey!"
The sound of another car from the distance caught their attention.
Kriket was slowly recovering from being run over.
Then a car hit him. Again.
Elyssa stopped crying on the approach of another vehicle. Instead, tears were replaced with anger. Vehement anger. How dare they, she fumed. How dare they come back! She reached under her dusty bed for her Wilson Hammer tennis racket. Positioning herself behind the wall, she waited for them to enter. Then she would show them how she felt.
A crunching sound as shoes stepped on glass and drywall. "Ne, Arisa, what's that fog around the car?"
Another female voice answered. "I don't know Kyouko. Did you hit something again?"
The two women walked into Elyssa's room, the obvious new soundstage for Twister 2.
"KYAAAAAAAAA!" screamed Elyssa as she jumped at her two intruders.
"Ahhhhh!" screamed the one named Kyouko. She leapt onto Arisa's back who spun around wildy. "Get off me Kyouko!!" They promptly fell onto the floor, a tangled mess of arms and legs (still attached to their owner's bodies, of course!).
Elyssa sweatdropped. She wasn't a very good attacker. Holding the tennis racket in a defensive posture, she demanded, "Who are you two?" She felt it was a very popular topic for the night.
Arisa got up first. "Is this how you greet your employers? Attacking with a tennis racket?"
"Ano...that's how you first met me," Kyouko said to Arisa.
"Employers...you're from Mishima?" asked Elyssa, lowering the racket. She blushed. "I'm sorry, but I've had a rough night." She gestured to the trashed apartment.
"We know, Elyssa. We've been watching. And suffice to say, Lady Akiko would very much like to meet you. Come along now." Arisa made it an order.
Elyssa hesitated. "Why?" Arisa didn't respond.
"Uh you need a place to sleep for the time being, don't you?" noted Kyouko. "Our lady would certainly find you a place. She always takes care of her employees." Elyssa wondered the exact meaning of that last sentence. Stepping out into the night air, she stomped on something squishy. It made an 'umph' noise. Ignoring it, she got into the limousine.
Kyouko and Arisa gave the apartment a good look around. "Ne, Arisa, how come we never hold parties like this anymore?"
Arisa gave her a look. "You know EXACTLY why!" The two got into the car and drove away.
Kriket got up slowly again. He jumped behind the nearest postas protection against anymore oncoming vehicles. Dazed, he walked off confused as to his direction. He was going to get that Lina. And her little dog too. No, brother. Brother, yes, that's it. What did Lina look like again? Lina Lina Lina...ah yes...short orange haired kid with a dark cape and her brother was that hulking blond guy in the blue armor. Funny, they didn't look like that when he first sought them. They must be using clever disguises.
[Editor: The two Linas have gotten mixed up again, I think.] ---
[Notes: Kyouko and Arisa are the two who work for Akiko Natsume, president of Mishima Heavy Industries. (as you recall, Elyssa got hired by Mishima as a summer intern) They do all the dirty work and especially love trying to kill that cat android Nuku Nuku. They operate a lot of dangerous weaponry to do so. Everything from power suits to mecha to VTOL aircraft (Poison-2). Arisa has a bit of a trigger-happy problem. Kyouko is the more toned down of the two.] ---
Post #11 [Dare wrote:]
The room was much the same as Elyssa left it. Its most prominent feature was the large gaping hole in the brick wall that made access from the outside possible. A similar hole adorned the other wall which led into the hallway, taking out part of the wall inside the bathroom. A third hole in the ceiling gave access to Lina Miyagami's room. It was conveniently covered by a piece of cardboard.
Dust and drywall decorated Elyssa's former room. It was a pretty small one at that. None of the furniture was hers and all that belonged were the books and cookware and clothing. It made packing all that much simpler.
In fact it, was already one-third done. With school just finished for the term, she already had her books neatly piled into one box. All that required was the rest. Elyssa began so, plugging the minidisc earphones. The music was particular fitting.
~Sometimes I feel like, I wanna run away Sometimes I feel like, I wanna get away One day you will see, another side of me My life I command, it's not the way that I feel, Leave me alone... leave me alone.. out on my own... leave me alone... ~
She turned around to find Lina Miyagami standing before her. She dropped the box in shock. Composing herself quickly and pulling the earphones out, she greeted the other girl.
"Sorry to frighten you, Elyssa, [but] nobody answered my knocking." Lina gestured to the hole in the hallway wall. "And I saw you were home."
Elyssa smiled. "That's okay. Well, I'm packing, as you can see."
"Where did you go last night?" Lina asked with a worried furrow on her brow. "I checked on you earlier this morning but you weren't here."
Elyssa looked away uneasily. She wanted to forgot the meeting she had with Akiko Natsume earlier this morning. The president of Mishima was a very generous but commanding woman. She was the kind of person who knew what she wanted and expected it. Elyssa didn't know if she could do what Akiko asked. For the time being, she pushed the previous night's event back into her mind. "I was staying with a friend," she half lied.
"Are you going to stay with them now?" Lina probed.
"Ah...no," Elyssa responded slowly trying to make it sound natural. "Actually they've given me a storage place for my stuff while I search for new housing. Well I'm sure they'd let me stay a few nights but I don't want to impose." She gave Lina a look. "You know."
Lina nodded. "Gonna look for a new place huh?" Elyssa nodded as well. Lina put an arm around the girl. "Well, looks like you'll be having some company then!"
"What do you mean?"
"I--I mean we, Saphiros and I--had a talk with our gracious land-lady this morning while you were gone. Apparently she found out about the holes in our place too. The broken glass, the hole [on the] floor."
"But that wasn't your fault," Elyssa protested quickly.
Lina soothed the girl, agreeing. "I know I know... but she wasn't too thrilled about the _other_ hole in our wall. Let's just say it was caused before all this," she gestured to the disaster around them, "happened. And it wasn't quite accidental."
Elyssa was wide-eyed. "You mean you intentionally made a hole in your wall? Are you nuts?"
Tapping her finger on her chin, Lina pondered for a second. "I've been called a lot of things, I guess nuts fits in with them. Anyway, well Shinobu is kicking us out as well. Hey don't sweat it! Saphiros and I never did like this dormitory style place anyway. It was cheap, that's all. Look, we'll all find a new place together? Okay?"
Elyssa regarded the girl before her. Lina had dark hair like herself, a little more slim than she, but to the point where it looked like Lina was delicate. The thing that stood out most were those purple eyes. They looked natural but contacts nowadays could perfectly change your eye colour.
The eyes, Elyssa was once told, were windows to a person's soul. The eyes never lied, they told you everything if you bothered to look. Elyssa always knew to look, and how. From Lina's purple eyes, Elyssa felt a friendship starting with the girl. She needed friends right about now.
Shrugging, Elyssa agreed. "You can even keep you and your brother's stuff at my storage place."
"Saphiros' stuff you mean," corrected Lina. "I don't like the 'your brother' phrase all that much."
Must be like that "your family" Saphiros was saying the other day, Elyssa thought.
"Hmm.." started Lina, apparently about to change the topic. "I wonder where those four are now. The other Lina and her friends."
Elyssa laughed heartily. "I hope I never see THEM again!"
Samui Namida hid in the shadows of the hallway. It wasn't a symbolic gesture of her nature. Hiding in the dark was not a image that cast into her thoughts at the moment. The dark shadows served their purpose to conceal her. Nothing more, nothing less. The poetic symbolism of things, she mused, was something that was meaningless to her. There was only one thing to focus on.
>From the shadows of the hallway, Samui listened in on the private conversation between Elyssa and the girl from upstairs. So they are moving out, are they? she thought. No matter where you go, Elyssa, I can always track you down. ---
Post #12 [Dot-Chan wrote:]
Kricket checked himself out of the hospital, his aura of fog wetting the documents he was trying to sign. He was, to put it mildly, not in a very good mood. Not only did he suffer from internal bleeding and broken bones from being run over--twice, no less-- but some nurse had accidentally wrote him in as "Kermit".
'Of all the stupid, idiotic...' Kermit sighed. 'The things people do for 9 billion dollars.'
But still...9 billion dollars...one could really afford to live with that amount of money.
Kricket steeled himself and limped into the city, making a mental note to himself that he needed to buy more dry ice.
The phone rang. Kimiko buried her head in the pillow to shut out the sound, but the phone wouldn't stop ringing.
"Oh, all right! All right!" Kimiko dragged herself out of bed and stumbled to the phone. "Hello?"
"Your next assignment is in your mailbox," an obviously faked voice said. "I'm sure you'll do a good job."
Kimiko frowned. "Is this some kind of joke?"
The voice chuckled. "I assure you it isn't...Miss Souichi."
A click, then a diailtone.
Kimiko stared at the receiver for a while. 'What the...?' She set the phone down. 'Oh, well, might as well take a look at what they want to get me into.'
There was an unmarked yellow envelope that screamed "Trouble!". Kimiko turned it over in her hands, hoping she would be able to gain some clues from it, but found none.
Ahlen walked into the living room. "Ohayo, Onee- Sama!" He caught sight of the envelope. "Say, I didn't know the mailman comes so early!"
Kimiko ignored her brother and opened the envelope.
Ahlen looked worried. "Onee-Sama?"
Trembling, Kimiko pointed to what she had seen.
The name "Ono Miyagami".
The landlord of UCHWAN looked up from his crossword puzzle to see a green-haired, gray-eyed young lady standing before him. "May I help you?"
"Yes. I would like to know whether there is any way up to the roof other than the fire escape."
The landlord scratched his head. "Well, there is a door, but it's pretty blocked by all the junk I have up there. And the hinges are probably rusted shut, too."
"Thank you," the lady turned to leave.
"Wait, miss!" The landlord stood. "Wouldn't you like a tour of the apartments? I'm sure you'd like to live here."
The lady didn't look back. "I will."
While the landlord stopped in confusion, the lady left.
"That was one weird woman," the landlord muttered.
"Please have mercy, Saxophone-Sama!" Flute begged on his knees. "Give me another chance!"
Saxophone considered this carefully. If Flute really did succeed, she would be less one problem. But if Flute failed, he would probably end up getting killed, and she would still be less one problem.
"All right. One last chance. But that's it. Understand?"
"Arigatou gozaimasu, Saxophone-Sama," Flute lowered his head. "But..."
"Could you put that axe down now?"
The word on the street, while not always accurate, was at least good for a laugh or two. Particularly hilarious was the rumor that some unfortunate girl had been mistaken for the notoriously efficient assassin Ono Miyagami, and the chaos that resulted. Understandably, Miss Miyagami herself was not altogether amused by the news. On one hand, it would be good to have her enemies chasing after this double; on the other, it would hardly be profitable if her clients did as well.
Ono Miyagami decided to find this "twin" of hers. To see how true the rumors were. To make a deal with this other self. And to put a bullet in that person's head, if necessary.
Tarsax looked up from fixing his tank. "What?"
Lina Inverse smiled from ear to ear. "Guess who moved in today."
Tarsax decided to play along. "Who?"
Lina I. kept grinning. "Elyssa Au Yeung and Lina Miyagami."
Tarsax facevaulted. "No, way."
Lina I. shook her head. "Way. I asked the landlord."
"I don't believe it..." Tarsax mumbled.
Lina I. winked. "Fate works in mysterious ways, doesn't it?"
"What the hell are you talking about?" Tarsax growled.
Lina I's eyes twinkled. "I mean, you should do something to make up for messing up their rooms, right?"
Tarsax narrowed his eyes. "Trying to play matchmaker for me again?"
"Oh, come on, Tarsax!" Lina I. pouted. "Don't be such a fuddy duddy!"
'Well, I *do* owe them something for getting them kicked out,' Tarsax mused. 'And when was the last time I had a date, anyways?'
Elyssa buried her head in her hands. "This sucks."
Lina Miyagami patted Elyssa on the shoulder. "Hey, at least you're not the one with a 9 billion dollar bounty on your head."
Elyssa didn't feel that much better.
There was a knock at the door. The two went to answer it.
"Hi!" Greeted Tarsax. "I heard you guys moved in, so I was wondering if you'd like to have dinner with us?"
Outside, had anyone bothered to open their curtains, they would have seen Samui climb up the fire escape. She focused intently on the roof, as if she were afraid of looking down. Every once in a while a tremor ran through the metal structure, and Samui would pause, tightening her grip on the railing. Finally, Samui made it to the roof. Taking out her box of capsules, she selected one and through it against the ground. With a loud "BAF!", a small house appeared.
"Home," Samui said with what might have sounded like a sigh. Behind her, the setting sun dyed the roof magnificent colors. ---
Post #13 [Dare wrote:]
Wet... it was wet. Water filled all around Elyssa. She banged hard on the glass that kept her in. The water level rose to her waist. Her clothes were soaked. [Wait.] These weren't her clothes. Help please, let me out. She pounded furiously. Soon the water filled to her chin. She gasped for air. Blurry images of people outside. They watched her. Why are you doing this? Help me. She swallowed some water in an attempt to get some air. Coughing and choking, she sputtered. Her legs were restrained. Unable to move, unable to get out.
"Breath it in," a voice commanded her. Where was it coming from? I'm drowning. Help. "The oxygen in the water will help you in a second but you must breath it in." Should she? What if they were wrong. She was completely submerged, mouth puffed in a futile attempt to prevent the water from entering her lungs. Must hold on. She had to last. She couldn't. Her body instinctively sucked in, desperately needing deprived oxygen. Water came instead. She choked hard.
"Easy," calmed the voice. Her adrenaline was racing, heart pounding, knowing she was going to die. Asphyxiation they called it. The fancy term for when you can't breath. Drowning did that to you. Elyssa was drowning.
And yet she wasn't dying. In fact, it became easier to breathe after a few moments. She looked around. The container was completely submerged. It was metal except for a glass wall that allowed for observation. Vaguely she could make out blurry figures watching her.
The voices continued. "Good. Begin the synchronization." An electrical shock jolted her head. She didn't have to feel to know something was attached to her head, feeding pulses into her mind. Her vision blurred, shades of purple and red danced along her vision. Then the colours blurred too, accelerating into a rainbow of patterns. Too fast, slow down, she cried. A bright light hit her at the end and suddenly she could see perfectly.
Elyssa looked around. It was a room. A large room with tanks and containers and pipes and computers. In one corner she could see people in white huddled around the largest container. They all turned to her. Their expressions were one of amazement. As Elyssa peered into the tank, past the glass wall, she saw and went frantic. How could this be? What have you done to me!
She saw her own body in the tank beyond her vision.
Let me out! She felt her hands thrash around. She watched as her body violently jerked violently in the tank of water. The people scrambled to computers and stations.
"She's going into mental shock!" cried a woman. "Prepare for de-synchronization."
Elyssa's vision blurred again until darkness closed in, like tunnel vision. The outer corner of her eyes grayed and darkened until there was blackness. And then there was only that.
"Elyssa?" a voice said. "Hello, earth to Elyssa?"
Elyssa Au Yeung's eyes snapped back into focus. Lina Inverse waved at her face. "Huh?" Elyssa said groggily.
"I said, 'Are you going to eat that?'" Lina said, pointing to the filet on her plate.
Elyssa shoved it away, not feeling hungry. "No, you can have it." Lina Inverse snatched the fish with her fork and began chewing on it.
"Are you okay?" Lina Miyagami asked. "You kind of spaced out there."
Elyssa smiled. "Hmm? I'm okay." Spaced out? What was I thinking of? She couldn't recall. Her hands felt clammy but she was completely dry. An unsettling feeling came when she looked at the fish tank behind Tarsax.
"Ah! Nothing like a good meal!" Lina Inverse patted her stomach contently.
"I've never seen anyone eat as much as you," remarked Tarsax rather pointedly. The bill reflected this, much to his dismay.
"Hey, hey, Tarsax-kun!" Lina Inverse replied cheerfully. "We should celebrate our friend's new apartment." She gestured to Elyssa. "Ah, where's Miyagami?"
"She went to the bathroom. She'll meet us out here." Elyssa pointed at Lina Inverse. "Anyway, you ate the most out of us all! It's amazing you're not bloated."
"Or fat," added Gourry, which was promptly responded to with a whap on the head. "Oww! Lina!" --- Trumpet sat in the car and watched the four figures come out of the seafood restaurant. He picked up his radio. "Mouthpiece, they are exiting."
A voice crackled over the receiver. "Mouthpiece here. I see them."
"Good. Take out the girl on the far left." He watched Elyssa closely. "When you have a clear shot, do it."
"There she is," Elyssa called as Miyagami came out of the restaurant.
"Ready to go guys?" she asked. Everyone nodded. A glint of metal caught Elyssa's eye. Looking down, she saw a 5000 Yen coin on the ground. She bent to pick it up.
The glass behind her shattered a mere microsecond after. Tarsax reacted quickly and pushed her out of harm's way. A hail of gunfire sprayed after them. "Looks like your friends are back again," he growled. Unfortunately he wasn't watching where they were going and slammed into some trash cans.
Elyssa remained standing without protection. She screamed and dived behind a different trash can. Bullets impacted into the aluminum.
Tarsax got back up quickly. "I need some light, dammit!" he shouted, pulling out his sidearm and firing to where the gunman was roughly.
Lina Inverse obliged. "GAUV FLARE!" she cast the spell that lit up the street. Tarsax spotted the gunman from a third floor window and took aim. He got a few shots off before a car pulled up and two men came out, guns blazing. He took cover behind the knocked over trash- cans.
A bullet whizzed past Elyssa's head, convincing her it was best to move. She ran down the alleyway. The sound of gunfire and explosions echoed as she ran, motivating her to go faster. She came out the other side onto another street. Looking left, she saw no one. Looking right, she saw two men in the distance. They pulled out weapons and shouted. Shit!
She ran left as bullets fired past her. She put her hands protectively on her head and ears. Suddenly a car pulled around the corner and screeched hard before her. She was pinned between the car and the two men behind her. Fear and panic began to take over.
The driver's side door opened and a woman stepped out, her gun aimed. Elyssa ducked and watched the woman fire. She wasn't firing at her. She was firing at the men after her. One man went down, his automatic weapon spraying bullets wildly as he fell. The other took cover behind a lampost.
"Get in!" shouted the woman. Elyssa hesitated. Bullets hit the ground near her. "GET IN!" the woman shouted again.
Elyssa's body forced her to get up and climb into the car. The woman fired a few more rounds and got in. Quickly shifting into reverse, she sped away. The front winshield cracked as a bullet came hurtling through. The woman pushed Elyssa's head down while watching over her shoulder. She turned the steering wheel quickly and the car violently spun around. At the same time, the woman shifted the car into drive and she smashed her foot on the accelerator.
After the gunfire stopped, Elyssa sat up slowly. The woman was now relaxed, slightly. She had an angry look on her face as she concentrated on the road, both hands on the steering wheel. Her hair was dark, Elyssa couldn't tell what colour, parted to the side. It was long and tied into a ponytail that hung on her shoulder.
Resting near the shifter was a shiny handgun. Elyssa didn't know one gun from the next but she eyed it carefully. And the woman's hands.
"Um.. you can drop me off at the next corner," Elyssa spoke up bravely.
The woman didn't comply. Instead she said, "Open the glove compartment. You'll find a LCD screen and receiver/transmitter. Turn it on."
Elyssa swallowed hard. Who was this woman? She was scared. "Um, I really appreciate bailing me out back there, but--"
"Now," the woman interrupted gruffly. Elyssa swallowed again. She opened the compartment and found the equipment. She noticed the logo of Mashima H.I. on the front of the screen. She turned it on.
"Hello Elyssa," responded Mashima president Akiko Natsume.
Elyssa watched blankly as a pattern of lights appeared on the screen. Kimiko kept an eye on the girl while driving. What was going on? she wondered. Probably to get through the conditioning, she answered herself. Shit, she didn't want things to be like this. But she needed the girl.
"Good," smiled Akiko as her face came back on. "Now Elyssa. You will accompany Miss Souichi and do as she tells you. Without question. We'll see to the rest. Understood?"
"Understood," Elyssa responded mechanically.
"Kimiko," Akiko said, wanting to speak with the agent driving.
"I'm here," Kimiko replied without bothering to glance at the screen.
"I'm holding you responsible for Miss Au Yeung's safety. She is not to be harmed, physically or mentally. If I find even a scratch on her body, I'll see to it your career with Chobetsu is over."
"Don't threaten me," Kimiko growled. "I don't know what you've done to the girl but I've got some clue. It's wrong, you know that? And if the public were to find out, I could have your whole company collapse."
Akiko laughed through the speakers. "Now now, Kimiko. No need to act like that. It's simple courtesy really. Chobetsu has always been a top purchaser of Mashima's weaponry and in return, I'm allowing you access to the girl for your mission. I'm not being unreasonable in asking you to keep her safe."
Kimiko smiled sweetly although Akiko couldn't see. "It's how you asked that I didn't like."
"Apologies," Akiko said. "I'm a businesswoman. Sometimes I have to play the shark." She paused. "Your people want this Ono Miyagami bad, don't they?"
"That's right. And Elyssa is the perfect bait for me to catch Ono. She's eluded us for years. She's wanted for numerous assassinations and bombings."
"This must be coincidence," Akiko mused. "Our top experimental mecha pilot having such similar features to such a renowned contract killer. That's the fate that has been laid down, I suppose."
"No," Kimiko disagreed. "That's the reality of it."
Akiko grunted in response and turned her attention back to the zombie-like Elyssa. "I'll see you again Elyssa. When the screen turns off you'll remember nothing and all that psycho-babble." The screen turned off.