Silent Mobius Fan Fiction ❯ Requiem Knight ❯ Alliance ( Chapter 5 )
'Go now. It's not your time yet.' The brunette pulled her husband off the couch with surprising strength for her small frame. The two had spent the night talking about places and events thirty years or more in the past: grand cities they'd visited, battles they'd fought, balls they'd attended. Now the rosy fingers of dawn were extending over the horizon.
'I can't. Not alone…the battles are done and I have nothing else to live for.' The silver-haired man held her tight, unwilling to leave her comforting presence in that other world.
She kissed him gently and guided him to the door. 'Don't worry. I'm sure you'll find something,' she assured him with a knowing smile. 'I know: You could work on that Grand Theory you were always babbling about.'
His smile was much fainter, little more than a thinning of the lips and a light in his eyes. 'That was almost fifty years ago, when I still understood the basics of one theory of interdimensional travel. Trying to reconcile over a dozen will be a little difficult without even that. Besides, better minds than mine have been struggling with this problem for centuries. Even Deep Thought couldn't solve it.'
'You have all the time in the world to work on it. I know you can find the answer. Now quit stalling and go back. You're needed there.' She opened the door and lightly shoved him into the darkness beyond.
'Goodbye, Elaina,' Alex called as she closed the door.
He woke to the faint beeps and antiseptic scent of a hospital. Every muscle ached dully and his mind was still faintly foggy from fatigue. Alex groaned and pulled himself into a sitting position. The bed was narrow and hard with siderails to prevent patients from rolling off. A pile of firm pillows supported him as he sat in the dark. Was that Her? Let's say she is…does that mean anything? 'GAH!'
Fluorescent lights came on suddenly, blinding the silver-haired man. A petite redhaired nurse pulled the nauseous yellow curtains apart and apologized, 'Oh! I'm sorry. I didn't realize you're up. Is there anything I can do for you?'
'Why am I here? Where's my armour?'
A taller dark-haired woman entered the room and dismissed the nurse. 'Good morning, Mr. de Winter. I'm Dr. Imaki. There was a Third Attraction case last night, one of the most powerful Lucifer Hawks we've seen in the last few months. When the AMP got there, they found you unconscious on the ground with no sign of the Lucifer Hawk. They brought you in and managed to get you out of that suit. You had a few bruises and a shallow cut or two, but nothing serious physically. However, your brain activity was almost non-existent, just a few flutters now and then. You've slept over twenty-four hours.
'As for your armour, the AMP took it into custody as evidence. I would guess that their R&D branch has it now. That reminds me: Director Cheyenne has asked to meet you as soon as possible after you woke up. She sent down some clothes for you.'
'Tell her I'll be in her office in an hour. What time is it now?' Alex swung clumsily off the bed, catching his thin teal gown on the rails. He stopped to unhook it when he heard it rip.
'It's 10 AM. Her office is two floors up.' The doctor bowed slightly and left to let Alex change. He found a blue AMP uniform folded on a chair beside the bed. It was a little tight on him, but not uncomfortably so. He sighed deeply. So…she expects me to join them. I need to get Scorpio back to fix it…and decide what to do with the rest of my life.
This must be her office. Alex stood outside the heavy metal door for a moment to compose himself. He could sense an extremely powerful entity inside; it did not feel quite the same as most humans, but not entirely like a Lucifer Hawk, either. After straightening his shoulder wings and pseudo-bandolier one last time, he announced himself through the intercom beside the door. The door slid open silently, admitting him into a very large, though mostly empty, office lit by a gigantic crystal chandelier.
A silver-haired woman sat behind an enormous desk beneath the windows at the far end. At the sound of his footsteps on the tile floor, she raised her head and said, 'Please, have a seat, Mr. de Winter. This may take a while.'
A plain plastic egg-shaped chair rose from the floor. As he approached the desk, Alex saw that it was hollow and lined with cushions. Also, the woman on the other side of the desk was much younger than her hair made her seem. 'Please, call me Alex. What do you want?' he asked as he sat down.
Rally steepled her fingers and began, 'Call me Rally. I assume you are familiar with what I said at the press conference last week?' Alex nodded and she continued, 'The AMP has been fighting Lucifer Hawks for seven years now. Our battles have become much more intense this past year. A few weeks ago, our headquarters were destroyed and we have reason to believe that the final battle is coming soon. The evidence suggests that Ganossa Maximillian, a human allied with Nemesis, has resurrected Project Gaia, a failed plan to join our world with Nemesis, the Lucifer Hawks' home.
'What you fought last night was a Category One Lucifer Hawk; one of the most powerful, and you defeated it on your own. We need your power, Alex. We already have five members who can use some form of magic, but Ganossa will have numbers on his side. If you stand with us, that will level the field greatly.'
Alex sat silently for a moment, considering his response. At last, he sighed and muttered, 'If you had asked last week or even yesterday morning…no, the morning before my battle….But now, I cannot. I'm old, Rally; older than I look, both by count of years and by experience. I have spent too long on the battlefield and I will not go back except at direst need.'
'And what would you call "direst need?" There is a good chance that this city-this world-will be destroyed in the coming battle. Would you abandon it to that fate?'
'I...never said that. I only know that I cannot take the field again. If there were some other way in which I could aid you….' His eyes fell on an oversized metal hand on the desk. 'May I have a look at that?'
'Of course. It's the gauntlet from one of Mobile Division One's new armours. The manufacturers sent it to me with their bid. A sample of sorts.' Division One was the designation given to the corps of Mobile Police attached to the AMP.
Alex took the gauntlet in his hands and peered at it intently. He probed it with a dozen senses as he turned it over. 'Hmmmmm…amorphous titanium alloy skin over a ceramic exoskeleton. Second "exoskeleton" forming the interior glove…woven polymers with sensors to follow the hand's movements.' He squinted as he concentrated on some almost invisible detail. 'Unless I've gone blind, those are defensive runes woven into the polymer layers. Between the two layers…metallo-elastic pseudomuscle!' His eyes bulged at this last observation. His breath came quick and shallow as he probed further.
Rally nodded. 'Yes, that's what the developers called it. Is there anything wrong with that?'
'Wrong with it? Even on the Grand Bazaar, this is sold as the latest technology. Only a few high-end smithies carry metallo-elastics. My suit uses standard servos and superfluid hydraulics…this stuff has a response time at least ten times faster and generates five times the force for a given weight. At least, that's what the trade journals say…of course, I can't give a precise figure for this particular incarnation without much more study.'
Rally's eyes narrowed shrewdly. 'Suppose I were to give you that chance?'
Alex stopped hyperventilating and looked curiously at Rally. 'How would you do that? Who is handling maintenance for Mobile Division One?'
'The old suits were repaired by in-house staff. At present, we are negotiating a contract for the new suits with the manufacturer. As CEO of Cheyenne Corporation, which owns the Tokyo police department, I can arrange for that maintenance to be handled by a new division of the police department's maintenance staff. Headed by you, of course.'
'I…I have no experience working with this technology. But I'm sure that a few days spent studying that gauntlet will give me a good grasp of it. However, I think that you may find it useful to have an agent who is not bound by police procedure and regulations. Perhaps a post with your corporation?'
Rally considered it for a moment. 'That may work better. It is not uncommon for police executives to divert major contracts to companies they are connected to. If you're willing to accept a junior partnership, we can move on to the details.'
'That should be fine…'Alex hesitated for a moment, puzzled at her offer. 'But why can't you just give me a regular job as, say, your secretary or something?'
'How much do you know about the Cheyenne corporation?'
'Not much except that it owns the police department. But you've left the old executives in place to run their respective districts.'
'This information is not to leave this room, understand?' He nodded. 'Good. The truth is, Cheyenne is little more than a front. It holds stocks and property for me that I inherited from my parents…and a little more that I've acquired over the past few years: It's a bookkeeping convenience and a way to funnel funds into the AMP budget, nothing more. As such, it does not have the revenue to pay anyone a regular salary.'
'I understand. A partnership would be fine, though I hope I will be able to avoid the paperwork you have.' Her smile said, 'Not if I can help it.' Alex continued, 'As for the details of this partnership…I'll need a couple percent of the company's stock for the sake of appearances. I'll pay you, of course.
'I own most of the equipment necessary for servicing power armour and most weapons. What I don't own I can either make or buy pretty easily. I'll take a look at what the current maintenance staff is using and supplement that with my own tools. If you're willing to give me the specs on the weapons used by the AMP and Mobile Division One, I'm sure I can work with any of them.'
'Is there anything you can't fix?'
'Androids, computers, and vehicles. Especially big ones, like that silver airship of yours. I'm afraid you'll still have to pay the maintenance staff to take care of those, though I may be able to work on their weapons a little. I'll also need some space, say, about the size of this office. Some of my equipment is rather bulky and power armours also take up a lot of room. Oh, and I'd like my armour back. It needs some major repairs.'
Rally pursed her lips and considered this for a moment. 'The armour's downstairs with the techs; I'll sign an order for its release. As for workspace…There's a storage room on the same floor as Mobile Division One's ready room. I think it's a little bigger than my office. Is there anything else you need?'
Alex pulled at his nose before asking, 'Actually, there's a small favour I'd like to ask you. I know we just met, but it concerns a friend of mine. He used to be a police officer, but he…had an accident a few months ago and is presumed dead. I wonder if you could arrange for him to join Mobile Division One.'
'I may own the police organization, but I don't have full control over personnel. Who is he?'
'Robert de Vice.' Rally started at the name and leaned forward to contest his nomination. 'I said that he was presumed dead. I found him shortly after Ganossa attacked him in his apartment and I was able to save him. You can speak to him if you wish.' At her nod, Alex turned around in his seat and activated his link to Alice. Alice, can you ask Roy to go to the portal hall? Tell him that he has a chance to get his old job back. Open the portal a few feet behind me. A few minutes later, a portal opened in Rally's office to admit the blonde officer. Alex rose, saying, 'I'll leave you two alone for now. I'll be outside if you need me for anything.'
Once out the door, the silver-haired man slumped against the wall and let out an explosive breath. Not bad for someone my age…picking up a new career the day after giving up his last one. Something tells me that Rally has some other reason for asking me to join them…if she is the woman from my dreams, I'll need to know her a little better. I wonder how it's going with Roy in there?
As if the thought had summoned him, the door slid open and Roy came out. He jerked his thumb back the way he came and ran off grinning toward the elevator at the end of the hall.
'What's wrong, Kiddy? You look like you've seen a ghost,' Katsumi laughed as the brown-haired cyborg stared at the man who'd emerged from the elevator behind her.
'That's because she did,' a man's voice behind her said quietly. Strong, gentle arms wrapped around her.
'Roy! How…? I thought you were dead!' Tears ran down her cheeks as she turned to embrace her fiancée.
'Wait a minute! How do we know you're the real Roy? Lucifer Hawks have disguised themselves as humans before you know,' Kiddy broke it. Katsumi froze, staring at Roy with suspicious eyes. Kiddy snapped her fingers. 'I have an idea. Say, Roy, where's Katsumi's blue dragon birthmark?'
'Wha-?!' The blonde cop scratched his head in confusion. 'The only birthmark I ever saw was a red phoenix on her-oof!' A sharp elbow to the ribs cut off the location. Katsumi dragged him into the elevator to ask him the details of how he'd survived that encounter with Ganossa.
Alex entered to find Rally on the large L-shaped sofa that took up one of the far corners. She thumped the black leather as a sign for him to sit beside her. She said, 'If we're going to be partners, we should know a little more about each other.'
Alex nodded in agreement and took his seat facing her across a low glass table. 'What do you want to know?'
'Just the basics. Who you are, what your powers are, that sort of thing.'
'I'll try to give you the short version of my life story. I'll answer questions after I'm done. I used to be just a slightly nerdy physics major at a California college. My parents were immigrants from England and my grandfather on my father's side had moved there from Hong Kong back when the Communists took power in China. Anyway, I'd found work over the summer in a professor's lab. He was working on hyperspace theory-six dimensions, I think; three spatial, three temporal-and had managed to build a device to travel through all six dimensions. The original was larger than this room, but we managed to create a pocket-sized model while I was there. We sent probes and occasionally animals through the large portal and a human test with the small generator was scheduled for the end of the summer. I drew the short straw.
'The first few worlds I visited were similar to our own with minor variations in politics, language, and such. I returned home after looking around for a few hours. However, on the third world I visited, I was caught in some kind of storm…it deleted my generator's memory, making it impossible to return home. I've been Traveling ever since, mostly at random. For some reason, I tended to enter worlds just as a war was breaking out. I got conscripted so many times that I finally decided to seek out some actual training with weapons.
'About fifteen years after I started my journey, I met Elaina Jaddo. She was a native of a world where Traveling and interstellar flight had been commonplace for centuries. We met in the forests of a world plagued by demons and monsters…she and her friend were holding off a pack of demon-hounds when I joined the battle. We met again a few worlds later and we Traveled together off and on for five years.
'In my twentieth year of Traveling, we arrived in a preindustrial world with strong traditions of magic. We encountered an ancient man who practiced one of them and persuaded him to teach us. It took a few years, but we finally learned the secret of the Will and the Word . I proposed to her at this time and we were married just before we left that world.
'We spent another year in a world lit only by stars.' A serene smile crept over Alex's face at the memory of that tranquil time. 'We encountered a great host of travelers on the shores of a dark ocean and followed them to a wondrous land of light. After a year, we resumed our Travels. This world was the first one we came to. Elaina died at the hands of a Lucifer Hawk. I've spent the last thirty years wandering the worlds seeking her killer. You know what happened when I found him.'
'Thirty years…'Rally murmured, sympathetic to his wanderings. 'Wait a minute, just how old are you? You don't look any older than I am and I'm not even forty!'
The silver-haired man smiled wryly, 'I'm seventy-five, give or take a few years. It's one of the minor benefits of my gift. Those who wield it age no more than they think they should. My instructor and his brothers stopped in their late fifties, venerable in appearance but still sound in body and mind. His daughter stopped around thirty, still in the bloom of youth. I stopped a little later, at the age of adventure. The Will and the Word can be used to accomplish almost anything its wielder desires if he knows what he wants and how to do it. However, each sorcerer's talents develop along different lines according to his inclination and personality. I have no aptitude with the mental arts, but I am a master of magical combat. I can also do the basic parlour tricks common to all sorcerers: telekinesis, teleportation, and the like. Martini?' A slim-stemmed triangular glass appeared on the table.
'No thanks, I'm on duty.'
'Just as well. It's not a real martini. I can't stand the things.' Alex drained the cup and continued, 'What's your story? I can tell there's something unusual about you, but I can't quite make out what it is.'
Rally answered reluctantly, 'I'm the daughter of a human and a Lucifer Hawk. That gave me certain magical powers, including the ability to detect other Lucifer Hawks. I don't use them all that often, but I can hold my own against most enemies. I had a sister, Rosa, but Ganossa killed her a few weeks ago…he almost killed me at the same time.' She turned her head to one side, hiding her tears behind her long silver hair.
'I'm sorry…I should go now.' Alex rose to leave.
'Wait.' Rally wiped her eyes on her sleeve and strode to her desk. A shining disk popped out of a slot and she handed it to Alex. 'Here's the data on the AMP's weapons.' He bowed, fist to heart, and left her.
Notes: I've decided that numbering notes would make it easier for readers to tell what each one refers to. I would have indicated notes with superscripts, but it seems that fanfiction.net does not recognize them. I hope the brackets weren't too distracting.
1) Pronounced 'Elaine-ah'
2) Good old Alex…he's a gadget freak at heart. Especially when the gadget concerned is a shiny new suit of power armour or some new weapon. If you want to know more about amorphous metals, there's an article in the April 2004 issue of Discover magazine. It's really amazing stuff…pound for pound, it's much stronger than conventional metals of the same weight and it can be cast like plastics. It's already used in those transformers you see on 'telephone' poles. As for the rest, it's technobabble in the finest Star Trek tradition.
3) Fans of Heinlein's Number of the Beast and other novels may find this arrangement familiar.
4) The Will and the Word is a style of magic from David Eddings' Belgariad and Mallorean series. It's an extremely flexible style…though not without its downsides.
General: Well, there's another chapter. It may be done in under ten chapters this time around if I pack enough into each installment. Of course, with my new chronology, I have about four or five months to play with…which I'll need to develop Rally and Alex (and Katsumi and Roy for that matter). There will be a decent amount of action to come (especially at the end), but Alex won't be doing too much more combat if I have any control over it.