Silent Mobius Fan Fiction ❯ Requiem Knight ❯ Emissary ( Chapter 6 )
Chapter 6: Emissary
'Hey, Lebia, what's up with this memo the Director sent out this morning?' Kiddy called out to the blonde behind her.
'The one saying that Cheyenne Corporation will be handling the maintenance for AMP's weapons and gear from now on. I mean, it's not like our station doesn't have the staff to deal with it already.' The cyborg tossed a copy of the memo onto the other woman's desk. Lebia shrugged after thoroughly perusing the document.
'The way the budget's been lately…even with the extra money the government's giving us to finish the war…I guess she thought it'd be cheaper to have her company handle it. After all, the maintenance division does have ties to the weapons manufacturing companies.'
'Don't give me that! You and I both know that she is the Cheyenne Corporation and that she doesn't have the time or the training for this. What's really weird is the guy who got picked to do the repairs: Alex de Winter… that's the guy we picked up unconscious in an abandoned park a few nights ago. It looked like he took out a Category One solo, but he was in pretty bad shape when we got there .'
'Maybe he's an old friend of Rally's who happens to be good at fixing things. That's how Chief Isozaki became our commander, after all.'
Kiddy grudgingly conceded the point, but added, 'He also looks a little like her with his silver hair. Ah well, it's not like every other corporation isn't filled with nepotism and corruption. I just wish some of it would swing my way once in a while.' The brunette flicked her wrist as if to dismiss the subject and returned to the pile of reports on her desk.
On the floor below her, a silver-haired man sneezed as he set a crate of tools down beside his office door. He suddenly froze as he reached for the switch that opened the door. He slowly drew a small, blocky silver pistol from his oddly rigid jacket before tapping the switch . The silver-haired woman who'd been waiting for his blinked uncertainly at the muzzle after the door hissed open.
'Oh, it's you. I'm sorry…it'll be a few days before I can tell you apart from some old acquaintances of mine.' Alex returned the gun to its holster and coughed uncomfortably.
'Don't worry about it. I did the same thing once or twice during my days as a private detective. You've set up very quickly in here, but I thought the room I gave you was a little larger.' Rally recovered quickly and looked around the open space. The center of the room was dominated by what seemed to be an oversized operating table surrounded by toolboxes and diagnostic computers. Racks of parts and ammo lined the walls. A plain wooden door opened to the left and another one stood facing the door Alex had entered by.
'I decided to add a couple of side rooms. That's my office to the left.' He opened the door to reveal a small chamber dominated by a heavy dark wooden desk with an enormous leather chair behind it. 'You said we would be partners, so I figured I'd need a place to deal with paperwork. Back there is a place to sleep if I wind up staying late. I have a habit of working on a suit until 3 or 4 AM without noticing.' The door in the back opened on a room slightly larger than the office dominated by a medium-sized bed. A TV screen filled the wall at the foot of the bed and a small bookshelf stood opposite the door.
'It looks more comfortable than the couch in my office,' Rally commented, thinking of late nights spent on that piece of furniture.
Her companion coughed into his fist. 'I hate to be rude, but you didn't come down here just to talk about my furniture. What can I do for you?'
'Well…I was just about to go out for lunch, and I was wondering if you'd like to join me. Unless you have something to do, of course.' The last few words came out in a rush as Rally rubbed at her arms nervously.
'I was just going out myself. There are some more things we need to talk about; we might as well do it over food. By the way, where were you planning to go?'
'Le Tour d'Ivoire; it's a little French place a couple blocks down the street .' The two headed out; not arm-in-arm, but close enough that a few of the more suspicious officers thought something was going on.
The Ivory Tower was a very small restaurant, holding barely a score of tables. However, Rally's position (and a ten-thousand-yen note) immediately secured seats for them. Dark wood and crystal dominated the understatedly elegant dining room, while real silver shone beside antique porcelain. Alex felt decidedly out of place in his battered old suit. Seeing him pick at it self-consciously, Rally asked, 'What is that? I saw something like that in a couple places downtown a few years ago.'
Alex waited for the waiter to take their drink orders before replying, 'It's just something I wore the last time I worked for a police department. It's designed to provide a little protection from low-power energy weapons. I added ceramic plates under the fabric after I got knifed in the arm during a riot…and it can take a couple shots from just about any personal weapon on the market now. Uh, excuse me; I ordered Earl Grey tea, not a wine.'
'I'm terribly sorry, sir. But Madame asked us to prepare a bottle of this vintage with the reservation.' The waiter bowed and reached out to take the bottle away, but Rally waved for him to pour her a glass. Alex raised an eyebrow at this, but Rally only shrugged.
'It goes best with the duck I ordered.' As if her words had summoned him, a second waiter gently deposited the bird on the table with a number of side dishes.
As the waiter carved the first servings, Alex asked, 'I know I don't officially start until next Monday, but I'd like to know just what my duties would be as your partner.'
Do we have to stick to business? The plaintive question rang in the back of Rally's head, but her mouth answered, 'You'll be in charge of maintaining AMP and Mobile Division One's weapons and armour, of course. I won't ask you to accompany them into battle. Other than that…I suppose you'll wind up with a share of the paperwork I get. Once you've learned how everything's organized, you'll probably stand in for me at meetings. That reminds me: here's the first installment of forms and reports to read. This contains a listing of all our holdings and liabilities, as well as complete details on current and future operations.' Rally pulled a shining disk from her pocket and slid it across the table. Alex took it with the air of one handling orders for a suicide mission.
'I suppose that takes care of business for now. Is there anything you'd like to know about me? I didn't have time to give you more than a bare sketch of my life last time.' Alex tore into the duck as Rally considered what question to ask first.
The first one came without warning while Alex was still chewing a mouthful of rich dark meat. 'Have you had any odd dreams lately? Say, during the last six months?' Rally had an odd look on her face as she asked this, as though she wished strongly for a particular answer.
'I…I place no stock in my own dreams; prophecy has never been one of my talents. But, yes…I've had a few strange recurring dreams the last few months. I was lost in a maze where my battles and wanderings played out on the walls. After a while-I can't say how long-I found an open chamber. A woman who looked exactly like you was waiting there…waiting for me, she said.' Rally reached up to brush a tear from her eye without noticing.
'I've had almost the same dream myself. I was wandering through all the scenes of my life until I came to a building that my friends told to enter alone. You were waiting in there. The dream always ended before we could say much to each other.' The tears were flowing liberally now as all the loneliness of thirty-eight years and the hope of the past few months fell on her at once . Alex gently laid his hand over hers and said,
'I don't usually put much stock in my own dreams, but I think we should try to see where these lead us. Maybe it'll get my in-laws to stop nagging me about remarrying.' He barked a laugh at the last line and poured her another glass. 'We can talk about that later. Is there anything else you want to know?'
Rally dried her eyes and breathed deeply for a few minutes to regain her composure. 'I'd like to know a little more about the magic you use. Katsumi and I-and Ganossa-cast spells by invoking spirits. Almost all the spells we know are destructive or defensive in nature…we haven't had time to explore other applications of our talents with this war that's been raging since our births.'
Twin sapphire rings gleamed on Alex's hands as he steepled his fingers. 'Some would say that my power is the root, the ancestor, of all magic, that all other forms of magic are simply aspects of what I do. After all, what is magic but applying the will to obtain results? Most other magics simply require more structure than the Will and the Word.
'I would put it more simply: it is the power of creation.' The rings glowed dully. A discreet check for waiters preceded the appearance of a steaming bowl of clam chowder before the silver-haired man. 'Those who use it are limited in what they can do by human strength and the limits of their knowledge. I have been forced to study combat magics for most of my short career, so my abilities in other areas are lacking. Most sorcerers can shape-shift…I never got the hang of it.
'My wife used to play jokes on me all the time with that talent. We're both pretty good with illusions, too.' Alex smiled wistfully at the memory. 'Her favourite one was simply turning into someone else just before I woke up in the mornings. It worked especially well after we'd been out drinking the night before. Then an illusionary version of her would walk in the door. If I didn't have a soldier's ability to take surprises, I probably wouldn't be sitting here.' The gems burned faintly as a small bedroom tableau appeared on the table to demonstrate the gag.
'My sister used to use our gifts to do things to people, but her 'pranks' tended to be a little more…physical in nature. A little knowledge of physiology goes a long way when you want to make people uncomfortable. Rosa always was bitter about how people treated us.' Rally sighed and poured herself a third glass. 'By the way, are those rings connected to your power in any way? They seem to glow whenever you do anything.'
'They…the effect is subtle; I can't really explain it. They allow me to do more while using less of my own energy. I suppose a lever is the best analogy…my main talents revolve around energy manipulation, and it takes a good deal of strength to handle the amount of energy I use in combat. With the rings, flicking my fingers, so to speak, has the same effect as lifting a car over my head. They also let me tap into the energy sources around me more easily: Scorpio's power cells, bar batteries, even sunlight.'
'Coffee, Monsieur? Madame?' The tuxedo-clad waiter held a pair of steaming cups and stood expectantly. He set the cups in front of them at the couple's nod and left. Alex sipped at his after adding a half dozen cubes of sugar.
'Not quite as good as Yuki's, but it's not bad. Well, it's your turn to tell me about your power.'
Rally nodded reluctantly. 'I don't understand it as well as I wish, but some old friends explained a little of it to me. As you know, I'm half Lucifer Hawk…that allows me to tap into power flowing around the planet that most people are unaware of. The primary application I learned for this gift is the ability to channel the power to attack my enemies or fend off their attacks. Telekinesis, teleportation, flight, and clairvoyance are my other major talents.
'Those abilities were very useful when I decided to become a detective. Once I recognized a suspect's psychic signature, I could get my hands on him almost instantly. Unfortunately, my sister and I developed our talents at a very young age; we were raised around the old Sorcerers' Guild, so we thought everyone could do that sort of thing.' Rally stopped for a moment and continued in a subdued voice, 'After the first conflicts with the Lucifer Hawks, the people who'd witnessed the battles branded us the "Devil's Children." I guess Father revealed his true form at some point…our parents died in those early wars, as did most of the Guild.
'We were forced to flee Tokyo when I was about 15; Rosa was a few years younger. Someone had attacked us and she…blew him apart. We settled in Osaka for a few years to finish school. I went on to college while Rosa disappeared for a while. The next time we met, about 12 years ago, she announced that she was leaving for Nemesis. Ten years later, she comes back trying to kill me…and then she got killed by her so-called "ally" who almost got me at the same time.' Her countenance set into a grim mask that almost made Alex pity Ganossa.
'I spent most of my time after college as a private detective based out of Tokyo, traveling around the world on cases. Seven years ago, I founded the AMP in response to a resurgence in Third Attraction cases. That about covers my life story.' Rally finished her coffee and waited for Alex to take up the tread of conversation.
'You already know that I've spent most of the last fifty years as a soldier of one form or another. What you don't know is why I'm so reluctant to become one again. The first few years after my wife's funeral…I don't remember them too clearly, just flashes of random worlds. I was completely driven by revenge…some of my memories of those years are ugly enough to convince me that I don't want to recover the rest. From what little I remember, I think an accident after the funeral kept me from returning to this world immediately, so I Traveled at random, seeking that demon.
'When I started to think rationally again, I noticed that I was waking up in gutters outside bars almost every morning. It took me a few more years to get out of that habit.
'I supported myself as a bounty hunter during those years…my hair turned white when some partners and I tackled a wizard who was far more powerful than we'd thought. That was the first time I used my gift in battle and it was barely enough to keep us alive. I managed to convince the wizards' guild that had hired us to train me in lieu of my share of gold. I spent five years on that world developing my system of magical combat. Simply put, I use the interactions between different forms of magical energy to interfere with my enemies' spellcasting. A relatively weak blast of the proper type of energy can cancel or deflect an attack better than a much more costly shield.
'When I left the Order, I started Traveling again. For some reason, I almost always landed on worlds torn by war and I was usually able to hire myself out as a mercenary to one army or another. I volunteered for every 'suicide' mission, asked to be in the front of every assault. Finally, about fifteen years ago, I landed a job at a weapons R&D facility working on power armour designs. I've always had a fascination with the things…compact but incredibly powerful and flexible, not like those giant mecha some armies use. ' The coffee was finished and most of the patrons were gone, but the two silver-haired companions still sat in their strange discussion.
'Anyway, we were designing an armour to be controlled by the wearer's thoughts. Thousands of small thrusters embedded in the armour, combined with the most powerful antigrav generators we could stuff into it, gave it incredible aerial capabilities for a suit of its size and weight. Just when Scorpio-that was the code-name-was completed, however, pirates raided the facility to take whatever they could. I managed to escape with two suits-Scorpio and a heavy siege suit named Ajax-and a handful of technicians. We signed on with an army raised to end the pirate menace as soon as we were rescued. It took three years of fighting in every environment except a gas giant, but we finally smashed their fortress at Tor Kolpa and broke the Guild.
'The final battle was terrible. Even though we'd smashed most of their armies and laid siege to their stronghold for three months, they were desperate and strong. I led twenty-five men in siege suits in an aerial drop on Tor Kolpa. Ten followed me into the command center; four survived the confrontation. The Guild's leader was a berserker who carried a gun-spear as large as some power armours…he himself stood almost ten feet tall after we pried his suit off the corpse.
'I've spent the last ten years wandering the worlds trying to avoid battle, but I always get pulled back into the bloody maelstrom. I suppose the only reason I kept going was the fact that I don't like leaving things half-done. I'd sworn to slay the creature that killed my wife, and I wasn't going to stop until I'd done that.
'About a year ago, I arrived on this world. I had a feeling that I had something to do here, something I'd left unfinished years ago. You know what happened after I got to Tokyo. I've tread the path of blood for fifty years, and I have no more reason to fight now that my revenge is complete.' Whatever Rally had to say to that was cut off by the strains of Holst's 'Mars.' She reached guiltily into her pocket to retrieve her cell phone.
'Where are you? We have a meeting with the other police executives in five minutes.' Mana's voice came through with cold anger.
'What?! That was supposed to be at three this afternoon. I just sat down to lunch at Le Tour d'Ivoire with Alex.'
'You left almost three hours ago. I'll pick you up at the door…we should be able to get there in time if I punch it.' Rally paled at the memory of the last time Mana had driver her anywhere in a rush.
'Just give me a minute to settle the bill.' She hung up and turned to Alex. 'I'm sorry, but I have to go.'
'Check please!' Alex called as Rally waved for the waiter. The two looked at each other and laughed. He suggested flipping a coin to decide who paid. He lost and handed his credit card to the waiter. As Alex waited for him to return, a black limousine pulled up at the curb. The driver was a woman with short dark-green hair who wore a no-nonsense blue suit. The limo lifted into the air and darted away as soon as the door had closed behind Rally.
'So…he must be a very charming man if he can make you forget about everything for three hours like that,' the driver noted.
Rally flushed and retorted sharply, 'It's not like that between us. I need to know if I can trust him to do what needs to be done, and the only way to do that is to talk to him.'
'So what do you think of him?'
'He'll be a definite asset if he's even half as good with weapons and armour as he claims to be. It's a shame that he won't fight, but I can't force him to after hearing his story.' Mana floored the pedal, pressing both women into their seats and prohibiting further conversation.
'I still can't believe that you're alive. I was so sure I'd lost you that day….' Katsumi's voice trailed off as she burrowed closer to Roy. She'd missed his warmth and gentle nature so much in the month since she'd been freed from Medium's control. The demonic sword had taken advantage of her grief and rage to entrap her soul and use her as a puppet of Nemesis. 'The last few months have been so strange…almost like a nightmare, but I know it's all true.'
The blonde man beside her chuckled, 'I feel like I've just woken up from a dream, too. But I actually did spend the last six months sleeping. By the way, do you still have the ring I gave you?'
The violet-haired sorceress slipped out of bed without a word and opened a drawer in the nightstand. A single black velvet-covered box rattled to the front. Inside was a silver ring set with emeralds. 'I have an answer, too: Yes. But the wedding will have to wait until after the last battle is over. I hope you can wait just a little longer.' A silent 'If we survive' hung in the air between them.
Roy broke the silence. 'When's the baby due?'
'Early November, according to the doctors. If things go well, our child will be born to a world free of Lucifer Hawks.'
The officers' lounge of Station 07 was a spacious, yet cozy area on the ground floor . On Monday morning, the lounge was deserted except for a wisp of steam that curled up over one armchair. A black-suited, silver-haired man reclined in the chair, idly toying with a gauntlet in his lap. The steam rose from a large Thermos of coffee that rested to one side. As the man raised the container to drink, a woman yelled, 'Get out of my chair!'
The man calmly set down gauntlet and Thermos and immediately leapt into the air. A pair of long hooks appeared in his hands as a fiery blue dragon charged through the air just above the chair. He landed on the dragon's back, grasping it by sinking the hooks beneath its scales. The dragon bucked and turned wildly about the room, endeavoring in vain to shake off its unwelcome passenger. Fortunately, it managed to completely avoid the furniture.
'Lum Cheng, stand down! What is the meaning of this?' another woman snapped in a deeper voice from across the room. The new speaker was the woman who'd picked up Rally at the restaurant a few days ago; the one who'd summoned the dragon was much younger, with purple hair done up in a pair of cloth-covered buns. She wore the standard AMP uniform and wielded a golden rune-carved staff that resembled an out-sized spear.
The man fell lightly to the floor as the dragon vanished and bowed to the two women. 'Good morning. I'm Alex de Winter, and I'll be the man in charge of weapons maintenance for the AMP starting today.'
'Rally has told me a lot about you, Mr. de Winter. I hope you're as good as you claim to be. Mobile Division One's new armour and weapons are due to arrive at the end of the week. I'm Mana Isozaki, commander of the AMP. And this is Lum Cheng, our newest member. She's an elemental mage, an apprentice of Avalanche Wong.'
'She has great talent from she showed me earlier. It's been many years since I've had that much fun. If you will excuse me, I have an appointment with Simurgh's maintenance crew chief.' The hooks vanished with a flourish of Alex's hands as strode out of the lounge.
'What a weird guy. Say, Chief, are those rumours about him and the Director true?' asked Lum Cheng.
'I don't think even Rally knows. Half the time they seem to be long-lost siblings, other times they look like love-sick teenagers. Come on, it's time we got back to the office.'
'Say, Yuki, you know this guy Alex, right? What's he like?' Kiddy rested her elbows on the young psychic's desk, leaving their faces only inches apart.
'Well, he's a nice guy, but I get really weird vibes from him. He's older than he looks, and I think he's had some bad times in the past.'
'So what do you think is between him and the Director?'
The younger woman flushed and answered hesitantly, 'Well…I can't really say. I see them together all the time. You know, going out to lunch and stuff like that, but I can't really say if there's anything between them…at least, not the way you mean.'
'I think there's more to him than he's letting on. He's somehow managed to shut down all the surveillance gear in his office and bedroom. I can only see into the main area where he does repairs.' Lebia broke in.
'Well, he reunited me with Roy, so he can't be that bad….' Noted Katsumi.
'Hunh. He's a little creepy, though. I ran into him the other day and he asked me, "Is Ralph still a man?" It turned out that he'd been behind us in line at an amusement park a few months ago when I'd told Ralph, "I know you're not a gentleman; but if you don't pay for those tickets, you won't be a man at all!" I can't believe that he remembers that.' The other women laughed at the cyborg's anecdote.
'So…he's been in town for a while. That's strange, though, I haven't been able to trace him through Immigration. I do know that he stayed at the Hilton for a while.' Lebia reported.
'If you really want to know his story, he just mailed it to everyone in the station. It's kinda long, though.' Lum Cheng announced from her desk on the far side of the office. The document in question was an abridged version of what Alex had told Rally over the last few days. It omitted the more personal details…as well as the stranger ones, such as his exact age. Very little work was done at Station 07 that morning.
The rain on Friday afternoon was as hard and dismal as usual in Tokyo. Alex leaned back in his chair, scowling at the virtual pile of reports and forms displayed on his screen. Rally wasn't kidding about giving me a 'share' of the paperwork. If someone actually printed this, I'd be buried alive! I'm sure Yuki left some coffee around before they left.
Rising from his desk, Alex strode off to the small kitchen shared by the AMP and Mobile Police officers. As expected, a generous pot of coffee steamed invitingly on the stove. As he sipped at it and walked back to his office, his thoughts slipped back to his latest conversation with Rally.
He'd asked her, 'What do you plan to do after this war is over?'
'I…I don't know. I've been fighting it all my life; I guess I always assumed I'd be fighting it until the day I died. By the way, have I ever told you why all the AMP officers are women?' Seeing him shake his head, she'd continued, 'War only destroys, even if it is fought to preserve life. The AMP is fighting to keep this planet alive; since only women can create new life, I thought that it would be appropriate to combat the deadly power of Nemesis with a force of women.'
'And here I thought you just swung that way. More seriously, though, women cannot do that alone.'
'I know. As for what I'm planning to do after Ganossa is defeated, I'll probably sell most of my holdings and retire.'
'I wouldn't be so quick to say that. Every time I tried to retire, something always came up to drag me back in.'
A blaring klaxon jarred Alex from his reverie. A Lucifer Hawk-Category Two or higher-had managed to invade the station and was heading for the computer center. The AMP officers were on the far side of Tokyo dealing with a number of Category Twos that had attacked a train station; the Mobile officers were field-testing their new armour against an infestation of piranhas in an office building several blocks away. Sighing deeply, Alex set down his coffee and translocated himself into the computer room.
A minute later, the door burst inwards and bounced off his shield as the Hawk entered. It was slightly taller than an average human, a worm-like creature that floated upright through the air. Segmented chitinous skin glistened with mucus as it surveyed the chamber. Alex pulled a long bitter spear from the air with a flourish and said quietly, 'Leave now and live. If you decide to go after the data stored here, you will die.'
The creature laughed, a sound not unlike nails drawn over a chalkboard. 'It will take more than steel to defeat me.' Instantly, its tail whipped out to impale the man. The spear blurred and the creature was a foot shorter; fire consumed the severed segment as it fell.
'I take it that you choose to remain, then. So be it.' Black fire surged from the man's outthrust hand to envelope the Hawk. When they vanished, no sign of the creature remained. As Alex walked out he door, he paused and directed a second burst of fire at the floor. As he created a new door, the silver-haired man muttered, 'Almost missed a spot. Those things grow back faster than mildew if you do.'
'Alex, what happened? I came as soon as the alarm went off. I'll be down there in five minutes.' Lebia's voice spoke from the radio at his throat.
'Just a minor Lucifer Hawk trying to steal our data. I've taken care of it.'
Saturday dawned cold and wet, as most February days did in Tokyo. Rally had summoned the AMP officers to her office for a conference; Alex stood behind her as she began the briefing. 'We've seen at least six attacks a day against civilians since the government acknowledged the existence of Lucifer Hawks. In light of this, I will be asking the Prime Minister and his government to order the immediate evacuation of Tokyo. If all goes well, the AMP and Mobile Division One-and our support staff-will be the only people in the city within a week. Are there any questions?'
Kiddy spoke up. 'Just one: where will we be staying after this. It won't be all that safe in the city even if we do manage to get everyone out.'
Rally referred the question to Alex. 'The station has everything we need: kitchen, beds, showers. With only fifty people or so staying here, we'll be able to clear out quite a few rooms. I'll be converting some of that space into temporary quarters.'
'Pardon me. I hope I'm not interrupting anything.' A great Lucifer Hawk materialized in the center of the room. It was far more humanoid than most of that race, sporting what seemed to be a two-foot tall top hat with a great eye set in it. A single angel's wing graced its back, matched by a short fleshy spur on the other side; its one human arm was paired with a long black tentacle.
'Wait! This one is…powerful. I'm sure it's here for a purpose, and I think it would be best if we learned what that purpose it.' Alex called out as a pair of Mobile Police burst in the door and leveled blasters at the Hawk. The new armours looked much like the older suits, but they were 25% lighter, had built-in blasters on the arms, and were capable of limited flight with jetpacks attached.
'Listen to your elder, young ones. The years have given him sense, if not wisdom. Rally Cheyenne, I am here as an peaceful envoy from Goddess Nemesis.' The creature bowed to the silver-haired woman.
'Have you come to sue for peace? Our terms are simple: return to your world, and never attack humans again.'
'I'm afraid that I have come to receive answers to questions which have been vexing my Goddess for some time now. Why did Project Gaia betray us? Were the benefits not enough for you that you had to attack Nemesis?'
'Attack Nemesis? None of us were personally part of the Project, but the men behind it would never consider such a move. Did you see massed armies when you came through the portal in your "pre-emptive strike?"'
'No…but the resistance from the Sorcerers' Guild was sufficient to persuade us that you meant to fight in earnest. Moreover, Ganossa Maximillian, the human Ambassador warned us of this treachery and instructed us to prepare our counterstroke.'
'Ganossa warned you?' Rally sighed. 'You had no way of knowing not to trust that man. He lies as easily as most men breathe. However, we have no way of proving that he lied. The only surviving member of the Project Gaia team is too far away to consult now.'
'No. I am here.' A diminutive man with a long beard and broad conical hat materialized beside the Hawk. 'I felt Lucifer's presence here and I decided to attend this parley.'
'Grandfather! You know this creature?!' Lum Cheng burst out.
'He was a match for any of the old Sorcerers' Guild. Even Gigelf Liquer was forced to retreat before him.'
The Hawk bent down to place its face level with the old magician's. 'You must be Avalanche Wong. It has been a long time; I have come to learn the truth about Project Gaia. Ambassador Maximillian warned us that it was a cover for an invasion of Nemesis. Is this true?'
'No. Our intents were peaceful, intended to benefit both worlds. Ganossa sought to manipulate you for his own ends.'
'I see. You are telling the truth…and yet, my Goddess is bound by a contract to aid Ganossa. Until and unless he takes actions contrary to Her interests, She cannot cut him off from her power as she did the Cheyenne sisters. She never desired conflict between her children.' Rally bowed her head at this, hiding a tear behind her hair. The Hawk continued, 'I must report to my Goddess and formulate our strategy for disposing of the traitor Maximillian.' It bowed deeply and began to fade away.
'Wait!' Rally called. 'I would like to speak to you alone for a little, if you wish. I hope that you, a Lucifer Hawk, can answer a few questions I have about myself.' Lucifer rematerialized and bowed in acquiescence. The gathered officers quietly filed out the door. 'I would like to know, just how long do Lucifer Hawks live? Assuming they don't encounter one of us in battle, of course.'
'It varies greatly. The lesser breeds typically die after a few Earth years, while those such as I…well, I once visited Earth in my youth and listened to the blind bard sing of Troy . There are a few older than I, but they are mostly retired, as you humans say. Of course, I do not know if you will live as long as I have; however, some say that the greatest mages of antiquity carried the blood of Nemesis, and they lived for centuries. Is there anything else you wish to know?' The questions moved on to more exotic areas, mostly prompted by strange illnesses that Rally had had at one point or another.
1) AMP classification of Lucifer Hawks (anime version): I'm sorry for not putting this up earlier; must have slipped my mind.
Category One Hawks are the most intelligent and the most dangerous. They are relatively rare but tend to have strong magical powers.
Category Two Hawks are of intermediate intelligence and sometimes capable of speech; generally speaking they have minimal magical abilities.
Category One Hawks are the least intelligent, little more than dumb beasts in many cases. However, they are the most numerous type and may attack in swarms.
2) If you care, the gun looks very similar to an Earthforce PPG from Babylon 5, though it's much more powerful. Alex wears a slightly upgraded version of the riot gear from that series.
3) That should mean 'The Ivory Tower.' The name is based on a real restaurant named Le Tour d'Argent ('The Silver Tower,' I think), which provided at least one contestant for the Japanese show 'Iron Chef.' That show is quite possibly the best non-anime TV show to come out of Japan into the US. It's a little overdone, especially the Chairman's wardrobe, but it's a great show…it also makes me wish I could hook a replicator to my TV and try the dishes myself.
4) According to Rally in Vol.10 of the manga, she was eight when she first met Ganossa Maximilian and thirty years have passed since then. Material in vol. 2 and 4 could be interpreted to give somewhat younger ages for Rally, but I think that 38 is the best estimate.
5) Full-sized mecha are almost useless for hostage rescues, underground combat in tunnel complexes, etc. Basically, anything in a tightly enclosed space. Besides, power armour is much easier to produce in large numbers.
6) Station 00 was destroyed a few weeks before this point in the story line. It only makes sense that the AMP would move into another station afterwards.
7) Homer was generally believed to be blind. And one of the first to write down his works. I think that scholars generally date him to the fifth century BC or so.
General: I think Rally would tend to a bit shy around Alex even if she is one of the oldest canon characters. I have a feeling that she hasn't had much experience in the dating arena due to her background and how people treated her in her childhood. No matter how self-possessed or confident one is, one is almost always a bit jittery when trying something the first time. I also think there's a good chance she's had at least some college education…probably a business major.
In case you're wondering, Mana Isozaki is not my own creation, despite the late introduction. All I can say is that M. Asamiya introduced her relatively late in the series, too (manga version, anyway). Same with Lum Cheng. And Lucifer, for that matter. He only shows up in the last two volumes of the manga, and for about half a scene in the anime…his name is terribly mangled in the English dub, though.