Constraints: Follows ‘The Known Future’.

Synopsis: Tiffany is tasked with both the search for the Diclonii that she wants to kill and the rehabilitation of herself.

Pre-emptive counterattack.

Content: Violence, nudity, stuff you shouldn’t try at home, good guys doing bad things.

Legal: X-Men = MTV, Daria = Warner Bros, Legion Of Superheroes = Manga, Elfen Lied = Warner Bros, Legion Of Lawndale Heroes = Roentgen and Brother Grimace. … … … Have I got that right?

[Change Of Scenery]

Lieutenant Ian Johnston sat on his bunk, reading the transcript from his police interview.

His JAG council had said there was no way to appeal his way out of it, but that didn’t mean necessarily that he had no means of appeal, rape was supposed to be difficult to prove, so he should in theory have been able to get away with it.

Of course his first victim following police advice and reporting the incident wasn’t exactly helpful. He heard a crack in the floor and looked down to see a hole had appeared in the cell floor.

An endoscope poked through and looked around.

“Hi there, do you know which cell Harman Roberts is in?” asked a female voice.

“You wish to extract him?”

“Yes, and you can come too, we could use the diversion anyway,” said the female voice.

“How long until you’re ready?” asked Ian.

“We’ll be ready soon,” said the female voice.

“Okay, just one more thing.”


“Let me take you out to celebrate my newfound freedom. To show my appreciation.”

“Expensive meal, with an expensive wine?”


“Laced with rohypnol or GHB?”

‘How’d she know?’ he thought. He then feigned offence.

“Don’t give me that, you’re transparent as fuck. I’m glad you’re a rapist, that’ll make the Marshals desperate to find you. Bonus points if you’re also a serial killer. I get you and everyone else in the clink out, you all fuck off, linger or show up near us or Harman’s crew again, and you die. Understood?”

“ … Understood,” said Ian.

“Good. We’ll provide cash, clothes and fake ID, all you have to do is wait for an exit to materialise, and make like a tree when it does, anything else?”


“Good night.”

The endoscope disappeared and the hole was plugged by the piece of concrete that had been removed.

[Change Of Scenery]


Tiffany looked over to the Commander.

She had to figure out a way to get through this situation.

Tiffany was a SEAL, she supposedly lived for difficult, but some difficulties are more equal than others.

She formulated a response and, hope in her heart, deployed it.

“It’s not any one thing, you know, it’s a whole bunch of things, and sometimes it all just boils over.”

The Commander nodded, smiling, saying “yeah, I know what you mean … It’s the exact thing I suggested right at the start of the session.”

Tiffany grabbed the top of her chair back and pressed her head against the chair back as a means to dissipate her frustration.

“I’m sorry, but every time you ask a question, my mind turns to crap, I mean, my future depends on getting my temper under control, and that depends on remembering things so long past … … What do I do?”

“Let loose, rant, rave, curse what you feel wronged by, I need to know how your mind works before we can even plan anything, we go much longer like this and I’ll have no choice but to declare mission failure,” said the Commander. He didn’t need to explain the consequences of that, this was something that got mentioned between them the first session they had.

He was also privy to her personal file, and mission details describing what she had been tasked with and what had happened on her missions. She was a valuable asset, most his patients were valuable assets, but they, just like Tiffany, wanted to maintain control, wanted to look good in the eyes of their superiors. The fact was that Tiffany’s CO would never hear the intimate second by second details or even of the important details that Tiffany would reveal, all he would hear is that Tiffany was fit for duty or not fit for duty, but there was a strong possibility that Tiffany would not open up, not give him the information he needs to guide her through her issues, and she would spend a couple of decades doing nothing for herself or for her country in The Well.

[Change Of Scenery]

Tiffany entered the Admiral’s office and stood to attention. “Here as ordered, Sir.”

“Stand easy,” said the Admiral.

As soon as Tiffany stood at ease, he asked her “How’s counselling going?”

“I’m hopeful,” said Tiffany, debating whether or not to tack on ‘that I’ll be the husband, not the wife of my cell’.

“Don’t look it,” replied her Admiral.

“I just don’t know what to do in those sessions,” said Tiffany.

“Right. Well, while I still have you, I have a job for you, I’m assigning you TAD to SHIELD under agent Maximoff, they need you to help hunt down the two metas that killed your team, and I want said Metas banged up or dead, within the rules of war of course.”

“Of course sir,” said Tiffany. She was please she could be a part of this, but ‘Within the rules of war of course’ tacked onto the end of that sentence reminded her of how little trust he had in her.

“All expenses will be repaid following conclusion of your participation of the mission, be in Bayville International at 15:25 tomorrow, Maximoff will meet you there, dismissed.”

[Change Of Scenery]

Brittany waited for Fran to finish whatever she was doing inside the computer. There were TOO MANY possibilities, if this guess didn’t work, she would have to declare mission failure and figure out another way to prepare for the re-emergence of the metas that had been assisting that drug cartel.


This is why they ended up guessing, they had asked airport officials, using fake Interpol IDs, but those officials were lying and Brittany and Fran had no powers of arrest because they were outside their jurisdiction and were lying about their affiliations, so no means to prosecute for averting the course of justice.

Fran emerged from the back of the computer and grew big enough to be audible, she told Brittany “try it now.”

Brittany clocked the Login button and it admitted her even though the username and password boxes were blank. She searched through the visual logs of passengers admitted since the time of the contact and found “Nothing.”

“Now what?” asked Fran.

“Go home and anticipate,” said Brittany.

[Change Of Scenery]

Tiffany picked up her luggage and she heard a woman behind her say “You’re three minutes early.”

Glancing at the clock on the wall, she noted the time was indeed 15:22:13. “Sorry about that, I’ll try to be less early in future. Beyond ‘Be here in three minutes,’ do I have any other objectives?”

“Check the man accessible sewers near Bayville mall,” said Agent Maximoff.

“For what?” asked Tiffany.

“You’ll know it when you see it,” said Maximoff.

“The sentence ‘April Fool’ writ large in faeces, for instance?” asked Tiffany.

“Next meeting will be at The Twisted Offspring, on the northern outskirts of Bayville, two days from now, 23:45.”

“Understood,” said Tiffany as she continued out the arrivals lounge.

[Change Of Scenery]

Torpid followed Callisto’s hand signals as long as she was in view, but once she was out of view of Callisto, she was on her own. She silently advanced to the tunnel junction, and when she arrived, she saw the person, a woman with black hair, dressed in jeans and a leather jacket, slowly walking the sewers.

Torpid advanced on the woman, matching step in order to use the woman’s movement through the brown water to mask her own.

As soon as Façade de-cloaked, that should indicate the woman’s intention to an extent.

“Oh look, someone else,” said the Woman.

“Who are you?” asked Façade.

“Tina Dandrel,” replied the Woman, “you?”

“I’ll ask the questions here,” said Façade.

“And that means I can’t?” asked the woman.

“What are you doing down here?” asked Façade.

“Looking for something,” said the woman.

“What are you looking for?” asked Façade.

“I’ll know when I see it,” said the woman. Her tone showed irritation.

“Based on what?” asked Façade.

“Screwed if I know. How about you, what are you doing down here?”

“Asking the questions.”

“You got any more?” asked the woman.

He didn’t answer.

“Okay, well, I’m new in town, apparently I hear these tunnels are a point of interest … … … to, someone … Anything unique around here?”

“The DNA code of the local bacteria are going to be slightly different to that of the bacteria in the crap from where you’re from,” said Façade.

“Okay. … Screw it! You wouldn’t happen to know a Wanda Maximoff would you?” asked the woman.

“Magneto’s Daughter?” asked Façade, “why would she be down here?”

“She secretly harbours a scatological fetish?” suggested the woman.

“Or she has nowhere else to go,” said Façade.

“Like you?” asked the woman.

“Ye- … ”

“Don’t recall seeing you on any BOLOs, but then maybe this is pre-emptive?” asked the woman.

Façade signalled for Torpid to attack.

Torpid advanced, gloves off, only for the woman to kick out and send her flying 10 metres along the tunnel. Torpid would have preferred to have struck concrete.

“Bad move,” said Façade.

“You started it,” said the woman.

“Did not,” said Façade.

“Did too,” said the woman.

Façade saw Spyke appear and continued “Did not, you trespassed on us, and you just struck out at one of us, so now we use whatever level of force we need to disable you.”

Spyke took that as his cue to attack and he shot a quill at the woman.

The quill passed straight through the woman and struck the wall, it then started spinning and struck Façade across the eyes, causing Façade to jump back, losing all balance in his panic, he too landed in the faeces.

Turning to Spyke the woman said “this just gets weaker by the femto second, are you guys actually packing anything or can I just go where I like unchecked down here?”


“Ask one of your buddies to explain, if they’re not too busy dying from leptospirosis or cholera,” said the woman as she wandered off.

Spyke followed her as she walked along another tunnel.

[Change of Scenery]

As Tiffany left the tunnel where two apparent residents now lay shivering in the faeces, she mulled over how useful that conversation had been.

A group of mutants apparently lived in the Bayville sewers, they have no affiliation with SHIELD or they’d have been expecting her, might have briefed her, JUST WHAT THE HELL WAS SHE SUPPOSED TO FIND DOWN HERE?

Then she felt something move through her.

She saw nothing. It felt familiar.

She advanced to the next corner and saw a girl with pink hair, pink eyes and the remains of a pair of horns.

“Ah, well, that explains it then,” said Tiffany.

“Explains what?” asked the girl. Her accent was slightly Japanese.

Tiffany head butted her and grabbed her as she fell, dragging her through the walls to the surface.

Finding herself in a warehouse, she proceeded to lift the girl over her shoulders and run.

[Change Of Scenery]

Lucy awoke feeling hung over.

Or was the nausea and head pain down to the fact that the last thing she remembered was this Chinese woman head butting her?

She also found her hands were immobile.

So were her ankles.

She turned her head and saw the woman sitting across the room from the bed underneath her.

Lucy tried reaching out with her vectors.

Her vectors didn’t come.

“What the hell do you want?” growled Lucy.

“Information,” said the woman.

“About what?”

“Two mutants, pink hair, pink eyes … horns … ”

Lucy processed what the woman was saying and eventually settled on a response: “You moron.”

The woman raised an eyebrow.

“Let me rephrase … … … Actually, on second thoughts, I stand by my first answer: … … YOU, … … MORON! … … WHAT THE HELL MAKES YOU THINK I KNOW OF OTHER DICLONII JUST BECAUSE I MYSELF AM A DICLONIUS?”

The woman said “because I was sent here.”

“If I have to break out of these restraints or answer any more of your cryptic questions, I will make you wish you had answered me straight up,” said Lucy.

The woman reached out and passed her hand through the wall behind her, she retrieved her hand, it was holding a can of ultra-cola, she opened it saying “might be faster if you just tell me what you know.”

Lucy laughed and said “In my entire existence, I’ve only ever encountered two female diclonii, of those two, one’s dead, 10% got digested by sewer rats, the other 90% is fish food, and the other IS PATHALOGICALLY INCAPABLE OF DRAWING THE KIND OF ATTENTION WHOEVER SENT YOU IS PAYING!”

“How’s that?”

“The first one or the second one?”


“One was packed with explosives, carried onto a bridge and blown up by remote, the other won’t kill even to defend herself, and has zero ambition beyond pleasing whoever will board and feed her, okay? Are we done now?”

“We’ll see,” said the woman as she got up and left through the wall.

Lucy struggled some more and shouted “GAHHHH!” in frustration.

[Change Of Scenery]

“She’s left the motel room,” said Lucid.

“Just like that?” asked Callisto.

“We had no sight on her or Lucy for about half an hour, screw knows what she did to Lucy in that time,” said Lucid.

“Worry about that later, Spyke, you and Lucid extract Lucy, Scaleface, watch our exit, Torpid, your hands might still work if she’s intangible, until we know for sure, get in her way,” said Callisto.

Lucid accompanied Spyke to the door, Spyke picked the lock with a thin quill and they snuck inside, Lucy remained silent as Spyke cut her restraints.

He and Lucid then turned their attention to the collar, Lucid glancing occasionally at the woman.

Once they had picked the lock on the collar, they left.

They reunited.

“That woman’s on the phone in another motel room,” said Lucid, he then recited the number she had dialled.

“Right,” said Callisto, “Lucid, keep watching her, Lucy and anyone who that woman saw earlier, return to base-no, scratch that, hide out somewhere she won’t already know about, Lucy, anything in your past, remember it fast, we may need to know about it. Go now. And don’t pick your nose, they’ll know.”

As Lucy, Spyke, Façade and Torpid left, Callisto took up another position away from Lucid. Her hearing was sufficient that she could use that to hear where Lucid and that woman were. She could approach Lucid at any time and ask if she felt she needed to hear what he just saw immediately. She heard the woman swear and burst out the front door, she heard a noise consistent with the cranking of a selector switch on an 11.5mm handgun being cranked.

Callisto feigned interest in a bus timetable on a nearby bus stop as she listened to the woman swear again and run off.

She heard Lucid move to follow and maintained an appropriate stand-off.

Was that woman feigning or had her plan really gone tits up?

Callisto reviewed what Lucy had revealed about her past so far: A Japanese mad science firm had captured her and done a bunch of experiments on her, and other similar mutants. She broke out and sustained a GSW to the head from some kind of AP 12.5mm round, that split her personality for a while. Some kid took her and another Diclonius in. She then got engaged by the mad scientists private army, she kept dismembering them.

Then she got engaged by Mariko, total sociopath diclonius, Mariko beat the faeces out of Lucy, knocking a horn off, Apparently Mariko was then attacking Nana, when one of the mad scientists grew a conscience and somehow managed to relocate Mariko to an empty area, and explosives placed inside Mariko (to menace co-operation out of her) were set off. Someone less conscientious was then going to shoot Nana, but Lucy intervened, then Lucy got engaged again by more of these mercs, her other horn was shot off, following this Lucy elected to piss off, taking measures to draw the mad scientists away from the kid that had taken her in, and ultimately emigrated from Japan.

Hoping she had done enough to keep the mad scientists from returning to Nana and her hosts, Lucy had spent her life since moving through the United States, living off stolen goods and revenue, and she met The Morlocks, and settled here.

She had been pretty vague otherwise.

Callisto could tell Lucy wasn’t telling them everything, but Callisto wasn’t a cop or working on behalf of any law enforcement agency, so as long as Lucy didn’t turn and screw them, she didn’t care.

Now Lucy was apparently in danger, so Callisto needed this information in order to help Lucy, after all the assistance Lucy rendered the Morlocks, that was the least she could do.

[Change Of Scenery]

Tiffany listened as the girl talked.

“There’s a reason I’ve been holding things back,” said Lucy, her voice was clearest because she was the one with the salazarium bug.

Tiffany had drawn a number of Salazarium bugs when she left the Navy base, and the Mk. 40 collar she drew from a SHIELD field office, texting them to drop it in a specific location while she was running around with Lucy draped across her shoulders.

She was never going to get answers with direct questions or menaces, she didn’t even know that Lucy knew what she wanted to know, so it had to be this way around.

“It’s not just that research institute that’s after me, Japanese cops weren’t impressed with my misspent youth either. I went through this serial killer phase, killing humans for fun.”

There was a pause before Lucy said “Yeah, that’s why I didn’t reveal that, that’s also why I don’t want to approach Xavier if I can possibly avoid it.”

“It could be relevant,” said Spyke, “relatives of people you have killed could be after you.”

“I don’t think it’s me she’s after, she seemed to be after two other diclonii, I haven’t sensed any other Diclonii since I left Kamakura, it’s possible these two are escapees like myself, but it’s also possible they were never interred there.”

“That would be a good place to start any investigation, we could have Lucid and Façade infiltrate the facility, if it still exists,” said Spyke.

“I should probably come with you,” said Lucy, “I know the facility from being abducted to it, abused in it, and breaking out of it, and I think we need to talk to Nana as well, Director Kurama seemed to trust her a lot more, he wasn’t too happy about me ripping her arms and legs off, so she may have more information than I do.”

“Ri- … HE, weren’t too happy about you ripping her arms and legs off, how do you think Nana is likely to feel about it?”

“We got into a few fights after that, we’ve pretty much settled things by the time I left,” said Lucy, “we might have a problem if we encounter Bando, he’s a Special Assault Team operative, I broke one of his arms, severed another, then I suddenly switched to Nyu, my other personality, and left him alive. He’s got a tighter grip on his grudge than Osama Bin Laden.”

“Sounds like you’re going to be encountering a lot of memories over there,” said Spyke, “will you be able to function?”

“Don’t see any choice, the two Diclonii that woman’s after … There aren’t too many of my kind that I know of, Diclonius seems to be a specific genus, and like it or not, someone’s making this our problem, we need to figure out what’s happening and where we need to stand on this,” said Lucy “One thing I’m now aware of is that feelings of guilt were what switched me over to Nyu, if that happens in a fight, I’ll be of no use to you.”

“You dropped something,” said someone behind Tiffany.

She then felt something close around her neck.

She tried to phase through it, but couldn’t.

She then spun and engaged the woman with the eye patch.

It was a close in down and dirty brawl that didn’t end until they both ran out of energy.

“Just who are you?” asked the woman.

“You first,” said Tiffany.

“No, you first, you’re the intruder, you’re the one that started hassling my people, YOU, identify yourself.”

“Can’t,” said Tiffany.

“Good bye,” Said Callisto.

Tiffany broke off and sort of skipped and pirouetted at the same time, causing their newest arrival, a black woman with her hands reaching forth for some reason, to topple over, her hands came into contact with the one eyed woman before she reacted to land on her elbows and roll over.

“AAAOOOWWW!” said the one eyed woman as the skin on her arms smoked, the flesh turning red.

“Sorry,” said the woman.

Tiffany stepped back saying “Look, information flows one way, from you to me, that’s just the way it’s got to be, okay? Bye.”

Tiffany then ran along the direction the black woman had come from.

[Change Of Scenery]

Callisto followed the woman’s footfalls.

She wasn’t losing her. This woman was doing something that directly threatened the Morlocks, and Callisto needed to know what.

This woman might not be aware of Callisto’s capabilities, but she seemed to Callisto to be an experienced operator, the device the woman had plugged into her ears was direct audio telemetry from a bug in or on Lucy.

‘Serial killer phase’, a lot of her people had a past, hell, some SHIELD agents she knew had a- …

Why the hell did that woman ask if they knew Wanda Maximoff? Wanda’s in SHIELD now.

[Change Of Scenery]

Brittany entered the meeting room where every Legionnaire was assembled. “As you can probably guess, we lost the metas. Now we have to anticipate what they and their precog boss will do.”

“Out anticipate a precog. … We do that how exactly?” asked Quinn.

“Backup plans,” said Daria, “we know our primary plan will fail, maybe the standard backups, but as soon as the precog’s actions or orders change the outcome, there’s always some uncertainty as to what those changes will precipitate.”

“Give me five minutes and I’ll have every permutation accounted for,” said Jodie.

“We do need to have some idea of what that precog will want to do,” said Stacy.

“We made his or her customers mad at them, maybe that precog’s mad at us,” said Quinn.

“There are better things the precog could be doing than keeping score,” said Sandi, “besides, it was Tiffany that screwed them.”

“Think we can anticipate Tiffany’s actions?” asked Jane.

“We could make the case that we need to know where Tiffany is in order to protect her,” said Daria.

“I said her actions, not her orders,” said Jane, “Girl’s got about twenty colonies in her belfry.”

“She got pissed off, it happens,” said Daria.

“Guess you two got that in common,” said Jane, “how is it you always take her side over me?”

“When was the last time you had my back in the last five years?” asked Daria.

“ExxxxxxxxCUSE ME?” asked Jane.

“You heard,” said Daria.

“When was the last time you were reasonable?” asked Jane.

“Back at you. What else might our precog try? More importantly, how sophisticated is the attack likely to be? Will it be overt, covert, physical, political, what?” asked Daria.

“He or she wants to do political, Tiffany would be a good means, given how long she had both military AND civilian law enforcement membership,” said Jane.


“KNOCK, IT, OFF, CHILDREN!” said Stacy.

There was about a minute of silence.

“The problem we have is that the precog is a total mystery to us, we only know those metas that Tiffany told us about. We know what they look like, we might, I say MIGHT, be able to find out what they did prior to the cartel job. One thing we do know about the precog is that he or she only recently turned his or her attention to the South American drug cartels because that’s what the success rate of the raids on their facilities reflects. The question is, what has our precog been up to prior to that gig?” asked Jodie.

“Those two telekinetics are odd for metahumans,” said Julia, “metahumans tend to present with random abilities and features, but the Diclonii, they’re in a specific genus called Diclonius, all present with pink hair, pink eyes, horns growing out their head, and usually four vectors, telekinetic ‘arms’.”

“If the two we’re after grew up in any of the G8 countries, wouldn’t there be at least three or four registries with photo ID?” asked Daria, “school, vehicle operator, criminal records bureau, customs and excise?”

“Not all kids get registered, not everyone gets born in a maternity ward, not everyone attends school for their education, and especially not everyone gets a vehicle operator license or a passport,” said Julia, “even in G8 countries.”

“Horns plus little kids are bastards equals desire to home school,” said Daria “but home birthing kids with horns sounds implausible, that sounds like we’re into caesarean or death territory.”

“What about their character?” asked Sandi, “who works as a mercenary? Especially as a liaison with an army of meth-heads?”

“Someone who don’t give a damn?” suggested Jane.

“There are specific profiles for mercenaries, but they’re based on probability and the range still includes a lot,” said Julia, “a lot of retired or otherwise discharged military become mercenaries because they need or want the money, because they like the lifestyle but were administratively separated, because they like to kill but not the rules of war, we could generally exclude anyone who is unskilled at war, unwilling to wage war, there’s not a lot we can do to narrow it down.”

“Maybe there is,” said Daria, “these two are totally off the grid, now, it occurs to me that Diclonii when born are obvious metas, that makes them vulnerable to anyone enacting a ‘kill at birth’ policy.”

“Or superstitious societies such as most the African and Asian boondocks,” said Jodie.

“Or the southern states of our great nation,” said Daria. Suddenly Daria said “Just occurred to me,” she opened her position’s embedded computer, each position at the table had a sort of laptop computer embedded into it so each person could make presentations as needed.

She worked the search engine for a while until she said “here we go,” and switched the main screen to her terminal.

A message board titled “Diclonius dating and fellowship” with the tagline “got horns? So do we.”

“Okay, makes sense, Diclonii need friends too, but how does this help?” asked Jodie.

“Brittany, any time you asked about your targets, how many girls with horns you do end up hearing about?” asked Daria.

“At known waypoints, ten or twelve,” said Brittany.

“Decoys,” said Daria, “we need to have a face to face conversation with the board administrator, find out if any particular individuals have been messing board members around, maybe accounts got suspended.” She entered a topic titled “Introductions And Shameless Boasting.” There was one sticky thread titled “Any Invites To Japan: How To Not Disappear.”

“Huh … ominous,” Daria selected it.

“What are you thinking now?” asked Jane.

“This thread’s a few years old now,” said Daria, there was a list of at least five call signs with their real names and details, all of them missing. She used shift to open new windows for each page, there were ten pages.

“No photos for a lot of them that could be our metas, I’m thinking they may have been abducted and brainwashed, you don’t really need to be registered with anyone to register on a message board,” she then found a post by the administrator showing an ISP covering Kanagawa.

“We still need to know about the decoys,” said Daria, “but this is also worth a look, if we can get the IP addresses, we should be able to figure out who’s been abducting Diclonii and maybe follow them to an organisation.”

“Okay, if there’s nothing else, let’s get on it,” said Brittany.

[Change Of Scenery]

Tiffany met Wanda as planned, Tiffany sitting down with a burger meal that cost about 1.5 times that of a McDonalds plastic burger meal, only it tasted and filled like real food. Apparently this place was a meta hangout. She chuckled as she remembered what her fashion club diet was like, salad, celery sticks, no meat, not enough to fill you up. Then they started training under Force Recon instructors and learned about real nutrition. You want protein, you want complex carbohydrates, and you want vitamins and minerals, and for bodybuilding you want lots of them. Of course Sandi and Quinn insisted on the fad diet, so she and Stacy followed suit until about the third PE session that had to be attended by Corpsmen utilising intravenous lines to feed them Glucose brine.

Or was it the fifth?


“If I knew you were going to buy two meals,” said Tiffany as Wanda sat down.

“A third person is meeting us,” said Wanda.

“Really who?”

“You’ve met her, white, black hair, C cup. She smells bad, although that can’t be helped to be fair, she does live in a sewer after all,” said Wanda.

“Eye patch over right eye?” asked Tiffany.

“Correct,” said Wanda.

The topic of their conversation entered and sat at Wanda’s table. Wanda placed the food she had procured in front of her.

“Callisto, Tiffany. Tiffany, Callisto.”

“I take it by the circumstances of the meeting she’s supposed to be an ally, maybe even an informant?” asked Tiffany.

“Excellent deduction skills,” said Wanda.

“And before you start having a go at me for causing problems between you, you sent me looking for and I quote ‘something’, that and I quote again ‘I’ll know when I see it,’ … what exactly did you think was going to happen?”

Wanda sighed and eventually said “Okay, fair enough, but there is the small matter of what Callisto heard you hear.”

“Illegally obtained evidence, Judge would bin it,” said Tiffany, “I’m more interested in locating the two diclonii and having an excuse to give them a nice eternal dirt nap.”

“What did they do?” asked Callisto.

“They killed three Navy enlisted and were involved in a conspiracy to kill the Legion,” said Tiffany.

“You NCIS or Marshals?” asked Callisto.

“Coast Guard,” said Tiffany. That was sort of The Navy, but able to operate in civilian Law Enforcement roles.

“Right. You got more information than Lucy does right now,” said Callisto, “do we have any further business?”

“Lucy has revealed that she can sense other Diclonii, that could prove essential,” said Tiffany.

“I’ll ask her if she’s willing to assist you, but if she is, I’ll want the rest of us along with her, Lucy is a Morlock, which means we watch out for her.”

“Fair enough, but it’s my show,” said Tiffany. She felt that Callisto was an able leader and the Morlocks had been fairly good opponents, but Tiffany also wondered how she’d deal with any directions Tiffany might give.

Callisto frowned and said “Fine, your show, but my people, and I will deviate if I feel you are abusing your appointed position. And remember, that’s ‘if’, not ‘when’.”

“Bayville airport, 12:45 tomorrow if it’s on,” said Wanda, “we’ll be going to Japan anyway to check this out.”

[Change Of Scenery]

Stacy picked up two bags of doughnuts and two bottles of ultra-cola before joining the queue at the till.

After paying for everything she returned to the car and handed the shopping over to Jodie as she entered, and once Stacy was in, she started the car and they were off again.

“Not much of a conversationalist lately are you?” asked Jodie.

“Yeah, had Daria and Jane on my mind mainly,” said Stacy, “I mean, did you hear that argument they had in the meeting?”

“They haven’t felt support from one another for a while because with us, acts of heroism are a dime a dozen,” said Jodie, “therefore, disagreements matter more than victories.”

“That’s a little cold,” said Stacy, “I know they’ve been pretty cynical since I’ve known them, but this … … … It’s … … … well, it’s really sad is what it is.”

“Yeah, I hate to say it, but we need a really big crisis to get those two to value each other again,” said Jodie.

“People have to die just to get those two to be friends again?” asked Stacy.

“Probably,” said Jodie, “I dunno, I guess the only people who can actually do anything about them is Daria and Jane themselves.”

“Haven’t they already had crisises? What about when they got captured by that Wyatt guy? Or when we all got stuck in that jungle fighting that cartel?”

“Apparently they weren’t big enough crises,” said Jodie.

Jodie and Stacy continued on their journey to find the diclonius message board administrator.

[Change Of Scenery]

Bando watched as Kouta and Yuka went about removing rotting leaves and other accumulated crap out the gutters around the roof of the Maple Inn.

Nana hadn’t stepped outside the building, you’d think with her vectors she’d be ideal for this, vectors don’t need washing or return any unpleasant tactile sensations … … do they?

Bando was concealed in a tree, his Special Assault Team training was proving essential in his efforts to reap vengeance against Lucy, as soon as that bitch returns, she is his to kill.

He could so use a coffee about now. He could smell it- wait a minute.

He looked around and saw a paper cup of coffee floating next to him.

“Don’t know if you take it with sugar, but I got some,” said Nana.

She was seated on a branch above and to his right.

He growled a few second but eventually accepted the coffee. After taking a sip, he said “How did you find me?”

“There’s only so many places you can hide, and when you’re expected, well … ” said Nana.


Bando chuckled at the absurdity of the situation.

He used to be hot shit when he was in the SAT, top reflexes, excellent target acquisition, the price was that most missions bored the shit out of him, and that ultimately led to him being defeated by Lucy.

When he had encountered her in Nyu mode, he and a friend beat her and Kouta to the ground, and dragged her away. His mate in retrospect had been right to follow orders, keep your distance, call in support, not that overwhelming firepower had done much for them, mainly because they had mostly been using 9mm sub and 7.62mm rifle.

Net result, they slapped Lucy around a bit, and he had finally ordered his mate to kill Lucy, but by then, she had switched personae from Nyu to Lucy, and his mate was torn apart right in front of him.

She then stands up like the screwing T1000 out of Terminator 2: Judgement Day.

He had then unloaded a clip at Lucy, finding to his dismay that she was deflecting all his shots.

After spending a few minutes throwing boats, rocks and other crap at him, she stood over him, ripped one arm off, broke the other, and poked his eyes out.

Then something switched her to Nyu mode and she left.

Then that kid Mayu showed up and saved him.

Director Kurama, of the research facility Lucy had escaped from, saw to it he got cybernetic replacements, but also made it a condition that he get castrated.

On the plus side, that condition was to be met in a separate operation following the cybernetic implants, and he punched his way out. That point he had elected to seek revenge against Lucy.

He was clearing the beach of things Lucy could throw when he encountered Mayu. He gave Mayu his cell phone number saying ‘call me if you’re in a pinch, I’ll kill them all.’ He had then asked her to look out for a girl with horns.

“You mean Nyu?” asked the girl.

He promptly began interrogating her. During the interrogation, she almost comically waved the phone number he had just given her in front of his face saying “Please sir, I’m in a pinch.”

Well what could he do? He owed her. He told her to leave and never show her face to him again.

Next thing he knew he saw Nana. He pulled his Desert Eagle with its AP ammo, and started interrogating her.

Nana was in worship of Director Kurama. He had to explain what Kurama had told him about the Diclonii, that they were out to kill off species homosapian, and following that explanation she had resolved herself (after a brief crying jag) to kill him.

She followed him into the area of the beach he had prepared, and then he sprung his surprise that there was nothing for her to throw.

Then he found out about her prosthetic limbs. She revealed this fact by throwing one of her arms at him. He dropped his primary weapon, she stood over him like Lucy had.

He then drew his second with his prosthetic arm.

The prosthesis was absolutely shit, it disintegrated under the recoil, Nana probably didn’t need her vectors to deflect that round, which skipped off her head.

She reaches up, her hand comes away bloody, she’s like “Blood?” Then she’s crouching next to him, one arm off, the other covering her eyes crying “PAPA! IT HURTS! IT HURTS!”

That was how ridiculous his life had got at that point.

She was also on the vengeance train after that point.

Bando hadn’t seen the part where Lucy and Nana made up, all he saw was Mariko bouncing Nana off the road, Kurama (after meeting him and getting his prosthesis changed out and getting him to accompany him to rescue Nana) went to rescue Nana, she’d fallen off the bridge after disabling Mariko’s vectors, he then saw Lucy with that kid Kouta, He chased Lucy off, she got the upper hand again, then Lucy was like “You won’t see me again,” and left him there.

She made a bunch of appearances moving away from this place, but he figured sooner or later, Lucy would return to Kouta.

And When she did …

“Bando?” asked Nana.


“How is it you can take vengeance so seriously after all this time?” asked Nana.

“She ripped both your arms and both your legs off, how is it you can forgive her?” asked Bando.

“I’m not sure I can or have, but she later saved my life, she’d started showing remorse, and to be honest, if you have to try to harbour a grudge, it’s time to let go and … … well, … … just get a life.”

“You just don’t understand the warriors code do you?” asked Bando.

“No, but I know sad when I see it,” said Nana. “This can’t be fun for you, it’s not serving any higher purpose, I mean, just what are you doing?”

Bando tried to frame a response and eventually said “If I have to explain, you wouldn’t understand.”

Nana sighed, and eventually dropped out the tree, landing on her vectors. She then returned to the Maple Inn to assist Kouta and Yuka in their housekeeping operations.

[Change Of Scenery]

Daria and Charles were the ones that were assigned to chase up the Japanese side of this investigation. They had secured the IP addresses, but they would need to actually go over there and start knocking on doors to figure out who lived there at the times of the disappearances.

They had to make a fuel stop at LAX. Because of the recent number of incidents where the Gridrunners had been damaged or incapacitated, the Legion’s backers had insisted they cut back on their use as far as possible, the L1s were cheaper, so Daria and Charles had taken an L1b two seater.

The problem is that they were now spending five hours in flight instead of the thirty minutes the Gridrunner would take.

That also meant watching their hydration, if they under hydrate, they risk hallucinating, not the best thing to do when driving any aircraft, let alone a fast jet, over hydrate and you spend most the light holding it in.

Next fuel stop was Hawaii and then Haneda.

[Change Of Scenery]

Wanda and Tiffany waited near the baggage check-in as 12:30 passed.

Eventually they heard gasps and comments.

At 12:31, they caught sight of the Morlocks.

Wanda handed them their passports and tickets.

Lucy made her way around the group to Tiffany.

“Tiffany?” asked Lucy.


Tiffany felt something punch her in the side of her head, she fell over landing in a heap on her side.

She was on her feet fast. Too fast really, she found herself overshooting her centre of mass. Callisto stopped Tiffany from falling over again and stood her up straight. The cold feeling encompassing her left ear and the entire left face of her brain accompanied with nausea and loss of equilibrium was alarming. “That could have killed me you moron!”

“Implant anything into my body without my express permission again, and I will kill you,” said Lucy. She then joined the queue for the security checkpoint, she only had one bag.

Callisto then told Tiffany “Never, EVER, piss off a recovering serial killer,” she then joined the baggage check in queue as she needed to put her bag in the hold because of all the edged and blunt weapons she was packing.

As the Morlocks moved on, Wanda smirked at Tiffany.

Tiffany glared at Wanda and eventually said “Never ever piss off a Navy SEAL,” before moving on somewhat unsteadily.

[Change Of Scenery]

Lucy was sat in front of two kids. Ten year old kids who seemed to whisper between themselves when she had been stowing her bag in the overhead compartment.

This was why Lucy had stowed on a container ship when she emigrated from Japan. Kids like that could easily push her off the wagon.

And now the two sawn off turds were climbing over the back of her seat.

She felt with her vectors until she located their fingers, which were approaching the remains of her horns.

She grabbed them and pulled their arms forward, pulling them until they were resting by their sternums on the seat back.

“I’m sure my head really is that fascinating to you, but if you don’t want to lose your fingers or any other body parts, you might consider sitting down, shutting up, and making like a pair of statues for the rest of the flight. Agreed?”

“Agreed,” chorused the kids.

Lucy let go and the two kids sat back down, now extremely fearful of provoking the object of their curiosity.

At times like this, Lucy LOVED being a diclonius.

[Change Of Scenery]

“What’s the Legion’s interest in us?” asked Phillip Lien, the administrator of the Diclonius message board as he read the warrant.

“We think two Diclonius mercenaries may have been setting up meetings with other Diclonii in order to disguise their own movements though technologically deficient airports, how often do board members get asked to meet up somewhere and then find they’ve been stood up?” asked Stacy.

“We get that all the time, but we figured it’s kids messing them around for laughs,” said Phillip.

“That is a possibility in some cases, but we need to work that out for ourselves,” said Jodie, “what we want to do is build up a picture of movement, we need to trace the IP addresses of these pranksters at the dates the pranks were committed, have there been specific days or months you can remember these pranks occurring in their hundreds?”

Phillip Lien grabbed a flash drive and plugged it into a USB hub saying “it started about a year ago, every few months or thereabouts, I’d see members talking about individuals rather impolitely about having forked out a couple of hundred bucks to meet other diclonii at locations clustered around an airport on the corner of no and where,” he said. The Warrant had specified private messages from individuals who had stood up other board members at pre-arranged meetings.

This was going to take a while.

[Change Of Scenery]

“Welcome to Japan,” said Haruka Hibiki, a mutant rights activist. He had pyrokinetic abilities and several law degrees.

“Thank you,” said Daria, “we’re investigating a number of disappearances that have apparently occurred here.”

“Diclonii?” asked Haruka.

“Yeah,” said Daria, “what’s your opinion of the local cops in this area?”

“A certain Kevin Bloody Wilson song says it best,” said Haruka.

“I came across a couple of BOLOs for diclonii during our investigation into a couple of diclonii working as mercenaries, weather or not they’re connected, the thing that drew my attention was that the BOLO for Nana has no crimes specified, whereas Lucy’s BOLO has a string of murders.”

“Anything else draw your attention?” asked Haruka.

“A Diclonii message board,” said Daria, “I want to find out who was living at all these IP addresses when these disappearances occurred, but before I start approaching the DA for warrants, I want to get a lay of the legal land, if going to the DA results in the destruction of evidence before we arrive to serve the warrant-”

“It will,” said Haruka.

“I see … I’ll find another way then, thanks,” said Daria.

“Sorry I couldn’t be more help,” said Haruka.

She left and used her flight ring to say ‘Charles from Daria, our legal advice says try another way.’

Daria Charles, have that, infiltration successful, as soon as I figure out which banks pay these individuals, I’ll fill out the warrants and make them look legit, also sticking a shunt into the Judge’s phone lines.’

Received, out.

[Change Of Scenery]

As they de-planed, Callisto asked Wanda “what’s the Legion doing here? I saw an L1 with Legion roundels on the apron as we landed.”

“No idea,” said Wanda.

Tiffany had overheard this and wondered to herself what was going on.

Legion must be chasing the Diclonii Mercenaries too.

But they weren’t too happy about the lengths she was willing to go to in order to find out what she could about them.

‘Legion can screw themselves’, thought Tiffany.

This hadn’t been their fault though, her being kicked out the Legion was her own fault for losing control. She should have realised what their reaction would have been.

They could have been a lot more understanding though.

They were supposed to be her friends after all.

Screw this introspection, she had a job to do.

[Change Of Scenery]

After the phone call resulted in the judge confirming the warrant, the bank manager accepted the flash drive from Daria and started going through all the names. Daria dipped into his thoughts every now and then when he wasn’t looking at her.

[Change Of Scenery]

Tiffany was the only one who had a driving license in every country, so it was her that ended up parking the minibus in the local mall, now they were in the same postcode area as their objectives, they wanted to reduce the amount of attention they drew to a minimum.

Eventually she caught up with Wanda and the Morlocks as they walked past the cemetery.

Lucy was at point because she knew the area. She stopped and turned to Callisto, saying “Something’s wrong here.”

“What?” asked Callisto.

“I can sense Nana, she should be sensing me back, for some reason she seems to be nauseas, like she’s expecting something bad to happen.”

“You de-limbed her,” said Spyke.

“She shouldn’t fear that,” said Lucy, “I think there may be something else going on.”

“Like what?” asked Callisto.

Lucy thought about it and eventually said “I don’t know.”

“Façade and Lucid do a close target reconnaissance ahead of us,” said Callisto.

They both ran off ahead of them and Callisto listened to them.

Eventually Lucid said “There’s a sniper in the trees south east of the facility. Not seeing anything else, this guy’s acting alone.”

Callisto relayed this, and Lucy said “Bando I bet.”

“Have Lucid guide you, Torpid and Lucy under the tree, should sort him, I’ll keep Lucy intangible in case he sees us coming,” said Tiffany.

“Okay,” said Callisto.

They advanced as planned, finding themselves under the tree, looking up they saw the guy in the tree, a 12.5mm rifle resting across his elbows, binoculars in hand.

Torpid removed her gloves and Lucy lifted Torpid with her vectors.

Lucy then lifted herself and Torpid with sufficient velocity to overcome the height. Torpid touched the guy and he fell out the tree stiff as a board.

Lucy landed first, placing Torpid on the ground before she caught the guy, Tiffany caught his rifle. “Hi Bando. Shouldn’t you have gotten a life by now?”

“Where do we put him?” asked Wanda.

Lucy thought about it and eventually said “Well, he knows where the Maple Inn is, no longer a secret, might as well hold him there.”

They walked to the Maple Inn entrance and the door opened before any of them could knock on it.

A Diclonius girl poked her head out the door.

“Hi Nana,” said Lucy.

“What are you doing here?” asked Nana.

“Apparently two Diclonii are threatening to take over the world or something,” said Lucy, she then looked at Wanda and said “she cleared to know everything?”

“Yeah,” said Wanda, “I’m from SHIELD, Tiffany’s assisting me, so are the Morlocks, who Lucy joined a while back.”

“Okay, what did you need to come here for?” asked Nana.

“Well, we need to hear everything you can remember about the institute, I didn’t get a good look because I had a sensory deprivation helmet locked to my head.”

“Oh, I see,” said Nana looking depressed.

“See what?” asked Lucy.

“Lucy, you’re after revenge, aren’t you?”

“Well … … A little … … in the company of friends, but there’s a higher purpose here, it’s not like I’m this guy,” said Lucy, gesturing at Bando, “Now Kurama’s dead you can’t POSSIBLY want that institute to keep operating can you? The longer they remain in operation, the greater the chance they’ll reacquire you.”

Nana shivered a little and said “Okay, fine, but you’re not bringing that in here,” pointing at Bando, “give me a minute and we’ll go somewhere to talk.”

[Change Of Scenery]

“Okay, this institution seems to be where all their money’s coming from,” said Daria, pointing at the name of the company, “tells me that’s where they were abducted to.”

“Not necessarily,” said Charles, “could just be a hobby.”

“That’s also possible,” acknowledged Daria, “but I don’t think so, the scale of this tells me if it was a bunch of hobbyists, there’s a strong chance one or more of them would have told on them, these guys must think they have some kind of obligation, for the greater good, and there’s evidence of police collusion, there’s just too many people for a serial abductor club.”

“What would be the purpose?” asked Charles.

“The usual,” said Daria, “Earth for humans: Mutants out.”

[Change Of Scenery]

“It’s on an island out in the bay,” said Nana, “don’t know how many basement levels there are, from what I saw from the air, it’s about 100 metres wide and long in total, surface structure’s tall enough to have about seven stories if the floor pitch were like that of a normal building, but I’m less sure about the internal layout because I was brought straight out to the waiting helicopter. There’s a cliff behind it, don’t know if that’s of use to you.”

They had set up in a local cemetery. From what Nana said, it was unlikely they would be disturbed here, Lucy had also been looking guilty to the point of needing Nana to assure her “It’s fine now,” she had then explained that this was where Lucy and Nana had gotten into it for the first time.

Nana had walked up to Lucy with the radio transmitter in a shopping bag, asked Lucy a bunch of times to go back to the institute with her. First time, Lucy told her to go away, then she had reached inside Nana with her vectors threatening to rip her brain apart if she didn’t leave.

Then she slammed Nana against the wall.

Then Nana had punched Lucy across the cemetery.

After a brawl that involved Lucy throwing gravestones, Lucy ended up ripping Nana’s limbs off. First it was just a leg and all the fingers on one of Nana’s hands when Nana ballsed up her side of the fight. Then Lucy walked up to Nana and slowly removed each limb. Lucy had been pissed off at Nana’s unwavering loyalty to Kurama.

Now Lucy couldn’t help but dwell on how out of order she had been.

Anyway, here they were, Bando was propped up against a tall gravestone, his 12.5mm rifle against another, Tiffany, Wanda, Nana and the Morlocks just standing around chatting.

“Could be good for observation and sniper points if it’s tall enough, what about the surrounding islands?” asked Tiffany.

“Coast guard huh?” asked Callisto.

Disregarding Callisto’s scepticism, Tiffany said “anything that can help us assault the facility is a bonus, also, if we’re going to be extracting people, we could probably do with some rotorcraft or other vertical flight aircraft.”

“Where do you expect to find that?” asked Callisto.

“I’ll figure that out. It would also help if we could rustle up some explosives,” said Tiffany.

“And where do you expect to find explosives?” asked Callisto.

“I’ll figure that out too,” said Tiffany.

“What do you need us for then?” asked Callisto.

“From what Lucy and Nana have been saying, these guys have a serious anti-meta streak, you all remember those sentinel robots that Boliver Trask asshole developed? These guys are getting some serious finance from somewhere, and that makes these guys especially our problem, because they’re after all of us,” said Tiffany, “they have got to go. We also need to find who’s financing this crap and take them out of play too. We could encounter a problem when we attack.”

“Yeah? Like what?” asked Callisto.

“Metajammers. Coming up against those wayyyy too often these days,” said Tiffany.

“We need up to date intel on that place before we can plan anything,” said Wanda.

“In addition,” said Tiffany, “it sounds like any prisoners still alive would be a liability in any court case, they may have a ‘kill all the prisoners’ button in a bunch of locations. At the very least, we should probably treat this like a hostage situation, assume the prisoners are in imminent danger.”

“How do you intend to get this intel?” asked Callisto.

“I want to take you, Lucid and Façade to the island for a close target reconnaissance, if they’re using meta-jammers, we’ll find out immediately if they’re active, if they’re inactive, I can tell Lucid what to look for, and … … Wanda, how come SHIELD has nothing on these guys?”

“Well, I’ve never been involved in anything to do with Japan, so I can only speculate, but it seems to me that these guys simply fell through the cracks. What were these guys doing to you two when they had you?” asked Wanda.

Lucy scowled while Nana shivered.

“I think they were trying to test resilience to injury and attack,” said Lucy.

“They had me chained to this wall, they kept shooting these iron balls at me to test which of them I could deflect, other times they’d drug my food so they could approach to hurt me, they were pleased to see how fast I recovered,” said Nana. “I can’t believe I thought that was normal.”

“You were there from birth,” said Lucy, “I was captured at age ten after growing up amongst some of the most piss poor examples of humanity. If it weren’t for Kouta, I’d still be pissed off at the world, killing everyone for laughs.”

“Question: Metajammers: How do we counter?” asked Callisto.

“The old fashioned way: Guns, knives, asps, bombs, fists, feet, elbows, knees, forehead, boards with nails through them,” said Tiffany.

“Slight problem with that: Only four of us are any good at that kind of violence,” said Callisto, “You, me, Spyke and Wanda.”

“That case, first target will have to be the metajammers if they have them,” said Tiffany. “Right now, we’re speculating about everything, we really need to get the close target reconnaissance done first and foremost.”

[Change Of Scenery]

Without knowing what was going on, it was a bad idea to rely on mental persuasion within half a kilometre of the objective. That was why Daria used her powers to alter the personal in charge of the dispatch of personal to the island.

She managed to get Haruka on board, it’s less likely the security heads on the island were going to know who he was, but Charles would draw attention by being a pasty redhead Caucasian with antennae growing out his head.

Daria was also out for being of foreign appearance but she mentally wrangled a position flying him in.

She was vertical flight qualified, so that was sort of the same thing as rotary wing qualified.

Wasn’t it?

“Control from Juliet Alpha Four Five One Charlie, request go for takeoff, over?”

“Juliet Alpha Four Five One Charlie, go for takeoff, surface wind seven two knots four two degrees, have a nice flight.”

Daria opened the throttle to mil and lifted the collective. She found herself oscillating the tail as she chased down the equilibrium between the main rotor and the tail rotor to the alarm of the passengers, and accelerated into forward flight, alarming her passengers again when she overdid the forward pitch, she eased back and slowed the acceleration in favour of maintaining a decent climb rate.

“Sorry, used to fly by wire systems,” explained Daria.

They had to try to prepare Haruka for infiltration as best they could. The main advantage they had been able to give themselves was that Haruka was supposed to be a new recruit, so mistakes were to be expected, but they also had to emphasise as much as possible that he had to just put up with seeing atrocities and not saying anything against them, allowing anti-meta rhetoric to be said unopposed, or even feigning agreement with it, grudging agreement would probably be okay as it would be expected some people might find it difficult to go along with this crap.

If there were no metajammers in use, Daria could simply scan the minds of some of the people there. She would wait until she was on her way out.

Any problems, she would have Charles assist, he was carrying out a “Diagnostic Flight” in the L1 at this point about 30km away. Daria would feign compliance until Charles was close enough to suppress enemy air defences and displace any air threats. He’d be strafing with PFTs because hanging AGM88s or other suitable weapons off the L1 would prompt way more questions than they could lie their way through, aside from that, someone capturing a Legion L1 visibly launching weapons on a piece of Japanese real estate on video media would just plain piss off the wrong people. Not ideal from a combat operations point of view, but it’s what they had to do.

On the plus side, the Helo had been fitted with decoys and smoke generators good for both cheap and cheerful intercept missiles and the more expensive optical recognition guidance that a lot of NATO and other allied weapons had been retrofitted with.

Another reason to try to keep the JSDF out of the theatre.

[Change Of Scenery]

“You’re drain cleaner’s done,” said Kouta as he carried the oven dish full of sodium hydroxide granules into the room. It had taken some convincing and several boxes of Kleenex (used by both Kouta AND Lucy), and finally Mayu arriving home from school and threatening to be disappointed in the kind of examples Kouta and Yuka were setting her, but Kouta and Yuka had eventually agreed to allow the Morlocks to operate from the Maple Inn.

“Thanks for letting us work here,” said Callisto. She and Tiffany were constructing the rest of the …

“That’s not a bomb is it?” asked Yuka. Seeing the place fill up with mutants apparently out to attack the place that Nana and Lucy had been held at.

“No, these are re-breathers,” said Tiffany They were using 12mm tube and Araldite, straps, buckles, cement, aggregate and wire from the local B&Q, hot water bottles, Sodium Hydroxide, Vanish Oxi-Action, and heavy duty rubbish bags from Wilkos, 1L Lucozade bottles from Asda, it indicated those who were not of Tiffany’s background that Tiffany had been watching a few too many MacGyver episodes.

“You’re sure about that are you?” asked Yuka.

“There’s no explosive components,” said Wanda as she assembled the tubes to the mouth pieces. “That drain cleaner’s got a low chemical energy state, it’s useful to us because it’ll attract carbon dioxide.”

“You think we’d stick it in the oven if it could explosively decompose?”

“Why did you stick it in the oven anyway?” asked Kouta.

“Drive out any carbon dioxide it picked up,” said Tiffany, “That can’t happen explosively because release of carbon dioxide is endothermic. We’re baking it so the re-breathers will last longer.”

“How deep do you want to be?” asked Lucy.

“Ten to twenty metres should do us, can’t go deeper than forty metres or we’ll get intoxicated on the nitrogen, and if we can skip the decompression stops, that’ll preserve the capacity of our CO2 scrubbers.”

“What about this other stuff?” asked Kouta pointing at all the oxi-action tubs.

“We need to replace the oxygen we use, or we just end up breathing purified nitrogen,” said Tiffany, “That’s even worse, because carbon dioxide agitates you, irritates your lungs, lets you know there’s a problem, nitrogen does not. Having said that, nitrogen isn’t toxic like carbon dioxide is. We still want the oxygen replenished, so we stick a bag of Oxi-action in a bottle, add a splash of water, insulate the outside, inside in contact with our body so our body heat accelerates the reaction, that should do us. We’ll need to recharge that before we leave the island because once we start the reaction, there’s no good way to arrest it.”

“And you’re not simply hiring the kit from a local rental agency because … ?” asked Yuka.

“We’ll appear on someone’s radar,” said Tiffany, “not just the institute, but JSDF coastguard wants to stop drugs and small arms getting into the country, aside from that, there’s no recreational reason to use re-breathers, it’s too unusual.”

“What about weapons?” asked Callisto.

“I’ve managed to locate a supplier for small arms in the area,” said Wanda, “I can get us some SMGs, maybe some ARs, but no one’s willing to deal in explosives,” said Wanda.

“Small arms will do us for reconnaissance, try and get us some ARs, suppressors too if available, but we can improvise those easy if we have to. And keep the number down to the recon team for now,” said Tiffany, “anything more and heavier can wait until we attack, I can probably steal the heavy stuff from a local JSDF depot, but once we steal from that, the clock starts ticking. Nothing draws attention like empty shelves that should have weapons on them.”

“How do we stop our guns from getting wet?” asked Nana.

Everyone looked at her.

“I SO hope we have our powers available,” said Callisto, “modern breech loading rounds of ammunition are hermetically sealed, you’d have to be extremely deep for water infiltration to be a problem.”

“One thing I do want to quickly mention,” said Tiffany, “don’t fire when under water or while there’s water in the barrel, the water will have a tampering effect that could cause the barrel to rupture, it don’t have to be bone dry, just tip it down as you lift it out the water.”

Tiffany then looked at Nana and asked “are you mentally prepared to kill?”

Nana looked conflicted.

“The rules of engagement for this operation will mean pre-empting the enemy, chances are you’ll end up having to shoot someone just to keep them from raising the alarm. That’s another point, Lucid, how do you feel about killing? Can you?”

“I’ve never had to … I think I can.”

“You’ll have to, immediately the instant it fits the rules of engagement. That particular lesson cost me a horn,” said Lucy.

When Lucy had come up against Mariko, Lucy had managed to throw Mariko against a railing and floored her, and Lucy had taken the time to tell Mariko “Don’t worry, I don’t intend to let you suffer long,” and had basically handed the fight over to Mariko on a silver platter. That had been so embarrassing. The only reason she hadn’t been killed was because Kurama and Nana had shown up. It was pure luck she had lived to learn from this.

“Okay, if they have meta-jammers active, I’ll want you to return to the exit point, Callisto?”

Callisto grinned “Can I?”

“I don’t know how you were planning on getting there in a reasonable time,” said Lucy, “but I can pull us all there a lot faster with my vectors.”

“Do you have to kill at all?” asked Yuka.

“We may be able to procure some PFTs for the attack, so we may be able to just knock everyone out, but that institution has to be shut down and permanently, it is an Auschwitz level atrocity happening in there as we speak,” said Tiffany.

“I’m sure Nana might be willing to elaborate on that if you don’t trust the rest of us,” said Callisto, “human or meta, you just don’t put people through that.”

“Where are you going to take them?” asked Kouta.

“Who?” asked Tiffany.

“The prisoners, when you free them where are you going to take them?”

“Well … ” Tiffany had to think about that one.

“We need to get them on a flight to America, but it’s possible we’ll need an entire airliner for them all, and that airliner will have to fly unopposed,” said Wanda.

“Closest alternatives are Korea, China, and Russia, roughly equidistant, same problem, if we can steal weapons, we can steal helos, we’ll need at least those in order to extract the prisoners, the problem is we need helo pilots, even with care free handling features,” said Tiffany.

“What about a boat?” asked Callisto.

“That could work,” said Tiffany, “but we’d need to keep the JSDF from taking an interest.”

“Submarine?” asked Wanda.

“If we can find one big enough,” said Tiffany.

“Could we build one?” asked Callisto, “we’re building all this stuff.”

“Scale we’re talking, we’d need a dry dock, or some way of getting it from construction site to water,” said Tiffany. Tiffany slowly got this look on her face. “You know what might make a suitable construction site?”

[Change Of Scenery]

Daria took off again with a bunch of outbound passengers. There were metajammers in operation here. Furthermore, she had seen evidence of Mandroids, what Mechwarrior players would refer to as Elemental Suits. Footprints in the grassed areas around the open area indicated they had been moving Mandroids around the base as part of their security precautions.

In a few days Haruka would receive a phone call telling him his mom was in hospital following a heart problem, he’d be flown out, Daria and Charles would de-brief him, and they would go from there. Problem was that the bad guys might limit what new recruits see, which means most the critical intelligence needed to mount an attack would be unavailable.

They might need to get the rest of the Legion in on this.

[Change Of Scenery]

Haruka watched with a certain amount of scepticism as the video showed the compilation of footage of a variety of Diclonius captures, “as you can see, these ruthless killing machines start off from a very early age,” said the Security boss. He then selected the next thumbnail and said “here is what happened when one of your predecessors got too close to Lucy.”

They watched as the video footage showed the restrained and shrouded diclonius dismembered the security guard and removed the keys to her restraints from his pockets. The second one unloaded his sidearm at her, but all the bullets got deflected as Lucy unlocked her restraints.

The footage showed the progress of Lucy as she made her way to ground level, and came up against a row of guards packing MP5s. “It didn’t occur to us at the time that her capability was such that none of our rounds could get through, we only had one 12.5mm rifle.” A woman stumbled into view, carrying a tray with a cup of coffee, she fell over in front of Lucy. “It also didn’t help that one of our personal assistants provided Lucy with a shield that limited her target cross section from us.” Lucy then decapitated the woman and held her body up.

They then expended all their ammunition at Lucy, and Lucy advanced. One guard ran at Lucy intending to beat her down with his MP5, only to have his still beating heart ripped out and thrown into the lap of another guard.

The video showed Lucy walk past Kurama doing nothing more than lay a bloody vector print on his back.

“We’re not entirely sure why Lucy let Director Kurama live, probably some personal vendetta that involved keeping him alive.”

The video continued. If crimes against humanity were being committed, no doubt the guards in this room were not going to be very sympathetic towards the victims.

[Change Of Scenery]

“My vision just stopped,” said Lucid.

They were ascending the mountain behind the facility.

“Okay, we’ll have to go around,” said Tiffany, “if you still can’t see anything useful, I’ll try to sneak up to the place the old fashioned way.”

Tiffany, Lucy, Callisto and Lucid were on the island equipped with type 86 rifles smuggled in from China, Wanda had even managed to get them suppressors and holographic tritium sights.

Nana had been able to describe the island in surprisingly good detail, so Tiffany had a good idea of where to go. She took point and slowly led them along.

“Hey,” whispered Callisto.

Tiffany looked back, and Callisto signalled ‘Enemy, 2 o’clock.’

Tiffany signalled for them all to hit the deck and crawled forward.

Eventually she heard what Callisto had heard. Something whirring and thumping. Like Ed-209 off of Robocop.

A Mandroid.

Tiffany watched through the ferns and brambles as two walked past.

This could be a problem.

Or it might be their way in.

[Change Of Scenery]

“You were paying attention when you were shown that video, right?” asked the Scientist.

“Yes,” said Haruka, he aimed his PFT M2 at the woman’s head as they entered the 6 metre by 6 metre room. The woman was a 20-ish diclonius, she sat on a corner silently watching them. They got to the centre of the room and the scientist placed the paper plate of egg and sausage sandwiches and a paper cup full of water on the floor.

They then backed out and closed the door.

Through the one way glass, they watched her for half a minute, the scientist said “sometimes they don’t eat. We have two answers to that, a THC aerosol, give them the munchies, otherwise we sedate them and inject intravenous food into them, they don’t stay alive, we don’t learn anything from them.”

“How come we need so many of them? There’s, like, 200 floors of cells here,” said Haruka.

“Some of the experiments will be lethal, we also need to see if some of the viruses we’re developing for them will pass from one to another,” said the scientist. “That one’s been here for a few months, next one’s only been here a couple of weeks.” The woman they were watching walked in a crouch to the plate and the cup and started eating. “Good.” They moved on.

They entered the next cell.

This one was of similar age, only she had been crying recently, and her knuckles were bruised and cut. She looked at them asking “how can you justify this? What did I ever do to you?”

“Remember not to let them engage you in conversation,” said the scientist, “they’re just animals.”

“Right,” said Haruka, having this guy talk like this right in front of her sickened him a little, ‘they’re just animals, they’re not people, just like the Tutsis of Rwanda, the Jews of Germany, the Palestinians in Israel/Palestine, the Muslims of former Yugoslavia,’ easy enough for people to do this over differences in faith or birthright. People with horns? They’re fucked.

The woman let out a cry of despair. “Yeah, they do that too for the first few weeks, sometimes they get violent,” said the Scientist. “Takes a few months for them to finally learn to behave themselves.” He placed the food and drink on the floor and they left.

Haruka watched this one through the one way glass as the woman continued to cry.

“We’ll check back on this one later.”

One useful fact Haruka had learned was that the building was still under construction, it was being done upside down. The piles that were sunk went all the way to the bedrock, which wasn’t that far down anyway, and they were now cutting through rock. The nice thing about the rock was that it was way harder than the concrete they were using could ever be, so they could just carve the main structure out of that, only using the concrete to isolate the stone from any mechanical shock that could fracture it.

The useful thing about it was that every floor had an identical layout, and the metajammers were isolated in separate wells on separate power sources. This was to make it impossible for rampaging prisoners to access the metajammers, but Daria and Charles had an L1 with PFTs, what they should be able to do is climb to about 80000 ft, and attack all the metajammers vertically. The PFT shafts had access structures located around the perimeter of the building, so aiming should be well easy.

[Change Of Scenery]

“Okay, you’ll want to grab some jet skis, or something similar, I’m just not seeing any motors capable of withstanding immersion in water,” said Kouta. He’d built a spreadsheet using the Excel and calculus training he’d received on his college course which, while not teaching ship architecture, had given him some transferable skills.

“The ducted prop off a jet ski makes better use of the power and is less vulnerable to damage anyway,” said Tiffany, “Should be easier to disguise the noise too.”

“I added probably more ribs than the sub will need, but I wouldn’t take it deeper than five metres,” said Kouta.

“Okay,” said Tiffany, “what are we doing for control surfaces?”

“I’m having real problems with that, you need the control system to go through the submarine’s hull, that means either some kind of pressure bushings or hydraulic actuators, and that means special order, which means both a long time and a paper trail.”

“Okay, I think I can improvise those, not the actuators, but I think I can improvise some bushings for a shaft, that’ll allow us to manipulate the control surfaces,” said Tiffany “we won’t need roll axis, yaw and pitch will do us.”

“Ballast system was surprisingly less of a problem, Solid block of concrete for your emergency ballast, pull a handle, you’ll rise like a trident, liquid ballast can be displaced by compressed air that’ll be built up while the submarine is on the surface, main power system will be car batteries and a generator, you’re going to have to be damn sure about the integrity of the exhaust system though,” said Kouta.

“We could have a real problem getting this thing in the water though,” said Callisto.

“We steal the truck, load the submarine on it, drive the truck into the water off a dock or something, submarine swims off,” said Tiffany, “cops put it down to joy riders. Won’t matter if we also put up a smoke screen then, it’ll look like an attempt to draw attention.”

“How do we make smoke without damaging the submarine?” asked Callisto.

“I can make a smoke composition out of sodium chlorate and sugar,” said Tiffany, “add pottery paints for colour, it’ll reinforce the prankster impression we’re trying to create.”

“How much time are we looking at in total here?” asked Callisto.

“I’d say at least three days,” said Tiffany, “One day we get everything we need, try and make a start, next day we complete the modules as far as we can in anticipation of assembly, final day we steal the truck, get everything to a B&Q, break in, get the hull built, launch the submarine, we then hit the JSDF armoury, and attack. Without knowing the layout of the enemy stronghold, we’re going to be working blind, we extract the prisoners, fornicate off to Korea or somewhere. … Toilets, that’s going to be a problem, we’re going to be crapping in a bucket, hauling it up through the conning tower-”

There was a chorus of variations of “Ewwwww!” even from the Morlocks, used to living in the sewers, weren’t too happy.

“We could add a sceptic tank, not like we’re going to have any use for this thing once we’ve offloaded everyone, right?” said Callisto.

“Good point,” said Tiffany, “going to want to do something to destroy the scent molecules though.”

“I’m trying to think of a way we can use a nearby airport though,” said Wanda, “we could probably get the diclonii to the airport if we move them to land one by one.”

“We could probably stow everyone on a container ship,” said Lucy, “the numbers might make hiding from the crew difficult, but that SHIELD badge might make them a lot more accommodating.”

“We are well outside our jurisdiction here, we’d be better off with menaces,” said Wanda, “once we get to Hawaii, we’ll be back in US Jurisdiction, I’m a cop commandeering a vehicle for police business, so that should get us out of any piracy charges, and since the Japanese government won’t want to admit they allowed or even aided in these abductions, they can forget extraditing.”

“What do we do about the institution’s backers?” asked Lucy. “I don’t want to see this start up all over again.”

“That’s a harder one, this would be more CIA territory, and I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve stepped on their toes,” said Wanda, “we could try looking for bank statements and other things in the director’s office, that might give us the information to pursue them.”

“Façade could return to Japan mainland while we extract the diclonii,” said Callisto, “he’d be best equipped to look for anything that could identify who of what organisation approved the money transfers.”

“Then what?” asked Lucy.

“Find out who he’s conspiring with, who’s likely to replace him, before we do anything, be it assassination, public disgrace, whatever, we need to take out anyone with the intention and in a position to restart or continue this thing,” said Callisto.

“We could also do with a computer hacker,” said Tiffany.

[Change Of Scenery]

“Well, this is the guy that approved the money transfers,” said Charles as they sat at a table in a sushi bar, “I can rig a permanent party line so that we can record all conversations on his phone, then do the same with anyone he calls we think might be involved.”

“Right,” said Daria. She seemed despondent.

“Then I could turn into a flea, enter your panties, and turn into an electric eel inside your vagi-”

“I’m paying attention, Charles, I’m just thinking about the amount of time all this has been going on, the first hint of this has been sitting on a diclonius networking message board for a couple of years, all those times we were sitting around looking for things to do, and it didn’t occur to any of us to see if anyone was abducting metas.”

“Oh. That. Well, now we know we missed something all this time, what do you want to do about it?”

“Look,” said Daria, “actually search these things out. … ” she checked her watch and said “Haruka’s about to have his emergency, I’m going to want to debrief him on the flight out if possible.”


[Change Of Scenery]

As they were alone in the Helo, Haruka had no reason not to tell Daria all he could remember.

“That assumes of course that we have all the locations of the metajammers,” said Daria.

“There’s something strange about this facility, the scientist that was showing me around said a lot of experiments seemed to get repeated seemingly for the hell of it. There also seemed to be a strange lack of progress on obvious leads. In addition to that, some areas are off limits to the scientists, officially it’s where the main cache of Diclonius prisoners are being kept, but if the place is intended for research, then all the prisoners should be available, and they often end up down there after the experimentation’s gone as far as it can.”

“Could be a government minister has direct control over the research, we all know how silly they can be at times,” said Daria.

“That’s possible,” said Haruka. “They also have Mandroids, elemental suits.”

“Saw Mandroid tracks the first time I came. Get a count?”

“They have forty eight, twenty four in operation at any one time, eight groups of three.”

“This is going to turn very overt very quick, those things usually come with psi-screams, those don’t just dampen psionic attack, they snowball it and throw it right back at you. I think there’s only one realistic way of clearing that island of enemy armour,” said Daria.

[Change Of Scenery]

“All I gotta do is pull the operators out, stick ourselves in, and we can pretty much walk in through the front door,” said Tiffany, “next thing we’ll need to do is set off some fuel air grenades in the hanger, kill everyone who isn’t us in the room.”

“How do we sneak the fact we’re chucking grenades about past them?” asked Callisto.

“We’ll have to attach them to the outside, without them being visible,” said Tiffany.

[Change Of Scenery]

“You want to steal a jet? We have a jet,” said Charles.

“We have a jet that’ll create an international incident,” said Daria, “I want to use a JSDF eagle, loaded with AGM130s for the metajammers shafts, I don’t want to cave the sides in, so they have to be the smallest AGM130 available, the warhead’s about the right size to blow all the units out the top like grape shot without affecting anyone inside the facility. I’d prefer something even smaller like a BLU107, but I can’t aim those from the altitude I want to launch them from, they have to be guided.”

The AGM130 was slightly cartoonish in the way it was developed, basically a mk80 series bomb with a bolted on guidance system (like the paveway kit only this was more maverick shaped, combining optical image recognition with GPS), and a rocket motor on the side.

“Okay, what do we do once the mandroids and the metajammers are out?” asked Charles.

“There’s no way around manually entering the facility and at least opening all the doors, we can’t use confinement mist without also trapping the prisoners, I think we’re going to have to use the prisoners to assist in their own rescue, problem is that most these guys have no escape and evasion training, or may be in such a state that they’ll attack us too. Or fail to seize the initiative.”

“You could use your mental powers,” said Charles.

“I could, problems are that some of the guards may have received counter-psi training, and I have no idea what my ability will be towards a diclonius, we’ll probably find out anyway, but I want to do something else if I can.”

“What are you thinking?” asked Charles.

“Well, the means by which I want to procure the F15 could also give us the means by which we transport them out of there, I might be able to make the base commander order some pilots to fly helos over there and pick them up. There is a chance one or more of them will kill the pilots, crash the whole vehicle, but we should be able to get them onto a nearby US base, that takes them out of Japanese jurisdiction, we will need to have the US base use a metajammers while the diclonii cool down, we may have another problem,” said Daria.

“What’s that?” asked Charles.

“The number of prisoners is way above the number that were abducted through that message board several fold,” said Daria, “some of them could have grown up in that facility, the effects of that could be completely unknown.”

“It sounds like what we’re going to have to do is sedate the whole lot of them and carry the prisoners out,” said Charles.

“If I can have the JSDF base commander order helos in, I can have him or her order more people to carry the prisoners to the helos,” said Daria.

“Okay, but how about the US base commander? Which of those within the range of a Chinook will accept a bunch of refugees from a bunch of Japanese helos?” asked Charles.

[Change Of Scenery]

“Daria, just one question before I even think about considering pulling rank on some base CO on the other side of the Pacific,” said General Armalin, “have you been smoking anything whose chemical name begins with an M or a P recently?”

[Change Of Scenery]

“Only possible solution I can think of is to physically remove the data stores,” said Tiffany, “get those to SHIELD, we can figure out if the Diclonii we’re chasing have ever been there, it’ll also tell us how many other pies this Kakuzawa guy’s got his fingers in.” Having nailed down the rest of the plan, Tiffany and Wanda had gotten onto the original point of their assignment, “if it comes down to the data or the rescue, we have to put the rescue first, I may not be green berets, but I at least got that much sense.”

“Okay. What do you make of Lucy’s relationship with Kouta and Nana?” asked Wanda.

“Kouta and Nana are … how’d they forgive Lucy so easily?” asked Tiffany.

“Maybe you could ask them,” said Wanda.

“Or you, you started this conversation.”

“Okay, what do you make of Bando?”

“I get his sentiment, but he spent two years over watching the Maple Inn? If I thought my target might return permanently, I’d dip in and out, there’s got to be easier ways to go about this.”

“So you would pursue this,” said Wanda.

“Absolutely, might have to put it off a while, but sometimes a cold trail makes the target complacent,” said Tiffany.

“You realise that if Kouta and Nana followed your philosophy, the operation wouldn’t have started, right?” asked Wanda.

“It’s not a philosophy, it’s … … It’s more a hobby, and the people I’m after are enemy combatants who have killed members of my fire team, I mean, I’m the lone survivor of that, and I’m no good at popularity contests anyway without my former friends in the Legion, I mean, I’m the only one who survives, how do I look to the rest of the team? I gotta close this up.”

“Or they won’t trust you?” asked Wanda.

“Exactly,” said Tiffany, “that’s dangerous for operations, I order them to do something and they don’t do it, some of them could die.”

“What’ll you do if no one on your team trusts you?” asked Wanda.

“Well, a petty officer with no one to command might as well be a seaman, but then if none of the non-coms want me on their team, I don’t get to do much more than logistics. I don’t want to quit the Navy, I might join another branch, Army, Marines, but it won’t be a fresh start because my service record would come with me. I could still retain my Non-com rank, but I’d still need to win over the officers over me.”

“How many operations have gone right prior to this one that went wrong?” asked Wanda.

“All of them,” said Tiffany.

“Don’t you think you’re worrying over nothing here? Your CO’s point of view, you have a good track record, it’s unusual for the rest of your team to be carried home in boxes. Same with those who could serve under you.”

“Well, yeah, statistically, I’m good, but statistically, so are most the superstars that have even the slightest thing go wrong in the public eye.”

“Oh you gotta be crapping me,” groaned Wanda, “Tiffany, this is not the world of celebrity, okay? How you dress at parties and what kind of verbal gaffes you commit is not that important, well, except where a mission rides on it, but the main point is can you fight?”

“Well … … wait … a … minute … … Wanda, was it your idea or my CO’s to have me attached to you for this operation?”

Wanda eventually said “Fury’s actually. He heard you were in the crap, and weren’t getting out. You are going to have to open up to your shrink though, or you’re still in the crap.”

“Right, right,” said Tiffany. “let’s get back on the propulsion system shall we?”

“Right,” said Wanda.

They got up and went to the room where they were building everything.

[Change Of Scenery]

Daria was about to enter the office when a van came to a stop beside her.

The suddenness drew her attention, especially when the door opened and two occupants with stun guns leaned forth.

She sidestepped one, getting out of reach of the other, grabbing the stun gun of the closest one and using it to stun the other.

With the other guy out, an elbow strike to the side of the closest man’s neck allowed her to stun him with his own weapon.

She then opened the closest front door and entered the van, stunning the driver.

[Change Of Scenery]

Kenta Kaori woke up trying to remember the almighty piss up that had led to his hangover.

Then re remembered that it wasn’t a night on the piss, it was his target using his own stun gun on him.

He also realised he was lying on the floor of the van they were using to snatch her with.

He opened his eyes and saw their target sitting there with an air horn.

“Where’s Haruka?” asked Daria.

“What?” asked Kenta.

Daria held the air horn right next to his ear hole and gave his ear a blast.

“AAAOOOOWWWW! FUCKING HELL!” The pain lingered too much.

“By the way, while you were asleep, I stuck a massive dose of nitro pills down your throat, you’re not really in danger from it, but you’re suffering from a condition commonly referred to as ‘Bang Head’, so, where’s Haruka?”

“You think I’m going to tell you?”

Daria give his ear hole another blast.


Daria gave him another blast.


Another blast.


This went on for a while, but then the blasts got a bit too weak.

Kenta chuckled as Daria removed the top and set the can aside.

He stopped laughing when Daria pulled a shrink wrapped bundle of air horn cans, pulled the next can through the opening she had cut to remove the first one. He counted twelve across and about 24 along, making the total number 240 plus 48, 288. Minus the one she had used.

He let out a whine as Daria attached the horn to the next can. She then leaned forth and said “If you feel like trying your luck, he’s at 225 Aina Pass, but you’ll never get away with this.”

“Actually, your line should be something along the lines of, ‘I would have gotten away with it too if it weren’t for you meddling good guys,’ excuse me a minute,” said Daria as she stepped out the van.

He set to work on getting himself free. He knew that the address was a safe house with so such firepower that they couldn’t possibly be defeated.

[Change Of Scenery]

“All right, listen up, we have one chance to catch the Yakuza with their pants down, let’s not fuck it up,” said the SAT commander, he went on to describe the Yakuza facility at 225 Aina Pass where an anonymous tip had said several tons of assault rifles and rounds of ammunition were being assembled for the Yakuza to use to take control of Kamakura. Ballsy fuckers.

[Change Of Scenery]

Daria entered the van and threw a pair of scissors across Kenta, they bounced off the still sleeping form behind him and landed next to Kenta’s hand.

“Disadvantage of deniability: Getting the police to do what you like is a pain in the ass. The news agencies covering the police raid on what the police think is a Yakuza weapons smuggling operation ALL have undercover journalists penetrating criminal and government organisations, so Haruka penetrating your concentration camp has too many parallels to their own operations for your government to win any sympathy, and then there’s the voting public who don’t like the idea of the government running amok abducting citizens off the street whenever they feel like it. Good luck finding a new job.”

With that, Daria was out of there.

[Change Of Scenery]

‘This could be a problem,’ thought Daria, Japanese spooks all over them, they would need to figure out a way to lose them in order to get Daria onto the JSDF base. Well, the fact Daria hadn’t been interdicted when driving off with this bunch of idiots told her she had already lost them.

Charles would be the Plan B in the event that the cops wilted to the authority of the spooks that were holding Haruka.

One of the people he learned how to impersonate was the director of intelligence, this situation hadn’t been considered during the planning of this operation, but there were some useful side effects such as this.

[Change Of Scenery]

The submarine was now built.

They had used polyester resin and glass matt from a nearby Halfords to seal the hull (in this case the speed at which polyester resin sets is an advantage), and hot melt glue had about the correct properties to seal the hatch, Vaseline to prevent adherence to the hatch surface, the door jamb surface had a lip that the hot glue would freeze around, water pressure would press the hatch against the seal, and the seal would be locked solid around the jamb, provided they don’t exceed the actual crush depth, that should keep the water out.

By the time they got to the harbour, the whole thing would be sufficiently set that they can dive at least enough to hide, and by the time they reached the island, the PVA would be fully cured, so they can then go to their full crush depth of five metres.

They had the option of pressurising the hull to with their compressed air stores, they had triple the capacity needed for the ballast tanks and could always drop the emergency ballast if they had to. They still didn’t want to have to make decompression stops, so they could only use that to fifteen metres.

The varnish could have done with more time to fully set, but they would have that time during the infiltration of the facility.

All they were waiting for now was Tiffany, Lucid and Lucy.

Callisto heard Tiffany say “here we are,” from within the hummer as it turned onto the street that led past the back door of the B&Q loading bay, and pushed the button to open the door.

Tiffany got out through the door without opening it and pulled a crate out through the wall of the hummer.

She opened the lid and removed a “PFT M4, 3750 rounds at setting 1, 50 rounds at setting 11, we want to preserve surprise as much as we can, so stay off shock and skip modes, that’s anything with a crescent in it,” she said, pointing out the fire mode selector.

“What else did you get?” asked Callisto.

Tiffany pulled out another crate and opened it. “Fuel Air grenades, we rig them in camouflage netting and some branches, make it look like the mandroid snagged some forest trash on its way, soon as we’re in the hanger, we pull the branch off the lead mandroid, string will be tied to a length of wire, not the original pin, pin’s pull force is too high for this, so we need to replace the pin with a piece of wire that’ll slide right out.”

“How do we stop the handle getting snagged on the net?” asked Callisto.

“We cut it off, once we replace the pin,” said Tiffany, “We’ll need to replace the pins here but we can’t attach the grenades to the branches until we’re on the island because moving the branches with the grenades attached is too dangerous.”

She then pulled another crate and opened it, showing them “Zip line handles, prisoners ride the zip line to the submarine.”

“I just hope we have the room for them all,” said Lucy, “I don’t want to have to leave people behind.”

Tiffany pulled another crate out of the hummer. Inside were packs marked “banana boats. Hook them up to the submarine, expand our capacity.”

“Banana boats. … What in the world is a military warehouse doing stocking banana boats?” asked Callisto.

“I dunno, covert insertion perhaps?” suggested Tiffany.

After a few seconds, Wanda, Callisto, and Lucy started chuckling.

“Banana boats,” said Wanda.

“How’d you disguise the armament you want to carry?” asked Callisto.

“Fluorescent green and pink paint scheme,” said Tiffany, “make your weapons look like squirt guns.”

[Change Of Scenery]

Daria had managed to get the base commander under her spell. She had managed to get him to order the armaments loaded onto JA-235V, an F15 strike eagle.

Bit old school, but Daria was confident she could operate it.

She had also arranged for the helos to be loaded with drop tanks, that should give them the range to reach Korea.

In about half an hour, the aircraft should be ready.

[Change Of Scenery]

As they approached the harbour, Tiffany hit the button that would light the smoke generators.

She drove the truck through the gate, scaring the faeces out of the security guard, and went straight for the water. She hit the transmit button and said “brace brace brace,” she entered the truck into a turn, this was done to ensure a clean separation of the submarine from the flatbed.

The submarine would roll off the side of the truck as the truck fell off the pier, this was why they had reinforced the hull with so much steel wire, so it could take the moment that would occur when the submarine entered the water.

As soon as the truck was in the water, Tiffany simply phased through the truck and swam to the submarine as it rocked. She phased through the submarine and when she had established everyone was okay, she ordered “Everyone take stations.”

Lucid took ballast control, Nana took control planes, Calaban the throttles, Callisto was their sonar system, Tiffany turned on the periscope system, the array of cyber cams was set up in an overlapping array of 12, there was a selector switch that allowed her to select which she was looking out through. There was also a compass and a sat-nav system whose antenna had been rewired so that it would be on the periscope. They also had speedometers suitable for watercraft.

The helm station had another compass. The sat-nav was a maritime model, so she didn’t have to worry about the thing trying to jump to the nearest road or anything like that.

“Helm, head one eight zero, periscope depth, five zero knots,” ordered Tiffany.

They did this, the yaw rotation helped dampen the roll oscillation.

Lucid worked on adjusting the ballast. Nana would use the elevators to control the depth as Lucid would work the ballast system until it was as close to neutral as he could get it.

Tiffany rotated the switch through the views making sure no one was visually paying attention to them.

[Change Of Scenery]

Daria finished checking the weapons were secure.

In addition to the AGM130s, she had four AGM88s in case she comes up against air defences, and Hydra 70 rocket pods in case they had really good air defences (I.E. Block B1 CIWS), the rockets (WDU 4/A fletchette warhead, delay fused) would be fired before the HARMs to clutter the enemy radar, like fast moving chaff, keep the CIWS attention until the HARMs are too close for the CWIS to acquire. The F15 has that capacity, she also had an ECM pod, that would stop anyone asking the JSDF what was going on while Daria strafed the radio antennae cluster.

It was time to do it.

Officially she was taking the jet on exercise, her name had been recorded as Lieutenant Shizuka Michi, and she’s supposed to take this aircraft to a bomb range at least an hour away. By the time she’s supposed to have arrived at her destination, she’ll be long gone.

She got on board and went through the start up procedure, and then went through the arming procedure.

Eventually she was ready. “Tower from Juliet Alpha Two Three Five Victor, request departure clearance, over?”

“Juliet Alpha Two Three Five Victor, cleared for departure, taxi to runway zero three and hold, over.”

[Change Of Scenery]

Having parked the submarine, they left Nana in command of the submarine. She could operate the entire submarine from command station because of her vectors, everyone else was attacking.

The pain in the ass part of this was predicting mandroid movements. Fact is they can’t, so they place Caliban, Cybil and Lucid with the equipment roughly between the intended ambush zone and the facility, Tiffany sneaks up with Torpid, they remove the operators from their machines, knock them out, then Tiffany, Wanda and Spyke board the machines. Callisto and Lucy would be somewhere else planting negator packs on some of the other mandroids, create a problem that all the other mandroids have to investigate.

Hopefully this’ll all be put down to maintenance cock-ups, and not an attack.

As soon as all the mandroids were reduced to outrageously expensive paperweights, Tiffany and Callisto would have to locate the metajammers, problem with that was that the metajammers could be anywhere within the footprint, they would need someone to tell them where the metajammers are.

Lucy and Callisto each had a PFT, a thermic lance with spare magnesium pipes and oxygen bottles, 40kg of C4 in 1kg bricks, 12 stun grenades, this load had been split between them all as they had landed, they’d have to deposit it in places for manoeuvrability, and pick it up when they need it, problem Lucy and Callisto have is they need all of it when they enter the facility.

Torpid Caliban and Cybil would provide a diversion and peel across the island in order to draw attention away from Callisto and Lucy, laying down smoke to hide Lucy and Caliban’s approach, they peel across the island to where they had set up some confinement mist grenades, each had their own hellbox that would detonate the same charges.

What Caliban, Torpid and Cybil will then run round around the facility and join the attack.

Tiffany and Torpid heard the mandroids, they approached the mandroids from behind. Tiffany quickly removed all three, Torpid quickly followed up by knocking them out.

Tiffany now phased Wanda and Spyke into their Mandroids and she boarded her own.

[Change Of Scenery]

Daria was hugging the ocean as she approached her target. She would need to be in a near vertical dive to place the bombs where she wanted them to go.

This was going to be one screw of a high G recovery. She also had to keep in mind that this was a different aircraft from the L1 she was used to doing this in.

She lit the burners and pulled into her climb. In about 30 seconds or so, she would stall at about 70 or 80 angels, and hopefully she would be right over her target. She had also gotten the base commander to order on some RATO bottles so that when the air breathing engines started to struggle, she’d have something anaerobic to use.

She watched as the number representing altitude ran through all the thousands of feet.

At 50 angels, she was at 85 degrees pitch. She lit the RATO bottles, boosting her speed.

On the map on the HDD, she watched the island move underneath her. She increased pitch to 87 degrees, she might have to stall loop, that was the worst case scenario.

Another HDD was set to FLIR, set to the waterline and zoomed in as far as it would go, that should give her enough accuracy to first of all nail the metajammers.

Then she pulls out and makes a final run, shooting air defences as needed, strafe the antennae on the roof, and use the aircraft to break in. Hope that was all the comm systems there, because once the aircraft was disposed of, that would be it for the ECM pod.

85032ft. Cool. The aircraft nosed over into its dive. Daria first used a mind blast to set off any Psi screams the might have. With the metajammers down, she should have the ability to get the mandroid operators to goof off for the next day or five.

Next were the AGM130s. She got through those. She did have to correct the target positions before she could assign each AGM130, this was taking more time than she’d have liked, but this was the only run she was going to get without them using their CWIS kit to disrupt the bombs, she was down to 45000ft before she started cycling through the targets and releasing each AGM130. All AGM130s released, Daria pulled back, lowering the flaps, straining hard against the rubber bar and the air in her lungs to stay awake.

[Change Of Scenery]

“What was that?” asked Lucy.

“Airstrike, aircraft launched missiles, they had a long delay fuse, it took ages for their warheads to detonate,” said Callisto, “it was that jet that overflew us just now.”

“We saw a Legion jet at Haneda,” said Lucy.

“That weren’t Legion, Legion uses L1s, single engine, intake over the cockpit, winglets bent down, what I saw diving at us had level wings, two engines, intakes either side of the cockpit, I think it was an F15, it had JSDF roundels,” said Callisto, “someone infiltrated the JSDF in order to kill our enemy.”

“Doesn’t necessarily mean they’re our friend, just means they hate these guys too. … I can sense them.”

“Who?” asked Callisto.

“The resident diclonii, all of them … … Aww hell, there’s way more than we can transport even with the banana boats.”

“Okay, we’ll rescue who we can release everyone else, figure something out later,” said Callisto. Callisto didn’t look too pleased with this choice.

They then heard a loud buzzing noise as a LOT of tracer flew through the sky.

Then four missiles streaked the other way, and the tracer stopped.

They then heard a very steeply Dopplered jet noise. They then saw a flash of fire over them. The jet apparently continued on to collide with the facility.

[Change Of Scenery]

Daria could sense two people about 40 metres from her as she landed.

They were in pain from something.

Daria pulled her PFT Mk 2 as she advanced to knock them out.

She was stopped by an invisible force around her throat. Another invisible forge pulled the PFT out of her hand.

Two individuals approached her. One was a Caucasian woman with an eye patch, the other was a pale looking woman, both were dressed in DPM suited for forest warfare, matching face paint, they were heavily loaded with kit.

She had no choice but to enter their minds and hope they weren’t trained to mentally render psychics catatonic.

They were metas, one was even a diclonius.

“What the hell is Tiffany doing here?” asked Daria.

“You know about our operation?” asked Callisto.




Callisto had no answer.

Daria used her psychic powers to make Lucy release Daria’s throat and return her firearm.

“What?” asked Lucy wondering what just happened.

“Come on,” said Daria as she took point and approached the facility.

[Change Of Scenery]

Tiffany, Spyke and Wanda had just about made it into a suitable room when that F15 had come straight for them.

“Now what?” asked Wanda.

“It’d help if I could ph-” said Tiffany as she pushed her hand against a wall and felt it slide through. “ … Hmm,” she shrugged as she retracted her hand, picked up a flash bang, she then threw that through the wall saying “hang on.”

They grabbed her shoulders and Tiffany led them through the wall.

On full auto, they knocked out all 50 of the guards assembled in the room.

“Not that I’m complaining, but who shut down the metajammers?” asked Wanda.

“Who cares?” asked Spyke.

“I do, I care that the metajammers stay down and can’t be turned back on again,” said Tiffany.

“Let’s find them first,” said Wanda.

“Right,” said Tiffany, “let’s find the security office.”

[Change Of Scenery]

Callisto saw the fire still raging in the reception area. “Daria, Tiffany had better be alive.”

“She is, I can sense her now,” said Daria as she thought cast ‘Tiffany, Daria, comm check.

Daria from Tiffany, would you mind explaining to me what you’re playing at, over?’

The release of the metas being held here and any possible leads regarding those two metas what killed your unit, over.

[Change Of Scenery]

Tiffany saw a plaque saying ‘Director General’, she poked her head through and stepped back, saying “One X-ray holding a Yankee at gun point,” as she pulled another flash-bang.

The other two grabbed Tiffany’s shoulders as Tiffany chucked the grenade through the wall, after enough time had elapsed, Tiffany advanced with Spyke and Wanda in tow, Tiffany knocked the bald man with the horns out and they approached the woman in the lab coat and the glasses.

“IDENTIFY YOURSELF!” said Tiffany, as Spyke secured the horned man’s weapon and set about restraining him.

“Arakawa, please don’t kill me, I want to help,” she said, “The director general’s insane, he wants to use diclonii to take over the world.”

“By locking them up?” asked Tiffany.

“By driving them insane, he does experiments on them not to gather data on them, but to make them hate humans, he then sticks them in isolation to stew until he thinks he has enough to release. I’ll show you where the servers are, it’ll tell you everything you need.”

“Right, give me a second,” said Tiffany, she then thought ‘Daria, Tiffany, receiving?

Tiffany, Daria, go ahead.’

Talking to a white coat called Arakawa, says her boss was building a diclonii army for world domination.’

That might explain a few things, Lucy’s sensing a prison population too large for you to spring, I got helos coming in.

Right, Arakawa’s leading me to the server farm, home in on me.


“Right, let’s move.”

[Change Of Scenery]

Tiffany, Spyke, Arakawa and Wanda met Daria, Callisto and Lucy outside the door to the server room.

“So, I’m over the top am I?” asked Tiffany.

“Once you take a prisoner, the ROEs change,” said Daria.

“You weren’t taking prisoners just now when you were dropping HE bombs, were you?”

“That’s because I’m not really here,” said Daria.

“Neither are we,” said Tiffany. “By the way, if they don’t have a backup drive, I’m taking the data. My people who aren’t really here outnumber your people who aren’t really here.”

“There, is, a backup drive, actually,” said Arakawa.

“ … Fine, let’s get it. Then we’re releasing all the prisoners,” said Tiffany.

“We got another problem,” said Lucy, “grab your data, then I’ll go into more detail.”

Arakawa looked at Lucy.

“What?” asked Lucy.

“You’re Lucy, aren’t you?”


“What happened to your horns?”

“Battle damage. Help these two with that server.”

“Right,” said Arakawa as she entered the room, Tiffany and Daria in tow.

As soon as Tiffany and Daria had removed their hard drives from the server, sticking them in their shielded anti-static foam lined cases, they headed for the stairs.

“Some of these diclonii are pissed off, and I mean, really pissed off. They’re not going to care who can help them, they’ll kill everyone.”

“Can you tell them from the ones that can control themselves?” asked Daria.

“Yes,” said Lucy.

“Get them out now, I got JSDF helos for the rest, they’ll be sedated and moved to a US airbase in Korea.”

“Why’s the JSDF moving them to Korea?” asked Tiffany.

“Because I made a JSDF base commander tell them to,” said Daria.

“Nice,” said Tiffany, “how long does that give us?”

Daria checked her watch, “half an hour.”

“Christ, Daria, don’t give us much time.”

The accelerated their run down the stairs.

[Change Of Scenery]

As the rescue progressed, they dressed the prisoners in clothes they had taken from the JSDF depot as they exited the facility, Cybil, Caliban and Torpid set up the zip line to the submarine. The submarine filled up quickly.

Nana directed some of the new arrivals to start inflating the banana boats.

“You gotta be kidding,” one of the Diclonii said as the watercraft took shape.

“It’s what we got,” said Nana.

[Change Of Scenery]

Eventually Lucy had taken them past all the remaining Diclonii. “Okay, that’s it, we’re done, Daria can move the rest of these, we’re not set up for them.”

“Okay,” said Daria.

As they started back up the stairs, Tiffany asked “so, what’s going to happen this time Daria?”

“What do you mean?”

“Every time lately that I’ve had any contact with the Legion lately, SOMETHING gets taken away from me. I break you and Jane out of Wyatt’s place, I get relegated to reserve Legionnaire, I shut down the metajammers that were endangering you in that rainforest, I GET BOOTED OUT THE RESERVES AND PUT ON SOME PSYCHOLOGICAL COURSE!”

Daria calmly responded “I’m starting to think Jane’s right, you are irresponsible. YOU break Posse commutates, you get relegated to reserve Legionnaire, YOU attempt to kill a prisoner in our custody, you get booted out the Legion and put on some psychological course.”

“I thought I was supposed to be able to trust you,” said Tiffany.

“Yeah, well, maybe I forgot to mention my condition for your trust: Don’t sponge,” responded Daria.

“I’m sponging am I?” asked Tiffany, “How about one minute supporting self defence, then opposing it, then- which side are you on?”

“The side of reason,” said Daria.

“THE HELL YOU ARE!” said Tiffany.

This point Lucy turned around and slapped them both across the back of their heads with her vectors saying “Urge to kill: Rising. How about you two stop this untillll, sayyyy, I DON’T HAVE TO PUT UP WITH IT! … SOUND GOOD?”

“Fine,” Daria and Tiffany chorused. They then continued on out.

Lucy, Tiffany, Wanda and the Morlocks descended along the zip line, and boarded the submarine.

They started to hear the sound of heavy rotorcraft approaching as they detached the zip line, Daria detached the point at the top of the cliff.

Tiffany stood in the conning tower and ordered “Helm, head two two zero, one zero knots.”

She watched the banana boats as the lines became taught, there were two rows of banana boats attached to a triangular scaffolding frame clamped around the conning tower.

Eventually Tiffany said “Helm, three zero knots.”

Once Tiffany was satisfied that everything was okay, she descended to the command station, securing the hatch behind her and said “Helm, periscope depth, mil thrust.”

[Change Of Scenery]

Commander Arata Kimiko was bored as he peered out through the periscope of his Hamashio class submarine. He supposed boring was good for politicians, but he wanted to break the routine with something.

He then saw something moving across his field of view. There was about 20 banana boats with no apparent tug.

The boats had a large number of people, men and women with pink hair and horns, all dressed identically in disruptive pattern suits and flotation vests.

“Great, I’m so bored I’m hallucinating.”

He kept panning the periscope around.

[Change Of Scenery]

Tiffany spotted a container ship heading towards Hawaii and had the helm take them to a position ahead of the ship. With the submarine keeping station ahead of the ship, Tiffany and Wanda had jumped into the water and Tiffany phased them both through the ship’s hull. They took control of the bridge so there would be no comm traffic.

Then Callisto would order Nana to let the ship catch up with them, the diclonii transferred from the banana boats to the boat, using their vectors to climb up on top of the mountains of containers. Their vectors being invisible, the Diclonii appeared to be flying.

They had brought their own food along in order to help them keep the peace between themselves and the ship’s crew, MRE packs from the JSDF depot, sleeping bags so they could sleep outside.

This ship was headed for Hawaii.

With everyone and everything on board, Nana opened the air vents on the ballast tanks, setting thrust to zero, she was out the hatch well before the submarine dropped away into the ocean. She ascended the side of the ship and joined the other diclonii.

She then went over to the bridge to talk to Tiffany and Wanda.

[Change Of Scenery]

Charles, having picked Daria up from the island, landed in a South Korean airport instead of the US airbase that the JSDF helos had been transporting the Diclonii that Tiffany wasn’t capable of controlling. This was an attempt to be all “Oh, there’s a bunch of refugees arriving on a US base? What a surprise,” when approached with the news.

Well, it would be transparent, but legally, it might just be enough to prevent Daria and Charles undergoing extradition to Japan for theft and destruction of Japanese government property.

Not that either of them had left the Japanese much to work with to begin with, and the fact remained that the Japanese government had been committing a crime against humanity, there’d probably be quite a bit of psychotherapy needed to get the diclonii evacuated to North Korea in any shape to testify.

Daria and Charles now had to work on the drive they had taken. They needed to figure out what information they had, the two diclonii mercenaries were still a priority, but there might also be information that could tell the people at the base what happened to the mental patients they now held.

The medics were keeping the individuals sedated in anticipation of a C17 transport that would move them all to Hawaii, where they would meet up with personal from USAES that could assist in stabilising them, but there was a major concern that a lot of them could end up simply transferring from one prison to another.

[Change Of Scenery]

“Once we’ve got these diclonii to Hawaii, can I return to Kouta?” asked Nana.

“Well, we’d have to sneak you in, after that fireworks display I can’t imagine security at the airports being relaxed,” said Wanda.

“I see,” said Nana.

“You could probably request asylum along with the other diclonii,” said Wanda.

“And then what?” asked Nana.

“INS helps you find a place to leave and a job to sustain yourself by,” said Wanda. Wanda saw Tiffany run across a gap in the containers and said “Callisto, I’m going to be off the bridge for a while, you mind watching over everything?”

“No, go ahead,” said Callisto.

Wanda left the bridge and caught up with Tiffany.

They had all since cleared their faces of the paint, but ALL only had one set of clothes, so they were all taking Tiffany’s advice on how to maintain some semblance of hygiene WHEN only equipped with one change of clothes.

Wanda had questions relating to something else entirely.

“Tiffany, that conversation you had with Daria, what the hell was that about?”

“What do you mean?”

“You were displacing blame onto Daria like a five year old brat throwing a tantrum,” said Wanda.

“I … … … Yes, I was displacing blame onto Daria like a five year old, you happy?”

“Provided our conversation leads to some self improvement, do you need to displace blame to be able to function? Because if that’s how you handle disaster, you’ve no business holding any leadership position,” said Wanda.

“I know,” said Tiffany.

“Then why-”

“BECAUSE I WAS PISSED OFF!” Admitted Tiffany.

“At Daria or the Legion in general.”

“Daria’s been like a bad luck charm lately,” said Tiffany.

“What, like those Goth kids that get put in that glass box on the roof every time a tornado risk presented to a certain school?” asked Wanda.




“ … … I suppose you’re also sick of hearing about how there’s always hope too,” said Wanda.

Tiffany resumed running.

Wanda kept up.

“FYI: I know it was Stacy that convinced your CO to halt the investigation in favour of psychological counselling.”

“What of it?” asked Tiffany.

“It’s your one chance to stay out of prison,” said Wanda.

“No it’s not, it’s no chance, well, that’s not entirely accurate, it’s a way out of prison, but it’ll lead to an administrative separation, and what happens then?”

“What’s going to prompt you getting fired?” asked Wanda.

“My concern for my reputation if I don’t get back at those bastards that killed my team! Yes, we talked through that already, but the fact is I’m so used to danger to life that I just don’t react to people dying, I’m more concerned about my damn career path than I am about the welfare of my own people!”

“Ah. Right,” said Wanda. “It’s still a dislike of losses, you’re still motivated to win, and you love war, Tiffany, you’re afraid to open up because you think your shrink has no idea, if that were a civilian shrink, you’d be crap out of luck, but your shrink’s a naval officer, right?”

“Wanda, we’re Navy, not Marines, there’s a large number of personal in the navy that would be afraid to pick up a gun, forget kill someone with it.”

“And you think they’d put a psychiatrist in charge of assessing special forces without making sure they can tell the psychos from the soldiers?” asked Wanda, “they gotta want to retain capable personal.”

“Wanda, every time I’ve heard of anyone undergoing a psychological review, I never hear from them again. We kill, for a living. Some of us even enjoy it. Military background or not, what do you reckon any clinical psychologist would make of that?”

“Maybe you need a different shrink,” said Wanda.

“Like who?” asked Tiffany, “My admiral would have to approve the appointment of the psychologist.”

“General Armalin? He’s a qualified psychologist and has special forces background,” asked Wanda.

“I spent a long time training under him, what if his impartiality gets challenged?” asked Tiffany.

“A lot of people spent a long time training under him, what makes you special?” asked Wanda.

“I used to be a Legionnaire, he took a liking to the Legion, it could be argued-” started Tiffany.

“Okay, okay, okay, I think I’ve spotted another problem here: You’re not a JAG lawyer are you?” Asked Wanda.

“No,” said Tiffany.

“Have you talked to one?” asked Wanda.

“Think I could be this open with one without them wanting me out the SEALs?” asked Tiffany.

“You’d get a specialist for anything else you can’t do yourself on an operation, why should this be any different?” asked Wanda.

“Well … … ” Tiffany struggled to answer. “Same problem I have with the shrink I guess, anything I share could have unforeseen consequences.”

“Don’t this fear appear every time you go on operations?” asked Wanda.

“Physical war is based on reality, how the enemy can behave with what number of personal and what quantity of resources, I get to kill the enemy, that stops them bothering me again, and it’s possible to plan to counter multiple possibilities in one go, but legal and psychoanalysis is based on perception, it’s like … … well … making something stylish for a fashion show run by cosplay convention judges,” said Tiffany.

“Okay, that’s the situation, can you do anything about it?”

“Still working.”

“This were a battle plan, what do you do when you run out of time?”

The answer was obvious: “Go with whatever I got.”

“Good answer. … And consult a lawyer, anyone who represents themselves in court has an idiot for a client,” said Wanda.

[Change Of Scenery]

“Running facial recognition now,” said Jodie. It took a few seconds of scrolling down all the thumbnails for Jodie to say “not that it’ll give us anything.”

“How’d the other thing pan out?” asked Daria.

“We seem to have a pattern of movement going back four years, mostly in South America and Africa, they even messed around with India, Pakistan and Chechnya a few times. I think we have a start, where they might have first met their precog, but the trail is Bose Einstein condensate cold. Stacy and Brittany went over there to check things out, we could really do with you over there, that’s our best chance of exploiting any memories any of the locals have.”

“Any diclonii known to have been born over there?” asked Daria.

“Hospital databases show no diclonii born, but in spite of what you said, home births can’t be ruled out, but then why aren’t there any diclonii ultrasounds?” asked Jodie.

“Mother was too embarrassed,” said Daria, “what about adoptions?”


“Families with diclonii kids?” asked Daria.


“And we’ve checked all criminal records exhaustively, so these two either committed no prior offences or were never caught … … murders, assaults, any in the area include dismemberment, possibly with questions over the weapon used?” asked Daria.

“No … However, it just occurred to me to look through theft crime files,” said Jodie.

“Anything from that?” asked Daria.

“There’s about 200 reported thefts where the complainants ultimately got done for fraud, court records show insistent pleas of not guilty, appeals even after the convictions were spent, some of these guys went on to develop drink, drug and vandalism habits following the price of fraud convictions where no one with any sense will hire you, anyone with telekinesis capabilities can break in undetected and forensically clean,” said Jodie, “it could be by this point they were highly skilled thieves.”

“Hmm … are there any cases where diclonii weren’t outright wanted but were persons of interest from the point of view that they were potential witnesses?” asked Daria.

“Not in the local area, but expanding the search, we have upward of 100 cases. Thing is they’re thieves, they know their heads would stand out, and would compensate accordingly, however, that means hats big enough to conceal their horns, head gear, maybe hair dye and coloured contact lenses,” said Jodie.

“What’s the town we’re talking about?” asked Daria.

“Garden City, Kansas, they got an airport, but it’s out of town,” said Jodie.

“Okay, soon as we’re fuelled up, we’re going to head over there,” said Daria. She looked at the airport location on the map. “I hope their metro cops will allow us to use their helipad.”

[Change Of Scenery]

The diversion went off beautifully. Val and Sal set off the charges. The holes in the floors formed. They had set up ladders, fixing them into the concrete they had plastered onto the sides of the tunnel.

Their vectors had made digging the tunnel well easy, the apparent strength of their vectors seemed to grow out of all proportion to their own body strength, although finding places to put the excavated soil was a pain in the ass. As soon as the ground floor levels were clear, they stuck charges to the ceilings and set those off. Once the plugs had fallen, they rushed around sticking the next part of the ladders up.

Harman eventually came down the ladders, saying “I take it we have a gig?”

“Absolutely,” said Val.

The rest of Harman’s mercenaries assembled around Val and Sal.

“Okay then,” said Harman, “let’s hear it.”

[Change Of Scenery]

Tiffany watched as the JSDF P3 Orion orbited at bridge level for the twelfth time.

She had removed the cap and the shirt from one of the crew and sent him downstairs so her appearance would seem less out of place.

“Get lost already,” said Tiffany. This was getting annoying.

Eventually they climbed out and left.

“Can we get them above deck yet?” asked one of the crew from down the stairs.

“Not yet,” said Callisto, also down stairs.

They had gotten all their gear below decks as well, they had to look like any normal cargo ship.

There was a concern that Tiffany’s passport alias would come up from facial recognition software, but there was also a possibility they were looking for the diclonii themselves.

It was unlikely that the JSDF were stupid enough to think they would have it so easy, so they were probably using face recognition software.

There weren’t many ways around it, Wanda had phoned SHIELD and their IT division had made it so that Tiffany’s presence on the ship would make sense, but they couldn’t delete Tiffany’s entry into Japan, same with the Morlocks.

The biggest weak point was Bando, they had to drug him with LSD and PCP in a far away city, bit of luck, he would still be in a psych ward when they finally arrived in US waters.

Eventually Callisto said “Okay, we’re clear, you can all go above deck now.”

Below decks, the diclonii moving along the corridors with their vectors, filling every cube metre of space, seemingly flew out like a colony of bats.

Wanda returned to the bridge and said “bit strange they loitered that long. Would we be able to defend ourselves if attacked?”

“Anything I can see, I can shoot,” said Callisto.

“Submarines could be a problem,” said Tiffany.

“How so?” asked Callisto.

“Torpedoes,” said Tiffany.

“Wouldn’t we see those?” asked Wanda.

“No. Things have changed since world war two,” said Tiffany, “A submarine could attack from hundreds of metres deep, sonar look up and look down is unlimited, and torpedoes are wire guided by the ship’s computer, command detonated, and big. They’ll be detonated at a distance of ten to fifteen metres from the hull, it’ll break the ship in half instead of just poking a hole in the side. PFTs can penetrate some way into the sea at their full setting, but it’s like shooting buck shot into the water, you won’t get much more than ten or twenty metres before the pressure drops too far below the threshold we’d need.”

“Thanks for making my life so much more interesting,” said the ship’s captain.

“Sorry,” said Tiffany.

“If Callisto can listen out for anything that sounds like a submarine or a torpedo,” said Wanda, “my powers allow me to reinforce the hull, problem is we only have one Callisto and one me, we need something else listening out that everyone can watch, coffee only works for so long before you start hallucinating.”

“There may be another reason that P3 was here for such a long time, they may have been trying to provoke a response,” said Tiffany.

“Psi ops?” asked Wanda.

“Playground Ops,” said Tiffany. She looked at the diclonii sitting on top of the containers, some looked more ashen than usual, others looked pissed off. “Another twenty seconds and one of them might have tried to splash it. We should see if there’s a way to improvise a torpedo alarm, but odds are they were trying to provoke us into revealing ourselves, if they knew we were here, we’d be under attack about now.”

[Change Of Scenery]

The phone, which was plugged into the aircraft’s comm system, started ringing.

Daria answered it, noting the name ‘Brittany’ was on the caller ID. “Boss?”

“There’s been a prison break, it’s Leavenworth, we’ve been re tasked with the recapture of all escapees?”

“How many?” asked Daria.

“All of them,” said Brittany.

“All? How’d that happen?” asked Daria.

“Tunnels. Seismic sensors failed to detect them, but they were big, long, lined with chicken wire reinforced concrete, it emerged at a number of underground car parks, guards were distracted by an apparent attack on the outside that used a pinch, so cameras including those covering the blocks were down while all the guards relocated to defend from an external threat,” said Brittany.

“This is a distraction,” said Daria.

“This is a priority, and we’re a deputy organisation to the US Marshals, so we absolutely have to do this,” said Brittany.

“If we want to find out where Harman is, we have to find those diclonii and their precog,” said Daria.

“The mercenaries are not the biggest concern here, some of these escapees are sick like you wouldn’t believe,” said Brittany.

“I doubt that, I’ve seen some strange minds,” said Daria. She then said “Boss, by the time Charles and I arrive in Kansas, the escape will be how old?”

“Five hours,” said Brittany.

“Would five hundred and thirty five kilometres seem like a reasonable search radius at that point?” asked Daria.

“Daria, that’s the approximate distance between Leavenworth and Garden City,” said Brittany.

“Boss, how were those diclonii planning on allowing the prisoners to evade the law for so long?” asked Daria.

Brittany eventually asked “What’s your point?”

“If I find those diclonii, there’s a chance I could get inside their heads and find out directly how they helped them out, what identification they might have fixed them up with, finding them could speed up the recovery of the escaped prisoners,” said Daria.

Eventually, Brittany said “Okay, continue to Garden City, find those diclonii.”

“Thanks boss,” said Daria as she pressed ‘end call’.

[Change Of Scenery]


“But, Daria was right,” said Brittany, “those diclonii would know where all the prisoners have gone.”

“YEAH BUT! … Okay, yeah, anyway, as soon as I get these four back to prison,” said Jane as she drove her car load of four violent felons. They were tied together with zip ties and piled on top of each other on the back seats. Jane was also looking through their possessions as she drove.

She looked through a passport and said “ … Actually, hang on, passport issue dates, these can’t be back dated, can they?”

“That’s Jodie’s department,” said Brittany.

“Okay, thanks,” said Jane as she ended the call and called Jodie.

Daria was right, those diclonii would have all the information they were looking for with these prisoners, but they also needed to recapture as many as possible as quickly as possible or they could kill, mutilate or rape someone, a lot of these guys were in prison for a good reason.

[Change Of Scenery]

“Tiffany, I think there’s a problem,” said Nana.

“What’s that?” asked Tiffany.

“When that aircraft was here, I felt the presence of a diclonius in extreme pain. It was on the aircraft. I’ve been discussing it with the others, they felt it too.”

“Right, I think you’re right Nana, that is a problem,” said Tiffany, she looked at the map.

“What can we do about it?” asked Nana.

“What we were going to do about it,” said Tiffany, “they probably know we know. … we’re about three days from Hawaii, our survival will depend on how soon after the attack they started sending ships our way, they’re capable of forty seven knots,” said Tiffany.

“I thought it was thirty knots,” said the captain.

“You didn’t hear this from me, but it’s forty seven,” said Tiffany. “We get close enough to Hawaii, they won’t want to torpedo us, it’ll be just too obvious to the US Navy what’s going on, and they won’t have to look very far to find the wreck, so the JSDF won’t be able to lie their way out of it. Problem is the US set an awful lot of precedents when it came to chasing terrorists, Japan could throw that in the SecState’s face, tie up the politicians for months. Fact is, I don’t think Japan has any reason to fear retaliation as long as this is all they do, all that’ll happen is our government will be dicks to them over passport visas and trade agreements for half a decade if that and they’ll call it settled.”

“So it depends on how bad they want us back?” asked Nana. “They’re prepared to torture Diclonii to get what they want.”

“They don’t see Diclonii as people worthy of equal courtesy and respect to that of normals,” said Tiffany, “they probably did more than torture, your proximity sense capability is probably of interest, especially if they want to hunt for fresh specimens, that Diclonius was probably on that Orion since before I even first encountered a Diclonius. They probably wired his or her brain to a computer to give them direction and signal strength if not range.”

Nana was unsteady on her feet from hearing this, she leaned against a console.

“Sorry, but my line of work shows me what normals do to other normals over the most insignificant of differences, so Metas … … ” said Tiffany.

After a long silence, the ship’s captain asked “Sorry to butt in, but, submarines and torpedoes?”

“Yeah. … We so need a decent anti submarine weapon. Our PFTs are good against any surface or air threat most countries can throw at us, we just need to figure out how to make a depth char- … ge … …” Tiffany turned to Wanda and asked “where did we put the PFT manuals? I want to figure out exactly how much energy is in these things.”

[Change Of Scenery]

“Daria, I’ve been meaning to ask you, but I kept forgetting,” said Charles.

“What?” asked Daria.

“Well … … You and Jane, I can’t remember the last time you two seemed to get along.”

Daria mulled over this.

“I suppose it’s just one of those things that build over time,” said Daria, “I don’t hate Jane, but lately I’ve found her to be increasingly annoying.”

“You’re not going to stop being friends are you?”

“No … … Why the sudden interest? You’re not reverting to your high school self are you? I thought you were done with that.”

“NO, GOD NO Daria, it’s just, you Jane and Quinn are our founding members, kinda makes you our mascots. Seeing you and Jane fighting all the time, it’s kind of worrying.”

“ … … Right,” said Daria, “Charles, I don’t know what to tell you on that, I mean, it’s not like disagreements get planned, by their definition, they are unplanned. What’s your specific fear here?”

“Well, if you two are no longer friends, it feels like a bad omen,” said Charles.

“Oh-for-crying-out-loud, Charles, we’re not into that are we? Omens? Portents?”

“The thing is that without your influence, Jane tries to appear to be okay by trying to maintain discipline, or whatever she latches onto at the time, and she does it with fists of ham, gets on everyone’s case, makes everyone want to kill her.”

“I really have no idea what to do about that,” said Daria.

“And you get incredibly impulsive and start acting out,” said Charles.

“Impulsive? Just because I’m showing more initiative lately-”

“No, not initiative, poor impulse control,” said Charles, “I’m sorry, but there had to be a better way we could have gone about freeing those diclonii.”

“Okay, do you know of such a way?” asked Daria.

“Well … Okay, what about the mission to Columbia? We spent all of five minutes planning it and rushed straight on down, and look where that got us?”

“You try preparing for a precog,” said Daria.

“Look, regarding the diclonii, couldn’t we have referred this to the CIA or SHIELD?” asked Charles.

“CIA: Sure, if I wanted nothing to be done about it,” Daria said, “in fact they’d probably make contact and add the place to their list of black sites, CIA are shady, corrupt, I mean, if we ever end up like them, I’m out.”

“If we end up like them. You mean, going around the world abducting people and causing massive property damage in operations that quote ‘didn’t happen’ unquote?”

“Okay, good point, but seriously, do you honestly think the CIA would have acted on this to free the Diclonii from that site?”

“ … … … No. But SHIELD might have,” said Charles.

“Eventually, but that would have been an offensive action which would have meant referring the decision to act upwards and being decided at the speed of government. Now picture some of those Diclonii being your friends or relatives,” said Daria.

“Yeah, I get it Daria. … I just think you and Jane need an outlet, I think that’s why you’re unable to get on with each other, you two need- … ”

“What?” asked Daria.

“Pretend I’m someone else as I say this, right?”

“Okay,” said Daria.

“You two need to get yourselves laid, you need intimate partners, some kind of outlet, I don’t care about the details, but both of you need to get some, stat.”

“Okay, problem with that is that boyfriends mean self esteem issues, paranoia, and all kinds of other stress that to me is about as attractive as a regurgitated meal.”

Her lack of people skills would just screw everything up, People might find her attractive, or so the news magazines Stacy shoves in her face would have it, but there was just no way any relationship she would attempt would last more than a few copulations and then word would get out that she had all the warmth of Bose Einstein condensate, and the next news magazine Stacy shoves in her face would influentially say ‘Don’t go there,’ so no way was she putting herself through that.

Realistically, she’d need to go for a relationship with another meta, the problem was the numbers she could casually interact with, it was not like she could just go on a pub crawl for single metahuman men out on the pull, the only realistic sources of candidates were the Legion, who she’d have to live with after she screwed things up, the Xavier Institute … … Yeah, right, SHIELD, who would think it’s a rouse to complete an operation because she would be too stressed to approach them calmly, and the USAES, who she had no idea how to approach for dates without people raising questions about her sanity.

Not that her sanity was above question as it was, but she knew what she was doing on operations, knew what she was after and how to get it, however crazy her tactics appeared, but it was apparently blatantly obvious to Charles that Jane and Tom were over (but didn’t want to admit it for whatever reason) whereas Daria had no clue how to read whatever Charles was reading.

No fun, no comfort, no relaxation, there was absolutely nothing about seeking a romantic partner that in the least attracted Daria. If that was supposed to improve her mood, it seemed like the worst way conceivable to go about doing it. Receiving affection may be pleasurable, but chasing it? No way.


Having thought that, that night with that Fulton cadet was so much better than the session she spent in automated restraints getting vibed or electrically stimulated to orgasm, something about nailing a real man instead of a machine ... ‘Thanks Charles,’ she thought to herself.

[Change Of Scenery]

Inspector Xavier Paris kept scanning the windows of the elementary school the five fugitive marines were holed up in.

They had hit a gun shop, and two of his officers happened across them, the marines had opened fire and the cops had managed to reverse around the corner of a brick building before their windscreen wore out.

Eventually they had been traced to a primary school and taken five classes hostage.

The biggest problem playing on the inspector’s mind was that these marines were in Leavenworth for war crimes, so they were totally not above killing little children to prove a point.

SWAT were inbound, another problem they had was that the architecture didn’t allow them to just sneak in, the marines had command of the CCTV system, and-

The doors opened and the hostages emerged.

The inspector watched as they ran out, the kids were excited, the teachers and parents looked about ready to collapse into a heap.

Eventually a face that didn’t belong emerged, the face attached to a buxom female body and blonde hair done up in two pony tails. She had this vacant look that, had Xavier not seen lots of legion activity in the news, would have completely hidden from him the fact that she was an intuitive war fighter. She also held a PFT M2.

“What are you doing here?” asked Xavier as he approached her.

“Tracking fugitives,” said Brittany.

“Okay, speaking of, where are they?”

“They stayed behind. I gave them detention.” Brittany was glad for that seminar Nemec had given them all those years ago about heroic one liners. Daria had seemed to think the instructors were out of real ideas at that point.

“Thanks for saving us, but you could show a bit more sensitivity around the children,” said one of the frazzled teachers, “they’ve been so traumatised by all this.”

“That was awesome!” said one of the kids, seeming, like his class mates, kind of un-traumatised, “Where can we get a gun like that?”

“You need a special permit to procure these,” said Brittany, “and getting that permit requires that you work in an appropriate field of security or law enforcement, that means passing lots and lots of exams and proving yourself trustworthy.”

“You mean school work and stuff?” whined the kid.

“Mmmm-hmmm,” was Brittany’s sombre reply.

“Aww man,” groaned the kid, similar statements of discontent arose from the others.

[Change Of Scenery]

The two fugitive Air Force captains knew someone was following them, but they had to ascertain who and why.

They set an ambush between two dumpsters and waited.

Once the woman passed in front of them, they emerged and made to grab her arms and shoulders, idea was that they force her onto her knees and her face onto the ground in a split second, one of them would use his knee to pin her head to the ground.

What didn’t go to plan was that she spun around, elbowing one across the jaw, striking the other’s neck with a palm strike.

As they staggered back, she pressed on her attack on the one she had struck in the neck, punching him in the larynx twice before bringing the back of the wrist end of her radius down on the back of his head while he was doubled over, knocking him out.

The other pulled a knife, a large straight kitchen knife, and approached her.

Noticing the knife, the woman said “you’re gonna regret that the rest of your life. Both seconds of it.”

He made an attempt to stab her, she dodged it, he made another attempt, she made a feint and when he tried to stab her arm, she grabbed his, twisting it around, and jamming the knife through his shoulder.


“If I have to knock you out to prevent your escape, I will and can do so easily, but odds are you’ll dislodge that knife and exsanguinate way faster than you’re set to now.”

“Errr, Exsanguinate? That’s ... ”

“That means, like, bleeding to death, Jesus, watch a crime show once in a while.”

After an exasperated sigh, she seemed to spawn two full size duplicates, one checked on the unconscious one, the other examined the stab injury, the original pulled her phone and dialled 911 for cops and medics.

[Change Of Scenery]

The four naval officers that had been done for drug smuggling were interrupted from their negotiations by a pounding on the door of the warehouse.

Everyone in the building drew weapons and focused their attention on the door as it was eventually pounded off its hinges.

The cause of the door’s destruction entered.

The cause of the door’s destruction was a 20-ish black woman with shoulder length dreadlocks and a PFT M2 held up as she entered. She then turned to face the drug dealers and said “Go ahead. Fight the power. You gotta fight the power.”

[Change Of Scenery]

Daria answered the phone call. “Amiga,” greeted Daria, her voice somewhat dripping with sarcasm.

“We’ve retrieved about 80 percent of the absent prisoners now.”

“Harman’s mercs?” asked Daria.

“No joy so far, we’ll need you to join the hunt for them,” said Jane.

“That means finding their associates,” said Daria.

“What are you really up to?” asked Jane.

“Excuse me?” asked Daria.

“You heard, you are up to something again.”

Eventually Daria said “That precog and those two diclonii are controlling the mercenaries, you want to find those mercenaries, which, by the way, is my objective too, you need to find the precog and the diclonii that keep breaking them out of prison. What do you think I’m doing that conflicts with your objectives?”

“I don’t know yet, but I do know you, and your attitude towards anyone with any form of authority.”

“Right, this is what this is about is it? You feel I don’t pay sufficient respect to your authowitae,” said Daria, replicating Eric Cartman’s inflection on ‘Authority’ to enhance her feeling about Jane’s motivation.

“And you’re a rebel with or without a cause, and when you have no cause, you make one up,” said Jane, “you’re unpredictable and don’t care what the Legion’s for, you’ll just do what you like for the thrill of causing trouble.”

“I don’t care what the Legion’s for? I’d say you’ve forgotten what it’s for,” said Daria, “It’s about changing the world.”

“Yes, into a BETTER, SAFER place, not into a global bar brawl, what about that argument between the Japanese and US Secstates? You call that an improvement?”

“No, I call the liberation of a concentration camp an improvement, you just call it pointless rebellion that stains the honour of the naaaaationallll leeeeeegiiionnnnnn,” said Daria, now replicating their former principal’s reverent intonation for her beloved institution.

After about a minute of silence, Jane said “we’ll continue this later.”

“Well, it’s a hobby I guess,” said Daria before she hung up.

As soon as the call had ended, Charles said “Okay, that wasn’t mere annoyance, that was starting to get hateful.”

“Well ... ... yeah, it was ... I-”

A threat alarm interrupted Daria and Charles initiated evasive manoeuvres saying “atoll-atoll,” after a look at the map and the RWR, he said “Origin’s Garden City, what the hell?”

Daria selected the SAC channel and said “NORAD from November One Three Five Kilo, atoll, atoll, origin is Garden City, Kansas, three eight mark zero north, one zero zero mark four five west, we’re squawking zero zero two one, over.”

“November One Three Five Kilo from NORAD, have that, we’re scrambling assistance, will advise progress, over.”

“NORAD from November One Three Five Kilo, have that, over.”

Charles conducted a number of vertical S turns perpendicular to their previous vector.

“Second SAM launch, same origin,” said Charles.

Daria got a look at the exhaust trail as they descended, “that’s a big one, you need a missile the length of a truck to get to that altitude.”

Eventually, they were on the deck, they flew metres over fences and crops, and flew under 11kV lines close enough for arcing to occur between the tail fin lightning conductors and the phase lines.

The rear view displays showed them where the missiles went, the first one having a steeper angle created a big enough dirt and smoke cloud to indicate something about two thirds the mass of a mk81.

The second, which had been launched at a shallower angle went off somewhere in the distance.

Another missile was launched.

This didn’t make sense, the L1’s radar cross section should have been dwarfed by the power lines and fences and sprinkler syste-

“Transponder off,” said Daria as she turned off their transponder.

The third missile impacted the ground less than 500m behind them.

“November One Three Five Kilo from NORAD, there’s a live fire exercise in progress, squawk zero zero zero zero, we’re talking to the Officer In Charge now.”

“NORAD from November One Three Five Kilo, have that, we’re going to make contact ourselves, over,” said Daria. She didn’t bother with the transponder.

They entered into the Garden City ‘burbs, they overflew four MIM 104 batteries, the radar system appeared on their scope and Charles carried out braking manoeuvres until he was in a hover over the car park in which the truck was parked, it’s radar antenna on a cherry picker arm, a number of airmen with assault rifles stood around gawking at the Legionnaires.

Daria unbuckled her seat belt as she opened the canopy, jumping out before the aircraft was below car height.

She removed her helmet as she walked to the truck, the door opened when she was five metres from it.

One of the occupants, a lieutenant colonel, was on the phone with someone as he leaned out. He said something into the phone and hung up, he then emerged.

“WHAT THE HELL WERE YOU DOING HERE?” asked Daria as she grabbed him and pulled him down the steps of the entrance to the radar truck, “YOU TRYING TO KILL US?”

“I’m sorry,” he said, clearly he was ashen, about to throw up.


“DARIA!” called Charles as he grabbed her shoulders, “HE DIDN’T MEAN IT, IT WAS AN ACCIDENT,” he then turned to the lieutenant colonel and said “it was an accident, wasn’t it?”

“Yes, you see, we were supposed to shoot down a drone with that exact same code, we’re safing all systems now, you can continue on your journey.”

“Our transponder code?” asked Daria as she calmed down.

Eventually she let him go. “How the hell did you end up ... ... that precog again, we must be getting close. Garden City was our destination anyway.”

“Come on Daria, we need to get over to the police station so we can get on with our investigation.”

Daria eventually turned and followed Charles to the aircraft.

[Change Of Scenery]

Nana climbed the ladder to the ship’s radar mast, where Lucy was sat on the antenna.

“How do you keep from throwing up?” asked Nana as she watched Lucy spin.

“By watching the horizon,” said Lucy.

“How does that work?” asked Nana.

“No idea, someone suggested it one day, I tried it out, it worked.”

“I see,” said Nana.

Eventually Lucy said “You wish to discuss something?”

“ ... ... Yes.”

Nana eventually asked “how do you feel now that facility is down?”

“Sated ... ... somewhat sated.”

Nana eventually asked “Except for, ... ?”

“I’m not a hero, I did something heroic and noble, but I didn’t bother trying to get Callisto to launch an operation, we just made it a side order to Tiffany chasing those diclonii that killed her unit.”

“I see. ... Could you have been victorious without Tiffany helping us?” asked Nana.

“ ... No.”

“Then you did nothing wrong in staying away,” said Nana.

“That’s true, ignoring that I lived off the proceeds of crime all that time.”

“We’re always in violation of someone’s law just by being,” said Nana.

“I suppose,” said Lucy.

“Does it help to be alone all the time?” asked Nana.

“Does it help to be with other people?” asked Lucy.

“You joined Callisto’s group,” said Nana.

“It was mutually advantageous,” said Lucy, “We grew to like each other, but that might have changed, the magnatude of the wrongs I have done may not yet have fully sunk in.”

“If they haven’t rejected you by now, I don’t see them doing it ever.”

“Doesn’t mean they forgive me,” said Lucy, “Kouta can’t. He doesn’t ever want to see me dead or anything like that, but he can’t forgive me. Could end up with the same thing going on with Callisto.”

“That’s sad,” said Nana.

“Sure is,” said Lucy.

“You’re cofortable in the sadness,” said Nana.

“It’s what I got,” said Lucy. “You ever seen that anti-speeding advert with the man who kept seeing an apparition of the kid he ran down as he goes through his day?”

“Kill your speed or live with it?” asked Nana.

“Yeah. Don’t take a life if you have a conscience,” said Lucy, “I suppressed mine with hatred. Now the hatred’s pretty much faded, I feel sick most the time. Now I’m over that line, further kills don’t make much of a difference, gets easier every time, and yet I can still feel some loss when I kill. I don’t know how to describe it.”

“I overheard Kouta discussing some of his homework, it included a statistics module, an example that was discussed was radioactive half life, every so often the radiation decreases by half.”

“Okay, I suppose that works,” said Lucy. Suddenly both Lucy and Nana felt something strange going on.

“What ... ?” asked Nana.

“Yeah, I feel it- WOOOAAAHHH-” Lucy fell off, unable to use her vectors to stabilise herself.

“Are you okay?” asked Nana.

Lucy got up from where she fell on the crow’s nest around the Radar mast. “I’ll live. ... But we’re in trouble.”

[Change Of Scenery]

Tiffany kept trying to push her hand through the console. ... “Crap.”

“Now what?” asked Wanda.

Tiffany grabbed the intercom and said “All hands, general quarters, general quarters, for those of you who have no navy experience, that means prepare for enemy attack, I want the lowest decks evacuated and all doors and bulkheads closed.”

“What does that mean?” asked the captain.

“It means we can’t defend against air assets beyond normal visual range and that our anti-submarine defence has dropped from crap to non-existent,” said Lucy as she and Nana entered the bridge.

“Surface ship inbound, thirty miles, heading one one three, speed four seven knots,” said the radar operator.

“Is that where they got the metajammer?” asked Callisto.

“No, I lost sense of the other diclonii starting from below, I think the metajammer’s behind and below us.”

“It would have to be close,” said Tiffany, “they don’t want to be too close or they’ll sink themselves with their own torpedo. The fact they haven’t done that yet and the fact that ship’s closing tells me they intend to capture you all alive. That gives us time.”

“Time for what?” asked Nana.

“How’s that torpedo coming?” asked Tiffany.

“Arakawa’s got the guidance built, also has an appropriate fuse and launch system, problem is we don’t know what sound frequency to make it listen for,” said Wanda, “she said something about keeping it simple, which she didn’t really do herself, anyway, she said something about using a band pass filter.”

“That means something that’ll only allow a select range of frequencies pass,” said Tiffany, “we need to isolate something the sub’s putting out so we can get this thing to home in on them.”

“Yeah, Arakawa’s rigging microphone to go on the end of a length of wire, and she’ll compare the signal strength she gets through the filter until she finds something that’s stronger from the submarine than from us,” said Wanda, “About the only part I did understand.”

“Okay, that leaves the frigate, if we get too close to US territory, or if the sub runs too low on power to maintain the metajammer, they’ll probably attack. We can’t shoot first, but I want to deal with the surface ship, but not in such a way that they can claim we initiated the battle. They have to fire the first war shot before we can fire the torpedo, or the Japanese can call on the US DOD to arrest or delete us.”

“The very specific language you’re using suggest a plan,” commented Wanda.


After a pause, Wanda said “an insane plan, judging by your silence.”

“Yep. ... I’ll need one of the rebreathers, the thermic lance, about 300 metres of rope, one of the abseiling harnesses, and something I can use as a sort of underwater hang glider,” said Tiffany.

[Change Of Scenery]

Daria entered the cafeteria overlooking the bank. She had seen twelve other locations about ten other crime scenes.

It was a fairly safe assumption that the diclonii would have been disguising their hair, eyes and horns to anonymise themselves, so the E-fits Daria had made focused entirely on their faces in a number of skin tones, leaving the eye colour blank to save on the number of pictures she would be carrying around.

If this was where the precog had first met the diclonii, then they should have spent time talking and working together where the precog proves him or herself to them. There were five instances where this blonde woman was seen talking to two individuals matching the E-fits, the horns weren’t always properly disguised, two or three witnesses noticed them poking against the sides of the hat or head dress they saw the girls wearing.

She heard two motorcycles roar past.

She glanced at them. Third time. She got one of their number plates and wrote them down, if she sees them again, she’ll know something’s up. She should have what she needed to start looking for an identity now, she had a good E-fit of the woman, and a lot of people were saying they’d seen her around a bunch of times. She’d also have to run her by the police here see if they have her as a perpetrator of or witness to any crimes.

[Change Of Scenery]

The ship pulled up alongside the container vessel.


They had used a public address system to broadcast this, so the container vessel couldn’t simply claim to have radio problems.

At this range, the ship could simply use its CIWS and missiles to cut a deep gash in the side. Of course, that wouldn’t exactly be a one hit kill, plenty of time for the US Navy to walk in on them; they’ll prefer to use the torpedo to break the ship in half.

Wanda glanced down and saw Tiffany between a couple of containers, she was rigged up and now they were lighting her thermic lance. Apparently those things burn under water.

She then ran off, no longer in view from the bridge, Wanda assumed she had run off the side of the ship as planned.

“Here we go,” said Wanda.

[Change Of Scenery]

Tiffany took a few minutes to get used to the way the wing worked, but once she did, she started her approach to the ship.

The plan was insane, Tiffany was going to have to go right up in front of the propellers, the slightest lapse in judgement and she would be pre-sliced shark food.

She decided to go for the furthest one first. The nearest one would be better, if the bow of the ship could end up in the blast of the container ship’s propellers, that could cause the ship to capsize, probably get them well out of the range of their CIWS, but that was impossible without putting the parawing through the port or centre propeller.

She would have to settle for just getting the ship unable to keep up.

She pushed the lance into the propeller shaft cowling, squeezing the handle that would release the full flow of the ozone.

She cut a circle in the shroud big enough to admit the lance.

That done, she plunged it in, and eventually there was a loud bang and the propeller came out, it ended up resting against the rudder.

Tiffany let go of the lance and worked on retracting herself up the rope so she could approach the centre propeller.

She cut the hole in the second shroud.

She plunged the lance into the shaft and eventually a second bang sounded.

As the ship fell back, they tried to turn starboard, the rudders had trouble turning with the propellers resting against them.

Tiffany decided to start cutting into the hull as the ship dropped back.

The bow thrusters were employed to try to restore directional control.

Eventually she was at the bow and she pulled herself away from the ship so she wouldn’t surface.

[Change Of Scenery]

Cheers erupted from the upper decks.

Arakawa couldn’t join in those cheers, she had to listen out for a torpedo launch.

The idea was that if the Japanese fire first, they lose all rights to complain when she shoots back.

One nagging concern she had was that the torpedo would end up chasing the enemy torpedo instead of the submarine. She had isolated a submarine specific frequency, but it could be that the torpedo will also generate the same frequency.

She eventually heard a hiss and then a sudden screaming noise. Torpedoes weren’t built for acoustic stealth, so they were loud. Arakawa hit the switch.

She heard a second noise erupt. Their own torpedo would probably arrive at the enemy submarine before the enemy torpedo hit them because their own torpedo had a tail current whereas the enemy torpedo had a head current.

[Change Of Scenery]

Tiffany pulled herself up the side of the container ship.

It was a bit of an asshole trying to get the rope back into the bag, so she was simply coiling it around her arm. If it snagged the container ship’s propeller, she would probably be unable to free herself in time to avoid getting extremely thinly sliced.

She saw the water heave behind the container ship.

Then spray erupted.

Tiffany smiled as she continued her ascent up the container ship.

[Change Of Scenery.]

“I can sense them again,” said Lucy.

“So can I,” said Nana.

“Hearing’s returned. ... Man, that Japanese captain sure knows how to swear,” chuckled Callisto.

“Hope that’s it,” said Wanda, “doubt we’ll have it so easy again.”

[Change Of Scenery]

That was the last witness interviewed, and now she headed back to the police station.

All Daria had was an appearance, and a name, Miss Teak Meg. Daria had a hard time believing that was her true name.

Then again, she remembered that scene from ‘Hot Fuzz’. “Sergeant Angel,” “Morning, a swan’s escaped.” “A Swan’s escaped? Right, and where has it escaped from exactly?” “Err the castle.” “Oh yeah? And who might you be?” “Mr Staker, Mr Peter Ian Staker.” “Mr P. I. Staker, yeah, PISS TAKER, COME ON!”, that scene immediately followed by Sgt. Angel talking to Peter Staker about his missing swan, all “Yes Mr Staker, we’ll do everything we can, can you describe the swan please?”

That could be her true name. Even if it is an alias, there might be an address behind it with physical evidence for AFIS, CODIS, DMV, DWP, any number of things that could be put through a PNC check that might give them something useful.

Those bikes showed up again.

Same index on one as before.

What the hell could they want?

One popped a wheelie, went one way.

The other shouted for her attention and then started burning doughnuts.

That was what they were up to? They were following her around to put on a stunt show?

The purpose was lost on Daria as she received a PFT discharge to her back.

She didn’t fall to the ground, the man that had shot her with the PFT M1 caught her and one of the bikers came up beside them.

She was loaded onto the back of the bike, her hands tied around the driver’s waist, her feet to the passenger footrests, and a helmet was fitted to her head. One additional strap was tied under Daria’s shoulders and crossed before being passed around the driver’s shoulders and back around Daria. The man then nodded to the driver and stepped back, the bikers then zoomed off.

[Change Of Scenery]

Harman got off the phone and turned to Val and Sal. “Everything’s ready in Chicago.”

“Good,” said Val.

“They on their way to the staging area?” asked Sal.

“Be there in three hours,” said Harman, “letter’s in the post, the police will receive a tip-off from an informant that’ll tell them of suspicious activity. This is going to be so funny.”

The guy who was sat at his computer started printing out some spreadsheets, saying “Boss, got our charges designed, went with the ten charge configuration for simplicity.”

“Okay then, just need our secret ingredient,” said Harman.

[Change Of Scenery]

Tiffany and Wanda sat in the Hawaiian SHIELD field office cafeteria. As they waited for their superiors to get back to them.

“You seem happier,” said Wanda.

“Yeah. Whether or not we got the data we were after, we did a good thing. It’s also a good thing that two thirds of the refugees had relatives to come and collect them, and they offered to help the remainder, immigration had very little to have to do,” said Tiffany.

“There’s something else too,” said Wanda.

“I think I figured myself out too. I’m nothing like that cold. My mission had nothing to do with rescuing concentration camp victims, it was to retrieve that information, and facing off against the JSDF endangered that objective. I feared for those diclonii. I was scared that they would end up back in that dungeon.”

“Think that’ll help you with that shrink?” asked Wanda.

“No idea. Let’s just get through this operation first,” said Tiffany.

The supervisory agent that had taken the hard drive off of them entered the cafeteria and sat down next to them.

“Any good?” asked Tiffany.

“No. They’re not on there,” said the supervisory agent.

“That was the only lead we had,” said Tiffany. “Now what?”

“Now ... We start again,” said Wanda.

Tiffany said “okay. ... Where?”

“Let’s start with their previous clients,” said Wanda, “maybe they revealed something useful.”

“There’s something else you need to know,” said the supervisory agent, “Tiffany, you’re no longer aligned with the Legion are you?”

“They’re not my favourite people,” said Tiffany, “why?”

[Change Of Scenery]