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The Wrecking Belles

Discussion in 'FanFic' started by Danger Rose, Nov 24, 2017.

  1. Danger Rose

    Danger Rose Sand Cats Tactical Security LLC

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    Wrecking Belles: Concilium Capers
    001: Recruitment

    Apple Pie’s office looked more like a palace’s garden than an office. A central pond with a fountain simulating a creek dominated the entrance. Beautiful Japanese Koi fish were the local residents. Potted ornamental plants adorned the sides and a stone bridge allowed to cross to the office’s main area. The level of ostentation was beyond the USAriadnan wildest dreams, but the office, as well as her Penthouse apartment were furnished to her ex-husband’s preferences, and Haqqislamite Sheiks loved to live in luxury.

    The office proper had an antechamber with a huge round marble coffee table and lots of incredibly comfortable cushions for guests to sit. Apple Pie favored the antechamber over her desk area, because it allowed her to work side by side with the rest of the Wrecking Belles. For the last week the four women had been going over Stargem Shipping’s Security Personnel. The plan was to assemble a Corporate Security Task Force comprised of a small group of reliable units, without compromising the company’s safety.

    When Apple Pie’s Geist, Laiqa, had told them that Stargem Shipping was nowhere near as big as the top ten shipping companies, they had thought it was a really small company. As it turned out, the company had a small fleet of freighters, escort ships and a very large Security Detail that could rival Mercenary Companies or the army of a small country. So, even though Laiqa had reduced the number of candidates to a few hundred, it still took them a week to finally find what they were looking for.

    “This says Dumar all over the place.” said Apple Pie referring to her ex-husband. “Ex-Military, Paramilitaries, former gang members, even former Ikari Company thugs!”

    “Well, they all work for you now.” replied Obliterette equally horrified of the firepower at their disposal.

    “No wonder Saladin was so interested in recruiting you.” said Battle Charmer happily.

    Doc Starlight gasped so loudly, the other three Odalisques jumped on their seats. “We have Maghies!”

    The Maghariba Guards were Haqqislam’s Tactical Armored Gear, big, but aesthetically pleasing, and powerful. With the release of the XPR-5 Scorpion model, lots of the XPR-1 Beetle found their way into Mercenary and Civilian markets.

    “What the hell do we need Maghariba Guards for?” asked Apple Pie in astonishment. “Is this a Shipping Company or a Supervillain’s private army?”

    “Even in the best of times, Qapu Khalqi can’t be everywhere.” Replied Battle Charmer in her dulcet tone. “Space Pirates, Crime Syndicates, Hostile Competitors, the Human Sphere is in Code Infinity for a reason.”

    “I’m ready.” said Obliterette uploading three pictures in a holoprojection hovering over the coffee table.

    “This is Ri Yun-Ji” she said maximizing the picture of a young Asian woman with half her hair dyed purple and the other half dyed green. “Codename Countess Calamity- “

    “Countess Calamity?”

    “Yes, Apple Pie” replied Obliterette emphasizing her friend’s equally ridiculous codename.

    “Korean Hacker, very good in Cyber-Security. She works with a trio of former Terra-Cotta Soldiers who served with her in Paradiso. Cui Cihui, Mao Wanran and Hao Huimin. They are very disciplined and highly recommended. Their biggest advantage is that they are posted in Concilium, so we won’t have to relocate them.”

    “Any recommendations to sweeten the deal for them?”

    “Definitely get them Zúyông armors. With their training it would be a crime not to make the effort.”

    “Will do.” replied Apple Pie taking notes the old-fashioned way. “Anything else?”

    “If you could get them a Rui Shi…”

    Obliterette didn’t need to say anything else. The Wrecking Belles have had their share of deadly encounters with those mechanical monstrosities and Apple Pie was well aware of their capabilities.

    “I suppose I’m next?” chirped Battle Charmer while loading her set of pictures on the holoprojector.

    “Captain Zanetta Angelo, from Neoterra.” she said expanding the picture of another young-looking woman, this one, a redhead that could pass for an Odalisque in her sleep. “She’s a former Swimsuit Model and commands a fireteam of Brawlers.”

    “Why is her Modeling background important?” asked Apple Pie honestly curious and without a hint of malice.

    “She’s very popular and has an extremely active Social Life.” replied Battle Charmer opening Zanetta’s Instafeed Page full of provocative Selfies and Sensory Feeds. “This could be a liability, especially in assignments where discretion is advice.”

    “For crying out loud Aurora! That’s every single mission we’re going to recruit her for!” retorted Doc Starlight dumbfounded. “Why such a hot mess? No pun intended.”

    “Because, A: We’re not exactly the most discreet bunch anyway.” replied Battle Charmer melodiously. “Or have you forgotten that people call us the Wrecking Belles?”

    “Touché.” sand Doc Starlight mock-pouting. “And B?”

    “She’s an extremely efficient Operative and an excellent team player. Her record is so good, we can take the risk.”

    “I trust your judgement.” said Apple Pie. “I’ll request her transfer first thing tomorrow.”

    Battle Charmer smiled and nodded at her boss. “The two other candidates are not on our payroll, but they have worked with the company before and their track records are amazing.” she said bringing the pictures of a severe looking middle-aged man and a much younger, and rather handsome one.

    “Who’s the hunk?” inquired Apple Pie perking up in her cushion. Obliterette and Doc Starlight both looked equally interested and the three exchanged an ‘I saw him first’ look.

    “Professor Conan O’Cannon,” said Battle Charmer enhancing the middle-aged man’s picture. “Is an Archeologyst who found his true calling as an Authorized Bounty Hunter.”

    “You did that on purpose.” Interrupted Doc Starlight pointing an accusatory finger.

    “His knowledge of Submundo is vast, especially in the smuggling business.” continued Battle Charmer clearly ignoring her friend. “This is an asset we can’t pass on.”

    “What’s the catch?” inquired Apple Pie noticing the slight change in Battle Charmer’s tone.

    “We need to get him out of jail in Novvi Bangkok. Some trouble about a diamond and some ashes.” finished Battle Charmer with a shrug.

    “I’ll call ‘The Weasel’ tomorrow.” sighed Apple Pie. Carlos De Anderxia, also known as The Weasel, was a very resourceful Nomad Lawyer who could work miracles if you had the money to pay his exorbitant fees.

    “Armand Arsenaud,” began Battle Charmer once again, this time enlarging the picture of the tall, muscular, Auburn-haired man in his early twenties. “He was an amazing Troubleshooter. His record working for the company was impeccable. Unfortunately, he was laid off because he withheld vital information in his work application.”

    “What sort of vital information?” inquired Obliterette with a raised eyebrow.

    “He’s Merovingian.” replied Battle Charmer.

    “He was laid off for being an Atek?” asked Obliterette astounded.

    “He’s a Dogface.” replied Apple Pie referring to the term Ariadnans give to their werewolves.

    “He kept it hidden for quite some time. Until a truck had a brake fluid leak and was about to run over lots of pedestrians. Armand turned into a werewolf and stopped the truck.”

    “Allah be merciful. He was laid off for being heroic?” said Obliterette in disbelief.

    “An injustice I’d love to amend.”

    Apple Pie sat with her arms and legs crossed. It was no secret to any of her friends that she was terrified of Dog Warriors. But she knew how motherly Battle Charmer could get; specially with lost cases, like a young Atek woman alone and overwhelmed by the Haqqislamite Culture.

    “I know I’m going to regret this…” sighed Apple Pie.

    “Thank you.”

    “Well, now that my loins are dry again,” said Doc Starlight to a collective groan form her friends. “Yeah, yeah. Like it didn’t happen to you too.” she said uploading the picture of a mountain of a man. “This is Behnam Mostofi, an Al Fasid who got kicked out for showing his face in uniform. One thousand Dinars that he stepped on somebody’s toes.”

    “Typical.” said Apple Pie well aware of the reputation of the Al Fasid. “Hire him, and promise him as much equipment as he sees fit.”

    Doc Starlight then posted one picture everyone recognized immediately. The grey-haired man had been one of the first Operatives to work with them under Sireen Barakat’s leadership. His name was Jaasir Hasan, but the Wrecking Belles knew him as…

    “Rock Viper!” cried Apple Pie, Battle Charmer and Obliterette in unison. The Hunzakut was an amazing infiltrator who was forced to retire due to a spine injury.

    “He’s fully recovered and looking for some action.”

    “Perfectly understandable.” Said Apple Pie nodding sagely. “You have my blessing.”

    “Awesome!”

    Apple Pie then uploaded the picture of a teenage-looking Japanese woman with jet black hair and pink bangs.

    “Wait, why are you presenting someone?” inquired Doc Starlight. “If you want to hire her, do so. You’re the boss!”

    “And you are my family.” replied Apple Pie candidly, eliciting a collective ‘Aww…’ from her friends. “So, your opinions matter a lot to me.”

    “Who’s the child?” asked Obliterette curiously.

    “Her name is Kyoko Konno, and she’s a Ninja.” replied Apple Pie silently smiling at the dumbfounded expression of her friends.

    “How did you find a Ninja?” asked Obliterette once she picked her jaw from the floor.

    “During the Japanese uprising, Stargem Shipping helped in the relocation of refugees from Yu Jing controlled areas.” replied Apple Pie happy that her Geist had been as compassionate as she would have been if she had been in charge at the time. “She’s the last of her Clan, but she wants to repay our kindness to her people.”

    “And she didn’t take your ‘Think nothing of it’ as an acceptable answer.”

    “Pretty much. Is it ok if I…?”

    “Of course!”

    “What kind of question is that?”

    “We have a Ninja!”

    “Anything else before we go to lunch?” asked Apple Pie happy with their response.

    “Nah, we can discuss your battle armor when we come back.” said Obliterette standing up and stretching.

    “My what now?” replied Apple Pie sensing she wasn’t going to like the answer.

    “Your Power Armor, dear.” replied Battle Charmer as if that explained everything.

    “For crying out loud, she doesn’t know!” interjected Doc Starlight figuring Apple Pie’s confused expression. “Look, even though your Geist has been running the show, you are the ‘face’ of the company. If you die, Laiqa has no legal power to do anything.”

    “Yeah, but- “

    “So, if you’re going to jump off rooftops like we always do, the Board of Directors had made a clause that you should wear armor.”

    “Since when?”

    “Since you got ‘Officially Resurrected’ during the Wotan incident.”

    “Oh.”

    Apple Pie had died and been resurrected several times, illegally most of the times, but during the Wotan crisis, she was resurrected by order of Haqqislam High Command, which made that death and resurrection ‘Official’ and recorded as such. That particular event had had dire personal repercussions for her, including the straining of her now ended marital relationship.

    “They couldn’t uphold the clause while you worked for Haqqislam.” said Battle Charmer predicting Apple Pie’s next question. “But since you made planetfall in Concilium, they have been pestering all of us with it.”

    “Why wasn’t I told?”

    “We were waiting for the right time.”

    “Do I have a choice on the matter?”

    “You could sit it out like Sireen does and let us do the work…” replied Obliterette with a roguish smile.

    “What type of armor?”

    “A Combat Heels model of course; lightweight and highly mobile. We can go do the fitting after lunch.”

    “But what about our costumes?” Apple Pie asked remembering they had just ordered specially-tailored tactical costumes a few days ago.

    “We’re getting uniforms in your company colors instead.” replied Battle Charmer uploading Odalisques uniform in white with orange trims.

    “Aww, those look amazing! How come I don’t get to wear one?”

    “Because you’re the boss, Boss.” finished Doc Starlight leading the friends out of the office.
     
  2. Danger Rose

    Danger Rose Sand Cats Tactical Security LLC

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    Wrecking Belles: Concilium Capers

    002: Shadow of Wotan

    With the devastating incursion of the Combined Army into Concilium Prima, and the now increasing need for secure shipment to and from the planet, Stargem Shipping Company’s business was booming. This meant, however, that the Wrecking Belles were bereft of any support from their Security Teams. Furthermore, with O12’s sight distracted by the Shasvastii infiltration of their infrastructure; they had become Lieutenant Leone’s only backup in her investigation over Crime Boss Ereshkigal and the Novvi Granada Smuggling Ring.

    “Wrecking Belles!” said a holoprojection of Lt. Leone that appeared without warning in the middle of Regina Berger’s luxurious office.

    “How can we be of service, Lieutenant?” replied Regina calmly, only a small twitch of her eye betraying her annoyance at Lt. Leone’s use of their nickname instead of the official ‘Team Foxglove.’

    “An informant just sent me the location where Ereshkigal’s men are moving a kidnapped HVT.” Lt. Leone’s holo-image was clearly behind cover and taking direct fire. “I’m transmitting the coordinates and all the info I have.”

    “How do you want us to do this?” inquired Regina.

    “Discretely.” finished Lt Leone with a warning glare before her image disappeared.

    Regina pressed her palm into a bio-metric scanner in her desk, and four columns opened hidden doors revealing four colorful uniforms, weapons and gear.

    “My kind of assignment.” said Helena Slater turning off her Holomask, her mousy brown hair turning purple immediately.

    “The Lieutenant seemed to be in a bit of a bind.” said Aurora Numina turning off her Holomask as well, her jet-black hair turning silver.

    “She can take care of herself.” replied Regina with confidence. Lt. Petra Leone had proven to be as resilient, resourceful and driven as Regina and her partners, earning the Amazonian brunette’s respect and admiration in the seven months they’ve been working together.

    “Rania, Miss Berger needs the Air Taxi ready to discretely depart in ten minutes.” said Theresa Maxwell on her comlog as the four women began changing into their Tactical Suits.

    “Rooftop. Five minutes. Discrete.” came the ever-efficient reply of Regina’s Personal Assistant.

    In less than ten minutes, the Wrecking Belles had boarded the requested City Hopper VTOL craft; and were flying over Novvi Granada in the direction of South Point Harbor.

    “The HVT is Dr. Jennifer Sullivan.” said Battle Charmer reading the data pack Lt Leone had sent them. “She’s a Biotech…” she paused to silently reread what she had just read, her eyebrows arching up in a display of dread uncommon on the silver haired woman.

    “What is it?” Inquired Apple Pie quick on the uptake.

    “She’s a Biotech Engineer, specialized in Biotechvore Weapons.”

    “Son of a camel!” said Obliterette in a higher pitch than intended. Biotechvore plagues have never been used in a positive way, and the amount of mayhem one of them could cause in a major city in Concilium Prima could prove catastrophic.

    “So,” began Doc Starlight with a big smile. “Little Ereshkigal is moving up.” she finished adjusting her new Multispectral Visor.

    “It’s not funny.” replied Obliterette reproachfully.

    “We’re going to stop him.” said Doc Starlight with a shrug.

    “You betcha.” replied Apple Pie loading her Spitfire. While she had always favored the submachine gun and Contender combo, when Obliterette returned from her Nahab training, she returned favoring the Boarding Shotgun and a retractable Viral Wristblade; so, Apple Pie took on the mid-range spot that Obliterette had left.

    The overhead lights turned red, signaling that they were on deploying distance.

    “It suits you.” said Obliterette beaming at her best friend. And before Apple Pie had a chance to say anything, she opened the flyer’s passenger door and jumped off the flying vehicle.

    Obliterette free-fell for two seconds, then activated the retractable Ribbon-Chute installed on the back of her jacket; a rather expensive custom design, but one that suited Obliterette’s Nahab parachuting skill. She silently glided to the roof of the compound where Dr Sullivan was being held. Upon landing, she counted two guards, neither of which had noticed her arrival. She silently closed the distance to the first one drawing her viral wristblade. With near-Hassassin precision, she dug her blade into the man’s back, while muffling his mouth with her other hand.

    “i-Lhost?” said Obliterette taken aback by the crumpling form of the unconscious guard. Product of their unusually vast experience with LHosts during their decade undercover on the Desert Duchess, the Wrecking Belles had become quite adept in identifying types of Lhosts. The one Obliterette had just taken down was a model reserved for Aleph, or the exorbitantly rich.

    A faint sound alerted Obliterette to the second guard, who was training his Combi-Rifle at her. With preternatural swiftness, Obliterette dashed towards the guard and kicked his weapon upward and jammed her wristblade in his chest.

    “Clear.” she said to her comlog; and a few seconds later the City Hopper was hovering over the compound just long enough for Apple Pie, Doc Starlight and Battle Charmer to drop on the rooftop.

    “What have we got here?” inquired Doc Starlight lifting her Multispectral Visor and looking curiously at the two downed guards. She too had noticed the subtle lines that marked the bodies as i-Lhosts. “Aleph?”

    “If we’re lucky.” replied Apple Pie quick on the uptake. If this was one of the AI’s secret operations, then they were sure to get an earful in the near future, probably even jail time. But if it wasn’t Aleph, then things could get complicated. Svengali, the Rogue AI Kingpin had proven to be impossible to capture or eradicate, even with the full might of Aleph’s Special Situations Subsection AND Bureau Noir. Just the thought of dealing with such a nightmare of an opponent made Apple Pie shiver.

    Battle Charmer dashed towards the rooftop access door and deftly picked the electronic lock with a swish of her palm. Unlike the Sand Cat’s Al Hawwa Hacker, Turret Spider, who favored a Smartphone Hacking Device; Battle Charmer’s Hacking device had been integrated to her face mask. It had taken less than five seconds to link to the building’s mainframe. Battle Charmer never asked Apple Pie how much she had spent on the team’s customized equipment, but she expected it to be a lot of Dinars.

    A pop-up holoscreen on her left eye’s field of vision brought her out of her musings. “The building is on alert.” she said in a surprised dulcet tone. “They know something’s up but are requesting reports.”

    “Do you know where they’re keeping Dr Sullivan?” asked Apple Pie taking the lead.

    “Two floors down.” replied Battle Charmer looking at the building’s security system. “The stairs are clear; they’re going from bottom to top.”

    Apple Pie dashed ahead, Obliterette right behind her, keeping up with Apple Pie’s preternatural speed. “Good thing Teri isn’t here.” she said thinking about their friend Agent Valentine, who unlike them, was not enhanced; and would have undoubtedly slowed them down.

    “Don’t say that.” replied Apple Pie with a pang of longing. She missed her Husam Spec-Op friend and her stone-faced coolness in adversity. “Teri is extremely fit.”

    “Yeah,” replied Obliterette. “But we’re not exactly Odalisques anymore.”

    Apple Pie entered the penultimate floor and moved quickly through a long corridor. Two more guards were posted near a console. Apple Pie opened fire on the closest one, downing him with ease. The second one shot at her with his Combi-Rifle hitting her on the shoulder and her abdomen. Apple Pie winced. While neither bullet penetrated her skin, the lingering pain where the projectiles hit was quite considerable.

    “See what I mean?” said Obliterette as she ran towards the second guard, wristblade drawn, and ready to pounce. A swift breeze that lifted her hair, and the head of the second guard spraying grey matter and blood all over the back wall, signaled her that someone had stolen her kill.

    “Aw, please.” grinned Doc Starlight raising her Red Fury rifle, and ignoring Obliterette’s death glare. She’s been tanking Heavy Rockets since long before our accident.” she finished poking where the bullet had hit Apple Pie’s mid-section, making Apple Pie’s eyes to water.

    “That hurts!” said Apple Pie pulling one of Doc Starlight’s pigtails, forcing a satisfying squeak from the purple-haired woman with no sense of personal space.

    “Girls, please!” admonished Battle Charmer stepping between Apple Pie and Doc Starlight; and grabbing Obliterette by the arm and taking her to the console. “Please, cover me.” she told Obliterette as she began to use the console. “Two guard on the far end of the next room.” she said opening a holo-image of the floor plans “Two more guarding the lab to the left. Target’s inside.”

    “Anything else?” inquired Apple Pie noticing the worried expression in Battle Charmer’s face.

    “Reinforcements are coming.” replied Battle Charmer. “Including a heavily armored unit designated ‘Phantom,’ and I don’t want to know why.”

    “We need extraction.” continued Apple Pie studying the floor plans. “The window will do.” she said pointing at the window at the end of the main room, where the two guards were stationed. “Blit, with me. Doc, support Charm.”

    The security doors opened to Battle Charmer’s command. Obliterette closed the distance to the guards near the window, while Apple Pie provided her cover fire. Two more guards appeared from a secret door to the right of the main room, forcing Apple Pie and Obliterette to engage in a two-to-one disadvantage.

    Doc Starlight and Battle Charmer downed the two guards coming out of the lab. Battle Charmer went in, while Do Starlight waited at the door, trying to take out a few of Apple Pie’s assailants without hitting her friend.

    Battle Charmer was horrified by the familiar scene she was witnessing. Dr. Sullivan was unconscious and completely naked, floating inside a containment pod. A breathing mask was attached to her face and tendrils bore into her neck, where her cube resided. Next to hers, was a second pod containing an equally nude, female i-Lhost.

    “Doc!” she cried while desperately trying to stop what she knew was a Cube cloning process.

    Dos Starlight rushed in and cursed like a sailor when she saw what was going on. Without hesitation, she unloaded the Red Fury on the i-Lhost’s pod, breaking it and filling the synthetic humanoid with bullets.

    Alarms blared, while both women opened the pod containing Dr Sullivan. Doc Starlight cut the tendrils connected to Dr Sullivan’s Cube; knowing full well there was no time to disconnect her properly.

    “Isn’t that dangerous?” asked Battle Charmer in an unusually frightened tone.

    “Not if we get her out of here fast!” replied the petite Doc Starlight hauling a much larger Dr Sullivan.

    Battle Charmer helped Doc Starlight carry Dr. Sullivan out of the lab. The floor was rocked as a D-Charge was detonated inside the main room. Doc Starlight and Battle Charmer carried the unconscious doctor through a cloud of smoke, dust and debris.

    At the hole where there was once a windowed wall, hovered the City Hopper VTOL vehicle. As they were getting closer, Battle Charmer let out a painful yell and dropped on the floor. Two more synthetic guards appeared, both with holo-discs on their right hand and pointing at Battle Charmer.

    Obliterette helped Doc Starlight take Dr Sullivan into the vehicle, while Apple Pie lifted Battle Charmer and opened fire on the attacking Hackers; wounding them, but not taking them out. At that moment, the Heavy Armored ‘Phantom’ entered the room; followed by a grey skinned, blonde woman with the same height and body frame as Apple Pie, dressed in a violet and pink version of Aleph’s Asuras bodysuits. Apple Pie’s eyes widened in horror, and the name escaped her lips before she could even register.

    “Revving Rose!”

    During the Wotan Gate crisis, The Wrecking Belles had been ambushed by an Aleph Aspect calling herself Revving Rose and the units under her command. Apple Pie was captured and her Cube had been cloned before the Sand Cats rescued her. From then on, their investigation into the Cube Smuggling Ring of Sireen Barakat’s father became extremely difficult; since one of their clients had all of Apple Pie’s memories.

    “Give me back my doctor, Regina.” replied Revving Rose with a smile. “Or I’ll be forced to-

    Apple Pie unloaded her Spitfire machinegun on Revving Rose and Phantom, not making a dent on either. Revving Rose shot back at Regina with a similar weapon, injuring her in her left thigh and left arm; but before she could close the distance, Apple Pie hauled Battle Charmer into the City Hopper. The vehicle cruised over the Industrial District as Doc Starlight patched up Apple Pie.

    “That was nasty…” said Battle Charmer removing her mask and wiping blood from her eyes and nose.

    “Where to Ma’am?” asked Leo, the pilot.

    “Grand Garden Hospital.” replied Doc Starlight from the back. “We need to take her to a Haqqislamite facility.” she said pointing at the unconscious Dr. Sullivan, answering the questioning looks of both Apple Pie and Obliterette. “We can’t keep her safe, not on our own.”

    “You’re right.” said Apple Pie resting her head on the City Hopper’s door. “Who’s our Ramah Task Force contact in Maeda Basha?”

    “The tall, dark haired, baby-faced one with green eyes.” replied Obliterette, unable to recall the name of the Kawarij.

    “Latif,” said Battle Charmer a bit more composed. “Latif Tahan.”

    “We better give him a call, fast.” said Apple Pie as Doc Starlight finished patching-up he wounds.

    “What about Lt. Leone?” asked Obliterette almost sure of the answer.

    “We will notify her once Dr. Sullivan is safe.” answered Apple Pie. “Precinct 21 should be considered fully compromised. They have Deva Functionaries working with them; and the enemy is a Rogue Aspect of Aleph.”

    And with that terrifying thought, Apple Pie closed her eyes, mentally exhausted.
     
  3. Danger Rose

    Danger Rose Sand Cats Tactical Security LLC

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    Wrecking Belles: Concilium Capers
    003: Asylum

    “You’ll have a slight headache, that’s normal” said a girlish, yet confident voice.

    Jennifer Sullivan opened her eyes and saw a young woman, almost teenage-like, with purple hair. She was sporting pigtails, which accentuate her youthful look, and was wearing an orange-trimmed yellow hooded coat.

    “Whuh…” uttered Jennifer still groggy and noticing she was no longer naked, but her hands were cuffed.

    The continuous sound of engines and the vibrations of the compact area told her she was, told her that she was inside a flying vehicle of some sort.

    “You are not under arrest.” said a shapely brunette sitting opposite the purple-haired young woman. She was dressed in a skin-tight red and white tactical suit with blue sleeves and leggings, complimented by long gloves and thigh high boots in the same red color as the suit.

    “The cuffs were a precaution.” said the pigtailed teen.

    “In case I turned violent when I woke up.” finished Jennifer understanding her situation. “Who do I have to thank for my rescue?” she said as the pigtailed teen released her from the cuffs.

    Apart from the purple-haired woman and the brunette, there was a round faced blonde with piercing blue eyes; sporting a blue jacket with orange trims over a skin-tight navy blue tactical suit. There was also a silver haired woman in an hooded orange and black dress that accentuated her curves. All four looked more like Mayanet Models than soldiers.

    “Haqqislam.” replied the brunette taking Jennifer out of her musing. “We’re Ramah Taskforce and we’re escorting you to a secure location.”

    “As long as you’re not turning me to O12, it’s fine by me.”

    The four women looked at each other. A worried expression shared in their faces.

    “I request Asylum.” said Jennifer with a hint of panic. “O12 is compromised, they were the ones who kidnapped me!”

    “We suspected as much.” said the brunette in a soothing tone. “That’s why we’re taking you to Haqqislam’s jurisdiction.”

    Jennifer sighed in relief. Ever since she became a Bioweapons Engineer, she knew her life was not going to be easy. The pay was good, but not worth all the running away from people who wanted to pick her brain apart, sometimes literally. With Haqqislam’s reputation for Humanism, she felt she had hit the jackpot among the factions of the Human Sphere.

    Fortunately for the Wrecking Belles, Dr. Jennifer Sullivan had no knowledge of the methods and capabilities of Haqqislam’s Intelligence Agency, Hassassin Barham.

    “We have a problem.” came the voice of the pilot. “There’s a BOLO for City Hoppers matching our description.”

    “Great.” said the blonde woman in an annoyed tone.

    “Land us at the nearest available drop point and then head straight back to base.” said the brunette, who seemed to be in charge.

    The City Hopper had to land five blocks away from Grand Garden Hospital to avoid several checkpoints. The four women led Jennifer out into the busy streets of the city of Edda. Jennifer noticed the women were very alert, and used to working in unison. They flanked her like bodyguards and that’s when the penny dropped; the magazine-style hairs, the porcelain skins, the regal poise; these were Odalisques.

    “Varangian, on our six.” said the silver-haired woman.

    “That didn’t take long.” replied the brunette taking up the rear.

    The blonde lead the group through an alleyway. Jennifer looked back and noticed a muscular redheaded woman, a head taller than the brunette and imposing, had quickened her step to catch up.

    “Hand over the Doctor and there will be no trouble.” said the redhead in a thick accent that told Jennifer she was a Caledonian.

    “Ah recon we’re gonna have trouble. The Doc’s under Haqqislam’s protection now.” replied the brunette in a USAriadnan accent that took both the Varangian and Jennifer by surprise.

    As the rest of the women ushered Jennifer to the next street, the muscular redhead lunged for the brunette, wielding an axe. The brunette expertly dodged out of the axe’s path and landed a spinning kick on the back of the Varangian Guard.

    Turning around the corner, the remaining women were confronted by three Kappa Units armed with stun-batons. The blonde dashed forward bringing out a bladed weapon from her forearm, and taking out one of the Officers with a superficial cut. Jennifer recognized the effects of a Viral Weapon with expertise. The two other landed terrible blows on the blonde woman, as the remaining two escorts dragged Jennifer further down the street.

    “What about your friend?” she asked with concern.

    “She can take care of herself.” said the petite purple-haired woman with a grin.

    “Besides, she’s not alone.” said the silver-haired woman in a melodious tone.

    Jennifer looked back and saw that the brunette had joined the blonde and were dispatching the two remaining Kappa Units with ease.

    “At least they’re not shooting at us.” said the sliver-haired in a dulcet tone that clashed with the gravity of the situation in Jennifer’s opinion.

    Two Beta Troopers jumped from a nearby rooftop, one of them slamming the pigtailed woman against the concrete wall of a nearby building.

    “Go!” said the woman holding on to the Beta Trooper’s mechanical arm. She then pointed her free wrist at the Beta Trooper’s chest area and released a cloud of green gas that engulfed the Remote.

    The Beta Trooper let go of the pigtailed youth and thrashed as the gaps between the armor lit up in green.

    “That’s a Nanopulser!” said Jennifer with a child-like thrill. Since Nanopulsers were banned by the Concilium Convention, she had never actually seen one used on a live target.

    “Yes, it is.” Replied the silver-haired woman dragging Jennifer by the arm.

    The second Beta Trooper raised its arm and responded in kind to the pigtailed youth, engulfing her in a green cloud of nanobots. But, unlike the Beta Trooper that laid sprawled on the floor, the pigtailed girl just coughed a few times and kicked the Remote in the chest as retaliation.

    Jennifer’s Quantronic implants were fired up and sending her brain all the information she had concerning Odalisques. Subdermal Armor made them tougher than average, and they allegedly had special training that made them shrug off otherwise deadly wounds; however, to the best of Jennifer’s knowledge, they had no sort of Bio-Technological Shield to protect them from a Nanopulser blast to the face. Then again, according to her data, Odalisques were not recruited by Ramah Taskforce.

    Jennifer bumped into the back of the silver-haired Odalisque; her attention abruptly brought back to her immediate surroundings. It didn’t take her long to figure what made her escort stop dead on her tracks. An opal armored behemoth, wielding a heavy machine gun had dropped from the sky and wrecked a parked car on the other side of the street.

    “Phantom!” said Jennifer recognizing the robotic bodyguard of the rogue Asura Revving Rose.

    “Oh, you know him?” inquired the silver-haired Odalisque cheerfully.

    “Revving Rose is a chatterbox.” replied Jennifer not taking her eyes off the mechanical brute.

    With inhuman speed, the blonde Odalisque rushed towards Phantom and dug her wristblade between its armor plates. With uncanny speed, the metal warrior dropped the heavy machine gun and whipped out a Breaker Pistol shooting the blonde Odalisque in the abdomen three times.

    Jennifer recoiled as the electrical discharges singed holes in the woman’s tactical suit, bursting and arcing to the nearest structures, tensing the blonde’s every muscle and forcing a painful scream out of her throat.

    Phantom attempted to move forward, but was stopped by the tense, smoking arm of the blonde Odalisque, jamming the wristblade further inside its mechanical body.

    “I’m not… done with you…” said the blonde Odalisque in a gravely tone.

    As she pushed the metallic giant back to dislodge her blade, the brunette joined her, aiming her heavy pistol at the Remote’s head and blowing its Quantronic brain to bits.

    The purple haired youth rushed to give the blonde woman some support as she stumbled into the main gate of the fortified compound they called ‘a hospital’.

    Jennifer saw three more Kappa Units armed with stun batons rushing towards them.

    “This is Haqqislam Territory,” said the brunette Odalisque raising her arms. “Dr. Sullivan is under our portec-

    A stun baton nearly missed the brunette’s jaw. She side-stepped a second blow from another Kappa aiming to crack her skull open. A third Kappa swung his paralyzing weapon at the woman in red, but found his strike parried by an extendable E/M stick. While not nearly as powerful as the paralyzing stun batons the Kappas were wielding; in the hands of the Amazonian brunette, the electromagnetic close combat weapon found its mark on all three Kappa Units, dropping them almost in unison.

    Five heavily armed Ghulams stood at the gate, beckoning Jennifer to go in; but she was too enthralled with the women that had rescued her.

    She studied her four escorts as they walked into the main building of Grand Garden Hospital. The purple-haired youth smiling and joking, when she should have been dead from the Nanobot cloud she inhaled. The blonde killing machine with a hidden viral blade, who by right shouldn’t even be standing after taking three Breaker rounds point-blank. The green-eyed brunette who masked her USAriadnan accent most of the time. And the silver-haired woman, whose peaceful demeanor in such a stressful situation simply terrified Jennifer.

    “Just who are you?” she asked when the four women stood in front of her at the hospital’s entrance hall.

    “The Wrecking Belles!” replied a jovial male voice from behind the four women. The way they all bristled at the name told Jennifer they did not enjoy being called that.

    “A Lieutenant Leone requests you to communicate with her as soon as possible.” said a tall young looking man with dark green hair and green eyes. He was dressed in a Kawarij uniform, and Jennifer could kill for a blood sample from him.

    “Latif, this is Dr. Jennifer Sullivan, Bioweapons Engineer, requesting Asylum.” said the tall brunette with composure. “She had been kidnapped by a Rogue Aleph Aspect working with an O12 Division under investigation by Saladin.”

    “Oh, so she’s the reason you razed an entire industrial complex at Novvi Granada’s Harbor!”

    “What? We didn’t…”

    But as Apple Pie and the Wrecking Belles started to protest, Latif opened a holoscreen with a clip from OXID News Network describing the explosion and subsequent fire that raged over the industrial complex they had just come from.

    OXID: While the current hypothesis is a chemical spill, several sources mentioned gun fire a few minutes before the detonation, so Industrial Sabotage and Terrorism have not been ruled out. An Anonymous source claims the infamous Qapu Khalqi Unit Foxglove, better known as ‘The Wrecking Belles’ for their violent methods and trails of destruction, had been seen operating in Novvi Granada. We tried contacting Qapu Khalqi for a statement, but so far we have received no answer.
     
  4. Cthulhu363

    Cthulhu363 "It's a bug in the document"

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    Well this was a pleasant surprise today!
     
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  5. Danger Rose

    Danger Rose Sand Cats Tactical Security LLC

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    Wrecking Belles: Concilium Capers
    004: Back-Up

    Grand Garden Hospital, a Haqqislam Medical Facility affiliated with Garden Grove Medical Center, has been a secret Base of Operations for Ramah Taskforce since its inception. With the incursion of the Combined Army at Concilium Prima, the RTF teams have had their plates full with clandestine runs into Breidavlik to identify and evacuate unsepsistorized survivors; a dangerous endeavor that has severely depleted Grand Garden’s Standing Force. So, Commander Kameela Rigel, of the Ramah Aleadl Division, was given the unenviable task of diverting one of her Strike Teams to covertly wrestle a Rogue A.I. from its Corregidor escort, at the behest of Haqqislam High Command.

    “And that is why I summoned you.” she said to the two Hussam Spec-Ops in her office. Agent Thistle, a jovial looking blonde with vibrant flint-grey eyes; and Agent Valentine, the confident redhead with an unnerving slasher smile; who had just rejoined Commander Rigel’s Team after infiltrating The Desert Duchess to take down a Cube Smuggling Ring for the last seven years.

    “The target calls itself Revving Rose,” said Commander Rigel noticing the flicker of surprise in Agent Valentine’s expression. “A ‘Rogue’ Aleph Aspect, if there’s such a thing…”

    Both Hussam Spec-Ops nodded. It was too convenient that every time Human Sphere Forces uncovered dubious activity connected to Aleph, the AI would pin it on a ‘Rogue Aspect’ and get cleared of all wrongdoing.

    “This one has been dabbling into developing Biothechvores…”

    “Lovely.” replied Agent Thistle. “I suppose that’s why High Command doesn’t want it in Nomads hands?”

    “Or in Aleph’s custody.” finished Commander Rigel. “Needless to say, this is officially a covert operation. Angel 6 is on standby for deployment.”

    “Do we have access to Transfer Units?” inquired Agent Valentine, while doing a quick search on her Comlog.

    “We don’t have any Transfer Units.”

    “We have one.”

    Commander Rigel was genuinely surprised. She was not aware of any Transfers arriving in the last year and a half. Then the penny dropped, if Agent Valentine knew about any RTF Units that she didn’t know about, then they were doing clandestine operations.

    “I don’t have the clearance to recruit that type of Units.” said Commander Rigel giving Agent Valentine a ‘You know that!’ look.

    “You do if they were brought here by O12 and you have an immediate need. It was part of the agreement.” replied Agent Valentine opening up a holo-screen for all to see the files she had been looking for.

    Commander Rigel was now intrigued. Agent Valentine never offered classified information so freely. “Do go on…”

    “These are the four Odalisques of Qapu Khalqi’s former Unit Foxglove.” she said enhancing the profile picture of the four Wrecking Belles. “All foreigners with close ties to Haqqislam and loyal to a fault. They were inducted into RTF after being exposed to a Nomad bioweapon that mutated their physiology and Subdermal Armor, putting them on par with some of our supersoldiers.”

    “Interesting…” muttered Agent Thistle, her flint-grey eyes glinting with curiosity.

    “Aurora Numina, Neoterran, was sent to the Odalisques Academy when all her family converted to Islam and became Haqqislam Citizens.” she said pushing forward the image of a silver haired young woman with heavy eyelids and violet eyes. “Her Subdermal Armor is less resistant than the standard, but her Bio-Technological Shield is on par with that of a Mukhtar.”

    “Any special skills?” asked Commander Rigel.

    “Apart from that porcelain skin…” said Agent Thistle wondering if it was the I-Khol makeup or picture filters.

    “Last I heard, she had become quite a decent Hacker.” replied Agent Valentine. “And get used to them making us all look like shit; they’re Odalisques after all.”

    Commander Rigel chuckled. Odalisques were trained to look like supermodels even in the field of battle; a mostly useless skill in her experience.

    “Theresa Maxwell, a Child of the Caravansaries,” continued Agent Valentine enhancing the picture of an oval-faced blonde with electric blue eyes. “While she’s a good team player, she does her best work when left to her own devices. A little volatile at times, she survived a crash course with the Nahab, which says a lot about her capabilities.”

    “Next in line, Doctor Helena Slater, Nomad. She was recruited from the Witness Protection Program.” continued Agent Valentine focusing on the picture of a purple-haired teenage-looking woman with playful hazel eyes. “Her Medical License was just recently reinstated, so she could benefit from one of those new Nasmat A2.”

    “Yeah, sure. More non-existing resources for request. No problem.” replied Commander Rigel making a mental note to outsource a Medbot from the Nomad Recycling Station.

    “And last but not least, Regina Berger-

    “The Angel of Novyy Granada?!” interrupted Commander Rigel, who recognized the name of Sheik Dumar Al Dagher’s former First Wife. The USAriadna-born had become a local celebrity due to her humanitarian work. “Isn’t she a blonde?” she asked remembering the voluptuous strawberry blonde from the AR Feeds that outshined the brunette in the picture.

    “Holoprojector.” replied Agent Valentine. “The other three as well. They are posing as Ms. Berger’s bodyguards. Not that she needs any, I’ve seen her tank heavy rockets with her breasts; and that was before the incredible boost her Subdermal Armor got from the interaction with the Nomad bioweapon.”

    “You’ve seen her do what?”

    “Take two Heavy Rockets to her chest and stand up like it was nothing.” said Agent Valentine as if discussing the weather. “I worked with them for six years.”

    “The infamous ‘Wrecking Belles,’ I presume?” said Agent Thistle raising an eyebrow and giving Agent Valentine a rogue smile.

    “You vouch for them?” asked Commander Rigel paling at the results of the search her Geist had made about ‘Wrecking Bells’ on the Haqqislam Incident Reports database.

    “I trust them with my life, yes.” replied Agent Valentine with a nod. “As an aside, during the Wotan Gate Crisis, we locked horns with this Revving Rose. The four of them have experience dealing with her.”

    “Very well,” said Commander Rigel in a cautious tone. She trusted Agent Valentine, but the psychotic Hussam Spec-Op had a knack for getting into trouble, and from the reports, these four women seemed to be super-soldier versions of her. Fortunately, she had Agent Thistle to reign them in. “I’ll transfer them to Angel 6, effective immediately. You give them the good news.”

    --o--​

    Once the Ereshkigal case was closed, the Wrecking Belles soon found themselves with very little to do and a lot of time in their hands. And while Maidan Basha was as exciting a metropolis as any in Neoterra o Shengtang, not seeing action had started to sink them into absolute boredom. To keep them busy, Layka, Apple Pie’s Geist, has been loading their schedules with Galas, Social Events, Fundraisers and such; as well as providing them with a grueling training regime. The objective of the Vizier Geist was to keep them from getting ‘bright ideas’ that could negatively affect Stargem Shipping Co.

    “So, Captain Keegan’s wife was killed during the Combined Army’s first assault on Concilium Prima?” said Apple Pie while kicking a sandbag.

    “And Revving Rose promised him a Resurrection,” continued Obliterette punching an adjacent sandbag. “In exchange for keeping a blind eye to her dealings.”

    “That’s not going to happen now.” said Apple Pie still slamming the sandbag with devastating side-kicks. “Crap! We made another enemy with a grudge!”

    “Hard not to in our line of work.” replied Obliterette punching the bag with inhuman strength.

    Two high-pitched screams forced both women to turn around; but tensions eased when they saw Doc Starlight and Battle Charmer hugging a tall redhead impeccably dressed in a business suit.

    “Val?” cried Apple Pie as she and Obliterette joined the group hug.

    “You’re being summoned by Ramah Aleadl, my RTF division.” smiled Agent Valentine, handing each of her friends an envelope with the Rama Task Force seal. “I’d understand if you decline…”

    “Perish the thought!” said Battle Charmer.

    “Philistine!” exclaimed Doc Starlight.

    “Shut your mouth!” quipped Oblterette.

    “How dare you!” interjected Apple Pie.

    “I thought you Odalisques were all for the glamourous lifestyle of the Rich and Famous.” said Agent Valentine with a roguish smile.

    “Oh, Heavens no!” replied Apple Pie. “I mean, not getting shot at is a nice change of pace, but…”

    “Adrenaline junkies.” said Doc Starlight unapologetically.

    “So, what’s the mission?” inquired Obliterette impatiently.

    “Our good friend Revving Rose is out of LHosts and has requested the Nomads to get her off the planet. They’re extracting her tonight, so we need to move fast.”

    “How did she run out of LHosts?” asked Apple Pie confused. “Last time we saw her, she still had an Asura body.”

    “Aleph’s OSS happened to that one.” answered Agent Valentine, who had requested all the Intel RTF had on Revving Rose. “Hussam Intelligence intercepted the contract with the local Corregidor Detachment, but we might not have been the only ones.”

    “We need to move FAST!” repeated Obliterette jamming her fingers on both sides of Apple Pie’s ribcage, forcing a squeal from the tall brunette.

    “Layka…” said Apple Pie red as a tomato.

    “I’m sending all your equipment to Grand Garden Hospital. It should be arriving at the same time you do.” came the voice of the Vizier Geist from Apple Pie’s Comlog. “And I’m informing the Board of Directors, so they can start looking for a new CEO.”

    With inhuman speed all four women dashed to the locker room. Agent Valentine started her Comlog’s timer with practiced familiarity. A few minutes later, all four were scrambling in line in front of her, waiting for her inspection.

    “Sixteen minutes, thirteen seconds.” said Agent Valentine in a disappointed tone. “Civilian life is taking its toll on you all.” she said in a mocking tone, skipping out of the gym amidst the four Odalisques protests.

    The ride to Grand Garden Hospital was rife with conversation, as the Wrecking Belles told Agent Valentine all about their work with Saladin and their involvement in the uncovering of Ereshkigal’s real identity; while Agent Valentine gave them a rundown of their new Unit.

    “Your CO is Janissary Kameela Rigel, she’s like a mother to me.” said Agent Valentine with a warning glare to her friends. “You’ve been attached to Angel 6 Emergency Response Team, mostly composed of Ghilman and a few Naffatun.”

    “Hmm, does that mean, perhaps. that we’re the heavy hitters of the team?” inquired Battle Charmer with a hint of apprehension.

    “Like always.” replied Obliterette cracking her knuckles.

    “What’s bothering you, Charm?” asked Apple Pie with concern.

    “We don’t have the Desert Duchess anymore.”

    The Desert Duchess, the Sand Cats HQ ship, was retrofitted with an illegal Phoenix 3000 Resurrection Engine and room for a lot of Nomad-made Clone LHosts; which basically worked as a revolving door from death; and had been a huge factor in the Wrecking Belles’ thrill-seeking and reckless dispositions.

    “Death is for keeps now-

    “Isn’t it exciting?” interrupted Obliterette with flushed cheeks and a nearly psychotic grin.

    “Yes, but that’s not the point!” replied Battle Charmer flushing. “You all still have to be careful. I’m always the one who has to talk at funerals and I loathe doing it.”

    “But you’re the only one of us who can finish a eulogy without, you know…”

    Battle Charmer gave Doc Starlight an exasperated look. Of the four Odalisques, Doc was the most melodramatic crier in funerals.

    “We promise to be careful.” said Apple Pie trying very hard not to laugh.

    “And people say I’m the crazy one...” finished Agent Valentine shaking her head.

    --o--​

    The zone of operations was in Novyy Granada’s Industrial Complex, and the team had to maneuver the city’s surveillance system. In an automated city, this was no easy feat. Fortunately, the Nomads reliance on Arachné, meant that Aleph had a harder time surveying the Nomad controlled areas.

    “I see one Feuerbach Remote on top of the right flank building.” said Apple Pie making a quick scan with her AR mask. “You’re going to need some cover if you want to reach that terminal.” She finished referring to the rightmost of the two Arachné Nodes in the area.

    “Very well,” replied Agent Thistle. “Shazi dear, muddy the pond, please.”

    From the back, the roar of a Kum motorcycle engine signaled the beginning of Shazi’s run. A secondary set of jet engine noises not far behind took Apple Pie by surprise. A Remote as big as an Azra’il zoomed past her, right behind the Kum Biker named Shazi.

    Dodging fire from the Tsyklon Sputnik, Shazi lobed smoke grenades to create a smoke screen thick enough to block the Remote’s sensors.

    “That’s our cue.” said Agent Thistle adjusting her Multi-Spectral Visor.

    Battle Charmer darted into the midfield, and it took both Agent Thistle and Agent Valentine some effort to catch up.

    “I don’t remember her being so fast!” said Agent Valentine taken aback by Battle Charmer’s preternatural speed.

    Battle Charmer jacked into the Arachné Node protected by the smoke screen. She deftly navigated through the security protocols and managed to locate the Server that stored Revving Rose’s digital self.

    “Central building, dead ahead.” she said in her usual melliferous tone. “There’s a high-speed backdoor via landlines half a block away. We need to block it.”

    “Any way I can be of assistance?” inquired Apple Pie.

    With quantronic speed, an AR map appeared in Apple Pie’s field of vision, depicting the route of the land lines and the point where they could be severed. Without wasting a second, she dashed towards the target spot and placed a D-Charge in the designated area; blowing up a hole in the concrete and exposing the thoroughly ruined fiber-optic landlines.

    “Escape route neutralized.” said Apple Pie with a satisfied smile.

    “Maintain your position.” Came the voice of Agent Thistle through her Comlog.

    Apple Pie acknowledged and took a knee behind some crates. She had a good position to protect the left flank and she was on Spitfire-optimal range. A series of shots, and a few explosions later, told her that the smoke had cleared enough for the Feuerbach Remote to strike.

    “Report.” she requested forgetting that she was not the commanding officer of the mission.

    “Shazi took some fire.” replied Agent Thistle with amusement. “She’s fine, but her bike’s a goner.”

    “Tsyklon neutralized.” said Battle Charmer.

    Apple Pier looked at the two new columns of smoke, deducing that they originated from Shazi’s bike and the Remote. A haze in her peripheral vision prompted her to instinctively pull her Heavy Pistol sidearm; a reflex acquired from years of brandishing a Contender pistol. Unfortunately, the range difference and the surprise factor gave her assailant the advantage. A hail of bullets rained over her, a few shots passing her right shoulder and her forearm, making her drop her pistol and crawl for cover.

    The Intruder with the Heavy Machinegun stopped as a Stempler Zond advanced to the leftmost Arachné Node. From her vantage point, Apple Pie could take a shot, if her arm wounds would allow it. She lifted the spitfire with her left hand and rested it on top of her knees. She then squeezed the trigger with her left index finger. Most of the shots missed, but one struck the Stempler and it stopped moving.

    “Report.” came Agent Thistle’s voice through Apple Pie’s comlog.

    “I’m pinned.” replied Apple Pie. “There’s an Intruder with a mean looking HMG. Got me in the right arm.”

    “May I?” said a synthetic version of Doc Starlight’s voice from behind her.

    Apple Pie turned her head and came face to face with modified Zondcat taking her arm with utmost care.

    “Doc?”

    “Neat, eh?” replied the Remote inserting porbes into Apple Pie’s wounds and doing quick micro surgery on her arm. “There,” said the robtic voice. “It’s just a patch, but you’ll be able to shoo-

    “Doc?”

    Apple Pie lifted the spitfire while trying to calm down. The little Remote’s eyes had flickered and shut off, which meant that it had disconnected. Trying not to thing about the worst possible scenario, she stood up and unloaded a burst on the Intruder, flooring him.

    “Come in, Doc!” she said to her comlog, feeling her pulse ringing in her ears.

    “She’s down.” came Obliterette’s voice through the comlog. “There was a Moran hidden. I neutralized him.”

    Before Apple Pie had time to react, a bloodcurling howl and a smoke grenade going off, brought her stress level to absolute panic. She had been deadly afraid of Werewolves since one unexpectedly transformed and rampaged in front of her when she was five years old.

    Out of the smoke, the imposing figure of McMurrough advanced towards the trembling Odalisque. His savage expression changing to a surprised smile.

    “Apple Pie!” said the massive werewolf still advancing. “Still afraid of us, I see.” he said after every single bullet she shot at him missed him by a wide margin.

    As Apple Pie’s legs gave out, a pair of Heavy Rockets impacted on McMurrough’s chest and head, sending the Werewolf flying into a nearby wall.

    “You seemed like you could use the backup.” came a male, soothing voice through Appel Pie’s comlog. She looked back and on top of a parapet, a Kawarij dressed in yellow with a white coat waved at her.

    “Thank you, Saaid.” said Apple Pie trying to regain her composure, and grateful that she remebered the Kawarij’s name.

    “Baldie.” said the soothing voice.

    “Thanks, Baldie.” replied Apple Pie, who, like all four Wrecking Belles, also requested to be addressed by her codename.

    “Status report.”

    “You really want my job, don’t you?” said Agent Thistle playfully.

    “I’m terribly sorry, force of habit.” replied Apple Pie glad no one could see her turn red as a tomato.

    “The deed is done.” said Battle Charmer sending a cute skull emoji to Apple Pie’s AR feed.

    “What about Doc?”

    “She just vomited the bullets.” came Obliterette’s reply on the comlog. “I have it on video.”

    Apple Pie smiled listening to Doc Satrlight’s hoarse protest. From all four Wrecking Belles, Doc Starlight was the one with the oddest change. She could no longer shrug off injuries like the rest, but she could heal impressively fast, given enough time.

    The return to Grand Garden Hospital was a jovial one. Their first mission had been a successful one. Revving Rose was gone for good. Nothing exploded, no civilians died, no market collapsed. Things couldn’t get any better...
     
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  6. Danger Rose

    Danger Rose Sand Cats Tactical Security LLC

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    WAR

    Code: Phoenix

    I died…

    The resurrection process had been so frequent in Regina Berger’s life, that she recognized the difference between waking up and being brought back, even when she didn’t remember how she had died.

    She tried to commit to memory any ache in her body; to have an idea of how she had died. Unfortunately, all she felt was the comfortable recline of what was definitely a Tech Coffin; a luxury the Reanimation Chamber aboard the Sand Cats’ Desert Duchess never had.

    So, not revived by Sireen…

    She verified that her hands and feet were not bound to the Tech Coffin, then slowly opened her eyes. The light still pierced her retinas, but she was able to identify the Haqqislamite architecture and equipment.

    “Welcome back Ms. Berger. If you could please verify your LHost is up to specifications?”

    Regina leaned out of the Tech Coffin and saw a young woman, immaculately dressed in a form fitting suit and holding a folded Odalisque uniform. She was giving a wide smile and pointing to a small dais with a trio of mirrors placed a few feet from the Tech Coffin.

    Regina walked to the dais and gave a cursory look at her 25-year-old-looking body. Brown hair, green eyes, thin lips, pointed chin, well-toned muscles, and sadly, no breast reduction.

    At least it’s not a Hecatec LHost with myopia.

    “Is everything satisfactory?” asked the young woman placing the uniform in a nearby table.

    “Yes, thank you.” said Regina dressing up, and then walking towards the Reanimation Specialist waiting at the other side of the room.

    “How are we feeling, Ms. Berger?” asked the balding man with round spectacles dressed just like the young woman.

    “I’ve just been resurrected and I don’t know how or when I died, so I’d say I’m feeling pretty confused.”

    “Perfectly understandable.” replied the man seemingly oblivious to Regina’s annoyed tone. “Please, move along to the waiting lounge, I’m almost done with your friends’ resurrections.”

    Looks like I didn’t die alone. Figures.

    “Thank you.”

    The young woman brought a velvet-lined tray with a Military-grade Comlog and a pair of AR glasses. Regina put on the glasses and Comlog. Once connected to Mayanet, she requested a back-up of her Geist.

    Regina then walked to the waiting lounge, where a tall, and rather handsome young man, wearing Husam gear; and Kyoko Kono, Ninja, Stargem Shipping Co. Troubleshooter, and Regina’s self-appointed Handmaid were waiting.

    “Regina-Sama!” said the young woman tackling Regina in a very tight hug and sobbing uncontrollably.

    “What’s wrong Kyoko?” asked Regina with real concern.

    “Miss Kono went through quite an ordeal to save your lives.” said the young man.

    “And you are?”

    “Husam Operative Yousef Rigel.” replied the young man with a small bow. “My current assignment had me cross paths with Miss Kono, which was rather fortuitous.”

    Before Regina could ask anything else, Theresa, Helena and Aurora joined the group. All three looking as young as her, and in the case of Helena, sporting her natural auburn hair instead of her flamboyant purple dye.

    After reintroducing himself, Operative Rigel led the four Odalisques and the Ninja to a more private chamber. There, Kyoko told the story of how armed Commandos stormed Regina’s apartment; and while many were slain by the Odalisques, they still overpowered and kidnapped the four women.

    Kyoko followed the perpetrators to their hiding place; but infiltrating the heavily guarded compound proved to be more difficult and slower than expected. Inside the compound, Kyoko found a Bakunin Battalion of troops; with Moderators dressed in blue and other Units in grey with brass armor. She also managed to identify the leader, a huge muscular woman with violet hair, wearing a Crossbones mask.

    “Bonika.” said Regina remembering quite clearly the monstruous woman who tormented her in a cage fight when she was captive on the Amberwitch. “Which means…”

    “CINDER.” said Theresa, followed by a rather unladylike expletive from Helena.

    Kyoko continued her tale, confirming that the three Reverend Custodiers, Stratagem, Verity and Amnesia were also at the compound; and had placed the four Odalisques in metal contraptions that pierced their limbs and prevented them from escaping. Even if she managed to release them all, they wouldn’t have been able to go far.

    Tears began to stream down Kyoko’s cheeks and Regina finally understood what had caused the young woman so much grief.

    “I ordered you to kill us and take our Cubes.”

    Kyoko nodded.

    Regina sighed and smiled at the hapless young woman. She may have been trained to be a Ninja from a very young age, but Kyoko was one of the kindest souls Regina had met.

    “You saved us from a faith worse than death.” said Regina placing a hand on Kyoko’s shoulder. “Thank you.”

    Kyoko then told them how after her narrow escape, CINDER leaked Regina’s death to the Media; snowballing Regina’s ‘Code: Phoenix’ plan. All of Regina’s assets were auctioned and all profits allocated on her Resurrection Funds Account.

    “So, they knew about that.” said Aurora melodiously. “They must have been stalking you for quite some time.”

    “I did paint a huge target on my back with all this ‘Angel of Novii Granada’ cover.”

    “Laiqa-chan gave me clearance to work as your Cubes’ caretaker and instructions to bring them to Dar El Funduq.” continued Kyoko. “But when I tried to charter a flight to Bourak, Moderators were waiting for me at the Spaceport. Rigel-san smuggled me out.”

    “I was investigating the activity of CINDER’s Arms Dealing Ring operating from Svalarheima to Concilium.” said Operative Rigel with a shrug. “Miss Kyoko made quite a stir with her infiltration of their base; forcing them to accelerate their plans. Transcore, the corporation that absorbed Stargem Shipping, is tied to CINDER. I don’t have enough evidence to prove it in International Court, though. Especially not now.”

    “Let me guess, CINDER relocated?” inquired Theresa crossing her arms.

    “With the speed of summer lightning.”

    “Well, that settles it then.” said Regina taking a deep breath. “This feels personal. Do you feel it personal?” she asked her three friends.

    “Oh, for sure!” replied Theresa cracking her knuckles.

    “Enough to get my undivided attention, Sweetie-Pie.” said Aurora in her dulcet tone.

    “It’s always been personal to me.” finished Helena.

    “Kyoko?”

    “They took away my job and forced my first kill to be my Employer.” answered Kyoko dead serious. “My family’s honor has been grievously wounded.”

    “Then, let’s remedy that.” said Regina looking fierce.

    “So, what are you going to do now?” asked Operative Rigel in a mixture of confusion and concern.

    “We’re going shopping.” Said Regina heading out the chamber and closely followed by her four companions.


    Honey Badgers

    Among the abandoned spaceports that litter the central part of Funduq, Yāqūt has been the most familiar to the Odalisques of former Unit Foxglove. There they made their first high profile arrest, and accidentally caused the crash of an escaping vessel, reducing half the spaceport to rubble. So, it was no surprise to Regina that the locals were less than thrilled to see them.

    “We’re here to do business!” she said from behind a concrete wall as bullets flew past the spot her head was a few seconds ago.

    “You’re not welcome here, Wrecking Belles!!!” yelled a broad-shouldered man armed with a Heavy Machinegun.

    “How dare-

    But before Theresa could finish her complaint, Regina pulled her down by the scruff of her neck. It was no secret the Odalisques of Unit Foxglove despised to be called ‘Wrecking Belles.’

    “No! Cool heads only.” said the Amazonian brunette, her green eyes flashing with determination.

    When the shooting stopped, Regina peeked out of a corner. There were about twelve armed hostiles; armed with Rifles and the big guy, whom Regina identified as Jawad, the bodyguard and enforcer of Boss Fadir, the man who controlled Yāqūt Spaceport.

    “Come on, I just want to buy a ship!” she yelled before another hail of bullets had her crouch once more.

    “Maybe we should try Sanabad.” offered Aurora crawling on all four closer to Regina and Theresa.

    “With Nuzha?” asked Theresa raising an eyebrow. “She threatened to flail us and then drag us by our feet all the way to Kum-dag!”

    “Oh dear!” said Aurora raising both eyebrows. “Maybe we should re-evaluate our social skills.”

    “I’m trying!” replied Regina before disappearing with a muffled yelp.

    Out of the hole in the ground where Regina had fallen through, popped out the head of a very young woman, barely older than Kyoko. She had mauve hair and wore goggles of Yu Jing design.

    “Quick, before they wise up!” she beckoned the other Odalisques and heading back to the hole.

    When Theresa, Helena and Aurora made it down, they found Regina still nursing her behind. The hole closed automatically and emergency lights lined the path of the tunnel they were in.

    “Where are we?” asked Helena looking around the tunnel.

    “This is Terminal B’s Service tunnel.” said the young woman lighting a traffic baton and leading the way. “I have a safe spot half a kilometer down that way.” she said pointing straight ahead.

    Regina moved forward of the group, signaling the rest to be prepared for trouble. “Thanks for the assistance, Miss…”

    “Maya,” answered the young woman. “You may have known my grandfather, Roshan al-Saba?”

    “Pirate Hunter Roshan?” asked Regina recalling the rotund man with a perpetual grin who helped them take down former Boss Urid. “How’s the Old Man?”

    “In a holding cell in Balisehir.” replied Maya dispassionately. “He’s been held for attempting to raid the Silk Route Maglev.”

    “He’s not stupid, why would he do that?” asked Theresa in disbelief. Roshan was a cunning old fox and it didn’t make sense for him to risk his freedom like that.

    “Before Fadir took over, he framed Gramps. That paved the way for him to control the majority of Yāqūt.”

    “Is that why you came to help us?” asked Regina with a smile.

    “Gramps always said you four were as wild as honey badgers.” said Maya with a shrug. “When I heard on the Comlog that you had been sighted, I figured I had nothing to lose.”

    “Well, we were going to see Boss Fadir anyway.” said Regina with a wide smile. “So, if you can get us to his office...”

    The trek was not a difficult one. With Maya’s knowledge of the service corridors, and Fadir’s goons not being trained enough to even pass for Brawlers, it wasn’t long before the Odalisques stormed Fadir’s office.

    “Now that we have your attention,” said Regina pointing her stun baton at Fadir; while her right leg, still stretched, pinned the last standing bodyguard to the wall. “I’d like to offer you a business proposition.”

    Boss Fadir had seen his share of scruffs and firefights; it came with the territory; but the display these four Odalisques made in his office, taking down all of his men without a single shot, would just have been unbelievable if he hadn’t witnessed it. And while he was not a coward, his odds of making it out alive, had been reduced drastically.

    “Let’s hear it.” he said trying to sound composed.

    “I’m entering the Private Sector and I’m on the market for a ship.” said Regina slowly bringing down her leg with mesmerizing control. “And I figured I could also give you a hand with a local problem you have.”

    “Oh really? And what problem would that be?”

    “Roshan al-Saba.” said Regina with a smile. “Corrupt Qapu Khalqi Officials don’t last long; and the charges on Roshan are flimsy at best. I know, I checked.” she finished opening an AR window with the documentation.

    “So, here’s the deal.” continued Regina shouldering her stun baton and cocking her head to the side. “You sell me a good Relief Vessel with defensive capabilities and I take Roshan and his granddaughter out of your turf forever.”

    “Deal.” replied Boss Fadir without hesitation. He was not expecting to have the infamous Wrecking Belles knocking on his door and offering to take care of his most dangerous rival for the control of the spaceport.

    It was true that the case against Roshan would end in a release; and so far, his men had not been able to round up his bratty kid. Once Roshan was out, things could get complicated fast. So, the Wrecking Belles’ proposal was just too good to pass up.

    A week later, Roshan had been cleared of all charges and reunited with his granddaughter. An easy feat for a man as resourceful as Carlos de Andrexia, also known as ‘The Weasel.’

    “A pleasure doing business with you as always.” said the short man with a heavy Argentinian accent.

    “You are just the best.” said Regina blowing him a kiss.

    “That I am.” he said walking away.

    “So, Maya says you have a business proposal for us?” inquired Roshan with his perpetual smile.

    “I’m going after really bad people. Slavery and Illegal experimentation types.” said Regina with a somber expression. “I just acquired a ship and I could use an Engineering crew with boarding action experience.”

    “Sounds good.” replied Roshan. “Land-dwelling wasn’t for me anyway; and this might be a great opportunity for Maya as well.” he finished smiling at his clinging granddaughter.


    Dangerous Liaisons

    Dumar Al Dagher drank coffee alone in his room’s balcony, the night view of the city of Dar El Funduq and the Al-Biruni sea beyond bringing him a sense of peace. He was contemplating a prospecting operation in Svalarheima, but sticking his nose into PanOceania and Yu Jing’s conflict was a high-risk, high-reward business that may turn out to be too high-risk in the end. A very familiar light, fresh, citrus scent brought him out of his thoughts, and drew a smile on his face.

    “I heard you were dead.” he said without looking at the figure that had somehow silently joined him in his balcony.

    “I was.” replied Regina. “And I’m going after those who did it.”

    Dumar turned to see his ex-wife. She looked as young and beautiful as when he met her in Dawn; but he knew she was not exactly a young woman, and that all that experience in such a young and enhanced body, was a truly fearsome enemy to make.

    “I’d pray for them, but I’m sure they will deserve whatever’s coming to them.” said Dumar taking a sip of his coffee. “So, to what do I owe the pleasure of your visit?”

    “I want a Letter of Marque from the Sultan.” said Regina with a warm smile.

    “Easy enough to do.” replied Dumar truthfully. He had enough leverage to get one for her bypassing the bureaucracy. “I never really wanted to divorce you.” he said with a sigh.

    “It was the only way for you to secure my financial stability without having your family hiring Ninjas to get rid of me.” said Regina sitting on the ledge and resting her chin in her hands. “Laiqa.” she finished when she noticed Dumar’s confused expression.

    “I hope she serves you well.” he said with a smile.

    “She does, thank you.”

    “Anything else I can do for you?” inquired Dumar placing his empty cup on the table.

    “Just one last thing.” said Regina unbuttoning her top and producing a business card from her cleavage.

    Dumar took the card shaking his head. Only a fool would divorce an Odalisque wife. He looked at the name of the company in the card and raised an eyebrow.

    “Honey Badger Solutions?”

    “If we’re going against lions, we might as well be like honey badgers.”

    “I will definitely pray for your enemies.”

    Regina waltzed closer to Dumar and gave him a kiss in the cheek. “If you need me, just call.”

    “I’ll have your Letter by the end of the week.”

    “Thanks” said Regina graciously jumping to the ledge and out the balcony. She dropped on top of a very silent flyer hovering a few feet under his balcony.

    After she entered from a top hatch, the flyer climbed up and away, leaving Dumar alone once again looking at the card’s logo of a cartoony honey badger’s face.
     
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