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Fantasy in the Shell

by Tetsuken

Part 2 (2006)
Part 3 (2006)

Chapter 1

Part I: Section 9

"What an angelic voice," I think to myself as the lovely Celes Chere sings an enchanting melody on the brightly lit stage. Every sensual note gliding softly through my head. Her lips caressing every syllable of every word. It's hard to believe someone would put a hit out on her. But it has to be important, else we at Section 9 wouldn't have been called. At one time we were an elite public security unit, specializing in covert operations and information warfare. However, we revamped after the incident with the criminal organization, known as "The Empire", to more of a "special police" entity. But, who would want to harm such a beautiful creature? Those crystal-blue eyes. Her flowing golden hair... Get it together Cole. Dammit, you can't let personal feelings interfere with your mission.

"Hey, Locke. You still with me?" a gruff voice asks from behind me.

"Oh, sorry Sabin. Guess I'm a little distracted... " I mutter.

"You've got a lot of brain noise lately. It's a wonder you can think at all," Sabin laughs, as he slaps my back.

"Ow! Watch it, you lunk-head!" I laugh back.

"Cole. Figaro. We just received an update on the Chere hit. They've planted an explosive somewhere in that club. Garamonde's checking it now, but hasn't found it yet. I want Figaro to search manually. Meanwhile, I want Cole to get everyone out. NOW!" a voice commands from inside my head.

"On it Major," Sabin responds before charging through the crowd.

"So much for the wonderful performance... " I mutter.

Without thinking, I instinctively jump up onto the stage.

"Everybody! We're sorry for the inconvenience, but we must request that everyone vacate the building quickly and orderly,"

It's no surprise that no one moves. Fine, do it the hard way. I reach into my pocket and pull out my badge.

"Public Security. Section 9! Everyone, get the hell out NOW!"

Now they react. All but one. Wait, he's reaching into his coat.

"SHIT!" I yell as I pull out my .44 Magnum.

But before I can pull the trigger, the man slumps over. Dead.

"You're getting slow, Cole," a voice grumbles from my right.

"Shadow. Thank God," I exhale deeply.

"What're you waiting for, another shooter? Get Chere outta here now!" Shadow barks.

"Right. On it," I reply, as I grab hold of her arm and lead her to the transport.

"New girlfriend?" a man snickers from inside.

"Shut up Gabbiani," I growl.

"All work and no play... " Setzer grins.

God, that guy can be an ass when he puts his mind to it.

"Just get ready to pull out," I glare at him.

"You don't hafta tell me," Setzer laughs.

"Bomb disabled. Hostiles cleared. Let's get the hell outta here," Sabin laughs, Shadow right behind.

"Hold onto your shorts," Setzer laughs as the ship surges to life.

"Dammit! We're under fire," Sabin curses, looking out the window, "Shadow! Take 'em out!"

"On it yesterday," Shadow sighs, pulling out his prized Callisto R-67. Very high-end sniper unit consisting of a .50 calibre barrel, roughly three feet long that "floats" separately from the main body, allowing the barrel to vibrate freely, making each shot exactly the same as the last, to improve accuracy. The main body of the unit comes up over the barrel about six inches, without touching it, for structural stability. The scope on top has, of course, an enhanced zoom feature allowing the average user to see for roughly three miles ahead of them. That combined with his innate skill, and Shadow could shoot out a nosehair from ten miles.

"Damn! Armed Suits? What the hell? Major. You seeing this?"

"Guys! We're in trouble! They've hit the Starboard turbine! Shit! We're going down!" Setzer curses.

"Major! We're gonna need backup pronto!" Sabin growls.

"I'm currently en route to your position. Hold tight," Terra says coolly.

She's not actually a 'major' per se. It's just something of a nickname seeing as how she's sorta the defacto leader of the group.

"What's going on?" Celes whispers from behind me. I almost forgot she was there.

"Don't worry. Just a minor change in plans. You'll be just fine. I promise. Remember, we're Section 9. We handle this kinda thing all the time" I reassure her.

Truth is, I have no idea what's going on. Why in the nine Hells are these guys so intent on killing a singer. Jeez, this makes no sense. Why would they call in Lambda-Class Armed Suits just for one girl? I mean, bipedal assault suits armed with twin, arm-mounted, .50 cal MGs and three inches of high-grade armor plating, seems a little extreme for the capture of just one civilian. No point wondering now, they have and that's all that matters right now. We'll sort this out when we report back to Magus. If we report back. My thoughts are rudely interrupted by a sudden impact. The Eagle has landed...

Celes lies motionless on my back. I check her vitals. She's all right. Just out cold. Good. Back to the task at hand. The attackers waste no time. In mere moments we find ourselves in one helluva gunfight. Shadow opts for his Callisto, while Sabin mans the .86 Calibre Gatling turret. Of course, my preference is my .44 Mag. She's an old revolver, but still works like the day she was built. After about three minutes, I see a figure running across the roof in thermo-optic camouflage, a specialized stealth system that all-but hides the user from view to the naked eye by projecting the view behind the wearer in real-time, making them seem transparent. Must be the Major. Thank God. Hopefully we've got enough firepower to deal with three Lambda-Classes. No sooner does this thought enter my head, than I see Terra unload a volley of KG-96 RPGs; which, as the name might imply, are rocket-propelled grenades loaded with 96 kilograms of explosives. Very flashy. She must be pretty pissed. One of those can take out a tank. Needless to say our attackers fare no better. After about a minute of eerie silence, Sabin turns on his thermo-optics and checks outside.

"Clean... Well as clean as a battleground gets," Sabin smirks. Nothing but hunks of charred metal remain of our assailants. The seven-foot frames of the, formerly humanoid, assault suits have been reduced to cinders.

"Major. Don't you think that might have been a bit... Heavy-handed? Now we don't have anyone to interrogate," I ask.

"No need. Garamonde hacked their cyberbrains while we were in transit. We got all we need out of them. A new transport is on its way to pick you guys up. Just sit tight until they get here," Terra replies, again reminding me of how easy it is to gain information on people, what with cyberbrains - essentially the central nervous system, enhanced with cybernetic components, allowing for increased capabilities in data analysis and what-have-you, as well as remote communication - being relatively easy to hack into, given the necessary level of skill. Of course, they can also make finding information rather difficult, what with the possibility of a target committing cyberbrain suicide, where the subject forcibly overloads and shorts-out their own cyberbrain, reducing them to a comatose state and simultaneously irreparably damaging any information they might have had.

I need a drink.

"Major, what's your report?" Magus asks.

"It turns out the attackers from today were a dead end. Simply hired guns told to kill the singer. Nothing else could be discerned. Even the identity of the one who contacted them is unknown. All we know is that it was a male, probably between 35 and 50. That's as far as we could tell," Terra replies.

"It must be someone with access to Lambdas. By the firepower they were boasting, I'd say they were from the Custom line started three years ago. And they're only built in one place," I begin.

"Arrow Industries..." Terra ponders.

"Major. Take Cole and investigate Arrow. Get records of anyone who's obtained their suits in the past three years. I don't care how you get the info. Just get it," Magus grumbles.

"Roger," Terra replies.

"Got it," I reply in turn.

So much for that drink.

Caves of Narshe: Final Fantasy VI
Version 6
©1997–2018 Josh Alvies (Rangers51)

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