Kazei 5 AMP 2039

By Jeff Skagen and Michael Surbrook

Mega-Tokyo, 2039

Attacked Mystification Police Headquarters

Officer Yuki Saiko tapped on the door to Chief Rally Cheyenne's office and waited. Her precognitive talents weren't so advanced to allow her to predict people's responses before they made them, but she wasn't going to take any chances.

"Come in."

Of course, when dealing with Chief Rally, it was a good idea to be s polite as possible. Yuki doubted very many people in Mega-Tokyo had bosses who could go unarmed one-on-one with the Lucifer Folk and win. Of course, Rally's being part Lucifer Folk herself might have something to do with that....

"Morning, Chief" Yuki chirped, ever cheerful.

Rally nodded and then reached for the datapad Yuki was handing her. "All patrols running smoothly?"

"Yes, Chief." Yuki produced her own datapad and tapped the stylus on the screen. "As requested I assigned Officer Lau to work with Officer Arakawa. I think they will work well together."

The spinner weaved gracefully through the forest of towering skyscrapers of downtown Tokyo. Staring out the rain-splattered canopy, Vivian Lau was starting to wonder if she'd made a mistake signing on with the AMP and moving to Tokyo. There was something dank and dreary about the over-populated city-state, something that all the bright neon and modern construction couldn't entirely hide. Some of the signs of it were obvious, in the ruins of the Tokyo Dome and the Shinjuku district, and in the filthy, junk-strewn back alleys, teeming with criminals and the mostly homeless victims they preyed on. But worse was the more subtle sense of something not quite right under it all, like a barely noticed scent of rot under perfume. The Lucifer Folk were in the city, and most of the population had no idea of the horrors that lurked so near them. They were what the AMP were charted to oppose, and what Vivian was on the lookout for. Of course, between the rain and the dark of night, it was difficult to make out people on the streets below, much less any Lucifer Folk who might be skulking about.

Giving up her vigil for the moment, Vivian rolled her head to work the stiffness out of her neck and then tugged at the stiff collar of her uniform. She was rapidly concluding that whoever had designed the AMP uniform had been more concerned with how sharp it looked than how comfortable it was to wear.

She glanced over at Shina Arakawa, the officer whose partner she'd been assigned as, sitting behind the controls of their spinner. A cigarette sat in the corner of her mouth, and the thin haze of smoke that had developed in the cabin had Vivian's nose twitching. Vivian wasn't about to risk pissing off a new partner by objecting to her smoking habit, so instead she reached over to the center console, opened the outside vent and turned the fan halfway up.

"So, can I ask what your special talent is? You don't look like a cyborg. Are you a spellcaster or something?" she asked.

She exhaled a cloud of smoke. "Enhanced physical traits," she answered, and gestured at the sword nestled beside her seat. "And I'm pretty damn good with a blade."

"Okay..." said Vivian, uncertain just how to interpret this.

"What about you, kid?" asked Shina. "I'm told you're a ylper, like Noriko. Is that right?"

"Well...I'm a ylper," answered Vivian. "I don't know if I'm like Noriko, though. We don't all have the same powers. I mostly have straight-up TK, no precog or the like at all."

Shina nodded. "Good. I like someone who can kick ass in a fight."

"Thanks," she said, tugging at her stiff collar a second time. "Hey, how long does it take to get used to this thing?"

Shina glanced over at her and chuckled. "It'll start to break in after you've washed it a couple of times. It's the rain repellent that makes it so stiff at first. If you--"

She paused abruptly as the radio squawked their call sign and a "Creature Trap: 3rd Class" report for them to respond to.

"We're on our way." Shina quickly radioed back. "So, have you ever actually seen a Entity before?"

"Well, not in person," answered Vivian. "I saw pictures of some of them as part of my AMP orientation, of course."

"Yeah, right," Shina snorted. "In the case of the Lucifer Folk, a picture is not worth a thousand words. Here's where we find out if you really have the nerve to deal with these things."

Walking back to her desk, Yuki paused, head cocked to one side, looking up towards the ceiling. She stood that way, not moving, for several long moments, apparently absorbed in something only she could see.

"Yuki? You all right?" Lebia Maverlick asked, as she passed the short ylper in the hall.

"Hunh?" Yuki started for a moment and then glanced up at the tall, blonde, visionaire. "Yes... yes, I'm all right. I just... saw something."

"Nothing bad I take it?" Officers of the AMP were quick to grow used to Yuki's occasional flashes of precognitive ability. You never knew when she might see something important—like a Lucifer Hawk trying to destroy Headquarters.

"No... nothing bad." Yuki shook her head and then smiled. "Excuse me Lebia, I need to go see Chief Rally for a moment."

"Of course." Lebia watched Yuki spun around and walked quickly back the way she'd come, heading for the elevator that lead up to Rally's office. Nothing bad she says... If that's so, why do I have this sinking feeling?

"Chief?" Yuki managed a quick knock before opening the door. Technically Rally had an "open door" policy, but you didn't want to push it.

"Yes, Yuki?" Rally glanced away from the wall of virtual screens in front of her, each one filled with AMP operations data.

"It's about Officers Arakawa and Lau...."

One tap of a key and all the screens vanished. "What happened?"

Now it was Yuki's turn to be nervous. Her visions weren't the most clear, so she never felt she could trust them absolutely, but on the other hand, then were never exactly wrong, either. "I think they're going to be all right.... But we will need to prep medical, and...." Yuki took a deep breath, "Tell Lebia to have a new patrol spinner shipped over."

Their spinner slowly cruised through the ruined, decaying remains of the Shinjuku district. Vivian could imagine how the place had once been illuminated by hordes of lights and neon signs, but now there was only whatever light spilled in from the surrounding city. The whole area seemed a dark, decaying cancer in the heart of Tokyo.

She continued playing the cruisers spotlight around, looking for any sign of the Entity they were seeking, but wasn't seeing much. Part of the problem was that she wasn't sure what she was looking for; Lucifer Folk came in all shapes and sizes, she knew, and many seemed to be one-of-a-kind. This one was tentatively reported as a Class 3, the most common but least intelligent kind; most were little better than ravenous animals. But that didn't tell her if it was the size of a dog or the size of a house, or if it even kept the same shape from minute to minute. It also didn't help that the pulsing strobes from their spinner's light bar kept creating a false illusion of movement all around them.

Finally she sighed and turned to Shina. "I can't see anything. Should we land a try looking on foot? Maybe it's inside one of the buildings."

In response, Shina started taking them lower. "We'll land, but we won't go inside any buildings just yet. These things tend to go after anything they think they can eat. We'll stay on the street where we can maneuver, and see if it won't come after us first."

Vivian nodded, and lifted the radio to call their landing in. Out the corner of her eye, she suddenly saw movement below. "Hey, down there! There's something mov--"

There was a sudden flash of light and the spinner violently heaved to one side as part of its front end blew apart and small bit of debris peppered her face. Her head smacked the canopy as the world seemed to tilt and spin wildly, and she just had time to realize that they were crashing before the world around her went black.

"They mostly come at night... mostly."

Kanu stood on an empty and deserted roof, the shaft of The Sword of Ash and Dust resting across her shoulders. It had started to rain, and she hoped it wouldn't turn acidic. While she was fairly impervious to the rain itself, the fumes stood a good chance of making her ill, and the last thing she needed while on the hunt was an upset stomach and a headache. Shivering slightly against the chill, her skin prickling slightly from the cold, she peered into the darkness, looking for the slightest hint of movement. Shinjuku was off-limits to normal citizens, so anything moving around amid the shattered office towers and apartment blocks was either an incredibly stupid human or a Lucifer Folk.

Raising her tai-do off of her shoulders, Kanu spun it around in a tight arc, jamming the butt end into the rotting tar paper of the rooftop. Wiping the long bangs of her hair out of her eyes—the rain was starting to soak into her ankle-length fall of hair—Kanu crouched slightly and then took off into a quick run, her tabi digging slightly into the roof with each step. Reaching the edge of the building, she kicked off, arcing high into the air, finally landing some 200 feet from where she started. While her face remained passive, inwardly Kanu grinned. The treatments that had made her one of the shih had made her stronger, faster, and tougher than any normal human, and in fact had put her on par with the average combat cybergraft upgrade. Being able to leap half the length of a soccer field in a single bound was an enjoyable bonus.

Her new vantage point was lower, cluttered with antiquated air conditioning units and ductwork. Hopping lightly onto a stretch of piping, she ran along its length, the narrow, slick surface apparently no more difficult to traverse than the rooftop itself. A short, fast leap followed, ending with her on yet another roof several stories further down, crouching silently. The wind whipped at her hair—she really needed to see about trimming it someday—while the rain continued to soak her admittedly scant clothing. She tended to wear castoffs and hand-me-downs, and was too tall for most of what she found to ever fit right. The end result was she displayed a great deal of skin at the best of times. On the other hand, being nearly invulnerable to most anything the Lucifer Folk could throw at her meant she really didn't need much in the way of protective clothing.


For a brief second a white flash of light illuminated her position, showing a tall, athletically voluptuous woman with tanned skin, blue-black hair, a midriff-baring white blouse, and a rather short pleated skirt. In one hand she held a tai-do, a long-shafted heavy-bladed polearm, the other rested on rooftop. Dark green eyes watched the passage of an Attacked Mystification Police spinner closely as it banked and arced down towards street level, the roof-mounted lightbar flashing red and blue, body-mounted strobes playing this way and that.

Standing, Kanu watched the spinner descend. The lights made her think it was responding to a call, which meant an Entity was nearby. Should she stay? Go? The shih had an uneasy relationship with the AMP. While Rally Cheyenne respected their power and skill, it was obvious she wished they worked for her and not on their own. Well, never mind, AMP officers were trained to take care of themselves, and like herself, possessed fairly unique talents and weapons with which to fight the threat of entities. She'd leave them to do their job.

Rising she turned to go, just as a brilliant flash lit up the street behind her. Spinning back, Kanu caught a brief glimpse of the AMP spinner shedding part as it went from descending to outright dropping out of the sky. Right. It seems events had made up her mind for her. Shifting The Sword of Ash and Dust to a more comfortable position, she crouched, getting ready to leap into the fray.

Vivian awoke, choking and sputtering as water dribbled onto her face through the broken canopy above her. She struggled to push herself out from under the stream, alarmed to find her legs pinned between her seat and the dash, but soon realized that although the water tasted foul and stung her eyes, it wasn't burning her skin. Not too acidic today, then

Nothing seemed to be threatening them at the moment, but whatever had knocked them out of the sky might show up at any time, so she quickly turned her attention to Shina. Her new partner was obviously alive, but was bleeding from her scalp and seemed to be pinned the same way she was. Shaking her shoulder produced only a soft moan.

She tried to reach over to check Shina's head wound, but couldn't reach with her legs still pinned. Frustrated, she drew upon her powers and telekinetically shoved as hard as she could. The result was almost overkill, as what was left of the front end of the vehicle threatened to rip loose. The dash crumpled and collapsed inward, metal tore, and the spinner's light bar and running lights abruptly died, plunging them into near darkness.

With her legs freed, she scooted herself closer and turned Shina's head to examine the wound. The low light made it difficult to tell, but the bleeding seemed superficial, although a swelling lump under the cut left Vivian worried that Shina might have a concussion.

Then again, I might well have one too...

She gently dabbed at the wound with her sleeve, eliciting a complaining sound from her partner. "Shina? You okay?" she asked, then more loudly when she didn't get a response, "Hey, Officer Arakawa! Are you all right?"

Shina's eyes opened. "Wha...? What happened..."

"We crashed," she answered. "Someone or something shot us down."

Shina blinked at her, obviously having trouble focusing her vision. "Radio...backup..."

Vivian paused, looking at the broken remains of the now powerless dashboard. "Oops..."

"W-What's wrong?" asked Shina.

Vivian hesitated. "I'm sorry, but the radio's wrecked," she finally answered. "And even if it wasn't, we don't have any power. We lost it all, uh...when we crashed."


Vivian looked around, considering. "Look, they know where we were heading. When we don't report in, another unit will be sent to investigate. We just need to sit tight until they get here, right?"

When she didn't get a reply, she glanced back to Shina and saw that her eyes had closed again. "Shina? Hey, Shina!" She shook her partner again, without response this time, and realized she'd passed out again.

Her head suddenly snapped up as something clattered outside. She hoped it was just a bit of falling debris from the crumbling, blackened buildings that surrounded them, washed loose by the rain. Hoped, but doubted.

Her door was jammed, but some telekinetically enhanced strength was enough to pop the recalcitrant latch and force it open. She stepped outside, where she could get a clearer view. The only light was what the cloud cover reflected back down from the surrounding city, and the falling rain only helped to further obscure things, but she could still see enough to make out hints of movement amidst the surrounding ruins. Lots of movement, in every direction.

"Aw, crap."

She reached to the small of her back and drew her HBG-35 Blaster, flipping the selector switch to the 'creature' setting as she did so.

Dropping through the air, Kanu swore softly. The AMP spinner was laying crumpled in the center of an otherwise empty street, but she knew that wouldn't last. They were coming, she could feel it in her bones and could practically smell it in the air.

Landing in a perfect three-point stance, her tai-dao held safely up and out of the way, Kanu lost no time. The spinner's long nose was shattered, the canopy stood open at an odd angle, and one door hung twisted to one side. Someone in the uniform of the AMP stood next to it, looking unsteady as she (Kanu guessed it was a she, virtually all AMP officers were women), glanced around into the shadows.

Rising, Kanu leapt again, swinging The Sword of Ash and Dust around to unleash a Divide The Enemy Strike. The weapon's blade flashed green, as a ghostly duplicate slashed forward, cutting a shallow rift in the roadway and neatly bisecting a small Entity just visible on the far side of the wreck. "Can you fight?" she asked, not bothering to look at the AMP officer. While it may have seemed rude to not bother to introduce herself, Kanu knew that taking her eyes of the ring of Entities just visible in the gloom was a sure recipe for for disaster.

Startled by her sudden appearance seemingly from nowhere, Vivian spun and nearly fired at Kanu, hesitating only because the girl's scanty outfit clearly revealed a very human body. She hesitated a further second or two as a cavalcade of thoughts spun through her head—she can speak...she's mostly facing away from me...why isn't she wearing more clothes...she sliced that entity in half...Lucifer Hawks sometimes look humanoid, but she looks human...never saw her coming...dare I trust her...boy is she stacked...could have sliced me in half with that blade—and then spun to face the Entities on the other side of them, putting herself back-to-back with the girl.

"Yeah...I can fight," she answered. "But my partner's out cold."

Damn. That's not good. "How bad is she?" Kanu asked.

"I'm not sure," came the reply. "She hit her head pretty hard. She started to wake up after the crash, but now she's passed out again."

"Have you called for backup?"

"Can't. Radio's wrecked. Someone will come looking for us when we don't report in, but that won't be for awhile, I'm afraid."

This is getting better and better. "Then it looks like it's just the two of us. My name's Kanu. I'm a shih. Perhaps Rally Cheyenne has mentioned us?"

Vivian shook her head. "Sorry, not yet. But then, she hasn't had much of a chance. This is my first patrol."

You must be kidding. Kanu spared a quick look. The AMP's newest officer was on the short side, and seemed to be a bit lost inside of her armored uniform coat. On the other hand, she did have her sidearm out, and it was being held fairly steady.

Vivian spared a momentary glance over her shoulder. "So just what is a shih, and just what can you do? I mean, besides slicing nasty things in half with that blade."

"Shih are monster hunters," Kanu replied, shifting her stance to try and keep as many of the encircling Entities in view as she could. "We fight against evil in all its forms, be it spirit, demon, or Lucifer Folk." She hefted her tai-do, the tassels swinging freely. "And this is the Sword of Ash and Dust, given to me when I was declared a shih. As to what I can do... perhaps it would be best if I show you."

"Well, you're have the chance pretty soon. I don't think these things are gonna hang back much longer." Vivian replied. "Oh, and just so you know, I'm a ylper."

"I'll keep that in mind."

The next thing Vivian knew, a large slug-like thing with a maw full of sharp teeth was lurching out of the darkness toward her. Summoning forth her psychic energies, she launched a telekinetic blast at it. The pavement between them seemed to explode upwards as the line of force extended to the creature, hurling it away in a spray of slime. As if this were a signal of some sort, the entire horde of Entities was suddenly charging forward from all directions.

"Aw, shit..."

She briefly hesitated, trying to decide on the best course of action, and then reformed her power into a new pattern. Again the ground seemed to explode, this time in a narrow arc in front of the advancing wave of monstrous things, as a forty-foot wide 'wall' of force sprang into existence before them.

Too strong for them to easily batter down, the swarming Entities began spilling around the telekinetic wall, concentrating their numbers on each side, where she opened fire on them with her Hi-Power Blaster. She was hardly a marksman—in fact, she'd only just passed her pistol qualification trials—but with the Entities clustering around the ends of her wall, it was difficult to miss. Slime and gore splattered as the powerful weapon tore through the lower-class Lucifer Folk. Unfortunately, she knew she couldn't keep it up for long; the power capacity of the gun, even with the reloads she carried, gave her far fewer shots than there were enemies trying to swarm her.

Here they come. There was no time to think. Kanu let battle-tested reflexes take over as she spun the Sword of Ash and Dust in a tight arc, catching a multi-limbed form dead center in an explosion of sickly-green circulatory fluid. Pivoting, she braced the blade's shaft against her hip and used it as a fulcrum to bring the pole-arm around back, burying the weapon into the Entity's soft flesh. Bracing her feet, Kanu grunted with exertion as she pushed forward, shoving the creature back until it toppled over.

Pulling the Sword of Ash and Dust free, Kanu ducked a flailing limb as noxious-smelling blood sprayed the air. Kicking out behind her, she felt her foot hit something solid, and then barely dodged a blade-encrusted tentacle. I need to get out off here... I need room to move.

Thrusting her tai-dao into the bulk of the nearest Lucifer Folk, Kanu pushed off from the ground, leaping high into the air, turning her pole-arm around so that it would impact point-first when she landed. Below was her target, a vaguely squid-like shape. She slammed into it right behind the cluster of eyes, a loud shrieking squeal announcing its death throes. Grinning, Kanu yanked the Sword of Ash and Dust free, only to be slammed across the alley by a dazzling burst of light and heat.

"Kanu!" yelled Vivian as her companion went flying, her weapon clattering off to one side. She landed in a tumbled heap, most of what little clothing she'd had on now burned away. Oh shit! That's the same kind of blast that shot us down!

Spinning, she saw the thing had taken the shih and their spinner down step forward through the throng of lesser Entities. It was tall and vaguely humanoid, but with long, tentacle-like arms and sharp protrusions sticking out all over it's stony, ash-gray skin. The inside of it's "mouth", if that's what the orifice in the front of it's face could be called, was glowing the color of hot embers. Uh oh, Spiky there looks tough.

She raised her Blaster and quickly fired the last three rounds in it at the creature. She actually managed hit twice, but rounds only blew small gouges into its skin. The thing only staggered back a few steps under the force of the impact, and then turned to face her. Yup, he's tough.

Allowing the force wall she'd been holding in her mind to collapse, she quickly launched a telekinetic blast as the glow in its mouth beginning to brighten. The Lucifer Hawk's attack was interrupted as it was sent flying back, but it immediately started to scramble upright again and she could hear the crowd of Entities behind her charging forward as well.

She tried to quell the rising panic in the back of her mind by thinking through her options, but there didn't seem to be many. She could put a protective bubble over herself, but she could only manage to keep it up for a short time. Nowhere else nearby seemed safe to teleport to, and while she might escape the ones closing in on her if she lifted herself into the air, she'd only make herself into sniper-bait for Spiky's energy bolts. And in any event, she'd have to abandon Shina and Kanu to the things to do any of those things, and she just couldn't do that. Aw hell, I thought cops were supposed to buy it a week before they retired, not the first day on the job.

With no other options in sight, she drew her Graviton—the AMP's last-ditch weapon—hoping to take as many of them with her as possible.

The misshapen spike-covered thing lurched forwards, a deep bass chuckle emanating from its body. Vivian shuddered with a thrill of horror as she realized the creature was laughing at her and her plight—not to mention the eerie sensation of feeling the monster's mirth through the soles of her boots. Bracing with both hands, she raised her Graviton, sighting down the long barrel right at Spiky's gaping mouth.

A mere second from pushing the firing stud, Vivan blinked as Kanu's Sword of Ash and Dust came flying over her head to bury itself in the Entity's gray-skinned form. It howled with rage and stumbled backwards, as Kanu herself, now dressed in little more than a scant thong, leaped past.

"Vivian!" she yelled as she grabbed the haft of her "sword" and yanked it free with a twist. "Get ready!"

"For what?" she yelled back.

Landing aside the AMP officer, Kanu raised her tai-do overhead. "On three! One! Two! Three!"

Oh! Trying not to flinch, Vivian squeezed the trigger on her Graviton as she saw Kanu start to swing her blade. She glimpsed a ghostly green blade extending out from the real one before--


The recoil was everything she remembered from the few times she'd been allowed to fire one at the practice range, and only her telekinetically enhanced strength allowed to keep even semblance of control of the gun.

The falling rain swirled in a tight circle along the path of the Graviton's magnetically accelerted around, while the pavement visibly cracked in a line from Kanu's sword straight into the Entity as a huge transparent tai-do flashed into existance. A moment later the Lucifer Hawk bulged visibly, its torso exploding into a spray of noxious liquids as one whole portion of it slid slowly to the ground. Groaning loudly, it staggered a few feet forwards and then toppled forward into a pool of ichor.

Giving a sigh of relief, Kanu leaned on her tai-do and wiped strands of hair out of her face. "Well done, Officer Vivian. Very well done."

Vivian heaved a ragged sigh of her own and lowered her gun as it became evident that with the death of their leader, the remaining Entities had apparently lost their will to fight and were quickly fleeing into the rain and darkness. "Thank you," she answered. "Um...you too."

She glanced over at Kanu, astounded by the shih's resiliency. Her socks and tabi boots had been missed by the blast she'd taken, but that was nearly all. Her top had been reduced to singed scraps dangling from her shoulders, leaving most of her breasts bare, while no more than tatters were left of her skirt. Only her white thong panties remained to provide the least vestige of modesty for her, not that she seemed to feel the need for it. She stood in the rain, leaning on her tai-do, casually displaying her perfect—and completely unharmed!—body, without the least concern for her lack of attire.

Vivian shook her head. "I can't believe you don't have a mark on you! I guess you shih are pretty durable. I wish I were as tough as you." Or as confident. Or as stacked.

Kanu shrugged, giving her breasts a disconcerting bounce. "I was bathed in alchemy as part of my traning. Rendered me nearly invulnerable. I've yet to meet a Lucifer Folk that can truely hurt me."

"Lucky you," replied Vivian, brushing her wet bangs out of her eyes. "But maybe next time you should think about soaking your outfit in the same--"


The ragged voice from the cockpit of the spinner startled Vivian, who immediately blushed with shame as she realized she'd nearly forgotten about her injured partner in aftermath of the battle. Shina was still looking somewhat dazed and confused as she took in the scene—her partner and the nearly naked woman with the her, the shattered and burned furrows in the pavement all around, the scattered debris, and the score of dead Entities lying about.

"So...did I miss something?"

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