A serene silence filled the air, as they were both lost in thought entering the elevator. The thoughts of Yokito Oka flickered from the compelling man beside her, to the loyalty given to Ryo-wo, to her genetic work, and to the dream of a better world before returning back to thoughts of the man beside her. The thoughts of Mitch Shelley were focused on the information that he had been given about himself and his place in this world as the elevator descended. The elevator stopped, and the silence was broken as the two stepped out of the elevator and moved down the hallway, stopping at a door labeled Yokito Oka.
“Your room is the last one on the left at the end of this hallway. It has been arranged to allow you access to everything using this card,” Yokito said, placing the card into Mitch Shelley’s hand, her fingers lingering a trifle too long touching his hand before she pulled away. A half-smile of wistful regret crossed Yokito’s face as she opened her door and stepped inside.
“I will try to see you later, Mitch, after I catch up on my sleep.” Yokito closed her door as Shelley walked away.
Mitch Shelley walked down the hallway and entered the door that Yokito had told him to find. His curious eyes roamed the room, looking for a device that the disk could be put in. His gaze stopped at a silver box built into a large television. Shelley strode over to the television and pulled a chair close to the device. The disk was pushed into a slot as Shelley leaned back in the chair. Shelley sat perfectly still as he watched the information play across the television. His face reflected his emotions as he observed the horrific scenes. Several hours later, the device stopped playing, and Shelley rose gracefully from the chair.
A need for action was evident in the swift and sure movements of Shelley as he ejected the disk and put it back into the clear box. He paused to think before leaving his room and moving toward the elevator. Unerringly he retraced his path back to the advanced training facility. He pushed on the door, which did not move, before he remembered the card. A quick swipe through the card reader, and the door opened. Shelley was surprised to see a city and what looked like a battle in the sky as he moved into the room. A falling female form caught his eye, and a reflex motion had him clasping at something that was not there. Another figure swooped into view to save the falling female.
“Pause simulation. What the devil are you doing here? No one else is allowed access when I am working in here.” The figures paused in mid-motion as the control elevator came down to earth. An energetic, attractive blond came out of the control room scowling at Shelley. She pointed a finger at Shelley before speaking again.
“I asked you a question. Most people would have already answered it by now. What are you doing in here, and who the devil are you?” the blond asked, looking more irritable as she waited for an answer.
“Sorry if I disturbed whatever you were doing. I was feeling restless, and I was looking for a chance to relieve some tension. My name is Mitch Shelley.”
The blond looked ready to explode at the mention of Shelley. “You! I can’t believe that they think you can teach me anything! What the devil is so special about you, anyway?”
“I have no idea what you are talking about. Who is this they, and why do they think I can teach you anything, and just what am I supposed to be teaching you?” Shelley responded, trying to calm the woman down.
“Whatever,” the blond said dismissively as she looked at the frozen simulation. An evil gleam came into her eyes as she looked at the simulation, then at Shelley. “How about a little tension-relieving action, then, Shelley, if you’re up for it.”
“Certainly, young lady,” Shelley replied gallantly. “What do I need to do?”
“Oh, we’re going to play a variation of one of my favorite games,” the blond said as she placed her hand on a gleaming light. “Computer, I need a random collection of Arsenal weapons and the city glider disk.”
The panel clicked and bleeped as another panel slid down to reveal a small, sundial-shaped disk and a collection of odd weapons. The blond pulled the disk out and examined the weapons before clicking her tongue in satisfaction. The blond looked at Shelley and smiled. “What kind of weapons do you want? Computer, display collection of holographic images for pretty boy, here, so I won’t feel so bad about kicking his ass.”
Holographic arrays of weapons appeared in the air, randomly changing as Shelley looked at the display. Almost involuntarily, he reached out when the array showed a collection of swords. A brief puzzled look appeared on his face at his reaction to the swords. “I suppose one of those will do it for me. The next to the last one is the one I think looks best.”
Another panel opened, revealing a fine-looking blade. The blond laughed derisively at the medieval weapon that Shelley had picked. “This is going to be even easier than I thought. High-tech versus antique, and high-tech will win.”
The blond concentrated for a moment, causing her clothes to transform to a form-fitting dark blue costume with goggles. Still laughing, she began to place the collection of weapons onto her costume before jumping onto the disk.
“Computer, reset to Arsenal city setting 17,” the blond said as Shelley picked up the sword and swung it several times. The city setting began to fade out, to be replaced by the interior of an empty three-story mall. The blond on her disk took off into the air to do several loops around the calm Mitch Shelley. “The name of this game is Arsenal tag. I usually play it against one of the holographic computer-controlled creations, but this time you are it. I am going to take you out, while you try to do the same to me. There are no rules except winning. The game begins as soon as the computer announces its start.”
Mitch Shelley began to smile widely as he looked at the flying disk. “It sounds intriguing to me. So all I need to do is capture you to win?”
Shelley concentrated, transforming his clothes to the costume given to him by Mikron O’Jeneus. Arsenal looked slightly displeased to see her opponent garbed in a costume similar to hers as she stopped doing the loops. She palmed a small glass container and waited for the computer to start the game.
The computer flashed several lights announcing that the game had begun. Mitch Shelley stood relaxed with the sword in his left hand as he watched the moving Arsenal. She frowned and tossed the palmed capsule at Mitch Shelley. As soon as the capsule smashed into the ground, it began releasing a thick, sight-obscuring gas. Arsenal’s goggles flickered and removed the effects of the gas. She aimed one of the arm bracelets at the still-unmoving Shelley and fired a fast-moving disk.
The disk screamed down toward Shelley as it separated into three pieces connected by a strong, thin string. Shelley stood calmly as he listened to the sounds around him. At the last moment, the sword in his hand flashed upward, catching the bolos on it and diverting them away. A slight sardonic smile appeared on Shelley’s face as he moved the sword into an odd pattern of swings.
“That’s impossible!” Arsenal shouted as she aimed both armbands at the smiling Shelley. The armbands fired off several more of the fast-moving bolo disks before running out. The disks flew down, and Shelley incredibly once more used his sword to deflect the bolos away.
“I hope you have some other tricks up your sleeve besides these, since that didn’t seem to work,” Shelley said as he stopped the sword in mid-motion and moved out of the sight-obscuring cloud of blackness.
“I have enough tricks to take care of you and your shiny sword,” Arsenal said as she pulled out a gas grenade and flung it at Shelley. “I think it’s time to put a little fear in you,” she said as the grenade activated and sprayed Shelley with a fear gas. Arsenal waited for the man to fall down to the ground in fear, but was shocked to see him still standing there with a smile on his face.
“Whatever it was didn’t seem to work,” Shelley replied as he looked at the shocked Arsenal. “Have you got anything else?”
Arsenal clenched her fist in anger and pulled out her cold gun. “I am going to put you back in the deep freeze where you belong.”
“You can try,” Shelley said as he dodged the first blast of the freezing cold. Arsenal swooped in, firing more blasts at Shelley, which he narrowly dodged as he ran toward the moving escalators.
“Hold still so I can win!” Arsenal shouted at Shelley as she pulled out of her dive to avoid running into the light poles.
“Right,” Shelley said with a sarcastic edge as he dived into one of the holographic storefronts. A curious tapping on one of the display cases revealed that the holographic images functioned like the real objects would as the glass shattered. A plan began to form as he looked for Arsenal to attack again.
“I need to get higher up so I can take care of her glider first,” Shelley said out loud as he smashed open the back door to move into the narrow hallway. An alarm sounded as Shelley ran down the hallway trying to find a set of steps to the upper floors. A few moments later, he decided that the only way to get to the upper floor was to go back into the open areas where Arsenal had the edge in maneuverability.
“Come out from wherever you are hiding.” The mocking tones of Arsenal reverberated throughout the empty mall. Her keen eyes swept the area looking for her opponent, while a burning rage to win had swept over her. She caught the moving Shelley from the corner of her vision and sent her glider into a deep dive after him. A gloved hand put the freeze gun back on her hip, and then another was pulled from a shoulder-holster rig. A quick pull on the trigger of the new gun sent a stream of sticky strands streaming out to form a web in front of the moving Shelley.
Mitch Shelley hacked at the web with his sharp sword as Arsenal moved in closer to administer the knockout blow. Arsenal grinned fiercely and switched her glider to the foot controls so she could use both weapons at the same time. She fired a web and a freeze blast at Shelley, who allowed himself a slight smile as he adjusted the course of his swinging blade to hack open the fountain water main. The sudden spray of water hit the approaching freeze beam, sending a stream of rapidly freezing water up to the glider.
Arsenal tried to pull the glider out of the dive but was too late, as the glider was caught in the frozen spray of water. She flipped off the glider to avoid being frozen in the water, losing the freeze gun in the process. With a graceful tumble, Arsenal landed on the second floor, cursing Shelley.