Ed was happy to be getting back to work even if it was just a simple raid on bootleggers. He looked back down the length of the Osprey and could see Largo sitting with the other cyberzombies, apparently oblivious to the world.
"Fifteen minutes until intercept, sir."
Ed placed his hand on the pilots shoulder ad replied. "I'm going to check the team."
They would be landing on the deck of a bulk carrier in the Sea of Japan. One container was reported to contain bootlegged
Sony games and Sony Enforcement intended to see that none of the contraband ever came ashore again.
Ed moved slowly toward the rear of the aircraft, looking over the Shock Troops as he went. There wasn't much chance of resistance from the ship's crew but Sony was in no mood to mess around. If things went well they wouldn't even fire their weapons. As he came to Largo he stopped and squatted front of him so that he could look him in the eye. Largo simply stared.
Ed sighed and turned back toward the front of the plane when one of the Shock Troopers spoke. "Was he a friend of yours? "
Ed looked at the man and nodded, "Yeah, we went to college together. "
"I was on the team that picked the two of you up."
Ed looked at the man carefully; "I don't remember any of that. I've read the report though, was they're anything out of the ordinary that struck you about that night? "
The man shrugged, "Not really, whoever dumped you probably intended for the baby 'zillas to eat the evidence. "
Ed smiled then, "Thanks."
The man smiled back, "Just doing my job, sir"
Ed turned and was nearing his seat when he heard a commotion behind him. It was Largo.
Ed turned and stared, no one moved as Largo walked unsteadily forward toward.
Ed erupted in anger, "Largo, go sit down! We're about to land! "
Largo stopped and stared, as he turned he swept half the plane with the muzzle of his weapon provoking protest from all but the cyberzombies.
Shaking his head Ed took his seat; he'd have to report this. The other shock troops settled down quickly though. The Sergeant in charge of the troops leaned across the aisle and grinned at Ed. "Don't let it bother you. Those guys are like that. "
Ed stared in disbelief, how could you possibly run a clean operation with people like that? He sighed and settled back into his seat, if that was the worst that happened then there was no real problems.
The operation went even smoother than Ed could have hoped for, the informant who had tipped Sony was on duty at the time and most of the ships crew never even new that they had been boarded. The bulk carrier was enormous and they had no problem at all setting down right by the proper container, which the bootleggers had arranged to be unloaded first.
It had taken five minutes to unload it over the side.
Back at the Sony campus Ed strolled casually toward what was called "the dollhouse". He wanted to see that EVS unit again, sees if she remembered him. As he swiped his card through the reader and waited for the retina scan he realized that he had butterflies in his stomach.
The building seemed much dimmer than it had the last time he had come here did. Dimmer and quieter as well. He walked slower and slower as he approached her vat, the butterflies got worse as he noticed that there were no technicians in the area at all.
Ed's mouth went dry when he realized that she was peeking over the edge of the vat at him and it was her that had spoken.
"Yeah, I just wanted to see you again."
The girls smiled and drew her up high enough out of the vat to cross her arms on the edge and rest her chin on them. "I was hoping you would come and here you are."
Ed smiled then; he couldn't believe how cute she was. "I didn't get to ask last time, how long do you have to stay in that thing?"
"I'm almost all grown now. I just need someone to play with me." She batted her eyes and glanced down coyly, "Would you like to play with me?"
Ed blushed then grinned, "I'm not sure I can."
She looked at him and pouted her lips, "Sure you can, let me help. Could you get me a lab coat from the lockers over there? "
Ed frowned, "Sure" Now what was she up to?
After fetching the coat she smiled at him, "Turn around and no peeking."
Ed took a deep breath and turned away, he heard a faint splashing sound then the sound of bare feet on the cold floor.
"Okay, you can turn around now. "
Ed turned around to see that she was wearing the coat like a cape. "Stay right here and don't move. I have to go to another room to get my clothes now. I'll be right back."
It was fifteen minutes before she finally returned Ed was astonished at her appearance. She was wearing a red leather miniskirt with matching leather boots and jacket. She smiled and spun lightly on the tips of her toes.
"How do I look?"
Ed swallowed, this was certainly not like the rogue unit he had pursued, and "You look great."
Smiling, she took his hand, "We need to pick a nice name for me now. You can't call me by my job number you know."
Ed shook his head as they walked toward the exit. What on earth was it that she reminded him of?
As they left the building something occurred to him, "Wait, we can't just walk out." She looked up at him and smiled, "Oh, I've already handled you requisition. I'm all yours now."
Despite the warm sunshine and his long coat Ed felt a chill. How could she have done such a thing so quickly? Why had she done such a thing? His unease grew as he realized that he hadn't even doubted what she had said. Who was really in charge here?
As they approached the Enforcement Barracks she suddenly began pulling him toward the cyberzombie area. "Come on Ed, I want to see what's in here."
Ed tried to slow her but it was futile, the door whisked open without him showing his ID and then they were inside.
"What is this place, Ed?"
Ed looked at her, "I think you already know, don't you?"
She smiled mischievously, "Of course I do. But you have to learn how to play my games now you big silly."
She led him along the hallway toward the vat area. Ed's unease changed to horror as he realized that the cyberzombies were being debriefed and put back in their vats.
They were all naked.
The girl shrieked in horror and covered her eyes with one hand then jerked away from Ed and sprinted toward the cyberzombies.
"Perverts! Put some pants on!"
She leapt into the air and spun twice before lashing out with her right to kick one of the cyberzombies in the head.
It was Largo.
The others made no attempt to stop her but instead began shambling toward their vats moaning and crying in terror. The technician began to yell then ran toward Ed, "Why did you bring that thing in here? What the hell are you doing?"
Ed's mouth was dry as he watched Largo bounce off the wall and stagger back toward the girl. He earblades were burning a bright red now. She looked at Ed and smiled.
She wasn't through yet.
As Largo approached her she pushed her right sleeve up with a flourish then stiffened her fingers. When Largo got within reach she thrust the spear hand into his chest. Largo's sternum split with a sickening crunch as her hand entered her chest, he collapsed at her feet.
Ed was frozen in place as the technicians grabbed Largo and hauled him back to his vat. The shouting grew even more frantic when one of them went to check the security tape and found that it had cut off before Ed had entered the building. Finally Ed could take it no more.
"Everyone, SHUT UP!"
Startled, the technicians all stared at him as he continued, "This never happened, Largo will heal in the vat. There is no problem. Do you all understand. "
The technicians all nodded silently, they were too terrified to speak
Finally Ed and his new charge left the building. He scowled at her , "You planned that and I want to know why."
She smiled back at him; "You just have to learn how to play with me. Now what are we going to call me?"
Ed thought about the violence, with which she had assaulted Largo, there was still blood under her fingernails. He thought of the shambling cyberzombies, it had been like a scene for Resident Evil. He tried to remember that one characters name, the young girl. Looking at her he finally smiled, "I'm going to call you Ashley."
"Ashley is a pretty name." She batted her eyelids at Ed; "Do you think I'm pretty?"
Ed nodded, "Yeah, you're pretty. Pretty dangerous."
Ashley giggled and hugged him tight.
Ping was just finishing getting dressed for school when her cell phones rang. She smiled wistfully as she read the message and wished that she could have been there. Ashley? That was a nice name. She hoped that Ed would make his Ashley as happy as Piro had made her.