Written by Michael Surbrook

Slowly, painfully, Marta lowered her nude body onto the futon. Wincing slightly, she did her best to lie still as Chiffon leaned over her.

"Watch it!" she hissed through clenched teeth.

"Sorry!," Chiffon snapped, "Do you want me to apply this stuff or not?"

Taking a deep breath, Marta tried to relax. "No, no, put it on," she responded, "Just be careful."

"Be careful? You're the one who took the shotgun blast in the back, remember?" Chiffon shook her head, "Even with your armor, I don't see how you made it."

Turning her head, Marta gave Chiffon a wan smile, "Steel-reinforced skeleton, gotta love it."

"Hmph, good thing too, or else your spine would have been pulp." Opening the jar, Chiffon scooped out a glob of balm, "Now brace yourself, this stuff feels pretty cold when it's applied."

"Alright, I'm rea-nnnnngggggrrlllffff!"

Marta's back, which Chiffon had informed her was one large bruise, was suffering from alternating sensations of icy cold and burning warmth. Only a slight improvement from the initial dull ache of several hours ago. The worst part was that she wasn't allowed to move, the better to let the relaxant Chiffon had applied do it's work. Thus, it was Chiffon who answered the door bell, instead of her.

She heard the door open, and the faint sound of voices. A few moments later, she heard the sound of approaching footsteps. "Chiffon? Who is it?"

"Uh..." Chiffons sounded a bit uncertain. "It's some woman who says she's your sister."

"Shion?!" Marta struggled to rise, biting her lower lip to keep from crying out in pain.

"Marta!" Chiffon tried to push her back down, but had little success in resisting her synthetic muscle system.

"Goodness, Marta," stated a familiar voice with a faint touch of amusement, "What happened to you?"

Her back wrapped in a heating pad, Marta attempted to sit up in her chair. It wasn't easy, but at least she could look at her sister's face while speaking to her. Shion, she had to admit, was looking quite well. She was heavily tanned, although not quite as perfectly bronzed as Chiffon, and was dressed in a rather plain-looking assembly of shirt, tie, jacket and trousers. Her wonderful fall of hair had been tied back behind her head and bound in several places down it's length. A rather odd choice of clothing and hair style for someone who usually dressed in 5,000 nuyen suits.

Taking a drink of iced tea, Marta nodded at her sister. "Shion, I'd like you to meet Chiffon." She then turned her head, "Chiffon, this is my sister Shion."

Chiffon stared openly at Shion, "Your sister? Your sister is the Shion?" She stopped and gave Marta an apologetic look, "I mean, you've mentioned her before, but I never really put it together."

"It is very nice to meet you," Shion responded. Marta sincerely doubted Shion meant it though, she herself found Shion's lover, Robert DeVille, to be rather shallow and boorish, so she guessed that made them even. Besides, Shion was too good at playing corporate boardroom games to allow Chiffon to let on to any opinion she might have.

"You're looking good," Marta smiled, "Where'd you get the tan?"


"Really?" Chiffon brightened, "What part?"


"So," Marta broke in, "What brings you here?"

Shion kept silent a moment before answering, "I need a place to stay."

"Excuse me?" Marta wasn't sure she'd heard that correctly.

Shion sighed deeply and rose out of her seat, walking over to the window and looking out at the San Francisco skyline before responding. "I..." she paused, "I've run into some corporate problems Marta, and am trying to avoid doing anything that can be easily traced. I'd like to stay here for a few weeks, before I leave for Vancouver."

Marta stared at her sister, "Vancouver? What's in Vancouver?"

Shion smiled in return, "Nothing."

Shion stared at the at the fold out couch for several long seconds before turning to her sister.

"You have to be kidding. Don't you have a guest room?"

Marta shrugged, "Sorry, Shee. After I had the gym put in and expanded the bath, I'd used up all the spare rooms. I never expected to be putting anyone up for two weeks."

Shion sighed deeply, "I guess it will do."

Marta lay on her back trying to do her best not to move. The huge waterbed she shared with Chiffon rocked slightly as Chiffon shifted away from her, breaking their kiss. Marta sighed contentedly as Chiffon then brought her lips down against the side of her neck, slowly working her way lower. Recovering from getting shot in the lower back earlier in the week, she was in no shape for any sexual gymnastics. Which was fine with Chiffon, she'd simply told Marta to lie still and let her do all the work.

Having reached the shallow valley between Marta's breasts, Chiffon paused and looked up. "So, that's your sister."

"Mmmm... Yes."

Chiffon's lips brushed a nipple before she continued, "She's gorgeous."

"Ahhh..." Marta took a deep breath and arched her back slightly, "And?"

"Well..." Chiffon's head dipped for another kiss. "Would you mind if I spent a night with her?"

Marta blinked in surprise and looked down at where Chiffon had returned her attention to Marta's breasts.

"Chiffon," she stated evenly.


Marta's hands moved in an eye blink, her left knotting itself in Chiffon's golden tresses, the right stopping in front of Chiffon's face, razors extended.

"Shion is my sister. She's as straight as can be, and as far as I know doesn't love anyone but herself. Ask her a question like that and she might kill you," Marta paused for effect and added in a lower tone, "And if she doesn't I will."

Chiffon swallowed slowly, her eyes never leaving the two centimeter blades in front of her face, "I'm... I'm sorry Marta, I didn't mean..."

Releasing her grip, Marta pulled her lover down on top of her. "I know, I know," she repeated, stroking the back of Chiffon's head. "But you're mine, and don't you forget it."

"Now, where were you?"

Making breakfast in the kitchen, Chiffon found that she kept getting distracted by the fact that Marta's sister, Shion, was sitting at the kitchen table in front of the balcony window. Dressed in a silky nightgown, the morning sun had silhouetted Shion's body perfectly, turning the gossamer gown almost transparent and giving Chiffon a most wonderful view.

Shion, Chiffon found, more than lived up to her title of 'The Empress'. Unlike to two of them, who often slept nude, or in something as simple as a t-shirt, Shion always went to bed in perfectly matched lingerie. Around the house, she was always well dressed, whether it was a long robe in the mornings, or the simple, casual outfits she wore during the day, and when they went to out to dinner... the term hideously expensive came to mind. Everything Shion wore looked good on her.

Bringing her bowl of cereal and a glass of juice out to the table, Chiffon found Shion drinking coffee, the remains her breakfast pushed to one side. That was another thing, breakfast. She and Marta usually ate light in the morning, cold cereals, nutrient-shakes, pastries and so on. Shion, on the other hand, had gone out and stocked up on a supply of fresh fruit, mainly melon sections and the like. The cost of which, Chiffon didn't even want begin to try and consider.

Taking a seat, Chiffon started eating. Shion, sipping from her coffee, seemed to take no notice of her presence.

"Where's Marta?"

"Hmm?" Chiffon looked up, spoon frozen between bowl and mouth.

"Marta? Is she here?"

"Ahh, no. She's seeing about a job."

"Really." Shion stared at her almost condescendingly. "At ten in the morning?"

Chiffon smiled, "Sure, nobody would ever think to hold a meet now, so why not?"

"Is this typical for around here?"

Chiffon finished her spoonful of cereal before answering. "Depends. Why? How do you do it?"

Shion shrugged, an action that Chiffon noticed caused her breasts to rise and fall most enticingly under the thin fabric. "As you said, it depends."

"In Japan, it is customary to take the prospective client out for an evening of dinner, drinks and entertainment. The reason for business is not discussed, only alluded to. Afterwards, cards are exchanged and an offer for another dinner is extended. If you return the dinner call, you've accepted the contract. In Neo York, it's more direct. Often, one meets your employer directly, usually in a corporate boardroom or in office. The offer is extended, and a deal is struck. Usually, dinner follows after they are sure you're working for them." Shion turned to look at Chiffon directly, "Considering what I've heard about California, I'm surprised you don't hold your meetings with Mr. Johnson in hot tubs."

Chiffon smiled, "Sometimes we do."

"I see."

"Shion? You make it sound like you don't come here often. Why is that? There's just as much Solo work here as in Chicago, Neo York or MT."

Shion had resumed her contemplation of the skyline. Without returning her head, she responded, "My sister lives here."

"Oh." Chiffon wasn't certain what that was supposed to mean. "You seem to get along okay..."

Shion still had not moved. Unnoticed to Chiffon, a small section of melon had started to spin in a lazy circle. "My sister works here. I'd rather not run into her while on a contract. She's my only family, and recent events have made that fact very important to me."

"Are you sure this is a good idea?" Chiffon asked again, a worried expression on her face.

"Oh course, we've done this before. Relax." Marta waved dismissivly in Chiffon's general direction.

"Marta... this is Shion we're talking about! She's shredded combat cyberdroids with her bare hands! You said so yourself!"

Stopping in the middle of the hallway, Marta turned on Chiffon, her expression dark. "Look, goddammit, don't you start with that 'Empress' drek on me! She's my fucking sister! This is only a little sparring match, we are not going to kill each other!"

Chiffon remained silent, ever since Shion had arrived, Marta's temper had taken a turn for the worse. Taking a deep breath, she managed a weak smile, "I'm just concerned about you, that's all."

Marta relaxed and gave Chiffon a quick kiss, "I know you are, but stop worrying, everything is going to be alright."

The training room occupied the far corner of the apartment. It wasn't very large and was simply outfitted. Mats lined the floor and a bin held several shinai, bo, a bokken and an assortment of fake knifes and pistols. A collection of dumbbells and free weights sat in another corner. Shion knelt on the far side of the room. She was dressed in the traditional manner of a aiki practitioner, black hakama and white gi. Her hair was braided tightly behind her back.

Marta stepped onto the other end of the mat. Her movements, accelerated by implanted neural wires, were fluid and effortless. Dressed in a dark tunic and trousers similar to that worn by kung fu artists, Marta knelt on the mat, facing her sister.

Taking her place at the side of the room, Chiffon nodded to the two women. "Begin."

Shion rose slowly, almost majestically, while Marta bounced to her feet in a blur. Moving slowly, the two began to close the distance between them. Shion stood almost fully erect, her arms held out from her sides. Marta had adopted an exaggerated cat stance, allowing her sister to close the range. Shion moved in a circular pattern, stepping almost sideways as she approached.

With a sharp cry, Marta lashed out with her foot, Shion moved her head aside and blocked the kick with a circular movement of her forearm. Following the strike up with an equally fast punch, Marta ended up flat on her back as Shion simply continued her arm motion, flipping her sister with seemingly no effort.

Chiffon watched the brief interchange with fascination. As a rigger, she'd had her reflexes wired and could certainly out maneuver the average street tough in a fight, but this! Marta's reflex augmentation was the best she'd ever seen. That, combined with the work done to her joints, meant she had unmatched fluidity in hand-to-hand combat. Shion, on the other hand, was a psychokinetic, which meant she wasn't wired, but she looked as fast or faster, than some fully juiced street sams. Chiffon suddenly felt sorry for anyone that had ever faced either of them in a fight.

Back on her feet, Marta smiled at her sister, "Good one Shee. I see you've been practicing."

Shion smiled in return, "You're just getting slow."

"Really? We'll see about that."

Once again, Marta initiated the attack, throwing two fast kicks in rapid succession. Shion blocked them both, slapping the strikes aside. Shion returned the attack with one of her own, a quick back fist that Marta not so much as blocked as deflected. A moment later, Marta combined a sweeping leg strike with an abrupt slap to Shion's shoulder, sending her sister down.

Rolling upright, Shion shook her head. The two of them were fast, very fast. Her sister's augmented body more than matched her own natural strength and speed. She'd have to watch that.

For a few moments, the two simply circled each other again. Marta stepped forward, Shion retreated, waiting for her attacker to commit herself. Then, in a blur of motion, the two met in the center of the mat.

Marta had simply dodged Shion's punch and had commenced throwing a flurry of kicks, trying to put Shion on the defensive. It worked for a while, until Shion managed to step inside one of Marta's spinning kicks and lock her leg at the thigh. Sweeping Marta's other leg out from underneath her, Shion sent her sister crashing to the mat.

"Give?" Shion asked.

Face down in the mat, Marta fumed, there was no way she was going to let her sister make a fool of her like this. Not in front of Chiffon. Turning her head, she looked back over her shoulder, glaring at her sister. "No."

Marta's kick, which was supposed to hit Shion in the shoulder, caught her straight across the mouth instead. Backed by synthetic muscles and reinforced with steel laced bones, it snapped Shion's head over to one side, throwing her to the mat. Marta rolled away and came up kneeling. "Shee?" she asked, "Are... are you ok?"

Shion looked up from where she lay, an expression of pure hate marring her features. Bringing one hand to her mouth, she brought it away slowly, staring at the blood-stained fingers in silence. Slowly, her hand clenched into a tight fist, her rage evident from the way it shook as the fingers knotted together. With a loud snap, a window split down the middle.

In dead silence, the three of them turned to look at the window. Shion responded first, rising to her feat and striding purposefully out the door. Chiffon, uncertain as what to do, stayed where she was. Marta remained kneeling, staring at the broken window.

They were at it again.

Standing outside the door to her sister's bedroom, Shion debated her options. Sleeping was out of the question. She wasn't sure what Chiffon was doing to her sister, but it sure was loud. Telling them to knock it off wasn't a good idea either. She'd tried something like that before, all it had gotten her was some snide remarks from Marta the next morning. And regardless of Chiffon's all too obvious drooling over her since she'd gotten here, she wasn't going in there.

Stepping back from the door, Shion sighed deeply. The continuous sounds of passion coming from the room was beginning to get to her, and not just as an irritant either. Grabbing her coat, Shion stalked off towards the front door.

With a start, Shion awoke, momentarily disorientated by her strange surroundings. Glancing about the room, she tried to get her bearings. The bed she was in wasn't Marta's fold out, but an enormous circular thing, piled high with pillows and rumpled blankets. There were two men in it as well, tall, well muscled, with a sun worshipers tan and golden hair. Their presence reminded her of where she was, and things suddenly became clear, they were a pair of sexroid's she'd hired, along with the room.

Looking over at the clock, Shion found the time was well after 9:00 am. She'd certainly enjoyed herself last night. Rising slowly, so not to disturb her companions; whose names she couldn't remember, not that that mattered, it was their job to remember hers not the other way around, Shion made her way to the bath.

As with everything else in the Executive Suite of the San Francisco Imperial Hotel, the shower was an example of excess. It had three mobile showerheads, each on it's own track. Tapping the controls, she set the main unit for a fine spray and positioned it above her head, the other two were stopped at shoulder height and programmed for massage.

Standing motionless in the center of the shower, warm water washing over her body, Shion began to relax, the rhythmic pulse of the massage units almost lulling her back to sleep. Idly, she wondered what Takeda was doing at the moment.


Why was she thinking of Takeda?

Shion leaned against the wall of the shower, wiping the hair from her face. Her night with Takeda had been a spur of the moment decision, influenced by the belief that neither of them would survive the assault they had planned. He'd been an inexperienced, if enthusiastic partner, nothing more. She didn't even find him that attractive, physically. So, why was she thinking of him? Or... was she really thinking about Ran? Did her attraction to Takeda have it's roots in her defeat at the hands of Ran? Was sleeping with Takeda her way of 'conquering' Ran?

Sliding down the wall to eventually end sitting on the floor, Shion sat silently, staring at the water draining through the grate in the center of the floor.

<<on line (12:07:22/9-25-30)>>
<<<< MERCNET>>>>
TO:  Shion Nys (NA/UNA/MNet (213)-891-9636, Nys, S)
FROM:  Takeda Johnson (NA/UNA/NY (212)-919-2775, Johnson, T) 12-September-2030

I am back in Neo York. Apparently, less than a week after we hit Genom Mega-Tokyo, 
a clone of you appeared in the Zone looking for me and Kiyoko. This new clone is physically 
in her mid-twenties, and has appeared several times in the Zone. She goes by the name Sonnet. 
I have not met her yet, although it is only a matter of time.  I just thought you'd want to know. 
I'll send you an update after I meet her.
Regards, Takeda

TO:  Shion Nys (NA/UNA/MNet (213)-891-9636, Nys, S)
FROM:  Takeda Johnson (NA/UNA/NY (212)-919-2775, Johnson, T) 23-September-30

I've just met Sonnet. She is very forceful and direct. She seems to have great personal loyalty 
to Quincy, and to treat Quincy's enemies as her own. She made a direct threat at you--if you 
meet her, I expect she will attack you. And she implied that she will be dealing with you, later. 
She seemed a little arrogant—I wonder if that is genetic or environmental?
She is under orders to bring me back to Quincy. I told her I wouldn't go, and I sent her back 
with a message to Quincy saying as much. I expect she'll be back in a day or so to try for real.
We did not fight, so I have no real estimation of her powers or abilities. Except this--she does 
not appear to be able to teleport. I could feel that she has teek abilities, but she didn't use any 
except for a defensive field, and I could not gauge its strength without open combat.
One thing was strange. At the end, I got the impression that her eyes glowed green. 
I don't know if it was some telekinetic power I'm unfamiliar with, a trick of the light, or what, 
but I wanted to mention it in case it was important. I am certain of it, but not what it means. 
If I get any more information, I'll let you know.
Regards, Takeda

>>PRINT? (Y/N)
>>QUIT? (Y/N)
<<off line (1:15:22/9-25-30)>>

Shion stared silently at the computer screen for some time. Finally, she powered the system down and walked out into the living room. "Marta?" she called, "We need to talk."


Shion shook her head, "Forget it, there's no way you're going to be rational about this."

"ME! Rational? You're the one who ripped up Genom, remember!" Marta stalked back and forth through her living room, occasionally glancing at where her sister sat. "I mean, everyone heard about it, nobody believed the terrorist line, I figured corp war or berserk 'droid or something. You and... and... this Takeda person did all that?"

"Yes," Shion sighed.

"I thought he hated you?"

"Well, now he doesn't," Shion snapped. "We took on Genom and won, alright? Now, it looks like I've still got some loose ends to tie up. I'm going to Neo York and I'm going to finish this, and that's final."

"FINE! Go get yourself killed, see if I care!" Marta turned away from her sister and stormed into the kitchen. "It looks like it won't make much difference to me, since I can just go and ask Genom for another one at any time." She returned with a large bottle, from she took a deep swallow. "What did you say about there being a little kid called Kiyoko?"

Standing, Shion stepped towards Marta, "You will leave Kiyoko alone and forget about her. I gave Takeda my word that I would not harm her. I recommend you heed it."

"Heed it? Fuck you! I don't care if you're the big bad Empress Shion, you're just my big shot older sister who thinks the whole world revolves around her!"

Shion gave her sister a dark look. Abruptly, Marta found herself picked up and slammed against the far wall, the bottle exploding into fragments. Shion stalked towards her, stopping until they were almost nose to nose. "I - am - leaving. Do - you - understand?" Shion punctuated each word with a painful tap of her index finger to the center of Marta's chest. "I - am - going - to - kill - Sonnet - and - I - don't - want - to - hear - any - more - shit - from - you."

Silently, the two sisters stared at each other. Tears began to form in Marta's eyes, soon joined by similar ones in Shion's. Marta fell more than stepped away from the wall as Shion released her field and the two of the slid to the floor in a tight embrace, their true feelings for each other revealed by their muffled weeping.

<<on line (4:45:22/9-26-30)>>
TO:  Takeda Johnson (NA/UNA/NY (212)-919-2775, Johnson, T)
FROM:  Shion Nys (NA/UNA/MNet (213)-891-9636, Nys, S) 26-September-2030

Takeda Johnson,
I have received your messages. The following troubles me greatly.

> One thing was strange. At the end, I got the impression that her eyes glowed
> green. I don't know if it was some telekinetic power I'm unfamiliar with, a trick
> of the light, or what, but I wanted to mention it in case it was important. I am
> certain of it, but not what it means. If I get any more information, I'll let you
> know.

Assuming your encounter was in a dimly lit area, eyes that reflect green, or appear to 
'glow' green while shaded are indicative of low-light filters in the corena. If her eyes 
appear as red dots, she has IR implants. Are you sure you saw this?
I will be arriving in Neo York shortly. I fully intend to resolve this affair concerning Sonnet,
 and expect that you will understand my feelings in this matter. I cannot say when and where 
I will be staying, but my intent is for us to discuss business at The Edge (LTG (212)-206-2587) 
as soon as possible. I would rather this remain a private meeting, although I will not object 
to the presence of Ms. Kiyoko.
Shion Nys

PS. No t-shirts, and no jeans.
>>PRINT? (Y/N)
>>QUIT? (Y/N)
<<off line (4:58:19/9-26-30)>>

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