Last time on HyperDetective Vert:
And now for the conclusion.
After I left Nepgear and Uni to their own devices inside the big tent I finished my preparations by placing the scanners on the last relevant hotspots. Almost immediately after activating them I received a signal of Ultra Dimension tech in the area. That was, close to the forest where a big commotion had sprung up.
I did not hurry too much, because running in a dress is just unseemly, but I arrived at the origin of the signal in good time. On my way I had noticed the reason for Noire's sudden appearance and also for her battle readiness. Giant robots were attacking not only the hunters in the forest, but also the camp site. I was tempted to give support to the civilians, but after witnessing S-sha's rampage I was relatively confident that they had everything under control.
Inside the forest I soon stumbled upon another rampage. This one was a little more controlled, as the aggressor was Noire. She was smashing and slicing those robots to pieces with her usual fervor. She seemed less tense than when I saw her in the tent. My guess is that knowing Uni was safe came as quite a relief to her.
At any rate, my job was not to watch Noire fight a grand battle. The signal came from something that was close to her, but not in her direct cone of vision.
"Camera drones." I whispered. Those little mechanical wonders were filming the spectacle from behind the trees. So I was correct. These appeared to be the same models from the Quiz Show. It was abundantly clear that this wasn't supposed to be an internationally broadcast event though, so whatever could they be doing here?
Using my detective skills to their fullest I approached one of the drones and executed my plan. Using my spear I broke a tree branch off above it and let it fall on top. That wouldn't have done much damage to the camera itself, but immediately afterwards I snapped its power source with another swing of my spear. To the viewer on the other side of the camera it must have looked like the falling branch had crushed the drone.
Noire hadn't noticed me either, so this sneaking mission was a resounding success.
Noire: "I was being filmed during that?"
Vert: "And it is not a stretch to assume that the same was the case for Neptune and K-sha."
Noire: "What's wrong? You look horrible Neptune…"
Neptune: "Same to you Insensitive Heart! Hmph!"
Noire: "Huh?! Why are you acting all sulky now?"
Vert: "Relax ladies. I am not done yet."
Much later that evening, after the big party at Lowee Castle had finished, I was preparing to analyze all the data I had obtained. I had participated in the merrymaking downstairs for quite a while, but my objective never escaped my mind.
I had prepared the newly obtained camera drone for dissection and the scanners' data to track down the radio wave patterns to their source. Unfortunately I am not an expert on hardware and fiddling with machines, so I attempted to get Nepgear involved. While it was true that I was doing my best to stay secretive about this issue, I usually had my ways to sweet talk Nepgear into helping me. My plan was to make it look like a game rather than tell her the truth.
Sadly Nepgear was rather stubborn on that evening of all times. She was intending to sleep in the same room and bed as Neptune no matter what. It was a true shame that she wasn't going to be hugging me tightly all night lon- I mean to help me with the tinkering of the drone.
Ultimately I accepted her well meaning rejection and resigned myself to performing the work on my own. It certainly made things harder, but there is no tech related problem that couldn't be solved with an online guide! Using some tutorials I managed to figure things out myself eventually.
My analyses software was running in the background while I worked myself through the intricacies of drone manufacture all night long.
Only when the morning sun blessed my golden locks with its warmth, did I notice that I had pulled an all-nighter. Especially the calculations had tired me out, so it was no wonder that I had no energy to spare when Blanc called us all over for a CPU meeting. I hardly remember the details, but I don't believe that I missed anything of real importance. It was one of our CPU meetings after all. At least now it was proven that I could indeed go through these meetings in my sleep.
Much later we all headed for the baths and I must say that came as quite the relief. My body and soul were cleansed by the hot water and the tender girls surrounding me. Truly the best sort of energy replenishment right after a good cup of tea or a legendary drop.
During Neptune's little massaging competition I used the opportunity to sneak out of the room and swiftly take down all the scanners I had placed in Blanc's Basilicom. It would just not do if they were discovered after all this effort I had invested to stay secretive. When I returned to the changing room I only witnessed Neptune and K-sha on their knees and a much rejuvenated looking Noire.
Eventually Blanc lost her patience and threw us all out of her castle. Everyone returned to their respective homes, including me. The travel to Leanbox was uneventful, but relaxing. There is not much in the way of flying across an ocean.
Back at home I wasted no time and prepared the triangulation process of the data. In mere seconds a red light flashed up on a detailed map of Gamindustri inside my desktop. The dot that was blinking with importance was stuck on an empty space of ocean in international waters. A underwater base? Or perhaps a tanker? It was nothing so conventional.
"An oversized airship." My, didn't that sound familiar. There were only two ships that came to mind that fit those specs and that appearance. One had been destroyed by yours truly and the rest of the party, while the other came to save us. And the owner of both was a certain General (in name only). "It would seem that you gentlemen have still not learned your lesson." I whispered to myself.
General Affimojas and his best friend/subordinate Steamax had an immense track record of meddling in affairs that were none of their concern. And also of being mid-tier antagonists.
And if someone was able to get their hands on Ultra Dimension tech without us noticing it was probably that ninja. The real question was why they would bother with that. Also why they were involved in the Share shift towards Lastation at all.
If my information network was reliable, there was at least some explanation as to why Steamax would have a certain... attraction towards 'Lastation'. But the General was only interested in money and a very specific type of woman. Lastation could boast with the former, but Noire just wasn't the type to go through with a sneak campaign like this. She was too proud not to rub every achievement she had made in our collective faces.
No matter how many times I went over it in my head, there was no logical pattern to this plan.
I would only get my answers by interrogating the men behind the scenes directly. Would I have contacted everyone on the spot, we could have crashed their airship before the sun would sink at the horizon.
Of course that was out of the question. Until I had the specifics on who and why they were doing this, I could not share my info with anyone. That left me with fewer options. I could have sneaked in myself and faced them on my own, but without trying to downplay my own strength it would still have been a rather bothersome fight. Such actions were below me in the first place. Not everything should be solved with violence. Instead I would hack into their communications system and just spy on them!
Hacking into a state of the art airship with nothing but a reverse engineered camera drone signal was nothing an online tutorial couldn't solve.
With a little trouble I finally managed to intercept a conversation on the main bridge of the ship. The voices clearly belonged to the golden robot General and the blue ninja.
"...already?" Affimojas deep voice asked.
"Yes General." Steamax sounded composed. His shyness was strongly reduced around his friend. Not having any beautiful girls nearby probably helped as well.
"Good work out there. Nobody noticed you I take it?"
"Not a soul, sir."
"I will listen to your report later. Is there anything special you have to share with me immediately?"
"I..." Steamax voice broke. It wasn't the connection working up.
"...Steamax? Don't tell me you witnessed something good."
"...you saw right through me General. I a-apologize for not providing any material, but it would have been hard to take pictures in my... position." I could almost see him sweating. Even though he was a robot.
"Tell me at least."
"The CPUs and candidates engaged in... b-b-bath time together!" He exclaimed stuttering.
"YOU FOOL!" The sound of a fist hitting metal reverberated through the line. Steamax' painful gasp told me that it wasn't the control console that had received the beating. Affimojas was scolding the poor guy, huh?
"I apologize profusely! I will even take my own life if it satisfies you!"
"No, you fool. What good would your death do me? A companion is worth more than any explicit photograph."
"General..." Steamax sounded moved.
"Instead try harder at getting me pictures next time. Especially of the busty blonde CPU!"
I had a mysterious urge to crush a golden soda can in my palms. How mysterious indeed.
"No matter. We have a new mission from Lady K-sha." Affimojas changed the topic faster than Steamax could faint at the touch of a real woman.
K-sha? Now that was a name that I hadn't expected to come up in this context. I had considered her to be just a puppet in the bigger schemes behind the contest.
"Understood." The ninja just took the news naturally and some rustling made clear that he was handed some information, whether it was through paper or a data pad. "Lady Neptune's choice will not be easy to predict."
"Do not worry about the details. Just follow her from Planeptune's Basilicom and you will be able to tail them during their date."
"This time we will not hire a host. The event doesn't lend itself to that tactic. And it is also important that the CPUs have a sense of privacy. If they are relaxed it will be all the better for our purposes." Affimojas was talking with strong conviction."And afterwards Lady K-sha will instruct you on the second half of the date. Meet her at the mentioned location."
Regrettable. The golden man had to be vague at the worst of times. It was improbable that he had any idea that I was listening in, so why was he so careful?
"Oh and Steamax..." He added something after a pause. "Our other client has asked me to provide more discretion for the camera drones. They are incredibly expensive. It would be a catastrophic event should they ask us for reparations." As stingy as ever I see.
"Forgive me. T-the attack of the weaponized machines was unexpected. Some cameras have been damaged in the process."
"Just don't let it happen again. The client has graciously given us this opportunity, so we should fulfill expectations to the best of our ability, for Lady K-sha as well."
"Another Share boost for Lastation..."
"...and one step closer to our long cherished dream! All due to your hard work my friend!"
"General! It was all because of your brilliant planning!"
Oh my. They had almost flipped my switch with those hot-blooded shouts. I could hardly afford a nosebleed right now. In a twist of fate that could be viewed as unfortunate and fortuitous at the same time, the line was cut. Apparently their security system had finally kicked me out of their communications.
But I had gotten my golden clue already. K-sha was conspiring with those two in secret, even hiding it from Noire. Her goal could not have been very complex (probably to support Noire or impress her), but it was worrying that Affimojas was talking about a 'long cherished dream' in context of Lastation's Shares rising. What could he possibly gain from this? And who was that other client?
I had at least this one lead. Noire would engage in a date event with both Neptune and K-sha tomorrow. Neptune had a tendency to be rather spontaneous about her choices, so I had no hope to gain any knowledge from her. That only left K-sha.
It was time for me to pay Lastation a visit.
For a change of pace I decided to board a train to the black and green metal construct that was regarded as Lastation's Basilicom. It had a very industrial flair to it, no doubt, but it didn't really compare to the splendor of a castle or a giant tower.
Lastation's citizens were also commuting alongside me, but they were all focused on papers and laptops as if work was their life. Was this a case of the people copying their goddess or did I just manage to find myself on the most boring train in the entire nation?
I could have sworn that I took a glimpse of a more brightly colored girl at one stop, but that might have been my imagination.
Eventually I reached my stop and dusted off my green dress. Smog and dust were not kind to a light outfit like mine. The Basilicom was guarded by hawk eyed guards, but their piercing gazes were not as sharp when they came into contact with me. In their benefit I chalked it up to my regular visits for the meetings. I was definitely not a foreign face anymore.
I entered the building without trouble and made my way into the offices. My excuse was that I had a question for Noire regarding a joint project that was in the works between us for a while. Progress was hampered by the complicated incompatibility of our systems and philosophy, I am ashamed to admit. If need be I could have come up with material for several hours of discussion, although if everything went well I would not have to speak to Noire at all.
Especially because she was probably currently meeting up with Neptune. But little old me could not have known that, right~?
"Oh, I'm very sorry. Are you alright?" I apologized after bumping into someone my way up the stairs. The girl had turned the corner too fast for me to react in time. She had been reflected by my bosom like a small kid was pushed off a trampoline.
"N-no, I wasn't paying attention." K-sha rubbed her hurting head and smiled apologetically. Her skirt had gotten a little dirty, but she wasn't injured aside from a slightly red forehead. It was like fate had guided us to meet at this place, in this staircase, on this dirty floor.
"My, if it isn't K-sha. We meet again so soon." I reached out my hand and she took it without hesitation.
"Thank you for your help the other day Lady Vert." She bowed her head politely.
"It was no trouble at all." I replied courteously. "May I ask why you were in such a hurry though?"
"Ahaha... I am on my way to Planeptune. I was a little too excited for my date." She put her index fingers together.
"A date?" I playfully raised a brow. "It couldn't possibly be... with Noire?" I already knew the answer to that.
"Ehehe! You are such a tease Lady Vert!" She giggled happily.
"I think that is a wonderful idea. Noire dearly needs the time off."
"Y-yes! I knew you would understand Lady Vert!" She nodded energetically.
"If you need a few pointers for good cafes or tea shops, I'd be happy to provide you with locations." I kept the small talk going with a smile.
"Oh nonono, please don't burden yourself. I have already planned it all out. Noire and I will have a great and romantic time!" There was no doubt in her eyes.
"Now you got me curious. You seem to have planned something extraordinary." I chuckled.
"W-well..." She giggled as well. "I still have to buy the tickets, but it's a... Amu- Amusement Park date!" It was very cute to see her blush over so little. She really was an innocent girl from this perspective.
"Best of luck to you. You will need it with someone as stubborn as Noire." I offered my best wishes and we both went our separate ways. Now that I had acquired the information on what their date encompassed it would be easy to figure out where to go next.
There were quite a lot of theme parks in Planeptune, but only a select few would be appropriate for a date planned to impress Noire. The second phase of the date would probably take place around noon, to give both girls equal opportunity. Which meant I had still ample time to prepare before arriving at the park myself. My chance to catch a certain ninja would come today.
But I thought that maybe I should make a visit to Uni first? In the end I decided against it, because it would have troubled her to receive an important guest on her day of solo work.
A few hours later I had moved to Planeptune and the amusement park 'Purple World' which was my strongest guess for a dating location K-sha would choose. There was no sign of them at the entrance, but I had given them a head start on purpose.
Inside the park I was lucky to locate the duo almost instantly. Not necessarily because I had kept a lookout for them, but rather because of stumbling over a purple haired stalker. Neptune had taken cover in the bushes to spy on Noire it seemed. And she was wearing a cat beanie. Furthermore a... fake mustache?
It was an amusing coincidence that we had both chosen to follow them, although I am sure it was for very different reasons.
Noire: "Come again? I have been wondering what you were doing in this Park actually. That timing on the stage was too convenient. I can't believe you Neptune!"
Neptune: "W-woah now! I finally see Vert's true snitch powers!"
Vert: "Ah, my apologies, I was not aware that Noire hadn't been in the know. It seemed so incredibly obvious."
IF: "Everybody knew Neptune was following you." (And I wasn't even there.)
Noire: "Even you K-sha?"
Noire: "I can't trust anybody anymore…"
She held her head in her hands with exaggerated indignation.
Vert: "Now now. It just shows how much Neptune cares."
Neptune: "About the contest!"
Vert: "Yes, that too."
It had proven to be an impossible task to locate the ninja by myself. He was as sneaky as he was perverted. And following K-sha everywhere was just wrong. What kind of shameless woman would spy on the two girls' date?
Instead I enjoyed a cup of tea at the resort area and used the miserable Wi-Fi connection to finish a few of my daily mobile game quests. It could not truly replace my daily fix of gaming entertainment, but work preceded my joys sometimes.
By now I had deduced that the best way to gain publicity and hide the camera drones would be during the 5pb. concert at this park. There was not much more for me to do, but lie in wait for the eventful evening.
When the times changed and the fans gathered in the light of their glow sticks I saw my opportunity. I sneaked into the backstage area (I knew all of Cave's security patterns) and witnessed the kidnapping of the legendary Bimmy Kendrix guitar! Steamax had grabbed it from the ceiling that he was stuck to and attached a string to it. Then he almost vanished without a trace. 5pb. was expectedly devastated and panicked. She ran out of the room faster than I could even raise my voice.
I would have liked to offer her my help, honestly, but this was something better left to Cave. She could appear in front of the blue haired idol like a knight in shining armor. Heavens know she needed the push. She always looks down on herself so much that she doesn't notice that 5pb. was also... Ahem another slip of focus.
The important part followed now of course. No 5pb., but a lot of impatient fans. K-sha had planned this all out so there must have been a solution to the problem. If I could hazard a guess, it was probably to give Noire some more limelight. Even without underhanded tricks, a concert was a good way to gain popularity, especially for a CPU. None of us were interested in becoming an idol, but Noire was probably the closest to trying.
Neptune had done that dance video with Nepgear a while ago and dragged us all into an embarrassing affair that needs no retelling, but that event had us all promise to never compete in such a degrading manner again.
As Noire made her disguised appearance on stage, I was looking out for the Ultra Dimension camera drones. And like a moth to the flame, they came flying to the fledgling songstress.
There is no necessity for a repetition of the following events, but I will simply summarize it as it was. A big spectacle. And of course I gave it my own finishing touch by completely destroying all camera drones with my Sylphet Spear. I hope you enjoyed the fireworks. That should at least have stopped today's Share shift from occurring.
Vert: "And such ends my tale. It was only a short summary, so feel free to ask me for more detail on whatever glorious part you desire."
Leanbox' CPU was radiating happiness just for the spotlight that she had gotten today. She folded her hands in expectation.
5pb.: "There are still some things I don't understand."
Noire: "K-sha, can you explain how they boosted Lastation's Shares and where the cameras came from?"
Her hand went through her twintails and she faced her friend with concern.
K-sha: "N-no… I only planned out the basics. I left the logistics to them. I chose the events and asked Mister Steamax to take care of a few errands for me, but most of this is news to me too."
IF: "It looks like we won't get the full picture until we capture and beat up those idiots again."
Vert: "I failed at tracking down our sneaky friend today. That is why I settled for taking care of the cameras instead."
Compa: "Mister ninja is a really good runner."
IF: "More like a really good coward."
Cave: "I have procured the ninja."
Cave came in through the door and dragged a tied up Steamax behind her. The white and red outfit she was wearing was covered in dirt and had a few wrinkles now, but her green eyes were still as suave as always.
Noire: "I didn't even notice Cave leave!"
Cave: "He was spying on us again, so I took the liberty of detaining him."
She slammed him into a corner and held out her ray gun against his metallic head.
Cave: "Time to talk punk."
Neptune: "Cave is really cool sometimes, huh?"
Noire: "I think we have a right to interrogate him very thoroughly now."
Noire and Neptune cracked their knuckles and approached Steamax who began sweating in despair.
Neptune: "Next time! Silence of the recycled lambs!"
Steamax: "P-please d-don't kill meeee!"
(To be continued)