At that moment, a beep sounded from Moroe's computer, which she swivelled around to check. When she swivelled back into view, there was a predatory smile on her face.

"Then sit no longer. I've found them."

She quickly rose and stalked out of the room, trusting Hajime to follow. Her destination was the ground floor workshop, or, to be more specific, a hidden keypad that was set into one of the walls.

"First things first: We neen weapons. Those troops were equipped with some impressive armour. Pistols alone aren't going to cut it against them."

The wall slid aside to reveal a deep recess, filled with a selection of the finest guns which Academy City had to offer; Guns which, despite their quality, were usually forsaken in favour of Moroe's standard pistol (or, occasionally, sniper rifle). As comprehensive as this arsenal was, she rarely found an excuse to use any of it. Today, however, there was some serious killing to be done, so she reached in and grabbed as much firepower as she and Hajime could comfortably carry in nondescript bags: In her case, that amounted to an assault rifle, a string of grenades (both normal and chaff), two unusually powerful pistols (though still not enough to be reliable against that armour), a monomolecular knife, and a good selection of plastic explosives. This accomplished, she stepped aside to let Hajime take his pick. It was only then that she revealed a somewhat worrying flaw in their upcoming operation.

"I'll be honest here: I don't really have a plan. We know almost nothing about these people, their base or their procedures. So really, beyond 'sneak in, find the girl and sneak out (preferably without getting into a fight)', we'll be playing this whole thing by ear. Is that acceptable?"

Moroe didn't like operating this way, but she didn't really have a choice in the matter. There was barely any data available, and no time to gather more. The query to Hajime was more of a courtesy than a real question. She already knew that he'd never abandon her.

"Poor, faithful little clone. You really drew the short straw when it came to masters..."