Stern, stoic and strict, Shun Maeda, commander of Jinsei's forces in the Zero Zone, demanded nothing but the best performance from the men and women under his command. And today, they did him proud. Lined up in flawless ranks, forming a wide corridor from the bridge to the command center, they displayed military precision at its very best. All for one important visitor.
A simple, unmarked black limousine pulled up at the checkpoint, the first civilian vehicle to cross the bridge since the start of the invasion. The driver quickly exited and opened the door for the passengers. First to exit was a blonde, middle aged woman, her hands clasping a small note computer as she scanned the area. The second passenger was unmistakable; tall, broad shouldered with white hair swept back from his forehead and a broad, hungry grin. He stood with a walking cane, though he didn't lean on it, and adjusted the simple brown suit he wore as he strode forwards to greet Shun. All present knew the face of their employer; Chairman Quincy Rosencrantz of Jinsei.
Shun stood to attention and saluted, which only brought a chuckle from the chairman. Instead, the taller man held out his hand, which Shun warily shook. Quincy nodded his approval, and the two fell into step alongside each other. The blonde followed at a respectable distance as they walked in silence to the command center.
Within, the operators remained at their posts, still directing the innumerable troops spread out through the Zero Zone. Shun turned to the chairman, an apology at the ready, but Quincy only raised his hand to silence him. Instead, the commander lead the chairman through the concrete bunker. Both could feel eyes watching them, as one by one the operators turned to stare at their guest. Quincy's public appearances were rare these days, and nobody expected him to walk right into a war zone.
Shun lead the way into a small yet comfortable chamber in the back. The furnishings were sparse at best; a number of mats and a low table were all that could be seen. Quincy grinned once more as he recognised the Spartan accommodations his commander was accustomed to. Shun sealed the door behind them, and turned to the chairman.
Both men visibly relaxed, Shun almost immediately slumping to the floor while the chairman eased himself wearily to sit cross-legged across from him. Shun produced a sake bottle and a pair of small cups, and the two drank in silence. The minutes dragged on as both relaxed in place, before they finally set down their cups and turned to business.
"So," Quincy began, "How long until the Zone forces break?"
It was a hard question to answer, but Shun had confidence. The feeling in his hand, the unmistakable touch of the other man's skin when they shook hands told Shun all he needed to know. This was not one of the innumerable robot duplicates the chairman used; the head of Jinsei himself was sitting in his bedroom, drinking his sake. "Less than a month, I suspect. They've been falling back further into the wastes, and have found allies in the more... savage residents there."
Quincy chuckled to himself, shaking his head. "Amazing. Pretty resourceful, eh?"
Shun bit his lip and continued. "They have a lot more territory than we expected. To the south."
The chairman looked up keenly. This was news he was after, something he'd specifically asked Shun to look into. "So he's..."
Shun shook his head. "Gone. Long range scouts found all the trappings—his throne, the salvaged bikes used by his riders, even what they think was his cape. But the man himself..." He opened his arms out, showing his helplessness and confusion.
"He could be anywhere," Quincy agreed. A low growl showed the man's frustration. "I don't like this. When the time came, I was hoping to rouse him, but now..."
"This changes the schedule, doesn't it sir?" Shun asked as he poured the chairman another glass.
Quincy only nodded. "They need more fight in them when I make the announcement. I'll have to step it up."
"How long, sir?" Shun asked.
"End of the month," Quincy replied. "It'll have to be. They've already taken two of our Guildenstein friends captive."
Shun perked up. "Amigawa?" When the chairman nodded, Shun frowned deeply. "So they'll know about the enhancer soon enough."
Quincy nodded. "My own advisers are getting suspicious. I'd hoped Takahashi's example would quiet them, but it's not working out."
"And once the enhancer's existence is made public, they'll want to know why you kept it from them," Shun added.
The pair sat in silence, contemplating the future and sipping their sake. "Damn Spycorp," Quincy growled. "I hadn't expected them to be so organised."
"There is nothing we can do for it, except adapt and continue," Shun calmly replied.
Quincy nodded his agreement and gently laid down his cup. He raised his head to look the commander sternly in the eye. "Speeding it up, I won't be able to pull you out when the time comes."
Shun shrugged, surprisingly casual. "I don't mind. I was going to request to stay here when you make the announcement."
"You don't mind?" Quincy asked, genuinely surprised.
Shun only shook his head. "My place is here, in the line of fire. Better to face the inevitable, then wait and waste away."
Quincy laid a hand on his shoulder. "Thank you, my friend. You know history will forever hate you."
"You too," Shun said. "But we'll have made our mark."
"Indeed," Quincy said as they both stood. "We shall be remembered how we choose."
Spycorp report: March 15 2034
The capture of Hiroto Amigawa, one of the three high-placed Guildenstein members has revealed some interesting developments. Interrogation of the subject resulted in information about a new Jinsei project, only recently completed, called the psionic enhancer. The device is said to be capable of activating a latent psionic or enhancing an existing psionic's capabilities
Missions for this report include:
Knockdown: A formerly abandoned Jinsei facility outside Tokyo has seen an unusual surge in activity recently, beginning at the end of last year. An employer is interested in the site, less to discover the goings-on, but rather to knock it out of action. Those signing up for the mission are open to decide on their own tactics, and are offered considerable support by the employer.
Mark: Of the Three Guildenstein operatives identified by Spycorp, two have already been extracted. The third one is a high-placed researcher in the Neo York tower. Payment for his extraction is considerable, providing he is alive. The corporation has offered a bonus to anyone who can recover his current research projects. Contact Spycorp for further details.
Supply Lines: Rumours abound of a new model of aerial combat cyberdroid being sent to Jinsei's Zero Zone invasion forces for deployment on their Sky Dragons. A corporation is paying handsomely for anyone who can disrupt their deployment and acquire samples of the new lightweight armour and drive materials said to be used in its construction. Spycorp analysis indicates that the best opportunity for such a mission would be a surprise attack on transports delivering the cyberdroids to the zone. Contact Spycorp for leads on the cyberdroid's believed deployment times and capabilities.
The Big Score: With the leaked information on Jinsei's latest development, innumerable companies are scrambling to steal the technology. Spycorp has compiled a large number of offers to steal the data on Jinsei's psionic enhancer. What information we have points to its development being entirely in the Jinsei Tokyo tower, and very heavily guarded. This will be a difficult assignment for any agent, but Spycorp is willing to extend its support on this one. Contact Spycorp for all mission and support details.
Puppy Walk: An operative is required to test a new model of security synthetic in the field. The corporation in question wishes to see how their new product handles live combat and unexpected situations. The corporation ads that an operation in the Zero Zone would be the perfect testing ground. Contact Spycorp for additional missions to aid in the testing process.
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