With a loud „Fwump!“ I landed on what would become my new bed from here on out, and crossed my hands behind my head while staring at the freshly painted white ceiling of my newly assigned apartment.
It had been a long first day indeed.
After the incident with the taxi and my fist contact with my new subordinates I was quickly escorted to the nearby Imperial Service Operation Central, or “Neon-jo” (Neon Castle) as the locals seem to call it.
The Operation Central looked more like an ancient Japanese Temple or Castle than anything else, a fact which made me feel quite at home to be honest, it’s outer wall painted in some sort of traditional beige, although the dirt and reflecting Neon lights made it look more like a giant neon rainbow, which I assume is what gave it its name.
At first glance the building seemed a little Atek, as if the architect creating it had time traveled here from old earth to build an old wood and stone castle, but with my military experience I quickly noticed the truth hidden behind this façade. The Operation Central was indeed more akin to a Castle than anything else, self-defense systems at strategic locations, cleverly concealed by decorative holo dragons, heavily fortified outer walls that even a TAG wouldn’t stand a chance to penetrate, and what appeared as simple entrances, was basically a mixture of door, scanner system and deathtrap.
The building also had several floors which allowed for manned supervision of the surrounding area as well as providing superior firing positions in case of an attack.
As I entered the building I quickly noticed that the part of the building that you saw from the outside was indeed all just for defensive and supervision reasons. Inside was little more than control panels for the countless devices of the “castle” as well as some basic restraining areas and network access panels, currently manned by what seemed to be a few Celestial Guards and a strange man in clothes that almost resembled a Christian priest. The real building itself was accessed through an elevator platform in the middle of the big room and was located below Neon-jo.
As the platform dropped down below the castle, it quickly dawned on me that this was clearly more than a simple Imperial Service Outpost in the middle of nowhere, this was a fully functional autonomous Imperial Service Base of Operation. As the platform stopped I was standing in the middle of yet another big room, not unlike the one on the ground floor, only this time I was surrounded by several automated guns pointing towards my platform as well as a couple of drones which eyed me cautiously with their guns primed at my head and upper torso.
Even though I was escorted by the two Bao Troopers and the Pheasant Agent, or maybe because of that, the moment I took a step forward a sharp voice came echoing through the room. “Name and reason for arrest!” .
Wondering how many people who ended down here actually knew the reason for their arrest, I quickly took an authoritarian pose and answered in my best commanding voice “General Yasashii Fuyu, sent here on imperial decree as part of Operation “Oni-ni-Kanabo” to take over command of this facility.”
Clearly taken aback by the fact that my horribly looking outfit and my words were completely at odds with each other, the voice on the other end fell silent for a moment and I could see the slight green glow from the Pheasant Agent’s mechanical pony tail next to me, as the operator most likely was seeking for confirmation from the Agent before proceeding.
My words confirmed by a firm nod from the Pheasant Agent the voice quickly proceeded “Welcome to Imperial Service Operation Central X000-1853 or “Neon-jo” as we like to call it…eh…Taisho!”
As stressed out as the operator seemed to be, he still had noticed the fact that I was of Japanese descent and had adapted my General Rank accordingly it seemed, which gave me hope that I’d be dealing with professionals here after all, and as the surrounding drones quickly switched from a threatening surveillance position to honour guard mode, their guns raised as high as possible, a Terminal rose from the ground in front of me. “If you could be so kind as to place your hand on the reader and speak a voice authentication so we can register you into our system please…” I raised my hand to place it on the scanning area of the Terminal as I was interrupted by a stumbled “Eh…Taisho!” that came quickly added to the previous sentence. Apparently the folks here weren’t quite used to having a General in their midst, a fact that I could understand all too well, having been assigned to the rank very recently myself. Thus I decided to give the guy a breather as I answered “Keep the formalities for official business with our suspects or when other officials are around, if we are to work together I would like to be able to speak clearly with my subordinates without the need for fine words or hidden truths….and if possible spread the word, for I wouldn’t want to repeat myself a hundred times throughout the course of the day …”
One of the Bao Troopers behind me chuckled at this, but was quickly silenced by an elbow in the side from the Pheasant Agent, as the speaker answered a obviously relieved “Okay, I will do so.”
As I placed my hand on the Terminal and finished with my registration process I was surprised to find that the voice output of the Terminal was different from the several standard military voice output options I had known so far, and since the nearby Pheasant Agent obviously noticed my surprised expression he quickly added “That’s Nanako, the Base’s custom A.I. . Don’t be surprised about the voice and appearance, our previous commander loved those kinds of things and we have grown accustomed to her…”
The A.I. visualization on the Terminal had taken the form of some sort of Anime looking Girl with a friendly smile, neon violet-ish hair and a mixture of combat suite and old earth maid outfit, as well as the obligatory slightly squeaky female voice that’d traditionally go along with a character like that.
Amused by such a show of unorthodox regulations but kind of liking the change in A.I. in comparison to the otherwise quite blunt and monotone A.I. that we had during our Operation on Flamia, I simply nodded to the Agent and stepped away from the console. “I’ll get used to….her…I’m sure. Anyways, let’s proceed with the tour then…I’d love to see how things run here, as I was told it’s supposedly quite different from what I’m used to on the JSA Frontlines and Barracks…”
What followed was a lengthy tour through Neon-jo, which turned out to be quite the huge installation even though it all was below ground level. The facility had several more elevator platforms to allow troop deployment on various spots of The Neon Dragon, as well as some emergency staircases, and as expected all of those exits and entrances were hidden from the public eye in some way shape or form. One of the exits even lead to the storage room of a Fast food restaurant, the owner obviously paid or intimidated to ensure his silent cooperation.
The facility had everything one would expect from such an installation, barracks for the lower Rank and File Troopers, although there seemed to be less of them in the Imperial Service than there’d be in a normal Force, a kitchen/dining area which I was told served….adequate…food, which meant that most of the higher agents tended to visit some of the local on ground restaurants whenever possible.
There was also an extensive Armoury, a Remote and TAG maintenance and control area, a surprisingly huge recreational area which included all sorts of entertainment and trainings equipment, as well as a sport pool, which actually looked quite nice and which I took a mental note to visit every now and then.
What one wouldn’t find in your average JSA Station but what I had kind of expected were the more sinister installations of the complex. A huge prison area with cells ranging from high security to “Even you won’t know you’re here” level of security containment, a Kuang Shi “Adoption and Storage Facility”, and a very high tech Surveillance Facility which handled the Imperial Service surveillance of basically all of The Neon Dragon, as well as the notorious interrogation chambers.
It was here, in the Surveillance Facility to be more precise, that I stumbled upon the first thing that I didn’t quite expect, and that I didn’t quite like. In the midst of the Facility, in a big room surrounded by countless Holo monitors and inside of a hovering device which I’d later learn was a Mother Forge, was a Lhost looking like a human woman in her twenties with blue hair and slightly glowing green eyes. Alterations aside I quickly identified here as a Lhost Model usually used by Aleph, a Sophotect.
Now this wasn’t that uncommon in the Imperial Service as they sometimes worked together with Aleph Forces and were also openly supported by it, but with my recent experiences on Flamia I really wasn’t too fond of having an agent of Aleph within my Base of Operation, and I quickly prepared a message on my Communication Device and sent it to one of my “old” Agents, with a request for a little something that Flamia Yu Jing High Command had come up with after the incidents with Aleph there. If I was to work with this Sophotect, I would have to ensure it’s loyalty was to me and my troops, in all situations….
The tour ended with an elevator ride to the surface where we exited right out of a normal elevator door in the middle of an apartment building. The building itself seemed like your average apartment building as you’d expect them in any Yu Jing City, but for The Neon Dragon it must have been of a higher quality than most other apartment complexes around.
I was told that I had been assigned a room here, and true enough there was a door with my name on it on the top floor of the building, although it turned out to be more of a penthouse suite and less of just a “room” in the end. I guess Imperial Services isn’t too stingy when it comes to their Officers, or maybe my higher than usual rank had led to this accommodation. Before I could ask about that though, the Pheasant Agent that had been leading me along the tour all day long and who had introduced himself as Kuang Fu Bao, wished me a relaxing first night and excused himself through the same Elevator we had come from, with the hint that I should press “1 5 5” in the elevator to directly reach our facility in the morning. Of course this would only work in combination with my fingerprint and DNA scan, but that much was to be expected from the Imperial State Service.
The Apartment itself was very spacious, with several rooms and a nice view of the surrounding city, luckily with windows that could tint, to keep out all the lights, and even display a different holo surrounding should I care for that. The inside was still quite empty though, with only a pre installed kitchen, bathroom, and a standard bed and cupboard. I would have to get some furniture shopping done until this place would feel even remotely like a home to me.
But for this day I had had enough, and thus I ended my reminiscence of the day’s events, and turned around in my bed to catch some well-deserved sleep….or so I at least intended to, until my Communication Device on my left Arm suddenly started ringing and the helmet of Fu Bao appeared in it. “Sorry to disturb Commander, but we just received word of an illegal operation going on within our jurisdictional area, and I thought you might still be up for a first taste of how we do work here….unless you’d rather sleep this one out, which I’d totally understand of course….thinking about it I guess I shouldn’t ha…” I cut him off with a slightly annoyed sneer “It’s alright it’s alright, I’ll be down in a second….I hope you have some gear prepared for me, I am not going into a combat zone in this….” I looked down at my messed up shirt and underpants which I now wore.
“Don’t worry Commander, we’ve got you covered!” came the fitting response as I put on my pants and shoes, and dashed for the Elevator. It seemed like my first day on the assignment would go on for quite a while longer….