Chapter 2.3: The Dancing Panda

The next day at precisely 1030 the complete Crew of “The Neon-jo” boarded the “Dancing Panda” in full combat gear.

As a show of force we took our sweet time, walking from the Advertisement riddled entrance area through the shuttle bays next to them through the Cargo Area, until we finally reached the inner parts of the “Dancing Panda”, which to some of my crew’s surprise, looked almost like “The Neon Dragon” we had just left behind, only less dirty, but in exchange more closed in, the sky being nothing more than a holographic projection, though a magnificent one at that.

I had of course already read about this when I prepared myself for this mission, though even I was stunned by the attention to detail that Yu Jing had put into this Yu Jing Interplanetary Cultural Festival and Exchange Spaceship”, and soon decided that this, for the most part, wasn’t due to special care by the inhabitants of this ship, but rather by their complete ignorance of the fact that this ship was supposed to represent the very best of Yu Jing to the universe, which lead to the usual riffraff of open street food stalls, shady business man hiding in dark corners, red light bouncers and hustlers, and old Bachans carelessly strolling through all of it in their jogging outfits with not a care in the world, that most citizens of Yu Jing where so used to see in their hometowns nowadays.

Obviously during important visits or when the Captain “Madame Zeniba” had a bad day and decided to enforce Ship regulations more harshly, these sights would temporarily vanish and be replaced by festive almost theatre like dressed tourist guides and their likes, but since we where still in Yu Jing territory, there wasn’t any need for such special care yet, and people where just living their everyday lifes.

Of course the sudden appearance of a bunch of Imperial Service Agents in their streets quickly lead to most of the shady figures vanishing into the shadows where they hoped we wouldn’t see them anymore, the ones with especially big piles of dirt on their name rather fleeing the area as a whole instead of tempting their fate, but the Bachans and vendors didn’t seem shocked or surprised at all, most likely considering us little more than another attraction that entered their area. When you where traveling all around the Circulators in a giant spaceship for several years, new sights become somewhat of the norm I guess, and only the most outrageous of sights would really fancy your interest.

Since the interior of the ship was surprisingly big, we didn’t particularily care to continue our way to the ISS Central on the ship from here, and where thus as planned picked up by a set of armoured Security Cars which the local ISS Force had been using to get around since Azure Dragons obviously wouldn’t be too helpful inside of the Spaceship.

As our armoured convoy reached the ISS Central we where greeted by a skeleton crew of ISS Personal, some of which I knew had only recently been assigned to this post as well, and who would actually be staying with us from now on once we returned to “The Neon Dragon” as well.

The most noticable among them was most likely a giant Guija TAG which was standing in front of the building, though I could have sworn that these things normally looked a little different…this one having small horns on its helmet and a giant Kanabo instead of a Sword which I usually associated with the Guija TAGs. But since I hadn’t seen too many of these in action yet, my former JSA Unit rarely getting this kind of high end battle support, I decided to ask questions about this later, and ride with it for now.

The following hours consisted mainly of storing our stuff, making sure that everyone had a quarter assigned to himself, that all controls of the facilities where properly handed over and everyone had their information added to the secret “Dancing Panda”‘s Database to ensure they had special clearance and wouldn’t trigger the ship’s defense mechanismns by accident.

Since during this time most of the already on board staff was busy I didn’t get a lot of chances to talk to the new crew, but I decided that I’d make sure to set some time aside for that once things had calmed down a bit more.

Once all the necessary first day administrative things had been done, and I had a quick run into Captain “Madame Zeniba”, who welcomed me on her ship, but then quickly sent me off again, claiming to be busy with starting preparations to ensure we’d reach our rendezvouz point with the Circulator in time for the time consuming docking procedures, and then decided to visit my quarters to see how Yuki had been doing.

My apartment on board of the ship was a bit smaller than the one I had in “The Neon Dragon”, but I was pleased to see that this time Yuki, who had gone ahead a few hours ago since she had gotten “bored as hell” while I was busy with the administrative stuff in the ISS Central, had this time actually managed to unpack our luggage in a halfway decent way, my clothes actually hanging in the bedroom, and the few other belongings I had brought along lying around at some somewhat random positions in the small living room of the Apartment.

Apparently Yuki had decided that, just like at home, the couch in the living room would serve as her “default waiting position” , and so it was there that I found her when I entered the apartment. “Yo O-san! Finally home I see? Got everything settled?”

Slumping down on the couch next to her I released a exhausted sigh and nodded. “Yep….at least for today…Kuang Fu Bao helped me out a lot, but it was still a crazy amount of digital paperwork that had to be done….as expected when a unit as big as ours is being shifted to a temporary post like this one, but I still could have done without all that to be honest….I just hope the rest of this trip won’t be like this first day…”

In her usual motivating manner she instantly replied with a sassy “Don’t worry O-san….if the news are anything to go by the next few weeks will be waaaay worse than today…enjoy the calm while it lasts!”.

Not too sure what she meant I just looked at her in confusion, raising one eyepoint to emphazise my unspoken question after Yuki didn’t react for a few seconds.

In answer Yuki just pointed at the Holo Screen which had been broadcasting some news channel ever since I had entered the room, and focusing on it the first thing I heard was a stern Yu Jing Moderator announcing that “Relationships between the participants of the Wotan Blockade have strained further as Nomad ships refuse to let themselves be boarded by inspection teams after the recently revealed Shasvastii Infiltration on one of their Space stations in the area.”. Apparently the Emperor had indeed predicted the situation correctly as tensions in the area was building up day by day as accusations where thrown around by the factions in the area, one side claiming to just want to ensure the savety of humanity, while the other claimed to be the victim of despotism and discrimination by the Hyperpowers. Others claimed to want to reestablish trust between the factions, but in reality where just trying to get a better deal for themselves in the process, and as I sent my military clearance code and accessed more information on the topic, I found that recent intelligence reports of the area indicated heavy troop and weapons movement.

Cursing my bad luck with a loud “Chikusho!” it finally dawned on me why I and my crew had REALLY been sent to this area….it wasn’t because we had won the lottery of lucky assignments and where blessed with good fortune…..it was because the silent sirens of the secret war between humanities factions where about to sing again…and apparently someone had decided that the chaos I had caused on Flamia Island hadn’t been enough….

Frustrated by what I had seen just now, I decided to go to bed early to be ready for the next day…..this time I promised myself, things would end differently….this time we wouldn’t fail the Jade Emperor!

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