Outside, the busy streets of Yaochi City bustled with the hum of traffic, the cries of hawkers, the steady beat of marching boots, but passing into the teahouse saw silence fall like a curtain, a place of serenity in a chaotic world. It reminded him of Zıˇjinchéng, the Forbidden City on Yutang, where the air of gilded corridors and flowing gardens was calm even as courtiers and Imperial agents wove their plans and schemes.
“Ah, honoured Immortal, thank you for granting me this audience! Please, join me, the kitchen here has mastered a particularly delightful xiaolongbao.”
Yes, it very much reminded him of the Forbidden City. Aisin-Gioro Yixin, Hsien in service to the Emperor, towered over the man seated before him, but already power was on display beneath politeness: he had known the request to attend for the order it was, this audience was not his to grant. This was the way of the Party: form and honorifics on the surface, but beneath no question it was they, not the Throne, who ruled Yu Jing.
So be it. But he had left politics behind, and while there could be no escape from it he certainly didn’t have to be patient with it.
“Commissar Zhou. What do you want?”
“Honoured Immortal, please, call me Shiwen, no need for formalities on my part! There is a matter I would humbly discuss with you… if, of course, the honoured Immortal will forgive the impertinence.
You recall the clash at Rashomachi?”
“Yes, against the PanOceanians. Their Armoured Gear won them the day.”
“It did, it did, won them the day and a great deal more! In particular, it won them the chance to corrupt a Ministry of Information archive in which I had hoped to indulge my curiosity”.
Ah, the commissar was searching for something, and it was something the Party did not mind the Imperial Service knowing they were looking for. Perhaps this was more interesting than Yixin had first thought.
“And what, pray tell, were you seeking?”
“Small things, really, shift records, transit schedules, passenger lists…”
“You’re ferreting out a spy, then.”
The commissar smiled, beaming.
“A mole, an informant, a sympathizer, yes honoured Immortal! A villain of poor character, whose assistance greased the wheels of the Japanese Uprising on this island, whose sharing secrets has fueled the speed at which the PanOceanians are staining Noviy Cimmeria.
Alas, the ‘Hyperpower,’ has made my task harder, corrupting the Rashomachi records. So I must now attempt a different direction. I may not know the traitor in our midst, but with the assistance of some local officials I have an idea of who they may be talking TO. I am hoping, honoured Immortal, that you will assist me in narrowing the search, and from there follow the path to our true target.”
It was the Hsien’s turn to grin. The Party’s business was often dirty, but THIS at least was a worthy task, pursuit of justice. But then why the politics?
… ah, of course.
“You believe your mole to be a member of the Party.”
“A relative, more likely, or a lover. Regardless, it would be somewhat troublesome.”
“But even Ministers won’t stand against the law, delivered by the hands of the Emperor’s Guard.
Very well, commissar. Together we will see justice done.”
Yixin turned to depart, his comlog chiming as it received a torrent of new mission data.
“Are you sure you won’t sit and join me for some dumplings, honoured Immortal?”
The Hsien offered no response as he strode from the room, leaving Zhou Shiwen alone at the table. Chopsticks plucked a dumpling from their steamer, carrying it whole to mouth. The commissar closed his eyes, smile wide across his lips.
The Scenario used here was Unmasking from the current ITS season's scenarios. Yu Jing is attempting to identify which of the three PanOceanian HVTs is the handler of the mole they are seeking, while PanOceania seeks to identify which of the three Yu Jing investigators have been doing the detective work to trace the mole, as eliminating him will throw a wrench into the investigation.
Preserving the mole will give PanOceania an advantage in operations around Kurage Station, while plugging its leaks will strengthen Yu Jing efforts to re-establish its hold in the region.
Having seized the initiative over the PanOceanians, Yu Jing prepared for a significant assault, hoping to disrupt enemy plans. The presence of a neurocinetics Yan Huo overlooking the field had meant several potent units, such as a Seraph and a Black Friar, were positioned out of sight, allowing Hsien Yixin to advance under cover of smoke and pick off several defenders.
Two Ninjas had infiltrated close to the left and right consoles, appearing in quick succession to hack them and ID the target. The first guest was incorrect. The second.... also incorrect. To try and clear space for advancing on the third console, political commissar (WarCor) Zhou Shiwen leapt forward and attempted to flash pulse the enemy Black Friar, as doing so would open a line of advance. Alas, Zhou is not a military man, and was felled by the return burst.
From here, PanOceania struggled to regain advantage, with much of their movement restricted by the presence of the Yan Huo. Their conniving ways meant that a Crocman agent of the 'Hyperpower' was able to gun down a Ninja and hack a console, correctly identifying the Designated Target on the first attempt, followed by deployment of the Seraph Datatracker to end the life of the brave and devoted investigator, whose only crime was working too hard, loving justice too much. This move came at a cost for PanO, as the TAG was struck down by a barrage of Invincible missiles.
From here Yu Jing forces pressed to regain their early ascent. A crowd of impetuous troops converged on the Crocman, smoke filling the interior of the building. One managed to slay the infiltrator, opening the path for a Yaozao to revive the Ninja.
The PanOceanian counterattack which followed was weakened by earlier casualties and the continuing fire of the Yan Huo. First a Black Friar fell, then a Machinist.
In what was a flagrant violation of the Concilium Conventions, a Fusilier lacking other targets put a fatal round into the unconscious commissar, in full view of his accompanying aerocam-geist.
The revived Ninja promptly hacked the console nearby to confirm the PanOceanian Designated Target, at long last, while penal soldiers hunted for those suspects deemed to lack the useful information Yu Jing sought.
Hsien Yixing took aim at the enemy warcor, Hoffbauer, and ended his life in a burst of machinegun fire. Death in the Human Sphere was an impermanent thing, but it would be enough time to hack the man's communications logs, and from there find evidence leading back to the mole.