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The Imperial Tour


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A small but advanced transport jet escorted by a pair of fighter jets flew over the azure South China Sea making the short flight from Qingyuan Air Force Base to Saigon International Airport.

It had been an intense month for Jia, and really the entire Federation, things seemed to be moving a mile a minute. With Theresia's restoration as the Empress of Austria and the aftermath of the Thai Revolt had divided the Imperator's attention on several fronts. The Cambodian Nuclear Accident had finally been resolved, and the Thais were going back to work. Ironically Jia's Government had made the decision rather than to blame Kang for the kidnapping of Xuehua to let it fall on Chakri na Kuai, as Kang had intended.

Afterall the First Minister had been cooperating with whomever had planned the attack, and didn't deserve much more. Additionally it'd help quell the instability without the need for violence or property destruction. Thailand's economy was already on the verge of deep recession due to the food crisis.

Gao, while captured and undergoing daily interrogation was still not talking. But it was widely suspected that the true culprit was Kang. The man had been forced to withdraw from the General Secretariship, and had become an increasing recluse. He had even for the most part ceased working in Hong Kong and Macau as they were so close to Jia's political stronghold. Instead he now was rotating around the country. Kang was not yet finished, but he was no longer Jia's rival.

Politically, the UFE was once again outwardly facing. From Korea, to Mongolia, to China, things were at peace.

For now... at least. The Middle Kingdom had reestablished its footing, and internal instability was mostly gone. The one lingering thing was the food crisis in South East Asia. The UFE had been working night and day to develop rice stocks that were resistant to the virulent strain. However, it still was to no avail. With Korea re-stabilized, the UFE was able to bring in grains from the North to keep there from being famine, but other problems caused by a spike in fuel prices from rationing to inflation were starting to take their toll on citizen morale.

In past times of trial, the Emperors of Old embarked on Imperial Tours. It was decided that the Imperial Family would do the same, starting in Saigon, and move South ending at Singapore.

Jia himself was looking forward to it. Since he had left Austria, Theresia has spent most of her time at basic training, and although they had spoken on the phone most everyday, he had not been able to see her. By some fortune however, their schedules actually coincided for this tour.

As the plane landed in the Secure Government VIP Hanger, Jia had been told that Theresia's plane from Austria had landed shortly after his and was taxing now to the gate. He decided to wait out by the limousine, rather than on board his jet preferring to stretch his legs while waiting for her to arrive.

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About two months had passed, since the Austrian Restoration of the Hapsburg Monarchy and Theresia had nearly worn herself to death. Aside from managing the newly reformed Austrian Empire, she had participated in a proverbial diplomatic blitz around Europe and the world. Athens, Germany, and Cyrantia, the creation of a mercenary navy, and desires for Austrian expansion were only the tip of the ice burg for what she had planned in the coming weeks and months. In addition to her diplomatic work, Theresia had also kept another promise she had made to the Austrian people and that was to professionally enlist in the army as an officer, going through basic training and academic study at the Imperial Military Academy in Vienna. This meant that aside from her diplomatic ventures, all of which had to be kept to Hofburg Palace, she had made temporary enemies with her drill instructor and found herself crying in the rain and sloshing in the mud more times than she could count.

Now that basic training in the Imperial Army had ended however, the Empress' third responsibility was pushed to the forefront, Imperatrix of the United Federation of the East. She treated China almost as her first home and had grown accustom to the climate, the scenery, and the people. The civilians of the UFE still obsessed about her blonde hair and many bureaucrats still held their noses up at her, on a count of her 'unpure' ancestry. But Theresia had adapted, she introduced a new classical style to the Chinese courts. Appearing at dinners with pink hair, gallons of make-up or anything else that would make people like her husband's rival, Kang, angry. However, until this time, Theresia had suffered from a severe case of depression and it had not been until the Restoration that Jia could see the fire return to her eyes and he heart. As he disembarked from the plane however, that fire had consumed her with an energy she had never felt before in her life.

Her two months of training had changed her, Magdalena and Angelika had always been the scrappers, the fighters, the sisters with muscle behind them, Theresia had always been the baby, the quiet and calculating. As she stepped off the plane, it was no longer the case. Her hair was straightened, falling over her shoulders and the business suit and skirt she wore, conformed to her newly acquired muscularity. Angelika had always been the one to boast curvature and slenderness, now it was finally Theresia's turn. The scant jewelry that she wore sparkled in the Vietnamese sun and stepping into the heat, she immediately began to perspire, but as the guard directing opened the limousine door, the cool air was like an oasis breeze.

Looking at her husband she grinned and wrapped her arms around him. "It's been a long two months. I hope everything is still okay over here, Xuehua, she's safe?"

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Jia was clearly checking out his wife's new body as she approached. He grinned wrapping his arms around her waist and kissing her. "Yeah, she's fine. Taking time off to recuperate in Okinawa under extra guard. We've not confirmed its Kang yet, but he's sure sweating." Jia said.

The two were escorted by the Imperial Guard to get into the limousine which would take them to the first stop off, a communal kitchen in one of the poorer outlying communities of Saigon. The two were briefly told of the background of the kitchen.

It had been built by a rare cooperative of catholic and buddhist ministries and was serving mostly migrant workers who had come from Laos and Cambodia to work as construction workers, gardeners, and janitors for Saigon's new technology industry upper middle class. Since the food crisis and the displacements in Cambodia, the communal kitchen was now operating nearly 24 hours a day 7 days a week, feeding as many as they could.

After the briefing, the two were given privacy, as the Imperial Guard and staffer raised the back window of the limousine to act as a sound barrier. "So... I take it you've been eating your wheaties?" Jia said to her with a smile.

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Theresia sighed and let her head fall back on the leather cushion. "You have no idea. When they said they wouldn't be treating me like a Princess, well let's just say my reforms must be working. Though I'm kind of nervous, I put on twenty odd pounds when I was in training. They said it was all muscle, I just hate stepping on a scale now. On the other hand," her eyes rolled, "I ran into Magdalena before leaving for Saigon and she didn't really know what to say. I think she was jealous, so I'll take everything as a sign of victory." She laughed and ran her hand through her hair. "But I will say, I feel a hell of a lot better than I did three months ago. I finally feel alive again and I wouldn't give this feeling up for the world."

She let her head fall on his shoulder and closed her eyes. "So is this going to be a meet and greet kind of thing? I'm looking forward to South East Asia, for all the time I've spent in the Federation, I've never really seen Indochina."

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Jia let out a laugh at the comment about her older sister. "I wouldn't worry about your weight right now Theresia... I'm [i]really[/i] regretting we've only got a day on the Coast of Thailand!" he said with a wink.

As they headed through the French section of Saigon, Jia looked out the window.

"Truthfully, I haven't been here in a while either. Not that it isn't important...

But yeah show we're one with the people, you know.

Indochina's not as rich as coastal China, but its never really been poor for a couple decades either. Migrant workers have been coming here for a while, looking for jobs. Its worked alright up until this food crisis. Its not the ideal system, but wages have been rising steadily up until now.

With food prices going up, that has basically acted as a defacto pay cut for a lot of them. So things have been tough." he said, finishing up as they entered onto the highway towards the final destination.

"So really, how did the grunts react to have the Empress training with them?" he asked.

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"It took sometime to get used to," she said as they the limousine pulled through the French Quarter. "When I arrived the first day, everyone thought it was some kind of joke. People only started to take it seriously when I slept in the woman's barracks and woke up at four in the morning like everyone else. Which is something I never want to do again, if possible. Being out there in the dew and the snow and just being absolutely cold while we swear a daily oath to, well, me." She shook her head. "That is something I'm getting rid of, the moment I get back. Other than that though, training was hard, I got yelled at just like everyone else. The obstacle courses being the worst. If you screwed up, it was an immediate twenty push-ups. I think I probably did two-hundred before the first day was over. It was terrible."

Her face pressed against the window, looking out onto the streets as the motorcade began to enter into the poorer portions of Saigon. She sighed as the scenery began to change and shook her head. "You'd think for as advanced as our nations are, well, China is, these problems could be eradicated by the welfare system. Maybe I've seen so much squalor in Vienna that it all saddens me now." She said turning back to Jia. "You know the aristocrats in Bavaria while I lived in exile, they used to say it would be nice to be poor, to not have to deal with the headaches of government and wealth." Theresia scowled, "That kind of talk disgusted me then and it still makes me sick now. All those men and women in Beijing, Shanghai, and everywhere else, resting on the fruits of these people and you said reports were that Kang was behind a lot of the other southern problems?"

Theresia sighed and looked back out the window. "Maybe one day people will view life differently. I doubt it, but maybe."

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Jia laughed, remembering back to his basic, although he was a lot younger than Theresia then, 19. "Yeah, push ups aren't fun. At least it was cold. Better cold than hot I say! Well I guess you always say that when you're in the tropics..." he mused. "And if we were at Fort Beihai, we'd say the opposite."

He nodded at her comment about a welfare system, "I wish Theresia, but the truth is there is simply not enough money for the people. We may have the largest middle class in the world, but we also have more people than Europe has people. The jungle interior is still hard to build basic infrastructure too. Beyond the military's roads, we've only built a few super highways. Plus most of the smartest teenagers want to move to Beijing, Shanghai, or Hong Kong for university and end up staying there." he said sighing.

"I tell myself, for thousands of years people lived in dire poverty, now there is at least progress since the 1980s, though several times we've had a jump backwards. Thats something I guess. And at least we've held the population steady for a while now."

"As for Kang, yeah, Xuehua was pretty sure he was there, it was dark and she was scared, but she says it was him. He somehow escaped though... if it was him, it would explain how they had the latest in cutting edge... he's made it personal this time Theresia. I'm watching him and I'm going to take him down."

The sternness on Jia's face was interrupted as they pulled up to the Kitchen. Several police cars and military trucks escorted them, but behind the line of guards, one could see hundreds of people lined up for food. The smells of large communal pots of pho permeated the air from several large tents, in addition to the single building. It was clear that the kitchen had had to significantly increase its capacity.

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As the limousine stopped and Theresia stepped out, she took off her suit and rolled up the sleeves of her shirt as she walked into the soup kitchen. The volume of the people around her was deafening, children crying and men and women speaking in dialects even she hadn't heard of. One of the workers handed her an apron and she was directed to a part of the line to begin the photo-op. The same events happened in Austria and when she was younger, while Magdalena was still on the throne, the Imperial Family would pose at art functions, welfare events, and other social displays of the government providing order and peace to the people. In truth, she didn't like the media and press and it didn't take long before Theresia had instructed her guards to remove all journalists and photographers from the soup kitchen.

"Tell them they can have interviews and pictures after we're done here. If they don't leave have the guards throw them out, otherwise I'll throw them out myself."

She would say before turning back to smaller Saigonese citizens and nodding politely while fixing them a meal. This went on for about two hours before Theresia finally retreated to the outside, amongst piles of crates and sweet smelling food to take a rest. When Jia eventually joined her, she had already sat down, halfway through drinking a bottle of water.

"They just don't stop do they?" She laughed and stretched. "But you were saying about Kang before, if he's after you Jia, maybe we shouldn't be down here. I don't want to sound pessimistic, but with so much media following us. We're pretty big targets." She smiled and took his hand after finishing her statement. "But if it's personal, which I know it is, and you want to take him down. I'll be right there with you."

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Jia had initially been helping Theresia serve soup to the hungry workers, but had gotten pulled away into conversations by several men who had described themselves as community leaders. The topics ranged from education and housing, to discussions on how young people dressed in cosmopolitan Saigon (a topic he tried to end quickly). By the end of it he found himself exhausted.

He found Theresia sitting down resting, and sat down next to her.

Clasping her hand he had a face that was half a frown, but half a determined smile. The one he always got when a challenge was before him, that he really wanted to win at. "Heh... honestly Theresia, if he does, well, I'm ready for him. I mean, I doubt he'd come this close... but if he does we wipe the floor with him."

"I'm not going to cower behind the Forbidden City's walls and stop being me." he said. Jia's other fist clenched making a crackling sound in the empty water bottle he had in his hand. But then he had a smile come across his face. "One thing about these cameras, I know that every time he sees me on TV, it drives him up the wall, because in his head he's entitled to rule China for his own ego and megalomania, not to serve the people...

Although I'm intrigued by this offer. Will I get to see some new moves of yours?" he said with a cocky smile.

As he asked the question, a imperial guard motioned for them that it was time to head back to the plane for the next phase of the tour.

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Theresia blushed and ran her free hand through her hair. "Listen, I'm not trying to build myself up here. You keep talking like that and these two months are going to go straight to my head and then we I get us in trouble, I'm going to blame you. I have two months of basic training in the army under my belt, I'm not a ninja or one of Germany's Valkyries." She tried not to smile, but it was nearly impossible by that point. "Though I mean, maybe if I have an audience."

The tent flap of the kitchen swung open by that point and a large man, one of the guards, bowed at the two leaders. "The motorcade will be heading back to the airport now, Your Excellencies. If you would follow me."

He led them back to the motorcade and the cool air of the limousine. By now Theresia had decided if they were going to keep moving south, she would have to change on the plane to shorts and a t-shirt or she would die in the heat and humidity. So after boarding, taking off, changing, and finally getting minute to relax. She joined Jia once again on the jet's living quarters and sat across from him. "So where are we heading towards now? And I was wondering, you said Xuehua was safe, will she be joining us or no?"

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"Haha, well it just so happens you do. Everyone was so impressed, that they wanted you as a hand to hand combat instructor in Singapore's Commando Formation Training School." Jia teased as the aide came to get the and take them too the plane.


[i]Elsewhere in a set of lost Sith Ruins of the Thai Jungle[/i]

Kang was preparing his trap for the Imperial Family. Jia thought he had won, but he had not. [i]He's once again underestimating me.[/i] Kang thought to himself as he ran through the systems on the 'New Model'. The weapon which had been developed was the culminations of decades of research and funds funneled from his criminal empire across the world.

The ruin, found but abandoned by the former Republic of Vietnam, were a perfect hiding spot for an interception. Here he had gathered his small but advanced set of weapons to put his final plan in action. He would kill Jia and Theresia, then use his new weapon to force Wei and Kou to surrender to him.

Kang watched the checklist as they prepared the unit he would be personally piloting for this battle.


"Sir, Rex is almost ready. The enemy flight is entering combat range." the chief scientist said.

"Is the rail gun operational?" Kang asked.

"Yes. We've loaded it with close range anti-air shells, but once thats done we'll equip it with thermonuclear warheads." the scientist replied.

"Excellent, with this weapon I will be unstoppable, any city in the world can be destroyed in five minutes and no SDI will be capable of stopping it. [i]My[/i] Middle Kingdom will be forged." Kang exclaimed. "Prepare the F-4s for Ambush!"

[i]Airspace over Thailand[/i]

In the sky Jia sat back in his seat. "Bangkok. The City has gone back to some stability. So the Imperial Guards think its safe. Most of First Minister's Chakri's die hard loyalists have fled into the countryside. We'll leave the ones who just grumble alone, and concentrate on the ones who've actually been involved in looting and violence....

In the city itself, we're actually going to be in the downtown this time. Much of the city's service sector got damaged in the riots, so the recession in that part is worse that in the North where the advanced economy remained in tact.

Xuehua will come to Singapore at the end, but she's staying on break through this pa..." Jia paused as the plane experienced some sudden turbulence. Suddenly the lights went out and oxygen masks dropped down.

"Fasten in, enemy fighters bearing down." a voice said over the cockpit.

Outside the plane, four F-4 fighters with their electronic concealiment systems on attempted another shot of their directed energy weapons on the Imperial plane. Luckily, the plane had been equipped with the latest in anti-directed energy countermeasures, and its advanced skin quickly dissipated the energy across the whole of the body and outwards.

This forced the F-4s to reveal their positions firing off missiles towards the target.

The F-1s escorting quickly hit the missiles with their own directed energy weapons, while the UFE Air Force had another surprise waiting.

A Tu-160 Rudolph that had been jamming detection of it, focused a high powered ultra violet scope on the F-4s. While ultra violet could not be used to achieve target locks, it could act as a sort of visual scope. F-1 fighters were then able to reprogram their image recognition missiles through the targeting scope.

"We've initiated the trap." the voice said from the cockpit.

The F-1 fighters fired off volley after volley of missiles at the F-4s, while the Tu-160 Rudolph focused on jamming the F-4s. Finally, after about eight minutes the F-4s were downed.

"We got them." the voice said again... Then.

An F-1 exploded as it moved reform with the Imperial Jet.

Below Rex's rail gun took aim at the Jet again through the jungle.

"Missed huh?" Kang asked. "Not doing that again!."

He cycled the gun to the next shell taking aim. Firing again, the rail gun ripped through the port wing of the Imperial jet. The plain quickly began spinning out of control before the fly by light system could compensate readjusting to pull the plane out of a lethal crash, but it was too late. "We're going down prepare for a controlled water borne crash landing!" the pilot yelled.

Angling the plane towards a river below. The pilot activated the emergency buoyancy sled. The plane slammed into the river below, as the inflatable balloon beneath it deployed, preventing it from splitting in two and sinking.

"Imperial One is down, repeat Imperial one is down. Enemy ambush expected!... we're being jammed!" the pilot said. Jia got out of his seat once the plane had hit the water. Checking to see that Theresia was alright... she was. He headed to the front of the cockpit.

"Whats the sit rep?" he asked.

"We can't get any transmissions out. Which means we can't call in for air support. Our own units won't risk friendly fire if they can't establish contact with us. We're being jammed by a device approximately 2 kilometers away on foot. Nearest allied response unit is about 1 hour away. Without air support we'll be overrun well before that is my guess if we stay here." the pilot said.

Four Imperial Guards were on the flight, along with the pilot and co-pilot both were air men and had some combat experience plus Theresia and himself. "Well... if we stay here we'll be annihilated, and its harder to hit a moving target." Jia said. "I say we take the fight to them. What do you think?" he asked his wife.

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When the lights went off on the plane and the oxygen masks dropped, Theresia could feel her stomach fall out of her body. She had been right all along, being in Indochina they were like sitting ducks to Kang and his organization. Jia had told her many times on the phone that Kang's power in the Federation was fading if not gone completely, but for how often her husband mentioned the estranged criminal, Theresia had other thoughts. She knew for instance that Bridgette Saenger was still alive somewhere and the nightmare of the Republican onslaught on Vienna still gave her nightmares, beyond that, Theresia had grown up in a childhood filled with exile and horror. Her family had been hunted down not once, but twice, by Communists and then Nordics. She could remember her mother's arms grabbing her out of bed in the middle of the night, crying in her shoulder as they felt from Vienna and then once from Bavaria to safety from the men in black.

It was all she could think about, breathing in and out in the darkness of the jet's interior. Then she could hear yelling, they were going down. The Empress clenched her body tightly as she reached over for Jia's hands. She was scared, very scared, as the time she had first met the Imperator, all those years ago in Beijing. But back then they had control, there were people who could be shot and she would be safe. Here in this cabin, it was just the plane and water, she was trapped, only to be ripped to shreds by fuselage or drown in a lost corner of Indochina. The first tears broke through her eyes and then the plane hit the water. She sprang forward in her seat and then back into cushion, her mind dizzy, her body shaking, and her soul crying that she was alive.

When the plane finally stopped and Jia turned to her with a smile, postulating that they should leave lest they be annihilated by Kang's men. Theresia couldn't take anymore. She fell off the seat, collapsing to the ground in tears. "No. I don't want to go anywhere, Jia. I want to go home." She picked herself up bringing her knees to her chest and curling herself up for warmth and togetherness. "We got shot down and you're smiling? You're trying to make this look like some kind of game? He's trying to kill us! He almost did! We..." She began to collapse into weeping. "We...I..."

The other sounds coming from the Empress now were replaced by incomprehensible weeping.

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Jia looked at her feeling a bit of guilt at how he behaved. He did have a fair bit of bravado. It was his learned frame of mond, and one common amongst soldiers. Getting psyched up before going into a fire fight was a way of dissociating oneself from the danger one was about to face.

Since the fire fight in Vienna, maybe he had forgotten to show his more compassionate side to Theresia. He hugged her and frowned at himself for a second before holding up her chin with his right hand having her eyes meet with his, and smiled at her reassuringly.

"Theresia, come on, you can do this, [i]we[/i] can do this." he said. "I'm smiling because we're doing what people like you and I are meant to do. Remember back in Vienna, when they said their dream was to make a land that was free and you swore to see it done. Kang's a bully. Pure and simple. Everyone here as killed people, but we don't do it for ourselves. Kang does.

He can't get what he wants only for himself, so he uses force to get what he wants. He's not only went after my actual sister, but he went after a hundred million of my brothers and sisters when he started this whole thing. I'm smiling because I get to stop him. Its not a game to me, I promise you its not. Its just something I know I have to do... and I want the person I care about most by my side when I do it.

So come on, lets show him how much stronger we both are, and make him pay for ever harming one person out of selfishness. He's gotta be stopped, and we're the ones to do it... its just what we do."

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Theresia sniffed, clearing gallons of snot out of her nose and wiped her eyes clean with her arm. Her breathing was still rapid and broken and her body still shook from the plane crash, but slowly Theresia was beginning to calm down as she wrapped her arms around him tightly and burrowed her head into his right shoulder. "I know," she wheezed, "It's just so much and I'm so scared. You've been talking about me going to basic training and becoming something more, something greater than myself. But I'm still not like my sisters, I'm not a commando, I'm not a soldier. I..." She looked up at him and dried her eyes with her arm again. He was smiling at her in a way that seemed to radiate confidence. All those times where she had proven herself, in spite of the odds, Jia had been there for her. Now, in his time of desperation when he needed her the most, she was crying because she was scared?

Had he objected during the Battle of Beijing? No he had rushed her to an ambulance.

Had he left her when she had fallen into depression after the Republic? No, he stayed by her side to make sure she was okay.

Had he protested when she went to restore the Hapsburgs in Vienna? No, he had come along for the ride and without him, she would have been dead.

Theresia bit her lip and pushed herself up off the ground. "I'm sorry, I...I just needed to cry for a little bit. You're right, he does need stopped and if no one else is going to do it, then it falls to us as the first servants of the State." She nodded and ran her hand through her messy hair. "This is my country too, I'm with you to the end, Jia, forever." She smiled and the old fire returned to her eyes. "He ruined our trip, I think that's an excuse enough to bring him down."

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"You are something more Theresia, whether you know it yet or not you are. You put yourself in harms way for your country, when we didn't know how anyone would respond, your fellow Austrians, the Germans, the Athenians. You [i]already are[/i]." he said. Jia then embraced her tightly one last time before getting to business.

"What do we have?" he asked as they headed towards the weapons locker. The leader of the four imperial guards was unloading the equipment and distributing it among the six people.

"We made some modifications to the Xenias and Spectre lines of armor based on what Guard Captain Chakri captured fighting the prisoner Gao. The units the 'Wraith' a exo skeletal frame built in with advanced battery backs, and regenerates some energy based on the persons movement. It provides an exo-shell reinforced with advanced hardened nano-materials that protects from shockwaves and shrapnel. It is also layered like scales to further absorb shock and defeat armor penetrating rounds... though don't sit in front of a gatling cannon. All the units are equipped with electronic communications, and are highly resistant to jamming, as well as have some listening in capability. If you don't stray to far, they shouldn't be able to jam your suit. Each of them are equipped with the Xenias and Spectre's standard protection also against frag grenades, flashbangs, and small arms, as well as have active camo, full spectrum scanning, auto targeting, etc.

For weaponry, we've got double barreled metal storm hydra assault rifles with 40 mm grenade launcher attachment, each equipped with armor piercing sleeves. The sleeves each hold 20 rounds, and are back loaded like an older double barrel shot gun. Can fire one shot, 3 shot, half barrel, or full barrel bursts. Everyone is assigned eight sleeves. Enhanced kinetic energy personal defense machine pistols. Lastly, diamond serrated vibro knife for close quarters, pray you don't have to use that. Of course, two incindiery grenades (keep those in the armor pouch till your ready to throw it), one emp grenade, four frag grenades, four flash bangs, two smoke grenades." the man finished going through the cycle of weapons.

"Our target will be two kilometers inland, it appears to be a large ruin complex, somewhere there is a jamming station, once that is taken out, we can call in the air force to give us firing support. Till then we are on our own."

Jia nodded, alright. He leaned down to give Theresia her white helmet, "You ready for this?" he asked.

As he offered her the helmet. The floor began to vibrate as REX moved through the treeline. Kang liberally unleashed fire from his autocannon towards the landing site. Bullets bounced off the hull of the plane, but impact craters became more and more visible.

"We gotta move now." Jia said.

Edited by Triyun
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The words that the agent was saying as they explored the plane's weapon cache, bounced off Theresia's head like rain on a windshield. She had tried, since the Restoration, to have an open mind about military affairs and military technology as it was one of Jia's passions, she figured it would help further solidify their marriage. After all, she dragged him to symphonies and dances in Austria, trying to familiarize herself with weapons and war making only seemed natural. But when talk started about equipment, how it could perform, what it was capable of and the science that went into it's creation, they might as well have been talking Swahili. When Jia' handed her the white helmet, Theresia's face barely moved and the only words that escaped her mouth was, "What? Oh? Ready? Of course," she said taking the helmet, "I'm ready for anything..." Then the vibrations began tearing the jungle apart.

When Kang unleashed fire, the sheer amount of power that rocked the plane made Theresia rethink what she had just said and as the craters filled the plane and Jia ushered them to go, she froze for a moment. "Ready for anything but this." Then a shot blew a significant hole in the fusliage that nearly sent Theresia back into the wall. She felt Jia grab her hand and yell that they had to move.

The Empress' body kicked into full gear and panic mode at the same time as she flung her helmet onto her head and followed Jia into the jungle. As they left the plane behind them, Theresia turned back and saw just what had been firing. "What the hell is that thing! Is that a robot? How the $%&@ can-" She watched as another shot from the REX left the plane as a burning shell of itself, the next targets being themselves. "This isn't possible. How are we supposed to get away from this? Jia! Tell me!"

She turned back to the mecha and stared, it was like looking Death in the face.

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Jia fastened his helmet after putting on the rest of his armor. He pressed the button activating the camouflage, "Heh, ready for anything? Why not just say what can go wrong?" he teased, with some cockiness. "Whatever happens, we end this together." he said.

As the first shots impacted the side of the plane, Jia went down to the ground, peering his head out the window to see the behemouth head toward them. "Well... thats certainly anything. Come on!" he said grabbing Theresia's hand, follow two of the guards out of the plane onto a log, as a second round hit the fuselage. Running across the log they rapidly reached the shore.

Jia rapidly loaded a flare shell into the grenade launcher aiming it at the fire acquisition pod of the metal gear. Detonating right in front of Rex, it seemed to barely phase it as it fire back on their position as Jia pulled Theresia behind a rock before finally releasing her hand.

"Damn, its got electronic counter-counter measures..." he said. Jia took note of who else was around, "Anyone made it out."

"We're all here but, we're on the other side of the shore." the Guard Captain said.

"Damnit." Jia said, as he looked at Theresia, her words hit him like a ton of bricks. Truth be told he did not know... but he couldn't say that. His face had a brief minute of uncertainty before her formulated a plan. "Theresia, you make a break for the treeline. I'll be right behind you. But he wants me. Team 2, provide us fire cover. Theresia, you and I need to run real fast to the tree line, then get his attention back on us. Once we hit the treeline, immediately fire at him... aim for anything that looks expensive like an piece of electronics like a camera or a radar. That thing can't be easy to aim at close quarters.

Team 2, you need to make it look like he's taken you out soon after we open fire. Then make your way across the river once we've got him to follow us into the forest. If we can keep moving and wear him out, we might have a chance, but we can't do it in this open area, we need the jungles density.

He loaded up his weapon. "GO! I'll be right behind you." Jia ordered forcefully to Theresia. "Team 2 fire!"

From across the river, the imperial guards and the pilots fired their 40 mm grenade shells at the mecha. Active defenses quickly hit four of the two shells while two smashed into the electro optical sensor, creating a crack but not damaging it. As soon as his wife started running. Jia got up, raising his rifle and unleashed a full barrel into the sensor to exploit the crack, before taking off himself. Right as he ran a missile slammed into the rock behind him nearly causing him to fall forward. Luckily he was able to catch his footing as he continued to make a dash for the treeline.

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Being thrown behind the rock as the world burned around her, Theresia covered her head in her hands and curled up waiting for the flames to stop. But they didn't stop and the echoes of the mecha moving forward on their position, despite Jia's counter attack did nothing for her spirits.

[i]"Damn, its got electronic counter-counter measures..."[/i]

She looked up with a white face. "You can't be serious. That doesn't even make sense. Counter-Counter Measures? What is that like a double negati-" Then another round of explosions set out by the REX silenced her as she covered her face again. "Jia!" And what was his plan? Run. Run in front of a massive mechanical machine which had turned the nearby forest and plains into a blazing and bullet-riddled wasteland. Theresia looked back at him in protest. "You want me to run? Are you insane?" But there was no time for questioning and when Jia screamed 'GO!', Theresia jumped up on her feet, her boots digging into the inferno around her. She could hear the sounds of the machine moving, focusing it's guns on her body, readying to fire. Her arms pumped and her body heaved as her breath carried her through the smoke and the fire around her. But then, as she ran, the Empress felt her foot snag on a rock, or a root, something that was sticking out of the ground. Theresia felt her torso fly forward as her boot stood in place and the next thing she knew, she was rolling across the ground with rocks flying around her and dust clouding her eyes.

"Ugh..." She picked herself up off the ground and turned her body around to see the REX in front of her. "$%&@..." With no other thought in her mind, Theresia jumped up grabbing the pistol from her side. She fired wildly behind her, not knowing if she was hitting anything, trying to make it to the tree line as the ground around her feet lit up in a spray of bullets.

When she finally reached the treeline, Theresia lunged onto the ground, wrapping her hands around a tree trunk and breathing heavily. She was cut up from the fall and dusty from head to do. "AAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!" The woman screamed, she wasn't wounded or severely injured but the amount of adrenaline needing to escape her body caused her entire figure to shake and rattle as the world quaked underneath her stomach.

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As the mech closed on Theresia, Jia tossed a grenade under its back foot. As it exploded losing its footing he advanced. Taking aim at one of the knee joints exposed, he unleashed his second barrel of metal storm to weaken it further. Jia then looked in horror to see Theresia sent flying forward by an explosion. "THERESI..." he said running towards her. To his relief he saw her get up, their eyes briefly met giving Jia the indication she was alright.

Then quickly she was off running. Jia snapped back into focus to do the same.

Kang laughed as he fired at Theresia. At this point he wasn't even trying. "Jia you should have left your Disney wife at home!" he said amused. Kang had not yet known about Theresia's hardening of recent months and was spraying fire carelessly, more to torment his foes than to kill them. Suddenly his targeting camera was smashed, as Theresia's fire slammed into it.

"What?" he asked, "That !@#$%*!" he yelled. "Switch to auxillary system."

Suddenly the mech shook as Jia ran underneath it firing a 40 mm shell up into the joint where the leg met the torso. He seeing a fuel line cut he quickly followed up tossing an incindiery bomb into it before rolling clear and heading up to the jungle where Theresia was.

Kang looked in the cockpit as a thermo light flashed, "Warning left leg heat sink reaching critical capacity, initiating termporary emergency override and cool down in 5.... 4... 3... 2... 1..." the computer said.

Kang slammed the computer panel. "Damnit." Kang yelled. "Reinitialize!"

Meanwhile reaching Theresia Jia checked her over. "Good job, come on we can do this, lets head to the jammer. If I know Kang he'll be so enraged he'll go after us, and forget about the other team, and we'll need every second we slowed that thing down for!"

Jia quickly reinserted two sleeves to his rifle.

A transmission came in, "The beast is moving again towards you guys. Its left leg is a little off, but looks like most of the damage was superficial." said the Guard Captain from the other end. "We'll make the crossing as soon as he gets his view obstructed."

Jia nodded, he motioned to Theresia the direction they were to run in. "Lets go." he said. As he said this the sound of mechanical foot steps getting closer and closer began to take shape.

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The Empress groaned as she let Jia pull her up off the ground. She was in a daze, but the rumbling of the mecha's footsteps brought her back quickly back to reality as her husband began pulling her deeper into the jungle. Even in the daylight, the thick canopy above them, made the jungle floor dim and Theresia tripped and staggered across the narrow, endless pathways to a destination that was unknown. Jia seemed to know where he was going, a jammer, something to stop the REX from advancing, but none of it made sense to her. The confusion was only amplified by the sudden explosions and the falling of trees around them. Theresia would scream and hold her head, jumping over fallen limps and trunks.

"Jia! Where are we going? We need to get away from this thing! Where are the other men? We're alone! Jia! Listen to me for God sakes!"

Another blast hit dangerously close on the path and the Empress nearly fell forward again. This time, she turned around and fired blindly into the trees where the noise was coming from. "We have to get out of here! We're going to die!"

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Jia set a timer on a remote flash charge throwing it behind them as he pulled Theresia along. "Don't look back." he commanded. As they ran forward, with their suits giving them a fast clip, they were rapidly approaching a structure. A bright blinding flash went off behind them. "Hopefully that'll daze him with the redundant scope taken out." Jia said as they entered a clearing. In front of them stood a huge pyramid shaped building.


"Theresia I swear..." he started irritated before catching himself.

"Sorry. The others went to the wrong side of the river when the plane got destroyed. We had to create a diversion and draw that thing into the jungle where its field of vision and mobility are obstructed. They're coming across now and will link up with us here."

Now we need the air force to take that thing down. The air force won't risk killing you or I, so we need to take out the jammer... so we can talk to them. The Jammer is somewhere around here so we need to keep our eyes open... I just don't.... Ah !@#$!" Jia said. Jia raised a finger towards the top of the pyramid to direct Theresia's attention to it. Looks well armored too.... Ok new plan.

You stay down here and get yourself in a good spot." Jia said. He unhinged several grenades from his belt. "Take these, keep moving, don't let him get to you. I'm going to get to the top of the pyramid, and try and get him to shoot me to take out the jammer.... then I'll escape... I'll come up with something sound good?" he asked. "But most importantly, keep your head down, and stick behind rocks and other cover."

As he said as he heard the mech once again approach.

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She grabbed his collar for a moment and stared at him straight in the eyes. "So what you're telling me, is you are going to use yourself as human bait to get him to shoot something and somehow you're going to avoid the blast? Then you tell your wife to sit, down here, where the only covered spot is behind a bunch of fallen rocks and you give her grenades? Then you tell me that this really isn't a plan and that everywhere we're doing right now is a lucky streak and at anytime our luck might run out? Is that what you're telling me?" She didn't wait for an answer as she slapped him across the face and pointed at the temple. "Go. But if you die, I swear, I'm going to beat your corpse so bad that you're going to think, in whatever afterlife you go do that you've died twice. Pray that you don't get reincarnated because I will find you." Theresia looked at the top of the temple and released him. "You can get a kiss if we survive this cause right now, I don't think we will."

Just then the REX burst through the foliage as Theresia and Jia split up, one moving up the temple staircase and the other moving towards the temple plaza. She could hear behind her, the signs of the mecha firing on the temple, the bullets coming ever closer to striking the Imperator dead. Then, turning around, Theresia grabbed the grenades, pulling the pin on each and flinging the belt as hard as she could towards the mecha's legs. After that, she dove to the ground and covered her head. Everything else sounded like the world was ending.

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Jia smiled as reassuringly as he could but there was definitely nervousness in his face, "Heh... I guess then... I've got that kiss to live for." he said to her with a smile. "...Just know I love you." he said.

Jia then bolted for the first ledge, using his suit to leap high and catch it, he did pull up after pull leap and pull up, up the cliff. Jia felt his back begin to ache half way up even with the exo-skeleton... and this power back was draining quickly. [i]!@#$[/i] he thought to himself.

Kang meanwhile burst into the area. His mech's sensors had been shot up pretty good, so he had to rely on visual.

Looking around, a round of grenades suddenly went off underneath the giant robot. Losing its bearing for an instant, it turned suddenly towards Theresia firing. As it fired though, the damaged leg once again caught fire as Theresia's grenade pack's shrapnel had cut the cord, causing the fire to fall short of her.

As it moved to fire again, Jia raised his rifle. Now almost at the top, he zoomed in with his helmet firing the sniper scope, unloading rounds into the back turbine. This caused the Mech to begin overheating. But also drew its attention back to Jia.

"Hey!" Jia said on an open channel know Kang would pick it up. "How's it feel to be a three time loser, passed up for the big job twice, then again for the little one." he said.

Kang turned towards him, "You !@#$%!" he yelled.

"What? Hesistant all of a sudden after rushing through sloppily your whole life!" Jia said. He had a smirk across his face. "Or just pissy because you actually have to fight real people, and not pick on little sisters like a Dragon Cultist !@#$%." Jia finished.

"$%&@ YOU!" Kang said Raising his weapon to fire.

Jia dove down the stairs, tumbling down the side of the structure, he unhinged his blade. Drawing power from the suit, the diamond blade lit up like a fire cracker, as it cut its way down the building. Jia couldn't stop the fall but he could slow it. Suddenly a message went on his heads up display, "POWER SUPPLY DEPLETED."

"Ah $%&@..." Jia said to himself. As he said this he felt strength leave his hand as the blade slipped out of his finger. He felt ever bump as he smashed against the rock two stories down towards the bottom near to where Theresia was.

"GAHH!!!" he said, feeling a sharp pain in one of his ribs, he knew the feeling, it was broken. He reached for the replacement power back but couldn't quite reach it to reboot the suit. "Theresia!" he cried as he tried reaching to load the spare power supply again.

Meanwhile, with the turbine damaged, the mech began to go into shut down, after firing the main gun, the heat was becoming too much. Kang cursed it. The jammer... he had destroyed it. It was only a matter of minutes before the air force destroyed the unit. Pressing a button he released the canopy, getting out of the mech with a blade in one hand, and a submachine gun in another to run over to the side of the building where Jia and Theresia were.

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Theresia had been huddled against the ground, the ricochet of Kang's attack nearly scratching her feet and she figured that if she played dead he, like an animal, would leave her alone. The sounds of the battle were horrifying, she could hear Jia's screaming and Kang's counter attacks, explosions and the falling of rocks; all the while covering her head and her ears. Then hearing Jia screaming in pain, she jumped up, watching him fall the two stories from the pyramid towards the ground. He landed in a lifeless heap, moaning as he tried to breath which was enough for Theresia to jump off the ground and run over to his broken body.

"Jia! Jia? Oh for Christ's sake." She took off his helmet and looked into his eyes. He was bruised all across his face and every movement he made seemed to be accompanied by excruciating shocks of pain. Laying her hand on his spare power supply, she pushed it away from the outlet. "No, you can't move, you're already injured. Just stay where you are, the air force will be around and we can get you help." Then the crunching of rocks filled her ears as someone stepped behind her a few yards away.

Theresia stood up, guarding Jia's body, looking at Kang as she drew her own vibroblade and pistol. "Get back Kang, this fight's over. You've caused enough damage to my country and my family."

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Kang looked at her, "You must be kidding me!" he said almost laughing. "Hahaha." he laughed.

Kang looked at Jia and then at Theresia, "What were we saying about involving girls? At least your sister can throw a punch, unlike this one." Kang said derisively. "Theresia von Hapsburg, the baby of an already spoiled family. You're a long way from home, and up against people with [i]real[/i] experience."

Jia attempted to reach for the power pack, "Theresia please... I can prot... gah!" Jia said gasping as he felt his rib crack further and he collapsed back down.

Kang smirked as he saw Jia lie there writhing, "Good... you get to see me crush your little fairy princess here... then I kill you!" he said. Kang's eyes shifted back to Theresia, they had murderous intent in them.

He then darted forward at Theresia. Drawing a second blade, he made a first to slash parry her dagger up out of the way while he flung the second at her pistol to disarm her so he could go for the kill.

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