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A stubborn enough person can survive just about anything. Rage is a hell of an anesthetic.


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Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.
—  Neil Gaiman, Coraline


With the passing years, means of transportation had advanced rapidly for the most part with the exception of naval transportation, the cost of flight was significantly cheaper but container ships were still one of the most efficient means of moving whatever cargo was needed elsewhere on Earth. The とびうお class, ("Flying Fish") was found to be a reasonable balance between cost and time efficiency, various designs of ground effect vehicles had replaced a decent portion of global transport. The numerous cities of the Asian Imperium, Los Angeles, New York, all continued to be preferred destinations for these vessels of course, with Pedernales, Belém, Príncipe, Libreville, Lamu, and several new settlements within the Indonesian archipelago that sprouted up around the gossamer spires that now saw a brave new world of resources, humanity had not yet even began to drain the various materials within its own system and would shortly be exploring the stars, but only one of these locations is of importance for now.




Vast swathes of the Amazon rainforest had been replaced with metals and glass, Jaburo being the most prominent. Set upon one of the tributaries to the river that bore the same name, Jaburo was one of the few sites of Imperium military presence on the inland of non asian territory. The city was chosen as one of strategic importance, due to Imperium naval capabilities being unable to provide any assistance of importance to one of the largest space elevators, only the African Lake Victoria location could rival the capabilities of Jaburo. One of the side effects of this future was that there was far more population than the Imperium could ever hope to police, and while they maintained several types of Armored Pacification Units, their usage was rather limited due to the vertical nature of the most efficient storage of humanity.

Such structures meant much of the world who wished to survive found themselves surrounding the spires to the sky, in swollen slums. Arcologies became a norm, with designs that could contain upwards of 600,000 people implemented, the majority remaining a more sustainable sizes, hovering around 50,000, though some of the lowest income of the same design held as many as 75,000+, the population being somewhat difficult to keep full census of due to high unemployment rate. 

Some limited locales became the glitzy spires that held the wealthy and various corporate owned structures, most found it easiest to maintain their own arcologies containing their employees, it assisted in enforcing loyalty and maintaining a level of surveillance over their communication and location with employee badges containing 3DGPS, now a common technology within cell phones as well.

On one of the many ribbons that now drew spiderwebs across south america, a Renault Alpine A110-50 that had began its journey in Rio, yet another beacon dotting the slowing dimming lights of Earth, was nearing the end of its journey to Lamu. 



Edited by Mogar
I miss the old "new topic" option, way less buggy
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And it's 2am in Tokyo,
And I'm way too far from my home

The car contained Úrsula Ora Chikako Palmeiro, and her destination was a slum called Paradise City, in reality anything but. It was 3pm and she was far from home, the capital of the Imperium. She had originally been born in Rio but had spent the past decade in Tokyo, the 37 year old had attended several of the more prestigious houses of education on both Terra and Luna after advancing to officer within the Federated Earth Navy that defended the planet's territory and the solar system, She was one of perhaps several hundred out of the many billions that had spread across the planet and the solar system that was aware of the dramatic shift in technological advancement dynamic between Earth and Mars, and in less than twelve hours she would have to be at Fortuna Station at Earth–Moon L2, one of the largest in orbit of Earth, where the heavily modified frigate, Navigator, A scout class ship. the vessel fully kitted out with scanners and sensors, and only a minimal defensive capability. The ship would be the first with the new technology to be cleared to jump distances large enough to reach other stars and begin the search for other worlds, other life.

Getting ahead of ourselves though, her intended destination was an apartment on the 42nd floor of Paradise City, room 4277. Zöe Heliodoro was waiting for her, who would pilot the second  Scout class, Determination. Her mission was not intended until Úrsula's successful return, proving that the jumps were possible on a scale that could allow humanity to colonize other worlds on other stars. The process to upgrade the entire Federation fleet to be interstellar vessels had been relatively slow, due to the methodical rate in which we had felt comfortable testing the Artifical Intelligence's ability to make calculations, potentially with variables that cannot be accounted for, human understanding of the universe is limited at best. Our own short jumps were within a tolerance, but the further we went the larger the inaccuracy of the jump.It was unknown whether or not these variances in final location would grow at a much different rate than theorized, with the possibility to end up in the star or perhaps a planet we were unaware of. 

Úrsula and Zöe had attended  Luna's flight school in the same class, and remained friends throughout the years, their competitive relationship had brought both of these girls to a level of excellence and wealth that most could never dream of. They had made plans to meet at Zöe's apartment and then go to one of the numerous clubs that made up about a quarter of the building's space, a majority of the rest being zoned as apartments, census figures were unknown at this particular time, with frequent drug users and other unsavory population that tended to avoid authority inhabiting the place. Úrsula managed to reach her apartment successfully, spending 17 minutes there before exiting with Zöe, now dressed in a more provocative outfit, with Zöe matching quite nicely.

The location they selected first was called The Exotic Kitten and as they approached the entrance, the sound of music burst from the door as it opened, "..Stop your talk, shut up, give it up...", and after a few minutes at the bar they found themselves in the middle of the writhing crowd and pulsing lights, perhaps if they had been more aware they would have noticed any one of several people in the crowd who to know exactly who they were and seemed to be quite displeased with the two officers.
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The two had long been on Syndicate radar, with numerous "adopted" children being bribed into participating in the education and background checks required to achieve Fleet leadership positions. Although none had been chosen for the several experimental missions, it was hoped to find a way to steal the particulars of how the rumored warp technology actually worked. Rudimentary AI was commonplace, with APIs being used for the past century, but the advanced capability of the new type of AI the military had under its control was past the wall that corporate and civilian interests had been stuck at for the past decade or so.

Machine intelligence had intentionally been limited to around the hypothetical limit of the human mind, it was assumed that this kept machines from being able to surpass the aggregate of human abilities, and thus able to be a more effective source of leadership. QUEEN was the name given to the new class of AIs, the program was classified to an extent that the only location that held their full source code was Jaburo and the mainframe's of the ten ships that had been upgraded to warp capacity. Of these, the majority were large crewed vessels, only four of these were crewed by less than ten people, and those would be the ideal choices for a quick hijacking to copy the new intelligence and find out exactly how much it would be worth to the right corporate interests. Two of those were commanded by Ursula and Zoe, only one of the two remaining had a syndicate agent on crew, an engineer on the Ocean's Night was the most likely option for Syndicate intentions, sitting docked at one of the many stations orbiting Luna, receiving upgrades to be considered similar enough to the other scout class vessels. Timing would prove to be quite sensitive, but for now anyway, Syndicate goons simply allowed the unexpected intrusion into their territory by their eventual opponents. If their jumps succeeded and they were unwise enough to come back they would find themselves being coerced into assisting the syndicate plan.

Ursula and Zoe exited an hour and thirty nine minutes later, walking hand in hand through the massive open hallways that laced the arcology, taking twenty four minutes to reach the top floor, known only as a den of debauchery. Even with the advanced sound deadening that went into the arcologies to allow for such multi-zoned structures to not negatively impact their populations, the couple could hear the thumping baseline from several floors down, when the reinforced blast shielding that made up the elevator doors finally opened the sound exploded through them. An opulent waiting room with gold trim everywhere and neon lighting accenting the ceiling, three gigantic sets of double doors filled out the rest of the walls of the room.

A lectern sat in the center of the entrance, a easily identified Synthetic standing there with a frilly maid outfit, bowing deeply to the two new guests, before resuming her position "Welcome, the current cover charge is N¥5,000 per person and the fee includes most amenities, certain intoxicants will require additional fees." They both pulled out plastic to pay the fee, while expensive it wan't as though either would be on shore leave again any time soon. Nodding to them once the funds went through, the synth continued. "Feel free to explore, other assistants will inform you of any additional fees in their respective areas."

Pushing through the door opposite their entrance, they walked into a gold and black room. Roughly 400 others in various states of dress were strewn about the huge space, couches surrounding elevated tables and daybeds made up most of the room, with a lengthy obsidian bar taking up the majority of the back wall. Leaning against one another slightly they made their way through the maze, careful not to get into the way of the occasional dancer on a table and more frequent mal'd civilian. Mixing whatever traditional personal drug of choice with what amounted to corrupted software for augmented minds created an incomprehensible high. While neither of our heroines could indulge in going mal due to their limited time left at this end of the gravity well, the traditional drugs were perfectly fine, and one of the maid synths walked around with a silver platter containing lines of white powder, both indulging as they continued their journey to the bar.

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It was approximately 11 minutes before the c̭͇̞̖̤̱̉ͭ̎̈́͂̚ͅh̴̴̳͍̲͚̭͔̉̀̇͆͂̒̓ͨͯͅả͖̲͚̻͙̂̃ͯ͑ͩ̇͘ţ͓̤̪̻͗̿ͬͣ̔ͣͣ̏̋͢t̴͖̞̙̰̠͓̹̔͋̃͘e͓̠̼̮̹̓̄́̃̉͊͡ṛ̢̠̤̬͋͛͌͛̋̽̚ was sent out along private channels to a very particular type of person, though it was impossible to hide anything from those who sought to see everything. It took 3 minutes before anyone had arrived at Paradise City. We estimate that around 100 had began to respond to the data chirp, but some changed their decision upon reaching the immediate area of the target. 

Kitsune arrived first, making her way to the closest elevator to reach the penthouse, Kitsune was well versed in swordplay, having been trained since approximately six in how to think of a blade as an extension of her body, several million nuyen had been spent on augmenting her right arm into a rather drastic increase in strength for the rest of her form, She had numerous trainers over the course of her 20 years of practice, and had been active for 17 of those years, working her way up from fixing unpaid debts to wetwork within a year, being drastically effective at her role compared to the norm.

One of her f̘͈̗̱͎͓͉ḻ̶̝͓a̞̠͇̥͓w͚̼̦̦̖̜̕s̸̹̠̦ was a habit of removing those who stood in the way of whatever objective she set herself towards. Unfortunate for those who happened to do so but not drastically important to any timelines we are aware of. With a ding, the Synth was offline within half a second, security feeds off a tenth after that, seven seconds afterwards the doors to the room that held our couple blew open, both managed to dive within a second, instincts kicking in before cognition. Several S̕y͏ndic̸a̶t҉e members reacted to the intrusion, lead hurling towards the unknown, grazing her arm, the rest of the rounds swatted away by the superhuman sword swing. Kitsune's only goal was the death of one or both of the commanders of EDF ships that existed within this room, and anyone else was simply collateral. Hood up, she dragged herself and her power sword through eight S̕y͏ndic̸a̶t҉e agents within a few yards of the entrance, the rest of the guests diving for cover, a rather unsurprising turn of events. The constant clink and clatter of traditional rounds bouncing off her class 3 shielding made her smirk, the occasional arc of electricity bouncing to a nearby metallic object as she continued moving through those who still resisted, a chorus of screams filling the air as she hacked down any stupid enough to get in her way, but dozens had begun to escape as she had little interest in chasing randoms.


Edited by Mogar
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The extremely high percentage of unemployed population made exact statistics for syndicate population impossible, but best guesses through datamining the arcology shortly after this day gave us an estimate of at least six thousand people actively employed by the Syndicate in some type of paramilitary role, with up to half of the total population of Paradise City being sympathic or assisting Syndicate operations in some form or another. From accountants and doctors, to chemists and simply laborers, to hackers and programmers, there was a similar requirement for varied employment from the Syndicate as any Zaibatsu. Even the vertical farming levels had been taken over by them in this particular arcology, food was far less profitable than illicit substances. Coca and poppy replacing the assorted edible crops that used to grow on the six dedicated floors for farming. The drugs were sold and profits used for payroll and to fund the various other activities the Syndicate had their fingers in, but more importantly being used to purchase food for everyone who called Paradise City home, especially those without employment and children, which is what created such a significant portion of the population sympathetic towards their illicit activities.

The civilian lifesigns going silent in rapid succession led to the closest private security firm being alerted to a possible mass causality event. eight armored vehicles filled with forty eight private police, while their training was more advanced than the average cop, they were still basically just cops, their only advantages suits of armor that protected from small arms and light explosives. They began their journey sixteen minutes away from Paradise City.

The expectation of privacy had long been forgotten by humanity, the various augments that had either replaced or assisted the handheld computers that man had attached to themselves starting in the late 20th century were quite effective at allowing local governments to set up emergency services capability to rapidly respond to heart attacks and other sudden medical emergencies, the other side of the coin was these same technologies were effective at tracking approximately 99.7% of the population over the age of 13 for the most part. There were exceptions of course, those who made a conscious decision to not give others such an easy task at keeping tabs upon them. Syndicate members of course fell into this category, with illegal augmentations to encrypt and deny positioning information to be transmitted as easily as normal devices.

The targeted pair also fell into that category to an extent. The difference being their military membership afforded them unique encrypted devices that rather than transmitting directly to cell towers or satellites, piggybacked onto local civilian devices, essentially transmitting a virus to enslave other devices to blur their exact location in high density environments. The sixth generation global positioning system included 3DPS, which essentially meant that with a device's unique identifier and a bit of effort to track it, a sniper could take a kill shot from anywhere within a few hundred thousand miles of earth with any number of various models of drones . On the other hand, most assassins still wished for the personal touch of a rifle.

The automated response request was also flagged by EDF monitors tasked with maintaining the safety of enlisted personell. A VTOL with a squad of fifteen heavily armed Imperium trained marines took off from a base roughly 10 minutes flight time away from Paradise City with a half dozen drones for escort, their mission was to eliminate any hostile threats to the EDF officers and evacuate them to friendly territory for debriefing and potential maintenance.

Kitsune had made short work of those in the gold room with her, but the flatlining Syndicate members had meant the security room a few floors down had called for backup. The Syndicate had its own rapid response units, heavily augmented with cybernetics and drugged with combat enhancing cocktails, these fanatics were kept cryogenically frozen until required. Their reeducation led to a dangerous level of single-mindedness that made bouts of consciousness without a mission dangerous for those around them. The hunter-killers were pulsed awake with security camera images of Kitsune, the scientists that maintained them already out of the room well before the three pairs of Augmented Eradication Units hurled themselves out of the cryochambers and out the door into the vast hallway, moving as a gorilla at speed would through the clear and open path locked down for their use to the closest elevator that led to the penthouse club.

Their particular signals could not be tracked, but those of the other assassins quickly making their way, as well as the Syndicate members all quickly coalescing on a single floor removing most of the guess work for Alice, her objective, unlike the majority of those who wished to claim the grotesque bounty placed on the EDF officers, was the building next to Paradise City, the Brazillian corporate arcology for Chemical Horizon.

Edited by Mogar
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Shikoba Tersa was 3rd in command for Paradise City S̕y͏ndic̸a̶t҉e operations, and in addition to the containment squad making their way upstairs, herself and two of the latest design, Devil's Servant droids, a design originally perfected on Mars, they were essentially secondary bodies to the master, originally designed for external mining while the human element sat in the radioactive shielded vehicle. It had taken several years for the S̕y͏ndic̸a̶t҉e to successfully smuggle offworld, but once the same private corporate competitive drive that had also gotten the Imperium to Mars was applied to the planet, an extra few pounds quickly turned into an extra few tons, and they managed to ensure a steady supply of resources from offworld.

The entirety of "White Territory" was technically under the jurisdiction of Imperium Judges, a type of special police force that ensured murderers, rapists and other undesirables, with only exceptional crimes being relevant to their particular global efforts. The closest Imperium Judge was a Kali Class, equipped with class 4 shielding, blocking up to anti personnel rounds with ease, Judge K6483 was 10 minutes out.

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Alice began watching the scene unfold through S̕y͏ndic̸a̶t҉e security feeds as Kitsune continued to slaughter the stream of stooges that seemed to come from everywhere, and those civilians silly enough to have stayed in the pathway she slowly was wading through, leaving a trail of corpses. Ursula and Zoe continued their slow crawl towards the bar and the access to an exit not currently occupied by psychopaths, it was hoped.

The center of the three elevators that fed into the main entrance to the club began to ascend from near ground floor, its camera feed just static. The other two occupied by the mechanical beasts and an increasingly perturbed cyborg with her twin slave drones and a half dozen augmented leftenants. While nowhere near as costly as their bosses modifications, they each had several hundred thousand spent upon ensuring they were crackshots and strong enough to deal with a crowd of civilians, several "average" augmented ruffians, or even one of the expensively modified upholders of the law that occasionally appeared to bring about swift and absolute justice.

The two officers had the fortunate benefit of training that went well beyond that of their hunters, and thanks to what amounted to a total of a half second, a similar level of knowledge of their surroundings, quickly finding a floor plan to use as a basis to plot their escape. Kitsune began to find herself too busy to notice the pair crawling away until the door slowly swung inwards, instantly drawing her attention away from the brave but stupid minions that continued to flood from the woodwork. If anyone was going to be claiming the bounty on these two, it would be the establishment, not some thirsty peons from who knows where. A few dozen more of those had already entered the building and security feeds were spotty at best, keeping track of all of the potential threats would pose to be quite a challenge.

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