Sireen Barakat nursed a splitting headache while waiting by her personal Dropship. Not only had the Shasworth lawsuit reactivated her ulcer, but now the Sultan had thrown his lot with the Tohaa Sentinels and she was caught in the middle of a diplomatic clusterfuck with O-12 and Ariadna. To make matters worse, the Crane Agent in charge of investigating Lady Sun Wei’s disappearance, requested a meeting with her on ‘Neutral Grounds´.
“The team is ready.” informed Odalisque Apple Pie while she checked her ammo pouches for the fifth time. “The rest of our unit is on ‘Stand-By,’ should anything bad happen.”
Sireen took a deep breath and sighed dramatically. “Right, let’s meet the Crane.”
The dropship left Sireen and her team close to a Security Terminal and several Tech-Coffins, which Sireen commanded her team to protect at all cost.
“I don’t know what game this Crane is playing, but I bet those terminals and tech-coffins have something to do with it.” she said as she walked to the rendezvous point previously selected by the Crane Agent; and wondering if it was really smart to agree to meet armed only with her sidearm.
“Welcome, Commander Barakat.” said the female Crane Agent sitting comfortably while she waited. “I hope you won’t mind my team retrieving some data and cargo. Ongoing investigation.”
“I do, actually.” replied Sireen feigning a coolness she did not really feel. “Which is why I have a crack team protecting the perimeter. Nothing will get past them.”
"Of course." replied the Crane Agent with a smile.
“I see three Wu Ming,” said Turret Spider from her hidden location. “I’m going to get in range to hack them.”
“Roger that,” replied Apple Pie. “Proceed with caution.”
“I have information about a certain trio of Reverend Custodiers you’ve been looking for.”
Sireen Barakat stood frozen. She had known to respect and fear PanOceania’s Hexahedron, but Yu Jing’s ISS seemed to be as resourceful and well informed.
“They have been sowing chaos on this rock for quite some time, and quite frankly I want them out of my jurisdiction.”
“Why not deal with them yourself?” inquired Sireen suspiciously.
“Because this is your mess.” replied the Crane Agent forestalling Sireen’s protest with an open palm. “You shifted the balance of power in their detriment the last time you were here. It’s only fair that you finish what you started, and let us concentrate on more pressing matters.”
“Like Japan’s growing presence, protected by the NA2?”
The Crane Agent simply smiled.
As the Kanren who had stealthily climbed to the rooftop unloaded her Chain-Colt on Obliterette, Apple Pie, Ghulam Doctor Fatimah and Ghulam Forward Observer Roxy; Obliterette brought out her pistol and shot back at point-blank range, before finally succumbing to her wounds.
At that same moment Apple Pie noticed that the ISS force had successfully hacked into one of the terminals and was in the process of confiscating one of the tech-coffins. With lightning speed, Apple Pie rushed down her position and into the area where the few remaining ISS troopers were. She jumped on the tech-coffin and in no uncertain terms told the ISS trooper to stand down.
Apple Pie waited for Obliterette to wake up. She was holding the data pack the Crane Agent had given Sireen Barakat. In it was not only proof that the Amberwitch and the Magpie Conclave were still in Human Edge; but also, that they have been facilitating the Shasvastii infiltration by hacking and data bombing most of the investigating entities with falsified reports of Shasvastii presence.
“They have to be stopped.” she told Doc Starlight, Battle Charmer and Agent Valentine, who had joined her wait.