Internet City is a well known site to most Navis, who have traditionally frequented the area to take on odd jobs or form social gatherings. For a long time, these Navis were forced to detour around what was labelled a GNA construction area. Rumor boards were livid with speculation as to what would come of this mysterious project, but now, on the day of its opening, a very special gathering had assembled at its closed doors.
[color=slate gray]"This is...most unusual. Were it but a few months earlier, I could never see myself standing in such company as those with which I find myself today,"[/color] a tall, armored Navi said, somewhat sourly. His clouded eyes darkened to a thick black as he surveyed the meeting which the GNA had cast upon him. The old Navi, an imposing man in gleaming armor whose gray beard streamed from a face of untold wisdom, was Liege: the head of the Netpolice's Internal Affairs division, and thereby the leader of the Netpolice itself. The blackness of his eyes indicated judgment, an unfortunate reflex that he could not help but display as he took in the sight around him.
Liege had come with allies, which gave him some sense of reassurance. Assembled at his side were his most trusted subordinates, the five men and women to whom he entrusted the leadership positions of the Netpolice.
To his right stood Arche, Head of the Tech Division, and Montag of the Department of Justice. Liege's eyes shone white, indicating his keen insight, as they passed over Montag. That Navi was trustworthy and an advantage to the Netpolice...so long as that welding mask stayed held up on his head and his personality remained stable. To Liege's left stood Patcher, the Department of Public Safety head garbed in her commander's uniform, and Gridlock, commander of the Navi Prosecutions division. These two were practically without fault, displaying heroic traits that were the most valuable assets that the NP could ask for.
Finally, there was Keys, a small child farthest to his left who looked most out of place in their line-up. Liege felt that, despite the Navi's size and youthful demeanor, Keys was fit for his leadership position in the Investigations division.
Ordinarily, he couldn't have felt more comfortable than amongst these compatriots in whom he harbored so much faith and good will. Unfortunately, a force of equivalent malice was standing directly across the room from him, locking eyes with the Netpolice representatives.
"Netpolice. Welcome," said the NetMafia head. "I don't mean to sound rude, but if we could make any future meetings more expedient, I would be highly appreciative. My head officers don't seem terribly fond of standing still and waiting."
She gave a polite bow despite her irritation. Coda was not at all prone to making demands of others, but the combination of her dislike of the Netpolice and the difficulty of keeping her troops in order was vexing her ordinarily understanding disposition. Her tired eyes swam back and forth beneath her visor, absorbing every minute detail about her enemies while they were gathered before her. Her body, however, felt stiff and weary beneath her suit, despite her stillness. The mental exertion required for her operation was great.
She couldn't help but feel slightly envious as she stared into the bright and alert faces of the Netpolice officers. These men and women, with the exception of Liege, were young and spry. Furthermore, they seemed competent and willing to follow orders. She could not say the same of her men who, unlike the Netpolice, had not gathered to her sides in rank.
To Coda's left stood one of her more competent officers, but perhaps one of the most enigmatic: the mysteriously cheerful and open-looking Altair, head of the Techari family. It was hard to say that Coda exactly trusted her, but the NetMafia head at least felt confident in Altair's ability to control herself in the midst of the Netpolice's greatest fighters.
Altair was currently occupied on keeping a tight manufactured grip (using one of her own devices) on the Bloodhound's leader, Azrael, a fearsome berserker who would attempt to slaughter all NetPolice before him if he were unbound. Jacques, the Vivarte family head, stood to Coda's right with his many Jacques look-alikes, handsome as always but without his calm and collected smile. Despite his reserved attitude, it was clear that he was having a hard time dealing with his sworn foes in a non-violent manner.
Beside him was Psyche 001, another very handsome fellow known as the leader of the newly established Creel family. Standing between the two, handcuffed, was the final NetMafia leader: the criminally insane Teksqp head, KevlarMan. Jacques and Psyche watched him closely, making sure that he did not attempt anything against his would-be opponents.
Arche was the first to try to break the ice, but unfortunately, her personality simply dumped more frigid water onto an already subzero atmosphere. Putting one hand on her curvaceous hips, she leaned slightly to the right and placed the other at her chin. Her sleek black coat and tight clothing emphasized her astounding figure. She smiled at the NetMafia's similarly well-endowed Techari leader. "Wow, your Mafia tech division researchers really are the forerunners of the development scene, aren't they? Just look at the success you're having controlling one of your own commanders." She laughed coldly, despite a quieting red-eyed glance from Liege.
"Perhaps you're jealous that you've yet to acquire a Navi powerful enough to require such a measure?" Altair responded, keeping her identical seemingly well-meaning smile despite her cynical response. Fed up with the situation, Coda silenced her by placing one hand upon her shoulder.
"Let's not awkwardly dance around this any longer. We've come here as a show of good sportsmanship, haven't we? Then let's try to act like good sports," Coda instructed Altair, then turned her head slowly forward to address Liege. "If you all are willing to accept the terms proposed by the GNA, then we will as well. Honestly, I wish we could avoid something like this, but it's my personal belief that it at least will even our playing fields a bit and avoid the outbreak of total war between our factions."
Liege grunted. His eyes switched back to their harsh black. [color=slate gray]"I suppose you believe your loss of secrecy is an equal trade-off for the new membership you will gain in exchange. However, this option is little better than the 'total war' to which you referred. If it were possible to do anything different, I would, but now that the offer is made there is naught to do but accept. Should we refuse, the public opinion of the NetPolice will only decline further."[/color]
Psyche, the Creel leader, chuckled at this admittance. "Did you hear that? I think our family deserves a pay raise, don't you, Coda?" he laughed good-naturedly, raising an eyebrow in her direction.
Keys fidgeted as this remark, as while he was told to stay quiet so the grown-ups could talk, it was his department that was indirectly responsible for the tricks of Psyche and the Creel family. He tugged at the collar of his blazer jacket and shuffled his feet a little in anxiety, and let the responsibility wash over unnoticed as the conversation continued.
Coda returned the glance, but minus the expression. Sighing, she turned her attention back to Liege, desperate to wrap up the negotiations. Liege's hesitancy was perhaps well-founded; by this new arrangement, the Mafia needed only to give up their former secrecy to garner the rich reward of new membership and public interest. If all went well, this event could mean the desperately needed rearrangement of the Mafia's image.
"Note that there is still a degree of confidentiality here, which is necessary to the security of our GNA-mediated recruiting. At any rate, I approve as well. Henceforth, the Global Network Administration shall act as a mediator in our affairs. We will enlist the aid of the citizenry and allow them to choose alliances as they see fit. With this, we will draw the fighting to its just conclusion, guided by the will of the people."
Coda's automated armor moved her towards the middle of the room. Catching the signal, Liege proceeded forward as well. His heavy armor clanked, and his footsteps thudded across the ground. The two joined in a bitter handshake at the center.
Liege's eyes sparkled with a green, understanding aura as he looked down into Coda's visor. He imagined he could see her world-weary eyes gazing back at him, even now working tirelessly to analyze his every feature. [color=slate gray]"I hope this will end with as little further bloodshed as possible,"[/color] he responded earnestly, gripping the Navi's small hand tight.
"I am honored that you've formed this agreement with such noble intentions, but I regret to inform you that there are those within our division who do not look at the lack of bloodshed as nearly so desirable," Coda replied sadly, releasing his hand and walking back to her side. "For your safety, I ask that you all leave first. Once you're gone, we can see how to handle KevlarMan and Azrael."
"Coda, are you negotiating with the enemy? I wouldn't want to have to kill you along with the rest of these criminals,"[font=Constantia][/font] KevlarMan inquired, his one exposed eye glaring at her with unmasked killing intent. Coda ignored the comment, turning her head as if it hurt her to look at him. The NetPolice enforcers left as she watched, speaking quietly amongst themselves.
"You two are aiding the escape of convicted criminals, you know. That's a crime punishable by death,"[font=Constantia][/font] KevlarMan remarked coldly to Jacques and Psyche.
Jacques moved to Coda, putting one hand on her shoulder and smiling. "I liked that part about the will of the people, Commander," he said with a grin. Seeing what looked like displeasure and mild embarrassment spread across the leader's face, he gave another earnest smile and a reassuring laugh. "No, really, I mean it! If the will of the people favors us, then we will succeed."
"But will we garner the will of the people?" she muttered. "I have a feeling that, as the Mafia stands, that may be impossible. These powerful men we've assembled were promoted for the sake of fighting a war. Now, apparently, there is no such war. I find that we'd have done better to focus on those suited for leadership, such as Psyche or yourself. I wonder if we still have a chance in this." She looking more exhausted than ever with her thoughts.
Altair's smile went unnoticed by the others. She couldn't help thinking how ill-placed the worries of her unfortunate leader really were.
When this war is won, it won't be charisma or brute strength that ends it. Wars don't end because a few men fight a little harder than one another or garner the support of a few equally pathetic men to their cause. She stole a derogatory glance at Jacques. We aren't nearly far enough to see the end of this yet. For now, the Netpolice can be content to play with the toys I give them. In the mean time, I will ready our artillery.
With that, she signalled for Azrael to follow, giving him an apparently warm smile. "Don't worry, pet, once I take your muzzle off you can slay to your heart's content. Even we can't afford to make a mess here in the GNA building, however."
[color=slate gray]"Have we made the right decision? In attempting to gain the public opinion, we're running a dangerous gambit. I can only hope the lives we endanger by placing Navis upon the front lines will be repaid fully with the lives that these volunteers will save,"[/color] Liege commented to Patcher as he walked.
Montag jogged for a few steps to catch up with them. "Dangerous as hell, Boss," he said with a shake of his head. The mask slipped down an inch, but he pushed it back up. "We've been fighting these guys for years. I can't see them just sitting down and playing nice after all this time. The only reason they're going along with this is because they've already thought of a way to scorch us with it."
Patcher looked up at Liege with a smile that would have been warm enough to calm him even if her reasoning wasn't so constantly impeccable. She crossed her hands behind her back as she walked. "You've made the right decision, Liege. If anything, this will help us keep better protection over those who have the inclination to help us. I believe that people will feel a greater sense of pride doing work like this. I'm thinking it will total up to a positive change in a way that the Mafia could not have predicted."
Patcher's smile was infectious. Liege's eyes glittered deep blue as the sides of his beard curved upward in one. [color=slate gray]"You're right, as usual. We're lucky to have someone like you around,"[/color] he commented, stroking his beard thoughtfully.
As the Netpolice and NetMafia exited the newly finished GNA building, it was only a few short hours before civilian Navis began to pour in from all across the net. Hardcore Netpolice advocates spilled in from one front while power-hungry Mafia supporters, finally able to reveal themselves, arrived in unison. As violence threatened to break out, an ominous message rang across the field.
"We, the Global Network Administration, would like you to know that as part of our service, you are currently under GNA surveillance to ensure no breaches of the stated contract occur. This contract dissuades any forms of violence while on the GNA recruitment mediation grounds. Any breach of this contract, in the form of physical abuse or threat, will be dealt with immediately and efficiently. Thank you all for your patronage. Please have a wonderful day."
That pseudo-friendly warning was backed up by a ready arsenal of GNA Navis stationed around the entire premises. A few especially bold Navis refused to take the hint and immediately attempted to gain the upper hand by eliminating the competition. With awe-inspiring alacrity, these Navis were picked off by snipers around the one of the building's domed roofs.
Any who activated a shield, a barrier, or even a few daring shadows were then met by special ammunition, precisely aimed in such a way that only the perpetrators were eliminated, leaving all innocents unharmed.
"Note that none of our terms are exclusive. If you wish to have a wonderful day, I'd again suggest you abide by our contract. Now please, do have a wonderful day."
The whole recruitment ground had gone amazingly silent during this exchange. Some felt a new sense of safety after seeing the way that the offenders were dealt with. Others couldn't help but wonder what kind of "neutral mediator" could possibly be packing such artillery and skilled personnel.
This air of tension faded quickly, however, as people fell into the amazing spectacle that was the NetPolice and NetMafia recruitment drive. Posters, merchandise, pamphlets, and videos beckoned from everywhere, offering a greater deal of education than anyone ever thought possible on the two factions. For some, it would be the start of an adventurous career serving in a war older than most Navis themselves; for others, simply a diversion with some quick cash. Still others, Police and Mafia aficionados, had been dreaming of the moment when they would finally be able to label themselves as a real and functional member of their faction.
Whatever the reason, all of them had gathered at the Internet City registration kiosk for one purpose: to get a piece of the war and everything that came with it.