Audience with the Shogun

Mach, Vector, and Aera beamed down to the network floor in a trio of cyan beams. As the glow diminished, the three programs came into view, but they had made a costume change before warping in.

Both Mach and Aera were wearing dark blue, sleeveless tunics, worn over long and baggy, similarly-colored pants, tied with a cord at the waist. The tunics were fairly loose-fitting, though one could see the outline of Aera's respectable bust. They were both wearing footman headbands around their heads, but Aera's was slightly smaller and caused her ponytail to sit slightly higher on her head. Her hair was a bit longer than normal, with her ponytail trailing down to between her shoulderblades. Both had banded tape covering their forearms and lower legs, but Aera also had some dark vambraces over top, and silver rings on her ankles and middle fingers. Their feet are covered by dark blue tabi-style boots, giving a surprising amount of traction while being quite comfortable. Both of them also have a pair of bird-like wings floating behind their backs, but Aera's are much smaller than Mach's, and hers are a layered with blue and orange feathers, while his glow slightly.

Vector looked wildly different as well, his body plates had taken the shape of a feudal Electopian warrior's armor, complete with segmented plate mail and a kabuto-style helmet. However, the "woven" parts of the armor are a dark blue, while the exposed "metal" parts of the armor are a slightly polished silver. The entire set is very well armored, and the slatted design easily allows him to adjust the amount of coverage as needed. His helmet is of the kabuto style, complete with a vertical crest spike and facemask. His eye continues to glow behind it, making it appear as if he had two fierce looking eyes. He looked around at his armor, seemingly pleased with the design.
Hm, odd, but effective.

Mach and Aera looked eachother over, their costumes seemed fairly straightforward and not unlike the standard footsoldier, but the wings were an interesting touch. They were apparently designed by someone named "Yasu," and they weren't disappointed by these new outfits.
Not bad, I kind of like the quality of the fabric, and I think I feel some chainmail underneath... practical. Alright, let's see if we can get an audience with the Shogun.

Mach started to approach the entrance to the camp, and quickly changed his name information to "The Gallant, Super-Sonic Speed-Demon, Airborne Fighter MachMan.EXE", to help identify himself to anyone who wondered who he was, which wouldn't be surprising since this was the first time he'd ever stepped foot in NeoShogunate territory. Aera and Vector followed closely at his flanks, and the trio calmly walked to the entrance.
After wandering inside, MachMan and company found it hard to believe that the shogun could be anywhere nearby; the whole camp was crawling with soldiers, who were busily involved with training, managing inventory, acting as vendors, and etc. There was almost no furniture to sit on besides yellow cloth mats and no roofs besides the yellow tents and canvases set up around the area.

Furthermore, MachMan didn't see Escort anywhere. That might put him in something of a bind, since that meant that there was no one he could easily identify within the camp. It looked like the majority of the camp was composed of the tents and open-air living space, but further within, he spotted another large gate. Although the gate was unguarded, it looked as though a number of more impressive structures lied within, although he didn't hear the same bustle of soldiers coming from behind it. Perhaps the Neo-Shogun himself waited further within the compound? For all he knew, however, the shogun could be sitting in one of the tents right now.
The trio wandered amongst the tents, taking in the sights of the hustle and bustle around them. Mach was somewhat suprised by the primarily yellow theme of the area, and just by how open the area was. Mach continued to lead the group further in, walking calmly down the main path into the camp.

Though they presumably surrounded by allies, Aera and Vector followed Mach closely, keeping their curiosity in check and not get seperated in the maze of tents and people. From the sheer number of soldiers around, either their losses from the Yoka raid weren't as severe as they thought, or their recruitment program was quite successful. As they ventured further in, there was another gate between them and some more impressive structures. There didn't seem to be much activity there either, and the gate was unguarded.
Hm, could that be the command area? It seems the camp is encompassed by soldiers' quarters and training areas, so I'd bet the leadership are at its center.

The trio started to advance, but Mazer's voice cut in and prompted the three to stop briefly. His voice sounded a bit strained, his throat was a bit sore.
[Hang up a sec. I'd get confirmation before *cough* wandering in, we don't want to inadvertently walk into a restricted area. We never got briefed on the area, so there may be special customs or protocol.]
... good point. At least there's plenty of folks to ask.

Aera had already started to look for any soldiers to talk to, with Vector following close behind. She didn't want to disturb them from their training or other business, so she attempted to get the attention of a soldier who didn't appear to be occupied with a task. She smiled and bowed slightly as she tried to get the Navi's attention.
Excuse me...

If she got the Navi's attention, she would have gestured over towards the central area.
This is our first time here, and we're curious about the area past that gate. What is over there?
"What a beauty!" the soldier exclaimed, hopping up from where he'd been loafing around. "Such a gorgeous navi is no mere soldier and rather a subordinate rank, am I correct?" he murmured, pressing both hands together officiously. Up close, he looked just a little different from some of the other soldiers; perhaps more gaunt, and wearing several rings on his fingers, as well as necklaces tucked beneath his tunic. "The area over there was created by the Neo-Shogun as a respite for subordinates, generals, and Himself! In the past, it saw infrequent usage, but now that the number of subordinates is growing, one will sometimes catch people wandering in and out."

The navi's jewelry tinkled against his skinny wrists as he pointed towards the largest structure visible in the distance. "I don't know everything that's back there, but I do know that the Shogun himself resides in there! If you're a subordinate, it should be fine for you to open that gate."
Mach calmly approached as Aera conversed with the soldier. She blushed slightly from the complement, bowing again instinctively. Upon hearing the Navi determine her rank, her head canted to the side slightly. She really didn't remember what rank they became upon joining.
You're too kind, sir... Oh, um...

Mach; however, remembered the email from Escort, which detailed their acceptance into the NeoShogunate.
Indeed we are, comrade.

The trio listened carefully to the Navi as he explained the area. It seemed Mach's theory was correct, and luckily for them they had the proper rank to come and go as they please. The Navi even pointed out the Shogun's abode, further helping the trio find their destination.
I see, thank you very much! We'll head over there now.

Aera smiled at the navi as she began to walk away, prompting Vector to turn as well. Before taking a step, he looked over at the Navi and nodded.
We appreciate your assistance.
Thanks, comrade.

The trio made their way past the gate, and tried to make their way towards the largest structure in the center of the camp. With their goal in sight, the three programs started to spread out a bit, to take in the sights and possibly identify other structures as they passed. Once they made their way to the Shogun's structure, they walked around it to find the main entrance, and evaluate the situation. There may be guards, and simply waltzing in unannounced would probably be frowned upon.
The skinny guy waved MachMan and his companions off as they disappeared behind the big, wooden gate. The construct creaked noisily as the entered, but then shut behind them with surprising smoothness, creating a prompt thud as it closed off the area once again. The area inside was as reported: a steamy bathhouse, a few small tents, and the large structure in the back were all there was to see. Unlike at the front of the camp, there was no one to be seen, even soldiers. From a distance, it looked as though the tents were empty as well.

If there were guards for the shogun's house, they must have been stationed inside. It seemed like the shogun must be alright with very light security.
The trio made their way through the central camp, and were a bit uneasy due to the total lack of activity. The fabric of the small tents swayed gently in the breeze, and one could see steam lazily wafting out of the bathhouse, but there was no one in sight.
Hm, maybe they're offline, or visiting some other area?
[*cough* that's possible, but might as well poke around just to be sure.]
I agree, we'll check out the large structure ahead.

Vector and Aera walked close behind Mach as they walked past the bathhouse and some of the few tents dotting the area. The area could be rather peaceful, but considering how unfamiliar they were with the area, it had a much more forboding and eerie vibe. The three programs made their way to the large structure in the back, and calmly approached its entrance. It too was unguarded, so Mach led the way and walked inside...
The trio found that, surprise surprise, there were no soldiers stationed inside either. Some tall, standing brass torch structures provided the only light in the area, making it so that they could only see the red tiles leading straight through the middle of the building. White banners, bearing the demon mask that seemed to be the Neo-Shogun's personal emblem, were strewn about here and there, hanging from walls and arches although just barely visible due to the lighting. There were no guards to bar the group's progression in any direction, but the only viable way to go was straight forward.

At the end of the lit path, the two saw the shogun waiting, completely alone. He was seated with his legs crossed beneath him on a large, black floor mat. Gold curtains were drawn around either side of him, only slightly obscuring the group's view. As they walked forward, he made no attempts to address them...
The inside of the building was unsurprisingly dark, and eerily quiet; only the flickering tourches made a sound. The trio calmly followed the red tile path on the floor, and glanced over the dimly lit white banners hanging on the walls and arches. The banners were adorned with an intimidating demon mask, was that the Shogun's symbol?

Soon the Shogun himself came into view, sitting on a large, raised black mat and framed by gold curtains. The trio slowed and started to look around, there appeared to be absolutely 0 guard presence in the area. Were they just expertly hidden, or the Shogun is powerful enough to forego the need for bodyguards? Considering the Shogun's very still pose and posture, maybe he was meditating and needed complete silence?

Mach stopped about 20 feet from the Shogun's raised mat, not encroaching on his space. Aera quietly brushed her hand against Mach's shoulder, and Mach got an alert of a datafile transfer from Aera. He opened the file, which contained an image file of an ancient woodblock print. A man with almost comically oversized robes and hairstyle was sitting on a raised platform, not unlike the Shogun. Facing this person were a man and a woman prostrating themselves in front of him. Both were sitting on their heels and bent forward, with their heads nearly touching the floor. The man was in armor, and the sides of his fists were placed on the floor, while the woman's hands were flat on the floor, forming a chevron pointing towards the man on the platform.

Mach looked back to Aera, who glanced over towards the Shogun and nodded quietly. She had made a very quick info search, and found what appeared to be a traditional form of greeting, based on the feudal electopian theme the NS seemed to follow. It was strange, and they didn't know exactly what to do in this situation, but the reference seemed to be the best educated guess available.

Mach faced the shogun and somewhat awkwardly sank down to his knees, trying to imitate the pose in the image file. Aera and Vector followed suite at Mach's flanks. With the sides of his fists on the floor, Mach lowered his head and addressed the Shogun. He was a good distance away from the Shogun, but he did not raise his voice, as not to startle the Navi.
Honorable Shogun, I am suboordinate MachMan.EXE. I am here to request a moment of your time, if you allow it.
"Speak freely, MachMan,"[font=eras demi itc][/font] the shogun encouraged him, keeping that same statue-like posture. "I have heard of your exploits from Escort. She commended the tenacity and commitment that you displayed during your recent mission in NetVegas."[font=eras demi itc][/font] The fact that he wasn't laughing or making crude jokes was amazing, if he really had learned about everything that happened there. Of course, Escort made it sound like she was going to be pretty quiet about the whole affair, so it would be surprising to think that she revealed everything that went on there. Still, perhaps she'd thought the shogun had a right to know?

The black eye-holes in the armor's mask gaped back at MachMan. Either the shogun's eyes were closed or the armor was empty... Or otherwise, the lighting was just so poor as to not show the whites of his eyes.
Luckily for him, it appeared the Shogun was open to conversation, and did not seem perturbed by Mach's presence. He went further as to indirectly laud Mach's success in his mission with Escort. Either the Navi was very professional, or Escort didn't exactly divulge every bit of information to her leader, due to the slightly embarrassing happenings that transpired. Mach sat up, still sitting on his heels.
I'm glad I could be of service, sir.

Aera and Vector sat up as well, feeling slightly more relaxed since the conversation seemed to be starting smoothly. Vector's eye glowed softly and unwaveringly looked towards the Shogun, as did Aera's eyes as they sparkled slightly from the flickering torch programs lighting the area. Mach felt slightly more relaxed as well, but he continued to speak formally, as he was about to make a request of the NS head.
Honorable Shogun, I am new to the Neo Shogunate, and unsurprisingly unfamiliar with the specific nuances, policies, and goals. I have had the organization's basic doctrine of net unification explained to my one of your soldiers through the BBC, but I thought something like a discussion of your group's goals warrant a face-to-face meeting.

Though Mach wasn't entirely sure the figure ahead was indeed the shogun, just due to the lack of movement, he continued on.
I know our goals is to expand the influence of the Neo Shogunate to unify the net, but to what end? What are we willing to do to achieve our goal, and what will happen once we succeed? I apologize if my questions are too forward, or if I'm asking for privileged information.
"Our goal is one unified net, where no man will raise a weapon against another and all will be as one army,"[font=eras demi itc][/font] the shogun answered. "I desire nothing more than an end to conflict, which has always persisted across the net in various forms, like brushfire... It arises suddenly, quells itself, and then reemerges when one becomes unprepared."[font=eras demi itc][/font]

Still staying completely still, the shogun continued his response. "We must act with reason and patience, yet be prepared to do whatever is necessary in defense of our goals. We must have a plan for everything, be prepared to do anything, and yet strive to harm nothing. As you can understand, we live in a complex web of politics, being a faction opposing all other factions,"[font=eras demi itc][/font] he rasped enigmatically. "Currently, our goal is to accomplish as much as possible while avoiding a fight. The situation demands a gentle touch as the net will only offer its own hand to another extended in peace. We must be careful to handle all of our affairs with sensitivity."[font=eras demi itc][/font]

"The greatest honorable feat for a soldier in these times is to have the strength to do whatever is asked of him while exercising restraint and control,"[font=eras demi itc][/font] he finished.
The Shogun directly approached the question, and didn't seem to hold anything back. If he wasn't being truthful, he was very good at hiding his pure motives behind a very convincing mask. It jived with the soldier's testimony, the NeoShogunate was no longer interested in military conquest, and prefers a much gentler, negotiative way of handling things. Though Rhea claimed the NS was a hostile organisation, and historically it proves her theory, but it really looks as if the NeoShogunate has made a complete 180 in its methods for obtaining their goals.

Aera couldn't help but feel slightly flushed by the Shogun's eutopic goals for the future. The Shogun had some very lofty goals, but he didn't seem to have his head in the clouds, and conveyed an understanding that such goals will require persistence and patience. Unless there were much more large-scale missions being accomplished, it seemed to Mach the NS was steadily chipping away at their goal, instead of trying to unify the net overnight. Mach bowed his head politely, prompting Vector and Aera to do the same.
We're honored to help bring peace and safety to the network, and hope we may be of use. It's a cause we will gladly stand behind.

Mach raised his head, showing some tangible relief in hearing the Shogun's pacifistic policy.
In the pursuit of those goals, I believe I may have a potential avenue to explore. I have contacts with a few NetPolice officers, and I may be able to act as a liaison between the two organizations, to further assist our diplomatic efforts. Having a strong positive relationship with the NetPolice could be quite advantageous.
"It's an interesting proposal..."[font=eras demi itc][/font] the shogun responded; two heavy, metallic clacks sounded before his body began to move for the first time. The armor rose to its feet and began to stroke the chin of its mask thoughtfully as two yellow, glowing lights lit up in its eye sockets. "Remember, however, that our goal ends with the NetPolice yielding to unification. The NetPolice is not an entity that inheritly must be at war with our army, and yet they their organization is now rife with goals running opposite or perpendicular even to other goals that they themselves claim."[font=eras demi itc][/font]

The shogun paced the floor with heavy thuds, thinking carefully about MachMan's proposal. "A peace-keeping entity is necessary for the net; my envisioned society is not so perfect as to avoid interjection by small pockets of wrong-doers. The NetPolice now have a myriad of roles, however... a perhaps middling but none-the-less influential sector is corrupted by wealth.More importantly, individual ambitions are scattered. I'd like to see them more committed to a singular goal,"[font=eras demi itc][/font] he explained. "Still, one cannot offer only half a hand in peace and expect full reciprocation. For now, it is best that we accept the NP's existence and operation."[font=eras demi itc][/font]

"Keep your ties to this NetPolice operative, Subordinate MachMan. At the same time, however, be wary of what you say to her. The NP retain a healthy suspicion of our organization and we cannot expose all of our cards to them either. I make certain to build an army that I can trust; I have handpicked my generals and accept only recommendations from trusted officers when it comes to expansion. I don't have the same confidence in them. You can trust your friend just as Escort trusted you; at the same time, we cannot put absolute trust in all of her acquaintances. That means that you must guard your flow of information to her, as a word delivered in private could disperse further out into the uncontrollable and unknown,"[font=eras demi itc][/font] he finished.
It appeared the Shogun's interest was piqued by Mach's proposal, prompting him to stand and begin to pace as he thought the situation through. It was obvious the NP would have to eventually become a part of the NeoShogunate, or be swallowed up in its quest for unification. Mach listened intently as the Shogun continued, it appeared his knowledge of the NP was rather vast, and he explained there were various levels of fragmentation and corruption within the NetPolice, something Mach wasn't entirely aware of.

"Hm, *ehem* it seems even the NetPolice isn't immune to corruption, though I'm not exactly surprised."
Mazer spoke to himself as he was listening closely as well, trying to follow the Shogun's thought processes and see things from his point of view.

Mach sat a little straighter upright as the Shogun started to give him marching orders. He was approving of his contact with the NetPolice, wanted him to exercise caution in what information he should divulge.
Of course, Shogun. Information is power, and we cannot let it tip the scales in their favor. I will only give as much information as necessary to get an equal or greater amount of information about the NetPolice, and even the NetMafia.

Mach understood the need for InfoSec, considering the rather fragile state of affairs between the two organizations. Any loose information may undo weeks to months of hard work.
Is there any particular information you wish to know about the NetPolice? It should help guide my search, and I don't want to waste your time with intel you are already aware of.
"There is much information that would be useful for us on a tactical level, but that information is precisely what we cannot drill down to. Any attempts to learn weak points in the NP, or even to learn of sectors that disapprove of our activities or plan to seek us out, will be seen as a threat. Although I realize that everyone's time is valuable, the greatest interactions you can have with the NP at this point will be ones that ensure them that we have no ill will against them. The information here is less important than the means of interaction; therefore, sow seeds of friendship by continuing your relationship as is ordinary,"[font=eras demi itc][/font] Neo-ShogunMan suggested. "Of course, there are some threats I have the right to know about. Be certain to report any direct threats you perceive."[font=eras demi itc][/font]

Crossing his hands behind his back once again, the shogun turned to face the three. "If any of you have other suggestions, do not hesitate to voice them."[font=eras demi itc][/font]
The Shogun made a point to mention attempts to gain sensitive intel have a high potential of setting off red flags by the NP, and potentially consider Mach's mission a threat. This was no surprise to Mach, getting such information without alarming the NP would be incredibly difficult. However, gaining info on the NM through the NP may not be as big of a blip on the NP's radar, though Mach would likely have to tread lightly in that area as well.
Absolutely, honorable Shogun. Developing a strong relationship with the NP will my top priority, and I will ensure you are made aware of any and all threats I detect.

The Shogun turned back to the group, asking if they had any suggestions or anything else to add. MachMan bowed his head politely.
Your judgement is sound, honorable Shogun. If we devise other suggestions we will let you know. Since we're here, are there any current matters that could use our assistance?
"I appreciate the diligence you have shown, MachMan, but at this time, the camp is quiet. We should be thankful for the peace,"[font=eras demi itc][/font] the shogun informed his subordinate, raising one hand to signal for him to rise. "Yasu would know about operations; if you are interested in doing more worth for the empire, feel free to take work at the GNA board. For now, though, why don't you spend some time with your friend? A friendship was the cornerstone that started this army, after all."[font=eras demi itc][/font]

The shogun returned to his sitting position in the dimly lit hall, not elaborating on the story he'd vaguely mentioned.
The Shogun did not have an immediate use for the trio, but he did refer them to the GNA board, and Yasu. Mach recognized the name from his NS_Uniform.GMO note, Yasu had a hand in its design. Was it a side project to operations, or maybe Yasu is a "jack of all trades"? Mach made a mental note, trying to map the NS's command structure. Obviously the generals are under the Shogun, one of them being Escort. Yasu may be a general as well. Mach stood as requested, prompting his SPs to do the same.
Essentially dismissed, the trio bowed politely.
Understood, honorable Shogun. Thank you for your time.

Mach took a couple steps back before turning around, SPs in tow. They quietly followed the path on the floor to building's exit. Upon exiting the building, Mach stopped and started to discuss their next step with his SPs and Operator.
Alright, that went better than expected, the Shogun is rather level-headed. I know he said we should get back with our contact, but I'll bet she's on her way to the NP to get information as well, if she isn't there already.
That wouldn't surprise me, sire. In her situation I would do just that.
So, since she's likely unavailable, what should we do now?

Mazer's face appeared on a small pop-up window in front of the programs. He looked a little pale, and had a bad case of bed head, but he looked okay.
[Well, I could *erhem* head over to SciLabs to pick up some upgrades, we have a decent amount of money saved up.]

Mach raised an eyebrow, concerned due to Mazer's recent bout with an unknown illness the night before.
You sure? I don't want to burden you when you're sick.
[Yeah, I should be fine. A little cold can't take me out that easily, haha. *cough*]

The blue and orange Navi shrugged, giving in to the netop's confidence.
Alright then, I won't object to that.
[Cool. Stand by, I'll log you three out.]

The trio stood there for a few moments, then they rapidly began to glow a bright cyan before beaming up and out of the network.

((Logged Out))
((MachMan gets: 4 Neo-ShogunMan FXP))