Public Neo-Shogun Camp.

A small military camp on the outskirts of the Neo-Shogunate's Headquarters was the first stop for travelers and the base of diplomatic operations. Here, among the many tents and pavilions, was where the public could gather and carouse without compromising the safety of the Neo-Shogunate.
[From [url=]White Tower[/url].]

A swirling vortex of light opened like a door on the outskirts of the public camp, depositing the program onto the dirt road that ran up to the camp. Magistrate.EXE took a moment to survey the surroundings before moving at a brisk walk up toward the guards stationed at the entrance to the camp. Its hands, assuming it had any to begin with, were deeply buried in its robes. So when it came up to the guards, a small screen appeared before it, showing its affiliation as a representative of "The Ardant, Dauntless Knight, Vigilant Partisan DragonierMan.EXE." It was clear that this program was sent in DragonierMan's place, for the time being. And to take it to General Dee.
The guards were happy to let the figure stroll into the camp. It seemed like when they said public camp, they really meant it.

The public area of the camp was mostly populated by yellow-bandanna wearing guys, so it wasn't too hard to find Dee, who stuck out like a sore thumb thanks to her white-topped hair and blue dress. She wasn't really busying herself with anything; rather, she'd sprawled out on a yellow mat and was fanning herself with one of her ornate folding fans. It looked like her whole body had become a little sunburned from her time in Netfrica, judging by the slightly red hue of her skin.

She didn't even bother looking towards Magistrate.EXE, until she realized he'd been standing over her persistently for a while. "What is it? Oh..." she muttered, placing one hand to her chin as she leaned forward to read the screen. "Is our new soldier to busy to show up in person?" she groaned, getting up stiffly and carefully to avoid upsetting the sunburn.

"Well, not like it really matters. But I don't really know who... or what you are. Do you speak? Or er... understand? Can you understand me?" she asked, covering half of her face with her folded fan to hide an expression of bewilderment. She didn't have any clue what it was that DragonierMan had sent.
The program in the form of a person continued to 'stare' at Dee with his featureless face, as she prattled on about one thing or another. It was quite disconcerting, what with having no face and all, and being as motionless as a statue. But thankfully it didn't last very long, as she finished her first round of questions.

An opaque screen appeared in front of his face, blocking out the creature behind it, as Dee's fan did to hers. It was a blackboard, highlighting white words which began to scrawl across to convey meaning. {I understand.} it began. {My programming does not include vocalizations. Text will suffice.}

{My designation is Magistrate.EXE. I was created to facilitate Destin Obscura's growing operations. I also serve ambassadorial functions. I am the mouth, while DragonierMan.EXE is the sword.} he clarified before continuing. {That navi is 'hunting' at this moment in Yumland Net. I was not sent by him. However you may communicate through me, your mission. That is my only purpose for being here, to listen. It will reach his ears when he becomes 'unoccupied.' It should not be much longer.}


A few minutes passed before they were interrupted by an explosion of blinding, multi-colored light. A thunderous roar followed the spectacle. {Speak of the devil.} the screen read as a force that shook the ground stampeded into camp in a cloud of dust. Two yellow-bandanna wearing guys were holding on for dear life to something within the cloud, their feet flailing out behind them, dragging through the air. And it wasn't long before the dust devil enveloped Dee and Magistrate.

Dee was swept up by the elemental force and held aloft. The dust cloud had stopped moving and began to settle enough to show two well-muscled and tanned arms holding her up. The two NS soldiers dropped to the ground and crawled quickly away as a smiling face appeared in the cloud, smudge-covered. DragonierMan's obsidian eyes held a devilish gleam under a dusty white bandanna; the black tower symbol emblazoned in shining metallic thread.

As the cloud dissipated more, he became quite visible in his entirety. He was wearing a new outfit [NS_Uniform.GMO active]. This uniform featured a black leather belt that ran across both shoulders and attached to a rounded gardbrace at the navi's left shoulder, the other side of the belt looped around the right shoulder and ran diagonally across the back to attach to the left hip. Another band stretched from his left shoulder to the right hip across the chest. That belt held a rounded chestplate in the center of the navi's chest, bearing the Neo-Shogun's horned demon-mask emblem. A lower-body codpiece with tassets running along the outer thighs, long-clawed boots and gauntlets rounded out the bold outfit.

"Miss me?"
While some soldiers had fled when DragonierMan touched down, just as many had risen up with spears held aloft. They were both wary for their general's safety and aghast at the fact that a man had laid hands upon her so carelessly. Slowly, however, they began to understand from the patch on his chest and the fact that Dee had not retaliated that the man must be one of their own. Still bearing a grudge, they lowered their spears and conversed quietly amongst each other.

"Never a dull moment with you around, Recruit. I was becoming worried we'd bored you with our last outing, after you sent your little toy! Still, you should know that that was a one-time thing; you don't get to have your way with me every time we meet, no matter how much you might want to! Ho ho..." the general laughed, letting herself down slowly from his arms. "Unless I tell you to, of course~"

Unfolding her fan and angling it once more to cover her mouth, she allowed her lips to curl into a playful smile. "I'll bet you're curious, aren't you? Don't you want to get started on the mysteries right away? I have a feeling they're all connected... I'm giddy just thinking about them! Luckily, I finally got a break in my work to... I mean, er, a trusted associate to help me investigate them!" she chuckled teasingly.

The blue-clad general lifted a scroll from her dress' bust and unrolled it quickly. "I've written out a brief description of each of the mysteries! We'll start with whichever you like, Recruit."

Mystery of the Bath House Maintenance
Each day, at precisely the same time, the general's bath house is taken down for cleaning and restock. Nobody seems to enter or leave the building during this time, however, and the time period allotted seems inordinately long. What is going on during the down time? Who is inside? Is it related to the other mysteries?

Mystery of the Silent Shogun
At a time corresponding to the bath house maintenence, our Shogun enters a period of deep meditation. Only Yasu is allowed into his chamber at this time, and she always enters at the start of his meditation. What are they doing in there, I wonder? Sounds juicy~

Mystery of the Cloaked Associate
From time to time, a figure wrapped in a white cloak has been spotted around the camp. Almost always, the arrival of this figure corresponds with some accident occurring inside of the camp. The figure is very hard to spot; he/she enters and leaves the scene very quickly. Yasu won't tell me anything about it. Let's capture it and solve the mystery!

"And what luck, that you brought us something to keep notes with! We can have Magistrate organize all of our clues. Ho ho ho, with the two of us, these mysteries will all finally be unraveled!" she laughed confidently.
DragonierMan pondered for a moment as Magistrate began recording the three mysteries. "Mysteries hmm? Heh. I was never great at these things. It always seem to end up with me failing," he said as he scratched the back of his head. "Now combat! I can do that with my eyes closed," he blurted before he caught himself. "Well, not really, bu-."

What sounded like an electronic ping interrupted the navi. Turning to Magistrate, there was a block of text. {Allow me to lighten the burden, Sword. I suggest we start with the General's Bath House. As mentioned, the bath house will be deserted and General Yasu preoccupied. Attempting to spy on General Yasu is much riskier than inspecting a bath house. And we have no way of knowing, as of yet, when the next appearance of the 'Cloaked Associate' will be.} DragonierMan had to at least nod as things were spelled out for him. Apparently, being that this was the very first time he had even met Magistrate, he was taking the presence of this strange program rather well. So well in fact, that it seemed that they were old colleagues. Though this was probably his operator's intention.

"Those are good points," DragonierMan said with what he thought was a thoughtful expression, then clapped his hands together. "Right. So the bath house it is." He turned back to Dee, then suddenly realized that everyone, especially himself, were covered in a thin layer of road dust. "And we could use a bath," he said with a smirk as other thoughts, some lecherous, wormed their way into his brain with the silence.
"Ho ho, behave, Recruit!" Dee laughed, slapping her gloved hand upon DragonierMan's upper arm playfully. "Very well, I approve of our notepad's logic. It seems to make sense to start there," she agreed, then led DragonierMan onward through the camp.

At a certain spot, a large fence separated the area. Even with things as they open as they were, it seemed some areas were off-limits to all but those of Subordinate rank or higher (a sign upon the door said as much). Smiling to her ally, Dee opened up the gate and went through.

Another area of tents and fences, slightly more impressive than the one before, lay in front of them. It seemed that there was one tent that acted as a meeting area, another tent that acted as an infirmary, an enclosed bathhouse, and a wooden lodging for the Shogun. It still wasn't that large in size, so DragonierMan could easily assume that he didn't spend all of his time here. Still, even that was something of a mystery; was this like a vacation spot for the Neo-Shogun soldiers, or a part-time lodging?

Dee moved over to the bathhouse and made special note of the sign hanging, saying "OPEN." "There's nothing we can do but find a good place to wait and watch. I'd like to propose that one of us watches the inside, while the other watches outside. Do you have a preference one way or another, Recruit?" she asked. "I think it might make more sense if you wait inside, since Yasu might find it suspicious if you're lounging around outside the bath. Just go on in and find a good place to hide yourself."
DragonierMan took a moment to look over the area and listen to Dee's ideas. He nodded his head at the end. "Right. Magistrate, you're with Dee," DragonierMan stated as he approached the bath house. He took a moment at the entrance to try to brush some of the caked-on dust off his arms and chest before brushing through the cloth doorway. Then he disappeared through the hanging cloth.

Magistrate, meanwhile, looked around to see if there were any low walls or bushes to hide in within distance to the bath house entrance. If the program was uncomfortable with the dust, or the heat under all those heavy black robes, or the act of hiding in a bush, there was no indication.
The entire area was veiled in a low-lying mist, which seemed like it'd make it easy to hide with only minimal coverage. The best and easiest places to hide in, while still providing enough visibility, would probably be the hedges surrounding the Shogun's dwelling or the cross-hatched fences which ran perpendicular with the entrance to the bathhouse. Alternatively, if Magistrate only wanted to hear without caring about seeing, he could try one of the laundry bins sitting outside of the bath house.

Inside the bathhouse, DragonierMan found the air possessed an even denser cloud of mist, which nearly hid his body from view on its own. The bath was rather large and surrounded by smooth, pebbled footing. Far to the left, several cube-shaped cubby-holes were left open for towels, folded clothes, shoes, etc. Wooden hooks sticking out from the log-fenced walls would allow clothes to be hung.

Besides that, several buckets were left sitting about. A number of folded towels sat in one corner, some body-length, some more appropriate to serve as face towels. A small bamboo reed clunked up and down lightly, letting water into the bath. He wasn't sure how it got back out. The final spot of interest was a square, wooden door, occupying a space where the rocks had been hollowed out. It seemed to be locked, but the lock didn't look like it would hold up under the strength of a dragon.

He could really crouch just about anywhere and likely avoid being seen, thanks to the mist. That was a good thing, because there were very few places to stay that would actually block vision. The only viable options to allow such a feat would be to escape into the trap door or hide in the water.

Taking some time to look around and assess the situation of likely hiding spots, the bushes looked particularly inviting. Magistrate tapped Dee on a bare shoulder and pointed to a large bush that grew up against the side of a cross-hatched fencepost. It was just big enough for them both to potentially use. The program wordlessly, without waiting for Dee's reply, circled over behind the bush and faded into the foliage like a ghost. Though there was still the sound of rustling gnarled branches until Magistrate was settled. Then eerie tranquility.


The heavily steamed bath house blurred the navi's vision as he entered. It took him a moment to wipe the film from his eyes and blink repeatedly, gaining focus. As he peered through the fog he saw a single spot of interest, besides the normal bath house accommodations, a single wooden door set into a hollow of rocks. He slowly walked over to the door, moving carefully to avoid slipping on the wet floor. When he finally stood in front of the door he placed one hand on the frame and the other gripped the door knob. Then, with a quick jerk, he slammed his shoulder hard into the door close to where it met the frame. The attempt was to force entry by breaking through the section between the frame and the lock, hopefully leaving the door relatively intact. If successful, he would just need to gather up the splinters, tossing them into the room on the other side, and hold the door closed from the other side to make it look like the door was still locked. The thick mist hopefully hiding most of the damage done by the attempt.
Dee apparently hadn't even considered hiding herself. Laughing, she went along with Magistrate to hide. "I was going to stay out here and keep guard, but it'll probably look even more suspicious if I'm standing around here. I guess I'll keep you company, Notepad," she sighed, following the helper into the brush.

DragonierMan's helper and Dee ended smushed up close together, waiting and watching from the bush. Nothing seemed to be moving at the moment. As they waited in silence, Magistrate realized that the blue-clothed general's characteristic cowlick was sticking up past the bush. If that kept up, they'd be easily spotted.

In the mean time, DragonierMan smashed open the little trap door and then replaced it. Looking down into it, he'd only seen a few barrels amidst the darkness. As he sunk himself into his spot, however, he discovered that the trap door actually led in to some kind of tunnel. The tunnel was completely unlit, however, so he had no idea where it went, or even if it was a straight walk.

Noticing how Dee's hair would potentially get them spotted, the program nudged the general with its sleeve again. Its hands had yet to be seen. But then suddenly invisible touches by ghostly hands began to braid/tie up her hair without her consent. Which was difficult given their smooshed condition within a brambly bush.


Unable to make out where the tunnel went, DragonierMan just kept to his hiding spot in a stack of barrels. Forming a sort of barrel fort.
"Oh ho! I should have known that Recruit's personal pad would be overly bold as well. What am I, your gal pal?! Quit it!" Dee grumbled, shaking her head to make Magistrate stop. While he'd succeeded in getting some of her unruly hair under control, the big, antennae-like lick at the top was what really mattered. He'd need to get it down some how.

The gate they'd entered through originally began to rustle, indicating someone else coming in. There wasn't much time left.

Also, DragonierMan formed a superb barrel fort.

Magistrate attempted once more to get Dee's hair under control. If the program was unsuccessful within a few seconds of trying, it would grab her head and shove her to the ground. Burying her deep in the bush.


DragonierMan continued to hold his position as quietly as he could and waited... for something.
After as much effort as he could manage, Magistrate finally pushed Dee's face into the dirt to keep her from being seen. Unfortunately, the plan backfired; Dee began thrashing around madly in protest. The person who'd come through the door spotted her instantly.

"Dee! What are you doing over there, so close to the Shogun's quarters?" the green-armored first general barked, demanding the senior general's attention. "If it were anyone else, I'd merely dismiss it and assume you were carrying out some duty. You, however... I can never tell what you are plotting..."

Gathering herself up, Dee brushed the foliage from her dress and smiled suavely, shaking her newly braided hair behind her. "Don't you support our Shogun's principle of strength in trust and familiarity?" she jabbed, unfolding her fan to hide the lower half of her face. "I'm not here to bicker, however. I was simply thinking that I might assist the Shogun in his meditations today."

Seeming strangely indignant about the concept, Yasu walked forward with a confrontational swagger. "Clear that thought from your head, Sorceress. As if anyone could meditate with you around," she protested. "Besides, the Shogun is not in a good state today. We've left several guards to protect him while he recovers. I'd suggest you leave."

"Really? Were you not here to visit him?" Dee asked, somewhat surprised.

"No. I am going to see that the bath is being cleaned properly. Under my authority as First General, I ask that you please stay out of everyone's way. Recede into the bushes, if you must. I don't even want to know what you were doing in there..." she grumbled, heading towards the bathhouse.

Dee laughed, then watched Yasu move off towards the bath house. "An interesting twist, eh, Notepad?" she chuckled, her voice nearly a whisper. "It appears as though the situation today will differ from the usual routine. Perhaps this is good; a little deviation might make it easier to unravel what's going on."

Still, Dee had no way to follow Yasu in without further rousing her superior's anger. "How about it, Notepad? Should we continue to stake it out here?" she asked, tapping at the creature's face with one gloved finger.

There was also a chance that without Yasu around, they'd be able to sneak in to the Shogun's quarters. Apparently, however, many guards had been stationed around and the Shogun was unwell.


Yasu entered the bathhouse, pushing aside the yellow hanging curtain near the door with one arm. She looked around with a vacant frown, then settled in to a slight smile. DragonierMan could only hear her from his current position, but had no way to watch her without lifting the door.

DragonierMan heard a sound of someone entering. He was unaware that it was Yasu, as he was told that Yasu would be with the Shogun. He had also been told that no one should be currently in the bath house, so whoever or whatever it was, it was an unknown. He craned his head a tad and placed his ear as close to the door as room would allow, from his current position amongst the barrels. Listening intently. He dared not open the door more than a crack or move too much for fear of discovery. Hopefully, he would be able to pick up some critical clue to solve this mystery through hearing alone.


On the notepad front, Magistrate began inscribing its concern of Dee's poofy, easily perceptible hair and disposition to being noisy in digital ink. Letting her take the time to read it and the many possible alternatives for her hair ranging from cutting it down to wearing a hood. The program didn't go into corrections to her noisiness probably due to either ethical standards or its poor choice of attempted assistance moments earlier in an effort to rectify the situation itself. As for the current mission, Magistrate seemed content to just stay where it was in the bushes on stake out.
Without detecting DragonierMan, Yasu moved over to the corner of the bathing room where the towels were hanging. With her body shrouded in mist, she quickly unsnapped her armor and set it inside one of the cubby-holes (funnily, it was so small itself that it fit inside rather neatly). From the distance, DragonierMan was still unable to identify the figure, let alone her nudity.

After wrapping herself quickly with a body-towel, she proceeded to the edge of the bath and walked all the way around, until finally her back was facing the navi's hiding spot. Her figure slowly became more obvious to DragonierMan, identifying her as Yasu. On the other hand, she didn't seem to have recognized or even noticed him at all. With an uncharacteristic smile, she put her thighs into the water and relaxed, pushing her luxurious brown hair over one shoulder with an elegant motion of one hand.

... DragonierMan began to make out the sounds of footsteps behind himself. It sounded like someone was coming through the path he'd chosen to hide in. There was no way of telling whether it was friend or foe, maybe Dee, possibly even a stranger... the darkness made it impossible to tell. Regardless, with the way DragonierMan had set up, they'd surely notice him on their way through unless he took some sort of action.


Unfortunately for Magistrate, no matter how much time he gave her to read, she simply wasn't interested. "My hair is the least of our concerns. We have to get hidden and keep a watch-out," she claimed, although her unruly hair was what had ruined the first one. "How about this: I'll watch from the bushes, and if anyone shows up, I'll simply make myself invisible. That way nobody will spot us," she explained, unbraiding her hair as she talked.

The two then returned to their position. At least immediately, it seemed nobody was coming. From that close up, they could hear that even the Shogun's quarters seemed strangely dormant and free of activity.
While his navi was away, Destin Obscura was watching a special broadcast of the ENN (Electopia News Network). A navi by the name of PolicyMan was giving a long-winded speech on cleaning up the Net. How he would go after hackers and other criminal scum and the like. How he would work to the betterment of all. What fascinated Destin however was not that the goals of this navi were similar to his own, with slight difference in the details; it was that PolicyMan was originally unoperated.

Even though several months had passed, Destin was still relatively new to the Net and its wonders. He never even had a navi until moving to this country. The concept of 'operation' when dealing with those that identified as 'navi' and 'virus' were still gray areas. Each category of network creation exhibited similar wants and needs, and the lack thereof, as well as complex emotions and tendencies. Viruses could be passive, just content with existence, and not corruptive. And Navis could, and have, been just as mindlessly destructive as viruses.

The current war between the Net Police and the Net Mafia was one such conflict. 'Unoperated' individuals have on occasion been caught in the crossfire, and have been used as fodder in turn. A variety of groups have formed on the fringes of this conflict, taking in turns to carve their own little kingdoms out of the chaos and rubble. And sitting above it all impassively was the GNA. All the GNA seemed to care about was to control the conflict, to keep an eye on all the powers. To make sure they didn't rise to challenge them. They even 'allowed' the two most powerful sides to host their recruitments in the heavily populated, and GNA controlled, Internet City. And for the moment the two sides are careful to not step on the GNA's toes. Woe be to those that do, as shown when a GNA initiative shattered the army of the Neo-Shogunate when it rose on that same fringe to a power capable of challenging the status quo.

The reality that presented itself that day convinced the NS that it needed to rethink its strategy. And that reality, as Destin mused, may not be as detrimental to the concept of a new world order as the GNA hoped it may.

~Meanwhile: DragonierMan~

DragonierMan quickly ran through his options as he heard the approaching footsteps from the tunnel. Apparently hiding among the barrels would not keep him hidden enough. He could try to get into one of the barrels, but it was most likely filled, and the act of emptying it would take too long and cause too much noise. Even if it wasn't, it was debatable whether his bulk would be able to squeeze inside. Beyond the barrels, there was nothing else to hide with.

To keep hidden, he would have to use the heavy fog of the bath house. As quickly as he could, he attempted to duck back into the bath house commons, hugging low to the wall. Hopefully he did not make enough noise to draw attention to himself. But with the tinkling of metal fastenings and his breastplate, and the clomp, clomp of his steel boots on the bath house floor; it was most likely a failure on his part. He was not built for stealth.

He headed for the far corner, farthest from the two entrances. Then he crouched there and tensed. Hoping that he made it through this trial unannounced.
DragonierMan experienced more success than he could have expected, but less than he could have hoped for. Yasu immediately recognized that somebody was stomping around inside the bath house, but on the other hand, her words showed that she had no idea who it was. "Is someone there? Show yourself immediately if you have any honor!" she beckoned, standing up sharply from the water with a heave of her large breasts. The mist continued to mostly shroud her body from view.

The NS subordinate no longer had any way to know whether or not the navi who was proceeding through the underground path was still coming, but it seemed likely. If it was another NS member, they'd just be moving faster now, after hearing Yasu's voice. Alternatively, if it was an enemy, they'd be using the commotion to their advantage.

Dee began to detect that something had gone awry when she heard Yasu shout, but she wasn't about to go in and do anything about it. "Oh boy! Recruit's in a spot. I wonder if he'll jump ship or use his wits? Whatever the case, I hope he doesn't give up and apologize... the last thing I need is to be sold out to Yasu," she groaned.

Regardless of Dee's wishes, it didn't seem like DragonierMan had a whole lot of options left. He had a few advantages still left, however: Yasu didn't know it was him yet and she hadn't seen him come out from hiding either, so at least she wouldn't know he'd been stalking the bath, regardless of what happened. Would it be better to abort, stay and try to save face, or possibly even attempt to carry out the mission from a new angle?

The notepad waited patiently in the bushes with Dee. Even if the sword's cover was blown, that wouldn't necessarily mean that they were compromised. The mission would continue on regardless of setbacks.


DragonierMan didn't respond and just kept to his spot in the farthest corner. He knelt there in the obscuring fog while attempted to be as silent as possible. He kept his wits about him, continuing to keep an ear out for the one coming through the tunnel. His muscles tensed. His sight was keen enough to make out some details of Yasu's soft, yet battle-hardened form through the mist. But he was more interested in keeping an eye on her in order to know where she was if she needed to be protected from the newcomer. He flexed the fingers on his right hand, which was pressed on the floor, ready to push off of at a moment's notice.