• Nobles of Null is a forum based roleplay site where sci-fi and magic collide. Here, Earth remains fractured and divided despite humanity reaching out to the stars. Worse still, the trans-human slaves of one major power have escaped, only to establish their own Empire, seething with resentment at abuses of the past. Even the discovery of aliens, though medieval in development, has failed to rally these squabbling children of Earth together with its far darker implications. Worse still, is the discovery of the impossible - magic. Practiced by the alien locals, nearly depleted and therefore rare, its reality warping abilities remains abstract and distant to the general populace. All the while, unseen in the darkness of space, forces from without threaten to press in. For those with eyes opened by insight, it is clear that an era is about to end, and that a new age will dawn.

Day in the Life: Rescue from the Depths

CadetNewb

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Empire of Daqin,
Pínqióng (貧窮) System
Super Luminal Engine Arrival Zone


Humans needed many material goods to maintain not just their health, but also their sanity and happiness. The old word was 'consummerism' or Xiāofèi Zhǔyì (消費主義). The words to the Daqinren could be further broken down and separated into their constitutent parts, and would mean 'consumption doctrine' if looked at literally.

It was all useless waste - buying things like big trucks and fancy homes with lawns - as far as they were concerned.

As space coaleced around the corvette, unbending back into a state of normality, it quickly became clear why the Daqinren thought this way. The distant stars, humans included, watched as the Pínqióng Solar System was eaten by termites and built into massive, alien structures crafted with menacing intent. The Daqinren did not need material goods to entertain and amuse themselves, and with their bodies working like synchronized automatons, all this went into purpose.

Wherever the Daqinren settled, massive stations spanning kilometers upon kilometers were built. All that their hands grasped wasn't merely consumed, but crafted with purpose into star powered forges, fertile cornucopias of endless food, the homes of the Daqinren, and the vast fleets of vessels to defend them all.

And nearby, one such megastructure loomed over the Super Luminal Engine, the sole place within the Empire proper that outsiders may step foot upon: Biànlì Shāngdiàn (便利商店) !

"About damn time!" Hoshiko's fist dramatically hit the command console. "How may we serve Mǔ Hòu (母後)?" Though her body was still and un-moving in meatspace, she dramatically stood up in the command bridge within their virtuality. However, she was quick to find her zeal dampened as the hail went through and opened.

"Greetings to all," the faceless duo bowed, neither too deep nor too shallow.

"Zuǒshǒu (左手). Yòushǒu (右手)," Hoshiko bluntly stated. 'It's Left Hand and Right Hand, Mother-Empress's personal bodyguards,' she quickly messaged the others.

"Before we Speak for Her, are there any things needing note outside the report?" the two tall, feminine figures chimed together.
 

Uso

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'Ahem' Jun cleared her throat, not so much in a needing to clear her throat way but in a "I should remind Hoshiko and Koyama that I helped on this mission, I took down Wen when he was acting up, I even got SHOT in the line of duty and really hated that but I didn't complain more than was strictly necessary and also I put up with playing Hoshiko's old war 2 games that everyone hates but is too polite to say anything about not that I complained about them I was nothing but great now please introduce me to the Empress and possibly one of the princess, specifically one that doesn't have so much political ambition that I have to do a lot but also one that is of enough re-known that I'd be set for life."

It was a very complex Ahem to be sure. One that was very mindful of Jun's status as only woman in their group that wasn't a princess.

By this point, Jun had been able to get a new uniform. Freshly cleaned for their arrival and now hugging her form tightly. It mirrored what her virtual self was wearing on Hoshiko's command center, and in both locations she was respectfully keeping herself placed where she could be easily seen but also just behind the two princesses.

By this point it also would have been nice to be out of the tight fitting uniforms. Perhaps something loose and breezy? In a big open space! Anything besides the months of staying inside the confined spaces of a ship.
 

Soresu

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Koyama recalled the last of the Old War Two games Hoshiko had subjected them all to. It was not without its merits, but it gave one the distinct impression of human thought from that benighted era. No wonder Earth seemed such a wreck to her.

"Your melodrama never ceases to amaze, sister." Hoshiko's younger sibling commented on observing her fist being introduced to the console as the two faceless guardians greeted them with bows. Her lips parted to speak, but she was interrupted by a throat clearing. Koyama turned to see Jun.

Despite the tight uniform straining to contain the weapons of mass destruction that was Jun's chest, Koyama wore much the same as before in the sims the four ran on their long trip, no longer appearing as a tiger in their shared virtual space, but rather as her pale golden-haired and horned dragon form. Her tail lashed across the front of Jun's thigh in reprimand.

"This individual," Koyama began, sliding back a sleeve and using her thumb to point over her shoulder at the xenogeologist, "was promised a reward by me." She addressed her parent's two guardians she called "Left" and "Right" in private, a shortening of their formal title. "However, one of my useless brothers was not what I had promised."

Eyeing the two anonymous beings, her golden gaze narrowed ever so slightly. "Will our Imperial Mother now return my holdings to me?" The younger princess was somewhat self-centered, and her assets had been plucked from her grasp by her mother as punishment, just as whatever scheme she had in mind had begun to bear fruit. There was no telling whether the Empress knew of her plans, but she leaned toward the former, of course. The woman had foresight bordering on the prophetic.
 
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Ray of Meep

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Wen remained silent. In fact, he wasn't on the bridge at all. He was alone in the engineering room, sulking and pitying himself as he conducted maintenance on the reactors. Not that he could tap into the conversation anyways; with a chunk of his brain missing. Besides, he has truly lost the privilege of standing in the grace of the Mother Empress, having sexually assaulted one of her true daughters and attempted to murder both of them. Silently, he conducted his duties, before the inevitable court marshal, then execution.
 

Uso

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!

Jun stood up straight and as she could, her virtual self turning red from embarrassment. "Not that I would ever request such a thing! Just knowing that I have helped the daughters of the Empress is reward enough!"

Jun couldn't be seen so brazenly desperate for one of the royals to notice her! What self-respecting prince would marry someone who looks so desperate! If word got out she might have to use her backup plan! Certainly one of those princes would still take her as a mistress?! Could she even reliably live off such a position?! It certainly might be more fun than working as a geologist but it was so unpredictable! Who even knows what might happen to her if she shacked up with a prince dumb enough to fall for the plan!

No. The original plan was still on! She WOULD marry into royalty!
 
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CadetNewb

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As Jun spoke, the Custodian Twins stood silent as statues, but far more readily replied to Koyama.

"These two had determined it was in Her interest that you be punished for your transgressions against another," the two spoke, voice alternating between themselves in a seamless sentence. "However, seeing as cooperation with the violated party is underway, these ones will restore your holdings." Hoshiko visibly stiffened in their virtuality thanks to the network being set up for transparency in that regard. "As for you, Rǔniú (乳牛)," the two turned on Jun. "These two would rebuke and punish you under normal circumstances, as desiring royal fruit is consi - " The Custodian Twins rippled with static as a digital presence loomed near in the data stream.

"Hello everyone, I'm glad that most of us are here," a regal and familiar voice happily began. The carpet on the bridge spiraled up and spun into a storm that coalesced into a woman clad in a black dress. Eyes behind a decorative veil, golden horns and a matching reptilian tail made it clear who it was. "I am sorry I am late, but let me get Wen," she waved a hand to mute her two guards on the view screen. Over in the engineering room, a holoprojector came to life as he was roped into the meeting at Her will. "And yes, I am certain there's a princeling for you, but only if I receive grandchildren," the Mother-Empress smiled at Jun. The two bodygards behind her on the bridge's viewscren desperately gestured for Jun not to accept. "That aside, I'm sure that can't be everyone's concerns yet," she looked back at Wen expectantly.

"Uuuugh, Jun? That's gross mother!" Hoshiko facepalmed. "And your Imperial Chrysanthamum text-color looks too much like my orange," she muttered.
 

Uso

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Jun remained upright and static as the two custodians spoke. Clearly her life goals had come to an end. In virtual space she would pull out one of those old war two revolvers and load it with a single bullet before walking into a back room and...

*BANG*

Then she heard the bit from the Empress...

Jun Immediately re-spawned back where she had been in their private virtual space.

THE PLAN WAS BACK ON!

"Whatever would please the Mother-Empress." Jun replied, trying not to sound too desperate but still sounding a bit desperate... "I am one of six children after all. My mother also expects quite a few grandchildren from me."

Meanwhile back in their private virtual space Jun would speak to the 'crew', "Hoshiko please! This is my only shot at living as Royalty! I know you're comfortable living the fair maiden life but I'm trying to get laid here! Plus your mom could send me somewhere terrible if she thinks I'm a waste!"
 

Ray of Meep

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Wen seethed, standing up from the wiring he was working on to face the projected image of the Mother Empress. "My actions spoke for themselves. As in, I conducted myself poorly. The Mother Empress may do with me how She sees fit. I accept all responsibility." He winced, a head-splitting pain wracking through his skull. His hand twitched to move up and hold his head, but he stopped himself, staring at the projection with a cold flatness.
 

Soresu

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Koyama held nothing but contempt at the response from the pair. Her jaw worked while she ground her teeth. She was on the verge of some retort only for it to immediately be forgotten. She was looking from the Empress to Hoshiko, Jun, and Wen and back again.

"Why does she always do that?" she muttered as Hoshiko's palm rediscovered her face. Both it seemed had an adverse reaction to their parent's shenanigans.

"Fair maiden?" Came Koyama's response to Jun's plea in the private space they shared. The human club came to mind. " Something a bit more pressing than Hoshiko's love life. What do we do about Wen? How exactly do we explain a Aos si's soul possessed him? Engram? Whatever it was!" She'd flung herself at the problem for the remainder of their return home.
 

CadetNewb

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"Oh, wonderful Miss Jian, but only as long as you make him venture from home every so often," her highness replied to Jun, hands rubbing together perhaps a bit too mischievously. Her two muted custodians slumped their shoulders, but soon took their places behind the mother-empress. "Though your fellow companion drew my attention, I am finding him a bit too morose for my tastes," she gestured to the self-flagellating young man on the viewscreen, "But there are things we can do for him too." The look that Zhuli gave him was as uncomfortable as it was inscrutable, but it didn't linger long. "He is not the first, and measures have been developed to allow our unfortunate Gōngniú (公牛) to consume it proper." Judging by the way Zhuli emphasized her bust, she was personally proud of the accomplishment. Hoshiko could only bring herself to cross her arms and look aside though. "The young man aside, media is well showing your likeness everywhere in the empire for your leadership, Tiger-Daughter. And seeing your performance, your holdings have been restored in full, Dragon-Daughter." As though to remind the two custodians, her golden scaled tail flicked at the viewscreen to strike it as reminder, at which Koyama's bank account numbers started going up to a digital tune, upwards scrolling numbers floating by her in the air.

Both Hoshiko and Koyama knew their mother well enough to know for sure by now. She wanted something, hence the favors.

"We thank you for your kindness Mother-Empress, but if only we knew how to express our gratitude it," Hoshiko replied, towing the line if little white lies. They were to all be complicit and all were aware they were lying, and aware that everyone was aware they were all lying. But Hoshiko knew saving face wasn't the actual goal, so what was it?

"Oh no, you needn't exert yourself," their mother 'reassured' them with a smile. "But you've just reminded me!" she 'suddenly' remembered, "There's a merchant of mine that got lost. Will you find her for me? I'll even make sure your previous ship and crew will accompany you," she offered.

But there was more to this. There always was.
 

Uso

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Jun was already answering Koyama's first question by the time she brought out her second. Already she had dipped into her 'Hoshiko_NSFW' folder, and played back the recordings. She also quickly sought out her 'hot for teacher' costume out. This was an important piece of teaching artwork that she'd commissioned a while back! It had everything she needed, tight fitting beige sweater that was just puffy enough to look professional while still casually drawing attention to the outline of her body. The black pencil skirt was also just professional enough while continuing the pleasing lines of the sweater and the black horn rimmed glasses made her look intelligent. It was a carefully curated appearance to project both insightfulness and keep the audience's attention.

At a thought, the slim backpack unit released itself and fell back like a banana peel while her arms were wiggled out of the sleeves like a wetsuit. And just like that, Hoshiko was topless, her small, perky breasts on display as the two upper halves of her suit stopped their peel downwards at her tactical belt. "More impressive than that tin can, right?" She asked, leaning on one of the consoles, absentmindedly typing away.

"Here we have our first problem." Jun said, getting out an extendable pointy-stick and pointing it at Hoshiko typing away on the console with her tits out, "A real woman showing themselves to a sex-starved male is a rare thing! Hoshiko doing so with such disregard for the importance of the moment lessens the impact! Her perceived value is less because she acts like she's so available. If she doesn't act like such a moment... such an EVENT is important then the audience will also think of it as unimportant." Jun then let the video continue to play.
"AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! HE'S GROPING ME! THIS DUMB AS AN OX PEASANT IS ACTUALLY GROPING ME!" the princess's voice cackled across their shared realities. Grabbing Wen by the wrists in meatspace, she leaned in, eyes wide and wild while portions of their virtuality flashed with static, the shared processing load Hoshiko was responsible for flooding with errors. "Instead of the big titty cow, you went for me! Hoshiko! IS IT BECAUSE YOU THINK MINE AREN'T WORTH AS MUCH?!"

Jun whipped her pointy stick over to the video of Hoshiko, "This is what happens when you get too casual and try and act like 'one of the boys'. You're encouraging them to act up. This is why you need to set strict rules for how they interact with you, and maintain a certain amount of poise like Koyama did earlier in the night. The restrictions on their actions help enforce the idea of just how special and exclusive this moment is for them. How this his a great honor for them to even get to SEE us!... And then there's THIS."

Naturally, Hoshiko had to hold back as she danced as the parody of none-other-than-herself, but pretending to slow down every so often? Taking a few breaths while riling up the crowd? It let her take in all the faces and search for -
WHAM!
Hoshiko's bare foot came slamming down onto the top of the empty seat by the man. "Ooh, nyaa, nyaaah!" she viciously grinned.

"The dance is supposed to be enticing. To show off your physical prowess and creativity. To keep their eyes on you. Not to make them cringe or fear that you're going to stomp on their dicks with your heels! This is not the dance of someone who's been getting laid." Jun said, closing her pointer as she reached the end of her lecture on how certain she was that Hoshiko did not have a love life, "I would strongly recommend we take dance classes after this all quiets down. Hoshiko clearly has the physicality for the dance but needs to learn how to attract and manage the male gaze properly or she will certainly end up living her whole life as an old maid, possibly with dozens of pet cats, a total worst case scenario for a princess who should have everything they want!"

Jun crossed her arms, and realized she hadn't quite listened to whatever anyone else had been saying... she'd try and discreetly check the chat logs to get caught up on the discussion again and OH FUCK SHE MISSED THE EMPRESS ASKING HER A QUESTION!?

"I will, of course, would take good care of my own husband-prince!" She replied to the empress as what to do about Wen was discussed. Maybe the cow had missed something? Was it that hard to deal with Wen? "I'm sure if anything goes wrong on this rescue mission for this merchant we could just shoot Wen again. Bullets worked last time and they weren't even the good bullets."
 

Ray of Meep

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"The fact that I wasn't the first to be infected with a vengeful Aos Si's consciousness does not ease me, Mother Empress." Wen scratched his horns in frustration. "Jun's right. What if I act up again and try to kill the two princesses?"
 

Uso

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Jun made her fingers into a gun shape and mouthed 'pew pew' in real space.
 

Soresu

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"...you both frighten and confuse me simultaneously," Koyama said slowly as Jun made her presentation. The Cow pulling off the pseudo-professor act a little too well for her liking. But she had to admit the other woman had a flair for her attention to detail about her elder sister's love life.

It'd distracted her long enough to catch that reassuring and motherly smile. 'And there it is!' She wanted to point accusingly at the Empress when she continued. Instead, she folded her arms underneath her chest, looking at Hoshiko approvingly at her response.

"Ah, a merchant was lost, Mother?" Koyama echoed, "For you to request and put your trust in us shows they must be of some importance."

"But there is also the pressing matter of Wen as well Mother,"
Gesturing to him after hearing his question, "What can be done to help him?"
 

CadetNewb

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Korui Hoshiko Expression 1.04 Bryan Spotty.png

Though Hoshiko kept her dignity in front of The Empress, she shot a look of tearfully indignant anger at the others through their sub-virtuality. But she didn't dare talk. Not now. No, there was something far more important being said, and she'd have to settle for sulking.

"Mmm...Good." Mother Zhuli replied to Jun, voice trailing off at the thought of more grandchidren.. "Goooood...." Steepling her fingers, she continued to smile, a dark twinkle in her eyes. The family affair settled, the empress turned her attention to other matters.

"This all ties together in some way or form -" their mother looked at Koyama. " - and I admit, this merchant is not important, but what they were searching for." Zhuli admitted. She was not usually this blunt, and that meant only one thing. This person, this merchant, was disposable. "I hope you all believe in ghosts?" the Empress continued to smile. Even if someone did not know her as their Mother proper, they would be able to feel the almost black, malicious glee that oozed out from containment between her lips. "Treat this as though you are all dealing with exactly that," her voice kindly advised. "Wen. You are cursed, however, I am certain that my daughters will prove difficult to kill, and more importantly, this very excursion will allow you to obtain what you need to cure yourself. Perhaps more. There is never enough of this Stuff on hand." The ageless woman that was their mother briefly glanced at Hoshiko. The Empress continued, looking back at the others,

"Politics are in flux following the short war, and unfortunately, we must be delicate when acting on the surface of Tiāntáng," she began to explain. "The administrator of the sole fortress city on the surface will be resistive, and your resources will be limited to your own inventory and budget. Fortunatley, two of you are of the Xùrìrén (旭日人), and I recommend leveraging that."

Though Zhuli started giving answers, they only opened up more questions. Many, many more questions.
 
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Uso

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Jun stared hard at the empress from virtual space, and also a little bit from regular space but that was her best attempt at making a far more casual confused stare.

"What does the Mother Empress mean by all that?" She asked, "I can't ask myself and jeopardize my only shot at not dying alone as a poor gutter rat on a station somewhere! Koyama! Hoshiko! Please ask her what we're actually doing!"

Jun quickly brought up her list of outfits and started cycling through them.

"Are we running drugs? Is that what THIS STUFF is supposed to be? I'm not wearing some frumpy drug-dealer hoodie..." Jun would quickly change her avatar to a more suitable drug-dealing aesthetic including a casual white blazer and slacks along with a pastel white undershirt with plunging gold chain and neckline that followed. The shoulder pads in the blazer also helped pad out a more buch-fem look while her sunglasses clearly indicated someone so cool that they had to wear sunglasses both inside and in virtual reality.

"Please tell me its drugs. I CAN'T do political stuff! I saw all of Throne Game and I never see the betrayals coming. 100% I'm gonna get back stabbed by some upstart and murdered if we have to do that. We're talking background character that gets one season then DEAD."

A sudden look of terror washed over Jun, the woman freezing in place,

"What if it's GHOSTS?!"


She grabbed her head and looked at the ground in terror.

"What if its ghosts?" She asked herself more than anyone else, "There's no chance I end up as the final girl. There's no way I can compete with Hoshiko's chaste nature. I'm fucked. The sex positive ones always die first... wait." She would look up from her self-led terror to ask, "Ghosts aren't real right? He just caught a virus or something off the local network? Not like... a ghost-ghost?"
 

Ray of Meep

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Wen listened attentively at the Mother Empress' instructions and briefing of the situation, but Jun's sudden panic brought a sharp pain to his head. He grabbed his own head with the onset of a migraine, knitting his eyebrows.

But Jun kept panicking and asking stupid questions. Suddenly he snapped, slamming his fist into the metal walls of the engine room, shouting up towards the bridge.

"臭老牛 (Dumb old cow)! Can you shut up for one fucking minute?! I've never met a Daqinren so cowardly in military service!"

He seethed, his eye widening for just a moment, then quickly knelt on one knee in front of the Mother Empress' hologram. "Forgive me, your highness. Do with me as you wish. But I must ask, are Jun and I really appropriate for this mission? As you just witnessed, my mental stability has been seriously impaired by my wounds, and Jun... Jun is just a civilian. Neither of us are adequate for escorting the two princesses."
 

Soresu

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Koyama's eyes narrowed by the smallest fraction. That simple slip was telling enough.

She contented herself with a small flick of her tail. "Then I am heartened that you've returned my holdings, Mother." Her smile did not reach her eyes despite the appreciative tone to her remark. She knew she'd be the one fronting the money for this.

While she wanted to say more in their meeting, Koyama instead used Jun's, Hoshiko's, and her own sub-realm. "That merchant is important by the sheer fact they're hunting the very thing our Mother wants." she snorted in an undignified fashion. A small black spider skittered over her hand while holding it up for her sister to see. In her mind, the Empress was more spider than dragon. Drawing everyone into her web only to feast once caught.

Out of the privacy of the shared space between the other women, Koyama placed a pale hand close to her chest. "I volunteer to fund this expedition. I hope it will prove sufficient to the task you have set for us." As she said this, her eyes grew wide. Innocent even, just as Wen snapped at Jun and knelt before their ruler.

"A risk worth taking." Her simple response to Wen then shooting Jun another look.
 

Uso

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JunShock.png

"OLD?!"

Jun was so shocked she needed a moment to even be angry!

"DON'T RUIN THIS FOR ME WEN I WILL SHOOT YOU AGAIN!"
Jun shouted in the VR space, summoning another one of Hoshiko's Old War 2 guns and shooting him repeatedly... then throwing the empty pistol at him. She then summoned a second pistol and resumed shooting while focusing on the real space conversation with the Empress.

shit how would a princess even handle this? She couldn't just shoot Wen with a real gun. A princess wouldn't do that right? They were supposed to have poise and calm!

AND NOW KOYAMA WAS GIVING HER A LOOK!

What did that look even mean?

Clearly Jun was on her own...

"Mother-Empress, though I'm sure all of us must suffer Wen's Inadequacy, you can be assured that I will bring your daughters back safe."
 

CadetNewb

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The joyful laughter tickled their ears as The Empress gracefully held a hand to her lips. It was difficult to tell if she was laughing at their antics behind the scenes, or the questions presented to her.

"You are all Daqinren. Superior to our predecessors in every way," the mother empress began. "I am certain that you will be wise enough to determine if you are fit for this mission," she proudly encouraged them all, eyes smiling. "And if not, it will be a valuable lesson."

"And what of our immediate objective or lead Mother? What do we follow?" Hoshiko stoically inquired, withdrawing into herself in their virtuality. The two custodians behind the empress seemed to stiffen at the brusqueness, but her smile did not falter.

"There is a request for additional forces to perform exactly that. A search for our merchant. Low priority. Poor projections of survival." Empress Zhuli began. "Naturally, they are on guard against the Aos Si for some reason, and it will be you who answers the call." The Empress bowed to them once, politely. "The task is yours now, I wish you instant success."(做事情要有好的计划,才能到成功.)

*****

Empire of Daqin,
Pínqióng (貧窮) System

Planet Tiāntáng (天堂) Planetfall/Landing Cycle

"Alright, so we have our personal arms and armor from the ship's stores, but what else are we going to need?"
Hoshiko asked, perusing over their armory. Though she was glad to have her text colors back, she was less than satisfied that their selection from the ship's inventory was limited to handguns, assault rifles, grenades and various tools like earlier. "If she's outside the wall, we need some sort of vehicle, right?"
 
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