“Room service!”, Agent Wang called, doing his best to impersonate a female falsetto.
The veteran Kanren Agent fiddled with the controls on his holoprojector, checking that they were locked in. He’d hastily modified his Holomask from a Zhanshi doctor’s uniform to an approximation of the beach resort’s maid, and hoped he hadn’t left a plate of orange armour somewhere he couldn’t see. At times like this, he envied the equipment given to Haqqislam’s impersonators. His Holoprojector’s ability to generate three identical holographic hotel maids would be unlikely to help him in the next few minutes.
“Room Service”, he called again… fairly certain he couldn’t be heard over the sound of a running shower and loud heavy metal music. A message flicked up on his contact lens.
“Proceed Agent Wang, I just unlocked the door for you”. His tactical handler was clearing the way for him and it was now, or never. He paused, sweat beading on his brow, knowing he risked facing a Hexahedron Assassin and a Hospitaler Knight on the other side of the door, both of them capable of killing him in seconds.
He pushed the door open, and looked in. The bedroom of the luxury, thatched beach hut was empty, with an unmade bed, clothes thrown around the floor and a very small bikini sitting on the back of a chair. The sounds of loud music and running water were coming from behind a bathroom door, closed but not locked. Next to the bed, a lamp, several empty glasses and a Heavy MULTI Pistol sat on the nightstand. He could see his objective.
He crept forward, as stealthily as he could, and cracked open the magazine of the pistol. Carefully, he eased out one of the Double Action rounds, and slid a replacement round in place. A round fitted with the smallest listening device that Yanjing Military Intelligence could fabricate. Luckily, this was all going to plan.
Then, as he tucked the spare round into his pocket, he fingers betrayed him. The large calibre round dropped, then landed with a barely audible thump on the bed.
The music stopped. Agent Wang froze, trying to suppress the trembling in his hand.
“Kyle, you idiot. Leave the music off and get in the shower. And take that bloody T-Shirt off, haven’t you showered with a woman before?”,
“But Lisette, this T-Shirt is from your favourite band. This is our song!”
Loud sounds of kissing and a splashing sound were followed by the slamming of a glass shower door. Agent Wang quickly picked the Double Action round off the bed, backed carefully out of the door, closed it behind him, and ran as fast as he could away from the beach hut.
 The listening device placed by Agent Wang brought Yu Jing the critical intelligence proving Camiliard is a legitimate target for Yu Jing to seek redress for the Glottenburg incident. It proved, beyond a doubt, the betrayal of humanity by Pan Oceania’s Hexahedron and Military Orders. In turn, this information was of huge importance cementing the legitimacy of the Durgama Defense Coalition.
A twisting tendril of strawberry-flavoured cigarette smoke spiralled through the air as Major Lisette Beckmann, Garkain Operative, rolled over on her sun lounger and arched her body, straining the spaghetti straps of her undersized bikini.
“Kyle Hawkins, I need some more Sun Cream, would you be a dear?” She purred. Despite knowing full well that the engineered skin of her amply endowed Lhost body would never burn in the bright sunlight, she had decided that was a fact she would keep on a strict “need to know basis” for the remainder of her six weeks of leave.
“Of course, let me… Ooops!” Kyle fumbled and then caught the container of lotion, as he almost tipped it over the bulky frame of the Heavy MULTI Pistol resting on the table next to their cocktails. Even though they were taking some well-deserved R&R, they couldn’t help feeling a little more relaxed knowing they had ready access to multiple high-calibre ammunition types. Hawkins would never understand what would make a man want to use the VIRAL Pistols so common amongst mercenaries, but then again, he was a Knight of the Most Holy of Orders.
As he rubbed the oily lotion into Beckmann’s back, the young Hospitaler reflected again on his recent experiences during the Glottenburg Incursion on Paradiso. His new relationship was an unexpected outcome of his first real combat engagement, though countless other questions still troubled him. Would he ever understand the Tohaa’s involvement with the Cosmolite? Was it a sin to use smoke to cover your way into close combat? Had their explosive demolition of the Alpha Four-Four site destroyed important information that humanity would now never know? What steps, if any, would the Yujiingyu empire and their allies be prepared to take to obtain the information he had been able to send to his superiors?
Perhaps, with her years of experience in the Hexahedron, his girlfriend might at least be able to help him get one question off his conscience.
“Lisette, do you think I did the right thing, sending a copy of the data from the Cosmolite to the Cameliard stronghold on Durgama Peninsula?”
“Kyle, didn’t you get a big enough pat on the back from De’Fersen? The whole affair is out of our hands now and we can just kick back for the next few weeks. Your order has rated you Above Average, but make sure you don’t miss a spot with that lotion if you want the same rating here.”
She turned, flicking a loose strand of hair away from her perfect face and removing her mirrored aviator shades. A trickle of tanning oil ran slowly down from her collar bone and disappeared into the swelling curves of her cleavage. She looked intensely and deeply into his eyes.
“Don’t let this stuff bother you, Kyle! Remember, we’re the good guys.”
 and alleged war criminal
 see Infinity: Downfall for more information on the Glottenburg Incursion
 Obviously, yes it had. But you’re not really looking at this from a purely Pan-Oceanian perspective now, are you?
“What the hell Kyle, you need me to blow some smoke around the place before you can engage?”, said Lisette Beckmann, Garkain Operative. Her beautiful face showing obvious signs of annoyance.
“Lisette, this has never happened before! Come on!”, said Kyle Hawkins. The young Hospitaler Knight looked pained. His years of martial arts training had never prepared him for his body to disobey his commands.
“So all this… isn’t enough for you, huh?”, she waved angrily at her mostly naked body, then huffily turned to face the wall, showing off the other side of her sun tan. “I suppose there must be some nun you’re thinking of?”
“It’s nothing like that. You’re amazing. I’ve just … something popped into my mind and I couldn’t focus on what we were doing.”
“Fine,” she said, lighting one of her signature strawberry flavored cigarettes. “I’m still going to blow smoke around anyway.”
“I don’t get it Kyle, what have you got to worry about? We’re four weeks through our six weeks of leave! I don’t have to lose sleep murdering YuJingyu children and you don’t have to worry about duelling another TAG for at least two more weeks!”
Kyle knew by now that he’d much rather fight another Gūijiă than argue with her. Better just to be honest.
“Well, I know we agreed to disable our Comlogs and just enjoy ourselves, but when I went to the bar, I caught some news on a holo display. Yu Jing forces are laying seige to Cameliard on Concilium Prima. Do you think we should cut our vacation short?”
“No bloody way! This is the only break this long we’re going to get together ever. Cameliard is full of crazy Teutonic Knights, they don’t need your help to get rid of a few Zhanshi.”
“But isn’t there supposed to be something valuable kept there? Some big secret? What if Yu Jing manage to break in there, even for a few hours?”
“Look Kyle, even if I did know what’s in there, which I don’t, I couldn’t tell you. You’re right though, it’s a big deal if we lose it. But that’s not going to happen. We’re the hyperpower, nobody can go toe to toe with us and hope to win.”
“Why would Yu Jing just turn around and attack a hard target like Camiliard? Do you think they could be trying to get the Alpha Four-Four data? Is this all our fault somehow? What if we did this?”
“Look, do we have to keep going over this? We made a secure transmission of files and nobody knows about it. We’ve been tucked away in this backwater resort for weeks. How could we be the cause of this?” As she spoke, Lisette returned to the bed. She stacked a couple of the empty cocktail tumblers into each other and rested her hand on the nighstand as she leant down. Kyle’s Heavy MULTI pistol still sat there, and they had been keeping it close in case they saw any sign of enemy agents. Fortunately, there had been no need to use it.
“Look, come here. Stop thinking about all that mess, they can do without us. Nothing that important can happen in just two weeks, anyway.”
Though still unbeknownst to the two of them, DIU Kanren Agent Wang had successfully inserted a listening device into the pistol some time ago, and it had been providing a useful stream of … intelligence. Listening to some of the intercepts had, however, caused several members of the DIU surveillance team to blush.
Kyle Hawkins kneeled in the confession booth and made the sign of the cross over the top of his tight heavy metal t-shirt.
“Bless me Father for I have sinned. It has been 6 weeks since my last confession,” Kyle said. This was true, he had made sure he put all his deeds during the Glottenburg crisis in front of God at the earliest opportunity.
“What do you need to confess, my son.” Said the priest’s voice, from behind the screen.
“Well, less than my last confession, I think. I haven’t killed anybody this time,” Kyle started, before thinking to clarify to the priest, “I am a Knight of the Order of the Hospital of Saint John of Skovorodino, so I have killed as necessary to follow my orders from the Church and Pan Oceanian military. While things are not as simple for me as they were before I first fought, I still believe our cause is just and I am defending the people of our nation.”
“I understand, as long as you do not take another life lightly, and it is part of God’s mission, you can always ask for God’s forgiveness. But you say that’s not why you’re here today. Continue.”
“I have had sex with a woman, outside of marriage. Quite a few times, actually,” Kyle admitted.
“These days the church is rather used to that, and if it is in the context of a committed relationship you believe to have a future, it is not viewed as a sin.” The priest still had to say this from time to time, but the Church had made some advances over the last hundred years, even if many adherents still looked to the distant past for inspiration. Since this young gentleman seemed inexperienced, the priest added, “I would advise you to be careful and use contraception if you’re not yet ready to start a family. Now please continue.”
“I over-ate at the all-you-can-eat Ocean Vista Serra-fish buffet and missed going running three days in a row. I think I put on 5lb in the last few weeks. I’m worried I’ll overheat in my suit again.”
“One time while we were having sex, Lisette did this thing and I yelled out ‘Oh God!’ without thinking. I think that’s blasphemy, right? But I just couldn’t stop myself. I’ve tried really hard not to do it again.”
“I really liked the look of the Yungang Xing 5.4 MULTI Rifle I saw one of the Zuyong carrying on Paradiso. Does that count as coveting my neighbour’s property?”
“Oh, that reminds me… I brought a Heavy MULTI Pistol into this church with me, I’m not sure if that’s a sin, but I couldn’t figure out a safe place to leave it outside.”
“Um, this one I think is important though. I worry that somehow I brought about the fall of Cameliard on Concilium Prima. My girlfriend says that’s impossible and I shouldn’t worry about it, but still… I am filled with doubt.”
“I didn’t confess this before, but I used smoke to cover my advance on enemy troops at Glottenburg. It felt so safe, without my enemy able to see me in the open, but my order teaches that my actions were obscured from the eyes of God. Is it really a sin, father?”
“I also worry that I know important secrets, that somehow should be shared with the whole human sphere, but that my order wishes to keep secret.”
“I’m sorry for these and all my sins,” Kyle wrapped up. Great, he could probably sneak off and grab another Serra-fish pakora before he and Lisette were due to get on the space elevator at Deepwater and head to the circular.
“Hold on a second, said the priest, I need you to tell me the nature of these secrets so that I can guide you in the correct course of action. Tell me what you know, and why it is so important.”
“Well,” said Kyle, “I know the Tohaa are somehow involved with the Cosmolite that was destroyed on Paradiso. You probably saw the Alpha Four-Four site that was in the news. That’s important, right? Do you think my order has told the O-12 everything it knows?”
“It is best to let your holy order decide the right time to tell the rest of the Human Sphere. This is not your decision to make. If that is everything, you should say your prayer of contrition.”
“My God, I am sorry for my sins with all my heart,” Kyle began.
 You are of course, by now, familiar with the Yanjing Military Intelligence listening device that has been placed in the Heavy MULTI Pistol
Hexahedron Operative Lisette Beckmann sank into the plush first-class seat of a passenger cabin on the Deepwater Space Elevator, the Aleph-controlled shock foam of the seat moulding itself around the voluptuous curves of her body. She took a strawberry-flavoured cigarette out and was about to light it, but a holographic warning message popped up in front of her and wagged a cartoon finger in her face, reminding her not to contaminate the oxygen supply of the elevator car. A few weeks of luxurious freedom in Ocean Vista and she’d almost forgotten how all this worked.
Behind them, at the center of the elevator car, lay a molecular neo-material engineering wonder – a nearly indestructable cable stretching from the huge Deepwater floating platform on the Varuna ocean all the way up into orbit, where it was tethered to a huge counterweight. The huge elevator car ran up and down the superconducting cable at high speeds, faster than a levitating train would on the ground. It was still slower than getting into orbit on a space craft, but the view was incredible, and Lisette had always wanted to give it a try.
When she’d broken with the Hexahedron and gone freelance a few years back she’d managed to save quite a bit of money. Right to the last minute, she was using it to make this vacation as much fun as she could. A chilled bottle of champagne sat in a cooler to her left, and to her right was another seat, containing Kyle Hawkins – Hospitaler Knight. They had the luxury cabin to themselves and could enjoy the view as the elevator car roes up and the acceleration pressed them down into their seats.
“Lisette, I feel a weight off my mind. I’m so glad I was able to get to Deepwater Cathedral and find a priest for confession,” Kyle blurted out. “I know you said I should stop thinking and just enjoy the holiday, and I tried to, but it was all just buzzing around in my head and I know that I just had to get it out in front of God. That priest really just helped me figure it all out.”
“Yeah, about that,” Lisette started, “in the spirit of the full disclosure thing that we have going, I have to tell you that I was ordered by the Hexahedron to visit the Cathedral as soon as you left, and kill that priest. They’re about 33% positive he was a Yu Jing agent, as they intercepted a full audio recording of your conversation with him going through a poorly secured repeater outside the Cathedral.”
“What? He seemed so genuine. They’re only 33% positive, so there’s a 66% chance he was a regular priest ? And how did they even know I was in the cathedral so they could get close enough to hack a repeater?”
“Well, one of the conditions the Hexahedron set for this trip was that they could keep an eye on you. So they had me put a bugged shell in your Heavy MULTI Pistol. Anywhere you’ve had that thing with you, they’ve been listening to everything you’ve been saying. I figured it wouldn’t be a problem except you keep just yap-yap-yapping on about Cameliard this, Glottenburg that and so on. If you’re going to live long in this job, you’re going to have to learn to shut up. Also, you’ve barely let that bloody gun out of your sight for the whole six weeks. Maybe now you know why I kept dragging you into the shower?
“We’ve been bugged the whole time! How am I ever supposed to trust you after that!” Kyle yelled, then let his face fall into his hands. “You didn’t even have the pistol, so what did you do to that poor priest?”
“Well, I had to improvise pretty quickly with what I could find in the Cathedral and make it look like an accident. It’s tragic how you can drown in just a couple of inches of holy water, you know.” Lisette had that cold look in her eye that Kyle dreaded. He knew he shouldn’t ask any more questions.
“Anyway, give me that damn MULTI Pistol and I can disable the bug,” Lisette said, grabbing it and cracking open the cylinder.
“Wait, what the fuck is this?”
+++ AUDIO STREAM ENDS +++
 We can actually raise that 66% to 100%, as we know the Yu Jing listening device is in Kyle’s Heavy MULTI Pistol. That poor priest.
 Yanjing and the Hexahedron share many of the same methods. Though it must be noted that the end goals are much more important than the methods used to get there.