Meanwhile, over in China, Kristin was waking up – and wasn’t happy. Strapped down, most systems deactivated or on standby, back in China and trapped in an eerily familiar lab.
Outside Beijing, a small, very upset, Kitsune had followed the military convoy to the city – and was intent on finding some food, spreading some mischief, and otherwise making some trouble (at least if he could do it without much risk or fuss) for those miserable military people who’d burned down his den and stolen his girls. He hadn’t been hurting ANYONE, and he’d even rescued the girls before seducing them instead of just tricking and seducing them, so why try to blow him (and them) up? Maybe they had some brain sickness.
In the lab, Kristin was being examined by some of the scientists who’d originally created her. They were pretty curious about the system upgrades, but seemed to regard her as a historical footnote of sorts: even with Monopole’s tinkering. Evidently they had much more sophisticated technology to test at the moment.
Fortunately for Kristin, they hadn’t found all of Monopole’s upgrades. They never checked the hidden override chips – and those systems included an emergency override. It didn’t take long after that to find here weapons and go into full rampage mode.
Meanwhile, Kitsune Shan had obtained a nice breakfast with a few transformed leaves for currency, gotten directions to an orphanage where the military had taken some strange girl, and provoked a small riot at the quarters for some Olympic athletes. Weird. Most of the villagers had seemed to realize what he was in short order. Didn’t these city-dwellers know how to recognize a kitsune? Well, his gain, their loss.
The orphanage he wanted was currently being surrounded by the military. Shan transmuted most of their ammunition into jello and headed on in. Weird place. Why so much security at a home for kids? Were they stockpiling cute young girls for him? Well, probably not, but you never knew…
In the secret labs below the orphanage, Kristin had found out what was going on. This was the Chinese on-the-cheap version of a super-soldier program: enhancing and/or cyborging disposable kids. Their casualty rate was actually pretty low – but they were really heavily into brainwashing and – hmm – installing the cyberware with magic and enchanting it to adapt to the kids as they grew. Clever, and way cheaper than the American methods. There might be something to this mixing classical and modern techniques thing the Chinese were so big on. Still, it also said a lot about her own origins. HEY! No wonder this place was vaguely familiar and they wanted her back! Her records were here too! Orphaned in a fire and her injuries rebuilt with Cyberware… OK, in a way that had been a favor, but she could have done without the deep programming. Despite that – or perhaps because of it – it looked like quite a few of their agents eventually went rogue.
Still, at the moment, they’d shifted focus to some sort of nanite-enhancement which they were trying to enhance with magic so it could self-install instead of needing expensive (and very, very, advanced) computer guidance.
At about that point Shan – who’d been fooling around upstairs, shifting identities, causing confusion, and provoking the military while he hunted for where they might have stashed his girls – found the subbasements and came on down. They were not initially friendly, and in the ensuing argument Shan got throughly doused with war-wiring nanites – and his own innate magic provided more than enough power for the spell on them to get to work.
Shan made his escape with a random selection of kids he’d more-or-less felt sorry for (what with the military being willing to shoot at them) while Kristin confronted the Dragon Warriors (China’s official hero team) and called for the Chauffeur to pick her up.
After some debriefing they went looking for Shan: they might not know who he was, but they know that he was up to something.
Shan, meanwhile, had dumped the boys he’d picked up on some local farmers – but found that they were less enthused about taking on girls. That old preference-for-boys thing again. For some reason he concluded that it would be best to flee the country, used his magic to forge both papers and money, and took a couple of flights – first to India, then to Taiwan, where he confused the customs inspectors and fled again. His nerves were not so good anymore.
In pursuit, Kristin and the Chauffeur quickly decided that they were not in pursuit of a villain, an alien, or even a human – and whatever it was had to be both pretty young and inexperienced with human society. Not a menace, but certainly something that needed some supervision.
The picked up the girls, but they didn’t know much – and locating Shan left them confronted with an “Undead President Nixon as an Elvis Impersonator”, his “Secret Service Bodyguards” and their “Pistols” with the flags that said “Bang”, all acting more-or-less independently. Darkness-illusion obviously enough, but what were the electronic traces and who would think that this made sense even as a diversion?
Kristin deduced “Kitsune” soon enough, but the electronics were war-wiring. Where and how… OH. She’d accidently infected the creature with the stuff herself. Great. Yet another empowered youngster the Mandate was responsible for.