Roger, with Alex and Alan 1 behind him, stood before the full Council of Masters at the heart of the Inner City. As holographic images of things and places appeared about them, Roger began his briefing.
“Masters, I have reason to believe that this incident originates from the occupied homeland of the Atlan people.” The hologram depicting the occupied island continent, far east of the Sky-Blue Republic, and others depicted the monstrous god-like being reigning over it as well as the many inhuman minions ruling in its name, administering it as a key hub in a multi-dimensional empire focused upon the slave trade.
“Due to the verified intelligence produced by Operation Buy Back, we are well aware of the occupiers’ capabilities and willingness to use those capabilities. We also know that they are as aware of the Empire as we are, and therefore are likely to see the Empire as a useful tool to employ against any target.”
The Council nodded in agreement. “Continue, Engineer.”
“Due to the Empire’s dogma, we believe that the Imperial cult that is officially denied by the Empire became sufficiently isolated to become vulnerable to infiltration by the occupiers. We are aware that the slavers have the means to fool conventional as well as unconventional detection of their true forms, especially since the Imperial cult lacks the Hounds otherwise commonplace in Imperial forces as well as friendly relations with the Sons of Ken. We hypothesize that the individual handling this operation is actually a minion of the occupiers of the Atlan homeland.”
“To what end?” a Councilmen said.
“To test our defenses, Master.” Roger said, “This signifies one thing for certain: the occupation is not only aware of us, but regards us as a viable threat and is now turning its attention towards destroying us. This operation is the first sign.”
“What of Operation Buy Back?” another said.
“I recommend a thorough audit to eliminate the possibility of corruption.”
“Is this incident concluded?” another said.
“No.” Roger said, and the holograms shifted to The Vault, “Cosmo 3 completed reorigination as I directed. Since completion, several attempts to pierce our barriers occurred at The Vault. Not only did they fail, but trace-back protocols automatically activated to seek out the origination of the attempts.”
Alex stepped forward. Another hologram shifted to a location in the Outer City.
“We traced the attempts to a well-concealed location in the Outer City. Records, verified in the last four hours, indicate that the location is the dwelling place of a woman originally encountered on the frontier where the Empire seeks to expand. She has no record of subversion, and otherwise is known to live quietly and aloof from everyday affairs.”
“Is this woman suspected of being an Imperial cultist?” a Councilman said.
“At the least, a cultist.” Alan 1 said, now stepping forward, “Possibly a minion in disguise. I’ve ordered a review of the woman’s interactions since settling in the Outer City.”
Roger took over. “We request sanction to proceed.”