Reproach and Recriminations

Chief of TISD Office
Level 688
Tanfen Corporate Tower
Laifen

“What can I say about her? That she is one of the most beautiful women to have ever lived? That she fought her way from the anonymous legions of TPRO to become one of the most respected, the most feared of women to be in charge of TISD? That she has absolute dominion over one of the galaxies finest intelligence agencies? That she can, without flinching send a thousand men to their deaths if it would benefit the Families and the Corporation? That she could slay you in cold blood without a thought if it would further the goals of the Families? That she has more blood on her hands than Tolwyn would ever have in his brilliant career? That she is nothing more than a merciless broker of lives and secrets? Then you do not know her enough. There is much more to her than that. Much more.
I saw her once, in a moment of terrifying vulnerability. You have never seen her sob in the night, seen her wring her hands at the decisions she must give out daily. The moments when she is racked by the guilt, the faces of the hundreds of dozens of young men and women and troops she flings at the Families rivals in the hidden conflict that only those who bear witness to a Corporate patron know. Yet, at dawn, she is Sue Yen Ng Lai again. The Ice Queen. The Queen of Tarots. The most merciful of the merciless.”

Keiko Gan “Personal Journal”

“I will not be taking any calls Miss. Ching” she said as she thumbed off the intercom.

She uttered to the air around her. “Seal doors. Activate white noise generators”. At her voice, the doors snapped shut even as the dull hum told her that white noise generators were activated. She snapped her fingers and the curtains closed in, swathing the room in darkness even as the windows slowly began vibrating at a high frequency – the means to throw off laser and audio taps. Sue pressed another button again that scanned her room. Her console gave a beep of confirmation. No bugs.

In the darkness, the woman went to her desk. She didn’t need the light to navigate her way. Her elegant fingers touched her expansive desk that was hers even as she sat back in the high backed chair that was the symbol of her office.

She leaned back, and turned on her desk lamp, throwing the high vaulted room into golden shadows and etching her features in sharp relief.

The cost today was almost incalculable. She should have realised that there was a traitor within. Her vigilance against enemies from without blinded her to those within. For that, six of her agents that infiltrated the crowd as bystanders were even now lying in a secure ward in Laifen General with their spinal cords severed or drooling vegetables because of Tseng’s work. Taken down to give the assassins a clear shot at the Patriach. The problem was compounded that the head of the conspiracy was a Family member. TISD was able to guard against outside threats to a degree of efficiency, but not from within the Families themselves. That had to change.

The purge of traitors cost her dozens of cells along with one of her most promising agents. Even more, the conspiracy reached even into the Families. It bore all the signs of a Porhen coup, but yet, something gnawed at her instincts. Something was not right.

She had killed before. Many, many times. Blood drenched her hands, her dreams. Never to be wiped off.

She could live with that.

But Empress…the cost.

Tonight, a possibly innocent woman and her three children would never see their husband return. In the eyes of the Families, he was a traitor, a betrayer. There was only one punishment for that. She had left dozens, maybe more widows or widowers or orphans, but this time, she knew the man’s widow and children. And she was the one that pulled the trigger.

A small mirror on her table reflected her features back at her.

Sue looked into the mirror.

She knew she was beautiful, a prize that would lead empires to war, and men to ruin. Dozens of men vied for her hand, hundreds more would willingly lay down their lives for her. She had more potent power at her hands than nation states. Her knowledge of the dark things that lurked in humanity’s soul gave her an edge few could have.

Her gaze then took in a small sigil, crafted in hardwood, given to her by an old friend, years past, with the chinese sigils of her name carved into it. Perhaps it was an indicator of things to come, or what had passed. Or even more so, a grim irony of what she had become. In chinese, her name meant Innocent Lily.

Innocent? Her? The Queen of Tarots? Division Chief of Tanfen Internal Security, one of the galaxy’s most extensive and subversive intelligence agencies with reach into the deepest parts of the governments and the shadows-innocent? She gave a bitter smile. Her beautifully manicured hands had more blood on her hands than the bloodiest warlords Earth had in its history.

She leaned forward, keying open a small safe in her desk. Passing her palmprint over the sensor caused it to hiss open, revealing its contents. It did not contain corporate secrets, nor anything a chief of TISD would possibly have in such an armoured chest. All it had, was a small piece of paper, brown with age, and stained with blood, and tears.

Like she had done, many times before, she took it out gently, and read its contents again. Yet, in the dualism of a pictographic language, her name had another meaning- ‘Loneliness Eternal’.

Once more, tears came to her eyes. In the highest confines of the Corporate Tower, sealed behind locks both physical, and not, from within and from without, the Ice Queen wept. And wept and wept. She cried like a little girl lost. Like someone that had lost everything, and had nothing left to live for. Then, something hard, like ice, that had turned the palace of her heart into a fortress seemed to give a silent nod. There was something left to live for. Power. All consuming power. Intoxicating power, like the finest ambrosia. That was the only thing left that salved the ruin of what was left of her heart. Yes, power. In all its forms. She thrilled in the very ability to scry into the most intimate parts of anyone’s psyche, of having such hidden knowledge brought before her like treasures from the ocean depths for her to gaze upon, and use. The power to twist people and bring them down to their knees. To humble men, turn them into her willing slaves, ready to lay down their lives for her very whims. Yes, that was the power she wielded now. That would do.

She wiped the tears from her eyes, and once more wore her mask as the Ice Queen, cruel, cold, calm and implacable.

Sue carefully and gently folded the paper and placed it back in it’s armoured chest, sealing it behind locks physical and not.

As she left her office, it seemed there was no trace of her passing, except three small teardrops on the table. But in the hyper-efficient regulated temperature of the Corporate Tower, the three teardrops turned into beads of ice, before disappearing, as if they never existed.

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