Heart of Winter
Cassius followed with the group, amazed at what he saw around him. He had been expecting something militaristic; plain, functional and defensible. Certainly not the opulent display of wealth that surrounded him.

He had only been on the administrative levels of Predas a couple of times, they were nothing like this. Much like the rest of the asteroid their design was dictated by budget and space. He wondered who 'they' were trying to impress, given that getting here presumably required a military escort.

The elevator ride brought him to something more recognisable, the tunnels stretching before them reminded him of those back home. The biggest difference, apart from the bustle found in a Predosian corridor, was the shape. Back home most tunnels had started as mine shafts, then been squared off and clad once the vein had run dry. The bulging sides he initially took to be because of a circular boring machine, but as he walked them another idea came to mind. He was not an expert in structures but he imagined that this shape would be able to contain a explosive blast more effectively than a square cross-section.

Cassius's next surprise came in the form of a man. Cass had been expecting a committee of some sort, probably consisting of generals, admirals and the like. Mentally he had prepared himself to endure hours of boredom whilst the group was asked questions about tactics, threat assessments and other subjects he knew very little about. Around him the military personnel stiffened to attention and saluted. Figuring that he should do something similar Cassius started to adopt what he hoped was a more formal pose when he started to speak.
Whether it was an after effect of the shock he was still recovering from, or because he had been uncharacteristically quiet in the journey from the shuttle, words tumbled out of his mouth before he really knew what he was saying. Certainly it was not the appropriate tone to address the man who could be referred to as the Leader of the Human Race. 

"Nice place you've got here, I especially like the over the top flooring you've got in the entrance hall. Just incase we forget where we are I suppose. Pity some of that money couldn't have been spent in here buying some comfy chairs. I've had a long day and a good rest wouldn't go amiss."
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"We're here to give you a ride lass, all I know." Said Malcom and then turned his attention to the screen.
"Sir," he said with a curt nod to the elderly looking man and bracing up.

"Well, fancy seeing you lot out here, so is this the light at the end of the tunnel?" he asked the others, looking at the people he took a ride with into space.
And then he remained silent, waiting for further orders and some explanations.
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On:
Central Command - Sanctuary
Chevy, Kota, Cassius, Zastor, Wolf, Darcy, Russell, Viktor
As Darcy arrived on sub-level 23, she found herself being escorted through the darkened hallways that dominated this level, lit only by the faintest of dim blue glows. She was guided into a large room, where she could see a half-dozen others already gathered, standing before an elderly man.

The old man peered at Cassius, then at the others, wearing a wry smile at the engineer's words. "I would agree, however, that would rather go against the point of this room," He said, gesturing, as if to encompass all the statues. He begins walking, towards one of the statues, holographic text appearing over the figure before him, scrolling slowly. "I've been following your actions, all of yours, here, and in space," He said, speaking louder so that his words still carried, knowing Malcom could hear. "And I'm here to offer you, well, I suppose you might call it a job. Even you, Lieutenant Russell, Corporals Wolf and Zastor, Lieutenant Darcy," He turned, slowly. "Cassius Rean, Eusebia Roa. "I am aware that some of you had little to do, but your careers and skill sets make you a good choice," He slowly paced back to where he had originally been standing. "My task for you, should you choose to accept it, is to trace back what happened, and see what, and where, this... virus, if indeed it is that. You will, of course, receive compensation, and you will find doors opened to you that previously were not," He scanned over them, seeming to take in some of them, his eyes glancing towards the holograph to one side displaying Viktor, Russell, and the still nameless scientist. "And slates wiped clean." He peered at the sole chair in the center of the room, an uncomfortable-looking stone chair. "Of course, should you decline, that would be, well, shall we say, most disappointing." He gave a half-smile, "I understand some of you, naturally, may be concerned about your, shall we say, regular employment? We will, of course, be able to make some small arrangement to ensure it is still there when you complete this task."

Off:
Sorry, been slammed by college.
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On:
Central Command - Sanctuary
Asid, Kota, Cassius, Zastor, Wolf, Darcy, Russell, Viktor

Chevy couldn't help but snicker a little at Cass' comments, although she quickly suppressed it. But she had to agree, she'd never seen much point in opulence unless everyone was rolling around in too much comfort, and that never seemed to be the case. Still, she was wary until she knew more of what was going on, and she had been taught to show respect.

"I would agree, however, that would rather go against the point of this room,"

"Oh, well..." Chevy muttered quietly, as if there was a point in flaunting what others couldn't have.

"I've been following your actions, all of yours, here, and in space,"

"Dandy..." She didn't know about the others, but that revelation actually was kind of creepy. Like, for how long...and...exactly how had he been watching them, not to mention why.

"And I'm here to offer you, well, I suppose you might call it a job. Even you, Lieutenant Russell, Corporals Wolf and Zastor, Lieutenant Darcy," He turned, slowly. "Cassius Rean, Eusebia Roa. I am aware that some of you had little to do, but your careers and skill sets make you a good choice,"

He knew her name...her real name, but then, that made sense if he'd been watching her, kind of like some stalker Santa Claus, and she hoped he had presents for them and not a lump of coal. "And...what is that?" she asked quietly.

"My task for you, should you choose to accept it, is to trace back what happened, and see what, and where, this... virus, if indeed it is that. You will, of course, receive compensation, and you will find doors opened to you that previously were not," He scanned over them, seeming to take in some of them, his eyes glancing towards the holograph to one side displaying Viktor, Russell, and the still nameless scientist. "And slates wiped clean."

Still not great incentive for her, except that it was better than going back to some boring mining job that would rot her brain and eat her soul just as surely as some unknown black sludge...

"Of course, should you decline, that would be, well, shall we say, most disappointing."

Was that a poorly-veiled threat? Of it all, that would encourage her to protest...she didn't like to be bullied and she imagined none of the others did, either.

"I understand some of you, naturally, may be concerned about your, shall we say, regular employment? We will, of course, be able to make some small arrangement to ensure it is still there when you complete this task."

"Got nothin'." Chevy shrugged. "I'm not plannin' on going back, so...I guess I'm in if everyone else is...we get a statue, right?" He still hadn't really explained why the room was as elaborate as it was, but it was what it was, and from what she could tell, it really had no bearing on the subject at hand.
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"So... just for the record: Fleet Command wouldn't mind us leaving our post to do an exploration mission? If that is so, sign me up. This shit is weird and threatens my flying days, I would prefer it gone." Malcom said slow, thinking on what else he would want to ask and say, moving his thumb and indexfinger along his chin.

"Can we get these things in writing and preferably a confirmation? It would be a pain to go through all the trouble and get a court martial when we get back. I also have several other questions, if you were to permit me the liberty, sir." Malcom continued pensively.

"If I understand correctly: all our priors will be forgiven, as such if we have to break any laws during the mission I presume those will be... forgotten as well? You also hinted at certain closed doors, so if I were to voice the desire to have, say, my own carrier group someday, this would be the easier way to achieve it? Are we going to use the Ashmaker and crew, or will you provide another ship and crew for us? Meaning no disregard but you, sir, seem to be confident that you have the pull to get it done." Malcom asked, moving his hands in gestures along with his questions.

"Lass, I would love a statue, but I like space even more so I would be happy to be rewarded with a nice ship and the guarantee of flying until I die of old age or decide to settle down. Left the mining business for space and I am not regretting a thing so far." Malcom said to Chevy with a grin.

"On that note, sir, what might we call you? Boss sounds wrong and Old Man would probably be the best way into a 'malfunctioning' airlock. As for the others, " Malcom gestured, "I'm lieutenant Malcom Russel, Mal or LT in short, nice to meet you on this lovely trip."
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Shino had remained quiet, standing at ease while the man spoke. She chuckled at Chevy, and after, at Mal.

''Pleased to meet you, Mal. I'm in, regardless. Too little happens in the Senate Security. Almost makes me wish I was fightin' out in space. Too bad I'm GFC.'' she chuckled.

Returning her gaze to the older man, she tilted her head, remembering the closed doors he mentioned. If they were to open...


''perhaps... Family visits more often? I miss them quite dearly. A relocation to the GFC might also be in order? I don't like going into danger for no reason, but it beats being a glorified security guard or support police officer.''

Her thoughts went back to the black goo that had rained on her parade. Despite the many hurt and dead soldiers, she had found it... refreshing. The rush of adrenaline, comraderie, structure of command. She'd missed that.

''And perhaps... as incentive... The best care Kota needs. I feel responsible for his injuries.''

Shino was simple enough and not ambitious like Malcolm, but she could appreciate some benefits.
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Cassius let the guy finish. The wry grin he had worn for his snarky comment sliding slowly off his face. Beside him he heard Chevy shrug her agreement, whilst the military personnel seemed almost eager.

"They've got even less of a choice than me." he muttered under his breath. "And I don't exactly have much of one."

Cass had learnt to deal with the inevitable and the unchangeable a long time ago. And it was pretty obvious where this was going. As a thought came to his mind Cassius burst out laughing.
"pfft, hahahaha, it's just like the old grouches say 'the sanctuary always wins!'" he exclaimed with a smile on his face.

Now his decision was made he continued. 
"With this many lemons we are going to need lots of tequila. Count me in, my subconscious seems to be telling me to help anyway, siiir" . dragging the word out in an almost insulent manner Cass briefly wondered if he was pushing his luck too far but he was determined to eke out as much fun out of this situation as he could. 
"I don't need any special dispensation, save a drink, a shower and a sleep, in that order. Anyone who cares to will find me in the bar."

With that he turned and left the room. Addressing the guard outside he enquired as to the nearest place serving alcohol and promptly made his way to the officers mess.
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Lorelei walks up so she could hear what they said better and once she could she just stood around. Watching and listening, she didn't really have anything to add nor anything to object. Doing this mission or whatever it was would most likely involve flying ships so she'd be happy. She just hoped it would start as soon as possible. Because the faster she was up in the sky the better. Keeping her old job, opening doors and compensation sounded very nice so she wouldn't say anything to attempt to change his mind.
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On:

The old man turned his head to glance at Chevy, and then smiled, nodding. "Statues, perhaps, one day. It depends on how things go," He said, finally. "Should you all acquit yourselves well, and it become public knowledge, yes, a statue or two would be in order," His lips drew back in a wider smile, turning his gaze towards the display showing Malcom, Viktor, and the unnamed scientist. "And yes, Lieutenant, that would include a choice of better assignments and favorable views when it came time for promotions and reassignment. Should you accept, the reassignment orders will be coming to you through the regular chains, so you can see it is, shall we say, on the up-and-up, and that goes for the rest of you. This is an optional assignment... you will have what equipment can be sourced for the expedition, meaning you may deal with some, shall we say, unusual things."

He opened his mouth, as if to say more, but paused, as Shino spoke, and his expression changed, becoming a small, sad smile, almost one of admiration at her relatively selfless request. "Of course, Corporal, we will do our best for him, and, should be willing, he will join you all for this expedition. As for family visits, and reassignments, we will see what can be arranged," He said, taking a few steps towards her, and coming to rest a hand, gently, on her shoulder, giving it a reassuring squeeze, before turning his gaze to Cassius, and giving a wry chuckle as the man spoke and left. "Very well, then, if there are no further questions?"

Off:
I'll be starting the next 'chapter'/scene in a new thread in the next few days, which will involve a small time skip, just to let everyone know!
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