Heart of Winter Incident

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The Heart of Winter Incident marked the creation of the Expedition, and involved the destruction of the SFCV Heart of Winter (BB1-02).

Executive Summary[edit]

The Heart of Winter Incident occurred in May of 2503 CE, surrounding the catastrophic destruction of the SFCV Heart of Winter (BB1-02) in orbit over the capitol planet of The Initiative, Sanctuary. In the immediate aftermath of the destruction, a scratch force was assembled to investigate the wreckage, and recover any records from the vessel's systems. Prior to boarding, and again once aboard, the team discovered suits of standard-issue armor corrupted by an unknown black substance, that had seemed to mutate the crew within.

Involved Personnel[edit]

After Action Report[edit]

May 4th, 2503
Plaza of the Founders, Terra Casus, Sanctuary, Arc System

The streets of the old city of Terra Casus were beginning to fill up, even at this relatively early hour of the day, despite the tropical heat. Colorful stalls and banners were strewn almost haphazardly around as the denizens of the city prepared to celebrate, as they had for generations, the first landing of their ancestors on the world, a holiday throughout human space. While each world celebrated the first landing there, they all celebrated the first landing of humans on Sanctuary.

The old city stood, almost eternal, many of the buildings showing the styles favored by their ancestors, full of structures that had tried to merge nature and industry seamlessly. In places it worked, and in others, it left something to be desired, though further from the center of town, in the newer areas, nature had taken a priority. Near coastal edge of town, however, the Plaza of Founders, beside the ancient House of Planets, was filling rapidly with people come from all across human space to come celebrate, many to hawk their wares to festival-goers.

The city seemed at peace, and relaxed, at the moment, without the least bit of concern. After all, why should they, when the festival has gone on for centuries without problem.

  • Jhes'Kah
    • Mercenary

Jhes wandered the festival, looking around at the strange sights and sounds of the people, smelling the strange smells. She didn't know why the people were hosting some type of gathering, but everyone seemed to enjoy themselves, so she did as well. She traded for some of the strange foods and munched away as she wandered about the fairgrounds, occasionally shooing and hissing at the children who tried to pull her tail.

Jason was here mostly for work related duties, but he had some off time and decided to check out the festival. It was mostly out of the attempt to remain productive and branch out a little, because who knew, he might gain some benefit from being around a crowd full of strangers. He didn't really care for large gatherings of various natures so he was present for a few reasons. Some kids that had been roughhousing near Jhes headed towards Jason randomly and startled him out of his mellow state momentarily. He had a drink in his hand, nearly spilling a good bit of it as they ran by.

"Hey watch it, please!" he huffed a sigh and took another sip, casually eyeing Jhes before glancing away towards another booth with food that looked good, so as not to appear rude. In this case, he wouldn't be the first to say anything about her unique appearance. Jason was normally rather quiet, especially when he was serious on default. It was a little different if one bothered to get to know him.

Cassius had traveled to Sanctuary on a rust bucket of a cargo transport as an onboard engineer, the thing was so outdated not even Pedras carried parts to fix it's broken fuel compressors. Cassius and his team had managed to throw something together, but he had needed to accompany the transport to maintain the repair.
Not having been to Sanctuary before he decided to spend the journey stipend on a brief holiday before looking for a trip home.

As he walked the streets of Terra Casus Cassius marveled at the architecture around him. It reminded him of the pastures of Aella yet the sheer number of people gave it the bustle and vibrancy of home. "I might be able to get used to this place." He muttered to no one in particular. "Though some of the cosmetic mods these people use seem a bit out there." His eyes kept coming back to the women who had very successfully altered her appearance to that of a cat, wondering just how much that must have cost.

  • Jhes'Kah
    • Mercenary

The cat-person continued to wander around the fairgrounds, talking with many of the handsome young men present, letting some buy her food or try and win her items at many of the games. She didn't linger too long on any one person; they seemed uninteresting, or were not interested in her beyond mere curiosity.

She noticed some of the less civilian types looking at her, and she occasionally winked and flicked her tail at them.

The festival went on, for a time, with everything seeming peaceful, and calm. A warm, lazy breeze blew the smell of the ocean over the festival-filled streets of the city, but it was after a time that something was noticeably amiss. Here and there, people paused, staring at personal devices, as if watching the news, as the mood began to turn. As the mood turned, patches of the sky darkened overhead, and there was a titanic clash like thunder. Without warning, sirens began to blare throughout the streets, unused in generations. An automated and genderless voice began to speak, echoing from the speakers.
"This is not a drill, a state of emergency has been declared. All persons on the streets are instructed to seek safety immediately. The anti-orbital defenses will be going live momentarily. I repeat, this is not a drill. Message Repeats-"
At the words, many people began to rush into various buildings, to clear out of the streets. In parts of the city, the defenses began to come online, streaks of light shooting skyward, and detonating in explosions. Debris began to fall, towards the city, as the prow of a massive ship appeared through the clouds, plunging towards the city, tumbling and shedding debris as it went. As it tumbled, explosions rocked its length, and it became apparent, from the ragged holes near the end, that it was only a portion of a larger vessel. Here and there, more regular pieces began to spit from the wreckage, some seeming to fall at a more controlled pace. It was one of these that seemed to be heading towards the square where Jhes, Jason, and Cassius found themselves.

Through Jason's implant, he could "see" the following words projected into his vision, flashing the dark ominous red of a priority message.

From: CentCom
To: MilFor/Sanc/TerCas; CivDef/Sanc/TerCas; CivPat/Sanc/TerCas
Priority Message
Threat Condition 2
All personnel in the Terra Casus military district and surrounding areas are to stand by for orders. As of 1103 hours local time, a vessel appearing to match the characteristics of a warship has entered atmosphere and is on an uncontrolled descent towards the city. Observers have noted escape pods departing the vessel. Personnel in the area of wreckage are expected to contain any survivors from the wreckage and keep order in the city until further notice. Lethal force is authorized.

Message Ends

Ignoring the warning sirens, Cassius reached below his aqua blue floral shirt, bought especially for the festival, and checked that his universal service tool was attached to his belt. He then started to look around for something that could double as a pry bar. Spotting an awning pole that had fallen in the commotion, he grabbed it and headed towards where he figured the nearest of the pods would land.

  • Jhes'Kah
    • Mercenary

Jhes headed into an alley away from the large crowd. Finding a corner of the room to, she closed her eyes, connecting to her PIN and M1N1 drone. Using its claw, she picked up her weapon and set it on auto-pilot for her location. She headed for a near-by bridge to protect herself from the debris, waiting for her drone to arrive.

Debris began to fall, as anyone would expect-and it would be worse when the warship hit the ground. He kept an eye on the warship, waiting to see where it would crash. Naturally, it was kind of hard to not stare at it in slight awe as it approached the planet, normally a struggle to see from the ground. On a good day, it should be hard to see such big spacecraft. It's appearance was a surprise that no one was expecting that afternoon. Here he was enjoying a drink while trying to cool down, and then this had to happen out of the blue. Jason had been holding his drink in his left robotic arm, which was loosely covered by long sleeves...The man was not going to to go out of his way to cover up both hands with full gloves and gear-there was little point. The metallic fingertips exposed were clearly metal if one got a good look at him prior to the incident. He didn't care, people could judge all they wanted. Wearing long sleeves in decently warm weather was pushing it, because he preferred the cold any day.

When an escape pod hid the ground near him (luckily not deadly close), fairly heavy debris from parts of a small building flew towards him and others seeking cover. Unlike Jhes, he and many others were still out in the open. Not ducking for cover quite yet, Jason used his arm to shield himself from the debris, specifically a chunk of a support beam. More debris would be on the way soon, he had to be on the look out if he was going to be assisting survivors after impact. All he had was a concealed gun, so he'd make due with that, and at least he had something.

Promptly after recovering from the impact, he sent a message back to CentCom:

From Jason McCallister
To: CentCom
Priority Message

Authorization of lethal force acknowledged. Might be the only one here. Urgently requesting assistance.

The pod had come down too fast, the impact cratered the paving of the square and sent shock waves into the surrounding buildings. Debris was flung far and wide, causing Cassius to dive behind a nearby vehicle to avoid the larger pieces.

Exiting from behind the vehicle Cassius looked around as he got to his feet. Dust and debris covered the square. Most of the windows on nearby buildings had been blown out, littering the floor in broken glass. As he picked his way towards the crash site Cass saw that he was one of only a few not running for cover from the ship debris that still fell from the leaden sky.

One of the pods crashed into the square with a screech of metal on stone, sending debris from now crushed stalls flying, some lit aflame from the heat of the pod. Beneath it, the paving stones were cracked and scorched. From the pod itself, issued a black mist, which seeped out of the cracks in the face of the pod, which issued forth a black sludge. With a loud clamor and a bang, the face of the pod blew off, and a figure wearing armor scrawled forth.

While the armor appeared much like the standard military combat armor, it looked wrong somehow. The movements were jerky, and imprecise, like a machine trying to drive a human's body. More of the same black sludge oozed from supposedly air-tight seals, hissing and frothing as it came into contact with the air. The figure raised it's helmeted head, and let out an inhuman scream, it's voice guttural and amplified by the suit's speakers. At the sight, and sound, of this monstrosity, the few people left in the square began running in a panic, leaving Jason, Cassisus, and Jhes.

Jason didn't know the others near him nor did he care what they did at this point in time, but upon seeing the inhuman, Jason acted with instinct, pointing his gun at the armored beast-thing. It had the rough figure of a human but what was in control clearly wasn't. The scream sent chills down his spine as he drew the gun, trying to find a good spot to aim at. The weapon was of decent caliber, but he didn't have all the tech with him that might inflict significant damage to the armor. Furthermore, Jason couldn't get close, because that black ooze was a little daunting; he didn't want to touch it, to say the least.

"Don't tell me there's more out there." Jason scowled, loud enough for at least one of them to hear him. He didn't have time to study who stood around. He glanced side to side once or twice, that was about it. He wondered if they had any military background, because he didn't recognize them. Jason had seen the cat woman earlier, that was about it.

This thing shouldn't stay alive for long, Jason didn't want to see others get injured or killed by this thing, especially if there were more in other escape pods.

He went with his instinctive response and began shooting at the thing, trying to find weaker areas around the armor or between it. Jason just wished he had more than just some extra ammo of this caliber to help protect the others.

Armour should not be moving like that. Granted, Cassius only had experience with civilian models but the engineering was the same. Without closer inspection he could only speculate, but it looked as though the servos were firing out of sync and the user was struggling to maintain balance because of it.
"And what's up with that black stuff, some kind of oil or coolant the military has been working with. What ever it is, it looks corrosive based on the number it's doing on the seals. Is it related to that mist I won..." the sound of gun shots reminded Cass this was a dangerous situation, not a puzzle to be solved right now. He also realised he was thinking aloud.

Looking for the source of the shooting, Cass saw a man emptying a side arm at the thing, military or ex-military by the looks of his arm. Whilst it was possible the guy had some rounds that could get through combat armour, by the looks of the impacts on the composite, it looked unlikely.
"But if the armour is malfunctioning, maybe he doesn't need to stop the pilot, just the suit." Cassius muttered to himself. That's it!
"Hay!" He shouted, jogging towards Jason, "aim for the joints! You might be able to knock out the servos and cripple it!"

  • Jhes'Kah
    • Mercenary

The being looked unnatural, making Jhes's fur stand end on end. She joined the throngs of people running for cover, until her drone arrived with her weapon. As her hand touched the grip, it made a metallic clack, grip and stock extending to her preferred settings.

Now armed, she returned to the pod, aiming at the...thing, and opening fire with a hiss.

The beast shrugged off the shots from the pistol, as it snarled, lumbering towards Jason. It let out an inhuman shriek, it's voice amplified by the speakers of the armor, distorting the voice and warping it, even, giving it a more metallic sound than it had had previously. As it lumbered towards Jason, it's body shook under the burst of fire from Jhes' weapon, and it turned it's armored head towards her, letting out another ear-piercing scream, clearly torn between the three targets. It swung it's head, and then charged, with an incredibly speed, towards Jason, swinging an arm at him, gracelessly and without any particular coordination in it's movements, following up with a lunge towards Cassius.

Beneath them, the ground rumbled, and shook, bucking like a wounded animal, as a horrific crash echoed throughout the city. From off towards the city center, a massive plume of dust and debris rose skyward, and the rumble of collapsing buildings could be heard, even from here. The shaking was bad enough that it threatened to throw them to their knees.

Cassius had no combat experience to draw on, no built in reflexes or mental conditioning, and this was a situation where both would be handy. That thing wasn't just malfunctioning armour, the bone chilling shrieks and inhuman movements now convinced him of that, this was something out of a nightmare.

When it shot across the square and lunged at him Cass had nothing but primal instincts and adrenaline. He felt himself thrust the awning pole at the thing in a futile attempt to do something, anything, to protect himself. When the ground kicked up at him he was already off balance and fell to a knee. Looking up he saw the thing looming over him, framed by the rising dust cloud, looking the very image of death incarnate.

Jason was trying to aim at various weak points such as joints/servos, as per recommended by one of the other strangers still standing around. He was supposed to be good at picking his targets, but it was always a challenge when a target was moving, be it unpredictably or just fast in general. Prior to getting shaken by the ground quakes disrupting them, Jason was swiped at most aggressively, which of course caught him off guard. Granted, they should be expecting the unexpected at this point.

He was able to take on some of the force by ducking and blocking himself with his robotic arm, but the impact still grazed him considerably and shoved him a bit further to one side anyway. The impact was fierce, going all the way down his back, and his vision blurred a bit. Squinting, he relied on the enhancements in one of his eyes, taking a quick breather to adjust. Technology was a mixed blessing. He was running low on bullets, and options, which was something that Jason wasn't revealing from his grim expression at the time. He had to be choosy with his aim.

The awning that was chucked at the beast would surely have an impact as well. Jason aimed for what he thought was a weak point behind the side of the head/neck region. He had a few extra rounds, but he had to be stingy about it. Jason just hoped someone back in HQ heard his urgent request for some help. The ground shook and he scowled with utmost irritation, stumbling into a crouching position before shooting where he intended, getting a good look at the armored monstrosity from slightly behind it. If anything, he hoped the three of them could cripple it via targeting some kind of weak-point such as servos, like Cassius suggested. It was the only obvious solution to him thus far.

  • Jhes'Kah
    • Mercenary

Jhes remained on her feet despite the ground buckling due to her superior agility. Dropping the gun, she crouched on all fours and grabbed a rock, leaping at the suit. Continuing to make rather feral sounding noises, she attempted to smash the visor.

The awning pole slammed against the armor, failing to penetrate it, but sufficient to momentarily block them from advancing towards him, as it swung useless at him, and let out another terrifying scream through it's speakers. Splatters of metal from the rounds hitting the armor and fragmenting peppered Cassius, as it stood over him, before it turned towards Jason and the more apparent threat, lumbering towards him until it halted.

As Jhes leapt onto the front of the armor, smashing at the reinforced visor with the rock, it began to swing and struggle, almost comical in it's attempts to pull her off. For a brief moment, the scene was obscured by the plume of dust settling, a fair bit washing over them. Off in the distance they could hear the howl of other of these monstrosities, but even closer, there was the howl of approaching vehicles.

Jason was busy watching Jhes's equally direct attack. Maybe it'd at least slow the wicked thing down. From what he was noticing so far, it sure seemed to help. He lifted a heavy piece of debris from a building nearby with his mechanical arm, chucking it at the thing's nearest 'knee joint' area to try and buckle it while she was forcing it to swing about.

It took him a moment to realize the sound of vehicles were ringing in his ears after the gunshots from his own gun were made. He was trying to conserve bullets now and didn't want to waste them, thus he had to be resourceful. He heard more of the same kind of screeches too, but at least one sound was discouraging. The screaming/screeching sounds gave him the chills, but it was something that outwardly didn't appear to care about it. Something seriously drastic must have went down prior to the ship crashing. They could only help enough support was out there with more of these things on the ground by that point in time.

  • Jhes'Kah
    • Mercenary
As the suit dropped to the ground, Jhes got her feet under her she took the rock in both hands and stuck the center of the visor. She struck with her might at the helmet, not letting up her attack. As cracks began to spider web across the faceplate, Jhes retreated to the other, picking up her weapon and pointing it at the....thing, still growling, her tail flicking back and fourth.

As Jhes managed to penetrate the visor, the same viscous, foul-seeming fluid began to ooze through the cracks. The creature let out a howl, thrash beneath her, as it swung in an uncoordinated strike for Jhes. As she attempted to dart away, one of it's metal-encased arms swung and caught her in the side, throwing her to the side.

The debris that Jason hurled clunked off the metal leg piece, denting it and scratching the already battered paint. The creature stood, it's leg dragging behind it awkwardly, as it took a step. Over the din of the on-going fighting, the three of them could hear a voice, amplified to inhuman levels. "Get out of the way!" The voice snarled, as a hailstorm of rounds sent the armored figure into a screaming frenzy, and drove it to the ground, kicking up dust and debris from behind it. Behind the trio, an open-topped vehicle, with three troopers atop it, each manning a pintel-mounted coilgun were aiming at the creature, triggering bursts as the creature spasmed and attempted to take it's feet again. Behind their vehicle, another pair of vehicles rode. One was a low-slung and squat APC, which was already disgorging troopers in battle armor to form a firing line aimed at the creature, while another open-topped vehicle like the first was moving around the APC from the opposite side as the dismounting soldiers, it's weapons coming to bear. The dismounting soldiers, despite the warm weather, wore full armor, and carried shoulder weapons. One of them stepped forwards. "Lieutenant McCallister, you other two, get over here," He called, beckoning them other.

As Jhes and Jason switched to more direct and physical attacks Cassius scrambled backwards to get himself clear. Despite the armour sustaining heavy damage it didn't seem to be disabling the thing, just slowing it down.
"Slowing down..." He muttered to himself, there was something there but the thought slipped away at the sound of heavy gunfire.

Cassius had heard enough loudspeaker warnings in his time to know they are best followed immediately. Rolling to one side he got to his feet and looked about. That was a lot of ordnance, probably overkill for one foe, not that he was complaining.
Lieutenant McCallister must be the guy with the replacement limb, nice to have a name with the face. Acknowledging the salutation Cassius headed towards the apparent commander. Putting on as easy a voice as he could manage he shouted "thanks for the assist, we were running out of rocks."

  • Jhes'Kah
    • Mercenary

As the soldiers dealt with the suit, Jhes accessed her drone, searching for other signs of other suits in the wreckage. She nursed her side where she'd been stuck while walking towards the line of soldiers.

Finally, help had arrived. Moments seemed like eons. After the cover fire stopped, he turned around. He had been running out of options, literally, and they were assisted just in the nick of time.

"Anyone care to brief us on what the hell's been going on around here/well up there?" he demanded in an equally irritated tone. The man didn't seem out of breath, just shocked and mad at the same time, trying to get his bearings now that they were safe for the time being. He wasn't going to let his guard down completely either way. "I mean, I'm glad help is here. None of us knew this was gonna happen of course-and they're glad to," he added quickly. "They" referred to Jhes and Cassius.

Normally quiet, the words just suddenly spilled out of him, an after thought from the adrenaline rush. "Please tell me someone brought me some more ammo too..." he folded his arms, pistol still in hand under his synthetic arm.

  • Lieutenant Kota Jacobs, Ground Forces Command (NPC)
    • Executive Officer, 1st Mechanized Infantry Company, 2nd Mechanized Infantry Regiment, 1st Division

The officer leading the unit gave Cassius a thumbs up, before the polarized visor on the man's helmet went transparent, revealing a darker skinned man with a tired expression. "Happy to help, and glad there was someone to assist," He called back, this time at a normal volume rather than with the assist of the speakers. "We passed by a lot of wreckage already," He said, his expression darkening momentarily, before he turned his attention to Jason, but spoke loudly enough for Jhes and Cassius to hear as well. "Lieutenant McCallister, you may have noticed all the debris raining down-" Even as they spoke, more was visible, burning up in the atmosphere in bright comets. "That's what's left of a battleship-sized vessel that plunged into the atmosphere. I don't think anyone expected that," He added, bitterly, before continuing, "The anti-orbital weapons took out what they can, but the city and network still took a beating," He said. "I'm Lieutenant Kota Jacobs, part of the garrison regiment. If you want to ride along, help us out, you're welcome to," He said, ignoring Jason's demand for ammo. "In which case we'll pass you some equipment to use for the time being," He said. "Otherwise I'd recommend getting to cover-" His words were cut off, as another wave of fire struck the suited figure, which seemed to still be trying to get to its feet. It finally felt motionless as one of the soldiers in nearly identical armor walked over, and stomped hard on it's chest, putting a burst into it at point blank range. "Command also says they're looking to put together a unit to visit the wreckage still in orbit, so if you stick with us, you might get called on for that," He said, as a warning. "Nearly every ship with a marine contingent will also be boarding."

As Jhes' began scanning through her drone's data, she found evidence of more of the suits, both ones broadcasting military IDs and ones that weren't showing up (like the one that was just put down) to the limits of her drone's sensors in the area around her in the city. It was clear, at least to her drone, that there was intense fighting going on in sections of the city, and that there were a fair number of people buried in the rubble and debris caused by the crashing debris. As her drone flew, it also reported on deteriorating air quality from the debris kicked up into the air.

Jason stayed clear of the next wave of fire as quickly as possible, just as relieved as the others to see the heavily suited thing stayed on its knees.

"Yeah, I'd like to check it out and don't have much else going on anyway if they need me." Jason shrugged. He didn't think any other military personnel were out here prior to Lieutenant Jacbobs' arrival. He was becoming useless without enough weapons to help out in the mean time and he hated that. His arm was durable and could allow him to defend himself or chuck heavier things.

He had to stick with these guys, because he was a sitting duck if he hung around and tried to defend the place and help survivors on his own. He could to an extent, but he was limited as far as weapons were concerned, so he had to get resourceful. Nothing else was said, because he knew that if he was needed as far as battle was concerned, he'd get properly equipped to help defend/protect sooner or later.

"Wreckage in orbit eh? That must be the drive section if it hasn't retrograded yet. Plus, the impact from the reactor isn't something we'd miss..." Cassius trailed off, the devastation caused in an anti-matter explosion didn't really need elaboration.

"I'm not sure how much use I would be in a fire fight Lieutenant Jacobs," he started up again, "but I might be of some use guiding civilians out of combat zones. After all you can't blame them for not trusting guys in power armour." Gesturing towards the site where the troopers were still emptying clips into the enemy. "Has a safe zone been set up yet that we can direct them to?"

Turning to the two he had just survived death with Cassius extended his hand to each in turn. "Cassius Rean at your pleasure, but most of my friends call me Cass. You must be Lieutenant McCallister, good sir, and you my lady now have me at a disadvantage.'

  • Jhes'Kah
    • Mercenary

"I am Jhes," she said, dusting herself off, hesitating before awkwardly shaking his hand around her weapon. All the fur visible on the strange woman was puffy, from her neck to her tail. Pulling her drone back to the group, she said, "There is still things to hunt, and people trapped. I have seen it," She started to head for the cover behind the armored vehicles, "We should leave. But I need more bullets," she said. Once behind the vehicle, she started rummaging though the soldiers' stuff, looking for munitions that would fit her small weapon.

  • Lieutenant Kota Jacobs, Ground Forces Command (NPC)
    • Executive Officer, 1st Mechanized Infantry Company, 2nd Mechanized Infantry Regiment, 1st Division
Lieutenant Jacobs peered over at Cassius, pursing his lips beneath his helmet. "You wouldn't be wrong," He said, glancing at Cassius, "It's the aft half of the ship, so several hundred meters including the primary reactor." He turned his head, listening to something for a second, "As for a safe zone, no, not exactly-" He gestured to the largely empty square, facing the government building on the other side from them. "This is it, more-or-less, large open area where we can spread out and not get too bunched up, but we're in a major city, after all," He said, giving the three a dry expression.

Jhes could see several of the soldiers giving her a peculiar expression, as she began rummaging through their equipment, though none made an effort to stop her. She'd soon discover that the magazines the soldiers used were worthless to her, by design. With the military issuing coilguns, a variation on railguns, the magazines were smaller, the ammunition cases lacking the chemical propellant her weapon required. She could see one of them stepping closer, but at a gesture from one of the others, flipping their visor up, revealing a pale, dark-haired woman, who reached for her sidearm, offering it, grip first, towards Jhes. "You won't find anything for your peashooter in our gear, little lady," The woman said, with an amused smirk.

The Lieutenant peered over at her, and shook his head, as he began walking towards the waiting APC, reaching into a locker to pull out a trio of short, stubby, submachine guns. He turned, offering one to each of them, before he began taking out body armor and breathing masks. "Mister Rean," Jacobs spoke as he worked, "You three have more experience up close and personal with these... things than anyone else we know of right now," He said. "So if we do wind up going aboard, anyone who can tell us what to watch out for, and engineers, will be worth their weight in gold, on a high-gravity world."

Jason nodded at Cassius with a small grunt, offering a handshake in proper greeting. He was sure the three of them could help out in this unusual situation.

Jason's day was turning out to be a weird one. All three of them could say the same thing.
He wasn't expecting to go help out others until the turn of events forced him into action. "With what we have seen, we will be of help, yes." Jason commented. He glanced up at the sky, glaring at it. He had something to do now, and he wasn't exactly glaring at the sky because of that, more so because of the chaos taking place now and casualties involved. He was ready to go wherever the others were at a moment's notice.

"How soon are you planning on going up to check things out?" He asked Jacobs. Given that he had recently been low on ammo, he had only so helpful on the ground here until military support arrived. Naturally, he would wait for further instructions and help however he could in the mean time until they were told to move out.

Timid civilians were checking out the fallen armored figure, black blood oozing everywhere. A building nearby crushed under it's weakened support beams, startling a group passing through. "Stay back!" He warned them with a loud and sharp tone.

Cassius took the proffered weapon, "just point and click yeah?" He asked jokingly. "Just to let you know the nearest thing to this I have used is a mark 4 air fired Jacobson rivet gun. I will do my best to point it in the right direction."
Now the immediate danger had passed Cass felt his mood return to its normal, jovial state. With the good mood came his curiosity.

Addressing both Jacobs and McCallister Cassius gestured to the fallen being,
"Lieutenants, what do we know about these? Have those inside succumb to fits of insanity or is something else going on? What about disabling rather than destruction? If there are people in there should we not try and get them out? What about.."
Realising that these people were not used to his stream of consciousness way of working through a problem Cassius stopped.

The collapsing building reminded him that whilst things were safer, there were still plenty of danger around even if it wasn't immediate.
"Right, yeah, I know you military types are people of action so I suppose my questions will have to wait."
With that Cass swung himself up and onto the nearest transport and started donning the body armour he had been given.

It was just unfortunate luck that had Chevy trapped in a room full of panicked toddlers when all hell broke loose.

Her purpose had been simple -- to stock up on some simple supplies and grab a quick meal before hopping a cruiser out of this quadrant, away from her old life and onto greater adventures. But whatever the hell was going on out in the plaza wasn't what she had planned on for adventure.

She had just started in on a juicy burger when something crashed out there, sending the whole area into panicked chaos, and not one to run from trouble -- besides, she was insanely curious -- Chevy had started out that way, but then people were running into the building, away from danger and forcing her back into the cafeteria, just where six little rug rats had been munching on ice cream cones with their pre-school teacher...

Only the woman abandoned them, dashing for the back doors with a wild look in her eyes, and Chevy became impromptu babysitter. And, surprise! the kids actually listened to her as she cooed platitudes, that they were safe as long as they stayed put.

But she sensed differently...the building had been subjected to great stresses, and it was groaning, shedding fine dust. As she kept her little brood together under a table, she watched, looked the place over, assessing, waiting...

Then she saw it, the signs that failure was imminent, and she scrambled from cover, herding the kids from under the table to the narrow hallway where the restrooms and entrance to the kitchen were...by her reckoning, there would be water pipes that would help to reinforce that area and provide more protection, since they wouldn't make it outside.

And she was right. As the building crumbled around them, it left them in a small pocket of safety. Sure, they were coated in dust, the air was so thick with the stuff they could hardly breathe, and some debris had fallen on them, but they were relatively unscathed.

Now, it was just a matter of getting someones' attention that they were there, and shouting wasn't much of an option, so she urged the kids to clap in unison...

Dot Dot Dot Dash Dash Dash Dot Dot Dot...

  • Jhes'Kah
    • Engineer

Jhes took the offered fire arm awkwardly, examining (including sniffing it) before she decided it would do, letting her PDW hang from its sling. She sat in the back of the transport, her drone whizzing away, "I will look for survivors," she declared, closing her eyes. To most, it might look like she was evening napping, save for the occasinal twitch of an ear or flick of a tail as she piloted her drone about, weaving in and out of the debris, calling out locations of movement in paces, of all the inaccurate methods, from their location. With all the dust in the air, it was unlikely she could figure out what was a victim and what was a goo monster.

  • Lieutenant Kota Jacobs, Ground Forces Command (NPC)
    • Executive Officer, 1st Mechanized Infantry Company, 2nd Mechanized Infantry Regiment, 1st Division

"Soon as Central gives us orders to mount up, Lieutenant," Kota responded, as he shifted slightly, scratching at the side of his helmet over where his ear would be, absently. He glanced over at Cassius, smiling faintly at his remark, before he looked at the engineer, without a word, trying to process the rapid-fire remarks, ignoring the crumbling of the building in the background for the moment, as some of the dismounted troopers began moving to pull the civilians back. As the ground beneath them bucked, cracks began to open, debris pouring down through the holes into the subterranean tunnels that ran throughout much of the city.

"You know more about them, on a personal level, than I do, right now, Mister Rean," Kota said, eyeing one of the growing cracks. He made a motion towards one of the other soldiers, who began moving to get into one of the vehicles to move it away from the cracks. "We should probably move, and soon, though. As for saving them, I have no idea if that's possible, I'm not a scientist. I shoot things for a living, right?" He said, his tone almost sarcastic, though it seemed not entirely directed at Cassius. "Anyway, we mount up, do a sweep, make sure there's nobody within a block of the plaza to ensure people can fall back safely here." At his words, a handful of the soldiers began moving back to the vehicle, as another small convoy began moving into the plaza, though this one was larger, and primarily APCs, though one had the universal red cross on a white background of a medical transport.

As Jhes' drone flew through the air, she could see, through one of the filters, the thermal signatures of a dozen or so people in a nearby ground-level of a building, trapped by debris. On the other side of the barricade, someone or something was smashing at the rubble, trying to reach them, though the distance between her drone and the ground made it difficult to determine whether it was human or monster. This was located, if she was listening, within the one-block perimeter the Lieutenant was ordered to enforce, the monster just out of their sight around the sides of one of the buildings.

On the other side of the debris blocking the corridor, Chevy could hear something smashing at the rubble. The entire wall of rubble shook and dust floated free with every strike of metal on the stone and other assorted debris. But it wasn't an evenly paced, organized smashing, but more random. There was an occasional screech, that didn't quite sound like a voice, badly distorted as if coming through a set of damaged speakers and amplified and distorted even further, barely audible on the other side of the rubble.

Oh..this was not good!

Chevy didn't know exactly why -- well, besides the ungodly sounds coming from the back wall -- but she was sure that whatever was behind them wasn't benevolent or there to rescue them, and it made the situation all the more urgent. Still, she had to maintain calm for the sake of the kids, and besides, she knew full well that panic never did anything good for anyone.

"Keep om clapping," she encouraged the children. The had the cadence down, and it seemed to help keep the whimpering at bay. As they did that, she pried a leg loose from a chair then started to use that to tap out the same cadence as the kids -- SOS, only this was on an exposed pipe, and far louder...

  • Jhes'Kah
    • Mercenary

As Jhes' drone flew through the air, she could see, through one of the filters, the thermal signatures of a dozen or so people in a nearby ground-level of a building, trapped by debris. On the other side of the barricade, someone or something was smashing at the rubble, trying to reach them, though the distance between her drone and the ground made it difficult to determine whether it was human or monster. This was located, if she was listening, within the one-block perimeter the Lieutenant was ordered to enforce, the monster just out of their sight around the sides of one of the buildings.

Jhes called out, "200 paces, I see some cubs under the rock, and one person trying to help," she held out her arm pointing in the direction of her drone. She began to maneuver her drone to get a better look at the figure trying to dig the trapped thermal signals free.

"Trapped cubs? I'm as much of an animal lover as the next guy but don't....aah" Cassius trailed off realising that perhaps Jhes meant children. She sure was taking this whole cat thing seriously.
"Well, helping move rubble is something I know I can do."
Quickly fastening the chest piece of the body armour he had been donning Cass placed a helmet loosely on his head and swung down off the transport. His borrowed weapon swinging at his back from the shoulder strap.
"I know you've got a perimeter to sort out lieutenant, but a couple of power augmented hands would help the job go a lot faster. If you can spare the manpower of course."
"This way was it?" He enquired of Jhes as he headed in the direction she was pointing.

  • Lieutenant Kota Jacobs, Ground Forces Command (NPC)
    • Executive Officer, 1st Mechanized Infantry Company, 2nd Mechanized Infantry Regiment, 1st Division

As Jhes lowered the drone through the miasma of debris in the sky, the suit of armor turned and swung a piece of rock, throwing it easily up at the drone, and nearly knocking it from the sky, the rock itself covered the black ooze.

Kota nodded, and grabbed his own rifle from it's sling. "We can," He said, looking towards Cass, and then towards Jason. "Lieutenant, you with us?" He asked, as he checked to make sure Jason had his weapons as well, two of the lieutenants unit grabbing their equipment and getting ready to move, off in the direction Jhes' drone had flown off. Within a few dozen steps, the sound of the banging became audible through the din of debris still falling to the ground. Kota picked up the pace, moving towards the banging, his rifle at the ready. "I hope we don't have to do too much digging," He called, his voice piped in through the helmet earpieces to Cass, Jason, and Jhes. They could see part of a commercial building, evidence of a cafeteria visible through the rubble, a few bodies interspersed with the debris. An armored figure was banging on a pile of stones that had fallen, propped up against the remainder of a doorway.

From beneath the rubble, near Eusebia, a voice, small and tinny, as if coming through a radio, was audible. As the dust was settling, a swath of fabric was visible, emblazoned with a camo pattern, the sound coming from around or nearby it. Likely someone who had been just a few steps too late in coming to join them in taking shelter, but it seemed some radio or other communications device had survived the disaster.

  • Jhes'Kah
    • Mercenary
Once her drone was back under control after the evasive manuvers and was able to identify the ooze, she came out of her trance-like state, and sped off after the rescue party, shouting and waving her hands about, "Ooze! Ooze!" she shouted, her speed able to over take the party in short order. She breathed heavily but was not out of breath when she caught up, "Ooze. Rescuer. Careful," she panted out, holding the loaner gun she was given at the ready.

Jason double-checked his equipment, giving it a decent once-over before keeping up with the others. Now that he was properly equipped he felt a little more prepared to deal with more of those weird armored beasts that had a rough outline of a human. He was thoroughly motivated to assist, it was part of their job after all. He was good at handling weapons, so this made it a little easier for him to get into the pace of each battle he dealt with. And though he was pretty sure he hadn't worked with Kota before, if the Lieutenant had any recommendations on the fly, he would certainly listen. He had some faith that the others here knew what they were doing at this point in time.

Upon arriving at the scene, Jason took a quick look around and decided he could help free up some of the rubble, but they had to help distract the beast thing first. At least now they had a better idea of what to aim for to take it down quicker and help these cornered people. The drone was a massive help to the cause. Explosives would be ideal for their cause, in Jason's mind. The guns would help, but they needed something that yielded damage that was wider spread and more effective.

"This would be best achieved with explosives--" He commented to the others. "BUT I guess we don't have any right now."

When they got closer, he slowed down a bit so they could position themselves. The question was mostly directed at Kota. "We could target it from different sides and go from there."

Did they hear?

Taking a breath then coughing dust, Chevy paused with the pipe, straining to hear something besides the incessant pounding behind them. And then there was something...

"Shhh..." she cautioned the children...there had been something...

Then she heard it again, the crackle of a radio, squelch, not a radio, but a communicator. Crawling toward the noise, she hissed as she cut her hand on something, but it didn't matter right now. If she was right...

Well, she hadn't counted on there being a body in the rubble, and she did her best to hide it from the kids, but in making the sacrifice, whether there was intention or not, he very well could have saved these kids in his death.

Groping on his uniform, she finally found the device and pulled it free. Now, pray someone was at the other end.

"Mayday, mayday...we're trapped in the cafeteria area....me, six children...we need help..."

Cassius rounded the corner at a slight jog, then skidded to a halt on seeing the creature.
The thing was currently concerned with pounding the rubble, which was odd, but no doubt it would notice them soon.
"What if....oh crap! That's where the kids are!" The realisation hit Cass like a brick. They needed to get the thing away.

"This would be best achieved with explosives--" Jason's comment crackled through the communications.
"Not a great idea" Cassius muttered.
"The blast wave could destabilise the...wait, blast wave... slowing down... IMPULSE!" the last word came out as a shout.
"Lieutenants! If we can focus all our fire on it at once, maybe the force of the impacts could knock it backwards and over."

Cass turned towards Jason and Jhes "you two remember, your guns did little but physical attacks seemed more effective earlier. It might be because there was a greater force transfer from the physical attacks."

  • Lieutenant Kota Jacobs, Ground Forces Command (NPC)
    • Executive Officer, 1st Mechanized Infantry Company, 2nd Mechanized Infantry Regiment, 1st Division

As Jhes appeared out of the cloud of debris still hanging over the city, Kota raised his rifle to cover her, before he lowered it. "Copy that," He said, nodding at her, "Thank you," He said, turning his attention back towards the path they were heading towards, as he heard a faint voice calling for help over the radio, knowing the others could hear it as well through their helmets. He slowed to a top, watching the creature banging on the debris, his rifle raised towards it, as he listened to Jason and Cassius' back and forth for a moment. Kota took a moment to check his rifle, before he shouldered it, "Better idea than any I've heard so far," Kota called back to Cassius, "We can also overpower the coils in our rifles, make it a little more, uh..." He waved a hand, before finishing lamely. "Hitty. On the side, should be a recessed dial. Twist it to full, and prepare to fire," He called, before he switched to the channel the distress message had come in on. "This is Lieutenant Kota Jacobs, GFC. We're outside with a platoon, and are about to deal with a potential hostile. Will advise when it's safe to emerge." And with that, he switched back to the main channel, looking towards the others. "Everybody ready?" He called.

Inside the debris, where Eusebia had taken shelter with the children, dust from the constant banging began to fall, coating her and the body beside her. The small communications device wasn't terribly big. A little large to wrap her hand around, but still small enough to fit into a pocket, as she pulls it free of the body. Here and there, the case was visibly dented and damaged, but she could still hear voices on the other side, talking about how to deal with something on the other side.

A larger physical impact would be good idea, and he was in favor of that. Jason readied his trigger finger on his rifle and used his 'good eye' to aim. He couldn't see where these people were, though after adjusting his cybernetic eye that briefly glowed red, he was able to see through the debris and adjacent walls via thermal detection while the others were talking.

"The survivors are just out of reach beyond the debris but we'll have to try to avoid impact farther back if we can help it." The sound of the radio verified they were close by on the other side. At least it helped knowing he could avoid shooting to a certain range. Jason would do his best to make sure the survivors didn't get hit once the debris was cleared too, which he could easily help with once the 'thing' was taken care of, especially since he could see in more ways than one unlike the others. The place was a mess, but at least it wasn't falling on them at this point in time.

There was no question that things were very not-right, and that she needed to get the kids out of there or there wasn't going to be a good outcome. Pulling the communicator free of the uniform, Chevy scrabbled back over to the kids and herded them under tables to protect them from the falling debris, then grabbed the chair leg.

It hurt to crawl over the rubble, but that didn't matter, they needed to get out. Finding a spot where she thought she'd heard voices, she started digging in earnest, rewarded when the metal rod finally broke through.

"Hey!" she shouted as loudly as she could, "is anyone there? We need help!" She started digging again. At least if she could get the hole a little bigger she could hand the kids out...

Cassius grabbed the rifle from where it hung at his back. He knew the theory, increase the magnetic field across the coils and it would increase the velocity of the slug. It would burn the coils out quickly, there was no way of him knowing how many shots he would have. But of course, none of that knowledge would help him fire the thing.

Fumbling with the unfamiliar weapon Cass found to dial and cranked it as far as it would go. He found the scope unwieldy so instead lined up the shot using the center line of the gun.
"READY!" He shouted. "I think."

  • Corporal Shino-Elena Wolf, Ground Forces Command
    • Military Police, Senate Security Force

Shino donned her Riot Gear exo-skeleton, the GFC's colours brightly painted and fresh, still, after two years of service. She had heard the broadcast, but wasn't quick to get out of bed, considering she had pushed herself once again to the point of exhaustion.

Despite every muscle burning, aching, and outright hurting, Shino pulled herself up to her not-so-impressive height, and stretched, the muscles and joints popping audibly

'Last night's shift really, REALLY tired me out. Maybe I shouldn't have been lifting those weights that much.' Shino said, chuckling.

Shino picked up her helmet, which was lying on the bed, ready for duty. Its earpiece already crackled, its' proximity close enough to several GFC forces, or otherwise connected systems. With an annoyed sigh, she picked it up.

'So much for relaxing. On my damn day off, even!' she said to the helmet, viewing her pale face and messy, loose hair in its visors.

Putting it on, Shino next grabbed her weapons: a long, curved dagger, and sheathed it on her thigh's scabbard. Next, she hooked up her entrenching tool - a keepsake from her father's service in the Colonial forces, wherever he'd served, in Albion, some time prior. Aside from it being a memento, reminding her of home, it was also a tool that could come in handy.

Her compact Rifle was next, and she stowed some spare clips of ammunition on her exo-skeleton's pouches, and stowed her pistol, alongside some magazines, into their respective places on her suit.

'Well. Here goes.' Shino said, as she headed outside her impromptu sleeping place, somewhere in the House of Planets.

Once she stood on the front steps of the HoP, she saw immediately why it was no drill. Still sleepy, she looked into the sky to see massive pieces of debris dropping to the ground, most falling harmlessly apart, dropping to the ground in a giant thud and metallic clangs, or breaking glass when falling through windows, higher up.

Of course, some debris just had to fall on her, and with a dull thud, landed on the ground just in front of her. A rock, the size of her fist, had fallen on top of her head, throwing her into a small degree of disorientation. It wasn't anything to fret over, but it annoyed Shino.

"Just my luck." she said, and as she saw what was happening around here, she noticed people aiding victims, wounded or just hampered, Police forces and Military alike assisting people moving inside, safe from the hail of metal and other material dropping from the sky. As she made up her mind, Shino activated her communications, speaking into her comm feed.

"Corporal Wolf here, Military Police. It's a nice day, with debris falling outta the damn sky, isn't it? How may I assist, over?" she said, making her way over to the group.

Crossing the plaza, she managed to make record time, although here muscles weren't thanking her for it. A sharp hiss escaped her lips, as she stacked up just behind the group, her rifle at the ready, finger on the trigger.

  • [[Jhes]Kah]]
    • Mercenary

Jhes scowled at the apparent inaction by the others, lifting the loaned side arm. She tried to pull the trigger, but the mechanical safety stopped her. She ultimately threw the gun at the creature before rushing it again, picking up a hunk of debris half the size of her head throwing it like a shot-put, before pouncing. Once again she grabbed a rock and began to try and smash in the thing's face; it worked the first time.

  • Lieutenant Kota Jacobs, Ground Forces Command (NPC)
    • Executive Officer, 1st Mechanized Infantry Company, 2nd Mechanized Infantry Regiment, 1st Division
Kota winced as Eusebia's shout echoed in his earpiece. "Give us one moment, dealing with a situation out here," He radioed back, his eyes narrowed. His rifle raised as someone charged out of the debris towards them, before he lowered his rifle, peering over at Shino. "Corporal, nice of you to join us," He said, taking a deep breath as he considered what had almost happened. He worked to quickly feel in Shino, before listening to what Jason had to say. "Try to avoid hitting the debris and bringing it down on top of them, got it," He said, with a nod, wanting to himself for not thinking of thermal imaging himself.

At the clatter of Jhes' borrowed sidearm, the creature turned towards her, as she rushed forwards with the rock. The creature darted back, seemingly intelligent enough to try to keep Jhes between itself and the others. Kota hissed as he brought his rifle up, trying to keep it centered on the armored figure, as Jhes and the monster were fighting. "Jhes, back!" He called. "I can't get a shot-" He turned his head, momentarily. "Fire when you can," He called, "Just careful not to hit Jhes, or the debris... as much as possible."

Inside the debris, Eusebia could hear the enraged roars of the monster, as it swung, the sounds of the others talking over each other on the radio echoing through her communicator. It was clear, very clear, that something had gone terribly wrong. More dust rained down from above

  • Corporal Shino-Elena Wolf, Ground Forces Command
    • Military Police, Senate Security Force
Gotcha, Lt.

'So, no shooting. If the LT can't get a shot, neither can I. But just what in tarnation is that creature? If I guess right, someone's down there in the debris, and if we can't push the damn thing off of it, it might just drop dead on top of them. If only I'd brought my Riot Shield I could've tried to...-
"Hold on. It's not that huge, so a strong enough force should do the trick, wouldn't it?" Shino said, to no one in particular.

It was hilarious to see the feline-like humanoid bull-rush and struggle with the armoured lump, but it shouldn't have to be at the expense of whatever or whoever was down there in the debris. At that point an idea struck her.

The armoured lump wasn't all that huge in comparison, and, given enough force, it could be forced off of the debris nearby. The idea would've been completely stupid, were it not for the fact that a cyborg, a seasoned soldier, an angry feline-looking human, and Shino herself were close by. If it went wrong, the worst could be avoided, because the others would be able to cover her.

Speaking into her comms, she prepared herself, whilst stowing her rifle, engaging the safeties again.

This might sound crazy, but cat-lady has the right idea, I think. With enough force, we can drive the damn thing off of the debris. With that said, if you get a clear shot, please take it. Cover me!. She yelled the last part, and drew her curved dagger from the belt, running at the armoured lump from the side, hoping it would be too late in notcing the sprint-propelled exo-skeleton kick would give it.

Here's to hoping I'm right. If not, I could get some nasty bruises.

As fast as Shino could manage, she sprinted full-tilt at the creature's side, hoping that Jhes kept it sufficiently occupie, trying to hammer it down with a rock. It would've been funny, were it not for the fact the thing could be lethal, as much as it looked dangerous.

A situation? Worse than a bunch of kids trapped in a debris pile that was starting to crumble?

"Got it," she replied to the message, deciding that there was no harm in continuing to dig the hole larger while they 'situated'. But then, whatever was making that wretched sound could very well be something she didn't want to meet up close and personal. Maybe if she knew what it was?

But from her vantage point it wasn't within sight through the small hole she was working on. And with whatever they were doing out there, the walls were rattling and threatening to come down on them.

  • Lieutenant Kota Jacobs, Ground Forces Command (NPC)
    • Executive Officer, 1st Mechanized Infantry Company, 2nd Mechanized Infantry Regiment, 1st Division

The creature went down, beneath the combined assault of Shino, Jhes, and Kota, the creature falling motionless to the ground. As it fell, the rest of Kota's squad went to help Cassius and Jason lift the rubble away from where Eusebia and the children were hiding, their powered armor making short work of the debris, as they lifted it to the sides, and held it up, to let Eusebia and the children out.

"Ma'am?" Kota called in, "You can come out now," He said. He turned his head away, after a few moments, before the others could hear him again. "We've got orders to get to the Square again, they'll be sending down shuttles for us and any volunteers to go help check on where they came from."

  • Corporal Shino-Elena Wolf, Ground Forces Command
    • Military Police, Senate Security Force

Once Shino saw the creature drop, she took a moment to view the black stuff.

If this is it's blood... I don't care for it. Much.' It wasn't the first time Shino got bled on by something or someone else, but this black stuff was certainly a first.

Got it, Lt. By any chance, do you mean... We gotta go up there? Shino said, slightly nervous, while pointing to the sky, where debris was still falling like snowflakes on a winter's day.

Great. Shit's falling out of the sky, and we're going up there!? This was supposed to be a day to play cards with Riot Control members, Senate Police, and get drunk. Not dodging debris, getting sprayed with black goo, and having to help children out of a pile of scrap metal. Just my luck, eh?

I wonder how Mom would react upon hearing this news... Probably going off on a rant against Father, because he was the one supporting my decision. Poor man. Haruno didn't marry someone with the name Wolf because she was a sheep...

Oh Dad... Rest in Pieces if mom's in a bad mood.

Through all this internal monologue, Shino hadn't noticed that she was smiling faintly, and let out a chuckle.

Shino made for the Square once again, not able to shake the thoughts of home off. Helping those children out would only make her miss her siblings.

'What'd I get myself into... Must be crazy' Shino said, chuckling dryly whilst passing Kota, now dashing for the Square. Shino was anxious to at least get out of the debris-filled city, although it wasn't much better out there than it was right here.

As the children scrabbled out of the now clear entrance Cassius pulled them one by one into a small huddle. He figured that him in his rather garish shirt, dust covered though it now was, would be less frightening than soldiers in power armour towering over them.

As the woman accompanying the children exited Cassius waved her over. She seemed very young to be looking after such a group, but then again she could have just been in the right place at the right time.
"The soldiers are moving back to the square round the corner." Cass waved an arm in that direction, "I suggest we go with them, it's liable to be the safest area."
"Right kids, follow me. And remember to look at the floor, we don't want anyone falling over now do we?" And he slowly started towards the square.

Gratefully, Chevy passed the kids out then followed after them, just barely managing to squeeze through the tight opening, getting scraped up a bit as she did. That didn't matter though, she was happy to be out, and especially that the kids were safe.

She gave the man in the odd outfit a grateful nod as he took control of the children, and not sure what else to do, she trotted after him and the kids, looking around curiously at the carnage around them.

"What th' hell happened?" she asked, falling in step beside Cass, then letting out a low growl as the kids' teacher ran over and embraced them.

"Oh, thank goodness you are all right!" the woman gushed and Chevy rolled her eyes, muttering, "No thanks to you, fancy pants." Then her attention went back to Cass, wondering if he could even really make out any of her features through the layers of dust and grime. "There's a man back there, soldier, I think...this is his." She held up the radio.

  • Lieutenant Kota Jacobs, Ground Forces Command (NPC)
    • Executive Officer, 1st Mechanized Infantry Company, 2nd Mechanized Infantry Regiment, 1st Division

As Shino watched, the black goo began wriggling around, Kota withdrawing rapidly from it, and scraping a little off himself with his armored gauntlets. "That's the plan, Corporal," He said, turning his head towards Shino, and flipping up his visor. He watched as Chevy and Cass began walking, a faint look of relief on his lips to see someone who survived, in addition to the kids, as Cas and Chevy began walking back towards the square. Kota motioned for the others of his unit to begin moving that way as well.

Overhead, there was a low 'whump' noise, and flickers of light, though these seemed more controlled, as debris from the direction of the square was momentarily kicked up. It settled, rapidly, to reveal the bulk of a handful of aerospace shuttles landing, medics and engineers disembarking and instantly preparing the square for use as a makeshift hospital

Kota began walking, his eyes on the others. "Lieutenant McCallister, Corporal Wolf, Mister Rean," He called, "My unit will be heading to orbit shortly, if you'd like to tag along," He said, before his eyes flicked to Chevy. He wasn't sure about offering her a spot, though he wouldn't turn her down if she requested. "Since, well, we became a little short-staffed, we'll need everyone we can get, and anyone who can handle a gun, or has an engineering background."

"Well, I can't say I'm looking forward to encountering any more of those things lieutenant, but I am curious as to what's going on. And if you're going to be needing spare hands then it would be remiss of me to decline any assistance I can give. Count me in."

Looking around at the hubbub of the field hospital going up reminded Cass that he only had his universal service tool on him. Whilst useful for many situations it had its limitations.

"Hey lieutenant, how well stocked are these shuttles? What's the likelihood that they will be carrying a full engineering field kit? That's assuming that the military has something like that."

  • Corporal Shino-Elena Wolf, Ground Forces Command
    • Military Police, Senate Security Force

'We're going up there? Into... Shino sighed, resigning herself to the idea of space-combat, and floating goo in a breached ship.

...Never mind. I'm in. If I get to beat stuff up, I'm game.' It wasn't hard to get Shino interested, as long as it meant she could actually get to do something, rather than guarding one of the already most secure places in the entire Initiative.

That made her think of something, as Corporal Wolf quickly took her personal communicator from one of the suit's many pockets, and opened a messaging service program to her Senate Security superior. While following Kota, her rifle banging lightly against her thigh

Sir. Shino here. As of today, I'm joining Lieutenant Kota's lead to find out what happened during this incident. He's taking point of this operation. If you wish to chew me out for leaving my post like this, do it when all this has been resolved. People got hurt, I intend to find out why, or at least, how.
This might take a while, so I'm saying this with s[i]incere regret,[i] if you need to have someone fill the position, don't hesitate and go for it. I can do more good out there in orbit and wherever, than down near the Senate.

Take care, Sir.

Shino liked her boss, not because she was in love with her superior, but rather because her superior was understanding and relaxed, most of all. Did the work that was supposed to be done, but didn't force protocols unless necessary. Hating paperwork, just like Shino, earned her boss some brownie points. With a small pang of regret, Shino stowed the personal communication device in the pocket again, after putting it into 'silent'mode, and looked around.

Amidst all the chaos, somehow, order was slowly prevailing once again, despite the messy looks of it, the city wasn't going to fall into chaos and descend into despair just yet. Whatever happened, she'd help in finding out what happened.

  • Lieutenant Malcom Russell, Space Forces Command
    • Commanding Officer, SFCV K1-34
Looking on from a safe distance Malcom kept his USP ready for use, though from the looks of it, his help wasn't needed at all.
The weird, hulking creature got smacked to bits, black blood or oil oozing out of it. Some kids and adult emerging from a ruined building.
The victors looking as if they were talking to each other, discussing something, whilst the kids were taken care of.

It seemed to Malcom this was the rather opportune moment to approach the gathered company, behind him the ruckus of coming and going shuttles, the construction of a field hospital and the clamour and throng of people crowding together was slowly building up, becoming more audible by the minute.

Slowly Malcom approached the armed group, his hands raised, USP in his right hand pointing towards the sky. His party clothing, being all dusty and dirty from the debris, looked more like a hobo's Sunday clothes rather than actual party clothing.

“Heya chaps, anyone able to fill me in on what's going on out here? I kinda planned on having a party before heading back into the black, now the sky's falling down upon us and I take it these hulking spacesuits aren't our friendly new neighbours?” Malcom started saying, audibly louder as he approached with large strides. Being in a group was fine, given the circumstances. Being in space would be even better. Only way to get there soon was to hook up with a group of soldiers and hoping that 'Sunshine', SFCV K1-34’s XO and Malcom's second man on K1-34 was keeping K1-34 in one piece as well as being able to pick Malcom up. Thinking on K1-34 and Sunshine Malcom had another brilliant idea.

Using his coms Malcom shot a quick message to his XO; “Sunshine my dear, if you get this: where are you, the crew and K1-34? The party went banana's, weird spacesuits and a bloody ship crashing onto the surface. Could really use some intel and a ride if possible. Kind regards and don't ruin K1-34 ~ Malcom.'

With the message out all Malcom could do was wait and hope he wasn't about to get shot or squished by a falling spaceship.

The apparent leader in this was offering her a chance to join them?

Chevy frowned, hesitating. She had no idea what was going on, and honestly, it looked like a fool's errand, judging by the damage that had been done here. But still, it had to be better than the routine here that was serving to just drive her stark-raving mad...it was a way out, even if it held a touch of suicide.

"I'm in," she announced. "Name's Chevy, and I have some engineering training, too." She nodded to Cass in acknowledgement of his indirect declaration that he was an engineer. "I got some things at home, mostly old-school hand tools, but they don't break or need remote power," she offered.

"Hi Chevy, name's Cass, and unless I'm hearing your accent wrong I guess we hail from the same rock."
Cassius turned to Chevy extending his hand.
"Where did you train? Also, whilst I'm glad someone else appreciates reliable hand tools, that's a military vessel up there so I reckon plasma cutters and diagnostic interfaces are going to be the order of the day."

  • Corporal Shino-Elena Wolf, Ground Forces Command
    • Military Police, Senate Security Force

As soon as Shino looked up from what she was doing -replacing the comm device, brandishing her weapon yet again, and looking to Kota, as if to prompt him to guide them to the means of transportation up to the big scary thing the people call space. While she had been busy shooting her superior a message, a new person had entered the group's perimeter, and his strange accent was entirely foreign to Shino.

Shino turned to Malcolm with a look of indifference.

'Welcome to the party. If you're looking to join up, take it up with El-Tee Kota...' Shino pointed to Lieutenant Kota, whilst at the same time Chevy and Cass seemed to hit it off with their engineering-coded brains, talking about tools. It made little difference either way: as long as there was a semi-qualified engineer, that meant there'd be at least someone taking care of the mechanical and technical stuff going on wherever this scraped-together task force would be heading.

... I'm Corporal Wolf, we've got some civilians with us and someone from the Ranger Corps, so, who are you and what're you bringing to the table?

It wasn't that Shino wasn't welcoming for the company, considering where the group might be going could be extremely dangerous. Shino'd feel better if she didn't have to save a helpless civilian, but, judging by the looks of it, the man might be able to handle himself well enough. Lazily inspecting her weapon for any faults, dirt and otherwise disturbing factors for use in the field, she awaited the dusty man's answer.

  • Lieutenant Malcom Russell, Space Forces Command
    • Commanding Officer, SFCV K1-34

“Well corporal, pleased to meet you. I'm lieutenant Russel, Space Forces Command. As to what I'm bringing to the table: I happen to be the commander of a sweet little bird called K1-34, you know, just a wee little ship capable of stinging like a giant bee.” Malcom responded with a joyful smile.

“Well then, lieutenant Kota, I believe this is your show to run, happen to need a Corvette as escort? Might be able to get the big wigs in space to let me tag along if you need us. Not much use for a corvette out here anyway, can't exfil the civi's or other friendly's, CQC is out of the question, though having a shot at falling space junk might be fun. Can't offer you any free rides though and won't replace the crew for you lot, nothing personal but some of you don't smell like navy.” Malcom continued, looking at Kota. “Oh, lest I forget: I'm going to need a ride to K1-34, don't feel like staying grounded for long, and could you please share what your current objective and area of operations is or are?”

"Hi Chevy, name's Cass, and unless I'm hearing your accent wrong I guess we hail from the same rock." Cassius turned to Chevy extending his hand.

"Pedras?" Grinning, she grasped his hand and gave it a firm shake. "Thought I knew everyone on that hell-hole," she declared, although, of course, it wasn't that small, people came and went, and he appeared older than she, at least by a few years. "Good to have a fellow-Perdian here."

"Where did you train? Also, whilst I'm glad someone else appreciates reliable hand tools, that's a military vessel up there so I reckon plasma cutters and diagnostic interfaces are going to be the order of the day."

"Went ta Pedras Tech, studied mining engineerin' and minerals...got my med-tech, too....didn't complete th' other courses yet. Had cause ta leave before that." Still, she was close, and she had a good bank of knowledge to offer in addition to her medical skills.
  • Lieutenant Kota Jacobs, Ground Forces Command (NPC)
    • Executive Officer, 1st Mechanized Infantry Company, 2nd Mechanized Infantry Regiment, 1st Division

"They'll probably have something, Mister Rean, in terms of a field kit. Hope we're able to suit everyone who volunteers up," Kota said, peering over at Shino, as he adjusted his rifle and peered around. "We'll at least have something you can use, don't worry too much," He said, as he watched Shino turn away to send a message. "I'll be able to at least give you something more effective than what we gave you earlier, Mister Rean," He added, finally.

As Malcom emerged from the rubble, Kota initially went to swing his rifle towards him, but as the IFF on his helmet came up, he lowered it. "Well, welcome to the party, Lieutenant," He called. Despite the other man outranking him by a grade, the other man being out of uniform and in such disarray led to Kota forming something of an amused, almost disdainful mental image, until he remembered the situation around them. "Come on over and join us," He called, waving him over.

He turned away from him, momentarily, as Chevy began speaking, and he waved his fingers in a vague 'hey'. "Kota Jacobs, here with part of my platoon," He said, smiling vaguely, as the plaza was filling with medics setting up temporary field hospitals. "Any of you need help, or anything like that, before we blast off?" He asked, strapping his rifle to his back momentarily.

He turned his head, watching the others introduce themselves to each other, before the other Lieutenant stepped up. "Yeah, a corvette on overwatch might be nice. We're going to be boarding the wreckage of the ship in orbit, so if you see anything moving around that isn't friendly, a corvette's got the guns to blast it from pretty close," He said.

Off to the side, one of the shuttles was nearly empty, and Kota began waving for the small band of scattered people towards it. "Everybody on," He called, moving towards the hatch to the cockpit, where a small arms locker was stored. It held several basic suits of armor, though none were properly fitted, so he doubted they'd be really comfortable for anyone, but he began passing them out to the team. "When you're done suiting up, take a seat and strap down," He called, as his men began hopping aboard, and, already being in armor, went to try to help the others.

  • Corporal Shino-Elena Wolf, Ground Forces Command
    • Military Police, Senate Security Force

Shino looked at Malcolm with a mildly impressed face. She snapped off a crisp salute to him, and then meekly followed Kota's order to board the shuttle. Although she had witnessed her fair share of them already this day, entering one always made her somewhat uncomfortable. Imagine that, a soldier with fear of heights. At least, when there were no external safeguards outside of the shuttle itself.

Well, here's to hoping we don't get blown up on our way up to the damn wreckage. Shino muttered to herself, as she casually walked into the shuttle and strapped herself in, nodding and introducing herself to Kota's men, exchanging names, pleasantries and the like. When all this was over and done, she'd sit down and have a couple of drinks with whoever'd be left.

For now, however, it was time to get her game on, and so, she lowered her visor, watching the IFFs pop up, highlighting the allied units. An almost imperceptible nod of confirmation was enough to tell Shino her suit worked just like it should, the only thing wrong with it, some of the leftover black goo. Wiping that off, she was good to go, while listening to some old pop songs, preparing herself mentally for the storm that would be sure to come.

  • Lieutenant Malcom Russell, Space Forces Command
    • Commanding Officer, SFCV K1-34

“Nice to meet you Lieutenant, sergeant and platoon, have to admit, haven't worn those in quite a while...” Mal nodded at the LT and some of the platoon as he took one of the armours. "You certain you won't be able to drop me off on the way up? I'd prefer to be on my own ship, but I guess Sunshine could use some eyes on site. He's gonna be thrilled as if it was his birthday... shooting things without me... the bastard.” Malcom said, grinning from ear to ear. Donning the armour and taking a seat, putting his helmet on last and waiting for the itch and boot up to start. These damned things never do as I please... I want to get back to K1-34, the sooner the better... and this darned suit of armour better not start itching... he thought to himself as he watched more and more folks hopping onto the transport.

Once he was relatively comfortable Malcom sent out another message to K1-34: “K1-34 this is your captain speaking, I'm with some blokes and lassies on a transport, we're going to make a housecall of sorts, would you be so kind as to provide chaperone services as well as a potential knock on the front door. In simpler words: Provide cover to transport whilst in transit. Provide close fire support for boarding action. Sound general quarters and prepare for CQC. Good hunting.”

And then all there was to do was wait... but at least we're going into space.

"I'm a PT alum myself.." Cass started as Kota's call to mount up washed over to him and Chevy.

"Tell you what Chevy, when we get back we can swap war stories, especially what old Hogarth is up to. Still, more pressing matters require our attention hey."
With that he jogged towards the indicated shuttle.
Accepting the proffered C/AS he saw that it was donned in much the same way as the civilian varieties he was used to.
"What, No cup holder?" he quipped to the lieutenant, "I thought these military suits had all the bells and whistles."
After checking the seals and connectors were snug Cassius fired up the armour's systems and was immediately aware of where those military extras were hiding. The additional information available in the HuD was astonishing; different audio and visual filters, targeting and health systems, maps of the local area. Much more than the O2 monitor and integrity readings that the civilian models offered.

With the help of one of the troopers Cass quickly figured out the controls and dialed back the more distracting functions. Plonking himself at the end of the starboard line of seats Cassius realised that he was now closest to the rear hatch. If they had to exit in a hurry he would have to be the first out.
"Looks like I signed up for meat shield duty, hope I don't drop too quickly." he joked with those around him.

Chevy nodded to Cass, grinning. "Got a few stories," she declared, then she followed him to the shuttle, grabbing a suit. She'd seen these before but had never actually handled one, so after slipping it on, she went over to Cass, asking, "Do I have this right? I'm not really sure how it works, and I guess that might be good to know!"

She sure wasn't too proud to ask for help where it came to safety!

  • Corporal Shino-Elena Wolf, Ground Forces Command
    • Military Police, Senate Security Force
As Shino sat, waiting for the lift-up, she heard the clamour, nervous and bravado of soldiers and civilian personnel alike. Both Chevy And Cass seemed to hit it off, considering they appeared to be graduates from the same academy, and maybe even their workplace. Pedras was well-known among her old friends, as well as many other people she knew. She could place their accents easily enough.

Malcolm however, was entirely different... His accent was completely foreign to her, and she'd have to ask about it at some point, or Shino'd feel she wouldn't be able to be focused on much else. Curiosity killed the cat, would not be too far from the truth, if her past experiences with foreign languages and irregularities were anything to go by.

Hearing the engineers talking to each other, Shino decided to help them out, and make them feel more at ease, as well, if at all possible. She'd gotten enough experience during training, and after, while fighting pirates and the like before she was offered a position at the Military Police-dash- Senate Security. Only twice before had her shuttle gone in hot under fire, but both times most got to the ground unharmed. Making up her mind, Shino opted to sit opposite one of the engineers, who sat at the starboard end.

Turning to Chevy, Shino motioned for her to stand, making sure that everything was secured properly. Tightening, checking, or adjusting some straps on the suit, she was impressed with Chevy: although the suits had a lot in common, the military suit had a few additions, least of which would be added protection and pouches, sockets, and the like.

'This seems to be in order. You had it down well enough, but it should be perfect now, Chevy, was it? Nice to meet you, I'm Shino Wolf.'
While Shino stretched her hand in the somewhat-crowded shuttle full of soldiers and volunteers, she turned to look at Cass.

Don't worry about it too much. I'll be right behind you, unless you want me to go first. Let's kick some ass, eh? Shino said, grinning widely.

Holding on to one of the rails above her head, she eyed the surrounding people's faces, committing some of them to memory, while others she already knew -most notably the engineers, Malcolm, and Lieutenant Kota- one face however, stood out. It seemed as though if she had met him before, but couldn't place him. Shino wasn't about to ask, either. All that was left to do, was brace for take-off, and the impending fear, adrenaline, and thrill that combat would bring with it. Trying to talk to someone she may or may not have known just prior to that, wasn't exactly the cleverest of things to do.

With one last look, eyeing the others intently, and returning the nods others would give her, Shino closed her helmet's visor, IFFs appearing. Names, ranks, roles and designations showed up, which would make her job much easier to carry out.

I wonder if Dad ever felt like this before combat. Did he drop from shuttles often? I'd always wanted to ask him about his time serving in detail, but I was afraid Mom'd freak out. Maybe I'll ask him when I see him next.
  • Lieutenant Kota Jacobs, Ground Forces Command (NPC)
    • Executive Officer, 1st Mechanized Infantry Company, 2nd Mechanized Infantry Regiment, 1st Division
June 30th, 2503
Low Orbit, Sanctuary, Arc System

As the others strapped into their seats, facing each other across the wide passenger bay, Kota peered along the rows of seats, from the raising tail ramp, to the short ladder to the the cockpit, before he turned his head as the tail ramp began to whine closed. Even as it was still rising, the shuttle lurched, as it began to rise from the ground, the city and the coastline still monetarily visible through the diminishing gap of the ramp.

As the shuttle began to rise into the clouds, a corner of everyone's visors momentarily blanked, displaying a spinning icon. At the same time, an unfamiliar voice began to speak through their helmets, and through the intercom on the shuttle. "Initial evidence indicates that the vessel in orbit is the remains of the SFCV Heart of Winter, a second-generation Praetorian-class battleship. It left port with three hundred officers and crew, and two hundred marines, as part of a larger task force. Hostiles on the ground account for a tenth of the crew at present. Priority targets, once aboard, will be navigational and operational records, so we can determine the fate of the rest of the task force, look for survivors, and determine what caused this disaster. Boarding parties will only have a limited window of opportunity, before the ship burns up in atmosphere. Good luck."

And with that, the transmission cut off. Kota pulled himself to his feet, looking at the others, from where he stood by the ladder up to the cockpit. "Well, we have our orders," He called. "Any questions?" On the heels of his words, however, another voice broke in on the intercom. "SFCV K1-34 coming alongside for a passenger pickup."
Kota peered over at Malcom. "Looks like you're ride's here, lieutenant."

“Thanks for the ride LT, you mind if my techies patch into your coms? I'll see if I can have them dig up the lay of the land and schematics for you and the chaps. Should save you from stumbling around blindly.” Malcom said, giving LT Kota a firm and and big smile. “This is one hell of a big mess, but hey, at least I'll be back on my own ship. Once this is done I'll hand you back the armour.”

And with that Malcom went aboard SFCV K1-34, his home, and not a moment too soon. Space was awesome, a lot better than the rock he grew up on, but entering a ship making involuntary entry into orbit and burning up... that was a bad thing, almost as bad as a mine ready to collapse.

“Morning Sunshine, what a beautiful day isn't it?”Malcom jested to his grumpy old pilot.”I presume most of the crew is ready and prepared for combat?” Malcom asked, opening up his coms to his crew: “Alright my dears, shit hit the fan with an old acquaintance from the past. What ever the frack happened, friendlies intend to find out, we need to cover their butts as well as render aid and fire support. Prepare for battle.” Malcom explained,” Eggheads, my lovely smart peoples, I need you to find the boarding party some maps, get them the following: schematics of the Heart of Winter, easy access to navigational and ops logs. If able to: find me the coms logs as well, medical data. Set up a separate drive to store the intel we find on. That should be it for now... and I don't care if you have to break any laws, as far as I'm concerned we're dealing with hostiles and we sorely need the intel. Keep Lt. Kota and myself in the loop. Have fun chaps.” Malcom ordered his engineers to work.

“Sunshine, keep that transport safe and sound, assist them per request. Thank you, now I'm going to get something more fitting to wear, like my uniform and own armour. This one itches.” and with that he set off to his quarters to get changed into his own gear.

"Thanks." Chevy nodded to the other woman, smiling appreciation. She was anxious, but it was a nervous energy, bred by anticipation more than fear. While she understood that there was a great deal of danger in what they were taking on, and that they needed to be alert and vigilant, she was still looking forward to their mission.

After the announcement, she looked around at the others, then asked, "So, are we breakin' into teams? Are there schematics so we know where to head." No sense wandering aimlessly if they didn't have to...

  • Lieutenant Kota Jacobs, Ground Forces Command (NPC)
    • Executive Officer, 1st Mechanized Infantry Company, 2nd Mechanized Infantry Regiment, 1st Division

Kota peered over at Chevy, "Aye, we'll be breaking into teams," He said, watching her. "And if not too much is changed from the original schematic, we'll have those on our display in a minute or two. We'll be heading for the operations center, near the center of the ship. From what we can tell, that should be pretty easy to get to. If we don't encounter much resistance, we'll join up with other teams to make our way deeper towards the engineering section."

Kota opened his mouth to speak, but was cut off by a intercom cutting in. "We'll be approaching the dropoff shortly. Everyone check your seals and make sure you've got everything you're going with. We'll be depressurizing right after this," Came in over their headsets. It became audible the hiss of gasses, as the passenger compartment began to depressurize.

Aboard the K1-34, Malcom could see his crew beginning to get ready, information already popping up on screens pushed to them from fleet command. Before him on one of the displays, he could see the bulk of the Heart of Winter, even with as segmented as it was, was still more than twice the size of his own vessel. His displays showed signs of damage across it's massive hull, despite the armor plating, in addition to the fact that a full half of it was simply missing. There was also signs of power still flowing through the sections that remained, visible on his scans. From time to time, the faint echo of various systems on the damaged ship trying to connect to the fleet could be seen, as information, sometimes wildly impossible, appeared on their displays.

“Alright, let's see what we've got... Extensive damage, a ship's dying song and half missing and falling down on the poor sods below. I prefer the black any day, less chance of ships raining down on my head. Techies; please be so kind as to isolate the echo's coming from our fallen vessel and scour it for any signs of intel. Damage reports, diaries, captain's logs, I'd very much like to know everything that happened to her. Try and scan for life signs or, if unable to find life signs... scan for any comms inside the Heart... no need for the lads to wonder in the blind.” he continued, carefully scrutinizing the files on display.
“Lieutenant Kota, how are things going on your end? We're filtering through the intel now. Give us a holler if you need us. We'll keep you up to date from our end.” Mal shot a quick message to Kota, letting the boarding party know they were still there.

Looking further onto the displays Malcom suddenly had a gut feeling. “Search for vessels that accompanied the Heart of Winter in the databases as well as their missions and area of operations.” Malcom instructed his displays as well as mumbling to himself, hoping his gut was right... or rather, wrong on this horrid feeling he suddenly had. What if whatever happened to the Heart of Winter had happened to her entire fleet... or did she wonder off alone and things went south for some reason... space zombies seemed probable at this point but... the damned things had to come from somewhere... but where and how?

Cassius checked gear he had found in the shuttle during the assent. A portable plasma cutter should be able to cut through any fallen supports, though it wouldn't be much help with bulkheads that had shifted.
A length of carbon mono-fiber rope would be useful in a variety of ways.
<Most importantly Cass has managed to find a battery pack. It was only holding 2MA of charge but that should be enough to power up a couple of consoles for 20 minutes or so if main power has failed.

Stuffing the gear into a holding case he got one of the troopers to connect it to the magnetic locks on the CA/S's back plate. As the cabin started to depressurise and data from the Heart started to come through Cass felt the familiar tingling of curiosity. Not many engineering challenges are bigger than stabilising an unknown (to him) vessel in retrograde orbit, with vast and unknown amounts of damage, for long enough for an investigation to be made.
"This should be fun" he said with a grin growing slowly across his face.

"Define 'fun'," Chevy muttered to Cass with a grin as she did the final checks on her gear, concentrating on keeping her breathing even despite her excitement. This was far past her level of training or experience, but she was anxious to do this...it sure wasn't going to be boring, and maybe it would be a new life path for her.

"Ready when you are," she murmured, "just...someone promise not to let me get myself killed!"

  • Lieutenant Kota Jacobs, Ground Forces Command (NPC)
    • Executive Officer, 1st Mechanized Infantry Company, 2nd Mechanized Infantry Regiment, 1st Division
SFCV K1-34

At Malcom's order, one of his crew began scanning the signals still coming from damaged systems on the Heart of Winter. "We're not picking up anything, they've encrypted all their files," They called, to Malcom. As Malcom scanned the displays, he could see the subtle power fluctuations that signaled parts of the ship coming back onlne, as his weapons officer called: "Captain, batteries three and seven are coming online!" He called, a moment before the ship before them fired, several rounds glancing off the armor plating of the K1-34.

SFCV Heart of Winter

As Chevy and Cass stood, getting ready, they could see troopers around them doing the same. As the hatch hissed open, they could see the pitted and worn armor plating of the hull of Heart of Winter before them, stretching like an ocean of metal. Kota stood and moved to join them, going to jump from the ship, pushing off towards the hull plating. As he hit, he landed with his feet, adhering to the surface, before turning to offer his hand to the others.

Framed in the background, past him, Chevy and Cass could see one of the ship's massive turrets slowly beginning to turn, under it's own power. They could see debris floating free, knocked loose by the movement, before there was a shudder through the hull of the ship, beneath them. The shuttle darted to the side, to avoid a hit, several troopers being launched from the open watch in wild directions.

  • Corporal Shino-Elena Wolf, Ground Forces Command
    • Military Police, Senate Security Force
As the shockwave from the cannons of the Heart of Winter left the smaller shuttle shuddering under the combined force of a barrage, Shino just barely managed to hold on, or she would have been catapulted out of the open hatch like some of the others.

LT Kota is a lucky son-of-a-bitch. Hell of a lucky stroke. If he'd been a few seconds later, he'd have been out just like some of the others.

Others? Shit!

Gathering her wits about her, she called for the remaining troopers to try and catch the drifting ones already outside the hatch, to keep them safe. With a forceful push, and a kick off from the floor, she passed Chevy and Cass, as well as some dazed troopers. It was up to them to follow her and the others out of the hatch, or they'd be mincemeat before long.

'Let's go guys! Save who we can save, but we need to get into the Heart of Winter regardless of what happens to the others drifting! Get your asses in gear! MOVE!'

With another great shove, Shino left the hatch, grabbing a drifting soldier on her way to Kota's position. Somehow, she made it, but not before another panicked trooper managed to grab her by the leg. With a frightened yelp, she managed to hold her composure and drift -albeit at a slower-than-a-snail's pace, to Lieutenant Kota.

After what seemed like an eternity, she grabbed his outstretched hand with her free one, and could finally put her metal-encased boots on the wrecked ship's surface. The two troopers that had stuck to her managed to recompose and settle on the ship as well, and were now already motioning, coaxing, and helping others get to the ship.

It wasn't entirely new, space-combat, but it wasn't exactly Shino's preference. Fighting in the Black was one thing, but actually free-floating? No way! Shino'd prefer to have her boots firmly planted on a surface, preferably on a place where it wasn't necessary for survival to even have a space-suit or other acceccories to be able to breathe freely.

This, clearly, was not one of those situations.

Leaving Kota to do his job as CO, Shino whirled about, trying to spot a location suited for entry, scanning for hostiles, whilst preparing herself for what would most likely be close-quarter fighting, if not melee. What did puzzle her most out of anything, wasn't the black liquid that had sprayed her back on the ground in the Capital, but the fact that the ship's cannons still worked. Whatever had happened to these ooze-bleeding bastards, didn't dull their senses of operating machinery that even she herself would need to (re-)read the manual for in order to use them.

LT, I don't like being on the outside any more than doing household chores. Lemme know when we can proceed, yeah? the young Corporal said, after activating the voice-channel for the current unit.

And let's hope we won't end in a cold and airless coffin, or floating in space. The pure thought of it alone makes me shudder. I hope none of the ship's owners will come outside and make this harder on us. That'd be a low-blow.

Pushing her coilgun to lean comfortably against her shoulder, Shino kept scanning for hostiles, monitoring whatever she could have an impact on without hampering the others trying to help the rest land safely. Watching the odd hole on the outer hull here and there, she couldn't really see any hostiles, but the inside interior wasn't exactly as visible from her current position on the hull's outside, but Shino wasn't exactly keen to go ahead on her own either. Waiting and following Kota's orders seemed not only mandatory, but most of all, recommended.

Cassius had hold of a stabilising bar when the battle ship below them opened up. His reflex grip, amplified by the servos in his suit's gauntlet, bent and distorted the bar. It held though and stopped him spinning off into the black like some of the troopers.

"Well, that turned bad quick" he said to no one in particular. "I guess a nice easy trip was just too much to ask for eh?"

Turning to the young Predorian beside him Cass addressed Chevy, "You done many EVAs before?"
  • Corporal Shino-Elena Wolf, Ground Forces Command
    • Military Police, Senate Security Force

The short few minutes went by as if it took an eternity -the moment the turrets swiveled and fired, time seemed to stand still, as the adrenaline began coursing through Shino's veins. Ultimately, some troopers had had the same reaction, judging by their quick snappy actions, grabbing whatever they could.

From where Shino was standing, she could see at least three troopers floating around in the black, and one of them wildly flailing their arms around. For sure that would turn into a nightmare for her once this all was over and done. For now however, there were more pressing matters at hand.

Activating her mic, she began talking -or rather, semi-yelling to get the attention of the rest still having their wits about- in a strained voice.

All of you, get over here NOW! Get your game-face on and get over on this wreck. Shino called out again for the others to get to the Heart of Winter's wreckage. Staying on the shuttle while terrified, gripping on whatever was left inside, would make them an easy meal for the explosive, hungry turret shells.

"Yo, 'gineers, get your asses over here! We need to get going!" she yelled at the civilians, hoping they'd be safe.

"Well, paint me red and call me bull... Sunshine these bastards are shooting at us!" Malcom let go a surprised grow; "Sunshine, evasive action. Weapons Officer: ready weapons and return fire at the base of turrets three and seven. Take out those guns without endangering friendlies or decreasing hull integrity too much."

"Kota, we're returning fire, prepare for impact, if you could be a dear and disable the weapons-systems that would be nice. If not, we'll try to keep the guns on us rather than the transports." Malcom warned Kota via a quick message.

"Can you techguys crack the encryption? I find it rather rude that these bastards are hiding all their tricks and I'd love to know their secrets. Sunshine, I'm counting on you to keep us safe, we need that intel. WO, we're going to need lots of skill on the firing solutions, keep it steady, keep it safe. Keep talking with each other."

"Fleet command, we're taking and returning fire, friendlies had a rough boarding, once we're clear of enemy fire we'll try and pick up any floaters. Awaiting further orders if there are any. K1-34 out." Malcom shot another quick message towards the SFC, for now all they could do was pray they could take out the turrets without harming friendlies. Carefully Malcom kept scanning his screens for anything he could use, power fluctuations, a sudden increase or decrease in chatter... anything that could give the guys on the ship as well as his own ship an advantage.

What the hell? Chevy's eyes widened as she saw the turrets come to life, but there wasn't time to really worry about what had possessed them...she had to get to relative safety, so she lunged at Kota, grabbing his arm for support in a near panic as she felt her boots finally take purchase on the hull of the errant ship.

"Who did that?" she asked, eyes wide as she looked around at the others. Certainly, the ship hadn't done it on its own? Unless it was programmed to attack perceived threats? And if that was the case, what was to say that the ship itself wouldn't detect them as parasites and try to eradicate them?

But then someone was yelling at them, and she latched onto Cass' arm, using him to steady herself as she shuffled along the deck.

Cassius was still waiting for Chevy to reply when Shino's shout echoed in his ear. At the same time the shuttle lurched again at another near miss. Chevy's wide eyes and tight grip on his arm told him all he needed to know, this was not a situation she was comfortable in.
He shouldn't be either to be fair, and yet he was in an eerie state of calm.
"well, isn't that weird?" he said to no one in particular. Addressing the young woman on his arm Cass put on what he hoped was a friendly, reassuring time.
"Right lass, we are going to take a little jump across this gap. Nothing to it really, just hold onto me and we will be fine. In the count of three lightly push off. One, two.."
And with that Cassius pushed off, hard.

As he floated through the void he had a few seconds to think, here is a perfect example of why the first rule of EVAs is 'take it slow and steady'. The augmented strength of the combat suit had propelled him much faster than was safe. Then a split second later the act of pulling Chevy with him had thrown both of them into a spin.

With only seconds until they collided with the hull of the Heart of Winter Cass made a choice. He diverted as much power as possible to the magnets in his boots and gloves, and braced for impact.

  • Corporal Shino-Elena Wolf, Ground Forces Command
    • Military Police, Senate Security Force

With most of the Troopers now safely on the hull of the wrecked ship, Shino sighed inwardly.

This was the easy part, damn it. Now what? The K1-34 will be providing support, so I suppose we should buy the crew -and captain, lucky bastard- a couple of rounds when we next get to a bar. We'll owe them if we get through this alive.

Putting the shivers to the back of her mind, Shino shifted her attention to the engineers. One of them had quite comically grasped the other by the arm, as if they were an old person that couldn't walk on their own. Midway they started to spin -luckily for them, it was only a short gap- and they landed hard, but safely.

Not realising she had kept her breath in she released it, audibly.

Once again adressing the comms to the remaining troopers, engineers, and Kota, she spoke up in a much calmer voice.

"A'ight troops, attention. Follow LT Kota's directions. We don't know what we'll find in this wreck, but, stay frosty. Check your weapons, suits, and breeches again. The K1-34's crew will be looking for us. The sooner we get inside, the sooner we'll be able to return planetside without getting our asses shot up."

Shutting down the unit's comms, she adressed the engineers.

"Welcome to the party. I'm glad you could make it. Whatever happens, stay safe in there, we'll need everyone to sort this out." Shino said, nodding respectfully at the engineers. A jump like that was always filled with adrenaline, much more so when under fire.

Walking up to Kota, she addressed him, snapping off a crisp salute before clutching her rifle again.
"Lt, the last Troops are finding their footing, and we're as ready as can be. Engineers are A-okay. Just say the word and we're goin' in."

  • Lieutenant Kota Jacobs, Ground Forces Command (NPC)
    • Executive Officer, 1st Mechanized Infantry Company, 2nd Mechanized Infantry Regiment, 1st Division
SFCV Heart of Winter

Kota knelt down, trying to get down closer to the deck without flattening against it, gesturing for the others. He peered around, as the shuttle that had brought them to the hull of the wreck darted away, lest it be destroyed. He gestured to one of his platoon, who began pulling hull breaching charges from a satchel strapped to their side. "Autonomous defense system, picking targets automatically," Kota called as an answer to Chevy's question, ducking his head down as he heard, and felt, through his feet, the rumble of the ships guns. Another wave of the high-velocity shells from the ship to ship guns passed overhead as a brief and momentary streak of light before a nearby ship was surrounded by a growing cloud of debris. "Corporal Wolf, you stick to our two engineers like a medic sutured you to them," He ordered. "We may have gravity inside, we may not. Obviously at least part of the power system or secondaries is live," He said, gesturing a thumb at the cannons nearby. "Mister Rean, Ms Roa, you two stick close to the corporal, grab any parts out of data systems you see, and let us know if you spot something we can exploit. I know it isn't exactly your forte, but you'll still be better at it than us," He called.

As the platoon member finished strapping down hull breaching charges, there was a solid 'whumpf' the team felt through their feet, as debris flew outwards in a geyser. Two of the platoon darted into the wide hole, and pushed themselves in, before Kota followed. As the team entered, they found themselves stepping into what remained of a mess hall. Utilitarian in it's design, it consisted of a dozen or so steel tables bolted down, with matching benches. There were several hatches leading out, one of them open and attached to the wall by a single hinge.
From beneath the other hatch, however, curious black veins grew and spread outwards, surrounded by a black, molasses-like substance, that rippled with every tremor of the hull as the turrets fired again and again.

SFCV K1-34

Coming through the speakers on the K1-34's bridge, Malcom could hear the other lieutenant direct orders to several people, before speaking to Malcolm. "We'll do our best, keep in mind we're not the only ones on this scrapheap," He called, his voice raised a little. "If you can start punching holes in the ship, just avoid these-" A diagram of the wreckage suddenly gained highlights. "Sections, and anything else Fleet signals you not to hit."

"On it," The weapons officer on the K1-34 called, and the ship shuddered, as the tactical plot updated with several rounds from the spinal railgun. Nearby to the K1-34, one the plot, several ships were showing signs of damage from the fire from the Heart of Winter. There was a brief warble of a distress beacon, as a shuttle in the battlefield, inbound to the wreckage, was disabled by fire. He could hear his weapons officer and pilot talking, trying to align the spinal mount for another volley.

"I don't know what you expect me to do, Captain," The engineer called. "It's not that we can't break their encryption, it's just there's nothing there to recover. Their network is a mess, it's fragmented, like the ship, it's heavily damaged." There was a brief noise, of an incoming channel from Fleet Command, before an emotionless female voice began to speak. "SFCV K1-34, there are currently several destroyers and frigates inbound to help set up a flak screen. Your orders are to distract and bait the main guns aboard the Heart of Winter. Dealing further damage to the vessel and recovering survivors from wounded craft are both secondary priorities at this time. Further orders and intel as available to follow on this channel. Command, out."

SFCV Whisperer

Aboard the SFCV Whisperer, in system for a refit, chaos reigned. Petty Officer Felicia Sanders could hear, both audible and through her implant, orders being directed every which way. Directed to her and everyone marked with a boarding specialty came the orders to suit up and get to the shuttles on the double. There had been rumors flying, throughout the ship, about the mysterious wreckage of one of their sister ships, that had done a point singularity jump, and plowed into the atmosphere of Sanctuary, shedding half of it's hull in the process. It was less than half an hour later, though, that swarms of shuttles from nearby ships and the planet began approaching it to deploy boarding parties. As the first shuttles deployed their passengers, the ship had begun opening fire, as if it had been waiting for them, knocking several out, and damaging several ships in neighboring orbits.

Had the circumstances been different, Chevy might have enjoyed the little adventure of open space between life-assuring surfaces, it was heady and thrilling, sort of like an out-of-control roller-coaster, but this was a little too risky, and her heart skipped as she and Cass smacked into the hull of the rogue ship, at least in one relative piece.

And it was reassuring to know that they had their own security detail. Chevy craved adventure as much as anyone, and she was ready to jump in with both boots, so to speak, but this was unfamiliar territory, and as bold as she was, she wasn't foolhardy and was more than happy for anyone who would help watch out for her.

Staying close to Cass, she fell in with the rest of the group and headed into the bulk of the ship, but then hesitated to ask, "So if the ship shoots at external strangers, what is to keep it from detecting us as 'alien' forms and taking action?" She really didn't want to get shot by a ship!

  • Corporal Shino-Elena Wolf, Ground Forces Command
    • Military Police, Senate Security Force

Seeing both engineers drop into the bulk, Shino followed. Being a babysitter wasn't exactly a glorious duty, but somebody had to do it. Might as well have been her. Maybe it'd be good for the engineers knowing a Corporal was watching out for them instead of a private, but who cares?

As long as the job got done with minimal casualties, Shino'd be happy to do any job needed.

"Gotcha LT, will be sticking to 'em like glue." Shino communicate through her helmet's systems as she touched down. The Mess hall, a glorious institution of gorging and bonding, was now nothing more than a ghastly quiet place, save for the quiet murmurs of soldiers and their footsteps.

She didn't care for the black ooze -she'd been sprayed once already, and wasn't keen on getting more of it on her. The hatch was, however, the only other entrance, and she'd have to take it.

"Ms Roa, Mr Rean, follow me. First things first: clear the surroundings, after that we'll be able to get that data you need to find. I'm trusting you can find it -if there is any- that is. We'll probably meet resistance wherever we might have to go for this data, so keep your eyes peeled, and don't carelessly cross into open spaces. I'm sure you've had the basics already, but keep safe above all else. I'd rather get this done right, than fast."

With that, Shino set off, following the other troopers. The engineers would have to point out where to stay put and get the data, they'd have more on the ship's lay-out than Shino would have.

I just hope the others will be alright. I don't feel quite alright with not being in the thick of the combat, but I suppose it'll do some more good if I'm with them. Alright, time to stop pondering, Possible contact is right around the corner.

As the alarms blared in her ears and in her head, Felicia jumped from her docking watch station and ran down the passageways of the Whisperer, breaking into a four-legged sprint, jumping over people in the passageways and occasionally using someone as a springboard to hurry down the hall. As she arrived at the briefing room, she slid across the deck into her locker where she immediately began gearing up for the action that was sure to follow.

"Who took me away from my blinking lights, and how do I make the bastards pay for it?" She asked while finishing putting her side arm in its holster.

"Looks like you're our chaperone this evening corporal. I promise to keep my hands to myself and not get any funny ideas for the duration of the trip." Cassius said jokingly as he prepared to enter the Hull breach.

"I'll investigate any powered consoles we pass, but unless it's a critical system I'm not going to be wasting time trying to repair fried circuits. I do have a power supply with me, but I am saving that incase the main control center is lacking power when we get there." With that he fell in behind Shino." Ladies first."

"Orders understood." Malcom responded, throwing his hands in his neck. "So it's just a big garbled pile of junk that refuses to die? How can there be no information going about in a ship that size, with a crew that large?" Malcom muttered to himself.

"Gentleman, you have your orders, we're to act as bait, so let's act like bait and return fire. The sections given by Kota and Command are off limits. Fleet's bringing in the big guns. Getting that intel is primary, casualties are secondary priority how much we dislike it. Keep an exfil lane open and keep doing your job, you're doing mighty fine so far. Keep it up." Malcom said, giving his orders and turning his gaze towards the ever flowing stream of information. It was frustrating to play the bait and do nothing else whilst others were shot at, but it meant they got to stay alive, for now. Malcom just hoped Command had some plan in play to get the injured out of harms way.

  • Lieutenant Kota Jacobs, Ground Forces Command (NPC)
    • Executive Officer, 1st Mechanized Infantry Company, 2nd Mechanized Infantry Regiment, 1st Division
SFCV Whisperer

At Felicia's mad dash down the corridor, she heard yelps and complaints follow her, as they often did when she set out like a wild cat down the relatively narrow corridors. As she reaches the briefing room, she sees members of the spaceborne infantry complement, or "marines" in common parlance, also gearing up. Within the confines of the ready room, she can see an officer standing to one side, and, judging by the glazed eyes they were exhibiting, they were accessing their implant. "Alright, listen up you lot," the officer called, authoritatively. "Your target, as you may have figured out if you've been following the chatter, is the SFCV Heart of Winter. Or, rather, what's left of it. You will be joining marines from a number of other vessels in boarding and securing the wreckage, and recovering intelligence relating to it's previous mission, and prior jumps, as well as ensuring that systems aboard the wreckage are deactivated. We don't want the ship blowing up, or having a system come online at a bad time. When you're done suiting up, into the hangar and aboard the birds. For the purposes of this exercise, your callsign will be Raid 3. Now, move it, you lot, Command wants us over there and done an hour ago!"

As the crew began moving for the hatch towards the hangar, the deck beneath them rolled, and shuddered, a low rumble echoing through the vessel, accompanied by the fresh blaring of alarms.

SFCV K1-34

Malcom would likely see the discontent among his crew, but they went to their work as best they could. Sunny peered over at him, and shook his head. "I get why Command gave those orders, but we don't have to like it. Those ships, bigger than our little tin can, they're hard to kill. Big guns, redundant power, you could shoot the ship full of holes and it would keep fighting. Command doesn't want to send more people into the fire to try to get disabled ships until they know they won't lose more, y'know?" He said. But as they watched the displays, one of the other ships in the area was tagged with a damage symbol.

SFCV Heart of Winter

Kota shook his head, as if clearing it of his thoughts for the moment, before he realized Eusebia had asked a question. "There aren't so many internal defenses. A lot of what's flying around up there-" He gestured at the hole they'd come through moments before. "Are ship-to-ship, and anti-missile/anti-fighter defenses. They may be under the control of the ship's AI for all we know, or surviving crew," He added, before making his way towards the unblocked path. He peered over at Rean, giving his words a thumbs up. "Good to know, thank you, Mister Rean," He said, before opening the hatch.

As they made their way into the corridor, they could see the path to their left was entirely blocked off by almost vein-like growths, that were clearly of an organic nature, and were slowly pressing into the other hatch of the mess hall further down that way. To the right, emergency lighting flickered, though, in the silence and airlessness, they gave off very little light. As they traversed through the wreckage, they could see, from time to time, out into space, either through portholes, or from gashes in the hull. They could see the dancing lights of other ships, and occasionally the planet below, from their vantage point.

Felicia followed the Marines to the transport and began assessing her engineering equipment and tools that are stored on each shuttle for operations just like this, tucking a systems analyzer and datalink into her pockets before strapping in.
"How often do you use those on missions, little kitty?" The corporal asked.
"This Kat uses them as a remote control for systems that are still operational, and as a live feed of who and what is alive on the ship, for your pleasure, and my own personal entertainment." Felicia replied coyly as she kept her eyes on the bay of marines and navy boarding party members.
" So... every time then? " the corporal inquired.
"Every time I leave the Whisperer. It's kept me from losing a single meatbag like you." She said confidently.
"I think I might change my mind about how I feel about cats." The marine said with a great deal of trepidation in his voice.

"Glad to know you've considered it.". Felicia said as she closed her eyes and tried to focus on the mission ahead of her. Closing her eyes, she waited for the docking procedures to be completed and hurled through the vacuum toward the Heart of Winter.

Glancing at Cassius, Chevy grinned. "Who said you had to keep your hands to yourself?" The banter helped keep her from giving in to fear, not that she was faint of heart by any means, but this was all so out of her realm of experience, and it really was disconcerting to be looking out into open space, not to mention all the things that were managing to grow here. She just did her best to steer clear of plants and ooze, and that involved staying very close to her companions.

"This is really creepy..." Maybe more adventure than she'd bargained for, but then, better than rotting in boredom. "I mean, what organic thing grows without some sort of atmosphere? I just hope it's not like a Venus Flytrap or anything. I'd rather not be ingested by a plant!" So many ways to die!

  • Corporal Shino-Elena Wolf, Ground Forces Command
    • Military Police, Senate Security Force

Cass' joke made Shino chuckle. It'd been a while since she'd heard an acceptable joke. The older engineer made her feel slightly more comfortable. If someone was confident enough to joke about in a vine-like-infested wreckage of a huge ship breaking apart around orbit.

'No funny business eh? We'll see about that, Cass. And if you want to hold hands, go ahead' she retorted calmly, watching other troopers go ahead, covering some of the doors in the wreckage. Here and there the ooze and strange vein-like growth reared it's ugly shapes in front of the troopers, which would occasionally illicit an expletive or two from troopers, but nothing seemed to be actually moving.

Chevy's comment didn't go by unnoticed either. This really was creepy. Shino murmured her assent.
'Sure is Chevy. Charging into combat, knowing people're shooting projectiles at you is one thing. Breaking up riots is another, and arresting drunks and pervs is another creepy thing entirely. But this... This beats it all.' If she was being honest to herself, she would've been as afraid as anyone else, but considering that LT Kota put her in charge of the engineers -who could prove to be of invaluable assistance to the troopers, and finding the cause -or at least te solution- to this ship's hostilities, made her feel more at ease.

Her fear should not be ruling over her, not if she had to take care of some civilians. Shino'd trained for this, they had not.Keep it together Shino. You've got this. There's a platoon of hardened troops nearby. They'll handle the brunt, I can't go off like some hotheaded Rambo like in those old movies.

With yet another crossing, troopers split off to both sides, apparently crossing a larger transition in the wreckage. So far, nothing was seen, except the occasional blast of ship-to-ship missiles and explosions outside, seen trhough the gaps in the wreckage. More black ooze -in fact, some troopers stepped in it.

The sidewalks here seemed to be glowing eerily in the bad emergency lighting, with most of the lights broken, others sputtering even after so long, as if the ship's mechanical heart refused to be frozen in time, and kept beating stubbornly. Ignoring her helmet's HUD -she didn't want to be distracted when trying to scope out the area, much like the other troopers were doing- and crouched down, motioning for the other two to close the short distance.

'So, which way to your jobs? This damn ship is ginormous and I don't want to walk about like an idiot. I was stupid to even take on this sort-of-voluntary-mission anyways. I like my feet planted firmly on the ground.' Shino grumbled before looking expectantly at the engineers, who seemed slightly less nervous with their banter.

Closing the distance Cassius ran his hand along the nearest vine. "I suppose it is a little creepy, however I won't consider us in trouble until they start writhing and pulsating like in horror vid-casts. As for where we are going, I have been following you. I assume that sensitive data is only accessible from secure locations so I thought we were heading to the command center. Hang on a sec."

Strolling as nonchalantly as he could past the crouched troopers Cass approached a comms panel. Whistling whilst he worked he undid and removed the face plate and peered at the circuitry. "Good news, the circuits themselves seem in good nick. They aren't fried from power spikes as regulators blew, which was a worry. The bad news is that there is very little power, and what is left is intermittent. Even if we found somewhere in this section to access the databases from I'm not sure I could pull any information."

  • Lieutenant Kota Jacobs, Ground Forces Command (NPC)
    • Executive Officer, 1st Mechanized Infantry Company, 2nd Mechanized Infantry Regiment, 1st Division
SFCV Whisperer

As the shuttle upon which Felicia was preparing for launch, the hull of the Whisperer shuddered as it was hit, the sound of rending metal and decompression alarms audible even through the bulk of the shuttle around them. The unit commander near the front of the troop bay looked upon, and let out a curse. "Whisperer's hit bad, folks. If we make it out, we'll have to divert to another berth after we hit the target," He called. There was a moment of silence, from the others, as they could see, on a display near the front of the shuttle, the upcoming wreckage of the Heart of Winter. Highlighted on the display were possible entry points, as well as various figures moving across the hull, in the luminescent green the system used to highlight friendlies.

As the shuttle continued along, there was a sudden and violent shake to the craft, and within moments, half of the craft was sheared away suddenly, with half of the troop bay simply gone, leaving Felicia and half of the marines stuck to a piece of wreckage still drifting forwards, now only a few dozen meters from the wreckage. Already, one of the marines was unstrapping himself and checking the others. Felicia can hear through her helmet, the marine, helpfully identified as 'Tomkins, J' in by her display, discussing doing a jump across to the wreckage.

SFCV Heart of Winter

Kota pulled back from the lead, coming to rejoin Shino, Chevy, and Cassius. "Yeah. We're hoping to hit the command center, or engineering. The drives keep a backup of the jumps, sort of like a black box,' he muttered, his head moving from side to side, as if he were looking around uncomfortably as well. We-" As he spoke, there was a rending sound, and a section of the hull burst outwards, skewering one of the other troopers with them. At the same time, there was a light coming from back the way they'd come, before a series of holes appeared in the paneling next to Cassius, gushing fragments of metal and black ooze. Kota went to motion for the others to move, quickly, raising his rifle to fire down the direction the shots had come with his other hand. As the troopers in the lead began moving at an accelerated pace, they passed visible damage, but this wasn't as recent, and had the look of small arms fire, rather than ship-to-ship weaponry. The passage ahead suddenly dead-ended in a large, armored bulkhead, marked simply with 'CIC', and a short alphanumeric string. The organic-looking vines were sprouting from around and under it, the metal itself bent inwards as well as bent around the vines, which appeared to be coming from the other side.

More than happy to stick close to their escort, Chevy was as startled as any of them when things started going to hell, and her instinct was to drop down, but then they all began to run, and she wasn't about to be left behind. Still, she hesitated long enough to check that nothing could be done for the fallen trooper.
Grimacing, she continued after the others, then skidded to a stop at the end of the corridor. Not only was there a 'solid' wall there, but those vines...
"Oh, hell no!" Nope, no way she was going to get close enough for those vines to grab her and pull a Venus Flytrap on her and turn her into Soylent Green...er...Soylent Black!

Ducking reflexively as the panel he had just been working was struck by bullet fire, Cassius momentarily forgot that he was encased in military grade combat armour and ended up sprawled on the floor because of his exaggerated movement. As Corporal Wolf dragged him to his feet a thought suddenly occurred to him, and just as suddenly left him as a hail of bullets followed them down the corridor.
"Something is wrong about this situation.." he muttered to himself skidding to a halt in front of the door.
"What's this here then? Command In Control? Computer Inner Core? Centre for Infectious Comedy? I suppose we need this door opened?"

  • Corporal Shino-Elena Wolf, Ground Forces Command
    • Military Police, Senate Security Force
Upon watching the poor sod get impaled, Shino exhaled sharply. At least it was quick.
"Take cover idiots!" she roared at some troopers that had yet to find their sense, while she tugged the older engineer to his feet. Although his clumsiness was, in fact, hindering, it could've saved his hide if the enemy fire intensified.

Some Troopers returned fire, their coils releasing annoying sounds, yelling out orders, incoherent mumblings and oh shits all the time.

While Shino herself looked frantic as she motioned for her escorts to take cover, outside the direct fire, she looked at the two from behind her helmet's visor, in a calm, stoic voice, devoid of any hint of stress.

"Don't worry about the troopers. I'm here for you guys, and you guys alone. We need to figure this shit out, and if we need to get through these damn doors, we'll damn well do it. I won't be killed in orbit on the same day I was supposed to be drinking in celebration."

Inwardly, Shino's thoughts were a mess: she hadn't been able to spot the enemy as well as she'd hoped, and she didn't necessarily have to find out, yet. What she did have to find out -or rather, have the gearheads figure out- was to get a way out of this fucking hellhole. Getting shot at in ground Combat (there was a reason she was in the GFC, not the space kids) was fine and stressful enough, but in a location devoid of oxygen?

Hell no.
Why did I even volunteer for this? Man... It's not like I've got something to prove. Shit.

For the troopers on the other side, she felt pity, they were in more danger right now, and Shino wished she was there. Shared pain is less awful.

"So, Cassius, Chevy. Do what you think you need to, and I'll cover your cute little butts. If we make it out, we should hit the karaoke bar and embarass ourselves," Shino said, whilst readying her rifle. Even if this was potentially her last living day, she would rather survive and still end up drinking celebratory shots to forget all this... nasty stuff.
  • Lieutenant Malcom Russell, Space Forces Command
    • Commanding Officer, SFCV K1-34

"Well that's life in the navy. At least out here we can move around a bit. Think about the poor sods on the ship." Malcom responded, keeping an eye on the monitors and waiting for things to change.

  • Lieutenant Kota Jacobs, Ground Forces Command (NPC)
    • Executive Officer, 1st Mechanized Infantry Company, 2nd Mechanized Infantry Regiment, 1st Division
SFCV Heart of Winter

As the team darted away from their prior position, they could see several vines reaching for the impaled trooper, small tendrils weaving their way around him, and slowly pressing into the gaps in the armor left by the shards of hull. Before they had fully rounded the corner, the trooper had begun to move, with the same jerky, unnatural movements displayed by the others.

As they reached the sealed hatch, and almost comedically skidded to a halt, Kota pounded his fist against the hatch. "Get it open," He ordered, "There should be a mechanical override. What's past there is the Combat Information Center, the, uh..." He made a gesture, like he was trying to snap his fingers (a task rendered impossible by his gauntlets). "Bridge, I think? We'll cover you, just get that hatch open," He said, raising his rifle, and moving to position himself in the center of the corridor, offering himself as a meager shield to the others. Alongside him, several of the other troopers began moving to do the same, a couple trying to lug bits of debris into the way, ripping panels off the wall and exposing wiring and piping to the void of space.

SFCV K1-34

As Malcolm waited, he could see a quartet of fighters zip past, their icons flickering out, as the point defense guns of the hulk blew them away. One of the side consoles, usually reserved for communications, flickered to life. "Central to SFCV K1-34. Proceed towards the wreckage, and rescue the survivors of one of the downed shuttles. Central out." Sunny peered back at Malcolm, and made a face. "It'll be cramped in here, but we got our orders. How you want to do this, sir?"

"Getting the door open sir!" shouted Cass putting on his best impression of a clipped military response.
He hoped that his attempts at humour weren't wearing thin, a man had just died after all. It might be time to start being serious.
Getting to work he looked closer at the door; the weapons fire seemed to have done little to the door except scratch it. The vines on the other hand had bent and buckled it.
"Well this is a right mess." Cass muttered as he inspected first the control panel then the manual override. "why are you drawing power then? Ohh you're trying to open the door. Well that's not going to happen any time soon."
"And lets have a look at you then. You are a sturdy one aren't you?"
"So guys, I've got good news" Cassius said addressing the surrounding troopers. "the door controls work fine. Unfortunately the door itself is written off. With all this damage it isn't going to slide into its recesses."
"I can get us through with the plasma cutter, the damage is severe enough that I will only need to do a little work. Say, five minutes. Do we have the time?"

  • Corporal Shino-Elena Wolf, Ground Forces Command
    • Military Police, Senate Security Force

Following the others, Shino tried to shield her charges with her own body as much as possible, but hoping to get somewhat of a clear shot at whatever things were shambling towards the boarding party turned ambushed.

They won't find us easy prey damn it. I just hope we can hold out long enough for Cassius and Chevy to do their magic.

With a yell, a trooper managed to rip off a decent chunk off the hull's plating, shielding himself -and two others- with how big the plating panel was. Shino noted with a grimace that whoever died, could've turned into one of those troopers. How, why, what, was for the eggheads to decide, but it didn't mean she liked it one bit. Former troopers turning into strange beings.

I'd rather be out in space fighting pirates instead of these damn shambling things. Why did I agree to come with? Stupid Shino. Stupid!

Flipping off the safety on her rifle, she fires cautiously and carefully at the shambling things when they come into view, hoping to incapacitate or outright taking out as many as she thinks she can.

I'd need some of those fabled "smart" bullets or some sort of projectile to make me at least a decent shot.

"Cassius, anytime now..." Shino mutters as she discharges her next timed shot, hoping to hit it while holding her sights on it.

This turned from a dangerous salvage OP into a timed search&destroy, into what seemed to be halfway to SNAFU.

"Does it look like we have five minutes Cassius?" asked Corporal Wolf.
"No, no it does not corporal But that's how long it's going to take." He replied.
"Well, fuck! Alright, let's get going!" and with that she turned to face the oncoming threats.
Turning to the his fellow engineer Cass ran Chevy through his idea. "Help me get this plasma cutter set up then lass. We aren't going to get through the door or the bulkhead with this, but due to all the warping I think we may be able to reach the clamps and hydraulics holding the door in place. Cut enough of them and we should be able to move this thing with a strong enough shove."

  • Lieutenant Malcom Russell, Space Forces Command
    • Commanding Officer, SFCV K1-34

"With whipped cream and a nice chocolat donut." Malcom said sarcastic as could be.
"Without goofing about: Zig-zag to avoid hostile flak, mark our targets position. Go in hard, go in fast, get the package and get out." he continued, peering over his interfaces to see which would be the least deadly route. "Swing to the left, down hard, right turn and up hard again should do the trick... I hope. Trust your gut and feel free to adjust course as you see fit."

"Coms: Who nearby has the capabilities to take on injured and extra hands? Find us the closest one and request permission to dock and drop off friendlies. Say please when you ask, thank you. Techs: see if you can clear some room for any injured and living. Probably going to need to lay down some folks."

"Well boys and girls, we have the shittiest job in the 'verse, but someone's gotta do it. Keep it clean, keep us safe and first round back is on me." Malcom said, looking at his crew members after giving his orders. This was going to be an interesting ride.

  • Lieutenant Kota Jacobs, Ground Forces Command (NPC)
    • Executive Officer, 1st Mechanized Infantry Company, 2nd Mechanized Infantry Regiment, 1st Division
SFCV Heart of Winter

Kota let out a laugh into his helmet, "Have the time? Probably not," He said, as he took a moment to check his rifle again. As several figures shambled into view, including one with far more jerky actions, with a section of hull sticking out of it's chest. "Well, shit," Kota growled, and raised his rifle, letting off a short burst. "We'll make the time, huh?" He said, a grim tone in his voice. As Cassius and Chevy began trying to cut away the hatch, it bubbled and spat molten metal which rapidly cooled hung in the air, reflecting light in bright beams as it floated there. As the time ticked on, they found the metal giving way quicker, before it slid open, almost of it's own volition, jamming partway open.

In the hatchway beyond, they stepped into a large, oval space, dozens of consoles scattered around the perimeter, in uneven blocks, with parts jutting out as the terminal required, with secondary displays and other various add-ons. The center of this was taken up by two unique stations, one being a tactical table, and the other a reclined chair, with a dome over it, giving it an almost egg-like appearance. Light spilled out from under the dome, and they could see a figure laying on the seat, a hand hanging limply out from under the dome, withered and decayed, with the fleshy tendrils running to this individual. As the door swung open, Kota peered over his shoulder, "Get the FTL records, they should be on the navigator's console," He called. "Shino, in with them. And don't ask what it looks like, because fuck if I know."

SFCV K1-34

Malcom could see the other five members of his crew nodding, and setting about their tasks. As the K1-34 dove down "below" the plane of combat, there was a horrific rending noise throughout the hull, as alarms began blaring. Displays began flashing collision alarms, as the plot began displaying bits of debris floating off of the hull, though it appeared to be only a graze.
His communications officer peered over at him, and shook their head. "Closest is SFCV Whisperer, which they originated off of, but they took damage. We may have to re-route to one of the orbitals."

Two of his crew, the two engineers, began moving towards the back, likely intending to deal with the damage, as the small corvette continued to weave and dance, moving quickly for the damaged shuttle.

SFCV Sandstorm

Aboard the SFCV Sandstorm , chaos reigned. For the past little while, the monotonous rumble of the ship's flak cannons continued to pump out slug after slug, trying to shoot down debris and rounds from the damaged Heart of Winter. The marines had been pressed into service, trying to keep control of personnel off of injured vessels, that had been scattered to the other vessels. Corporal Zastor had been ordered to take his fireteam down to secure one of the cargo bays that had been pressed into service as a temporary overflow for the medical bay.

However, as the minutes dragged on, a call came over the embarked marine channel, filtering into their headsets. The detachment leader, a lieutenant, spoke, "I need volunteers to go aboard the wreckage. Central wants someone to open a path for the marines aboard, so they can get out with their package. Volunteers, move to the hangar bay and prep for boarding operations."

CMS Starlight's Fall

Aboard the CMS Starlight's Fall, a civilian passenger vessel in orbit over Sanctuary, there was bedlam. Many of the passengers had been asked to return to their cabins, to stay out of the way of the crew. They could see the fighting, and flickers of ships dying in the void nearby. While most of the passengers didn't know what they witnessed, some did. But many could figure out what was happening, when the captain put out a call for any doctors or former military personnel over the loudspeaker, that there was an emergency.

The passengers who stepped forward were brought down to the hangar, where shuttle after shuttle of wounded or displaced sailors and marines from various ships were being dumped. The doctors began to treat some of them, with what they could. To one side, Viktor can see one of the injured naval personnel thrashing and moaning, clearly in a great amount of pain. "You!" One of the other passengers called, a female doctor, with gloves on, "Help me hold him down while I treat him, please," The woman called. The man she was trying to treat, Viktor could see a faint, blackish ooze leaking out around his mouth, nose, and eyes, his movements jerky, as he screamed in pain.

Viktor, a towering older looking man dressed in rather old fashioned clothing, paced toward the injured man and doctor, staring in shock and anger as he holds the man down. He had been taking one of his naps only to be woken up by the current events. He grumbled as the the man thrashed around, feeling sympathy for this poor fellow who has to suffer so. He looks at the doctor and asks "What has happened to him? What is this... black ooze?"
Viktor looks around, chaos isn't something he isn't used to, but he does particularly not enjoy it.
He thinks to himself of anything close to this in his years of service to the many branches of the initiative, but ultimately is left with nothing, focusing again on what is happening around him, mainly the doctor and the injured man.

  • Corporal Shino-Elena Wolf, Ground Forces Command
    • Military Police, Senate Security Force

Kota called. "Shino, in with them. And don't ask what it looks like, because fuck if I know."

"How did you k-n -Never mind. Gotcha, LT." Shino mumbles before dashing in after, scanning the room for hostiles.

"Fucking psychic LT. What more does the 'verse wanna throw at me? Next thing there's gonna be this giant old dude yelling about missing naptime because one of those shamblers decided to drop his nasty ass in his living room. But what do I know, right? This is a sure mess so I don't wanna hear any shit coming my way about not being on it. I'm here babysitting a wise-ass engineer playing with plasma cutters, opening panels like it's damn tetris or something and I-"

Shino cut off her self-induced rant as she realised she was voicing it in the present company's channels. If looks could kill, she'd probably be dead right now. She felt as if Kota was silently using laser eyes to melt her right then and there -if he wasn't doing so already, he was doing it mentally, probably. All around, Shino was just pissed off. Escort service was one thing, but in this situation, it was more messed up than anything she had ever seen, and it was taking its toll.

Shutting down her platoon-wide channel, she resorted to using the normal channel -as if she were just speaking to someone-.

"Calm down Corporal. Damn it. The last thing we need is another panic, we're in a bad enough mess as is." Nodding to herself a couple of times, she focused on the room, finding nothing but veiny growth, corpses, and -she supposed the captain- in the dome chair.

"Hold up. Be careful, and if anything goes wrong, yell something. I'm going to check what's under that dome." Holding her rifle at the ready, Shino closed in on the dome, avoiding the veiny growth. For some reason it attracted the damn things, so there must be a reason why the-

Shino held up, stopping her train of thought, and activated her helmet's recording option. Whatever was in there might help someone figure this shit out. With a small exhale, she pushed the dome upwards.
She saw the dead, decayed body in front of her, and the display. Seeing Sanctuary and the combat around her, she took in everything she could be-

"What the Shit!" Shino exclaimed in utter anger and confusion. The systems shut down!

Opening a private channel to Kota, while walking around with her rifle at the ready, watching for any sign of danger from within, and peering at the engineers rummaging around occasionally, she spoke with a frustration-filled voice.

"LT. I just looked at what's under the dome, and the systems were still working, I saw Sanctuary and various ships. I think there was a civilian ship somewhere near, but I'm not sure. The systems shut down, and I see these damn tendrils going to the dead person inside the chair. What do you reckon, over?" Shino said, her voice once more tact and although strained, quite audibly focused.

Why were those systems still working? Shouldn't those have shut down after a while? And if it shut down just now, why? I'm no egghead, but this... This is going way over my head. I like things simple, I don't need a riddle or two in a zombie-dash-shambling-stuff reanimation thing on a wrecked spacecraft when we're practically going to be turned into one of those things ourselves if we don't get out at some point.

And with at some point, I mean,
ASA-fucking-P'. This isn't what I wanted for celebration! Not this kind of bang!

"Cassius, anything yet? How about you, Chevy? If anything's useful, try recording it. Anything of utmost importance, relay it to me and LT Kota as soon as you do. If you need any help, holler."

With that, Shino started sweeping the room once more, occasionally taking a gander at the outside, seeing a trooper go down, alongside some shamblers. It was a rough skirmish, but by no means the worst firefight Shino'd seen.

I just hope we can get out of here before the entire ship is torn apart.

As soon as the intercom crackled off, Corporal Zastor looked up at his fireteam who were already assembling by the door, "We'll stop off at the armoury on the way to the hangar bay" he clipped, knowing full well that the grin on Thunders face meant he would be taking enough pyro with him to destroy the Heart on his own.

Minutes later, Fireteam 2B had assembled in the hangar bay along side Fireteams 2A and 1A. Lieutenant Rico barking out orders; "2A - secure and hold the extraction point, 1A - clear the CIWS on the hull and then push and aid 2B in clearing a path out. 2B - take point. 2A and B - into the roughneck, 1A - deploy by REVSOs. Now GO!"
Cassius looked around as he entered the room and let out a whistle.
"This is a nice setup, though I really shouldn't be surprised."
"FTL logs, right, they should be in the nav systems, lets have a look. Hmm, there's nothing here beyond hydraulics, usually the chair contains the nav computer interface, but then again I suppose a military vessel isn't concerned about saving space in the same way a freighter is."
Wandering around the horseshoe of consoles circling the room Cass passed engineering and gunnery stations before he found what he was looking for.
"Here we go, navigation. Power's still on which is helpful, i'll just plug in here. Holy space balls! That's a lot of data! Where have you been girl?"
Opening a channel to the lieutenant Cassius waited for the sounds of gunfire to stop then spoke quickly.
"Lieutenant; the logs we want are huge, far bigger than these suits can hold. I think I can get round that issue but it will wipe most of the stored data on our suits, all of our suits. That means no map getting back. You OK for me to go ahead? It will only take a couple of minutes total."
"Do what you have to do," replied Kota, "but make sure you are quick about it."
"Will do!" And Cassius set to work. Taking an emergency transmitter from his suit he set it to transmit on the platoon wide channel. Then, stripping the wires from under the console, he connected the transmitter and hit download. The HuD on the platoons visors flickered briefly, then behind the targeting information, where a map of the ship had sat previously, a stream of computer code started running.
"It's going to take two minuets even compressed as it is, while we wait I've got an idea."

Walking over to the gunnery console he could see what he thought was the defense commands controlling the Hearts weapons, pounding buttons only confirmed that a lock out code was in place. Ironically those codes may have been in the data he was currently overwriting on the suits.
"And that's what i get for not thinking things through," he muttered. "Still I might be able to salvage something."
Quickly grabbing the portable power supply he wired it directly into the system regulating the controls. Slowly he turned the power up to what he hoped was the limit the circuits could handle then, with the console glaring brightly, he slowly and methodically pressed a single button repeatedly. After 15 presses the display highlighted that lock out commands had been disabled, Cassius quickly turned off the extra power and disabled the defense protocols.
"I really wasn't sure that would work," he said to no one in particular.

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