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

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

Replacement Personnel

After Action Report

June 30th, 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 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 muched away as she wandered about the fairgrounds, occassionally 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 travelled 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.

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 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!"

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 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.

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."

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.'

"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 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...

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.

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, on 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.

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