Eclipse Phase - The Babylon Initiative (GameThread)

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>INVIDIA<

Moving the transport itself out of the crater took some effort, but it was thanks to the help of Judas, Cain, and several of the technicians and soldiers that they were able to move it in the first place. Once it cleared the crater itself, Invidia caught the sounds of their cheers over the Mesh, causing her to shake her head. It was only seconds after that the team leader regarding the transports themselves came up to her.

"Well that should be the hard part... where do you think we should set up camp? I don't know about you, but I don't want to be here when those guys decide to visit the gate.".

She paused, glancing over at the distant base, which seemed to be getting smaller by the minute. "Uncertain. So long as we avoid the enemy and can still achieve our objective of reaching the Babylon Construct, anywhere will do.", she said with just the barest shrug.

Then she turned back to the crater itself and spoke up over the tac-net: All units, status reports.

All units, status reports. Shanoa heard over the com for the groups 'default' leader.

"Looks like the locals are bringing the party to us, they air units are up and mobile but look like they're taking the long way around, to early to tell what the ground units are doing, but the gate is the presumed destination. You want me to engage or no?" Shanoa replyed as her flight patten straightened out a bit, readying to attack should the order be given.

All units, status reports.

Hugo reporting in with Adelin. Consortium forces mobilizing. Heading to gate slowly but surely.

Hugo looked at the mass of troops and armor moving from the base but another thing caught his eye and it was the Consortium fighters being launched with one already in the air.

Consortium air support being mobilized as well.

Hugo thought in his mind about the next course of action alongside waiting on what the others wanted them to do. It would help to skirmish with the oncoming forces in an attempt to hold them back enough for Firewall to establish something out of nothing but he feared that would actually exacerbate their situation further if they risked their lives. They needed every operative in this mission that has barely even started. Hugo turned to Adelin.

"Think you can disable the lead vehicle from here?"

>WITH SHERYL & RYLE<

"I doubt you're a threat to humanity here, but could you please tell me what you're doing here? I mean, what's your job? How did you end up here? And... do you have any idea what the Consortium is doing here?" Sheryl said to the man a bit more gently.

The man appeared to calm down a bit with the less threatening tone, but remained on edge. Still, he knew he couldn't fight them off (by himself or even with all the guards who'd been outside) and the only hope he had to not die was to give SOMETHING useful. "I... like I said; I'm the comm-specialist. I'm in charge of relaying the signals through the gate and back to... um... classified... but whoever it is is in some lab on Mercury" he said, a little on edge. It wasn't that he was trying to hold out; he just didn't know who was getting it. "I came through the gate yesterday with the... did you say Consortium? I mean, I guess we work for a Hypercorp that's part of the Consortium but I didn't think it was... never mind. I don't know a lot about what they are doing here, but I over heard a lot of the comm chatter. They've been talking a lot about "Gilgamesh" acquiring "Hermes's Sandals" and "Zeus's Hand" but I don't know what any of it means." he said, with only a little reluctance. It wasn't like he wanted to betray his employers, but he didn't want to die.

As an addendum he added "They also keep saying something about "primary objectives [being] complete" and "factors outside mission parameters" - they've been saying that last part a lot and they've been sending transports through the Gate for the last hour or so." Then, the man stared up at the two interrogators expectantly; hoping they were done and they'd say "You're free to go Mr. Comm-Specialist"

At that point, one of the comm-stations started to buzz; an incoming message from some source unknown.

>WITH INVIDIA<

"Uncertain. So long as we avoid the enemy and can still achieve our objective of reaching the Babylon Construct, anywhere will do." Invidia said, much to the Engineer's confusion. "What's the Babylon Construct?" he asked before saying "Never mind; I'm guessing it's above my pay grade". As curious as he was, he didn't want to be found in a ditch somewhere because he asked too many questions.

"Anyway; let me know what you decide and I'll get these transports moving... somehow." he finished, walking off to get the rest of the teams working in unison.

All units, status reports. Invidia said, which returned a number of reports from the various teams; mostly concerning minor, non-critical damages and "all squared away". A few of the soldiers reported the same information as Shanoa and Hugo and a few others on radar duty were reporting some readings on various assets in motion.

>WITH ADELIN, HUGO, & SHANOA<

The base continued to pack up, hurrying through the actions with renewed vigor. Many of the transports were packed, though there was still about 45 minutes worth of packing to go. At about that point, most of the packing stopped and the transports began to move out; following the military vehicles though giving them the space they needed. A few transports lagged behind as people moved more equipment aboard, but these transports were the exception to the rule. With those few, a half dozen military vehicles remained, along with a pair of still-grounded fighters.

The remaining vehicles continued their forward march while aligning their weapons at the obvious target: Shanoa. Still not shots were fired... yet.

Sheryl listened intently to the nervous man's answer, she frowned as he was obviously hiding some details, but they didn't have time to deal with it at the moment.

"Okay then," she said trying to stay calm in the face of the status updates she was getting from the rest of the expedition, "I need you to tell me if there are any other hidden passages here. Not just hideyholes like the one you were in, but somewhere that me and the rest of my team could... you know what. Fuck this."

What are you doing!??!

Using what the virus gave me.

Are you insane!?! He's done nothing to deserve that!

Relax. I'm not going to rip him a new mental asshole. I'm just going to paint over the canvas. Make him think we're in charge.

That's only slightly better...

Reaching for the man's helmet, as if trying to comfort him, Sheryl took hold of the man's faceplate. Her eyes glowed a soft purple as she accessed her power, and sent a rush of images and impressions into his mind. The attempt was sloppily handled however, might've had something to do with the lack of direct eye contact, or the stress of the situation or something. Or maybe, just maybe she just plain fucked it up.

In any case, the space-suited man started to crawl back into his hole, begging to left alone. Sheryl had apparently given him a dash of fear rather than the trust she'd been going for. Well... the fear could be useful as well, as long as she didn't push it too far.

"Well, you clearly know what I'm capable of," she said softly to him, kneeling down, "And if you want me to leave, you might want to tell me about any hidden passages that me and my teammates could use to escape before the Consortium comes crashing down on us."

>INVIDIA<

When Invidia got the various reports from the units in the crater and out of it, she looked up into the sky and noticed several enemy fighters joining the Flexmorph Specialist in the air above them.

"Looks like the locals are bringing the party to us, they air units are up and mobile but look like they're taking the long way around, to early to tell what the ground units are doing, but the gate is the presumed destination. You want me to engage or no?".

Negative, do not engage. We need a rally point to retreat to and regroup. If you can, find us that rally point, so long as it keeps us from Consortium forces. Then, you may engage the enemy at your discretion, so long as you proceed with caution.

Glancing at the leader of the transport teams, she nodded. "Stand by for further orders, but get the rest of the transports out of the crater. We move the moment we have a rally point to retreat to.", she told him, before switching to the Expedition-wide comms.

All Expeditionary units: Proceed out of the crater as quickly as possible and take up defensive positions. Proceed with caution, and be prepared for enemy contact.

Then she promptly turned and forced herself to stay low as she sprinted across the landscape in the direction of Hugo and Adelin. It didn't take her long thanks to her cybernetic legs, and when she reached them, she skidded to a halt just behind their cover and glanced between the two of them. "Be prepared to move quickly. The moment our Aerial Specialist gives us a suitable rally point, we retreat.", she told them firmly.

Ryle watched and listened to the exchange between the woman and the communications agent. He felt a slight bit of panic hit him as he realized the woman was an async. He realized she probably had them under control, but being in this close a proximity to a possible exsurgent was enough to make him anxious.

"I... let me know if he becomes uncooperative."

Ryle moved over to the now active comm station and began accessing the incoming message as his other pieces began arguing over how to deal with the man and the async.

Negative, do not engage. We need a rally point to retreat to and regroup. If you can, find us that rally point, so long as it keeps us from Consortium forces. Then, you may engage the enemy at your discretion, so long as you proceed with caution.

"Acknowledged" Shanoa said, turning away from the coming Consortium forces and flying off to find a suitable spot for a rally point, which she interpreted as 'not by the gate or the base' for the time being. After a few minutes of flying she found a spot that looked like it could be suitable, not just as a rally point but possible launch zone as well and landed for a better look, reverting to robot mode for the final check before sending the coordinates and scan data for it as a possible launch site to Invidia to mull over.

>INVIDIA<

"Acknowledged".

As Shanoa replied, Invidia watched as she took off in another direction, before looking back at the incoming enemy forces. Chances were, with the skills of all the Specialists combined, and the additional soldiers sent along in the Expeditionary force, they could probably wipe them out. But, the price would be far too high: Likely the combined lives of all or most of the Expeditionary soldiers, as well as some of the Specialists. And those losses were unacceptable.

Thankfully, it wasn't long before Shanoa sent over coordinates and geological scans, among other data, for her to look over. It seemed to be ideal, and while she was worried that it was too good to be true, they couldn't afford to wait much longer, else the Consortium would catch them with their pants down, as transhumans would say.

She sent the data to the Expeditionary forces on the general Mesh link between them. Specialist Shanoa has found a rally point: All units, proceed immediately, and with caution.

Then she added a quick addendum specifically to Shanoa herself. That was very efficient. Well done.

"Think you can disable the lead vehicle from here?" said Hugo to Adelin

Adelin equipped his sniper and looked through the scope at the incoming vehicles.

"Well I've taken shots a lot harder than this one but there's always that small chance that just loves to screw you over. Alas, I don't think this will be the case as the shot is quite easy now that I've analyzed it"

"Be prepared to move quickly. The moment our Aerial Specialist gives us a suitable rally point, we retreat." said Invidia who just arrived behind Hugo and Adelin

"Well, well.." he jokingly said "look who's bossy" he ended with a quirky smile. "Are you sure we have enough time to retreat? I mean, do you see the vehicles at the front of the convoy? Those are Demetrios Raptor assault vehicles and if that wasn't worse enough, they're also the latest generation. Now I know those vehicles extremely well and I can tell you they're faster than our trucks. It's gonna be a pretty short time gap between us getting away and them arriving"

>INVIDIA<

"Well, well... Look who's bossy.".

She glanced over at Adelins first response and gave him a bland stare behind her helmet. It was what he said after that made her feel concerned.

"Are you sure we have enough time to retreat? I mean, do you see the vehicles at the front of the convoy? Those are Demetrios Raptor assault vehicles and if that wasn't worse enough, they're also the latest generation. Now I know those vehicles extremely well and I can tell you they're faster than our trucks. It's gonna be a pretty short time gap between us getting away and them arriving.".

She paused for just a few seconds, then took off her helmet, setting it down beside her. Since they were behind cover, and the enemy forces were far enough for them to be unaware of their presence, for the most part. And what weaponry they had that could punch through their cover would easily have killed her, regardless of whether she wore her helmet.

"Based on quick internal analysis, as well as how the operation has currently been going...", she said, before she locked her cybernetic eyes on Adelin's face and added, "I'm pretty confident, so long as we don't shoot them.".

"I'm pretty confident, so long as we don't shoot them.".

"Exactly." Hugo said, interjecting. "If you have any grenades or otherwise any other potentially "volatile" objects then I can go out there and lay them along the road. It would buy us some time and they wouldn't necessarily see me either on the account of my chameleon skin." Hugo said. While speaking he pointed out several locations along the road to the gate which would serve as places to hide the traps. He remembered fondly of one of his assassinations where he rigged a terminal to blow when his target accessed it. The authorities had trouble picking brain matter from the burnt computer chips. He would love to see that on a grander scale.

That was very efficient. Well done. Ividia commended

"I try" Shanoa said, double checking her scans, and keeping an ear on the coms in-case she was needed, and the chatter from the snipers was starting to get on her nerves "What part of 'they aren't attacking us, and seem disinclined to do so' translates to 'Hey, lets blow their shit up', seriously we have more important thing to be doing then helping you two add to your body counts" she said directly to the two snipers over the coms. "and people wonder why I prefer the solitude of my lab ..." she grumbled to her self, though forgot to mute the mike on her end.

>INVIDIA<

"Settle down.", she said blandly as she heard Shanoa reprimanding their Stealth Specialist's suggestion of laying a makeshift minefield for the enemy to run into.

The idea would have had merit, though if only they had the time and resources to spare. As it was, they had neither.

"She's right. We don't have the time to lay out traps for them. With any luck, we can avoid any further confrontation. And if we had the time, I would prefer to trap the comm-relay instead, and deny them the chance of calling for quick reinforcements. As it is, we need what time we have to get to the rally point.", she told them firmly as she pulled her helmet back on.

With a single nod, she turned and started to sprint in the direction of the way-point she had set on her HUD, even as one of her two forks linked into the transmission to Proxie.

Ma'am, Expeditionary Forces are heading to a prospective launch point. Mission should proceed as planned. I'll be severing the connection now and purging any information this may have left on their local servers.

Just moments before she cut the transmission, her Infomorph straightened, and its tail lifted in the semblance of a salute. Then her emergency protocols kicked in, killing the feed and cannibalizing on the various modifications she had made to the relays systems, as well as the recent transmission records.

Immediately after, her forced her Forks to merge back with her original Ego, and she sent out another transmission to the main forces.

Our connection with the other side of the Pandora Gate has been severed. We are now operating on our own. Mission shall proceed as planned. All units, rendezvous at my way-point immediately. Proceed with extreme caution and avoid all contact with the enemy.

"Roger that." Hugo said. He pushed the talking aside and went to the rallying point where the Flex-bot designated. On the way he saw several other of their own make it for there as well. They didn't have a lot of time but they had to continue the mission, as Invidia said. In a full sprint, Hugo easily made his way to the rally point with time to spare. He surveyed his surroundings as he waited for the other to catch up. Hugo wanted to make sure the Consurtium weren't hiding anything let alone waiting for them.

Shanoa remained silent after her outburst, and instead waited for the group to arrive, her mind drifting to the problems with the new power plant she was working on before the mission.

>WITH SHERYL (AND MAYBE RYLE)<

"Well, you clearly know what I'm capable of, and if you want me to leave, you might want to tell me about any hidden passages that me and my teammates could use to escape before the Consortium comes crashing down on us."

As Sheryl asked her question, the Async powers wreaked havoc upon the mans brain. So much so that the question - which seemed odd as it was - became almost unintelligible. His heart rate was through the roof and the medical equipment in his suit was telling him to seek a medic immediately. The broken man curled himself into a ball, grasping at his heart, as fear drove him over the edge. A moment later, the fear became too much for his biomorph to handle and the entire system shut down. Permanently.

At the same time; as the Firewall expedition left the crater, the Consortium group arrived. Having seen the Firewall group pass, they delayed at the top of the crater, intent on checking the crater for dangers. They lined their Tanks at the edge of the crater, ready to provide fire support as needed. Considering the Pandora Gate was all but unbreakable and infinity self-repairable, they had little reason to hold back. Still, they wanted to send information through the Relay before their departure, so not-blasting was preferable; just not required.

They couldn't see any of the unknown force within the crater, but the signs of their passing were everywhere. One of the front running APCs pulled down the earthen ramp and into the crater, going slow to avoid any planted explosives. When they reached the bottom, the vehicle stopped. From it's back, dozens of morphs poured from the back of the vehicle and into the crater. They quickly moved toward the relay - still keeping an eye for buried explosives.

A pair of fighters soared over head, providing air support.

>AT THE RALLY POINT<

The convoy finished pulling away from the crater mere minutes before the enemies arrived, yet were unharried in their escape. Apparently the Consortium had other matters on their mind.

When the Convoy arrived at the rally point - a piece of land roughly one hundred meters in diameter which was remarkably flat and relatively distant from both the Consortium base and the Pandora Gate - the head of the engineers approached Invidia - the apparent, impromptu leader of the group - and Shanoa - their savior - to pose his question. "Do you want us to set up or wait?" The man looked nervous after the sight of the Consortium miniature army and wasn't convinced they wouldn't just bombard them. Even now, one of the fighters was keeping it's distance from the rally point, watching their every move.

>WITH ADELIN (FEATURING A GLIMPSE BY HUGO)<

With the passing of the Consortium convoy, the Consortium base was now nearly empty - save a few stragglers packing the last few pieces of unknown technology of presumable value - scientific and/or monetary. The final major structure of the Base - the launch station if sight served - went dark, causing the dark-metal object to blend into the background darkness of space so completely it could only be identified by the slight reflection at certain angles. With it, the only ambient light was that of the moon's surface kept the landscape illuminated.

Adelin kept his eye on the Consortium, ignorant of what was being discussed around him. He saw Invidia and Hugo run towards the rally point. Observing the enemy movement, Adelin noticed that the entire force made its way to the Pandora Gate, leaving their base completely vulnerable. He had seen enough and decided to make his way to the rally point.

There, he heard the head of the engineers say "Do you want us to set up or wait?"

"Set up, as fast as possible, now. That's an order" said Adelin highly inquisitive "This is a race. The Consortium is more preoccupied with getting to Babylon rather than face us. We can't run or hide from them, nor can we face them in open confrontation. But what we can do is this: I stayed behind to observe their movements, they left their base undefended with their entire force being now situated at the gate. It's completely vulnerable and filled with equipment, it also seems to serve as the launch site. This is our chance to further hinder their operation by attacking it while it's still undefended. More importantly, it will give their military force a good reason to return to base rather than follow us."

"Begin set up, I see no reason to delay further" Shanoa replied to the engineer as a blip on her scanners entered a holding pastern "It is our turn to be watched it seems" she thought aloud, ignoring the snipers comment "One aerial contact, holding. How should we proceed?" Shanoa asked, truthfully she had no interest in engaging them unless absolutely necessary, more over her skills would, at this point, but better severed aiding the set up effort.

Ryle looked at the message on the screen, they wanted the man whose heart just gave out to dial the gate so they could return to their home base... He didn't know which gate that was and he didn't have time to look for the automatics if he wanted to make good time.

He walked over to the dead technician crouched beside him and began removing the mans cortical stack. He placed it in the same pouch he put the last one in.

Ryle looked at the Async said "We need to move." and began evacuating to the new rally point the others had made him aware of.

At the rally point he listened to the others and spoke after thinking about the best course of action.

"Their main force appears to be evacuating to another location via the gate. A communications technician back at the relay made references to factors outside of mission parameters as well as what are probably artifacts they recovered, unless they were on the convoy out. This could mean they are evacuating to return in higher numbers due to our presence or another force unknown. Considering Adelin's observation I suggest we at least send an investigative team to recover research data and any materials of worth.

I would also like to present the option of invading the site and repurposing it to our needs after the investigative team has checked for proprietary fail safes and X-risks."

>INVIDIA<

The moment she arrived, she glanced around at the convoy and noted that several of the Firewall Operatives were missing from their group, just as the Transport Team-Leader spoke up.

"Do you want us to set up or wait?".

Even as both the Aerial Specialist, Shanoa, and Specialist Adelin told him to begin setting up, Invidia held up a six-fingered hand and shook her head. "Hold for now. We're missing Specialists.", she said, then she turned as one of the two missing operatives came up to them.

"Their main force appears to be evacuating to another location via the gate. A communications technician back at the relay made references to factors outside of mission parameters as well as what are probably artifacts they recovered unless they were on the convoy out. This could mean they are evacuating to return in higher numbers due to our presence or another force unknown. Considering Adelin's observation I suggest we at least send an investigative team to recover research data and any materials of worth. I would also like to present the option of invading the site and repurposing it to our needs after the investigative team has checked for proprietary fail safes and X-risks.".

Looking at the others, she nodded once. Since she had essentially become their impromptu leader, she supposed she may as well give them at least some direction. So, she turned fully to Shanoa.

"Specialist Shanoa, since you've shown good judgement thus-far, and have the advantage of seeing the landscape from the air, you should take command of the Expeditionary Forces in an Overwatch position. Engage the enemy at your discretion, but as before, exercise caution: Any personnel and equipment we can save for the Babylon Construct, the easier this operation will go. Regardless, the transport teams should begin preparing a launch site. Keep us informed as much as possible.", she told her, then she turned to the others.

"As for the enemy base, anyone proficient in infiltration and combat will accompany me in surveying it, as well as harassing the enemy enough to divert attention from the main Force. If possible, we raid their supplies and take what we can, but if not, we deny the enemy as much resources as possible. Unfortunately, we simply don't have the time to re-purpose it for our own use, particularly with the enemy bearing down on us. For all we know, they aren't retreating: They could be calling for more reinforcements. If that happens to be the case, the short answer is: We're screwed.", she said grimly.

Taking a firmer hold of her Shredder, she checked to make sure it was not only ready, but was fully loaded of ammunition. "I'll be going with the raid team. Chances are that they have computer systems there that may have an indication of exactly what their goals are, as well as other valuable information. Otherwise, I can disable them as best as I can to deny them that as well. Who else is coming?", she asked, looking at each member of the group besides Shanoa.

Ryle looked at the others as the woman spoke, she must have been made leader while he was in the relay.

"I volunteer for the raid."

His mind quickly made several notes to itself as he said this.
Babylon - Construct - Assuming to be Xeno Vessel.
Gilgamesh - Unknown - Assuming to be Xeno Entity.
Hermes's Sandals - Unknown - Assuming to be Artifact.
Zeus's Hand - Unknown - Assuming to be Artifact - Assuming to be Weapon related.

Shanoa turned to the Engineers "You hear the lady, begin set of the launch site. I will keep an eye on our guest." She said, her mono eye swinging toward and locking on to the consortium aircraft "also you run into a technical issue with the rocket and need an extra person, I am an expert in the field rocketry, among others, so don't hesitate to ask me for help"

>INVIDIA<

She nodded approvingly as Shanoa took charge of the main Forces, and glanced over as another of the Specialists spoke up.

"I volunteer for the raid.".

She stepped over and stood next to him before looking at the others. "Any other volunteers? We could use at least one more, preferably two.", she said, frowning just slightly behind her helmet.

People who often interacted with her often described her as non-expressive and often even non-responsive, but it seemed that she was nothing compared to the rest of the specialists. They had hardly said anything on the expedition so far, and while she could understand radio-discipline on an operation, she wouldn't mind if they spoke up more.

Reacting purely on a compassionate instinct, Sheryl ducked to catch the terrified and mentally abused man as he collapsed to the floor. Setting him down gently, Sheryl checked his post. He was dead.

Holy fuck... what the fuck did I just do?

Umm... it looks like...

I know I know! God damn it! I know! I just...

Its okay, you had no way to know the bad memory implant would kill him. I mean... how were we supposed to know he had heart problems?

That was when Sheryl felt the barrel of a gun on the back of her head. She started to turn around when someone hit her with a rifle butt, knocking her out.

>INVIDIA<

As she looked the others over in the hopes of a response, she finally noticed a slight discrepancy among them: They were missing someone. She tensed visibly and carefully counted through them, running through her Eidetic Memory to place the various faces of the Specialists.

"We're missing someone. The female biomorph, where is she? Who was with her last?", she asked abruptly, even as she turned to glance at the crater they had just left.

Conquest?

Yes ma'am. I've been following the situation as best I can in the background, and yes: Current probability calculations infer that the missing specialist was left behind, likely without anyone else's knowing. Likelihood of her being pinned down or captured is high.

Then she did something that was normally unlike her. She swore softly under her breath and looked at the others. "It seems that our raid operation has just turned into an extraction. I need more volunteers.", she said firmly, her slightly synthesized voice audibly frustrated, which was a first in their company.

"Any other volunteers? We could use at least one more, preferably two."
No one spoke up.
"We're missing someone. The female biomorph, where is she? Who was with her last?"
Ryle turned to look behind himself, where he thought the Async was.
He turned back towards Invidia, frustrated at what had happened, somewhat perceiving it as his fault.
"It seems that our raid operation has just turned into an extraction. I need more volunteers."

"I assumed the Async had followed me out of the relay. I have a backup morph I can fork into, It'll be combat ready in three minutes."

He sprinted off to transport three to ready for, what he now assumed was going to turn into an assault.

Pandora Gate

Shortly after the Consortium's arrival at the gate, they dialed out of the system and quickly began their total evacuation, beginning with four large military transports. Once these were through, scientists and military personnel started through the gate and the fighters were recalled. Before long, only a small force of soldiers remained behind, guarding the gate for an eventual return. A pair of trucks - filled soldiers - started returning to the main base.

Consortium Facility/The Raid

image
*Note: No rocket

Even in the darkness of the moon, the Consortium launch pad was obvious. The way it stretched into the sky, topping every natural hill on the moon in height by a factor of ten was the most artificial aspect of the appearance, but the reflective nature of the dark construction metals was a close second. Now that they were closer, the base structure's details were clearer and the logic of the setup was crystal.

The launch pad made up the center of the base, with all other buildings built in a circular pattern around it. The launch pad itself had a circular earthen wall built up around it, suggesting they had built the structure inside what was once a large crater. These walls, in addition to offering a meager defense, served to keep the exhaust and force from the rocket contained. The outer structures were few in number, though evidence suggested there were once hundreds more portable pre-fab barracks. The few buildings that remained seemed to be primarily specialized research labs, each housing a single group of scientists and their projects. These were linked by large, vacuum sealed tubes to allow easy travel between labs without specialized suits or morphs.

Outside these labs were where the barracks, outposts, vehicles, and defenses had been. The first defense was a simple fence, though it's connection to a power supply suggested the fence was more than just a deterrent or a stalling mechanism. Inside that layer, there was a large, flat, empty field followed by a number of automated turrets sat to defend the base as needed. Beyond these however, synthamorphs would have been patrolling, though they were now gone. Finally, another set of fences and the science labs started and the external defenses were either non-existent or hidden.

Every now and then, a scientist or a soldier would make a movement - usually carrying some piece of equipment from the launch pad to a waiting truck.

>INVIDIA<

When she glanced back at the crater itself, she was pleasantly surprised to see the Consortium forces simply leaving through the Pandora Gate. While she wasn't under the impression that ALL of the Consortium forces were now off of Babylon, most certainly were, and that made her feel much better about the upcoming raid on their now lightly-guarded base. She supposed that if the entirety of the Expeditionary Force were to move in, they could probably take over and re-purpose as they saw fit, but she wasn't sure that was the best idea.

So she turned back to the others and crossed her arms, addressing Ryle first. "Well, it appears your observations were right: The Consortium forces have retreated through the gate. That gives us some more options as to what to do. We could simply stay here and set up as planned, and proceed with the raid on their base. This would certainly be the safer course of action at the moment, though possibly with more risks concerning the launch of the rocket. I can't be sure, since I'm a hacking specialist.", she said, pausing for a moment and sighing softly.

"But, since it seems the bulk of their men have retreated, their base is more lightly guarded. With the Expeditionary soldiers accompanying us, we could take over with force. This entails more risks, though depending on what equipment they have, it may make our operation that much easier in the long run, particularly with the launch, seeing as they already have a convenient launch pad waiting for a rocket. The problem being, we don't know if they'll be back, or when. So, suggestions?", she asked, leaving it to the others to decide what to do.

As it was, she was conflicted, and she wasn't prepared to keep up the leadership role she had found herself in. She wasn't even sure how she ended up in that position, but ultimately, it didn't matter. Things had gone surprisingly well, and it helped that the other specialists were very competent in their own right. So, she couldn't complain.

Hugo stepped forward after observing the Consortium forces leaving. It was certainly not what Hugo expected of the Consortium but considering they're leaving then he was all for it.

"I'm for taking the base now." Hugo said. "The sooner we take the base, the sooner we can complete our objective. Their defenses are weakened at the moment and we shouldn't ignore that moment. If we set up, they could mobilize more defenses which would make the raid more difficult."

Ryle

Synthmorph Platform: Designate Wotjek
After forking into the stack and ghost drive of the Berserker and arming it, Ryle walked back to the rally point and introduced the others to his other self now walking around.

Eventually Invidia, a few others, himself, and his counterpart moved to a point outside the consortium base. At which point they began to devise a plan.

"I vote that we clear the base of them, check it for dangers, and if it is deemed safe enough move in." He paused "It appears to be more defensible than a crater, which would make it safer if the consortium decides to engage us."


Synthmorph Platform: Designate Berserker
It was always a weird feeling walking around in another body, atleast this one was familiar to him. He had armed himself with the standard load. Two assault rifles and two sniper rifles, their barrels jutted from his arms. The sensors were much less sophisticated on this model than the previous one which took an adjustment as he got used to using something more analogous to that of a man. He walked to the new rally point at the base behind everyone else, these legs made a light pneumatic thump as he walked.

"I vote that we clear the base of them, check it for dangers, and if it is deemed safe enough move in. It appears to be more defensible than a crater, which would make it safer if the consortium decides to engage us."

He spoke "If I attack the gate I can probably draw out any external security that we've yet to notice as well as take control of the gate." The voice on this body lacked any trace of emotion, it showed no attempt to cover up being synthesized.

Shanoa kept watch over the crews as they worked. Set up had more or less stopped, a few stray enemy rounds had caused minor damage to some of the equipment needed for set up so making sure every thing still worked was taking priority over set up, most the damage seemed superficial thus far though and reported as much to Invidia when the need to do so arose. Other wise she was pretty much silent, listening to the radio chatter, and keeping an eye on things,

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