Koprulu Sector - Terran Dominion Mission Recorder - Subject: Cassius Black

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Koprulu Sector - Terran Dominion Mission Recorder - Subject: Cassius Black Empty Koprulu Sector - Terran Dominion Mission Recorder - Subject: Cassius Black

Post by Seretis on May 7th 2018, 13:34


Date: Approximately early 2501. Exact placement unknown.
File Details: Reconstructed Mission Data from Bravo Team of Terran Dominion mission to planet Stoltas IV.

The Terran Dominion, just recently recovered from the invasion by the forces of the United Earth Directorate, as well as the so-called "Brood War", has recently managed to recover the planet Stoltas IV. During the recovery, Dominion forces discovered an abandoned UED Science Facility.  Due to a lack of scientific personnel on the ground at the time of discovery, a special mission, under the command of Col. Paul Thorpe, was dispatched to the now-secured site aboard the Behemoth-class battlecruiser Morose. Among the non-combatant personnel for the mission was one Cassius Black, a biochemist.

Sitting in one of the dropship's seats is the aforementioned biochemist, a rather pale, stick of a man, wearing what could be be described as "bargain bin" armor, some protection being better than none in this hellhole of a sector he'd been born into. Hiding his jet-black mop of bedhead under an old combat helmet with several holes through it, he was protected about as well as his detachment could afford. Though what the rest of the jarheads thought of him was anyone's guess, despite him actually volunteering for the mission.

Gauging the reactions of the majority of the marines involved on the mission likely was anyone's guess... Out of the few he'd had to deal with on the trip, only the sergeant, a man of abnormal size, seemed to have much reactions at all. The others all seemed fresh out of neural resocialization, and all seemed to have blank stares for much of the time. Sergeant Richard Morrison, amusingly called 'Tiny' by more talkative marines,[1] was in fact sitting directly across from him. The marine's visor was currently down, and given the muffled sounds coming from behind it, he was apparently discussing orders with higher ups. After a moment, Morrison's hand came up and covered the visor, almost like a face-palm.

Cassius blinks as he watches the motion. "Let me guess. Head honcho has a stick up his ass about something?" he says, pointing a finger up, having served in the Dominion long enough to know that everyone between Mengsk and the grunts was typically full of shit.

Morrison's sigh of response was drowned out by the visor on his suit lifting. "Seems there's some interest from higher up in this mission... Just got told we've got a Ghost on the ground. Nice part is, our mission and what that spook's up to are supposed to be separate, so we shouldn't have to worry about contact."

"Oh great." Cassius says, rolling his eyes. "If they've got a ghost down there why are they sending us? I mean, yeah, I've got a huge brain, but why send a whole detachment of fresh jar-heads for something as simple as a sweep and retrieve?"

Morrison shook his head. "Seems most of the boys are heading out away from the facility. Only a couple of squads are going to be covering you science folk. Supposedly, one of the mining survey teams reported hostile activity roughly 80 kilometers southeast of the facility. Pirates, maybe rebels, and they want to hit them hard before they've got a chance to dig in. Local garrison has been doing pretty consistent scans of the area around the facility, and nothing. So, minimal cover for you guys, since it's apparently clear."

"Well, that's a relief. 'Least we only have to worry about other humans around here, y'know? Creepers are a whole other matter." the Scientist says, seeming rather relieved. "Did they say what I'm supposed to be looking for in this place? I'd like some idea what to not touch, eh?"

Morrison shook his head. "Not much was said about that. The usual items, of course... Data cores, personal notes, that sort of stuff. Brass seems to think that this facility may have been used for developing or analyzing some of the data from their attempts at controlling the Zerg. So I'm going to guess that anything biological shouldn't be touched with your bare hands."

"Good thing I brought gloves then." Cassius says, shaking his head gently. "Those idiots trying to control the Zerg. Look where it got them. A nice fat spike in the heart, and now the Swarm's running wild wherever it damn well wants." he says, a mild bit of disgust in his voice.

Morrison nodded, but before he could say any more, the tone of the dropship's engines changed, and a red light lit up next to the exit door. The sergeant spoke up, over the noise. "Get ready! We're getting close to the drop site!"

Cassius nods and waits for the cue to stand up, ready to head out wherever the Sergeant orders. His mind was already racing with questions and theories about what might have been in development at this facility, before inevitably turning to his own selfish thoughts of finding something helpful to the Dominion and getting all kinds of fame out of it.

Once they got on ground, the very first thing the scientist would notice is that the facility, while not looking combat-damaged, had certainly seen better days. Most of the marines were fanned out through the facility to secure key points, and a pair of medics took up residence in one of the cleaner rooms near the entry of the facility. Morrison set up a small command station near the medics, although he tended to patrol around to the various scientists and technician teams. The facility had enough space that, for the most part, Cassius was able to work through rooms relatively alone, save for the occasional pass made by the sergeant, as well as the standard periodic comm-status checks. The lab rooms seemed relatively clear... at least of critically hazardous materials. Broken equipment, some rusted by the moisture in the planet's atmosphere, proved a different matter, although most of what the scientist encountered was light-weight stuff. A few easily recoverable notes and logs that he found pointed towards the Dominion's intelligence guess-work being right for a change. The UED's scientists were, in fact, studying some of the strains of the Zerg that seemed to fit a more "command staff" role.

Cassius takes his time as he begins to skim through the notes and logs he finds, rather happy that the marines leave him to his own devices, as he begins to search through the data terminals in the facilities, taking notes on a pad he carries around with him. The UED were on to SOMETHING useful here, but the broken and incomplete notes weren't helping him figure out just WHAT it was. Still, he kept at it, taking a more methodical approach than just searching through random logs and terminals. Someone HAD to have made a mistake somewhere, and that'd be the key to figuring out what they were up to.

After a while, some of the notes seemed to suggest that a nearby lab room might have made some manner of key discovery. Right as Cassius finished making the notes about the location, he could hear the tell-tale clomp, clomp of Sergeant Morrison's custom armor coming near on one of his check-up patrols. Right as the sergeant gets near Cassius' current room, the comms come alive, and Colonel Thorpe's voice, sounding somewhat urgent, comes across the channel. "All Dominion personnel, report in immediately!" The status check call would likely strike the scientist as odd for two reasons... First, it was outside the established normal reporting schedule. Second is that it's the Colonel, and not the cruiser's normal comm officer.

Cassius pokes his head out of the room and waves at the Sergeant before the check-up call comes in, not reaching for his radio yet. "Sarge. Think I found something of value. Mind stalling the brass?" he asks before Morrison can check in.

Morrison simply replies in suite with all of the other replies, giving current activity. He also states being with Black, who has his hands full sorting debris at the moment. All members of the team report in... And yet, an alert pings on the sergeant's comm. After glancing at it, he gives a slightly worried look to Cassius before the suit's full visor slides down. While sealed up, Morrison makes a gesture towards Cassius' direction, seemingly suggesting that he carry on with what he was doing.

Cassius nods and makes his way towards the indicated lab with all haste, knowing that visor down meant the defecation had hit the oscillator, and that he should do whatever he was going to do fast.

Something would strike Cassius immediately upon reaching the doorway to the lab. While there was the usual clutter scattered around the room, a path had been cleared from the doorway to a locker in the corner. A locker that, unlike others in the facility, had an intact and unopened door. The immediate area around said locker was also clear. After a brief moment, one other detail would strike Cassius... He was the only member of the team who'd been in this area so far.

Cassius takes note of his surroundings as he arrives, taking a deep breath to calm himself as he slowly opens the door, more cautious now than ever before, wary that there might be something unknown waiting for him, as he enters the lab and slowly makes his way towards the strangely-intact locker, intending to see if the lock was still intact as well, and wondering why it was so pristine.

The second he opens the doorway, the odd tinkling of a music box starts up[2], somewhere in the lab. That noise seemed to be enough to catch the attention of the sergeant, who was fairly quickly at the door himself, before Cassius could reach the locker. "What the... Music?"

"Sarge..." the Scientist says, as his blood runs cold. "I think there might be a bomb in here." he says, calmly reaching for the locker to open it, though the Sergeant can hear the fear in his voice. He'd only taken a passing interest in demolitions, just because he'd eventually planned to have his own trapped laboratory, but if there was anything of value in this lab, he'd have to muddle through and try to defuse it. If it was even a bomb at all.

The locker door swung open at the slightest touch... And was immediately followed by a thump, then a clatter, as the contents of the locker fell out... The body of a Ghost, and the spec-ops agent's rifle. This was enough to cause the sergeant to bring his own rifle up and do a visual sweep of the room. Nothing else moved in the lab, although Morrison paused for a second while looking at what looked like an operating chair towards the middle of the room. "Small box, on the chair." A pause as his comm clicked on. "This is Sergeant Morrison. Medics, get to Lab Room 47 ASAP!" Morrison's call for the medics seemed a bit unnecessarily, though... The Ghost remained completely still on the ground.

Cassius stumbles back, almost losing his footing at the revelation of the Ghost's body being found. "W-What?!" he stammers, turning to look at the operating chair, taking a few steps towards it curiously, moving slowly "What the hell is going on here?" he asks, as he reaches for the box to examine it.

The box turns out to be the same music box making the noise. No explosives seemed to be involved. Morrison knelt by the Ghost's body. "Still warm... Wait..." As the medics arrived, Morrison spotted something on the Ghost's suit, and clicked his comm on again. "Colonel, this is Sergeant Morrison. We're located the missing Ghost agent. Confirm on X90831D." The response came back quickly. "X90831D is our MIA... How in the blazes did he get there?!?" Morrison shook his head as the medics carried the agent and gear off. "No clues, sir... Medics have him now... But the way he fell out of the locker he was stuffed in... I'm not going to hold my breath for good news." Just before the channel closed, the telltale sound of someone storming off swearing could be heard.

Cassius checks the music box, turning it over in his hands and getting a good view of the whole thing. "I'm more interested in why anyone went through the trouble of staging this." he says aloud, looking the chair over as well for signs of how they triggered the box with the door opening.

It doesn't take Cassius long to spot the trigger mechanism. A simple IR beam sensor attached to a lid opening mechanism. The beam was directed at the lab's door itself. There also seemed to be a delay setting, likely to let whoever... or whatever... set it to leave the room without tripping it.

Cassius blinks as he realizes how simple it was. "Well, it wasn't anything advanced, Sarge. But the question still remains. Who has the skills to put a {DATA LOST} Ghost six feet under, AND the balls to use this much theater about it?" he asks, closing the lid on the music box and deciding to at least bring that with him.

Morrison gave Cassius a slightly incredulous look, shaking his head. A second after that, the comm clicked back on as one of the marines called in. "Hey, Tiny! Got some movement down here. Gonna do a quick check." Morrison grimaced and mouthed a swear at the use of his nickname, but seemed to spare the man a rebuke, for the moment. "Watch yourself, Corporal. We may have unidentified hostiles of high threat." "Copy that."

Cassius shakes his head and decides to investigate the chair itself, wondering if the enemy had left the music box there specifically for some reason, as his mind begins to race, wondering if their quarry had set this up as breadcrumbs.

Nothing struck Cassius as out of place with the chair, at least not through the inspection he was able to give prior to the sarge's comm clicking on again, this time the call being from one of the medics. "Command, Sergeant... This is Specialist Branson. We just got through with our initial investigation on Agent X90831D. Confirmed deceased. The oddity, though... To the best we've been able to determine, he had full suit integrity at the time of death... But he died from strangulation. Bruising around his neck suggests some kind of cord like affair was used." The sergeant's face turned to a look of silent disbelief at that, even as the Colonel's voice came across the channel. "That's impossible. Those suits are designed in a way that prevents that from happening."

Cassius blinks on hearing the comment, shaking his head. "Physically, no. Mentally? We all know there are psionics way more powerful than that." he says simply, not quite reaching for his radio to make THAT comment, as he moves to examine more of the lab, intent on finding what he'd come here for, a lead on whatever they'd been up to.

Morris blinked at Cassius' comment, then spoke into his radio. "Command, if I may make a suggestion? One of the scientists just suggested the possibility that the Ghost may have been killed via psionics. Perhaps checking along those lines might provide more information?" The Colonel's voice, somewhat calmer than the initial comment, replied. "Good idea. Specialist, follow that line of inquiry. Sergeant, make note of the scientist's name. The ability to consider that possibility is likely worth a bonus, if not a commendation."

Cassius smirks and continues his search, his ego sufficiently stroked for the moment as he begins to go through the scattered scraps of paper and data logs left behind in the lab.

It doesn't take long to find something interesting of note in the files... Seems the staff of this particular lab had just found out about the possibility of a strain of Zerg that existed specifically to control and adjust the evolutionary path of the Swarm as a whole. Unfortunately, shortly after that discovery, the corporal's voice came back over the comm. "Think I've got it now... Wait, what the hell is..." A gasp, followed by a panicked sounding outburst. "Oh, HELL NO... NOT THAT... NO!" Morrison bellowed into his comm. "STONES! Get a hold of yourself, marine!" The only reply was a sobbing whisper. "Like hell I'm letting you take me..." The corporal's statement was followed by the sound of a single Impaler rifle shot, further followed by the sound of CMC armor toppling to the floor.

Cassius' whole body experiences a shiver as he realizes what they've stumbled onto. And then the radio flares up and what little color his face had left him. "Sarge...I don't want to sound like I don't care. But I think they had figured out how to actually control the Swarm's evolution here. This isn't just a lab. This is THE lab!"

Morrison had started to look slightly shocked at the tail-end of the radio call, but looks flat out gut-shot at Cassius' comment. "Doc, grab anything and everything you can find in here pertaining to that, then we're hauling back to the command station and the medics. Once there, I've got to go find Corporal Flores... Or at least his body. If there's something in here that can freak a resocialized marine out bad enough to make him eat one of his own rounds... No one operates alone anymore in here."

Cassius nods and begins gathering the notes he can find about the evolutionary experiments, his heart starting to race. If they could control how the Swarm evolved, they could gradually change them. They wouldn't be ravenous monsters anymore. They could be evolved into servants. Pets, even. His brain was flying faster than his feet at this point with the possibilities, and he was making damned sure he didn't miss anything important.

It didn't take long to gather everything, and before long, the pair were working their way back to the base point. The trip was thankfully completed safely, although a few creaky, rusted and loose door hinges were heard along the way. Once there, Morrison called up a couple of the other marines, and the trio took off towards where the Corporal's final transmission came from. Meanwhile, Cassius could see the medics, both of whom were shaking their heads while looking at readouts from scanner tools.

Cassius organizes his notes once they're somewhere safe, looking over at them. "Anything I can do to help? I'm somewhat experienced in biochem."

One of them shakes her head before speaking, the voice matching Specialist Branson's. "I'm afraid not. This... autopsy... is going from unusual to outright bizarre." The body in front of the two medics is none other than the Ghost found earlier.

"How so?" Cassius asks, moving a bit closer once he's weighted down his papers with something in the event someone opens a door too quickly, curiosity getting the better of him.

"Something strangled this Ghost agent... through his armor. It was suggested that it might have been done psionically, but we can't find any residual traces of psionic signatures, aside from those that should be there. I mean, after all, there's going to be some given what Ghosts are, after all."

"I was, uh, kinda the one who suggested that. But to leave no trace? No way. There'd at least be SOMETHING, a trace, a trail, something." he says, resting his chin in his hand and his elbow in his other hand. "The Zerg are...Prone to wild mutation, yeah? What if...What if it was a zerg with a really thin tendril that got inside his suit?"

The other medic shrugged as she started doing another scan. "That's something to check, I suppose." Branson nodded, "Yeah... A little far-fetched, but it's something to try." After a moment, the scanner pinged. The second medic read the display, then frowned. "Okay, that's... different."

"That doesn't sound like a good noise."

Branson stepped over to check the display. As she did so, for a brief second, it seemed like there was a reddish human figure standing to the left of Cassius... Only visible in the flicker of a second in the corner of his vision. After a moment of reading the display, Branson muttered. "Yeah, that's not... No traces of zerg biomatter, but that energy trace is definitely strange." Neither of the medics seemed to notice the figure.

Cassius' eyes flick over to notice the figure for a moment, turning and suddenly on alert. He didn't want to let anyone know, lest he cause a panic, before turning back to try and sneak a peak at the scanner.

As occupied as the medics were with trying to figure out the odd trace signature, it wasn't too hard to see what the screen was displaying. The energy signature didn't match anything that the scientist had seen before... And most certainly didn't match anything know to have been in use by the zerg, or even the protoss for that matter. About this time, the trio of marines could be heard approaching.

Cassius leans back and moves back towards his notes, shaking his head gently. There was something {DATA LOST} going on, and he would be damned if he was going to let it rustle his jimmies, not until he'd gotten this data to the other scientists in the Dominion.

As Morrison approached, he set something small down near where Cassius had his notes, directing the other two marines to place the body of their fallen comrade on one of the examination tables the medics had set up. Even from where he was, Cassius could see the wound on the man's chin, and the dent from the round's impact on the back of the marine's helmet. Morrison's visor dropped into place as he made a report to the Colonel, and the second medic stepped over and started a scan on the dead marine. The object that Morrison brought looked to be yet another music box.

Cassius's face curls into one of discontent at seeing the other music box, picking it up and examining it, seeing it the pins matched his own, a theory starting to form in his mind.

Surprisingly, the pins on the cylinder inside were slightly different than the one found in the lab with the dead Ghost... Although the outside of the box was the same. Morrison looked over at Cassius after his visor rose and shook his head slightly. "Yeah, there was another one near Flores. Different tune, though. Sounds familiar, but I can't place it."

Cassius looks for the winding mechanism, deciding to give it a whirl and see what tune it played, needing to test his theory.

The tune[3] plays out, and Cassius feels the name of it on the tip of his tongue, but he can't quite pull the name up. It's definitely not the same tune, though. The second medic mutters, "Jeez, that's creepy..." Then she straightens up and turns toward the sergeant. "Sarge, there's a psychotropic compound in Corporal Flores' bloodstream. That's likely the cause of his mental breakdown. There's also an unidentified energy signature trace in the compound... Identical to one found on the Ghost's body around the bruising."

Cassius hums and rubs his chin, before closing the music box and moving to sit on a chair. "Can you tell how the compound entered his..." he seems to trail off, before standing back up. "Might want to scan me and the Sarge. I have a theory."

Morrison nodded at Cassius' suggestion. The medics set up and scanned both of them, then followed up with the two marines that had accompanied Morrison as well. Branson blinked at the read-outs. "Okay, seriously... Has anyone reported anything unusual sensory wise?" At a puzzled look from both the other medic and Morrison, she added. "Not even a hint on any of you... This is really getting weird."

"So the chemical isn't airborne. I could have sworn I saw some movement just a few minutes ago, but it looked more like a paper had fallen than anything so I didn't bother mentioning it..." the scientist says, sitting back down and folding his arms across his chest. "This is nuts. Nobody said anything about us literally going batty."

Branson frowned, then turned towards Cassius. "This may seem odd, but could you point out the general area where you saw that?"

Cassius raises a hand and points over in that direction, to the spot on the floor he swears the red figure was standing on.

Branson picks up a scanning device, and after programming something into it, takes it over to the spot and scans the area. Morrison and the two marines switch to a covering posture, while the other medic watches carefully. As the scanner pings, and Branson nods once after reading the result. "That's it. There's traces of the energy over here as well."

"Okay, WHAT?" Cassius asks as he stands up. "Are you telling me we're dealing with a literal Ghost, not those government-brainwashed edgy guys?"

Branson shook her head. "I don't think so. After looking at this energy trace some more... I think it might be some manner of radiation. What we may be dealing with is some new kind of cloaking mechanism or something similar." In response, the sound of a slow clapping can be heard. To the best that Cassius could tell, it was coming from somewhere close by.

Cassius lowers his stance slightly as he hears the clapping, looking to see if the others had heard it themselves, as sweat begins to form on his brow.

It was pretty clear they did. Both medics' visors snapped down, and Branson began moving towards the marines. Meanwhile, Morrison and his men had swung their rifles in-line with the direction the sound had come from, and Morrison himself barked out. "Show yourself!"

Cassius immediately drops lower than any tables around the room, making himself a smaller target and trying to keep out of line of fire of any of the marines.

The slow clap continued, and was accompanied by a chuckle, as a human-sized, and shaped, figure stepped around into view. It seemed to be wearing a suit not too much bulkier than a Ghost's, yet showed signs of being armored. The suit itself was a glossy black, although when the light struck it just right, a blue spider-web pattern could be seen on it. A slightly dignified sounding male voice came from the suit. "Well, that is a surprise... To put even that much together on your own." The man, assuming appearances were valid, seemed somewhat amused by the whole affair.

"Guessing you're responsible for all this theatre?" the scientist asks, peeking his head up to look at the source of the voice. "You the leftovers of the UED, or just some rogue?"

The man shook his head. "I'm afraid I must disappoint you. I'm merely here to observe, another is responsible for this little production. Speaking of... I believe that you may wish to hurry towards one of the deeper labs... The rest of your team has all gathered in one spot, and I can't promise that they'll be safe if you don't go." At this, Morrison snaps out, "Either way, you'll be placed under arrest by the Terran Dominion!" The sneer on the man's face is audible. "I think not." In response, the three marines fire in unison... And all that results is a slight rippling effect around the mystery man's body. "Dear me, it seems you somehow both hit me directly and missed entirely! I wonder..." His taunt is cut off suddenly as his head cocks slightly, as if listening. "Well, that is a pity. It seems I am needed elsewhere." At that he sketches a mock bow, and vanishes in a ripple of goldish light. Branson edges over cautiously with the scanner, which pings again. She nods in response to the scanner. "Looks like however he pulled that stunt off is what's causing that weird energy trace."

Cassius holds his head at the gunshots, waiting until he'd vanished to stand back up. "Think he's a {DATA LOST} magician." the scientist says, shaking his head. "Wait. He said everyone else had gathered in one spot and wouldn't be safe without us. That doesn't bode well, Sarge."

"No shit. Corporal Tripp, location NOW! Local garrison, our medics need support on recovering two bodies. Get them back to base." Morrison called out on his comm. The garrison's adjutant replied. "Recovery team in-bound with an ETA of thirty seconds." After that, the remaining corporal responded, although his response had some interference. "Everybody except your group has gathered at Lab 94. The sci-boys found some serious equipment down here, and we're still figuring out how to..." Suddenly, the channel erupts into a static-filled howl. After a moment of trying to get through on other channels, Morrison called the cruiser. "Ground to Command, we need back up! This mission is going pear-shaped!" Once done with that, he looks at the other marines. "Lab 94, MOVE!" The Morose's comm officer responded. "Negative on back-up, Ground. We've been ambushed and are kind of busy here. I've routed the request to the garrison camp." Morrison swore as he started off towards Lab 94.

Cassius nods and gathers his notes, ready to move the moment the other marines do, sweat on his brow at how strange this mission was becoming, and hating how they were so close to something big but so far at the same time, as he follows the marines as best he's able.

Once they start getting close, it's easy to find the lab. Shouts and sounds of close combat fill the air. The marines slow as they near the door, and stack up to one side of it. After a moment, Morrison signals, and they rush in. Inside, it's a mess. Two of the other marines are down. The other five have deployed their bayonets and are trying to fight with those, as well as several of the science team wielding bits of the debris around the lab as make-shift weapons. Against them... Are three figures with suits similar to the mystery man from before, although each of these seem to have been personalized. One of the three has a reddish suit, with a grotesque death's-head faceplate. The suit also bears the words "Je suis la Mort Rouge qui passe!"[4] across the chest just under the collarbone. The second has a black suit, although with an adornment making it look like it has coat-tails, the outer part black and the inner part blood-red. The final figure has a slighter build than the other two, and its suit is a deep purple... So deep, in fact, that it seems black itself at first. Each of the three seem to be using melee attacks and toying with the defenders. After a moment, Morrison lines up a shot on the red figure, and fires. The result is identical to what happened with the mystery man earlier. The other marines and the science team seem to be just trying to hold the attackers off.

Cassius follows his instincts as the marines charge into the room, cowering outside and making himself rather small. He'd barely passed weapon certification, let alone engaged in actual combat. Instead, he hunkers down, clutching his helmet and squeezing his eyes shut, not wanting to be a part of this damnable mess.

The sounds of the fighting carried on for a bit, before something unusual caught Cassius' attention. There was the sound of a woman's mocking laugh, followed by the tell-tale whoosh of flame. Screams and Morrison's swearing could be heard followed by one of the scientist's shouting, "Watch out for that vial!"

Cassius shakes his head and stands, only to run towards the nearest lab not currently being besieged, looking for something to secure the precious research notes inside, his fear of flame now driving him to protect the one good thing they'd found here.

During his search, a few things would catch his eye. One was a tallish glass container, likely the vial mentioned. It was filled with some manner of luminescent green stuff. A couple of serviceable metal cases were near it. Also, the reddish figure, after performing a bit of a dance-like flourish while dodging a strike from a marine, made a tossing-like gesture. That gesture seemed to cause the marine to start choking. The coat-tailed black figure moved blindingly fast, and held a hand up in front of one of the technicians, palm towards them. A flash of red, and the tech fell, with what appear to be a perfect stab wound running clear through his head.

Cassius shakes his head, grabbing hold of the vial and holding it while he stashes the notes and data logs in the metal case, snapping it shut and holding it in his other hand, watching the fight going on, though his attention is soon drawn to the vial, wondering just what was in this stuff, as the chemist in him began running through the motions of what would make a fluid both flammable and luminescent.

After a second of thinking, nothing with both properties springs to mind. However, it does dawn on him that something other than the vial might have been what caused the whoosh. Unfortunately, this is also the moment that the figure in the dark purple suit looks at him, and makes a gesture of her own towards him... A gesture immediately followed by a wall of flame racing towards him.

Cassius gasps and tries to dodge, slipping due to his own clumsiness, his impulse causing him to drop the vial from his hands to try to catch himself from face-planting the floor as he does so, realizing his mistake a second too late as the vial careens towards the floor.

As he expects, the vial hits the floor... Right underneath him. While his armor does manage to keep the glass shards from cutting into him, he still gets some exposure to the goo. His attempts to catch himself also fail as he bounces his helmet off of the floor. For a moment, his head and vision swim a little from the impact. During his disorientation, it seems for a moment like a fourth figure, this on with a steel-gray suit, a flat chevron shaped visor lens, and a red coat appears. The three combatants pause, as if listening, then all four vanish the same way the mystery man had.

The Scientist groans and lays there for a few moments, letting his consciousness recover from the shock, and sitting up, groaning in pain.

After a moment, Morrison could be heard groaning, then contacting the ship. "Command, this is Ground. We think we've repelled the attack on us... Maybe. From the state we're in, we need a rendezvous for dustoff." After a moment, the comm officer response. "Confirmed, Ground. Garrison has ground transport en route to the facility. Meet up with your medics, and we'll pick you up at the garrison."

Cassius stands and dusts himself off, picking up the case and groaning as he holds his helmet, not wanting to let it move over the bump that was probably forming from his knock to the skull, as he moves to regroup with Morrison. "I-Important stuff secured during the fight, sir." he says, lifting the case a bit.

Morrison nods slightly. Judging by the way he was moving, he took a few hits himself during that fight. "Alright, people, let's get to that transport. Try to help those who are worse off get there." Fortunately, not much happens either on the way to the garrison's transport, or for most of the trip to the garrison. As they get closer, though... Music comes across the comm channel... Classical music, in fact. After a muddled moment due to his head meeting the floor, Cassius can even identify it. Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture". Fortunately for Cassius, it seems to be one of the quieter parts, and not the (in)famous finale.

"Tchaikovsky..." Cassius says idly, shaking his head. "All those old russki songs. I wasn't aware we'd treaded into the Motherland." he says with a big of a smirk on his face, remembering how there had been an entire country of people who loved that music centuries ago, though their actual name had escaped him, using the nickname he'd heard most people call them.

Morrison tiredly nods, listening... Then suddenly, his eyes go wide and he starts shouting, "STOP THE TRUCKS! STOP THE TRUCKS!" Once they're stopped, he clicks on his comm before calling out, "Everyone get clear! Get clear and find cover!"

Cassius is on his feet the moment he's heard the sergeant shouting, his hands clutching the case tightly as he evacuates with the rest of the marines, ducking for the nearest cover he could find.

Cassius barely gets into cover before the music over the comm channels suddenly gets louder and floods the available channels as the music reaches the famous part... And instead of the cannons, buildings in the garrison just meters away begin exploding.

"God DAMMIT!" Cassius shouts out from his position of cover near the trucks, clearly distraught, as he clutches the case to his chest, about the only thing he cares about anymore. That and not dying on this hellhole.

Fortunately for Cassius, the explosions die down quickly. And just as quickly, Branson calls out, "LOOK!" as the dropships descent in a clear spot close by.

Cassius looks up as the explosions finally stop, standing and rushing towards it with the case clutched against his chest. "Finally something good happens for once!"

Fortune again seems to be with Cassius and the mission survivors. Nothing seems to happen on the way back to the ship. Or at least, nothing happens to them. Halfway up, Morrison, once again sitting across from Cassius, gets a message from the ship... Followed by him bringing up a view of the planet on the nearby screen. Some sort of explosion can be seen, starting from the facility. A wave of what appears at first to be fire rips out from the facility... But it doesn't stop. The wave expands rapidly, and while the apparent fiery trail only last for a few minutes... Nothing but rock remains after it. Soon, the entire planet seems devoid of life... Even signs of the destroyed structures are gone. One thing would be certain to Cassius on seeing that. Whatever it was that did that, it wasn't a weapon that had been seen before.

"God have mercy on whoever was still alive on that planet." Cassius mutters as they continue their journey to the ship, looking down at the ground and setting the case down between his legs finally. "At least we got SOMETHING out of that hellhole."

Morrison leaned back, seemingly slightly shocked. "No shit. Gotta wonder though... What the hell caused that last bit? Never seen anything like that before... Well, outside of holo-films, anyway."

"Whatever it was, it was way more advanced than the bluemen, that's for sure. Did you see those assholes? They ignored your bullets entirely. That's got to be Umojan tech. Or some sect of humanity we've never seen before."

Morrison shook his head. "I think it actually may have been something left behind by those suited freaks. Whatever they're stuff had... It might've been Umojan tech... But I'm not so sure myself." He let out a tired chuckle, then added, "Of course, I'm the wrong guy to be trying to figure that stuff out."

"Your guess is good as mine. I'm just a biochemist. The knowledge of machines I possess is limited to analyzers and centrifuges." Cassius says tiredly, just wanting to get back on the ship, get out of his armor, and pass the {DATA LOST} out at this point.

In short order, the dropship makes it back to the Morose, and it soon warps out of the system, heading back to report in.

[1] Records indicate that Sergeant Morrison's height exceeds 2 meters, and weight exceeds 175 kilograms.
[2] Records indicate that the first music box found played a rendition of the Russian folk song Katyusha.
[3] Records indicate that the second music box found played a rendition of Bizet's Toreador March.
[4] Sentence is in French. Translation: "I am the Red Death that passes!" Reference to Edgar Allan Poe's The Masque of the Red Death.

Last edited by Seretis on May 24th 2018, 14:54; edited 3 times in total

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Koprulu Sector - Terran Dominion Mission Recorder - Subject: Cassius Black Empty Re: Koprulu Sector - Terran Dominion Mission Recorder - Subject: Cassius Black

Post by Seretis on May 9th 2018, 10:16


File Details: Immediate aftermath of Terran Dominion mission to Stoltas IV

Cassius Black had just made it back to the battlecruiser Morose. Due to his condition of having had his head greet the lab floor at speed, he was sent first to the medics. Fortunately, all they found was a mild concussion. After receiving treatment for that, and getting in a nap, he found out that he'd manage to get out of the first rounds of debriefing from the mission. Mostly due to either Sergeant Morrison or the team's medics being near him for most of the critical parts, which enabled the brass to get military reports from them rather than a civilian. Over the next few days, he'd learned that out of all of the scientists sent on the mission, Cassius was in the best shape, and as such has gotten to spend most of his time looking over the files and notes that were recovered. He'd also learned that the Morose was on its way to Whittler Junction, a supply platform, in order to pick up replacement troops, as well as transfer the scientists and materials over to the Science Vessel Galilei. And although he'd not been personally made privy to the details, Cassius had also learned, via the ship's rumor mill amongst the enlisted crew, that Dominion Intelligence had already assigned designations to the mysterious attackers of Bravo Team.

The first of the contacts, the man in the black suit with the blue webbing pattern, had been designated "Spiderweb".  Someone had apparently figured out the inscription, as the red-suited one had been called "Red Death". The other black suited one was called "Coattails", and the dark violet suited female (maybe) one had been designated "Witch", in part due to the flame attacks. Of the fifth suited figure, due to bearing, appearance, and the belief that figure was in charge of the others, the designation was said to be "Sovereign".

Cassius groans as he rests his head in his hands, gripping at his temples while studying the notes, not able to make heads or tails, really, of what had transpired. The notes were definitely on track, but his mind wasn't putting the bigger picture together, as he ruffles his hair with both hands and leans back in his chair. "Why were they so intent on raiding that place? Why the theatre?" he says aloud, despite being alone in his room. Soon he'd be on an actual science vessel, and this insanity would be behind him, but without a full picture of what that facility was making, he feared that it'd just be a dead end. Back to obscurity with him.

Some of the answers, after a while, started to come clear. While sorting through the notes, it was becoming clearer that the UED scientists had not managed to out-right identify the existence of an evolutionary-control strain of zerg, they'd hit several bits of evidence that proved a high likelihood that such a strain existed. And perhaps another key find for Cassius... A fair bit of their notes surrounded that, so he could see for himself the clues.

Cassius leans back in his chair as he stares at the metal roof above him, his thoughts trailing off as to WHY they'd not found the actual strain itself, but found tons of evidence. It was then that he finally recalled something, a green goop that he'd had hands on, but unable to remember where he'd put it, as he begins to search the metal case he'd secured the papers in and the rest of his room.

After a brief moment, a quick but slightly blurred memory came to his mind... The vial containing the green goop had fallen from his hands when he'd had to suddenly dodge one of the flame blasts that the "Witch" had been throwing around during the fight. He could, however remember the appearance of the goop itself clearly enough... Perhaps well enough to try to match it against images of known Zerg materials?

Cassius blinks as he remembers the vial, before reaching up and resting his forehead in one of his hands. He'd seen the goop before. He'd seen it in datafeeds all the time. It was almost the same as the ooze the Zerg kept in their spawning pool, but why were the scientists just storing that in the lab? That was when his mind started putting the pieces together, and it began to click. He needed to find that vial. And so his search through his quarters continued.

There was no sign of the vial amongst the materials he'd brought back from the planet. At least not in his quarters. He did have a nagging feeling in the back of his mind that there might have been a reason for that, although he couldn't recall why.

Cassius shakes his head, rubbing the bump he still had. He could figure all this out later. Right now he needed something in his stomach, so he decided to head out to the mess and handle THAT need.

Along the way to the mess, Cassius saw at some distance, one of the mess crew, a Crewman Nicholas Philips. The crewman seemed to be "on duty", and was likely carrying one of the senior officer's meals. Not that previous events involving the crewman in question would likely rate the man highly with Cassius. By all reports, the man had a rather bizarre reaction when he overheard the medics from the mission mentioning the music box.

Cassius rolls his eyes as he notices the crewman, shaking his head and trying to get to the mess with all haste, his hunger striking him rather hard.

The rest of the trip to the mess goes by uneventfully. The mess itself is empty at the moment, seemingly between "rushes", which luckily means Cassius can get his food quickly. Aside from noises coming from the prep area, the only real sound at the moment comes from the TV screen, showing the UNN discussion of the recent festivities surrounding the Anniversary celebration.

Cassius gets his food and sits down, loading up on protein according to his current craving, before watching the UNN broadcast. "Celebration my ass. The UED almost wiped us out." he mutters as he eats, still trying to run through his head why they'd been keeping vials of that green goo around. He remembered there was a theory that the Spawning Pool's fluid was a sort of primordial ooze used to enable growth into just about anything, but he'd never seen it proven. Though his mind does race at the possibility that the Spawning Pool's fluid might be a byproduct of this elusive evolutionary strain.

Before long, the UNN story ends up shifting to commentary on the latest holo-film actress scandal. Evidently, it's a slow time at the moment for the news... At least in what they're being allowed to talk about. It doesn't take long after that for Cassius to finish up eating.

Cassius shakes his head, knowing they'd never cover the important parts of the actual world news, heading back to his quarters to continue his research, that nagging feeling of forgetting where the vial went making him nervous, feeling like he'd misplaced something absolutely vital, and wondering why of all things he'd ate so much meat and protein.

About halfway back to his quarters, the various shipboard engine noises changed in that well-known fashion signaling a drop-out from warp.
And almost immediately, collision klaxons begin blaring.

Cassius grunts as he feels that shift in inertia from dropping out of warp, bracing himself on a wall. The moment the klaxons go off, he rushes towards his quarters, his first and only priority to secure the notes in the metal case again.

After a brief bit, and a distinct lack of lurching or crunching noises, the klaxons shut off. Then the ship's PA clicks on, with the ship's chief engineer speaking. "Sorry about that, everyone. Seems there's been a bit of a glitch in the electricals. We're going to have to stop the ship for a bit to find out what went wrong and fix it. Shouldn't take more than about twenty or thirty minutes."

Cassius slows down as he hears the PA announcement, groaning in contempt as he gets back to his quarters and pours over the notes again, keeping the case nearby in the event of a real emergency, his paranoia at losing this much work coming through in full.

Not much catches his attention again this time through... Except that, perhaps due to his paranoia, a part of his mind is now questioning if there's something detail or clue encoded into the notes. As time passes, the engines slowly rumble back to life. However, something out of the viewports in Cassius' quarters catches his eye. For a brief moment, it seems like there's a bit of a distortion in space... Could there be a cloaked ship out there?

Cassius looks out of the viewport as his eye catches a flash of unnatural movement, shaking his head and groaning as he tries to decipher the notes, breaking out some of his pocketbooks on cryptography and trying to find any patterns that might hint what's going on, fighting the urge to pick up his intercom and contact the bridge, not wanting to let his paranoia get control.

Two key possibilities pop out from the cryptography books. The first is a form considered one of the simplest forms, steganography, and the other is a monoalphabetic transposition cipher. Given the relative simplicity of both forms, the odds are that a combination approach might have been used... Like using the first to hide the elements of the second. While Cassius is working on this, an alert klaxon rings out... And a quick glance around would readily show why. A ship of a style Cassius had never seen before had suddenly decloaked, right where he'd seen the distortion before. So far, however, the ship seemed to not be making any move. Likely, the bridge staff were already trying to identify and/or talk to it.
The new ship seemed, from the angle Cassius had on it, to have both an aggressive and, at the same time, almost graceful appearance. It was also smaller than the Behemoth by far.

Cassius stops his attempt to dechiper the notes when the klaxon goes off, noticing the ship outside, looking like a deer in headlights for a few moments, before quickly squirreling the papers away in the case, getting ready to run for the escape pods at a moment's notice, that unknown ship probably belonging to the crazies who tried to chicken-fry him, he thinks.

As events start to play out, Cassius' preparations might seem to be smart, as the alarm klaxons switch to full battle alert signal, as the unknown ship banks around and lines up to make a sweep across the top of the battlecruiser. Oddly enough, there's no sign of it shooting, though... At least until the Morose's own batteries fire. In response, the vaguely bat-like ship response with a volley of its own, seemingly only targeting the Morose's weapons. The shots fired by the ATA batteries don't seem to do much to the other ship, but it's hard to tell with that many blasts in between.

Cassius growls at the sound of the batteries firing, keeping himself holed up in his cabin until the fighting had stopped, or someone sounded an evacuation. Like hell if he was going to be vented with the rest of the gun crews from THAT kind of damage.

For once, it might seem like Cassius' paranoid might be a little unwarranted. From his quarters, he could see a couple of the batteries further "out" on the hull. The incoming blasts strike the batteries... and no explosions or flames. The guns simply stop firing. The light from the gunner's ports on the batteries flicker, then go dark. It seems that the other ship is perhaps using some manner of directed EMP-style blast to simply silence the Morose's guns.

Cassius exhales a sign of relieve, sitting down at his desk and letting his body start to relax, as he takes the notes back out, intending to get to work on that cryptography idea. If he could decipher it, he could crack the code. Crack the code, and he'd have a credible reason to get some actual {DATA LOST} work done for once, and could finally move on to the best part of his job, the actual experimentation.

After a brief time of attempting to find the cipher, Cassius would think he might have started to get a breakthrough. A slight variance in every eighth letter in the notes actually on the suspected evolver strain seemed to suggest the steganographic part. However, given the jumble that results in suggests at least a polyalphabetic transposition cipher, in not something more involved.

Cassius grumbles as he makes what he thinks is a breakthrough, and decides to follow that path, determined to get something out of these damnable notes.

After a few moments, all of Cassius' best guesses for polyalphabetic transposition keys fail to achieve any results... Although one of them produces a particularly odd result. Suddenly, the lights in the room flicker, as if from a nearby impact of one of the other ship's shots. However, during Cassius' checks of everything following that, something else would catch his eye... Instructions on cracking a form of encryption from Earth's history that was generally considered one of the harder ones to break... The Enigma cipher. Unfortunately, this was the point that the ship's PA blared on again, this time with Colonel Thorpe's voice. "All available marines, report to critical areas! We have been boarded, repeat, we have been boarded!"

Cassius glares at the instructions, a scowl forming on his face, as he tosses them into the metal case, ruffling his hair with both hands, before deciding to start over, looking for evidence it WASN'T some crazy nazi scheme from ancient history.

This time, Cassius is able to note that the supposed eighth letter variation he thought he'd seen earlier actually wasn't a pattern at all, as other letters bore that variable as well. In fact, there didn't even seem to be any noticeable elements that could be readily identified as steganographic ciphering. And since there weren't any gibberish parts, the possibility of any form of transpositional cipher seemed unlikely. In fact, it was likely that if there was even a cipher there, it was going to take more than just eyeballing to find it.
Right about that time, the lights flickered again.

Cassius lowers his head to frustratedly thump onto the desk, more out of discontent that he was basically flying blind here, having never really paid attention to this kind of linguistics skill, before sitting back up and looking at the light above him. His position shifts, so he can see the door out of the corner of his eye, while he continues at least trying to muddle through this cryptography.

He hadn't managed to get far at all into his next attempt before what felt like an explosion rocked the ship. The chief engineer was on the PA again, calling for damage control teams to report to power junction 34C. Then a second explosion occurred, the lights went out completely, and junction 42B was added to the list.

Cassius' eyes go wide as he feels the explosion rock the ship, stuffing his notes and the data into the case immediately, securing his research, and moving to the door. He had to get to an escape pod. He had to survive this, and get this info to the Dominion. Those were the only thoughts running through his mind as he exits his quarters and makes for the pods.

While stumbling through the darkened hallways, Cassius manages to literally stumble over a Marine. Once he got done with his cursing, he'd hear something. Despite the Marine having obviously been about to shoot at something, at least before he'd toppled over... and he was passed out in the hall, snoring.

Cassius lets loose a sailor's vocabulary of swearing as he stumbles over the marine, almost losing his precious case of research, before realizing the marine was out cold. "Not good." he says aloud, before stumbling to his feet and continuing his race towards the escape pods, though now more cautious of his surroundings in the dark corridors.

As he ran, he realized that he'd wound up near the mess hall, likely having gotten slightly disoriented by the darkness... and the fall. While sounds of fighting could be heard coming from the mess hall, it wasn't the expected gunfire noises. In fact, it sounded more like an actual fist fight. Oddly enough, the lights seemed to be on in the mess.

Cassius creeps to the doorway of the mess hall, taking a peek inside curiously.

As he peeks inside, he can see it's just two people fighting... And he can identify both. One of them is crewman Phillips. And, as it turns out, the other is none other than the Sovereign. Rather oddly, despite having never gotten involved in breaking the occasion bar fight up before, from what Cassius could see, Phillips seemed to be rather skilled in hand-to-hand, although it seems that it's an even match. Just as he's noticing that, from the other end of the mess hall, Sergeant Morrison emerged. When the pair split apart for a moment, he raised his rifle, readying an attempt to shoot Sovereign from behind. However, the suited figure merely throws a hand back without even looking, and Morrison crumples to the ground. Soon, the large man is snoring away. The distaste is evident in Sovereign's voice as the suited figure, man from the voice, speaks up. "Do not think that your efforts will stop us, Filatov." Cassius can't quite catch the response from Philips, but he's fairly certain it ends with "mot".

Cassius immediately ducks away from the door and pants heavily, before resuming his attempts to get to the escape pods, not wanting to have to deal with THAT crazy.

It doesn't take him long to get to the pods, especially as he's gotten into an area with lights. Halfway between the mess hall and the pods, though, another explosion rocks the ship, and the repair teams are called to the engines. By the time he actually reaches the pods... The PA is calling for damage and casualty reports, as well as the Colonel reporting that the attackers have been repelled. Although it might seem more like that they've decided to leave, at least to the scientist.

Cassius groans as he hears that the attack is repelled, making his way back towards his quarters, before deciding enough was enough, SOMEONE needed to know what he was onto, and deciding to head for the bridge to inform the Colonel.

Cassius was about two-thirds of the way to the bridge when, out of a viewport, he could see several more battlecruisers and a pair of science vessels jump in near the Morose. These were likely Dominion vessels, as the battlecruisers moved to form a defensive screen as the science vessels moved in closer, likely to deploy repair teams or other assistance.

"Took you shitheads long enough." Cassius mutters, shaking his head and leaning against the wall near the viewport. He had been deluded into thinking life would be easy once the UED had fled. Now that delusion was gone, replaced only with the thought that whoever these assholes were, they clearly wanted something out of this ship, and this crew. The only thing he could think of was the notes, which gave him all the more reason to get the hell out of here and get somewhere safe.

By the time Cassius actually reached the bridge, it wouldn't take long to see someone had shown up here as well. Most of the officers were on the ground, and medics were scanning the Colonel, whose left hand looked like it was one solid third-degree burn. The only other active officer on the bridge was manning the communication station, co-ordinating with the assistance.

Cassius enters the bridge and comes to a halt, looking at the carnage left behind, though carnage might be too strong. He decided that butting into THIS would be a bad idea, instead waiting for the Colonel to be treated.

After a moment, the Colonel sighed and asked, "What is it, Black?"

"Just...Figured I should come tell you I made a breakthrough on the notes. Those UED assholes were onto something BIG. Like "Turn all the zerg into lapdogs" big." he says, motioning with the case. "Imagine some weird bug that can control the evolution of the whole damn species. That's what they were after down there. Imagine turning Zerglings into literal domesticated pets. Ultralisks into tame little rabbits. The possibilities are pretty far-out."

The colonel sighed again, and nodded. "Get to the bays. I'll have one of the dropships take you over to one of the science vessels, and get one of them to get you to a full station."

"Thank you, Sir." Cassius says, saluting him and turning for the door, case in hand, before heading towards one of the bays.

As Cassius reaches the bay, there's a dropship waiting to go. One of the techs is also loading a medium-sized locker-like box onto the dropship. If asked, the tech replied with "The colonel figured we might as well send the rest of your stuff with you." About as soon as Cassius was on board and everyone else clear, the dropship took off and delivered Cassius and his stuff to the waiting science vessel, which then quickly took off for an undisclosed location.

Last edited by Seretis on May 24th 2018, 14:55; edited 1 time in total

Time to see how badly this idea ends up turning out...

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Koprulu Sector - Terran Dominion Mission Recorder - Subject: Cassius Black Empty Re: Koprulu Sector - Terran Dominion Mission Recorder - Subject: Cassius Black

Post by Seretis on May 20th 2018, 15:24


File Details: Events surrounding destruction of secure Dominion Research Facility codenamed "Helheim".

Cassius Black had been transferred from the battlecruiser Morose, after a raid by Sovereign, to a science vessel which carried him and the salvaged files from Stoltas IV to a full facility for further research on them. Fortunately for Cassius, there'd been no sign of Sovereign or any potentially connected forces during the transfer, or the two weeks since arrival... At least, nothing stood out in his memory, which was unusually fuzzy about the trip. However, with the better facilities and dedicated equipment, he'd managed to recover more of the information that the UED had. Most of the bits he'd thought previously were indications of a cipher turned out to be referencing some of the recovered parts... Although a few seemed to reference a file that wasn't in the rest of the data.

There was one thing that seemed to help, and likely puzzle, Cassius' work... Most of the rest of the facility staff seemed to keep out of his way... Almost as if ordered to leave him alone. About the only one that didn't avoid him was one of the doctors working on medicinals, a Dr. Thomas Charles Hong. The doctor was known around the facility for having "accidental" exposure to his own work, and frequently seemed slightly out of it.

Cassius takes his time, now that the threat of Sovereign and his droogs seemed to have passed, and with better equipment and facilities, he finally began to unravel the veritable ball of yarn he'd stolen away from the UED facility, and despite all that, he found himself a bit unnerved about the fact that everyone was leaving him pretty well alone, save the self-sampling herbalist, though really, being friends with him would be for the better later down the line, if his work took a turn for the worst.

After a while of working, Cassius would catch something... Namely, it seemed at times like there was a slight... pressure building inside his head, and during that would be the moments that it seemed like he was the most likely to get incredibly frustrated by things. Unusually so, even.

Cassius works slowly as the pressure begins to build, before coming across a seeming dead-end during one of those moments, slamming a fist on the table in anger, before he realizes what's going on. Taking a few deep breaths he steps back and raises a hand to his head, wondering why this was happening. Deciding this could be something related to the bump on the noggin he'd received back on Stoltas IV, he decides to head to the infirmary and get a quick checkup.

The scans done by the infirmary staff lead to quiet discussion amongst the medics. What came back to him was a diagnosis of "mini-migraines", along with a shot of something that was supposed to mitigate the symptoms. Most of the medical jargon spewed along with that explanation seemed to indicate that it looked like the pressure was related to the injury, but would likely remain minor and dissipate over time.

Cassius shakes his head and takes the shot, before departing for his lab once more, rubbing the spot he'd been hit, cursing his own self for being unable to really understand most of their jargon. He knew how to mix chemicals and organics, not what they'd be used to treat, dammit. Regardless, he now knew that there was nothing more that could be done, deciding to take one more crack at the notes, his eagerness to get to the bottom of this mystery trumping his desire to flop in bed and rest off the symptoms of his sore cranium.

As he reached his lab, there was a slight moment of disorientation. It was followed by a flash of some memory. The memory seemed to show him facing some group of people. Their features were in shadow as bright lights shown from behind them. What Cassius could remember of them was their black uniforms. It was a Dominion style, save for being completely black. No other details from that encounter could spring to mind.

Cassius stumbles as he enters his lab and experiences the memory, grabbing the doorframe to support himself, as his mind begins to race. Who were they? What was all that about? And why was he remembering this? It didn't feel like a vision, it was a memory for sure. "Stupid medics spiking their shots." he grumbles as he makes his way to his chair, sitting down and staring down at his notes. There was something world-defining in them. There had to be. All this hassle couldn't just be to discover it was just Kerrigan's cookbook he was rooting through.

There was minimal progress made over the next couple of days. Fortunately, the medication he'd received did manage to keep the pressure away, apparently. There wasn't another flash of memory, either. The fourth day after the incident, though... Cassius had managed to overhear an announcement of the arrival of more Zerg samples. Apparently, most of the rest of the staff were doing some kind of other study on the Zerg, possibly something related to their biology, like dissecting corpses or the like. None of this turned out to hold Cassius' attention for long, though...
Shortly after his return to the lab, Cassius heard something... Something that, oddly enough, he couldn't quite place the location of.
"Discovery. Unusual mix of Zerg sequences detected in Terran subject. Will study further."

Cassius' blood runs cold as he hears the voice, quickly turning around to find nobody behind him, nobody in his lab. No source for the voice, just in his head. "I need to cut back on Hong's pick-me-ups." he says, raising a hand to hold his head as he sits down in his chair. "Now I'm hearing things that don't make sense."

After a short moment, Cassius heard the mystery voice again. "Analysis complete. Contains multiple incomplete sequences. Potential for unique mutations, high. Limited access, can only partially affect. Limited control."
There was an additional pause, then the voice "spoke" again. "Will activate sequences. Observe results."

"What the hell? Who the hell is that? HONG! This better not be another one of your practical jokes!" Cassius shouts out as he looks about for the source of the voice.

Cassius would likely get the sudden thought that Hong likely had nothing to do with the voice, as he suddenly felt like things started to shift inside of him. Somehow, a part of his mind, through means unknown to him, somehow managed to... Twist, for lack of a better term, as something happened. Things felt different.
The mystery voice spoke again. "New sequences spun. Discovery. Subject apparently exerted own control. Minimal injury during process. Must examine further."

Cassius grunts as he feels the shift, reaching a hand up to his head, waving the other hand in front of him. "Stop! Whatever the hell this is, I don't want any of it!" he cries out, shaking his head. He was terrified it seemed, afraid of whatever was happening. "This has to be a dream..."

Two things happened, both at roughly the same time. First off, Cassius would notice that the patches of skin on the back of his hand, those which had seemed to have toughened slightly since Stoltas IV, had apparently hardened again. Secondly, across the facility, alarms had started blaring, announcing a massive containment breach.
A third thing seemed to strike Cassius seconds after that... It was as if he could distantly feel where the now loose Zerg were.

Cassius seems to freeze as he realizes his new feelings, and notices the hardened area of his hand seems to have hardened again, as a hypothesis begins to form in his head about what is happening. "No. Not possible..." he voices as his mind can only think one thing, that he's infested. How else could he sense other Zerg. "Nonono, this cannot be happening..." he says, moving over to his notes and looking at them again. "How could I have been exposed to an Infesting strain?"

As he shuffled through the notes, his mind flashed back to the vial from the mission... And the memory of him landing on the shattered vial right before his head bounced off of the floor.

"Oh no..." Cassius says, his hands reaching up to clutch the sides of his head. "If they find out I'm as good as dead." he says to himself, his hands starting to tremble. "Whatever the hell you are that did this, answer me! Why?!"

There was no response. However, as he held the sides of his head, Cassius could feel that his jawbone had changed shaped somewhat... And those changes were likely visible. While this was going on, both the alarms and his new sense of the Zerg seemed to suggest a situation of mass chaos within the facility... Perhaps, even, chaotic enough to cover a single departure?

Cassius feels at his jawbone, shaking his head, before moving to gather his notes, once more protecting them within the steel case he'd carried them in since Stoltas, fetching a scarf from his belongings and wrapping it around his lower face, not wanting anyone else to notice his altered jawbone, before peeking out of his door, making sure nobody could really see him, and making a break for the shuttle bay.

Part way towards the shuttle bay, Cassius would stumble across a sight. Up ahead, a pair of Firebats were burning some zerglings... As well as a couple of the other Dominion scientists. Judging from the screams and other sounds coming through the hallways along the way, it seemed like the brass had decided to just purge the whole facility.
As he saw this, the mystery voice was heard again, speaking as if reporting to a higher-up. "Subject contained sequences from defiler strain. Should have ability to release sensory debilitating cloud. May assist in survival."

Cassius stops dead in his tracks as he notices the firebat, before hearing the voice in his head. "Defiler..." he thinks back to his lessons on some of the Zerg species, reaching up for his scarf and pulling it down, deciding he should at least try it, remembering that the Defiler deployed those clouds with their breath, taking a deep breath, and praying that this strange voice wasn't leading him astray.

The voice seemed to know what it was talking about, at least so far. Cassius felt an oddity right before his breath came out, and a weird, thick fog, almost sticky looking, covered the Firebats ahead of him. He could hear one of them complaining, through the helmet. "DAMMIT! There's one of those freaky ones around here somewhere!"
The other one chimed in, "Yeah, I can't see shit right now!"

Cassius pants once he hears the clamor, taking his chance to rush for the shuttle bay while the firebats were distracted, pulling the scarf back up over his malformed jaw and running as fast as he could for a shuttle in the bay.

As he got to just outside the shuttle bay, he heard what was probably one of the worst possible sounds he could hear... The containment breach alarms changed... to ones indicating a reactor breach. Inside the bay, there were a few shuttles left... But the ship that caught his attention perhaps the most was one that looked like it might have been some manner of prototype covert operations vessel. When he saw it, there was another flash of memory, like the one from a few days before.
This time, it seemed like he'd been put in some kind of tank, and as the black uniforms left, a mysterious figure in some dark colored, slender environmental suit with a white skull painted on the faceplate, slipped from the shadows and messed with the controls for the tank. As the memory cleared, Cassius would realize one other thing... He might actually know how to steal that sneaky looking ship.

Cassius groans as he feels the memory flood his mind, shaking his head a few times and bolting for the strange vessel, not knowing how he knew, but knowing he could probably get it working. "Whatever the hell is going on this better not be where I die. I've come too far to bite the dust now," he mutters as he climbs aboard the ship.

Perhaps surprisingly, he's able to get the ship running... And cloaked. Which turns out to be useful, as there's a group of Dominion battlecruisers outside the facility. Fortunately, between the facility rather suddenly exploding, and the ships being out of position, the cloaked escapee remains undetected. Although the ride is rather bumpy as the station blows up.
A quick check of the ship's systems reveals it is warp-jump capable.

Cassius cries out in anger as the ship is rather shakily thrown about with the force of the explosion, checking to make sure the cloak was still active, before looking around, making sure nothing had caught him. "Alright, whoever the hell you are, fess up! What's the big idea turning me into some zerg abomination?!" he shouts out, hoping to provoke a response out of the strange voice. "And where the {DATA LOST} are you? Are you just a figment of my imagination?"

A different voice, female sounding this time, responded. "It's his work, his purpose. You did do a good job, I suppose, in escaping that facility. Perhaps you aren't totally useless." A bit of a chuckle, followed by more from the female voice. "You should at least be able to guess who I am. What becomes of you, then, will likely depend on how well you handle yourself now. I'll be watching."
After that, silence.

Cassius's heart skips a beat on hearing the new voice, before he's left in silence. "Why did I even volunteer for that {DATA LOST} mission?" he says aloud, before sighing and bringing up a star chart, looking for inhabited Dominion worlds that were somewhat lacking in security. He did need to find someplace to lay low lest they think him a deserter or worse, a spy.

It was taking a while for him to find one, as many of the least secure systems nearby were marked as unclaimed... When suddenly the ship's sensors blipped a warning. It seems that the Dominion ship group was sweeping the area, and there was a Science Vessel and escorts in-bound. At the moment, Cassius' new ship was outside their sensor range, but from what he could see, the Dominion ships seemed intent on "cleaning up" all evidence of the facility's existence.

Cassius shakes his head and decides to move out of the area, switching the search from inhabited Dominion worlds to worlds with confirmed Zerg presence. If he was infested, he might as well seek shelter amongst the Zerg, rather than risk the Dominion catching him and purging whatever city or planet he decided to land on.

It was looking like his best option, at the moment, was a planet with suspected of having Zerg present. The sensor blipped again, showing a counter until likely detection. Time to make a decision.

Cassius shakes his head and sets in the coordinates for a jump to the Zerg-infested planet, fancying his chances with them better than his chances with the Dominion fleet out to vaporize him, and setting off.

Right before the ship jumped, it got rocked as a few missiles exploded around it. The jostling was enough that Cassius got cut up slightly, before something struck him from behind. There was darkness.
When he recovered, pulling himself from off the floor of the ship's cockpit, the jump seemed to have been a success. Going by the chronometer and other instruments, he apparently recovered from the black out just seconds after dropping into the system... Yet there were no signs of the cuts and scrapes from the moment of the jump.

Cassius grunts as he's cut, and promptly knocked out as the jump happens. When he awakens, and finds himself free of the damage he must have sustained only moments ago, he sits back up in the cockpit chair and looks at the sensors, looking for a good place to land the ship, knowing if there were zerg here, he'd probably sense them. And if he could sense them, he'd have to make sure he was prepared in case it was a two-way thing, as he looks around in the ship, seeing if those covert-ops people might have stashed a weapon or two.

The sensors did manage to find a good spot relatively quickly. As well, it did seem like there were some weapons stashed, namely a sidearm and some knives and hatchets stashed in what looked like survival kits. There were also some other supplies, like food and water, on board as well. When he found the weapons, Cassius would notice a rising urge to find something to test them on... Along with a flash of the pressure he'd felt back at the facility. Maybe there was more to that pressure than just migraines...

Cassius grabs the knives and stores them in his lab coat, checking the sidearm to make sure it still functioned, and deciding to exit the ship and set out to explore the surrounding area, his first priority to find fresh water in case his supplies ran out, and keep an eye out for edibles.

Fortunately, the water wasn't an immediate issue. The landing site was next to a water source in the form of a stream. The survival kits also had both scanners and filtration systems. There were also the sounds and signs of wildlife, which was often times edible. For now, it seemed, his situation was relatively secure. Immediate signs of Zerg presence were rather lacking, however.

WARNING: Dominion files on subject Cassius Black terminate at this point. More data found in other files. Recommend shifting scans to those files.

Time to see how badly this idea ends up turning out...

YAY! Botched SAN check...

Posts : 290
Join date : 2017-10-31
Age : 33


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