May 10th, 2126: Utopia, 5:37 PM
"Miss Brandley," Cameron Goddard's spokesman sauntered over with an air of privilege. Sera rolled her eyes as she had been expecting an associate of Goddard's to show up to her summons, but this little man seemed unreal. "My name is Lien Stahl, and I come to express Mister Goddard's regrets that he was unable to attend this meeting. He is in ill health, but I assure you that I am his foremost advisor when it comes to Earth matters, and shall be as informative and open-minded as he," he dipped his head in a mocking show of courtesy. At this, Sera Brandley rose to her full height from behind her desk and stood to face Lien, standing an indomitable five inches taller than the reedy, short lackey, "It's still Captain Brandley to civilians. I've not retired quite yet. And furthermore, Stahl, I'm not going to swallow this crap tale that Cameron Goddard is too ill to attend. The man's internal structure is basically artificial, thanks to the medicinal advancements up here. The one time he was hit really hard with a fit of lung spasms, he still crawled out of his fortress to talk about a security leak regarding the loss of millions of his dollars." She calmed down, but noticed how Stahl flinched at her mention of Utopia being the "upper world". Most people had forgotten about Earth by now, and she knew he was making a mental note of that being a warning sign behind his beady little eyes. Sera lit herself a cigarette, rolling it around on the tip of her tongue between her lips very loosely, not sure what to say to the shell-shocked stooge before her.
"Captain Brandley," Stahl tried again, "I cannot help your skepticism, but I can assure you that Mister Goddard is incredibly interested in your plan to send part of his army to Earth, but he is wonders if you recall that these men are only under your command presently, and that they do still belong among his ranks. He also wishes to negotiate cost and functionality of the mission. You have made it clear that you're not after resources, so Mister Goddard is immensely curious as to what it is you seek. He finds this venture fascinating, I assure you."
Sera tossed her brown braid behind her shoulder and leaned over her desk, scowling at Lien, "Tell him that I have no intention of waiting for his approval. The mission launches in three weeks, and I will bring back what I'm looking for. Simple as that." Stahl paled, rending the brim of his felt hat with his long, twitching fingers. He had nothing further to say by the looks of him, and a strong enough gust of wind would be able to blow her right out of her office. She assumed that he wasn't used to dealing with any type of resistance. It would probably be just enough for him to waltz into another upstart's office and flash some green by Cameron's orders and the situation would resolve itself as the seditious felon folded. Unfortunately for him, Sera had money, and no real use or lust for it. She wanted something much more primal. Control.
"Good day to you then. I hope you get back to Mister Goddard posthaste with my complaint," Brandley dismissed him with a large smile, sitting back in her chair. She pressed her finger to the intercom once the heavy door slammed shut, followed by a neat click.
"Ren, any news about our funding?"
"You're not going to like the sound of this, but two of our major investors just dropped completely out."
She fidgeted a little. So, he was going to make me squirm even if I did accept. He's a louse, and a fool. He's not crippling me, he's just forcing me to be selective.
"The special ops team will just need to be smaller. Instead of twenty outfits, why not just send ten. I want two first-wave companies ready by the end of this week. The other eight will be deployed in whatever pattern we can get away with," Sera barked, raising her tone a little more than she intended. She crushed the cigarette into the otherwise pristine silver ashtray on her mess of a desk. It was clear she'd need to move quickly to stay ahead of Goddard's jaws, but she couldn't afford to trip and fall so soon.
"Oh, and Ren? Send a box of cigars to Cameron for me, with a note. No hard feelings. Splurge on them, make 'em fancy for me."
May 11th, 2126: Earth, 6:20 AM
As Julius opened his eyes, he wasn't exactly sure what he was seeing. The sun was casting a vibrant orange hue over the sandy expanse before him, and he couldn't hear anything. This frightened him at first, but as he looked around, he realized why that might be. There's nothing here. The area was littered with scraps of metal and the remnants of what appeared to be medical or scientific equipment. He felt really groggy, so he assumed he must have been out cold for awhile. Was this a hospital, then? Julius looked at the underside of his wrist and saw an 8 tattooed there. while he couldn't really remember anything, he assumed that hospitals didn't number their patients.
He recalled a lot of beeping and humming when he last woke up, and a certain greenish color, and a scream that may or may not have been his own. To be honest, everything was blurry except for his name (or at least, some name), and the sights he was just now taking in. Julius was about to stand up when he felt a sharp pain in his left leg.
There was a huge gash running the length of his knee to his ankle, and he was about to pass out again looking at it. Suddenly, he became acutely aware of what was happening. There was blood moving across the sand and into his wound. Startled, he shuffled backwards as fast as he could, but the blood gave chase. As he began to panic about the pain in his leg and the creepy sight before him, the blood stopped and fell back to the cracked earth. He raised an eyebrow.
"Was I a lab rat?" he asked himself jokingly. Focusing on the blood once again, he could make it return to his body, and actually heal himself. "This must have been a lab, then. And I must be a prototype tester for some sort of recuperative... thing," he concluded, now able to stand, but still shaking in the knees, now because of the fact that he could have possibly forgotten something so important in his life. Of course, there was no way he could truly prove it, but it was the only option that he could deal with right now. Limping over to some other pieces of metal, he hefted them aside to check for other survivors. There were some pods that looked as though they could fit humans in, but after tapping them with his knuckle, he realized he would have no clue how to check the occupants's vital signs anyway.
Julius stood and sighed, stretching out his back. The sun was almost done rising, and he had no idea which way to head to find a town, so he returned his attention to exploring the ruined structure.