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New Hope City, the first and now only technological wonder of Earth. A tourist destination for those living in colonies in space or on other planets, but for the residents of Earth, New Hope is a breeding ground for crime and brutality.
Recently, New Hope has seen a rise in crime and "strange occurrences" in the slums, and the city's police force hasn't been able to get a grip on it. They've doubled their numbers, their funding, implemented a curfew, and even pulled in members of the Syndicate, a mysterious and capable vigilante organization based in the slums. However, despite their best efforts nothing has changed and it seems to be steadily getting worse.
Fearing something worse is on the horizon, the Intergalactic Coalition sent in one of their own from the Galactic Defense Force to investigate, but they promptly disappeared. Now a full-scale investigation is underway, and the Supreme Commander of the Milky Way GDF has brought a team of his best and brightest to New Hope City and he's confident they can put a stop to this once and for all... But things aren't always as they would appear. Only time will tell what truly lurks in the dark of New Hope City.
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The defenders of the galaxy stood steadfast at the top of the ramp, leering over the police officers standing at the bottom. And honestly, Tallulah couldn't help but feel like it was a little much. Even after the police Chief welcomed them to Earth, the group stood there for a second or two longer than necessary before the Supreme Commander began gesturing.
The support crew that had been waiting a safe distance behind them within the craft began to move and haul out equipment. It was mostly computers, holographic projectors, crates full of office essentials, and other electrical equipment they thought they would need during their stay on planet. The crew moved down and passed the police with a practised grace, one of the officers following beside them to tell them where they could set up, and that's when she saw him. He wasn't exactly hard to pick out of the crowd once they all sort of spread out, especially since he was the only one who wasn't wearing a uniform. Dark hair, artificially blue eyes that went with his suit... It was quite obvious this was the vigilante—Jack, if she remembered correctly—they would be liaising with.
The movement of the support crew and some of the officers created another moment where Pendragon and Chief Smithson were staring at one another in tense silence. [i 'More theatrics.'] Tallulah thought. Pendragon was capable of keeping this up all day, and Tallulah was starting to get restless herself because of this invisible dick measuring contest; it wasn't exactly the most effective use of her time. Apparently their commander [i really] wasn't a fan of Earth.
[+purple “That's [i Supreme Commander] Pendragon, Chief Smithson.”] He finally says before beginning to march down the ramp and stops a respectable distance away from the Chief, still scowling. He looks briefly over the officer's shoulder to Jack before his gaze moves back. [+purple “Lieutenant Tatum, Lieutenant Decarlo, since you are our senior Patrollers I would like you to acquaint yourself with Jack the Vigilante. Bring each other up to speed and see if he knows anything useful.”]
[b “Of [+blue course,] Supreme [+blue Commander.”]] They say in unison, straightening a bit more.
[+purple “Lieutenant Kennedy, Ensign Rikova, brief the officer's made available to us on what we're doing. The rest of you set up with Support, and make it snappy,”] The Supreme Commander begins walking towards the roof entrance in to the building. [+purple I don't want to be on this eyesore of a planet any longer than I need to be.”] And everyone sort of looks at each other before they begin moving systematically. Booker and Tallulah share a brief nod as everyone splits up to do their duties, leaving the senior Patrollers with the Vigilante... She'd watch that movie.
A few of the police officers were still around, probably divided in to however many of them per Patroller for support, but she didn't really pay them much attention. Instead, the two approach Jack and Booker sticks his hand out for a handshake. [b “Lieutenant Booker Decarlo, Milky Way Galactic Defense Force.”] He says, and she was surprised he didn't rattle off his serial number. Booker could get pretty formal and kept track of most of the regulations.
[+blue “Lieutenant Tallulah Tatum. Same deal.”] She says with a small smile, shaking the man's hand as well. It was always funny how the two of them worked together, despite contrasting each other in very many ways. Booker was tall and lean muscled. His eyes were gray-blue, his hair blonde, and honestly, Tallulah considered him to be quite a handsome looking man, but people were often put off by the scars on his face; to her, it just added character. Tallulah herself was shorter than Booker, but also on the lean side. Her eyes were brown, hair hair black, and her skin a golden brown with warm undertones. [b “Why don't we go somewhere a little less open to talk about this.”]
[+blue “Interrogation room two is open.”] Booker says, looking at a small holographic display on his wrist. He looks up at the two when Tallulah didn't say anything. [+blue “What? I got patched in when we were within satellite distance.”] And her small smile comes back at that.
[i Oh, Booker.]
And with that, they move in to the large police headquarters. Inside was like some kind of hospital with all the white walls, bright burning lights, and someone you couldn't understand talking over the intercom. Honestly, she was sort of impressed by what the Earthlings had despite how the commander trashed them in the impromptu briefing. Tallulah herself was from a sort of backwater planet called Asirius IV, a mineral mining planet, so maybe her standards were a little low. Technology was so readily available here unlike her planet where it was only used for specific purposes at all times. That was probably one of her biggest hurdles when she joined the Patroller Academy, but luckily she met Booker who came from the tech-giant of Sanction XII... Man, how long has that been now?
The door slams behind them and Tallulah's snaps back to the present. The interrogation room was small and only had a table with one chair on either side of it, one wall lined with reflective glass. [b “I guess this is it then.”] She remarks moving to the table, and sits down in the chair. Booker hover behind her and crosses his arms, waiting for this to get underway; he was just as eager to hit the streets as she was. It was time to get down to brass tacks. [b “We're here because a high-ranking Patroller went missing while investigating some sort of arms-deal that has been happening between New Hope's underworld and a satellite colony.] Which is why violent criminal activity seemed to be on the rise here, as well as quote 'strange occurrences' unquote. [b “He was deep undercover and wasn't able to give the GDF many updates because he was at risk of being exposed, but it looked he was on to something big or at least close to finding a name.”]
[+blue “As you probably already know, Earth's solar system is part of the IGC, but because of its lack of resources and livable planets, it has a low GDF presence.”] Pretty sure they had a skeleton crew in the base on the Moon, but they were mostly communication liaisons and engineers, not Patrollers. All the other planets were basically barren wastelands at this point and not worth terraforming. She had heard of some research outposts, though. [+blue “So its up the police to [i police]. What we need to know is somewhere for us to start so we can get this investigation underway. The agent mentioned 'the underground' in the slums several times in the very few reports we were able to recover, and they mentioned the Syndicate.”] It mentioned that the Syndicate was uninvolved, which is why they were even speaking to Jack. [+blue “So the Syndicate would be our best chance at being able to get in to the underground and navigate it.”]
[b “So any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. We're sure you want whoever has been making New Hope City and its surrounding sectors more dangerous to get gone, right? Its quite clear the kind of person you are since you seem to be the only vigilante on record who works with the police; you want results, and like us, you're not interested in the proverbial circle-jerk that's been going on around here. We want results as well and we want to do it with the minimum amount of casualties as possible.”]
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It had started with the Drug War of 2027. New Hope and its outlier cities erupted into chaos built from years of friction since the creation of the colony-made drug named RIP64, commonly known as Utopia. The authorities governing New Hope couldn’t keep up with the violence in their own city, much less the madness that rippled through the outside. The divide between the “inside” and “outside” cleaved itself ever deeper as a result of 2027’s chaos, invisible walls rising up between what the NHPD deemed salvageable lands and what they would quickly abandon in the years that followed. That’s when the Syndicate first took root, out there in the abandoned sectors, to bring some sort of order to the outside. But that’s not why Jack Morrison joined. He joined for revenge.
[b “Angela, you know it’s a bad idea,”] Jack sighed, straightening the tie on his nicest suit. From the mirror, he could see her glare at him from her spot on the couch. He rolled his eyes, knowing it would piss her off but not giving a shit. He smoothed his combed-back hair again, feeling fidgety from nerves.
Jack looked good. Like, Greek god in a suit kind of good. Dark hair combed back, clean shaven, squared shoulders in a dark navy suit to compliment his cybernetically enhanced and striking blue eyes -- all the basics of typical sex appeal strategically covered. But even though that kind of attention to detail usually worked to boost his confidence, he still felt nervous.
It was, after all, the first time he’d been called in by the NHPD directly. After years of proverbial boot-licking to gain some real precedence, he was finally being recognized. Some of the other leaders within the Syndicate might not agree to his involvement with the NHPD, but then Jack didn’t give a shit what the other figureheads thought. Progress was progress.
Unfortunately, Angela was one of those weary, but she was also his half-sister and his right-hand man.
[b “Bullshit,”] she declared from her spot, [b “I’m going.”]
Jack turned to her with a tired look. She was five years younger than him, but her scarred face and hardened expression made her look deceptively older. He traced her roping scar with his eyes absently, from the bridge of her nose to the base of her ear. She’d killed the man that did that to her, and many, many more since. At only 22, she was already the most prolific assassin he’d ever known.
[b “Angela, I can’t bring my hitman along to meet the heads of the NHPD, not to mention the Supreme Commander. We won’t get past the door, and you’re supposed to keep a low profile,”] he huffed.
[b “Bullshit,”] she repeated, but she didn’t move to follow him.
Jack ignored her as he grabbed his things to go. The headquarters for the Syndicate was a glorified warehouse fashioned into something resembling an office. The large main room maintained a sleeker modern look, being mostly empty except for a seating area and an empty receptionist's desk. There were other members throughout the headquarters, but none came out in time to see Jack off. Notoriously, the Syndicate never stayed in one place for long, and its members did not often come together in large numbers. It was safer for them that way, and with their numbers spread so thin across the sectors of New Hope it was safer for everyone else too.
Jack headed into New Hope from the outskirts of sector Seven, his homeland. The city itself was gargantuan, too large to really contextualize on a whole, and so overpopulated it was suffocating. Though Jack had once lived in Sector Seven, he actually preferred living on the outside. But the farther from New Hope you traveled, the more dangerous and wild it became. The Old World cities were concrete jungles, separated by vast deserts populated by outlanders and cannibals. New Hope city was the last sustainable outpost Earth had, and beyond that, the planet was a dead zone, devoid of resources. Jack knew little about the colonies, but he imagined that aspect was similar. Many of the colony cities were oasis’ built on lonely, dead planets. But the difference was that humans had a long history with Earth, and that meant there were a lot more of them, even in the most uninhabitable places. He wondered if anyone on the colonies could understand the kind of world they’d left behind. He imagined the hardest part of this job was going to be bridging the gaps between outsiders, insiders, and colonists. But if anyone could do it, it would be him. He’d already been straddling those lines his entire life.
He reached the main space terminal by nightfall, but the lights from the bustling city made it hard to tell. He was told that the Supreme Commander’s craft had landed by the time he made it to the security checkpoint. And, he would’ve been late if not for lieutenant Marks who recognized him at the gates and passed him through prematurely, much to the dismay of the uptight security guards.
[b “Morrison, you’re looking...clean,”] Lieutenant Marks commented as they rushed to the rendezvous point. Jack gave him a patient smile,
[b “Well, yeah, I’m trying to be on my best behavior today. Anything you can tell me about these IDC cops flooding in? The commander?”]
Marks shook his head, [b “They don’t tell me nothing,”] he said. Lieutenant Trenton Marks had been one of Jack’s first contacts in the NHPD. He was an easy-going man, though he could put on a stern face. He’d been on Jack’s side since the beginning, and although he wasn’t the best negotiator, Jack was still grateful for the foot in the door. Many of the members of the NHPD tolerated the Syndicate for its invaluable knowledge of the outside, but Trenton actually believed in Jack’s vision of one day making his sector into a real branch of the force. So, Jack trusted him.
[b “Pity, guess I’m flying blind,”] Jack muttered, mostly to himself. The pair moved outside to the landing docks, where the air was heavy with dust that the landed spacecraft had just kicked up. Jack silently lamented as he brushed off his suit and tried not to cough. Ahead, Chief Smithson was already present and standing rigidly at the base of the landing ramp. He had with him a handful of unfamiliar officers. As they approached, the Chief gave him a small nod but said nothing.
Jack was unfamiliar with the protocol for this kind of situation, if there were any, so he debated what he should do. He noted with distaste that the IDC Supreme Commander deliberately stationed himself above them so that he could look down, a typical power move. Within a few seconds, he could already guess how poorly the IDC viewed Earth, which might explain their lack of support in the years prior to this historic arrangement. If he were in charge, he would’ve already marched straight up that landing ramp with deliberate boldness to greet this foreigner, a move that had nearly got him killed countless times before had it not been for Angela’s presence and reputation standing beside him. Not that he was unable to defend himself, he was just better at fighting with words. But this time, his respect for the NHPD’s Chief kept him standing obediently in his place behind the “real” officers present, and his mouth shut. For now.
Once all were assembled, Chief Smithson cleared his throat, [b “Good to see you, Pendragon. Welcome to Earth.”]
“Prepare for FTL travel.” An automated voice sounded throughout the frigate. The stars that sat still in space soon became beams of lights that cascaded around the ship like horizontal rainfall. The lights of stars, nebula's, and other interstellar clouds formed in to a kaleidoscope of colours as the ship blasted through space at faster than light speeds. It was one of those things where if you've seen it once, you've seen it a thousand times, but it still never ceased to amaze her.
[+purple “Lieutenant Tatum.”] A voice said and she quickly looked from one of the port windows and back to the present. She was in the Command Bridge, dominated by computers and engineers manning then. At the helm were two pilots flying the sophisticated machine. But the most important of all of the stations here, was the one she was standing in.
The centre of the Command Bridge dropped down a few steps and a large holographic table and star chart stood between those who were present. Tallulah's gaze levelled on the man directly across from her. An older man with thick black hair and a beard to match. He was uniformed much like she was, but decorated with many metals and an immaculate sword on his hip. His uniform also had decorative leather tasset to denote rank. [b “Supreme Commander Pendragon.”] She says with a slight nod. The Commander grunts in affirmation before continuing with the task at hand.
[+purple “I'm assuming everyone read the briefing files for our mission.”] He addressed the small unit. There were six of them in total that were 'active Patrollers' for this mission. Pendragon moves his hand and the surface of the table in between them comes to life, casting images of a solar system. With a few more gestures, one of the planets is selected and then zoomed in on, and then zoomed in on again to show a holographic layout of their target: New Hope City. A technological giant on the planet and a bustling metropolis despite the world's dwindling population. [+purple “None of you have been to Earth before, and the documents you read won't do it justice when I say this; Earth is a wretched hive of scum and villainy, a place left long ago because of its lack of resources and population support.”]
[+blue “That's an interesting way to put it.”] The man next to Tallulah says and she promptly kicks his ankle. They both exchange looks and the man tries not to grin which makes Tallulah grin despite trying to choke it down. He could always get to her.
[+purple “Do I need to separate you two, Lieutenant Tatum? Lieutenant Decarlo?”]
[+blue “Sir, no, sir.”] Decarlo says and straightens alongside Tallulah. The Supreme Commander eyes them for a moment, with his signature low growl.
Tallulah Tatum and Booker Decarlo weren't exactly trouble makers. On the contrary; they were Commander Pendragon's first picks on this mission. The two had a long history together, first meeting in the Patroller Academy and then having the miracle of being assigned the same company once out on Patrol. Tallulah was a crack-shot with anything with a stock and a strong tactician. On the flipside, Booker was exceptional in close-quarters combat and an equally gifted tactician. The two worked extraordinarily well together, their teamwork being commended on several assignments they went on together and why they continue to be kept in the same company. They were family at this point. And other than him and the Supreme Commander, Tallulah wasn't familiar with the other three that were here, but she was sure she would get to know them eventually. Booker and Tallulah went over the briefing together and it seemed like it was going to be a long one.
[+purple “As I was saying: the people here are desperate, including the NHPD who have now enlisted the help of a known vigilante group called 'the Syndicate'. Not much is known about the Syndicate other than their status as an organized vigilante group and that they're based out in the slums that they police and where this all seems to be happening. They're more in the know than the NHPD and us.”] Right. Something fishy was happening on Earth, and they sent another agent to investigate and they went missing. This was the GDF's response; a specialized team of Patrollers. [+purple “We're currently on our way to meet with the Chief of the NHPD and one of his vigilante lackey's, and for the time being that is all I have to say. Dismissed.”] And just like that, everyone began to move back to their stations. Except Tallulah. It took a moment for Commander Pendragon to notice her as he was staring intently at a holographic tablet in his hands. His eyes narrow when he sees she had not heeded his order.
[+purple “Something on your mind, Tallulah?”] Good, he used her first name. He wasn't pissed off at her then.
[b “Everything you said was in the written briefing, including actual details about the assignment. You were basically just trash talking Earth.”]
[+purple “I wanted to make sure you all were perfectly aware of how treacherous Earth can be. I can't write my personal opinions in an official document.”] He tells her and Tallulah nods at that. [+purple “Now go back to your station; we will be arriving in New Hope City shortly.”] And with that, the Supreme Commander goes back to his tablet and Tallulah heads back to her station to wait.
In the mean time, Tallulah headed to 'her station', which was actually lower-engineer deck mess hall B , and the went over the briefing again armed with Pendragon's opinion about Earth. If it was as treacherous as he said, then the Patroller who went missing could've hit any number of snags. It was unfortunate that they didn't get any specific information about what the undercover operative was looking in to, but from the pieces they had that he had before he went missing, it looked like he didn't know either. Lots of mention of the underground, an arms deal, and some gangs. There must have been some codes he was trying t decipher too, because there were strange circular markings, a triangular one, a crescent, and an Oni. [b “Dude was weird.”] Tallulah comments.
Approaching Earth's defensive grid.” Rang over the intercoms and the frigate exited warp-speed, the cornucopia of colours faded back to the black and white of normal space. However, this time instead of far off stars being in sight, this time it was a big globe of blue and green. It was sort of mesmerizing. The place where humanity began. She had only ever seen pictures or holograms of Earth, and it was a lot bigger than she had expected it to be.
However, she didn't get to admire the view for long as the spacecraft plunged in to Earth's atmosphere and ripped through the sky in to New Hope City. It was night time here, but the closer you got to the city, the brighter it got with all of the lights and large buildings. The place was a metropolis, bigger than some countries on the planet she was from, and Tallulah was suddenly struck with how much ground they were going to have to cover for this assignment with just six people... And the NHPD and their vigilantes. She had almost forgotten about them.
The ship descends on to a large platform that was part of the NHPD headquarters. The building itself was large enough to hold an armour, heavily fortified and lit up like most of the city. However, something that she had noticed now that she was on the ground and closer, everything seemed to have a level or dirt layer over it, probably due to pollution and overpopulation.
The Patroller team lines up behind their Supreme Commander in the cargo bay as the bay doors descends in to a ramp, the welcoming committee waiting at the bottom for them. She thought they were going to start moving when the ramp fully extended, but the Commander just stood there, staring down his nose at the crew waiting for them at the end. He just stared down at them, his face in its permanent scowl as he looked over the members of the police. [+purple “Bring me to the Chief and vigilante.”] He tells them.
Watching as the GDF Command Frigate cut through the clouds and descended to the landing pad, the shadows stirred in anticipation. The space between buildings was dark, but did not provide a proper view to the arrival of the esteemed Supreme Commander Pendragon. So the shadows stirred once again before a figure darted from them and scaled the building, unseen by the authorities and invisible to their technology. Speed brought them to the top of the building and skill made sure they were unseen by all.
And it looks like hard work paid off, because the bay doors of the frigate opened and lowered, revealing the Supreme Commander of the Milky Way Galactic Defense Force. The sword on his hip drew their attention and made them very aware of the katana that lay at the ready upon their back. Pendragon was known to be a legendary soldier, and his swordsmanship skills were supposedly unmatched in the galaxy, and it made them itch to test that claim. But now was not the time. There were other things that needed attending.
[+red “They have arrived.”] The voice was modulated, but understandable and spoken in to a wrist communicator. [+red “The Supreme Commander is with them, but we will continue as planned. I will return shortly.”]
One of the officer turns his head over to the darkened part of rooftop, thinking he might have heard something. However, he sees nothing, just darkened shadows and unoccupied space. It must have been their imagination.
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