Canon: Baseline
Series: none
Canon: Baseline Series: none

Conflict isn’t just human nature. It exists within every living being. From the tiniest of ants to the mightiest of gods. It is a universal constant. Colors of violence fill the blank canvas of the world, shaping it in what we know to be the natural course of life. Even when there are beings beyond reason, beyond understanding, they all play their part one way or another. Paradoxical of course, as they violate the laws of nature.

But there is no greater offense than the depravities that exist within the darkest corners of our minds. Twisting branches and jagged roots that stem from our consciousness, reflecting off of the very soul itself, incomprehensible to even incomprehensible beings. For so long, mankind had feared the unknown. So, why should mankind fear itself?

We say good and evil are rather subjective and are encompassed by naivety. The reality of it couldn't be any further. The argument is nothing more than a blanket term to rationalize even our most depraved and darkest, savage behaviors. Long have we culled these habits from our genes and our psyche only for them to seep out. And with that, all we can see is gray.

Captain Mullins was put into the position as the head of a newly formed, seven manned Mobile Specialized Team. Omega-1 ‘Soul Force.’ Despite some extensive and hardened training, they were young, hot-blooded jar-heads from the Protection Division just itching for action. To be the guiding light of tomorrow and everything the Protection Division said they were. Their duty was an honorable and respectable one, ensuring the sanctity and safety of mankind from the dangers of the unknown. Even going so far as to protect the anomalies themselves that would have their greatest strengths abused in games played for power.

They weren’t exactly wrong, but Mullins had been in the Division long enough to know the sugar-coated nonsense they spouted was only to reinforce their sense of purpose. Many MST recruits were all picked out from around the globe. (within the Authority’s reach that is.) Russia, the US, France, Britain and so on. Top physical conditions, mental fortitude, stable psychological backgrounds and more.

The heterogeneity of their national backgrounds however, was a concern as there was no telling how deeply committed they were to the cause. To break down everything they believed, everything they were taught about was not exactly easy. Though the exposure to the dangers the Authority faced in its day to day basis made for a convincing argument. Even with the dangers, they were hot headed and passionate about it. Hell, they named the group ‘Soul Force’ because the team saw it was a fitting name being a ragtag team of chucklefucks who thought they could take on the devil himself and make the world a better place. Small or large, the MSTs are the go-to groups to dealing with dangerous anomalies or hostile groups of interests.

With twelve years of training in Site-002, the team became a specialized tactical strike force. While they had enough experience and skills to engage anomalies, the bulk of their training was meant for the squad to deal with the likes of the Church of Malthus and Kabushiki Kawaii. The latter being extremely difficult to properly deal with as they are based in Eastern Asia, where Authority influence is barely present. Of course, the team was small, smaller than a standard squad should be within the military, even with backup and recon. The Authority hoped that Omega-1 would be the stepping-stone in establishing their presence without any Agencies of interests operating in those parts such as China, even catching a whiff of them.

Stationed in Site-015, the team was briefed on their first mission. An active Church of Malthus Cell was discovered operating within the northern west province of Romania. A spike in conflict surfaced within the region. Casualties were in the hundreds and the Romanian government did not want to make it an international public spectacle.

Omega-1 was to transfer to the sub site-011 to pick up the intel they needed for their operations. They were to engage and terminate the Malthusians with extreme prejudice. No survivors, per the Romanian government’s demands.

While their team was assigned to clean house as quick and efficiently as possible, Omega-1 didn’t exactly expect their first mission was a full-on assault on a Malthusian cell. Omega-1’s assignment was more like an insult than it was an actual assignment because the CoM folks, while considered a threat, were mocked for their inconsistent and rabid aggression upon the unsuspecting populations in regions they operate in.

Any level headed person knew exactly the kind of threat the CoM could pose, as the moment they stopped taking them seriously was the moment when everyone’s dead. Many who fought the church, knew what they were capable of and what exactly their jaded ideals truly were would know never to judge a book by their cover. Mullins had to remind his men exactly that. Though many had feigned seriousness at the thought of it. It was only due to his leadership skill that Mullins could straighten them out for the assignment and get them to act like an actual fucking squad.

The Church might have been a large organization, but they were more or less humans. Yet, to the Authority, the CoM didn’t have names. They were enemies. The death and destruction they’ve caused were enough for them to be public enemy number one in their books.

These boys however… they had names. They had character, aspirations, dreams, and more. It didn’t matter if they were going to die. They had a cause to live for, fight for.

Oliver, the youngest and oddly sensible man on the squad. Pulled from the Argentinean armed force thanks to his cyberwarfare training. He always carried a laptop with him during every mission. That wasn’t to say it was going to be useful several kilometers deep within forested territory. Oliver was a proficient marksman to make up being out of his element.

Shane was the second member of the team. He was American, carrying with him a thick Brooklyn accent. A marine who was good with a sniper rifle too. He was always quiet though. Though whenever he spoke, his voice carried weight to it.

Then there was Vittorio, armed to the teeth. The heavy weapons expert. Pulled his weight around during bootcamp in the Italian armed forces more than most recruits in his boots.

Jensen, the explosive expert. Like his call sign, he was certainly the most vibrant and loud one. Fortunately, he always knew when and where to keep his mouth shut. He was the heart and soul of team. He moved from Britain to Sweden and joined its military not too long ago before the Authority picked him up.

Komarov was an enigma. All there was to know about him was that he was a standard weapons expert. The only thing anyone knew about him was that he was from the Russian Military. Whatever his allegiance laid in was now assured the moment he first saw the bump in the dark monsters the Authority hold in their facilities.

Then there was Carrie; she was good with treating wounds and suturing cuts like no other, coming from a long line of family doctors in France.

Every one of them was a piece of a whole person. The body of the unit, working in perfect symphony. No matter how brash or green they were, the unit always moved in sync. These were the last lessons Mullins imparted upon them after training.

The briefing room of Site-015 had already covered across all the logistics of the mission. VTOL to Site-011 with several other MST units, work with reconnaissance to uncover and destroy the enemy facility and be back home before the week’s done. It was simple, it was cut and dry, and it was a good plan if nothing changed on Site-011’s end.

The big boys at Site-015 really wanted these Malthus guys gone. Which is understandable, given that the facility has a humanitarian front prioritizing the well-being of civilians. After all, the next step in societal and technological advancement comes from exposure and strengthening their understanding of how the universe works. That, and to strengthen the ties that bind mankind together. The Church of Malthus represents everything that Site-015 is against. While Kabushiki Kawaii might be number one in everyone’s shit list, only Malthus came close to being 015’s second.

“Ya know, when I heard we were going gung-ho for our first assignment, I’d never expect we’d face up against the Malthusians,” said the stoic sniper. “Why they are a concern for the Authority is beyond me.”

Mullins slowly lifted his finger up to his lips and let out a hush. “The briefing is still going. Pay attention and you'll see.”

Their attention returned back to the board as Dr. Silar marks on the projected map of Romania on the blackboard. Each red circle represented not just militarized conflict, but monster sightings. Each location was marked under each category the reports claimed.

“As you can see,” the researcher started, “The attack patterns are centered around the northern west region of Romania. See how they haven’t gone any further than the selected settlements? If you look at the opposite end of the mountain ranges, they never stem further than one and a half kilometers from them. We believe that within the mountains is their base of operations, which should be here.” Dr. Silar finished his explanation by drawing a large circle around the mountain regions, encompassing the other circles.

“Site-011’s reconnaissance were sent to navigate and map out the region. They will be able to provide you with intel as well as additional armed support upon your arrival. Please note that you might be dealing with not just Malthusian operatives, but also their experiments. The typical abominations they create in their spare time. You are to terminate everything you come across there. No captures, no containment. Not unless they have significant research value.”

Dr. Silar popped the marker back onto its cap and dropped it on his desk. “You’ve been outfitted with the finest equipment this site provided you with. Everything else will be the result of your good judgement and communication skills. Commander Ebad on Site-011 will provide you with additional manpower to support you and you will take orders from him. Let me note that they’re going to keep the enemy occupied. You’re to sneak through the mountains, infiltrate the facility, and eliminate everyone and everything in there…”

As Silar continued to address the crowd, Komarov lets out a yawn and leaned back. “All this work for a bunch of fucking clowns pretending they’re the apex. Are we seriously giving credence to the idea that these stock villains are actually a legitimate threat?”

Oliver had his hands clasped over each other as he stared up at the blackboard. His eyes narrowed in on the patterns, all the while smacking tongue up against the roof of his mouth. It took him a moment to reply when Komarov fell silent; “Can’t exactly say you’re wrong but the chief said to take em seriously. Given their pattern, I can't really imagine the Malthusians conducting their operations with both finess and brutality."

A few heads turned his way. Only Komarov spoke up, “What makes you say that Ollie?”

“These attacks show a great deal of aggressiveness. Yet they’ve pulled back and worked around to the other neighboring settlements. They are working their way around. Let me remind you, these are very small towns. If they’re looking to cull the population in hopes of ‘improvement,’ they’d would had struck the larger settlements and engage with the Romanian military.”

Shane waved his hand to Oliver, “But wait… that’d leave them exposed and the Romanian armed forces would curb stomp them. They don’t exactly have too much going for them in terms of firepower. Except for whatever monsters they’ve kept in check.”

“And who’s to say they’re not using monsters here? Have you seen the reports the Romanians gave us? Casualties were high; they found bodies that were half-eaten, eviscerated, torn apart. Some shown signs that they were tortured. And that’s only what they’ve told us so far. This might be something of their doing just to test out new beasts they’ve cooked up in their base.”

Jensen and Vittorio watched and listened to the conversation between the other squad mates. The dossier did not exactly state the consistency of Malthus’ operations. The lack of proper intel couldn’t be chalked up on incompetence. The Malthusians had this intricate pattern to how they conduct their operations.

“Well that shouldn’t be too difficult if their pattern is going to be so goddamn obvious,” Komarov reached into his pocket, pulling out a lighter and a pack of cigarettes. “I’m telling you; these guys might act tough but they’re a joke. They’re the kind of people who come in and drop their dicks on a crowded table demanding respect. Till they realize they’re going to have neither by the end of their little monologues, they won’t move from that table.”

“Kom, you need to keep your goddamn mouth shut during the briefing. Same goes for the rest of you. Did your site teach you nothing about professionalism?” Mullins said in a hushed voice. Komarov just looked at the captain, pulled out a cigarette and lit it.

“Only speaking truths here chief. They’re just generic bad guys that are too big for their britches.”

A loud audible cough from the front of the room turned their attention back to Silar. The researcher worn a bored expression on his face, observing each unit of the squad.

“I’m sorry, was I interrupting something?” the researcher asked. An unamused expression stretched across his face. The room fell into an awkward silence, with the eyes of the Site heads fixed upon them. Mullins looked at Komarov and the others with a disapproving gaze before waving his hand to the side.

“No not at all Dr. Silar… please continue,” the captain said.

“Great. Now, the primary object of course, is to destroy the Malthus cell and any affiliated persons or anomalies. Recover whatever files you can however, because they will be important in discerning the Church of Malthus’ operations. You also have a secondary objective. Now what we’re about to tell you must never leave this room.”

Silar handed the projector remote to Site Director Daniel Hines. “Thank you, doctor. Now then….” Hines clicked on the arrow button. The map changed to show a projection of a middle-aged man. He bore a thick beard and stache, long hair that touched his shoulders and a noticeable scar that ran from the top right of his head down to the bottom left of his jaw.

“Agent Ivan, Alexander, Evans. Seven months ago, he was declared MIA by the Authority. He and his team was sent to eliminate a possible Malthusian base and capture one of their officials. They had established a base of operations and employed tactics that we would not have normally agreed to. But the folks at Site-002 figured as long as they get results, Ivan can do whatever he wanted to complete his mission. Then the official report from command came in: Ivan’s cover was blown, and the mission ended in failure with almost his entire team dead. All contact with him was lost.” Hines tapped the marker he held on the desk and looked around the room once more.

“Ivan’s mission failed from the start. Upon landing they were immediately attacked by the enemy, with many under his command having been KIA or captured. Ivan and the remains of his team did not get back to us until a few weeks later explaining the situation. Though it didn’t become apparent to us that his mental state had degraded considerably during his time under the radar.

“The Protection Division’s goal is to do just that; protect our assets, our personnel, as well as the general populace. They are not expected to bend the rules, even among their own operatives. The interrogation techniques Ivan employed should not have been passed by the Authority, and they served as a warning sign.

“In the days after, one of Ivan’s squad mates leaked intel to us regarding his actions. Ivan had been targeting civilians, executing prisoners who were afflicted by Malthus’ genetic modification and started employing more barbaric methods to defeat the enemies. We contacted Ivan and ordered him to resign to face judgement. He responded by sending in a look-alike, carrying the head of our informant. Ivan dropped all radio contact shortly after. That was… until two months ago.

“Ivan, one of our finest agents… is a traitor to the Authority and to humanity. We have reasons to believe he defected to the Church of Malthus. It is unclear as to why the Church didn’t kill him but frankly, we don’t care. He turned his back on everything we’ve fought and stood for.

“While Site-002 shared responsibility for encouraging his actions, Ivan’s hands are soaked with the blood of the innocents. We need to bring justice for those he killed. Before we send you out, you must understand that you cannot afford failure. Eliminate with extreme prejudice and leave just as soon as you go in. If you do fail, we will deny you even existed. That’s the deal. Any questions?”

Jensen raised his hand up. He opened his mouth to speak before given permission to; “Shouldn’t this battle plan go through the New Dawn’s people? I don’t get why a top egg-head from the Research Division, whose expertise are is outside of conflict, would tell the Protection division how to do our job?”

Mullins wanted to strangle him right there and then. For all the glim and glamour about being the light against the darkness the RPC paints itself to be, its divisions never actually saw eye to eye on anything. Site-015’s conception was an attempt to try and pull like minded members of all divisions together. While Site-015’s main purpose was research and development, it branched through all three divisions. That is not to say Site-015 never had this issue. It was never a spectacle.

“Because, you dumb mother fucker, our sub-site’s intel comes from members of the Protection division. Your division. They have scoured Romania to and fro and it is my duty as Site-Director to inform you so the men they lost were not in vain,” Director Hines explained. “We all work together in this facility to ensure you and everyone else in their divisions have the best equipment so you can live and see another day. We know strategy. We know tactics. We know the equipment we fashion to you. It isn’t about what we know, Jensen. It is about common fucking sense. You don’t even need to be a detective to see that there’s a pattern. Now get the fuck off your asses and bring me Ivan’s head on a silver platter. You’re all dismissed.”

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