North Bellsford, Super-Centre The North Bellsford Super-Centre was a massive shopping district turned into a mall. It is fifteen floors of nothing but stores and warehouses, as far as the eye can see--the whole complex was over five miles long and three miles wide. It's filled to the brim with everything a person could need, with the lower floors being small-time shops--often with their owners and families living in them--and upper floors being dedicated to entire corporations and their conglomerates. It was a shining beacon of civilization, and was often directly supplied via a small spaceport landing strip on its rooftop for shuttles to drop off supplies. It was supposed to be an evacuation zone, in case of natural disaster, as the structure had multiple titanium-steel rooms made specifically to survive them. Those rooms were nothing more than death traps in this event, leading many to try and flee the complex in any way they could. Several escape pods landed around it, and three pods in particular came crashing through its roof. One descended all the way to the bottom floor, whilst the other two stopped on the eighth floor--commonly called the "tech floor" for its numerous computer & avionics-related stores. One pod crashed beside a water fountain, leaving the inhabitants momentarily blacked out. After a few seconds, backup power kicked on inside the escape pod, and a red light illuminated the group. It was a pod made to hold six, and it only contained three survivors: Ariston Tychon, Sergeant Max, and a woman the the two knew as the navigator of their ship. Tychon, however, would know that she was only filling in for a different navigator, who had come down with an illness and was being treated in a hospital in Bellsford when the attack came. As for the others: Two of the men had died of their wounds before they hit the ground, while the third died of the impact after failing to fasten their seat belt correctly, snapping their neck as a result. The navigator unclips her seat belt and pulls off her helmet, bringing a gloved hand up to her head: It was either an injury, or simple dizziness, though it was difficult to discern with the dim red light of the escape pod. Max was able to discern at a glance that she was a clone, likely of a beta type. The three could hear the sounds of water raining onto the side of the pod, sizzling on the side of the pod. The navigator looks between the two remaining survivors, then works on the door of the pod. Luckily, they had landed properly, with the bottom of the pod remaining upright against the floor underneath it. The pod hisses as it opens, mechanical assistance kicking in to help her open the door. She raises a hand over her eyes as bright lights greet her through the ceiling they just broke through, recoiling in pain momentarily before pulling out her side arm and stepping outside. A few seconds pass before the navigator looks back inside the pod. She salutes the both of them, as one glance at the patch on her shoulder indicated that she had a lower rank than either of them. Out of procedure, she addresses the admiral directly. "Sir, there are no hostiles on this position yet. There is one other escape pod, but I don't think it came from our ship. As per procedure, I'm going to check for survivors." She pulls out her radio and looks at it bitterly, as it had not survived the scramble to the escape pod. "... I hope one of you has a working radio, sirs. We could really use directions by a liaison officer." By the sounds of the uncertainty in her voice, she was not used to the military life yet. Without waiting for confirmation, she moved across the now wet ground from the broken fountain toward the second pod. Only a few feet away and on its side, she wastes no time in opening it, though she did pause when she noticed the ship markings on the side. "Science division?" She mutters to herself uncertainly as the pod hisses open. Out of the six people in the pod, there were only four spots taken, and only one survivor: Phillipe Mordante. There was no clear way to discern how or why he was the only survivor, though it was clear to see that the seat belt system for one of the men had failed, considering his mangled corpse had been ejected from its seat. The woman grimaces, then offers a helping hand to Phillipe. "My name is Morgan. I was the navigator aboard the INEF flagship vessel Diplomacy. It's clear that you're a civilian, so don't worry, we'll get you out of here. Grab my hand, and you'll get to meet a rear admiral today." She gives him a soft, comforting smile: It was very clear to him that she was trying to reassure him if he was panicking, and was likely insincere given the current situation. Looking around, they were in the middle of a four-way intersection, where the fountain had been the centerpiece of the area. There was broken glass all over the floor, and several businesses had already been looted or shuttered. There were still a few civilians in the area, peeking over counters and through broken windows at the escape pod survivors: It seemed they had chosen to hide rather than flee the area. In each of the four directions, hallways were lined with stores, though they could still hear the sounds of distant, panicked voices south of their position. Distant gunfire could be heard to the north and east of their position. North Bellsford, Zinc Road Zinc Road was an eight lane superhighway, designed to accommodate all kinds of vehicles on the road. On each side of the road were wide sidewalks, and block-sized buildings dominated each city block down the road. The road led across the entire city, from north to south, giving easy access across the city wherever needed or wanted. Most buildings stretched to be four floors high, and were a mix of housing and light commercial corner stores or grocery stores. Two blocks to the north, stretching high into the sky, was the Super-Centre, and a main entrance across several, ornate concrete steps. Traffic was backed up end to end in this part of the city, leaving many to abandon their vehicles and simply hike their way to Central City. A few soldiers were scattered amongst the crowd, attempting to maintain order. Here, Norb Chi'Surn, and Ariel Abraham were part of the crowd, though both were luckily fully equipped to handle the situation. Before either of them could make it any further south, an escape pod comes crashing down in the middle of an intersection, crushing two vehicles and landing only five feet from Norb. Chips of concrete shower down on him. The escape pod pops open, the door outright falling off its hinges as it showed signs of having been fired at. Norb was able to discern the scorch marks as Chrysalid plasma weapons--the pod was lucky to have survived even a close encounter with such a weapon, leave alone a direct hit. Nonetheless, smoke emanated from inside the escape pod, and Leonie Valkrich was carried out by Prosper just before it became clear that some of the plasma had heated up the interior of the pod so much, that most of its inhabitants hadn't survived the sheer heat in the local, contained atmosphere of the pod. Leonie, still coughing, had luckily been on the opposite side of the pod from where it had been hit. A small crowd gathers and stares, some gagging at the smell of burned human flesh from inside the pod. Though it took Leonie a few seconds, she was able to stand on her own, having sustained no serious injuries aside from a few bumps and a couple bruises. Prosper, being an AI, also had little difficulty carrying out all of their equipment--leaving them fully ready to take on whatever might be ahead of them. A second escape pod had landed nearby, though it was unclear if anyone had survived, as it appeared to be even more damaged than the first pod. Nobody dared to touch it at that moment, seeing the metal still glowing with heat and plasma burns. As the crowd slowly begins to settle, a man steps out from the crowd: He was decked head to toe in a mechanical armour suit, which seemed to enhance his reaction times. Underneath the suit it was difficult to discern who or what he was, as his face was covered by his helmet. Nonetheless, he stepped on top of a truck, and began to speak loudly, holding a radio up above him. "May I have your attention, please! I am Nikolai! I received a message from Central City! A liaison officer requires myself and any volunteers to head north and secure the entrance of the Super-Centre mall! Anyone who helps will be allowed on the military evacuation craft when it arrives! So, you can help me, or continue hiking for a couple hours into Central City. The choice is yours!" One of the members of the crowd yells back at him, with a question. "Why the fuck should I risk my neck to secure the damn mall?!" Nikolai responds, promptly. "Because you will be given a secure evacuation method, and because they believe the Rear Admiral of the fleet landed here... And because innocent people need your help in escaping the mall! Do not be a vain coward! Help me!" The line of cowardice didn't seem to win him too many particular friends, as most began to shuffle away. He sighs in irritation, and glances down at the escape pod, towards Prosper and Leonie. "I suppose I will at least have you two watching my back. Better than nothing, yes?" He seemed strangely amused by the fact that most of the crowd had turned away from him. To the north and east, smoke could be seen rising up from the edges of the city. Nikolai patted his light machine gun, and waited for any volunteers to help him. East Bellsford, Red Line The city of Bellsford, along with other cities, built an underground railway system to interconnect the various sections of the city together. It became the most prudent form of public transportation, and most local colonists knew of the plans to connect Tyre's Valley to Bellsford via the system, but the project was constantly delayed in favour of upgrading space ports. Now, it seemed, that those who kept screaming for the underground network were at least somewhat vindicated, as the near indestructible tunnel network withstood the attack perhaps better than anything else in the city. Though, while the tunnels were impenetrable, the power system wasn't, and power had failed for the underground network on the east side of Bellsford. Marcus was standing just outside the subway when he heard the sound of escape pods hurdling through the atmosphere. Looking up, he spots one make landfall a few feet from him. The pod was unscathed aside from impact damage. One glance would tell him that the pod was from the INEF Merits--a larger cruiser class that had been in orbit. The pod door hisses open, and five figures emerge from inside, including Gilian Thorne, Laura Shima, and Kephart. Kephart landed with a metallic thud as he left the escape pod, and it didn't take long for the other two to climb out of the pod. One was a recent recruit. The other couldn't be recognized in his mechanized battle suit until he took off his helmet--it was the second in command of the INEF Merits. This made him the commanding officer, though he took one glance around at everyone around him. The scar on his cheek was a recent addition, it was still bleeding a little. He takes one look at Marcus and nods. "You seem to have your head about you... I'm assuming we landed near one of the subway stations?" Before Marcus could reply, the emergency speaker system just outside the subway entrance crackles to life. The voice of a nervous wreck of an engineer came through loud and clear. "I w-was just contacted b-by a l-l-liaison officer! They n-need volunteers to p-protect the subway station! I g-got the power going, but it won't f-fit everyone! We have one more train coming and two more c-c-convoys! If w-we can just h-hold on for ten more minutes, we can all get to Central City!" The speaker system cuts out and the Commander of the INEF Merits shakes his head. "Kid doesn't sound any older than twelve and he's the one fixing everything?" He turns and looks back to Kephart, Laura, and Gilan. They were his subordinates, and he was in charge. "Head inside the subway station. There should be a small cafeteria located in the staff area of the platform: Take whatever tables you can and make some cover. Encourage any non-volunteer civilians to stay in the cafeteria as well, that should put them out of the firing line. Make sure the children go first. If there's not enough room for all of them, that's just too bad: I guess they'll have to actually use their training." He glances to Marcus and nods. "Commander Berry Wilson Jones." He offers a handshake and motions with his head to get to the subway station. "Will you assist us? It's either fight or hide in a corner with the children, the choice is yours." Outside, there was only one dead end road leading into the subway station, lined by concrete walls for aesthetic purposes more than actual, useful cover. Down several steps was the main platform of the subway station. To the left was the cafeteria, behind a simple wooden door, and to the right was the power room, which was protected by a blast door. Both were unlocked, though the blast door was quite heavy and made to work only with mechanical assistance--that is, when the power is working consistently. Which, at present, it wasn't working consistently. There were concrete columns surrounding titanium beams, keeping the roof of the subway station up, and providing decent cover even without the metallic cafeteria tables. There was a subway train, packed full with people, about to depart to make way for the second train behind it. Though the lights were flickering in the tunnel, it had no choice but to proceed as soon as possible. Still, there were a few people fighting to get their children on board, but it was too late for them: They would have to wait for the second train. East Bellsford, Convoy #4 Meanwhile, a series of convoys was getting the most distant civilians to the nearest underground subway stations to transport them rapidly to Central City. A tank with a scoop attached to the front was shoving vehicles blocking the road out of the way, as various civilian vehicles followed after it slowly and cautiously. Quentin Brant, even, likely found himself sharing his truck with a few others riding on the back. Children could occasionally be heard weeping, though their parents were there to support them. A couple seemed to be missing their parents, and were being taken care of by a military medic. The convoy stops as an escape pod lands on the road in front of them. Two civilians pull out their rifles and pass the tank, moving to help out the escape pod survivors, only to watch the door get ripped off its hinges and tossed aside like a toy. They stop in panic, raising their rifles as the incredibly alien form of Tharvax climbs out of the pod. "Is it one of them?!" The one on the left says. "Nah, no... No..." The one on the right replies. "How do you know??" The one on the left whispers with a panicked expression on his face. "Cuz' judging by the size of that ugly motherfucker, we'd be dead by now. Doofus." He slaps the back of his friend's head before he continues. "'Sides, look at his arm. He's got an INEF badge on it. If he didn't, the tank'd have shot it... For whatever that's worth." He motions back to the convoy. "Look, uh... Friend... We're a convoy heading to Central City. If you're looking for any of your soldier buddies, they're all heading there, along with us civis." As Tharvax approaches, the one on the left panics and flees back into the convoy. The one on the right, however, takes off his baseball cap and bows his head politely: He was a greasy mess and looked like he saw far, far too much sunlight on a regular basis with the burns over his arms and the back of his neck. "Name's Ralph. I'm a mechanic, a pilot, and I do some huntin' on occasion. I'm glad to have you with us... N' uh... Don't mind Danny, there, he's just... Scared o' everything that's got a bigger dick n' he does. His nerves are frayed, he saw his parents bite it... He's a nicer fella' usually, I swear." With that said, the convoy got ready to move out again, though the tank commander popped out of his tank to look at everyone in the convoy. "We're late, the enemy has passed us. We're gonna have to go faster. Get the elderly aboard any vehicles, and be ready for an attack from any angle. If shit hits the fan, dump your vehicles and make a run for it, and we'll cover you." The tank commander then glances down to the mechanic, whose farmer's accent was almost as thick as the grease and oil caking his hands. "I'll trust you to lead the evacuating civilians inside the subway station once we get there. You led most of them to us, after all." The mechanic puts his hat back on and then tips it to acknowledge what the commander had said. Wordlessly, the commander dives back into his tank, seeming to ignore Tharvax altogether. With that said, the mechanic turns and walks back to Quentin's truck. He helps an elderly couple aboard, then hops on the back himself. Inside the back of the truck, he pulls out a piece of gum from his stained pockets and unwraps it. He pops it in his mouth and chews in an absent minded fashion, before looking around at the other civilian vehicles and people around him. Just a dozen or so in all, really. "Look, y'all," he starts off, yelling so everyone could hear him. "I'm gonna need some help to organize everyone inside the subway station once we get there. Any volunteers?... I know it ain't much, but, I'll pay you in gum n' gratitude! Yeah?"