2246, ten years ago
A flash of lightning lit up the sky above Celsius Corp., illuminating the interior of an otherwise darkened building. Down below on the city streets, pedestrians struggled as rain hammered the sprawling capital of Neo Thermopolis. High above the plebeian hustle and bustle, a faint glow emanated through the gray curtains of an executive office. Inside sat Celsius President James Declan, reviewing the latest sales figures. The company had been hit with hard times ever since the end of the Second War; at this rate, despite its lengthy resume of technological achievements, Celsius would crumble.
The realization was too much for James Declan to bear. At the edge of his desk sat a revolver, poignant in its solitude, with a single bullet loaded in the chamber. Declan eyed the object and grimaced, beads of sweat forming against his brow. Slowly – ever so slowly – he reached for the gun, and spun the chambers before snapping them into place. He held it up to his temple.
He spun the chambers again. Click. ”Damn it all!” the beleaguered man inwardly roared. He yanked open the top drawer of his desk and rummaged for another bullet, loading it into the gun. Declan raised the revolver back to his temple, clenching his eyes shut as he gasped one final breath.
The man's eyes shot open. He jerked the gun toward the window and pulled the trigger. A bang echoed through the room as the shot collided with bulletproof glass. Declan felt a cold shiver run down his spine as he turned toward the monitor. A video call at this time of night? He staggered across the dark office, still clutching hold of the revolver. As he tapped a button on the screen, the hazy silhouette of a man appeared before him.
“Hello? Who is this?” Declan grunted. “How did you get my private line?”
“Mr. Declan! It’s nice to meet you,” the figure bellowed, startling the president for a moment. “Sorry to interrupt you so late at night. We tried your home phone number, but it seems it was disconnected?”
“Who are you?” Declan's face took on a perplexed look.
“Ah yes, how rude of me. I am Representative Henry Sheppard, of the Republican Council.”
Declan’s eyes widened as the screen grew bright, revealing the councilman's face. “Representative! W-why are you me calling at this hour? I’ve done nothing illegal.”
“Oh, don't be silly, Mr. Declan. I wouldn’t make such a personal call if we were to arrest you. No, no, I am actually here because I wanted to discuss a little government project we’d like you to head. Interested?”
Declan was silent for a moment. “Of course. Anything for the Council. What do you have in mind?”
“Are you familiar with Dr. Alfred Quail?”
“I am. His research in prosthetics has led to the development of the modern SIREN. We’ve been working on a few designs ourselves, but–”
“But Celsius is on its last legs, and you’re no longer able to fund the research.”
Declan felt irate. “...That is correct.”
“Mr. Declan, allow me to be blunt. We are most likely on the verge of a third world war, and the Council is not convinced that current Republican technology is enough to stalemate with the Maldovans. Your company was one of the leading developers during the Second War,” Sheppard ran a hand through his silvery hair. “Mr. Declan, we would like to offer funding for your company's continued – and intensified – research into SIREN technology.”
James Declan couldn’t believe his ears. “That – would be very satisfactory,” He touched his face, shaking his head slightly. This was a CEO's dream. “We have a few bipedal prototypes in development. They still need to be tested, though.”
“Don’t worry about that, Mr. Declan. We will be able to provide you with all the necessary materials. We do have a rather pressed time schedule, though. Could Celsius produce a set of field-ready prototypes within the next decade?”
“Ten years is more than enough, Mr. Sheppard. I can have our development team begin immediately.” Declan grabbed the side of his desk, steadying his knees. This was like a miracle. “I would imagine we'll need to interview pilot candidates.”
“That will not be necessary,” Sheppard’s tone was stern. “This project must be kept as quiet as possible. We will handle all outside preparations. Your company should focus on SIREN development for now.”
Declan gritted his teeth. He wasn't used to being condescended. “...Of course, Mr. Sheppard.”
“Wonderful. I look forward to our business, Mr. Declan. You’ll be hearing from us again shortly.”
2256, One Week Ago:
“COOOOOOOOLE!!!!” Lieutenant Draza’s voice echoed through the barracks. Isaiah lay sleeping on his cot, a small puddle of drool gathering on his pillow. “Wake your ass up, Sergeant!!” Draza shook the man awake, causing Isaiah to flail his arms madly.
“What the hell, Lieutenant!?”
“You’re being transferred. Pack your bags.”
“Neo Thermopolis. The capital. Apparently they want you for weapons testing or some bull shit.”
Isaiah’s ears perked up a bit when he heard the words ‘weapons testing.’ It’d been years since he’d had an actual assignment so playing with guns was the most fun he got to have on the job. “What the hell are they testing in the capital?”
“If I had any idea I’d make sure they sent someone better than you. Get moving.” Draza ordered, forcing the Sergeant out of his bed. Within the hour Isaiah was packed, dressed, and out the door to the bus station. It was a five day trip to the next major city, then a night for rest, and a 12 hour flight to the capital.
Present: New in town.
Isaiah stepped off the plane in his usual sneakers and military jacket. After setting his bag down for a moment, he pulled a single slip of paper out from his pocket where he’d scribbled the address for Celsius. “What the hell are they sending me to a civilian weapons company for? Bloody hell.” Isaiah sighed. After taking a look at the map the young sergeant came to realize that Celsius was on the complete opposite side of town, much to his dismay. “If I spend any more time sitting on my ass I’m gonna lose the use of my legs……” the jar head growled, hoisting his bag over his shoulder and heading towards the exit. After procuring a cab and throwing his bag in the trunk, Isaiah relieved himself of his heavy military jacket, tossing it in the seat next to him. “Get me across town to this address as quickly as possible, pal.” He stated flatly, handing the cab driver the address to Celsius.
“Da, comrade. Right away.” The cab driver replied pleasantly.
Isaiah on the other hand snapped awake and shot a stare at the cab driver. “You from Maldova, buddy?”
“Da. I moved hear when I was old enough to drive a car. It was how you say? ‘A royal pain in the ass?’”
At this, Isaiah couldn’t help but laugh. “I can only imagine. You had to go through Eutavia first didn’t you?”
“Da. To be honest I miss it there. No fighting. I come to this country to get away from the fighting in my own. But now that I’m here all they do is fight some more. When will it ever stop?”
“Afraid it’s never going to, buddy. Fighting’s human nature. As long as there’s people, there’s going to be a war.” At this the cab driver was silent. The two men remained quiet all the way to Celsius. “$32.50, comrade.”
“Here’s $40. Keep the change.” Isaiah sighed, stepping out of the cab and hoisting his bag and jacket over his shoulder. The young sergeant gazed up at the Celsius sky rise, whistling at the sheer height of it. “That’s a lot of stairs……” Gradually Isaiah headed inside, where he was greeted by a scrawny little man in a business suit.
“Greetings, Sergeant Cole and welcome to Celsius. If you’ll follow the signs down this hallway to the waiting room the others should be arriving shortly.”
“Others? What oth-“
“No time for questions, Mr. Cole, just hurry.” The scrawny man cut Isaiah off, annoying the gunman to some degree. Without another word Isaiah strutted down the hallway to the designated room, dropping his stuff off by the couch as he poked around the interior of the room. A vending machine sat near the back of the room while a television hung from the wall on the opposing end, surrounded by various black leather couches and chairs. Unsure of just how long he’d be waiting, Isaiah grabbed himself a drink and plopped down on the farthest couch, deciding to unwind from his rather long trip.