Late Morning. December 3rd, 21XX - Fort Five, Shanhu
Holiday season decorations littered the streets, while grandiose displays of expendable cash hung from office buildings, no doubt obscuring many of the good views that office workers would otherwise have while suffering under their menial pencil-pushing jobs.
The air was a special breed of cold out in the middle of the Pacific, even dampened by the sheer volume of warm human bodies that permeated Shanhu. There was never any snow, unless one took a trip to an indoor mall that fancied itself festive, and installed snow-generation systems in its halls.
Streetside window-shop buildings offered sales that were probably only a few percentage-points higher than they were year-round, but enticed the population no less. A minuscule number of religious holdouts shouted "Merry Christmas!" with the signboards they taped up onto their windows, just echoes of a time when the holidays weren't simply about family, romance, and consumers.
After recent events, however distant they might have been to the people of Shanhu, there was an extra level of holiday cheer to their lives, knowing that a world-changing event had been averted... at the very least partially. Businesses were more festive, the people more excited, and the Fort Five, overlooking a busy column of hard streets and guided aerial lanes, had a fine view of it all.
With Thremont Corporation all but dissolved, its late leader destroyed, and the world rejoicing at the sudden resolution of a predicament that they had not even prepared for themselves, the Final Five were afforded a sudden influx of cash, albeit funneled into improving the group as a whole, rather than to spot them for whimsical desires.
The newly established "Fort Five" was their roomy headquarters, no longer confined to a penthouse that fit several supporting players, never mind the labs-worth of machinery that Anfisa had stuffed into one of the rooms. With several spaces just for things like research and technology on top of the more residential areas, the fort Five was a roomy, cozy, and downright lavishly contemporary double-penthouse situated on the sixty-third floor of a tower overlooking one of Shanhu's many lanes.
Though the size of the home base had increased considerably, the size of its fighting force had not. Only Mason, Amoix, and Yigga called the Fort "home" themselves, while Anfisa came by only to make use of the laboratory -a laboratory which was now "officially sanctioned" thanks to the organizations efforts and victories. Limov was a fleeting presence as usual, stopping by most often for free cold ones and a chat. And while John was a similarly enigmatic appearance to the Fort, he was present there on this chilly winter day.
Mason sat at the 8-person dining table of the Fort, feet away from their spacious kitchen of chrome luster, enjoying a mundane glass of water as he enjoyed some well-deserved rest. John sat at the head of the table, just beside Mason, himself sipping from a cup of coffee he had picked from the local Sundollars. Morning as it was, for The Informant, there was always work to do -that he was sitting and having a drink at all was nothing short of a miracle. Having just arrived and catching Mason and, perhaps, the Final Five themselves, he was nevertheless quick to get to the business of why he was there.
Before him lay a number of manila folders, color-coded and neatly stacked in a staggered fashion. Each one had a label, written in his characteristically no-nonsense handwriting.
"I'll save you the dread of having to meet with some stuffy old men about zoning laws and sponsorships. The leads I've quickly scrounged up are probably the more interesting bits to you all, but I figured it'd be polite to solicit your opinions on some new hires as well, since you'll have to be working alongside them too, in the end," John explained, pulling down the 'Hires'-labeled folder.
"Mason and Amoix are no strangers to maintaining a place like this, though they've requested a couple more disciples to keep up with the size. More than doubled the square footage, after all," he continued. Mason nodded sagely, but maintained his usual stoic silence as he looked out the full-wall windows beside the dining space, where a cool morning light from outside drifted in.
"Mason and Amoix will take care of those, of course, but we have a few others. I'll have to vet them, much the same way I brought Jin-Sun in," he said, nodding to the cyborg. "If we don't like them, I'll just find another with Emi's help."
Contained within the list of possible hires was a dark-skinned and clearly Changed young woman, bearing elven ears and a glimmering tail. Her file bore no true name, instead labeled as "Cobalt". The position she was apparently meant to fill in was "Armorer/Equipment Expert/Supply Chain". No doubt meant to fill a niche for the growing Final Five team to ensure everyone had the tools they needed.
Next was a dour-looking man with slicked-back hair and a pale complexion, looking thirty-odd years in age. This "Walter Otto Meyer" had a whole host of accolades and titles surrounding his apparent medical expertise. Having a doctor on hand, and one who could actually handle the likely maddening variety of ailments that an organization such as the Final Five experienced, was a god-send.
Third, a bureaucrat. A middle-aged woman by the name of Francis Deloza stared back at them through the prim and uptight mugshot that featured on her dossier. Having been a lawyer, diplomat, and secretary for the European Union all within her lifetime, she appeared to have all the qualifications for handling all of the more grueling aspects of being a truly "global" heroic force, and coming into contact with all of the governments and corporations that they impacted.
"While I'm sure Iphigenia could handle such things, your talents are obviously better suited in combat where possible. Having you embroiled in arguments with politicians when bad guys need zapping is something I think we'd best avoid. Though, I'm sure no one would stop you if you wanted to 'tag along'," John chuckled.
Pulling out the second folder, labeled 'Leads', John pushed the contents more directly towards the gathered Final Five, no doubt leaving it to them to decide on what to pursue.
"With your notoriety skyrocketing into space, and an averted global catastrophe, it seems as though lots of things have been coming out of the woodwork... like the shock rattled some floorboards, and in the chaos, everyone's got an agenda they can finally start tackling. There's a lot to do, but that's what we're all here for, isn't it? For the time being, no world-changing death fleets, but I'm sure you'll encounter at least something to challenge you all."