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Hey, it's that other guy!

Meeting Room,Seed Vault Compound
Morning, April 16, 2187
-14°C Outside|19°C Inside

Magnus "Slim" Opedal woke up two hours before the cafeteria opened. By 0730, 30 minutes before the crisis teams' briefing, he was at the back of the meeting room with a mug of coffee in one hand, a datapad in the other and a security mech by his side. He had greeted Charles (who also had a mech with him), and before that, snagged an energy bar from the pantry thanks to his heightened clearance. Charles was busy setting up a holographic presentation, so Slim was more than happy remaining silent. He browsed the news as he waited; orange glow of the holo-projector reflected off his bald head while his boot-clad feet lightly tapped against the carpeted floor.

Looking out the window, Slim saw the days long snowstorm had ended. It was a bright and clear morning, but it was still well below freezing outside. It didn't really matter; the seed vault buildings are all connected and heated, and he had no reason to go outside today. Even if he did, the weather didn't bother him. Some newcomers arrived with childish glee on their faces, plucking snowflakes out of the air and marveling at this "winter wonderland". On the other end of the spectrum, rapid fire shivers and curses came out of the cold intolerant like M-76 Revenants. To Slim, it's just normal; it's just like home; it's just what it always was.

Slim paused near the end of SRN weekly. Explosion of popularity for quarian music covers and dance holos? A smile appeared on his face. He pulled up his omni-tool, accessed the security cam footage from Basecamp Spitsbergen last night and sure enough, there's the complete recording of team 2's quarian belting out Bohemian Rhapsody alongside team 3's drell infiltrator! Slim didn't even realize that old song was this popular among other species. Was it one of those soundtracks they sent out on the earliest space probes? Anyway, he sure was glad Basecamp upgraded their cams with 64k display and 3D sound.

Zenn and Playboy's performance was just uploaded to YouDupe (and a short version to FlipFlop) when teams 2 and 3 started filling the meeting room. Slim had seen most of them already, so he gave them curt greetings like "morning" and "take a seat". Team 2 sat on the left side of the table, while team 3 mostly sat on the right. Mostly, because the table was a bit too high for Cannonball, while the human-made chairs hardly fit an elcor like Tank. Still, given how rowdy the party got last night (and how he had to drive them back to the compound), Slim was surprised no one skipped the meeting because of hangovers. Hell, some had even grabbed the first servings of breakfast from the cafeteria. Speaking of which, Slim was eager to see if the new chef had improved their previously spartan provisions (intergalactic food with 600 year shelf life was basically all preservatives). Food could wait; if only Charles would get straight to the point for once...

Who was Slim kidding? Charles prattled on for 30 minutes, with much of it about useless BS like how "SRN is undertaking sensitive missions few are willing to consider for the betterment of the solar system". This whole meeting could've been an email, but no, Charles and his formalities and his love of big words. Slim zoned out halfway through. He remembered reading somewhere that the average human attention span only lasted around 15 minutes or something; too bad his own attention span didn't last for the entire article. If only there's a salarian in the room; he heard these guys practically can't sit still...

Right, salarian. That salarian doctor sent a message to Charles and Slim this morning saying a certain Katya Serova had regained consciousness for 3.14 minutes (among other medical lingo). Wasn't Charles supposed to forward it to someone else? Slim's pretty sure he hadn't. Maybe Charles forgot, or maybe he's holding it on purpose to avoid distracting crisis teams from their missions. Either way, he could deal with it after the briefing.

Speaking of the briefing, Charles was finally done. He passed the holo-projector's remote to Slim. "Mr. Opedal, please explain the operational details."

"Callsigns," Slim reminded him of the first OPSEC rule, "Regent."

"I stand corrected," Charles said in that annoyingly smooth politician tone, "Slim."

"Right, so you are two teams and there's three problems, as Regent explained." Slim started with the roster of both teams. "There's not enough people to split into three teams, so you need to decide which team handles what."

"First, Dr. Jelize needs us to find her lost contact, a turian C-SEC detective callsign Spyglass, and some 'enthrallment device' he was supposed to pick up on Europa." Slim recapped the first of three possible missions. The request Jelize sent to SRN yesterday now displayed. "Outcast also asks us to meet them there to dig into Bane's connection with Blood Pack."

"Europa's too far for the shuttle without a retrofit, so you’ll need find another there." Slim continued by pulling out a few news reports. "Jorgal Kargg's calling krogan warriors to help him take down Quash Hurgott, but I'm sure he'll let some of you in on it, too. The salarians are also making a move on Europa, and if SRN offers support, they should let one of our teams come along. Then there's new 'Chimera' merc group trying to take on the Blood Pack on their own; they aren't with the krogans or salarians, but I doubt they'll turn down help from us."

"Option two, Mars." Slim changed slides to maps of an alliance research facility amid a orange-red desert. "Eclipse locked themselves in the prothean archive, you know, where they say Shepard and T'Soni found plans for the Crucible. Anyway, alliance and asari troops got them surrounded but nobody's budging. So Captain Riley's asking us to diffuse the situation."

"In fact, Riley sent you a message first last night, Wraith, but she didn't get a reply from you." Slim highlighted Riley's message. "Doesn't matter. What matters is the data from the archive. It's better we hold on to it than Eclipse."

"Your shuttle can reach Mars; it's stretching its range but you get to decide how you go in. Alternatively, Riley is offering a ride on an alliance frigate. This one's safer, though Eclipse seeing us with the alliance may make negotiations harder. There's also a suspected Eclipse blockade runner leaving Iceland tomorrow. Sneaking on board might just get you directly into the archive."

"Closest problem is the assassination attempt. Me and Regent have, hmm, different opinions on how to handle this." Slim sipped his now lukewarm coffee, letting Charles explain his own plan.

"Understandably, Slim is concerned for my safety." As Charles spoke, his security mech twitched slightly behind him. "However, I believe the best course of action will be attending the memorial service in Geneva tomorrow. Should another assailant make an attempt on my life, we'll have the best opportunity to capture them there. Otherwise, we honor fallen heroes from the war and connect with leaders from across the solar system."

"Or we can follow the weapon." Slim set down his coffee mug and brought up an omni-blade schematic. "That assassin's omni-blade is a new Jormangund model, and the only Jormangund factory still running is in Malaysia."

"I admit, other SRN stakeholders have been expressing concerns over Jormangund sponsorship of our network." Charles beckoned for remote, and once he had it, he flipped to a batch of corporate logos. In particular, Charles zoomed in on the logos of two arms manufacturers. "Galina Rosenkova, president of Rosenkov Materials, offers full support in bringing Jormangund's assets under joint Rosenkov and SRN control."

"Last way to sort this out: go after the money." Charles returned the remote to Slim, who moved to credit transfer records. "IT found e-transfers from Istanbul to the assassin."

"Istanbul has one of the few surviving stock exchanges on earth, making the city a financial hub of Eurasia." The final slide was a series of stock chart, of which Charles pointed to one labeled JRMG; it had taken a recent dive into the red. "Stanwick Dobbs of Ascension Financial Services, the second largest financier of SRN, recommends taking over Jormangund's stocks by physically installing a virus to Borsa Istanbul."

"That's it. If anyone has questions or ideas, say it." Slim turned off the holo-projector. The warm orange glow vanished, leaving the meeting room in its plain white lights. "Otherwise, me and Regent will start assigning missions. All of you will be leaving later today."
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