The bustle of "the Jungle" was a curious mix of voices, both human and otherwise. The non-human ones spoke in tones of rustling paper, clicking keys, the percolating drip of a coffee machine. The humans were far less harmonious, of course. Some officers yelled into their phones, others simply sat and took notes while listening, while still others seemed to be deliberately ignoring the ringing sounds to concentrate on surfing the datanet. Perps argued while the Desk Sergeant asked reasonable questions, and the blinds rattled to the sound of heavy machinery crushing and tearing apart building materials at the Rubbleyard down the block. It didn't take Mitch long to find out where to go—a frosted glass door had "Captain Alyosius Gaines—XSWAT" printed in holofont that seemed to hover an inch or so away from the surface of the door itself. A single knock later, and a gravelly voice called out a single word—"Enter."

Mitch walked through the Jungle, and into Gaines' office with his best poker face on. He'd just spent a very unproductive morning at HQ/Sigma, where everyone seemed to have an opinion on his 'little spat' with the Director, and he sincerely hoped the troops here at HQ/Epsilon had more important things to worry about. He introduced himself politely, in the most neutral tone of voice he could manage. "Good morning Captain Gaines, I'm Sergeant Brogan."

The interior of Gaines' office was speckled with commendations and awards. Also prominent were pictures of Gaines and various government members, including several City Councilmen and Coordinator Bryant. The light was indirect, the desk massive and sturdy—seemingly constructed of battered battleship steel. Upon the surface of this iron monolith rested a high-end desktop workstation. Gaines sat literally surrounded by holographic screens, each one displaying graphs and charts and outlines. Upon Mitch's entrance, those screens blinked away, revealing the man himself. Gaines was of average size and build and possessed an entirely unremarkable face with only one exception—his eyes were a piercing, almost luminous yellow in color. That coppery gaze became fixed immediately at a point over Mitch's left shoulder. "Good day, Sergeant. You're my new CRASH Team Leader, is that right?" Mitch instantly felt aware of something there, just behind him, and in the quick turn of his head spotted movement. A sword hovered there in the air, rotating slowly, seemingly watching and taking the Sergeant's measure. It was no ordinary sword, even discounting its ambulatory abilities—the blade was all of one piece, a wavy orange-yellow as if it were carved all from one piece of tiger's eye quartz. Runic letters glittered along the blade's length for a moment, then the sword flew up to the wall and settled onto a pair of tongs like a raven returning to its roost.

"Yes sir, I'm getting them started A.S.A.P." Mitch didn't mention the squad meeting he had planned later that afternoon—he wanted a chance to size up the squad himself before he turned them loose on the new Captain! Anyway, if Gaines had anything on the ball, he'd know about a new squad scheduling a meeting in his own HQ. If he wanted to 'pop in' for a few minutes, that would be his prerogative.

Gaines stood up and extended his hand. There were more stones affixed to his uniform, Mitch saw. Small chips of rock, mostly grey or light chalk in color, each with a single rune engraved upon their surface. The rock chips looked as if they could be pulled free with a single tug, the entire arrangement clicked slightly with the Captain's movement.

So Gaines was definitely a mage, but was he one of the Director's recruits? That could be trouble for Mitch, but so far, he didn't seem hostile... Mitch shook his hand firmly and smiled. "HQ already gave us our first case, Captain, as of yesterday. I think they wanted it solved yesterday, too."

Gaines remained standing, that unblinking stare fixed upon Mitch's face. "Sergeant Brogan. My orders here have you promoted to Detective Lieutinant and placed in charge of the CRASH program here in Epsilon Sector." Gaines' brow gleamed under the lights—he was bald as a cue ball.

...? Mitch blinked. He recovered quickly and got his best 'serious face' on, then saluted. "Thank you, sir. That's wonderful news." Mitch glanced out Gaines' window at the chaos of the Jungle. "Captain, who would you recommend I talk to about logistics here? The CRASH Team's gonna need some work space."

Those yellow eyes didn’t even shift one iota. “Yes, about that.” Gaines’ voice had a rough edge to it, as if rocks were being ground around inside his throat. “First, we need to get something straight.”

The Captain’s hand lifted, finger poking into the front of Mitch’s uniform shirt. “You may be the Director’s husband, but this is MY house.” He rumbled. “I’ve got plenty of work for you to do here.”

"Yes Sir. Madam Director tells me XSWAT needs more personnel in Epsilon. That's why we're here. She also told me to find out what happened to Malachi Brogan."

Gaines shook his head. “That’s all immaterial.” His head turned, finally breaking the force of his stare. Mitch felt as if a spotlight had been turned off. “Your father was… is a fine officer. I can respect that, and your relationship to him. Nevertheless.”

The eyes flicked back up into Mitch’s gaze, locking him there. “XSWAT doesn’t exist to serve the Director’s whims nor to protect any one specific family. You can look for your father or whatever the Director wants on your own time. Meanwhile, I’ve got cases for you and your team. Cho has your space all set up, refer any questions to my in-box. Dismissed.”

Mitch nodded noncommittally. "Very well, Sir." Then he turned on his heel and calmly left Gaines' office.