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About Balcerzak

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  1. Well, Elaine hadn't swung at her, and Jess had positioned herself in such a way that when Tarquin arrived, the wild woman hadn't the chance to take another pass at him. Maybe the boy would take offense at not being treated like he could handle his own problems, but Jess she'd rather he be mad at her than decked again and laid out on the hangar floor, right before an important engage. Whatever the case, they'd made it into the Aria and launched, just before a tremor shook the ship. "Running analysis," Jess informed Tarquin, once the cause became clear, both visually and over comms chatter. They were fresh out of the gate, so obviously fuel, ammunition, and other reserves were fine, she'd checked before they launched, and her other designated responsibilities were taken care of. Which left sparing a few moments to size up the enemy. It was, of course, that enemy. Jess swallowed slightly, and closed her eye briefly. She had a feeling she knew who else might be badly affected by his arrival, and almost unconsciously opened up a channel to them. "Hey, Alriana," the one-eyed sergeant began softly. "Look at that. He's surrounded, he's vulnerable. He is NOT all powerful. We can do this. Together. Here's what I've got on him." Then she punched a button and transmitted current readings and projections of his suit's capabilities and likely responses. Jezebel attunes Alriana "Remember. You are not alone." While Jess didn't have an incredibly strong bond with the alien, a few cooking adventures and some curiosity mostly, she did feel a strange bit of kinship. Hopefully her concerns and encouragements were not unwelcome. Turning to Tarquin, she inquired, "There's a lot of things in the way here, do you think we have a shot?" There'd only been a slight bit more grumbling on her end before Abby and Calina were in the air, and into battle. The whole 'air' bit was still a little unnerving for her, but at least the Vergloria was nothing like the flying coffins she vowed never to set foot in again. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad? Last time she'd managed to ignore the fact that she was flying under the sheer weight of everything that had happened, and everything had worked out fine. So, it couldn't be so bad this time either, could it? Such mundane thoughts had been swirling about her brain, as the pair had begun floating off away from the Deliverance, setting up a vague perimeter/offensive line with the units launched from the Riese, but without a moment's notice, even the briefest bit of leisure before they clashed swords with the enemy--off in the distance--had been snatched away. Abigail felt a wrench in her gut, and a shiver of horror as the loud reports of gunfire rang out behind her. And not just gunfire, but the sound of it impacting a target. And also the ear-grating screech of metal in pain, hull giving way, shrieking as it collapsed under heavy force and fatigue. Swivelling to face the rear, with only a bit of wobble as she did, Abby took in the gruesome scene of smoke billowing out from where the bridge of the Riese had used to be. A couple girders still protruded awkwardly, one draping the remains of a sheet of glass, now spiderwebbed, broken, and looking like nothing more than the tattered and torn canvas sail of some ancient museum relic. The cause of the destruction: Praxis Alpha. The alien machine Abby had already hated more than any the cats could have fielded. Her heart resumed beating after what felt an eternity, but was really only a scant handful of seconds, when Firma let slip a vital fact in her exchange with Hannah. The rush of blood in her ears was still a roar, but... things were manageable again. And it was time to take stock of the situation. Several others had already sprung into action, Abigail couldn't afford to be late. She looked around, the nearby units were all... fuck, really? No, there was that one from the base defense that she'd had a good time working with before, in the old machine she'd spent a time or two in. And there was one other. Abby gave Calina a quick nod and meaningful glance, indicating to get ready for springing into action, but she grabbed the comms first and sent a private line, hoping it would go through, work out. It wasn't like there'd never been friction between them, but it had been on the mend, and the friendly sparring match after they'd both apologized had been proof of that. "...Hey, Kim. I'm asking for a favor here. I know he's already got his paws full by having to tussle with the folks that charged him, but I'm gonna make a strafing run here, and wanna be absolutely sure this magnum hits him dead center between the eyes. You mind helping out with another layer of distraction? Riddle him with, I dunno, your favorite fucking bullets, it doesn't matter if they hit. This asshole needs to pay for what he's done, so please." ...Actually. Closing the channel, and settling back into position, Abigail turned to her partner again. "You know what. Cally, we both owe him," Abigail didn't need to say 'for Hilling', it was understood. Though, looking again at the gaping hole where the Riese's bridge used to be... no, even with that, there wouldn't be a mistake in meaning. Putting words to it would just be scraping at open wounds for no reason. Continuing, she added, "Let's make this a double tap, you get in on the action here and squeeze the trigger too." Her girlfriend had always been a better shot, but with this much on the line, Abby sure as hell wasn't going to miss. They were both doing it together. For their family. Abigail casts Valor. Calina casts Sense. They move to 6 9 and use Beam Magnum on Soor'Kan
  2. The Look "We're ready, Vivian," Brant's voice came over the comms, "Regalia's heading up to Catapult A, now. How are we going to play this one?" More or less the same question as the one she'd asked Jessica, Firmia noted. "Focus on their mobile suits. Don't worry about saving ammunition, but remember we're only a few hours away from the base. Keep the damage manageable in that timeframe so we don't have to ground anyone." "A few more hours ... got it." Brant sighed as he realized getting that stimulant in now was probably a good idea. A shot in the neck before launch was never fun, but he couldn't be fumbling around with the cylinder after takeoff. "Alright, we already got the big challenge out of the way," Brant said to his fiancee and copilot, "This is just one more for us to knock down. Let's get this pricks out of our way so we can end this war." A Woman's Intuition "Carlos, how's the Eidolon? Will you be able to cover the Avalon?" It still felt a little weird having Carlos pilot for her, but with Louise out there, having barely changed from how she used to be, she knew it shouldn't ... at least by comparison. Perhaps it was because she was used to him being locked up and the actual recruitment process hadn't lasted more than a few minutes and only started earlier that very morning ... CARLOS SANTANA At least that recruitment had gone smoothly, and could actually be called a recruitment. If Firmia could deal with every problem individual that way, her life would be much easier. After this war, though, the only people she'd have left to deal with were enemy stragglers, Rex, her mother, grandfather, and alien colluding cousin and sister. She didn't even want to 'recruit' any of these people per se, but they weren't actors she could just ignore, either, especially not the latter two. Whatever was happening in Russia was going to affect her and her people sooner or later ... LOYALTY (CHAPTER I) (https://pastebin.com/aK0giyER)
  3. Oh crap. Think of the devil. Jess had crossed eye with Elaine as she let her gaze rove across the hangar, and the wild card tried striking up a conversation. The sergeant felt her mouth fall into a bit of a frown, and didn't fight very hard to correct it. "Ready? Well, I'm trying to be..." her eyes narrowed slightly, "The aliens deserve a good hot wad of plasma up their tailpipes." Jess shook her head briefly, answering the question about Tarquin with that gesture alone before firing back. "What exactly is your angle here? Planning an apology? I'll let him know, but I'd rather he didn't have to deal with you if he doesn't need to." One of Hannah's friendly sisters had come by, solving one of Thorvald's dilemmas. There was still a fair bit of weight on his mind about the other: what to do if it was Astin, Marianne, and company instead of aliens. Still, seeing that Vera had come to terms with a potential face-off of that nature, who was he to let himself lag behind? He was in the middle of smiling and nodding when a phrase he'd never expected to pass the cyborg's lips came out. Raising an eyebrow, and trying to restrain some laughter--ultimately failing, a few healthy peals escaped--he couldn't not reply. "Well I'll be, never would've pegged you as interested in boring, slow-and-steady types like me. Figured someone flashier'd be your thing, haha..." A twinkle came to his eyes and he quickly transitioned, as they made their way to the elevators. "But speaking of family, I don't think I got around to showing you one of my favorite pictures of them, did I?" He began rooting around for it, warm feelings suffusing his heart and soul.
  4. "All-in," Monty bluffed, pushing his stack of chips toward the center of the table. He looked first at Lynx, then slid his gaze to Bonner, trying to get a feel for how they were reading him, but ultimately, time would soon tell. He'd bumped into the pair a little earlier in the morning, invited them to a friendly game to help waste the time, and now here they were. Monty's 'monster hand' consisted of a two of clubs, a six of diamonds, jack-ten of hearts, and the ace of spades. A real winner. But that wasn't the point, the point was the other players at the table... until an alarm sounded and the Avalon began to transition to battle mode, starting first with the android that had also been camped out in the room, as she snapped to attention and headed out into the hallway. He wasn't 100% sure, but if he had to guess, he'd have said it was the Stephanie model. Maybe he should've invited her to sit down to cards too? "Well," he pushed back his chair a little and made it to his feet. "I guess we're gonna have to postpone this, huh?" He hadn't had much to do on-board during the last fight, thankfully none of the injuries on this ship had been severe. Wonder what today'll hold... When the klaxons began sounding on the Deliverance, Abigail accidentally dropped her toothbrush in the sink and began to curse angrily through a mouthful of toothpaste foam. If there were gonna be an enemy attack, could they not at least have the courtesy to pull their shit at a decent hour? Middle of the afternoon, maybe? "Gahfam muvvafakkahs," a quick gargle and spit, and she maneuvered around the small room she shared with Calina whenever she spent the night on the freighter that had been her home until the bigger, fancier Riese had taken her in. Things were still a little awkward, rough around the edges at parts, but integration was gonna happen, gonna work. She'd make it. Pulling on clothes and getting suited up, she fired off a quick text to Jess. Launching soon, see ya, love ya. Then she barreled out into the hall, making her way to the small ship's command center, or what passed for it, calling out as she went, "Cally! What's the news?"
  5. Thorvald was visiting the brig, when the alarm went out. It had gotten to be a bit of a pattern, visiting Esther, that even after the girl had been released into Lieutenant Kim's custody he found was hard to break. That said, it's not like the place was empty. There was still a very interesting person being held "guest" there. There was no particular motive behind the morning visit, just, small talk and keeping busy, really. "Well," the man turned toward the source of the noise, as the alarm was sounded, piped in from the intercom speakers. "Guess, that's that." Thorvald didn't have to wait for the text from the captain to come through to figure out what he should be doing next. "A little early yet, can't nearly have made it to Nunavet, but I guess we're getting a welcome party. Hopefully it's mostly cats, and not your misguided friends or relatives, but either way I guess... Can't really back down now." He paused and shot the cyborg a deliberative glance. Astin and Avery, Marianne. It was still hard to really wrap one's head around. "You were, coming along for this one right? Sorry, I don't have a key to this," he gestured at the cell, "So I'll be heading on down to the hanger first, looks like." Pushing himself up to standing, Thorvald ambled to the door, resting up against the frame for a moment before turning and looking back. He wasn't really sure how to say what he was feeling. He wasn't even sure he quite knew just what he was feeling. Jess had had another session with Cheryl, after getting more details about that fateful day. It... might have helped? It was hard to really know for certain. Attacks of anxiety, floods of dark memories, phantom pains: none of them really sent ahead calling cards, letting one know when they were dropping by for tea. But past day or two she'd felt reasonable well, and the prospect of helping to pilot again was more a cheery thought than not. She didn't approve at all of Elaine being out on the field again, not after what she'd done to Tarquin, but the Sergeant didn't have any real say in that matter. She was just going to have to try to make sure they were kept far enough away from each other, if she could manage it. When the alarm came, she'd just finished putting together some sandwiches for lunches, thinking ahead and all. With an engage this early in the morning, it was doubtful they'd need them, but... just in case, she tossed them in a pair of paper bags and brought them along with her as she made her way to the hanger. She shared the lift down with another girl, Silvavolke. Aliza. The sergeant specifically remembered her because she was not Elaine, which had been a matter of some amusement to Doctor Hart. She hadn't spent much time with her, and had been debating how best to start off a conversation but they reached their destination floor before she managed to get anything out. And no sooner had they reached the hangar proper than the other pilot bolted toward their machine. It sounded like they'd called out a nickname of the alien's too, so they were friends? Interesting. Jess slowly walked over toward the Aria, thoughts all aswirl, about nothing and everything.
  6. Thorvald wasn't quite sure just what it was he'd said that had set the rebel off, he'd tried to be polite, pointing out what had seemed an apparent flaw, and she'd flipped. ...Though she did have a point about the Umbra's unfortunate accident. Maybe it wasn't that their machines were undertuned? It would be hard to tell without more field experience. He didn't say anything further on the matter, no point riling up any more bad blood; he simply listened attentively to Abigail's answers, and her excuses, nodding silently when when she was done. There was too much more going on to stay wrapped up back and forth barbs, even if the captain hadn't put the quash on it. In fact, the revelation that Astin was one of the traitor cut deep, and hearing that they had been the one that shot Christina--even though it was quickly refuted by Kim--hit Thorvald to the core almost like he'd gotten shot himself. He'd thought they'd done decently at connecting, he'd looked forward to a couple more conversations, helping them out further along the path they'd had a small taste of, leading a squad, even if only while one of the more superior officer's was wrapped up in other business. They'd had worries and hangups, sure, but everyone did, and he thought there'd been some progress getting past them. Added on to the truth of Avery's betrayal, and the family man wasn't sure which was worse. He'd trusted the mechanic. Maybe she was a spy, but some of her story had to be true. A person couldn't fake all of that. Not buying it. A gloom in spirit was beginning to flap the unflappable. Where had he gone wrong? How could he have noticed and helped them, either of the two? And of course, trying to ignore the sinking feeling that it was now far too late. Uncrossable lines had been crossed. Speaking of which, Elaine was just dancing a very similar dance herself. "What the hell, Elaine." It was a flat exclamation, barely worth of the name. A little disgust tinged the disbelief, apparent in the intonation. "What even..." There were no words for this bafflement, and no place for him to step in. The victim was already being tended, and the aggressor was easily apprehended. Her whole outburst was impotent and incomprehensible. What purpose did it even serve? Thorvald shook his head slowly from side to side and slowly left the room, in accordance with the dismissal. If someone needed him for something, they could track him down, otherwise he had some deep thinking and serious reflecting to do. When Louise turned to her with her answer, Jess smiled weakly and looked down at the table, some of her hair falling in front of her eye as she did. That made sense, the aliens would be keeping their own counsel of course. What had she expected? But no sooner was she settling in to the disappointment then the other enemy lieutenant unexpectedly interjected. Raising her head again and turning to look at Vera, Jess almost gasped when the expression of sympathy had been dispensed with and actual information was delivered. She felt a bit of a tight squeeze in her chest, a flutter of fear she still couldn't beat back. Today's enemy had been the same. Surely it was just her imagination, but Jess felt her ruined socket begin to ache, a dull pulsing, tuned in time with her heartbeats. Had she wanted revenge? Closure? For some sense of safety to return, after everything had been taken away? She wasn't sure. Maybe? As a soldier, she'd been nominally prepared for the hardships of war, but the overwhelming disadvantage she'd had thrust upon her... And now a part of that had been resolved, but the strength of this one knight's right hand was still nothing compared to the enemy king. How should that make her feel? Jess found herself confused mostly, and she was entirely off-guard when her new partner was assaulted by someone who should have been a friend. Already mostly still in a state of shock, she found herself unable to do more than stare agape, as others wrapped the situation up and the meeting as a whole was dismissed. Well, Thorvald was staying quiet now, and Tarquin had obediently bowed to the Captain's request as well, so Abigail was starting to calm back down herself. Nobody else seemed overly interested in who or what did the mechanic work, apparently, so long as it got done, or at least weren't being outwardly judgemental about it. There was a lot of other things to unpack, though, so that made some sense. Louise and Vera were still fielding some questions and... oh shit, that just happened. A bit of a grimace on her face, knowing what it felt like to take a swift, unexpected hit to the nose, Abby winced and turned away. Cocky ass though he sometimes was, he didn't deserve that, and what the hell had gone wrong with Elaine anyway? Bitch had always been a little high-strung, but... Dodged a bullet there, on turning down that offer of friendship, it looked like. Shrugging, Abby turned to Calina and Terry and quietly offered, "I told you, won't be any issue with them having us. Apparently they've been dealing with this since before I got let out, so..." Maybe that was too fast and loose with the timeline, the rebel didn't really know or care. She just had to try to keep an upbeat face and ease the integration of her people. Elaine was somebody else's problem.
  7. She was the one treating people as fodder? What the fuck? "Nikolai and Hilling were both my important--" Abigail began before getting cut off by Jess, flinching and blushing as the sound pierced the room. She squeezed her eyes shut and forced herself to listen. Fine, just answer questions, keep emotions locked down. No problem, easy. Gritting her teeth a little, when the chance came, she replied by raising a hand and jerking its thumb back toward her chest, then clapping it on Calina's shoulder afterward. "You wondering about our mechanics? You're looking at them. Me and Cally're responsible for most of the work. Some of the others help out when they can, everybody's got at least a bit of skill for basic maint, but the upgrading and refitting? That's on us." After Lieutenant Kim asked her question about 'who shot who, really', the line of thinking involved sparked a curiosity in Jess that had mostly been dormant. The one-eyed sergeant had been listening quietly through the meeting, even after Tarquin began to trade angry words with one of the hotheads. But now... "Would, would it have been this Soor-kan, near Central about a week ago that shot down a roving ANF patrol, or one of the other Zodiac Knights?" She asked softly, quietly, almost drowned out and lost within the room, directing it at both of Louise and Vera. Either could answer, if they knew. Given that the Riese was in quite a different location here geographically, then where they had been earlier, the machine from then might be entirely different from the one just now, especially if the aliens were divvying up their responsibilities in some manner other than location and territory. And, maybe it really wouldn't matter, but...
  8. Thorvald was a little surprised in himself, when he found himself feeling Vera was almost more sympathetic than Calina. Must've been the stoic, honor-bound way she faced the facts, rather than the brash attempts at justification. And for Louise? He couldn't help but turn to see what Roxanna's reaction might be, despite the fact that as XO she'd probably been informed and reacted in advance of the public meeting. After all, it had been her family the... previous incarnation had gone rampaging for. While the man didn't have any personal skin in the game, something about her just felt... off, and hard to trust. Again, as crazy as it sounded, Vera was coming off as the more grounded, less likely to stab you in the back option. Concerns, questions? There were a few, though maybe not all of them best suited to the current time and place. A private visit to the cyborg might be in order later, curious to find out if there was some nougat of good beneath the hard candy shell of murder that surrounded her. For now though, his focus turned towards Abby's crew. "D'you guys have mechanics too? Skilled ones? There's an unfortunate hole in our roster there right now, and no offense intended, but the machines you were using didn't look exactly prepared for the scale of battle you charged into. ...Condolences on your loss," Thorvald inclined his head respectfully. The gesture wasn't enough to really offset his phrasing however, Abigail had pushed herself up from seated, both hands on the table, almost looking like she was going to jump over it to get to the other side, a fierce glare on her face. But a few seconds and an audible in-drawn breath later, she scrunched her hands, drawing her fingers back from the extended position the widespread palm she'd slapped them with had landed them, a slight skittering sound of her nails sliding across the surface accompanying the rustling fabric from her clothes as she slumped back to seated. "Whatever you're insinuating, just stop. Or come out and say it plain, but then I'll have to remind you that Hilling wasn't the only person who's..." Abby choked up and had to redirect her phrasing. "It's just the... hhh, shit happens against enemies of this caliber sometimes. Look at what happened to Nikolai. You gonna say the Riese and the ANF are that much better at maintaining and preparing than my people? I'm gonna tell you to shut the fuck up, or come see me later and put the fuck up."
  9. Abigail was a big mix of emotions, standing up at the head of the table between her girlfriends. Terry was there too, but Sena had opted out. Large crowds of unfamiliar people were not her forte, and to be honest, Abby couldn't blame her. She also badly needed some time to process what had happened, to fucking grieve. Hopefully things would come out all right with a bit of distance. Even without her, though, the situation was odd and uncomfortable: it was like being put back on trial for something most of the crew had already acquitted her for. Would the outcome this time somehow turn out different for her family, now that they've joined her? It shouldn't, but... ...yeah, looks like it wasn't going to. Much like last time, Brant was one of the first to extend the welcome aboard, and with the tension in their recent history, that actually meant a lot to her. Abigail flashed a grateful smile back in the man's direction, along with a thumbs up she wasn't sure he actually saw, as he seemed to turn his attention to the bona fide villains on the other side of Jess--this split in his focus also probably accounting for that bit of missing enthusiasm behind the man's words. Well, whatever. Tarquin's acceptance was more of a surprise. Abby had kind of gotten the impression the little overachiever thought rather poorly of her, but maybe she hadn't given him an honest chance. Had they ever really even spoken? Still, one less worry about getting her family integrated properly, at least for however long it took to take down Apotheosis. Good good. Slightly less good, was the somewhat worrying interest that creepy alien was staring at Calina with. Odd parts fear and jealousy mixed within Abigail, because hey, she'd fucking gone up against that Alpha too, you know, but... honestly, could do without a bunch of extraterrestrial attention. There were enough problems and prejudices on her plate already. But... if that was appreciation and not anger--and it had to be, right, that landshark was fighting with them, after all--then that was three marks of approval after Jess's. That only left a few of the big names to weigh in (squad leader, XO, and the lieutenant) as well as some more of the supporting cast. If there were any major objections, she would have expected them to have come up already, so Abby was feeling like she could start to relax... and maybe think about her own take on what to do with everything happening over on the other side of the captain there. Reaching her arm out a little, she squeezed Calina's shoulder supportively, as if to say, 'nailed it,' then turned to look Apo in the eye. Vera first: she hadn't had much face time with the cyborg, but it was more familiarity than she had with the... newly minted android. And, yeah, sure Alphonse and the ANF were a bunch of dicks; she knew and understood that firsthand. But there was a line, and crossing over that into amoral psycho killer territory just wasn't Abby's cup of tea. No matter what people said about some of her... less well-thought-out decisions. "Okay, the sob story for this other one is nice and all, but how did the purple butterfly lose her metal wings? These new bioplastic ones don't carry the same impact, ya know? And maybe I'm getting the wrong vibe, but she doesn't look about to sing like the lead canary is, so... Why drag her out here in front of us, instead of letting her get her lounge on in our oh-so-comfortable brig? Is there something I'm missing?" Maybe her curiousity and mistrust were tugging war against each other, keeping her from holding a really consistent position, but, well. It was only natural.
  10. Sena grunted in reply to Terry, at least he'd agreed to follow through with orders. Then she glanced back down at the communicator, no text back yet, had something come up? Well, no time to waste, slipping her gloves back on and making sure her helmet was once again firmly fastened, the rebel sniper revved up the engine of her Mark-III and kicked off the side of Deliverance jetting her way back in the direction of the recently concluded battle. When her communicator vibrated with an incoming call, Sena gave the small device a quick tap, transferring the communications link to her helmet, letting her much more comfortably talk and drive at the same time. It was Calina, and she sounded... well, not exactly short on breath, but maybe distracted? Her words came in short, easy to digest chunks, nothing too complicated. The hacker was certainly overthinking things, but it was almost like this was a string of afterthoughts? Though... she was just seeing Abby again for the first time in forever. Sena lowered her gaze as soon as that realization came to mind, regardless of the fact that there was no video link so it's not like anyone would see her do that... or that she might be at risk of seeing anything herself. It was just instinct. Awkward instinct. The content of the message was, well, not entirely dubious. In fact, considering what supposedly went on between this Jessica and Abigail, perhaps she should have anticipated something of that nature. But their plan had always really been to grab Abby and go. "T-Talk it over, huh..." How likely was it they could approach the negotiation from a position of strength? And while she appreciated being brought to the table for the discussion... it probably wasn't necessary for everyone to be present? Was it jealousy, pride, anxiety? Some part of her was still on edge Then again, she wasn't sure it was possible to every calm down and return to 'normal'. Not any more. Not without Robert. Squeezing the flight controls tightly, she tried to force out another reply, say something more. "T-That--" "Oh God, Sena, it's so good to hear your voice again," she was interrupted from the other side of the line. Abigail, taking Calina's invitation it seemed, excitedly rattling words off with rapid speed. Good to hear my voice? she doubted. Unlikely, the damn stutter. Surely it's just... I'm just, a hassle. The unfortunate choice of words had dug into an old wound, but it wasn't malicious or on purpose. She had to just... try to ignore it. "L-L-Likewise, captain." Then Sena fell silent. What should she say? "Q-Quite the chase you led us on, g-getting l-leads wasn't easy." Simple, matter of fact statements. She wanted to, was supposed to say more. She was sure of it. Right? Just this wasn't enough, didn't match up to what the reunion deserved. But she... couldn't bring herself to make any comments about welcoming back a dear sister, a precious member of the family. Not hot on the heels of-- "G-geh, stop, not while we're on call," a barely audible voice could be heard from the other end. A strange feeling of detachment washed over Sena. It was like, she should be angry about this, but her anger was still occupied, reserved for something else, indefinitely detained. Only a queer feeling of secondhand embarrassment arose in response. "I... uh, w-well..." an awkward pause. "S-See you soon." And she ended the call. Probably for the best, there was a hulk of a robot headed her way, she'd probably need to talk things out with that in a few seconds. Calina was practically beaming, clearly pleased with herself and the reactions she was eliciting. Abigail couldn't begrudge her that, and as the woman moved in on her pilot suit--like a chef eager to crack open a crab shell to get at the tasty meat inside--after having grabbed ahold of the zipper, Abby did a little wiggle to try to help her out with the process. But a momentary kibosh was put on any progress in that direction when the rebel's communicator lit up. Dropping the efforts at undressing her, Calina lifted it up and explained the caller, switching her focus a bit after giving one last kiss on the neck, this one more tender than the last, greedy one. With her girlfriend occupied, Abby would just have to do this herself then. She managed to get the zipper pulled down the center of the suit and shimmy her upper body out, black tanktop and bare shoulders exposed to the outside air, which hit the built up sweat from piloting and brought a pleasant chill, raising a few goose bumps. Expectations of more pleasant sensations to come raised a few more. But then, a bit suddenly, Calina held the device out to her, giving her a chance, no... more than just inviting, almost pressuring her to put in some words. Not that Abigail didn't have anything to say, or wasn't excited to speak with Sena and the others, not by any means, it was just... "Oh God, Sena, it's so good to hear your voice again," she got out in a rush. And it was true. Though the girl hadn't spoken much--and Abby had only heard most of it from a short distance away, as the conversation between Calina and her crossed the gap between them--it really did do her good to hear the younger woman's voice, It sounded much the same as it always did: a bit unsteady, and while sometimes frustrating--when she got stuck on a sound and couldn't move on, overall very soft, warm, and pleasant to listen to. Sena's reply came back, and it was about what she'd expected, up until it got to the point where it just... hung awkwardly. Abby planned on giving her all the time she needed, but a devilish move by Calina to try to slide the strap of her tank off and over the side of her shoulder caught her by surprise, and Abby sent a frenzied whisper of "G-geh, stop, not while we're on call," with accompanying slight glare back in her direction. There wasn't much more to the call though, whether Sena had picked up on things and decided to end it early, or for whatever other reason. The Deliverance and her crew would be arriving soon though, so there would be plenty of time to make up for it then in person. "Yeah, catch you shortly," Abby returned, though she suspected it was too late. Sounded like the line had been cut just before she got it out. Shaking her head and grinning, she cast her glance back to Calina. "Well, Cally, I hope you're happy," she laughed out half joking, half mocking phrase that she only really partly meant. "Sounds like..." a twist of her lip began to form into a frown. It sounded like the girl was taking things hard, but that was to be expected. Really felt like the wrong thing to actually say though, so Abby went in a bit of a different direction instead, "Sounds like we'll have some work cut out for us when they arrive."
  11. Terry sounded like he was falling apart at the seams, and Sena really had no excess of patience to deal with that right now. "If she s-s-says it's talking, it's t-talking. T-Trust..." Sena started, before a grimace twisted her face. Trusting was how Hilling had ended up dead. They were just supposed to have rendezvoused with the Riese, collected Abby, and been on their way. Calina hadn't said anything about pitched engagements with alien craft sporting advanced weaponry. Her fists curled into balls, and if her nails hadn't been nubs they would have easily cut into her skin. No, that wasn't Calina's fault. Painful though it was to admit. It didn't seem to be a setup from the captain, from Jessica either. It was just... life continuing its grand tradition of shitting all over everything Sena held dear. ...Why did the freighter need to pull up alongside, though? Now that Terry had planted a seed of doubt, the hacker couldn't help but wonder. There had to be a reason, she just couldn't think of it. She stopped getting ready to disembark, and considered her options. "I-I'll launch b-back out and v-vanguard. G-Get any unlikely f-f-friction resolved before D-Deliverance is in d-danger." Always one to multitask when possible, Sena fired off a quick text message while she finished conversing with Terry, who might have some final thing to chime in with still. We're otw. But why, though? Terry and some of the others are concerned. "Kyaah," came a slightly surprised squeak, that melted into a giggle after the initial jump scare wore off. "Straight for the jugular, huh?" Well, Calina always had been aggressive, this fit her to a T. Either way, her movements, her threat--no, promise--got Abigail's pulse to quicken, and her body to ache with anticipation. Reflexively rubbing her legs together slightly, not having all that much freedom of movement with Calina straddled atop her, Abby leaned into her hold, pushing herself away from the wall she'd been leaning up against, doing her best to grant as much free access as possible. With everything that had happened, Calina deserved at least this much. Maybe she'd fight for control of the flow another time, but, not now. Laughing again at the quip about the door, Abigail shook her head and chuckled. "I think everybody finished up or rushed off already, but even so, I can't imagine anyone who'd actually interrupt if they somehow ended up walking in. Do your worst."
  12. Jess smiled a little as the shared name snarl reared itself briefly for Makoto, but the young man seemed to quickly hit on a solution that worked for him. More or less, anyway, he still seemed a mite out of sorts as he explained his circumstances and tossed out a question of his own. "A little bit here and there," Jess confirmed, "What mother, proud of their son, wouldn't find ways to bring him up in conversation." Then she nodded and returned the salute. "Decided to give it a try, anyway. Helping out," came the slightly cautious answer. "I think it worked well enough to maybe make it a regular thing, what do you think, Tarquin?" Sena chewed her lip a little in frustration, but nothing Terry said was incorrect. Even at its current situation, nearly the worst imaginable, the battleship completely outclassed the little freighter the rebels brought to the table. Even so.. The rebel hacker shook her head, and simply responded. "Calina was v-v-v-v-vague as hell. Said she n-needed us there for 't-talks'." If talking failed, Sena simply had to hope what manner of electronic warfare she could manage to wage would be enough for her and the captain to make a close range escape, or at least open a window of opportunity for a rescue attempt, or... There were very few good cards left in the deck, but they had to try and make them come to the top of the deck as best they could. Anything less would be unthinkable. As Calina slid out of the flight suit, like a snake shedding skin, Abigail got her first good look at the horrible scar. And everything made sense. The cockpit on the news hadn't been doctored afterwards, no, that damage had been real. "God I put you through hell, didn't I? Nearly died for me there..." she murmured lowly, taken a little aback with shock to be honest. There was no resistance as Calina spun a slight half circle and mounted her, Abby was still in the process of taking everything in. But even if she hadn't been, that was a welcomed advance after their long separation. Slowly running her index and middle fingers up along the scar, she reached the elbow and turned the curve, continuing upward. After a bit farther, Abby gave Calina's bicep a gentle squeeze, and the muscle was just as firm and responsive as it had always been. Relieved that she wasn't trying to play the injury off as no big deal if it had in fact actually been some serious, permanent disability, Abigail let the tension leave her body and breathed out a sigh. When she felt her girlfriend of the past six years shift her weight slightly, she knew from experience what was coming next. Closing her eyes, Abigail waited for the approaching kiss, but when it didn't arrive after a few seconds, she opened them again. Calina had begun apologizing, during Abby's extended blink, and while she appreciated the sentiment, somehow hearing the words just felt... wrong, awkward. Shaking her head a little, Abigail almost snorted. "Please. Let's neither of us pretend that if the situation were reversed I wouldn't have been an absolute cunt myself. I'd prepared for a bit of raging bitch. Still wasn't easy, but," she smiled slightly, "You could have been so much worse." Lowering her right hand to Calina's waist, Abigail pulled inward, scootching her along the top of her thighs, drawing their bodies closer. At the same time, she wrapped her left up behind her, taking hold of the back of her skull, burying her fingers in her hair, and holding her neck in place as she leaned in to kiss the series of small scars up along the slight arc they traced on her neck, until reaching one on her chin, where she finally rested her lips awhile. Breaking contact after a few lingering moments, Abby began, "Thank you for..." then stopped, grunting a "Nnnnhmmmhm," denying and amending her previous words. "Thank you." That was much better.
  13. Okay, this was starting to get a little infuriating. Like, sure, maybe there was some justification for it, but that still didn't make having one's lover insulted and called trashy slurs feel anything but agitating. As Abigail was opening her mouth to berate Calina for the constant 'tin cans' and 'toasters', a sudden uncomfortable flash of introspection caught her dead short. This is exactly what I sound like, isn't it? People feel this same way, when I'm dismissing and degrading Hannah, don't they? No, maybe it's not so bad as all that. I'm only getting upset because of special circumstance, because of my close attachment to her, right? Without a special bond... hmmm... Actually, does that maybe make it worse? The thoughts were starting to go in a dangerous direction, so Abigail decided to just bail on any more heavy thinking. Putting her back to the wall, she slid down, like Calina had, joining her on the floor. Man, despite the irritation, it really was nice to have her back. Slipping out of her pilot gloves, Abby decided it'd be even nicer to hold her hand, and so she reached out with her right one to take her rebel's girlfriend's left, seeking to liberate it from its own glove. That's when things got interesting. "Jesus, Cally. What happened to you?" Starting at just above the wrist, rather than the smooth skin of a forearm--only interrupted by the soft, thin, natural strands of bodyhair--what Abby had brushed up against, after pushing up Calina's sleeve to start to work her hand free, was a crackly mess of scarring. Sena had just made it back to the Deliverance, and was preparing to board the freighter, then soon after intending to disembark from her Mark III and make her way to the helm. If it became necessary to pull up next to the wounded Riese to help get Calina and Abigail back from whatever they were doing, then things would need to be put into place to get that done. While there was still some time left, as far as the deadline she'd given Calina, nothing would be hurt by it, if things were already prepared in advance, right? Even if they ended up not being needed. That, and if she kept busy, maybe it would help keep her mind from wandering. Maybe. The buzz of her communicator snapped her out of her current thoughts, and she answered to hear a familiar voice, with a few vague and brief instructions. This was fine. It had basically been her gameplan without being told, after all. "Un-Understood," she replied back, sounding a little weary and lifeless. One can only operate at 120% platinum mad for so long without it taking its toll, and Sena had stretched herself well past those limits. But the day wasn't over yet, there was still work to be done. Well, Terry had left the battle first and must already be docked, so passing along the message would buy a little extra time. She should have thought of that herself, honestly. Well, if the best time had been a few minutes ago, the second best time was now. "Terry, c-come in," Sena switched frequencies. "N-Need you to start getting things fired up, we're g-going back, and not j-just the suits this t-time."
  14. In contrast to Calina, Abigail had anticipated Jess's comments and request. When turned to for her input, and confirmation that the captain was really serious, she quickly nodded. "Wait'll you get to hear the full version instead of just the Bluff's notes, I think you'll be a lot less surprised why she's feeling this way. And to be honest, I support her on this." As much a shame as having to give up a battleship like the Riese was, especially with how it'd apparently been designed with Jess's unique circumstances in mind, there was no way they could keep it and not risk reprisal. But getting out of the ANF was healthier for her, for them all, so it was a simple fact of the matter, the only real choice to make. "There may be a few bumps at first, but I think once the others get to know her, she'll settle in fine. And she can handle the switch from mostly giving orders, expecting always to be obeyed, to having work along under you and I, on a more level playing field with the rest of the guys," Abby confidently proclaimed, before turning to prompt additional agreement. "Can't you, Jess?"
  15. Linus's Sicarius was built off the bones of an Excel Defenser base, and they were good strong bones, bringing versatile and sustained DPS to the team. The focus on offense was somewhat ironic, coming as it did from a bot with 'defense' in the name, but that just made him appreciate it more, a grin sliding across his face every time he remembered the little idiosyncrasy. Now was one such time. "Sicarius en route," he called out as his craft cleared the catapult. They still had half a minute till reaching the hatch, so there wasn't much concern about the small side banter the pilots were getting into for the moment, but he had to hope they'd buckle down and take things seriously once they entered the colony proper. This was a try out, after all. "Alright, let's do our best to remember each other's strengths and leverage them appropriately once we get into the thick of things," was a dutiful 'team leader' thing to call out as they hurtled toward the figurative starting line. But, hell, they still were essentially just killing time, so Linus decided to let loose a little himself, go out on a bit of a limb and enjoy a verbal potshot of his own, "Looks like we've got someone who excels at standing out. I'm sure we can find some way to turn that into a positive."
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