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Super Robot Wars ∀: Deep Space IC Thread - Part 3: Crisis Point

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Tarquin commanded the Aria to one side, narrowly avoiding the first incoming beam. Whilst an upgrade from his Velite, the Aria wasn't designed with fast paced close combat in mind. He couldn't even risk using his rifle's full capacity at this distance. His response was quick, barely taking any time to return fire with his rifle. Raising his shield at the last moment, Tarquin felt the impact of the second - an attack lessened by his response. 

"Jess, please keep an eye on our generator reserves. Our rifle isn't designed for sustained high output." Tarquin warned, taking a moment to realise his choice of words. It wasn't just his Aria anymore, it was theirs. He'd assumed the Aria had been designed for a single user, why had it been set up so well for two? The data they'd received from Ensign Calvin would prove useful, the Sacarian forces were not stationary targets by any means. "Thank you, Ensign, we shall endeavour to prevent enemies from approaching."

Tarquin casts Sense!

Edited by Shin

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"...Excellent work on the mitigation." Jess managed, pulse quickened by a near scare. The dodging of the first attack on the Aria wasn't so bad, but when that second oncoming beam was too closely targeted, unable to be evaded and Tarquin had to raise the shield to intercept...

The fact that it was the wrong color helped, certainly--immensely even--but it was still quite a bit of a heavier situation than would have been ideal for her coming immediately out of the gate. Jess needed something to focus on, anything to avoid unbidden memories from surfacing, and unfortunately her helmet was in the way, keeping her from slapping her own cheeks to try and snap herself out of it. Did the boy notice her muted distress, or was it just a happy coincidence? Tarquin's words her--though nothing particularly special in their content--gave her tasks, reminded her of her responsibilities, and helped to stave off the worst.

"We still have plenty of cartridges for the rifle," Jess recited, running down the instrumentation as she confirmed. "But we are looking to be down to only two shots with the railgun... maybe three if we can manage to draw the fight out a bit for some passive recharge. Otherwise we'll be forced to break into emergency reserves, or see if someone can assist with a midflight refuel." Lifting her gaze, Jess began to purview the battlefield, trying to recall who might have such capability and narrow down their current location.

In contrast to earlier, this was the worst possible timing. Violent violet streaked through the air, cutting the space in front of them like a hot knife through butter, the air shimmering, almost melting in its wake. It was not immediately in front of them, of course, much closer to the ally perched on the edge of the water, where the Riese met the sea. But that honestly didn't matter. The first three times she'd experienced the weapon it hadn't been fired at her either, but it still held terrible impact.

Jess's blood ran cold, and time crawled to a stop. It felt like her body forgot how to breathe, she needed to actively concentrate on keeping her lungs moving, on basic living. And her eye... her socket started to itch. Mouth dry, tongue thick and barely responsive, she still had to warn them, do anything to help. Not again, it couldn't happen again.

"Al... mydis. You can't... let that hit you. Absolutely not. Forwarding you... everything I've got. Stay alive."

Who knew if the feeble amount of information she'd be able to collect and pass along would amount to anything. But every moment not spent keeping atop the Aria's thrusters humming, and monitoring its energy reserves now had a new purpose.

Jezebel Attune Alriana

Edited by Balcerzak

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Alriana leapt to the side, nimbly dodging the purple beam of death. Although it hadn't hit her, or the Odin this time, the distortions left in the beam's wake told her all Gaal'Bathy needed was one hit to take her out. But she was finally starting to get into the flow, starting to regain her confidence. Her need for Thorvald's assistance had just been a fluke; she was starting to see though Gaal'Bathy's attacks. "I'm not, skittering. You just, can not aim."

She might have been poking a hornet's nest, but she had no intention of letting Gaal'Bathy lay a hand on her or the Almydis; of course she wasn't going to get hit. Why then was this woman she barely knew so concerned about her...? Whatever, it didn't matter right now. She couldn't afford to get distracted over something so minimal in the midst of battle. She'd take the help and move on. "Understood and... thank you. Shark, taking evasive action. Puppet, back me up."

Alriana casts Alert, attack Gaal'Bathy with Acid Shotgun, supported by Tarquin Full Output.

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"Grrrghh... GRAAARGH! STUPID LIZARD!"

Alriana is having none of it today!
(100!,47)
(10,11)
Hit
Crit!
94 damage!
Gaal'Bathy loses 25 armor!
She responds with another blast of her GBR, but Alriana dodges!
Tarquin supports!
(100!,24)
(55,98)
Hit!
142 damage! Damn!
Alriana gains +90 EXP, +4 will!
Tarquin gains +40 EXP, +3 will!

"You... You, humans, you worthless, inferior, species!" Gaal'Bathy was raging, this lizard and these humans were taking her for a fool! Then she'd show them all, just how ruthless she could be! "You'll all die here! ALL OF YOU! BY MY, HAND!" Speakers were at maximum, her psychic abilities were flaring!

Gaal'Bathy casts Drive, Focus!

"GRAHHHHHHHH!!"

 

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Anyone else hearing this would've been offended, absolutely livid at being called inferior, but for Vvi?  All she did was roll her eyes and scoff at Gaal'Bathy's elitist comments.

"Okay dear, whatever helps you sleep at night.  In the meantime I will blow up your comrade alright?" she called out with a lilt in her tone, almost melodic sounding as she aimed her beam at one of the overgrown felines.

"Truly a shame we have to be pitted against each other...." and there was a pause, violet eyes narrowing as she opened her mouth to say something else, but refrained at the last minute as she fired at her target.

Vvi Sense, attack Sacarian 6 with Genocider

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Eye beams devastate!
(100!,38)
(23,82)
Hit!
96 damage!
The sacarians fires back, but Vvi is too swift!
Miss (Alert)!
Vvi gains +40 EXP, +4 will!

Brig it

Vera was unceremoniously hoisted up the elevators and towards the holding cells, quietly pulled into the center one and sit against the included bed. "[Thank you for cooperating,]" Tiffany asserted, turning to leave the cell, and pressing maximum security once she was outside. The standard plexiglass paneling between the onlookers and their prisoner was quickly covered in sheets of titanium coating, the interior walls reinforced behind the padding. Would titanium be enough to hold Vera? Debatable, but this was the best holding cell the Riese had to offer.

Kazue breathed a sigh of relief. Whatever was stopping Vera from moving had worked in their favor. She could do her best to get back into the battle, and-- "Alright, what do you want, then?" Buck spoke up, on his toes to see into the viewing window and actually address Vera.

"Uhm, B-Buck, we should not... She is a prisoner, so..."

"So? I'm here. Get this over with..."

Kazue sighed. That wasn't very protocol... Not that she had the courage to stop him. Not even a child, huh? I should really see someone about this...

"Ah?" Vera raised her head, glancing back at Buck. "Right... Send one of your androids back in. Take my arms off. Then build me a standard set of prosthetic limbs. You can do that, right?"

"Wh-- What!?" She just, wanted normal prosthetics? "But those, aren't those...!"

"Yeah. They're incredibly powerful, right? But I can't move them anymore... Something I'll explain to your captain once this fight is over... For now, feel free to take them, melt them, use them, take them apart, I don't care. I just don't want to be unable to move again. I know I don't deserve that, you could just come in here and lead me without limbs, but--"

"Alright... I'll go fabricate some."

"Wha? Buck?" Kazue was rather surprised, why was he...?

"... I share your ally's surprise. Why are you agreeing so readily?"

"Cuz... I dunno. Guess I feel bad. I thought I'd... After... After what Avery, whoever did... I figured I'd be scared of or hate all of you Apoth freaks. But..." Buck's shoulders sunk, looking down, his face disappearing out of few as he fell off his toes. "It's just sad... This whole stupid war. And I don't want to hurt anyone. Tired of seeing pilots come back into the Riese hurt, tired of seeing robots damaged. So whatever, right? They're just prosthetic limbs. I can make that in a few minutes, at worst, just 3D print the whole lot." Buck stuffed his hands into his jumpsuit, sniffling a bit. "It's fine..."

Kazue sighed just a bit, gently patting his head. "You should get back to the hangar, Buck."

"Yeah... I'll, go do that. Bring your stuff back after the fight, Vera. See ya..." He turned to walk off, a hand slipping out to rub at his eyes.

"That boy is too kind to be here. The ANF is willing to use all sorts, aren't they?" Vera was still surprised, and a little disappointed in the army she'd lost to.

"Justice will be done. I do not agree with the costs... Buck's innocence, the lives, the damage... But you will all be stopped. I will make sure of that. Tiffany, follow her instructions, disengage her, attachments."

"[Affirmative.]" Once more, back into the holding cell...

Hoisted Goods

"[Captain. Stephanie reporting. I have found one Bismarck facility that has been raided in the past weeks. There was a news report claiming that the rebel faction that attacked it had been defeated by the guards and turrets onsite, and that nothing was stolen. This seems to be the only report, anything else has either been marked lost or still held by the ANF. I believe the news report to be 'fake news', in an attempt to keep the masses calm, that there is only one threat facing the ANF.]" A moderate assessment, the proof it was false was fighting against Soor'Kan.

"[My apologies for being unable to find more information. Anything else is marked as classified in the ANF's servers.]"

Edited by SnakeMomMelissa

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Olivia was already seeing to the blood units, and the SIEG tank was easily handled by just one person ... probably part of the reason the ANF saw fit to under staff the infirmary. That just left one job that wasn't just a glorified take on 'stand there and watch.' It was 'stand there and watch very carefully.' "Tambre, keep and eye on the battle for me. If anyone gets injured, you need to carefully walk them through first-aid procedures." Also praying they got through this in one piece couldn't hurt. The ship was literally a sitting duck, and some very powerful mobile suits were buzzing around out there. Vultures ...

Christina was out now and the SIEG tank was nearly full, so it was time to whip out the medical implements. "Once the surgery's finished, all we need to do for a while is monitor everyone. As long as our side wins, things should go smoothly." Even as she was speaking, Megumi had taken control of the SIEG tank's internal instruments. She did some final checks and tried to reacquaint her hands with their fine metal extensions. The doctor wanted that first unit of blood set up before she started picking away the hardened foam keeping Christina's wounds sealed.

In preparation, Megumi deployed an IV case, which gently clamped down over Christina's right wrist. Nina's blood would be delivered via this device once it was placed into the SIEG tank and run through the line into the IV case. The case itself was autonomously searching for a good vein and preparing to complete the connection between patient and machine. Christina wouldn't feel a thing.


The Ceres vanished, just like every other high powered Apotheosis unit they had been too slow to bring down in the past. Jessica didn't even seem to know what was being installed in her own machines ... though Firmia was much more inclined to just let that one go, if only because no senior officer in any military in the world could be expected to be that omniscient, man or machine. Delegation wasn't some luxury officers had, it was an absolute necessity.

The outcome here was still frustrating as all hell, though! "Argh! Of course it got away!" Firmia brought her fist down hard on her right armrest. There was no time to waste and they had to refocus themselves. "All AMS teams, get to the Riese now! Artemis, stay with us and focus down one target at a time!"

The report from Stephanie came back, and the android's suspicions were shared by the wary captain. The ANF was ill advised not to cover up something like that as best they could. If this really was the same group, then these petty criminals were getting what they deserved. Firmia just hoped they got it a little bit slower going forward, and that Soor'kan would get too invested to come and finish off the Riese. With Jessica's supposed three minutes almost up, protecting the ship would be even more difficult.

"Thank you, Stephanie. It's not conclusive on its own, but it's exactly what I was looking for. Send everything to my tablet with any other thoughts you have on it. Then I want you and Jessica to keep an eye on those Mark IIIs and the Sacarian machine they're fighting from the Avalon's sensors. We probably won't have to fight the Mark IIIs today, but assume we will later on." They definitely had to fight Soor'kan at some point, but Firmia wanted to be prepared for any eventuality.

"Planning to take back those mobile suits?" Tonya winced from the helm. "Or just doing the whole asset denial thing? This is going to be the nastiest debriefing of all time, isn't it ..."

"I don't care." Firmia huffed. Then she had a thought. "H-hold on, Stephanie, I've got a different job I need you for right now. Leave the threat analysis to Jessica- ..." Better to start calling the one she liked Jess and the other one Jessica come to think of it. "You might need Galatea's help," this wasn't the time to call Vance, so she would just have to apologize for hacking the database if they pulled that off, "but if there's any way you can find the real report from that facility, I need you to send that to me, too. What's most important now are the casualties, official or hidden. I'll take care of the rest."

Tonya wasn't sure what good a casualty report would do, but ... Firmia and her body counting. What else was new?


The anger in the area that followed the Ceres' disappearance was downright tangible, and Brant would be lying if he denied his own contribution. Unless she was smart enough to pull a final disappearing act, the next time they saw Avery would be on a completely different battlefield. It would have been better to end her here and now, but it looked like they would have to clean up that traitor's mess first. A clean sweep of all the woman's belongings, a thorough examination of the Artemis in particular, but all of the mobile suits, and so on. It was a big mess, and the repairs to the Riese herself went without saying.

From the sound of things, Kim wasn't going to disengage the T-link until it was either too late, or it became too big of a burden in the fight. "Kim, just don't push yourself. We're not even halfway done here." Admittedly downing the Luna felt like a major step toward ending the battle, even though that unit had been fighting alone. They had quite the ways to go if they were going to bring a favorable end to this nightmare, and this time Central's forces weren't here to back them up.

Firmia casts Attune (Dreams) on Kim!

Edited by Phoenix

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"Time to put the cat out! Makoto! We're goin' for round two with another one of these flea bags!" Elaine boasted, pointing directly ahead... at her own monitor. Her sights were set on the tagged Praxis, a good shot from both of them would blow it into pieces. "Just gotta hold on until the others take out the big one, can't believe how many punks we've beaten. Makoto, just because we ain't fightin' the boss don't mean we're not important, both of us gotta remember that!"

Elaine smirked, she could still be a hero despite all of her mistakes. A fiery passion had built up inside her, no longer was she afraid of being shunned or tormented... it was time for her to make a difference not just for the ANF, but for humanity as a whole.

Elaine casts Strike and attacks Sacarian 4 with her Dual Beam Rifle, featuring Makoto and his Hybrid Chamber Rifle!

-

"Evasion was an unfeasible option, but thank you." Tarquin replied, looking over his shoulder at Jess. Something had seemed slightly off, even for a brief moment. What was near as puzzling about her expression was that he actually picked up on it. There had to be more than battle making her feel uneasy, she'd been relatively OK up until the last attacks. Did it trigger a bad memory for her? He was only guessing at this point, but he needed to reassure Jess that she would remain unharmed if he could help it.

"We'll all be safe, I promise." Tarquin affirmed, his first shot connecting with the Praxis. It was a sturdy craft, but the damage was racking up on it. "Just a few more shots. The information you relayed to Almydis has put us at a tactical advantage."

What would come next was uncertain, there were surely more foes to face, greater threats to deal with... but there was a sense that they were close to a monumental victory.

"When the war's over, I'm going to attend school like a normal boy." Tarquin commented, primed to take a second shot at the Praxis. "I might be designed to be physically more able and academically more gifted, but I want to experience growing up like everybody else. Jess, what about you? We will survive this, your life will go beyond this war."

Tarquin attacks Gaal'Bathy with his Full Output Railgun!

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Elaine is out for glory and cat blood!
(100!,9)
(54,1)
Hit
Crit!
160 damage!
The Sacarian can't counter!
Makoto wants to finish!
(64,24)
(3,58)
Hit!
77 damage!
Down they go!
Elaine gains +250 EXP, +15 PP, +3 will!
Elaine levels! Stats to come.
Makoto gains +175, +15 PP, +5 will!

Tarquin's sights couldn't be more lined up!
(100!,24)
(88,84)
Hit!
223 damage!
Gaal'Bathy turned the GBR prototype on him, blasting violet rays!
But he swiftly dodges!
Tarquin gains +80 EXP, +4 will!

Edited by SnakeMomMelissa

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She was gone... that bitch was actually gone. She had gotten away with it... brazenly shot Christina two bloody times and warped away with only a few dents and scuffs, too far away for anyone to catch her. Even if she raced after the Ceres, she'd likely get shot down, or at least slowed to the point where it wasn't worth the effort...

"젠장! 젠장! 젠장! 젠장!" Seung-Min cursed, funnels dancing wild and mad around the Artemis as her pilot fumed, coming to grips with herself after a few moments, luckily no fire having been tossed her way. In all likelihood, with her current state, the TK field would have flared up to take it, but considering how sensitive she was to the movements of her funnels, that likely would not have been a pleasant outcome. Scanning the battlefield, the two main targets that stood out in her mind were Soor'Kan and his Lieutenant. Soor'Kan was occupied with... Abigail's old crew.. MP Mk.III units... one custom variant. Poorly equipped to take on that monster, at any rate. She could assist them, but going out of position and overextending against Soor'Kan? She might have been feeling livid and dangerous, but not quite that suicidal. That left... the Lieutenant. Get into position to peel the bulk of the Sacarian forces off of the Heion Riese and deal a blow to their command structure. The choice was clear. Hailing an open channel as the Artemis' thrusters began to fire, Seung-Min prepared what advice she could for the unfortunate interlopers.

"The Sacarian machines are ill-equipped to deal with aquatic foes, since they primarily have been seen using beam weaponry. Trying to use the water is probably your best bet... beams aren't going to dent them either, unless you can manage enough output to overpower their defensive systems. Just focus on surviving." Kim noted, as she began to fly back in the direction of the Riese. There was her good deed of the day, at any rate. As she approached the Sacarian Lieutenant at breakneck pace, all of the Artemis' weapon systems began to lock on to the Praxis. The last time she had engaged Soor'Kan's machine, the full output of her combined arsenal had barely managed to dent it, but this machine didn't seem to be quite as robust... a step up from the MP models that they had brought along to be sure, but not on the level of Soor'Kan's machine. She could do this. She HAD to do this. Focusing in on the pilot... they seemed approachable. When they last met, their mental abilities had felt to almost double Seung-Min's, but now? She almost felt equal to the alien's output. 

"SACARIAN LIEUTENANT! Allow me to show you what a so-called insect is capable of!" Seung-Min roared as she entered firing range, the first volley ejecting from the Artemis, plasma, beams, and missiles screaming through the air as it's funnels began to lock on to the Praxis. With a distinctive, chunky thump, the first magnum shot of many began to hurtle towards the Praxis. A few solid hits, but a good deal of her initial barrage was either shot down or evaded. It didn't matter. Every hit mattered, put the Praxis closer to it's demise. Return fire from it's main gun and it's own set of funnels. At this range, simple to outmaneuver. Corral the opposing funnels with missiles, force them into range of her own funnels and... casualties confirmed. Several smoking a smoldering wrecks falling from the sky into the ocean as she began to bite into the Praxis' firepower. Keep forcing remote weapons out of position, pincer and take them out of commission one at a time. Close the distance further and further with each exchange. Wait for an opening... charge.

Engaging the Artemis' thrusters at maximum output, it only took a few moments to close in to medium range... if they were matched at long and short range, this was surely where her more varied arsenal gave Seung-Min an advantage. Magnum shots had to be carefully placed to bypass the Praxis' resistance to beam weaponry, but the railgun held no such disadvantage. The first solid round impacted against the Praxis' right arm, tearing into it and peeling away it's anti-beam coating. Come back to that later. Second shot, direct hit centre of mass, significant damage. Third shot, into the head of the Praxis. Gave it a good rattle... damage to optics almost guaranteed. Load the magnum. Aim. Fire. A direct hit to the exposed machinery of the right arm. Main gun momentarily disabled... an opening. Without a moment's hesitation, Seung-Min closed the remaining gap between the Artemis and Praxis, swinging her Xiphos down to meet it's beam saber. 

As the twin blades clashed and sparked, Seung-Min kept pushing, TK-field flaring above the plasma gauntlet adorning the Artemis' left as it swung out towards the Praxis' damaged right arm, her jab caught by the alien's adamantium claw. Plasma sparking against the alien metal as both hands locked into a deadly grip upon the other, Seung-Min's gauntlet slowly cracking and bubbling the opposing claw as her TK-field creaked and groaned, pushing the sharp edge away as it vied to bite into the hand of the Artemis through it's gauntlet. Not just the Artemis' hand, but Kim's own. Every vicious squeeze, attempted crushing skewer... she felt as though her own hand was being gripped by that absurd claw. 

"나는 잃을 수 없다." Kim groaned, squeezing tighter onto the Artemis' controls with her screaming hand. Gauntlet burning white hot, clamping harder onto the Sacarian's clawed hand as the metal began to give, bubble and melt away, and soon crush underneath the pressure. Swords still locked together, Seung-Min's gauntlet was winning it's duel against the damaged arm of the Praxis. As the claw finally gave way, Kim wrenched the left arm of the Artemis to the side, pulling the Praxis with it, as she disengaged the sword lock. One chance to do this right...!

"Tell me, Sacarian. Does such a 'Superior life form' feel fear? I'd love for you to show me!" Seung-Min roared, as her freed Xiphos swung down on the exposed machinery of the Praxis' right arm. Without it's protective coating, and combined with prior damage, the beam sabre cut through it's target like butter, a hard tug cleaving the Praxis' arm clean off it's shoulder, as the Artemis delivered a hard kick to it's chest to disengage. Pulling the severed arm back with her as Seung-Min aimed the MARS rifle down at the machine, the ANF Lieutenant began to hurl parting fire at Gaal'Bathy from her funnels and magnum, beams and plasma ripping into the battered body of the Praxis.

"Captain! Finish it off before it can recover!"

Kim casts Valor, moves to 12,18 and Hunts Gaal'Bathy!

Edited by Ether

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A hail of fire and energy!
(100!,N/A)
(50,47)
Hit!
Valor!
460 damage! Insane!
Gaal'Bathy fires back, fruitlessly!
Kim gains +40 exp, +4 will!

The barrage had left her machine barely functioning, Gaal'Bathy gasping and coughing from the battering she'd been put through. "Do we feel fear?" A laugh came through Kim's communications, it grew into a howled guffaw, Gaal'Bathy seeming not to run out of air. "This is my life! This is my pride, my joy, my reason to be! TO DIE ON THE BATTLEFIELD AGAINST A WORTHY OPPONENT!" The one armed, beaten machine, raised its sword against Kim's Artemis, the Sacarian still cackling over the radio. "Kill me! Kill me and prove your superiority! Kill me and show me, THAT YOUR PUNY RACE HAS WORTH!"

Blood Vialed

Olivia quietly thanked Nina and made her way back over to the Christina situation, setting what Megumi needed on the table next to her. "Got her blood for you... Things are going fine, right?"

Information locked

"That's not happening, FIrmia." The Galatea on board the Avalon had contacted the captain, before Stephanie could begin looking into what she'd asked for. "I've tried poking around the ANF's database, just on the Riese, looking for things like this before. And there were some things that not even Jessica had access to. I couldn't crack them. Similar to the black box on the Regina, they definitely need passwords, or an AI that's far more advanced than I am... I'm looking at the report right now, and it has the same sort of locking mechanism attached to it. There's someone in the ANF that's a master of encrypting important documents. Suppose I should look into that, instead?"

Edited by SnakeMomMelissa

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"O-oh dear..." Watching the Artemis zipping and zooming was something else, alright. Caroline started wondering if she was still needed for the rest of the mission --no, that was too hasty. There was still the matter of making sure the Riese could still function past this barrage. A rather pressing one.

"T-their numbers are dwindling. I think we can make it..."

Caroline cheers Jessica![-20sp]

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"Don't hold anything back," Thorvald advised. "Remember I have extensive experience with underwater mining and the Odin is fully amphibious. Collecting wreckage will not be a problem." Well, technically some delicate features might not survive the water pressure, but they wouldn't survive a direct blast anyway. At this point the discussion is really about scrap metal and raw materials, the sort of things the mechanic crews would certainly eat up.

Thorvald Bless Jess

Edited by Balcerzak

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"Kill me! Kill me and prove your superiority! Kill me and show me, THAT YOUR PUNY RACE HAS WORTH!"

"Gladly." The Riese's cannons were already trained on the damaged machine, Jess didn't hesitate a moment in hammering the trigger. The spiraling beams of the Riese's energy cannons enveloped the Praxis in mere seconds, the machine's absorption tech not standing up at this point.

Jess fires!
(100!,25)
(22,91)
Hit!
174 damage!
"Glory to the Sacarian race--"

The Praxis exploded mid stream, shattered debris and particles falling out of the air and into the ocean below. Jess sighed, sinking into the captain's chair. "Looks like I'm out of energy, Firmia... Sorry. I'll do my best to keep the Riese afloat, but I don't, think the guns are gonna be doing much else..."

Jess gains +1000 EXP, +30 PP, +6 will!
Jess levels twice!
Shooting/Defense/Avoid
Skill/Accuracy/Defense!

Soor'Kan glanced back at the debris, sighing. "A pity. Still, I can't help but share in some of her excitement! So you humans do have some fight in you, after all? Good. Good! Show me more!"

 

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Seeing that alien go out in flames while spouting whatever it could about its views were... something. It's just like a bigot. Space bigots. Despite how comical the term sounded, it was still a real part of their lives, now. "Can't say I haven't seen that plot before..." But Makoto preferred to not let the bigots have total star system domination to start with --the Riese could do that much, surely--.

"One more down, we can take them!"

Makoto to (11,17), attack Praxis Gamma #6 with hybrid revolver!

Quote

Makoto attacks!
Target: Praxis Gamma #6
Weapon: Hybrid Revolver
Final Hit: 98
Final Crit: 29
Roll: 93, 67
Hit!
No Crit.
Damage: 50

Praxis Gamma #6 is a goner!

Makoto gains +300 EXP, +15 PP, + 5 Will!

Makoto levels! +1 to skill, avoid and defense!

That turned out well for the tiny mech!

---

"I... I should help too!" Caroline moves forward!

Caroline to (10,18), fire at Praxis Gamma #3 with head gatlings, supported by Thorvald's 250mm cannon!

Quote

Caroline attacks!
Target: Praxis Gamma #3
Weapon: Head Gatlings
Lucky Roll: 97. Lucky++
Final Hit: 53
Final Crit: 3
Roll: 44, 67
Hit!
No Crit.
Damage: 18

Praxis Gamma #3 has no suitable counterattack, choosing to wait idly instead.

Thorvald provides support fire!
Weapon: 250mm Cannon
Final Hit: 100!
Final Crit: 9
Roll: 14, 22
Hit!
No crit.
Damage: 90

Caroline gains +70 EXP, +2 Will!
Thorvald gains +30  EXP, +2 Will!

Looking good!

Edited by Xinnidy

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Just what in the hell was that ridiculous warmongering? Were all of the Sacarians like that...? If so, intimidation would be unlikely to work in any scenario... unfortunate. As Gaal'Bathy gave her last words and pointed her sword up in defiance, Seung-Min responded in kind, the MARS rifle's barrel coming aglow with a final ball of energy from it's magnum, swelling outwards as the whirring plasma consumed more and more fuel to grow. Loosing it down at the Sacarian warrior, daring them to finish her... it didn't end up mattering. The plasma shot was consumed, along with the Praxis, within the volley from the Heion Riese' main cannons. And just like that, the Lieutenant was gone. That should have eased some of the telekinetic pressure, but something wasn't quite right... more issues with the system? 

"Urgh... just a little longer. Don't go out on me now..." Seung-Min noted to the otherwise empty cockpit, pressing two fingers against her temple momentarily.

_______________________________

Yeah! One of the alien leaders had finally gone down, engulfed in hot plasma by the Heion Riese' beam cannons. With a little fist pump, Marcia began pulling up the Avalon's targetting parameters, honing in on one of the Sacarian suits. Time to show even more that battleships get it done!

"Locked and ready to fire on the marked target, Captain!"

Marcia casts Strike!

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Gaal'Bathy was down... And Soor'Kan's men were starting to fall as well. "You aren't as tough as you act!" They could definitely take these aliens down, things were going to work out! Eyes scanning for a target, they were finally in range of the assault on the Riese. "You're next!"

Hannah charges to 12,19, after Sacarian 7!
(75,24)
(33,9)
Hit
Crit!
160 damage, -25 EN!
The cat swings back!
(42,21)
(6,20)
Hit
Crit!
186!
"Die, human scum!"
"M-Major damage, making corrections!"
Hannah gains +30 EXP, +3 will!

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"Want to make a break for it now, Major?" Gordon was still uneasy on his seat, perhaps because of the constant pressure of the aliens --it did feel rather disconcerting compared to the usual TK suspects. The general hostility only aggravated his fighting senses. "Hannah took severe damage. We should help out."

"Hmm, I think we can get in range for a skirmish. Alright, I'll give it a good shot. Get the generators ready for me." Bonner adjusted his grip on the controls, turning the Mantle towards the agressor mid-flight. While still at a reasonable distance from the alien machine, the Mantle was assuredly at a range it could engage at.

"Roger." The engines fired up.

 

Bonner uses Focus [-10sp], moves to (15,19), fires at Praxis Gamma #7 with the hip beam cannons!

Quote

Bonner attacks!
Target: Praxis Gamma #7
Weapon: Hip Beam Cannons
Final Hit: 76
Final Crit: 13
Roll: 58, 24
Hit!
No Crit.
Damage: 84

Praxis Gamma #7 counters!
Weapon: Proto ESP Bits
Final Hit: 40
Final Crit: 12
Roll: 74, 96
Miss!

"What a tricky attack... good thing I have you with me, Lieutenant."

Bonner gains +30 EXP, +2 Will!
Gordon gains +50 EXP!

Succesfully dodging the all-range attack, the Mantle had put itself in an advantageous position, and perhaps removed some pressure from Hannah.

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All Aliza could do at this point is keep underwater, monitoring the situation above until an opening presented itself in the ranks. Though the Sacarians were thinning out, in part thanks to Vvi's aggression. Oh and everyone else of course, Vvi just stood out to her because she couldn't help but notice her forward personality coming forward. The Italian really wanted to make sure she stayed on her good side. With that in mind she noticed Hannah under pressure and decided to help out. "Giving support, miss Abrams!" She called out before firing.

Aliza casts Trust on Hannah, then swims on over to to 9-16 to beam crossbow Sacarian 2.

Edited by TheRoon

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"Thank you for the assistance!"
Hannah +100 HP and boy howdy did she need it.

The Sagittae swims just fine?
(71,10)
(19,67)
Hit!
103 damage!
The cat can't underwater!
Aliza gains +50 EXP, +1 will!

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The IV case gave Megumi the signal when it had set up a line, and from there it was just a matter of setting up the transfusion. Olivia had the blood, so they were ready to begin. "She's stable, but that could change once I get started, so don't relax just yet."

It took all of ten seconds to get the donated blood linked up inside the SIEG tank, and once Megumi got confirmation that the transfusion was underway, she took a deep breathe, and took control of the tank's instruments. "Alright, let's remove the first-aid mess ..." The chest was the more grievous and more important of the wounds, so Megumi started there. Plucking away at the stanched areas eventually drew blood, which oozed into the SIEG itself. The filtration system would take care of some of it, but another tool with a nozzle was quick to clear up the doctor's view of the wound as she continued to work. Christina's vitals only dipped for a few moments, which was frankly better than expected. The bleeding itself had slowed significantly by the time the wound was plucked clean, which meant it was time for the difficult part ... reconstruction.


Of course, it couldn't be that easy to get what she was looking for. If they couldn't beat ANF encryption at this level, then they still had a long way to go, but Galatea's followup suggestion wasn't a bad one. In fact finding the individual or group behind these nigh uncrackable records would open up a few interesting options if the sassy AI succeeded. As for the information Firmia was after in the chaos of this skirmish ... that might require a different approach, maybe even ... "Go ahead, Galatea. Stephanie, you can go ahead and help Jessica with the analysis. I'm going to try a different approach for now."

Tonya glanced back at the captain's chair, again. "You have a workaround? Something the androids couldn't figure out?"

Firmia grimaced. Yes and no, but the one option she did have felt so ... poorly timed, so one track, that it was a little embarrassing to consider. Firmia convinced herself that this was just important enough to make a quick call. "Not something they couldn't figure out, but I'm not sure this is even a good idea. I'm hoping ... mrgh. Just keep us on course for the Riese."

Just as Firmia was about to make that call, the Reign took a hit that would have given the Alkaev a heart attack a few weeks ago. She gripped the hand rests of her chair and tried to decide whether to keep on the offense, or call the Reign back for emergency repairs. Given their momentum, the latter wasn't the best option, but it took a moment to fight back the urge to recall the Reign. "Hannah, Galatea, be careful! The Reign can't take the kind of damage the Mantle could!"

Speaking of the Mantle, Firmia was awestruck when she saw Bonner and Lynx successfully navigate the Sacarian equivalent of a funnel storm. They made it through without a scratch, showing once again just how capable the AMS units were in the right hands. Hopefully Hannah's corrections for the way these Sacarians fought would see her through the inevitable next pass. In the meantime, the Mantle team had the right idea, take the pressure off of Hannah and Galatea.

Marcia already had that Sacarian locked in for all weapons, and so the Alkaev wouldn't need to work even half as hard to lay down accurate fire. "I'll show you how a real TK fights! Funnels!" As the Avalon's funnels raced out to attack their mark, Firmia realized that they were just about out of time with Jessica's shenanigans. She couldn't check in right now, but if that was the case, the Riese was about to become extremely vulnerable ...


Brant was worried, but they still had much bigger problems than the Artemis' T-link. For now it was best to get set up for an attack run, and while Brant was seeing to that, Jessica and Kim brought a gripping conclusion to Gaal'Bathy's existence, ending her in a two pronged attack that left behind nothing but raining debris. He was glad to know these aliens were quite beatable, even if it took a warship to secure the kill. That just meant they had more research to do between engagements.

Avalon moves 6 spaces to the left side of the map and attacks Sacarian Git #7 with AV Funnels!

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"I'll get right on that, then. And be less harsh on the me out there. She's trying." Galatea leaned back on her screen, starting to sort through names in the ANF's database for anyone that would be skilled in this area. Then it's a matter of sorting them further... What a mess...

"[Affirmative, captain.]" And the others were off on the analysis Firmia wanted.

"I know, Captain. I'm trying... Their reactions are faster than I was expecting for close combat. I'll make sure not to get hit again." Did they get the wrong idea about these cats? Hannah had assumed that Gaal'Bathy was just some melee specialist, but they seemed incredibly agile up close. If they're not just flying laser shows, then we could be in serious trouble... "Galatea, prepare for evasive measures."

"Already on them."

In the meantime, the Avalon moves out! Firmia lights up with some funnels!
(100!,13)
(46,2)
Hit
Crit!
176 damage!
giphy.gif

Firmia gains +200 EXP, +4 will, +15 PP!

Edited by SnakeMomMelissa

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Brig Surprise

"What the fuck?!"

Esther couldn't believe what her eyes were seeing, Vera, --of all people, Vera! Being carried towards one of the cells by an android, and that kid mechanic? Esther had stopped playing her game --a first since her 'joining' the Riese's brig--, stood up and pressed herself against her cell's glass, trying to make out whatever they were saying on Vera's supposed cell.

"Vera!! What happened? How... how did they get you?"

It still wasn't processing, Vera was an ace. The Luna was far more powerful than anything the ANF could create. Vera herself was far stronger than any ANF pilot... so why...

"It... they can't, that's... not real, no way..."

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Ring ring ring... OK Google, are you there?

Should she just send a call to the bridge of the Avalon? It had seemed such a simple idea in concept... ask if she could come aboard to practice hand-to-hand with Hannah... provided she would have her, at least. The increasingly human android made for a perfect opponent, really. Someone she would never need to hold back against out of sheer durability, who could replicate or match Vera's feats of strength, and was ostensibly impossible for her to defeat on martial skill alone. An opponent like that, someone who you fought to 'survive' rather than defeat, seemed the perfect fit to better prepare her for Apotheosis' katana-wielding Lieutenant. But with her on the other ship now, things had become rather more difficult, logistically. Urgh, too much to think about. Just make the call, worst case nothing comes of it... to the bridge of the Avalon.

Ring. Ring.

Well well, what was this? A call from the Riese? Sasha doubted it was Cheryl; the woman had a direct line to him. It might be one of the Riese's mechanics. With all the recent transfers, there could still be some coordination going on, especially now. It was odd to contact the bridge for that though, so maybe it wasn't the Riese's hangar. Sasha decided to put the call through his comm as he made his way off of the bridge, and find out who was calling the old fashioned way.

"Good morning from the Avalon," Sasha answered, friendly but modulated, "This is XO Pasternak speaking."

XO Pasternak? Who was... Pasternak, and that voice... it had to be Sasha. So he was XO now? Well, being one of Firmia's closest confidants, straight from Alkaev itself, it wasn't that surprising, really.

"Good Morning, Sasha. This is Lieutenant Kim... I wasn't sure the proper way to ask for this, but I was wondering if Hannah would be available for a... joint training exercise, of sorts."

"Ah." So it was Seung-Min? It sounded like the androids aboard the Riese weren't quite cutting it for her. That or Hannah was a better balance of human and machine. More adaptive. There may even be some good rapport between them. Either way, Sasha didn't mind. Firmia might ...

"I could get her on the line and check," Sasha offered, having just passed Tonya's door on his way to the hangar. He slowed to a halt and glanced back at the nameplate. She wasn't an android, but maybe Seung-Min didn't have her heart set on that. It was just a thought, in case Firmia had other ideas. "Were you coming over here or looking to have us send her over?"

"If you could do that... I would appreciate it, Sasha. And I can go over there... I didn't have anything particular that needed the Riese's facilities... assuming you at least have a gym setup over there." Seung-Min replied, glad things had seemed pretty smooth so far.

A gym? Sasha didn't recall there being one, though Tonya had been working on something from what he heard. That was in her room, though, not one of the spares. Sasha decided to let Kim and Hannah figure out how they were going to do this. "Okay, one second, then ..."

"Hello, Hannah? You there? Lieutenant Kim wants to know if you're interested in some joint training~ She's on the bridge's main channel."

"Hmm? Oh, sure thing Sasha... But, with me?" How was Kim going to go about that? Hannah shrugged, switching channels. "Hello Kim! Sasha said you needed me, for joint training... What, exactly, did you have in mind?"

As Hannah entered into the comm channel, Kim smiled, mostly to herself.

"Thank you, Sasha. Hello Hannah, I was... hoping you had some time to assist me in some hand-to-hand exercises." Seung-Min began, pausing for a moment.

"I feel like, if we are to... contend with certain threats, we need to be prepared for anything. You are rather unique in that... I have no realistic means to actually defeat you in a match. Being able to practice against someone like that, without the looming threat of death, seemed like it could be valuable experience."

"O-Oh... I... Well." That was certainly a unique request. Hannah could understand what Kim was driving at, but... "I don't think it would really teach you very much. Especially if I'm to not hold back, you will be only the ground in seconds... Even if I'm restricted to holds. You can't use your Telekinetic abilities against me to predict movements, and while you are well trained, your frame is rather small. It would be a simple task to restrain you... My apologies for saying so, so bluntly, but..."

Well... If she wanted to train against a human opponent, and actually have a chance, while learning something... "Why not Tonya?"

Sasha winced as he glanced back down the hall toward Tonya's room. "Mmm ..." He had some opinions on Hannah's suggestion, but didn't know how to voice them. On the one hand, Tonya was only a step or two down from an android in terms of how much danger Kim would be in. On the other hand, Alkaev training was severe, and sparring matches weren't a daily occurrence as a result. If they were living back in the 1900s, this sort of thing wouldn't be allowed; no medical facility could keep up with all the fractured bones and swollen bits.

Seung-Min bit her lip at Hannah's response... while it likely wasn't an inaccurate assessment, it still stung to a degree, and further illustrated the importance of trying to acclimate to that type of opponent. The suggestion that came afterwards was a bit surprising, however? Tonya? Kim... didn't know much about her, to be perfectly honest. She seemed to be highly skilled, and Firmia's first go-to in dire straits, but that aside, she didn't really know anything.

"As much as it pains me to say this, I suppose you're right. I probably wouldn't learn anything in a mismatch that severe... I can't say I know much about Tonya, actually... might I ask why she is your suggestion?"

"I believe Tonya is the only person on both the Avalon and the Riese that would be able to beat me in hand to hand combat." Hannah gave a pause to let that sink in. "It would be a long shot, and require her utmost concentration; were I to get a hand on her, I would not hesitate to end things immediately. But for curiosity's sake, I had run simulations of myself versus all physically adept members of the crews of both ships... And there are scenarios where she wins. She is a monster of both intuition and Alkaev training... I think you could learn a fair thing or two from her, if you are looking to take down Vera." Hannah took a shot in the dark on that one, but why else would Kim be asking to face off against an android? Vera was one step away from becoming that.

"I see... that impressive, is she?" Kim replied, thinking over the implications of such a thing. Did Tonya have some sort of augment that allowed such a feat, or was she really simply adept enough to be able to fell Hannah in unarmed combat? At a human level, such a thing seemed... impossible. The amount of force and precision it would take to physically disable a combat android with one's bare hands, all whilst avoiding any sort of grapple or mortal blow? It seemed unreal...

"Well, your endorsement... is worth plenty on it's own. I can't even imagine what sort of maneuver it would take to actually beat you hand-to-hand. If she's capable of it, that's more than enough to learn something from. Do you think she would be... interested?"

"What do you think, Sasha?" He'd know that more than Hannah would...

Sasha kept his eye on Tonya's door, wondering if she was in there or somewhere else in the ship. That was when Hannah asked him for his opinion on the match up. It wouldn't be quite so awkward if not for Seung-Min's overall build. Some of the same shortcomings she had against Hannah carried over in part to Tonya. Thinking objectively on it though, Sasha's only real reservation was signing off on this when some unnecessary injuries would occur. And the Alkaev pilots didn't bother with safety gear when they trained because it slowed them down and didn't prevent the odd dislocation. Better to go in at full potential.

Sasha sighed, and turned around to check Tonya's room. If she was there, then he could also get a look at her room and see if she'd finished converting it into her own little personal gym ... because as far as Sasha knew, the Avalon didn't have one just yet. "As long as you're alright with some aches and pains," he sugarcoated it, "That woman has no trouble fighting TKs. I'm close to her room now so I'll see if she's in."

"If I was afraid of something like that... I would have just stuck to simulators. There's only so much that... getting limbs hacked off in VR can do for you." Seung-Min replied... Sasha seemed quite apprehensive from tone alone, which could mean a swath of different things. It made sense that she wouldn't have problems against TKs, the woman seemed rather close to Brant, so they likely trained together.

Sasha supposed that was good enough, then. As he approached Tonya's door, he spotted Brant and Chris coming out of the former's room. Well, at this rate it was going to be equally theirs. He grinned at the thought, and waved at them, not yet realizing that their destinations were the same.

When he got waved back at, and the two stopped outside Tonya's door and knocked, that was when he knew ... "You two are looking for Tonya too, ey?"

"Did you need something from her?" Brant asked, genuinely curious.

"Not me," Sasha clarified, "Lieutenant Kim."

The door opened, and Vasiliy was standing there, wearing a tank top and his hair in a small ponytail. There was no sweat on the boy, but Sasha instantly recognized that unmistakable fatigue, as well as that controlled breathing to try and look normal. The boy was clearly in the starting half of a cardio routine. "Hello," Vasiliy tried to address them all together.

"Mmm, Kim, it might be best to head over now, anyway. If Tonya is busy, Chris may be able to spar. She is around your level of ability, if my testing has shown anything. I'm going to hang up now, so head on over." Hannah cut herself out of the channel, making her way towards Tonya's room as well. This was turning out to be rather interesting.

"Ehh? What does Kimmy want?" It was a bit surprising to hear the girl suddenly wanting to see Tonya, Chris glancing at Brant for a second before shrugging. It wasn't her business, so whatever the lieutenant wanted, she could get... Long as Tonya wasn't too busy, and, well... She might be, in a minute.

No Tonya, but Vasiliy instead. Chris snickered, stepping inside. "Hey, sport. You look ready for anything... What's the occasion?"

Well, that seemed to be it then. There wasn't much point in not at least heading over as asked... even if no one ended up being available, it was just a short hop over and back before she could try to find someone on the Riese instead, so it couldn't hurt to give it a go. 

"Alright, I'll head on over, then." Seung-Min noted, though it seemed Hannah had already cut out. Heading towards the elevator out of the Heion Riese, it would only be a short jog to the Avalon.

Vasiliy was surprised when Chris stepped into the room. Brant and Sasha were close behind. "... training," was all the boy managed before all three of them were inside.

Tonya's room had undergone a few changes since she moved in, and clearly more than one person had been involved in making those changes. Unlike the standard floors in other bedrooms, the carpet here was more firm, and one section had been replaced with what may have been an integrated training mat. That was where Tonya was at the moment, lying down with one leg crossed over the other and a small reader in her hand. Instead of a television, there was a rack on the wall. The bed had been placed right next to the restroom entrance. A couch near the bed and some dressers against the walls rounded out the room, but it was fairly sparse, all things considered. Possibly even a work in progress.

Tonya sat up and set down the reader beside her their company came inside. "What's up? Are you all here for the same thing, or is this just weird timing?"

"Weird timing, I'm pretty sure," Brant said, glancing briefly at Sasha and getting a shrug in return.

"Already? Nice." Seemed like Vasiliy didn't just want to sit around and wait to get started on the things needed to be a pilot. It was a bit surprising to see that he'd chosen Tonya for an instructor, but she knew what she was going... Even if it got extreme, a lot of the time.

"Yeah, Sasha's here since Kim wanted to speak with you... And Brant and I are here for, uh... The ring." Toss that out into the open.

"Hello," the now arrived Hannah announced, peeking her head through the door. The room was stuffed enough with all five of them in there. "Lieutenant Kim had asked me to spar... Which, I thought was rather useless, in respect to learning things, so I suggested she try against you, Tonya. My apologies if you're busy, you seem like the best person for her to learn anything new from."

"Wait she wanted to fight with an android? What the hell? That's not..." What had gotten into Kim's head? That had definitely thrown Chris for a loop.

Sasha glanced at Brant this time, right around the time Chris brought up 'the ring.' He got a shrug in return. He just hoped Chris was making it easier for him to be his best self, and not more difficult ...

"Let's see," Tonya hopped to her feet and began taking mental notes. Sasha was here because of Kim, Kim wanted a fresh NDE, Brant and Chris were here for 'the ring,' and Hannah was here to apologize for the inconvenience. Something to that effect? Something to that effect. It was all rather easy to prioritize ...

"Hmm, okay. I should get changed, then," she said, starting toward the restroom door. What she had on was actually for training, though not sparring. "Vasiliy, you should get back to your reps. Brant, I need to speak with you in private for a second."

"In private?"

"You want the ring back or don't you?" she said, arriving at the door and giving him a moment to decide.

In private? Chris frowned, she wanted to be a part of this too... "Go ahead, Brant," she said, anyway, leaning back against the wall and folding her arms. No point in trying to fight Tonya yet, she hadn't said no, or anything like that. "How're you holding up, Sasha?" And, might as well talk up the other important man on the ship. He always seemed to be doing something...

"Thank you for understanding... Is there a room I should get ready for this? Kim will likely be here shortly." Hannah wasn't sure what this ring business was, but it seemed important.

A rather slow elevator ride... for whatever reason no matter how much things changed around them, these things remained at a sluggish pace, it was rather odd, really... either way, one elevator ride and a short jog to the Avalon and up the ramp... and Seung-Min realized she had never actually been on this ship, nor had any idea of it's layout. Pulling up Hannah's direct line this time, she connected to the android.

"Hannah? I've taken the ramp up onto the Avalon, but truth be told, I don't know the ship's layout. Where am I headed from here?"

"Oh! She's here." Hannah stepped away from the door and turned the hallway, waving at Kim. Tonya's room was right next to the entry platform, how convenient. "Hi, Kim. It's been a bit. How are you?"

Ah, there she was now. Had Hannah been coming to meet her, or was their destination simply nearby? Well, she'd find out soon enough.

"Hello Hannah, yes it has... been a little bit, hasn't it? I've been... okay. There's been a lot to... keep up with, as of late. How about you?"

"I've been fine. There's been a lot to do around here... Especially now that Brant has kids." She smirked a bit mentioning that, a reaction could be rather amusing. "Tonya is getting herself ready for this, I made sure to mention before you arrived. Her room is right around the corner, though I'm unsure where she'd like to take this... My apologies for being so blunt, as well. I would rather avoid hurting you, by accident."

"I, uhm... excuse me?" Seung-Min paused, blinking for a few moments in silence as she processed what Hannah had just said. Was it meant to be a joke? Kids just couldn't up and appear like that, if he had knocked a girl up it would have had to have been someone he had known well before the war... Firmia certainly didn't look pregnant.

"It's... fine. A bruise to my pride perhaps, but the intent wasn't... a winnable match to begin with."

"To keep a long story short... And palatable... We flew to Russia, to pick them up. He has two daughters, and they're quite lovely. We've had a lot to do around here, and that's added a bit more. At least Chris seems to be handling things rather well... I was surprised, but considering who she's based off of, it makes a little bit more sense. Her care, at least." Hopefully Kim didn't mind bringing up the clone's creation. And the intent wasn't a winnable match? Hannah didn't want to flaunt too overly, but, it wouldn't be a match at all... Kim was simply too short, and compact, to stand a chance in any way.

"Ah, I see, so they were from before... that at least makes more sense... flew to Russia? The Avalon was docked here since the battle ended, what did you fly in?!" Kim replied, the answer only adding more questions as her voice rose slightly for a moment. In the Avalon perhaps, but what other mode of transport did they have that could make the trip to Russia and back while the ship was grounded?

"The Reign... It was about a twelve hour trip. A lot of fuel, but, now that we're allied with the ANF, it was a more than possible trip. Not many extra costs involved... The fight I got into when we arrived could have been better, but, I didn't get hit, so no repairs. Just some scuffed paint, unfortunately." Those swords were rather interesting, though... "What matters is that they're here now, and things are starting to look up."

"You made a round trip to Russia... in a suit? Are you sure that you aren't holding out on us with Sacarian technology? That sounds... absurd." Kim replied rather incredulously, before shaking her head a bit.

"Well, I'm glad you weren't hurt at any rate, but this all seems rather sudden."

"Why does that sound absurd? I'm sure with enough fuel, the Artemis would be able to make the trip. It would likely take longer, it isn't as fast as the Reign, but I see no reason this would be impossible." Maybe Kim simply hadn't considered it before... "It is rather sudden, yes... But I haven't seen Brant that happy since I've known him. Nor has Firmia... I truly believe we did a good thing."

"I... suppose? It just seems such an out there idea, I had never thought to look into it." Seung-Min eventually replied. Hannah had no reason to lie, so it seemed it was at least possible for the Reign to make such a trip. 

"It's good to hear that, at least. He has seemed... out of sorts, as of late. If this is a good thing for him, then that can only help."

"Perhaps you can take Christina on a cross continental trip in the Artemis some time. I'm sure she'd appreciate it," Hannah remarked with a smirk, ushering Kim inside. "Hopefully today ends well for you. I've looked into Tonya's practices and records... And, well. You may be hurting, depending on how serious this gets." Hannah turned back towards the woman's room, expecting Kim to follow.

"Perhaps... I feel as though I'm a bit more likely to be... bogged down by red tape, were I to try such a thing. I'll have to see." Kim replied, following along behind Hannah as she began to usher the way to their destination.

"Unless she kills me outright... I'm sure that I've returned from sortie with worse."

"Firmia's got us working around the clock on equipment," Sasha sighed, "but the prototype drive system for the first drone is ready to go. It should be an interesting afternoon."

"Drone?" Vasiliy asked. He'd just been about to start back on his workout, but that caught his attention, "Like an AI?"

"Yes. No human's going to fit in one of those," Sasha chuckled.

They would have to keep their voices down to truly keep this private, but Brant didn't see that being a problem. He figured Tonya just wanted to make sure he wasn't jumping the gun, again. To his surprise, she immediately started changing right in front of him. Instinctively Brant turned around. "Can you warn me, first? I can't act this casual around you anymore."

Tonya smirked. "I don't see why not, but let's get down to business. You want that ring back so you can put it on Chris, right?"

Brant nodded. "Got it in one."

Tonya grimaced at him. "It's a shame you can't. Haven't we been here, before? Some girl goes out of her way to prove how much she cares about you, and then you go full bore in response. The only difference here is Chris hasn't met Carlos yet. Or ... basically any competition in general."

Brant scowled at the wall, making sure he didn't turn around until Tonya said he could or he got some kind of a hint. "That, and I already got a little carried away and planted that flag. Even if I hadn't, she knows about everything that happened to me. Some random person isn't going to come along and split us up."

"Okay," Tonya nodded at herself, "no random person, then." When she revealed the ring, Brant already had a sneaking suspicion she wasn't about to simply hand it over. What he wasn't expecting was for her to slowly but surely put it on her own finger. She wasted no time in putting her hand on grand display, though the look on her face was deadly serious. "I'll do it, then."

Brant's thoughts had been completely scrambled. All he could think about was his talk with Tonya back on the Riese, how he'd given her the option of forcing him to give up on Jessica, marrying her instead. Why in the hell was she using that option now that he found someone he could trust?!

"Tonya, why do you want to split me and Chris up?" Brant exclaimed, though he managed to keep his voice just narrowly above a whisper. He didn't know if he could turn around yet, but he wound up doing it anyway. Fortunately for him, Tonya was dressed again, for the most part. She wasn't wearing anything up top besides a sports bra. Her new pants were similar to her lounge pants, but could be tightened around the ankles, and hung very loose. She was barefoot now, so proper footing wouldn't be a problem, whether on the tile or anywhere else.

"I don't," Tonya said, her expression fading to nothing, "... not necessarily. You see ..." She paused and leaned against the restroom's counter while pulling her gloves out of the built in drawer, "I've been watching you carefully since I got here. You were trying this thing with Jessica, but also trying to manage Hannah, help Firmia get acclimated, and even look after me. It's admirable, but it cost you. Then ... for reasons I thought were kind of random, you got back in touch with Rosa, again. You were definitely looking for something ..."

Brant sighed at the floor. "... yeah, I was. Nothing feels real to me anymore. Rosa never turned her back on me. It was the other way around. And she was still willing to talk, so I wanted to get back something real. I didn't care that she wanted us to be together again, I just wanted to get back what I lost ... rather, what I threw away."

"Then comes Chris," Tonya continued, satisfied with Brant's explanation, "Does more or less the same things Jessica did ... but she's got the benefit of having to run damage control the whole time. Beyond that, though ..."

Brant took a moment to think about what Tonya was suggesting. It was frustrating to say the least. It wasn't exactly the same, but his own response had most assuredly been the same up until yesterday. He was as sure of Chris as he had been of Jessica, though ... and that brought up a tinge of desperation that he quickly quashed.

"If you want something real," Tonya slowly came off of the counter and faced Brant directly, "Then I'll give you something real."

"Tonya ... you know I can't ... ... not now ..."

Tonya put on her gloves, the first covering her right hand. Brant could only watch in mild horror as Tonya slipped the other glove on, and over her ring finger. Now, he couldn't even force it off of her unless he completely immobilized her first ...

"The only way Chris is going to be yours and not just another convenience is through blood, sweat, and tears; my sweat, your blood and tears. The fact you need this ring and won't make another one just goes to show you're not fully committed, yet. I don't care how unlikely it is, but if there's any chance I can end this ... then that proves that you belong with me ... and I'll take responsibility for all the crap that leads to that. Either way, you're going to wind up with the right woman, this time. Convince me to give this ring back ... or accept it."

"I won't break up with Chris," Brant shook his head.

"I hope you're into harems, then. I'm not backing down, either," Tonya shot back.

"It has to be just us," Brant gritted his teeth, "After everything we've been through ... everything she's told me ... what I've shared with her ... It's got to be this way, Tonya."

She shrugged at him. "Alright then, convince me to give up this ring, or try and take it by force. Fair warning though ... I'm guarding this thing with my life, now. It's important to both of us. I refuse to let you put it on the next girl that happens to show up. I don't care how understanding she is."

"Grrgh ..." The last thing Brant wanted to do was to start a fight with Tonya, but what sounded even worse than having his arm dislocated and getting put in the wall was having to walk back out there with her, and explain the situation to Chris. He'd have to explain that he'd just stood there, stupefied, while Tonya put the ring on her finger. No ... no way. Brant would honestly rather wind up in the infirmary. There were just times where you had to stand your ground, and die with honor. "Tonya, I'm not ... I can't let you hold onto that ring, and I sure as hell can't let you go back out there wearing it ..."

Tonya beckoned him with the same hand the ring was on, grinning mischievously.

"... this is gonna hurt," Brant grunted, and brought up his fists.

"You got here fast," Sasha noted Seung-Min's arrival.

Vasiliy squinted at her, having no idea who she was, and trying to determine whether she was from the Avalon, or the larger ship nearby, the Heion Riese.

That was when the restroom door burst from its hinges with a loud crash. Brant came tumbling out and slammed into the floor a couple of feet ahead of the door. He quickly rolled onto one knee, gripping his chest with his right hand as Tonya stepped out into the room. His left hand was hurting too much from that first botched attack, and his ribs had taken the brunt of Tonya's counter.

"Almost," Tonya critiqued her older student, while the younger one, Vasiliy, gawked at the broken door.

"Already? Jesus, she really does have you working forever... Probably should be happy all I know is piloting and fighting, else she'd be tossing things my way too. Would be nice to lighten the loud, but if you don't ever get breaks, well..." That'd mean no time to spend with Brant, and currently more importantly, the kids. "How're you managing your doctor if she's got you work--" And then life came crashing through the bathroom door, Chris' attention heading that way.

"What the fuck!?" What was probably not the best decision was charging Tonya, as she found the punch she went to swing caught, twisted, and within seconds, her back hit the floor. Painful as the sudden action was, she was more astonished as the speed of rebuttal, staring up at the ceiling with a glare of half anger, half confusion.

"... What's... Going on?" Hannah was ready to intervene if necessary... She could likely stop Tonya if she was focused on Brant and Chris, as well. Whatever happened next, she placed herself nearby, a steady gaze aimed at the short haired blonde.

Almost as soon as they had arrived to Tonya's room, Brant had been thrown through the bathroom door, and Chris, after charging the woman in question, had been swiftly and definitively thrown on her ass. Kim recognized the immediate influx of confusion in the blonde's emotional state, thanks to a similar experience gifted to her by Kazue. Based on the speed of it, she was at least approaching the World Champion's level, which was frightening in of itself. Instinctively the Lieutenant had been about to reach for her sidearm, but before her hand could move, she remembered it wasn't on her person.

"Is... this a bad time?"

"Not at all," Tonya assured Seung-Min with a sincere smile.

"It's a-alright," Brant said, hauling himself off of the floor. Tonya gave him a wide berth as he moved over toward Chris. "I know what y-you're trying to do ..." ... aside from sprain his ribs, "... and I'm not going to screw up, this time."

"Prove it."

First thing was first, making sure Chris wasn't too shaken up ...

"Is this how you train?" Vasiliy asked. Normally, he'd see someone flying through a door as cause to panic, but Tonya had already warned him about how dangerous things could get back in Russia. A broken door seemed inevitable in a confined space like a bathroom.

"Tonya, explain yourself, or I will restrain you. I realize that your methods of training are more severe than any standards, but you aren't going to toss Brant through a door, flip Chris, and act as if there's nothing further to say." Hannah's fists were up, if Tonya wasn't going to offer anything, she was going to act.

Meanwhile Chris groaned, the pain starting to dull, but the surprise wasn't wearing off. "What the fuck just happened...?"

Brant being in less than perfect shape after that exchange was more than evident, and as he went over to Chris, Seung-Min also moved in the same direction. She kept an eye on Tonya, just to be safe, but Hannah's threat of interference would do more than her own precautions ever would. Stopping Brant from straining himself to help the blonde up in his condition, Kim reached down and grabbed Chris' hand, in an attempt to hoist her onto her feet.

"You got laid out on your ass... in about half a second. Had the same response... the first time it happened to me."

"I said it's alright, Hannah," Brant choked out as he nearly fell back to one knee. He caught himself, but his chest was starting to hurt even more now that his brief combat high was wearing off. The next pass was going to be a tap out at best, but for now he could push through the pain. "She's just giving me the push I- ... we n-need."

"You got pushed really hard," Vasiliy noted.

Brant chuckled, even though it hurt like hell doing so. "I'm used to this ..."

"Ohhh, I see," Sasha reached some kind of conclusion purely by observation, and nodded his understanding, "She's definitely still got that ring."

Tonya pulled off her glove and held up her hand for all to see. "I do." She started putting the glove right back on.

"I know that... Just... How?" Tonya couldn't have been that good at this, to topple her that quickly... That was preposterous. And then... "And just, why..." Chris started, pulling herself up, scowl settling on the woman, "are you wearing that?"

"I've got the same question," Hannah remarked, not lowering her guard, despite Brant's claim.

"If you wanted some fucking stake in this," Chris growled out, "you've literally had over a decade. So unless Brant forgot to tell me why you're holding onto it, cut the bullshit." Now that Chris had a good idea of just how quickly Tonya was going to react to things, she wasn't about to get floored like that again.

Whatever this commotion was, it seemed to be tied to... a ring? When Tonya displayed the thing, it certainly became the attention draw of the room. Brant had known Tonya for a long time... over a decade, apparently. And now this ring... was she the mother of these new kids that had suddenly come into the picture? A bad breakup, a divorce, custody issues? Trying to throw any of those theories onto the fire seemed like an awful idea, so she kept her mouth shut on the matter as Chris pulled herself up. Still, Brant was looking even worse for wear than he already had, an impressive feat in it's own right.

"Do YOU need a hand, Brant? You don't look so good."

He could definitely use a new hand, Brant thought, flexing his fingers a few times. Nothing broken or fractured. Everything just hurt from getting stretched and twisted. It was nothing compared to his chest, though. "Sure ... but wait until afterward," he said, taking his hand off of his chest and straining to get back into a fighting posture.

"I'm wearing it," Tonya began, scowling at Chris, "because I don't want to watch him make the same mistake he made with Jessica." She took a moment to move herself more out into the open, away from the bed and wrecked door. "Feel free to help him get the ring off me, but unless you've changed your mind about Firmia, you need to leave this to Brant and Chris," she said to Chris and Hannah in turn.

"Yeah, we've gotta handle this, ourselves," Brant agreed. That was the whole point.

"Don't forget about Seung-Min," Tonya grimaced, "If you two bum rush me a hundred times, there's not going to be much left for her. I don't have unlimited stamina ..."

"Don't fuck with me!" What was it with the people around here? Brant, she finally understood, down to the things he was doing that seemed more than harmful... But Tonya? This? Was the world just out to get her? One good thing comes down the pipe, and suddenly, bam, things are bad again. She was getting way too worked up, but there was nowhere for her to take her anger. Useless brain, useless, USELESS! Can't you do anything else other than get, fucking, mad!?

Brant was up, and she wasn't about to walk away, this angry. If Tonya wanted things to be this way then Kim was going to have to wait her fucking turn.

Hannah kept her guard, but put her hands down. She still didn't understand why Tonya was doing this... Especially claiming this was like Jessica. From all Hannah had analyzed, despite the speed of their relationship being worrisome, Chris had been nothing but helpful to Brant, in ways she felt Jessica would have failed, based on her interactions with Abigail. Was this some other face of humans she didn't understand? You couldn't quantify love, but even so, Tonya's decision to deny Brant and Chris this seemingly wanted step came across as nothing but selfish. Any cares or concerns she may have had over the two of them should have been brought up earlier...

"I don't understand you," she finally shot Tonya's way, a scowl resting on her face as well. "If you get too tired then I'll give Kim what she originally called for... And when this is over, I'm forcing an explanation out of you. As far as I can tell, this is ridiculous."

"It shouldn't be that hard to understand," Tonya frowned at Hannah. "... 'if I care about Brant, what makes him happiest is paramount.' I know somebody said that to me, recently." She looked at Brant, and though he was feeling that kick even more than he had when he first received it, that wasn't anger or fear in his eyes ... aaand it also wasn't hesitation!

"Don't worry, Chris," Brant grinned through the pain, "We'll beat her, together. That's the whole idea." He moved in fast, keeping his eyes on Tonya's hands. If he couldn't get Tonya into a lock, he could at least keep her hands busy long enough for Chris to get behind her and seal the deal.

Tonya stepped closer to Brant as he tried to pull a feint and move on a real opening, but Tonya hadn't reacted to the feint. That usually was hit or miss, and here it was a miss. Brant felt the fingers on his left hand get compressed again as Tonya grabbed them and wrenched his hand backward ... and goodness did that hurt a lot more the second time. Her grip shifted as she moved to twist his arm, and before Brant could decide whether to try and rip himself free or go with the flow to try and slip behind her a move or two later, she pulled back a full step, forcing him off balance and toward her.

So once again, I'm packaged and ready for fast delivery to the floor. This is going to take awhile. And it's gonna hurt even more this time ...

"I don't understand what part of this makes him happy." What was Tonya's game, here? Was he actually enjoying this, and she just didn't get it? "At least you can watch her at work, Kim... You too, Vasiliy. Tonya is the second," she emphasized, "most dangerous hand to hand combatant on the ship."

Chris had sprung after Brant, but his feint game had failed before she could get around Tonya... Which meant when he was packaged, despite having gotten a hand onto Tonya's arm, the full weight of the Abrams crashed into her, ruining her grip and sending them both toppling to the floor. Another groan.

"Are you okay, Brant...?" This was so frustrating for Chris it had almost gone full circle back to boring.

Much as Chris had noted, seeing Tonya in action before sparring against her was certainly helpful... normally she wouldn't appreciate being granted that sort of handicap in a sparring match, but in this instance, it didn't seem like it would swing things much. What became quickly obvious was that, much like against Kazue, going for an open offensive didn't seem particularly effective. To find success, it seemed paramount to force an exposed opening, but outright displays of force were too simple to counteract. Tonya's throw game was also superb, which lent itself to the same means of defeat she had faced against Kazue... abusing her slim build to apply a weight advantage and create openings out of disadvantageous positions. Was Tonya skilled enough to literally scissor her torso between her calves and throw her out of a leg lock? Well, only time would tell...

"They... they know they won't get a ring off of her finger without tearing the whole thing off or breaking it, unless they can knock her unconscious... right?"

If his hand wasn't so messed up--ribs too--Brant was sure he could avoid getting taken out in just two or three moves. As things stood though, they were at a severe disadvantage. They weren't even dressed for this kind of fighting. Still, even if Tonya smacked them down a hundred times, this wouldn't be settled until they gave in ... and that was unthinkable, now.

"I'm good," Brant assured her as he worked himself onto one knee, "but I think I might have gotten hit too hard right out of the gate. I've only ever beaten her five times." It was a little worrisome that Chris was so upset, but Brant understood why. Having a wonderful future threatened, seemingly on a whim ... it must have been Tuesday. Well ... Saturday. Still, there was something about this frustration, both his and Chris', that Brant ... kind of liked. He didn't want to say he enjoyed getting utterly destroyed like this, but he definitely felt better about ... something. It was hard to put his finger on it when it was hurting so much.

"I believe that is their intent," Hannah noted, though it seemed as though this wasn't going to work, today. Brant's injury from whatever Tonya had done in the washroom was likely costing them any chance they could get.

Brant was smiling? If it had been anyone else, that would've been annoying... Something about it made Chris start to smile too, despite the scowl. "Only five times? Oh, come on... Guess we'll have to make that six." Chris slid herself out from under him as he got a bit up, helping him back to his feet. "Much as I'd like to snap that arm of hers off, I don't think we're going to get anywhere with you handicapped. Heh. Hand. Anyway..." A hefty sigh, Chris tried to get her anger to just... Go, anywhere else. Anywhere. It wasn't really working... But pausing not to lunge at Tonya would definitely help.

"If you think we have a chance, I'm with you. If you want to try again another day... I'll go beat up a pillow, and let you rest your hand. Maybe see the girls... No way I can stay mad around them." There it went... Akilina and Liliana were quickly replacing that rage. It's just a slab of metal... It's Tonya's attitude that's really getting under my skin. Oh well... I get why Brant is enjoying himself, now. So we'll face it together.

Brant smiled apologetically at Chris after giving his hand another once over. It was getting a bit swollen in places, and some of his fingers could barely move. It still hurt to breathe, but something about his fingers was starting to hold his attention more. Likely because he knew how to cope with pains in his torso a little better. Brant was certain now; he had at least one fractured finger to worry about. If Chris was going to check in on Liliana and Akilina, then Brant ought to pay Doctor Monty a visit in the meantime. "... alright. We can do this, but we need to regroup, first. I need to get you used to how we fight so we can cover each other's weaknesses. I won't get myself injured right off the bat, next time."

"Done for the day?" Tonya grinned cheekily at them both.

"This is just a formality, Tonya," Brant warned, pointing at her with his good hand, "We're fully committed; I'll make another ring if I have to, but we want the original."

"Heh ... kay~"

"Oh, can we make another one, and come back to kick her ass anyway? I'd like that." Besides, then they could make it the perfect size~ Chris stuck her tongue out at Tonya and flipped her off, putting a hand on Brant's back. "Let's go have the doctor take a look at your hand, I'll check on the girls once I know you're set... Have fun, Kimmy." And that was them heading towards the door...

Hannah still didn't get it, but they seemed pleased? What was this about? It just didn't process... "Is this a good enough place for Kim to get what she came here for, or is there another room you think we should use?"

Making another ring wouldn't be that difficult, but Brant did feel it would devalue the original a bit. He wanted to win this impromptu challenge first, at the very least. "See you later, Tonya," Brant waved back at her ... again, with his good hand.

"Later, and here's fine," Tonya said, though she immediately sat down at the foot of her bed, "Just give me a second to clear my head, first."

"Are you alright?" Vasiliy asked. Head issues were never fun, and occasionally serious. He was concerned about Brant's injuries too but he and Chris were already on their way to the infirmary. Asking after him now wouldn't help, so he let them both go. His teacher might need to see the doctor too if something was wrong. "Does it hurt?"

"I'm fine," Tonya sighed, "I haven't done quite enough to get my joints going, yet. I just ... figured I'd have more time to get ready for this. Brant moves so fast, it's hard to keep up. I'm also not used to playing the bad guy, but I think I'm getting the hang of it."

"Playing the bad guy ..." Vasiliy was confused by that line.

Sasha wasn't confused in the slightest, and couldn't help but giggle quietly.

Brant did move fast... But. "There was no playing, here. What was the meaning of this, Tonya? Brant and Chris ended up smiling... Are they enjoying this? I don't understand." Hannah was more confused than upset, now... What the heck was this all about? "You made a point to mention Jessica; Chris has not shown herself to be anything like her in regards to this situation."

Well, it seemed that Chris and Brant were going to try again another day, to let Brant recoup his injuries, and Chris wished her luck, while Tonya herself asked for a breather. That was all well and good, though Seung-Min still wasn't sure exactly what was going on, here. Internal politics of some sort, probably not something it was really her place to get involved in. Wrong place at the wrong time, and all that. Instead, her time would likely be best spent remembering what moves Tonya had shown in the brief exchange, a smile curling onto her lips as she did so.

 

"Relax, Hannah," Tonya frowned. She'd said it, herself, 'They were both smiling.' "I don't think they were enjoying that, per se ... but at least they've got a problem to solve."

"Basically," Sasha chimed in to try and help Hannah understand, "Brant's been having a hard time since the whole Jessica-Abigail episode, but this time he can actually do something. Both of them can. I'd be pretty pissed at the time, if someone tried to get between Cheryl and me, but if she was on my side, I'd definitely love her all the more for it. Bonus points for seething rage~ Teaming up with your significant other to defend your relationship? 'You and me against the world'? That's quality time." Glancing at Tonya, he added, "It's not a bad idea to hold onto the ring for a while, but you're really pushing them hard."

"That's because I'm serious," Tonya winced, "First Rosa gets her claws in him, then Wonder Captain puts all these romantic ideas in his head, and then Chris shows up out of nowhere, promising to do better than the last two flops. Brant wants something real, so I'm as serious as I can possibly get. We're going to find out if Chris is up for this, and if not, I'll be what these fickle females can't. That'll be the end of that drama."

"Ahhh~ she's like the help that sits out most of the fight and takes the last kill," Sasha mused to himself.

As Sasha explained things, Hannah ended up getting the gist of why Brant and Chris seemed far less upset by the end than at the beginning... That part was beginning to make sense. Tonya's appraisal didn't make sense, though. "If you love Brant in that way, why have you waited until now to do something about it?"

As for Sasha's last comment... "Camping is stupid."

"Hardly even works in your typical boxed in match," Sasha shrugged.

Tonya sighed, and let her gaze fall to the floor. "You really want to know, Hannah?" Brant already knew what was going on; Tonya didn't have to fully explain the situation to him. For everyone else this must have seemed like bystander's remorse. That wasn't it at all ... "Most of the time, I trust my instincts ... and ever since Ilya died ... my instincts have been telling me not to ... well, definitely not try to hook up with Brant or anyone else at the drop of a hat," she forced a laugh. "I don't know why that feeling's there, but I can't ignore it. It's always there, like the name Polzin actually means something ..."

"Are you sure you're not still mourning?" Sasha asked gently.

"Of course I'm still mourning," Tasha smiled bitterly, "By the time we got to America, I found out he didn't die in an accident, after all. That was just one big reset on the pain ... but that's not why that feeling's there. It's not some longing, it's more like a danger sense. Anyway, for Brant's sake I'm willing to ignore it. If Chris wins, then my job's done. If I win ... then I'll deal with the fallout and whatever that feeling is, and move forward from there. Either way I'm not giving anyone else a chance to pull a bait and switch. I'll be doing the damage, or no one will ... and speaking of damage ..." She glanced over at Seung-Min, her mood still somber, but on a slight uptake.

"I still think this is doing more harm than good... But Whatever. Brant told me to stay out of it, so for the sake of respecting his wishes, I will... Just know if you were trying this sort of nonsense on Firmia and I, I'd have torn your hand off by now." Hannah huffed, turning and heading her way out of the room. It just didn't click, but maybe it was only supposed to click for Brant and Chris... Whatever the case, Hannah had better things to take care of than to try and figure out the inner mind of someone who revealed so little about how she thought.

Well, that seemed to be the end of things. Tonya revealed why she felt the way she did, though knowing so little about the woman, Seung-Min only had bits and pieces to parse in her head. Hannah had left, not at all pleased, and that just left Tonya, Sasha, Tonya's little trainee, and herself. Her mood seemed to be on an upswing, but it was clearly still in flux from all of that business.

"If you're not... feeling up to things, after all of that, I would understand, Tonya. There's no need to force anything if you'd rather not."

"On the contrary," Tonya said, standing up from the bed, "I've got to get ready for those two. Nothing better to do than get back into practice. Kim, you and I will go a few rounds, and then I want you to team up with Sasha."

The Russian pointed at himself, wide eyed and incredulous.

"Yep. You're stronger than Brant, and Kim has more experience than Chris, so this should do, nicely. So, does that sound good to you, two?"

Sasha heaved a heavy sigh as his shoulder dropped. Tonya was the most passive thing in the world until she had something important to do. Then she became a freight train. Better to stand in as the Brant dummy and spare some other poor soul the burden. "I could do without another foot injury ... but yeah, sure."

"It's not exactly like I had imagined things, but... if it can benefit you as well, that's better all around, isn't it? Sorry Brant, Chris..." Kim replied, tacking an apology to her fellow pilots at the end. Based on Tonya's skill level, it wasn't likely she'd teach the Russian much, just keep her warmed up.

Tonya smirked. "No need to apologize. I know it doesn't feel like it--trust me, I know ... but you're helping them with this, too."

"By making it harder for them to win?" Vasiliy tilted his head at her.

Tonya nodded. "How much would you care about your Reign model if you could replace it in ten minutes? Better yet, someone else will replace it for you. Every time. Guaranteed. Sometimes ... most of the time, actually ... things have way more value when they're harder to get and keep. Relationships are no different." A dreary thought crossed Tonya's mind; maybe Rosa's obsession blossomed from that struggle. Brant's, too. Maybe Tonya herself was in the middle of that struggle too, refusing to accept Ilya's death. They all had that same Alkaev training ...

"I ... guess that makes sense," Vasiliy conceded.

"I can't say that I... fully understand everything going on here, but you don't feel malicious about it at any rate." Seung-Min replied, silently agreeing with Tonya's point about work and effort. Mostly silently, because there had been many times in the past that she herself had been ridiculed for coasting by on talent, despite the hours of work put in on top. It was a frustrating subject to be certain.

 

"Of course I'm not malicious," Tonya chuckled, "I'm just looking after my student. I didn't have much of an opportunity until we got out of Russia."

"Are you going to keep me from getting married, too?" Vasiliy grimaced at her.

Right ... student, Tonya noted. She wound up shrugging at him right away. "If you've got bad taste or my instincts kick in ... yeah. Alright, Kim, over here," she gestured at the section of the room with the mat like texture. "Vasiliy, make sure Sasha doesn't try and slip out while I'm occupied. Gonna need my Brant stand-in, later."

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