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

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Closing up Christina's leg was proving much simpler than her chest, it being a somewhat less complicated part of the body. It likely wouldn't even feel tender for as long. The girl would certainly be able to walk out of the infirmary unassisted. If only ferreting out moles and smacking down invading aliens were so simple. "Be sure to keep a close eye on her," Megumi said. While it could have been taken as medical advice--and in part it was--the doctor meant in general. Clearly one person wasn't enough.

The doctor thought about her assistant's comment for a moment, trying to come up with some fresh methods of attack. Nothing had been quite so effective as smashing the Almydis into the hull and having Alriana make a beeline for the bridge after boring into the ship. The automated defenses, along with Tiffany, just hadn't been enough. Not by a long shot. "Mmm ... I'd say three more stygusians ramming the ship and boarding would be the end of us." Honestly though, she was expecting an oversized cannon to down the Riese, not more costly boarding attempts.


It was definitely Stan Alkaev trying to get in touch with him, Sasha realized. Stan's message wasn't even about Sasha beyond the pleasantries. He was more interested in the operation the ANF was conducting. The fact that he seemed to know something about it was suspicious, but he wouldn't get much in the way of answers without replying. Rather than calling the man, Sasha opted to send back a text of his own.

Sasha kept it short and to the point, hoping Stan wouldn't waste too much of his time being chatty. A brief back and forth was definitely his preference with the man. "What are you up to ...?" Sasha squinted at the console as he sent his reply off onto the network.


It felt strange for Firmia, hearing her siblings asking her what they could do to help. In the case of Vance, literally nothing. The pain of loss wasn't going away anytime soon, and the most important ally she had in the ANF was gone, completely redefining the organization and her alliance with it. Firmia was by no means going to change course now, but the fewer trustworthy people in the organization, the harder it would be to help steer the whole ship. This was far beyond her siblings. It was far beyond Firmia as well, for the time being.

The Alkaev stared uselessly at the floor as she tried to find something she could say to everyone. As much as she tried to beat back the sudden flashes of an Avalon overwhelmed by war, they came, and they were relentless. "P-please just ... be careful. I can't ... protect everyone ... not even here ... not after the war ... There's just ... too much coming ..." She had to say something: Be careful. Know that in the future, the Avalon would be operating independently. They only had more enemies in front of them, not less, and so on.

"I need everyone to survive ... please. If everyone close to me winds up dying, then ... why even ... what's the point of any of this ...?"


Brant had a feeling, a hope, that at least partially mending Firmia's relationship with Rosa would take some of the heat off of Jessica, though not all of it. Until the threat of hot death was no longer looming over them, the Alkaev was going to be under a minimum amount of stress, and that didn't leave much room for error for the Riese's captain. Brant could feel Chris shifting unnaturally away from her anger and that was his cue that she needed something to focus on. That was why he wasn't going to bring up Rosa or anything else that would just make it tougher on her. There was still the matter of how to help Chris out with that problem, though.

"I guess if they perfect the clones they'd be pretty dangerous, but I'm not as worried about a fight breaking out on the Riese now that the moles are gone." A small part of Brant wanted him to ask if Chris was sure there were only the three yet again, but that was pointless and probably insulting. There probably only were the three, and if there were any more than that, she had no way of knowing. "Plus, they've got basically four androids and Alriana if something did happen."

... and not much was coming to mind.

As they landed and started down toward the hangar, Brant started mentally preparing himself for anything and everything he could possibly encounter here. They were mainly here to see Christina and maybe get some information, but between the Prioxis pilot and the aftermath of that brutal backstab--not to mention Abigail's crew being alive and active ... they were in for quite the circus.

Once again, Brant was faced with the decision of where to sit the Regalia. He decided to get as far out of the way as possible, and knelt the machine down near a used dock. They were a bit far from anything noteworthy though, unfortunately. The rest of the way was going to be on foot. There was one thing that was a little noteworthy. The Avalon's six drones had just left the Luna where they'd brought it and were all awkwardly making their way toward the elevator. Their feet were extremely minimalist in design, and so their foot falls were loud and clanky, and each's individual gait was just downright childlike. They could hover with almost no effort, but were probably saving their energy. If that was the case, then either the Luna was staying on the Riese, or Firmia planned to get it later ...

"Alright, let's go," Brant said, powering down the unneeded systems and opening the hatch and cockpit one after the other. The drones' footsteps got even louder as they passed and bunched up in the elevator. If that wasn't silly enough, Brant also had a good chuckle when the main monitor both visually and audibly began cleaning up behind him, locking out almost every system he'd neglected to shutdown. The Regalia hadn't transformed into a brick per se, but it wasn't moving again without at least one of its crew, or a good crane. No doubt Firmia had come up with and implemented these security blanket features in her sleep or something. They were better than the old manual lockouts but ... mostly just amusing.

The pair of pilots rode down the lift together, reaching the ground floor in one smooth motion, and from there it was a straight shot to whatever craziness was unfolding on the Riese.

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Ramming Speed

"I will. I promise." Nina wasn't going to let this happen to Christina again. She'd need to speak with the captain and get proper permissions to walk about the ship.

"Megumi, don't say that. Gah. That's a horrifying mental image... One of those aliens was enough. Please don't suggest more..." However they'd managed to get it under control was beyond her, but more rabid ones was... Nope! Nope.

Survival At All Costs

"We're not going anywhere, Firmia." Hannah leaned on and gave Firmia a gentle peck on her forehead, Aki squeezing her arm tighter.

"None of us are d-dying!"

Liliana sighed. "Is that what you're worried about? Honestly..." With a small little run, she threw her arms around Firmia in a hug, giggling some. "I got you! And I'm not going anywhere! I have a family, a dad, a mom, and a cool big sister! Going off and dying now would be silly. Completely out of the question!" She nodded and giggled again. Hannah was appreciating her bravado at least... It was probably a good thing that she didn't know what was on that tablet. This sort of straightforward affection might help Firmia.

Approach Vectors

"I don't think there's a chance of a big fight happening, but... I don't want to see someone with my face getting gunned down. It just wouldn't feel right... Mind or no mind." Chris shuddered as the thought as they came down, giving the hangar a once over... And who she was didn't feel her with good feelings. "That's impossible..." She followed Brant out of the cockpit and down to the floor, and getting a proper look just confirmed things more, not that she wanted them to.

"B-Brant. Brant that's Louise... She's supposed to be dead, paralyzed, AND human... And right now she is none of those things. Wh-What's going on?" She looked to him for an explanation, as if he'd have one. "This doesn't make any sense... We... We killed her! We did!"

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The hangar had become a blur around Elaine, all she could focus on was the mechanical marionette that called herself Louise. Had Apotheosis really rebuilt the psychopath as a killer android? It was her worst nightmare come true, there wasn't even a way to get rid of her. Would Louise out all her secrets and the fact they'd been talking secretly? It would be enough to land Elaine back in prison, and for far longer than last time. Nobody would ever be able to trust her again, all of her efforts destroyed by her own fear. Elaine gritted her teeth, nothing she could think of would be able to salvage the situation.

Elaine's body went limp as Louise embraced her, the intimate act striking terror throughout her entire person. She wanted to run away, push Louise off of her, scream... but her body refused to move, the sheer shock of the matter rendering her incapable of even replying.

Dropping to her knees, Elaine broke out into a cold sweat. Jess already suspected something, all Elaine could do was look at up her captain fearfully. There was no chance she'd get through this without any retribution, her own cowardice and poor judgement had come back to bite her.

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Louise certainly had a way of making a display, her attempted suicidal show stopped by these limiters she had in place... or simply by her own reactions, feigning a forced stop. Without the aid of her telekinetic abilities, it was hard to get anymore insight than that into Louise. They didn't know how capable she was of manually stopping her own movements, after all.

"That's a... difficult question to answer, not having experienced it. I can't imagine I would be, but perhaps the second chance at life wou-"

Elaine's arrival and immediate mental spiral was not doing Seung-Min's mind any favours, stopping her mid-sentence as the sudden, sharp intake of dread caused the Lieutenant to clutch at her head in search of some sort of relief. A low groan escaped her lips as she instinctively began to squat low to the ground, more and more people entering the hangar and piling on further emotional flares. What in the hell was this mental pressure? It was absurd, she wasn't plugged in! This level of feedback shouldn't...

"Hghk... God... damnit..." Seung-Min cursed, ears ringing and world spinning, Elaine spiraling further, Jessica adding anger, Chris and Brant's arrival adding confusion and fear. Sure the emotions were strong, stronger than normal, but to assail her mind so completely? Falling to one knee, with one hand moving away from her temple instinctively to brace against the floor, despite her head's protests, Kim glued her eyes shut if only to eliminate one vector of sensory information as her breaths rattled precariously out from her throat.

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Well, both of their responses weren't surprising in the least.  If anything Vvi expected such reactions.

"Well, being alright physically is one thing....mentally and emotionally-"

Eh?  Was she alright?

"Don't worry about me dear.  Already took care of that before I contacted you two," she simply said with a wave of her hand before going back to Aliza and Alriana.  "We'll talk more when we land, when we're face to face," she adds, before cutting off communication and simply sitting in her machine as she closed her eyes and sighed.

One step at a time.

 

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Trouble Town

Well, Makoto'd certainly seen enough happen now. That was the snake lady alright, brought back somehow, and about as unhinged as she sounded at the comms before. "Okay, uh, so we're taking her to the brig, right?" It was about time to speak up again. Most people seemed too shocked to deal with her, which was understandable... Elaine seemed to take a horrible hit to the psyche herself. "E-Elaine, pull yourself together!" That was definitely too strong a reaction, maybe she should be taken to the infirmary while they were at it.

---

"Goodness gracious..." Ignatius hadn't a lot he could do but focus on the damage at the engine room. If Jessica had arrived to deal with that weird android, then jurisdiction was on her hand... now all that was left was waiting on Buck. "Alright, give me a warning when you're done over there." That'd make him remember.

A Few Contacts

"I'd rather not deal with miss genius." Esther scoffed, "But yeah, she came to check up on me, Fujiwara too, she's better." One of the few people on the Riese that seemed alright at a glance.

It seemed like she would get along well with Vera too, if circumstances allowed.

"Just them and a man named Thorvald, really, aside from the doctor whenever she administers my medicine. Being stuck at the brig is boring otherwise, Vera." It really didn't look like it was paying off.

Suspicions

Having landed safely, Bonner and Gordon left the Mantle quickly, the Major noting how the machine seemed to shut down after they left. "Hmm, I suppose that's what a private company would do, when their pilot no longer needs to go out."

"Major, who do you think those unidentified machines work for?" Gordon was still stuck on them, even after the alien machines retreated.

"Can't say. I don't think reinforcements from HQ would keep their identities hidden from us, though their machines seem familiar." The Major remarked.

"They resemble Lieutenant Seung-Min's Artemis a bit, less so because of the color scheme. Both machines resemble the Velite line, in a way." Gordon seemed intent in cracking his head at the situation. "I don't think they are affiliated with the ANF either, but they might be involved with Bismarck. It's possible that they could be mercenaries."

"Interesting. Well, I suppose we'll find out soon enough."

The lift's descent was rather uneventful for the two, aside from the continuous, casual chatter.

Edited by Xinnidy

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"Shit... fuck... no..." Elaine muttered, unable to get herself up from the floor. The pressure bearing down on her was too much, fear had practically pinned her down. Nobody could protect her from Louise, and Kim would easily pick up on her distress. It was only a matter of time before people found out, then it would be a life in prison for Elaine. Communicating in secret with the enemy was a serious crime, there was no excusing it. Even if she hadn't give away any vital information, it was an act that couldn't be compatible with heroism. After all she'd done to fight Apotheosis, her actions would brand her a traitor.

"Makoto..." Elaine muttered, tears welling in her eyes. The boy looked up to her, admired her like nobody else did. It hurt to think she'd let down one of the few people that didn't think she was a volatile headcase. 

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A promise? That was oddly comforting. It took a moment for Megumi to realize why. Siblings, whether clones or natural, looking after each in this way, that was certainly a good thing. Being a clone herself, the sentiment resonated with her. Even if Christina was the unluckiest person on the ship, she was far from alone or unimportant. "Don't forget that promise," Megumi grinned microscopically as she worked.

"It doesn't seem likely they would try that again anyway," the doctor offered her assistant. Not much more to go now ... "Almost finished .... Don't bother crossing your fingers. We're beyond anything I'd consider life threatening or dangerous." Sure enough, the wound on Christina's leg was effectively closed. Only the dermal and epidermal layers needed resurfacing, now.


Aftermath

Spoiler

Several Days After The Disaster in Moscow, August 8th

Troy paced angrily behind his captain's chair on the bridge. The Athena had managed to enter the Ukraine's airspace after escaping from the unknown that has literally blown up the Kremlin. Russia's government was in complete disarray, in one swift movement Apoth had taken out a major player in Europe's defense against them. "What to do, what to do..." While he tried to find an answer, he paced right out of the bridge, heading towards the meeting room. "Rex, May, Pavel and Makenna, come to the meeting room. I need people to bounce off of, this situation is getting ridiculous." That was understating things... Aggravated teeth chewed on his fingernails, his poor index the victim this time.

Orders are for all available ships to head to the closest coasts and participate in battle against incoming Apotheosis forces... The current presumed source is Greenland, but... Ugh, we'll die. I have four available pilots with several experimental ships. Was five, but that rookie got herself blown up. What a mess, what a mess! Giving his poor finger a reprieve, Troy tried to think of what to do. "If we could get any information of where they're coming from, maybe we could sneak around to try and deal a blow... Assuming they're leaving their main base undefended to perform all of these attacks. That's a bold assumption, and I only have one ship... What a mess..."

Well, that was her headache dealt with. One of them, at least... her dose of Triexanth finally taking effect and relieving the dull thud in her brain that occurred every so often as a result of the surgery. The other headache, unfortunately, was not so easy to quell. The Captain calling them to a meeting only made things come back even more sharply... surely it had to do with that monster machine they had encountered in Russia.

Just what was that thing? It had singlehandedly taken out the Kremlin, and even seemingly drained of energy and ammo, had killed off the airheaded recruit and forced the Athena to flee... and it wasn't like the Athena was some run of the mill ship, almost every machine loaded on this thing was a hefty prototype. 

"Grah... no use thinkin' about it alone." The Lieutenant muttered, grabbing the coat of her uniform and hastily draping it over the light tanktop she had been wearing as she began to make her way to the meeting room. What sort of nonsense were they in for this time around?

A summons from the captain ... the reason for it came with the message, and it meant it was time for the Athena to start making some moves, again. May didn't have the foggiest idea why she was called along with the Athena's legitimate pilots. Even Stan was a better sounding board in situations like these and he hadn't been called up from the sound of things.

... okay May did have one idea for why she was coming up. Eye candy. Stan definitely couldn't fill that niche.

It was no coincidence that May ran into Rex on her way to see their ornery captain. She'd taken the room right next to his, after all. "Hey, Rex. Feeling any better?"

"Not really," Rex shook his head. He kept his pace toward the meeting room and didn't bother engaging his squad mate beyond that. "You seem better, though."

"Can't cry for three days straight, you know ..." May forced a smile as the bad memories resurfaced. Poor Sasha ...

"We'll pay them back for that," Rex promised, "but first we need to get back into the fight, somehow. We're not ready for their best yet, and we don't have any replacement pilots or suits. Stan can pilot but he's not viable. That is ... he's not reliable." Stan certainly wasn't going to put his life on the line unnecessarily, and if they did something as stupid as letting him pilot the crown prototype, he'd use its tremendous acceleration to abandon them at the first sign of trouble. Granted, their loss to Apotheosis in the capital wouldn't leave a good first impression on most people.

"Any ideas for the captain? I've got nothing ..."

"Let's see what he's got to bounce off of us first," Rex said, closing in on the meeting room door, "No point in brainstorming without intel."

...

"Captain," Rex greeted Troy with a half-assed salute and took a spot on the wall by the door.

"Hello," May waved sheepishly, opting to take a seat, instead.

Rex and May were the first to arrive, but not even the bouncing green girl could lift his spirits much higher than they were. Troy reached lazily into his pocket for his bottle of Atenolol, fishing a pill out of it and popping it into his mouth. "Right," he addressed the both of them, sighing, then swallowing.

"Rex, you've a brother working with the ANF right now, yes?" Hopefully his file was correct, this was probably a halfway decent lead. "How do the two of you feel about defecting? Though I suppose it's just the one of you, since you aren't a soldier, May... Still, feel free to weigh in your opinion. It'll be nice to hear your voice, after... All of that mess."

As she came to approach the meeting room, it seemed she would be among the later arrivals, Rex and May already speaking to the Captain. Makenna couldn't quite help but overhear, and the question that came from Troy's lips certainly caused the Lieutenant's to set into a frown as she entered the room.

"If I might be so bold, Captain... would you care to elaborate on that?"

At first Rex assumed Troy meant having him try and convince Brant to join the EU, somehow. That fit in nicely with the older brother's long term plans, but with the way things were right now, Rex didn't think it was something they could accomplish. There wasn't much on offer, and Rex still had to repair that badly damaged bridge, or stare uselessly at the giant chasm he'd created between them over Firmia.

Makenna arrived right after Rex and May and overheard the question. Her asking about it first snapped Rex out of his initial thought, and made him curious, too.

"Wait," May squinted at Troy, and Rex could tell she was about to repeat Makenna's question in her own words, "Do you mean us defecting or convincing ANF people to come chip in on our side?"

She looked nervous just asking, but the answer could drastically affect their situation. What if Troy really meant ... the former ...? Even Rex wouldn't be sure how to respond to that.

He stared between the three rather deadpan, confused by their confusion, before shaking his head. "I meant us." Leaning back and kicking his feet up onto the meeting table, Troy slid his hands behind his head. "Let me make clear our situation, currently. Not only did we evacuate while under orders to aid the Russians, despite the unknown's presence, we lost a pilot, and are now housing who I can only assume is a mildly fugitive Russian." Letting that sink in a moment, Troy closed his eyes and cleared his throat.

"Now we've received orders to head towards the nearest coast... Germany or Norway, nearest coast of the Atlantic, and aid in whatever combats we can. Let me be as clear as possible. We'll die." He opened an eye and looked at May first, not for her appeal, but because she had been the most affected by Sasha's exploding. "We'll all die. We're one ship, undermanned, and understocked. There are four of you, at best. So we have two choices, right now." Troy closed his eye again, and relaxed back a little bit.

"We can either charge blindly towards combat, and pray that we make it through, hope for some miracle... Or we can try and contact Brant's brother, defect our way across the ocean, and attempt to aid the ANF in quashing their side of Apotheosis. I've my own contacts. And the grape vine has sold me some rather nice wine. Not only is the ANF winning their side of the war, they've found out where Apotheosis' main base is. Anyone interested in a trip to the Arctic?"

So they were at the end of the line in terms of their fighting capability. The EU didn't have a way out of this war and was essentially sacrificing pawns to buy themselves time. What an insulting way to conduct a war, Rex thought. It would be one thing if they were planning a massive counterattack, but judging by all of the damage, the EU's commanders were likely just flailing.

Still, Rex had his personal obligations to consider. There were some officers in the EU that might try to arrest Troy for even broaching this topic after receiving his orders, but Rex wasn't one of them. Sometimes you had to take everything on board, consider all the options, and really think about what you were fighting for and why.  He just wished it didn't have to be so soon after the latest trouncing. Maybe if they won a battle before abandoning the European theater, he'd feel better about all of this ...

"Is it really that bad?" May winced.

Rex sighed, thinking that it most certainly was. "I wouldn't put it past the EU to surrender soon, but if we get killed before then following dumb orders, it won't do us any good. I don't like the idea of 'defecting,' but if we're just going to take on a side mission and maybe win the war in the process, I can get on board for that, Sir. Won't be at the ANF's medal award ceremony but I'm sure they'll understand."

"If we're going the route Abrams suggested, it might not be so bad. Dipping around top brass and doing something useful instead of leaping off a cliff is one thing, but full on joining the bloody ANF? That's a harder sell, Captain. That's what I meant by elaborating... how far are you planning to go with this?" Makenna replied, crossing her arms as she leaned back against the wall of the meeting room on the opposite side of the doorway from Rex.

Pavel had been as frustrated as anyone else with how things at the Kremlin had ended up actually going down. Maybe more so. Losing fun toys one after another, even if they did have their annoying sides, was simply unacceptable. First that cocksure mechanic, then Boy Scout, and now Dormouse? Not good. At least he could still rag on Pops, that was something. And Big Mac did still have her own brand of spice and May was well... May. But even so, the Athena had definitely lost some good people and things weren't as fun any more.

...No, that wasn't quite true either. Thinking back to the fight, and the rush that went along with putting up against incredible odds, it would be impossible to say he hadn't enjoyed himself, wouldn't still find ways to enjoy himself. It was just always better when you came out on the winning side: a fact nobody could really deny.

When the call came down for a meeting, Pavel had been half tempted to shoot back with a snarky refusal, something along the lines of 'You wanna spend a couple hours bouncing on ya boy's dick? Well that ain't me, fuck off.' The inclusion of the women had rendered that dead on arrival though, and not coming up with any other witty or relevant response, he found that his feet had already taken matters into their own 'hands' and he was halfway to the meeting room on autopilot alone. Once he realized, he stopped, leaned up against a wall, and thought hard about continuing or just slacking and pretending he'd been passed out or in the shower or just hadn't cared.

"Eh, fuck it, let's see what this's about." In the end, there might be something interesting. Somehow Troy seemed to have that sort of luck. Skill maybe? A lightning rod for misadventure.

'Anyone interested in a trip to the Arctic,' was the first thing he heard when he pushed his way in, late apparently, but not giving a good goddamn either way.

"Hold the fucking phone, if we're taking a vacation, you gotta pick somewhere warm and sunny. The fuck you doing? And I thought it couldn't get worse than Siberia..."

Pavel's outburst turned out not to be entirely relevent, as snippets from the other pilots filled in a bit of the gaps in his knowledge of the situation, but you know what. It still wasn't entirely without merits. Hadn't there just been some big shit going down in Australia? Climate there certainly beats the pants of off wherever it sounded like they were heading.

Troy rose in his seat a moment as the door opened again, letting himself relax as it was another person he hoped he could rely on. "Ah, Pavel, good to see you. How do you feel about betraying this military?" Best to pose it to him as blatantly as possible before explaining the details. "Yes, May, it is that bad. I share Rex's worry; I fear that the EU may seriously be considering a surrender at this point. With how large the loss of life and land has been so far, that their last resort is to order everyone to their ends, I want no part in that." Troy shook his head, anxious commanders made for horrible orders.

"I love a good war, but I also love surviving to the next. So here's my plan." He cracked his neck, stood up, swatted his cane against the board behind him, and let his diagram show itself. "As I mentioned, I've my own contacts. A good old friend that sided with the ANF, now resides near their high command. As soon as the Kremlin went nuclear, I gave him a call, asking for any out to this nonsense. Of course, I was laughed at, but sometimes your pride has to take the hit." His diagram showed a general attack plan spreading out over the US and Canada, heading from ANF's Central base.

"But I have saved his life before, so here's his attempt to save mine. The ANF knows where Apotheosis is located now. Whether it's a lucky find or an interrogation gone right, I don't care, but what I do know is they've ships headed to the Arctic, along with the Heion Riese, their big, fancy, compensating ship." He smirked, shaking his head, as he set his cane down and leaned on it somewhat.

"We have Rex contact his brother, who I'm hoping is still alive and working on or with this ship. We find out where they're headed, and we head there ourselves. Now, this does run the chance of us dying in several ways. We'll have to sneak past the front lines and out onto open ocean, taking a day's dip towards Africa should make that easier, but still... And there's the chance we run into an Apotheosis battalion on the east coast of the United States, and can't hold them off. But these are chances. If we stay here, and go off to fight as the EU wants, we will die. There is no if, there is no maybe. You'll all, one by one, join Sasha in your metal coffins, and then the Athena follows. I don't like that. I've come to enjoy talking to most of you, and staring at the rest. I also like this ship. MY ship. No bewildered idiot of a commander is about to send it off to be blown up."

With a sigh and another small stretch, Troy fell back into the meeting room's head seat, kicking legs up onto the desk. "The gist of things: we help the Riese, I ask to be instated in their military instead of the EU's for helping save the world, and you all can either join me or go your own ways afterwards. A part of me is worried that the EU might come looking for defectors when this is all settled, but... If there's no EU left to look, then what have I got to lose? I'm simply playing the best card I have available in my hand... Even if I can't guarantee the win. So to answer you, darling Makenna, yes. 'Full on joining the bloody ANF'. Any questions?"

While it was good Pavel wasn't a no-show to the most important meeting any of them were likely to have in the war, this was certainly no vacation they were planning. In fact Troy was putting the rest his pilots in a very precarious position. If the EU survived this war then there were going to be praise and medals to heap on the obedient drones lucky enough to have survived, and hell to mete out to any troublesome individuals that were stupid enough to stick around.

Were they stupid enough to disobey orders, sneak out of the Eastern Theater altogether, join the ANF forces in an arctic duck hunt, and then bring the good news back to the EU? At least if Troy weren't straight up defecting, the Athena crew could take a lighter, collective hit, but honestly, as an EU pilot, it was Rex's duty, Makenna's, and Pavel's, to toss Troy in the brig ... ... and then prepare to go off and die in battle ....

Rex heaved a heavy sigh. "It wasn't my choice to join the EU. Still, I tried to be a good soldier, not knowing if I'd ever get out or if I should just focus on being a career officer. I guess I've got my answer, now. The Alkaevs are all making moves and as long as I'm shackled here in this organization, I'm never going to be able to deal with them."

"... you're leaving, too?" May winced. He seemed set on staying a moment ago ...

"Maybe," Rex admitted, "Probably, yeah ... but I'm not joining the ANF in any official capacity. All I know for certain is I don't plan on taking the heat for the Captain's decision. If he's defecting then they're going to want answers after the dust settles. If the EU's still around after this, I probably won't be. I need to get out from under these idiot armchair commanders and start working toward my own goals."

"What am I supposed to do ...?" May was almost pleading. She was only a civilian, but Merrygate belonged to Global Armaments Europe, and the mechanics assigned to it by the company would each have their own opinions about all of this.

Rex shrugged, though he wasn't lacking in ideas.

"A smart man you are, Rex. Go ahead and call this brother of yours for me, yes? As for you, May? I don't particularly care what you do. You can come with us, and I'll use what clout I have to keep you and your engineers safe, or you can return to Global Armaments and live your life or rat me out. If a mutiny occurs I'll fly a plane across the ocean, I rightly am less interested in what the rest of you do, and am more concerned with getting my ass out of this fire." He scoffed, it was selfish, but it was the truth, he had no intention to lie here. "I'm extending my hand out of a hope you're all smart enough to also want to hop this frying pan."

A sigh, perhaps they needed some more... Comfort. "If it helps, I've spoken to my XO, and the rest of the bridge. They're on board with the idea. The only personnel left to convince are you all, and the mechanics. I'm hoping the latter will be the most difficult." He lazily glanced at Pavel, the man liked to give him shit, but was he overly loyal to the EU? And Makenna... Probably the hardest sell, her opinion of the ANF didn't seem quite high.

If there was one thing that Makenna didn't like, it was this. She really did not like this, but despite that... what the Captain was saying made sense. It made too much goddamn sense, and that made her dislike it even more. Sighing and scratching the back of her head, Makenna looked over at the Captain with a bit of a sour, defeated expression.

"I really don't like this, but... ending those fucks instead of throwing my life away is a pretty hard deal to pass up. I don't think I'll be sticking with the ANF after this is over and through like you plan to, but... fuck it, the rest of you seem relatively on board, and charging my Armadura into a squadron alone is just suicidal. Boils my blood that it'll be those assholes to finish Apotheosis off, but if it's gotta be that way regardless, I'll toss my hat in."

Speaking of the Armadura ... "I figure," Rex chimed in again, "the ANF doesn't need our help and having the extra firepower will make things that much easier ... or they've got no chance in hell without us and the victory's going to be largely thanks to us." There was no point in even entertaining the idea that they could team up with the ANF and that little Alkaev twerp and still lose. If they stayed on their current mission, they most certainly would.

"Maybe this would be good for the company ..." May mused to herself, arms crossed, and on this rare occasion, engrossed deep in thought.

Rex was sure GA would use any data they got from Merrygate's performance to wow their people, staff members and stakeholders alike. The machine that helped end the war with Apotheosis would be a GA prototype. A good sell if they framed everything right, but that wasn't what Rex was focused on. "I might need a bit more time to convince them to work with us, but I'll get it done, sir."

Rex also had a lot to think about, like how he was going to get around and maintain the Rebellion. He'd spent his whole life attached to bases and ships, never having much range beyond that. It was something to look into sooner rather than later, and all he had figured out up to this point was that he was going to need to keep Stan around for the foreseeable future. Makenna had it the worst out of all of them, though. Chances were that Troy was keeping the Armadura. If she opted out of joining the ANF and still wound up with that machine, she'd have the same problem Rex was quietly trying to sort out for himself.

"Betray the military?" Pavel shrugged, a bit of scorn dripping from his words. "Maybe that'd matter if they hadn't been betraying me first, for a long time running now." Laughing a little through his nose, he turned his head to appraise the others gathered around, trying to read their take on things. Pops continued to elaborate, and truth be told, the reassurances and explanations sounded a little weak, but...

The reactions of the others ranged from guarded optimism, to reluctant pragmatism, to a bit of panic that seemed almost on the edge of slipping away from her before she reeled it back in. But nobody, himself included, seemed to have any taste for mutiny, so after the initial edge that a pronouncement like Troy's inevitably garners, it wasn't long before Pavel settled down again.

"Still sounds like a dumb destination," he grumbled a little as he prepared to crack wise. "But sometimes it's the silly roadtrips with shitty bedfellows that really end up being something you never forget. Ha!"

"Shitty bedfellows, eh... Makenna, Pavel, not right away, but I'd like to speak to the both of you in private. And before you say no, Pavel, I've a bottle of jack with your name on it if you agree." As for Makenna, well... "And one for the lady if she prefers it. For you, Sergeant, I'm mostly curious about this... Hatred of your ANF you have. I don't know you all as well as I should, but we can fix that as we travel across the Atlantic." Troy's feet came off the table, picking himself up with his cane.

"And Rex, we'll see each other again once you've spoken to your brother, yes? ... Good luck to your convincing, May. I would offer the same chats, but... I can't imagine you'd want to be in a room alone with me, after all the ogling I've done. A smart decision, really~" Chuckling as menacingly as he could, the meeting room's door opened. "Let's all be partners in crime, and survive this mess of a war. Ta ta for now~" If there was anything they needed to discuss among themselves, Troy could check surveillance later, and see if it was important. For now, he had an engineering crew to convince.


Just Sasha's luck ...

"Finally, we've gotten through," Stan with a smile as his face appeared on Sasha's console, "Firmia must still be sore with Rex."

"I'm still sore with you," Sasha scowled, "Now tell me what you two had in mind and I'll see if Firmia's interested."

Stan took a moment to stroke his chin, leaving Sasha annoyed in silence. "Hmm ... well, there isn't much in the way of details. The crew I'm with is getting a bit tired of losing ground, and following things up with a suicide mission ... well that's been unanimously frowned on. The captain's interested in joining the ANF's assault on Apotheosis. There are some solid defectors in it for you. Myself included~"

"Yeah, I'm still wondering how you people found out about that ..."

Stan shrugged with an exaggerated expression. "You'd have to ask the captain. I think we're running out of time to set up a proper rendezvous. Rex has been trying to make contact for days now. If it's not too much trouble, I'd appreciate it if you could establish a line of communication between the Athena and the Riese, as well. Coordination looks like it's going to be key to making this all work."

"Need to tell the boss first, but I'll see what I can do," Sasha agreed, "You people need to be ready for calls from us at any time, though."

"Now that we've gone AWOL, there isn't much keeping us busy," Stan mused, "We'll be waiting."

Sasha ended the call and leaned away from the console. "... EU defectors, huh? ... survivalists more like it."


Firmia tried to smile, but couldn't find the energy for it this time. "Good ..." she said, narrowly above a whisper, "That's what I ... need from all of you." The thought still hounded her. Why were things like this? If there were any justice in the world, Vance would be alive, and people like her mother, grandfather, and those rebels from the attack on Colony One would all be ashes in the wind. Not to mention the Sacarians and their entire war machine.

I need more ... more technology. More training. More power. Enough to finally be in control. Nothing else will help us ...

The tears had stopped, but now Firmia felt more frustrated than anything. She wiped her face with her free had and tried to return her siblings' embraces as best she could. "... I'm wasting time ... I can't sit here crying ..."


Well, at least they knew what was going on, but ... damn. "Louise ..." Brant exhaled irritably as thoughts of his awful day at the artificial beach and the battle that followed flashed in front of him. Brant didn't have a clue how Louise wound up like this, or if this was even truly Louise. Either way, the situation didn't look dangerous just yet, but between Elaine and Seung-Min, they had some serious lingering problems. In Elaine's case, the fear she was giving off likely had as much to do with her secret talks with Louise being exposed as the enemy pilot's unexpected revival. Louise certainly liked to talk, after all. In Seung-Min's case ... that T-Link she pressed on with during the battle, and whatever lingering effects had her practically on the ground ...

"We need to get Kim to Doctor Amparo," Brant looked at Chris. He wasn't quite sure what to do for Elaine other than get some real distance between her and Louise ... after getting her up off the ground too, of course. "Elaine ..." Brant knelt down close to her, "Try to stay calm, alright? Relax and breathe." He really couldn't blame her for panicking; she'd just seen a ghost--been hugged by a ghost, even.

Edited by Phoenix

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"Alright." Alriana had once again echoed her response to both Tristan and Vvi as she continued her descent into the Riese's hanger via the elevator. It was uneventful, annoyingly similar to her rides on the Sacarians' ship. She shook her head. No, stop thinking like that. This place isn't like that place. Just... forget it! Thankfully, she arrived in the hanger and was able to force the thoughts away. For now. Whatever the commotion was served as a great distraction as she went about parking the Almydis and shutting the damaged machine down. As she rode the lift down she observed the scene.

A whole crowd had gathered near a plane; one that belonged to the other group of humans. Apothesis or whatever they were called. Just who was all there already? Looked like Brant, Jesicka, Kim... Oh, Tristan was there too. But who was that in the center by the non-Aliza redhead? Teal hair and... that face! Her tired muscles tensed. Why was that woman here? And where was her tail...? Wait. Those lines... her hands...! Why was she an android now!? It was bad enough when she'd been a human; she'd been a handful to handle when she had wanted a "closer look". But before that, this woman was dangerous. And now she was in the body of an android. Just great. Where was her knife when she needed it? 

She wasn't doing anything now, but it hadn't taken much to set her off in the past. If she wanted to, Louise could probably kill anyone near her right now, except maybe Jesicka. And if Louise did turn hostile, Alriana didn't trust that the cheater captain could protect Louise's target. Ugh, what a mess. She couldn't disable the threat without her knife, at least not permanently, but who knew where that was. Only one option then. Thankfully there was plenty of room between her and the android menace. As long as she wasn't spotted she could probably get Louise away from Tristan, or at least on the floor, if she hit her hard enough. As soon as the lift reached the floor she raced off and charged straight at Louise, pushing her self to go faster and faster as she approached the android until finally, she leapt to tackle the android.

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Promise

"I won't! I won't. I won't forget... I have people to care about. I have reasons to want to be. I won't forget." Perhaps too serious for a little talk in the infirmary, but in only a few days, Nina's world had gone from orders and emptiness, to curiosity and care. It was staggering to have so many people around that wanted her to be okay. Tarquin, Makoto, Christina, Chris... Maybe not a lot for some, but compared to zero?

"Here's hoping," Olivia whined, leaning back and yawning. "Fingers not crossed, then. How long do you think she'll be out? And is it gonna hurt when she wakes up, or is she gonna be relatively medicated?"

What's Needed

Liliana still wasn't quite understanding Firmia's crying, but what mattered was that she was upset, so she tried to squeeze harder in hopes it would help. Aki sort of knew, trying to stem off her own tears. Firmia's emotions were rather strong...

"Then, if you're alright enough to get back into your feet," Hannah began, standing up and extending a hand, "let's get to what you want done first. Machine repairs, material recovery, are there any calls you need to make? I'll be here to help with whatever you need." Hannah didn't need to be anywhere else right now. Maybe she could help pick up some of the salvage later, but for now, she was going to be Firmia's post to lean on.

Chaos

"That's the plan, Makoto." Things had gone to hell in a hand basket rather quickly. Elaine was panicking about Louise, whether it was something else, or just the scare of a lifetime seeing... The ghost of someone you'd killed, Jess wasn't sure. They could ask the woman later, for now, especially Kim apparently experiencing some sort of pain, they needed to start acting fast.

"Brant, Chris, you have good timing. I'm sure you're here to see to Christina, and since you're going there... Chris, can you take Kim up to the infirmary? And Brant, can you take Elaine? I'm not sure what's going on with either of them, I'll try to be up shortly to see, but for now, getting them there seems paramount." Hopefully they would acquiesce. "As for you, Louise--"

And in a flash of pale flesh, Louise was suddenly out of view... And now seemed to be in some sort of handlock with their recently befriended alien.

"Hrrhhh... So strong, I wonder who... Oh? Oh!? Oh my, Captain Gefalscht, you should've told me you managed to make friends with the Stygusian! What a wonderful little treat~ Have you been taking care of yourself, hmmm?" Louise was all smiles again, cackling quietly.

"Great..." Who didn't Louise know around here? "Alriana--"

"Aly!" Tristan was into action much faster than Jess, rushing over to the engagement in hopes of defusing this bomb. "Louise isn't here to cause problems! It's okay! You can let her go..." And right on queue, there was Liz and Rachel, accompanying Tiffany who had been waiting, towards this scuffle. "They're going to take her to the brig, you don't have to fight." Hopefully she understood that... Maybe the battle high was still running for her? Louise seemed to know her, so it was likely more than that...

"Thank you, Ensign. Hoof... So are we all clear on next actions?"

Chris was sitting pretty shocked at all this, between the freakouts of Elaine and Kim, and now the alien attacking Louise-- and Louise holding her off. "Y-Yeah... Sorry. Uh. Right..." Wake up, wake up... Chris hurried over to Kim, slipping herself under the girl's arm and holding tight to keep her stable. "Let's get you moving, Kim... We both have someone to see, right?"

Jess sighed again, but at least things seemed taken care of. The androids could handle Louise, especially with Alriana involved, if she tried anything stupid. With hopefully all of that taken care of, and their ailing pilots being escorted to the infirmary, that left Jess with two things to do. "Megumi," she messaged up, "you've got four guests coming. Brant, Chris, Elaine, and Kim. Elaine's panicking over Louise-- yes, that Louise, I'll answer questions later --and Kim seems to be having some sort of head troubles. Brant and Chris look fine, at least, just giving you the heads up."

And for Ignatius... "How's work on the engine, Ignatius? I see that Buck..." A quick scan showed him... Printing something? She'd have to talk to him about that. "It busy right now. Do you think, if things are fine, you can pause a moment and issue a few engineer teams to start salvaging the wrecks we shot down today? Some of the parts might help with repairs." She kept both lines open, she could handle that sort of multitask. Talking was nothing compared to keeping the guns trained while holding the ship afloat... Not that she'd stopped the latter, but these menial tasks weren't impeding.

"And I need to speak with Buck..."

Visitors

"I'm sure you could learn a lot from her if you did," Vera replied in earnest, hoping Esther could see that beyond her biases. At least people had been coming to see her... "Thank you again, Miss Fujiwara."

"N-Not at all. Uhm. It was, nice to talk to someone... I'm not v-very good at, idle chatter. Improvements are... Appreciated."

"Heh... Who knew the world martial arts champion was such a shrinking violet?" Kazue flinched and blushed at that, leaning her head forward to disappear behind her onyx locks. It was then that Esther mentioned an interesting name.

"Thorvald did?" Vera wasn't entirely surprised, the man had seemed quite trustworthy when they'd spoken at Central's artificial beach. Still, it was nice to know he'd followed up. Vera smiled, a rather mellow smile, and nodded. "I'll have to thank him for coming to take care of you, then. I appreciate you letting me know, Esther."

Edited by SnakeMomMelissa

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More and more emotions flaring, crashing into Seung-Min's head like the wake of a stormy sea. Jessica seemed to have found her bearings, but just as she had, Alriana had arrived and added onto the pile. Pilots would keep pouring in, and things would continue to escalate further and further... she had to move, but the constant bombardment had paralyzed the Lieutenant in place. So much so that Kim hadn't noticed Chris approach until she had knelt down and helped the ex-idol to her feet, she seemed to be looking to move her? Good.

"Chris? Help, I... too much feedback. Hnn... I unplugged, this shouldn't be happening... too many emotions..." Seung-Min managed, if barely, leaning into Chris as she was lifted. The girl's presence was comforting... her myriad similarities to Christina gave the ailing Lieutenant's mind something less aggravating to latch onto, which was at least a start.

"Mmmuhn... ARES left lingering effects before, but it was only hormonal imbalance. It's never... continued to heighten my abilities after I disengaged the T-link. I don't understand why the feedback is... so strong..."

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"Mhm..." After a delayed response, Aliza slowly made her way back to the hanger. So much happened, she had hoped things would settle as soon as she went back in. Boy howdy was she wrong. After she made her landing she noticed the hanger was more or less in it's own war with everyone scrambling around. Aliza laid back in her seat a bit, trying her best to take things in. "...mm...what now..." Soor'Kan was a mad man, but he was quite strong. Just from their brief exchange Aliza had a feeling she couldn't take him on by herself. It was intimidating. She's amazed she's still alive. After a good few minutes she sat up and looked out to the hanger. Everyone was busy trying to maintain control, didn't seem like an elevator would come up anytime soon so she thought on taking a zipline back down.

She had to find...someone. Had to make sure Vvi and Alriana were ok, as well as Kim. Although it seemed like Kim might not be possible to reach, so she'll save that for later. She had a lot on her mind, she'd take anyone at this point. Maybe she'll talk to Astin later, he seemed like a good listener from their brief exchange. But before she could continue thinking on that she noticed a commotion happening down by a plane. A fight? Aliza looked out some more until she realized who exactly was involved in that fight. "...!" Oh no. Now she REALLY couldn't wait for the mechanic. So she took up her own zipline suggestion and came down as fast as she could, leaving her notebook in the cockpit. As soon as she reached the floor the broke out into a sprint toward the fight and called out. "Alriana!" She flew past Tristan and everyone other person in her path and grabbed onto the alien by the waist with ZERO hesitation. The grab was less a grapple and more of a hug mind you. "Aly! Stop! We've had enough fighting!" She called out once more. "No more...please..."

Edited by TheRoon

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No. No no no no no. The enemy leader, murderer of her beloved, was winking away. Sena rapidly discharged her rifle, firing all remaining rounds, most aimed directly where the foe had been, but she angled a couple into the air above and one into the water below, in case the machine was just using some extremely advanced EM--or worse, multi-spectral--camouflage.

No hit mark feedback, either audio of visual. It had gotten away, and while many would rejoice in the disappearance of an overwhelming threat, Sena could not. She couldn't even relax normally, though she could feel her facial muscles complaining from the unnatural strain she'd been putting them through, with the near constant contorted expressions of anger and grief since their arrival.

Part of her wanted to collapse, to just... fall into the ocean and let the waves wash over her. Why bother with anything anymore? They'd retrieved Abigail yes... but that was not worth the cost. Was there enough left for her?

Yes.

Sena wasn't done, not yet any way. A cold fire still burned within her.

"Calina, returning to the ship, making sure Terry and the others made it, then waiting for you," she radioed. Still no stutter? This felt like a record, but the moment she actively noticed was the instant her 'progress' completely dissolved. "D-D-Don't t-take too long. F-fifteen minutes..."

Hopefully they wouldn't need to attack the Riese directly, but if something did go wrong, with whatever Abby and Calina were planning... Well, there was no way this day would be a complete loss, Sena would have to try.

 


 

Thorvald watched the retreat of the unknown model carefully, and escorted along the other one, the one that Abby seemed to have escaped to after her Heracles was destroyed. He hadn't caught all of the details on that, swept up as he'd been defending the Riese, but just enough to not have to panic at the loss of a friendly signature.

Opening a line to Jess, who no longer was likely to be entirely swamped, now was as good a time as any to update her on the situation. "Captain, a couple things. First, we've got one of the third party craft seeking to enter the hangar here, just a heads up. Seems they rescued Abigail, probably just dropping her off, but maybe there's more to it. Second, and more troublesome... I got a message from Astin, during the battle. Didn't want to cause a greater panic in the middle of everything, but now that it's over..." He relayed what he'd been told, a hint of disappointment clearly present in his voice, that he hadn't been able to rescue the sergeant from the traitor before they'd vanished.

"Finally, I'm gonna keep patrolling the area for now. Help out on scrap retrieval here and there like I promised earlier, but we also don't know the full story on these... Mk IIIs, and there are at least 3 unaccounted for. If something goes wrong with the one, or if they just change their mind for any other reason and come back looking for a fight, well, I know I'd feel better with the Odin out here buying time for the others to redeploy, especially when we're just floating dead in the water like this."

 


 

Tarquin apologized for 'recklessness', but all told, they'd made it through rather miraculously, and given the general chaos, it was hard to fault the boy for the damage they had taken. ...Especially when it could have been so much worse, when instead of the friendly alien comrade, it could have been them targeted by the... Jess shuddered a little, despite herself.

The Aria's main pilot hadn't specifically commented on her reply to his question, but maybe he'd just been intending to keep her talking, help her from freezing up? He'd definitely noticed that she'd been struggling, not that she'd tried to make it obvious, but any trained soldier could easily have picked up on it. A small smile slid across her face. This kid, too kind for his own good, she thought briefly, before shaking her head and resolving not to weigh him down, if in the future they sortied as a pair again together.

"It's all right," she reassured. "Given how much worse things could have gone, anyone would say you did an admirable job. Of course, myself included." Indulging herself in the apparent peace and quiet of victory, Jess allowed herself a small  stretch to loosen up before continuing. "We've got enough energy and the thrusters are still responding perfectly, transferring control back to you. Do the honors and take us in."

Edited by Balcerzak

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Somehow, Louise had noticed her before impact and matched her. The resulting collision, rather than send them to the floor, instead sent Louise and Alriana skidding across the hanger floor until they came to a stop, both still upright. "RAHH! Shut up!" She was so caught up in her momentary emotions, mainly rage, that wasn't even listening to the former human. In truth, Louise herself wasn't even the main target of this burst of anger. While it did help that Louise was already a dangerous person, that wasn't the underlying issue. Rather, it was the realization of the fact that, by virtue of becoming an android, any human, not just Louise, could become stronger than her. It was unfair, stupid, exasperating, and a whole bunch of other things. If she didn't know it'd be entirely ineffective she would have tried to bite through one of Louise's arms out of spite.

Tristan came over and he managed to sooth some of her fiery emotions, at least to a point where she was able to hear the people around her. Really, she had just wanted an excuse to go all out on someone and vent her frustrations through violence. Louise had fit that bill perfectly; however, that was quickly being taken away from her. The woman wasn't acting hostile, wasn't going to fight back, and apparently, she had also switched sides, or something. In short, there was no reason to fight her. And then, suddenly, she was grabbed from behind. Who had dared!? She turned to look at the would-be assailant, death in her eyes. 

If it had been anyone but Aliza, someone she knew, then they wouldn't have gotten off scot-free. Alriana's death glare slowly lessened into a general scowl. "Fine." She took her arms back from Louise as if the android was somehow at fault for defending herself. "I will not fight her." She still wasn't relaxed yet and her attention was still mainly on the android. Despite her words, she desperately hoped Louise would give her a reason to fight.

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The death glare toward Aliza did surprise her for a second, though seeing it soften about 1% did remind her that it wasn't a threat toward her. At least if she were anyone else, thank god she has a growing relationship with Aly. "...thank you..." She took a breath as she let go of the alien slowly. Though she still had some worries in the back of her mind, enough to keep her by Alriana's side. "Too much happened..." She took a glance at Louise. It suddenly dawned on her that she tried to break up a fight between an android and an enraged alien, if it hadn't worked...it probably would've ended poorly for her. She took a minute to swallow that pill. "Mm...whatever this is about...can it wait?"

Edited by TheRoon

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They had both survived, Tarquin was almost numb to the risks that he placed on his own life. All had been fine when he was piloting alone, but the presence of another individual had sparked an almost uncharacteristic consideration. Perhaps this was what existing alongside other people did? It wasn't a bad thing though, as long as people didn't leave him. Bruno, Mateus and even the Professor, they'd all vanished from his life for one reason or another. People would come and go in his life, but he could keep those who he cared about in his life... he just needed to try. Tarquin remained silent for a few moments, taking some time to consider what Jess had said. She'd thought rather far into the future, Tarquin's own plans barely covered the next few years of his life. It was nice though, Tarquin smiled gently, satisfied with his ally's determination to move forwards.

"Our success was a combined effort, another step closer to a better future. I don't know what an E-7 is, but if you want it then I hope you get it. I don't even know what job I would want to do." Tarquin replied, admittedly not too reluctant to accept Jess' praise. He stretched back in his seat putting his hands behind his head as the Aria's systems guided them into the Heion Riese. "I think I'll find something though, even if it isn't what I expect it to be. The same might happen to you, plans can always change."

That much was very true. A matter of weeks ago, Tarquin had fully accepted being a puppet for the ANF, complete devoid of attachment or independence. It would have been laughable to think how much things would change for him. Even if it had hurt sometimes, life had certainly become more interesting albeit more uncertain.

The Aria entered the hangar, landing alongside its robotic allies. It was perhaps more worse for wear than most of their allies, Buck and the crew would have a lot of work on their hands. Stepping out onto the elevator platform, Tarquin gestured for Jess to follow. Something wasn't quite right on the hangar floor, a commotion was definitely going on. An enemy unit was docked in the hangar, not uncommon for the Heion Riese but it still raised questions.

"This doesn't appear to be the Captain and her usual recruitment tactic, something doesn't feel quite right. We should find out what is happening." Tarquin remarked, glancing back at Jess. He couldn't quite make out the scene, but there was an unfamiliar figure at the centre of it all - most likely their guest. "The Captain doesn't exactly follow protocol, but her approach is bizarrely effective. It's difficult to explain but we've acquired multiple allies from the ranks of the enemy."

Elaine continued to hyperventilate, everything was going so very wrong for her and it sickened her to the core. She turned to Brant, her eyes wide with fear. He was the only one that knew, the only person that didn't look at her like a nut-job with hair-trigger temper. But what could he do to help? He was only one man, and Louise was so smooth with her words... it was why she'd fallen prey to her in the first place.

"Brant... I'm scared..." Elaine muttered, still shaking in terror. Louise was scarier now than anything she'd ever faced before. Going to prison, surviving in it, getting the random calls from Louise and killing her... seeing her again like this was far too much to bear. "It's my fault... why did I let this happen."

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That was ... good, Megumi thought. It was a bigger reaction than she was expecting, but ... good. "... good," the doctor put in, again.

As for Christina and her condition, the doctor estimated she would be out for at least another twenty minutes if she wasn't deliberately woken up. There wasn't much need for it, but the option to resuscitate her was there. "I'm about finished here," Megumi began, "It could be as much as half an hour if I let her come to on her own, which I'd suggest doing. Otherwise I can wake her as soon as she's moved to a bed. As far as her pain levels, I'd like to think I did a good job. She shouldn't need painkillers unless I took too long. She will be a bit tender regardless, but likely nothing as bad as worrying everyone. That will probably bother her a lot more."

And on went the last bandage. Reconstruction was complete, the surgery was over ... and more company was on the way, apparently. Word arrived from the captain on the doctor's comm that they had more people inbound. Elaine was panicking which sounded more like a Cheryl problem unless she needed sedating, and Seung-Min had a headache ... which sounded like more than just a headache if it was even worth mentioning.

"Whether or not I did a good job, the timing was definitely good," Megumi said, disengaging the SIEG tank's surgical equipment after getting the bandage in place. The machine started taking some fresh readings on its own, so the doctor took a step back and started to think out loud. "I'm not sure what Louise Park is doing here or how she survived in the first place ... possibly another clone ... but Elaine is freaking out about it and is on the way here. So is Lieutenant Kim, for some reason. Be ready for that, I suppose ..."

The lieutenant's issues occupied more of the doctors thoughts at the moment. What could be wrong with her exactly? She wished it was as simple as a headache. Then she'd just be handing out pills when the girl made time to stop by. Megumi knew it had to be more than just a simple headache, but until Kim showed up, she couldn't do much more than speculate. In her limited experience, the TKs having headaches usually had something to do with their abilities. Esther and her woes as a 'cyber' TK came to mind. Her headaches and other looming symptoms had been addressed with the Triexanth they threw together. "... it would be convenient if we could shoot two wolves with that silver bullet, but I need to examine her first ..."


Firmia was almost afraid to make anymore calls today. Seriously, what next? Did Dima have a fresh challenge for the young heiress she needed to act on in the next ten minutes? Was Rosa dead too and the clock now ticking down to Brant's next big bout with depression? With the leader of the ANF dead and gone, Firmia wouldn't be surprised by anything that happened over the comms.

"Herm ..." Firmia cleared her throat and then began trying to piece her schedule back together. She'd been planning to get everything ready for the debriefing ... but that was a ways off. Priorities were being shifted around again as the Alkaev rebuilt the agenda bit by bit. "A salvage operation in the ocean isn't going to work very well with just the six drones and the Riese's people, but we still have to save what we can." How much could they get before everything that didn't float fell to crush depth? Firmia supposed they were going to find out ...

"Captain, it's Sasha. Hope I'm not interrupting anything."

Sasha ought to be too busy to call at a time like this unless it was an emergency. Either he was the vector for the next round of bad news, or he was getting awfully good at delegating to the mechanics. "What is it?" Firmia asked, sighing in anticipation. She even frowned at her siblings and Hannah.

"Stan just called a few minutes ago. And before you ask, I answered because it's about the war. Apparently he and Rex have been trying to reach us for days now."

Rex had been trying to get through for about five days now, yes. Firmia made sure Galatea 'kept the ringer silent' on his calls. Using Stan instead was a smart play. The Alkaev's frown turned into a bitter scowl. "What do they want?"

"To help us take down Apotheosis. EU's getting their asses handed to them so they want better odds of surviving. I'm pretty sure it's just one ship, but you can get back to them about the details."

Firmia had to wonder if it was even worth it. If this group couldn't survive fighting Apotheosis by themselves, wouldn't they just die immediately when they went up against the best those monsters had left to offer? The idea made sense on paper, but it seemed to her they had far better odds of getting out of this alive if they just laid low. As things stood, they would be one more ally to have to look after in the final battle. Before she'd gotten a feel for warfare and some experience, Firmia would have seen an extra ship from a borderline enemy faction as mere cannon fodder, but now ...? This was a joint effort to take out Apotheosis with or without them, but seeing an allied ship go down would be devastating to morale. They couldn't let that happen. So the real problem with this idea was whether or not Stan's new friends and Rex could pull their own weight. Firmia didn't want to speculate on it when she could get actual information to work with, though. She had something in mind for that, too.

"Oh and by the way, from what I gathered, some of them are defecting to the ANF, so at some point you're going to have to pass this along to the Riese."

"Of course," Firmia sighed again. "I'll call my father back in a few minutes. You focus on getting everything in the hangar sorted because we're still running a salvage operation."

"Right. Anything else?"

"We're keeping the Luna, and it's staying in tact in case we find a way to deploy it in the next battle, so find a place for it."

"I can already see our techs drooling. We'll take care of it."

With that call ended, Firmia carefully stood up. "... help from my father ... Rex ... and the EU ... ... I'm not sure how I feel about this, honestly."


Louise had been untouchable before, due to that barrier of hers, but now her entire body seemed at least Hannah grade, which meant they definitely had to put up with her this time. Of course that was only really a problem for Brant personally due to that cocky, too easily amused, personality of hers. Things were less grating when they were shooting at each other to be perfectly honest, but at least for now Jessica had a handle on things, and Brant, Chris, Elaine, and Kim could head up to the infirmary.

And speaking of Elaine, she wasn't going to be easy to deal with right now. She looked scared, felt scared, and said as much. "Just breathe," Brant instructed, trying to simultaneously help her up and keep at least one reassuring hand on her shoulder, though he started with one on each. Even though the mole situation was just about resolved, the dust hadn't yet settled, and Brant realized that Elaine could still get caught up in that if the all too talkative Louise decided to comment on it. If there was a way to calm Elaine down more quickly, and just get through this without drawing more attention to her, Brant didn't know how.

"It's not as bad as you think," he said, trying his best not to be specific. He wasn't sure if that was good enough with Louise right there. Even the distraction of Alriana trying to straight up take her out wouldn't be in effect for long. Elaine's best bet for now was to get up and get moving, so Brant focused most of his attention on guiding her to her feet and toward the lifts. Hopefully they would have the first lift up and Louise would take a separate one to the brig. After that ... well, it was up to Louise when and if she wanted to incriminate Elaine, but Brant was starting to wonder how Louise's revival contextualized the situation. He didn't get far in his musing however, as a somewhat more important thought struck him at roughly the same time. It was essentially what they were doing here. It wasn't much, but rather than wallowing in misery, Brant was taking on a task that needed doing, and Chris was doing the same. This situation sucked, especially with the Mark IIIs and that powerful Sacarian still out there somewhere, but their personal problems were out of the way, now. The havoc they could wreak over them was minimal. Things were far from resolved, but being an effective team on and off the battlefield and dealing with the rest in private would be worth writing a book about.

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Hangar Ons

"Lingering effects? Kim, just what... Ugh... Why did you keep using that damn system as soon as something went wrong? I get that we're fighting for our lives, but are you not enough of a pilot, to just..." Chris bit her lip, scowling and looking away from Kim. "I'm glad you made it. But having something go wrong with your head like this... I just, don't want you to worry Christina." Sounds like some TK mess up... But what kind? I've never seen any TK like this, except for the artificials. Kim's a natural, and this isn't anywhere near as extreme a reaction as theirs, though... What's going on? Chris sighed, hoisting Kim up and heading towards the elevator.

"Come on, Brant. Let's get these sorry sacks up to Megumi... We should probably have her call Cheryl for Elaine, though. Do you have Meg's number? Tell her to give the shrink a heads up?" It was a thought, unless Megumi know how to deal with this kind of panic.

Jess was glad to see people moving, hopefully it would help... And Alriana had disengaged from Louise. Perfect, then. "Girls, take her up. Different elevator than the other four, and linger a moment to let them get out of earshot. I'd rather Louise not upset my pilot further."

"Aww, Captain, I was just saying hi to an old friend~" Louise shrugged and slid her hands behind her head, smiling without a care in the world.

"It's comments like that, that are making me worry. Old friend nothing." Elaine didn't seem the type to hold secrets, especially not secrets of that magnitude... But Louise's presence was shaking her to her core, and the android seemed to clearly know her. "Either way, get moving. You're sharing a cell with one of your old friends. I hope Vera doesn't mind."

And that soured Louise's smile in an instant, shooting a glare towards Jess. "You're bluffing. You shot her down? AND managed to get her into a cell? Bullshit! How did--"

"Go see for yourself! I'll be up later, now stop bothering me." Jess waved, the androids latched onto Louise, and started dragging her off, the ex-snake woman hissing a growl at Jess.

"I suppose I'll have to..."

Jess frowned, what a mess. At least Louise wasn't impervious to emotional outrage. If she was going to be so sarcastic and infuriating the entire time, Jess would've been at her wits' end. "Now then... En--" Oh, incoming message from... Thorvald? "Hit me," she quickly replied, letting him rattle off what was going on... Reporting on Calina's machine, as expected. Good work squad leader. And... A message from Astin? They weren't present, were they? Jess gave the hangar a quick scan, even checked vitals... Astin's were blank, but if Thorvald had received a message, then they were alive. Taken by Avery? Maybe they'd tried to stop her getting into the Ceres, and were subdued...

And patrolling? To keep watch, it seemed. Jess couldn't help a small smile. "You're such a dad," was her first reply, with a bit of a chuckle, but it was refreshing. "Thank you for the report. The incoming machine has Abigail on board, along with someone from her old group. I'll be speaking with them. And I'll make sure to bring up the report on Astin during the team meeting. I've only got one order for you. You listening?" Jess cleared her throat. "Take care of yourself. You're likely just as tired as the rest of us, and your machine takes a lot more effort to run. If you start getting tuckered out, come back in. The engineer teams can handle the salvage, and Roxanna's manning the bridge. Trust her to keep us safe. That's all, Specialist."

That just left... "Ensign!" Jess hailed the group of three, now that people were starting to clear out. "Thanks. You too, Aliza. And Alriana, try to take it easy. The fight's over. If you need to take it out on anyone, I'm sure Tristan can accommodate." Jess stuck out her tongue and turned to walk over to Buck. She had to find out what was going on with that printer.

"Captain, I'm not... Agh..." Tristan sighed. At least things were resolved, for the moment. "Sergeant Silvavolke, thank you very much. I didn't act quickly enough... While I'm thankful, I would suggest, to not get in between a Stygusian and an android, in the future. Your limbs are important, as is your health. And you, miss quick to temper," he turned to Alriana, with a mild scolding, yet smiled. "Thank you for making it back." With much less hesitation now, Tristan pulled her into a hug, sighing heavily. "You're safe now. He can't hurt you here." As serious as Tristan was trying to be, all he heard after that was a loud 'Hah!' A quick glance had Jess smirking at him. "Ah-- C-Captain, that is n, not appropriate conduct for someone of your rank!" Urgh, d, dammit...

Elevator In

"Oh, Sena. S-Sure thing. You're..." Don't ask her if she's okay. She's not. Just let her focus on something else. "Yeah, go ahead. I'll be back soon." Hopefully...

Calina settled the Vergloria onto one of the Riese's lifts, looking for a switch of some sort... "So do we have to hit something, or-- Whoa." It started moving on its own, leaving her leaning back into her seat again, trying to calm herself down. You're just talking. Just, talking. That's all. Just... Just, focus. Focus... It was hard to focus as the lift went down enough to give her a view inside... God DAMN this place was huge. Her little freighter couldn't compare, it barely held their eight machines. This was... So this was a real military craft.

"What I wouldn't give to get my hands on something like this..." Much as she was in awe of things, she did spot a few people walking about, not that she could pick out which one was their current issue maker. "So who's Jess?" There was... A kid, no... Another kid, what? ANF hiring child soldiers, now? Buncha people leaving, but Jess said she'd be there. Some ginger... Couldn't be her, she was cute, but that was about it. What about... "She the girl over by that sniper model?" Tarquin's mech, not that Calina knew what it was called.

EU

Hannah listened in as best as she could, picking up most all the conversation. A call from Stan about an EU ship working with them. That sounded rather specific... And when it was all over, Firmia mentioned Rex. Things made more sense, now. "I think any help against Apoth is something to be pleased about... Even if it's Rex." Hannah knew how Firmia felt about him, especially considering what he'd done to her on her maiden voyage to US soil. Still, much as he'd been the planner, it hadn't been his fingers pulling the trigger, and the one who had was now sitting in a cell, rather than dying at Firmia's finger tips. If she could forgive him enough to leave him alive, could she forgive Rex enough to work with him?

Hannah stood up, and the girls followed. "U-Uhm, miss H, Hannah..." Aki was still keeping things together, but he did sniffle a bit. "What should we do, now?"

"Hmmm... Well. The hangar's going to get rather busy soon, and Brant and Chris won't be back for a small bit. They're checking on Chris' sister. I would suggest waiting in your room, if you think you can both handle that."

"Of course! I can keep poking at Minerva." Liliana was ready, but Akilina seemed apprehensive...

"Uhm... W-Will Firmia, be okay? I... I don't think I can... Wh-When, she got really angry, earlier... It was s-scary."

"Oh... I see." Hannah nodded. Aki was still a TK, after all, and one just now feeling the brunt of another's powers. Much as Hannah didn't quite understand the scope, Firmia was almost scary when furious, and given she'd been plugged into a T-Link during the battle... "It'll be alright, Aki. Firmia won't get mad like that anymore today, okay? I promise." Speaking for her captain, but she wanted the girl to feel safe. Aki nodded, at least.

"Then, I-I'll wait with Lily. Let us know when mom and dad are back, okay?" The girls scampered ahead, hopping out the door and back to their room. Hannah sighed.

"She's going to be a strong one, isn't she? Or maybe you're just too much to handle for other TKs." Hannah giggled, gently petting Firmia's hair. "What's first, Captain?"

Infirmary Party

"Alright... I'll stay here until she wakes up." Nina was satisfied with the good the doctor had given her, not that she'd entirely understood it. It was positive confirmation that she'd said something right, at least.

"Wait, four more people? Jesus. Hope it isn't that bad... Lieutenant, Kim? That's not going to be something normal. TKs are never normal." Olivia sighed, picking up her book, opening it to her bookmark, and planting it squarely against her face as she leaned back. "At least injuries like this, while scary, are straightforward... Who knows what wacky medicine, or specialized treatment, a TK with a problem is going to need. Mrrgh." It rattled her brain to not know how to even start handling something like this. She wasn't a med student, but she'd still studied a lot with Val... So not having the faintest, it was frustrating.

Hand it Over

"Sasha," an annoyed voice prodded, coming from his communicator... A tiny Galatea was on screen, hands on her hips. "Give me Stan's number. Or Rex. I'm calling them back. Firmia's had be blacklisting their number this entire time, and honestly? I'm rather fed up with not just getting the information they're trying to share on hand so I can know what's going on. I'm getting it this time, since they finally made it through. Need to compile whatever's going on. Alright?" She was tapping her foot, hoping for a quick answer. She'd have called already, but by not ever answering, she didn't actually have a reference of a number to call back to.

Edited by SnakeMomMelissa

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"Nothing like that, it was... the first time it activated. Chrissy fell unconscious, but was still plugged in, so I got double dosed. That's why I was... like that, in your first meeting. Soor'Kan forced it to activate when he knocked her out. Once we got it properly calibrated, it didn't give me any more issues... not until now." Seung-Min replied, it seemed that Chris hadn't quite understood what she had meant, but that was simple enough to clear up, hopefully. Chris herself went on to clarify that she didn't want Christina to be worried over things like this, but if they didn't give their all, there might not be anyone left to worry. Especially with things ramping up so severely, she couldn't afford to hold anything back...

Chris had suddenly started speaking rather oddly... suddenly referring to Seung-Min as if she wasn't speaking to her at all, and her voice was so... distorted. It was strange... was this just another trick of the mind? Still, it was an interesting insight, if a bit oddball.

"Mmm, why're you talking like I'm not here, Chris? I don't know much about artificials, but if you think the reaction is similar, if not in scope, maybe we can learn something..." Kim mumbled, as Chris began to move the pair towards the elevators, unfortunately with Elaine's emotional cacophony trailing not far behind.

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It never felt good, hearing someone you love tell you they despised you. But Abigail's tongue felt thick and sluggish inside her mouth, and she couldn't quite retort as she'd perhaps like to. Despite having dreaded this outcome since its possibility became apparent, there wasn't much that advance preparation had managed to mitigate. Now that the high of life-or-death combat with the enemy had worn off, she was mostly feeling slightly queasy, like a death row inmate awaiting an impending execution.

At least there was something, though. When Jess's voice came in over the radio... just, everything about the way the captain was handling her end of the situation was a real healthy measure of relief to Abby. She tried to imagine a more supportive presence, and couldn't. Maybe things would degrade along the way later, but for now at least, the rebel felt a little more comfortable knowing she wasn't about to be beset by anger on all sides. And not only was Jess's consideration for her, but Abigail felt the genuine care that was expressed for Calina's wellbeing as well. There was a chance.

Unfortunately the words seemed to have the opposite effect on her other lover, resulting in grumbles about the unbelievable baseless confidence of that woman. Those weren't the words she used, but Abby could imagine it rephrased as such, with bitter inflection, all too easily. And then came more terse words and curt tone from Calina, treating her almost like she would a stranger, when they should have been on the most familiar terms. That too, cut Abby like a knife. But could she protest it? No, not really. Not in good conscience. At least it was tempered, somewhat. At least Calina could still speak of love, still be glad of the bond they shared. Abigail would have to be extra careful to make sure not to break that.

"I... The last thing I want is to hurt anyone." It was a bit of weak reply, and she felt it keenly. Could she actually promise there would be no regrets, though? Abby certainly wanted to. "I haven't given up on us. I won't. You can take that to the bank. I..." Abby paused and bit her lip, then rephrased her thought slightly. "If you end up regretting... I'll be as surprised and disappointed as you."

Sena's call interrupted their conversation, and maybe it was for the best, but damn if Abigail's heart didn't go out to the younger girl. Poor thing just could not catch any breaks in life it seemed. The timeframe their sniper laid out was a little ambitious, Abby thought, but well, who knew? There was a bit of awkward silence, then some attempt at small talk, as Calina inquired after the Riese's operating mechanisms, but since she stumbled on the answer herself, that didn't leave Abigail with much to do but nod, and make a bit of a half smile.

"Yeah, it's uh, something all right. Getting used to the scale of this was quite an adjustment, compared to home," Calina's reactions to the Riese were only natural, and Abby made sure to affirm that. Then came the million dollar question.

"Right, well... Jessica is the captain here, and she's dressed the part. Hat and everything," Abigail pointed as well, though it really would have been hard to miss her. Speaking of the hat, there was quite the marked contrast from some earlier times, when the captain almost seemed to use it to hide. These days Jess had grown quite a bit more confident, and wore it with the full pride and dignity of the command. It was a good look on her, and Abby felt proud herself, even though there wasn't really much reason why she should. Just one of those things, perhaps. People like to show off their girlfriends looking their best.

Curious though, as to who Calina had assumed to be woman responsible for 'stealing her away', Abby turned in the direction she seemed to be looking. By the sniper bot? Hmm... who was that again? Abigail hadn't spent much time with them at all... oh, no, that was the girl that had been in the infirmary on one of her visits to Nikolai. Bit of a sad story that one, but she was deploying again already? Who knew!

"No, not that one, that's uh..." Crap what was her name? "She's newish; we followed a distress call and rescued her, haven't really spoken much yet."

Edited by Balcerzak

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Ginger

"Wh-- The ginger? Really? Geez... What's she got going for her beyond looking cute? That got you into bed?" Definitely an insult, maybe she had a silver tongue or something, but on appearances alone... Girl couldn't be a day past eighteen, no way. How was she even captain, anyway? This beat them at the colony? "Time to go say high then." The Vergloria stepped off the elevator and Calina wasted no time in opening her up, cable out, down she went. A gloved hand helped her ride the wire to the floor, storming over towards Jess.

"Hmm? You... You must be--"

Calina scowled, "yeah, I'm the bitch who's gonna-- hoof! ... Wh-Wha?" Her charge had been interrupted... By a hug. "O-Oi! What are you... Lemme go!"

"You're okay! You're okay, you're Calina and you're okay...! Abby's been worried to death! I'm so glad you made it!" Jess wasn't about to play into that drama, squeezing tighter.

"Wh-What, the fuck is your deal... Let go of me! H-Hey!" And suddenly, Calina was stuck... How was this girl so strong!? I can't, even... G-Get, free... What the fuck...!? Despite her squirming, little progress was being made. "Abby! Abby g, get down here and... Free me!"

Mind Your Mind

"Huh? I was just... Think, ing...?" Chris paused. Had she said that or thought it? Had Kim... No, no that would be impossible for a human, to... But if the cats could, and... "Kim... Kim, focus on me for a second, here." You just read my mind. And that's a worrying sign. If she did it again... Then... Chris could only gulp. They'd have to get this under control before her powers tore her brain apart from the inside.

Edited by SnakeMomMelissa

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Megumi glanced over at Olivia, who'd just gone face first into a book. No, they were going to be a bit too busy for this. "It's not time for a break just yet. I need you to help me get Christina to a bed once the SIEG tank drains. After that, we'll need to get a couple of the scanners ready to see if there are any detectable changes in Kim's brain. If there's anything strange, I might be able to isolate the cause, and if not, then we'll have a few things ruled out, at least. Come on."

The doctor glanced at Nina next. "Unless you want to help move her to a bed, that is ... though, Bennet, you can still get those scanners ready for me. And Tambre, get a sedative for Elaine ... just in case." 'Panicking' was the captain's description, which covered a good range, from shaky knees and chattering teeth to flailing and hysterical wailing. Just in case, indeed.


Firmia frowned when Akilina asked after her. Angry was a bit of an understatement. She'd killed some people--aliens. There was also the situation with the Mark IIIs driving some of that fury. The mere fact that Jessica and Abigail were sharing a bed made those criminals untouchable until the war was over. Even the enemy couldn't even deal with them when all was said and done, and the diplomatic immunity they shared with Abigail was unassailable, regardless of who they killed to get those machines. Add to this that they needed all the manpower they could get for the assault on Apotheosis, and these people were in for a pardon. It didn't matter if it was Vance or Alphonse, Firmia could easily see both handwaving the incident for one reason or another. At least, this was how the pieces tended to fall in the Alkaev's mind as she explored the angles. Regardless of Colony One and the subsequent smash and grab, this wouldn't really be important until the debriefing, anyway.

Right now Firmia was just remorseful for how out of control her emotions had gotten. First the funnels, then Vance, and then that damn miracle ... "I'm sorry, Aki," Firmia sighed at the floor as the girls started off, "We accomplished quite a bit, but ... it was still kind of a bad day. There's still a lot to go, too ... but I'll try to keep calm. I'll be fine."

Once they had left the room, Firmia tried one more time to smile, only managing a faint grin that was just as brief as the first one. "I'm not sure how she was able to keep it hidden, but I don't think my grandfather anticipated us rescuing them, so it doesn't matte anymore. No matter how strong she gets, no one's going to be able to take advantage of her ... especially not with Brant around."

Right, there was still work to do. "I need to figure out exactly what kind of help we'll be getting. Do you think Galatea can check their data covertly when I call them? We've got enough space to copy their data, so I want to do that if we can avoid getting caught in the act." In addition to understanding the capabilities of 'the help,' Firmia was also interested in getting a readout of the Rebellion in whatever its current state was. If things went south before, during, or after their final mission, they could use that data to more easily bring down Rex and put him in the cell next to Carlos. It felt like a pipe dream; Rex wasn't stupid enough to act while at a disadvantage ... but still, it was a nice thought, those two sitting in her brig, getting properly acquainted at long last~


And here was Galatea, ready for some good old fashioned cyber sleuthing. Or maybe she was going to get the information by just talking? "What's your hurry?" Sasha grinned apologetically. "Actually ..." he decided to pull that question out for a better one while he looked up the contact information on the console, "Are you going in there Alkaev Journal style or just going to ask for details? If it's the former--" There it was, the address Stan had used, "You mind doing me a favor and retrieving anything you can find on their mobile suits and weapons?" The ANF was ahead of the EU technologically, but cultures and design philosophy were unique, and every little bit of insight was potentially useful. Inspiration came in from all corners of the globe.

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"Read your mind? That's impossible... the last time I did that was before we had calibrated the Artemis t-link at all, before first deployment... I thought my head was gonna explode... in hindsight maybe Avery actually was trying to kill me. I feel pretty bad right now, but that's just because emotions are running high and I'm not used to it, nothing like that." Seung-Min replied, her current state not quite keeping up on a processing front, despite readily confirming Chris' fears.

"You sound really strange, it's like your voice is isolated from the other noise in the room, and it's really distorted..."

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Alriana brushed off Aliza's thanks as the woman released her; she hadn't stopped because of her request. She hadn't stopped because of Tristan's request either, or even because she realized it'd be in her best interests to stop. Rather, she'd stopped because it was being made painfully obvious she wasn't going to get what she wanted out of this interaction. Louise and the rest of the metal punching bags were on their way out, taking any chance of venting through violence off the table. "It has to, now," she glowered, a mix of frustration and annoyance finally overtaking her neutrality. 

The cheater captain's interjection certainly didn't calm her down at all; if anything it only served to aggravate her further, the recent defeat jumping out at her. And she couldn't take it out on Tristan, no matter what. He wasn't the one making her feel this way and he'd only ever tried to help her. She refused to make him bear the brunt of her frustrations. He didn't deserve that. No one did, except those damn cats.

She looked up at Tristan as he approached her, meeting his smile with her scowl as if defiantly asking him "What now?". However, despite her attitude, she relaxed into his unexpected hug; it was still comforting to be held close and it did soothe her somewhat. Until he mentioned Soor'kaan. Her tension quickly returned as another burst of emotions slammed into her already overwhelmed mind. Her skin lines began to race, providing insight to her unspoken distress. "Too... much," she muttered as she clutched her head with one hand and used her other to push herself away from Tristan's hug. This was much worse than not knowing what she was feeling. Frustration, happiness, terror, comfort, and much more all at once. She needed to be alone so she could sort herself out. "Too much feelings. I want to leave. Have to... forget."

Edited by Ursali

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Elaine slowly rose to her feet, guided up by Brant's reassurance. It shocked her to think that he was still trying to help her, maybe there was still was some hope for her. Elaine wiped her eyes, giving herself a couple of seconds to gather herself. There was every possibility that Louise would let their talks slip and there was no way that Elaine herself would have the nerve to be able to lie about it. Louise She shook her head, looking back at Brant once more. "It's still pretty shit, Brant... but I'll have to get through it." she replied, ready to make her way to the elevators with the others. She was both physically and mentally drained from recent events, stopping by the medbay wasn't a bad idea. "Thanks for keepin' an eye out for me, I appreciate it."

It was probably worth visiting Cheryl at some point, there was a lot she needed to get out of her head - it was going to eat away at her otherwise. She wasn't sure whether she was afraid, guilty or even angry, there was no way she could process these emotions by herself. Elaine looked back at the hangar, she could see the plant child looking down at her from his unit. He wouldn't understand, he was a little machine designed for war, he probably didn't have any feelings - just like the toasters and that Christina clone. She looked down bitterly, even a child looking at her could make her feel insignificant. The thought made her almost sick, despite her age she wasn't any better at holding things together than a teenage girl.

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