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

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"A-ah. If you're going to take her, th-thank you, Thorvald." That seemed to ease up Caroline's worries, but the sheer shift of duty seemed to rattle her once more, as expected. "I... well, if you have room for one more, I could join..."

---

"Mmm..." Esther could catch that distress felt by Jess... not in the same way as Kiir'Heln, by far, but it did take her attention for a moment while Jess walked off on her own.

If anything, it was a welcome diversion from Vera's quite literally oppressive aura.

"Let's go..."


The smell of waffles were a welcome distraction. Esther decided to watch beside Thorvald, watching the waffles in the making. "Mmm... I haven't had waffles in forever. I'm actually looking forward to these." Some sweet batter, butter... maybe some maple syrup if they had it in the Riese's cafeteria --they probably had some, somewhere. "How about you, Nina? Do you have... memories? If not, I guess you should try some too." She probably didn't have any, with how far Apotheosis worked on her.

...In that sense, it was a bit creepy to think about how she was just a doll to them before. That certainly wasn't the case anymore.

---

Caroline took a detour as the group passed through the dormitories, something coming to her mind. Her tardy arrival, with a insulating box tied to her waist.

"I-I thought I could help, so..." She put down the container on the table, opening it to reveal... a modest selection of ice creams. "Does anyone want ice cream on their waffles? S-Some people like it. It's on the house, after what we just went through." She did her best to smile.


The infirmary... was now counting the deceased, and Roxanna couldn't help but listen with a heavy weight on her heart. "One of the bridge crew, Ensign Calvin, also survived but already left the infirmary." Best to not let the new hand get it wrong when he'd have no idea.

Turning to her communicator once more, Roxanna continued to send a signal in hopes of contact. Come on, Captain Miller... anyone.

Edited by Xinnidy

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Abigail started to laugh at the absurdity of Reed's misunderstanding, so Calina piping in and actually being productive on correcting the record was much appreciated. As was her willingness to help out with other matters too, whether 'expected' or not. The rebel knew it, and didn't want to feel like she was taking advantage of it, so after her girlfriend pulled back from the hug and starting to get things moving forward again, Abby decided to follow up with a quick token of gratitude. Leaning in after her, she planted a brief, chaste kiss on the lips, before pulling back and whispering. "I owe you. Big. Collect whenever you want."

Turning a final look to the strange new subordinate, Abby just shook her head again. It was hard to know really what to do, but it would get easier with time, right? It had to. "...Just, don't do anything stupid while I'm gone. Calina's got enough on her plate without you adding any trouble." It seemed like they were all on the same page here but... well, hopefully if the cat somehow managed to get herself into a pickled she'd be able to read the mood enough to find a diplomatic way out. With telepathy in the toolbox, how hard could it be?

Abigail wasn't sure she wanted to know the answer to that.

Then, with the very brief stopover on Deliverance wrapping up, until she returned for good a little later in the day, it was time to cable back up to Vergloria and find out how bad things really were. Face to face. It was hard to keep her heart from sinking thinking about it, but she couldn't run from this.

 


 

Curiosity killed the cat, at least in the saying. But as for this feline, and the interest in this food item, the result would be anything but! Tarquin was also a first timer, and she seemed keen enough to learn along through him, and rather than rebuffing her the boy was actually opening up a little. Well, given the extreme introversion he'd had when Thorvald first met him, this was actually opening up a lot, comparatively. Seeing it underway brought a warm feeling of pride, but he couldn't indulge to long in it. The next batch of waffles needed his attention too!

When bringing over the second plate, he noticed Caroline's contribution to the cause. "Well, look at this! That'll scratch the itch for someone's sweet tooth, I'm sure." Beaming a smile at the part-time pilot, full-time saleswoman, Thorvald made as sure as he could to convey how welcome this was. If he remembered right, she took on both of those roles to support her family. There was no higher purpose than that. While he fully intended on eating last, and if the ice creams hadn't been taken by then they would sure to be soft and melty, he'd still pile some onto his own helping so the good deed didn't go to waste.

 


 

After getting the names of the assistants, clearing up that mini-mystery, Monty was filled in on a few more details by the XO. Much appreciated, that. He couldn't help but notice her interesting hair though. It caught him a little, unprepared, but he couldn't say he didn't like it. After contemplating complimenting her on it, he decided it simply wasn't the right time though, and returned his focus to the business at hand. However much more boring this work would be than chatting with a pretty lady, it was important.

Still... complete silence would be a sin too, wouldn't it? "Hope whoever that is picks up soon," he added sympathetically, as the woman scowled at her communicator. "Ain't right to keep a woman waiting."

 


 

Finally having put the running water to good use, washing away her tears, Jess dried her hands and prepared to step back out of the toilets and into the changing room. While she'd started stalking off to the elevator in a bit of a rage, partway through she had realized she was still all geared up in her pilot outfit. While it wasn't as revealing as a SKIN, it still couldn't hurt to get out of, and into more conventional clothing sooner than later. But then there was the breakdown, and well, now here we were.

And... opening the door, here were other people as well. Jess hoped they didn't pay attention to how long she'd been in the bathroom, if they even knew she was there, and maybe she'd be lucky and they wouldn't ask about it. She hadn't actually managed to get changed yet, so she couldn't just run off and escape the situation that way. Just gotta, try to keep it together. You worked most of the worst out, you can do this. Smiling a bit of an awkward smile, she walked past Kim and Christina to where the locker where she'd stored her things was located. They were occupied with their own conversation anyway, things would be fine. She wouldn't butt into their business, they wouldn't butt into hers.

Edited by Balcerzak

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"Huh? No, it's... nothing like that, Chrissy. I just... maybe I was taking your thoughts the wrong way, but I'm worried that I might be smothering you, a bit. I enjoy doting on you, you're never a burden on me, I just don't want it to be too much, for you." Kim admitted, shuffling in place just a bit. Had it been the wrong idea to bring it up? Only time and Christina's response would tell, but before that could come, a harsh storm swept past the duo, in the figurative sense. The emotional maelstrom emanating from Barnes was impossible to miss, causing her head to literally snap towards Jezebel's direction out of surprise, a bewildered expression crossing her face for just a moment.

She should... say something, right? Despite the woman's emotions sending a rather firm message that she more likely than not would prefer to be left alone, that couldn't be what was best for Barnes in this current moment, not with such blatantly obvious emotional whiplash... but was it better not to meddle and let her sort herself out? With how little time they might have... even being able to read people didn't always prepare someone to make those sorts of decisions...

Edited by Ether

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"No waffles, then." Chris sighed just a bit, but at least Brant had managed to get Rex to not simply run off. "Alright, then, stinky, lets go get clean and presentable... Tonya, can I trust you and Hannah to handle Lily while we're changing?"

"Nothing'll happen to her on my watch," Hannah promised, giving Rex a glance after his final words with Tonya. That was something that only hard evidence would fix; Tonya needed a body. Alive or dead. "Do you mind coming with me to the cafeteria, Liliana?"

"O-Of course! I don't mind... Mom and Dad will be along shortly, anyway. Yeah. It'll be okay." Liliana was still a bit cautious around the androids, even if Hannah was an Abrams by her father's word. The other one had left a rather painful impression from how she acted, even if she was nice to Aki and herself. "L-Let's go."


"Er, what? I never said--" Her thoughts. Right... That stung a bit, leaving Christina frowning and donning somewhat of a scowl. She'd thought a few harsh things, but they were passing thoughts, unaided by how the hangar had been making her feel. She hadn't said them because she didn't want Kim acting on them, yet here she was... "Look, never mind any of that. I didn't even say any of that, so don't just--"

Before she could get into things, another of the change room doors opened... That was, Barnes? One of the ones they'd picked up at Central? Sporting a real, uncertain cloud of feelings... Probably the best timing, even if it was escaping the discussion. "H-Hey... Uhm, are you okay?" Christina finished stuffing herself into her clothes, catching up to the Sergeant. "Gonna... Uhm, be up front, I'm, a Telekinetic, and... Well, you seem pretty upset. C-Can, we help? At all...?" If she wanted to be alone, then she'd probably make it clear. Christina and Kim were going to be leaving the hangar, anyway, and really, the blonde didn't want to argue with Kim. Any out was good.


"It is not just uncommon, Tarquin... Er, typically, we only subsist on meats. This... Wheat bred dish, it quite odd." They seemed to be enjoyed by the humans around her, all of them, so it was likely a common meal here on Earth. How they were satiated by something so fluffy and lacking in nutrition was beyond her, though... "That isn't to say we could not digest something like this, it is, simply... Not something we consider." She was going to try it either way, that was that. As well as this, iced cream? A quick peak into Caroline's mind informed her that this was a frozen dairy dessert, something sweet, meant to be enjoyed ice cold... How curious. How did humans come up with such food items? Was it by accident? Were there scientists devoted to coming up with intricate and confusing food items?

"Memories? No... Not my own. I know what a waffle is, thanks to Chris and, Christina... But I have never had one before. I'm looking forward to it." She smiled at Esther's concern, sitting comfortably next to the cyber TK. "I hope that, uhm... You can look forward to it too." She didn't want to directly bring Vera back up, but Esther seemed... So very out of it. Between fighting her old comrades, and Esther's mood, was there much that could be done for the girl? Nina wanted to do whatever she could...


"... iese crew? Come in. Does anyone copy!?" Miller's voice finally came through on Roxanna's communicator, the Kraken class ships had caught up! "What is your status, over!" Their main cameras likely couldn't see the level of damage the Riese had taken yet, but they were in broadcasting range, now that the fighting had finally stopped.


Owed big, was she? "I'm collecting tonight, then. Prepare yourself, hot stuff." Calina gave Abby some narrow eyes and a smile, before heading towards the exit of the hangar. She had a really sad gamer to try and reconcile with.

As for their new feline friend... "I will simply stay in my machine and make adjustments until you return, then, Captain. Would rather do something stupid while you're around than not!" With another chuckle-- Reed seemed rather easily amused by her own words --the Sacarian turned towards her Praxis model. It had taken some damage from the fight, but it was nothing the machine's own repair modules couldn't handle. Likely better than whatever the Deliverance could offer for such an advanced machine.

 

Edited by SnakeMomMelissa

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One elevator ride and a quick walk later and Aliza was in the cafeteria. She wasn't surprised to find it busy around this time, but she had hoped the kitchen wasn't just as busy. As she walked along the sweet scent of waffles came across her nose. She took a small sniff of the dish and smiled as memories of breakfast as home came to mind. It reminded her of a simple time, one she almost wishes she could go back to. At least once, nothing beat homemade breakfast after all. Her trip to the kitchen had stopped, she just had to take a look at the waffles. Her head turned toward some familiar faces, Tarquin and Thorvald! The two gentlemen seemed to be near someone else Aliza hadn't met yet, a certain cat. "...?" While her parents taught her that it was rude to stare she just couldn't help herself. Aliza is always curious about aliens, and seeing yet another one filled her heart with a curious spark. "Hm..." She gripped her notebook and cleared her voice as she approached the group. "Pancakes, huh? Sorry, couldn't help but notice. I love them a lot myself." She grinned. "Reminds me of home."

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Rex started off back toward the hangar, only glancing to make sure Vasiliy was following him. "See you later," he waved back to the others.

"Later," Brant returned a smaller, listless wave. For an in person reunion, that had been quite underwhelming. He imagined seeing his parents face to face again would be a similar experience, especially after having already spoken to them or video. Ready to head back to their room, Brant said, "You can still make the waffles. He may be fine with military rations but I'm not. Hell, I'll chip in if you want."

"They're waffles not a wedding cake," Tonya sighed, seemingly still on edge over Rex's investigation ... among other things. "Why's that blue hound so certain, anyway?" she began murmuring to herself, "I should introduce him to Louise. I'm sure that recruitment recap would shut him up."


It wasn't a long walk back to the hangar, but Rex didn't plan on waiting until they arrived to try to find some common ground with his son. The ride over had been quiet enough for the most part, and Rex was acutely aware that he still had to actually sell Vasiliy on the idea of leaving to who knows where with his old man. As far as he knew, Rex was the only one that truly believed that. Everyone else seemed focused on recruiting him to Team Avalon or simply making sure he had the final say with his own child. There was no reason to expect them to have strong opinions one way or the other when even he didn't know where they were going. Maybe Europe, but if travel there wasn't too heavily restricted post-war.

"I hate to ask, but how do you like it here?"

"Everyone's nice," Vasiliy said, not sure what to say about the ship itself. "Things were more strict at the estate where we grew up."

Rex cocked an eyebrow. "Oh? How strict?"

"Karla wanted us to focus on our studies, and the servants were always keeping an eye on us. We couldn't leave and we couldn't go to most places on the internet."

Studies? Rex suddenly felt really uncomfortable, the realization of something troublesome catching him completely off guard. "Studies ..." He and Brant had also been put through some rather focused education while coming up at Voronin, but the place hadn't gone up in flames until long after they finished. Vasiliy was only twelve years old, so he had a ways to go. He was probably only at the middle-school level. Unfortunately, until they were well established somewhere, the best Rex could really offer were some online courses courtesy of the Anarchy's computer. That was far from ideal.

"Yeah," Vasiliy nodded, "I was going to be starting tenth grade next year, but then Casey and Zeus caused a huge fire and Firmia and Hannah brought us back here. I don't know if the building is still there."

"Sounds about right. So you're what ... two years ahead? Almost in high-school? That old harpy had you kids skipping grades? If they were just hiding you there, I don't see the point." Of course, if there was a bigger purpose behind their accelerated learning, it was probably too late to find out what it was; Karla was long dead.

Vasiliy frowned and looked away. "Not skipping," he corrected his father, "we started early and we study longer and harder. There wasn't much else to do in that place."

Rex was about to shift focus back to Vasiliy himself, wanting to compliment his son on his advanced progress, but he noticed a figure coming from the direction of the hangar. He sensed her first, so even before getting a good look, Rex could tell it was Firmia coming their way. She seemed to be actively avoiding eye contact.

"Hi, Firmia," Vasiliy waved at her. He was genuinely surprised to see her briefly wave back considering how annoyed she looked. What was that briefcase she was carrying with her? He wanted to ask her about it, but that would mean striking up a conversation, one it looked like neither she nor Rex wanted to have.

The three were just about to pass each other when Firmia, glaring at the ground, stopped and stepped sidestepped in front of Rex and Vasiliy. "What is it?" Rex said, resigned to whatever spite was coming his way, "We're not heading out yet. I'm just talking with my son for a bit."

"I was going to wait," Firmia mumbled to herself, "but it just wouldn't make sense, now." She held up the briefcase and offered it to Rex. "Take this."

"What's in it?"

"That's what I was wondering," Vasiliy said.

"It's for Vasiliy, but it's also your responsibility," Firmia gave the most cryptic answer she could come up with, then urged the case toward Rex, "Take it."

"That did not answer my question," Rex said, a little amused. Before he knew it, Firmia had shoved the briefcase into his arms and chest and brushed past him. That prompted another sigh from Rex. Well, at least it hadn't been a whole lot of spite.

"Are you okay?" Vasiliy asked, watching Firmia head in the direction they'd come from. "She pushed you pretty hard."

"I'm fine," Rex said, inspecting the case from the outside. "What is this, your course work?" That was the only thing that came to mind. He knelt down to open the case and sate both of their curiosity. What they found inside wasn't anything directly related to Vasiliy, but Rex got the idea behind it. The briefcase was holding little more than a SKIN suit designed for a male of about his height. It might have been a spare belonging to Brant, but Rex couldn't be sure. The message was clear, though. It was silly that Firmia wouldn't just come out and say it, but Rex decided he was grateful, both for the free gear and for not having to actually have a lengthy exchange with her.

"Responsibility, huh? Whatever. Alright, let's get a move on," Rex said, shutting up the briefcase and standing back up.

Edited by Phoenix

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A moment of panic as one of the women called out to her, came rushing over. The sudden development had her worrying over nothing; Jess raised a hand to her eyepatch, feeling for sure that it was properly back in place, that she hadn't been, that she wouldn't be revealing any gruesome sights to anybody but herself.

"I'm... fine," the sergeant squeezed out, a bit unbelievably. "Just feeling a little useless, I guess. Especially compared to you guys. Aces like you are on a whole different level, huh?"

 


 

Tarquin and the cat seemed to be getting along fine with each other, and neither much addressing him directly now that their food was in front of them. Thorvald was perfectly fine with that, and didn't much mind that Caroline too seemed to be perhaps a little overwhelmed from the attention her ice cream had brought herself. No matter. Addressing Esther and Nina, he apologized that they were still waiting for their portions. "Don't worry you two, I haven't forgotten. It'll be just a little while longer."

He was just on his way back to the kitchen then, when a new face interrupted. It was their more tolerable Italian pilot, Aliza. "Oh, welcome, welcome. The more the merrier," Thorvald invited her in to the group. "No need to apologize at all. Glad they bring you some fond memories, and if you want I could add you to the back of the list. Or, if you'd planned on cooking something else, you're certainly welcome to join me in the kitchen and do your own thing. If I get in your way, just holler at me to give you some more space."

 


 

Abby's mouth opened in a small o of surprise at Calina's comment, then she shook her head and laughed. That hadn't been quite what she'd meant about being in her debt, but Abigail was relieved to learn she'd been forgiven enough to where jokes like that were back on the menu. And if it wasn't a joke? A bit of warmth spread through her chest as her mind wandered down rosy paths of imagination. Well... what better way to distract from a host of worries, right?

After climbing back into Vergloria, it was a quick trip to the Riese, but enough time had passed since the end of the battle it was unlikely anyone was still in the hangar, aside from the mechanics, who were probably hustling and bustling with maintenance and repairs. Sliding down her cable, she'd find out soon enough one way or the other.

Edited by Balcerzak

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Aliza had left, and now Tycho laid by himself again, while the 'too big for his pay grade' conversation went on across the medbay. A yawn, he was exhausted. A nap would be nice, but then there was the fear of potentially having a concussion. He had been walking around, he had been talking. He was fine, right? A small slip, a 15 minute power nap shouldn't hurt...

A call from the nearby XO's communicator, the voice was familiar. Too familiar.

This bastard making my life difficult again.

"Hey, I hear that. That's my boy!" Tycho called out from his seat. "Cap, my love~!" He jokingly called out, trying to not give him too much of a hard time but making sure Miller knew nothing had changed in the past... however long it had been.

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An answer, finally. Roxanna let out an exasperated sigh, focusing on the device as Miller's voice was relayed. "Thank you..." She leaned over to the device, "This is Executive Officer--" A flinch. Roxanna was cut by a surprisingly cheeky patient of the infirmary, Tycho himself. She blinked in his general direction, before shaking her head and focusing on the transmission again. Different ships, different cultures...

"Captain Miller, this is Officer Roxanna. We've suffered a heavy blow from the Sacarian forces, but the ship is still functional. I'm requesting a rendezvous point with our main forces." That should... be enough, right? There was a lot going on in Roxanna's mind, but not all details were worth mentioning right now. Probably. "... Sorry to ask, but we might need some help with repairs. Over."

As long as he replied back...


"Right, so your memories aren't your own. Figured as much." It was a rather expected response, Esther nodded back. "... Thanks. I could probably use the meal after everything." Esther... seemed appreciative, but her mind was still busy. Waffles were a small, welcome distraction, but she could still sense Vera from there...

"...Yeah, I think I'll enjoy them."

---

"Ah, y-yeah! Ice cream goes great with hot waffles." Thorvald's encouragement cheered Caroline on, whom carried her goods to the table, laying them on top. "Uhm... oh! You should ask a flavor if you have in mind, I've got a stock." Carolinr caught her words before slipping her mind, looking at the young pilots anticipating their meals. "Ah, and, you don't, probably haven't tried it before, did you? Um, Kiir... kiiiii...." Caroline was afraid she remembered it wrong, but to be fair... Sacarian names were hard.

Edited by Xinnidy

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Elaine was pleased that Makoto shared some of her scepticism, too many people had already been taken into their crew... But none of them had been a member of the alien race trying to conquer them - something about that just sat badly with her. It wasn't even a misplaced xenophobia, she just had a bad gut feeling in recruiting the enemy. Perhaps it was paranoia, but it was justified.

"Glad ya' keepin' good. That battle was intense. Probably should get you sorted in a proper robot too, you're doin' loads in your tin can but I know you can go bigger." Elaine commended, impressed and perhaps a bit jealous of Makoto's prowess. "I dunno, sometimes I feel like I'm just there for backup. People like Kim, Brant and the plant kid seem to be making all the big shots, I just mop things up after. It needs doin', just not quite as glamourous... Anyway, you headin' anywhere? Mind a little company? Need to chill and get out of here for a bit."
 

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Christina's immediate reaction certainly didn't make Seung-Min feel much better about the scenario. Granted, getting used to someone being able to read your mind couldn't be easy, but given Christina herself had just gone through awakening her telekinetic abilities well-past her development years and all of the sudden changes that had entailed, Kim had thought she might have been a tad more sympathetic to her newfound inability to not know what the blonde was thinking. Still, it seemed Christina also didn't really want to make a fight over it, focusing on Barnes instead and making the decision of whether to ask for her.

"Useless? You were assisting Tarquin, weren't you? You guys did a lot out there... no reason to feel like you under-performed. We're all out of our depth here, to be honest... dealing with Soor'Kan was bad enough, but being hounded by that big guy was probably the toughest fight I've ever had... I guess I'm just a bit better at keeping that kind of stuff hidden." Kim replied... she had to be, after all. If they let cracks show now, they would flounder before crossing the finish line. 

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"I'm... Not sure introducing Rex to Louise would be the best situation. He's already on edge with Firmia, if he finds out we're picking up the remnants and the revived of Apotheosis' forces..." Hannah sighed and stared at Tonya, not the most sure of what to do with the woman. Her instincts brought her a lot of things, but belief that her long dead partner was still alive? The android wasn't one to stir the pot, not like Rex, so she wouldn't fight Tonya on it so long as it wasn't getting anyone else on the Avalon in trouble, but... "Oh, well... She'll probably show up to waffles anyway. She doesn't seem to enjoy being alone for too long." Hannah gave a tired shrug and started towards the cafeteria, Lily in tow. "You wanna make some waffles too, Lily?"

"Can I!? That sounds fun! We didn't get to make our own food at the mansion, so... Well... I-I'll do my best not to ruin them!"

Hannah smirked and gently pet her hair. "I'm sure Brant and Chris will help you. You'll do just fine."

Chris gave Hannah and Lily a small wave, leaning onto Brant again. "Chip in all you want. I'm beat. Super beat... Let's, go get changed, see how Aki's doing, and then meet with your brother. Again... I really hope Louise doesn't poke her head in."


"Aces?" Christina couldn't help a bit of a laugh, letting Kim say her piece. "She's right, you know. Kim might be an ace, but I'm just keeping a few systems in check... I don't think I'd be able to pilot to save my life. If you're helping Tarquin, I'm sure you're doing plenty. His machine's pretty unique already in being such a long ranged piece of work, but that rifle can't be easy to maintain in the middle of a battle. Don't sell yourself short, hmm?" Hoping it wouldn't be too much, Christina gave Jess a small pat on her shoulder, trying her best to smile properly. "We're all doing our part, right? And my part is getting something to eat, then taking a nap..." With a sigh, and all her energy spent, Christina turned to close her locker, shuffling towards the door. "Comfy bed... Come to meeeee..."


"Kiir'Heln. Do not worry yourself about learning to say it, Caroline. You are not the first human to have issues with our names." Leaving the girl a smile, Kiir couldn't help but notice the intrigue hitting her from behind, tail wagging gently as she glanced at Aliza. "Ah, yes. Welcome. Eriksson was simply treating us to some food as a mean to recover after such a battle... My, apologies if I participated in some of your current exhaustions. Fighting against our race cannot be easy."

Nina let the cat engage with the other, her focus kept on Esther. A hand met the cyber's back, gently patting it. "She... Will get better. Wounds heal with time, yes? That is something that I learned from these memories. I am sure that... Even if it takes a long time, that she will be able to overcome things."


"Of course, XO. The main fleet will catch up in about half an hour... It's good to hear that Tycho didn't get himself killed in action. I hope an extra body was helpful against the enemy forces." It was a shame to hear that the Riese had suffered such serious damage this close to the finish line, but letting it get to the chain of command wouldn't help things. "Is the Captain alright? I'm surprised she didn't pick up first. Taking care of something more serious, I take it? And before you interrupt again, Sergeant, it's good to hear you're alive! Don't break anything barking over comms, over!"

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Oh Caroline was here too. Aliza hadn't forgotten their meeting, she was quite cute. Though she simply settled on a polite wave and smile toward her as she addressed Thorvald again. "Oh I appreciate the offer, but I'm not here for just myself. I'm here to get something for Tycho too." She then turned to the cat. "Well it certainly was stressful I will admit, but I've gotten used to fighting at this point...as sad as I am to admit that."

She giggled a bit, trying to shrug it off. "But what's done is done, no use dwelling on it. Kiir'Heln was it? I'm Aliza Silvavolke, pilot of the Sagittae, the one with the bow. Nice to meet you." She opened her note book and scribbled something on a page. "And just to make sure I don't forgeeeet...there! Name's recorded in the tome of legends now!"

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"We would have done a lot more if we didn't have to retreat for a repair and a resupply," Jess added softly when Kim came over to join Christina in 'cheering her up'. But that was as far as she would protest, instead moving to sigh and turn back to the locker, resting her forehead up against it, appreciating the cool feel of metal. "...Sorry, you're right. I know it, but it's just. It doesn't feel like enough. I used to be better than this."

Christina's touch on her shoulder was a surprise. But, after the initial shock wore off, not an unwelcome one, especially as she listened to the words that came with it. In fact, the physical contact actually left her longing for a hug, but by the time Jess managed to turn around, Christina was already ambling off, singing to herself about longing for a nap. It was a shame, too, because with the both of them currently being just 'helpers', support pilots aiding their respective main pilot, it was a closer connection, not as far a reach as identifying with the Korean would be.

A bit of a wistful look on her face, Jess shrugged again, facing Kim for another final couple words. "I'll bounce back before the next battle. I've come too far to quit now." Who was she trying to convince though?

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"Better to repair and resupply than overdo it and be unable to fire, or worse, get shot down. I know it's frustrating to feel outclassed to this degree, but it takes all of us to take these guys on properly. None of us are properly in their league... even though I managed to keep up with that big guy for a little while, he was getting the upper hand on me... if he had been left at it much longer, I'd have been a goner, and there's no way I could have taken him out on my own." Kim replied, hoping that the broader spectrum might help Jezebel a little bit, but this wasn't the sort of issue a little bit of talking could properly sort out. It seemed that Christina's physical contact at the very least had helped lift the copilot's mood, her emotions shifting around as she was given a pat on the shoulder, and then continuing to shift as the blonde pulled away. If her intuition was right-

Pulling Jezebel into a quick hug as the sergeant turned to face her, Seung-Min gave her a light squeeze and a few gentle pats on the back, allowing her an easy escape if she so desired it.

"It felt like you wanted this...Listen, this isn't a burden any of us can carry on our own. Don't worry about your individual contributions so much, okay?"

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Jess easily found herself leaning into the hug, squeezing back, and squeezing her eye closed. She was trying to keep from crying, but it wasn't successful, and a couple of small sobs escaped, probably only Kim could hear them though. It did leave her a little too embarrassed to try any more talking though. When she finally pulled apart, she quickly wiped her nose, but then it was mostly indistinct hand gestures before she managed, "I should... rest up for the next fight..."

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Letting Jezebel cry out what tears she wanted to, Kim left when to pull away into the hands of the Sergenat, giving her an affirmative nod as she did so, and a supportive parting pat on the back.

"Yeah. Take care of yourself, Jess. We'll be counting on you, out there."

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Tarquin couldn't help but take an academic interest in Sacarian physiology, it was astounding how similar to earth felines but their society was more akin to something from ancient Greece or Rome. Kiir gave great insight into the lives of her race, it appeared there was far more than simply pilotting robots and conquering other planets. Tarquin took his first bite of the waffle, it wasn't quite as he expected, it was soft and warm... he was certain that Thorvald had prepared it correctly but he was struggling to comprehend the texture. He gave it a tentative chew, the flavour slowly spreading across his tongue. It was definitely enjoyable, far more flavourful than food he would usually try. He gave Aliza an affable wave, the preferable Italian more than welcome to join the group in Tarquin's book.

"If you are capable of processing it, I would thoroughly recommend trying some." Tarquin replied, his own scepticism replaced with a serene satisfaction. For someone who had every meal planned for him up until a few months ago, having the freedom to accept something new was an experience for him. Caroline's addition of ice cream seemed a contradictory decision, could something both be hot and cold at the same time in a meal? Tarquin was certainly learning a lot about the culinary world.

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As time passed, the ANF's main fleet caught itself up to the Riese. While the damage was extensive, with the few hours they had to spare, they were at the very least able to shut the hole that had been opened by the bridge's destruction, and get the ship's E-Field functioning properly again. So long as it held out, the ship was likely to be fine... It had definitely seen better days, though.

Captain Miller set the rendezvous point to the far north of Canada, a few miles out from Resolute, Nunavut. From the data and triangulations, the Apotheosis ship was located just off the cost of Cornwallis Island. It would be a battle over the snow for their final encounter...

The pilots on both the Riese and the Avalon had their time to rest. While Jessica was still without legs-- even Ignatius couldn't fabricate them that quickly, not to match her designations --she was still flying the ship remotely from the infirmary. "Looks like we're coming up on the designated rally point. No enemy readings yet, so things should be-- Speak of the devil and he shall appear. That is the saying, right, XO?" Jess had asked that Roxanna remain in the infirmary to coordinate their leading better, while ensign Calvin stayed in the meeting room for better monitoring. They were a communicator's press away, so things were running as smoothly as they could. "I'm picking up... Three mobile suits. Two look to be of the Knight designation, around the same size and design as the ones we fought before... While one is... That's big."

"All hands! It's time for the final battle!" I think! "Please man your suits and launch! The enemy force is approaching, ETA two minutes to contact--"

"Kazue Fujiwara, launching!" Immediately Jess received a response from one of the smaller suits, the Crescent Moon. It had already been loaded into the elevator, and it seemed to be the first to take off.

"Uh, y-yes! Good work soldier! Wow, that, was fast..."


Suited back up, taking steady breaths to try and remain calm, Christina stared ahead at Kim in the pilot seat of the Artemis. "H... Hey. Uhm... This, this is it, right? After this... No more fighting?" She could only hope. If this was the fight to determine their future against an alien race and a bunch of terrorists, she could only hope it would go well. "We're... We're gonna win. We have to win. We, w-we gotta..." Despite knowing she needed to have confidence for this sort of thing, Christina was doing everything she could to stop herself from outright panicking. "Kim... If, th-this is the last time I get to tell you this? I love you. Thank you... F-For liking, someone like me."


"Alriana, are you sure that you're alright?" Tristan was squared away in the meeting room, several panels repurposed into life support and machine monitors. He had been tasked with keeping eyes on pilots since Jessica could handle the ship's systems, navigations, and weaponry all by herself now. "I, just... Be safe, out there. I want all of the Riese's pilote to be safe, but with what happened..." He couldn't help himself. After all, he'd seen the results of her getting her claws on a Sacarian. If she couldn't control her anger...


Was she ready to launch? Would she do so anyway? Vera had holed herself up in the cockpit of the machine she'd been given since they got back from their fight with... Thinking about her family and loved one no longer being there, she felt her stomach churn, holding back another moment of vomit. She'd even had a hand in Duane's death, her outrage over Andy, Astin refusing to back down, everything had been too much. She'd have pressed the self destruct and rammed someone if it hadn't been for Esther... The one person she hadn't wanted getting too close, was now the only person keeping her from killing herself. "She deserves better than a broken woman being her only guide." A pitying chuckle, Vera flipped the switches to turn the Velite on. It wasn't the most impressive machine and she was in no state to be piloting... But she still had a reason. One reason. As long as she had that... One more fight wouldn't be too much.


"Hannah, ready for launch." The Reign had been tuned up as much as was possible in such a short period of time. Hannah was confident she could make it work against what was left of Apoth, survive, and make it even more her own machine. It felt like an extension of her own body while piloting, so she just had to find the theoretical limit to the machine's motions. That was something to aim for once they were done here... Once they had dealt with the alien threat looming over planet Earth. "Firmia, the Riese is launching machines. Are we good to go?"

"What, all too eager to fight, Hannah~?" Louise had suited up as well, choosing a regular suit instead of her dress this time. Perhaps the atmosphere, even for her, dictated a more serious approach. Whatever the case, she looked like a proper pilot as the Luna's systems lit up, all green. "You'll get your chances, I'm sure, I'm sure... Just don't get shot down. I'd have to have to play comfort for Firmia~"

"Focus on keeping yourself in the air, Louise. I can handle myself just fine."

"Of course, of course... Give us the go ahead whenever, Captain~"

Edited by SnakeMomMelissa

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Firmia had been hoping to link up with the Athena before they finally reached Apotheosis, and by extension, the Sacarian's main base in North America, but the ship had come a long way and wasn't exactly moving through friendly territory. More over, there was a small tactical opportunity offered by them showing up a bit late to the party. With the Armadura and Merrygate providing fire support, the Athena's eventual arrival would make for a good pincer maneuver. All in all it was a good way to close the net on the enemy and close the book on this violent chapter of their lives. Firmia just hoped that the timing would work out in their favor. They still had another operation running right alongside this one, and the conditions on the ground when all was said and done were going to have an enormous impact on it.

Firmia checked the MS readouts on her console when pilots started reporting in. She was aware that the Riese was already beginning launches, but she wasn't a fan of playing her hand this early. On the other hand, the sooner Rex was off the ship, the better she'd feel. He seemed to feel the same way, since he'd moved the Anarchy into one of the sublaunch bays rather than waiting in line behind the catapults.

"I guess there's no point in waiting if they're taking the initiative. All mobile suits are cleared to launch. Eidolon, same as last time. You're the Avalon's first line of defense while we move up." Kind of like a really big funnel, the Alkaev mused. "Everyone else, wait until we have a read on the situation before attacking."

"Lancelot in the Anarchy. Launching."

"W-what?!" Firmia was beside herself having heard that. No one in the Avalon was using that callsign, and that almost sounded like Brant. It was obvious who it really was given the name of the mobile suit he'd called out. 'Rex.' What kind of game was he playing at, anyway? "... tch, Lancelot ..."

Tonya sighed. "I kind of wish we could just convince him to stay with us. Aside from the whole trying to kill you thing, he's not so bad."

"Focus on the mission!"


Brant had briefly considered launching the Regalia from the sub launch bay opposite the one Rex was using, but unlike his older brother, he wasn't in a rush to get into the battle. It was a scramble, but not a mad scramble. They still had a smidgen of momentum left. He waited for the launch lift to come back down for them while the Reign launched up above.

After a moment, Firmia gave the go ahead to launch. The elevator was already coming back down for them when Brant overheard Rex's takeoff confirmation and had a brief chuckle over it. "So that's the one he picked, huh? That's funny." He didn't know how fitting it may or may not have been but there was one thing he was certain of, and that was Firmia's irritation. It wasn't so much him picking a callsign she wouldn't like, but that he'd even try. Best not to activate the T-Link just yet, as he could already feel the anger building overhead from the bridge, and he'd appreciate a lighter dose of that.

"Are we ready, T-Link aside?" Brant glanced back at his copilot, having left some of the setup work for her while he fiddled with the hyper beam rifle in particular. A small part of Brant regretted having to bring his pregnant fiancee into yet another battle, but at least she wasn't that far along yet. Furthermore, this ought to be the last battle for quite some time. Firmia was going to find all sorts of problems that required mobile suit levels of violence to solve, but without a war going on, she wasn't going to be able to manage it nearly this often. There was a much needed vacation from this madness already lined up for them. They just had to get through this one last fight.

"I'm ready to be done with these insane murderers once and for all."


"Everyone else, wait until we have a read on the situation before attacking," Firmia instructed her pilots over the comms. Rex wasn't following Firmia's orders. He was just hitching a ride to the final fight ... but he'd still take any sound ideas under advisement, even if the Alkaev twerp was the one that came up with them. This particular battle was a little too important to be petty. That was why Rex wasn't only playing nice, but even donning the SKIN suit Firmia had left him.

Finally, the sub launch bay door was beginning to open up. There were no catapults since the sub launch bays were meant for underwater use, meaning Rex would have to take the Anarchy out of the ship under its own power. Thankfully, the suit was quite nimble with its flight pack installed.

Time to head out. "Lancelot in the Anarchy. Launching."

While not caring much for Arthurian legends, Rex figured out all too quickly that some of the names associated with them had been taken up as callsigns by the Avalon's pilots, Merlin and Mordred for Brant and Chris, Arthur for Hannah, and Vivian for Firmia. They weren't all using them, but Rex figured he'd have some fun with it before they parted ways. Of course, he would have to return to the ship one more time to pick up his son. He wasn't sure what else would happen between now and then, but as long as he kept himself alive, and Firmia did the same for Vasiliy, things ought to work out. They would be on their way to bigger and better things soon enough.

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Cap's reaction was about what Tycho expected. Not wanting to get in the way of comms he gave a small half-salute with his good hand. Laying back in his chair, just patiently waiting for the time to pass.


"Final fight time, huh?" Tycho was already back in action, in a better flight suit, and his vellite was... well, as fixed as it could've been. This was fine, he'd work with it. A few twists and stretches went into his arm as he pumped himself up before getting in his cockpit. Soon this bullshit would be over, and he'd have himself up to his ears in therapy. Maybe take some time to go back to the colony... Thoughts for future Tycho...

Settling himself in his cockpit finally, he was grateful the smell of blood and seawater wasn't stained into his precious baby. A pat on a nearby panel and a finger kiss. "You did good, just one more fight," then suddenly a callout, "To whoever fixed my baby, I greatly appreciate it, and I'll do my best to not trash it again!" And he closed his cockpit, things turning on again, seeing the outside made him tense up.

A sigh, hopefully Aliza got to her cockpit. Tycho shot her a quick callout over comms, "Sarge, make sure you come back alive, okay?"

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There hadn't been anytime for the mechanics to do anything aside from repair the Almydis, especially with her late arrival. Any hope at gleaning information about the hidden system inside the machine would have to wait until this battle was over. Alriana would just have to take care not to lose control of herself; as long as Aliza and the Riese were fine it probably wouldn't be an issue... "I will be fine, Tristan." Alriana assured the human, rising from the seat she'd made of her tail. "This is the last fight, yes?" Of this scale, hopefully. "I will not, let myself die here, after what I have managed to do..." No matter what it took, she would live. And so would everyone else important to her.

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Between waffles and talking to giant feline, Tarquin could have forgotten that he was in the midst of fending off alien invaders. He'd enjoyed the downtime with the others, part of him had wished it could have continued for longer. Chatting to Kiir and Nina, Thorvald keeping an eye on them like the father he never had... it was pleasant. Tarquin may have had twelve sources of genetic material and three clones before him, but this had been the first time that he felt like part of a family. There were people he missed, Bruno and Matteus... possibly not Melissa but she was an exception. He had come aboard the Heion Riese alone, but he wouldn't leave it like that. Nikolai and Makoto had become his closest friends, he also had Nina and Jess. The ANF and politics didn't really matter to him, the war wasn't for them, it was for a future that he and the people he cared about could cherish.

"Jess, I am sincerely glad I was able to meet you. I hope that we can remain friends even after this war ends. I never thought I would want to work with someone in my craft. I generally prefer my own company and used to find others draining. However, you and some of the others... I don't feel that way. I feel that I actually prefer having company. I spent most of my life growing up in a laboratory in isolation. It's a life that I couldn't even fathom living lie that now." Tarquin remarked, reminiscing about how far his life had come. Aside from perhaps Hedrick, he felt comfortable with most of the crew. He began flicking some of the switches on the Aria's control panel. Their craft had taken a beating but the Riese's engineering team had worked a miracle on it. "Thank you."

"This is Puppet, the Aria is ready to launch. All systems are optimal and fully functional." Tarquin announced, readying himself for the battle to commence. It would be far more difficult than any simulation or previous battles. Nikolai had risked everything, losing his legs for the future, Tarquin had decided that his sacrifice would not be for nothing. He almost felt guilty that he had wanted to fire him out of the airlock when they'd first met.

-

"Makoto..." Talia mumbled, sitting down on her bed. He was going to be out there, and it was going to be fierce. Despite their practice sessions, Talia knew that she was nowhere near ready for a battle of this magnitude, she would only get in the way. It'd be like a Scorpio trying to take down the Longswan. She couldn't even blank it out, it wasn't like she could hide away and pretend that nothing was going. Even if she were off the the Heion Riese herself, the idea of the others coming into danger was terrifying. Where did they find all that courage? Talia sincerely hoped that she'd find hers. She wanted to become stronger, she wanted to stand with the others. Talia stood herself up, leaving her room. Hiding in her room wasn't going to do her any favours, she wanted to help. Even if it was making coffee for the bridge crew, Talia was going to find her way to take part.

 

 

 

Edited by Shin

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"We will win, Chrissy." Kim replied, getting out of her seat and turning to face Christina, cupping the blonde's cheek for a moment before leaning fully over to her and placing a tender kiss upon her lips.

"I love you too. It won't be the last time we say it, for either of us." Seung-Min added, resting her forehead against Christina's as their lips parted, simply holding in place. They had made all of the preparations they could... it was now or never, and they had to finish this.

"We're going to walk away from this alive. Victorious... hand in hand. Just trust me."

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Well, it was go time again. The break had been nice while it lasted, and Thorvald had shored up a few flagging spirits with his cooking, and helped out a bit here and there getting questions answered and trying to get used to his new... follower. But there was only so much time, and several things on his to-do list unfortunately remained undone. Passing by Vera's Velite on the way to the Odin had been a stark reminder of one of them. Briefly, he'd considered inviting her to copilot with him on this final launch, he'd never managed to find anyone else to help him manage the massive machine, with his various half-considered options either finding their own homes helping out elsewhere, or having taken charge of one or another new machine and striking out solo. But, standing at the base of his massive tank, preparing to cable up, he saw the Mark III's light come on, as its engines started up, and that laid the passing whim firmly to rest. It was probably for the best. Even humbled and broken, Vera was surely better to have as an additional independent set of hands out there, fierce warrior that she was, rather than wasting her talents playing second fiddle up there in the cockpit with him.

Still, the least he could do would be to send a little encouragement her way. After finishing the ride up and buckling in, Thorvald opened private comms. "When you make it back to the Riese at the end of this battle, when we return victorious--and it will be a victory, and you will survive it--you should know my door is always open to you. I'll make sure Esther won't be around, so you won't have to worry about that either. You're strong, resilient. Like a blade. Folded many times, never breaking. You'll come through this trial too. I can feel it."

A brief pause as he considered. No, that about summed things up as well as he could figure. "Well, that's enough of a one-on-one. You don't have to reply. Not now anyway, so long as you swing on by when you feel you can manage. Sooner better than later, but all in your own time, of course. Anyway, I gotta address everyone else here, make sure the rest of the group is focused up too. Get us all organized so we can force the chips to come down in our favor."

Closing off the private channel, Thorvald transitioned to open mic, on the broad channel the captain had just been using. Addressing everyone in the hangar, on the bridge, the Avalon, or already in the field, the veteran pilot added on his own little rousing pep talk. "All right everyone. I know someone was a little eager, slipping out immediately, but while I got the rest of your attention here, I just have a few words to say. Our local maiden-by-daylight-warrior-by-moonlight is still on the line even if she's not on the ship, and will hear them too anyway. By now we all have a pretty good idea of how each other fights. We know our strengths, we know how to shore up each other's weaknesses. We've got our bread and butter tactics that get the job done. Let's start with the tried and true, only venturing into anything a little crazy if we absolutely have to. We have the advantage right now, there's only three of them and we just got done mopping up a lot more. Sure the King may be a class above, but we've seen and bested Knights. So we do that again, and move on from there. I don't care if there were naysayers, people who thought this mission was a long shot, or maybe even impossible. We're gonna prove all of that wrong. We're gonna make this happen! In two minutes we'll continue showing the Sacarians just how wrong they were to think they could simply waltz in and take the Earth without a fight."

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