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Thread: 7 Sins IC

  1. - Top - End - #181
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    Aoba nods. "They aren't going to take you as a priest, probably not even a soldier. But they aren't about to lock women out of their support structure entirely. If we're lucky, your blog will end out being formalized- if you can work in their PR, you'll have access to a lot of their information. Or just make yourself indispensable. Look at it this way- they're now facing a massive setback in image. They're going to be shorthanded in terms of recruits. They aren't about to turn away offers. Think of it like Daesh- any defector from a new country was a valuable asset."
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  2. - Top - End - #182
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    Spoiler: Aoba
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    "It might be best if I find a way in myself. If anyone else does it for me, and the Vatican thinks to look at the trail, it won't look good. So I'm going to need a ride to Korea - one without paperwork. I have to look like I was there all along. Before I get to work, is this general spy work, or are you looking for something in particular? Anything you can tell me about what I might be walking into might help, too."

    Babylon can afford the drop off, especially now, but the next request poses an interesting problem. Giving her any further information would be disobeying a direct order from Kazuma, but it might also help her do her job better.
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  3. - Top - End - #183
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    "The drop off is easy. A quick trip by boat. As for your mission... we just want any information possible on the Pope. That's all I can say." She hopes that's enough, but... the more she knows, the more that can be compromised.
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  4. - Top - End - #184
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    Xiren peers at the Commander's blade, listening intently to his advice. "A belt sheath wouldn't have helped me at the Gala. An ankle one would have been too obvious. Likewise with the neck." Her smile takes on the slightest hint of an impish smirk. "Maybe I should wear it on a garter."

  5. - Top - End - #185
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    Spoiler: Aoba
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    Your agent goes to study three new languages while waiting for the transport to be arranged. The careful approach will have to do. For now, you have other projects.

    Your team has determined that the life support malfunction that killed the enemy agent was the result of a hack launched from inside the base. Nothing beyond that yet, and hardly a surprise. Given the technical knowledge required, it narrows down to... a few S2 agents, some of your team, some of the directors, and half the science team. And that's just the personnel known to have those skills. By now, they know you're looking for them.

    Kazuma has called another meeting as well. Looks like it's just you and him this time. Excluding Irina is unlike him. She's been his right hand since the founding of the global Babylon organization.


    Spoiler: Xiren
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    "Of course - your outfit must be taken into consideration as well. If you'd like, I can arrange a meeting with one of our female agents. She would understand better than I would how to account for women's clothing. I can only pass along what I've heard, and that would make for poor advice." He stops himself and chuckles. "Oh, you were joking. Perhaps a sewn in secret pocket would suit you better?"
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  6. - Top - End - #186
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    Inside the base... damn. An assassin is bad enough, but a hacker at that... the Vatican sent in someone very capable to cover themselves. No one is cleared of suspicion. But in terms of immediate concerns- she goes to the Commander's office. Apparently she has more to address.
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  7. - Top - End - #187
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    "No need to apologize. This wasn't your fault in the first place," Ryall responded as calmly as she could. However, there was something odd about what the engineer said, something she couldn't help but notice. "Wait. Did you just say 'one of you'? That's strange, I recall me being the only person who was cleared to try out the AT Drive."

  8. - Top - End - #188
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    Takeo first responds to Akari's confirmation with a smile, pleased at his theory being validated, but it is soon followed by a frown as he starts to think over the implications. "So do you think we should expect more Vatican attacks to go with future Angel appearances? Even without galas, they've still got enough power to be a problem, judging by what they threw at the gala. Should we - Sins, I mean - be keeping an eye out for enemy agents, or do you think they're not that close yet? How much do you think we'll need to use these skills you're training?" After a moment's consideration, he continues.
    "Also, is there anything I can do to help? With any of this stuff going on. I'll stick with the training anyway, but if there's anything else, I'm there when you need me."
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  9. - Top - End - #189
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    Spoiler: Aoba
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    Kazuma turns on the white noise machine when you enter, and tents his fingers. It takes him a bit to make eye contact.

    "Director, I have known Irina Kuznetsov for two years. She is fully dedicated to protecting the Sins, and her loyalty is a waste of time to question. That is why she can never hear of this. Ms. Nijima has finished her initial analysis of the AT Drive. It's powered by a child. Guns of Liberty apparently has a method of tracking down Sins not employed by Babylon, and they're using these kids for their experiments. They put the survivor in that prototype, and Ms. Nijima described her as 'no longer fully human'. We need to handle this delicately, and I'm afraid Kuznetsov would do no such thing. As despicable as it is, we can't afford to lose a third of our arms to UN sanctions and Hague trials. Make no mistake - I want to save those kids. I just don't want to lose the world while doing it."


    Spoiler: Ryall
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    "I, uh, no! I mean... the Sins! As a general rule! You're all very valuable! Uh, excuse me. I'm expected in the lab."

    She scurries off. Yeah, you've seen better acting in tough actin' tinactin. She's hiding something.


    Spoiler: Takeo
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    Akari hesitates to reply. She has her mouth part way open and her brow furrowed. This is her tick whenever she's about to tell you something she probably shouldn't, and she's never managed to stop herself yet.

    "You've always been able to sense things the rest of us can't. I think we need that now more than ever. All the Sins can, to a degree, but yours is better. Sins report the areas of fallen angels to smell like a lightning strike, yeah? Yeah, we can't smell that. That's the only example I know of, probably because it seems normal to the lot of you."
    Last edited by fibericon; 2019-10-08 at 04:28 AM.
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  10. - Top - End - #190
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    Raising an eyebrow, Takeo slowly nods. Where was this going? "Yes. I smelt it when we went to the Elder's corpse for the PR project, and before that I smelt the same smell on one of the scientists - Mimi, I think her name is? - which I suppose was because of the..." He pauses, trying to think of the right word. "Autopsy? Organ harvesting? Research? Whatever the right word for it is, the stuff they took from the Elder's corpse. Why, what in particular do you need me to do? I haven't noticed anything I thought was unusual, but perhaps I just didn't know what I was looking for."
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  11. - Top - End - #191
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    Spoiler: Xiren
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    Liza gently pets the top of Xiren's head with her free hand, a soothing gesture half-remembered from her older brother.
    "Heheh, yeah. It's hard to love when everyone would kill you for your food. I'm truly happy we Sins can trust each other. Then, I guess we'll learn about love together!"

    She stands up to face Xiren from a few paces back, letting go of her hand a little reluctantly. Her expression is much brighter than it had been until now; her eyes finally reflect the light.

    "Because of you, I can stand and fight! I know what to ask the instructors too. Can you show me the basics once more? I think I'll do better if my opponent is less scary, at the beginning."


    Spoiler: Alyona
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    "This is my extra training! For the first time, I have friends who I need Japanese to talk to, so I'm studying a lot! Let's go to a quiet place, it's embarrassing where everyone can hear. Your room or mine?"

    I need Japanese to get into the place my friend is held captive... but sweet Alyona doesn't need to know that yet.


    Despite her protest, Liza doesn't let the time they're walking pass in silence.

    "I often feel homesick, so I'm happy to meet another Russian girl my age. Your mother is awesome, but talking to a commanding officer is different, y'know? What do you miss in Russia? What do you like in Japan? Um... If it's sad, don't talk about it, I think? But, if it's fine, I want to know all about your Russia!"


    Spoiler: Physical Training Class
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    After the workout portion of Akari's class the following week, Liza is the first to approach her, hardly even winded after a moment to rehydrate.

    "Instructor! Teach me Judo! My mind says to fight, but my body knows 'escape or die', so I want to always be where the enemy isn't! Can you do it?"


    Spoiler: Knife Class
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    Liza accompanies Xiren to Kazuma's class the day after their private 'full-contact lesson'. She's acting more confident than she feels, but it's true that she is optimistic about her abilities now that she has a better idea how to apply them. Worst comes to worst, she just drops the class again, but for now she doesn't want to let Xiren down.

    She strides toward Kazuma first thing to make her demand, followed by a more detailed explanation. She'd been practicing the phrases all morning.
    "Commander! Teach me evasion! And let me and Xiren fight you together!"

    "I can't stay in front of an enemy. Especially you, who I know I can't defeat, my body says I'll die if I don't run away. So teach me to run around instead of away, so I'm only where my enemy can't stop me! Neck, kidneys, knees, I'll hit from behind! Then it's like sniping, and if I have a partner, it's just how Xiren and I killed the Elder! Does my request make sense? I don't like you, but I want to try my way before I give up totally."


    She says that last part not as an insult or threat, but a statement of fact to get it out in the open. She's willing to try to work with him again, but her trust and patience only go so far, so he has a heads up if he cares about improving that relationship.

  12. - Top - End - #192
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    Spoiler: Takeo
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    "It's hard to say because we don't know for sure. Nijima probably gets up to all kinds of crazy in the lab, so she's gonna stink of it. But like... okay think about this. Back in the 1800s, people used to not wash reusable diapers most of the time. We would never even consider that now, but back then, they didn't know what we know now about cleanliness. And we almost never found out. They considered it normal, so they didn't record the practice. We only know because of an off chance diary entry. So keep a diary of the mundane. I think with time, we can train you to make better use of it. Who knows what's right under our noses?"


    Spoiler: Liza
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    Spoiler: Alyona
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    "We can go to my room."

    While you walk, she furrows her brow at your question.

    "I'm still not used to the weather here. Japanese winter isn't winter at all - it's summer in a winter dress. But that's okay. I can survive the heat. I miss the food. I miss my friends. My family is here, so I'm not alone. What did you leave behind?"


    Spoiler: Physical training class
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    "Oh yeah? Alright. It's not my best skill, but I can teach you the major points, like using your opponent's momentum against them. You might consider taking out a knee instead, though. They can't chase you down if they can't run."


    Spoiler: Knife fighting class
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    "You aren't required to like me. And you aren't required to attend this class, or any other. But turning your back on an enemy is suicide. I fear that if I encourage this, you will fall prey to the great movie cliche of leaving a supposedly dying foe to recover and come back for you. The neck is a good target - it's hard to survive for very long with damage to an area that carries so much. The knee, you can run, yes, but they can return. You can survive with a knife in your liver long enough to kill your opponent."

    He takes up a defensive stance, holding a marker now instead of a training knife.

    "Mercy is a luxury you won't always have."

    Last edited by fibericon; 2019-10-08 at 04:00 PM.
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  13. - Top - End - #193
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    Takeo's first reaction to Akari's rather meandering request is a raised eyebrow. A diary? He'd never really considered the idea - sure, he had the list, but that was just a way of redirecting his anger and letting him keep his priorities straight, not for some greater purpose like this. Still, the logic behind it felt solid, and he didn't see any reason to refuse Akari's assignment.

    "Sure, I can do that. I'll keep aware of anything that could qualify. Is this something anyone's looking into, outside of what I'll be doing? Just wondering if there's anyone else I should be talking to about this asides from you."
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  14. - Top - End - #194
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    Thoughts flow through Aoba's head- first and foremost, how appalling the notion is. But Kazuma doesn't need morality right now. He knows it's wrong, that's why he left Irina out. "Okay... okay. First of all. We are now accessories to the biggest human rights violation in history. This is important. Our current political situation was strong because we held the moral high ground. We need to be working on an exit strategy, now, if this information is leaked- we have an enemy hacker on the premises. I would advise going as far as deleting all written records regarding this project in Babylon's hands, at least regarding its source. As far as we know, it has a different power source, and we can throw GoL under the bus if there's a leak. We're still going to take heat regardless- people will insist we knew and well, clearly we know. The important thing is establishing reasonable doubt."

    "Next... I assume you want my assessment of the drive as a resource. Given the cost paid... we need to make use of it. You said 'no longer fully human'. Does that mean there's still a human element? Is there a consciousness there?"
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  15. - Top - End - #195
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    Spoiler: Takeo
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    "The science team would be the ones to talk to about that. They're the only ones doing any AT research, but I don't know about anything like this being done at the moment. I just feel like we're not watching our backs, and I don't like it. I used to say 'rich and poor, we all bleed the same', but I don't even know if that's true anymore. With the introduction of all of you, the game changed, and no one wants to admit it. People act like you're just jumping in a cockpit and playing with a joystick, but that's not right, is it? You know goddamn well if that was the case, I'd be the one in there and not you. Look... I don't have clearance for everything going on behind the scenes, but I know enough to see this whole operation went tits up from the word 'go'. So don't expect Babylon to tell you everything you need to be doing to win this war - we're still figuring it out ourselves."


    Spoiler: Aoba
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    Kazuma rubs his face and sighs. This meeting is not going the way he wanted it to.

    "I had this... this idea that we could somehow... raid the facility, save the kids, and not shut down GoL in the process. I wanted you to come in and tell me that I wasn't crazy for thinking we could do the right thing and not destroy the war effort in the process."

    He covers his eyes and shakes his head, then looks back up at you.

    "The 'core' of the AT Drive is fully cognizant. Her name is Ren Tanaka." He passes you a folder with photos of a girl - human in shape, but ghastly shades of green and white. The folder also contains sensor readouts. Nothing from the biomonitors, but the radiation levels are dangerously high. "The GoL scientists spoke freely in front of her, and she's willing to cooperate with Nijima, who is currently working on a way to give her some semblance of a normal life. There is apparently strong evidence to support the notion that Ms. Tanaka could advance our understanding of protecting civilians against angel auras, since she has one herself after what they did to her. But using her as a weapon might be a problem, even ignoring the ethics. The AT Drive has been ranked just below a nuclear bomb." Shaking his head, he adds, "At this point, I don't know if disavowing them will be enough. We... say they're criminals, and then what? Arrests are made, scientists flee to the Vatican? No, no, I don't suppose we have the military might to even prevent that. Look, my point is, I think, if you're saying there's no way we can salvage the situation with GoL, we get ahead of this. Make the rescue of Ren Tanaka public."

    Kazuma seems very unsure of himself at this point. It won't take much to tip him in whatever direction you see fit.
    Last edited by fibericon; 2019-10-09 at 12:27 AM.
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  16. - Top - End - #196
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    Spoiler: Kazuma
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    "I was, but only half, Commander. I think I'd like that meeting - once you decide I'm ready." Xiren raises her marker. "I need a lot more practice between here and there. Let's go again!"



    Spoiler: Liza
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    For a long moment after Liza finally pulls away from her, Xiren is expecting a wave of self-hatred that doesn't come. The sky doesn't fall, she doesn't turn into a pillar of salt, and the Commander doesn't burst in with a squad of S2 to drag them apart. In fact, nothing much happens at all. The world continues along just like before. And that's worrying enough in its own way.

    When she leaves, will we just go on with our lives like this never happened?

    Xiren's not naive enough to believe that this is really love, whatever it is. She can offer Liza a source of strength, and solace, and perhaps something else, something murkier that Xiren doesn't yet know Liza enough clearly to see. But in the end, she hasn't really acquired a lover - just another person who'll abandon her if she can't give them what they need.

    And there's the self-loathing she was expecting.

    Xiren picks up the training knife, again reversing her grip. "Sure, we can go a few rounds. I'll try to be as non-threatening as possible, I guess. Not that that's hard for me." Smiling despite herself, Xiren takes up her stance and loses herself in the slow rhythm of the practice.

  17. - Top - End - #197
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    Spoiler: Alyona
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    Liza's eyes light up at the mention of food.

    "Let's make <borscht> and <pirozhki>! Do you want to meet the other Sins, or will it be only us and your mother? I worked in soup kitchens, so I know how to make a lot! Cooking language is useful too! Aaaah, I'm excited now! What's Ms. Kuznestov's cooking like? Maybe she doesn't have time now, but before?"

    Liza makes herself take a breath, giggling a little with delight, before remembering to actually answer Alyona's question.

    "I... left behind a lot of memories and enemies. The rapture already took everything. I owe Ms. Kuznestov for rescuing me from that, but... I was proud of learning to survive in Ulyanovsk. Sometimes I hate Babylon and Japan because it's unfamiliar and scary, but the more skilled I get here, the more fun it is."

    She tries to break the somber mood by flashing Alyona a great big smile. Even if it's a mask, she's having too much fun with Alyona to let it end just because God destroyed her hometown and dumped her into two years of a living nightmare. He took too much already, He can't have this.

    "And! Thanks to you, now I have more friends here than I did in Russia!"

    Since the Rapture, anyway... Though, if I count my friends from school, do the Sins outnumber them? Hell, I've nearly forgotten their faces...


    Spoiler: Kazuma
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    Liza puts her hand on her hip and pouts, but doesn't take a sparring stance in response to Kazuma's.
    Honestly, are Japanese men nothing but testosterone and melancholy? No wonder I don't like him.

    "No no no! You can't just beat skill into me! Teach me how to move around my enemy! Like dancing! Have you ever done ballroom dance, Commander? You do not teach dance by stomping on toes!"

    She relents for a moment, realizing that she's getting worked up just at the threat of more pointless beatings he calls 'lessons'. Her frustration is legitimate, though, and she's hoping that if she explains it well enough, he'll know how to help her learn.
    ...It's starting to feel a bit overly optimistic.

    "Huff... I do not know if I can kill a human. But if I need to, and learn that I can, then I need the skills to do it before that moment. Running is often wiser, but I cannot protect another Sin - she glances at Xiren - if I only run away. I want you to teach me to use my instinct to run somewhere useful, so I can hurt or kill my enemy even if I cannot endure to stand in front of them. If it's impossible, tell me. I'll focus on Judo and guns and not waste my time on useless things."

    Her breathing is a bit heavy from such a charged rant. When the blood recedes from her head, she'll be pleasantly surprised that she can do it in Japanese almost as well as in Russian already.


    Spoiler: Murayama
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    Liza's gotten confident enough in her vocabulary and technical grasp of Japanese that she mainly needs conversation practice, so it's easy to justify using her study time for socialization instead of reading and drilling kanji. Combine that with the big questions that have been foremost in her mind - 'can I kill if I need to' and 'who do I want to become' - and it seems natural to seek out the S2 agent who took a bullet for her back at the gala. Is that something she would be able to do for the sake of another Sin? What kind of person does it take to use their flesh as a shield, and what kind of person results from that ideal?

    She asks around the medical wing and soon finds Murayama Hikozaemon's room. She pokes her head across the threshold to address him, acting a bit on the meek side for this occasion. Tough guys dig shy girls, right? Even if they're almost the same height and blindingly blonde?

    "Excuse me, Mr. Murayama? It's Liza, the Sin you saved at last week's gala. Is it okay if we talk? I'm practicing Japanese, and I'd like career advice from you."

  18. - Top - End - #198
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    Aoba stares at Kazuma for a minute, than can't help but laugh. "Oh, you mean- I thought you brought me in to avoid doing that. Frankly, I would much rather stop any atrocities like this from ever happening again. Do you want me to start planning on how to stop GoL from doing anything like this, with strategies short of 'full-on Virtue raid'? Because I will do that in a heartbeat. We can probably get information on their security in the name of shoring ours up, make it easier to circumvent. Maybe get Nijima in there on an intelligence exchange... if she'd even be on board with this plan...

    ...this is against my morals, but I have to mention the option of using Cole's son. I imagine he'd be keen to show off his family legacy to a certain pilot of ours. I don't want to use Xiren as a honey pot, but... she seems like our only other good bet on getting access. And we need to know what's in there before we can plan an extrication.

    If Ren is fully conscious, if Ren remembers herself, she's not a weapon, any more than the other Sins are. If we can arrange for regular socialization with other Sins without divulging too much, that would be excellent. Same if we can add her to the therapy itinerary, though this may go past the level of secrecy even Ms. Blackford is eligible for. I know the more people who know, the greater risk of a leak... if we can free the captive sins from GoL, then we do so, tell them this is not acceptable, tell them to purge the records. If it ends out impossible... then we begin a media offensive to keep us from being dragged down with them."
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  19. - Top - End - #199
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    Takeo takes a few moments to consider what Akari's saying - and he's not particularly liking what he's hearing. He'd hoped Babylon had more of a handle on things, that they'd know what all of this was about. To hear Akari say otherwise was disconcerting.

    "I...okay. I'm already spending a lot of my time training my AT powers, so I'll try to talk to the relevant people about this other stuff too. As for the rest of it...I understand. I need to do more than just destroy the Angels as they come, and I'll do what I can." Going quiet for a moment, Takeo staves off the uncertainty by returning to the core of why he's doing this. "I have to. We can't lose. We can't let her die in vain."
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  20. - Top - End - #200
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    Spoiler: Liza
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    Spoiler: Alyona
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    Alyona laughs, "I can get away with bringing one friend home without warning, not seven! Mother's cooking is... non-toxic. I have grown accustomed to it, since she was the one cooking for most of my life."


    Spoiler: Kazuma
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    "You assume you will be able to run faster than your opponent. This is the common tactic of a prey animal. It usually works, too. But what you're forgetting is that humans are endurance hunters. And you are very valuable prey. When I dodge. I create an opening. If I teach you that, and you fail to utilize it because you don't want to strike, it won't help as much as you would like. And as for running to your backup? You don't need my help for that. Why are you really giving this another try?"


    Spoiler: Murayama
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    "Hey." he grunts. His voice is gravelly and a touch weak. "Yeah, I remember. Just glad you made it out of there alright. Unless you're going into security work, not sure how much help I can be."




    Spoiler: Aoba
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    Kazuma looks somewhat relieved. "We need to figure out where the facility is and how much of the rest of GoL is attached to it. My preference is to not wipe them out, but... we'll, there's one other thing that concerns me. I don't think we can keep Ren a secret. Not if we let her loose, not if we keep her locked up. When that information gets out, it needs to be done on our terms. Ren doesn't know who took her. If the connection is ever made, we lose GoL. Ryall will figure it out in a heartbeat. What angle am I missing here? Is it really not possible?"



    Spoiler: Takeo
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    "She won't."

    Akari probably believes it too.
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  21. - Top - End - #201
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    "So it's a snowball you're worried about. We can't hide Ren from the Sins, and anything the Sins know we can assume Irina will know. Is your concern only Ryall, though? If so, we could tell her and her alone the origin, and tell her we're working on being sure this doesn't happen again. Which is, at this point, true? Are we in fact going to plan a raid on one of our chief weapons suppliers? Because I am 100% on board if so. Just give me the word and I'll give us a next step, as well as beginning contingency plans. America might not be willing, but I'm sure most countries would just nationalize their production facilities if circumstances demanded. America's a lost cause regardless."
    Avatar by SeraphicMayin

  22. - Top - End - #202
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    GreenSorcererElf

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    Spoiler: Aoba
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    "Ryall will have the easiest time making the connection. We need to get ahead of that, or it's going to look like we're a part of this atrocity. As for the raid, do it. Get us building plans, security detail, do whatever it takes to get what we need. Once we know what we're up against, we can form a strategy for the raid and commit the resources necessary. We confiscate all the research and destroy everything. Bomb the facility into glass if we have to. Cyberwarfare to back up the boots on the ground - GoL cannot be allowed to retain a scrap of it. I'm more interested in how they're finding Sins than anything else, but we can't be sure what they've learned until we have everything. Then we lean on executives. Make sure they understand that if there's the slightest amount of push back, we pull the trigger on the data. Monitor them, both overtly and covertly, for the duration of the war. They can go down after we're done with them, or the second they prove they cannot be trusted."
    Spoiler: Active characters
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  23. - Top - End - #203
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Griffon

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    Spoiler: Alyona
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    "Kyaaah! I cook for the Sins every week anyway, I can make enough for you two also! Let's make a big Russian dinner for the Kuznestovs to celebrate tonight! Do you have ingredients? Should we go shopping? Let's get started right now! Um, if it's a good time?"

    Liza bounces on her heels, barely able to contain her excitement. She's making a new friend from her motherland, getting very confident at Japanese, and found a way to begin to repay the Lt.Com. for everything she's done up 'til now.

    "Hey hey, what's your mother like at home? Does she work really hard to be motherly, or is she like an old man? 'Alyona, bring me a beer!' Ahaha, I can imagine both ways! I only know her at work, but now that you and I are friends, I wanna learn so much about both of you!"

    Her questions might be coming across as intrusive, but they're fueled by excitement and innocent curiosity this time. She's not yet aware of the undercurrents of her heart that want to take the Kuznestov family for herself...


    Spoiler: Kazuma
    Show
    Liza lets out a frustrated sigh and shakes her head. Unconsciously, she shifts her weight away from Kazuma, hinting at her instinct to run from this difficulty even now. But she's not done yet. Not until she gets what she wants from the commander - either a lesson she can actually use, or an admission of his failure as a teacher.

    "Do you truly not understand? We Sins are children, not some bullheaded and disciplined soldiers. We learned to survive in a world where adults could beat and kill us with their bare hands at their whim. Some of us are still living in our nightmare. A child has no strength to win fights, only fastness and cleverness to avert them. For the first time, I have people I want to protect. I do not have time to... to un-train my body, so I want to learn to apply my instincts to CQC instead of fighting both my enemy and myself. If you cannot teach me, admit it and introduce me to who can. Stop acting like you are better only because you are stronger, or you will kill the people who try and fail to become you."

    Her attitude turns colder as she goes on. In the course of constructing phrases in her head, she thinks about her problem in more depth, and she starts to believe that this man is not merely irritating, but a blind fool who endangers everyone she currently cares about. If he can't accept that not everyone can manifest his strength and determination, and that there are other kinds of strength besides that which he cultivated in himself and his soldiers, then he has no understanding of the people he presumes to lead, and will lead them to disaster the moment he tries to push them into roles they are unsuited for.

    She very much wants him to prove her wrong. People can open their eyes, or reveal hidden depths, or accept their shortcomings and expand their awareness. But if he continues to prove her right, well... She may still have to find out whether or not she can kill to protect the Sins.


    Spoiler: Murayama
    Show
    Liza takes Murayama's response as permission to enter. A little tentatively, she walks across the room to sit in the chair between the bed and window.

    "The truth is... I already am in security work. The world's security and the Sins' security. You can't be shot for all of us." She smiles weakly.

    "Since I learned Japanese, more people talk to me. They ask me who I want to grow up to be like. It seems Lt.Com. Kuznestov is the only role model I have who didn't die in the Rapture. So I want... other ideas. I respect you, because you risked your life to save mine. Not many adults would do that. Will you tell me why? For what reason you became S2? How you put the lives of strangers before your family or yourself?"

  24. - Top - End - #204
    Halfling in the Playground
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    Default Re: 7 Sins IC

    Xiren's been making strides in the days since her one-on-one marker training with the Commander. She's even started attending the CQC and marksmanship training, achieving fairly mediocrely competent results at both, but today her attention hasn't been on her form for some time now. She's been listening with interest and rapidly-growing concern as the conversation between Liza and Kazuma turns hostile, and as the tension in Liza's voice grows, Xiren winces internally until finally she realizes that if she doesn't do something now, all her "hard work" yesterday will be for nothing. Abandoning all pretense, she folds her blade back into a now-familiar defensive grip and walks over to the pair of them.

    Liza first, then the Commander. Liza needs to be disarmed so it doesn't feel like I'm cosigning her behavior, and the Commander will get defensive if Liza's insubordination isn't reigned in before he gets any more criticism.

    Xiren places a hand on Liza's shoulder comfortingly. "Liza, please. I know the Commander's teaching style can seem a bit rigid, but he's doing this because he cares about us. Remember the Gala? I was almost killed. If it weren't for Ryall and plain old dumb luck, I'd have caught a bullet and you'd be training with a different Lust right now. The Commander and the others are trying to make sure that never happens again. You and I made it here because we were smart and careful. But that's not the only way to survive." She glances briefly up at Kazuma. "The bullheadedness and discipline he's trying to drill into you were what helped him survive. I understand you're frustrated, but if you're going to truly engage with what he's saying and figure out what you can use, you need to take his teaching in good faith."

    Now the hard part.

    Xiren takes a deep breath. "And Commander... You say there are no shortcuts to learning this. But isn't this entire class a shortcut? You're trying to drill into us skills that take years - a lifetime even - over the course of a few hours a day for a few weeks. I know if you could you'd take your time and teach us everything we need to know, you would, but we don't have time. Another Vatican attack could happen today. It could happen in five minutes. So you made the call to do what you could with what you had. Isn't it better that Liza receive imperfect training than no training at all? I know there are ways to satisfy your concerns about failing to disable an opponent." She taps the practice blade lightly against the back of Liza's neck, near the base of the shoulder blades. "A blade slipped between the cervical vertebrae can cause paralysis in all four limbs, for instance, but not death." Another tap, this time on the bridge of the nose. "Or you can go for the senses. Break the fangs of the snake. Who can shoot or stab or even grapple with no eyes?"

    Evidently Xiren's been giving this subject some thought lately.

    "If you can't teach her to dodge, teach her to feint. Use all that impulse toward movement to lure the enemy in, make them think she's made one of those fatal mistakes you talked about, then go for a disabling strike. Or a killing blow, if you must. Parry and riposte. That wouldn't go against your teaching, would it?"

  25. - Top - End - #205
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    GreenSorcererElf

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    Spoiler: Liza & Xiren
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    Kazuma sighs and pinches the bridge of his nose before looking back up at you.

    "Alright."

    His stance shifts, and he takes a somewhat different posture.

    "You're Russian. I should have known. Let me explain: Tantojustsu and Systema Spetnaz are the two styles I mix. The former eliminates the footwork of the latter. I have spent a long time creating this mix, but... ignore your death, just this once, and look at my feet."

    It's different than how he wants to fight, but not so much as to be unrecognizable.

    "I honestly don't entertain parrying with such a short blade except as a last resort. It's so close to your hand - it's just too dangerous. Allowing the opponent to attack first in the hope that you can capitalize on it isn't necessarily the worst strategy, but if there is more than one enemy, it exasperates your disadvantage."

    He's still fast - it's a difference only a skilled fighter would care to make. After a few practice sets, he steps back and takes a lower defensive posture as he prepares to entertain your original request to spar both of you at once. There is a notably a harsher tone when he switches to Russian. In fact, he sounds like an old man.

    "<Yelizaveta. You are finished with running away. Promise me right now.>"

    He doesn't look like he's willing to let this one go.


    Spoiler: Liza
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    Spoiler: Alyona
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    "We have ingredients, don't worry. Mother is... well, there is little reason for her to show her true face while working. <The still waters are inhabited by devils.>" Now there's something you haven't heard in a long time. "I think she is sweet on the commander. I have seen his true face as well. He should crush the mask underfoot - I have liked the man for all of five minutes combined. But father was like that too."

    She puts on an exaggerated gruff voice, "You! Soldier! Your weapon is tilted three millimeters to the left of requirements! Ten demerits and a public flogging!" Switching to a sweeter tone, equally exaggerated, she adds, "Oh, little bird, how was school today?"

    She rolls her eyes, and speaks normally again. "She is less extreme, but this is how she is as well."


    Spoiler: Murayama
    Show
    "Some people are better at certain things, and we don't always get to choose. It seemed like I was always going to be military or law enforcement. What about math? How come I wasn't ever good at that? I don't know. Armed forces just called to me, I guess. Then a couple years ago, when Babylon was formed, they started recruiting from the military, from private security, wherever they could find people. And they said they only wanted the best of the best, so when I got that call, damn straight I want the job. Look... it never really occurred to me to not protect you. That's not who I am. I've got a sense of duty to protect people, and you needed it."

    Spoiler: Active characters
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  26. - Top - End - #206
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Griffon

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    Spoiler: Kazuma & Xiren
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    Xiren's intervention gets Liza to stand down and take the pressure off Kazuma, at least long enough to let him think before reacting. It's almost terrifying how Xiren really does 'snipe with words'... but equally reassuring to call her a friend. After all, that shot got what she wanted out of the Commander too.

    She's already claimed a victory over him today, before markers even clashed, thanks to Xiren's covering fire. Whether or not he considers it his loss, it feels good to have that over her supposed superior, and to know that he can be... redirected, with the right buttons pushed.

    Liza follows his forms intently. She does sincerely want to learn this style, if it'll let her fight while moving the way she wants to. When Kazuma makes his challenge, a fire lights in her eyes and burns away the earlier frost. Her shouting this time isn't a rant, it's a rallying cry.

    "<Running is who I am! You may as well tell the wind not to blow! But now I will run toward my goal! I will never abandon my comrades while I have the power to save them, even a little. Neither God nor man will take anything else I care about!> Now give me that power!"

    She switches to Japanese and charges in, then suddenly changes her direction to dart to his non-dominant side. If she keeps him between Xiren and herself, he might kill them twenty times, but they'll get him more than either can alone.

    . . .

    Liza throws herself into the entire lesson period. Her flaws make a daunting list, but no longer so innumerable as last week. She uses her momentum and body weight to make heavy blows more suited to an axe or broadsword than a knife, wastes far too much energy with unnecessary movements, has no sense of how to read an opponent or cover her own vulnerabilities...

    But she's focused. She frowns or cringes when she receives criticism, but still internalizes it and works on correcting one or two things at a time. Given time, she'll improve in a way she wouldn't have before.

    To speak of her strengths, fledgling as they are: she has energy to spare, even with how much she wastes, and seems to genuinely enjoy moving her body no matter how many times she gets dropped. She's a creative thinker, always trying to surprise her opponent and stay in close where he can't generate force - of course, Kazuma knows every counter, but she feels like she's at least making him work a little harder. She even tries to incorporate the basic Judo she's learned, using her forearms and free hand to block and restrain. She's afraid to strike with anything but the marker, lest Kazuma punish her for diverging too far from the class topic and respond with full force.

    It seems like her idea of 'protecting' Xiren isn't to shield her so much as to exploit the foe's attention. If Liza is the target, she gives a merry chase to aggravate and wear him down until Xiren can deliver a killing blow, just like with the Elder. If Xiren becomes the target, Liza darts straight for the back of his neck or tries to entangle their limbs to leave him open for her.
    She does her best not to let either of them die from error or sacrifice, no matter how they're positioned. Her best is, understandably, not very good yet. One thing she very quickly learns is to stop making eye contact with her partner over Kazuma's shoulder, which always seems to cue him to what's coming. Instead, she starts using her peripheral vision to fight while focusing where she wants his attention to go. He's too good for it to work, but it works better.

    Her most spectacular failure of the day is when she tries to slip past Kazuma's non-dominant side, runs straight into an arm bar, and falls back onto his marker. He barely had to move. It would have been almost artistically bad for the observers.


    Spoiler: Alyona
    Show
    Liza laughs and clutches her stomach at Alyona's impressions. It's been far, far too long since she's had this kind of casual gossip to enjoy.

    "Um... Did they tell you bedtime stories about historical wars? Your teacher worried when you drew gun diagrams instead of animals? Your childhood sounds like old television! The good kind, the good kind!"

    She tries to remember things about her own mother and father to tell Alyona, but... it's difficult to reach those memories. She was a child who took her life for granted, and then spent two years watching that house full of memories descend into ruin. There's so much darkness between her and the light-filled memories, the faces she only half-remembers as if from a dream...

    They were... ordinary, weren't they? They loved and cared for her and her siblings and each other. This she knows to be true.
    ...But what does that mean, really?

    She starts to smell pirozhki, the faint smell of frying potatoes, even before they approach the door. She sheds a few tears with a smile on her face.

    "Hey, Alyona... what's your favorite memory about your parents? The one that warms your heart on cold nights - as cold as Japan gets, at least!"


    Spoiler: Murayama
    Show
    "I see... You followed your instincts through life. You're happy with the result? Not your wound, uh... The way you conduct yourself? Um... again, thank you."

    The idea that someone can succeed at their ideal life by following their instincts to the end... it's pretty impactful for Liza. She sits quietly, staring into the middle distance, as she lets it sink in.

    This... isn't an adult she should be able to rely on... but it feels harmless enough to exchange a little bit of her feelings for the advice of a person who lives this way. She's not really losing anything... right?

    ...Right?

    She clutches her pant legs and hunches her shoulders. Her instinct is pushing her to run away before she does something she might regret, before she makes herself vulnerable to this person who her mind and body know not to trust too much but who her heart insists is worth it.

    She wants this knowledge. Perhaps needs it, if she's to move forward.

    'I will run toward my goal.' This is a different kind of fight, but I did not lie then. Here I come!

    She takes one deep breath, in and out, then plunges in.

    "I think the Japanese military hates me, my instinct. I am proud of my running and hiding. That's how I protected and fed myself. Even now, it's good. The Commander thinks I am a coward. Not worth his time. Lt.Com. Kuznestov is kind, but... if I do not become her, I should not fight. I know they are wrong, but without their skills, I cannot show it. Please give me ideas. I want to become more skilled at my strong points, in a way that helps in Babylon and Japan, not Russia. You are a rock, not wind or snow, so it's okay to not know. Maybe you have a friend?"

  27. - Top - End - #207
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    GreenSorcererElf

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    Spoiler: Liza & Xiren
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    Kazuma is forced to take the two of you more seriously as practice goes on. It's something. You made him work for it more and more everytime. His breathing picks up. When Liza hits the mat, he's clearly forcing himself forward.

    "They say Samson beat an army of one thousand with a jawbone. You two have another few hundred sets in you so I can break his record?"

    A breathless laugh. His emotional defenses are dropping as he faces exhaustion. But he pushes himself into another defensive stance. This is what you came for, and he's determined to give it to you.

    This is what he hinted at with Xiren before. He believes he can't take credit for your success, only your failure. And he might just break himself to prevent your failure.


    Spoiler: Liza
    Show

    Spoiler: Alyona
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    The Kuznetsov home is very well organized. Open spaces have been prioritized to aid with Irina's mobility issues. There are rails in places. The kitchen is probably cleaned after every meal.

    "They never brought work home. Well, not to me. I eavesdropped on a conversation once, and wished I hadn't. Being a soldier is hard, and mother wants to protect me from it."

    Alyona begins laying out ingredients for dough.

    "Come, then. I will give my favorite memory to you. First, we make piroshki, then we eat them with our hands like barbarians. It will never be cold enough in this country for hot chocolate, but we can make it anyway. No instant trash! I will show you how to make a slurry so real cocoa powder mixes with water!"


    Spoiler: Murayama
    Show
    He takes a deep breath and hesitates. His expression makes it clear that he was not prepared for this.

    "Okay. Let me tell you something about the commander. During the rapture, everyone who ran instead of listening to him died. He had to watch. He might not seem very nice, but he's just trying to protect you. People got shot in the back running from the gala, too. I mean, he's got a point. How can you protect yourself from something you're not facing? I don't know what he's said to you, but he's just a hardass, not your enemy. Now me, yeah, I'm happy. I made a decision to take the bullet for you. Knowing what I know now, I wouldn't have done anything differently. Anyway, I don't think I can point you to anyone who would run. My friends are all S2, and if we run, you all suffer for it. And your role model? She can't run. I'm sorry, pilot. I can teach you about popping out of the bushes to take someone out? Hey, yeah. Yeah, that's close to your skill set, right?"

    He's a little meandering, but he means well.


    Spoiler: Active characters
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  28. - Top - End - #208
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Griffon

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    Spoiler: Alyona
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    Liza makes no pretense of being shy about looking at everything. She's overcome by a mix of emotions - joy at being invited into her mentor's private life and receiving that trust, a strange sort of comfort from how open and organized everything is, and also feeling out of place in this environment so utterly unlike the chaotic city she knew. Like she's something dirty that crawled into a clean place where she oughtn't be, despite the opposite reality.

    She takes particular interest in photos and bookshelves, and glances at any personal notes or mail that's sitting out - though not so long as to seem rude. She'll ask for the stories behind any photos, even if they're tucked somewhere instead of displayed prominently.

    She stays close to Alyona or in the kitchen as much as possible; there's nothing here that she wants more than Irina's trust and that she couldn't take later if she changed her mind, and she doesn't want to be... tempted... by being left alone somewhere she could get in trouble. When Alyona goes to the bathroom or her bedroom, Liza repeatedly catches herself pocketing potatoes, fruit, and utensils. She doesn't realize she's doing it until she notices the new lump or prod in her sweater. It takes a a force of will to put things back each time, and her self-loathing grows accordingly. But the moment Alyona returns, all is right again; her company chases Liza's melancholy away.

    ...Mostly.

    Having heard Irina's and Alyona's feelings about soldiering, Liza keeps away from that topic - not so desperately as to be awkward, but focusing on other, more ordinary things. When the conversation lapses, there's always their cooking to go back to, so the silence never lasts.

    "Say, what's your school here like? The cute foreign girl who speaks Japanese must be very popular, right? Are there festivals like in the anime? I want to see! Let me enjoy ordinariness, um... <vicariously!> I don't care if it's boring! High school is all new to me!"

    She can do a lot of the bulk food prep seemingly on autopilot - things like peeling, grating, chopping, kneading, stirring - but has to double-check the recipes for anything involving careful measurement or flavoring. She spent a lot of hours in soup kitchens to keep her belly full, and this meal is exponentially more important to her. She's giving a little bit of Mother Russia back to her fellow expats, and receiving their part in return.

    Laughing with Alyona like this, as the kitchen fills with comforting familiar smells found nowhere else in this country, Liza starts to feel like she's... home.
    Like she's allowed to be happy and carefree again.
    To feel safe and cared for again.

    During a moment when Liza's hands are clean and dry, she gives Alyona a sudden hug around the waist.
    "<Thank you, my friend! Today you have given me something wonderful. With our cooking, we have bested God, for we took back a piece of the happiness He stole! Hey hey, let's get married and make every night like this!> Let's get married!"

    The terror of losing it claws at her heart.


    Spoiler: Murayama
    Show
    Liza listens to his story seriously. Intellectually, she can understand where the Commander is coming from, but it's still hard for her to reconcile detached sympathy with the way she feels every time they interact. There's merit to his way, but that doesn't mean hers is wrong. Maybe fewer people who ran would have died if they'd been good at running.
    ...She's tempted to try to start a class on that herself, but it's too soon. Her way of thinking is anathema to Babylon's, to Kazuma's, so they'd reject her outright. She first has to demonstrate her worth in a way these hardheads can understand. Her chance will surely come sooner or later. If she can pull it off, teaching would be a good way to give back to those who deserve it.

    She perks up at the end. It's a connection, something she can seize for the moment.

    "Yes! Teach me how to ambush! Sniping is different than close, it's important when I'm too close to shoot. I have little time, but I will study on free days and practice during the week!"

  29. - Top - End - #209
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    GreenSorcererElf

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    Spoiler: Liza
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    Spoiler: Alyona
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    The printed photos are largely formal and planned. Birthdays, holidays, special occasions. A far cry from the photos Alyona takes herself and posts on social media with her classmates.

    "No pictures inside the base! The double extra classified super secret bathroom mirror is integral to the functioning of the Virtues and it cannot fall into enemy hands! Oh well." In one picture of a mixed group, there's a Japanese boy with his arm around her shoulders. "We dated for two weeks. I get a lot of letters. I kept them all because it would be rude to throw them away. But boys just want one thing - to see giant robots. They seem disappointed when I can't show them giant robots."

    Your proposal earns a laugh and a cheek pat. "No marriage until the second date!"


    Spoiler: Murayama
    Show
    "Alright." He looks down at his IV and groans, "Maybe not right now. When they let me out of here, you got yourself a deal."


    Spoiler: Active characters
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  30. - Top - End - #210
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Griffon

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    Spoiler: Alyona
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    Liza laughs at Alyona's joke about the mirror, as with all her others. It's refreshing that someone else sees Babylon's endless regulations and procedures as something ridiculous instead of life-depending.

    "Don't you know that Babylon's bathrooms are cutting-edge Japanese technology? It'd be so scary if our enemies could bathe in comfort! <Oh, the humanity!>"

    "Really? Giant robots? I always thought boys wanted something else from girls. Now I see Japan's true face! Don't worry, I see my own 'giant robots' enough. I can appreciate... <a Russian girl's charms!>"


    Some time later, the condo is suffused with the smell of piroshki and borscht and the hand-made hot cocoa Alyona promised. Irina should be coming home soon, just in time for the food to finish but not cool.

    Without constant tasks to focus on Liza's anxiety begins to creep in more strongly. Is it really okay for her to be here? Will Irina be angry or kick her out? Is she wearing on Alyona's hospitality? She must be acting too familiar with her kinswoman for a first visit. But if she suddenly acts cold, wouldn't that be a problem too?

    Wait. Ugh. She's already thinking in a way too Japanese way.

    Sitting on the sofa beside Alyona, Liza suddenly lowers her hot cocoa and turns to regard the other girl a little seriously.

    "<Alyona, let's speak Russian for tonight. Will you tell me how I am today? It's been a long time since I was a guest in Russia, and never in Japan. I am overjoyed to spend time with someone my age who knows my country, so if I have a problem, I want to fix it immediately.>"

    She smiles, not as strongly as she intended to, and raps her chest to indicate that Alyona should be sincere and that she can take honest criticism. Whether Alyona says good things or not, there's no way Liza will feel at peace unless she believes it.


    Spoiler: Murayama
    Show
    "Of course, heal first! Don't hurt yourself for me! You gave me things to think about, thank you. Shall I... come and talk to you again?"

    She prepares to stand, feeling that the conversation is at its end, but not needing to hurry away. She feels... lighter, somehow, yet finds it too unsettling to think about why that is.


    Spoiler: Flashback: Liza x Takeo
    Show
    Beside the Elder's corpse in the waning evening light...

    Liza returns Takeo's wave, bouncing with glee.
    "Hey, Takeo! Nice work, isn't it?!"

    Grinning, Takeo nods. "Yes, it is. We did well here. It's good to see that the Elders can be killed."

    "Right, right?! It's like a big... car...!"
    She trails off and draws a circle in the air. Does she mean 'tire'?
    "Strange that it was scary. Not now!"

    "...Car? Hm. I don't know about scary, but I did have some doubts before this. I wasn't entirely sure that we'd win this. It's reassuring to see the Elder like this, isn't it? I see they've already started taking it apart for research."

    Liza's eyes go a little glassy as she tries to follow Takeo's words, but she seems to catch the gist at least.
    "Really, this is like an anime. Mecha, giant monsters, heroes of children... The commercial, will the world think it's true... I wonder? What do you want... everyone to think?"

    Takeo shrugs. "That we're right. That we'll win. That we'll get justice."

    "Win... Yeah! Before a battle, let's eat pork cutlet bowls! It's tradition!"

    Takeo raises an eyebrow, Liza's latest translation error taking the wind out of his sails a little. "What? Sure, I guess, they're nice, but that's not what I meant. I just meant, well, I suppose just that they'll believe in us, that we can protect them and avenge the fallen."

    It's probably fun to watch Liza freeze every time she's given a lot of words to listen to, then react in either understanding or confusion. It could be some kind of game.
    This time, she smiles warmly and nods.
    "Yeah! God won't take more anything, from us! Are you protecting an important person?"

    Takeo goes quiet for a moment in response to her question, before letting out a little sad sigh and shaking his head. "No. The time for protecting her had passed before I could do anything, and Akari can protect herself. This is about justice now, and avenging her."

    Liza's expression turns solemn, though no less warm. She closes the distance between them and takes Takeo's hand in both of hers, looking him in the eye.
    "That's fine. Get justice. Get revenge. For me too. You're my important guardian. Um, the meaning... Important person. I'll protect."
    She blushes as she stammers through the end.
    "Um... I'm not-- I wasn't cool..."

    Takeo blinks when Liza takes his hand and starts to have something of a deer in headlights look when Liza starts talking. "Oh, um, I...well, thanks. Don't worry about not being cool or whatever. I appreciate the thought."

    Liza smiles again.
    ...It's a little while before she releases his hand.
    "My family was killed by angels. I hate it, but... it's more scary. My thoughts are about living, not revenge. So I'm glad you'll do revenge. But the Sins are really important to me! Don't die! Don't become a monster!"
    Her outburst is sudden and brief; she flips back to a softer tone just as quickly.
    "Come home. Always come home. This world... truly, it has many monsters. ...For you, I'll cook, okay?"

    Takeo nods, smiling. This wasn't what he expected from the conversation, but it was nice. "I won't die, then, and I'll keep your family in mind along with her. I promise. You'll cook? I'd...I'd like that."

    Liza claps happily.
    "It's a promise!"
    She looks up at the Elder's looming torso.
    "Everything God took from us... We'll take it back!"
    She turns back to Takeo and taps his sternum, then her own.
    "To start with... this happiness, here."
    "Eheheh, I studied that! For the commercial's sake! It's the truth."


    Takeo can't help but keep smiling at Liza's attitude. "It's a good truth. Hopefully it makes the commercial succeed."

    Something catches Liza's attention apart from the Elder or their conversation. She looks like a startled cat or dog, absolutely still as she stares into the growing darkness. The sky is still orange, but the Elder's body and surrounding terrain are falling quickly into shadow.

    A moment passes, then another. The only sounds are from the distant gathering around the camera crew, and occasionally the crunch of an S2 agent on watch shifting their weight onto fallen sticks and leaves.

    Whatever happened passes without comment. Liza looks at Takeo again and returns to her conversational demeanor.
    "You're not afraid of the dark? Isn't your body weak?"

    Well that was a blunt way of putting it. Takeo shrugs. "Well, yeah, I'm not strong, but I don't need to be strong here. The Virtue gives me the strength I need to fight angels, and if I'm in danger as I am, we have all of Babylon to protect us."
    "And so far, something like the Vatican attack happening is rare. Things aren't bad enough that we need to be worried about that every night."
    He keeps himself from adding 'yet' to the end of the sentence. She probably doesn't need to hear his theories.

    After her usual pause, Liza breaks out in a big grin and snatches up Takeo's hand, coiling her arms around his. She's really close and it's kinda hard to move...
    "You're cute! I'll protect you! A bear won't receive you, and.. um... the dirt won't hit you! Be careful! Go back?"

    She'll release his arm when they actually start walking back to the group, but keeps his hand firmly in hers, to lead him through the debris field. She can't accurately call out each upcoming obstacle, so she does it by exaggeratedly pulling Takeo up or around to indicated what he needs to do after her. Does she think he's blind at night...?

    Liza's mentions of bears and dirt are a little confusing, but by this point Takeo had started to get used to her unusual word choices. He lets himself get led back, not complaining about her closeness or how much she's leading. It seemed to make her feel good about this protection thing, and even if he wasn't blind, she was good at getting around here.
    He decides to leave thinking about the fact she just called him cute for later. That needed more thought.

    If Liza knows what it looks like to return to the group hand-in-hand, she doesn't seem to care. She doesn't let go until they're firmly within the circle of lights as the crew packs up, then lets go like it's no big deal.
    She's in high spirits for the rest of the night, right until her head hits her pillow and she passes out from exhaustion.
    Last edited by Elfbird; 2019-10-15 at 08:01 AM.

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