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Thread: 7 Sins IC

  1. - Top - End - #211
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    GreenSorcererElf

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    Spoiler: Liza
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    Spoiler: Alyona
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    Alyona laughs politely in response to your flirting, but doesn't otherwise address it.

    Your fears about your company prompt a more concerned response. She opens her mouth, then glances toward the door as she hears Irina opening it. Lowering her voice, she hisses, "<You are doing fine. Stop worrying.>"

    Irina looks around quietly, then offers a smile. "<I cannot sit on the floor this time, and certainly no fireplace, but I know what you're doing, little bird. Alright. Oh, and hello, Liza. This was something we used to do in Russia - family time can be hard to come by, and we wanted to spend time together, not traveling.>"

    Irina settles into a chair, and Alyona brings her food and hot chocolate. Once she has a bit of food in her, Irina takes one of her pills. As the pain wears off, laughter becomes easier.


    Spoiler: Murayama
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    "Sure, pilot. I'll be here."

    He relaxes a bit, probably preparing to nap. Between the injury and the treatment, his energy is at an all time low.

    Last edited by fibericon; 2019-10-15 at 01:43 PM.
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  2. - Top - End - #212
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Planetar

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    Default Re: 7 Sins IC

    Spoiler: Knife Training Gossip
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    Ryall groans as she lies on her back, still catching her breath from trying to rush Kazuma for the umpteenth time and getting completely wrecked as a result. Noticing that Takeo isn't doing so well himself, she decides to sit upright, legs crossed, and asks him: "Hey. Everything okay?"

    Takeo shrugs a little, wincing slightly at the pain in much of his body, but he puts a brave face on it. "I'm fine, just not used to this kind of training. I've never fought much outside of my Virtue. Or done much physical training, despite Akari's best efforts. I'm still not sure when it becomes fun."

    Ryall shrugs. "It is never going to be fun in the... well, let's say "playing games" way, but you do get a certain amount of satisfaction out of it, when you realize just how far you came from where you were before."
    "A certain kind of pride, even."
    she added with a smirk.

    Takeo grins a little at her comment, nodding. "I suppose so. In that case, I have a long way to go yet. It still feels a little weird, fighting as myself, not having access to the raw power of the Virtue or any access to an AT field. Still, I suppose it's necessary, with how the Vatican is acting. I wouldn't put another attack past them, before the next battle against an angel."

    Ryall scoffs. "With their track record, I don't think you should be too worried. Still, it never hurts to be prepared."

    "I suppose so. Still, since they're almost certainly in league with the angels, I wouldn't discount them."
    "Command seems to think similarly, anyway. According to Akari, that's why we're here, and they seem to be taking my theories seriously."


    "...Huh. What do you mean?"

    "Think about the timing. The Vatican tries to assassinate us, the only pilot in Japan, and immediately after an Elder attacks. Doesn't that strike you as an enemy trying to cripple our defences before a major attack?"
    "The timing, and the way it happened that way worldwide, feels like more than a coincidence to me."


    "I... never really made the connection until you pointed it out. Wow." She lets out a small chuckle. "Can you believe it? One of the world's biggest institutions, reduced to a doomsday cult."

    "They've taken unquestioning faith too far, let it overtake their duty and loyalty to humanity, unlike Xiren and Kazuma and the other Christians who see sense, see the threat of the angels for what it is. The traitors in the Vatican will face justice soon enough. That much I'm sure of."
    Takeo seems quite pleased by the last part of his response.

    Ryall simply nods. "I see."
    There's a small gap in the conversation, before Ryall pipes up again. "So, there's something I wanted to tell you, but I never really found the right moment for. You see, back during the Gala, I threw a glass of punch at a playboy jerk who hit on Xiren. The punch, that is. Not the entire glass."
    "Point is, his dad, which creeps me <the hell out>, then confronted me after the Elder's attack. I managed to bluff my way into saying that it was for the jerk's safety, and he actually believed me. He then sent me a form for an addon that juices a weapon up with AT one way or another. "
    "A few days passes by without me hearing anything from the engineering team, and then when I decided to visit them, they say that using it is a no-go. Apparently, the thing is super radioactive and using it will wreck the enviroment and kill people by the bucketload. Including me."
    Ryall sighs and takes a breath, her voice very much tinged with anger now. "I'm starting to think the Guns of Liberty are actively trying to kill us, with the way things are going with them now. External sabotage from the Vatican is to be expected, but internal sabotage as well?"


    Takeo this this over. "I suppose I can see why that could happen by accident - it's possible to mess with gravity and particles and stuff with an AT field, but most of what pilots can do with an AT field depends on our ability to manipulate it and our Virtues. An innocent explanation could just be that without those aspects whatever they tried went wrong."

    He pauses. "However, I can see your point, it's suspect. It's strange, though. Why would they send something that obviously dangerous? Engineering would've been sure to notice it, as they did. Any smart saboteur with access to GoL could have been much more subtle and successful. Sabotaging our supply of standard Virtue weapons, for instance."
    Takeo shrugs. "It's just weird, is all. If they're legitimate, they wouldn't have sent a dangerous and flawed weapon to us, and if they're an enemy, they're being very obvious and ineffective. I don't like to assume incompetence, but..."
    "It's just strange."


    "Maybe you're right. Still, there's another thing that makes me think something's up with whatever's going on. The engineer that I asked about the AT Drive said that if "one of us" is seriously injured or killed when using it, thousands of civilians could die. As in, plural. Last time I checked, Humilitas was a single-seater and though the engineer said that she meant the Sins in general... I'm pretty sure she's lying about that. "
    "Hell, I'm starting to believe that the AT Drive may even have a human being in it."
    She shakes her head, almost as if immediately acknowledging that whatever she said was a tad daft. "Sounds a bit silly when I say it, though. I mean, what are the odds?"

    Takeo shrugs, trying to make the information make sense. "This whole thing is strange. If the engineer way lying about this 'one of you' thing, then presumably they're lying about the other details, and that explains the weirdness of the story. Something living there - maybe human, maybe not, but alive and capable of AT manipulation - would explain a lot, though."
    "I know the science department have started extracting and studying parts of fallen angels - perhaps GoL did the same, and used part of it in their weapon, but it didn't work."


    "That's also a good theory. Better than mine, at least. Still, I know something is up; it all seems too damn fishy." Ryall falls silent again, observing Liza and Xiren sparring with Kazuma. "Hey. Is it just me or do they seem to be awfully close lately?" she asks Takeo.

    Takeo nods when Ryall says it's fishy. "Yeah, something strange is happening. I wonder why they're trying to keep it so under wraps."

    Her comment about Xiren and Liza draws his attention to then and Kazuma, and he watches them thoughtfully for a few moments. "Perhaps. Liza...she's a good person, she cares a lot about the rest of us."
    "Why, do you think there's more to it?"


    "...It's nothing. Nevermind" Calm down, Ryall, you're Pride, not Envy. You and Xiren weren't really a thing anyway, so why are you being jealous now?


    "Oh...okay." Takeo is only quiet for a few moments before pieces start coming together. "You didn't think they were....you know...did you? I mean, that can't be right...can it?"

    "Why wouldn't it be right?"

    Takeo gives a small awkward shrug. "I don't know...just didn't think any of us were that close yet, and I...well, it's just that, really."

    "I'm starting to feel like they are that close."

    "Oh. Okay. That's fine."

    "I guess..."

  3. - Top - End - #213
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Griffon

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    Spoiler: Alyona
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    At first, Irina's return makes Liza feel disoriented. She can sense the dynamic, the shared history between the two Kuznestovs, but Liza herself lacks the context to understand it. She doesn't feel like an intruder so much anymore, more like... when she first came to Japan, perhaps. An outsider.

    As the night wears on though, and Liza is immersed in the sounds and smells and tastes of her childhood, laughing with and learning about her kinswomen, that discomfort also begins to fade away.

    The dark void between her youth and her present no longer seems so impenetrable. Just a little bit, she starts to remember the faces of her parents and siblings. The clothes they wore, what their voices sounded like...

    She's laughing and trying not to choke on a mouthful of piroshki, then suddenly tastes something else wet and salty on her lips. She touches her cheek and her fingertip is immediately soaked by the river of tears. Why, from such a happy moment?

    Liza drops her head in a vain effort to hide her embarrassment, manages to stifle her laughter and swallow her food. She tries to wipe her face dry on her sleeve, but the tears refuse to stop.

    "<Sorry, sorry! It must be the onion! I've... Thank you. I can't say how much this means to me, or how happy I am in this moment. Thank you!>"

    Speaking her heart like that pulls the cork out of it; she has to set her plate down and devolves into unreserved bawling. She's red as cabbage with the embarrassment of her mentor and her new friend seeing her like this, but she doesn't exactly hate it either.

    She's not aware of it right now, but for the first time in two years, her subconscious isn't fixated on 'wanting'. It's a pure feeling, like porcelain.

  4. - Top - End - #214
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    GreenSorcererElf

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    Spoiler: Liza
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    Alyona freezes up. She can't process what's happening, and quietly stares at you. Wide eyed and utterly confused, she doesn't form a serviceable reaction until Irina leans over and speaks quietly in her ear.

    Moving from next to her mother, she crouches to your right and puts her hand on your shoulder.

    "<Um... it's okay, Liza. You don't have to go back there anymore.>"

    "Back there" is about as nicely as anyone could describe the post-rapture Russian ghettos. But she has no point of reference for this, and can only offer a boiler plate, tone deaf response.
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  5. - Top - End - #215
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Griffon

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    Spoiler: Alyona
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    Liza closes her eyes and leans into Alyona's hand, shaking her head lightly. It's a few minutes before her tears run dry and her breathing is back under control.

    "<It's not that, it's... Being with you two, speaking Russian casually, eating the food of my childhood... I feel like I have my family back. I never thought I would know such comfort again, yet here it is. It was always right here...>"

    Liza relaxes a little, looking like she might reach for her plate again. Instead, she swiftly takes Alyona's hand in both of hers, but leans forward toward Irina to call out in an over-the-top imploring way.

    "<Lieutenant Comm-- no, Ms. Kuznestov! You must let me marry your daughter! She shall want for nothing, and we'll cook good food for you every day!">

    Liza releases Alyona's hand and chuckles lightly to seal the joke before it gets awkward, but in truth she would accept that offer in a heartbeat. It doesn't seem so unattainable from here, though she has no doubts that she would have to work harder than this for it to be real.
    Killing an Elder, learning Japanese, her first kiss, getting the Commander to change his mind, and now having a family again... this week has truly been full of impossible wishes fulfilled, why not yet more?

  6. - Top - End - #216
    Halfling in the Playground
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    Default Re: 7 Sins IC

    The Commander's putting on a brave face, but Xiren's more than savvy enough to put two and two together. She's plenty familiar with the concept of pushing oneself too hard for those one cares about, but she's never been on the receiving end before. It's not a very pleasant sensation.

    Is this what it always feels like?

    What I said to Liza wasn't exactly wrong. I became the Commander's soldier because that was the only way I could survive. But he's different. He's... stronger than that.

    Isn't he?


    The idea that the Commander might be throwing himself into his role in the same way she throws herself into her own is... difficult to swallow. On the one hand, it means the man she's looked to for strength and solace since she arrived at Babylon, the man who she considers herself beholden to above all others, might be just as lost as she is. On the other...

    It means that I know what he's going through. I can help. Or... I can try, anyway.

    Xiren, for the first time, turns the same warm, comforting smile she uses on everyone else toward Kazuma. "Samson was blessed by the Lord with the strength of a nazirite, and even he was on the verge of death afterward. Why don't we take a break, Commander? You've given both of us the breakthrough we needed. We can spar with each other while you grab some water."

  7. - Top - End - #217
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    GreenSorcererElf

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    Spoiler: Liza
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    Alyona is immediately overwhelmed, and freezes up again. You might be a bit more than she can handle at the moment.

    "<I think you need to calm down.>" Irina replies. Her deadpan tone implies that she hasn't seen the humor. "<No one is taking this from you.>"

    "<Ah, I told you, no proposals.>" Alyona adds, trying her best to make it less awkward. There's a tinge of annoyance in her tone this time. "<Just be happy. That's enough.>"

    Alyona looks embarrassed. And in front of her mother of all people. They haven't kicked you out, at least. Still, it doesn't look like you're getting that wedding anytime soon.


    Spoiler: Xiren
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    Kazuma chuckles and drops his guard.

    "I used to have that kind of energy. Enjoy it while it lasts."

    And there it is - three for three. Everything you've asked of the commander while sparring, you've gotten. Granted, you've yet to ask for anything unreasonable, but he didn't even attempt any push back.

    But the question then is, can everyone else do it too, or is it only you he drops his guard for?
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  8. - Top - End - #218
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Griffon

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    Spoiler: Alyona
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    Liza wipes her eyes with her sleeve again, the last of her chuckles dying down but a smile still plastered on her face.

    "<Sorry, sorry. Today's been a lot; I promise I'll be better next time. Will you tell me more about the city you grew up in?>"

    Liza finishes her food calmly, without any more outbursts of laughter nor tears. She must be pretty exhausted, between experiencing so much emotion and her unrelenting training schedule this past week.

    When Irina starts yawning, Liza cleans up as much as she's allowed, then sees herself off to her own bed.

    The part of her that refuses to be satisfied is small and quiet tonight, barely noticeable through the haze of weary contentment.

    It reasserts itself through half-remembered nightmares. Terror, loss, helplessness, and burning piroshki.

  9. - Top - End - #219
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    GreenSorcererElf

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    Day nine

    As the classes continue, all of the pilots have learned something, regardless of their performance... except for Carmen, who failed to attend a single one.

    Spoiler: Xiren
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    Kazuma has arranged for your meeting with the female S2 agent, to help you learn to conceal a weapon. You haven't been given a name - only a time and place. When you arrive at the meeting place, your new instructor opens the door to let you in, then consults a group of monitors displaying the output of security cameras.

    She's wearing a sundress and sandals. Hair in a simple bun, held up with a pin. Makeup. Not an overly muscular build, but definitely athletic. If you had no prior context, you would probably assume she was a civilian.

    "The commander says he assigns equal priority to concealability and accessibility, and recommends everyone do the same. He's very skilled, but he sent you to me for a reason. You're going to prioritize concealability first. It's just a fact of our casual attire. You still need to be able to reach your weapon. Your weapon can't be on your friend, in the car, in your home, or on your boyfriend. It moves with you at all times. Your assignment for tomorrow is to bring me three of your outfits - your typical outfits. Don't pick something you think will make it easy to hide a blade. If you start dressing differently, people will notice. Speaking of which, we've never met. These lessons don't exist. If another agent asks what you're doing, say anything you have to in order to get out of the conversation, then give me the time, place, and physical description."

    Still no name.

    "Let's start you off today by teaching you how to analyze outfits to decide on a carrying location. After all, you won't always get to choose your outfit. I have four weapons concealed on my person. How many can you guess the locations of?"


    Spoiler: Ryall
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    Xiren and Kazuma make for interesting sparring partners. Gotta watch that one around the silverware now. Liza loves her rifle training, and she probably tried to steal the rifle a few times. Still, you're pretty sure you've done better overall than any of your peers in any class, and that's not just your sin talking. You put in the work, and you're seeing the results. Your instructors are seeing the results, too. Perhaps that's why, after class, Irina holds you back.

    "Lagrange, you've been selected for special AT training. This is optional, just like the classes you've been attending already. Also, I believe Director Mashimo wishes to see you."

    No details, of course. Between this and the AT Drive, they've been pretty evasive lately.


    Spoiler: Liza
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    It seems Alyona wasn't prepared for your emotional outpouring. Since the gathering, your relationship with her has been strained. She's stiffer and more cautious around you now.

    On the plus side, your Japanese has improved. It might be possible to go to engineering. One step closer to your friend, who has been squirreled away by the lead scientist.

    Hold on. Isn't that your move?


    Spoiler: Takeo
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    You've been taking note of a few things, but it's hard to tell how much of it has been useful. The smells stand out to you, though. After all, that's the only known special case.

    Xiren smells like clay.

    Liza smells like died blood and fur.

    Ryall smells like kerosene and ash.

    Carmen smells like parchment.

    Gabriel smells like the sea.

    It gets easier to notice as time goes on, to the point that you don't have to see a fellow Sin to know they're in the room.


    Spoiler: Aoba
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    Your new "Korean" agent has made landfall, and went dark for 48 hours. You monitor her instagram. She's going to Italy.

    Your cybersecurity tackles the GoL issue. Robert takes it very seriously, and uses the same phone issued to the US president. Your team knows better than to try - it would be too great a risk. What does work is monitoring security cameras and recording his texts. He's careful, but he's not perfect. You have a location. The base you're looking to hit is far inland. It's a desert location. Getting your people in isn't going to be easy. And since Robert uses a VPN, you don't have a target for their servers yet

    Jacob, however, has a much easier phone to crack. He had Bluetooth enabled, and that's all she wrote. Unfortunately, he lacks relevant information about this mission, but curiously, he's a financial prodigy. GoL invests as a nontrivial percentage of their profits, and Jacob is a valuable asset in this regard.

    Easier to tackle is the fact that Ryall has been asking questions about the AT Drive. It might be time to have that conversation with her, especially with the GoL raid coming up. More importantly, Ren now has a prototype shielded plugsuit. It might be safe to be in the same room with her, which means Mimi is going to push for more freedom soon.



    Spoiler: Mimi
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    You did it. Probably. The last prisoner didn't die. Well, not yet, and he didn't register as irradiated. You might just be able to let Ren out safely. From an information standpoint, it might not be the best idea, but comparing that to keeping her locked up...



    Spoiler: All pilots
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    One of Aoba's team sends for all of you. A mandatory meeting in the common room. There's a foreign woman with him you don't recognize.

    "Thank you for coming. I've called you all here to introduce Doctor Shara Blackford. She's a psychiatrist, and she's available for you to talk to. It's important to note that this doesn't mean we think something's wrong with you. The truth is that you've been placed in a very stressful situation, and it's normal to feel overwhelmed. Doctor? The floor is yours."

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  10. - Top - End - #220
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Planetar

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    Default Re: 7 Sins IC

    Last week was quite the learning experience for Ryall. A humbling one, at that, considering the amount of times she got KO'd whilst training with Kazuma. It took her a while, but when she finally swallowed her pride and admitted charging ahead recklessly with knives like she does in her Virtue wasn't the best idea, she made significant progress in that area. And with her hitting the range whenever she could to improve her marksmanship skills and her already being skilled enough in CQC, she has made significant strides in her progress- she's not as good as a professional soldier yet, but she's getting there.

    When Irina approached her with an offer to hone her AT abilities further, Ryall responded immediately, without any hesitation. "I would gladly do both. I was planning on meeting with the Lieutenant already, and adding more tools to my repertoire would not hurt." Internally, however, she's a bit wary about the AT Training, though not enough to reject the offer. What's their endgame here?

  11. - Top - End - #221
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Syless's Avatar

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    Spoiler: Shara
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    The seemingly western woman waves and smiles. "Nice to meet you all! Ryall, Takeo, Xiren, Liza, Gabriel, Carmen... Envy, do you like to be called that? It's what I have your name down as, but I wasn't sure if you liked using your Sin title. If any of the rest of you would like to be referred to by any other name, please, let me know as soon as possible. I want you to be completely comfortable around me. None of you are required to make appointments, but everything you say to me will be completely confidential. And if you don't want to talk, you can think of it as getting a free hour to nap, and no one will know." She winks at Carmen in particular."Ms. Mashimo is my liason with Babylon, she'll help you get scheduled with me whenever you're willing. I hope to see you all soon! Do any of you have any questions?"


    Spoiler: Aoba
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    Planning this mission will be difficult. Obviously a foot approach won't be easy. Just destroying the place would cause more problems than it would solve- especially if they have more captive Sins. Jacob is still the weak link... she needs to find out if he has access credentials. If he can be used against them more than he already is, or if he'll just be used to wedge open a door. She sends off messages to that effect- to find out whether or not Jacob has full access to the facility.

    As far as the Vatican infiltration goes... she'll just have to wait and see. Aoba crosses her fingers, hoping she didn't send a good agent to her death.

    She sees her opportunity to speak with Ryall when Dr. Blackford is introduced. Once she's said her greetings, the Lieutenant goes over to the young pilot. "Ryall, when we're done here, can you speak with me in my office?"
    Last edited by Syless; 2019-10-20 at 04:46 PM.
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  12. - Top - End - #222
    Halfling in the Playground
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    Spoiler: Concealment Training
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    Xiren stands at parade rest, though with her posture slightly more relaxed than usual, as she listens to the S2 agent's lecture. She's slightly confused by the cloak-and-dagger nature of it all, but, she reasons, a concealed weapon loses effectiveness for every person that knows you have it. And if the Commander ordered it, there must be a good reason.

    She carefully looks the agent up and down, focusing more on posture and stance than holsters or clips poking out of garments, but finds her mind... wandering.

    Alright, if I were her, where would I stash a blade? Gosh, that sundress makes her legs look nice. She's actually really well-built, now that I look closer. It'd be a shame to hide that beneath an S2 uniform. Though that has its own appeal, I guess-

    ....Wait, what?

    No no no no. For those that are of the flesh mind the things of the flesh...


    Xiren swallows hard and refocuses her attention on the task at hand. After a moment, she presents her 'findings. "...One in the small of your back, one strapped to the outer thigh of your dominant side, and one in your bra. The fourth... I'm not sure of."


    Spoiler: Aoba & Shara
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    Xiren is taken aside by Aoba and politely encouraged to make an appointment with Shara, given her encounter with the Elder during the battle. She doesn't much see the point - her conversation with the Commander cleared up any doubts she had about what happened. But her sense of responsibility outweighs her misgivings about the usefulness of a therapy session, and she reluctantly requests an appointment with Dr. Blackford.

  13. - Top - End - #223
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    Volthawk's Avatar

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    Default Re: 7 Sins IC

    The training still wasn't going too well for Takeo, given his starting point, but he still keeps going with it. To some degree, it is working, but he doesn't expect to be a match for a serious fighter any time soon.

    Still, at least his other project was going better, and that was quite evident to him when he meets the therapist with the other pilots - now he'd noticed their individual smells, it was quite hard to not notice them, and with all the pilots arriving here and being together, the individual scents combined into something that was strange and wouldn't usually be at all considered a nice smell, but was nonetheless something Takeo quite liked experiencing. Even if the smell itself wasn't particularly enjoyable, the connotations - his improved senses, the pilots all together, unity and success - were quite nice to think about. He hadn't seen Envy enough to pick out here in particular, though - he noticed something different in the combined smell, but for now he'd just have to identify them by a smell unlike the others.

    He greets the therapist with a nod, but doesn't give her much thought. He felt like there was nothing wrong, after all, and nobody has given him much reason to talk to a therapist, so he didn't see the point.

    Once he has the chance to get away from the meeting, he does so, thinking of something much more interesting to look into. In his spare time, Takeo had been studying theology and symbolism under the principle of knowing your enemy, and the odd details of what he'd been smelling had him wondering if there was anything more to it. It was worth a look, anyway.
    Last edited by Volthawk; 2019-10-19 at 03:40 PM.

  14. - Top - End - #224
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Griffon

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    Spoiler: Alyona
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    Liza doesn't blame Alyona for withdrawing. She laid a lot on her in their first time visiting. No regrets though, and the memory of being full of hot borscht in a safe house keeps her mood high for the rest of the weekend.
    All it'll take is some time and casual distance... and maybe no more emotional outbursts until they're on more intimate terms.

    Liza continues to greet Alyona and make smalltalk in passing, but doesn't go out of her way to find her, nor press her to talk at length. She does pick up a cute journal while she's grocery shopping (on clearance!) and gives it to Alyona without fanfare during one coincidental meeting.


    Spoiler: Akari
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    After experiencing the incredible healing and morale-boosting powers of a good homestyle meal, Liza starts thinking about how she could provide that for the other pilots too. Russian food is definitely her specialty, but she's a quick learner and already started trying some local and cross-cultural dishes. Japanese ingredients will be the easiest to procure here, and she still needs to properly pay Takeo back for crashing into him and dirtying his clothes at the gala...

    After Akari's class one day, Liza hangs back while the others are leaving. If anyone else sticks around, she'll make up a question about the judo forms Akari is teaching her, but her real goal is...

    "Instructor! Can you tell me Takeo's favorite food? Maybe something you or his mother made for him as a child? He did something nice for me, so I want to surprise him in return, if it's possible."


    Spoiler: Shara
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    Liza immediately mistrusts this new adult thrown into their midst. There's no way she's letting a shrink inside her head.
    Adults are powerful, but predictable and easy to handle once you learn what's important to them and how they react to things. Someone like this, though, who wants to be trusted and confided in, but only answers to the people who're trying to control and oppress you...
    Getting involved with someone like that is just asking for trouble.

    Even so, there's no doubt that some of the pilots might find value in having a professional listener to talk to. Liza won't discount the possibility herself, as a last resort or a potential advantage, once she finds out what that might be. For now, she'll just keep an eye on the pilots who do see the shrink, and call them out if they start acting strangely or threatening her family's cohesion.

    She'll hand around the periphery during the mandatory meeting, and slip away as soon as everyone's dismissed.


    Later in the week, once she's had some time to get used to the new person - or, more importantly, the idea of her - it's easier to start thinking of potential opportunities despite the risks. For one, here's another adult accessible to her who's taken a wildly different career path from Ms. Kuznestov or Mr. Murayama.

    Ah... Is it that I would prefer us Sins to confide in each other instead of relying on a stranger? Even if it's selfish, I'm sure someone like Xiren and I could handle it instead of that woman...

    In a situation like this, with the kind of person Liza's gauged Ms. Blackford to be presenting herself as, it's probably better to get things in the open. There's no way she can outplay a psychiatrist at mind games, so she'll test her reactions instead.

    Liza waits for Shara in the quiet hallway that Shara usually takes during her lunch hour. Leaning against the wall with her arms and legs crossed, looking out of the corner of her eye without raising her head. It's a pretty obvious defensive posture, and the crossed legs mean she doesn't intend to move - whether to leave or to cause trouble.

    "Dr. Blackford. I'll be clear: I don't trust you, and it's not your fault. Your placement here changed the social atmosphere. Change is dangerous, until it's ordinary... or so I think. Answer my questions, and if I believe you I'll let you off the hook. Why did you take this job? What are the Sins to you? When it comes to one of us or a commanding officer, whose side will you take?"

    Liza turns her head slightly toward her target to get a better view of her. She's not counting on honest answers; they'll almost definitely be the ones she thinks Liza wants to hear. Instead, Liza's looking for any hints of insincerity, anxiety, or raw emotion. She's no expert, but it'll give her more information than she had to pin down what kind of person has been forced into her pilots' lives.


    Spoiler: Engineering
    Show
    Liza finally got through her latest Japanese textbook cover to cover. She still has a long ways to go for fluency, but she can at least communicate more or less accurately and observe - or deliberately eschew - basic courtesy. The engineering textbook she got from Irina is another matter, but once Liza got through the first couple chapters with about 70% comprehension, she figured it'd be better to learn hands-on. No point in being subtle now! Off to engineering!

    "Excuse meeee! Liza <Petrovnya>, reporting for duty! Lt.Com. Kuznestov recommended me for an internship here?"

  15. - Top - End - #225
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    GreenSorcererElf

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    Spoiler: Ryall
    Show
    Irina sends you to engineering, and engineering sends you down a special elevator under guard. It takes a while to get down - long enough to think about how hard it must have been to put a facility this far underground in Japan.

    Once you're all the way down, you're very strictly escorted. No Willy Wonka tour today. You're led into a room setup similarly to a private room in an intensive care ward. At least, that's what it looks like, with the bed and the huge amount of equipment. A single scientist is waiting for you. After your escort leaves, he introduces himself.

    "Greetings, Ms. Lagrange. My name is Haruaka Sato. We want to do an experimental procedure with you. Simulations suggest that this will work, but I want you to be fully informed before asking you to agree. The AT training you're to undergo will be atypical, in the sense that you won't be in the Virtue. You see, AT abilities require two key elements: the Sin, and the Virtue core. But there is an alternative. Angels. I'm proposing that we, to simplify the description, infuse you with the remains of the Elder core, along with a colony of nanites. This should allow you to access the core element of the equation without the Virtue. But there are caveats. This has never been done before. We will take precautions to protect you and ourselves, but I cannot promise you, or I, for that matter, will be completely safe. Also, you can never tell anyone about this. This is the highest level of classification. I understand if you need time to think about this, but if you do agree, once we start, we cannot cancel the procedure. It would be too dangerous."


    Spoiler: Xiren
    Show
    The agent offers a playful smirk.

    "You're a natural.

    She pulls the pin, letting her hair down and revealing a silver plated bodkin. It would make for a rather nasty spike to get stuck with.

    "You're probably going to be using a four inch blade for the knife or knives you hide. Take this one, for instance."

    She turns around to show exactly where she hid the knife at the small of her back as she draws it. Her dress has been modified to have a secret holster built in. The knife is shorter than what Kazuma had you training with, but definitely easier to hide.

    "This is typical for what I recommend. You also want to conserve space when it comes to the holster." Hiking up her dress on one side, she reveals and removes the holster, then hands it to you. "Now, think about your own outfit. What are your options?"


    Spoiler: Takeo
    Show
    Some of these jump out at you, when you consider the demons associated with the sins. Lilith, the demon of lust, is said to have been make of the same clay that Adam was. The sin of avarice has been described as Mammon being carried up from Hell by a wolf. Lucifer, the demon of pride, was often personified as a male figure bearing a torch. The parchment and sea, though... those might require more research.


    Spoiler: Liza
    Show

    Spoiler: Alyona
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    Alyona receives the diary, and stares at it for a moment.

    "<Oh, thank you, Liza. Good thing you're not Japanese. I bow, but I don't want to.>"

    Irina definitely taught her to respect Japanese culture, but parts of it can be exhausting.


    Spoiler: Akari
    Show
    "You're a good kid, you know that? Fatty tuna sushi is probably what you want to surprise him with. Uh... don't bring up his mom around him, alright? It's a touchy subject."

    Akari doesn't seem to be too uncomfortable with your question, but it does give her pause.


    Spoiler: Engineering
    Show
    The first engineer you meet practically trips over his own feet when he stops to talk to you.

    "Oh! You speak Japanese! I, uh, I thought we'd have several months longer." He chuckles nervously. "Okaaaaaay... you're a visual learner! I think. That's great! Uh... follow me please. Let's get you in a lab environment."



    Spoiler: Aoba
    Show
    With Jacob's email login, one of your team thinks he can do privilege escalation attacks and traverse the network. Another member of your team warns that the email server might be isolated, and you might be looking at a dead end. He advises you look for other options, as the current attack will take time to succeed or fail.
    Spoiler: Active characters
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  16. - Top - End - #226
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    Spoiler: Shara
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    "Those are the right questions to ask, Liza. I took this job because I'm doubly qualified as a therapist and a psychiatrist, I already had some security clearance, and you seven are the most important teenagers in Japan. It was a chance to help in a very focused way. But that said, you're still teenagers- and you have an impossible burden put upon you. I want you to be able to still be kids while you can, and if I can keep you functioning while not letting go of your youth, I'll feel like I've done my job. And my job is to help you. Everything you tell me is confidential, and if my options are manipulate you to keep you in the fight or push for you to get leave, I will do the latter without hesitation. The commander himself could try and interfere in your care and I would say no. And I made sure I had that right as a medical professional."


    Spoiler: Aoba
    Show
    They need a secondary plan... and she has another idea. This one is even more dangerous, but... she needs information she doesn't have. She requests clearance on how to identify a Sin. And how many agents they have who could pass for Sin age.
    Last edited by Syless; 2019-10-20 at 04:45 PM.
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  17. - Top - End - #227
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Spoiler: Aoba
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    There are a startling number of agents who can pass for teenagers. This request might have been harder outside of Japan. It's a lot to review, but at least it will allow you to focus on their skills.

    Identifying as Sins is going to prove more difficult. Kazuma clears your request, but reminds you that GoL has been identifying Sins Babylon hasn't. Babylon uses a complex system of algorithms and machine learning to pick Sins out based on seemingly mundane data. This can be easily manipulated, but there's one possible untapped resource: Ren Tanaka. She has offered Mimi full cooperation with everything she knows. You're not Mimi, but if you can gain the trust of someone with little to spare...

    Spoiler: Active characters
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  18. - Top - End - #228
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    Spoiler: Aoba
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    Having a long list of candidates is excellent. Preferably someone who excels in stealth- it's more important that they not stay captured than anything. Aoba doesn't want to just send someone in to die and be a beacon. Someone who can escape a cell if properly equipped.

    And then... she sends a message to Kazuma. To request a meeting with Ren Tanaka.
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  19. - Top - End - #229
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    Spoiler: Takeo
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    Fatty tuna, huh? It'll be expensive no matter what, but if she can get the smallest amount on sale and stretch it with other things...


    Liza's been in Japan long enough that she's starting to form connections among the local grocers. Not much, yet, but she's learning who will give her an extra discount or freebies depending on whether she smiles and winks, or haggles earnestly, or lets them chatter at her, or gives them a good view... What days things are close to expiration or being pushed out for the incoming delivery, or when things are so busy that she can 'forget' to pay...

    In short, she's able to procure a nice selection of seafood, meat, eggs, and vegetables with less difficulty than she's used to, and spends her scant free time that week practicing on her stock for her own meals until she's confident that she can produce a cute and well-balanced boxed lunch.

    She'll bring her masterpiece to Takeo at the end of that Friday's afternoon classes: seasoned white rice, a few choice pieces of tuna sashimi and shrimp tempura, two halves of a sausage cut and boiled into octopus shapes, all decorated with an assortment of fresh and pickled vegetables cut into stars and animal shapes. It's all quite childish, but the earnest effort that went into it might be cute in its own way.

    "Here, here! I want you to eat it! Consider it making out for hitting on you at the gala! I thought, 'Ms. Akari must not have time to cook anymore', so I tried! Is it good?"


    Spoiler: Engineering
    Show
    Liza nearly skips along after the engineer, several times narrowly avoiding tables and door frames as she tries to take in everything at once.

    "What kind of lab? Do you have a name? What do you do here? Is this where you keep the robots?"

    She's so out of it that when her hand unconsciously reaches for a candy bowl on a passing desk, she knocks it over entirely! Her reverie turns to a panic, not really freeing her from her instincts, so a few pieces end up in her pockets even as she scrambles to clean it up and apologize in a breathless rush.


    Spoiler: Shara
    Show
    There's a long silence after Shara finishes.

    Finally, Liza sighs and stands to leave.

    "...Fine, I'll accept you for now. Don't let me regret it."

    That woman sounded so sincere, gave no hint of deception... Liza can see no reason not to trust Dr. Blackford.

    That frightens her.

  20. - Top - End - #230
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    Spoiler: Aoba and Ryall
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    Ryall walks into Aoba's office with some trepidation, knocking on the door when she finally arrives there.

    Aoba is digging through data on her computer when Ryall walks in- but she turns off the monitor upon seeing the pilot. "Ryall, it's good to see you. Please, close the door and sit down?"

    Ryall takes a seat as instructed, making sure she's sitting upright. "Lieutenant. What did you want to talk about?"

    Aoba puts a hand on her chin as if to think. "...Ryall, what do you think of Guns of Liberty?"

    "I don't trust them one bit. Their representative and his son both rub me the wrong way for different reasons, and from what I can tell, the AT Drive is an elaborate way to get me killed. Why are you asking me this?"

    "Well. I can safely tell you the AT Drive is not an elaborate way to get you killed. But that's because we have learned what it is, and that is... monstrous." She takes a deep breath. "The AT Drive is... powered... by another Sin. Her name is Ren Tanaka. We don't know exactly how they did it, and we don't want to. Instead, I want to shut down whatever GoL facility is responsible for this atrocity, and use the leverage to ensure they never do anything this terrible or we will throw them under the bus."

    Ryall could feel her blood run cold when she hears what Aoba was saying. She tries to open her mouth, but only manages to eke out a weak "...what? How? Why?" due to the shock. Is... this what they meant what they said "one of us?"

    "Like I said. We don't know. GoL has just proven that ethics are nothing to them if it gets results. And we... we are not willing to cross that line. We can win without making ourselves monsters." She sighs. "You needed to know this. You would have figured it out the moment you interacted with the AT drive, even if Ren weren't visible. I want you to keep this secret, but at the same time... Ren is alive. And aware. She's just... highly radioactive. If we can make it safe... we want to introduce her to you. To the Sins. She should be one of you- and she should have the choice whether or not she wants to fight, the same as the rest of you."

    Ryall nods, breathing heavily. "....I would like to meet her as soon as possible. I just... I can't believe this. Even in my wildest ideas and theories, I never would've guessed that the Guns of Liberty would've ever stooped this low." To hell with them.

    "I'll try and get you clearance as soon as I can. I haven't met with her yet myself, and I have some... important questions to ask her. But I think she'll be happy to have some friends her own age."

    "Are you already working to find out who's responsible for this?"

    "Of course. We plan on learning everything about the project so we can completely destroy it."

    "You better." At this point, it's become clear that Ryall's holding back her anger at the situation.

    Aoba puts a hand on Ryall's shoulder. "I'll tell you what. If we end out taking the extreme option and bombing a GoL facility, I'll try and convince the Commander to let you push the button."

    Ryall slightly relaxes at what Aoba's saying, but she's still tense. "Thanks."

    "We're of the same mind on this, trust me. I'll do whatever it takes to see Robert brought to justice, and to ensure nothing like this happens again."

    Ryall nods, then falls silent for a while before speaking up again. "...Anything else you wanted to talk about?"

    Aoba looks away. "...don't bottle this up inside. Talk to someone. Talk to Shara. If you aren't comfortable with her, talk to me. If you aren't comfortable with that, then just... wait a little longer. Until we can tell the other pilots. Then talk to them. Just know you're not alone."

    "...I see."
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  21. - Top - End - #231
    Halfling in the Playground
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    Spoiler: Cry for Judas
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    Xiren is the first pilot to arrange a session with Shara. A time is set soon, and when Xiren enters, she finds Shara waiting, a tablet in her hand.

    Xiren steps in, somewhat stiffly, and stands near the door with her hands behind her back and her back straight, seemingly waiting for permission to sit down. "Good morning, Dr. Blackford. I-" She chuckles awkwardly and relaxes her posture. "I'm sorry if I seem awkward, this whole thing is a bit new to me. May I sit down?"

    Shara nods and gestures to the various seating in her room- there's a plush recliner, a classical therapy couch, a big cushioned couch... interestingly, there's enough room to seat seven comfortably.

    "Wherever you like. What would you like me to call you by? Xiren, Ms. Hua? ...Lust? I want to make sure you're comfortable from the beginning."

    Xiren seems caught off guard by this question. It's possible she's never been asked it before. "Just Xiren, please. Being called by my Sin is still a bit strange for me." She sits down to one side of the large couch.

    Shara nods and jots it down on her tablet. "I'm keeping notes for my own sake, but no one else will have access to them, if you're worried. Even if Babylon has parental rights, they don't have access to these medical records. So... is there something specific on your mind? Or would you like to help me understand who you are in general?"

    Xiren makes a dismissive gesture. "I'm not worried. A commanding officer has every right to information about their soldiers. As for why I'm here... Well, frankly, I made an appointment because I was told it was a good idea." She smiles thinly. "I'm sure they briefed you on the battle with the Elder. I had an... encounter... with it. I think they're worried it's been weighing on me."

    Shara shakes her head. "They didn't brief me on it. I asked for as little background as possible- I want to hear it from you, not from what the analysts have put in a report. So tell me, Xiren, what happened in the battle?"

    "The Elder reached into my mind and tried to tempt me to embrace my Sin."

    "Your sin... how so? What did it say?"


    "It.... asked me why I was denying my 'true self'. Told me that the other pilots weren't really my friends."

    Shara jots down more notes. "What do you think of the other pilots? Do you think you're friends?"

    Almost imperceptibly, Xiren's hands tighten around themselves in her lap. "I'd like to think that Liza and Ryall consider me a friend. The rest are more like acquaintances." She shrugs. "We don't need to be friends, really, so long as we have unit cohesion."

    "You say you don't need to be. But do you want to be?"

    "I'm... not sure. I want them... I want people... to like me. So I guess so."


    "Why is that?"

    Xiren chuckles a bit. "What sort of question is that? Doesn't everyone want to be liked by others?"

    "You'd be surprised. Not everyone cares. And even for the people who do, there are different reasons. So I'm curious. Does being liked make you happy? Or do you feel bad if you aren't?"

    It's rather less imperceptible, now. "...It's not a question of happiness. It's what I have to do. It's what's expected of me."

    "Who expects it of you?"

    "The Commander. Ms. Kuznetsov. The Lieutenant. Even the other pilots are counting on me. I'm one of the public faces of Babylon. I was brought here to be liked. If I can't accomplish that, what good am I?"

    "You've already done more than anyone could possibly expect of you. You helped take down an elder, something no one has managed. You could retire tomorrow and you'd still go into history books as a hero. Everything you do adds to your legacy, it's not a bare minimum."

    "Isn't it?" Shara doesn't know Xiren well enough to realize it, but the expression on her face is so abnormal that it might cause serious alarm. Her brow is furrowed and her lips upturned in a joyless smile, the very picture of a contemptuous smirk. "Tell me, if I decided tomorrow I wasn't going to pilot anymore, what would happen to me?"

    "You'd be given a chance to return to a normal life. You wouldn't have your Babylon paycheck, but you could go to a normal high school, just with a great deal of celebrity. You wouldn't be disavowed. I'm not going to lie and say everyone would approve of your decision, but you still have one. You're a child, not a conscript."

    Xiren starts to laugh; a low, hollow sound that fills the room and hangs heavily as she begins to speak, softly, staring at the beige carpet. "...'Return to my normal life'...? Childhood? High school? What in God's name are you talking about? Everyone who ever knew me before I came here is dead. When Babylon found me, I was starving to death in the refugee camps in Fukuoka. Do you really consider that a choice? Of course I'm a conscript. My childhood died the day the Elders came, and pretending otherwise doesn't do anything but make me grieve the past." Xiren's leaning forward in her chair, fists clenched. "I'm a soldier, Ms. Blackford. A good one. Don't insult my intelligence by pretending otherwise."

    Shara seems to be genuinely hurt by Xiren's later words. "Even if you didn't have it before, you could have it now. You've earned it. They wouldn't just dump you in a refugee camp again. But.... do you want to be a soldier, Xiren?"

    "Stop pretending you care what I want! You're not here to help me get what I want. You're here to make sure me and the other pilots are battle-ready. You're a mechanic with a wrench, making sure all the gears of the Commander's war machine are turning smoothly." Perhaps realizing what she's just said, Xiren lapses into silence for several long moments. "...No... that's.... not right." Tears begin welling up at the corners of her eyes. "I've said a few terrible things to you, haven't I? I apologize."

    Shara takes a box of tissues from a table next to her and hands it to Xiren as she starts to tear up. "I can understand why you'd think that. But I promise. That's not why I'm here. I don't want to be a soldier. I'm here as a medical professional, I'm here for your health. I couldn't get all the privileges I pushed for, but... I'm still here to advocate for you before everything else. But you don't have to apologize. You've said what you genuinely think. I don't want you holding anything back. I want you to be completely honest."

    Xiren takes the box of tissues with an awkward but grateful smile through the tears. She allows herself the ability to just cry for a bit before speaking again in a small and, ironically, rather childish tone of voice. "You won't... tell him I said that... right?"

    Shara stays quiet while Xiren cries, wanting to let her just process. "I won't tell anyone anything. Everything here is just between us. Anything you want anyone to know, I'm here to encourage you to tell them yourself."

    "...Right. That was sort of a silly question, I guess. For the record, I don't actually think that about him. I just... My mouth gets ahead of my brain sometimes." Xiren sniffles. "That's one of the reasons I don't put much stock in what I want. When I want things, that's how it tends to end up."

    "You're allowed to want things, Xiren. Everyone wants things, and everyone pursues what they want. Even the Commander has wants."

    "Perhaps, but the unrestricted pursuit of want is the path to sin."

    "Do you not trust yourself to show judgement in what's healthy to pursue?"

    "Not really, no."

    "Why is that? Have you ever made what you consider mistakes in the past?"

    "Hasn't everyone? But I'm less worried about the past than I am the future. It hasn't escaped my notice that all the Sins were chosen for a reason. Ryall is prideful, Carmen is lazy, Liza takes everything she can... I'm not stupid enough to think that my faith makes me immune to falling into sin. And it seems like every day it gets just a little bit harder not to."

    "What is it you want that you're so scared of?"

    "Do I really need to say it? ...Ah, but you want to hear it in my own words, of course. Then: Attention. I wasn't lying earlier when I said I never had a choice to be what I am, but being at the center of everyone's attention is... intoxicating." Xiren blushes a bit. "Actual intimacy is even worse. It makes me feel like I'm drowning, and if I don't fight to keep my head above water I'm going to be pulled down into... well, Lust, I guess."

    Shara smiles. "You're a teenager, Xiren. Lust is natural. It doesn't make you any worse. I'm sure the other pilots all have similar desires."

    "You think my Sin is just a coincidence, then?"


    "You just said you like being the center of attention. Doesn't that make you proud? You got angry at me earlier. Isn't that wrathful? Lust may suit you better than any of the others. But to be human is to have desires. Letting yourself follow them isn't the same as being lost to them."

    "...I suppose there's some truth to that. But how do you tell when you're lost?"


    "That's why you surround yourself with people you trust. People who can see you from the outside. People who can tell you if you're drifting. It's one of the reasons I'm here, in fact."


    "You're right. People can't live without other people. Me especially." Xiren sits up straight and sets the box of tissues down next to her on the sofa. Though it's not particularly convincing, she smiles at Shara. "Thank you, Dr. Blackford. And... I'm sorry again for the outburst. May I come here again, if I need to?"

    Shara nods. "Always. The only time I won't be available is if I'm with another pilot. My work number will be available at all other times, if I'm not in my office."

    "I appreciate that." Xiren shakes Shara's hand, a bit awkwardly, and then moves to the door, but pauses with her hand on the knob. "Oh, and Doctor? Maybe don't try this approach with Carmen. If she embraces her Sin any more I'm pretty sure she'll literally starve to death."

    Shara smiles. "Noted. Have a wonderful day, Xiren."
    Last edited by velvetWing; 2019-10-20 at 01:50 PM.

  22. - Top - End - #232
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    Spoiler: Aoba
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    Your top two choices couldn't buy alcohol for themselves without their ID. Kagemori Inoue's talent is interesting - he does voices, male and female, well enough to fool voice recognition software. Aimi Kimura is a crafter. She can make a tool or weapon in the most unforgiving situations. Otherwise, they're both very competent agents.

    Ren Tanaka is being kept far underground. No surprise, of course - there's so much that can go wrong here. The room she's being kept in is fairly bare. Other than a wheelchair and a bed, she has no amenities. You can see her through the monitor, and talk to her through the speakers, but you're advised to not enter the room. Her plugsuit seems to work so far, but very little testing has been done, relative to the danger. Of course, no one here has the authority to stop you.


    Spoiler: Liza
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    "Oh, me? I'm Eisuke Iida. First thing I'm going to do is teach you how to use a lab book in simple experiments. Observe and record! Most important part of science!"

    The lab has several boxes of integrated circuits and prototyping boards. Eisuke hands you a hardcover notebook.

    "Write in pen only. Never tear out a page or cross out an idea. It's okay to be wrong. Being wrong is vital in science. Write down what you tried and what happened every step of the way. Okay, let's do some simple experiments."

    Spoiler: Active characters
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  23. - Top - End - #233
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    Default Re: 7 Sins IC

    After all that training, Takeo's glad to see the food Liza's offering, smiling as he remembers her promise of cooking for him and sees both her excellent choice of dish and the effort she put into it.

    Liza's words, however, take up more of his attention, the logical explanation and likely mixed up words not at all crossing his mind as he tries to understand an area of human interaction that until recently hadn't taken up much of his thoughts. "Oh, um, thanks! It looks good. So, er...you were really hitting on me in the gala? I mean, there's that and this and everything that happened when we talked during the shoot..." Takeo doesn't finish the line of thought, trying some of the food in a not very well hidden attempt to mask his confusion and awkwardness about this. It's pretty good cooking, though.
    Blake avatar by Cuthalion

  24. - Top - End - #234
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    Aoba isn't sure of the best way to go about this. She's just another Sin, right? I mean... one who's been put through something even worse, but... maybe that's the best approach? She presses the button to communicate. "Ren? Um, hello. I'm Lieutenant Aoba Mashimo. I'm in charge of, among other things, coordinating the Sins, and since you're one of us now, I wanted to say hi. I can't say I can even imagine what it's like, but... how are you?"
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  25. - Top - End - #235
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    Spoiler: Aoba
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    Ren turns her wheelchair toward the camera when you speak. Besides the plugsuit to replace her tattered clothing, she has also been provided glasses and a hairband. It's a notable overall improvement from the pictures you saw, but it would be impossible to mistake her for normal.

    "Well... I killed people who were trying to rescue me, just by being in the same room. But I think I can be useful for research. Maybe... I mean, it won't make up for it, but I can at least help save others from angelic auras. So... I'm not doing great, but I'm doing better than I was."

    Ren's attempt at being glib falls flat. She's clearly unhappy, but her circumstances are extreme.
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  26. - Top - End - #236
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    Aoba really isn't sure how to progress here. She's not Shara. "I'm... alright. Worried about you. What happened to you is... wrong in every possible way. And I want to stop it from happening to anyone else, and maybe see if we can find a way to undo it... so... anything you can tell me might be helpful. About how you were found, about where you were, about what happened to you. And if not... I understand. There's nothing contingent on this. I still want to try and introduce some pilots to you. One in particular already knows about you and would like to meet."
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  27. - Top - End - #237
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    "If I can be useful in some way... She averts her gaze. "Um... sorry. I'm sure your time is more valuable than my own. I spent most of my life in Okayama - right on the coast. My angelic encounter happened when I was thirteen, right around the rapture. There was an accident. I was in the back seat, and time stopped. I had an out of body experience. This... abomination appeared. It spoke with a woman's voice. It told me that I had a choice: I could unfasten my seatbelt, and be killed in the crash, or I could do nothing, and end up crippled. I chose to do nothing. When I told people this, they wouldn't believe me. Eventually, I stopped trying. They found me... I don't know how long ago. Time gets funny when... when you're... well, it was after Babylon was formed - I was fifteen. I got called out of class. Two men with suits had a newspaper clipping, about the accident. They were asking if that was me. Then they flew me to the states. It was a private flight and airstrip. I don't think they wanted anyone to find me."

    Ren turns her chair, facing away from the camera now.

    "There were seventeen Sins in my group. I don't know how many groups there are, but they referred to us as the 'core candidates'. They pumped us full of radiation, drugs, all to put our synch ratios through the roof. The rest of my group is dead. To be clear, I don't think I'm the best - just the one who got 'lucky'. Eventually they turned me into a... they called me a 'synthetic core'."

    Ren suddenly turns to face the camera again. She's crying, but her body can't properly process it. The capillaries in her eyes don't swell as expected, and you're not sure if the fluid is even saline.

    "Wait! I have a family in Japan still! My mother is Kazue Tanaka, and my father is Gendo Tanaka. I have a little sister named Momoko. Please, you have to contact them. You're not going to save me, but they shouldn't have to suffer not knowing if I'm alive or dead. I... sorry, sorry. I don't have the right to demand anything from you. Okay. I, um, I was taken to this desert area. The base was isolated, huge, they had a lot of guards. Tasers only. Some of us tried to escape. But they didn't want us dead. They needed us for their experiments."

    Finally, some good news. They might have an armory, but if they use only tasers by default, they're going to get slaughtered in the raid.
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  28. - Top - End - #238
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    Aoba ponders. No workable information in how to get an artificial Sin infiltrated... she didn't know how they were found. But this is a data pool. She grabs a notepad. "We'll figure out the best thing to tell your parents that won't, well, cause things to spiral out of control... I'd rather not say you're dead, since you aren't, but they can't know what happened to you. Not yet. They're civilians. In the meantime... how many names do you remember? Of your group? If we can research all of them, find out what they might have in common that Babylon couldn't find... we might be able to get in and stop them."

    So far the only real option is a brute force infiltration, which they might not be prepared for... but that would leave them with a lot of hostages as leverage. A shame EM tech hasn't advanced... being able to shut down the base would provide a great many advantages. Infiltration is still preferred, but it depends on what they can find out with Ren's information. "And... is there anything we can get you to make you more comfortable?"
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  29. - Top - End - #239
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    GreenSorcererElf

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    Ren looks at her hands, thinking about this for a moment.

    "There was... I guess only full names will help you right now. I remember Genta. Genta Daiju. He was the last one to die. He said his encounter was a visit from Cassiel to make him stop bullying younger kids to take their stuff. It worked, I guess. Genta was the kindest, most genuine person I've ever met, and they..." Ren runs her fingers through her hair, her breath hitching in her throat. "Um... I think he was the only other Japanese Sin there. There were a few Americans, other people who spoke English. That's why I was so confused when Ms. Nijima started speaking Japanese. I'd done my English studies. You know that - we've all done it. Some of us cared more than others. I'd always wished I'd had some use for it... well, I got it, didn't I? Um... Rebecca Woodward. She wouldn't tell us about her encounter. She was a wrath, though. Jesus Martinez. Apparently 'Jesus' is a common boy's name in Mexico. He was a pride. He didn't last long enough for me to learn about his encounter, but he said they picked him up because everyone knew he was close to god. Yeah. I remember some first names, if that helps. I wish I could be more useful."

    She completely ignored your question about making her more comfortable. You might not be a therapist, but you've worked with these kids long enough to make an educated guess - she doesn't think she deserves it.
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  30. - Top - End - #240
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    Aoba frowns. So... they'll take anyone who seems to have a divine experience that Babylon hadn't found. So... a plant should be easy. Place an agent somewhere out of the way. Hokkaido, maybe. Get them to spread their story. Maybe fake a few social networking posts about it... maybe even see if we can get it somewhere Jacob's feeds might notice. See how long it takes them to bite. We just need to be sure the agent has high-quality tracking and communications, so they can report back and be found when the team goes in to get the Sins. She jots down notes for the mission to be available exclusively to Kazuma. They still need to be ready with a strike team to enter quickly, even if it's not needed. See how many people can be spared to be kept on idle, once their fake Sin is taken.

    And now... for the girl in front of her. "Thank you. That's very helpful. But... you must be bored in there. I can make sure you have a liaison to put on TV for you, or get you a collection of books... anything so at the very least, you'll have entertainment."
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