The Order of the Stick: Utterly Dwarfed
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Thread: 7 Sins IC

  1. - Top - End - #241
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    GreenSorcererElf

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    Spoiler: Aoba
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    Ren nods. "I'm glad. Things... I've never really had many things I wanted. Experiences, people, that's what I love. I met a lust there. God, she was gorgeous, but I didn't want to be with her. I wanted to be her. I wanted to hear about her life. I guess this is a really roundabout way of asking... can you tell me a story?"

    You might not be able to entertain her all day, but a few books wouldn't hurt.
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  2. - Top - End - #242
    Halfling in the Playground
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    Xiren taps her finger against her lips as she considers her own outfit - and regrets not thinking to wear something with more nooks and crannies to hide things in. "Well, I could tuck a knife into one of my boots. Or strap it to the underside of the heel, if it were a small one. I could sew a holster into the inside of my back waistband, as long as it was kept horizontal. My cardigan's pretty thin, but the fabric's thicker near the seams. There'd be space to hide something there. My bra's probably too thin to hide a blade in comfortably... I should get some with underwire... but I could still hide something in my hair like you did, if I put it up."

  3. - Top - End - #243
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    Spoiler: Xiren
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    "The boot is always good when you can pull it off. Most shoulder holsters are designed for men, so the handle is going to ride up around your armpit. I can get you one made with us in mind. Let's practice getting you to strap up, move around with it, and get a positive draw."

    Your instructor proves to be very observant, and hands on. For the next hour, she's there for inspection, correction, demonstration, theory, and answering your questions. Before you leave, she promises to teach you how to modify outfits to help you conceal your weapon tomorrow.
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  4. - Top - End - #244
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    Spoiler: Engineering
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    "Never throw anything away? You're speaking my language as good as I'm speaking yours!"

    Liza follows Eisuke's instructions and her experiments with rapt attention. She doesn't really understand what's going on, in a physical sense, but she starts building a stories in her mind that make it surprisingly easy to keep track of the phenomena she's observing. She can envision the circuits as streets and back alleys, and soon finds herself with a particular eye for ways to bypass and deliberately break the "intended" flow of traffic. That's bound to come in useful next time she meets an electronic lock...

    There's a limit to how long purely theoretical exercises can hold Liza's interest, however. As soon as they take a break, her attention wanders beyond the room's walls.

    "Hey hey, Mr. Iida, when can I look at the Virtue weapons? Lt.Com. Kuznestov directed me here so that... a person who uses the weapons... would help... to make them the best!"

    Her glow of pride over her work with the lab book is reinforced by how she composed such a complex sentence without breaking it down. By next week, she'll be able to do that without pauses!


    Spoiler: Takeo
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    Takeo's response makes Liza even more flustered than he is; he can watch her turning as red as a pickled radish.

    "Eh? ...Eeeeeh?! I-I made a pass at you at the gala? Then v-various things happened...?! I-I mean, if those are your feelings..."
    She squirms cutely and her voice rose an octave, like a schoolgirl in an anime. Did she pick up mannerisms from watching cartoons...?
    "...I don't hate... those feelings..."

    Her words and actions are sincere, but as the scene unfolds and she starts to catch up to her brain, she likes where it's going from a tactical perspective as well. If she's already made two of the Sins care about her, and nearly has Alyona too... She might not be worthless garbage after all. Lust's confidence, Wrath's resolve...

    Next time Takeo steals a glance at her, she looks up to meet his gaze. Her eyes are big and watery, expressing something between pleading and hunger. Will he reach out to answer her feelings, or will she need to be more aggressive here too...?

  5. - Top - End - #245
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    Spoiler: Martyr Complex
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    Ryall's first session is arranged not long after Xiren's ends. When she enters, she sees Shara sitting in a comfy looking chair holding a tablet, while there's a wide array of seating around the room. "Please, take a seat. What do you like being referred to as, Ryall?"

    "...just Ryall is fine, I guess," she says, as she takes the seat that's closest to Shara's.

    She nods and takes notes on her tablet. "Just so you know, everything I write is completely confidential, only I have access to them. Despite holding legal parental rights, Babylon cannot interfere with your care. So... is there something in particular you'd like to talk about? Or should we just lay the groundwork for future sessions?"

    Ryall opens her mouth before closing it, hesistates a bit, and then speaks up. "Laying the groundwork is fine by me. I just want to get this over with as soon as possible."

    "Oh? Ryall, you know this isn't mandatory, right? Just encouraged? If you don't want to be here, or don't want to talk, it's perfectly fine."

    "...correction, there is one thing I wanted to talk to you about. Does the name 'Ren Tanaka' ring any bells?"


    "Ren Tanaka?" She furrows her brow. "No, I can't say I kno anyone by that name. Should I?"

    So Aoba didn't tell her about the AT Core? "She's... part of the AT Core project spearheaded by the Guns of Liberty. The main power source, in fact. She was experimented on. I don't know to which extent, but considering the Lieutenant says that she's highly radioactive and that it isn't safe yet to introduce her to the rest of us, I'm guessing it was agonizing."


    Shara drops her stylus and physically pales at Ryall's words. "W-what...?"

    "I-I don't know much about it, either. Only that the Guns of Liberty were behind this somehow. I thought you might've known more, but... it seems like you're just as clueless as I am,"
    Ryall answered, tone unusually soft and apologetic.
    "Could you do me a favor? I'm not even sure if you have the security clearance for it, but please, talk to her. Make sure she's okay, or at least not doing as bad as she could given what happened to her. It's your job, right? I... " This is partially my fault, isn't it?

    She nods. "I... I have clearance to know anything you do. And... if she's as badly off as you say... I'll ask for permission to work with her as well. Ms. Mashimo knows? I'll go to her." She starts to regain her composure. "...but that's for later. For now... You're distressed by this. What do you wish you could do?"

    " want to help her, somehow make everything all right for her. But right now..." Ryall's breath hitches, "...I can't do anything."


    "That's... a natural instinct. Have you spoken to her yet?"

    Ryall shakes her head. "I couldn't even see her yet."

    "What would you say to her, if you could?"

    Ryall falls completely silent at that question, before hesitatingly answering the question.
    "I... don't... know."

    "Do you feel like she's your responsibility, somehow?"

    "...yes."

    "Why?"

    "Because... she could've been me. She could've been Xiren or Takeo or Liza if the Guns got to them first instead of her. In the end, I was assigned to test the AT Drive, so if anything happened to her, it would be my fault."

    "But you didn't. You didn't do anything, and even if you did, you didn't know. Why would that be your fault?"

    "I..."Ryall is left completely silent again at that question, unable to even make eye contact with Shara.

    "Ryall, the world isn't your burden alone to bear."

    "...can we please end this session? I just remembered I have something important to do."

    She frowns, but nods. "Of course. I hope you'll come back and see me again, Ryall. I hope I didn't let my... ignorance make a bad impression."

    "No, that wasn't a problem at all," Ryall says before she leaves the room. As she closes the door shut, she leans her back on it and sighs, her right hand clutching the weathered wallet that she always carries with her.
    "The world isn't your burden alone to bear". Yeah, right. Who else is going to bear it, then?


    Spoiler: Haruaka Sato
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    It only took Ryall a few minutes of thinking before she decided on the proposal given by the scientist. "I'm in. When do we start?"

  6. - Top - End - #246
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    Spoiler: Ryall
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    "Sooner is better, if you're ready. I need to prepare, so make yourself comfortable."

    He gestures toward the hospital bed, and begins configuring the equipment. Sensors are attached to various points on your body, and he turns on a monitor to inspect the readouts. You're fitted with an IV next, which is hooked up to a regulator. The regulator is connected to a saline bag, and a bag containing a dark blue fluid with metallic specks.

    "Once I begin introducing the nanites to your IV, we won't be able to stop the procedure until it's complete. This is your last chance to back out. Are you sure you want to do this?"

    "Yes."

    "Alright. I'm going to begin."

    Haruaka presses two buttons on the regulator, and the dark blue fluid begins to mix with the saline. It takes five minutes to have any noticeable effect.

    -----

    Your children and friends gather around you. Someone sees you, but it's too soon. You're not ready. There are too few. You send your children to deal with the intruders. An insect shatters your Gift. You can't hear your children anymore. Without your voice, they move on their primary directive. But it's too soon. They can't complete it on their own. You scream for them to return, but they're deaf to you. Only the babies, too young to go out on their own, stand by your side. You can feel your children fade to nothing, barely making it beyond the fence.

    More invaders, as you mourn the deaths of your children. They scavenge and steal the broken pieces of your Gift. They flee with their ill begotten treasure. They take part of it back to the one who broke it. But that piece has changed. Something is wrong with it now. You need to go see.

    The invaders have made many false gods, blessed with your Gift. Those constructs are the last thing you see before you lose consciousness.

    -----

    "Welcome back, Ms. Lagrange. It would appear that the experiment was a success. In the sense that neither of us are dead, anyway. How do you feel?"

    You feel like you just had your soul ripped out and crushed. Take 3d6 ego.


    Spoiler: Liza
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    "Hmm? Oh, yes, that. Yes, we do want you to do that. I just want to make sure we can understand each other first. Japanese is only part of it. Imagine... okay, prior to the 13th century, there was a common Eastern Slavic language we now call 'Old Russian'. This was before it diverged into Ukrainian and Belarusian. But now it would be completely unintelligible to someone speaking modern Russian. No, wait, that's a bad example. Um... Oh! I know! Let's say I describe something as 'large, soft, orange, and elastic'. But you don't know I care if it's elastic, so you just describe it as 'large, soft, and orange'. Now I'm missing important information because I didn't tell you how I wanted it described. That's what these exercises are for - I'm teaching you how I want things described. Make sense? Okay, okay. How about this: I'll show you a pallet gun. That's probably not going to change no matter what we find, so no pressure to get it right the first time. We can use that as practice. How does that sound?"


    Spoiler: Xiren
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    Irina catches you in the hall as you're leaving your concealed carry training session. She's always been better at connecting with the Sins than Kazuma has, but she's grown more distant lately, and not just with you. It seems like she's phoning it in with every conversation.

    "Xiren, I wished to speak with you about your training. I'm not here to scold you for not attending marksmanship - I did not expect it to interest you. But I also did not expect knife fighting to interest you. Commander Nakamura tells me you successfully convinced him to change his training methods. Might I ask how you found yourself drawn to such a thing?"

    There's something in that wooden tone. This isn't a social visit.
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  7. - Top - End - #247
    Halfling in the Playground
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    There's a cold, black pit churning in Xiren's stomach as she listens to Irina speak. She's never liked Irina much; her mask of indifferent severity is off-putting to someone who compulsively needs to know what everyone around them is feeling, and of the high-level staff she strikes Xiren as the one who views the pilots least as people and most as weapons. Except perhaps for Nijima.

    ...And because she's the closest one to the Commander. No matter how useful I am to him, she'll always be the one at his right hand. There's no point in staying in denial about it. That won't make it go away.

    Still, outwardly she smiles warmly and bows her head in acknowledgement. "Yes, I was having trouble mastering the forms, so Commander Nakamura tried a different technique. He's a very good teacher. I enjoy learning from him. And knife combat feels right, somehow. Maybe it's because Castitas uses bladed weapons. It's a bit like dancing, really." She turns her head to the side a bit and studies Irina with a more neutral expression. "If I may ask, what's your interest in this, Lieutenant Commander? Forgive me if I've misread the situation, but I don't think you're asking out of simple curiosity."
    Last edited by velvetWing; 2019-10-23 at 12:11 PM.

  8. - Top - End - #248
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    GreenSorcererElf

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    Spoiler: Xiren
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    "You are right. I asked because I am concerned. Whenever a person displays unexpected behavior, there is cause for concern. Tell me something, Xiren: if our commander took over my class, would you attend?"

    Her steely gaze doesn't leave much room for interpretation. She has dropped any pretense, but she doesn't look upset - just stern, as she usually does.
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  9. - Top - End - #249
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    Xiren presses her tongue against the inside of her cheek. How arrogant. My behavior is only unexpected because you haven't made an attempt to understand me. Your concern isn't for me, it's on behalf of the Commander. Is it even concern? Or is it jealousy? Would she realize it if it were?

    "Yes, I think I would. Is that bad, Lieutenant Commander?"

  10. - Top - End - #250
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    Spoiler: Xiren
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    Irina nods, glancing away for a moment to consider how to proceed. When she looks back at you, her expression softens a bit. But going from quartz to granite does you few favors.

    "That depends entirely on why. If you believe he is the superior instructor, no, there is nothing wrong with that. If you look up to him as a role model, again, no. If you're simply hoping to catch him shirtless?"

    She pauses to let it sink in. Irina wasn't there for that class, but it's not hard to imagine how she found out.

    "It will only become a problem if you act upon an impulse. You're so young, Xiren. And maybe you don't expect to survive this war, but I do. I believe in all of you. Don't do something you'll regret."
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  11. - Top - End - #251
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    When Ryall came to after the procedure, the first thing that came to her mind is just how sick she felt. "Oh, ****, I need to, I need to-," she mutters out, trying to hold back her instinct to vomit.

    After she has thoroughly emptied her stomach in a bowl or some other place that was hastily provided for her, she lays back on the bed, throughly spent. "Aside from how I feel like a part of me that I was never aware of was mulched, eaten, digested, **** out and then stuffed back into my body, I guess I felt underwhelmed, sort of. I expected something like power literally coursing through my veins, but I just feel like I ate something I shouldn't have, but way worse." Not to mention the visions... the hell was up with that?

  12. - Top - End - #252
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    Aoba contemplates. She's not exactly a storyteller. But... Ren asked. She can at least try. "Um... Do you want a personal story? I can share some moments I'm embarrassed or proud of... or I can tell you about some things that have happened recently... or I can see if I know any folk tales you don't? Do you have a preference?"
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  13. - Top - End - #253
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    After Liza reacts, Takeo just focuses on eating for a little longer, occasionally glancing up at her while he tries to think this through. Exaggerated reaction aside, she seemed to like him too, but...what about Xiren? What was going on there?

    After a few more moments he sighs - just wondering about it wouldn't get him anywhere. Takeo gets up and walks over to Liza, pausing again before speaking. "So, um, okay. If I like you and you...seem to like me?...do you want anything to happen with us? I mean...it looked like there's something happening with you and Xiren, and if that's what you want instead that's...that's fine, I guess." He gives her a hopeful look. "So... what do you want to happen?"
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  14. - Top - End - #254
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    "...I think you've misunderstood my intentions, Lieutenant Commander. It's understandable, really. You see a Lust becoming closer with your Commander, and you wonder... But no, I don't... 'desire' him in that way. Commander Nakamura is very important to me, yes. But he's my commanding officer. He's the fixed point everything else moves around. I know you know what I mean. Even if I had that sort of impulse, which I don't, to act on it would be to cross a very important boundary. To sully something sacred." She brushes her hair behind her ear and straightens her back. "I'm a teenager, yes, but I'm also a soldier. I act of my own will within the boundaries that have been set for me, but the end of the day, Commander Nakamura's will is my will, too. So if anything like that ever does happen... it'll be because he wanted it. And I'll have nothing to regret."

  15. - Top - End - #255
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    Spoiler: Ryall
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    Haruaka takes note of your response on a clipboard he's holding.

    "Interesting. I suspect you'll need to be trained in the use of AT powers in this new capacity. Assuming it worked and didn't simply make you sick. I also wonder if you need to synchronize with your integrated core. Though to be perfectly honest, I'm glad that you're not manifesting AT abilities in the room with me. I have another room set up with a training dummy. Follow me, please."

    He leads you through the underground lab and into another area. It's mostly empty, save for a gel dummy with realistic organs and bones.

    "I'm going to be behind the plexiglass. On that side, I have monitoring equipment, similar to that used when you train in the simulator."


    Spoiler: Aoba
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    "I want to know what it's like to be you. Are you a soldier? Were you there for the rapture? Are you a liaison, juggling communication between groups that can't effectively communicate with each other? What are your battles and triumphs? What are you proud of?"


    Spoiler: Xiren
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    Irina stares at you briefly, then sighs and shakes her head.

    "I am sorry. It isn't fair to judge you by your sin, but we both know it influences every one of you. Takeo is angry, Ryall is proud, Carmen is lazy, Liza is a thief, and Gabriel is... well, he's trying very hard, isn't he? But today, I suppose I saw something that wasn't there. I did not mean to embarrass you. And yes, Kazuma is capable of making his own decisions."

    She takes a few steps toward you. It seems to take more effort than normal. She pats your shoulder, wincing as her weight shifts.

    "Be safe."
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  16. - Top - End - #256
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    Spoiler: Takeo
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    "What do I want... to happen...?"

    Liza stands and touches Takeo's hand, not quite grasping it, but establishing contact. She's very warm and very close.

    "I want... you to receive... all my love, and... give me yours too."

    She'll go in for a full-on kiss, just slowly enough that he'd have time to dodge if he wanted.

    Either way, she's still flushed afterward, though her voice becomes stronger, backed by the conviction in her words.

    "I've been thinking for a while now, 'Japan's pilots are the most important people in the world to me.' I want to become closer to each of you, to give these overwhelming feelings to the people they belong. If you dally with other girls... or whoever... I won't be upset, as long as you'll accept me too. And the love I give to Xiren and Alyona won't take away from my feelings for you. There's so, so much, you see!"

    "Is that... okay, Takeo?"


    Spoiler: Engineering
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    "Yes, I understood! Oh, can I look at the positron rifle too? It's my primary weapon, so it's ordinary. Let's go!"

    If looking at and manipulating the circuits made more sense than what she read in her textbook, then looking at the guns should help her understand much more about how they work - and from there, how to improve them based on her field experience. She knows she's rushing quite a bit, but the thrill of how quickly she's acquiring knowledge and influence is more than she can contain.

  17. - Top - End - #257
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    "I am a soldier... well, an intel officer. I was never about to see front line combat. No, I had a fun desk job before the Rapture. Planning extreme contingency scenarios and counterstrategies. That was a fun database to fill, and I didn't think it'd ever actually come up... well, then the Rapture happened. Angelspawn poured across Russia. Different kinds, all with their own vulnerabilities. Some made their way across Siberia, with thick, turtle-like shells. Amphibious. They made it to the Pacific coast, and entered the Sea of Okhotsk, heading towards Japan... but in their long voyage, higherups in the JSDF had dug through our database of nonsense. And there they found a plan I'd written up a year or two earlier- dealing with an assault from Russia by amphibious multipedal weapons.

    The plan was more 'walking tank' than 'god-turtle', but the basics still held up. Whaling ships from around Hokkaido were mobilized, anything with a harpoon gun ready. The plan was to aim for the vulnerable legs at the point of crossing into the water- they wouldn't be able to evade, and they couldn't withdraw their legs yet. And it worked. All three Angelspawn were anchored and dragged into the ocean, unable to move. It was a delay tactic- but it was a delay tactic that let more focused weapons be brought in, explosives to go into the unarmored parts around the anchored legs. Also in the manual. Naturally anything with legs that elaborate would end out having them need access to vulnerable parts.

    When Babylon started being formed, I was on the short list- I'd considered battles with all sorts of crazy weapons and monsters, enough for a flexibility in thought. Then the Sins started being brought in, and they needed someone to command them- and I was the one with the plans. So I was made Lieutenant and given direct command over them. But... you're all kids. So I can't just yell plans at you and expect you to listen. I want to help you all. Everything I do at this point, it's done to keep you safe. Every Sin in Babylon Japan- and Ren, that includes you."
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  18. - Top - End - #258
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    Takeo's hope was buoyed by Liza's initial reaction, but even then he didn't see the kiss coming. He doesn't dodge it. Her further explanation isn't any easier for him to react to, his brain still handling the fact that she just kissed him. At this point, though, she could probably convince him of anything.

    "I...okay. I can be okay with that."
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  19. - Top - End - #259
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    Ryall follows the scientist to the other area, still disoriented from the experience. When she reaches the training room with the dummy, she's at a loss at what she's supposed to do. "So what am I supposed to do here? Try and use AT Powers on the dummy?"

  20. - Top - End - #260
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    Spoiler: Liza
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    Another engineer might have told you to ease off the throttle, but Eisuke is possibly the most easily excitable on Mimi's team. Seeing a Virtue weapon up close is a whole new perspective. You knew they were big, but it's hard to grasp just how large it is from inside the cockpit.


    Spoiler: Aoba
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    Ren stares, enraptured as you spin your tale. This is the first time you've seen her not miserable.

    "Wow. You're amazing. That sounds like a really cool job. Thank you, for indulging me."


    Spoiler: Ryall
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    "I'm hoping it's that simple, yes. I'm also hoping it's scaled well down. This lab is unequipped for a full scale AT abilities."
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  21. - Top - End - #261
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    Ryall nods at what the scientist is saying, and stepped back from the dummy. Okay, so just act like you have psychic powers. Breathe in, breathe out, focus. Damn, this is harder than I thought it would be. I should probably ask Takeo for help on this....

    After a bit, Ryall adopts a combat stance and pushes her left hand forwards- only to be surprised as the dummy was knocked away from her by some sort of invisible force. "...huh," was all she could say at seeing that happen.

  22. - Top - End - #262
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    Aoba smiles. "Of course. I'll have some books purchased and sent to you. Anything you want, just ask. Maybe another pilot could bring you some?"
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  23. - Top - End - #263
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    Spoiler: Ryall
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    The scientist stands up and takes off his glasses, staring in shock at the dummy. He blinks a couple of times before replying, sounding a little distant.

    "Ms. Lagrange... 'huh' is for finding a small amount of money in an old coat pocket. We are well and truly past that." He looks down at his monitor and furrows his brow. "You're not yet stable from the treatment. It would be risky to keep going today. Get some rest, and tomorrow... well, I don't know what will happen tomorrow. No one does."


    Spoiler: Aoba
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    "I... I think I would like that a lot. If it's not too much trouble, I like true stories quite a lot more. And... thank you, for making sure they never do this again."

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  24. - Top - End - #264
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    Day 13

    As training continues, the pilots start to get into a groove. Xiren can take out an unsuspecting person in close quarters. Liza would prefer to do so from a couple hundred meters away. Takeo can defend himself in a pinch, like Gabriel. Also like Gabriel, he'd prefer to not have to, but for entirely different reasons. Carmen probably forgot the classes ever existed. Ryall, on the other hand, has much to show for her effort.

    Spoiler: Xiren
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    Your secondary trainer presents you with a gift. It's a small ceramic knife, with a matching holster.

    "This won't trigger a metal detector, but it'll get caught by an airport body scanner. If you have to go through one, opt for the pat down. There is no paperwork on this. Directors are aware, but it has never been written down."

    Xiren has received the following rewards for her training participation:

    - She is treated as having Skill Proficiency: Combat, for the purposes of bladed weapons only
    - Receive Skill Proficiency: Palming
    - If time is spent to modify an item of clothing, it is considered a prepared roll for Palming.
    - She now has a concealable knife that does standard knife damage, approved but off the books.



    Spoiler: Liza
    Show
    Your firearm training is going well! Your knife training, less so. Still, it's at least going. Even better, your new mentor on the science team has taken a liking to you. You've been shown various Virtue weapons close up. Your ambush mentor will be assisting you as soon as he's cleared by medical.

    Liza has received the following rewards for her training participation:

    - Receive Skill Proficiency: Combat
    - Receive Skill Proficiency: Brawl
    - Receive Skill Proficiency: Topic (Virtue Weapons)
    - She will automatically succeed any Recall check if the information can reasonably be found in her lab book and she is able to check it.



    Spoiler: Takeo
    Show
    Skill beats luck, and hard work beats talent. Thanks to the training, you can defend yourself with anything you can pick up. You might not be number one, but no one expects to get clobbered with a chair.

    More intuitive is your AT training. An out of place smell actually means something to you now. And Ryall's scent has changed. Or, rather, evolved. She now also smells of ozone.

    Takeo has received the following rewards for his training participation:

    - Skill Proficiency: Brawl
    - Skill Proficiency: Combat
    - He can now roll synch ratio to understand the significance of a particular new smell. No roll is required for smells he has already identified.



    Spoiler: Ryall
    Show
    Training has been more intense than you're used to, but it became your new normal. Your hard work has paid off, in more ways than one. That angel infusion hasn't had as many negative effects as you expected, but it's not completely safe, either. You take a risk everytime you use an AT power outside the Virtue.

    Ryall has received the following rewards for her training participation:

    - +5 Misc bonus to Brawl
    - +5 Misc bonus to Combat
    - Can now use known AT powers at personal scale (see Volt's rules)
    - Can use unknown powers on a successful synch ratio roll. GM decides the results on a failure, based on degree of failure.



    Spoiler: Aoba
    Show
    Damn, it feels good to be well funded.

    Your cybersecurity team social engineered their way into general GoL servers. Using the email server as a jumping off point, they convinced people they were employees. There's an enormous amount of data to sift through to find the project you're looking for, though.

    Your fake Sins are in place, and GoL is aware of the existence of undocumented Sins. Just a matter of time now.

    Your "Korean" agent has an in with the Vatican. They're still vetting her, but the first meet went well.


    Spoiler: Mimi
    Show
    Your plugsuit for Ren works. She is no longer a danger to other people in the room. Kazuma has delayed her release into pilot quarters until the civilians are cleared out. They leave tomorrow.


    End of session. All PCs and statted NPCs receive 20xp and 2e.

    A familiar alert. Another eye has closed. The pilots are suited up, and everyone prepares for their roles. Russia. Australia. Saudi Arabia. The Netherlands. America. Hours pass. Babylon is attacked... everywhere but Japan.

    Then the first report comes in. Kazuma calls for a meeting. Up on the screen is an image of a truly massive tentacled beast, submerged in water. Flaming debris surrounds it.

    "They're getting smarter. The angel we expected to hit Japan is instead out in the ocean. Every hour this is here is crippling trade in our corner of the world. We can't get you very close - its reach is very long. You'll be in the water, but at least we don't need deep ocean gear. Mashimo, pick your team. We're under a lot of pressure here to act quickly, so do your planning while they're en route."
    Spoiler: Active characters
    Show

  25. - Top - End - #265
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    GreenSorcererElf

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    Default Re: 7 Sins IC

    One more angel slain, and with minimal trade interference. The command room had been tense with some of the damage you all had taken, but ultimately, no one was severely injured. Xiren is rushed to medical as a precaution, but initial examination suggests she will make a full recovery.

    The rest of you are taken to the briefing room. Kazuma isn't smiling. He looks out over the room to do a headcount, then speaks up.

    "Again, you all have proven to be excellent pilots. The body of the angel has been removed, the dangerous debris has been cleaned up, and trade routes are restored. Most other Babylon installments had similar victories to our own. But I need to take this moment to share some bad news. Eva Lorentz, the Dutch Pride who was temporarily stationed in America, has become the first Sin to be killed in service of the war. I would like to observe a moment of silence in honor of her sacrifice."

    Kazuma lowers his head. When he raises it to speak up again, his tone is no less somber.

    "Please take care of yourselves as medical recommends. Other than that, enjoy your victory. All pilots are dismissed."

    Spoiler: Directors
    Show
    Once the Sins are gone, Kazuma gets to the meat of it.

    "The Netherlands is now refusing to send further backup, and blames American command for her death. The sentiment is not unique. Some in Global are suggesting the US be barred from obtaining reserves. I'm going to obtain the Virtue and MAGI logs from them, because I honestly don't trust their battle reports. If either has been redacted or modified, Babylon Japan will recommend a wholly new command, while the existing command is detained pending an investigation. I refuse to believe that they just got bad luck twice in a row. Director Mashimo, once I have those logs in hand, I want your team to reconstruct the battle and figure out where it went wrong."

    "Russian Commander Ilya Sokolov is livid," Irina adds, "And he is the sort of man to show up on their doorstep. We have been able to placate him only by assuring him that Commander Nakamura will personally devote time to understanding the events leading up to Eva Lorentz's death."


    Spoiler: Xiren
    Show
    One of the nurses has informed you that the commander would like to speak with you privately, pending your ability to move around on your own. It is, however, a time sensitive request. This needs to happen tonight.


    Spoiler: Ryall
    Show
    You're pretty popular right now. And why wouldn't you be? They saw it. You saw it. People want to imagine the way you saw it. And hey, if they can't be you, that's the next best thing, right? But you've got bigger fish to fry, more important people to talk to. Xiren in the hospital, and Ren deep underground... well, you know which one is closer.


    Spoiler: Takeo
    Show
    As you field congratulations, something bugs you. It feels almost as though you've forgotten something - that gnawing at the back of your mind. But the more you mull over it, the more it feels like you entered a store, and cold air rushed over you from above. Except it wasn't you it rushed over, but someone like you.


    Spoiler: Liza
    Show
    You weren't in the forward team this time, so the celebration doesn't hit you quite the same way. At least they made it out okay. But it's not your victory, is it?


    Session 4 complete! Everyone (including statted NPCs) take 100xp and 2e.
    Spoiler: Active characters
    Show

  26. - Top - End - #266
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Syless's Avatar

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    Spoiler: The Moment
    Show
    Aoba had held Liza back from the fight- this wasn't to her area of expertise, and she'd expressed an interest in command training. So she was being given a chance to shadow Aoba for the duration of the battle.

    Aoba's technique had been coldly issuing commands to respond to every move of the Angel's, with the intent of having the pilots move in and keep it isolated and close, and everything seemed to be working... but Aoba's first hit was when Xiren's strike backfired into her.

    For the first time in this fighting, she was genuinely shaken. And that was only amplified after the electricity-sparking kraken pulled away from the Virtues, causing a chorus of cries of pain from the engaged pilots.

    At this point, hearing that... Aoba froze. She stopped issuing commands.

    Liza is content to observe for the most part. It's her first time seeing her team in action from afar, and the change in perspective gives her some ideas for better use of the Caritas.

    Then the electric scythe, cries of pain, and silence.
    I should be there. They need me watching over them.
    Liza turns to look at Aoba. Their commanding officer, frozen.
    ...But I'm here, and there's something I can do!

    Liza's headset is receive-only. She darts to Aoba's side and clamps a hand on her shoulder to keep her close enough to shout through the two-way headset.

    "This is Liza! Run through the halo! It'll hurt anyway, so we do it on our terms! We have the resources to heal any trauma, so finish it while it's vulnerable!"

    They... they listen. Liza holds her breath as her order is carried out. If they get hurt now, it's her responsibility.

    Aoba just stares at Liza. Did she just...? Was she really willing to endanger her friends, her allies, to that extent? Make them suffer...?

    More importantly, what did it mean that Aoba wasn't?

    "Liza, you-" She's then distracted by the whirlwind coordination of her team in the field, ending with Ryall plunging her knife into the Angel's core and destroying it.

    It worked.

    And Aoba hadn't made the call.

    She placed a hand on Liza's shoulder, looking a bit distracted. "...good job."

    Liza finally releases her breath when it sinks in that the core is broken and the fight is over. "You froze. If I hadn't taken command, they'd be lost out there." She places her hand on Aoba's and smiles more warmly than you'd expect. "I've never seen a more sincere expression of care. It's proof that you don't see us as soldiers. Thank you." She steps out of Aoba's personal space, but keeps gentle-but-firm hold of her hand, tugging her slightly. "Shall we go greet our returning heroes?"

    Aoba nods. "We'll make sure they know you stepped in voluntarily. You showed proper leadership, and I hope you can keep that up. They'll need someone to look to in emergencies."

    "Oh? Does that mean command will take me seriously from now on?" Her tone is a little playful, but she knows it's a barbed comment.

    "I can't make any promises for anyone else. But I'll take your tactical advice into consideration."

    Her gaze flickers flat, but her good mood quickly reasserts itself. "Just do your considering when it's not an emergency, okay~?" A tiny sigh. She briefly squeezes Aoba's hand. "...It's hard, isn't it? Being responsible for other people, when they might be hurt or killed by your words. I did it without thinking, because my heart is in those Virtues. Why do you do it?" Her question is sincere, not accusatory at all.

    "...because I have to. This is what I trained for, years of study. And if I didn't... things could go a lot worse. Someone callous could take over, and endanger you all even worse."

    Liza smiles again, this time bittersweetly. "I feel the same. I'm waiting for one of you to betray me. Even if you're unreliable, I'm happy that you truly care."

    "We all care. All for different reasons, but we do. I promise."

    "I'll believe it when I see it. But that's enough bitter thoughts! I want to see your work when the battle is over!"

    Aoba nods. "I'll show you whatever you're cleared to see."

    Liza gives one more tug on Aoba's hand to get her moving, then lets go and falls into step beside her, skipping every few paces.


    Their first fatality... it made the last battle tug even more at Aoba's mind. That's exactly what she was afraid of. Losing one of them. But... Liza made a dangerous call, and won. She needs to keep that in mind. She can't just... she needs to be willing to win. Just not at that cost. So she has two things on her mind. First is what Kazuma has posed to her. "Will do. I'll figure out what went wrong, and who made the call. May I request that Greed be assigned as a shadow once more? She may be able to provide valuable insight from a pilot perspective."

    The second is... her victim. As she saw it. She needs to speak to Xiren.
    Last edited by Syless; 2019-10-29 at 01:39 PM.
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  27. - Top - End - #267
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    GreenSorcererElf

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    Default Re: 7 Sins IC

    Spoiler: Aoba
    Show
    "Perhaps my judgement was poor," Irina replies, "Assigning Liza as an engineering intern. I just thought, she has good attention to detail."

    Kazuma grunts, and drums his fingers. "Fine. Dedicate any resources you need to this. We can't have Global falling apart. And have the therapist speak with Ms. Tanaka. Nijima is pushing for her release when the civilians are gone, and they're leaving tomorrow. Keeping her locked up is going to bite us in the ass if we don't release her as soon as possible."

    Irina bristles at the mention of Ren, but doesn't comment.

    Spoiler: Text from your team
    Show
    The agent killed by the infiltrator couldn't be assigned an accurate time of death because the body was placed in the freezer. However, the security footage review is finally complete, and the infiltrator is shown in the real agent's place for three days. He spent that time ensuring he would get on the gala list, and studying Envy.

    Spoiler: Active characters
    Show

  28. - Top - End - #268
    Halfling in the Playground
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    Default Re: 7 Sins IC

    It's barely evening when Xiren (as politely as she can) demands that the nurses bring her her street clothes so that she can go see the Commander. Walking hurts, and she finds that a few times she has to brace herself against the wall, fighting shortness of breath. But just because it's painful doesn't mean she can't walk, and the Commander said when she was able to move, not when she was able to move comfortably. And besides... this is the first time he's ever sent for her. This has to be important. She takes a deep breath, pushing the pain somewhere into the back of her mind, and knocks on the door to Kazuma's office. "It's Xiren, Commander."
    Last edited by velvetWing; 2019-10-29 at 05:05 PM.

  29. - Top - End - #269
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Griffon

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    Default Re: 7 Sins IC

    Liza is as amped up as ever, riding the thrill of victory without having actually spent much energy to achieve it. She can be caught running around base all evening while shadowing Aoba, checking up on people, and delivering handwritten messages (all unsigned) to various departments. Is it for security, or is she just not used to computers...?

    Once she's kicked out of Aoba's company for lack of clearance, her first priority is to visit Xiren in medical. She passes through Ryall's victory party long enough to give her a warm smile and a clap on the shoulder in a 'let's talk later, okay?' kind of gesture.

    Spoiler: Xiren (now with added log!)
    Show
    Liza opens and closes Xiren's door as quietly as ever, but her deep breathing and the tension in her limbs betray that she'd been exerting herself moments before her appearance. Did she run here...?

    She takes a seat by Xiren's bed and immediately reaches to stroke the wounded girl's hair.

    "Xiren, how is it? I only saw your vitals monitor, but it looked like it hurt a lot. Where did it get you?"

    Xiren's visibly exhausted, and as she sits up in the hospital bed when Liza enters she winces slightly. "The chest, mostly. There's no visible injuries except the bruising, but it feels like an elephant sat on me. They say I'll be just fine in a few days, though. I'm sorry for making you worry."

    Liza smiles softly and continues petting Xiren's hair, though she couldn't help but glance toward the aforementioned chest.
    "I'm not worried. I'm grateful. You gave your all in that fight, and... you believed in me."

    Xiren's too tired to put on any pretense, and she actively leans in to Liza's touch. For once, this isn't for anyone's sake but her own. "To be honest, I wasn't even sure that was your voice over the comms... It was the only thing I could do, anyway. I have a big axe and nothing else. Rushing it was the only option."

    "Oh, I learned a saying like that! How does it go... 'when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail'? It's that kind of attitude I admire about you. You're confident enough to use whatever you have to get what you want without fear."

    Xiren reaches up to take hold of Liza's hand, holding it between both of hers. "I get my confidence from the people around me, Liza. It doesn't just come from the aether. When I'm on my own, I get... insecure. Unsure of myself. But when I have people behind me, like the Lieutenant, or like you, I can throw that away and act without thinking too hard. That's all it takes."

    Liza laughs and puts her other hand around Xiren's.
    "I'm the same way! I never knew people I could trust before now. The strength you all give me is amazing. So if you want it, I won't ever let you be alone."

    She recalls the feeling of warmth she got from eating Russian food with the Kuznestovs. It's still there even now, when she looks for it.
    "...Say, Xiren, what's your favorite food from home?"

    "Hmm..." Xiren doesn't voluntarily think back to her memories of home often, but she dips into that closed-off portion of her mind long enough to come up with an answer. "...My grandmother's mapo doufu. Why?"

    Liza grins and ambushes Xiren with a quick kiss.
    "I'm gonna make it for you! Ms. Kuznestov and her daughter showed me how food can bring back the happiness that God stole from us, our childhoods. Bit by bit, I'm going to give the pilots back everything that we lost... Just like I said for the commercial, right?"

    Xiren returns the kiss, but seems a little troubled as she listens to Liza speak. "That's... a big responsibility, Liza. Some things you can't get back once they're gone. Sometimes you have to keep going without them."

    Liza shakes her head.
    "I can never have my family back. They're dead, the end. But my memories of them, from before the Rapture... Eating the same good food and speaking my mother tongue with people I love..."
    She pulls their clasped hands closer to her chest, almost as if in prayer.
    "I didn't think it possible. But in that moment, I reclaimed something precious that the Angels had taken. Now that I know I can do it, I promise I'll do the same for each of you. Even if it's not food, even if I'm not that special person, I'll do anything to make it come true."
    You can feel her heart pounding with emotion and conviction.

    Xiren hesitates. This is the second time she's heard this sort of sentiment inside of a week. First Shara, now Liza. Maybe these two have more in common than they realize.

    She doesn't know if she can really believe it, but... she can at least believe that they believe it. And there's no point in trying to shatter that belief. "That's noble, Liza. Just remember to take care of yourself, along the way." She leans in and gives Liza a bright smile. "How about we cook it together? Sichuan cuisine can be tough for outsiders, and I think food cooked with other people is the most delicious. Don't you agree?"

    Liza returns every lumen of Xiren's smile.
    "I absolutely agree! You have to get better so we can enjoy it soon! Here, if you can sit up that much, I'll give you a back massage."

    Xiren blushes. "Oh I uh, that would be..." Wait, am I really still self-conscious considering what we did a few days ago? "That... would be nice. Thanks, Liza."

    "It's the least I can do for someone I love. You're welcome, Xiren~"
    Liza wedges herself behind Xiren on the bed and does as promised, clearly not trying to take advantage of the situation. She'll keep at it until Xiren falls asleep, then plant a kiss on top of her head and slip away, back to her evening rounds.


    Spoiler: Note to Command
    Show
    While shadowing Director Mashimo, I saw how the MAGI computer handlesdata for the targeting assistance protocol. Isn't it wasteful to continuously throw away environmental data that could still be used? Economizing this process would save money from MAGI operation costs too.


    Spoiler: Note to Engineering
    Show
    How are Angel debris 'disposed of'? Can they be used for fuel, scrap, or VIRTUE equipment? Araiel's skin was very durable; if it is like leather, it would make good armor for people or VIRTUES.


    Spoiler: Note to Shara
    Show
    Everyone in Babylon is responsible for life and death in their own way. Who is hurt the most by valuing life so highly that they endanger it more greatly through hesitation?


    Spoiler: Ryall (now with added log!)
    Show
    It's well after nightfall when Liza's work is done and she finds time to talk to Ryall. Hopefully somewhere quiet, away from any celebrants who have yet to tire themselves out. Liza is quite tired herself by now, but her eyes are still bright.

    "Ryall, good work today! You made finishing off the Angel look easy! I'm sure you're tired of hearing that, but as your momentary commander, I have to be sure to praise you properly. I couldn't be more proud."

    She smiles brightly for Ryall. It fades when she looks away.

    "Um, about that... Thank you. For believing in me. I gave an order that could have gone very badly, but... you made my wish come true. I'm... I'm glad, that if a Pride had to fall, it wasn't you."

    She steps beside Ryall and presses into her shoulder, going quiet in an effort to contain her emotions.

    Snort. "Listen to me, making puns at a time like this..."

    Ryall cracks a smile at Liza's puns, but that began to fade as she hears the "if a Pride had to fall, it wasn't you line."
    Nonetheless, she allows the slightly shorter girl to press into her shoulder, though she doesn't make a move herself. "It's fine, really. Look, you did a good job. What happened to Xiren sucked, but if you didn't give the command, then who knows what would've happened?"

    Liza shakes her head, her ponytail brushing Ryall's back.
    "It's a heavy responsibility. Too heavy for me alone. You all were in danger from the start, but the moment I gave an order, I took responsibility for that danger. If you were hurt or killed from that point on, it would have been my fault, not Mashimo's. Is it really okay for that to fall on my shoulders? Me, who up until two weeks ago only took care of my own life?"

    "But you weren't alone, right? You still had Lt. Mashimo alongside you, and she was the one that froze up when the Angel threw around electricity. She could've overruled your commands at any time, but she didn't. It pains me to say it, but if any of us got hurt or killed back then, it's still her responsibility, not yours."
    "Besides, a plan is only as good as the people who actuall execute it. You could've made the best plan ever, but if it involves, say, Carmen doing anything, it's still doomed to failure. Then it wouldn't be your fault that the plan failed, but on the ones who actually had to do it."


    Mentioning Carmen earns a snort of laughter.
    "You're right. It's not fair for any one of us to bear that burden. It's really a team effort, our survival. Thank you for being part of it."

    "No problem."

    Liza lifts her head and smiles playfully, though her eyes are still watery.
    "Don't just dismiss it like that! Are you enacting your virtue~? Each of you are special and irreplaceable to me; it's not just that you're on the team, you're an important part of it!"

    "I suppose..." Ryall looks away from Liza for a bit, thinking about how to word what she's about to ask the Russian girl best.
    "...what's up with you and Xiren, by the way?"

    "Eh? What do you mean?"
    She seems genuinely confused, not evasive.

    "I mean, you two seemed close when training with Kazuma. Is there something between you two or am I just..."

    "Heheh. We made out and stuff, if that's what you're asking. I admire her confidence and resolve."
    She moves her face ever-so-slightly closer to Ryall's.
    "You have a... different kind. I've never seen you hesitate to act for the sake of what you value, damn the consequences. I really admire that too..."

    Ryall starts blushing, averting her eyes. "...I- I- But why is your face so close to mine, then?"

    "Do you not like it? I... This overflowing affection... I want to share it with you. You're one of the people who make me feel like I'm worth something. I want to become closer..."
    She unconsciously turns her body toward Ryall and clasps her hand between both of hers. Her eyes are suddenly desperate, pleading and ravenous.
    "It's okay if you don't feel the same way. I don't... I don't need your love, if you can just accept mine."

    "But... you already have Xiren, right?"

    "Just because I love her doesn't mean I love you any less! It's the same for all of you... I have so much more love than I can give to any one person. Each of Japan's pilots is special and amazing. I mean that! I don't want to let any of you go..."

    Liza's breath catches, then she releases Ryall's hand and takes a step back, wiping her face on her sleeve.
    "S-sorry, I came on too strong. I've-- ...You must think I'm pathetic."
    She sniffles, then lowers her arm to reveal a false-bright smile.
    "Let me start again. What's your favorite food from back home?"

    Ryall feels a pang of regret at seeing Liza's false smile; she's not the best at social skills, but even she could tell something was going on. "I... don't know, really. Food was never a big part of my life, and my brother and I mostly ate instant ramen so that we can spare expenses. Though, there is that one time one of our neighbours baked apple pie for my brother's birthday, so..."
    She then looks straight into Liza's eyes. "Listen, you're not pathetic. It's just that I think I need more time to think about all this. I'm sorry."

    Liza shakes her head.
    "It's fine. I'm sorry, I shouldn't have pushed you like that. Eheh, guess I didn't realize how wound up I'd gotten today..."
    She seems to think for a moment, then steps closer again and drops her forehead onto Ryall's shoulder. She keeps her arms pinned to her own sides.
    "Pride is the one person I'll absolutely never be better than... so maybe, if it's you, I don't mind showing you my weak and pathetic side. Just for now, hold me for a while?"

    Ryall doesn't say anything, but does pull Liza into a hug, wrapping her arms around her.

    Liza's breath shudders a few times, then she starts to noticeably relax. She mumbles into Ryall's shoulder, her voice felt as much as heard.
    "I'll show you how I feel, Ryall. I'll definitely make that apple pie for you. I can give you at least that much happiness..."

    Ryall squeezes Liza tighter. "Thank you."

    Liza's arms find their way around Ryall's lower back, and she returns the squeeze.
    "It's thanks to you. You're part of the reason I even know this happiness exists after the Rapture."
    Last edited by Elfbird; 2019-10-30 at 01:31 PM.

  30. - Top - End - #270
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    GreenSorcererElf

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    Spoiler: Xiren
    Show
    "It's open."

    When you enter, Kazuma raises an eyebrow. He looks you up and down as he speaks.

    "You technically adhered to the nurse's orders, I suppose. I have an assignment for you, and I think you should sit down."

    Once you comply or decline, he continues.

    "The civilians are leaving tomorrow. I waited until this opportunity to give you this assignment for your own safety, but, of course, we had no way of knowing that there would be an attack today. We suspect Guns of Liberty of gross human rights violations, but all we have is a witness. Witness testimony is considered the weakest form of evidence in a court of law, so if we're going to nail them to a wall and not go down with them, we need more. I need you to put an idea in Jacob's head. We've compromised his phone, but he has very little access to GoL servers. See to it that he demands more, so that we can use his access to aid our cyberattack efforts. One thing that might help you is the fact that Jacob is a financial genius. He keeps this under wraps, but GoL would be less well funded without his investment expertise. If you can inflate his ego, get him to demand more access, you won't need to get him to tell you any sensitive information. He leaves in the afternoon tomorrow. Can you do this?"


    Spoiler: Liza
    Show

    Spoiler: Command response
    Show
    We'll see what the programmers have to say. If it's doable, with any luck, we can have it done before the next battle.


    Spoiler: Engineering response
    Show
    The new one is a whole lot of blubber. Maybe we can do something with the elder for armor, though. We've been using it for weapons testing.

    Spoiler: Active characters
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