Xinnidy

Super Robot Wars ∀: Deep Space IC Thread - Part 2: Of Dire Tides

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A Newer Face

Roxanna thought the night couldn't get worse, but getting dumped by two girls and looking this pathetic proved to her just how terrible her situation was. Everybody would feel this way, huh? That she was worthless, couldn't be helped. Fuck. She was starting to believe it. Even her uncle was starting to treat her with curt and blunt words. Maybe it was pointless to stay after all... "H-Huh?" Another voice, it was... richsqueak. How rare. "I-I am... The bottom floor is mostly empty, so I just grabbed a few snacks... ugh." The crackers were just mediocre, it helped deal with the aftertaste, but staying at the cafeteria for convenience was the worst thing yet. She'd only made a fool of herself. "I didn't expect people to show up this fast... I wasn't staying for long." She grumbled, holding her head. That half-empty bottle only seemed more damning now. How stupid and miserable did she look? What a cursed couple of days.

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The XO's response made sense on the surface, but Firmia wasn't any closer to the information she really wanted. Rather than a simple 'why, though,' Firmia opted for a slightly more tactful approach. "Most people are relieved that we made it to ANF HQ in one piece. Even I'm feeling a little better, now." Granted, she had more options for addressing her situation aboard the Riese so long as they were at Central. That had to be affecting her on some level, especially subconsciously. "What's bothering you so much?"


Brant had been rightfully worried by Hannah's reaction, but he didn't realize just how out of the loop he was until Galatea brought his attention down to the message on his communicator. Left wide eyed again, Brant glanced back up as Hannah headed for the cafeteria, then back down at his wrist. He thought Firmia wouldn't want Hannah or Galatea knowing about that. Sure, they were bound to find out eventually, but Firmia actually had them read Rex's notes? He supposed he couldn't worry about that, right now. Damage control was his biggest priority at the moment.

"Hannah, hold up!" Brant winced, having called out a bit louder than he meant to; she wasn't that far away, yet. Giving chase and quickly heading her off just outside the cafeteria, Brant held out his arms, urging Hannah to stop where she was. As for what to actually say, being torn between his curiosity about Firmia, and actually convincing Hannah that there was nothing inherently wrong with his request, Brant didn't have the foggiest idea of where to start, now ...

"I ... did something really stupid. Several things, actually." He decided to stop trying to figure out Firmia for a moment ... or try at least. "The reason I can't agree to that yet isn't because I don't want to. I do ... but if I just keep going along with anything you come up with without ... ... dammit, how do I explain this ...?" Brant quickly concluded that he would likely have to explain the situation regarding that Captain. While he was at it, he might have to touch on a couple of other things, considering Hannah knew a great deal more about his past, now ...

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Pause and Consider

Brant seemed rather... Full, was an accurate word, for how he seemed approaching her. Too many things to say, not sure where to start, leaving him bewildered. Hannah felt bad for her immediate reaction then, stopping and letting him speak, trying to read his face for anything she could do to help. She opted to gently take his hands, nodding. "I... Am bad at reacting, towards perceived negatives. I reacted very poorly towards Tonya, earlier. I am not... I'm still learning how to respond to these sorts of things in the right way. So I'm sorry, Brant. I should be more mindful of your situation."

"Please, take your time. And if you find you cannot explain it, that is alright. I trust you, which may be why I buy into my perceptions too readily, as well. I don't believe that you would lie to me, so I see something as true, and I... Overreact. It is not a pleasant trait. I will work on it. My point, pardon my ramblings, if you tell me that you do wish to go, then... I believe you. It makes me very happy. I do not mind waiting for you to sort out whatever you need to." Her smile was genuine this time, glancing over at the cafeteria. "If it will take you some time to explain, perhaps it would be better to do so on a full stomach."

Edited by SnakeMomMelissa

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Continuous Prodding

Of course, she wouldn't let up at just that. Why would she? Just like the other girls, she was a TK, so she could probably see how much of a mess Roxanna was. No point in trying to avoid it. "The Captain hates me, my uncle wants me to quit, and my father was confirmed to be killed yesterday morning by some terrorist sniper. It's just... horrible, a horrible week. And I don't really want to deal with it anymore..." She slumped, resting her head on the table again. "I don't... I have to be on standby for a meeting, but I just want to black out..." Her voice was defeated as could be. She wasn't that tipsy, curse her tolerance, the buzz wasn't helping at all.

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Why oh why did the Captain supposedly hating the XO stick out for Firmia more than the woman's own father dying? Well, she could at least force herself to place them in order of importance consciously ... eventually. First, Firmia sat down at the table. "Well, you have my condolences." It was always the damn snipers. If not for them, she wouldn't think twice about having Tonya run ops away from the Riese ... "This ship really is our best hope against Apotheosis ... I have a question, though. Why ... mmph ... why do you care if the Captain hates you or not? Is she thinking about having you transferred?" If her uncle wanted her to quit, then that meant the ball had just landed in Jessica's court, didn't it? What a nightmare. Firmia's pity quickly blossomed into sympathy.


Brant couldn't help but smile in relief, only just now remembering how reasonable Hannah could be compared to normal people. "That's ... probably a good idea, yeah. It'll give me time to organize my thoughts. The situation's kind of messed up, right now. No one to blame but myself, but still ... let's see about dinner," he concluded, starting for the cafeteria again, though keeping his pace slightly than normal so Hannah could easily get back in step with him.

Brant had a lot to think about, now. Not only did he have to explain his situation to Hannah, he also had that nagging thought in the back of his mind about Firmia. Just what had prompted her to reveal so much about her family and his own past, willingly? He supposed he could ask Hannah, but that would be especially rude right now. It might even be dangerous depending on how the ship's moles were gathering information. Brant could already sense Firmia's familiar aura, so it really wasn't the time. Well, her aura was somewhat familiar. He could tell it was her, of course, but she seemed sympathetic. That was ... definitely not the kind of thing he was used to feeling from her.

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Organized

"I am sure that things are not as bad as you think, Brant. Take some time to mull it all over, and tell me when or if you are ready, okay?" Whatever was eating at Brant must've been important. Hannah had an amused thought of whether it was something that was serious, or just serious to him, but either way it would be important to let him figure it out. If she'd learned anything, pushing him wouldn't get a real answer.

The cafeteria came only moments after, Hannah reluctantly letting go of his hand to step inside. The Artemis pilots, Firmia, and the XO? What an interesting bunch gathered there. Hannah waved a friendly hand at Firmia, before turning to Brant with her standard, pleased smile. "What would you like to eat then, Brant? And can I make it for you?"

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Subordinate of Pride

Still more questions, taking a breath and closing her eyes, Roxanna had to wonder how she'd tackle that one. "My uncle believes I've disrupted her authority too much, I think she does too. I have challenged her a lot because she's too young to be captaining this battleship on her first mission... but she hasn't messed them up thus far. Somehow." A grumble escaped Roxanna, it was really an incredible streak considering the difficulty of her missions. That was almost too good to be true... but it was. "She has the final say on whether I am dismissed or not, now that we're back on Central. I'm guessing her reports haven't taken kindly to me either. Ah~, I'm fucked..." How despairing.

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The almost zombie-like greeter looked as if she'd rather be in bed than welcoming Tarquin to the store. Truthfully, with how dead she looked, Tarquin would have prefered if she'd gone off to sleep instead. He raised a hand, giving a gentle wave to acknowledge her apparent willingness to assist him. It was almost nostalgic, he'd seen the same sort of people whilst he was on the colony. Perhaps there were times that everyone disliked their job - no matter how unimportant it was in the grand scheme of things. There was another side to it though, would he have been able to navigate this strange conglomeration of popular culture by himself? Probably not, he would assumed the store sold refrigerators or something akin to them.

"Wait... Caroline." Tarquin blurted out, determined to make sense of society. Nikolai and himself were both outsiders and nothing would ever change that. However, if he could understand the world around them, they wouldn't be quite so far away. "I was looking for a present for my friend. He... hasn't been very well lately and I was hoping to get him something to cheer him up. He likes-..."

Nikolai's tastes weren't exactly ordinary. Tarquin had established he enjoyed classical music, coffee, swearing and threatening to pee on people he didn't like. Most of those weren't exactly things that he could exactly buy. However, there was one unifying theme throughout all of Nikolai's behaviour.

"Well, he has a fairly dark sense of humour. Is there anything that you think would be good?" Tarquin asked, looking around at the towering displays. There were so many characters and logos that he didn't recognise, did people really spend that much time caring about these things?

-

Talia was in awe, there was someone else who cared about those things like she did. Admittedly it was because she had no friends and had spent several years in nearly total isolation, but she wasn't going to complain. She nodded her head in agreement, binge watching series was one of her many guilty pleasures. "I watched... all of Partially Recyclable Biochemist in two days. I was so tired but I needed to see the ending... episode 118 was too much of a cliffhanger for me to sleep. I was kinda glad that they didn't pair Steve with Emily..."

She followed Makoto sheepishly, keeping relatively close to him. She had no clue how someone like him made friends with T-4, he was friendly, nice and liked the same things that she did - T-4 was just a smug little killing machine with a gnome for a friend. The towering shelves and nerdy store population put Talia at ease a little, for once she wasn't surrounded by scary military people expecting her to do the equivalent of turning water to wine. Her eyes widened as he mentioned Magisphere, she hadn't followed it since she stopped leaving her room. Back then there were only three volumes out... could there be a fourth or even more?

"I... I used to read Magisphere... I only got up to volume three... are there more?" she asked nervously. She'd never had to buy things for herself, the Professor always made sure she got what she wanted. That was a thing of the past, now she'd actually have to get things for herself. She still had her credit card, she'd never had to use it before but she'd watched enough TV to see how people managed it. "I was hoping that... there'd be some more volumes for Fluorescent Formation Gospel 's spin off. They made a light hearted spin off, it's a lot more cheerful than the original."

There was also the fact that a loser mecha pilot who cried whenever something remotely bad happened hit slightly too close to home for Talia. Crashing, moping around in their room... all she needed now was to melt into fruit punch and it was a wrap.
 

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Above and Beyond
Nikolai ruminated on the doctor's words, his mind both painfully awake at all times and drearily wrapped in a fog of exhaustion. It was a strange feeling, being incapable of doing anything but floating in his fishtank. Usually, he wouldn't have the time to think at all, too busy with whatever survival-related task required his immediate attention, but now that he was helpless, now that survival was being taken care of for him, all he could do was think.

He was effectively all alone with Nikolai. Nikolai the experimental weapon. Nikolai the broken doll. Nikolai the discarded carcass of a human being, picked clean and left to decay in a biomedical sewage tank. Who the fuck was Nikolai if he wasn't able to fight, to kill at a moment's notice, to keep the few things he cared about safe and free from harm?

Had he ever been anything to begin with? 
The closest thing he'd ever had to a purpose was as something that existed to do everyone else's dirty work, to kill so their hands stayed pristine as his got drenched in mud and blood and terrible deeds. Had that been what Above and Beyond meant?

What then, did the future hold for things that never had a reason to exist?

He didn't trust anyone to ask, he didn't even really trust himself. Instead, he made a gentle humming whimper and hoped that would be enough to communicate his discontent to whoever would be in the medical bay at the moment.

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Studying cybernetic augmentation all evening while monitoring Nikolai was slowly driving Megumi batty. She still had other things slowly eating away at her, too. Ellen had scared the tar out of her with the news about Michelle and Sarah. The police hadn't gotten involved, but that meant Ellen would have to keep a closer eye on both of them from now on. Ellen was no Big Brother, though. Now Megumi had three things to worry about: the tattered remains of Nikolai's sanity, her own family's safety, and whether or not she could remember a blasted thing this old professor was saying. It wasn't a worthless course by any stretch of the imagination, but realizing she would need to run through each lesson several times, on top of tackling all the reading material, on top of doing some independent research to fill in the countless gaps, was causing the doctor a good deal of frustration. Being more of a tactile learner definitely had its downsides.

It might be time to call it a night. That was the conclusion Megumi reached when the professor veered off into statistics on augmentation usage from several years ago. He obviously wasn't referencing anything from the gray or black markets, or people like Nikolai. The PRLA likely didn't volunteer that kind of information. It was probably worth skipping this whole segment, come to think of it. Megumi's own research would give her more accurate, more up to date statistics on whatever she needed to know. 

Nikolai's vitals were displayed on the console in a separate screen, though they wouldn't help the doctor figure out whether he wanted something unless he was desperate enough to get his stats climbing. She could tell when he was conscious or in a heightened emotional state, but for anything else, an in person inspection was best. She suspended the lecture and stood up from her desk, figuring now was as good a time as any to check in on the patient that had her enduring this cybernetics course in the first place. Megumi could only hope he wasn't still giving off that dark and hopeless aura.

She kept wanting to ask Nikolai how he was feeling--a big habit, of course, but it really didn't seem necessary when he looked like a survivor from the Death Star. She knew how she'd feel in his situation. "Everything's still green ... taking the situation into account," she noted, only spending a brief moment on the SIEG tank's console before focusing on Nikolai himself. "I'm just checking in for right now. We won't be doing anything intensive until tomorrow, so I want you to try and get as much rest as you can. It's going to be rough but we're going to get you through this."


Firmia sensed Brant heading this way, but figured he was just taking a break to get something to eat. That wasn't worth prodding him over. Naturally though, he wasn't alone. Hannah had come along as well, probably for small talk and questions about human relationships .... Firmia waved back, blank faced, and then focused on the XO. On a more positive note, at least she seemed to be humoring Firmia for the moment. She would hate to have to walk away from this curious--rebellious--right hand of Jessica's without ever knowing what was going on behind the scenes.

Roxanna answered Firmia's earlier question, and she certainly had a familiar take on the situation. Firmia was glad to know she wasn't the only one that recognized just how improbable all of these victories of theirs were. The XO didn't seem to take the next logical step from that observation, unfortunately. Or perhaps it had occurred to her and she simply didn't want to be caught out with so much on the line. She must have at least considered the possibility that Jessica was one of the moles helping Apotheosis. Firmia herself had noted as much during the debrief, and while she was slightly less suspicious of the Captain than before, the pieces still fit for the most part. Roxanna was in no position to be making charges like that, though. She was declawed and trying to dull the pain with alcohol while miserably awaiting her fate.

"I have another question, but I understand if it's too personal ..." Firmia avoided making eye contact while she find the best way to ask Roxanna about her own motives. "What's your stake in all of this?" Firmia wouldn't want Roxanna's job, even if the pay was astronomical, so her curiosity was truly genuine. There had to be something personal at stake if the fear of termination managed to chase the XO straight into that bottle. "Do you really enjoy your job that much?" ... doubtful. She couldn't help but stare through Roxanna. "... what are you afraid of losing, here ...?"


"Never thought I'd see those two talking alone," Brant stared for a moment. "Must be the wine," he shrugged, turning back to Hannah. "I'm not really sure what I want, but definitely something with a nice mix to it. Maybe a big sandwich." The ship had a lot of ingredients to choose from, so that should be easy, and Brant had no doubt Hannah could dice said ingredients with a knife twice as fast as anyone else. Probably faster. "Think they've got avocados in here? I haven't been to the farm, so I wouldn't know if we grow them or just store them in deep freeze. I've been surviving off the pre-made stuff since we're so busy all the time."

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Jess had called out after her, almost sounding... well not really upset so much, as left behind. Still that was an easy enough fix wasn't it? So... why wasn't she? Hmm. Gonna give her a few moments here, and then, well, she'd think of something.

When the captain mentioned bugs as a possibility, Abigail slapped herself on the forehead. Of course electronic surveillance was a possibility, and a helluva lot more likely than mind-reading clone soldiers. Hah, she'd been such a fool and got worked up over that paranoid possibility for nothing. At least nothing stupid had come from it.

"Yeah, I know, made me pretty sick wondering on how they figured out, or who squealed, or just what. She even knew you were running a little late, while I was pretty much on time, had a few negative implications about that that made me wanna smack her..." Abby frowned. Actually... "Though that was just for the lead-up stuff right? I mean, you got your few extra minutes and got up to the bridge before we really started trading blows, so it's not like they could have figured that out from battle data or anything... hmm. What else?"

Chris had had no shortage of words to share, both in the room and at the sims, but what were the more important, or at least most amusing. "Ha, oh right. She was disappointed that it was me who showed up to her room, instead of Brant. Cause I was taken and she couldn't flirt with me like she could've with him. Though, that's a bit questionable taste. I mean, maybe I'm not the best judge on men, and he is pretty built but... Dude's a total herbivore, ain't he? Wouldn't matter anyway from what else she said, seems they fucked up her mind pretty good, she's barely got any emotion other than anger, at least that she can really pick up on consciously. What a fucked up way to live. Girl's probably got no game at all."

Okay, enough talking for now, time to see what was going on. Abigail had done a quick lather and rinse on the most offensive areas, making sure any oil, grease, and grime was cleared off, but she'd paused before starting in on the hair, always one of the bigger projects. Adjusting the showerhead so it wouldn't spray all the wrong places while she did so, Abby popped open the door to the walk-in shower and leaned her head and upper torso out. "You coming in or not? Just need to know if I should hurry things up so as to get back out there quicker."

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"Okay, I will... make some for you then. You can eat it later, if that's what you would... prefer." Kim replied, blushing a bit at Christina's positive appraisal of her... though it only lasted for a moment, the increased cafeteria traffic catching her attention as several parties entered... Brant, Hannah, Firmia... a bit more active that Seung-Min would have expected given the time, but it wasn't much of a problem, really. Well, not for her. As Christina alluded, she might have problems filtering a crowd...

"That's alright, Chrissy, If you need to bow out, go ahead." Kim reassured the blonde before pulling out some ingredients to work with, included among the obvious rice and various pickled vegetables appeared to also be assorted cuts of tuna, squid, and seaweed... oh my.

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Cooking Squad

"I can do a big sandwich," Hannah smiled, looking over at Firmia and Roxanna again. Hopefully an issue didn't spring out of them... Roxanna's disdain for the captain was nearly palpable, and Firmia's felt like a punch to the face. If they joined forces... Not even Jessica could talk them down. It probably wasn't anything to worry about, an amusing terror at best, but still, she hoped nothing came out of it. Watching them for just a moment before continuing over to where Kim had begun her preparations, Hannah took in what she was making... It seemed decidedly Asian inspired, whether it be Korean or some other region, she couldn't tell at a glance.

"I hope whatever you are making turns out properly," she offered, rummaging around the fridge for several things. Ham and turkey, mayonaise, mustard, lettuce, tomatoes, onion-- if she'd managed the kitchen sink as well, no one would've been surprised. Gracefully carrying the full load over to the counter, she began to set everything out before heading over to grab a suitable loaf of bread. "Brant!" she called off to him, "please come over and tell me what you do not prefer on your food."

Meanwhile, Christina remained rather quiet, appreciating Hannah's presence. Even if she could think and emote, whatever was up with that, she didn't put out and pressure. Really is a robot... Sometimes she forgot. Walking up behind Kim and looking over her shoulder, she cocked an eyebrow. That was quite a selection... She must've been pretty hungry.

Please Restart Jess.exe

Brant got Jess worrying for just a moment, she'd said all those pretty things, and now, she had to say 'whoops, sorry, banged Abby, forget about all of that'. Her reasoning was logically sound, but not emotionally, a tiny sigh escaping. She was glad Chris didn't try hitting on her new girlfriend, though... Not that she would've had the bravado to tell her to stop, just like earlier with Aliza. What's wrong with me? Jess scoffed under the sound of the shower, not wanting to bother Abby. It seemed Abby wanted to bother her, though!

"Maybe we can have Megumi take a look at her, see if there's anything shhhheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee..." Jess voice trailed off as she ended up staring, not at all expecting the brazen display. It took her a whole three seconds to realize she'd been staring, squeaking hard and spinning around. "S-Sorry! Hahahaha... Ah, uhm... I, yeah, s-sure... Sorry." What are you doing? You're so awkward! Oh my God! Jessica what the fuck is wrong with youuuuuu! Mentally yelling at herself, Jess had already said yes, blushing from top to bottom and starting at her clothes. Her toes would probably be red, at this rate...

Edited by SnakeMomMelissa

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Presents for a Pal

Despite her initial demeanor, Caroline did not seem displeased or bothered that the boy asked for help. Sales were sales, probably? She seemed to take a moment to figure out what he was asking for, initially. "Hmm... Is your friend, about your age?" The words rolled off her tongue slowly. Age would probably factor into what a boy found funny or not, and most importantly hint what shirt size they probably needed. Nonetheless, the clerk seemed to have a few things in mind already. "Maybe one of these..."

In her own leisure pace, the clerk picked up a few shirts from the racks, she seemed to struggle a bit and pause for a few moments. "Hmm, maybe these are good? I'm not that good with dark humour..." One of the shirts seemed to be a play on the Apotheosis' logo, depicting the three hydra heads in different stages of melting, with the image of a buff eagle with shades holding a modern laser rifle and smoking a cigar and the phrase 'America, f*ck yeah!' below the picture. "...Too patriotic?" Another one seemed to be of a cartoon show named 'Dick and Barty', though its art style wasn't exactly appealing, maybe it wasn't for kids? "Too mainstream..."  Another shirt seemed to have the depiction of a rather creepy yellow-and-red clown calmly smiling at the viewer, holding a soda a rather stuffed hamburger seeming to contain a human heart instead of a burger patty. "Too vegan?" The last shirt she seemed to grab had pretty pleasing, child-like visuals in contrast, with happy dolphins swimming, a sun with a smiley face, and cute squirrels decorating the borders... with the phrase 'I'm dead inside :)' smack dab in the middle. "Uhh... would he like pants, maybe? There are some cool ripped pants..." The clerk didn't seem like the most adept at this, but at least she was trying? 

Weeb Talk

"What, Partially Recyclable Biochemist in two days? That's a lot of dedication, geez... It's really good, though, I understand you wouldn't want to stop at a cliffhanger!" Two days was insane, was she on break when she did it? No matter, at least they had something in common to talk about, at least, and that was good! She seemed to be a bit of a shipper, too. Makoto wasn't particularly hot on that, but it seemed like a topic she could open up to. "Huh, did you have any pairings you were cheering on?" Not like Biochemist was that big on pairable characters... but fandoms always found a way. Makoto shuddered to think.

It was good that she didn't freeze up in the library then and there, Makoto had his doubts, but as she seemed to have some volumes to pick up herself, the manga section was a likely stop for both of them. "Oh! Magisphere is up to volume 7 right now, people were complimenting it so I was going to pick it up early. They say it's focusing more on the side characters like Garland the gray knight and setting up for something big." It was nice to focus on side characters, but the antagonist of the first arc that got its butt kicked was always an interesting choice. "Oh, the Gospel spin off... I haven't seen it, myself. Is it worth watching?" She seemed to have close enough interests, surprisingly.

Of Use

"My stake...?" Roxanna was at a loss for words. Maybe it was the alcohol slowing her down, or the fact she never expected this kind of talk from anybody in the Riese, or maybe she just lost control of her life too much. "I don't... I used to be a Captain, before being assigned here." Maybe it'd make more sense to explain from the beginning, she wasn't too sure herself... "Not the best one... I made a few mistakes in space, I lost my crew... No, I'm not proud of that. I hoped I could prove myself again, but instead... I'm here, serving a girl I never thought could lead a ship." Roxanna let out a long sigh. "I... don't want to quit. I could live off of my inheritance, but... I don't. I don't want that at all." Then again, she wasn't making a case for herself lately.

Edited by Xinnidy

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The XO was oddly relatable. Having once been a captain, herself, it must have been absolutely soul crushing to be stuck serving under Jessica. A person's mistakes would almost always follow them to their grave, though. The loss of her own crew wouldn't sit well with the ANF. It was only natural she wouldn't get anything more than a supporting role at best, going forward. Redemption also seemed like a far off dream considering the way the Riese operated. Anything Roxanna did in battle would be overshadowed by Jessica's gunnery and the Riese's mobile suit pilots. This was very likely a dead end position for her, and she was in danger of losing even that ...

Firmia's own situation was markedly different, but still carried with it a dead end position in the organization, and the loss of the autonomy she was fighting tooth and nail to hold onto. She could live out her life in the lap of luxury, as well ... to an extent, but then it would all be just like before, with her grandfather making all of her decisions for her. Two weeks; that was Firmia's deadline, and then the Kremlin and the Alkaev company would become her enemies as surely as Apotheosis was. While she wasn't especially bothered by an outcome like that, the reality of the situation was that Firmia didn't have the manpower or resources to exist independent of any nation or organization. Not yet.

"Losing crewmen is a monumental mistake," Firmia said, her tone gentle, but she didn't want to give the impression that she thought light of an incident like that. In some ways this was actually a good scar for the XO to be carrying. Jessica hadn't gone through anything like this as far as Firmia knew. She hadn't had to deal with the reality of being solely responsible for the deaths of her allies. In short, she hadn't learned that lesson, yet. Roxanna had. Even if she still wasn't fit for the role of a captain, that experience made her more valuable to the crew than she knew. Putting it bluntly, someone had to make sure the Captain's negligence didn't cost them valuable resources or their lives. The XO needed to be working around the clock, not drinking in the cafeteria ...

"If you don't want to quit, then you have to work even harder," Firmia crossed her arms, "That's what I'm doing. If I don't take care of my people, we won't stand a chance once Apotheosis finally starts taking us seriously. You have to do the same for the Riese, because she won't." Firmia could see the Captain in her mind's eye, right now, relaxing in a hot tub with one of the crew or something. The fact that they were at Central, debatably the safest location within the ANF, would likely exasperate the issue like never before. "When her guard's down and she's unfocused--around 90% of the time unfortunately, you need to be on guard and focused. Keep on top of the crew, make sure no one's having major issues and just suffering by themselves, and make sure everyone knows how to respond in an emergency."

Visiting Nikolai in particular was a good idea, and might even produce a rippling effect. He was the most thoroughly damaged of all the Riese's crew members and the destruction of the Umbra was likely still fresh in the crew's mind. Even if the XO didn't have anything in particular to say to him, just letting the boy know that the officers still acknowledged him would speak volumes all by itself. "She probably hasn't been to the infirmary in a good long while," Firmia smiled faintly, letting her arms down, "You need to be the one to make that visit. Even if she has, going yourself is important; don't leave it up to her. I know it sounds like 'picking up the slack,' but it's far more important than that. You need to make sure the crew knows that they can depend on you, and you need to do that without just saying it. In fact, you shouldn't have to say anything about it." Actions spoke louder than words. Actions were probably the only weapons left in Roxanna's arsenal that could possibly affect the situation, anyway. She wasn't talking her way into the Captain or her uncle's good graces. And more importantly, in taking her position seriously, it was something the XO ought to be doing.


There wasn't a single ingredient among the selection that Brant just plain didn't like, but just like pineapple pizza, there were just some things he wanted separated. In this instance, it was the ham and turkey. Brant preferred one type of meat per 'item' for the most part. Being the lighter of the two meats Hannah picked, Brant opted for the turkey. It was a midnight snack after all. The lettuce, tomatoes, and onion could also stick around as ingredients. That just left the sauce. Mayonnaise wouldn't screw up the overall taste if he was wrong about the balance of flavor, but it was pure background noise compared to mustard sauce. "Having trouble deciding between the mayo and the mustard, but let's hold off on the ham for now. One type of meat per item is more my speed." He was missing the avocados too, but it was what it was.

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"Thank you... the same to you." Kim offered in return, as Hannah wished her endeavours within the kitchen well. Setting a few woks and a pot to heat, Kim began combining several ingredients together and doling them out amongst the various cooking devices at play. At a glance, there appeared to be a hot seafood salad beginning in a wok, as well as the start of some sort of batter coming together in a bowl. Additionally, some rice was beginning to make it's rounds in the rice cooker, and a final pot containing several mixed ingredients, notably various veggies and the rather modest cuts of tuna steak.

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Ho Hum

"Ah, right. No ham. That is fine. And, why not both?" Hannah snatched up the other meat and brought it back to the fridge, jumping a moment. "Right..." She came back with an avocado, and one large sub. The kitchen was well stocked, good for the both of them. She brandished a knife and got to work on the veggies and the bread, cutting through them all swiftly and with no mistakes. The avocado would take a second longer, but it was quickly cut into, split apart, and peeled, spread among the bread along with the rest. That just left the meat and Brant's decision making, as Hannah began to mumble to herself. "I never felt like," two pauses, "so miserable." It didn't sound like she was lamenting anything, if Brant was listening, it was almost singing. "I never felt like thinking this will last forever." The most comfortable smile spread onto her face, was she even aware she was singing? Either way, she paused that and looked at Brant, hoping he'd made a decision.

Meanwhile, Christina kept watching whatever Kim was doing with curiosity and confusion, eyebrows cocked everywhere. "This sure isn't burgers and fries... So, like... What are you making...?" It was enough of a distraction to help filter out the XO's wafting negativity.

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"It's a take on street food from back home." Kim began, flipping the food sizzling away in her woks as she spoke.

"Specifically, seared tuna gimbap with a side of kimchi and ojingeo-muchim, and some hotteok for dessert... speaking of, do you have any particular preference for dessert flavours?" Kim asked... she could still alter the filling on them, so may as well ask.

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Both? Brant supposed it couldn't hurt all that much. He was definitely willing to throw caution to the wind once Hannah found the final ingredient and got to work slicing and dicing. "Alright, sure," Brant agreed. As expected, Hannah was quite fast with a blade. Watching her flawlessly break down the various ingredients got him thinking. They really ought to consider giving her a personal sidearm for self defense. If Vera could make a sword work, Brant was sure Hannah could get away with it.

"Sorry you two had to handle second contact that way," Brant smiled apologetically at Seung-Min and Christina, "but you did good job, though. I was kind of worried we wouldn't be able to damage those things."

Saying roundabout hellos to his fellow squad mates was all well and good, but Brant was wondering about something regarding Christina. It was just a shame he'd never be able to ask her about it. Even if the Chris issue was important enough to warrant bringing up--which it most certainly wasn't, Brant had a feeling Christina's assessment wouldn't even help ... or at least he felt she would point out how different they both seemed to be. She might be right, too. Chris seemed to have two speeds: 'Hurry it up,' and 'Go away.' Better to just deal with it himself.

Brant glanced back at Hannah when she started speaking, worried for a split second until he noticed that the words in no way matched her expression. Was she singing? "What's that from?" he quietly asked.

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Whimsical

"Street food, huh... Yeah, I can't pronounce half those, but I like tuna, so..." She wasn't gonna say no to something like that, it smelled pretty nice. Kim certainly knew what she was doing... Wait, was Hannah singing? Huh? Brant chimed in on it first, Christina storing his hello for after.

"What's what from?" Hannah asked him, completely oblivious to what had happened.

Alright, chiming in now, not later. "You were singing. LIke... A few lines."

"I... I was?" Hannah looked alarmed, and puzzled. She looked over at Brant, that must've been what he meant. She stopped her culinary expertise a moment to check her memory banks for-- "Oh." Hannah calmed down. "It appears to be a part of my idle system. I had not known it was here... Then again, I haven't spent much time around groups of people. It's... I suppose it's sort of like a screensaver." That was embarrassing to say, but there it was. "I didn't even realize it was happening. How silly... A-Anyway, Brant, your food's done." She'd taken the time to finish it up when she figured out what was going on, topping it off with the sauces and closing it shut near perfectly, nothing spilling out. Multipurpose machine indeed.

"Huh... That's kinda weird, but, I guess." Hannah seemed to flinch from the weird comment, though she didn't change her expression. "Anyway, Brant, thanks, I guess." Christina held her own sort of awkward smile. "It's the single most painful thing I've ever gone through... So I can only hope it doesn't happen again. It was like... Someone put fifty bricks on my face, and pushed down on them. But... My mind's face? It was bad. Don't really want to meet anymore aliens if it's gonna be like that..." She had a feeling this wouldn't be the only time, though. "The... The one talking in my head, said. That I was an anomaly, a... A mistake." She'd not mentioned this at the meeting, but... "That I shouldn't exist, as a human, with their 'powers'. That, dampening whatever that my brain does... I dunno. It, just scares me."

"That is alright, Christina," Hannah said, trying to sound gentle. "I do not think anyone would handle being assaulted by the unknown easily. You are alive, and so is Lieutenant Kim. That speaks for itself how well you did."

"...I-I guess. Thanks." The faintest little red slipped into her cheeks. Maybe she'd finally been helpful? Maybe.

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Kim hadn't even made note of the gentle singing going on nearby, only registering it when it was brought up that it was Hannah doing it... she was beginning to blend in so well that unless you were paying distinct attention, it was difficult to tell her apart from any other person. With that quick exchange sorted... some sort of idle process, apparently, the topic of conversation shifted over to the... unfortunate encounter earlier in the day. Kim nodded to affirm Christina's assessment of the feeling, though she had a few things to chime in on her own.

"Even if we managed to... do some damage, it was mostly superficial. They seemed... reluctant to engage the Heion Riese, though if they're... working with Apotheosis, that is understandable.  And Hannah is right, you should give yourself... more credit. I only got us out because of the... opening you made when you pushed back... at them."

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