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Chapter Eight: Drake's Dream!

Silanon

Four Thousand Club
"I'd second the caution. Especially since we're about to get the isotope. No point in risking the Commander's life unnecessarily, now that we're headed to Antarctica. With what little we know, thus far - I doubt there'd be much to be gained, asking her for input." Ylva's eyes, fixated on a spot on the floor for a while, seek out Toph. "If you say 'now's the time', then that's fine. But if there's any risk, I'd say it's not worth it. From what I understand, we're about to meet her in person within the next week or so. That's better than not meeting her at all, if something goes wrong. And like Mario just said - there is still much to learn. Mistakes happen. Even if it should be safe."
 

Dannigan

Kaerri's Man. =)
Supporter
Finally, she looks over at Beema and Hercules and says, "I don't know which one I want to give hugs to first, so both of you, come here!"
Without hesitation, breathless Beema climbs up to Hercules's shoulder and after brushing her cheek against his, she hops off, landing on all fours beside Toph. There, she eagerly and animalistically rears up on her hind legs with her arms very wide and accepts Toph's offer.

When a Broo hugs to you, it is not like hugs of most humans. Most Broo take hold with a fierce grip and pull their body close to yours, pressing themselves against you in a warm, comfortable clasp of obvious affection that just seems to shout, "Me Luv Yoo!"

Everyone can easily hear the audible rumbling from happy Beema's throat and chest. She is purring. Her fangs show slightly. Toph immediately senses the smooth hard muscles that make up Beema's body. There is a brief discovery that if Beema and Toph were to wrestle, Beema could make Toph work for it. Broo are simply built stronger than average adult humans. This difference shows even in their youngest. And yet, with a single glance into those wild orange eyes, any of you can tell that this young she-leopard will never be your intellectual match.

For several moments, it is as if the would-be shaman does not want to let go of Toph. But then the young alien girl remembers that she is supposed to share. Wordlessly, the Beastie turns to Hercules, smiling, beckoning him over with one open paw.

Mack watches all of this fondly. "Good ideas, team," the Californian says to Elinor and Ylva. Then she speaks to Toph in the manner of someone who doesn't want to interrupt, but feels she should. "Hey, ah, Bruce Leanne and Ylva here bring up some good points. We don't have to do this now unless you want to. Do you want Doc Hitomi's opinion?"

Hitomi Yashida. Now there was someone Toph has not been able to see much of in the past two weeks. Their schedules kept clashing. Hitomi's especially. Every time they had tried to set up some time for just the two of them, it always fell through. That was the way of military life sometimes, but there was no rule saying they had to like it. =)

Mack makes Toph an offer. "Say the word and I'll approach The Prof and the captains for you. What's the call, Muppet? We want to try this now or later?"

( Captain Hesperus Captain Hesperus Tag on the bottom! =) )
 
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Psychie

Princess Psychie
Toph thinks for a long time, then finally says, "This is not something that I feel comfortable making the decision for. I'm too emotionally invested in this. Before any decision is made, we should hear from those with clearer heads. Lets call the Professor and Hitomi, and hear from our Broo friends, too. Then once we have all the important information in hand, we can decide what to do."
 

Kaerri

Dannigan's Lady
Administrator
Supporter
That had not been how Elinor interpreted Mack's question. The Georgian farmgirl thought Mack was only asking whether to get advice now or later. Until Toph answered, Elinor hadn't realized that her true opinion was that she was dead set against blithely wandering into the infirmary and hoping they didn't break anything -- including Toph's mom -- through their collective ignorance. Still, since Toph was now agreeing to go get that advice, it maybe wouldn't do much good to say so. Instead, she just nodded and replied, "Not just cooler. More knowledgeable." She folded her arms and leaned against the nearest wall to wait.
 

Sherwood

Luna's Concubine
Supporter
Mario looks over at Toph, trying to sympathize with her, but he's finding it hard to get his head into the same place that she's in right now. After all, he's never been looking at one of his own family members in a cold sleep chamber in critical condition to know what might be going on inside. The fact that Toph is willing to step back and ask for help in making a decision is a good sign, one that the tanker respects.

Turning to look at the nearest Sam, he asks, "Can you please send word to Hitomi, Professor Stein, and the Broo shaman to please join us? We are in need of their input on this, since we are swimming in the deep end, and there are sharks circling around us, ready to attack with any wrong move on our part."
 

Dannigan

Kaerri's Man. =)
Supporter
Captain Hesperus Captain Hesperus (Taaaag!) (Long post. Enjoy, Gang!)

"Leave that to me," Mack tells Mario and the Sam unit complies. "I think this whole thing requires a more personal touch. Besides, I somehow doubt our ship's doctor, The Prof, and Bong are all free to come join us." Shirley adds, "In fact, we should probably be having this little conversation in the Sick Bay."

Shirley heads over to the nearest intercom. After a few brief calls, she returns to the Wild Cards. "Prof and Doc Hitomi are on board." Mack smirks at Elinor. "But where in the heck is Bong?"

Beema gives Toph one more squeeze before she retreats to the Briefing Room. "Bong sleep. Broo sleep anywhere. Everywhere. Come I show you!" There, at the huge table that dominates the room. There, she pops opens a hatch located at the base of the table revealing a certain wild-haired Broo Shaman curled-up and snoozing in a cat-nap.

"Hay!" she raps him on the skull. "Masta Bong! Wild Card need you!"

"Blaaargh. Ah? Monsta attack?"

"No Monsta. Only Commanda Kirin!" Beema's statement rouses the bleary-eyed Bong. Mack, Cera, and Trouble watch as Beema explains the plan and he nods along with it as easily as Beema had when she produced the idea.

"Ooh. She worse dan monsta." Toph finds herself under Bong's iron gaze for a moment. "Commanda Kirin in Spirit World. Very trouble. Very confuse. This maybe has much danger. Toph want go see Momma Kirin in Spirit World now?"

Beema bounces. "Yah yah! She want go with Wild Card! We go Sicky Bay to Beer Stein and Hee-toh-mee now. You come?"

"Mmm," Bong rubs his chin and nods with a yawn. "Is Professa Stein. No Beer Stein."

"But," Beema compains. "His beeeg beeeg belly!" she sticks out her tummy in an exaggerated motion.

"Shush, oaf."

Beema giggles and runs up behind Cera and taps her shoulders experimentally. The Ura-Meltrandi pauses and after a glance of comprehension, Cera gives a welcoming grin. A moment later, Cera is walking with you down the Broadsword's corridor with a "Beema-become-backpack" hanging from her shoulders, her legs looped under Cera's carrying arms. Bong staggers a few steps and leans his head on the nearest Wild Card, Elinor, as you make your way to Sick Bay.

* * *​

A short time later, you find yourselves back in the Broadsword's "Sicky Bay." There, Professor Stein is assisting Hitomi in a nurse-like fashion, attending a member of the Broadsword crew, a young Middle Eastern man with handsome features who is flat against a bed and wrapped in some kind of thermal blanket system which appears to be keeping him warm. He would probably be a bit more handsome except he is going in and out of consciousness. He wears a pained and uncertain expression like he doesn't know what is going on. For several moments, Hitomi doesn't even seem to to realize the Wild Cards have entered the Sick Bay and are watching from not far away.

"Give me 3 degrees warmer, " she instructs her mentor.

"Three degrees warmer." Professor Stein repeats as reaches over to one of many nearby touchscreen monitors and from its fancy, multi-colored display, he readily taps in commands.

Hitomi checks the contents of something inside of a futuristic needle-less chemical delivery system you've heard referred to as an "airhypo." After a deliberate and calculated adjustment, Hitomi administers the contents into the groggy man's carotid artery and gently, easily, the man relaxes. Hitomi leans down to watch his face. Calmly and reassuringly, she says a few statements to him but they are not in English but in what sounds like Arabic.

He murmurs an innocent-sounding question. Hitomi can't help but laugh softly before replying. Whatever she says seems to get a grin out of him and then his mind is away as he lapses into a very deep sleep.

Professor Stein, ever-curious, asks. "May I know what he just asked you?"

Hitomi's beautiful smile comes into view as she reaches for an intercom. "He asked if I was an angel."

"And?"

"I said I would only let him know that if he pulled through. But first, he had to obey me and go to sleep." She touches the intercom. "Sick Bay to Captain Piper."

"Piper here. How's Youssef?"

"Back in Never Never Land. There's nothing wrong with him; he's just taking an unusual amount of time to wake from cryogenic sleep. According to your records, it can take up to three weeks."

At that moment, Bong leans over to Mack and says, "Need Piepa say yes. Nobody go near Commanda Kirin without Piepa or she airlock them."

Mack nods in understanding. The Californian waves quickly at Hitomi, points to the intercom, and mouths something to Hitomi.

"Captain? Are you able to come down to the Sick Bay? Mack from the Wild Cards is requesting you."

"On my way."

After all that, Hitomi finally lets out a pent-up breath and waves happily to Toph. It has apparently been like this all day for all this time, you have noticed five more beds with unconscious people in them for a variety of apparent reasons. "Hi there!" she says as she joins you.

* * *​

Captain Piper arrives in Sick Bay and all is told to everyone. Lots of detailed discussion is exchanged between everyone present.

Captain Piper is the first to respond to your unearthly request. She turns to Bong, her arms crossed.

"So... you've been talking to Commander Kirin this whole time?"

Bong shakes his head. "I guide," he corrects. "Piepa, I guide or she maybe die. Undastand?"

"No, but I trust you."

Bong takes a step forward and raises his voice just loud enough for all to hear. "Good. I guide Commanda Kirin. Trip not long. Not far. I can guide Wild Card. But..." Bong says firmly, "...only Toph Kirin and me approach Commanda Kirin. Others only watch or talk to Toph. Undastand?"

"I 'undastand,' but I'm not the one who might be going." Piper nods. "Does Commander Kirin know what's going out here? Does she know we've made it here? To Earth? To the year 2025? That Drake's... gone? Any of that?"

"No," Bong says sharply. "Her mind still in Future-Past. Still on Broadsword during monsta attack at Black Binary when bridge blown up. She very injure. Verrry delicate, her mind. Only Toph and me," he repeats.

Piper chews her lower lip. "And what do you guys say?" she asks Professor Stein and Hitomi.

Professor Stein says, "To have this many Traversers together in the Blue World is... in itself history-making. With Bong's permission, I will act as a protector for the others. It is imperative we stay together. No wandering! If you all do as Bong and I say, with Bong at the lead, then I'm in."

Beside Toph, Hitomi takes a deep breath. "This kind of talk is beyond the reach of technology and science. All I can do from our side is observe. That's it. I can only monitor Commander Kirin's progress and via polyphonic nexus tell you if there are changes. Whatever happens, if you choose to do this, you have to keep Commander Kirin calm. If you can do that, then I say go for it. But if you muck this up somehow, I can't offer any medical magic to right it."

Piper gives a very deliberate thumbs-up to all of you. "I'll give the green light. But I've got one request! I'd do it myself but I'm not a Traverser."

"What's that?" Hitomi asks.

"If... if you can... just ask her... what would she do we do about the goddamned Zeki? If she's able to answer that, we... I need... to know. Anything you can give me is solid gold."

Many eyes turn to Toph. "Okay," Piper says to Muppet. "You're the closest to the commander and you can go. So what is it you want? You want to go through with this now or later or never?"
 

Psychie

Princess Psychie
Toph thinks hard for a long minute, her mind racing. "I am thinking, that if this is to be done, it should be after we get back from Antarctica. That way, there is no danger of causing harm to either myself or to my - I mean, Commander Kirin. I couldn't live with myself if I did anything to harm her on the cusp of getting the Ice-9 we need to bring her out of cryosleep and heal her. That will keep me focused on the mission ahead, and not getting distracted."

She reaches up and wipes away a tear that suddenly appears on her cheek. "I have to remember that this mission is to save the Earth, and not just one person. But once we get our hands on the Ice-9, I will be using it to bring my mom back to me."
 

Sherwood

Luna's Concubine
Supporter
Of all the things that Mario was expecting to hear, having Toph say that she is willing to hold off on diving into the Blue World to get in touch with her mother is not one of them. He says, "Well, its not like Commander Kirin is going anywhere. Her condition, while bad, is stable, right? She's not in any immediate danger of slipping away, correct? If that is the case, then waiting until we have the Ice-9 in hand might not be a bad idea. Lieutenant, let me reassure you that I will move Heaven and Earth to get the Ice-9 for you mother. If there is any chance that this is going to work, we will make it happen."
 

Silanon

Four Thousand Club
Ylva leans back against one of the empty beds, gives Top a baffled look like she hasn't seen the fellow Wild Card quite like this before - and discards a bunch of words, prepared in her mind, because they suddenly don't apply any longer. For the moment, at the very least. Sometimes, one expects to be heard - like in the discussion about what mission to take. At other times, one simply says one's piece of warning, without expecting much to happen. The advice for Toph Kirin was one of those moments. One where, given how Toph argued before, there really was no way she'd ever consider not taking this opportunity. On a day where the leadership has a showing like today - it's a nice change of pace to be pleasantly surprised. Maybe Toph's mother is the Commander they apparently need; but Toph has inherited some of those qualities herself, it seems.

"Good call, Toph Kirin." Ylva's eyes clearly show her approval, a thing that - quite plainly - few have seen, today. It's been one of those kind of days, until now. "Doubt I could've made it, in your shoes." It's easy to be rational when one's not personally involved. "We'll pay Antarctica a visit, get your mother back. Then we can aks her all our questions directly. Without any risks."
 
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Kaerri

Dannigan's Lady
Administrator
Supporter
Elinor reaches out to pat Toph's shoulder. "I think that's prob'ly best," she says quietly. "We're on our way to get what she needs. I know it's hard to wait, but if you're gonna have the chance to physically talk that soon, well. I wouldn't think it worth the risk either."

"But," she adds, looking at Hitomi and the other assembled experts. "Could we maybe try this sometime with someone who isn't fragile? Test case, to see if it would work like we hope, and to get some practice with it? If it does, might be as we could help someone that way, down the line."
 

Sherwood

Luna's Concubine
Supporter
Mario rubs his hands together in excited anticipation. "Great! Now that has been decided, lets all go and find a good place to introduce Cera the wonders of the world of science fiction! We need popcorn. Can't have the total movie experience without popcorn. Does the Broadsword have any in the kitchen?"
 

Dannigan

Kaerri's Man. =)
Supporter
Captain Hesperus Captain Hesperus Kaerri Kaerri Psychie Psychie Sherwood Sherwood Silanon Silanon (Tag.)

Part 1 of 2. In the Broadsword's Sick Bay.

"D.I.Y tuning - Vangelis - Blade Runner Blues 432Hz ( 回聲增幅+音場延伸Echo increase+Sound field extension)"

Toph thinks hard for a long minute, her mind racing. "I am thinking, that if this is to be done, it should be after we get back from Antarctica. That way, there is no danger of causing harm to either myself or to my - I mean, Commander Kirin. I couldn't live with myself if I did anything to harm her on the cusp of getting the Ice-9 we need to bring her out of cryosleep and heal her. That will keep me focused on the mission ahead, and not getting distracted."

She reaches up and wipes away a tear that suddenly appears on her cheek. "I have to remember that this mission is to save the Earth, and not just one person. But once we get our hands on the Ice-9, I will be using it to bring my mom back to me."
Mack frowns and shakes her head. "And just how are we going to save Earth without people like her?"

"That's debatable," Hitomi leans back and says to Mack. "We need to work with facts." The doctor's tone and look is one of someone wanting to drop that particular subject for the moment. Mack complies, not wanting to debate it either. Like most, Mack just wants Commander Kirin's healthy return.

"Good call, Toph Kirin." Ylva's eyes clearly show her approval, a thing that - quite plainly - few have seen, today. It's been one of those kind of days, until now. "Doubt I could've made it, in your shoes." It's easy to be rational when one's not personally involved. "We'll pay Antarctica a visit, get your mother back. Then we can aks her all our questions directly. Without any risks."
Hitomi's Japanese-Polynesian features are beautiful even when she is deep in medical thinking. "Here's what's solid, everybody. It's probably best not to think in terms of absolutes when it comes to Commander Kirin's condition. Until she is fully recovered, if that happens, there will always be a chance of danger. Always that chance that she'll slip away. She might pass on today or outlive all of us in that cryo-chamber. Just remember, she's in cryogenic stasis because the injuries she received on the bridge in 2045. She's that bad off. In fact," Hitomi sighs, "I'm given to think that if she had to rely on today's technology... she'd have already passed."

Professor Stein asks with some concern. "So... it is a miracle she didn't die then and perhaps another miracle if the ICE-9 revives her?"

Hitomi looks across the Sick Bay toward the other five beds with the sleeping and sedated Broadsword crew. She finds herself nodding. "Yes, Professor."

Of all the things that Mario was expecting to hear, having Toph say that she is willing to hold off on diving into the Blue World to get in touch with her mother is not one of them. He says, "Well, its not like Commander Kirin is going anywhere. Her condition, while bad, is stable, right? She's not in any immediate danger of slipping away, correct?
Hitomi's answer is immedaite. "I don't know. The commander's life signs are critical but stable. She'd definitely die if the Broadsword lost power to the Cryogenic Chamber. Sam helped me hook up a biomonitor to her medical monitors. They'll immediately notify me of any changes in her condition. The problem is - if she does deteriorate, there's not much medical science can do about it. I can promise you this, though - if it does happen while you're out in the field, I'll advise you."

Elinor reaches out to pat Toph's shoulder. "I think that's prob'ly best," she says quietly. "We're on our way to get what she needs. I know it's hard to wait, but if you're gonna have the chance to physically talk that soon, well. I wouldn't think it worth the risk either."
Hitomi agrees. "That's exactly what we're looking at- a chance. A solid chance. No guarantee, but it sure is a lot better than just leaving her in cryo-sleep and wishing."

"But," she adds, looking at Hitomi and the other assembled experts. "Could we maybe try this sometime with someone who isn't fragile? Test case, to see if it would work like we hope, and to get some practice with it? If it does, might be as we could help someone that way, down the line."
Elinor's question blankets the room in silence. Hitomi again answers. "We don't have anyone else who's in the commander's highly-unusual... situation. Even if we did, I'd require a volunteer. Bong? You're coming at this from a place where science can't reach. Can what Elinor's asking be done?"

"No think so," he says. "Sometime... on Terrestria... when Broo dead-not dead, we go out. To see. Human say... 'test for echo.' For Commanda Kirin, I went. I call out. There was... echo. So... Commanda Kirin in place between life and death."

You see Beema rubbing a happy-looking Trouble who is upside-down in her arms. "I can ask?"

"Yes," Bong provides.

Beema asks Bong. "If Toph Kirin no talk to Commanda Kirin now, then what if Commanda Kirin die?"

"Then she die," Bong explains. "Toph Kirin was given choice. She decide. Is done."

"Okaaay," Beema looks disappointed, but only for a moment. Then she is back rubbing Trouble's belly and watching his metal feet wiggle in the air.

Hitomi asks Captain Piper. "ICE-9, from the Broadsword's records, is a Zeki-Zentraedi-made isotope they use to help change their forms, something about helping their bodies adapt and heal. Isn't that right, Captain?"

Piper rubs the back of her neck. "Pretty much. The Ura-Meltrandi won't touch anything made by the Zeki because they believe there are too many uncertainties and dangers. Unlike humans, if you lose a Zentraedi clone, who cares? Just make new clones. The Zeki could care less about the side effects or long-term well-being of their warriors, just as long as they serve their purpose." The red-haired young woman closes her eyes. "Unlike the Zentraedi that trashed Earth during the Rain of Death, I've seen Zeki take hits that should've killed them. And yet, they lived. Fought on. ICE-9, we believe, holds the key. But again, we've never used it. Never even considered it until this happened."

Piper opens her eyes and regards her Broo Shaman. "Bong? So you're guiding the commander? To where? What?"

"Home. Here." Bong licks his fangs, his Beastie face and fur a touch more apparent and inhuman in the full light of the Sick Bay. "Is simple," he explains. "Commanda Kirin need guide. She lost. Much confuse. Much fear. She strong today. You say... defiant. If she lost in Spirit World, she die. She no want die. And so, Bong help."

"Can you talk to her?"

"No. Only hope that she stay on path I leaved for her. But Commanda Kirin is strong. Smart. Wise. She will know what to do."

"Doesn't she always?" PIper says. "All right. Dismissed!"
 

Dannigan

Kaerri's Man. =)
Supporter
Part 2 of 2. In the Briefing Room preparing for the movie.

Mario rubs his hands together in excited anticipation. "Great! Now that has been decided, lets all go and find a good place to introduce Cera the wonders of the world of science fiction! We need popcorn. Can't have the total movie experience without popcorn. Does the Broadsword have any in the kitchen?"
Mario finds six flavors of popcorn waiting to be popped in the Briefing Room. Along with a portable microwave and a pair of mini-fridges stocked with ice-cold drinks, the ever-wonderful Sams have provided it out of one of the many, many boxes you last saw in Veracruz, Mexico.

The Wild Cards have about an hour to work out and get a quick shower before they gather in the Briefing Room to hang with one another without any of the post-workout sweat to get in the way of a damned good horror movie. Since John Carpenter's The Thing is a damned good horror movie, you'll most likely be sweating for entirely different reasons than those most-often found in a workout room. =)

There, under the large circular table that dominates the room, you find two cute-looking Beasties curled up and snoozing because Broo can and do nap just about everywhere they find halfway cozy. Beema wakes them and escorts them out where the two Beasties find an empty closet and somehow meld their feline-like bodies into that. Then they crash as if they had not even been disturbed!

The Briefing Room is reputed to be the best place on the entire vessel for movie and music-watching. This is because its holographic computer can display its contents evenly and comfortably in a 360-degree angle anywhere in the large donut-shaped room. Plus, the acoustics just happen to be very good here. Bass and trebles boom and ting as they should making poor recordings sound decent and great recordings a true experience to be enjoyed. Before Spaceman Sam departs (having delivered the aforementioned popcorn), "he" points out that most people sit along the edge of the room, either alone, in pairs, or huddled together (as the Broo oft do). Then the "empty" CVR-3 suit of many adventures and explorations is gone leaving you to your own designs.

In Robotech: Broadsword, movies like Alien/Aliens do not exist as Ridley Scott in this world went on to become a scientist doing his part for the war and the H.R. Giger of this time and place became one of Bob Ross's best students. Star Wars exists, because why not? Star Trek is also too cool not to exist, so "engage!" But of course, Macross and Robotech doesn't because their creators all banded together to become a wildly popular gaming company instead of movie-makers!

Therefore, John Carpenter's disgustingly-disturbing horror film promises to be a thing worth remembering. =)

See that? Didya see that? *fist-pump!* =)
 
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Captain Hesperus

Harbinger of the End Times and Apostle of Ghan
Administrator
Supporter
Hercules shrugged his big shoulders and sighed. Options given, decisions made. Given Captain Piper's dismissal and, notwithstanding any official orders to attend for the movie viewing, Hercules took himself down to the gymnasium to burn away his excess annoyance. As he deadlifted his personal best, his mind gnawed away at the greatest worry he had.
We aren't prepared for this, he concluded, and they're all taking this as if it'll be a cakewalk. We've been lucky so far.
He paused both in his lift and his thinking, remembering the moment in detail when Booty sacrificed himself.
We've been more than lucky. We've been cursed with survivors' luck.
He slammed the barbell down and went over to the heavy bag to start dismantling it with aggressive jabs, elbows and knees.
We've lost people, we've barely scraped through. And that was on our own turf, in environments we know and understand. But the Antarctic? What the hell do any of us know of that? It's the last great frontier, one that claimed dozens of lives by virtue of it's sheer emnity to human life.
Hercules finished battering the heavy bag, and it appeared to sag in relief after the pounding. His breaths came in ragged puffs ahd his chest heaved but an idea leapt into his head. Grabbing a towel from the pile in the changing room, he sought out the members of Adamantium team.
 

Dannigan

Kaerri's Man. =)
Supporter
Captain Hesperus Captain Hesperus Tag. =)

Later, Hercules would learn that that particular bag had to retire from active duty with a new, more heavy-duty bag put into its place. =)

Side Scene with Hercules and Adamantium

Hercules finds that making use of an intercom to call Sam turns out to be the smoothest way to find Adamantium. Samantha's reply is as country as ever. "Sugar plum, you just get those Greek buns
of yours up to Drake's! They done took over the bar again!"

After two weeks on the SCL-107 Broadsword, Hercules has a decent idea of how to get to where he needs to go. Upon reaching the hardy blast doors that enclose the bar, Herc notices the huge neon letters hanging above. "DRAKE'S." Simply walking toward the doors activates the sensor. The heavy hypercarbon doors unsheathe, making way for the huge wrestler to enter. Immediately, the sonic blast of loud rock music hits him all the way to his bones like a great wall of chaos and energy.

"CYBERPUNK 2077 - RESIST AND DISORDER by Rezodrone (Jason Charles Miller & Jamison Boaz)"

A handful of Sams stand quietly nearby a bunched-up score of Beasties sitting awestruck as wide-eyed Scary Jerry is howling in mid-frenzy, standing high atop a tilted table, arms and hands waving animatedly as he shares some evidently awesome tale of battles past. Hercules recognizes Chief Faydra, Sheesa, and Coosi among the pack. Murphy is seated amongst their number too, the old veteran of many battles clearly accepted by the hunters from Terrestria. "KEEEL DE MONSTA!" they all cheer at Jerry. "DIE, MONSTA, DIE!!"

This only fuels the leader of Adamantium who continues on. "Aw, he was one sweet motherfucker! There they were! Neck-deep in the muck! Surrounded by Monstas! Nobody made a sound when--" Crazy or not, Scary Jerry seems to be able to spin a good tale. It is enough to make one wonder what he is like come Hallowe'en.

About half a dozen of the Marine Recon team are seated at a table together. It's the table with the best view of the room, the exits, and it provides the best defensive seat in the house. They appear to have spotted Hercules the moment the front doors moved. It is then that Hercules notices that unlike the Sams, the Broadsword's non-special forces crew, and even some of the Broo, every one of the Marine Recon are armed with guns, knives, and grenades. It is less noisy where they're sitting. It's the kind of club noise where you can hold a conversation without worry of anyone outside the table overhearing it.

"Heeey, Wild Card!" Gabi the Mexican calls to Herc from her seat beside the professional-looking Cal and four others clearly of the same breed. The table is littered with beers, salsa, and nachos. It is an odd feeling to see half a dozen killers stare straight at you. Like large hunting cats in their own territory, they measure Herc up, looking for weaknesses and clues and strengths, and coming to their conclusions in mere moments. It's enough to make one feel like a paper target on a shooting range. But, Herc knows it's nothing personal. It's how Adamantium treats everyone.

Subconsciously mindful of her red snubby shotgun and her powerful-looking heavy scoped pistol, Gabi frees up an open chair and plops down in the booth beside a fit Hispanic fellow with unusually kind-looking eyes for someone in Marine Recon.

"Pull up a chair! We got somethin' we wanna ask you," Gabi waves as she reaches for a hard plastic box under the table.
 
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Captain Hesperus

Harbinger of the End Times and Apostle of Ghan
Administrator
Supporter
Hercules paused as he entered ‘Drake’s’, eyes taking in the room, reading the mood of the inhabitants. As he saw Murphy, he snapped a salute off and nodded in recognition to Faydra, before approaching the bar, grabbing a bottle of raki that, by the presence of a thin layer of dust, had not been popular, a tall shot glass and a bottle of cold mineral water. With these in hand, he strode over to the booth Gabi and her teammate were seated at and took a seat, giving a respectful distance between himself and the well-equipped Brazilian.

Once sat down, he carefully poured half the glass full of water then topped it up with the clear raki. As the two liquids mixed, they turned milky in color and the scent of aniseed permeated the air. He took a sip and let the spirit suffuse his mouth with its flavors before he swallowed. His lips twisted into a smile of pure pleasure and he turned to the Marines.
”Ask away, because I sure got a few questions for you, too.”, he sighed.
 

Dannigan

Kaerri's Man. =)
Supporter
Captain Hesperus Captain Hesperus (Tag.)

Side Scene with Hercules and Adamantium

Gabi turns to Cal. The burly short-haired bodybuilder doesn't have to speak too loudly to be heard over the music and Scary Jerry's carrying-on. "We wanna know - what's it like to talk to machines?"

Another swarthy slayer pulls on a cold one before adding more. "The Captain, and I mean Captain Drake, used to talk about the Broadsword like she was a living thing. A person. Ours is the only UEEF vessel with Sams and that's all because of Drake. If the rest of the fleet had known, we'd probably been taken outta commission so's the nerds could pick the ship apart"

"Si," adds the calm Hispanic fellow beside Gabi speaks with an accent Hercules identifies as probably Brazilian. "You Wild Cards, on top of becoming Marines, have each been blessed with an additional gift from the Lord. Can you tell us? Do firearms talk differently than mecha?"

"Yeah!" Gabi leans forward. "Padre's right; you Traversers are all special! Do machines get, like, pissed at us when we get them dirty in the field or do they like it? I mean, we depend on them for our lives, you know?" The team peers at Hercules like one entity, their attention all on Hercules.
 

Captain Hesperus

Harbinger of the End Times and Apostle of Ghan
Administrator
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Hercules’ brow furrowed at the question. What is it like to be a Traverser?
He took another sip as he pondered the questions.
“Being a Traverser, I can’t really say much on the matter myself. I don’t talk to the machines as well as the others. Mario, or LT Top, they’re the ones to really tell you about it. It’s subtleness, more than anything, when you’re Traversing with a device or weapon. Roughhousing and forcing won’t get you anyplace fast. That’s my issue, I’m too heavy handed. Last time I tried to persuade a sealed door to open, I nearly cooked my brain.
”But the machines? They do have a sense of purpose, a pride in their function. I think they want to be respected for their existence and their use. A gun, like you say, it’d understand if you get it all grimed up when you‘re in the thick of it, fighting ‘da monstaa’, but it’d also expect you to make good and clean it after. ‘Respect your gear and it’ll look after you’, right?”
He rubbed the back of his head as he talked, remembering that killer migraine that he had later been advised by Professor Stein could’ve be fatal and remembering the sight of Mack after her brainburn.
”I want to get better at it, to have that level of control the others have but,” he waved a hand over his broad chest, “subtle doesn’t come easy to me. And that leaves me feeling like the fifth wheel on this stagecoach. Like, everything I felt I was good fighting skills, my training to learn weapons and mecha maintenance and Traversing, none of them are much of anything here. You guys showed me that I’m an amateur when it comes to hand-to-hand, the Sams have the armory fully locked down and beyond ready for anything and every other Traverser here is leagues ahead of me in terms of skill. Makes a guy feel kinda worthless, ya know?”
He sat back and took another, longer sip of raki.
 

Kaerri

Dannigan's Lady
Administrator
Supporter
Elinor listened to the medical discussion without comment. This was way over her paygrade, requested opinions notwithstanding, and the mystical aspect just made it that much harder for her engineer's mind to follow. She'd already offered the one thing she knew to -- a test flight, as it were -- but it sounded like Commander Kirin's situation wasn't replicable enough for scientific testing, which only made Elinor feel more on the outside of the discussion. Not excluded, but out of her depth for sure. It was a relief when the Wild Cards were dismissed and she could bring her brain away from the metaphysical and back down to Earth.

The Wild Cards have about an hour to work out and get a quick shower before they gather in the Briefing Room to hang with one another without any of the post-workout sweat to get in the way of a damned good horror movie. Since John Carpenter's The Thing is a damned good horror movie, you'll most likely be sweating for entirely different reasons than those most-often found in a workout room. =)
While in the gym, Elinor quietly makes herself available to anyone who wants a spotter, or who just wants company with whatever they're doing. Teamwork can build anywhere, she figures.

Mario finds six flavors of popcorn waiting to be popped in the Briefing Room. Along with a portable microwave and a pair of mini-fridges stocked with ice-cold drinks, the ever-wonderful Sams have provided it out of one of the many, many boxes you last saw in Veracruz, Mexico.
"Thanks, Sam!" Elinor calls before the CVR-3 suit leaves the room. She surveys the popcorn flavors on offer, but finally settles on good ol' buttered. Special flavors were nice, but she wanted a taste of home just now. She "nuked" her bag, grabbed a drink at random, and found a seat along the edge of the room. The sight of Beema nearby and waiting caused her to stare in thought for a moment. Ordinarily, she'd've said a horror movie wasn't the sort of thing a kid should be watching. But Beema wasn't an ordinary kid, was she? Shaman-in-training, which probably included talking to the dead-not dead like Bong. And from all Elinor had learned of the Broo (which, admittedly, wasn't that much), it didn't seem like anyone was sheltering this child. She'd been brought along on a warship, after all. She waved Beema over to her. "This might be pretty scary," she warned the Broo girl. "But it's fake-scary. This is fiction, not real. It's OK if you want to leave, but if you want to stay, sit with me?" She patted the seat next to her.
 

Dannigan

Kaerri's Man. =)
Supporter
Side Scene with Hercules and Adamantium

Murphy's return salute is meaningful if heavily distracted. It appears that the veteran hasn't heard this particular tale before.

Adamantium takes in Hercules's thoughts as each of them silently digests his well-thought-out answer. One by one, they glance at each other - communicating paragraphs in simple looks, shrugs, and very subtle facial expressions. It is as if they are well-used to communicating without speaking.

Padre is the last to sit back. "You speak like Drake."

"Man," Cal sighs. "What I'd give to be able to do that! I've been working with guns my whole life. Even got names for some of 'em."

"Hell," one of the others grins, "I even seen you talkin' to 'em!"

"Yeah, but they never say anything back except 'bang, bang,' and 'click!'" That gets a round of chuckles from the Marine Force Recon team.

Gabi raises her chin at Hercules in that way some people do when they are sure of something. And Gabi is often certain before she opens her mouth. "Wild Card, it sounds to me like you know what'choo wan', but mebbe your expectations are too high, you know? You can't go 'round comparing yourself to nobody. That gets you nowhere."

"Damned straight," Cal reaches for his dark ale. "We'd all be fuckin' loony like Jerry if we went that route." Cal scans Hercules's expression. "And no. We don't know what you're talking about." Most of the team nods at this, a couple of them take on brief looks of worry toward Hercules. "Look, man. I don't know how the Wild Cards operate, but in Adamantium, we've each a role to fill and we're cross-trained when somebody else goes down. Our skills overlap. In an outfit like ours, we don't have the option otherwise."

Padre offers a warm grin as he tosses back some mineral water. "You won't learn to do anything well if you don't first give yourself time. Of course, we got you in DT (Defensive Training - hand-to-hand). We've been at this for years. You? What, weeks? Months? But most of us? We cannot drive a tank. Or look like we can lift one like you do."

Gabi offers. "Listen amigo. You don' get nowhere by just maintaining your body, right? You gotta push it! You ain't puuushin' it, Wild Card!" Gabi reaches to her side to her snubby shotgun. "Here. Say 'ello to my leetle friend," she quotes Scarface as she points the weapon in a safe direction, clears it with two loud clacking sounds, and double-checks it before she puts it on the table and pushes it in Hercules's direction.


"You see this little bitch?" Gabi grins. "I made her. You know why? Because there ain't nobody that thing won't knock on its ass at point-blank range. 'Mi Diabla' ("my female devil") there has saved people's asses. We trust Sam to most of the general maintenance so we can use that time developing and modifying weapons. We got all kindsa good shit we throw at de monsta! That's what the Broadsword's good at, man! Her miniature protoculture factory can make almost anything if you feed her right!"

Cal nods. "Jerry's the best at it. He developed, produced, tested, and perfected the rifles we use to take out the Invid Storm Troopers and Zeki Beastmasters." He points at the skinny gyrating soldier hopping up and down on the table to the laughter and vast amusement of the surrounding Broo and Murphy.

"Then Drake said, 'Look! Even the dog is in on it!!'" Jerry screams from atop the table and more surprised shrieks and howls of laughter follow.

Cal says, "It's crazy that you - a guy who can literally do the impossible - is asking us about the possible. Don't focus on what you can't do. Start focusing on what you can do and don't compare yourself with anybody but your future you. I'd start by asking Jerry and Sam. Maybe start modifying your mecha? That fuckin' new tank of yours looks badass, but it's clear it's still in its infancy."

Gabi says, "it's not just your Traverser power that makes you special, you know?"

"You are anything but worthless." Padre finishes his water. "And yes, you are good for more than your cooking!"

"That was some good fuckin' spaghetti!" Then Adamantium begins going on about the best meal they've had in what appears to be years.
 
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Captain Hesperus

Harbinger of the End Times and Apostle of Ghan
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Hercules nodded affirmatively with the words of advice and support given to him by Gabi and the other Marines. It was true, even though he wasn’t good at Traversing, he could do it. It was an ability shared by a mere handful of people on this ship, possibly on this whole planet, and here he was complaining about how poorly he could do it. And he was a tanker, trained to go to war in a roaring metal beast that spat high explosive death and could shift into a bipedal combat unit for when the going got extra tough. Another sip of raki and his head started to feel fuzzy. Maybe drinking booze while slightly dehydrated was a bad plan.
”Spaghetti? That’s nothing! Once we’ve snatched that Ice-9 from those Zeki bastards, I’ll cook a victory and ‘Welcome back, Commander Kirin’ feast unlike anything you’ve ever tasted! Souvlaki, marinaded lamb skewers roasted over an open fire, chicken gyros, moussaka, dolmades, with tzatziki, fava and melitzanosalata on the side. And to finish off baklava and galatoboureko to fill that last tiny space in your bellies. Truly, the food of the Gods!”
 

Dannigan

Kaerri's Man. =)
Supporter
Captain Hesperus Captain Hesperus (Tag)

Side Scene with Hercules and Adamantium

"Baklava?" Cal turns to Hercules. Adamantium again seems to be of one mind as they share looks of mild confusion and uncertainty.

Gabi retrieves her shotgun if Hercules appears to be satisfied. The sexy Mexicana scrunches her face and reaches under the table for the aforementioned hard plastic box. "That's why you came down here in the first place, no?" She places the box on the table and looks at Hercules's mammoth hands with a little smile. The hard plastic box now appears kind of fragile, like it was made with sturdy materials, but not made in a way that was meant to take any kind of punishment; the plastic is all show, like most plastic.

"Mack told us all about you guys takin' the Briefing Room to use as your movie theatre tonight. The baklava you guys found in Veracruz is there." She turns to her partners in Special Forces with a dangerous look and adds, "An' nobody touched nothin'! It's all there! Right guys?"

The other five, all men, nod quickly lest they light Gabi's fires in ways they don't want.

Padre, a man of faith, pauses briefly in sudden and uncharacteristic doubt. "Well, we didn't fetch the box, remember? And since he had it first... does that mean... he--"

Adamantium exchanges a torrent of "Oh God" looks at one another as they all stare at the box. Padre explains to Hercules. "See, Scary Jerry took Mack's call and so if anything is missing it might... be... because--"

"DID SOMEONE CALL MY NAME?!"

His tale-telling complete and his audience sagging in exhausted delight, Scary Jerry comes running full tilt over to the table.

"iNCOMING!" Someone yells and each of the Marine Force Recon members takes some defensive action, some cringing and trying to become smaller, others diving under the table, and heroic Cal going so far as to jump on the box, covering it with his own body lest some explosion harm it or its contents.

Scary Jerry lands right in the seat Padre has so recently vacated. He lands, a chaotic bundle of energy with soulless eyes and a devilish smile. "Did you see my performance?! I'm so excited! Can I touch you?" he turns toward Gabi and makes groping motions towards her chest. Without hesitation, the suddenly enraged Mexicana soundly slaps the crap out of Jerry which only makes him smile all the wider. He spins toward Hercules making the same grabbing motions towards Herc's chest. "How about you?!"

Cal complains, his large arms wrapped around the box. "Can someone shoot him before he blows something up?"

Scary Jerry raises a finger into the air and exclaims joyously, "I heard something about... modifying! And... and being too 'heavy handed' and... not pushing hard enough! And boy, that last part really got my attention if you know what I mean!" He winks and shoves an elbow into Cal's helpless ribs.

"Take it!" Cal pushes the box toward Hercules.

"Wait! Isn't that the baklava?! I've never had any before so maybe--"

"Wild Card! Get out while you still can!" Cal cries as the whole team tries to jump Scary Jerry.

"Hey! What happened to Mi Diabla?" shouts Gabi.

But if this has happened once to Adamantium, this has happened a thousand times. Hercules is suddenly treated to the unreal, unforgettable sight of over half a dozen trained, elite, and experienced soldiers trying their utmost to pin down Scary Jerry - and they're failing! Scary Jerry seems to become something part-cat, part-mongoose as he slips and "oozes" out of people's grasp, even biting Padre once before disappearing under the table. It doesn't take long before the rest of the bar, human and Broo, sees what's going on. Cheers erupt and bets are made along with a few prayers.

"Fly, you fool!" Padre yells to Hercules before jumping back into the fray, his hand wincing at the bitemark on his backside.
 

Dannigan

Kaerri's Man. =)
Supporter
Meanwhile... in the Briefing Room.

The door to the outside corridor slides open and there appears a shy-looking Captain Piper looking more like a high school teenager than an experienced military starship pilot. Her short red hair tousled with an awkward grin on her face, Piper sheepishly asks the Wild Cards, "Hey, uh, I've never actually seen that movie before and since this room is big enough, would it be much trouble if maybe I just slid into a free spot and--"

At that very moment, the ship's intercom goes off. "Bridge to Captain! Come in please!"

Captain Piper cringes and turns toward the intercom, pressing the receiver. "Piper here. What's got you so excited?"

"Ma'am," squawks the box, "gunfire has been reported from inside Drake's bar! Its sounds like a shotgun, ma'am!"

Captain Piper whirls toward the open corridor. You can hear her roaring as the door closes behind her stomping mad form. "GOD DAMN IT, JERRY! I SWEAR TO GOD I'M GONNA--"

We now return you to your normal Briefing Room experience.
 

Captain Hesperus

Harbinger of the End Times and Apostle of Ghan
Administrator
Supporter
Hercules crawled out of the chaotic bar on his hands and knees, well, one hand and knees. The other hand protectively clutched the beaten-up box to his broad chest. The past couple of minutes had been pure mayhem. Jerry's arrival at the table had triggered something in the rest of Team Adamantium akin to full-contact combat and the source of that was inside this box. Hercules wasn't too sure what it contained, but whatever it was, the Force Recon Marines were wholy of the opinion that it should be in his possession, to the point that they were now currently trying to subdue their CO. Hercules had felt like the quarterback of the high school team, desperately trying to carry the precious pigskin across the other team's line and the Marines were his frontline players. Jerry, on the other hand, was that particularly tenacious opponent who seemed to be made of equal parts elastic bands and grease, as he wove between his teammates' hands or straight up slid out of their grip. It was only when two of the bigger guys physically sat on him did Jerry turn his attention on Adamantium and start fighting back. This brief window was how Hercules had managed to scrabble out the door like Hades himself were trying to drag him down to the Underworld.

Sat outside the door, Hercules finally had chance to wonder over the contents of the box and thought back to their words. It's from Veracruz... That could only mean... The AUL base? He had to know, so he peeled back the crumpled lid to look inside.
 

Silanon

Four Thousand Club
The rest of the briefing - less enlightening than Ylva hoped. There's one unfortunate exception, though - with every word spoken about chances, and injuries, it seems even unwiser to bet mankind's fate on Commander Kirin alone. Maybe that's just her, though. Hopefully it's just her, so that the others can find some insurance in all of this. She... well. Miracles do happen. But a bit more reliable science would be more appreciated than guiding paths through spirit worlds. Even though Bong seems to understand what he's doing. Ylva picks up what she can - very little, with a lot to think about later, maybe, if there's ever a point where things make more sense. The world might burn before that - or whatever the Invids do with worlds...

She leaves with the others; quiet, in thought. And few of those thoughts are too pleasant, today. And that certainly also shows in the gym, shortly after. There are days where the focus just isn't quite there - where every movement just feels slightly off, no matter how hard one tries to reach one's limits. And today's certainly one of those days. Not the best, a single day before her first real mission, here. Still better than out there in the cold, tomorrow; though it's not like that realisation would do much to improve her mood. She works away with grim determination, and mostly sticks to herself - there's days where one doesn't need pointers or witty comments, because all one seeks is the exhaustion to shut off the brain for a moment or two. If only to stop it from running in circles.

The movie night - well, it's a little awkward. Everything's there, really, it's just... who sits with whom? Two weeks are only enough to make a few educated guesses. She goes for the safest of all approaches, unless someone beats her to it - and attempts to scoop up Trouble from the floor as soon as the basic needs (popcorn and drink) are covered. "Nothing fish-flavored, I'm afraid. And these here are probably bad for you, better leave them for us." A nod towards her box of popcorn, then a look around to examine the available seats. "What do you say, little one - near Elinor, maybe?" Not like there's much of a difference, really. "Seen the movie before? Heard it's... disturbing. Never got the chance to watch it, though... might need a little hero with me to brave it out."
 

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