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Prologue - "Double or Nothing" for Ylva Sveadotter and Richard "Ricky" Rolland

Dannigan

Kaerri's Man. =)
Supporter
(Incoming long post! Enjoy!)

There were enough things I couldn't talk about, back in Stockholm. So maybe questions are pointless, another piece or two won't make the difference. And that's even worse. Sorry, that's the opposite of precise questions, isn't it?"
Professor Stein chuckled in good nature. "Perhaps it is, but you are sharing your personal thoughts with me and for that, I am grateful." He looked at Trouble who turned his upward and looked back. Then Trouble, opened his mouth in a playful fashion, rose, and magnetically-attached himself to the Valkyrie dubbed Jezebel. While Ylva and Professor Stein conversed, the mechanical kitten busied himself running back and forth between the Valkyries, returning with a bottle of water each time. Professor Stein rewarded him with belly rubs and silently offered the first bottle of water to Ylva while listening to her.

"How much of this makes sense, from your perspective?"
"Sense?" Professor Stein followed her eyes to the majestic blue and white skies. "What a very deep question, my dear! None of it! All of it! I was there. There was a time before the Rain of Death when humanity reached out to the idea of other sentient life in the universe and when it came to us in the form of the Super Dimensional Fortress-1, so much of what we thought and sometimes hoped was right was... absolutely, flat-out wrong! Decades and decades of scientific research, thrown out the window, straight into the fire because it was proven wrong in a single short moment! Before us was irrefutable proof that sentient life beyond our atmosphere was real! Moreso, it was now here! Standing before us, both to become a blessing and a curse! And best or worst of all, depending on your view, there was nothing we could to about it - the Zentraedi were coming for the SDF-1. It was either grow or die. As an academic, as an intellectual, as a Darwinian, I find myself faced with the question - has anything ever made sense since that day?"

He sighed, the weight of knowledge upon him. "I can't ask you to make sense of it for that way lies madness. All I can suggest is... you is do not try to make too much sense of it. Instead discover the facts, however repulsive or charming the realities they uncover, and do the very best with the mind and the talents you are given, not only for your sake but for what is left of humanity." Professor Stein shrugged. "Remember, there are a lot less of us scientists now than there used to be, aren't there?"

How much do people know about the Malcontents, and Zentraedi? Again on a scale, maybe. Doesn't give away too much, does it? Thought we'd be high up there, before things happened. Can't be a ten, I've seen that much."
"That, I think, depends on where you are in the world and how much access you have to information of that nature. Seventy-percent of all human life was destroyed during the Rain of Death. Even during the Reconstruction, we could not bring it all back as there were only thirty-percent of us remaining in a world far more desolate and destruction-filled than any humanity had ever known. That said, I think the average person who has access is very much aware of the Malcontent Uprising in Brazil, the growing state of military affairs throughout the Former United States in Texas and now reaching into Florida, and so on.

"However, I must note to you that the real danger are the things I believe you have seen that the average has not. The bomb-dogs with the jetpacks? The misshapen Zentraedi who seem not to be wearing power armor, but grafted into it so that they are one and the same? That is what brought down Lieutenant Rolland's rescue shuttle and nearly him with it, or so Jezebel has told me." He looked down at Ricky's still form and continued to watch him as he took a drink from his bottle. "It seems to me that just about everyone who isn't killed by these... new Zentraedi... is, for some reason, soon considered dead by the higher-ups at Eglin ASC base! Again, I don't look too deeply for sense, just for facts. And the facts tell me... you and the good lieutenant are in grave danger."

Another pause. "What's the date, actually? Haven't checked. There's quite the gap where I don't know what happened, myself. The Lieutenant told me some of it, didn't ask him that, though." A look over at Rick, trying to see how he's doing. "That's it, I think. Everything else's too much. Unless you think there's more I should know, Professor."
He checked his Rolex. "20th of May, dear. Almost time for tea." Ylva knew the year to be 2025 and that the professor meant it was closing in on 4:00 p.m./1600 hours military time. Ricky seemed to be unresponsive but breathing well. Ylva's last question got Professor Stein's attention.

"That's it, I think. Everything else's too much. Unless you think there's more I should know, Professor."
"A lot more, I'm afraid. Though I think you understand things as well as I can describe them given the gag through which I am forced to speak through." He grimaced and widened his eyes momentarily. Then he seemed to come to a conclusion, one he was not happy with but one he could no longer deny. "All right. Since this might be the last conversation you and I share, here is what I think you should know.

"The man whom you and Lieutenant Rolland vaporized was Humphrey Bodkins II, better known as "Anaconda." It was his base that you stumbled upon here in this junkyard and his androids whom you faced when I first met you down there in the locker room. Bodkins is, or rather was, an agent of the Anti-Unification League. You know, those humans who believe in humanity first and the death of all aliens, including those who have allied with humanity. A brute-model quite capable and willing of extreme torture techniques, he was one of their chief interrogators sent to capture you come hell or high water. I believe it was his intent to bring you here and have his android-women peel your skin off or whatever it took to get you to tell them whatever they wanted.

"Now..." he glanced at Ylva meaningfully. "I ask you. Does it not strike you strange in the least that the Zentraedi want you and therefore captured you, the Army of Southern Cross here paid dearly both in lives and machinery to rescue you, only for you to be caught up in the clutches of the Anti-Unification League to kidnap you, and now you're sitting with a United Earth Government representative who is part of a secret project? Ask yourself," he gave a hearty chuckle, "have you ever felt more popular in your life?

He grew serious again. "They all want something you have, including me. In the case of Project Eternity, you are a Traverser and I personally desire every Traverser I can find working on our side! Every one of us! God knows what has become of those Hitomi, Trouble, and I have not discovered!" The old fellow looked very worried for a moment. "And this one!" he gently touched Lieutenant Rolland's forearm. "Today, again according to Jezebel, this poor man has lost more than most ever will! I have it on the best of authority that Lieutenant Rick Rolland is the last surviving member of a crack Valkyrie team that was all sent into recover... you! His captain along with his mates were alive not just a few hours ago. Now they are dead in their attempts to rescue you. Only Lt. Rolland here survived and I do not even wish to imagine the personal hell he is living through.

Professor Stein leaned in a little towards Ricky. He examined the unconscious pilot. "In fact, he has... undergone great battle stress, the absolute hell of making it through only to possibly face the further hell of Survivor's Guilt later on..." he droned on as he examined Ricky a bit closer. "He... took on not only the Zentraedi, but the AUL and Anaconda's deadly droids and had what is apparently his first technopathic visit to..."

Professor Stein went quiet. His bushy eyebrows blinked quickly for his mind was racing as his senses correlated data. He stared at Ricky and suddenly slipped his hand over the pilot's chest, unzipping his near-ruined uniform to reveal Ricky's chest. It was rising and falling but oh so slowly. Professor Stein's whisper was tense. "Very odd. He should have... come back by now. But what if..."

He pulled up Ricky's sleeve, his large thumb and forefinger pressing along the wrist as he looked again at his Rolex.

"Oh no, you don't! Not on my watch! Hitomi!"

Professor Stein stared, his eyes locked onto Ricky's body as he kept time. "Yes!" he said out loud to no one. "During lunch last Tuesday, didn't you mention you had a theory stating a Traverser with TBI* coming out of the Blue World might not wake up if... Yes! Lt. Rolland. It's very low. Yes. Shallow. Yes, he might have." His talking out loud kept on as he opened each of Ricky's eyelids. "Yes, one pupil is larger than the other. Yes! I'm coming! Ask Sam pick up the damaged Valkyrie!"

*Ylva knows from her Paramedic training that TBI stands for Traumatic Brain Injury. From what the professor was saying, it seemed like Ricky has the symptoms of a concussion.

What Professor Stein appeared not to know was Ylva had training as a paramedic while the old worried fellow clearly did not. He hurriedly told Ylva, "Change of plans, my sweet. The choice is out of Lt. Roland's hands - I am taking him with me. You can stay or you can go but I must go! And now!" With that the round professor bounded toward the new-looking Super Valkyrie. With as much speed as his heavy, aged body could muster, he climbed the ladder and plopped himself down in the pilot's seat. Ylva saw him close his eyes and suddenly, the Super Valkyrie roared to life, its engines in Guardian mode shaking the ground. The Valkyrie came close to you. Once there, the right arm reached forward and out of it came three small mechanical arms that worked in tandem with the Valkyrie's hand to put Ricky in it. In moments, it was done and Professor Stein had Ricky inside the back seat and was trying to strap him in.

"Miss Sveadotter!" Professor Stein shouted over the engines as Trouble hopped off of his shoulders, onto Ricky's, and began licking the unconscious pilot's face. "We are leaving! Do I send someone for you... or do I contact friendly forces to have you picked up and eventually returned to Eglin? We have no more time!"
 

Dannigan

Kaerri's Man. =)
Supporter
D. Rex D. Rex (You appear to really busy, so I'm writing this post in a way that doesn't require a response from you. But hey. Just because Ricky's unconscious doesn't mean I want you to just be sitting on the sidelines twiddling your thumbs. So, respond if you'd like and if not, that's fine! Just kick back and enjoy with some Seatbelts.)

"Space Lion" by The Seatbelts/Yoko Kanno for Cowboy Bebop OST.

Fat Gandalf spun to meet Ricky's gaze. "That's it! We've done it! The bomb is disarmed and I have a promise to fulfill! We're going now, lieutenant! Hang on!"
That was the last thing Ricky remembered experiencing.

Somewhere in the blackness of Ricky's head, and I mean blackness as in darker than a straight cup of coffee in an ebony mug under a moonless night, Ricky floated. He didn't feel any aches, any pains, certainly no concussion. Heck, not even hunger, and he knew his battered, overused body needed food. He began hearing the crunching sounds of someone munching out. Whatever it was sounded good. Then the blackness began to clear.

He was back the long bar where he had last seen the Blue Hares. That long, brown, wooden bar with the fancy mirror behind it and upside-down liquor bottles hanging from it. Small silver lights danced, especially on the top shelf where the booze was best. Otherwise, many of the lights were low. Dreamy even. This was a place you could easily forget your worries. For awhile. Maybe forever. The seats were comfortable, the service divine. Possibly literally.

And here they were, half-dressed and fully-drunk, bottles, cans, and glasses decorating their wide table in a chaotic manner. They still had their colors on. Blue and purple. Their faces mostly red and blushy. And smiling. At Ricky, no less. Ricky was seeing things as if he were on the floor at the foot of the table. And he couldn't move. But he could see and hear.

"One order," he heard. Captain Reinfeld wagged his finger straight at Ricky and chided with a slight slur. "Rolland. I give you one... single... order. And you're back here again already. Lieutenant? Tell me, just what the hell is wrong with you?" Everyone at the table laughed.

"I think Dicky needs a drink!" Harry said cheerfully with Lucy in his lap. They were both full of cheer. Heck, the whole table was. Wherever the table was.

"I think he needs a blowjob," Lucy cracked and everyone laughed harder.

Rupps couldn't sit still. He had to open his mouth. "Well, don't look at me! I ain't doin' it!"

But Alice, sweet Alice, leaned over and slowly blew Ricky a kiss. "You don't have to, Ruppy." They all took swigs of their drinks and looked back at Ricky and the one empty chair at the table. The chair they left for him. The chair that would always be there, now, or 50 years from now. That was only Ricky's chair.

"You look like shit, Ricky," Alice smiled her pretty pink smile. "But it's not your time yet, honey. World still needs you and all that."

"It sure as hell does," Captain Reinfeld nodded. "But hey! YOU GOT THE VIP!" The table suddenly went up in a roar! The Blue Harem raised their glasses and from all over the bar, nameless, shadowy figures, most of them men, raised their drinks joined in the roar. Suddenly, blissfully, Ricky was surrounded by one great ruckus of cheering, swearing, singing, and clinking bottles. "V! I! P! V! I! P!" they cheered at Ricky.

"They gonna pin a goddamn medal on him fer sure!" one big man clapped and nodded with admiration.

"My man! You sweet motherfucker! Without you, she was as good as gone!" another guy grinned.

"Yah mon! Ain't nobody betta! You did the impossible, mon! You!" Yet another big fellow from the shadows smiled at Ricky with gleaming white teeth.

Captain Reinfeld slid his chair back and stood up. The crowd got a little quieter, but not much. "You're damned right he did! Ricky, the last Blue Hare, has completed the mission! The VIP is going to be safe! And maybe Ricky here too! Get up, everybody! On your feet!" And everyone rose. Even Harry and Lucy. And given the state they seemed to be in, that was saying something.

"Lieutenant," Captain Reinfeld looked Ricky in the eye. "Trust Fat Gandalf. Join the Wild Cards. You'll be good for each other."

Ricky saw a sight he had never seen before. They were all at attention saluting him. All of them. The Captain had started it and everyone in the bar followed as one behind him. Even the bartender. People he didn't even know but had been there long before his beloved Blue Hares had been. And more would come afterward. To this place.

But not today.

"Mew?"

Ricky heard a kitten somewhere.

"Meeeew?"

The kitten was calling for him. He heard the unmistakable sound of Valkyrie engines thrumming. Maybe Jezebel's engines.

Ricky was moving again. Backwards. Falling as if being gently but very certainly pulled backwards. The figures in the bar, the bar itself, the Blue Hares, all became smaller and smaller. But they didn't move. They stood there saluting until Ricky was gone again back into the blackness.

Into the blackness where a tiny little metal kitten was calling for him to return.
 

Silanon

Three Thousand Club
Words, many of them. But more than just that. Some more questions of course - but answers, too, and more of those than before, or that's what it feels like. Perhaps that means that she finally found the right questions to ask - or that the man is willing to share as much as he can before he is inevitably required to leave. Who knows, Ylva couldn't tell. Doesn't need to, either. Perhaps it's both at once. What counts is what he shares. Those groups, suddenly on her trail - be it for knowledge she doesn't understand herself, being a traverser, or both, who knows; it only takes the day thus far to decide that she wants to stay out of their grasp. Perhaps hiding could accomplish that - but she's not one for hiding, if there's a better way.

There's more to it, too. Behind the words, and the rational decision. A glimpse at the mind beyond. One that has walked similar paths like the one in front of her, and many more. When there's either the end of the journey, or a guided tour forward - who would ever choose to stay behind? With dogs and monstrosities on the heels? Right - noone, not a sane person at least. The Swede feels sane enough to qualify for the logical approach, now.

The world doesn't feel inclined to let her share that thought in peace. It already swallowed all but one of the Blue Hares. It's hungry and cruel, today, and doesn't accept defeat. There's little to do about it for the Swede, it seems - what was only theory before the Lieutenant didn't return as expected is certainly above her understanding. The half-empty bottle in her hands still hits the floor as she attempts to offer a helpful hand where it might be needed. Sure, there's a professional on the other end of the line, but Ylva has gone through the basics herself, at least. Not much, but enough to not do much harm, she reckons.

And then that's that. Decision made, for Ricky. Safely secured, in the back of the Valkyrie, on the way to somewhere. Where somewhere means the best place for him to be, most likely. For now, at least. The world doesn't know about half of what might have happened - traversing. Quite lucky, to run into those few who know, and are willing to help, instead of abduction and torture.

Leaves the obvious question, of course. Where to, now, for her. There weren't real options, before. The path forward looks more promising, now. Back at home, some might call it exactly what she looked for in the first place. Hard to agree to that, after what happend today, and still happens. Noone wants that, really. People always ask for change, but they mean the small details, not the whole thing at once. No point complaining now, though. No point delaying, either, it's the last thing a patient in danger needs.

"You make sure that you get him to Dr. HItomi safely, first. Then see if someone's free to get me to the same place, too." There's more to be said, maybe. But not while time is of essence.
 

Dannigan

Kaerri's Man. =)
Supporter
D. Rex D. Rex

Meanwhile. Somewhere in Ricky's mind... a small shiny metal circle twirled between a pair of painted and chipped fingernails. Heads on one side, tails on the other. This shiny quarter slipped into a jukebox inside of a wooden bar somewhere. Fine female fingers pressed a letter, then a number. Something in the jukebox clicked, moved, and as machines try to do, obeyed. A pink pair of lips lifted into a smile.

A reflection in the wild chrome of the jukebox distorted and shifted all that was reflected - still, Ricky recognized Alice's smirking face in that reflection. She was looking at Ricky.

This started to play as she winked at him, then she walked away to join the others at the table.

"Ghosts" by Ladytron. Turn this up! 8D

* * *​

Silanon Silanon

"You make sure that you get him to Dr. HItomi safely, first. Then see if someone's free to get me to the same place, too." There's more to be said, maybe. But not while time is of essence.
Upon hearing this, Professor Stein glanced behind Ylva, and his face broke into a large and knowing grin. It was the kind of grin that told Ylva something was up. Something new. "My dear," he confessed over the Valkyrie's engines, "leave the details to me! All I required from you... was your approval!" Ylva's answer had apparently made Professor Stein very happy. The canopy came down. From underneath it, he waved to her, smiling. Super Valkyrie with its sharp edges and powerful appearance lifted off, blowing dust everywhere and almost deafening Ylva who had to shield her eyes from the wind and the tiny bits of debris.

Then it was up, up, and away, turning to its left, transforming into jet mode and blasting off like a shot arrow toward the bright easterly skies. The debris fell to the earth leaving Ylva's ears ringing but not painfully. Since the explosion from the hideout and the earth-shaking sounds of the Valkyrie leaving the earth, Ylva then could have bet a solid stack of credits that she was now alone. But nothing could have been further from the truth.

"Yes!" she heard from the inside of someone's helmet. It came from beside Ylva to her immediate left. "Pretty hair! Pretty hair say yes! Good good!" It was a young woman's voice with the strangest of accents that Ylva, despite her travels and upbringing, could in no way place - and that in itself might have been a surprise. Turning to her left, Ylva saw the figure who had been sneaking up on her this entire time and with the good professor's loud and mighty departure, who could blame Ylva for not sensing her coming?

Then a hand on her right firmly grasped her bicep while a nozzle touched her shoulder. She didn't even hear the "psssht!" of the drug entering her system. "Long day! Pretty hair sleep good now!" It was a delighted male with the same odd accent who held Ylva as her vision began to swim. All she saw was...

... five of these... whatever these were! They were like Mega-suits that were part motorcycle. Lightly-armed and (unlike the pictures) painted in desert camouflage. The people inside them stalked rather than walked upright. The two beside her were giggling, clearly pleased with the success of their mischievous act. The other three had rifles some of kind aimed all over as if they were expecting attack after the professor's loud departure.
Genesis Climber Mospeada Cyclone.jpg
(Image credit: Genesis Climber Mospeada)

Behind them was a sixth driving in a four-wheeled buggy-style vehicle with a big gun on its back. It pulled right up to where Ylva was losing consciousness. The figure inside was just like the others minus the motorcycle attachments.

Silverback from Robotech Wiki - Fandom.png
(Image credit: Robotech Wiki - Fandom)

Then, Ylva was sure it was not her imagination nor the drug, the thing transformed! Now it was of proper height. Efficiently, three of Ylva's new company put her into the passenger seat and had her locked in snugly. "Sorry!" the young man patted Ylva's head. "Is best way! You will see!"

"Yes!" all of the mysterious people in the futuristic Mega-suits agreed. "You will see indeed!" Their laughter, though true and not cruel, sounded like the stuff of wild dreams as Ylva slipped into unconsciousness.
Silverback Cyclone.jpg
(Image credit: Pinterest (Chuck Walton!))

Given that both of your characters are currently unconscious, I'll type up another post sometime (hopefully today)!
 

Dannigan

Kaerri's Man. =)
Supporter
Silanon Silanon D. Rex D. Rex

Ylva and D. Rex both awake around the same time to the sound of running water. It creates images in your minds perhaps of Hawaiian waterfalls, Icelandic hot springs, or just the sound of your shower back during the last time you had a warm shower (Gosh and golly jeepers! How long ago was that?!). You also hear the sounds of two people, women, softly chatting and laughing a little. Well, one is doing most of the talking while the other appears happy to just be... alive?

Opening your eyes, you find you're in a place...

...that normally looks a great deal like this. With the computers on the walls and the bed that doesn't touch the floor. (I can't stand that flooring. The flooring here instead is a steel deck the same color and smoothness of the ceiling.) But it's not bright at all. You can't hear the computers beeping. Instead, this whole placed feels a lot more like...
Medbay - Eye on the Future Health Archives by Morris Miselowski.jpg
(Image credit: Morris Miselowski)

...this. Lighting and atmosphere, smells included.
Hitomi setting the Medbay for relaxtion.jpg
(Image credit: Pinterest)

"Something Always Happens (Doc Scott Remix)" by Art of Noise

You can't even smell the antiseptic that normally and permanently permeates the floors of a medical bay or hospital. Instead, you smell what has to be candles (a relaxing fresh pine smell). The lights are soft and night-like all over the room, which from where you're sitting holds at least 6 beds, 3 of which are occupied. The atmosphere is upbeat yet relaxing - just the kind of feeling for intelligent conversation but not excitement. A cloudless sky full of peaceful stars is provided by a holographic machine.

Professor Stein and Trouble are nowhere to be found.

If the beds are numerically-arranged from a "top-down" (birds-eye view) perspective, Ricky's bed is bed 3 (farthest right), Ylva's is bed 2 (middle), and the happy discussion is taking place on bed 1. There, the curtains between the beds have been drawn back (perhaps so the doctor can see all three of you and your computer readouts at the same time). You see the first bed is not a bed at all but a one-person bubbling jacuzzi similar to the one in the photograph above. There is a Caucasian woman in the jacuzzi and she is positively beaming. She has the most grateful and relaxed look on her face probably in large part because her curly black hair is being washed in a separate basin made for such activity. She looks like she is in Heaven.

The hair-washing is being performed by a head-turning Hawaiian beauty so lovely it is hard for the average person to stop looking at her. The Hawaiian is dressed in a uniform much like a form-fitting body suit. It looks like this and she looks fantastic in it.

Maia.Sterling.(Jenius).full.2382484.jpg
(Image credit: Zerochan)

The Hawaiian has her all of her considerable night-black hair somehow tied up behind her head with just a pair of silver chopsticks holding it all in very neatly. There are a pair of high-tech electronic devices filling both of her ears, yet she appears to be able to hear just fine. Her strong, soft hands are lathery as she continues the spa treatment while looking at her patient upside down. The woman doing the spa treatment also seems to know exactly what she is doing. The kinks and stress points in her patient are dying right before your eyes. Then your ears pick up their conversation.

Ylva recognizes the woman's Polynesian/Japanese/American accent and her confident, smooth use of language enough to identify her. It's hard not to because she even sounds beautiful. This is Doctor Hitomi Yashida of Project Eternity.

You are welcome to see her pictures again in the gallery I sent you back in December of 2019 if you like. I'd include it here, but I'm not that RP Nation-savvy. =)

She continues her story to her patient. "--The proud samurai demands of the lone priest. 'Holy one,' what is the difference between Heaven and Hell?' And the holy one replies, 'Why would a dog-faced buffoon like yourself want to know?' The samurai, angered, grabbed his sword. The holy one noted this with apparent disgust. 'What's that? Your sword is probably too dull to cut off my head!' The samurai wrathfully drew his blade and holding the sword above his head, prepared to kill the priest where he stood when the holy one opened his hands and exclaimed, 'Here open the gates of Hell!'

"The samurai seeing his own fury getting the better of him, seeing his own desire to kill a defenseless priest here in public for all eyes to see, sheathed his sword, and bowed with appreciation and humility to the priest.

At this display, the priest smiles and tells him, 'Here open the gates to Paradise.'"

A moment of quiet between them passes and the patient quietly and slowly murmurs, "Hon, that story is ace! Where'd you learn that?"

"From one of my old martial arts schools. 'To learn without wisdom is only half the discovery,' right? But speaking of learning," Hitomi paused long enough to see the readouts above your heads, "I think your roommates just woke up so you'll have to excuse me."

"Awww!" her dark-haired patient moaned in real dismay as Hitomi's fingers left her nicely-massaged scalp.

"You'll live. Trust me, I'm a doctor." Hitomi grabbed a nearby hand-towel and began drying her hands. "Good evening! Miss Sveadotter and Lieutenant Rolland? I am your doctor. Stay in bed, move slowly if at all, and I'll be right there."

Both Ricky and Ylva come to the realization that they are wearing light blue comfortable silk pajamas and laying on a bed and pillow that feels almost as comfortable as goose-down. It's almost enough to make you want to fall back to sleep. Or is it? You feel groggy and aware of tension in your own bodies, but most of all... you're finally out of danger. Wherever you are, nothing appears to be trying to blow you up, shoot you down, or anything in between.

Here have opened the 'gates' to your own 'Paradise' (or as close to it as you're going to get right now)! =)

What do Ricky and Ylva do?
 

D. Rex

Magic Eight Ball
Ricky didn't even remember passing out. But that is likely to be expected. What he did remember was swirls of color and dreams of ghosts. And what memories of what had been before, the disaster and misadventure and rescue. He should have been in disbelief or shocked, but rather he felt his face grow numb with the weight of it.

It took him a moment to really have the usual stimulus actually take hold. He was in a place he didn't recognize. He might have panicked if he didn't turn his head to see the VIP in the bed beside his. Okay. That was good. She was here and safe. But he didn't know where here was.

It looked like a hospital. Though not any like he knew. It was too fancy to be one on the military base. And he didn't recognize that uniform. But despite all that... it didn't seem to be hugh security, which did ease the automatic and encroaching sense of danger he would have been feeling otherwise. Even so. His hands did flounder by his side as if reflexively checking his hip for a sidearm. Of course it wasn't there. Just, silk? What was hw doing in silk? No this certainly wasn't any military base he knew. So where then? The two options that presented themselves were of little comfort. One being the sketchy professors place. The other being those robot girls got their hands on them again. He didn't know what either would mean.

Despite the pretty doctors suggestion, he shifted and tried to push himself up on his elbows. Trying to see how well he could move. Not all that well, frankly. His head swam like he had been lying there for ages in sleep. Though his body did not hurt as much as he expected it would.

He looked at the doctor. She knew their names. So it couldn't be all that bad,, right? Well... who knew yet.. His mouth was dry but he forced himself to speak anyway. "Who are you?" He said breathlessly. "Where am I? My gun. My veritech." The last two seemed a combination of request and demand. But they were numbers two and three on his priority list. The VIP was here... so he just needed a way to defend himself if his body was as weak as it felt, and a way out if it came to it. This was a nice seeming place, it was a cozy place. But how far could he really trust that if he didnt know what was going on?
 

Silanon

Three Thousand Club
Drugged. Again. Without warning. Again. Surrounded by things beyond her comprehension. Again. There should be panic, perhaps, as she awakes. Fear. Concern, at least. And there is, for a while. Muscles become tense. The left foot tries to shake off the blanket's warmth, unsuccessfully. Then it ends. The place doesn't allow for more. It's calming, soothing. Even more so once the mind can sort out the most important details. The voices. The doctor's, first. Giving away that, in the end, the Swede is where she's supposed to be. The second woman - unfamiliar. The man, however - back amongst the living. Good. There's comfort in that. More than any bed, or blanket could provide. One life that won't burden her thoughts, at least. A familiar face, in this alien surrounding. He seems on edge, alarmed - no surprise. For all her pointless questions, Ylva knows enough to sort out the basics around her. He doesn't have that comfort, likely.

Doesn't have the luxury of simply turning the head, and offering a weak smile to the doctor, like she has. To say: "Not quite the arrival I expected. Glad to meet you in person, Dr. Hitomi." The Swede has that luxury. So that's what she does. Perhaps signalizing that things are fine, without responding to questions she lacks the answers to, herself. She doesn't attempt to sit up. Instead wiggles her toes. Clenches her fingers, before relaxing the muscles shortly after. Listening to her own breathing. Checking that everything is in working order, or at least as close to it as can be expected. The human body isn't made to be shut down by chemicals on a regular basis.

The aftereffects of that still seem to linger. There's the urge to simply float back into unconsciousness, with those stars above her, and the relaxing sounds, and smell, and... her curiosity doesn't allow it, for now. Eyes lazily wander over the unfamiliar surrounding, as far as turning the head in place allows them to do so. Eyeing Hitomi, the other two patients, the screens. The stars. Anything. Drinking in the peace and new impressions as far as her mind can process them, at this point. A new life was promised, pretty much. This is the beginning. Enough familiarity to feel at ease. It's not home, of course, but only one place in the world is. If military was good enough, this seems... better. For this very brief moment, and as far as a half awake mind can judge. Another weak smile. There wasn't too much room for those, today. Or yesterday, who knows what time it is. Not that it matters. It's a new start.
 

Dannigan

Kaerri's Man. =)
Supporter
(Heads up! Big post! 1,100 words or so.) =)

Both Ricky and Ylva, separately, become slowly aware of a sensation running all throughout the room around them. Motion without motion. A constant rhythm of energy, faint, but all around them, in every panel, every door, every wall. There is only one way this can be and Ricky, from his experience as an airborne test pilot and Ylva from her hobby of sailing, are certain.

They are onboard some kind of vessel. A vessel in motion.

Doesn't have the luxury of simply turning the head, and offering a weak smile to the doctor, like she has. To say: "Not quite the arrival I expected. Glad to meet you in person, Dr. Hitomi."
"Sorry!" Hitomi replies and she looks like she means it. "My idea. Lt. Rolland here wasn't exactly brought here with his permission and that makes him a possible liability." Hitomi turns and walks toward Ricky. There is something in her stride, her look, that seems to tell Ricky, "I am in charge here. Just try me if you think otherwise."

Despite the pretty doctors suggestion, he shifted and tried to push himself up on his elbows. Trying to see how well he could move.
This proves to be about three times as difficult as it should be. Most of the muscles and tendons on his right side complain and ache like hell. And then the headache made itself known - a constant pounding on the right side of his frontal lobe - as if his skull was not big enough for his brain and it wanted out. It was the type of headache that would affect mood and rest. Oh, and now that he was awake, it fucking hurt.

He looked at the doctor. She knew their names. So it couldn't be all that bad,, right? Well... who knew yet.. His mouth was dry but he forced himself to speak anyway. "Who are you?" He said breathlessly. "Where am I? My gun. My veritech."
Hitomi pauses long enough to pull something from her sleeve. "I'm Hitomi Yashida of Project Eternity and Professor Stein's assistant," she explains. "You know. That guy who dropped everything and brought you to me after you got yourself brain-burned trying to run around in the Blue World in your condition? Try not to blink." A flash of light appears from her hand and her gorgeous honey-brown eyes are staring intently into his left eye, then his right.

"You're probably looking for perspective. Here's some. You're in my medbay. Your gun is safely locked away and your veritech, Jezebel, is here but not flight-worthy. However," she puts the light away and gently cradles Ricky's head while examining his forehead, "she can be rebuilt. Her core made it so one day, I'm told she'll fly again. Whether you're in her or not is a different story." All of this comes with a combination of tones - straight-up, seriously caring, but a strong hint of uncertainty.

Hitomi lowers and turns a computer screen toward Ricky. "This is what you looked like an hour ago." The picture, a top-down shot of him probably seconds after he was placed on this bed, shows Ricky what he looked like. Alice was right - he looked like shit. Hitomi flips a switch. The image becomes a mirror. Ricky looks a lot better now. Cleaner, healthier, with a large square-shaped bandage over the right side of his head. By moving, Ricky is also aware of at least half a dozen other bandages, mostly on his right side. Deep breaths make his ribs ache. Hitomi carefully reaches over and pulls him into a hug. "Here. Sit up, big fella." In what feels like one long moment, Ricky is sitting and feeling woozy and headachy, but definitely alive. One touch of her skin proves one thing to the martial artist in Ricky - this Hitomi is in top shape. Any better and he could mistake her for one of Liana, Leona, or Julie's "cousins."

Hitomi disengages from Ricky but the frown doesn't leave her face. She folds her arms and looks at Ricky with a bit of puzzlement. She hands him a bottle of what looks like water. "See, there's only so much I can tell you because, unlike Miss Sveadotter, you didn't come here willingly. So in another gesture of goodwill to the both of you, here's a bit more perspective."

The computer screen Ricky was looking in shows a display large enough for Ylva, or even the third patient, to see clearly. It's a public newscast from southern Florida. There is a picture of Ylva in one of her Swedish military photos. She looks great. What doesn't look great are the words directly under her picture. "EUROPEAN ASC SCIENTIST MURDERED BY ZENTRAEDI MALCONTENTS; ASC PROMISES ACTION." You can hear the journalist providing the story. "--killed instantly when Malcontent forces destroyed her Logan Veritech. Due to the nature of the blast, chances of recovering her remains are unlikely. Authorities in Sweden have expressed shock--"

Hitomi inserts a USB drive into another monitor. Within seconds, she also has a picture of the Blue Hares. Alive. Together and in uniform. Written in red letters across the top are the words, "SQUAD EXPENDABLE." The text seems to contain a part of a series of orders sending the Blue Hares after the captured VIP. Ricky recognizes some of the formal writing from when Captain Reinfeld was explaining the details of the mission. This is a copy of that very mission; Ricky is certain of it because, during the mission briefing, he held a copy in his own hands. The next sheet shows photographs of the RDF Zentraedi-flown shuttle crew sent in to recover Ricky and Jezebel. That unhappy pair of red-colored words are etched atop it too.

"Ohhh," the black-haired woman moans as she lies back from examining the monitors. "So... he's the last Blue Hare huh?"

"Yep!"

The woman thinks for a few moments and says, "Well, if everything works out, maybe he can join my Wild Cards."

Hitomi gasps and shoots her patient a disapproving look. "Careful! He's not exactly clear, you know!" Then she turns back to Ricky, "Sorry to talk about you like you're not in the room here."

But the black-haired woman isn't finished. "'Tomi? How many combat pilots do you get on your tables?"

"Admittedly, not many. I usually put infantry, recon, and mecha people back together. Why?" That Hitomi sees infantry might strike Ylva and Ricky - because no one, and I mean, no one, has it worse than infantry when it comes to death rates, permanent injuries, and life-altering PTSD. The fighting against the Malcontents is no exception. Also, most doctors don't refer to their patients as anything more than patients. Certainly not "people."

"Mmmm, 'cause we're a stubborn bunch of sand-for-brains kahunas and honeys. You have to take chances more often when you deal with us." Then she addresses you. "Hey beat-up flyboy? Blonde science geek?" she offers. "I'm Shirley 'Mack' Mackenzie, I was an ASC lieutenant like you, and I lead a veritech squadron full of Traversers who are as dead as you are, myself included. Wanna try out for it?"

Then she sings with a dazed smile. "Weeee haaave cooooookies!"

But instead of looking displeased with Mack, Hitomi's attention goes straight to Ricky and Ylva. She laughs, clearly impressed. "All that from a hospital bed!"

What do Ricky and Ylva do?
 

Silanon

Three Thousand Club
The enthusiasm from the one called Mackenzie - it's lost on Ylva, at least at first. It's noticed, registered in her mind, of course, but her eyes remain fixated on the screen. It's one thing to know what the world will simply accept as the truth. It's another thing to see it, to hear it. Just knowing leaves it as a distant concept, mostly. What matters being dead, as long as one is still breathing? But those news, those pictures - it's what'll reach all the others, in time. Family. Friends. Co-workers. And more. Her mouth feels dry, all the sudden. For them, it'll be the truth, not a lie. Not the kind of news she was going for when she crossed the ocean. Always a possibility, of course. But it's something one can live with until it happens, and then one usually doesn't get to reflect on it afterwards.

Of course, the logical plan is to stop others from getting the very same news. That's what she left those labs behind, after all; to keep others safe. But the mind isn't just logic, and so it'll be a burden. And so will the truth within those lies. All but one of a renowned squadron, dead to save her for reasons, she doesn't quite comprehend herself. The Swede knew, before - but now, there are faces. Distant faces, completely unfamiliar of course. Maybe that's the worst - knowing nothing but that they are no more. She'll ask, later. This is not the time for questions.

"You ever need something, anything, you let me know." Hard to do that, if he decides to move on instead. The thought counts. She'll follow through if he stays. Hopefully, he will. Hopefully, the words include all the other things that should be said, too, because she can't get herself to say them all, right now. "Thanks for making sure that I'm not as dead as they say." Several times, and at the cost of his friends. Quite the price to pay, for an unknown 'science geek'.

"For what it's worth, Eglin didn't sound like the place to be after what the Professor said. And Doctor Hitomi here, too." A pause. "Was a bit worried when you were suddenly gone, sort of. Good to see you with your mind back where it belongs." Those bandages - curious. Not her place to ask, though, and not the right moment, either.

A question was asked. Enthusiastically. She answered it before, more or less. It's only polite to do it again. "That's what I came for, after all of the other things happened, Lieutenant Mackenzie. Can't say how much help I'll be right away, but I'm happy to learn."
 

Dannigan

Kaerri's Man. =)
Supporter
Silanon Silanon D. Rex D. Rex

A question was asked. Enthusiastically. She answered it before, more or less. It's only polite to do it again. "That's what I came for, after all of the other things happened, Lieutenant Mackenzie. Can't say how much help I'll be right away, but I'm happy to learn."
Mack keeps her gaze on the starry ceiling. The blue of the artificial night highlights her face and wet black hair. She smiles hearing Ylva's response. "That's O.K., science geek. We're all learning in the Wild Cards. You'll see." Mack's face turns toward Ylva's. It's the first time she gets a good look at the Swede while awake. Ylva sees something in Mack's ocean blue eyes that speaks of great daring but also great fear, and the daring part of her is winning the battle.

"Here, soldier." Hitomi pushes some kind of super sci-fi hypo minus the needle into Ricky's left shoulder. "This'll help with the pain." There isn't even any pain. Either that, or he is already in so much discomfort that the hypo isn't felt. She sterilizes and replaces the hypo, then she pushes her long black braided hair to one side. It's so long that even braided, it reaches her waist. Ricky hears water rushing as Hitomi washes her hands thoroughly for about 20 seconds. Ricky notices both women, perhaps all three, are looking at him.

From the hot tub, Mack's voice, still a bit slurry, breaks the silence. "How about you, beat-up flyboy? I can't give you your old squadron back, but I can help you try out for mine." One look into Mack's eyes shows Ricky that she is just about as busted up as he is, just not physically. Ricky has seen the look of test pilots who have recently undergone inhuman amounts of stress, usually from near-death experiences, and are trying to recover from it. Some do and some don't. Mack has the look of one who sure as hell will.

Hitomi looks from Mack to Ylva to Ricky. "Ask 'em if you have them," she tells Ricky. "Like the Prof, I'll answer what I can." Suddenly, she glances back at Mack, winks at her, and tells Ricky. "And maybe I'll take some chances with my answers."
 
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D. Rex

Magic Eight Ball
This Hitomi... sure she might might have that sort of threatening air about her in that she wasn't going to take any nonsense from him... and sure he wasn't exactly in a proper state to rebel even if he wanted to... but of course Ricky couldn't not challenge, even if only for the sake of principal.

As Hitomi began her exam, he finally replied. "Yeah. The sketchy guy with the beard and robot cat." He said as he struggled to keep his eyes from the blinding light of the flashlight. It really didn't feel very nice. Definitely didn't do his headache any favors. Though he might have enjoyed her eyes if his vision wasn't now filled with spots.

As he bljnked away the tears, the answer about his gun was expected. Though he certainly felt a sense of relief as Jezebel was at least safe. He did, however, reply with a derisive snort at the mention of whether or not he would fly again. Of course he would.


Looking at the previous picture of himself fascinated him. He looked pretty good all things considered. Certainly looked better than he felt. Though regardless... it was still a mess. Definitely looking better now at least.

He sat up at her request, with a bit of effort and a deep groan. Yeah, that felt about right. That was what he was expecting. Hitomi though, well,... after what he went through with the robo chicks.... Ricky made no effort to mask his attempt at raising a finger a poking her flesh with it. Nodding to himself, he didn't even comment on it. Nope. She was nice a firm but with no apparent robit parts.

With only the minimal amount of suspicion he accepted the bottle of water, drinking from it greedily for a few moments before passing to comment. "You know... giving me my gun back would also be an appreciated show of goodwill. From my perspective. "


As his attention was called to the screen, he watched with a frown. Staring at it for a bit before returning to his water bottle. With an odd degree of disinterest when it came to showing him the orders and label.

Then came the offer to join. Well... that was a bit unexpected, if not a little soon. Thougj the gal seemed to understand pilots at least, so that was a plus. But the ditzy bribe of cookies made him strongly suspect that the name 'mack' more likely came from her snogging on lads in the broom closet than her surname.

However the VIP's comment was what brought him out of the tangent of his inner thoughts. Ricky looked at her thoughtfully and nodded. And after a few moments of silent thought, he responded. "We all knew what we were getting into. And what the risk was... but thank you. And your probably right... it is probably no place to be right now. I just don't like it..."

"Still..." he said slowly, making up his mind,"I didn't come all this way to leave you behind. And with you deciding on staying... then I'll be right there too. As far as I'm concerned... my job of keeping you safe ain't done yet."


"Ow!" He exclaimed reflexively as Hitomi pushed something into his arm. He reached up to rub away the imagined pain. "Don't you go sticking random things in people. I already think your doing weird experiment stuff to me as is." He said irritable. "Ask first."


At Mack's offer, Ricky looked her in the eyes, "Pilots don't go back, only forward. It doesn't make it hurt any less, but each of us knew we were expendable. We knew it was a suicide mission. And not a single one went out with a wimper. But that doesn't really make it hurt any less... and not a single one of them would care if It did. I'd know what they would expect me to do, and none of them would forgive me if I started to whimper now."

"I'll stay. I'll have Elvis's back. And I'll see about trying out for your squadron. But I fly my ship, once she's fixed up."



"And yes... I do have a question. The only one that really matters. What the hell is going on with this magic psychic machine shit?" He paused, hesitating as he considered a few things. "And how do I use it?"
 
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Dannigan

Kaerri's Man. =)
Supporter
As he bljnked away the tears, the answer about his gun was expected. Though he certainly felt a sense of relief as Jezebel was at least safe. He did, however, reply with a derisive snort at the mention of whether or not he would fly again. Of course he would.
From the whirling and bubbling hot tub not far from Ylva came a hearty giggle from the other combat pilot in the room, Mack. Hitomi also cracked a grin. "Well, at least your fighting spirit's still present, Lieutenant. There's not much worse than losing that." At this, Hitomi's demeanor toward Ricky eased a bit. Her male patients were usually the most aggressive, her combat-trained patients doubled that, and their recently injured with no idea where they were patients were doubled that. But Rolland was showing signs of respectful cooperation - which is all Hitomi really wanted out of him - oh, and to recuperate back to, or better than, what he was when she had first seen him.

Ricky made no effort to mask his attempt at raising a finger a poking her flesh with it. Nodding to himself, he didn't even comment on it. Nope. She was nice a firm but with no apparent robit parts.
Dr. Hitomi Yashida had no problems with this as long as he poked her shoulder. Anything more than that would invite one of her double pak saos. And after that, this combat pilot would be staying longer under a much-different form of medical supervision. Thankfully, and unlike many a male (and sometimes female) soldier, she had treated in the past, she felt he behaved himself and allowed her to continue her duty.

The displays of pak sao begin at about the 3:23 mark. =)
"Bruce Lee by Dan Inosanto RARE"

"You know... giving me my gun back would also be an appreciated show of goodwill. From my perspective. "
"You know," she replied, "not wanting your gun back would be a greater show. From the perspective of everyone else here, of course." Hitomi was gorgeous and very easy to look at, but the mistake many people made was not taking her seriously. She appeared to be ready for this as the martial artist inside Ricky seemed to whisper to him. "Lieutenant Rolland, the last thing I want right now are more patients."

"Still..." he said slowly, making up his mind,"I didn't come all this way to leave you behind. And with you deciding on staying... then I'll be right there too. As far as I'm concerned... my job of keeping you safe ain't done yet."
"Oh," Hitomi said. "Have no fear. Miss Sveadotter is safer with us right now than if she had the entire Army of Southern Cross behind her. If you take Mack's offer, do it because you want what's offered - don't do it just for her. Believe me."

"Ow!" He exclaimed reflexively as Hitomi pushed something into his arm. He reached up to rub away the imagined pain. "Don't you go sticking random things in people. I already think your doing weird experiment stuff to me as is." He said irritable. "Ask first."
Her response was a smile. "Oh, that your way of saying, 'thank you, doctor, for bringing me out of my vegetative state? It's so nice to be sitting and speaking instead of eating through a tube and being the bleeding, broken, and brain-burned piece of unconscious meat that I was when the Professor risked his life to save mine back at that hidden AUL safehouse?'" Then a thought struck her. "In the military terms followed by United Earth Government and the ASC, I outrank you, lieutenant. Don't make me prove it. Just behave and recover."

"Rolland," Mack added with a light laugh. "You owe them your ass, y'dummy. Like I said, 'tomi, we're a hard-headed bunch."

"Oh, it's all right," the Polynesian replied like someone who had been in this situation enough times before.

Just then, everyone's ears picked up a light inhuman sound coming from somewhere in the room. Mack turned, but Hitomi seemed to know. On a high shelf between medical components in a nice warm spot, curled up comfortably, was Trouble. He had been watching you all along. The sound you heard was his yawning. Trouble stared at you with metallic dreamy-kitten eyes.

"I'll stay. I'll have Elvis's back. And I'll see about trying out for your squadron. But I fly my ship, once she's fixed up."



"And yes... I do have a question. The only one that really matters. What the hell is going on with this magic psychic machine shit?" He paused, hesitating as he considered a few things. "And how do I use it?"
Hitomi shook her head. "Lieutenant, you don't fly until you get clearance from your medical officer. That's me. And right now, for reasons that should be obvious even to you, all of you are grounded." Hearing this, Mack nodded. Hitomi looked at Ricky for the first time with doubt in her eyes. "Aren't you a test pilot? Is this really your first time in a military trauma ward?"

Ricky was in no place to give orders. As a test pilot and again as a combat pilot, Ricky had been trained to know that moreso than Captain Renfeld, the medical officers in charge of the pilots held the pilots' wings in their hands. Every day. One word from "doc" could, on scientific or medical grounds, stop a pilot from flying until the medical officer saw proof of the pilot's ability to fly in combat safely. No rebuttals. No arguments. No plea bargaining. Not a single thing the flight officer or brass could do about it, for the safety of the pilot and everyone around that pilot was paramount.

This went for any aircraft, mecha pilot, tanker, soldier, boat drive, and more seen unfit for the incredible amount of strain that combat put pilots through - regardless of rank. In the end, most everyone understood that it made for less soldiers and non-combatants leaving their duty inside of flag-draped caskets or the long, slow hell of post-combat medical rehabilitation. If indeed this Dr. Yashida was a UEG trauma ward specialist or better, that put her well above an ASC combat pilot like Ricky, Mack, and even further above a scientist-become-Logan-pilot like Ylva.

"As for the question you think is only one that really matters," Hitomi glanced up at a monitor long enough to read it, "the best person to answer that question is that that 'sketchy guy with the beard and robot cat.' He's..." she read a bit more and what she read caused a sigh of concern from her, "...recovering from his own ordeal. He's in his own bed from rescuing the two of you."

This got Mack's immediate attention. She stared at Hitomi. "The Prof? What are you talking about?"

Hitomi looked to all three of you. "Don't worry, he'll be all right. He just overtaxed himself rescuing Sveadotter and Rolland. I ordered him to bed and he should be out for a nap any minute... And that means... Oh, great! Please pardon me." She glanced to all of you then removed herself to the far corner of the room, turned to face you all, put her chin down, and reached up to her left ear. There, she began speaking softly but urgently. Apparently, Ricky, Ylva, and Mack were not the only people Hitomi was helping.

At that moment, the door nearby Hitomi slid open and in walked an armed man in a black ASC Mega-suit. Hitomi reflexively went into a martial stance of some kind only to relax as quickly as she went into it. Immediately, Ylva and Ricky noticed the suit's markings - it was Alpha Tactical Armored Corp (A.T.A.C.), the brave defenders who piloted Veritech Hover Tanks. The man had his helmet under his arm allowing you to see his aged, but tough-looking face. He was up there in years, perhaps in his 50s or early 60s, sporting a military crew-cut hairstyle, thin spectacles. The cover on his head showed the military rankings of a full colonel.

The minute Mack saw him, she called out like she meant it. "Officer on deck!"

"At ease," he immediately followed and Mack relaxed.

Hitomi immediately and quietly seemed to brief this fellow following up with a question. He whispered to her and the longer he whispered, the more relieved she seemed to become.

"Do I have your permission?" the colonel asked of the medical officer.

"You certainly do! I'll keep the Wild Cards informed."

"Keep it up, Hitomi. You're doing a great job as usual," he nodded to her. Then he made his way to you. Seeing Mack in the hot tub, he grinned. "Doing all right in there, Mack?"

"You should try this yourself, sir!"

His smile seemed genuine. "I might have to get me one of those!"

He stood relaxed before Ylva and Ricky and introduced himself in the manner of someone who gave a damn about his people. "Colonel Sharp, A.T.A.C.. Back at Eglin, I am in charge of you both. How are you feeling?"

Ylva had briefly heard his name before. Col. Sharp was directly underneath Brigadier General Steele in command of Eglin base, the Paragon under the Renegade, if his reputation were true. For every dire order General Steele gave, Col. Sharp seemed to be there to reinforce his soldiers' abilities to follow those orders, and more importantly, come home alive. Ricky had known the name since he was stationed at Eglin, ASC. He had never met the respected colonel before face-to-face, but damned if he didn't know of the tanker that most VHT drivers would give their driving hand for. Col. Hiram Sharp was the kind of battlefield commander the T.A.S.C. and T.C. soldiers wished had come from their ranks, for in truth, as 2nd in command of Eglin, all three military branches answered to him. And they were glad to.

Now, by apparently some act of God, he was here in this strange super-high-tech medical bay, checking up on... you!

What do Ricky and Ylva do?
 

Silanon

Three Thousand Club
That's O.K., science geek. We're all learning in the Wild Cards. You'll see.
Good news, that. The best way to find answers is to have others around who ask similar questions. Sure, there's those unique personalities who get things done on their own - but those are rare. Real science, for the most part, is teamwork. Makes her wonder if there's more Professors out there - or if he's one of the lone wolves, safe for Hitomi's and Trouble's input. Probably not the moment to inquire - the Swede will find out soon enough, after all. Plus, there's other words to ponder on.

"I didn't come all this way to leave you behind. And with you deciding on staying... then I'll be right there too. As far as I'm concerned... my job of keeping you safe ain't done yet."
Those, first and foremost. They stick out, as they should. Piercing right through Ylva's thoughts, meeting up with those worrying reflections on how all but one of the Blue Hares are dead to let her survive. These words make it another dead man, for the world, and one who'll have to leave everything behind. Almost the same treatment that life had in store for her, with one major difference: For the test-pilot, those pictures are more than pictures, and the names of the dead are more than just names. For her, that's only the case for the last survivor; the one so determined to let her survive.

Of course, Hitomi's words are out there, too. How the Swede's presence here shouldn't be the sole purpose of Ricky's presence. Bot those words don't take back what was said. Or override the point that Ylva's abduction is why he's here at all, and not in Eglin. At least in the Swede's mind, that is, and that's what counts for her. She doesn't speak it aloud, there might not even be the right words for that. But there's that glimpse of determination in her eyes, and a noticeable grimness even within her thoughtful expression. For a moment, however short it might have been. Long enough for a quiet thought, to be remembered in whatever comes. Lieutenant Ricky Rolland ain't gonna die saving my ass. It's an oath of sorts. The one thing she can do for that decimated squad of flying aces. Staying alive, and making sure that he does the same. 'All but one' is enough.

"...recovering from his own ordeal. He's in his own bed from rescuing the two of you."
There's other words in-between. Few of them matter, for Ylva. These do, however. Is it cruel to be glad about those news, in a distant, impersonal sort of way? There's limitations, to whatever that power is, exactly. Let it be as alien as it seemed thus far; at least, it doesn't break all of the rules. Doesn't mean that there's no concern - the man saved her life, offered shelter and happens to know what she seeks to figure out; but it means that she quietly wishes him the best while being a little more at ease. As long as that 'nap' doesn't look similar to what Ricky went through, but the Professor likely knows his stuff. Well enough, hopefully.

That leaves the Colonel. She knows the name. Funny how that works - you're dead, but your new superiors still show up to haunt you. In the least haunting way she could imagine. Visiting to see how one might feel after being knocked out twice, with lots of monstrosities and near-deaths in between. Awful. Thoughtful. Awfully relaxed, given the place, and the vibes, and the liveliness of Mackenzie. Ylva doesn't say that, any of it. Instead: "Doing fine now, Colonel. Thanks for checking in on us." That's about as informal as she dares to be. This particular place doesn't seem to ask for more, but the man - and Mackenzie - might disagree. "Lnt. Ylva Sveadotter reporting in, more or less. Things went awry, and then turned - strange. I'm glad to be here now, though. Heard that Eglin is not a safe place to be - but that probably only holds for the recently deceased, does it?"

There's questions, of course. Lots of 'em. She holds back for now. Not quite sure yet what to expect. A short glance over to Rick, trying to see a reaction there. Where Ylva knows only the name, he should know - more, at least.
 
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D. Rex

Magic Eight Ball
I'll fly when I damn well want to fly. Ricky said. To himself, in his head. Though he instead stayed silent, in actuality. He couldn't actually fly even if he get out of bed. Not with the state his Jezebel was in.

"I'll cooperate. I'm not here for trouble. And I am grateful you all helped me. But I can't say you outrank me. I don't know you. Or this division. Or even if this is a legitimate military branch. I don't recognize your uniforms and even if they were keeping the mecha psychics a secret, there would be at least some rumors abound. For all I know you could be a private army. Furthermore, if you were with us, then they wouldn't rightly be claiming us dead. Cause they'd know we are here. So forgive me if i can't rightly trust the credibility of this operation from word alone."

He shook his. But didn't think much more of it. He was in an unknown place. But he wasn't in a hostile place. And that was what was important. "Yeah. I've been to the trauma ward before. A good half dozen times. Three times shot down, three from pushing prototype tech too far. And plenty minor stays for situations like this where I get too many holes in my girl and I'm just the collateral damage. So yeah, I'm pretty familiar with the way it works." His callsign wasn't 'Swiss' for no reason.

"Anyway... I think its a bit too soon to say what I want. There are a lot of things I need to work out and get used to. Until then, it helps to stick with what I know. A man's honest opinion isn't going to change lickety split. But having something to hold onto is a way to get my bearings." Ricky sighed. "What I want is to fly. To fly as fast can be. To see the world pass me in a blur. Outpacing death itself. Thats what I live for. I want to do that and do my part for Earth while i'm at it. Gunning down whatever aliens mess with us. Then coming home to have a pretty nurse in each arm, them pampering me and thinking I'm the hot shit. And the next day getting to do it all over again."

Ricky glanced over at Ylva. "Protecting her ain't some half asked attempt to find meaning. When I look at her... i can't help but see them. I wouldn't say its valiance at this point. Or duty. Its personal now. It's not every day you get to spit in the eye of several hosile factions and get away clean. Zeeks, uglier zeeks, and choad packing fat British turncoats. Its a good thing. I guess you could say that I see more hope in her than sorrow."


Ricky grunted,"Blue Hare's tested combat ready prototypes, stress testing them in real scenarios. We are stupid, reckless, and mad. And we lose people often enough. Enough so that we got our own way of dealing with things and looking at life. A night of heavy drinking and toasting per man lost. Except the Cap'n. He gets double that." He paused there, realizing that their ways did probably seem odd. So he stopped there and shook his head.

The way Ylva was looking at him. Well, he could only respond to her stares with a rogues grin. It was only a little forced. No, Ricky wasn't trapped in the depths of depression. Just a combination, of shocked, confused, and lost.


Still... one of his recent arguments was rendered mute as a familiar face strode in. Reflexively, Ricky pulled an arm up for a salute. This left him unsteady, and being given ease could have come soon enough.

He was left staring at the man wide eyed with his mouth agape incredulously. "Colonel?" He asked, as if he couldn't really believe he was seeing the man. What the hell was going in here? Where he didn't know anything about Hitomi and this lot, Sharp on the other hand... now he was unquestionably his superior officer. And, definitely made him think twice about the credibility of this place. Maybe this place really was a legit operation.


Calm, he wasnt really. No, in fact his mouth blurted things out before he could really snap it closed. "Sir! I look better than I feel, but sir, its important, there are traitors at Englin base, can at least confirm three, got time stamps of them sabotaging my Valkerie during my last visit at base, they knew the mission, they knew the Milo and where we would be, they knew the VIP, we got a serious security breach and it is getting people killed, there is also some new looking ugly aliens that launch fucking flying dogs, and portals and androids, and underground complexes, and God knows else, im not mad and I know I wasn't hit in the head that hard..." Ricky took a deep breath to get some air back in his lunges and try to control his mouth. "Colonel, what the hell is going on around here?" Normally Ricky was a good but more controlled around officers, but hot damn what the hell was actually going on around here? He couldn't help but look to Colonel Sharp for some sort of answer. He respected the man greatly, trusted him.
 

Dannigan

Kaerri's Man. =)
Supporter
(Long post! Hang on tight!)

I just love this music! "Patton • Main Theme • Jerry Goldsmith"

Ricky found his headache had gone from growing to receding since the administering of Hitomi's hypo injection. Thoughts were a little clearer, a little easier to come by. The pains right side of his body seemed to dull a bit too. Was he in flight-worthy condition? Far from it and he knew it. He needed at least a couple of days of solid rest, good food, and preferably good company. The latter had definitely just walked in the door.

Ricky's launch into full afterburners got a good-hearted chuckle out of the colonel. "At ease, son! Throttle back, it's okay." Colonel Sharp patted Ricky's left arm in an effort to calm him. His grin alone had a calming effect; it seemed to say, "don't worry; everything will work out in time." Colonel Sharp had a track record so long and distinguished that when he said things were okay, they really were. Not only was he trustworthy, he did everything he could to be worthy of that trust, never taking it for granted. Unlike his superior, General Steele, Hiram Sharp was a man of honor and everybody knew it. While he never let his reputation go to his head, he was happy to have it bring comfort to his soldiers during times like these.

Hitomi had earnestly tried to listen to everything Ricky had given out, but now that she was working as the Wild Cards dispatcher, she was happy to leave the moment to Sharp. Colonel Sharp turned to Hitomi, waving to get her attention. She made a moment to listen to him. "Doctor, Captain Piper has personally given the okay. We have the green light!"

"You mean she'll use it?"

"Affirmative. We..." he seemed relieved to say, "...can now be completely upfront!"

Hitomi looked skyward and silently smiled. It was as if a mech-sized weight had been suddenly taken off of her heavily-burdened shoulders. Between fielding information between whomever was talking in one of her ears to the other (she seemed to be working two bluetooth-style earpieces at once now), Hitomi was still quite busy but this appeared to be news she was longing for. Hitomi gave Ylva and Ricky one long and pleased smile before returning her full attention to whomever needed her. She too trusted Colonel Sharp.

Colonel Sharp held up a hand and addressed both Ricky and Ylva. "Troops, this may be the most off-the-wall briefing I have ever given in all my years, but you're worth the effort. This may be hard to follow and hard to swallow. I'll try to cover as much as I can.

He took a deep breath and began, "I'll start with the people in this room." He whirled his finger around to include Hitomi, Mack, and even Trouble who was now eagerly watching you with a little smile across his mechanical kitty-features. He spoke slowly and meaningfully, not rushing, but taking the time to say properly what was in his mind and heart. "Whatever these three have told you is true. I trust them. The one I have trusted the longest is Professor Albert Stein; he and I have been close friends since... for as long as..." the years began to rack up in his mind. Humorously, he deflected, "Well, never mind how long. Albert has saved my life on more than one occasion. His dream, his brainchild, his Project Eternity, is indeed a United Earth Government top secret project that he is the head of. If you haven't heard of it, it's because even the Global Military Police aren't aware of it. And that's for good reason.

"Albert has been chasing Traversers for years. Traversers are gifted people like you who can interact with and influence machines like no other human beings alive. Only within the past week has his crazy efforts paid off. He discovered the Wild Cards back at Eglin. All of them are Traversers. And they are not the only ones. The whole idea behind Project Eternity is to grab up every Traverser he can find before the Anti-Unification League or the Zentraedi can kill them. So far, we have 100% survival record. I am here in part to see that that number does not change. But that's not all I'm here to make happen.

He stood straight. His smile disappeared replaced by a look of determination as he looked around the medical bay. "Now, I've chosen to help Albert against forces I do not fully understand. With..." he placed his hand upon a medical console, "...technology that I do not fully understand. For we are onboard a United Earth Government military vessel from Earth's future. You heard me right."

"You are inside the Garfish-class space destroyer SCL-107 Broadsword now commanded by Acting-Captain Bethany Piper, herself from a future where Earth loses. Our beloved planet is placed into slavery not by the Zentraedi, not by the Robotech Masters our UEEF forces left to make contact with, but by an alien threat that dwarfs them all. The Traversers are a powerful force against the alien threat.

"But the Broadsword and her remaining crew has not come back through time alone. Captain Piper is up against a new force of Zentraedi. You saw them. The Zentraedi who are sometimes built into their power armor with the missile dogs? They call themselves the Zeki-Zentraedi... and you have only seen a little of what they can do.

"The Ura-Meltrandi, another alien force from the future, have also come here for reasons we do not yet know. However, the Wild Cards alone have somehow, someway, succeeded in creating a military non-aggression treaty - a pact if you will - with their War-queen, Taniya." At this, Mack from her warm bubbly bath just gave the biggest, proudest grin. Colonel Sharp caught it and returned one of his own.

"Hitomi? May I bring a little additional company to join us for a bit?" the full colonel asked of the head of the medical ward. Hitomi nodded and, from her side of the room, kept fielding questions literally from one ear to the other. Colonel Sharp nodded his thanks.

"Sam?" Colonel Sharp requested as if to the room itself. "Would you bring a couple of yours in here, please?" In moments, two people in spacesuits entered the room, saluted Hitomi, paused for Hitomi's approval, and moved in to join you only when she returned the salute and gave permission. You could not see their faces behind the shiny domes of their helmets and you knew for certain that before you was technology you had never before seen. Their presence created a strange contrast from Colonel Sharp's worn-but-still-worthy Army of Southern Cross Mega-suit and two Mega-suits from... beyond. The two approached Colonel Sharp and saluted, an action he returned immediately.

One was male and looked as much and the other was female, complete with long black pony-tail.
Spaceman Sam - VR-052-Cyclone-MOSPEADA-Veritech-Motorcycle-109.jpg
(Image credit: Reddit.com)

"Would you remove your helmets, please?"

The helmets came off - revealing... NOBODY! It was startlingly clear that there was no one inside these Mega-suits and they had walked in here of their own accord and were now standing in front of you, helmets in hands, at attention.

"Thank you, both." Colonel Sharp looked back to you, an amused look in his eyes as he adjusted his glasses. "Now does that look like anything we in the Army of Southern Cross have at our disposal?" You both knew this was beyond the ASC's or even the current UEG's ability, to make reality. Being a test pilot and a military scientist, you both knew this level of technology simply had not been invented yet.

"There's more, troops, but I'll pause here for questions." Colonel Sharp seemed to be getting a mild kick out of displaying things that also baffled him.
 

Silanon

Three Thousand Club
Ricky's reaction, his words, his demeanor - not that easy to figure it out, for the Swede. He's different. Way different. It'll take time, to find the right words, or even understand. And time's one thing Ylva doesn't get, right now. There're the Colonel's words, and those suits, and more words. And still those suits, helmless, headless, just standing there. And then the time for questions, an interruption in that flow of news that gives away lots. Most of those things: Totally bonkers. The movements she felt - those could be from a space ship, maybe. Who knows, she couldn't tell. Like, she knows ships. And flying, of course. Lots of both. But still. Just because it could be, just like all the other things Colonel Sharp says - doesn't make them sound less insane. But that's her world, now. Where things don't make any sense whatspoever, until they do. At some point, maybe. Hopefully.

For once, there's no immediate question, or complaint, or anything of that sort. Just the pointless drumming of her fingers on the mattress. Slow and irregular, just something to busy her body with while her mind attempts to sort things through. Finally, she stops and raises her voice. "Let's skip the part where I mention that none of this makes sense. It doesn't, we know that, but the world doesn't care. So... time travel is a thing, there are different groups arriving from the future, and this whole space ship is part of that. Because there's something even worse than flying monster dogs waiting in the future, and some traversers might be important for that. And you have fricking autonomous suits aboard, because that's just a thing that the future holds, and you actually expect me to get anything done while the future walks by, and hums around me, and just in general does its best to be part of the present."

As the Swede speaks, her eyes rarely leave the suits for long. It's not intended impoliteness towards Colonel Sharp, but his demonstration proves too impressive to keep her gaze away for too long. There's a lot scientists can dream about. Tech that might be within reach one day, if one could simply solve this or that problem, and then get the funds to... this is beyond imagination. Sure, the concept is there. In science fiction books. But this is something far out of reach, suddenly thrown at her to make a statement. That the past is over. That things don't make sense. That the future has arrived big-time, and that she's somehow a part of it. It works. She was baffled there, for a moment. Still is, whenever she sees what happens to not be a living and breathing person. Because those are familiar, and everything else is - from the future. Bonkers. Awesome. Beyond her grasp, and yet within reach. Crap, if they'd sent one of those suits with an invitation to her, a year back maybe - she would've signed anything. That's life for you. Things fall apart everywhere at once, and then it throws just the right thing at you to keep you going.

"So, questions. What are we up to, exactly? Picking up all the traversers that happen to show up - sure. Or we wouldn't be here. And then what? We're fighting those Zeki-Zentraedi, and this Anti-group, and stay off the radar or one would've heard something about this, at some point. But what's the grand plan? Change the future, and hope that they'll all come back here anyway, so that we don't create a time paradox? Or prepare for whatever is waiting for us, because we can't change it, and then hope that our preparations can end this future enslavement? How does time travel work? Can we change things, undo things?"

"Also, where's Eglin in all of this? I get that the parties involved don't want to announce their presence. Zeki, Ura, Anti, all those - this ship, too. I mean, people would ask questions. I certainly did, and won't stop. And they probably don't want questions, so they try to cover their tracks. But Eglin - are they involved at all? Or do they just try to cover tracks when the others mess up? Make sure that the word doesn't spread?" A short pause. "I don't mean your men in general, Colonel. Just the ones who plant bombs, and turn reportedly dead people into real dead people when given the chance."

"And what about Zeki and the usual malcontents? Do they get along? Fight? Looked like the latter to me, when things became messy for the first time. But I'm not quite sure what to make of it, really. There were corpses. Malcontents. Killed by some fiery weapon beyond our capabilities. Well, mankind's capabilities, disregarding certain secret projects." She points out the surrounding. "Who knows what else you might be capable of, after all. But back to the point. There was that giant Zentraedi, armor molded to it. Zeki, from what you told. Then there was knock-out gas, and that's that. But that warrior killed the Malcontents, I think. Just bad luck that they ran into each other - or is that a general thing?"
 

Dannigan

Kaerri's Man. =)
Supporter
"So, questions. What are we up to, exactly? Picking up all the traversers that happen to show up - sure. Or we wouldn't be here. And then what? We're fighting those Zeki-Zentraedi, and this Anti-group, and stay off the radar or one would've heard something about this, at some point. But what's the grand plan? Change the future, and hope that they'll all come back here anyway, so that we don't create a time paradox? Or prepare for whatever is waiting for us, because we can't change it, and then hope that our preparations can end this future enslavement? How does time travel work? Can we change things, undo things?"
Colonel Sharp nods to Ylva. "Leave it to the scientifically-gifted to ask the good questions from the get-go! That's just it - this vessel is a UEEF destroyer. As an ASC officer, I don't even have the jurisdiction to ask. Everyone from the ASC, you, Mack, Lt. Rolland, and me included are all guests on this vessel. But... that may change in the near future. Until then, I recommend you behave yourself. I don't have all the answers, but I can share what I've learned. I think the grand plan has something to do with fortifying the 'now' against the 'future.' Many of us from the ASC team think this ship has its share of secrets too. One thing I am absolutely convinced of - none of this is a hoax. This ship, its mission, our threat, it's all real. I've seen enough to make me a believer.

"How does time travel work? Well, for the Broadsword, they seem to have entered a space anomaly and guessed. As best as I can tell, the Ura-Meltrandi and the Zeki-Zentraedi did the same. That's about all I know. For all I know, we're undoing things as we speak - still, we have to take action and hope for the best."

"Also, where's Eglin in all of this? I get that the parties involved don't want to announce their presence. Zeki, Ura, Anti, all those - this ship, too. I mean, people would ask questions. I certainly did, and won't stop. And they probably don't want questions, so they try to cover their tracks. But Eglin - are they involved at all? Or do they just try to cover tracks when the others mess up? Make sure that the word doesn't spread?" A short pause. "I don't mean your men in general, Colonel. Just the ones who plant bombs, and turn reportedly dead people into real dead people when given the chance."
"Eglin, at least for me, is where this all started. The Wild Cards and their first mission together to infiltrate an underground Zentraedi base were a pet project authorized by General Steele. Last I heard, I am the only member of Eglin ASC's personnel involved that is not considered KIA ("Killed in Action"). I'm listed as MIA ("Missing in Action"). And damned if I know why!

"Concerning the ones who sabotaged the Valkyrie Lt. Rolland had been assigned to and those behind the scenes who have counted every one of you Traversers dead to the world, well..." Colonel Sharp took a breath and thought a moment. "...All signs point toward my CO (Commanding Officer). Brigadier General George Steele and commander of Eglin ASC base in Florida. Seems to me he wants all Traversers either dead or as close to it as they can get. But why? It makes no sense!"

"And what about Zeki and the usual malcontents? Do they get along? Fight? Looked like the latter to me, when things became messy for the first time. But I'm not quite sure what to make of it, really. There were corpses. Malcontents. Killed by some fiery weapon beyond our capabilities. Well, mankind's capabilities, disregarding certain secret projects." She points out the surrounding. "Who knows what else you might be capable of, after all. But back to the point. There was that giant Zentraedi, armor molded to it. Zeki, from what you told. Then there was knock-out gas, and that's that. But that warrior killed the Malcontents, I think. Just bad luck that they ran into each other - or is that a general thing?"
"I wish I knew, ma'am. Here's what I know. The Malcontents are referred by the Zeki-Zentraedi as the Dolza-Zentraedi, very likely after Lord Dolza, the alien leader who was in command during the Rain of Death. The Lisara-Meltrandi are the alien ladies who allied with us, led by Commander Lisara of the UEEF. The Ura-Meltrandi seem to want all Zentraedi dead, but not the Lisara-Meltrandi. Nothing new there, I think.

"My concern is with the Zeki-Zentraedi. What do the Zeki-Zentraedi want with the Malcontents? I'm worried that if the Zentraedi of the future take in the Malcontents, Earth could be in trouble all over again! Can you imagine Malcontents with Zeki-level technology?" Colonel Sharp frowns deeply. "That means only thing - a lot of Earth's people become casualties of war. As an ASC officer, I can't just stand by and watch that happen."

The colonel faces Ylva in the same kind of manner a patient might address a physician. "If you don't mind another question from me, what exactly did you see or experience? Something took place for General Steele to send the Blue Hares in after you. Are you at liberty to share that information, ma'am? If nothing else, I am willing to bet Lieutenant Rolland here would like to know too, again only if you are comfortable doing so. This is not an order but a request from one officer to another."
 

Silanon

Three Thousand Club
Actual answers. There are, of course, limitations to what the man knows himself. There always are. But it's enough. For now, at least. Enough to get an idea, to move some puzzle pieces to the right place and slowly get an idea how the whole thing might look like. Encouraging. The progress, not the picture painted by those words. Possibly quite the dark future incoming. Hopefully, the brighter pieces are just hidden at the bottom of the pile, and not non-existent.

The colonel faces Ylva in the same kind of manner a patient might address a physician. "If you don't mind another question from me, what exactly did you see or experience? Something took place for General Steele to send the Blue Hares in after you. Are you at liberty to share that information, ma'am? If nothing else, I am willing to bet Lieutenant Rolland here would like to know too, again only if you are comfortable doing so. This is not an order but a request from one officer to another."
"Don't think that this is much of a request, actually. The sooner I understand it myself, the better I'll sleep. Might be a bit disappointing, though." A look over to Ricky. "Might not have much in there that explains the urgency. Or the importance. Or anything, really." Her eyes travel back to meet those of the Colonel. "Don't think anyone asked me to keep quiet about it, so let's see. I was on my way southwards, from Atlanta to Eglin. New assignment there, and supposedly safe roads in-between. Took a wrong turn, though, I believe. Saw the smoke before I found the right road sign, at least. There was a car, or rather the remains of it. Torn apart by some mega-damage weaponry. Parts of it everywhere, burning. There were corpses of Malcontents, three of them. Armed and equipped as usual, I'd say. One was killed by a shot right through the helmet. One lost his head entirely. Some fiery, burning weapon, nothing like we have. The third died through brute force. Some weapon smashed right through his gun and carved in the skull." A short pause. "There was a fourth, but a different one. Armor molded to the body, crimson red. You know, like blood. Not covered in blood, though, I don't think, just the color. Wasn't a Malcontent, was in good shape. Zeki, I think. Maybe not. Anyway, he had a giant warhammer and a smoking pistol, so that matches the wounds. Surprised them quite a bit, by the looks of that one Malcontent. Tore right through them, and was busy cleaning his weappons, then. Said something, but I couldn't understand. Never needed much Zentraedi, there were always decent translations around. Well, anyway, then there was another Malcontent, I believe, who said that I'd seen too much. Abducted me instead of killing me outright, luckily. Some white gas that went right thorugh the skin. Knocked me out. Woke up in a Logan under the Anti-Unification League's control, as it seems. The Professor said that much. What happened in-between, I don't really know. The Lieutenant told me some of it" - a nod at Ricky - "but that's pretty much it. Malcontents where they shouldn't be. Superior tech that you might be familiar with already."

"Did the Zeki just let the fourth Malcontent walk away, after killing three? I don't know. They did quite a lot to get me back, at least. So did the League, I suppose. And Eglin. Don't know if they all thought I'd seen and understood more; or if that's it. It's not nothing, I get that. Now, at least, first time I really think too much about it. Just feels so - irrelevant after what followed after. Like, what I saw meant that something was different than we thought. What happened after felt like nothing in the world made any sense whatsoever. Maybe you CO didn't want me to spread the word about the Zeki, and it's probably the same for them. And the Malcontents. And the League - do they know about the Zeki? They were after what I'd seen, or that's what that moron said. Can't ask him now, the Lieutenant took real good care of him."
 

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