As the title suggests, feel free to RP it up.
Wed Nov 23, 2011 12:19 am
Isaiah Cole ~ Feels Like I Got Kicked In The Teeth
The moment Melani was out the door Isaiah's calm demeanor left him. His sense of pain had returned long ago; he just couldn't show it in front of everyone. "Slavik, I want you to do me a favor. The next time I have the bright idea to dislocate something.....Just go ahead and shoot me," the weapons specialist groaned as he searched about the medical ward for anything that might be used to numb the pain. This wasn't his first C-30 injection and it probably wouldn't be his last. Even still, nothing ever really prepared one for the sheer amount of pain involved in the treatment. Slowly but surely though Isaiah was able to tolerate the pulsating pain in his limb. "Where's Engleton going? I only wanted my pilot suit.
" Isaiah sighed as he swung his legs over the side of the bed.
The sergeant's arm wasn't the only thing causing him pain. His face had swollen where Petrov had given him a little beat down. Medical ward or not, right now Isaiah wanted a cigar more than ever. Luckily he'd remembered to stash one in his suit before their training had begun. Slowly but surely the gunman made his way to where the medical team had stashed his uniform and plucked the single cigar and a box of matches from one of its few pockets.
No sooner than did he have his cigar lit then did Melani return bearing gifts of street clothing and underwear. Isaiah raised an eyebrow at the woman, questions about how secure of a facility Celsius really was beginning to raise as he did. "....I've really got to do something about the number of women that have open access to my room whenever they please....," he muttered to himself whilst making his way over to Melani. "Thank you, Corporal.....But I just wanted you to fetch my jumpsuit for me." After retrieving the clothing from Mel, Isaiah made his way behind one of the medical screens to change. He had to take extra care when slipping his half-mangled arm into his tank top, though he was mostly just thankful Melani hadn't brought him something with sleeves. A fresh pair of pants later and Isaiah was good as new, or at least as close as he could get for the next 12 hours. After taking a long drag from his cigar, Isaiah exhaled the noxious fumes, feeling a great deal of stress leave him as the smoke poured from his lungs. "Remind me again, Mel. It's about a 2 hour wait before one can start drinking after a C-30 injection. That sound right?"
Mon Nov 28, 2011 8:46 am
Sharline – Stasis
It had been about an hour since the incident. Sharline hadn't had the guts to complain to Eckhart about Myra's usurpation. She looked around her work space, a rather small office near the old S-DAT facility. Dustin Collier frequently stopped by, as did a few other coworkers located near the premises. The brunette sighed as she turned back around toward her desk, pupils scanning over the monitor. She carefully selected the entire mass of text she had typed over the hour, filled with frustration and several choice expletives, and pressed the backspace key. Click.
Her shoulders lightened as the mass of vitriol was deleted, revealing a blank, clinical white screen. She sighed. I should probably check on Isaiah. I wonder what happened to Ren, too. Sharline shuddered as she remembered Ren's ferocious expression. The woman got up from her desk and turned toward the door. How could Petrov really go easy on her, with a look like that...
As Sharline approached the medical ward, she passed by the wide expanse of the company's cafeteria, separated from the main hallway by a sheer plexiglass wall. She could see Max entering the room from about a hundred yards away. She looks angry...maybe it's just her personality? The young woman remembered the recruit's introduction; she hadn't really been a Miss Congeniality type.
As Sharline came to Isaiah's room, she saw Melani standing a few feet in the entrance. She could see Ren lying in the second bed, more or less comatose. She's in rough shape. Then again, the span of her injuries and Isaiah's wasn't that long. She'll probably wake up soon.
The girl overheard the sarge's last question. "Give or take an hour. And smoking is strictly off-limits in the medical ward, Sarge," Sharline leaned against the door frame, smiling slyly as she pointed up to the ceiling. "Ventilation system and all that. It's good to see you're up to walking and irrevocably damaging your lungs again, though."
Mon Dec 05, 2011 6:35 pm
The man gave a cold shrug as Cole questioned about the morale and state of mind the others were in after the two bouts, "Things could be better, concerning the squad, they're all handling it in their own manner... Some better than others but it is their right. Course the so called staff does not approve of us as a whole." Slavik mused for a moment as he took a seat close to Cole's bed, "Admittedly my own opinion is that you and Ishii were out smarted, it seemed too convenient, both the CQC specialists taken out of action in front of the group, while our.... shall we call her a guide for now? Is provoked... Oh, reminds me it appears that St. Mortiz is not overly friendly towards McGovern. That woman particularly dislikes you and Ishii."
Slavik leaned back into his chair with a sigh, "She wants us to prove to them that we are the right people for this project." He was about to continue when Melani reentered with Cole's clothing, Slavik let the interruption slide, no need to burst the woman's bubble after all. Once everything calmed down, Slavik gave an evil grin, "I'd never shoot a superior unless it was necessary. I could always record one of Diaz's shout downs and force you to listen to them over and over again when you can't move. I'm sure that would dissuade you from doing anything as... shall we say tactically redundant? I have other words but I'll humour you just this once."
Somewhat surprising McGovern entered the medical ward, though perhaps Slavik should've expected it, after all she was their 'guide'. "Everyone has their vices, some less healthy than others." He said shrugging his shoulders again as he began to get comfortable in the chair, "I'm somewhat surprised as St.Mortiz's appearance, may I ask what her specific role is within this facility? Or is that strictly need-to-know."
Fri Dec 09, 2011 2:01 pm
Ren - Blissful Pain
She had been right, Petrov showed her absolutely no mercy the second time he got a hold of her. It was her own damned fault -- Too slow, too sloppy -- and she knew this all too well, as his fist -- It looks like a semitruck -- came flying towards her head at a frightening speed.
The blow came so hard, that Ren didn't even have time to feel anything. She was thrust into a rather peaceful blackness in one go. Here there was no war, no Maldova, no Anatolia, no Army, no Celsius, no Shaw, no Petrov... Not even her own thoughts. Just pure and utter nothingness. She found herself flying, or floating in this black realm and it was just lovely.
But all good things come to an end, even concussion induced dreams. The first little wrong in her black little world was the sudden feeling of pain, paired with sounds. The sounds grew larger and a bright white strip stretched along the horizon, it was blinding her. The sounds sounded warbled, but she was sure she had heard them before. The pain made it difficult to think about it though. The strip of light grew bigger and she started to see object in the light, just meaningless shapes at first, but soon she recognized a few of them. Beds, rows upon rows of beds. The sounds had now also turned into something she could understand, words, spoken by voices she recognized, but couldn't quite place. They were female though, that much was clear. Every word they spoke droned on in her head like a wardrum, signalling the pain to step up the beat. With every beat of that incessant wardrum, the slit of light grew bigger, until finally she could see the entire room.
Ren blinked a few times, trying to get her bearings. Where was she and how did she end up here? It didn't feel like her drunken stupors, the pain was way too severe for that. And those nagging voices, who were that? It was a heated discussion, which only made her head hurt more and more. Fevered voices, she recognized them. Straining every still operating fiber in her brain she tried to put a name or face with the voices. Melani was the first one to pop into Ren's head, dressed like a pink princess no less. After that, the others came quickly as well, Max, and... and... actually, she couldn't place the male voice. He sounded calculating, did she know someone who was calculating? It pained her brain to no end, but she couldn't come up with a name or face.
"Would you people shut up already?" She moaned, barely audible. And from the fact that nobody did stop, she could only conclude that she wasn't heard. Or perhaps she hadn't even spoken in the first place. She heard another voice now, who she did manage to identify immediately, Isaiah. Oh right, he was injured as well. Dislocated his arm, not smart.
Ren granted herself a wry smile, as memories started to flood back. She remembered her first aid, it was probably a mild concussion. Just gotta remember, don't fall asleep. With some effort she managed to roll herself onto her back, only to stare at the ceiling for a while. The smell of a cigar started to fill the room -- Wasn't this a no-smoking area? -- and she felt the immediate hunger for a cigarette. Oh she could kill for one right now.
Tue Dec 13, 2011 1:38 am
ZZ : Unfamiliar Territory :
As ZZ heard the order to take off her suit, she gracefully did so, not wanting to piss anyone off. Following the crowd of people to the big burly guy, Lieutenant Petrov, ZZ stayed near the back of the group, observing with interest. The fight seemed to not take very long, whether ZZ just didn’t pay attention or the fight really didn’t last that long, she wasn’t sure. As she watched Mel take Isaiah to the infirmary, she watched Ren start to get irritated and impulsive. This she had to see. Watching the second fight was eye opening for ZZ since she learned two things. 1) People can surprise you and 2) Lt. Petrov is a beast. ‘Note to self: Don’t pick a fight with Petrov’ she thought. She had an urge to check on her teammates but with the last order from Petrov being to put the SIRENs back, ZZ decided to do that first. ‘I’m sure the others are fine…’ she reassured herself as she went back to Zroya. As she put the SIREN away, her thoughts wandered back to her teammates. She snapped back to reality and finished up quickly so she could ease her mind.
As she walked to the Infirmary, ZZ hesitated in her thoughts. ‘This is weird, right? Worrying about these people when I have only known them from like what, a day? But… Ishii, she’s my roommate…’ Stopping in the doorway, ZZ glanced around looking for Ren and Isaiah. Spotting both of them, she took another step into the room but stayed close to the wall. Looking at Isaiah, he seemed to be better than Ren. Overhearing her request for peace, ZZ scooted closer to Isaiah’s bed to get a better look. ‘At least he’s better… since he’s having a cigar…’ she smiled slightly as she spaced out a bit.
Tue Dec 27, 2011 10:17 pm
Sharline – Evening in the Infirmary
Sharline strode across the room as Isaiah continued to smoke, the clickety-clack of her pilot heels echoing across the slick white floors. She delicately plucked the cigar from the sergeant's hand. "Sir," the girl nodded with a crooked smile, dropping the offending object to the ground before crushing it under her heel. Clack! She picked up the flattened butt and flicked it into a waste receptacle by the soldier's bed.
All of the furniture in the room, from the metallic bedposts to the clock high on the wall, were in varying shades of white, gray, and chrome. Sharline wafted away the polluted air with her hand, attempting to restore the clinical atmosphere. At that moment, Slavik spoke up. "Everyone has their vices, some less healthy than others," the man shrugged his shoulders. The analyst turned around. "I'm somewhat surprised as St. Mortiz's appearance; may I ask what her specific role is within this facility? Or is that strictly need-to-know."
Sharline fidgeted. So they did notice... She had hoped the others wouldn't catch on to Myra's appropriation, or her own subsequent outburst. Stupid...guess it made a pretty big scene. The girl touched her jaw hesitantly. "Um, yeah..." Sharline took a seat in a metal chair near Ren. "She's–" A total bitch? A takeover artist? "–An agent for Celsius," she concluded charitably. "Several of our employees have transient positions within the company," Sharline glanced up at the ceiling, pondering the firm's executive hierarchy. "We'll receive one posting, but if there's a more pressing assignment, we're relocated." I guess that is kind of weird. Sharline turned back to Slavik, her pale face benign. "Myra's worn several hats. She's represented our legal team before, but she usually works with Grant Eckhart, like me."
Sharline's voice trailed off as she came to the day's incident. "Right now she's overseeing logistics for another Epsilon unit, similar to my position with you all." Although she stole that position today, piece of shit. Sharline glared, and coughed as she looked away. She noticed the chrome clock above Isaiah's bed. 7:03.
At some point during all the conversations, Ren had been roused awake. ZZ also entered the room, and was sitting near Isaiah with a vaguely absent expression. Sharline looked up at them, noticing both women at once. Her slight shoulders relaxed as she eased into the PVC of her pilot suit. "Oh, hi guys. How are you feeling, Ren? You look–" she cut off. The corporal didn't look that good. Sharline remembered Petrov's finishing blow and winced. Yeah, better stop that train of thought right there. "–You look like you could use some rest. It's already seven, believe it or not."
Wed Dec 28, 2011 8:45 am
Seven Months Later
It was another cold and rainy night in the city of Neo Thermopolis. James Declan stood in the corner of his office, gazing out over the bright, neon lights of civilization. The aging CEO’s thoughts trailed off into days of old. To think that less than a decade ago his company was on the rocks, and he – the most powerful man in Celsius – had been nothing more than a well-timed phone call away from suicide. He sighed, taking a sip from a 12-year-old glass of scotch. There were times when he wondered why the Council had chosen his company for their project. Was it because they thought he wouldn’t object to their demands? Did they truly care about bailing Celsius out of the insurmountable debt it had fallen into? Or had they simply picked their name out of a hat? All these questions and more baffled Declan to no end.
Silently he made his way over to the hardwood desk. His fingers stroked the almost half-century-old surface. The CEO took a seat in his leather armchair, rocking back and forth to the sound of rain pitter-pattering against wall-sized windows. For a moment his eyes glanced at the desk drawer where his revolver had lain so many years ago. How long had he kept that thing there, before that fateful night? Either way, it didn’t matter now – things were looking up, and showed no signs of changing. He flicked on the large multipurpose monitor across the room. More straight-faced newscasters, more reports about impending war, possible peace, and anything else related to Maldova. One would think after a decade of coverage, the media would find a celebrity to chastise for at least a week. Anything to take the country’s mind off of its potential doom.
“Fu**ing fear mongers,” Declan growled, before changing the channel. He’d rather get stuck watching some documentary about a gopher for five hours than be subjected to another spree of fanatical pundits forcing their opinions down his throat. Strangely enough, that’s almost exactly what happened, though it was a documentary on meerkats and not gophers. The mild program droned on, and just as the CEO was becoming interested in the furry critters, a sudden image flashed across the screen.
EMERGENCY CALL WAITING
From: Henry Sheppard
Declan’s eyes widened. Now that he thought about it, it had been months since the Representative had contacted him. Did the Council just want to discuss a possible amendment to their contract? No, that couldn’t be it; not at this time of night and certainly not in person. After letting the line ring for a while longer, Declan finally clicked his chrome remote. The gray, aging face of Henry Sheppard filled the screen. “Good evening, Representative Sheppard. To what pleasure do I owe this late night phone call?” Declan asked, an air of business in his tone.
At first glance, the older man appeared tired and agitated. “Mr. Declan, I’ll spare you the pleasantries and just cut right to business. How is Project Epsilon going, in your opinion.”
The company president tilted his head slightly. “Very well actually. You may have noticed that we had to reassign a few of the candidates, if not completely remove them. I hope this hasn’t caused you and the others in the Council a problem?”
“No, that isn't a problem at all,” Sheppard's tone was flat; it had not been the reason for the man's call. Silence emanated on both sides of the screen, with the soft clatter of rain the only sound audible. “...Mr. Declan, I'll cut to the chase. The Council wants to – expand the project outside what you might consider ‘comfortable operating standards.' Or rather, a slight change in the contract.”
Declan’s eyebrow raised. So he was right – the councilman did want to discuss their contract. “What did you have in mind?”
Sheppard's lined face became taciturn. “First, we'd like to move directly into live combat.” Declan shot up from his seat, a look of staunch objection in his eye. His opposition was restrained only by an even more menacing glare from Sheppard. “–Despite the propaganda you've heard in the news about a ceasefire, or any form of peace for that matter, we are still very much at war with Maldova,” the man's expression remained hard. “You’ve had a decade to prepare, just as agreed. It’s time to take the next step.”
Declan slid back into his seat. It’d been years since Sheppard had made him feel this powerless. He grit his teeth, responding at length. “Hmph... Well, I imagine my trainers and analysts will enjoy the time off.”
Sheppard had expected this, and spoke without a pause. “Actually, that’s the other thing I wished to discuss. The Council wants all of the Project Epsilon research team to engage in combat missions as well, along with the recruits proper.”
“W-What?! Absolutely not!!” Declan roared. “What are you thinking, Sheppard? No country ever sends its intellectuals into battle. That's...ludicrous,” Declan rubbed his temples as he stared at the screen, clearly undone. “I’ve gone along with everything you’ve asked up until now, but I won’t jeopardize the lives of my researchers. The Republic's grunts are one thing, but those people are Celsius.”
“...Yes, you will,” Sheppard's tone was even darker. The old man's aura, which was normally flamboyant, now resonated with a harsh, ominous presence. “Do not forget, James – we dragged your pathetic company out of skid row, and turned it into the prestigious 'Celsius Corp' people know today. We can just as easily throw you back from whence you came," Sheppard's leering face turned away as he motioned for something, and a clatter was heard off-screen. “The reason you’re going to send in your 'intellectuals' is simple. The Council has been pumping funds into Celsius for over a decade. We want to see just what your brand of SIREN is capable of,” as Sheppard slowly reclined in his lavender armchair, his face resumed its more usual effete disposition.
The man lifted a piping teacup from his mahogany tabletop, sipping it slowly. “Even the most educated grunt in the Republican Army is still, ultimately, a grunt. We want trained scientists recording combat performance first-hand, as it happens,” Sheppard gave a slightly delicate flick of his hand. “And let's cut the nonsense. Besides men like Caldwell, your people aren't exactly Pacifica Scholars, James. Especially the analysts that have been gathering the data...such people are expendable.”
Declan remained silent, glaring at the television screen. While clearly inhumane, he understood the logic behind Sheppard’s reasoning. But to have his company insulted in such a way...with effort, he bit his tongue. “…You cannot guarantee the safety of my employees...correct?”
“No, Mr. Declan. I cannot. You of all people should know the number of variables involved in war. I doubt your researchers will participate directly in firefights, but anyone within...at least a mile radius, I'd think, is a potential casuality.”
Declan swallowed his pride, which by this point felt like it was in shreds. “…Which unit do you want to send out first?”
“I’m glad you asked,” Sheppard smiled, and his mood changed on the spot with a flamboyant ring. “I’ve had my eye on Isaiah Cole’s unit for quite a while now. According to my intel, they’ve had...more than a few transfers, in the recent months?”
“Yes. That unit has certainly been altered the most,” Declan scoffed, taking a sip of the scotch in his hand. “There were some real liabilities... The Army's selection committee is certainly suspect,” the CEO glared across the room at the Representative. “–But that being said, a few of the core members remain.”
Sheppard pondered this. “With so many substitutions...I would assume they are the most disposable, no?” a bluish glow colored the old man's face as he presumably changed the content on his monitor. “I have the assessment scores from their training exercises and a ledger of more qualitative data, conducted by – 'S. McGovern'?” Sheppard's face grew austere as he scanned the screen. “These numbers. How...uninspiring. Really, these people are barely adequate,” the orientation of Sheppard's pupils changed slightly, and he looked directly at Declan again. “The Cole unit really is sub-par. Barely comparable to several others in the program. I'm particularly fond of the Chevalier and Alvarez units. Their recruits scored...off the charts,” Sheppard smiled, taking another sip of tea. “It's settled, then. The Isaiah Cole unit will be the first team dispatched,” the old man obviously fancied this idea, laughing to himself. “Let's see how our 'test unit' fares with your SIRENs, and then we can begin sending in the upper echelon.”
“…” Declan was dead silent.
“Well then, Mr. Declan, we’ll keep in touch. Expect to hear from the Council again very soon,” with that, the image of Henry Sheppard vanished from the screen. The sprawling wall monitor returned to the regularly scheduled meerkat documentary. The moment the councilman was gone, Declan flung his glass of scotch clear across the room. It shattered against the screen, covering a meerkat in dripping amber liquid.
How could the Council do this to him? Years of tireless work, and now they were going to jeopardize the lives of the very people that got them all that data? The lives of his people – of Celsius? “Damn it!!” Declan cursed, throwing open the bottom drawer of his desk. The aged CEO uncorked the bottle of scotch and proceeded to empty it in a matter of minutes. A drunken fume exuded from his mouth as he slouched back in his chair, staring up at the ceiling fan. “They’re going to die….and there’s nothing I can do to stop it…”
Mon Jan 09, 2012 5:29 pm
Ren - Uneventful events
7 months, that's a lot of time to do a lot of things. But Ren is too narrow-minded for such broad thinking, preferring to stick to what she knows and does best. Which apparently involves getting her ass handed to her on a weekly basis. Of all the members in the Isaiah team, she's probably spend the most amount of time in the infirmary.
Three months into the project, something else happened. Something that took her by surprise more than she would admit.
Ren tossed and turned in bed, even after a long day of target practice and SIREN exercises, she still didn't feel any sleep, just frustration. Frustration mostly about Petrov beating her on a weekly basis, without much change in sight, and of course the ever sexist Dr. Shaw riding her ass -- he'd wish. She'd have to give it to Petrov though, the man knew his moves. Not that she would ever say that out loud, of course. But she was steadily learning more, even lasting a bit longer in the ring!
After having turned around in her bed for the fifth time, she sat up. She had to find a way to release this pent up anger, a pressure valve or something. Lazily rubbing her eyes and lurched out of bed. Ren silently slipped into her training outfit, a simple grey tank-top, a pair of shorts and some running shoes. The gym was always a good place to vent some pent up energy, and at this hour, there'd be nobody to interrupt her, or annoy her.
So with a towel around her neck and a water bottle in her hand, she snuck out of the barracks and made her way towards the gym, through a mostly deserted Celsius complex. It wasn't the first time she had done this, but it still surprised her to see so much activity this late. Not nearly as much activity as during the day, mind you, but still.
She was so lost in thought, mostly thinking about ways to possibly counter Petrov, that she didn't even notice Isaiah, as she entered the gym, until she was already half way in. It kinda took her by surprise, usually the rest of the team was already fast asleep. "Oh, euhm..." she bumbled somewhat, before regaining her footing again "Sergeant." she said in acknowledgement of him.
It was kind of bumming her that someone else was here this late, it felt like someone was trespassing on her territory, working her machines. But of course that was just irrational thinking, after all, everybody had the right to come in here. So she sat down in one of those rowing machines -- remembering the actual names of these things was too bothersome -- behind Isaiah, and just started working, constantly keeping an eye on Isaiah's back as she worked herself into some sweat. She didn't speak to Isaiah, because she figured he was here for the same reason as her, some quiet and peace.
But no matter how hard she rowed, no matter how far she pushed herself, the release she so desperately wanted didn't come. Feeling even more frustrated now, she let the handle slam back into place and bit her lower lip while still watching Isaiah. There was one form of pressure release she knew about, one that Isaiah might be interested in as well. One she had gone without for a long, long time now.
"So sergeant" She sat upright on the seat, still somewhat out of breath "what brings you to this gym at this fine hour?" It kinda felt like she was breaking the no speaking rule, like in a library. But then again, that had never stopped her before. And she was a woman with a goal now, a very specific goal.
"1....2...3...kick." Isaiah thought to himself as he delivered blow after blow to the heavy bag. A pair of white earphones poked out of his ears as some obscure metal band assaulted his hearing. It was this that prevented him from noticing Ren's entrance, much less her initial greeting. "1...2...3...kick" Again he repeated this like a mantra. Over and over Isaiah struck the bag, his knuckles starting to crack and bleed as he did. Finally Isaiah simply snapped and delivered a strong front kick to the center of the bag, almost knocking it clean off the chains.
The young sergeant caught the 200 pound swinging weight before it could fly back and smash into him or some other expensive piece of machinery. "Why? Why am I behind!?" Isaiah screamed inside of his own head. For weeks now he'd watched as his squad fell behind the others. Firing drills, obstacle courses, even the bloody inspections! The weapons specialist's fist slammed into the heavy bag once more. "Am I just this bad of a squad leader? Why the hell did they even pick me then? Best of the best my a**." Again he struck the bag. "I've barely even seen live combat. What the hell would I know about leading a team this size!?" Another strike.
"Answer me!!" he finally roared out loud, striking the heavy bag one final time. It was at that point that Ren's workout came to a sudden halt. The clang of Ren's machine jolted Isaiah awake as he removed the headphones from his ear. "...Ishii?" he questioned, wiping the sweat from his brow. "How long have you been in here?" Without giving the woman much time to answer, Isaiah retrieved his own water bottle and took a seat on the weight bench across from his squad member. Her question caught him a bit off guard. Still he tried to answer as best he knew how. "Just venting a little frustration. Nothing you should concern yourself about. What are you doing down here at this time of night? Aren't you scheduled to run the obstacle course tomorrow?"
It had been pretty clear that Isaiah was working off his own frustrations, what these were she could only guess. Big enough frustrations that he apparently hadn't even noticed her come in, which was probably a good thing, given her somewhat bumbling greeting. And as mean as it sounded, she was happy he was frustrated as well, it would probably make him easier to... persuade.
"Oh you know, got my own frustrations to work out of my system" she started, letting her gaze slide across Isaiah's sweaty body, not really trying to hide it either. "Petrov and Shaw, mostly." Saying Petrov's name as if it was a new sort of cancer. "And yeah, got a obstacle course tomorrow, but I couldn't sleep anyway, figured I'd work it out here in the gym like I normally do." Immediately regretting telling him that this wasn't the first time she was doing this.
To prevent the man from over thinking that, she leaned forward to grab her water bottle, giving the man a dangerous view down her shirt, where Isaiah would notice, if he paid attention, and Ren was sure he would, that she wasn't actually wearing a bra. She had her reasons for that, being stuffed in that gimp suit they called a pilot suit all day felt constricting, and some freedom every now and then wasn't that bad, as long as she stayed away from the treadmill that is.
She leaned back again and took a large sip from the water bottle, intentionally letting a drop escape from the corner of her mouth, which trailed its way down her chin, past her neck and ultimately disappeared between her ample cleavage. She was curious to see the man's reaction, but also to gauge if perhaps he was interested.
"That's not terribly smart of you," Isaiah commented, leaning back against the rail of the bench. "In fact I daresay I'm completely against that pla-" his speech cut off as started to notice Ren's rather suggestive body language. "...-n" he mumbled before shaking himself back into consciousness. Just what the hell was Ren trying to pull and why was she trying to make her lack of a bra so obvious to him? "Ishii, do you want to know what place our squad is in right now?" Isaiah let the question dangle for a moment. In truth he was trying to break Ren's concentration on whatever it was she was scheming.
"I'll answer that for you. We're dead last." Isaiah had a fairly firm tone in his voice at this point. Through it all he tried his best to keep up the emotionless facade, though in truth the statement irked him probably more than it would ever bother Ren. "I can't afford to have one of my best operatives tiring herself out in the gym over a little pent up frustration. Do I make myself clear?" The gunman took another swig from his water bottle before focusing on Ren once more.
Immediately he regretted the decision though as his male instincts soon trumped his better judgement. "Bloody hell, first Mel and now Ren too? If this keeps up I'm looking at a either a pink slip or a hip replacement...." Isaiah thought to himself. Now that he thought about it he'd managed to avoid confronting Mel about the incident in the infirmary. No sense digging up something that could cause problems with the squad. Still, that wasn't Isaiah's problem at the moment. The issue now was what to do about Ren. "Run along, Ishii. I don't want you stiff in the morning from straining your muscles here all night." Despite his usual nature, Isaiah wasn't stupid. He knew exactly what Ren was trying to do. He also knew that officers had been discharged for less offensive actions. Still Isaiah simply couldn't shake the nagging truth in the back of his head. Technically they weren't in the military anymore. Did the same rules still apply? "....Oh hell now she's in my head." Isaiah thought to himself whilst attempting to avert his eyes from Ren.
It was pretty clear that Isaiah was at least somewhat interested in what she had to offer, but his frustrations had set up an ample defense she'd have to wade through first. It was cute of him to refer to her as one of his best operatives though.
So she stood up, she was feeling too restless to keep sitting, and leaned against a machine behind her, crossing her arms under her sizable bosom, pushing them upwards. But her facial expression showed compassion, very uncharacteristic of her. She wasn't aware that their team was at the bottom of some sort of ranking list, normally she didn't like being at the bottom -- Although she could name one situation where she wouldn't mind -- but what could they do about it? "Sarge, if I may be so bold. If there's a list with team rankings, there's always one at the bottom, sadly this time it is us. I can't speak for the rest of the team, but I'm giving this gig my 100%, because I know that what we're doing here will help us tip the scales in the war in our favor. And I'm sure the others think about it the same way." Sappy Ren, now that brought back painful memories of back when she had a squad to take care of. "Don't beat yourself up about it, we might be at the bottom, but we're still doing our part. And I dont know how you feel about it, but I feel damn proud about what I've been doing so far." Of course not counting the numerous times Petrov had been mercilessly beaten the crap out of her.
To change the direction of the conversation into a more favorable position, and hopefully taking advantage of Isaiah's softened defenses, Ren stretched her arms backwards, pushing her chest forward, where Isaiah would probably notice that her nipples were poking through the fabric. Ren placed her arms back underneath her chest and looked at Isaiah, now with a more lustful glare. Perhaps the times for dancing around it was over, perhaps she should just take the bull by its horns and see what would happen. "Permission to speak freely, sir?" Showtime.
Isaiah's squirmed a bit as Ren stretched her arms over her head. "God it's the first day of the suits all over again," the young sergeant shook the less than appropriate thoughts from his mind before listening to what Ren had to say. Technically she was right, even if he didn't agree with her. "It's funny how only the ones at the bottom of the list use that argument." Isaiah's voice was again stern, indicating his continued disappointment with their position. "I don't doubt your efforts, Ishii, but when I see you tiring yourself out here when you should be in bed, I have to question your methods."
Oh good one. Questioning strong willed women's actions couldn't possibly end badly. In truth, Isaiah was just unloading a bit of his own frustrations on Ren, not realizing that he was most likely playing into her trap by doing so. "I'm proud as well but I can't help but feel that we could be doing better," he sighed. "Sorry, I'm just venting." Isaiah's thoughts trailed off a bit until Ren brought him back to reality. Permission to speak freely? "Say no, say no, say no. You know what's coming you idiot, say no," Isaiah thought rapidly to himself. "Granted," he cringed. "Oh, you moron."
Ren grinned, removing herself from the machine she was leaning on with a quick bump of her butt and started pacing back and forth. "Sir... Cole, if I were to go to bed now, I'd just roll around, wide awake, and perhaps catch an hour of sleep, tops. Meaning I'll be a wreck in the morning." Her pacing turned more seductive, if one were to describe it, more hip sway and she stuck her chest out just that bit more to cause her breasts to jiggle just that little bit, barely noticeable, but Isaiah would pick it up if he was 'paying attention'.
"Or..." She continued "I could go to the gym and work out until the frustration is gone, or until my body simply cant go any further. I'll catch a few more hours of sleep, but I'd be fatigued in the morning." She stopped pacing herself, and sat down next to Isaiah. Close enough that he could feel the warmth coming off of her skin.
To make things even more awkward for the man, she leaned in close. Leaning towards him far enough to give the man a perfect view down her shirt again, if he could manage to pull his gaze away from Ren's awfully close face. "Orrr..." letting the r roll nicely "We could both do something else, that will probably help the both of us. You're frustrated, I'm frustrated. You're a man, I'm a woman... I'm sure you're smart enough to put 1 and 1 together." Giving the man a rather sultry smile, she leaned back again, giving him his precious space. "But I can see you thinking 'This wont do, we're both officers in the army!' A valid point I suppose, under normal circumstances. But the current situation is anything but. This is a civilian project, not military." She paused for a moment, enjoying it. Her heart was racing, which probably showed on her face, as it felt like her cheeks were on fire. "Of course, if that still doesn't shush your conscious... I'm not the type of woman who kisses and tells, this'll be our little secret." Moment of truth, her arguments seemed valid to her, but it was Isaiah she needed to convince.
If one could have portrayed the motion of Isaiah's eyes as Ren paced around the gym, they'd have been left would what could loosely be referred to as abstract art. Maybe it was his years of experience watching his opponents movements in the ring that foiled Isaiah's defenses but either way, he simply couldn't look away. Every sultry hip movement, every exaggerated step, Isaiah saw them all, much to his own dismay. Yet, all he could think was how much sense Ren's argument was starting to make. Or rather, that was the argument his body most wanted him to agree with. Isaiah's mind on the other hand was a sea of questions, doubts, rebuttals, and arguments that could have made Ren's head spin. Unfortunately the only head doing any spinning was the one stuck atop Isaiah's shoulders as Ren toyed with his emotions.
"You had to give her permission to speak. Brilliant idea, idiot. How're you getting out of this one?" Isaiah thought to himself as Ren's argument went into greater detail. "You ARE planning to get out of this right?" The young sergeant shifted uncomfortably in his seat as Ren sat down next to him. "Hey....HEY! You listening to me?.....Oh bloody hell." It was at that moment that Isaiah's inner judgement gave in into his all too human desires. "You make an interesting point, Ishii. But you're right, I'm almost required to be against this idea." Isaiah forced his eyes away from the woman in an attempt to regain some lost ground for himself.
"Let's say we go through with this. Then what? You might think it ends there but we both know that's not true. There's no such thing as a one night stand amongst acquaintances. Don't get me wrong, I'm....interested....to say the least. But I worry about how this will affect our ability to work together later. That's to say nothing of the risk we run if anyone were to find out!" By now, Isaiah was the one pacing about the room, though he was obviously nowhere near as sultry about it as Ren. "At the very least I'd be removed from command. You they'd probably oust from the entire program. Is that a risk you're willing to take?" As Isaiah spoke an internal battle the likes of which mankind had never seen waged on inside of him. Part of him was screaming at him for being stupid enough to try and talk Ren out of her proposal, the other half was screaming at him for even letting it get this far. On one hand there were the anti-fraternization laws. On the other, there was the nagging reminder that those laws were more for show than anything, and generally ignored. "......" For a while Isaiah was completely silent as the internal battle waged on. He'd stopped pacing back and forth, now standing completely still in the center of the gym. "....Maybe you're right, Ren. Perhaps we should....blow off a little steam."
Isaiah was right though, and she didn't exactly excel at the obstacle course the next day, after all, she didn't get that much sleep done. But she didn't really care, for the first time in weeks she felt relieved. This feeling followed her into the next couple of weeks, where it was clear that her performance was slowly improving.
But that wasn't what had surprised her, no it was the sudden... affection -- was that the correct word? -- She started to feel towards Isaiah. She never let on though, the scar of losing her squad still felt so painfully fresh, she didn't want to get close to any of these people. Another loss like that would most likely break her. So she carried on with the training, pretending like nothing happened, pushing those feelings back till they were nothing but an annoying nag.
During these 8 months, she also requested a weapon swap. While she appreciated Celsius looking into her background, and probably seeing that she has had archery training as a kid, the weapon felt too off for her. After all, going silent wasn't her kind of thing. Instead she requested something every assault marine should have, a AIP-7 Grenade launcher. A simple, single shot, tube launcher, more commonly known as "The Blooper", given its distinctive sound. It's great for clearing out rooms, blasting away a wall, or even to force the enemy to take hard cover. And with the integrated targeting system the SIREN's had, it quickly became her next best friend. It also featured smoke and tear gas grenades, but why would you want that when you've got explosives?
But archery wasn't the only thing she "enjoyed" as a rich kid, painting was also one of such things she was forced to take on by her parents. Something she put to good practice during one of the more quieter days. Instead of spending the day with the rest of the team, she instead snuck off to the armory, "stole" her Vindictus helmet, and got to work on it. It took her a good few hours to get it done right, but by the end of the day, she had painted an impressive looking skull graphic on her helmet. It wasn't exactly realistic, the angular plates of the helmet made that difficult, but it looked darn right scary. And she knew just as well as the next soldier how important psychological warfare was. Sure, a woman, armored like a tank, armed like a small army, running at you was scary, but a woman, armored like a tank, armed like a small army, AND a terrifying skull visage to go with it, was even scarier. Of course Dr. Shaw was anything bu happy with it, blabbering on at how it could've damaged the sensitive sensors, to which Ren simply replied, If those sensors are so fragile, they can't even survive a paintbrush, I'd rather go into combat naked. A comment she regretted saying later, as Shaw had quite some remarks about that, but she had made her point and the paint stayed.
The rest of the time was filled with more training, and more beatings by Petrov.
7 months, that's a lot of time to do a lot of things. But Ren is too narrow-minded for such broad thinking, preferring to stick to what she knows and does best.
Tue Jan 10, 2012 2:57 pm
7 months prior to present; Sparring time
Slavik had been keeping an observer's eye on Petrov over the last few days, taking notes to how the man moved, the way he talked and interacted with the rest of the staff as well as the other members of the squad. Thus far Slavik's tendencies hadn't been picked up on by his squad mates though he wasn't sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing though he privately was thankful that they didn't know just yet. It was imperative that they worked as a team and not bicker too often amongst each other due to... circumstance.
Stepping into the ring Slavik gave a respectful nod to the CQC instructor, over the course of his stay he had very little interaction between the man, neither probably felt it was necessary to speak to one another as neither seemed to have a problem, or "beef" as they say.
Oddly enough Slavik specifically choose to wear his SIREN pilot suit, "I hope you don't mind the suit, as ridiculous as it appears it's best to train for the worse case scenario, don't you think? Besides this clothing does have an advantage as it's rather.... tight to the skin. No loose fabrics that can be caught. " He gave a rather lame shrug as he explained before hand as Petrov was probably amused by this, "Anything else that needs to be said or are we going to talk and fight at the same time?"
Petrov took a swig from his squeeze bottle before setting it to the side of the ring as Slavik entered. Truth be told he was actually impressed by Slavik's intelligence. Where Isaiah and Ren had given in to anger or pride, Slavik realized the disadvantage of fighting in Celsius' rather baggy gym uniforms. After returning the man's nod, Petrov moved to congratulate him on this feet. "Quite alright really. In all sincerity I just wanted to get a better read on Cole and Ishii's personalities. Speaking of though....you're an interesting one." Petrov had a sly grin on his face as he moved towards the center of the ring.
"Always watching from the sidelines, completely unnoticed. Well, almost at least. I'd forgotten how subtle you Cernovians could be when the time called for it. But enough about that. No, there's nothing left to talk about. But, just for laughs and because I feel like rewarding you for being more level headed than your squad leader, I'll let you pick which style I use today. You've seen three of the forms I know so far. Penack Silat as well as Maldovan and Anatolian Tae Kwon Do. Would you like to practice against one of these forms or shall I surprise you?"
Slavik chuckled shaking his head, "We have to be, your former brothers do have the bigger force, better technology and more lives to cast aside. We merely use what little we have to make sure a toll is paid each time they cross into our home." He casually moved about in the ring carefully relaxing his muscles to prevent himself from cramping up during the upcoming spar, "Surprise me, train for the worst so that you can fight easy. If I were to have the leisure to choose I might get sloppy on the field. I'd rather have each mistake hammered into me the old way then end in the gutters prematurely."
As he spoke, the man continued to pace about, to those who might be watch it looked as if he was nervous but Petrov and maybe one of the more wiser scientists could see he was 'feeling' his battlefield, getting acquainted with how much space he had as well as how much room Petrov was taking inside the ring. Slavik was already working out the needed distance before Petrov could get into grappling and striking distance before Slavik could attempt to avoid or block.
"Good answer," Petrov said with a smile before drawing in a deep breath. "There's a reason why I found Sergeant Cole's use of Drunken Boxing so humerous." All at once Petrov's stance became sloppy, almost to the point where one could barely call it a stance at all. "Not many people use Zui Quan anymore....Oh, sorry, that's Maldovan for Drunken Fist. Most militaries seem to think it's a gimmick. I find it fascinating myself though," he commented, seemingly ignoring Slavik's pacing about the ring.
"Did you know that-" Petrov cut off his speech in mid stride as his seemingly drunken body flung itself at Slavik. Due to the awkward nature of his movements, determining where he planned to strike became an almost impossible feet. At once Petrov's leg shot up towards Slavik's head, followed shortly by an almost wild slew of punches. His first barrage delivered, Petrov stumbled back away from his opponent. "Oh, right,......surprise."
"How droll." Slavik replied in a calm tone as Petrov began to explain his reasons to why he found Cole's supposed fighting style so humorous. The fact the man was talking so unexpectedly about that particular style gave the man away but then, Slavik already was in his stance when began to move in to strike him. To say that his fighting style was predictable would truly have been a lie.
Yet Slavik merely moved to the rhythm set before him, his legs moving constantly as his body swayed left and right, bobbing and weaving through most of Petrov's strikes, those he couldn't directly avoid, he attempted deflect, trying to make sure that Petrov didn't get the chance to grab hold of him. As it had been shown, the man was dangerous in a grapple situation until the man finally stumbled backwards.
"Surprised." Slavik replied dully as he began his offensive, beginning with two low sweeps of his leg before popping upwards for an aerial kick. Yet he didn't dedicate himself to any of his blows, unsure at how the man would react, the Cernovian choose to 'scout' his sparring partner.
"Hm, interesting..." Petrov thought silently to himself as Slavik weaved around most of his attacks. Before he was able to make his usual observation though, Slavik had already begun his counterattack. "Moving for the legs first, eh? Not a bad strategy, though it's more suited to traditional styles. Let's see how he reacts to this." In keeping with Drunken Boxing's usual teachings, Petrov allowed Slavik's initial attack to sweep him off his feet, causing him to land flat on his back. This however was all part of his plan as Slavik's aerial kick went flying well overhead. Petrov in the meantime swung his legs over his head before hopping back to his feet.
In one fluid motion Petrov swung his body back towards Slavik, throwing a single punch towards his adam's apple. This punch was followed by yet another awkward spinning backhand directed at Slavik's temple, further followed again by a somewhat half-hearted sweep with his leg towards Slavik's right ankle. His flurry delivered, Petrov again went on the retreat, content to play his instructor role once more. "Interesting style you have there. Capoeira and.....is that a bit of Muay Thai I sense there? An interesting combination to say the least."
As his kick shot over Petrov, Slavik allowed himself to continue with the momentum by landing and then following through with a roll so that he had some distance between the two. The decision allowed him to avoid the shot to his adam's apple as he had enough time to recognize the threat.
The backhand however caught him as he was forced to take a step backwards, striking him inadvertently hard in the eye. Pain shot through the eyesocket causing his eyes to water, thankfully he kept his mind on the fight seeing Petrov making a sweeping motion made the choice of evading and creating more space between the two rather than retaliating.
"Perhaps, as long as it catches my foe off-guard then I'll be content." Slavik responded somewhat painfully as he tried to open his injured eye. It was naturally bloodshot now but more importantly his eye had changed color, the blow to his eye had knocked the contact out. The man closed his eye again as it began to water once more. "Don't know if that was a lucky or unlucky strike right there, what do you think instructor? Did I make a mistake?" The tone he used to ask the question was of actual curiosity, uncertain if he had taken a misstep or misjudged his actions.
Petrov stopped bobbing and weaving when he saw that Slavik had for all intents and purposes stopped the fight. The once again unscathed instructor made his way over to the young private, examining the wound on his eye before offering any instruction. "No, you're just young. I think you're biggest problem isn't so much your form, it's your forms." Petrov stopped for a moment to let his analysis hang in the air. "What I mean is you're trying to hard to mix your styles. Ordinarily that would be a good thing but in your case, not so much. Capoeira involves quite a bit of false movements, much like Drunken Boxing. The downside to this is that your head is always moving, so keeping an eye on your target becomes increasingly difficult."
The instructor moved Slavik's hand away from his eye, completely ignoring whatever it was the private was trying so hard to hide behind those contacts. "You Cernovians are so sensitive about your da** eyes..... Either way you're fine now stop holding it. It's not going to make it hurt any less." Petrov fetched a rag for Slavik before moving to continue his lecture. "Going back to the fight though, again the problem is your conflicting styles. Where Capoeira is about unpredictability, Muay Thai is all about control and maintaining balance. It's not a style suited that's suited for mixing with the awkward positions Capoeira puts your body in. Tomorrow I'm going to show you some of the basic drunken forms. If you can mix those in with your Capoeira it should allow you to get your body back into the proper stance quicker where your Muay Thai can be more effective."
"I hadn't considered that, figured if I pushed my body enough I'd be able to compensate the constant shifts in forms." Slavik gave a chuckle, "Guess it's better on paper than in practice."
When Petrov inspected the eye the man was hesitant to reveal it before allowing the instructor to see what he was trying to hide, "It isn't all of us, Petrov." Slavik began in a serious tone of voice but kept his voice down so that the on lookers couldn't hear him, "You should know that, after all it was in your era that the Maldovan military attempted to sterilize us by dropping chemicals into our city, I'm just the generation that was born because of it's effects. You must've read the reports and heard the propaganda, babies dying after birth and some born with various disabilities, the numbers aren't as high as the Maldovan government wants to admit... but it's not entirely untrue. Our scientists have not yet discovered if it's heredity or if it's only this generation. " Slavik didn't show any bitterness or hatred for the instructor as he spoke, he's posture and manners were once again of someone who was stating fact.
"The probability that I myself am sterile is high, though I haven't check it out yet... don't have the nerves to face that fact just yet. My eyes are the only thing I know that has been affected by the chemicals. " He looked towards the edges of the ring at any of the staff or his squad mates before sighing, "If you wouldn't mind, Sir, please keep this knowledge to yourself. It's my shame, I don't like to share it with others. Not even my fellow countrymen most days." He raised his voice again so that the others could hear him, "I look forward to seeing what you can teach me, Sir."
2 months prior to present day; Bottles up
It was another evening under the synthetic sky within the walls of Celsius, aside from training, arguements, training and getting into fights due to conflicting personalities, Slavik sat in the 'lounge' room enjoying a rare instance of silence. It seemed that his original roommate was booted out due to him failing to meet the somewhat questionable standards of the program.
The last five months had been hard training, constantly drilled on how to operate the SIRENs, hours spent on the shooting range as well as weekly rounds with Petrov. While some despised the man, Slavik looked at it as an opportunity to learn, taking the beatings with a grain of salt as he learnt how to read the movements of the instructor. Yet those in charge of the training program flatly refused his initial arguments about the need for training in environments where stealth and subtlety was required. While Petrov sympathized he could not arrange a course to cater to his specializations. At least not directly.
Slavik tried to get partially comfortable on the couch, he suspected that the company didn't got out of it's way to ensure that it was top of the line. After all they were grunts... and he had a hunch that the person in charge of decoration was, in simplest terms; cheap. Still, the silence was enjoyable and it was somewhat better than the conditions back home. Somewhat.
Salvik's peace and quiet came to an abrupt end as a familiar door opened just down the hallway. Isaiah stepped out from his room, garbed in a simple casual jacket, jeans, and a pair of loafers. Slowly the sergeant stepped into the room, checking the surroundings to see if anyone else was there before focusing his attention on Slavik. "Get your coat, Visc. We're going out," he said flatly, falling into the lounge chair next to Slavik as he did. "Make it quick though, I've got something important I want to talk to you about."
"But Sarg." Slavik said with a mock whine in his voice, "I just got comfortable..." He gave a chuckle before getting up without much of a fuss.
"Shouldn't take long, since I didn't bring a coat to begin with. So where we off to Sarg?"
"You didn-....Ugh," Isaiah groaned as he got up out of the seat. "Come on it's freezing out. I'll loan you one of mine." The two men exited the lounge, heading out through Isaiah's room where the young sergeant secured Slavik a spare jacket. "Where getting out of the giant box and going for a drink at the nearest bar we find. That's where we're going."
"Eh, I was given standard uniform here. I don't think they were expecting me to go out anytime soon. I think they still have my cloak though but I doubt that's very civic friendly an all." Slavik shrugged following Isaiah until the sergeant give him the jacket, "Thanks Sarg. Did you get permission or are we doing this sneaky like?"
"If we were doing this 'sneaky like,' I wouldn't be dressed in this easy to spot civilian clothes and you'd be unconscious just so I could be sure you wouldn't make so much noise." Isaiah chuckled at the second half of his comment, knowing full well that Slavik was the more skilled in stealth operations between the two of them. "Come on, I'm a squad leader. They'd give me my own parking spot if I had the option of driving to work anymore."
The two men made their way to one of the primary exits to the bunker. Once they reached the door, Isaiah produced a small keycard, similar to the one Caldwell had used in the tour and swiped it across the scanner. Moments later the doors clicked open and the two stepped into a large stairwell. After ascending the several flights, they were once again in the sealed off black hallway surrounded by fish. "You ever wonder what the hell they put these fish here for, Slavik? Is it supposed to help us relax or something?" he paused, glaring at a rather ugly looking puffer fish in one of the tanks before responding in a mocking voice. "Oh look at me I'm a fancy Celsius Executive. I carry a clipboard and surround myself with floozies. Let's give the employees fish to look at to distract them from how incompetent I am." Isaiah practically guffawed at his impersonation before exiting the secret hallway and making his way towards the public exit.
The young sergeant took a deep breath as he stepped outside. It was the first taste of fresh air he'd had in awhile. A chill ran down his spine as gust of wind passed through the alley between the buildings, causing him to shiver a bit. "Come on, let's find someplace quiet and get a drink or two in us."
"I could still fall down the stair case if you want, would make me perfectly silent."Slavik replied mildly as they walked down, "As for the fish, I thought it was some kind of responsibility routine; first to let the fish die is incapable of taking care of humans... Though judging by the scientists and the other... members of Celsius, I suppose they all cheated. "
The Cernovian choose not to respond to Isaiah's shenanigans and mockery of the program's crew. While he had no love for any of them, they only were doing their job. No matter how poorly it reflected upon their... moral standings.
The gust of cold wind reminded him how soft this program was making him, they hadn't really focused on more specific training other than close quarters combat and 'how to operate your SIREN without costing us too much time and money.'
"You lead the way Sarg, I'll remember the way back, just in case you have one too many. Ain't the first time I've had to haul someone's drink-laden corpse back to bed."
"I sincerely hope you're only referring to ZZ.....," Isaiah sighed as he brushed a single hand through his thick hair. "And if that is the case, nice job you sly devil you." The young sergeant's chuckle trailed off into slight sigh as memories of his one night stand with Ren seeped back into his mind. What a mistake that was. "Come on you can tell me all about your conquests over a cold one." Gradually the two men made their way down the street. The pavement was still wet from a recent spell of rain. God how Isaiah had forgotten what that felt like. Slavik was right, they'd all gone a bit soft in their time spent training, minus of course a few beatings handed out by Petrov.
"That place looks alright," Isaiah finally pointed towards a fairly old looking bar with a flickering sign. As the two men entered they were greeted by the low clamor of the bar's usual patrons, mixed with the almost toxic smell of smoke that hung in the air. "Oh yeah....this is a good place." Isaiah smiled, taking in a deep breath before exhaling with a new found calm. The two made their way to the bar where Isaiah order two beers for both himself and Slavik.
Just above the liquor racks was a small television tuned in to one of the news stations.
"Representative Henry Sheppard announced today that he will be seeking a remarkable eighth term in the upcoming election. The representative has gained remarkably wide popularity due to his continued support of our nation's military. The representative had this to say earlier today."
The camera then switched to a recording of Henry Sheppard. "My fellow Anatolians. For too long have we lived in fear of the hammer of Maldova. For too long have the brave men and women of our military risked life and limb in what my opponents have called the hopeless defense of our nation." A loud series of 'boos' echoed from the crowd. "I say to those men and women that our cause is anything but 'hopeless.' Let us not forget how our great nation came to be. It was because of diplomacy, cooperation, and bonds stronger than family that we are able to hold our heads high today, as Anatolians!!" The crowd immediately picked up into an approving uproar. "My friends I come before you today to tell you that we are destined to be victorious! We will defend this land to our last breath. And no threat, Maldovan or otherwise, will ever, take this land away from us!!" Once again the crowd blew up into an approving uproar. It was at that time that a single reporter made her way to the front of the pack, thrusting a microphone towards Sheppard.
"Representative Sheppard!! Is it true that the government is seeking the aid of third party weapons companies? Namely Celsius Corp?"
Isaiah practically choked on his own drink when he heard Celsius mentioned. For once the news had actually managed to capture his attention.
Sheppard in the meantime simply looked down and smiled. "I'm afraid I can't discuss that in great detail, ma'am. But the short answer is yes. We are investing heavily in the research and development of new weapons that will help save the lives of our brave soldiers and provide us an advantage over the Maldovans. I'm afraid that's all I can say about that at the moment though. Remember to vote for your shepherd, Henry Sheppard, in 2257!" With that the charismatic representative stepped down from the podium, followed by a swarm of questions from other reporters, too garbled out by their own voices to be made sense of.
Isaiah in the meantime sat there dumbfounded. "....How do you like that?.....They're talking about us...." The gunman took another swig of his beer before breaking his attention away from the television once more. "So, Visc. It's been awhile since you and I could just hang out like this. What've you been up to while I haven't been looking?"
Slavik gave Isaiah a somewhat bemused look as they walked, "Conquest Sarg? Please, we both know that you're the ladies man here, none in the squad dare to even looking me straight in the eye, I think I give them the creeps." The bemused look turned into a full grown grin, "Never thought my reputation had reached outside the border. Haha. But no, I was referring in actuality to having to bring you lot into your quarters when you've had one to many. Would be terribly... impolite to take advantage of a situation like that. Besides I doubt any of the women in our squad take interest in me."
The grin continued to play on his lips as they moved into the chosen bar, at which point it began to fall away, the wafting stink of smoke told Slavik that this place would suit Isaiah perfectly. With a thanking nod the Cernovian took the beer and listened around to the various conversations and the occasional look.
As the news story drew the two's attention Slavik couldn't help but sigh, he wondered if a Cernovian reporter had been there, perhaps they'd have been able to ask the Anatolian response to aggressive incursion into Cernovian territory. According to the reports he'd been given by his 'researcher' news was once more grim as more Maldovans were flooding in, unfortunately for them they all seemed to be new recruits, few of those scouting parties made it back to report their 'findings'. Yet the mention of Celsius did not sit well with Slavik.
"I am more curious to know the importance, if this was mention, what was the reason for it? Sounds like something big is coming Sarg." Slavik replied in a hushed tone, barely making any lip movements to prevent people from becoming overly curious about their situation. However Slavik found himself chuckling at Isaiah's following questions, "Probably not as much as you'd hope. As you know, I'm not as popular as you are with the squad, so I keep my distance. Nearly lost a bet to Petrov... Haha, would've had to go for two weeks without dying my hair and wearing my contacts. Wanted to see if I could hide my secrets from the others without them. Other than that, been receiving word from back home, Maldovan's are coming through the borders again, more so than normal. Anatolian's are brushing it off as usual it seems but Petrov doesn't like it at all. He agrees that they're up to something. Pointless for them to waste lives like that. Probably trying to estimate my country's strength again. But perhaps something more. Who knows.
What about you Sarg? Done anything note worthy that escaped my eyes and ears?" A grin played on Slavik's mouth as he finished speaking, oddly enough he still had not taken a single sip of his beer.
saiah grimaced at Slavik's 'ladies man' comment. He only wished he had some form of rebuttal for it. Sadly at this time he knew of at least two women in the squad that had shown at least moderate interest in him. Ren had just been the first one to act on it. Isaiah's forehead slammed into his palm as that memory surfaced again. God how he wished he could just forget about it. "Don't sell yourself short, mate. I'm sure there's a ton of women out there who dig the whole....secretive, ginger, conta-yeah never mind you're completely screwed." Isaiah chuckled, taking another sip of his beer. "Would you drink already. It's rude to not at least take a sip when someone buys you a beer."
At this point Isaiah had practically shoved the bottle under Slavik's chin and started poking him with it. He didn't know what to say in regards to Cernovia. Truth be told he'd always been a bit thankful that it wasn't his homeland. Still it bothered him that his friend wasn't able to rest at night knowing his kinsman were safe. "Well, so long as Cernovia keeps pumping out soldiers like you I think the Maldovans will think twice about pulling something."
Isaiah again choked on his beer when Slavik asked him what he'd been up to. "Should've seen that coming," he sighed under his breath. "Well....I've done some things that weren't,.....shall we say fitting, for an officer...." Isaiah felt abnormally uncomfortable at this point. He wanted to tell someone about Ren, but who? The only one he trusted with that information was Slavik and even that was a risk. With a heavy sigh, Isaiah finally looked back up at Slavik and blurted it out. "I spent the night with Ren awhile back." Ouch. That stung more than he would have liked to admit. "Not my finest hour I'll admit." It was a bitter relief that washed over Isaiah at that moment. On the one hand he was thankful to finally have that burden off his shoulders, on the other hand it now meant Slavik would have to keep the secret as well. "So, there's that. But enough about me, I said there was something I wanted to talk to you about, so let's talk."
Isaiah took another swig of his beer before moving to speak. "I'm getting promoted to Staff Sergeant next week. Apparently some bureaucrats thought it was inappropriate for someone of my rank to be leading a squad this size. Lucky me, huh?" he chuckled. Ranks hadn't meant much to him during his service. They certainly didn't help you avoid getting shot. "This brings me to my original point though. I need a sergeant; and guess who I've decided to ask." The gunman eyed Slavik somewhat coyly. "You."
"Alas, it looks like my future shall remain strictly single then. Woe is me." Slavik replied with a grin before shrugging at Isaiah's comment about if his country had more men like him, then Maldovan forces had no chance in hell. It amusing for him to hear that considering that there were plenty of others in the unit who should get that kind of praise, "Please Sarg, there are better men and women in this unit than me. I'm just a humble freedom fighter." He laughed as Isaiah seemed to firmly want him to drink at first he tried to decline but the man grew more persistent and in the end Slavik proposed a toast to comrades on the field before drinking down his beer in one go.
As the sergeant blurted out his apparent one night stand with Ren, Slavik's expression remained perfectly neutral before sighing, "We are all human, Isaiah, we make mistakes, we need the comfort of others at times. Nothing in life is simple after all, I'm sure you had your reasons, as did Ren I suppose." He remained silent as Isaiah changed the subject, turned out he's been promoted and it turned out that he was not the only one. "Oh joy..." Slavik replied with noticeable mock enthusiasm, "I'm sure the others will be so pleased to hear the lowest ranking member just out ranked them in one night...."
Isaiah smirked before finishing off the last of his beer. Frankly he was just glad to see that Slavik was neither lecturing him on the appropriate behavior of an officer, nor denying his new position. Both of which would have required more talking. "Don't you worry about what the others think. I'll deal with them. On the other hand though, if anyone does actually give you any lip about this, well just remember this old saying we western Anatolians developed." Isaiah paused for a moment. "Fu** 'em."
"Haha, please Sarg, in Cernovia we challenge those we believe aren't fit to lead. Normally in a knife fight. Messy business that." Slavik said with an evil smile, "There is a reason to why my people always walk with a knife close at hand, just to remind our superiors that the strongest must lead, if they can't keep up or wish to betray our trust. They'll find our knife at their neck."
Slavik began to laugh again before ordering another round of beers for the two of them, "Well Sarg, let's drink to our promotions and to the glares we're going to get when you give the good news."
Thu Jan 12, 2012 9:19 pm
An empty glass clinked to the table as ZZ set it down after gulping down a double of whiskey. “Cheers to me…,” she mused, her head was feeling light and foggy as she tried to glance at the clock on the wall. A dopey smile came upon her face as she stood up from her spot on the couch. “It’s gettiiinnn’ late…” she whispered to herself. “Better head baccc…” Picking up her water bottle, she began to make her way to her sleeping quarters. It was dark in the hallway as she let the alcohol relax her. Taking a wrong turn, she ended up in the gym area and lost her balance. She fell on some of the equipment and hit her knee on the way down. As she looked around to see if anyone was around to see, her eyes fell upon Isaiah. He was busy on the bench press thus his focus was on his workout. ZZ stood there wondering why he was there so late at night. She sat up from where she fell and ended up hitting her head on a part of the equipment that was above her head. “Shit..." she slurred as softly as she could.
Isaiah jolted when ZZ stumbled over one of the weight machines, almost causing him to drop the 220 lb. weight on his chest in the process. The young man struggled to lift the weight off of himself before racking it once more. "ZZ, that you?" he questioned, staring at the now floored woman. Isaiah was more cautious in his movement. After his "experience" with Ren he'd become a bit more cautious of women in his squad approaching him in the gym late at night. ".....Let me guess. Another night in the cafeteria drinking?....You realize this is the reason our squad is doing so horribly, don't you?" Isaiah had his arms crossed as he stood over ZZ. "Come on stand up.....if you even can."
A muffled "Thaaa ssnot true..." came from ZZ as she began to stand up. "And yesh, I caaannnn stand up..." ZZ took a sip of her water bottle as if that would sober her up. Her knee began to throb as well as her head. The machine did a number on her and she was going to need some aspirin quick. "I juss gottt turnnn arounnnddd, ish all." Her speech started slowing down as drowsiness began to overcome her will power. "I'll juss sleep it offff, COOOOOO..." She blinked slowly as Isaiah's disappointed face became clearer and more focused as she concentrated to think about her surroundings. "Things have been hard." she whispered to herself, sounding more sober.
Isaiah stifled and annoyed growl the more ZZ spoke. What the hell was she thinking getting this drunk. "Good lord, ZZ, if you can't at least speak without that ridiculous slur then just keep your mouth shut." Isaiah put up with quite a few of his squad's quirks, but ZZ's alcoholism had for awhile been at the top of his hit list. "This is going to stop. I don't care how hard things have been for you. As your C.O., I'm telling you right now, if you don't get your sh** in order, you will be gone."
“Yes sir…” ZZ grumbled as she turned around and headed toward the door. She took another drink of her water bottle and stood in the doorway for a moment. “Let’s go shoot stuff!” She exclaimed. “I need to shoot something.” She started out the door before realizing that her SIREN, Zroya is 1) locked up and 2) so are the training grounds. “Hmmm… Well Isaiah, you’ll just have to do.” She turned around and headed toward the boxing ring in the middle of the gym. “Come on, C.O. Let’s go”, she said determined.
Isaiah watched as ZZ went from slightly stupid to complete idiot in the span of a few seconds. 'Let's go?' Was she out of her mind? Isaiah spent more time training with Petrov than most of the candidates in Epsilon. What possessed her to think this was in any way a good idea? "Get out of there, Zahari, before you hurt yourself." Isaiah ordered the drunken woman. After seeing that she wasn't going to listen however, Isaiah decided to play along, soon joining her in the ring. "All right, ZZ, I'll humor you. You've got one punch, after that I'm knocking some 'good ol' boy' sense into you."
“Bring it!” she said as she leaned in the corner of one of the rings. She felt lightheaded from the excitement and booze. Mostly the alcohol, but she wasn’t about to back down after she called him to the fight. ZZ reached down to slipped off her shoes, throwing them out of the ring. She began jumping up and down, shaking her arms at the same time as she tried to loosen everything up. Her fists went up to guard her face as she began to think about how she was going to attempt this. She walked forward toward Isaiah still reeling to find a move that would do damage on him. She went in quick and decided to punch him in the stomach swiftly. As she finished throwing everything she could muster in her drunken state, she sloppily kneed him in the groin as she wasn’t afraid to fight dirty.
Isaiah stood by and waited as ZZ delivered her rather unimpressive blow to his stomach. The squad leader barely flinched as the meager force traveled through his gut. He did however react to ZZ's attempt to knee him in the groin. Before the dirty blow could get anywhere near Isaiah's family jewels, it was deflected by Isaiah's own knee. "Stupid!" he roared before delivering a jaw shattering punch to ZZ's mouth. "Let me see if I get this straight.....You're plan was to fight someone who's a master of drunken boxing.....WHILE intoxicated......The sad part is you're probably not smart enough to understand why that's not as funny as it sounds. Get the fu** out of my ring and pray you're still in my unit tomorrow."
The punch to the face caught ZZ off-guard, causing her to fall down quite hard. With her balance off from the alcohol and the force that came with the punch all added up to face-first on the floor. Tears stung at the back of ZZ’s eyes as she kept her head on the floor of the ring. She could taste a small amount of blood from her lip where she had bit it when she fell down. “Have I really let this gone on for so long?” She asked herself. Sitting up, there were no tears in her eyes. “I’m sorry. I don’t like to rely on others to help with my issues, and I don’t expect you to help me either. I just thought I had it under control…” She stood, her legs wavering slightly as she made her way out of the ring.
Isaiah watched as ZZ wallowed on the floor for a bit. Despite his military nature, there was always that trace of humanity in the back of his mind that questioned his methods. Did he really have to hit ZZ so hard? Did he even have to hit her to begin with? Maybe, maybe not, nothing he could do about it now. Either way though, the girl's somber attitude tugged at Isaiah's heart strings more than he would have ever liked to admit. The young sergeant let out a sigh before deciding to finally speak. "Zahari-" his voice cut off as he tried to bridge the gap between CO and mentor. "You've got to get yourself under control. I can't have my artillery specialist drunk all the time. There's some obvious flaws with that logic." Isaiah relaxed against the ropes of the ring, letting himself just dangle there for awhile. "My job, ZZ, is to protect my squad on and off the battlefield. If you're going to continue slowly killing yourself then eventually I'm going to have to step in." Isaiah's tone had grown somewhat softer, though it still carried a strange firmness to it. "From now on you only drink under my watch. If I catch you breaking this rule you're going in the ring with Petrov next time." It was at this point that Isaiah finally made eye contact with ZZ. "Am I understood?"
ZZ turned back as Isaiah called her name. Keeping her eyes covered, she listened quietly to her C.O. taking it all it. “Yes, sir,” was her simple yet rigid reply. She began to make her way back to the sleeping quarters again. Pausing at the doorway, she lifted her head and turned towards Isaiah. “Sorry…” She left him there, trying to reach her bed. She was exhausted from the day and night’s events, but as she lay her head down, she couldn’t fall asleep as quickly as she wanted. Isaiah had been right about one thing, she had been slowly killing herself. The real question was: “Did I want to die?” she whispered under her breath. It was a valid question, with all of the recklessness she had been doing to herself, was her subconscious trying to tell her something. The fact of the matter and what it came down to it was no, she didn’t want to die. ‘I need to get this back under control. Only this time… I might have to quit for sure.’ She contemplated these thoughts over and over in her head until morning came. Her mind was still not at rest for the following day’s activities, but this was the day things would change. Looking over at the nightstand, she saw an empty glass from a couple nights ago. She sat up, picking up the glass and stared at it for a while before opening the drawer where her own bottle of contraband was hidden and clinked it against the bottle as she set it down. “Cheers.” She whispered as she closed the drawer and began to get ready for the day.
Thu Feb 02, 2012 10:28 pm
Mel, Sharline, and ZZ – Along the Boulevard
Sunlight streamed in through the floor-length windows of Café Tempo. Located along a particularly busy strip of Arcadia Boulevard, the establishment's pristine exterior reflected the viridian trees lining the sidewalk. Passersby carrying briefcases and shopping bags strolled along the walkway, in an endless stream of people. Throughout the restaurant, waiters in crisp uniforms tended to customers seated at varnished wooden tabletops.
Sitting at one table, ZZ waited, playing with her food. She wasn’t very hungry from her recent hangover. Last night she had drunk one too many, and ended up on the floor at four in the morning. She looked around once again; the recruit felt a little gross, still reliving the prior night like a never-ending reel of stupidity. “I wonder where they could be...” She always looked forward to their unit's rare leave days from Celsius, as it was one of the few times she could spend with her friends, Sharline and Mel. “Never thought that would happen,” she chuckled, remembering the first time she met the two women. The memory soon turned sour as ZZ caught a glimpse of the apple sauce on her plate, which began morphing into an unpleasant shape. Pushing it aside, she felt her stomach lurch and switched positions, crossing her legs. “Fuck me,” she breathed as she glanced down into her water glass.
Outside on the boulevard, the sun shined through almost neon-bright treetops, covering the crowds in leafy shadows. Sharline tried to walk faster than the general flow, maneuvering her slender body around stragglers and slower pedestrians. She looked up, and immediately winced from the glare of the skyscrapers that loomed high into the sky. Many of the buildings in the district weren't offices or corporations, but hundreds of floors of malls, supermarkets, and anything else one might need in the massive metropolis. Luckily, Café Tempo is on a ground floor. Sharline let out a low, inaudible sigh, and suddenly recognized the entrance to the building.
She shifted out from the endless flow of people, and ascended several onyx steps into the high-rise’s foyer. A row of elevators were further down the hall, but the entryway to the café was on the left. Sharline stepped into the restaurant, immediately being greeted by a petite, smiling hostess.
“Good afternoon, madam. Welcome to Café Tempo,” the blonde woman's expression was genuine, albeit vaguely professional. “Party of one?”
“Oh, no,” the taller woman touched the curve of her jaw, glancing around the room. “I'm meeting some friends, actually... Have you seen a dark-skinned girl with brown hair? Or a tan, blonde girl?”
“Oh – I think I know who you mean. Right this way,” the hostess beamed once more, and led Sharline to a table by the floor-length window. ZZ was already there, soberly regarding her food. “Thank you,” Sharline sat down opposite her friend and smiled up at the hostess. After putting in her drink order, she turned toward the recruit.
“Hey you,” Sharline smiled. “What's up? You guys were with Petrov so long yesterday, I was worried you wouldn't be back in one piece,” the girl laughed, looking down at her water glass. She hooked a lock of hair behind her ear. “–How're you holding up?”
ZZ looked up from her cup as Sharline sat down. “Been better. Petrov kind of kicked my butt,” she gave Sharline a sheepish smile. “I’m glad we could meet up here. It’s nice to be able to leave Celsius once in a few decades,” she rubbed her wrists, massaging them out as she remembered the beating she had taken. Her entire body was still sore from the training, but not as sore as it was the first time around. “How have you been? Work treating you kindly?” ZZ took a sip of her water to help swallow back the wave of nausea that hit her. She kept her posture; something like this used to be so common four months ago. Last night had been the first time she drank since her fight with Isaiah. After that encounter, ZZ had made a promise to get herself under control. But there was no way she was going to tell Sharline or Mel about that incident, since it was way too embarrassing.
Melani's hair was in a state of disarray that went over and above her usual unkemptness. She’d tried to straighten it, but the iron had been just a little too hot, and now, instead of wispy flyaways and stubborn locks, her hair had more of a poof ball effect. Her smile, though, was brave...maybe too brave, and a little stiff, perhaps to make up for the abysmal failure of her attempt at fashionable hair.
She turned that not-quite-natural smile on the maître d’, who pointed at her friends without saying a word. She edged on past him, her eyes not quite sane, and moved to pull out a chair at the table the other girls were seated at. She plunked herself down, her smile too bright as she reached up to smooth her hair, which almost looked like she’d had a bad date with a bathtub and a toaster.
“Hi. Sorry I’m late, guys.” Her voice was half an octave higher than it usually was, and in the time that had passed since they met, the girls would probably be aware it was a herald their cheery little medic was dangerously close to having a tearful fit shatter her facade.
Sharline glanced up from ZZ as Mel came to the table. “Mel!” she exclaimed, hugging her friend as the girl sat down next to her. Her left eye twitched as her face nuzzled against the mechanic’s hair. Wow. Her straightener was acting up today. Based on the tremble in Mel’s voice, she decided to subtly acknowledge the hairdo. “Oh, shh. Come on, if you’re worried about your hair, it looks fine,” the older girl made the words as smooth and nonchalant as possible.
“R-really?” Melani asked, a touch of relief coloring her tremulous voice. She pulled back from her hug with Sharline, and reached up to pat at the mess atop her head. “Are you sure? I..I think I forgot some kind of special product...or something...” She wasn’t the most fashion-forward of the girls by far, but she tried so hard...mostly in the hopes that Isaiah would notice her, but he never did in the ways she wanted him to.
Sharline gently ran her fingers through the other girl’s hair. “–It’s not that bad,” she tried to make the lie nonchalant. “Did you try that serum we got at Mitch Paulsen? It really helps smooth things out...but it’s just us here, so don’t worry about it now,” Sharline took a sip of her ice water. Talking about superficial things like hair care made her consider her differences with the others in the unit. She shifted, uneasy. Even though they were all comrades inside Project Epsilon, the girl still felt a little alienated from the recruits proper. While she was spending her youth in Celsius, learning to emulate a legion of polished, elegant female superiors, Mel and ZZ were probably hunkered down in an army barrack somewhere. ...I guess it’s not surprising. They’ve probably done more for society than I have. Sharline’s eyes glazed over, settling on the reflection from the window. She sighed and loosened the chiffon scarf around her neck. It was a depressing thought.
As Melani walked over to the table, ZZ’s eyes swiveled over to her. “You’re not tha-” ZZ’s mind blanked as she took in the significantly frizzy sight before her. An inaudible ‘um’ came out before Sharline saved the day. Shutting her mouth tight, she tried to regain her composure from her earlier falter. “Sharline is right, Mel, you don’t need to worry about it when it’s just us. I think you always look pretty,” ZZ gave the girl a soft, gentle smile as she reached over and patted her arm.
Melani blinked, and her too-thin smile warmed, a tension in her shoulders relaxing. Leave it to them to know just how to diffuse the situation. They were right. It was just them. It wasn’t like Isaiah was around, and...ZZ thought she was pretty? That made Mel’s cheeks warm to a soft pink as she gave her a much more heartfelt smile of thanks.
”I totally forgot the stuff...I’ll try it next time. But you’re right. It’s not like Isaiah’s here,” she said to Sharline, her voice coming back down to its normal pitch as she sat back in her seat, letting her gaze wander between the two of them almost lazily. ZZ was sweet, but Mel knew very well that they were both prettier than she was. It wasn’t a hard thing to accept, though, and she couldn’t very well hold it against them...it wasn’t as if they were all over-sexualized the way some people were. And they didn’t flirt with Isaiah, so she could actually be appreciative of, say, Sharline’s perfect hair and her creamy skin tone, or Zirra’s luminous green eyes. The softest of sighs escaped her as she wondered... If she’d been a guy, she would definitely fall for either of them. Definitely.
”You okay, Zee?” she asked, trying not to ponder too hard on parallel universes where she probably still didn’t have a chance with anyone, and instead focusing on how, well, under the weather ZZ looked. She hadn’t attended whatever shindig had led to the hangover, so she wasn’t aware of the underlying cause of the poor girl’s symptoms.
ZZ’s smile wavered as Melani’s inquiry caught her off guard. She had hoped her front had been more convincing than it turned out. “Oh, well, I just, um...forgot to drink water last night. And um, well, yeah...” she looked down at her water glass, the condensation beginning to form a pool at the bottom. “If Isaiah heard about it, I’d probably be punched in the face again...” she murmured to herself mostly. “And it hurts worse than Petrov since it’s more than physical pain,” by now, ZZ was off in her own train of thoughts, forgetting where she was and who she was with.
Melani's first instinct was to accuse ZZ of lying. Isaiah would never... She took a breath, blinking and talking calmly to herself in her own head. ZZ was her friend. She'd shown more care to her than her pretend white knight had. Despite how she wanted to yell that Isaiah would never hit a girl, she knew that Isaiah Cole was a soldier first. Besides, there must be a good reason. There HAD to be. She'd just bite her tongue and wait for the ever cool-headed Sharline to suss out said reason until she could trust herself not to have any sort of exclamation of disbelief that could hurt her friendship with ZZ.
A gleam flashed across Sharline’s eyes. –Huh? Like Mel, she was almost positive this was the first she’d heard of a confrontation with Isaiah. “...ZZ, what?” the girl lowered her hand from her face, her brow furrowing in confusion. “Isaiah...what are you talking about?” The statement didn’t make sense. Is she speaking in a metaphor? Sharline thought back to the jubilant, oftentimes merry drunk she’d come to know the unit’s superior as. –There’s no way that guy would punch her out.
ZZ snapped out of her thoughts and focused in on what Sharline was trying to say. “Shit. Was I saying that aloud? Shit!” she scrambled her brain, searching for an excuse that seemed less embarrassing than the one she had. She looked over at her two friends, who both looked at her like she had lost her mind for saying such things. “Guys...it’s not what you think. I sort of had it coming...” before her friends could say anything, she tried to explain it further in one sentence. “I was drinking one night and I walked into the gym and Isaiah was there working out and I was super drunk and he caught me so I was really mad at myself and I needed to shoot something only Zroya was locked up and so were the training grounds so instead I decided to be stupid and call out our C.O. and got into the ring and tried to punch him but I knew I couldn’t do anything so then I tried to knee him in the groin and then he punched me in the jaw and was like really really mad!” By the time ZZ had finished the sentence, she was gasping for air. She took a gulp of her icy water, trying to do something with her mouth besides spill her guts out.
Sharline sat by Mel as the two listened to the one-breath rant from across the table. The paler-skinned girl shifted closer to the medic, her expression becoming more and more incredulous. So...she challenged Isaiah to a match, because she was angry that he caught her drinking? Sharline tried to make sense of the scenario in her head. It sounded so confrontational for the usually mellow ZZ. Not to mention most of the squadron, save herself, usually drank alcohol together. “Well, if you guys were sparring...I guess it’s not that unbelievable,” Sharline concluded slowly, her gaze raising up to the ceiling. “–But, ZZ, Isaiah is a man. You should know that wasn’t going to be a fair fight,” she looked back down to her friend. “He’s a lot stronger than most of the team, especially us.” The analyst knew from Eckhart that the unit was getting some new members, but as it stood now, their numbers were relatively sparse. Slavik is probably the only one who can match him in strength. Sharline bit the acrylic nail on her pointer finger. She didn’t think Teo could beat the C.O. in a fight, and probably not Ren, either. Her face subconsciously tilted toward Melani. Wonder what Mel makes of all this.
Melani’s lips were pursed softly in thought as she stared down at the table. As she’d thought, there was an explanation. It wasn’t a great one, on either end, but it was there. And what could you do about what had already happened? ”I wouldn’t say she couldn’t beat him just because he’s a guy...but it’s Isaiah, Zee,” she said, looking up at ZZ with an odd look on her face, a mixture of worry and wry humor. ”And you were drunk. It’s not really smart to be challenging anyone to anything when you’re impaired, you know. Well, now you know, at least, right?” she asked with a grin, then sat back in her seat, fiddling with the corner of her menu as she gave fleeting thought to the idea of challenging Isaiah herself. At least then she’d be sure he was paying attention to her. Not like she had even a breath of a prayer of standing up to him for more than two seconds, though. She knew how to defend herself from common thugs on the street--her brothers had seen to that--but she would be up a creek when faced with an opponent who had actual training. But it sure would be nice to have his attention focused solely on her for at least a little while. She sighed heavily and set her menu down, pressing her lips into a thin line as she stared at the table. How pathetic, she mused.
ZZ looked at her two friends with a small trace of disbelief. Sure she had made a stupid mistake, but now they were implying that she had no chance of beating Isaiah while sober. Drunk, yes; she was heavily impaired and couldn’t even give a fighting chance. As quickly as the disbelief came up, she took it down and smiled. “Yeah, you guys are right. It is Isaiah...” she took another sip of her water and looked out the window briefly. “So while we’re here on this subject, Mel, how’s that battlefront going along?” She hoped now that her focus was switched to Mel, her friends wouldn’t poke and prod her about the Isaiah incident anymore. She kept on her facade as she looked at Mel and Sharline.
Color rose to Mel’s cheeks immediately, and she sat forward in her seat, hands moving to grasp the edges of her chair like a student caught daydreaming and called on by her teacher. ”Ah, well...that is...” she stammered, then sighed, her shoulders drooping a little, and shook her head sadly. ”It’s still...Well, if I wasn’t already sure that he knew my name, I’d say he still didn’t know I exist...I think I’m just not his type...” Or anybody’s type... She turned to look at Sharline almost mournfully. ”If I looked more like you,” she turned to ZZ quickly, not wanting her to feel left out or envious of Sharline. “Or you...it’d be easier to get his attention, probably.”
Sharline hesitated. While it was flattering to be regarded as a figure of beauty, she knew the human mind's habit of superimposing qualities onto others that one wanted themselves. And as she got to know Melani over the last few months, the analyst had realized the medic's sunny persona was actually a thin veneer, shellacked over a deep-seated lack of self-worth. Sharline bit the inside of her mouth; it was times like this when tact came in handy.
“–Mel, everything is relative,” the brunette smiled at the waitress, who at that moment brought the three their drinks. “And you know we've talked about this,” she scoffed, plucking a maraschino cherry from her Roy Rogers. Sharline couldn’t help but feel a sense of irony; when she was younger, she had been so jealous toward the more diminutive, petite girls like Melani. For those hellish years in high school, it seemed as if no other type was more desirable to the male sex. “There are plenty of men who adore petite women. More, I think, than like women like us,” Sharline looked across the table to ZZ, knowing her friend probably wouldn't mind the comparison. Zirra Zahari was one of a handful of women who matched her in height, although that was about where their similarities ended.
Sharline's gaze drifted lower, catching on ZZ’s considerable bust line. She had come to learn that superficial aspects of one’s appearance, like height, breast size, and the like didn’t matter to most men. Since her college years, she had received attention from a variety of the coarser sex, even with her awkward figure and unassuming bosom. “People’s tastes vary just as much as their appearance–” she poked Mel’s hand on the table, shooting the medic a playful half-smile when she met her gaze. “It’s possible Isaiah might only like tall women, but I think that’s a pretty dubious assumption.”
”I...I guess...” Melani said, but the smile Sharline had given her was infectious, and she returned it with a half-grin. Maybe she did have a shot after all...Isaiah totally would have gone for one of the tall beauties by now if he liked tall girls, wouldn’t he? Mel conveniently disregarded the fact that he hadn’t gone for her either, which would either mean that by her logic he wasn’t going to go for her...or that her logic was completely and utterly flawed.
Wed Feb 15, 2012 9:33 pm
Melani grunted, curled around the leg of Isaiah's SIREN with a wrench in her teeth and a screwdriver in hand as she tried to tweak the mechanism of the ankle joint. She was dressed in her coveralls, the top peeled off with the long sleeves tied about her waist, and a once-white camisole shirt that was a failed attempt at a womanly touch, but which had been stained with oil and other lubricants over the few months since she'd purchased it.
Her hair was pulled back from her face with a tie, then twisted into a messy bun and secured with a handful of pins. The usual flyaways were clipped down with colorful and sparkly barrettes, but more seemed to have worked themselves free of the petty excuse for a style, one lock hanging in front of her right eye.
She was so focused on her task that she didn't hear him approach, working away and blowing ineffectually at the lock of hair that hung in her face.
Isaiah had had quite a long past few months. To be more accurate his life had become something akin to a bad TV drama. Between Ren and ZZ, Isaiah wondered how much more trouble the women in his squad were going to cause him. After awhile of relaxing in his bunk (a pleasure he rarely got to enjoy these days) Isaiah found himself growing restless. A few minutes later, Isaiah found himself slipping his pilot suit on. Maybe Draven would let him get a little extra practice in today?
The young sergeant opened the door to his room, checking to make sure no one else from his squad was around. No matter how many times he wore it, the suit still made him feel ridiculous when he was the only one in it. Once he was satisfied that the others were busy with other matters, Isaiah made his way towards the training grounds. Upon arrival, he noticed Draven off to the side punching some data into one of the terminals. "Evening, Doc."
Draven jumped slightly before turning around to answer. "Sergeant Cole? What brings you here? Your training for the day finished hours ago."
"I was feeling a bit restless. Was wondering if you'd mind letting me take the Avalon out for a spin for a little while."
"...Well. Normally I'd say yes but at the moment Corporal Engleton is doing some maintenance on it."
"Mel? What's she doing working on the Avalon?"
"Dr. Fortenschwal and I thought it would be a good idea to let her fiddle with the units from time to time. So we started inviting her down to the holding bay a few months ago while the rest of you were busy with other training. We figured it was only prudent. Afterall she'll be your team's mechanic if you're ever actually deployed on a mission."
Isaiah nodded. It was sound logic. The SIRENs were the most advanced piece of weaponry known to man and Mel only had a few months to figure out how they worked. In truth he admired her skill with machinery for that very reason. "Well, I'm going to go check in on her then. She might need a guinea pig." Isaiah waved goodbye to Draven as he departed across the training grounds to the holding bay. It was only then that he realized the potential hazard he'd just signed himself up for.
"Crud, I forgot about the incident in the medical ward.....Still haven't given her an answer about that." Isaiah cringed as thoughts of Ren began to swim around his head. He felt so very low for that even still. Was it because Mel had shown legitimate feelings for him or was it just a military thing? Isaiah himself didn't even know. Either way, the holding bay wasn't getting any farther away so he needed to get his act together soon.
When Isaiah finally did enter, he immediately spotted Mel crouched around his SIREN. His head tilted slightly as he made a mental note of the girl's unique attire. "Huh....Thought she looked good in this ridiculous suit but.....huh...." Isaiah shook the thoughts from his head as he approached. Mel hadn't noticed him yet - strange, given the girls usually uncanny ability to locate him. For whatever reason, a rather childish idea entered Isaiah's mind as he quietly knelt down behind Mel. In the next instant he jammed his index fingers into her side in an unusually playful manner. "Bzzz."
Having grown up as the only girl amidst a house full of boys, her reaction was reflexively violent--as she shrieked in surprise, she twisted, elbow aimed in the vague vicinity of Isaiah's head. The contact was only grazing, but it was still far better in the close-combat area than Melani ever professed her skills to be.
She blinked, half-twisted as she stared at Isaiah long enough for her brain to register who she'd just hit (even if it was only a glancing blow!), and she flushed, scrambling to twist around and gain her knees before him, a rushed apology falling from her lips in a jumble of breathless speech, "Ohymygod! Isaiah! I'msosorry! Areyoualright?!"
Her pulse thrummed quickly in the side of her neck, but only partially from the adrenaline and surprise...Her CO always made her heart beat faster when he was around her, especially when he was so close.
Maybe it was the fact that Isaiah wasn't expecting Mel to respond beyond the traditional girly scream that he'd expected which had delayed his reaction or maybe he was just surprised that Mel had actually physically assaulted something. Either way he couldn't even hope to respond in time. Mel's elbow caught him just across the nose, visibly stunning him somewhat. The meager blow caused Isaiah to lose his balance and fall backwards, hitting his head against the wall as he did.
"Oooowww...." he groaned, massaging the back of his head. He twitched his nose in a vane attempt to 'snort' the pain away. "Geeze Mel have you been training with Petrov when I wasn't looking?" The CO chuckled a bit at how flustered the girl was. "Oi, oi, calm down it's alright. So, how's the Avalon? Am I gonna be able to take it out for a spin soon?"
"N-no," she stammered, still flushed as she moved to crawl between his knees, cupping his face in her hands with her thumbs set on either side of his nose as she tilted his face this way and that, then gently probed at the bridge of his nose with her thumbs to assure herself that she hadn't broken anything. "I, um...I grew up with a lot of brothers," she admitted, then realized that she was still cradling his face. She let go of him as though they'd traded static electricity with a painful jolt, and shuffled backward on her oil-stained knees.
"Ah, y-yeah, she'll be ready in just...Lemme..." she turned clumsily, almost tripping herself, and moved to start putting pieces back. "I...I was just tweaking the bearings...for, uh, you know...faster response..." She realized that she was rambling and stopped, taking a deep breath that made her shoulders visibly rise and fall, then continued at a much less faltering pace, "Draven said it was okay, since I'll have to do the field maintenance. You...you don't mind, do you?"
She glanced back at him, lips pressed together and brows raised with wide eyes, afraid that he might forbid her working on his suit...which was the closest she was going to get to any intimacy with him.
"Ow-ow-ow, hey cut that out!" Isaiah flinched, hitting his head against the wall for the second time now. "Smooth move, sarge" he grumbled to himself before listening to Mel's explanation. "Lot of brothers huh? Afraid I can't relate to that." Isaiah massaged the bridge of his nose before blasting a quick huff of air from his nostrils. Mel was getting flustered again; big surprise that was. Isaiah simply smiled and rolled his eyes. He still wasn’t sure how to act around Mel. Part of him still felt guilty for his night with Ren, though why he couldn’t understand. It wasn’t like they were seeing each other – though he couldn’t imagine Mel complaining about that scenario.
"Bearings, huh? Don't worry I'll just nod and pretend to know what that means." The young sergeant chuckled as Mel went on. "No, no, absolutely. I agree. To be honest I'm impressed. You must've been studying these things religiously to have them figured out this well in such a short time. I might have to get you to show me a few things. Never know when a little knowledge will come in handy." Isaiah finally stood up and looked the Avalon over. He fumbled over himself for a bit as he tried to figure out what he should say next. “Tell you what. Why don't you finish whatever it is you were doing with the bearings, throw your suit on and we'll go for a test run? Sound good?" Isaiah felt an unnatural flush in his cheeks. “Why the hell am I blushing?” The weapons specialist turned his head away to hide the mild embarrassment, casually waiting for the feeling to go away before turning back towards Mel.
”Dad always said I took a shine to machines,” she murmured, picking parts up from a paper schematic she’d drawn to keep them all in line and placing them back whee they went in the ankle of the suit, twisting and ratcheting where needed. When he talked of having her show him a few things--teach him, essentially--she colored slightly, smiling at her work. ”Yeah, sure...Anytime...” she murmured in response.
Her hands stilled at his invitation, along with her breathing. Only when her lungs began to ache did she suck in a new breath, too afraid to look up at him to see the expression on his face. Don’t. Don’t let your imagination run away with you. It’s not a date. It’s just...It’s friendly time between squad members. It’s not like he’s...I dunno, secretly in love with you, or anything... Her heart flopped in her chest and she bit the inside of her cheek against the unbidden grin that wanted to curve her lips.
”Sounds gr...Sounds good,” she answered, as nonchalantly as she could, which was not very nonchalantly at all, and affixed the last piece into place before fumbling with her tools clumsily as she put them up, trying to go about the task quickly and ending up taking more time than she would have otherwise. ”I’ll be right back!” she said before darting to the girl’s locker room.
In the privacy of the no-boys-allowed room, she allowed herself to hyperventilate a little as she stripped her gear off and scrubbed the oil from her hands and face. She and Isaiah. Alone. Together. Okay, in suits, but alone together! And doing stuff, not alone together in a ‘we just happened to be in the same room’ coincidental way. It was like a date! No, not a date. Don’t get your hopes up, Melly, her inner voice told her. But it was almost like a date!
She squirmed herself into the skintight excuse for a uniform the SIRENs required, and took one last look at herself in the mirror. Her enthusiasm deflated as she stared at her freckled face and unruly hair. Of course it wasn’t a date. Isaiah would never go for a scrawny, awkward girl like her. She was no Ren, no Sharline, no Zirra. They were women, with curves and beauty (even if some of them, okay one of them, was a complete bitch), and Melani, in comparison, was still girlish. She sighed, turning away from her reflection with some choice insults ringing in the back of her head, and slipped out of the locker room. It’d still be nice to spend time with him, even if she had a snowball’s chance in hell of him caring for her as more than a little sister type...
Isaiah watched as Melani fumbled to put her tools away, offering what help he could before she scurried off to the locker room. A deep sigh of relief escaped the man when she was out of ear shot. Was it hot in there? He could have sworn Draven had mentioned something about the holding bay being kept at low temperatures for the sake of the SIRENs. If that were the case though then why did he feel like he was burning up? Isaiah tugged at the neck of his suit. For a moment he could have sworn he saw a bit of steam escape from the ephemeral breach in the otherwise perfect air lock. It was then that a familiar voice spoke up behind him.
’Staff Sergeant Cole. Your body temperature has increased by 1.4 degrees. Are you feeling ill?’
“I’m fine. Keep quiet Avalon.”
’I’m also detecting irregular pulse patterns and overstimulated brain function. Are you certain you’re alright, sir?’
Isaiah blushed as the suit read him like an open book. “Shut the hell up, Avalon!!” The young sergeant kicked the knee of the suit, immediately regretting the decision to do so as it felt like kicking a brick wall. Isaiah’s toes throbbed in pain as he hopped around on one foot, attempting to massage away the sensation. “I know, I know, ‘Staff Sergeant Cole I’m detecting damage to your right foot,’ shutup.” Had the Avalon had the capacity to sulk, it might have done so at that time.
After a short while Isaiah found himself propped against a wall, his foot still pounding away. “Better not let Mel find out about this or she’ll be tearing my boots off in no time.” For a moment a vaguely inappropriate thought entered Isaiah’s mind. “That’s not the only thing she could tear o- Oh snap out of it you moron.” Isaiah visibly shook himself out of his brief dementia in time to see Melani returning. Another warm sensation crept up from Isaiah’s chest to his cheeks. “Who the hell is running the thermostat in here?” Isaiah tried in vain to massage the red from his cheeks though he was forced to cut the action short before any real effect could be had. Thus Isaiah was almost beat red when Mel finally approached. Isaiah started to whistle but stopped himself, deciding that there was no need to make a bigger fool of himself than he already had. “Looking good, Mel. Let’s get to work.” Looking good? Get to work? “Smooth, sarge. Reeeeal smooth.”
Looking...good? She stumbled at the compliment, a slow flush creeping up her freckled cheeks. She could almost swear that she could hear her heart thud in her chest. He thought she looked...good. Did that mean pretty? Naw, it couldn’t have. Maybe he thought she looked...healthy? That must be it.
She couldn’t help the smile that curved at her lips as she moved to Asclepius’s bay. She glanced back at her Sergeant, tilting her head as she watched him over her shoulder for the space of a breath. He was acting a little oddly. Was he coming down with something? Well...once suited up, she’d have a monitor of his vitals. She’d taken to having the basics like heart rate, blood pressure, and core temperature of each of the squad shown on her HUD. It was better to get used to the assault of information under training conditions, because she sure as hell wasn’t going into a combat scenario without knowing her tools and options inside and out when lives might depend on her.
Important, too, was that they were (not on a date!) spending time together...Any diagnosis could totally wait for an hour or two, right?
She shifted herself into the waiting Melani-shaped hole of Asclepius and closed her eyes as the clumsy-looking white suit closed itself over her with the now-comforting sound of hissing hydraulics. There was the usual brief sensory deprivation before the suit’s computers came online, but terror no longer welled in the pit of her stomach because of it, and when the display flickered to life, she cheerily greeted her automated best friend and initiated her own little list of checks, flexing all of her joints and booting up the little programs she and her engineer had discussed, including the bio-monitor for Isaiah once he was securely inside his Avalon.
”Open com-band: Avalon.” The syntax of the command flowed easily from her lips now, as she stepped from Asclepius’s resting point toward Avalon. Although the suit was much larger than she was, it didn’t seem quite as clumsy once she got it in motion. ”All dressed up and ready to go,” she informed Isaiah as the little window of his face popped up in its usual corner on her screen. She had a preference for video communications on a one-on-one basis, even if there was only audio on the other side of the discussion...Especially when it was Isaiah she was talking to. She hadn’t actually told anyone, per se, that she could see them, as it was just something that she and Asclepius had stumbled across fairly early in the training, but what they didn’t know...well, it couldn’t hurt, right?
Isaiah caught himself staring as Mel strutted off in her suit. His head tilted awkwardly as his eyes followed her hips until he was finally jolted awake by her turning around to enter her SIREN. Realizing how awkward it was for him to still be outside of his SIREN, Isaiah made his way over to the Avalon. Once the state of the art suit had closed around him, Isaiah waited for the HUD to flicker to life just in time for Melani’s transmission to come through. “Com-links working alright? Anything to report on your end, Avalon?”
’Nothing out of the ordinary Staff Sergeant Cole. You however seem to be experiencing irregular pulse patterns. Shall I administer I minor sedative?’
“Ixnay on the ulseratepay, Avalon.” Isaiah muttered with a nervous hitch in his voice.
’.....I don’t recognize that dialect Staff Sergeant Cole. Is it some obscure foreign tongue?’
“No it’s....Just nevermind I don’t need the drugs. And enough with the ‘Staff Sergeant Cole’ stuff. It takes too long to say. From now on you just call me ‘Sarge’ like everyone else. We clear?”
’Very well, Sarge.’
Isaiah sighed before stepping out of the holding bay. If he hadn’t already given himself away the Avalon would. “Alright Mel, anything you want to work on? To be honest I wasn’t expecting company so I didn’t really have a plan.” Isaiah pondered for a moment as to what exactly the two of them could do. “I can think of a few things I’d like to do outside of these sui-STOP THAT!” The Avalon’s hand shot up and smacked itself in the head, sending a deafening sound throughout the helmet. “Note to self....Don’t hit yourself while wearing a SIREN.” Ironically it was then and there that Isaiah thought up something for them to do. “How about we simulate a ‘man-down’ scenario, Mel? I’d like to see how well you’re able to analyze and fix any issues we may run across in the field. Avalon, go ahead and disconnect the com.” The Avalon soon obliged Isaiah’s request, disconnecting the audio link between itself and the Aesclepius. It did not however remove the private video feed that Mel had been secretly running. Once Isaiah was satisfied that Mel could no longer hear him, he gave the Avalon another order. “Avalon, simulate a stage 2 core overload in the primary thrusters. Let’s see what Mel can do.” Without a word of acknowledgement from the Avalon, the SIREN soon keeled over onto the floor, becoming completely immobile. Meanwhile the thruster on its back began to glow red hot. “Avalon, re-open the com-link with the Aesclepius......Let’s see what you can do, Mel.”
It took her a few blinks to react. For one, she sucked at reading lips, so she had no real clue what he’d ordered his suit to do. Secondly, she wasn’t really expecting anything like this. For Isaiah to come to her level, to test her, it was...well, it was downright heart-fluttering. She remembered to breathe, and then pushed her SIREN across the floor at as close to top speed as she could get in the small space until she was beside him, crouching to inspect the Avalon through Asclepius’s HUD.
”Aye, Sarge. Asclepius, diagnostic on the Avalon, ASAP.” She pronounced it like a word: ay-sap. As she let her suit’s computer do as she’d commanded, she took a visual stock of Isaiah, both as the Avalon and as himself in her little video feed. His pulse rate was charted quietly under the little box that displayed his face, and she kept a portion of her attention on that. If the Avalon was truly immobile, the object of her dreamy affection might start to have some claustrophobic reactions, even if he was completely comfortable with his armor by now. It was one thing to be comfortable in a tin can...it was another entirely to suddenly be in a metal coffin that had you strapped down so tightly that you couldn’t scratch your nose.
”Don’t worry, Isaiah, we’ll fix you right up!” She leaned this way and that for a moment, then with a deft movement of mechanical wrists, flipped the Avalon over. ”Asclepius, narrow scan to thrusters.”
”Thruster mechanism temperature exceeds normal operating maximums, Corporal Engleton. Prognosis: Coolant line disruption,” the calm voice replied.
”Ah-hah! Well, we’ll just...” With a flare of the DART, her metal-clad hand suddenly had a propertool in it, and she deftly pried the correct panel open. ”Seems like we have a coolant flow problem to the thrusters! We’ll have this fixed in two shakes, sir!”
“She’s doing well so far.” Isaiah thought to himself as Melani began her diagnostic. Granted this was only a drill and it couldn’t hope to capture the sense of terror that would come along with a live combat scenario. Still, there was only so much one could do in the wake of preparation. Isaiah flinched a bit as Mel effortlessly flipped him over, wincing as his face mask collided with the floor. “Simple scan would have sufficed...”
It was then that Mel really grabbed Isaiah’s ‘attention.’ “What’s she opening the back panel fo-heeeeello.” Isaiah flinched once more as the Aesclepius’ cold metal hands pressed against the thin metal panel separating him from the outside world. “Hey, hey, I said let’s see what you can do, not cop a feel.” The young sergeant snickered to himself as Mel continued fiddling around.
Should he have went ahead and ended the simulation? It wasn’t like there was actually anything for Mel to fix. Still, something told Isaiah to let it run a bit longer. “See anything else I should know about back there?” Isaiah tried to remain calm in his little metal box whilst Mel continued poking around at his backside. Even with all his effort though it still felt like his pulse might pound clear out of his chest. “Maybe I should have taken the Avalon up on that sedative offer....”
”Huh?” Melani asked, missing half of what he said because she was so caught up in her work. She blinked big innocent eyes at the little box with Isaiah’s face, then flushed prettily when her full attention flicked back to the view on the rest of her screen. She hadn’t even noticed that she was...well, manhandling him. She coughed, cleared her throat, and one metal-covered hand reached up to scratch at what passed for Asclepius’s head. ”Ah, sorry...I think I may have gotten carried away...If, um...if this weren’t just pret....a simulation--” Because adults did not “play pretend.” ”--there’d be a blockage of the coolant here, causing an overheat in your thrusters...I can’t really give you protocol on what I’d do, ‘cause there are just too many variables. I’d have to be able to ascertain what kind of blockage it was before I knew whether it was fixable without, erm...invasive techniques...” Invasive, like her mech’s hand still on her C.O.’s backside. She flushed as she realized that she was still essentially feeling him up and jerked her hand away like he had spontaneously become a hot stove.
Isaiah gave a humble nod of approval as Melani went into her explanation. Granted from what little Isaiah understood about the inner workings of the SIRENs a simple overheat should have been an easy spot for someone with Mel’s experience. Still, he was nontheless impressed with her effectiveness. A smirk escaped him when Mel jerked her hand away, followed by an audible chuckle. “Relax Engleton, I don’t bite.” He stated before turning his attention back towards the SIREN’s hud. “Avalon, restore coolant flow and disengage lockdown.” Without a word of confirmation the Avalon’s coolant system flushed the over heated thrusters as the back panel sealed itself shut once more. Isaiah rose to his feat, doing his best to crack his back through the hull of the Avalon. Once that was taken care of, Isaiah raised his hand to his chin, an unspoken signal for the Avalon to disengage its helmet. As if on cue, the helmet sprung open, revealing the CO’s face to the world. “Good work. Wish I had something a bit more complicated for you to try but I doubt our good friends at Celsius would appreciate me trying to break these things any further,” he sighed, raising his hands up in an unknowing shrug. “I was going to take this thing through the obstacle course, but to be perfectly honest I’m not really feeling that idea as much as I was before. Anything you’d like to work on? Or would you rather grab some dinner?”
There was an honest-to-God miracle: she didn't faint.
"D-Dinner?" she asked, and her voice sounded light and airy, even to her ears, so she cleared her throat in a reminder to herself to actually breathe. ”I, uh...I’d....yeah...Dinner. Where?”
Her stomach’s growling in agreeance was less important than the fact that he was asking her out. On a dinner date! Sharline had been right! Now all she had to do was not have a heart attack on the way.
It was difficult for Isaiah to tell just what was going on inside the Aesclepius. Thus the fact that his little dinner question had almost caused his medic to have a heart attack escaped him. For a moment he thought there was something wrong with their com from how broken up Melani’s voice sounded. “This thing working?” he questioned to himself whilst tapping the Avalon’s earpiece. Figuring it would clear itself up eventually, Isaiah moved to continue. “To be honest I’ve always had a bit of a weakness for hashbrowns.....There’s a diner about two blocks down the road. How’s that sound?” Without waiting for Mel to respond, Isaiah began making his way towards the holding bay. “Eh, we’ll figure it out when we’re leaving. I’m gonna go change. I’ll meet you outside your room in 30.”
Isaiah discarded the Avalon in its proper storage unit and headed off to the barracks. Once there he discarded the suit onto his bed and glanced at the shower. Did he have time for a quick one? Probably a good idea. After scrubbing down, Isaiah made his way towards his closet. What was the temperature outside now anyway? “Better dress warm I guess.....Can always lose a layer if it’s hot out.” Even with their occasional ‘shore leaves’ Isaiah was finding it difficult to keep track of time. After pulling out the first pair of pants that caught his eye, Isaiah observed the rest of his closet. “Black tee shirt, white tee shirt, blue tee shirt, geeze did I bring anything a little nicer?” Isaiah’s eyes eventually settled on a black button down shirt in the far corner of his closet. “When did I?....” He paused for a moment, eventually reaching the most logical conclusion he could. “Celsius may have its quirks but they certainly take care of their employees....” After dawning the gifted shirt, Isaiah pulled a brown leather jacket from his closet before tossing it around his shoulders. His eyes then settled on a small bottle at the end of his bathroom counter. Cologne. He hadn’t had much use for it in his time there. “...Might as well I suppose....,” a quick splash of the smelly liquid and Isaiah had become a presentable member of society. Once he was fully dressed, Isaiah made his way to Mel’s room, knocking on the door only once before propping himself against the wall outside to wait.
Her door opened only moments after he knocked, like she’d been pacing nervously on the other side of it. She blinked, staring at him, and a soft blush suffused her cheeks at his dapper state of dress. She was suddenly very glad that the part of her mind that had argued for everyday wear had lost that fight. Instead, she’d donned a floral-print dress with a sweetheart neckline and a wide nipped-in waistband set over a mid-calf length skirt that belled out in a look that was suitably vintage enough to flatter Melani’s petite form. She had, of course, had help choosing the garment and the kitten heels that she wore with it, but the coordinating leggings and cardigan draped over her arm atop her coat were her own additions, and she was inordinately proud of her minor fashion success.
Even her hair was transformed. The normally unruly mess had been parted in the center and pulled away from her face in twists on either side of her head, in a sort of mock french braid (but much easier to execute by oneself) that ended in a ponytail flipped over on itself at the nape of her neck, giving a touch of elegance to her look.
She opened her mouth, nearly blurting out something idiotic like “wow,” or “gosh,” but caught herself before she could make a total fool of herself. Instead, she stepped out of her room, closing the door behind her, and donned her cardigan and coat before taking Isaiah’s arm in a move that was both bold and very old-fashioned, letting him lead the way to this restaurant he’d chosen for their date...because it was obviously a date now, until he said otherwise!
Thu Feb 16, 2012 11:35 pm
Staff Sergeant Isaiah Cole ~ Ready for Duty
Isaiah awoke early in the morning to the obnoxiously loud ringing of what he thought was his alarm. The young sergeant swatted, punched, smacked and finally threw his clock completely across the room only to find that the ringing still didn't stop. "The hell?
" Isaiah looked up from his pillow to find his Celsius brand laptop opened and displaying an all to familiar message.EMERGENCY CALL FROM: Dr. Damien Caldwell
Isaiah groaned as his pulled himself out of bed. The young sergeant made his way across the room, not even bothering to throw on a shirt out of sheer hope that his lack of clothing would annoying Caldwell enough to end this call ahead of schedule. Isaiah immediately regretted this decision however when the image of both the lovable
doctor and General Rourke appeared on the screen. Isaiah's hand shot up in an immediate salute as he began to pray the general would say nothing of his less than appropriate dress. "At ease, Cole," the general stated calmly in his usual gruff voice. "Put some clothes on and meet Caldwell and I on the training grounds. There's some business we need to discuss."
"Sir," Isaiah responded immediately as the video call ended. A heavy sigh escaped him once he was certain he was no longer under the watchful eye of the commanding officer. After quickly donning the appropriate uniform, Isaiah stepped out into the hallway, noting the dull morning grey of the holo-roof. A brief yawn exuded from the officer as he wiped the sleep from his eye. Why did they always call him for these meetings at such ungodly hours of the morning. Didn't anyone sleep around here? Eventually Isaiah arrived at the training grounds where he immediately spotted General Rourke, Dr. Caldwell, as well as three obviously younger, obviously lower ranking individuals. "Good morning General Rourke, Dr. Caldwell." Isaiah stated in his usually formal tone.
"What's so fu**ing good about it?" Came the completely
unexpected outburst of Dr. Caldwell.
"I believe what the good doctor meant to say was, good morning to use as well Staff Sergeant Cole," Rourke quickly nipped Caldwell's crude greeting before moving to speak. "I imagine you've got a few questions for me but please hold off on that for a moment. Right now I'd like to introduce you to your new squad members." The general motioned towards the three new recruits standing next to him. "This is Corporal Jens Makarov, Corporal Richard Williams, and Specialist Drake Bauer. They'll be joining your team as of today." Isaiah simply glanced at the new recruits and nodded. He'd gotten used to the fact that his squad seemed to be the one most prone to transfers. "Now, obviously I didn't come all the way down here at this ridiculous hour just to introduce a few new team members." Rourke produced two envelopes from the interior of his coat. One was tamped across the front in big red letters was the word Classified
while the other was a simple manilla color and contained the personal information of the new recruits. Isaiah took the envelope and broke the seal before examining the document. "You're team is being dispatched on its first mission next month. Have your squad ready."
Isaiah was in shock. His team was, and still remained, famous for being the lowest scoring unit in Celsius. Why had they been selected for the all important flagship mission? No matter the reason Isaiah wasn't about to question the motivation. "Sir, yes sir," he immediately replied, snapping to attention once more.
"Good. Well then, I'll leave you four to get acquainted. I imagine you can handle introducing them to the rest of your squad, Cole?" Isaiah nodded in agreement. "Very good. I'll see you again in a month's time for debriefing. Good luck, Cole." With that the general departed with Caldwell following closely behind, leaving Isaiah alone with his new recruits.
Isaiah's gaze shifted between the new recruits as he reviewed their files. "....Makarov is it? Says here you were a POW for some time. My condolences." Isaiah offered the man a brief nod before he began pacing back and forth in front of the recruits. "Right then, I'm Staff Sergeant Isaiah Cole. You can just call me Sarge. Not present here, for whatever reason, is my second in command Sergeant Viscont Slavik. I'm not going to sugar coat this for you. The only reason you've been transferred to my squad is because quite frankly we're the lowest quality soldier Celsius will take. Nevertheless, I expect each and every one of you to follow orders, and avoid doing anything stupid. If you'll follow me, I'll introduce you to the rest of your team. Lord knows I'm going to enjoy waking those bastards up."
Sat Feb 18, 2012 2:37 am
Drake had a coffee mug in one hand and was browsing some over some documents on the teams' hardware as Rourke spoke with Cole. He was listening, but not paying attention, so he was well enough aware when Isiah came to meet his team. After an awkward moment, he stowed his clipboard under his arm, switched coffee hands, then reached out for a handshake. A second later, he pulled back and gave a relatively half-hearted salute.
"Hm, I suppose that's how it should be. My apologies, Sergeant. And one more apology - I got the last of the first pot of coffee this morning. If you're going to grab everyone, I'll put another pot on first. Pleasure to work with you."
Not waiting for a proper response, Drake returned his focus to the schematics he'd been browsing. At first glance, this Williams fellow gave him the same vibe as his new officer. He hadn't heard anything from Makarov since he arrived early this morning - too early. Interested in a certain program he'd been looking into, Drake had more or less forgotten to sleep. He'd slept well enough yesterday, and figured himself good shape until just past dinner, so long as he had a bit more coffee. He snapped back out of his woes from low sleep long enough to finally process what Isiah said to Makarov. He didn't really know what to make of it, and was quickly reminded of the squad's status. He'd figured it was being pumped with new blood to fix it for the better; what he didn't get was why the brass in charge didn't disband it and divide the members to more successful units. It wasn't his place to care, he reminded himself, before pulling turning another page in the schematics.
Sat Feb 18, 2012 2:37 pm
Makarov nodded at Cole's mention of his time as a POW. "It's nothing," he remarked at the Sergeants condolences. "I wouldn't be back in service if I was still that damaged." Jens attempted a smile but it came more as a small twitch in the mouth before returning to his melancholic expression.
Jens truly believed that his damage had been fully healed from his experiences in the prison camp, and for the most part, he was right. He could smile and go about life in a calm way, most of his current melancholia came from the sun rising. The corporal was nocturnal by nature after his previous assignments necessitating him to stay awake throughout the night. He hoped that he could express this to Cole at some point, as he had become quite adept at night-time operations during his term of service. Jens had not spoken to either of the others due to his not being a particularly forward person. Drake had seemed preoccupied with some papers during the entire waiting period and apart from their shared rank, Jens could not discern much in common between himself and Williams from a glance.
Jens did anxiously await meeting his new teammates, and waited for Cole to take the lead in their business tour around the base.
Sat Feb 18, 2012 3:26 pm
Richards body immediately snapped to attention without need of a thought, His strong emerald coloured eyes locked on to his new CO as he talked with Dr Caldwell and the General ‘This guy doesn’t seem so bad’ Thinking quietly to himself as the three made their goodbyes and Isaiah’s gaze moved back to them. What he would see was a figure clad is desert camouflage, his military overalls battered from previous use, its right arm covered in patches from tours of duty with regular ground forces. A gaze (and salute) that hadn’t wavered since it had been made, an obvious sense of duty coupled with pride.
Richard was silent for the short briefing, trying to assess his new commander. ‘Lowest quality? Time for that to change then...’ not allowing the thought to reach his expressionless face he simply grinned and bared the thought, waiting for Isaiah to be done. Getting to meet his new colleagues would be interesting at the least and hopefully some of them would be good to get along with. Waiting for his two new colleagues to finish (and giving Drake a dirty glare for not respecting authority properly) he spoke, still maintaining his posture “Corporal Williams, Reporting SIR!”
Sun Feb 19, 2012 2:09 am
Staff Sergeant Isaiah Cole ~ Time to Wake Up
Isaiah glared at Drake as he casually attempted to shake his hand and offer him a cup of coffee. Not that his behavior was anything new, but frankly he was just getting sick of how often his new squad members seemed to have some kind of problem understanding authority. "How about you-" he was cut short by Richard suddenly shouting his name and status. As if Rourke hadn't just finished explaining that to him. The young sergeant dug a single finger into his ear in a vain attempt to remove the sudden ringing sensation. ".....Corporal Williams.....," his tone changed dramatically, adopting a guttural growl to it. "Let me clue you in on a little rule I have. From midnight to 0900-"he spoke using the military time abbreviation. "You're voice is not to exceed the decibel level of acceptable indoor conversation. The next time you damage my delicate ear drums with that nails on a chalkboard voice of yours I'll see to it you spend an entire week doing laps around this facility."
Without waiting from a response from the man, Isaiah turned and started walking towards the exit. "Come on, the sooner I get you three introduced, the sooner I can crawl back into my bunk." Isaiah yawned as he stepped through the entrance-way to the training grounds. The sweet smell of pancakes caught his attention as the four men passed by the cafeteria. He'd have to make a mental note to stop by there later if he got the chance. Once the group had arrived at their barracks though, Isaiah made his way to a keypad on the wall. "Staff Sergeant Isaiah Cole," he stated in a monotone voice. The keypad clicked and whirred in response as a small holographic menu displayed in front of the man. After punching in a few seemingly random sequences the alarms in each of his squad member's rooms went off, certain to jerk them from whatever pleasant dreams they may have been having. "Time to meet the gang...."
Mon Feb 20, 2012 8:39 am
'ah, one of those then is he.. "Sir yes sir" he said in a much more agreeable volume. Walking Richard took the opportunity to look around, The drab metal was not something he was used to but it was certainly better that the temporary structures he had to make do with back in the field. 'So a POW.. he obviously knows what hes doing. This other one looks a little odd though, wouldn't be surprised if he was a civie..' His eyes drifting to Drake before snapping back to his new commander as he typed in the alarms. 'Should be fun' he though as he heard the first one begin to sound.
Mon Feb 20, 2012 8:47 pm
ZZ : Sweet Dreams Are Made of These
The sun shined down on the sandy beach as ZZ walked along the shore in a teal bikini. She had a sarong tied firmly to her waist as it flowed and waved in the slight breeze. The chirping of seagulls and the crashing of the waves on the rocks was soothing as she reached her lounge chair where she had been sitting before her walk. Next to it sat another lounge chair with a man tanning in the sun. ”Doesn’t it feel great?”
she asked as she sat back into her chair. She pushed up her sunglasses and looking over at her company. In her head, she couldn’t remember who she had brought on this trip with her which seemed odd. As the silence continued, ZZ waited for the man to respond to her question, which he was taking his time on. “Yes, it does…”
the man sat up and lifted his sunglasses and gave her a wink. ZZ froze as he did so, realizing who the guy she was with. At least her head froze, her body responded to him as ZZ watched herself get up and climb over the man, straddling him in the chair. “Did you want to feel better?
she asked as she leaned over to kiss his neck. On the outside, her body was perfectly happy where she was, but in her head ZZ was in war with her body and mind as she tried to stop doing everything. This can’t happen. It’s not allowed!
Her mind raced as she tried to figure a way out of this situation. Her hands distracted her as they travelled behind her head and began to untie her bikini top. No, No, NO!
she screamed in her head.
As the alarms went off in ZZ’s room, ZZ jolted awake and fell off her bed. Face planting to the floor, ZZ could feel her heart race from the dream she had that almost turned scandalous. A rosy pink was beginning to come to her cheeks as she thought about it and the person she was with. “What am I thinking?”
she asked herself. She groaned into the floor as the alarms still sounded and began to make her ears ring. She stood up from the floor and made her way over to the door. Wearing her sleepwear which was an oversized sweatshirt covering everything that needed to be covered and socks, she almost opened the door to see what was going on before realizing she should probably change. Rushing to her closet, she grabbed her uniform and quickly dressed to meet whoever was on the other side of their door. Stepping out in uniform, she quickly threw her hair up into a messy bun and stood at attention.
Tue Feb 21, 2012 3:34 pm
Ren - Rude awakening
Ren had been dreaming restlessly, something about dark woods and a stroboscopic effect, causing the trees to constantly dance around her. It was a good thing they had been given private quarters, as the nightmare was causing her to shift and mumble in her sleep.
The sudden blaring alarm caused her to violently jolt awake from her nightmare. Sitting upright panting and sweating she tried to remember what the nightmare was about. But as dreams always did, it slipped her mind as water does in your hands. The adrenaline quickly passed away, after which it became apparent to her that it was still very early.
Rubbing her eyes, she sluggishly started to force herself out of bed. "Fucking hell... This had better be goddamn important." she mumbled to herself as she moved towards her door to see what the ruckus was all about. She hadn't actually bothered to put on anything decent, so as she opened the door and stepped into the corridor, she was only wearing a black tanktop and some panties, leaving little to the imagination. Not that it really mattered, the gimp suits had already done the precise same thing over the past few months. And if anybody had a problem with it, they could shove it.
She leaned against the frame of her door and peered down the corridor, folding her arms below her impressive bust. "The fuck is this all about?" she yelled towards Isaiah, in her sleep drunk state not even noticing the new recruits yet.
Tue Feb 21, 2012 6:22 pm
Slavik, early mornings
The months had past surprisingly quickly, Slavik had used the time wisely to gain as much knowledge as possible to better himself, Petrov and Isaiah had taught him the flaws that lay in his techniques something that would've proved fatal on the battlefield. To many time must've felt very strange without natural light but for Slavik he felt right at home. Most of his time was after all spent between above ground as much as it was below, living in tunnels was second nature to him.
Yet somethings never truly change, Slavik had a habit of waking up in the early hours well ahead of the others. More often than not the man woke up just past 3am, taking the time to enjoy a small snack before warming up his muscles for the training cycle of that particular day. Course it also meant he normally hit the hay much sooner than the others save for 'special' occasions. He got along with most of the squad though things were tense at first when he was promoted to Isaiah's second in command. Whereas Isaiah was clearly more accustomed to the command structure, the Cernovian freedom fighters did not have a strictly defined command on the field of battle. Sure there were generals and second in commands but those tasked with scouting ahead often were the ones truly in command, relaying key locations, patrols and current booby traps. Where Isaiah commanded, Slavik observed and advised, he was the man's eyes and ears. When something didn't sit right with Slavik he gave his opinion and observations to Isaiah, often away from the prying eyes of Caldwell or any of the other scientists. Though he had gotten use to them as a whole, most still set his teeth on edge when they spoke to him, he heard them complain often enough about their low grades.
He understood well enough that they were performing badly in the eyes of the 'graders' but in truth Slavik cared little for their opinions, while they tested theory, he and the others had to suffer for it. Theory and reality were worlds apart. That was the fact. A fact that the scientists at times forgot he felt. The squad pushed themselves to try and meet the standards set up for them but the bar was not yet in their grasp. There were issues within the group. Complications yet to be sorted out but that's what it meant to be human. As a soldier perhaps it was unbecoming but then, Slavik never was a true soldier, just as he'll never be anything more than a second in command with a false rank.
Slavik removed himself from the brooding that begun plaguing his mind. Being an observing was at times a rather grim task, to be critical of oneself was a fairly cruel reality to face, especially if you were harsh on yourself. There was a reason to why Cernovia hadn't been freed yet. He had been in the lounge now for well over two hours, he had enjoyed a bite of the up coming breakfast, a pancake or two, something light before he'd eat with the others... but he felt he himself was not an ideal candidate to be second in command but then neither was anyone else on the team. Which made the reality so much harder. So far he was the only real candidate, he was impartial with his decisions and he was still distant with most of the squad meaning they had little opinion about him. They did not like or dislike him to be a significant impact on what he had to say.
The sound of Ren's voice alerted him that something was a foot.
With a sigh he got up to see what was going on, reaching the corridor he found that there were three new faces with Isaiah and that could only mean one thing, "So it looks like we have gotten some new squad mates I assume?"
Wed Feb 22, 2012 4:27 pm
~ Melani ~
Mel's door opened and she peeked out, eyes wide, noted the strangers, and quickly closed the door, tossing her medical text aside and grabbing a pair of pajama pants from the floor as she ran to her sink. She grabbed up her toothbrush, shoved it into her mouth, and then hopped about the room as she pulled the pajama pants on over her underwear. By the end of her little dance, she was back at her door, and tossed her toothbrush at her bathroom before opening it and stepping out. Pajama pants, a camisole, and messy hair were way more presentable than her bare legs and morning breath, certainly.
"Ah...Morning?" she hazarded to the new people, then looked to Isaiah with a half-shy smile.
Wed Feb 22, 2012 5:30 pm
"Hello there." Jens saluted with his good arm as Slavik emerged before the new recruits "Corporal Jens Makarov, reporting sergeant Viscont, sir." His recitation was firm and crisp, but at the same time very laid-back and easy, it was, for lack of a better term, a very contented salute.
Jens watched as the other members emerged, all of them women. He had not had many women in his former unit merely by luck of the draw and he knew even fewer in the POW camp, which was separated by sexes. Suddenly being in a squad which had this many female members seemed unusual to Jens. Not unwelcome, necessarily, but simply beyond the norm for him. He also noticed how casual the members were being around their sergeants and began to become relieved. He was still somewhat nervous regarding re-entering military life, though these members reminded him so little of his former experience that he was not perturbed by them in the least. He waited for Slavik's say-so before thinking to bring down his salute, however.
Wed Feb 22, 2012 7:38 pm
Jens salute was followed by Richards, however he did not announce his name or rank. Instead waiting for Isaiah to introduce him after his earlier scalding. This was not to say he hadn't notice his other new team mates arriving from their respective doors. ZZ was first 'Interesting...' He though as he gave her a brief look-down. 'In uniform that soon after an alarm? this ones not bad', the outburst from another door snapped his attention to the half nude woman, her appearance even managing to break his cold military mask by lifting his eyebrows 'Heellllo...' Managing to wrestle his eyes he looked to the third 'Wow, another Woman? Isaiah you dog' finally returning them to Slavik to acknowledge his words to Isaiah.
Thu Feb 23, 2012 2:29 am
ZZ : Awkward Moments Rock These Socks… Not :
As Isaiah stood there with the new recruits, ZZ glanced over them carefully, observing them. She definitely took a mental note about the recruits being male and definitely saw Richards checking the girls out, mostly Ren though. She thought it was funny when guys thought that no one noticed them checking out girls, but ZZ seemed to spot them fairly well. Her eyes traveled from the newer faces to the older ones, a long look was towards Mel, who showed up in pajamas. She looked frazzled but still pretty even just waking up. A smile came upon her face as she thought this and gazed over at Isaiah before settling on Slavik’s. Her face flushed as her cheeks became rosy as she looked away in a shifty way. ‘Why? WHY? Do I have feelings for him? He’s my superior, it’s definitely not allowed…’ She glanced back at Slavik, hoping he hadn’t noticed her odd ways. In her mind, the wheels were turning frantically trying to answer her own question. All of it was giving her the worst headache that mimicked her hangovers when she had them. Her eyes cringed and she closed them briefly as the light began to bother her more so.
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