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[14:30] <Sachiko> Sachiko hadn't exactly rushed home after Roy departed. She lingered for a while watching the evening sky, and then followed Roy's example and took a walk on her own. She found she needed the time to think.-
[14:30] <Sachiko> By the time the cab dropped her at the door of the Soejima dorm it was growing late. She found the common room empty and felt a pang of relief, and then a faint sense of shame with herself. Said shame didn't stop her heading up to the third floor as quietly as she could.-
[14:31] <Sachiko> … and then once she made it to her door she promptly fumbled her keys in the lock of her door, sending them clattering to the floor. She sighed. Stealth check failed.
[14:37] <Ai> "Waa~it…" Came a voice from a nearby room. …The younger girl slid out of her room, and …well. Yeah, it was Ai. And yes, she was looking right at Sachiko. "…I hate to bother you, but… Do you have time to tell me what you found out…?" She seemed to be looking up and down at Sachiko's mien, as if unsure of her decision.
[15:02] <Sachiko> Sachiko's shoulders sagged veeeeeeery slightly, but her expression remained diplomatically neutral. "Uh huh," she said, snagging her keys off the floor and jamming them and her hands back into her pocket. "Just seemed like everyone was in bed."
[15:07] <Ai> "Not quite." Ai said. "It could be later, but… Yeah. I'm kinda stuck spinning my wheels anyway." She explained, also sighing. "…I know we're gonna have to go in, I'm scared of messing up, and … nn." Ai bit her lip. "Without any hard data I can't do anything. I could try something on the console but that'd wake people up. All my news and humor sites won't update… Lotsa people are asleep…" Her gaze was shifty.
[15:07] <Ai> "…You wanna just go, don't you."
[15:14] <Sachiko> "Yeah I do. It's been a long, shitty day," she admitted. "But I'm not about to leave you to spiral all night. Come on, let's go talk."
[15:18] <Ai> She nodded again, carefully smiling. "We can move to a room, if you want, rather than the lobby or hall. Keep anyone else from dragging you awake?"
[15:37] <Sachiko> "Let's talk in mine," she said, jerking her chin towards her door. "Don't really feel like walking downstairs again."-
[15:37] <Sachiko> Aside from a uniform puddled in the centre of her room - which was quickly, absently kicked underneath her bed as she entered - Sachiko's room was fairly orderly, up to and including her bed being neatly made. There was an expensive-looking keyboard set up across her desk and a guitar and amp tucked away in one corner, although Sachiko didn't pay either much mind as she took a seat on the edge of her bed.-
[15:38] <Sachiko> "Desk chair's all yours."
[15:45] <Ai> "Sure thing." Ai said, sidling into the seat and moving it around to be comfortable. Her mind briefly turned to Dinah's Forbidden Chair, but decided to leave it just in her mind. "Prim, musicy." She… softly said, before nodding. "…Even just the basics on what you saw'd be good, if you're that tired."
[16:40] <Sachiko> "I'm fine." She began slowly and methodically working a knot out of the muscle of her leg as she spoke.-
[16:40] <Sachiko> "Wasn't able to get much data on Battleship Asaka, but I got a good look at the battlefield around the Orrery. Basically…" She spent a few minutes layout out the same information she'd relayed to Roy: The structure of the battlefield, the spatial oddities and the threats.-
[16:40] <Sachiko> "Roy says that's pretty typical: That the structure poses as much of a threat as the Archetype."
[16:45] <Ai> Ai thought about it. "Mhm, mhm. …I somehow figured." She then went over it in her head, after having watched and listened and made mental notes. …Which she explicitly noted into her smarttome because of course she did.
[16:45] <Ai> "If I were to guess, Asaka is a bit big to fit in there, though the distortions might be a thing. …My suspicion is that he'll try to shell us if we go right for the Heed, honestly. M… might be more shadows in there too? Might not. So. …So so so…" She thought again. "I'm starting to get some ideas."
[16:46] <Sachiko> "Shoot."
[16:51] <Ai> Ai held out a finger. "First, Asaka's big. I don't know if we can… I dunno, get inside of his… boat… robot… body…" She shook her head. "Ugh. Acknowledging this outside a game or anime hurts to think about. ANYWAY. He's big, so fighting him's gonna have some crazy economies of scale. And he… I dunno. Probably has some terrain advantages due to the … ship part. So honestly I'd put most of our effort into directly hitting the Heed. Except for one thing. Later in."
[16:51] <Ai> Another finger. "So the big deal is going to be the whirligig planets and them hurting us. Pain. …I think Dinah and Hideki are our - forgive the term - tanks? Frontliners? …So I expect them to be able to take any regrettably necessary hits if we get into a bad situation of having to bull through to fix the orrery. Still, it's looking like we should try to maybe keep one or two of us right on actually messing with the gearworks to control the others' approach? You'd be great at that, and I can help if you want it. Adrien's really fast so he'd be a good lead for the ascension team, maybe Hideki to keep things sane."
[16:51] <Ai> Third finger. "…But. You know that space distortion thing? That'll make footing bad? … …See…" Ai smirked.
[16:53] <Ai> "…I said Asaka is big. The higher up you go, the bigger you are." She grew into an outright grin.
[16:53] <Ai> "Maybe we don't need a giant robot. Just a giant us."
[17:07] <Sachiko> She worked her leg a little harder, sighing. "… yeah, I had about the same thought."-
[17:07] <Sachiko> "I'll need to be on the gears. I don't move fast and I wouldn't trust my footing," she admitted. "Besides, I can still hit from range."
[17:14] <Ai> "Yeah. …" She paused, as if to take it all in. "Without more on Asaka himself, the rest is going to have to be done with what we get from Igor and what we get on the field. …So I guess that's all I needed." Ai let her lips purse. "…I'm sorry. I have to guess something other than just 'suddenly the big Theater stuff is go' happened. …I won't pry. Y… you don't like it much."
[17:14] <Ai> She was actually flexing, as if preparing to stand up or even leave.
[17:26] <Sachiko> "Hey. Sit down," she said, waving her seated. She took a breath and forced the grump out of her tone. "Look, you can ask. That's fine. If I don't want to tell you I won't tell you, but saying "No, I don't want to talk about that" stresses me out a lot less than corralling your social anxiety. Ok?"
[17:28] <Ai> "…Sorry." Ai eventually said, as she sat down. "…So yeah. Something bothering you? I couldn't help but notice all the little signs. …I. I don't like it if you're hurting, you know…"
[23:28] <Sachiko> She shrugged. "Not a lot you can do about me hurting."-
[23:29] <Sachiko> "I had plans today that I had to cancel, and that's a big part of it. But the other part… look, you've clearly wrestled with anxiety. Have you ever been at an event where everyone else was having fun and happy to be there except you?"
[23:31] <Ai> "…Yeah." Ai said, to that last one. "Or even just being stuck in a room where everyone has a reason to be there except me, and I can't just leave. …It's not quite the same as a big event but… Er, I mean, I get it." Her expression dipped into a bit of a pout.
[23:40] <Sachiko> She wagged a finger, but it was more agreement than accusation. "You've got it."-
[23:40] <Sachiko> "That feeling of loneliness, the sensation of being trapped… As far as I can tell I'm the only one who doesn't want to be here. Getting picked as a chosen one doesn't give my life meaning, but it's certainly going to erode the things that do."
[23:42] <Ai> Ai just sat there for a moment, mouth hanging silently. It took a bit for her to even start. "I… I mean… Dinah … and Hideki don't … as much as you'd think… and…" She bit her lip, shifting uncomfortably, unfolding and refolding a leg. The next part was in a small voice.
[23:42] <Ai> "What if your life didn't really mean much until you got picked…"
[12:29] <Sachiko> The temperature around Sachiko may as well have dropped ten degrees, and it was her turn to begin standing. "I'd say you don't know the first thing about my life, Yoshin-"-
[12:29] <Sachiko> But the second she really looked at the other girl's expression. "… oh. Not -my- life," she said, the anger gone as abruptly as it'd arrived. "Shit, Ai…"
[13:02] <Ai> At first, Ai winced when Sachiko said the first bit… but to her credit, she stopped when the other girl did, too. "Yeah, that's what I meant. …I don't know where to start, and I don't like… being part of a thing stealing your future. …But uh. Sorry for making you feel excluded."
[13:18] <Sachiko> "It's not your fault. It's not anyone's fault," she said, rubbing her temples. "I just hate that I'm cast as the captain of the JDS NoFun."
[13:24] <Sachiko> "… you ok?"
[13:32] <Ai> "…I'll. I'll be okay." She said eventually, rocking forward and back in the chair. "If there's … anything I can do to help, please let me know. Like…" She looked at the keyboard. "…Uh. Learning an instrument…?" She said dubiously, eyes narrowing at the keyboard as much as she could manage before turning back to Sachiko. "And I'm never sure just how much I'm supposed to say or do. We all hurt, a-and. …I don't wanna be in anyone's way. And I want to help. If I'm hurting someone even more by accident, or being burdensome, it just. Stings. Like being burned."
[13:57] <Sachiko> Sachiko watched her out of the corner of her eye for a second before she responded. "Well that's the good news, Yoshino. You've spoken to me enough to know that if you're being a problem I'll tell you so, right? You don't need to be worried that I'm keeping that to myself."
[14:01] <Ai> "Right." She said, but with hesitation, as if she had trouble convincing herself. "So yeah. Can I make this any easier for you? You wanna do something else, you don't want to lose the time, yeah?"
[14:25] <Sachiko> "Yeah, but I don't know what-" she began, only to look at Ai's face again. She took a breath and stood. "You ever played music before?"
[14:41] <Ai> "I've…" She suddenly flushed bright pink on the cheeks, looking down. "I've sequenced famicom and FM-synth tracks…" As if she felt like it was shameful to talk about such nerdy concepts of music.
[14:43] <Sachiko> "Oh, like chiptune stuff? That's cool."
[14:56] <Ai> "Y… yeah!" Ai said, her body's tension suddenly completely dissolving. "I s… sorta do it by ear and a bit of noodling around? But I got the basic ideas of chords and some time signatures… Honestly a lot of it is about working with the tech…"
[15:02] <Sachiko> "Nice," she said, with a grin that was a lot more genuine than Ai'd be used to seeing. "That's not really something I've experimented with, but you can get a lot of cool sounds out of that sort of work…"
[15:07] <Ai> "Yeah. Some game composers swear by FM still! And. Yeah, I'd… I'm not that good at handling keys or strings at all, but I can probably learn…" She actually clasped her hands together. "M-maybe then I can help you too. You've done so much for trying to understand the Sea…"
[15:11] <Sachiko> She nodded slowly. "Keys aren't so complicated. I can show you now if you want."
[15:20] <Ai> Starry-eyed, all of a sudden. "Really. W… wow. I got really lucky…!" Hm? It. Well. Ai sure seemed to be turning around now.
[15:31] <Sachiko> "Don't get weird about it," Sachiko said, without any real annoyance. She leant across the desk and flipped on the switch for the keyboard. "I didn't get to play today, so I'll take what I can get."-
[15:31] <Sachiko> "So. First principles… alright, give me your hand," she said holding out her own.
[15:40] <Ai> Ai gingerly did so, offering her hand… but. Her cheeks were coloring redder and redder when contact was made, and. And at one point she bit her lip just hard enough to make her body shiver, and stopped. Poor thing seemed to have no filter. "…I know the… scales… go up so much and then repeat."
[15:47] <Sachiko> "That's right," Sachiko said, only looking at Ai for a moment before positioning her hands over the keys, standing behind her. "We'll do something basic. Let's see… I'm betting you know Pachelbel's Canon?"
[15:49] <Ai> Pause. Ai let her brain… sort of whirr for a bit. "Uhm. …No. I've heard some of Beehtoven… and whoever did O Fortuna…"
[16:03] <Sachiko> "Got it. Well you might know it, even if you don't -know- know it…" she held Ai's hand and used it to play the simplest version of the left hand section, then leaned across over her shoulder to play the (only slightly) more complicated right hand portion herself.-
[16:03] <Sachiko> "Familiar at all?"
[16:05] <Ai> She started to follow along, fingers going down, and up again, as she went. "…It's… maybe a little but…" A frown, even though she was practically vibrating (…low-key) in the chair.
[16:12] <Sachiko> "Doesn't matter. That's the basic idea, but try playing it like…" And over the next couple of minutes Sachiko gradually taught Ai the slightly more complex version of the left hand rhythm, until Ai was confident enough to take it over on her own.-
[16:16] <Sachiko> Then she came and stood to her right and started playing the right hand melody herself. She started simple at first, matching Ai, but after a few repetitions she began expanding the melody, improvising something delicate over the rhythm Ai was providing.
[16:18] <Ai> Ai continued to play, repeating things, adding more… and over time, as hands left hers to join the playing instead? Her tone now seemed more… a combination of interested, and. …Cautious? It was less vibration, more carefully repeating. She considered hitting something else, but in the end? There was just that girl, tapping out the rhythm with shallow, uncertain breaths. Couldn't just mess this up, could she…?
[16:23] <Sachiko> Sachiko did. There were a handful of times her own right hand faltered, simple as the melody was, and those errors simply became an element of what she played. "Can you shift up an octave? Same pattern, just play it up here," she freed up a hand and hovered a finger over a key to Ai's right.
[16:27] <Ai> She … followed suit, going ahead. "Okay, so. …This is what it feels like, then. Different than just incrementing…"
[16:31] <Sachiko> Sachiko had followed her, shifting her own melody higher as well. "That's right."-
[16:31] <Sachiko> They continued this for a while, Sachiko gently directing Ai now and then and even encouraging some light experimentation just to see how Ai would handle it.
[16:34] <Ai> For what it was worth, Ai seemed to, once she was 'allowed' to experiment, immediately try weirder things with her improv notes. She would sometimes break the sequence and re-order some of the notes in the main rhythm… Or carefully reach over to try to add a different progression entirely much lower on the scale. She had some instinct for it, but still had her share of loud 'PWING's and other mis-keys.
[16:43] <Sachiko> Sachiko showed no issue with the missteps, but eventually they'd find their way to a natural conclusion. Sachiko resolved her melody and gently directed Ai to do the same.-
[16:43] <Sachiko> "And there you have it," she said as the notes rang out. She patted Ai on the back. "Good job."
[16:45] <Ai> "Eeee…~" Ai said with an obviously excited wiggle, when she finished! "That. Th-th-that was fun yeah…!
[16:45] <Sachiko> "Like I said, not too complicated." She gave Ai a smile and plopped back onto the edge of her bed.
[16:46] <Ai> And Ai wheeled back, her cheeks… still red, body vibrating a bit more every now and then. "Yeah. I'd… need to do more practice before I can figure out how it all maps together, but… Sounds like we could do it if we tried."
[16:52] <Sachiko> "Probably. Just playing for fun works as well."
[17:00] <Ai> "That's the hope." Ai intoned, leaning back into the chair.
[17:17] <Sachiko> "Music's good for building trust," she nodded. "In yourself and in others. At least that's what I've found."
[13:34] <Minaplo> The Justice-Devil Bond deepens…

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