Raiding The Supply Convoy

[12:18] <FrontierGM> [First Officer's log, 25th of April, 2048- 4 AM, Standard Federation Time.-
[12:19] <FrontierGM> [After not enough sleep, we've started waging our guerrilla war. Our first target are a group of enemy freighters. The Captain wants us to capture them if all possible, and I'm inclined to agree- although I have a feeling that'll be harder than we think.-
[12:20] <FrontierGM> [We have a name for our enemy now: the Shrinepath Devoted. And we have an idea of their political situation: apparently these are rebels trying to overthrow the main government with the aid of the Overseer Empire.-
[12:21] <FrontierGM> [Any hope of trying to broker a ceasefire in the Zeruel system ended when the incoming armada scorched a nest of small mining facilities on the outer asteroid rim. They'd been abandoned before that and any useful materials taken, but we know that these 'Apostates' aren't here to negotiate.-
[12:22] <FrontierGM> [End log.-
[12:22] <FrontierGM> […-
[12:22] <FrontierGM> [The Valletta dropped out of Dirac just as the celestial eddy around the freighters had torn them free of the slipstream.-
[12:23] <FrontierGM> ["Enemy vessels raising shields and powering up weapons." Said Gregory. "Superheavies ready for action, weapons ready at your order, Captain!"]
[12:29] * Kayoko stretched her arms in front of her, eyes bright. "Superheavies and weapons are free. Let's stick to the plan."
[12:29] <FrontierGM> […-
[12:29] <FrontierGM> [Peace. For the last thirty years, the Twiceborn Federation has enjoyed a golden age of freedom and equality- but also one of peace.-
[12:29] <FrontierGM> [The Twiceborn Federation, founded to free humanity from its unjust shackles, has flourished in this time. But it is a time that will soon come to a sudden and shocking awakening.-
[12:29] <FrontierGM> [Beyond its borders, forces stir, creating a chain reaction that threatens to engulf the Federation in plots beyond its reckoning.-
[12:29] <FrontierGM> [Against this stand the Starfleet, protectors of the Federation: people prepared to give their lives for the cause of peace and freedom. But will it be enough?-
[12:29] <FrontierGM> [This is the story of the Frontier War.-
[12:29] <FrontierGM> [EPISODE TITLE: Raiding the Supply Convoy.]
[12:47] <FrontierGM> [The four freighters sat in space, a moment's delay as they scrambled to respond to a sudden ambush…]
[12:49] * Kess had scrambled swiftly, jetting out… maybe a bit too far! With a mild chirp, the Forgemaster shuffled nearer to the Valetta's deck, and… fanned out its dendrites and cranes like the line between spider and web was blurred. "…Designating. In a moment I can give better telemetry assists." Suddenly, a multi-optic mark appeared on the engine block of one of the codename Hathor ships…
[12:55] <Inara> "Firing now," Inara's Jatayu was already braced and waiting, trigger finger on its bulky missile launcher. "Let's show them we mean business!" Surprisingly, the explosion that erupted when her missile struck the mark was subdued and didn't engulf the entire ship. It was certainly bright and smokey, though.
[12:56] <FrontierGM> [It did engulf the rest of the convoy though.-
[12:56] <FrontierGM> ["Captain! That missile knocked out the convoys' shields!" Said Gregory.]
[12:58] * Liane stares at the ensuing explosion. "For fuck's sake, Khalef! We're trying to capture them, not slag them!" she grumbled, as she fired a carefully-aimed crack grenade at one of the freighters' propulsion systems. "… Nice shot, though."
[12:59] * Kess tapped a console. "…Just don't do it to them again and we should be fine?" She mused.
[13:00] <Kayoko> … The Immortals didn't skimp on firepower. "It was good shooting," Kayoko agreed. "They're right, though. Shoulder that thing and use your shiny new transmatter gun if you fire on them again."-
[13:00] <Kayoko> And more quietly, to Gregory: "Switch to our gatling. The Impact Cannon will scrap them at this rate."
[13:03] <FrontierGM> ["Firing."-
[13:03] <Inara> "Yes, yes, I hear you everyone," Inara sighed. Freighters were so damned delicate…
[13:03] <FrontierGM> [A chain of bullets ripped through the space, shredding the freighter engines to nothing.]
[13:03] <Kayoko> "Two down."
[13:05] <Inara> "Speaking of good shots…"
[13:05] <FrontierGM> ["Heh." Gregory grinned, a tiny bit of pink in her cheeks.]
[13:05] * Kess nodded calmly, checking the screens. "New marker queuing up! Patching into the Simurgh to polish targeting data." Taktaktaktak. She was typing on… something. Holokeyboard? But the Valetta crew would notice the extra telemetry data coming from Forgemaster.
[13:28] * Inara carefully deposited the launcher on the Valletta before whipping out her shiny new alien rifle. She fired at the latest marker and once more struck true.
[13:29] <FrontierGM> ["Direct hit." Said Gregory. "Meier, finish it off-"-
[13:29] <FrontierGM> [A streak of green beams raced around Inara, two of them hitting directly- one punching through her right leg's armour and out the other side. The enemy destroyers were closing in!]
[13:31] * Kayoko sucked her teeth. "… Alright. Pilots, we're going to give you some cover and draw their fire. The three of you focus on scrapping the last two freighters so we can get out of here clean."
[13:32] * Kess noticed on her status display… "They should be able to finish it, I can patch up that Jatayu for you, doctor."
[13:33] * Liane nodded. "Got it!" She aimed another shot, launched the grenade, and it hit dead on the mark. "… Bullseye~" she chirped, as the explosion crippled the freighter. "One to go."
[13:34] <Inara> "I'll owe you one, Spiro." Inara was still glancing over her shoulder, warily, in the direction the shot had come from.
[13:39] <Kayoko> It gave Inara a chance to see the Valletta slowly pivoting to place itself between the attackers and her superheavy compliment, a massive barrier of AT force appearing behind it. The impact cannons fired a moment later.
[13:40] <FrontierGM> [A searing great missile of positron energy exploded amongst the destroyers- one backing away with some impressive flying, the other two taking direct hits, gouging great breaches into the hull.-
[13:40] <FrontierGM> ["One more like that and the destroyers'll be scrap, Captain." Said Gregory.]
[13:43] <Kess> Meanwhile, rummage rummage went the cranes. "… The burns are less superficial than I thought."
[13:49] <Inara> "It will be ok. We're nearly done here, so just do what you can." Inara took careful aim at the remaining Freighter, which… seemed to be having trouble maintaining a steady balance all of a sudden. She fired and struck the propulsion system, just as she had before.
[14:02] <Liane> "… Should only take one more shot." Liane launched another crack grenade, with an accuracy that was almost as impeccable as the last one. "… 3, 2, 1…" Boom.
[14:02] <FrontierGM> ["That's it! The freighters are toast!" Said Tran, pumping a fist.]
[14:05] * Kess tweeted a victory jingle from some recent JRPG. …Really.
[14:06] * Kayoko watched the approaching destroyers carefully for a moment before finally nodding. "We're done. Supers back to the Valletta while we get ready to jump!"-
[14:07] <Kayoko> "And Gregory, please give them a parting gift on the way."
[14:07] <FrontierGM> ["Yes, ma'am."-
[14:08] <FrontierGM> [Gregory locked in the coordinates, hovered a finger over the 'fire' button, then hit it firmly. A crackling bolt of positrons slammed into one of the lead destroyers, punching straight through. "Direct hit. Enemy ship is losing power. We won't be seeing it any time soon."-
[14:08] <FrontierGM> ["Helm, how are we on jump?" Asked Franco.-
[14:09] <FrontierGM> ["Coordinates locked." Said Tran.-
[14:09] <FrontierGM> ["Say the word, Captain." Said Idris.]
[14:11] <Kayoko> Kayoko watched the readouts, saw the airlocks close and the superheavies safely docked…-
[14:11] <Kayoko> "Go."
[14:11] * Liane quickly moves to fly the Jupiter back into the Valletta. "I don't think we could have wished for a cleaner mission, nicely done everyone."
[14:13] * Kess had entered already, literally yanking Forgemaster and the other superheavies in with the unit's nightmarish spidermass. "I wonder what the guest captain will think of this…~ Our captain must be pleased, though."
[14:14] <Inara> "Everyone should be pleased." Inara's Jatayu joined them. "We should think about celebrating…"
[14:15] <FrontierGM> [And with that, the ship, its pilots, and the four hapless freighters vanished as quickly as they'd come.]
[14:35] <Kayoko> At the far end of the deck used for the officer and VIP dorms there was a small, private lounge area for use by those with sufficient privileges. It wasn't a huge area, but in the occasionally oppressively stark environment of the ship it was a welcome alternative.-
[14:36] <Kayoko> Unlike most areas in the Minerva-class ships, this room was comfortably carpeted, and even had a few pieces unimpressive, hotel-grade art on the walls to make it feel a bit more welcoming. There were a few couches and a coffee set up in the centre of the room, and the left hand wall could serve as a display for anything the occupants might need.-
[14:36] <Kayoko> A bar was set up opposite the door, plain stools on one side and a rather meagre supply of bottles on the other (They hadn't been given weapons for this journey, let alone decent drinks).-
[14:36] <Kayoko> Later that day, when all the work and debriefing had been seen to, the three Superheavy pilots would receive an invitation asking them to join the Captain there.
[14:48] * Kess headed there, maybe more prepared than you'd think, what with her actually carring a modest sized box. A lunch box. …It was big for a lunch box, actually. Coming in, she soon sat demurely, setting it down.
[14:53] * Liane was not too much later to arrive; it seems she'd taken a few moments to tidy herself up. That was something about her, really; she seemed to be pretty fastidious about always looking sharp. Unlike Kess, she hadn't brought anything with her, but she was no less calm as she sat across from her Defector squadmate. "Evening."
[14:57] <Kayoko> At the sound, there was a sudden rattle behind the bar and… the captain emerged, glancing at the both of them. "Ah. Didn't hear you come in, Kess."-
[14:58] <Kayoko> Her black captain's jacket was off - indeed, there it was hung over one of the bar stools - and in its place she wore a simple blue blouse.
[15:02] <Inara> "So what's this about, Captain?" Curiosity had gotten the better of Inara. She was there too, although it might have been difficult to pinpoint her exact arrival time, leaning against the bar with an open bottle in hand. She wore a casual, plain red robe-like garment, with the hem of a pair of dark pants peeking out underneath it.
[15:09] <Kess> "I was unusually quiet!" She noted, and started to open up the lunchbox. …It had shelves. And a bowl area. And an extending utensil rack. This was superior bento technology. A broad-handled spoon, and a weird three-tined spiral fork, were produced - these were Defector utensils, of course. The later helped with their traditional noodle dishes, easily tangling clumps. -
[15:09] <Kess> …Kayoko picked up a strange odor. Curry powder. … …Was. …Was that Ikari-style curry?
[15:12] * Kayoko jumped slightly as Inara spoke up, attention snapping around… but she seemed to recover quickly, giving the much taller Guard a fierce, happy grin. "Platypus," she noted, wagging her finger, "Going to have to remember that. As much as I can, anyway…"-
[15:14] <Kayoko> She stretched as she came around the bar. "What this is about is the fact that I have yet to have the chance to speak to any of you without there being a mission involved. Barring Kess, I suppose," she added with a tilt of her hand. She shot the lunchbox a wary look. "That doesn't sit well with me. I like to understand the people I'm working with, don't you?"
[15:18] * Liane nodded. "Ah, so you're the sort of captain who enjoys platonic fraternization." Turns out Liane had a sense of humor of some sort. Who would've known? "My favorite." She sounded sincere.
[15:20] <Kess> "Interesting innuendo." Kess noted softly, before… slowly, shiftily looking around. "…Eh. May as well." She slowly put her mask to the side, even though her plumes wiggled brightly with what had to be embarrassment. Soon, face was almost IN the curry bento. Om nom nom.
[15:21] * Kayoko gave Kess a sidelong look before focusing in Liane. "You could say that, sure."
[15:24] * Inara tilted her head, openly amused by the whole exchange. "Nothing wrong with being… hm… personable! Yes, I think that's the word for it."
[15:25] * Liane looked fairly surprised at Kess de-masking too. "It works. So, who wants to start with the introductions, then? And, while I'm thinking about it, what kind of drink have we got there anyway, Captain?"
[15:27] <Kess> "…I'm sorry, I'm. Hungry. Violet is better at manipulating Dirac spaces to eat without it. …You're all human…" Starting to bury face deeper. Chew grumble chew.
[15:29] <Kayoko> "I'm not one to judge if you want to show everyone your eyes, Ms. Spiro," Kayoko said easily, sitting down cross-legged on one of the couches.-
[15:29] <Kayoko> "And it's mostly Old World spirits back there. Whisky, bourbon, that sort of thing. Good if you like the taste, I guess."
[15:36] * Liane smiled. "Mmm. I suppose a shot of whisky can't hurt when off duty," she said.
[15:37] <Kess> "Right." Kess said, sighing softly, and pulling back a little. "I… I admit those kinds of spirits are interesting, but I was uh, never much for being drunk."
[15:39] <Liane> "Ah, true, you Defectors don't hold your booze well, do you?"
[15:41] <Kess> "No. From what I have heard, the… 'Firstborn' human condition was little better for some people." She did note, spearing some kind of fruit with her fork.
[15:42] * Liane nodded. "Very much so. … I mean, I was too young for it myself, but I saw it in others."
[15:46] * Kayoko peered at Lianne. "Primogen, then. You must've been pretty young when Gestalt came, huh?"
[15:49] * Liane nodded. "Thirteen, yeah. It was … … Quite the experience, I have to say."
[15:50] <Kayoko> "Any good stories?"
[15:52] <Liane> "Gosh, where do I start? I got to meet my childhood idol in a manner of speaking, though. So that was pretty amazing. She's the one who inspired me to enlist, really."
[15:52] <Kess> A perk. "…I've met many Primogens at school, teachers and the like. But never a coworker~" With a strong 'tell, tell!' air.
[15:55] * Inara was listening too, curiously. "This idol of yours was in the military?"
[15:55] * Kayoko watched with interest, hands folded neatly in her lap.
[15:55] <Kess> "Idol…" Kess thought about it. "If it was from the war, I'd assume it was an AEC member? …But a more famous one…" Wheeling through pilots, mentally.
[16:00] <Liane> "That's right!" Liane nodded to Kess. "She piloted Evangelion Unit-04. Of course, now she's the Chancellor of the Federation."
[16:02] <Kess> "Zhang Yanmei, then! …Interesting to take inspiration from her, and yet be in the role once held by Sera de Pteres…" Kess mused. "But, not that I'm different on that line. I too, enlisted from an inspiration, and didn't go into their field."
[16:06] * Liane grins. "When I did my early simulator tests, I found I had more aptitude for defensive styles, so I ended up focusing on 'em. Though, in a manner of speaking, it's not really that much different, is it? They're both pretty much the most dangerous roles you could take in a battle. Plus I don't really know how much of her style is really even applicable to a Superheavy as opposed to an Eva, you know?"
[16:11] <Kayoko> "We could get you a couple of magic swords and see how you go," Kayo suggested.
[16:16] * Liane laughed. "Well, if we have an engagement where the situation is unfavorable to blowing things up like we have been, it's worth a try, right?"
[16:17] <Kess> "Yes, she came to rely on Excalibur." Kess noted. "But with such a weapon as that, your skill is a base requirement to even rely on it!" A light chirp and starting to mess with some roasted peanuts. "I know in my case, I actually had a rare school visit from the Ayanami-Wellesleys… It was inspiring, and I too, proceeded not to take up Rei's specialty. …The Evangelion pilots didn't really have many non-AT-Field support operators,
[16:17] <Kess> when I think of it."
[16:22] <Inara> "You're right. They had some long-ranged specialists, but they just weren't too flashy and tended to be under-used. Wonder why…"
[16:24] <Kess> "…Armament? Nature of opponents? …We aren't exactly fighting a parade of Great Ones."
[16:26] <Liane> "Well… I did hear some rather unflattering things about the ranged weaponry available early on in the Evangelions' deployment. That might have contributed."
[16:30] <Kayoko> "The guns were good enough," Kayoko noted. "There just wasn't a lot a Eva could do with a gun that a Superheavy couldn't. Their AT application wasn't as refined then, they were just better suited to being blunt tools."
[16:43] * Liane nodded. "I suppose that makes sense. Heh… that makes me the oldest one here, doesn't it?"
[16:47] <Inara> "In this room, anyway. You're getting not self-conscious, are you?"
[16:51] * Liane waved a hand. "Nah, not at all. It does mean I have to set a good example though, huh."
[16:57] <Inara> "Heh. Don't think too much about it. It's not like you're looking up to the folks on this ship who're even older, right?"
[16:58] <Kess> "Violet, for example…"
[17:03] <Liane> "Can't say that I know how even to tell how old a Defector is."
[17:05] * Kess whistled a brief birdsong. "Lifespans aren't particularly short for us by Old World standards, so it is often more outlook, due to naturally low sensecence…"
[17:10] <Inara> "So… someone who's older is just someone more experienced at something or who has seen more of the universe?"
[17:12] <Kess> "For most any I've met, yes." Kess said. "…I… I mean. I'm a bit unprecedented. People born after the Fleet's arrival at Earth… are often a cultural existence like Twiceborn Neogens. …And I am also an Awkward Dancer." A bit of rue at the term could be told in her tone.
[17:12] <Kess> "Well, after, or near. I'd have been 3 or 4 years old by the Federation calendar on arrival."
[17:13] <Liane> "That's… your term for what we call an only child, yes?"
[17:20] * Kess nodded. "…It's just. The dynamics are very, very different. To think, a lot of it is largely that humans have never had a pod-based reproductive cycle. Multiple birth is, conversely, rare for your kind! And all of the cultural baggage around twins… while some of that is due to the ovum division behind identical twins producing unusual results? …It's. A similarly odd existence, but with extremely different connotations."
[17:23] <Inara> "Don't think I really get it, but it sounds like a significant thing for you guys."
[17:32] <Kess> "It is to be alone, in a world where one is always with their siblings." She said, somberly. "The usual response is love still, but it is tempered with pity. Fear of social maladjustment. Of crippling loneliness, inability to adapt to adult life. To find so few prospects for love. There isn't a direct human analogy…" -
[17:34] * Kess closed her eyes. "…If I were try, I might suggest the Japanese cultural disease of the Old World: Hikkikomori. That is what they fear we will be, in abstract sense. Alone. Forever, alone. With no grasp of natural healthy ties. That's the worst it can reach in the eyes of others."
[17:38] <Liane> "Well…. if I had to judge by you, you seem to be doing quite fine."
[17:41] <Kess> "Well yes~" She wiggled her feathers and their blue got so rich as to be purple. "And that is why I may well be a Defector Neogen. …Joining the Federation meant living with people never just expected to be together always - instead born alone but for parents, or their siblings past and future - and then simply associating, single people to a larger group. The dynamics, again, aren't… so general, but think - Violet's last
[17:41] <Kess> surviving brother, and all the wives of his pod, are on this ship. I only have myself."
[17:42] <Kess> But a higher, jovial chirp. "I learned to put free association higher than family, out of need. And became one step closer to human culture. The New World."
[17:45] <Inara> "Attagirl." Inara chugged briefly from her mysterious bottle. "We're loners here, but we can be loners together. That's the Twiceborn way!"
[17:52] <Liane> "That's kind of an oxymoron, isn't it?"
[17:54] <Inara> "As are all the great truths in life." She nodded sagely to herself.
[17:56] <Kess> "But with nuance, comes meaning!" A raise of one finger. "…Oxymoronic phrases can have a beauty in describing false paradoxes that actually are reaching into the gap of meaning between one term, and a purported opposite that in fact has other implications."
[18:02] <Liane> "… I'm going to admit that went a wee bit over my head," Liane laughed.
[18:07] * Kess smugly folded her upper arms (the lower was stirring the curry remnants). "Good Speaking is not for everyone. Essentially, it says something that's less of a contradiction than you thought."
[18:11] <Liane> "Oh! Okay, that makes sense. I kind of thought that's what you were getting at, but I wasn't sure."
[18:15] * Inara stretched, chuckling. "Well, fellow pilots and our illustrious captain, thank you for the drinks and philosophical conversation, but it's time for me to call my staff for a meeting. We should do this again sometime."
[18:18] * Liane nodded in agreement. "Yeah, I'd love to. Enjoy your meeting, yeah?"
[18:21] <Inara> "They're always such a joy. You all have fun yourselves too." And with that she sort of… drifted off, into the hallway.

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