This Too Shall Pass 3 2 27

[15:07] <Eli> For the first few weeks, the Damocles had given Eli Reid the creeps. In a way it still did. Everything here stank of Caines' work, stripped of any humanity in a way that was unusual even for a warship. It reminded her of her training, and that was never a good way to start the day.-
[15:07] <Eli> Not that she intended to show those feelings to anyone else. Besides, it was still an improvement from the Synfront.-
[15:07] <Eli> She hummed as she walked, an earbud plugged into one ear while its partner dangled freely by her shoulder. Those nearby would be privy to the faint sounds of something heavy and bassy, played at a volume that must be uncomfortably loud. Ever now and again she skipped a step, almost dancing.-
[15:08] <Eli> The ship was easily big enough to get lost in, but thankfully some concessions had been made to those less familiar - coloured stripes marked the wall at regular intervals, pointing the way to key sectors. It was these that she used to guide her towards the Engineering wing.
[15:18] <Mina_II> [In many ways, Engineering was the beating- and pulsing, throbbing and thrumming- heart of the Sword of Damocles. Main Engineering stood in the centre, a high-vaulted, expansive room reminiscent in size of a proud cathedral.-
[15:19] <Mina_II> [Much of Main Engineering consisted of console tables running lengthwise parallel with the room. In the centre of the room, the tables became curved, the four quarters of a circle, wrapped around a central raised dias, standing perhaps a metre above the rest of the room.-
[15:21] <Mina_II> [Main Engineering was warm. Warm and busy, bustling with engineers, technicians and crewmen going to and fro, dropping off or picking up equipment, calling out to others, monitoring the systems, the air bustling with their noise.-
[15:22] <Mina_II> [Cargo suits. They lumbered through the great room, their hydraulics hissing as they moved, their cargoes clanking heavily as they set it down. At any given time, Eli could see about fifteen of them, both incoming and outgoing.-
[15:23] <Mina_II> [And in the background, heard and felt, was a thrum, like a heartbeat. At the far end of the hall was a huge black cargo door, going from floor to ceiling. Behind it was the power plant of the Damocles…]
[23:43] * Eli yanked out the earbud with some reluctance as she entered, jamming the cord into her pocket as she gave the department a curious look. She didn't seem particularly overawed by the scale of the place, impressive as it was, but a good deal more attention was paid to -faces-.-
[23:44] <Eli> … and she would quickly select one of those faces to approach, apparently at random.-
[23:46] <Eli> "Hey, I was looking for Lytvynenko. You know if she's around?"
[23:47] <@Mina_II> [A random techie, stocky, with a scraggly bit of growth around the jawline.-
[23:50] <@Mina_II> ["Lytvynenko? She's checking out the positron coolant manifold, she'll be back in-"-
[23:59] <@Mina_II> ["Oh, no, sorry. Looks like she's back." He said, pointing at someone near one of the doors to the back of the hall. It was a little hard to pick out her details, but she had light brown hair and was wearing some sort of quilted radiation suit.]
[00:08] <Eli> "Perfect, thanks," she grinned, giving the techie a good-natured clap on the shoulder as she wandered past him and made a beeline for her target.
[00:12] <@Mina_II> [Liliya saw her before long, and moved to intercept. "Reid?"-
[00:16] <@Mina_II> [Liliya was petite, maybe about 5'4, and lithe. She was long-legged and fleet-footed and moved freely through the crowd; the obstacles slowed her not at all. She had wavy, light brown hair that fell to her neck, a strong, well-defined jaw and ivory-white skin. Her eyes were green and bright and keen.]
[00:24] <Eli> "Hey Liliya," Eli said, waving as she weaved around an AC Suit. "Catching you at a bad time?"
[00:25] <@Mina_II> ["No no. What's Promised Land broken this time?" She asked with a small smile.]
[00:31] <Eli> "Pfft. Given the number of idiot kids we cart around we're doing far better than we should be," Eli smirked.-
[00:32] <Eli> "… which I'll immediately undermine by telling you that the boss reckons there might be something off with the Dove's performance. He forwarded the reports through, but I've got 'em on file here if you need…" She tapped the pocket that had a little coil of earbud wire poking out of the top.
[00:33] <@Mina_II> ["Oh, I understand. Okay!" She said, walking past Eli. "I'll have a look at it now. Come on."]
[00:36] <Eli> "Things going alright down here?" she asked, falling into step beside the engineer. "Reactor isn't about to go China Syndrome on us or anything?"
[00:37] <@Mina_II> ["Why do you think I am beelining for a flying vehicle, hmm?"]
[00:39] <Eli> "Never stick around when the engineers start running," Eli said solemnly.
[00:39] <@Mina_II> ["Exact."-
[00:40] <@Mina_II> ["But no, the reactors are fine. Doesn't hurt to run checks, of course. The Dove's in Bay 4?"]
[00:40] <Eli> "Yeah."
[00:41] <@Mina_II> ["Good."-
[00:41] <@Mina_II> […-
[00:42] <@Mina_II> [The Dove needed a Promised Land passcode before it'd open. With Eli providing on that front, Liliya made her way directly to the cockpit. She instantly set about booting up the computers and running diagnostics.-
[00:43] <@Mina_II> ["We will see what the computers can tell us first, then I will check under the hood." Said Liliya. "It has been awhile since I've worked on a Triton gunship, though. Not least such a customised one."]
[00:48] * Eli flopped onto one of the empty chairs, letting the momentum spin her around to face Lilya as she worked. "Nostalgic for the days before you were dealing with boring old magic, physics-defying battleships Miss Lytvynenko?"
[00:50] <@Mina_II> ["Hahaha. No, no. Let me put it like this. Have you seen the most recent Aurora Foundation transport VTOL? The Freya?"]
[00:55] <Eli> "I've seen some information on it, at least."
[00:56] <@Mina_II> ["It is a beautiful machine." Said Liliya. "Supersonic, handles like a dream."-
[00:58] <@Mina_II> ["And then you learn that the maintenance-hour-to-flight-hour ratio is 40:1." Said Liliya with a huff. "The cutting edge cuts both ways, and our techies' hands are the ones to spill the blood all over it."]
[01:01] <Eli> "Yeah, but… magic, physics-defying battleship," Eli said again.-
[01:03] <Eli> "… of course, it's not as fun as the UEF's one, with its big, stupid drill right on the nose. Looks like it's out of one of the cartoons the twerps watch."
[01:05] <@Mina_II> [Liliya scoffed.-
[01:06] <@Mina_II> ["That drill…" She shook her head. "It looks ridiculous. Why a drill? Is it some sort of space trireme?"]
[01:09] <Eli> "Probably gonna use it to blow up the moon or something when we get them on the ropes," she said cheerfully, stretching her arms above her head.
[01:09] <@Mina_II> ["Or drop it from space on the Synfront…"]
[01:10] <Eli> "If you want to be boring about it…"
[01:18] <@Mina_II> ["Which brings us to the Triton-class." Said Liliya with a smirk. "Rugged and cheap, which is what I like."]
[01:19] <Eli> "Yeah, it suits us just fine," Eli nodded. "All smarm aside, I can see why that'd appeal."
[01:26] <@Mina_II> ["Uh-huh."-
[01:27] <@Mina_II> ["I am unsure if you have said or not said, but are you much of a piloter?"]
[01:30] <Eli> "I know enough to get by," she shrugged. "The Program liked its vehicle training."
[01:30] <@Mina_II> ["AC Suits?"]
[01:35] <Eli> "Not my speciality, but I'm capable enough."
[01:39] <@Mina_II> ["Mmm. Thor or Lightning?"]
[01:42] <Eli> "Lightning, if I have a choice. Not enough mobility to the Thors."
[01:48] <@Mina_II> ["Interest." She ran her knuckles against her cheek. "I thought you would be more for firepower."]
[02:07] <Eli> "A big gun like that? Slow and predictable. If I'm going to be that big a target on the battlefield I want them guessing, y'know?"
[22:33] <@Minaplo> ["There is a saying in the military." Said Liliya. "Big guns make the world go 'round."-
[22:34] <@Minaplo> ["Perhaps I am biased, as I live on a big gun which has engines taped to side."]
[22:42] * Eli grinned. "Your big gun has a force field and a CAG. Changes the dynamic some."
[22:44] <@Minaplo> ["Thors have Lightnings." Said Liliya with a small smile.]
[22:49] <Eli> "You," she said, lazily pointing a finger at Lilya, "are just arguing for the sake of arguing now. Or you have a point to make, can't decide which."
[22:52] <Mianplo> [Liliya laughed.-
[22:57] <Mianplo> ["What I am saying is that everything has place." She said. "It is like nut and bolt. You dance around a target with little gun so the big gun can shoot cleanly."]
[22:58] <Eli> "Hey, you won't hear me disagreeing! You just asked which one I preferred."
[22:59] <Mianplo> ["Of course, of course. But that is answer I get when I ask the other Eli about why he uses Thor."]
[23:02] * Eli waved a hand dismissively, looking out the cockpit window. "No surprise that the Firebug likes the robot that makes the best explosions."
[23:04] <Mianplo> ["Firebug?"]
[23:05] <Eli> "His nickname from the Program. Give it a whirl sometime, he loves it."
[23:06] <Mianplo> ["Why?"]
[23:09] <Eli> "So called for the time one of our overseers pushed him too far and he retaliated by setting their office on fire," she smiled, but there was an unpleasant edge to it.
[23:14] <Mianplo> ["And you called him this after that?"]
[23:16] <Eli> "Guess so."
[23:18] <Mianplo> ["To his face?"}
[23:19] <Eli> "Sure."
[23:19] <Mianplo> ["Odd." Said Liliya.-
[23:19] <Mianplo> ["There was boy in my program." She said. "His name was Albert St. Francis. He was supposed to be in your program, but was in ours because of filing error."]
[23:21] <Eli> Eli gave Liliya a sideways look. "… The programs were universally fucked, huh?"
[23:21] <Mianplo> ["Was little fucked, yes."-
[23:23] <Mianplo> ["But it was obvious he was misfiled. Boy had reading problems, learning problems, but was beastly strong and tough."]
[23:23] <Eli> "They didn't think to do anything about it?" she asked, turning to face Liliya properly now.
[23:24] <Mianplo> ["No."]
[23:25] <Eli> "Weird. Waste of resources."
[23:28] <Mianplo> ["NeoAlexander Program was very weird." Said Liliya. "Actually, at times it felt like testing ground, more about experiment than efficiency. I have seen old faces in among your lot- have they ever told you about the counter-seduction experiments?"]
[23:30] <Eli> Eli made a face as though she'd bitten into something sour. "I've heard about it from some of ours, yeah. All those creepy attempts to mess with your libidos, right?"
[23:32] <Mianplo> ["Yes. Shared bathing areas and combined dormitories were only the obvious methods. Some underwent behaviour modification training. Others had surgical or chemical alterations made."-
[23:33] <Mianplo> [Liliya leaned over now and pinched her fingers together in front of Eli's face, until the gap between the tips was less than an inch. "I come this close to being sterilised."]
[23:34] * Eli whistled, long and low.-
[23:34] <Eli> "How'd you avoid it? Blind luck?"
[23:35] <Mianplo> ["Luck indeed." She said. "Week before first trials about to begin, we learn that they are delayed because key chemical needed for the process… Market has collapsed, entire industry bottomed out, lots of chaos. By the time chemical is available again, management had changed their minds."]
[23:38] <Eli> "Christ," Eli winced, scratching her neck. "You're a lucky lady. I'd love to get my hands on some of the people that authorised these things, y'know?"
[23:38] <Mianplo> [Liliya laughed. It was a dark laugh.-
[23:40] <Mianplo> ["That reminds of another story. Most Companions are failure by standards of the program. But that doesn't mean Companions not subtle, dangerous people… Sometimes, accidents happen to some former managers."]
[00:03] <Eli> Eli smiled slowly. "We've heard about a few of those from our side as well. Abuse a bunch of child super-soldier and you reap what you sow."
[00:05] <Mianplo> ["True."-
[00:06] <Mianplo> ["But yes, was waste of resources. For example, by and large, counter-seduction did not work. Very obviously did not work. Was roommates with evidence of not working."]
[00:09] <Eli> "What a surprise," Eli said drily.
[00:10] <Mianplo> ["Indeed. In fact, one mentor was made pregnant by student."-
[00:11] <Mianplo> ["So it should not be such surprise that they play rough and fast with misfile."]
[00:12] <Eli> "Guess not," Eli said, shaking her head. "So then, what became of our poor little misfile?"
[00:18] <Mianplo> ["Well. Was big strong physical guy in a program of… Not that. Most of the tests he was not good at. So he got mocked. There was a nickname for him- Albert St. Fraction, as in, he could only do fraction of what other people could."]
[00:21] <Eli> "Did he make it out?"
[00:22] <Mianplo> ["He did. Most of us made it out, in some way."-
[00:23] <Mianplo> ["But thing is, we called him St. Fraction, but rarely to his face. Those of us who did it were quickly chased down and beaten. We are not best at fighting, except for one or two of us."]
[00:36] <Eli> "So it's weird to hear I tell it to his face?"
[00:40] <Mianplo> ["Yes. Well, perhaps not weird to you. But did you not fear he would roast you next?"]
[00:49] <Eli> She shrugged. "Sure, and dealing with the niggling knowledge of a few people wanting me dead made a nice hobby. It was tricky getting crocheting supplies while we were in there, I had to make do with other outlets."
[00:53] <Mianplo> ["Hmmm."-
[00:53] <Mianplo> ["Do people still want you dead?"]
[00:54] <Eli> "Maybe."-
[00:59] <Eli> She considered a moment. "… Probably. It's not like I do much to earn it these days - the boss makes sure of that - but I didn't exactly emerge from the program as a favourite among my peers."
[01:04] <Mianplo> ["I see…"-
[01:04] <Mianplo> ["Out of interest, was there anyone who did?"]
[01:05] <Eli> "Aside from Ezra?"
[01:11] <Mianplo> ["Mmm."]
[21:37] <Eli> Eli offered a half-hearted shrug. "Sure, just like there are in every schoolyard. Mostly they're the ones NERV picked up - Fontaine, Fabien Awala, Strasbourg. Langley-Soryu to a degree, because if she didn't have something to balance out that attitude she would've had a shocking accident."-
[21:38] <Eli> "Good rule of thumb: NERV got the golden children, Promised Land got the misfits." She paused. "Well, mostly. We didn't get Akagi."
[22:03] <Minaplo> ["Japanese pilot Akagi?"]
[22:04] <Eli> "That's the one."
[22:11] <Minaplo> ["Hmmmmmm. I see. In truth, that is the same with us as well."]
[22:15] <Eli> "Waste not, want not, right? Even for us failed projects."
[22:16] <Minaplo> ["True."-
[22:16] <Minaplo> ["Then again," Said Liliya, cocking her head and placing a gloved finger on her chin. "Is it such a bad thing to be failed project of failed project?"]
[22:19] <Eli> Eli's laughter suddenly filled the cockpit. "I like that! Might start looking at it that way myself."
[22:20] <Minaplo> [Liliya flashed Eli a bright, pretty smile. "I bring solutions."-
[22:20] <Minaplo> [Her eyes glanced toward the computer.-
[22:21] <Minaplo> ["Speaking of solution, looks like we have found your problem."]
[22:25] * Eli was suddenly draped over the high back of Liliya's chair, peering over her shoulder in a way that a great many technicians would find extremely annoying. "Oh yeah?"
[22:43] <Minaplo> ["Your Dove uses an older Hyperdynamique Mk2 Positron reactor." Said Liliya. "Old model, reliable, but it has occasional but documented flaw…"-
[22:45] <Minaplo> [She tapped at a different screen, which showed the recent weapons use. "Sometimes, especially during combat, doubly so if the weapons are energy-based and set to highest setting, the Mk2 produces more energy than is usual. You are using more energy than is usual, so it makes sense. However, occasionally it will get 'stuck' on the higher setting, which it thinks is the usual setting. So it
[22:45] <Minaplo> will constantly produce a higher rate of energy. That, of course, burns out the fuses and the system much faster, which diminishes its capacity to produce energy…"-
[22:45] <Minaplo> ["And so the automatic systems react by trying to produce even more."]
[23:04] * Eli made a thoughtful noise somewhere above Liliya's ear. "So what's the fix? Can we patch the way it manages energy load?"
[23:10] <Minaplo> ["Yes, but you would also have to replace the fuses and probably some of the containment generators… Honestly, it might be better to just upgrade to new model."]
[23:16] <Eli> "Oh." Her smile faded a little. "… If that's your advice, I'll take it to the boss."
[23:22] <Minaplo> ["Eli?"]
[23:22] <Eli> "Mmm?"
[23:23] <Minaplo> [Liliya reached up with a smooth, quick hand and flicked Eli in the impertinent little nose.]
[23:28] <Eli> "Hey!" She swatted at the air in front of her face a second too late, ducking back and away. "Rude."-
[23:30] <Eli> … and then leaned back over the chair to peer at Liliya's hands. "Did you at least leave one of those cute little oil marks like mechanics have in cartoons?"
[23:35] <Minaplo> [Liliya tugged the glove off her left, and held up a pale, clean, perfectly manicured hand. "Nope."]
[23:36] <Eli> "-Definitely- rude, then."
[23:37] <Minaplo> [Liliya laughed.-
[23:38] <Minaplo> ["But yes. That is my recommendation."]
[23:40] <Eli> "Fair enough."-
[23:41] <Eli> She stepped back a few paces, folding her arms. "… The brats might be upset, of course."
[23:41] <Minaplo> ["Oh?"]
[23:46] <Eli> "I dunno, maybe. A lot of us have been living here since we signed on."
[23:47] <Minaplo> ["Oh, shit." Liliya frowned. "I did my thing again."]
[23:48] <Eli> "Nah, nah," she said, waving a hand. "We asked for a recommendation, you gave a recommendation. The boss'll decide if he wants to ignore them."
[23:49] <Minaplo> ["No, you don't get it." Said Liliya with a sigh. She turned in her seat.-
[23:50] <Minaplo> ["Sometimes I assume too much, sometimes I overthink and the thinking overtakes the talking and I make mistakes. I think I can say vague things and people will understand me, like I might ask for the 'thing', and get frustrated when people don't know what I mean."-
[23:51] <Minaplo> ["What I meant to say was that to upgrade the Dove's reactor model." Said Liliya, wincing a little.-
[23:51] <Minaplo> ["It is a bad habit."]
[23:54] <Eli> "Oh. See, I thought you meant—… -oh-," she grinned sheepishly. "Now I feel dumb."
[23:54] <Minaplo> ["I feel dumber."]
[23:56] <Eli> "If you insist~"
[00:00] <Minaplo> [Liliya instantly followed this up with another flick to the nose.]
[00:02] <Eli> "Hey, you were the one who said it!"
[20:43] <@Minaplo> ["Hmph."-
[20:44] <@Minaplo> [Liliya stretched her arms out above her head for a few seconds before standing up. "You will pass the recommendation on to your boss, then?"]
[20:45] <Eli> "Sure, sure. How long should we expect it to be out of commission?"
[20:51] <@Minaplo> ["Replacing the reactor alone is 12 hours. Further checks and corrections… 6 hours. At worst, 3 days."]
[20:53] <Eli> "Sooooo nice to have the UN's techies at our beck and call, let me tell you," she grinned, leaning back against one of the corner consoles. "Such prompt service."
[20:53] <@Minaplo> ["So it seems." Said Liliya, narrowing her eyes. "Were you part of that debacle party?"]
[20:59] <Eli> "Oh yeah. Those Phantom girls are more interesting than I thought," Eli said brightly. "Your folks should probably keep them away from the anti-personnel drones in the future, though. I didn't even know the reactors could -do- that."
[21:01] <@Minaplo> [Liliya sucked on her teeth.-
[21:08] <@Minaplo> ["I have own suspicions." She said darkly. "That maybe it was some Lost Boys trying to show off for cute girls."]
[21:14] <Eli> Eli made a face. "You should have seen us putting the two groups together. Hardened child soldiers turned into a bunch of stupid, drooling puppies. Idiots."
[21:23] <@Minaplo> [Liliya laughed cheerfully. "You mean no one's ever turned you into a puppy?"]
[21:27] <Eli> "Nope!"
[21:32] <@Minaplo> ["Uh-huuh."-
[21:32] <@Minaplo> ["Well. Take it from me." Said Liliya, heading for the door. "Your Lost Boys lucked out. Things would not have gone so well with some of the other Phantoms."]
[21:35] * Eli jammed her hands in her pockets and followed a step behind. "Mmm. I would've expected that from Joan's, but the one I met seemed pretty normal. Scholastica's?"
[21:36] <@Minaplo> ["You met Agatha's." Said Liliya. "No one sees Joan's. Ever."-
[21:37] <@Minaplo> ["Scholastica's are… Mmm." Liliya shook her head.-
[21:37] <@Minaplo> ["And Augustine's are total killjoys. Just the worst. Will kill atmosphere like Co2."]
[21:40] <Eli> Eli frowned. "… I don't think carbon dioxide works that way."
[21:41] <@Minaplo> ["You are not giving joke the credit it deserves." Huffed Liliya.-
[21:42] <@Minaplo> ["Anyway, Augustine's lot are either creepy butler from horror movie, or pedantic nerd from school movie."]
[21:43] <Eli> "Lucky you didn't try that joke on them, then."
[21:44] <@Minaplo> ["Any joke is pointless on them." Said Liliya. "It is depressing, really."-
[21:46] <@Minaplo> [Liliya walked back out into the main hub of the Dove. Here she paused and looked around, a little like a tourist at an art gallery. "Hm."]
[21:50] <Eli> An action which only saw Eli avoid running straight into her at the very last second. She peered around, catching her balance on a nearby crate. "What hm?"
[21:51] <@Minaplo> ["You said your lot have spent a lot of time on this craft?"]
[21:51] <Eli> "Sure."
[22:01] <@Minaplo> ["You must be a close bunch."]
[22:10] <Eli> "Yeah, I guess," she said, hopping up on the edge of the crate to let her feet dangle. "Most've us have known each other for a long time, and we were trained to work as a unit."
[22:12] <@Minaplo> ["Do you like it here?"]
[22:17] <Eli> "Mostly, yeah."
[22:18] <@Minaplo> ["Hmm. Maybe I would, too."]
[22:19] * Eli raised her eyebrows. "Looking for a change of scenery, huh?"
[22:21] <@Minaplo> ["Maybe not quite, Puppy." She said warmly. "But perhaps… I am happy that scenery is changing on its own."]
[22:27] <Eli> Eli's hand snapped out to flick Liliya in the ear. To hit the nose would've required effort. "Bad nickname."
[22:28] <@Minaplo> ["Ow!"-
[22:28] <@Minaplo> [Liliya rubbed her ear ruefully. "But Puppy is cute."]
[22:31] <Eli> "I'm a cat person," she said matter-of-factly, dropping back to the ground.
[22:32] <@Minaplo> ["Kitty, then."]
[22:34] <Eli> "Oh yeah, because that won't give the Lost Boys ideas," she said.
[22:35] <@Minaplo> ["Everyone knows kitty beats puppy nine times out of ten."]
[22:35] <Eli> "That much is true."
[22:36] <@Minaplo> ["Hm." Liliya smiled widely. It was as though she'd won something.-
[22:37] <@Minaplo> ["I should get back to Engineering. Let me know when the recommendation goes through."]
[22:39] <Eli> "Right," she said, giving a very laissez-faire mockery of a salute. "Thanks for taking a look."
[22:41] <@Minaplo> ["Is no problem." Liliya headed for the exit ramp. "Have a good day…"-
[22:41] <@Minaplo> [Safely out of Eli's reach, she allowed herself to smirk. "Puppy."-
[22:41] <@Minaplo> [With that she dashed away, leaving Eli alone with a terrible nickname.]
[22:52] <Eli> "…" Eli watched her go, rolling her eyes dramatically for nobody in particular. "Not as funny as she thinks she is…"-
[22:54] <Eli> … but she was already humming to herself by the time she turned to head for the hangar entrance.

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