“Welcome into TRAP, greenhorn.
Here, come inside. I will keep this welcome and briefing short because of a certain problem that has happened just now.”
Leo gulped inaudibly before making his way into the office’s doorway, stopping for a moment within it to get a look at the interior, as well as his commanding officer who was seated at her desk, a rather obvious look of annoyance on her face. She looked surprisingly young, much different from Leo’s mental image of her, which based on his sister’s description, somewhat resembled an angry nun. To Leo’s surprise, there was a second woman in the room as well, who, if it was possible, wore an even more sour look on her face. Unlike Adelheid though, this sour face seemed… almost natural for her, as if it was the expression she most commonly wore.
“Something the matter, chief?” Leo asked, directing his question at Adelheid, trying to play down the fact that he was surprised at the presence of a second individual.
“Well, as you might have known-”
“Some idiots took an important piece of our technology out for a joyride.” The second woman didn’t even let Adelheid finish her sentence.
“Yeah,” Adelheid sighed, “that is the situation that we’re having right now. But it shouldn’t concern you much.” It was clear that she did not appreciate the second woman’s presence there. To avoid getting more sharp glares from either of them, Leo decided to stay quiet, and kept his curiosity about the second woman’s identity to himself for now..
“You are Leo Vega, Lauren’s younger brother, is that true?”
“Yeah, that’s me.”
“From your file, it seems like you have little to no combat or piloting experience. Tch, what a pain. I’ll assign some of the senior pilots here to train you personally. Don’t disappoint them by performing horribly. The battlefield’s not a place to mess around, so I really hope you can be serious about your training. But for now…
Without Leo expecting it, Adelheid threw something straight at his direction. Leo attempted to catch it, managing to get one hand on the object before fumbling, bouncing it between his hands for a second or two before finally managing to get a grip on it.
“It’s the keycard to your sister’s room. Now go get some rest. I’ll give you the schedule for your training and further briefing later.” It was fairly clear to Leo that Adelheid did not appreciate his presence for some reason.
“Oh, and one more thing.” Another object was thrown by Adelheid to Leo’s direction, although this time he managed to catch it with little difficulty.
“That there is the TRAP handbook, containing the rules and regulations in this place, among other things. Make sure you read it and understand it well, else you will be in for some seriously nasty things. Now scram, I’m really busy here.”
“Sure. I’ll do that.” Leo made his way out of the room rather quickly, much preferring to get his things out of the hallway and into his room to being glared at.
“Hey, you see that Rob?”
“Thought i saw something… over there! Its a frame. Sensors aren’t picking it up… strange.”
“Can you make out the model?”
“No… never seen one like this before… let me check the computer.” The Myrmidon’s onboard computer ran the feed from its camera through its database, comparing the image to all of the frames it had on record, eventually finding a match to combat footage of the Drachenrand from a previous engagement with TRAP. Its pilot, Dex read what little information the database provided and relayed it to his wingman, Rob, in his own Myrmidon flying roughly 1000 feet away above and behind the Drachenrand’s flight path. “Its a SAF SF, from the looks of it. But what’s it doing all the way out here?”
“Don’t they usually show up with friends Dex?”
“Yeah. Better report it in and bug out. I don’t wanna get caught by that thing with just two Myrmidons.”
“Right. Keep a beat on him while i call it in.” It took Rob less than a second to key in his mothership’s radio frequency, bringing its comms officer online. “Chief, spotted what looks like one of those gnarly SAF bandits all by his lonesome in area IS10. Confirmed a visual detection but he’s not showing up on the instruments. I think he’s trying to be sneaky, the bastard. He might have some friends in the area, any chance of us getting some backup? ”
“Roger that.” The communications officer, a young woman in her late 20’s turned to her commanding officer. “Sir, Dex and Rob have spotted what appears to be a SAF Synchro Frame in area IS10’s Airspace. They’re requesting support before they engage. There may be more of them in the area.” The commanding officer, a woman just slightly older than the communications officer, thought about the request for several seconds, before coming with an answer. “I see. Alright then, though I doubt we can reach the place in time since we still need to finish the engine maintenance of the ship. Ira, contact the Dublin base now, and request some help from there. We’ll go there immediately while we can, but we’ll need them to hold the SAF Frame there before we arrive. Do you copy?”
“What the hell were they thinking anyway, sending a completely inexperienced boy to my team?
It’s like they have forgotten that this is supposed to be an elite team, not a ragtag bunch of clowns in giant mechs.” Adelheid complained to herself as her glare was still fixed at Leo as he left her office hastily.
“Well, he’s certainly far from anyone I’d entrust even a combat frame to, but I don’t think he’ll be much of a headache for you, rookieness aside.
So, what now? The twins are still out there, you know?”
“Tch, I’ll go get them, if that’s fine with you, of course.”
“Ehh...well, I guess there’s no other choice. Don’t waste too much time, and pull them over back here as fast as you can.”
“If you say so, milady.” Adelheid said mockingly, but after it was responded by a sharp glare from Aeolia, she decided to just leave her office, and go straight to the hangar, where her Frame was stored.
Lauren’s room was much more immaculate than Leo expected it to be, her belongings having already been cleaned out in preparation for Leo’s arrival. It felt as empty as it looked, the light, pale blue walls and floor immaculate and clean, the bed made neatly. Had he not been informed, Leo would never have known that this room was once inhabited at all. Unfortunately, the emptiness complimented his dreary mood rather nicely, and as he brought his bags inside, he couldn’t help but succumb to the feeling of dread that seemed to wash over him. It was much the same as eight years ago, only this time Lauren wasn’t there to comfort him. He was entirely alone; no one was there to notice this time.
Admittedly, Leo knew on some level he wasn’t handling his sister’s loss well, but he’d be damned before he let any of these people know it. He wasn’t weak, after all. Besides, he didn’t need anyone to look after him, and judging by the less-than-warm welcome he’d received from his new commanding officer, nobody was particularly looking forward to showing him the ropes, either. Leo guessed that, once the novelty of his arrival had worn off, the rest of his teammates would behave in much the same way. After all, what the hell did he know about piloting a frame, much less filling in the void left by his older sister, which even Leo could tell was gaping. To put it bluntly, his being here was entirely pointless, and both he and everyone else on base knew it to be true. All he could do now was wait to die on some stupid mission, the significance of which he was likely never to understand nor have much of an impact on.
These thoughts continued to swirl through Leo’s head as he unpacked his things, carefully standing his guitar case up in a stable corner and not-as-carefully putting his clothes and belongings in their proper places. When all was said and done, his new room looked much the same as it had when he began, save a few extraneous objects that were now strewn about, though inside the confines of the various containers now resided a mess that would surely spill out in due time, causing the place to look and feel like it was inhabited by a teenage boy. Before Leo could settle down and begin to read the surely riveting volume that his new CO had so kindly chucked at his head, however, he heard a knock at his door.
“What do you want?!” He called through, an audible tone of annoyance and frustration in his voice.
“So to what do I owe the honor of her highness gracing us with her lovely presence?’ Gavin asked jokingly as he spied Adelheid making her way toward the row of frames in the hangar.
“I can hear you, so please stop calling me that. Also, that freeloading complainer, well, you-know-who asked me to pull the twins back here. Probably because my Frame’s speed, or something. And not to mention, I’m a bit bored.”
Gavin chuckled. “I wouldn’t be talking to you if you couldn’t hear me, now would I Adel.” He rushed through pronouncing his pet name for her, hoping she wouldn’t get stuck on it this time. “You sure you’re gonna be ok going by yourself? Might be a good idea to take one of us with you you know. Especially if you’re headed where I think you’re headed.”
“When my frame can go three times the speed of your other frames, I don’t think any helps for now is necessary. And really, I need to go there as fast as I can, the chance for the twins to get themselves into trouble is becoming bigger and bigger with each second.”
“Just saying, might be a good idea to take Feng with you or something. You’d get there in plenty of time without needing to burn out Avalon’s jets, you know. Either way, I’ll get the rest of the kids on standby in case you need us. Its not like Slacker over there is doing anything useful right now anyway.” He pointed to Akira, whom he hadn’t yet called out on his failure to follow orders.
“Taking that brat along with me? Naah, no support. And I guess you should do that.” After finishing her sentence, Adelheid immediately continue her way towards her frame. “Oh, and one more thing before I leave.”
“And that is?”
“I think you should talk with the new pilot, and arrange a training schedule or something. We need him to catch up fast, and really, I think he’s too intimidated by my presence right now. You could probably handle him better than me.”
“Kid’s got a long way to go if he’s intimidated by someone as adorable as you, you know. Anyway, i’ll go check up on him. You stay safe now, alright?”
“Of course I will.”
With that, Gavin nonchalantly made his way toward the interior of TRAP’s base, making sure to turn on the Frame catapult for Adelheid’s Avalon before he left. Afterward, he made his way through the Base’s mess hall and into the crew quarters, counting the numbers on the automatic sliding doors until he came to the number he knew marked Lauren’s room. He’d been down here plenty of times before, though it pained him a bit to remind himself that she was no longer among them. Still, it was best to put that aside for now. He was sure the last thing this kid needed was to be reminded about his big sister. After a deep breath, Gavin knocked on the door.
“What do you want?!”
“Figured I’d introduce myself, kid. Mind if I come in?”
“Do what you want.”
Gavin opened the door and was greeted with a glare from Leo, who was lazily sitting on his new bed, TRAP manual in hand.
“You know nobody with half a brain reads that, right?” The joke brought just a hint of a smile to Leo’s face, though it was violently suppressed immediately in order to continue maintaining the glare.
“Don’t suppose you’d be another one of my squadmates?”
“As a matter of fact, kid, I’m your new boss. CO put me in charge of you, and when she’s not around I’m in charge of this little pack of misfits.”
“That so? Didn’t know this job came with a babysitter. Must suck to have to watch a kid like me huh? What’d you do to piss her off I wonder?” Leo’s voice was dripping with contempt, and it was pretty obvious that he was in no mood to talk to anyone, or was at least putting up a front so as to appear to not be in the mood to speak.
“You can drop the tough guy act, kid. Around here its liable to get you corrected, and believe me, that’s not fun.” Gavin’s tone was stern, but by no means unapproachable. It was blatantly obvious that the kid was hurting. “Anyway, name’s Gavin. Gavin Decker. If you’re all unpacked you should come with me, we might need you to fly today if you can handle it.”
“If I can handle it? Since when was this optional?” Leo’s glare softened a bit, though he himself didn’t notice his facade failing. “Yeah, sure. And stop calling me “kid”, will ya? My name is Leo.”
Gavin flashed a smile. “If you behave, kiddo. C’mon, gotta show you your new frame. You kids like to play with giant robots, right?”
“Real funny.” Grumbling, Leo followed Gavin out of his room, and the pair made their way down the hall, but not before stopping off at the base’s Command and control room, which at the moment was vacant save for one of the operators.
“Hey Pam, gotta use the PA. Addy made it out ok I gather?”
“She’d kill you if she heard you call her that, Gavin. Yeah she’s on her way northwest now. Here let me fire up the PA for you.”
“Thanks.” Gavin gave her a wink as he walked up to the microphone. “All pilots report to your stations. I repeat, all pilots report to your stations. I want the lot of you on standby five minutes ago, got it?” Gavins voice, metallic and booming, echoed throughout the base, audible to every living soul within. He turned back to Leo. “I think that might be my favorite part of the job.”
“I have to admit, this chair is more comfortable than I first thought. No wonder Adelheid seemed to enjoy idling here while doing nothing.”
The only person inside of Adelheid’s office now was Aeolia, who seemed to take quite a liking on the CO’s chair, rocking on it as she waited for any news regarding the twins from Adelheid. She actually had little to no intention to report today’s incident to her superiors, mainly due to the paperworks and the headache those induced her with. Not to mention, being able to collect more performance and combat data about the Drachenrand was a pretty nice deal too. And she definitely did not goad Adelheid to pick up the twins so she could collect the data from her Frame too. That didn’t mean that she appreciate the twin’s action at all, she’s just not as concerned about it as she appeared to be.
But now, she’d just enjoy her time relaxing on the CO’s comfy seat, while pondering whether she should request another similar seat to be sent to the base for her own use.
“Ugh, at times I can’t help but think the anti-radar coating of the Drachenrand is more trouble than its worth.”
Adelheid continued to look for the twins near what she presumed to be the site of the battle where they lost Lauren. The anti-radar coating on Drachenrand really make it unnecessarily hard for her to just pinpoint their location, beat some sense towards them, and then haul them back to the base.
After several minutes of not finding any signs of the two, Adelheid decided to take a look to her Frame’s radar just to see whether there’s any enemy around there or not.
Her radar detected what seemed to be several Frames somewhere dangerously near to her current position, and apparently they were heading towards somewhere. Without any SAF ground operation base nor Shells around, safe to say that those Frames definitely belonged to the Terra Firma, and more likely than not, the twins had been spotted by them.
“Give me a goddamn break, can’t you all?” Adel grumbled as she started to establish a connection with the base to relay the news to them.
“Say what now?”
Gavin was sitting in the Canis’s pilot seat, teaching Leo to calibrate some of its instruments, when Adelheid’s communique rang out in his earpiece. “Son of a b****. Well, I guess it can’t really be helped now, can it?” He turned to Leo. “You’re gonna get a crash course in flying today, kid. Chief wants all of us out there to cover the Drachenrand. Looks like Terra Firma got a beat on it.”
“That black SF that took off when you got here. Seems its pilots wanted to take it for a spin and like idiots they got caught by Terra Firma’s recon patrols. You know how to make this guy move at least, right?”
“I can shoot, too.”
“Good enough for me. Just stay back and out of the action and you should be ok today. Doesn’t look like anything serious. But you gotta do what I say up there, alright?”
“Yeah, sure.” Le nodded, though he wasn’t really intent on listening to anything this clown had to say. Gavin made his way out of the cockpit and down the catwalk toward his own machine while Leo sat down in the Canis’s seat, turning the machine on. Outside, he could hear the combat alert siren sounding, signaling to all of TRAP’s pilot’s that it was time to sortie.
“Main system: Activating Combat Mode. SFS-09X Canis System active. Good Morning.” The Canis’s computer spoke in a reassuring female voice, and Leo couldn’t help but smile just a little. The startup message was obviously something Lauren had programmed in herself, and Leo was reminded of a happier time when his sister had shown him the interior of her old CF, during one of his rare visits to her previous unit. A similar message had playing in that machine, too. Leo got on the radio as the Canis’s optics picked up the other frames starting up as well. “Uhhh… Leo here… I uhh.. I’m ready to go, sir.”
“Good, you managed to start it by yourself. Just stick to me and you’ll be ok, got it?’ Gavin’s voice echoed back over the comm channel as the Hailstorm stepped out in front of the Canis, its head giving Leo a nod of approval. Gavin then turned to the rest of the team’s frames, speaking to the unit as a whole. “Listen up kids! Adelheid and the Twins ran into some trouble up north, and it’s our job to go bail them out. Nothing too heavy, but we can’t have our people getting outnumbered. Standard two-team formation. In light of our fearless leader’s absence, I want Melissa taking the lead on team two. Akira, Kid, Atelier, you’re with me. Feng, Mira, you two follow Mel until we link up with the twins and the Avalon. My squad will lead and engage any hostiles while you three provide cover for the twins and Adelheid. Team two will bug out first while we cover you, then we’ll make our own exit. Everyone clear?”
With that, Gavin motioned his frame to the catapult, stepping onto its footlocks while he waited for the rest of the team to follow behind. “This is Gavin, Hailstorm is launching!” The catapult’s hydraulics sent the machine rocketing forward as its thrusters ignited, sending it airborne at high speed as soon as it was free of the track. Knowing his subordinates would catch up to his slower machine, Gavin accelerated Northwest on a vector toward the airspace in which Adelheid and the twins were currently flying.