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Synchro Frame: Conception [IC]

A Zai RP Mecha Action Drama Sci-fi Animesque

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#21
Maeriberii Haan

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---

"We were just going to retreat and return to base, but with your arrival on the scene, KoMOMdant, we might as well finish these guys off."

 

“….You two are intentionally making me angry, aren’t you?”

 

Adelheid was definitely less than amused with the twin’s new nickname for her, but her irritation towards the two was short-lived, as she realized that she was still in a dangerous situation, and she could just deal with them later in the base.

 

And then, she noticed them. The rest of the TRAP has managed to catch up with the two, and now they were already starting to do their own thing to handle the incoming grunts. Noticing the Savior closing in towards her current position, Adel immediately tried to establish a connection with Melissa.

 

"Melissa, you there?
 

Just cover Drachenrand for now. That will be more effective. And besides, sooner or later the twins will probably pull something stupid or too dangerous, so they'll definitely need you around to keep their asses intact."

---

 

“Ira, what is the current status of the ship’s engine?”

 

The commander of the battleship “Ceres”, a young woman called Annerheim, was seemingly looking calm as she waited for her communications officer’s answer, though some traces of both anxiety and eagerness could be seen on her expression.

 

“The maintenance is not completely finished yet, sir.”

“…”

 

It has been around twenty minutes after Dex and Rob’s report of an enemy Synchro Frame, and from what she could gather, the situation there was getting worse and worse, especially after the SAF’s reinforcement arrived. Those pilots from the Dublin base definitely would not stand any chance of survival at this rate.

 

“Ira, order the crew to stop the maintenance work and get ready to launch the ship.

We don’t have much time left.”

 

“Are you sure, sir?”

 

“This is an order. Just carry it out.

Also, order the pilots to get ready, we’ll need them more likely than not.

Understood?”

 

“Yes, sir.”

 

As Ira returned to her post to start contacting the engine crew and the pilots, a young, black haired boy (?) approached Annerheim.

 

“So, Captain, this seems to be that certain fabled SAF group consisting entirely of powerful Synchro units, huh?

They seems too disorganized to be called an elite team.”

 

“Don’t underestimate them. I believe you have seen the recording of their battles, and it is clear from those that these individuals are skilled pilots.”

 

“Yeah, though, they looked like a ragtag bunch more than an elite team still. Also, I like how the white Synchro Frame with the big cannon looks really similar to your Nyx, captain. It’s like as if one is based from the other or something.”

 

“Enough of the chatter, Saria. Return to the hangar and start your preparation. We are going to sortie soon.”

                                              

“Ah, don’t be so tense like that, Captain. I’m just really intrigued about them, nothing big.

 

But alright, I’ll go now. Hopefully everyone will survive this sortie.”

 

---

 

“…I don’t know why, but I’m getting really anxious about the fact that I’ll meet face to face with that team. Probably because they’ll be quite the challenge for me to overcome?” Nisaria thought as he changed his attire into a pilot suit. He’s not exactly a fan of his uniform on the ship, which, for a reason unknown to him, seems to be more fitting to be used by a girl, not a boy, but thankfully it didn’t come with a skirt. Though, since everyone seemed to be quite amused by it, he kept wearing that uniform. That’s not really an issue for him still; he’s conscious enough about the fact that he’s pretty feminine looking and sounding for a boy.

 

“Quite the bad day for us to engage them, still. Some of the pilots are away due being needed somewhere else, and the ship’s not even supposed to do anything today. Probably Captain will just resort to long range assault tactics to drive them away.

 

Engaging all of them at the same time could very well be suicidal, even for me or the Captain. But, if she ordered me to do that, guess I’ll do what she ordered.”

 

He climbed into his Frame’s cockpit after doing a quick overview about the frame’s status, and once he’s inside, he booted up the mech’s operating system.

 

Project Star of Hope, XSF-005KY Stellarion, Activated

May the light of the skies above be your wings, o child of the stars.

 

The stern, yet calm tone ringing from his frame’s OS really reminds him of his sister. Back when Mr.White, his “father”, gave the machine to him, he was given the choice of choosing the OS’s voice, and he chose this one. But, that was simply a thing of the past. He needed to focus on his current mission, otherwise he’d get shot down. After making sure that Stellarion was ready to launch, Saria turned on its communication device, and connected it to Ceres’s control room.

 

“This is unit-01, the White Devil

Ready to launch anytime now.”

 

---


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#22
Super Chaos Sonic

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Thankfully Akira finished helping unloading the Albatross, only to hear Gavin's voice through the comm channel, as he sighed. Though actually, this time he was alright with him speaking this time...

 

“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?”

 

Akira grinned as he made his way through the scrambling pilots as he took out his cell phone once again, pressing a few buttons in a combination. He smirked as on the screen, a small holographic projection was seen. "SFS-71X Raiju...Access Code: Azure." he said, as he made his way to the Frame bay.

 

Voice Recognition: Akira Jiyuu! Access Code: Status....APPROVED! SFS-71X Raiju Frame online!

 

As he walked in, he saw his Synchro Frame light up as it began to power up and the cockpit opened. "Finally some action I can take all this frustration out on!" he grinned, as he made his way into the Frame's cockpit, finally locking himself in.

 

“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?”

 

"SFS-71X Raiju and Akira...damn ready to go!" Akira said simply over the comm. "Oh and by the way newbie...just stay out of my way and you'll be fine."

 

Then the moment he was waiting for...the Frames were launching out now. First with Hailstorm, then Savior, Gungnir, Skyblaze...

 

OST - Speed Star

 

"Akira Jiyuu!! Raiju!! IKUZO!!!"

 

With this, the Raiju was launched as the Flight Unit activated and he took off right after Gavin and the others. And when he caught up to them, he really caught up to them. "Yell at me later, Gav...I'm taking point!" he said quickly, as he flipped Gavin off, and quickly cut comm ties as he flew ahead, as he smirked. "Raiju...prepare for assault!"

 

OST - Samurai Edge

 

Akira went all out on the controls, as now he had bogeys firing at him and even chasing him. Perfect, just what he wanted... He maneuvered as quick as he could as he finally had the Raiju turn around quickly and unsheath the twin katanas: Kusunagi and Masamune. "BEGONE!!!" he said as he put full-throttle on the thrusters and the Flight Unit, as he flew quickly and began to sever the arms and legs and even cannons and blasters that the other mechs had against him.

 

"That's right...the fall before my feet!!" Akira laughed as he was swinging the katanas in the Frame's hands, as he flew off towards the next group.



#23
Aix

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Feng had lagged behind the other TRAP pilots, but not out of lack of practice for being one of the newer members.

 

He stood in the hangar, unmoving and alone, while the rest of them, even the newbie, had launched. Facing his still figure square on was the piece of art that was the SFS-72X Wukong, his custom and personally designed Synchro Frame. But, staring up to it's majestic stature, his pride and joy now seemed quite cold to him. A conflicted feeling towards it had grown with each past outing of the TRAP squadron, and he felt, today, it was going to grow again. Despite this, by habit, his eyes wandered over the Frame's sleek, dramatic design - to each of the rotating joints and torso, and then to the gold armour plates that adorned its shoulders, before his gaze finally rested on the white simian face-mask. Through the round eyeholes, the Frame's red oculi stared back at him. Inhuman, menacing, this was the machine that was letting him - no, making him kill. This was a machine whose sole purpose was killing.

 

At the same time, the machine represented everything Feng relished in. Power, supremacy, glory, exaltedness. It was built in the likeness of the Qitian Dasheng, the Great Sage Equal to the Heavens. He would become one with it and he would dominated the battlefield. Each swing of his plasma staff bisected another fool who thought to challenge him, and his adrenaline-fuelled feelings ran wild when he piloted it. This was something that would always be fresh, always exciting.

 

The allure of destroying the enemy was irresistible... but who was he to delight in taking human lives?

 

He gave up his train of thought, and climbed up to the cockpit before Aeolia would notice him on the holocams, and rebuke him for being dawdling around. It was time to focus on the task at hand, and Feng settled very comfortably into his pilot's seat while the AMS helmet lowered itself snugly onto his head. Without wasting a second further, the Wukong flew out of the hangar.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

He was later than he thought, as he came to the destruction of the battlefield. Ruined Frames already littered the ground, and at the sight of these, Feng's blood began to pump. With a quick scan of his surroundings, the Wukong zipped forwards, towards a cluster of three Combat Frames that had lingered too long in one spot. With a few well timed whirls of his plasma staff, he blocked the oncoming bullet rounds while consuming the least possible amount of energy. Then with a burst of speed, he closed in on the farthest of them, impaling the Frame on his staff. Just as the other two began to turn and react, the rotating torso set into motion and the Wukong's upper body did a 360 spin, the plasma staff extending to its full extent to catch both Frames in its path. Without hesitation, he turned, and bounded forwards to his next prey, only to find the SFS-71X Raiju steal it away in front of him.

 

Broken from his rhythm, he paused and those long antennae on the Wukong's head danced as they caught all forms of signals, pinpointing their origins through triangulation.


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#24
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"Melissa, you there?
 

Just cover Drachenrand for now. That will be more effective. And besides, sooner or later the twins will probably pull something stupid or too dangerous, so they'll definitely need you around to keep their asses intact."

 

 

 

"Understood," she radioed back.  Melissa left the Aldnoah, shield first.  She flew quickly, and with some slight adjustments to her thrusters, darted past the Wukong and shot up towards the Drachenrand.  With fire coming in from every direction, there was no time to continue a fight.  Drawing the Wilson Cloak, Melissa covered the Drachenrand's back, and took point.  "Come on!  Let's get the heck away from here!" she called to the twins.  Slicing through enemy machines, Melissa took the brunt of incoming fire with just her shield.  Any Arc shots would be absorbed by the Wilson Cloak, and heavier fire would be calculate for.  There were many hostiles, but the charge progressed slowly.  Melissa had to hope that Altelier was posted somewhere, and could provide additional covering fire.  Just as her mind wavered, Melissa snapped back to catch a heavy explosive round directly in the center of her shield, causing her to brace herself.  The blast forced her back several meters, and before the dust settled, three more were headed her way. Judging by her backwards momentum, the rate of fire, and the point of impact, the enemy firing these rounds was south of her, likely coming from the valley.  This was inconvenient, because that was the direction they were headed.  However, now that she knew where the shots were coming from, Melissa could adjust her shield to better absorb the rounds, and maybe slice a few of them in half before impact.

 

The fire had ceased for just a moment, long enough for Melissa to spot two enemy frames in the valley.  One with a large launcher on it's shoulder, and the other bracing the launcher behind.  As the rockets went off, Melissa dashed in, ducking one and slicing it from it's rear.

 

"She dodged it!?" One of the units called.

 

A volley of three rounds exploded towards her, and Melissa angled her shield downwards, but raised it up higher.  This allowed her to better absorb the blasts, and keep the explosion's momentum away from herself and the Drachenrand.  

 

"Reload!  Reload!!"

 

Too late.  Melissa had caught them now.  She stuffed her blade in the barrel, and used her shield to bash in the chest of the first enemy frame, exposing it's core.  Melissa then fired two arc rounds directly into the unit's core, causing a meltdown.  Lastly, she drew her blade back from the barrel, and stuffed it through the cores of both frames at one time, sticking them together.  She then kicked the two locked frames down the valley, into the river below, where they exploded together.  "Guess I'll have to replace that," she said staring at her now empty holster for her blade.  "Let's go.  It's gonna be a long flight."


Drowning in your silence.


#25
Asriel Dreemurr

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"Well, things've certainly improved."  One pilot said to the other as the entire rest of TRAP came seemingly out of the woodwork to help  them out of their current predicament.
 
“….You two are intentionally making me angry, aren't you?”
 
"Well, I guess we'd better stop pushing our luck with her for right now,"  The other commented, only a few moments before the two of them received some very direct support in the form of the Saviour coming along to help them soak up some of the enemy's fire.  That was a less than ideal situation to be sure, they both agreed on that, but at the same time it was better than the situation they had been in for the preceding several minutes.  All the same, one of them found himself worried.
 
"Alright, this is as good a time as any for us to bug out,"  came the communication from the Drachenrand as its pilots turned the frame away from the fight.  The fire that had been focused on them had long since been drawn away by the other members of the unit, and between the fire coming from the Skyblaze and Gungir, and the closer range support provided by the Wukong and Raiju along with the Saviour the targets close in to them were disappearing fast.  With what was, at the very least, the first wave of enemies quickly turning to a small collection of survivors under the combined assault of the entire force, it was a simple matter to slip away.  Turning back towards the English Channel and the coast beyond it, that nearly solid black frame rocketed away on streams of super-heated plasma.  The pilots assumed that with their withdrawal the rest of TRAP would leave, after all there wasn't any other reason for the rest of them to come out so far from HQ other than to retrieve them.
 
"Komomdant Schwarzchild," the pilots said in unison, clearly something of a compromise between the minds of the two, "We trust that you don't think we came out all this way for no reason.  If you'll listen to us, we have a report to give you on what we've found.  Something more than what those verzögert they sent out to retrieve the Canis came up with.  Just a thought, assuming you're not too pissed to deal with us when we get back."  The twins just left that comment hanging in the air as they retreated at a good bit below their maximum airspeed, waiting for the rest of TRAP to follow after them before they got up to speed.  Didn't want to be leaving their allies behind after all.



#26
Maeriberii Haan

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“Tch, showoffs.”

 

Using several spy drones equipped with cameras, Aeolia decided to watch the entirety of the supposed rescue mission that kind of somewhat escalated quickly into a one-sided massacre of the opposing Terra Firma mobile suits...uh, frames, of course from the inexplicably comfy CO’s chair inside of Adelheid’s office. The Myrmidons were definitely not a match for the sheer force of TRAP, and not to mention, they were pretty disorganized, too disorganized perhaps for a military squadron.  The attempt of Terra Firma to keep sending Myrmidons after Myrmidons uncoordinatedly to their death was pretty amusing. Though, Myrmidons exploding here and there wasn’t the main concern of hers as she watched the live feed, as she noticed that the team itself was very disorganized, and not to mention, they kind of taking too much fun in shooting down opponent’s frames instead of covering Drachenrand’s escape. While she usually wouldn’t care much about it since she’d get more combat data for her to study, but at this point, they pretty much just showing their skills off while being absolutely uncoordinated as a team, and forgetting about their actual objective. Though, she did realize that the entirety of this “mission” is uncoordinated, and really escalated from the twins joyriding, then her ordering Adelaide...no, that’s a penguin, Adelheid to pull them back to the base, but even then Die Kommandant was not fast enough, and…then stuff happened. Aeolia was pretty lucky some of SAF’s spy drones were stationed not really that far from the battle’s location, as otherwise, she couldn’t have watched the entire episode of TRAP being a mess.

 

Though, after thinking that she probably need to be less tense for the sake of her health, especially after the entire mess of today. At this point she couldn’t even be bothered to actually report the twins to her superiors. Paperworks, paperworks, and all that kind of stuffs. And besides, she really needed to start working again on blueprints that she would need to send to her colleagues soon. Sighing, Aeolia decided to look around Adelheid’s office while the live feed of the battle still running.

 

The top of her desk was not really interesting for Aeolia to look at. Papers, documents, none of those things really sparked her interest. She had enough of them, really. If it didn’t have anything to do with research, she tend to burn them on the spot immediately after she’s sure they wouldn’t be needed again. So, she pretty much couldn’t comprehend people who kept the papers around for documentation purposes. She then decided to check the drawers, hoping to find something more interesting. The first one she checked didn’t contain anything outside of a huge collection of photos of various frames, both while stored and in-action, all from various angles. The fact that a huge percentage of the pictures were of TRAP’s Synchro Frames somewhat boggled her at first, though, she then remembered Adel’s obsession with them back during the development stage of the thing. Though, an even more percentage was dedicated to Avalon, shot from different angles, often featuring Adel too while she…

 

Uh…

 

Deciding to not inquire further on Adel’s frame fetish, Aeolia returned the photographs back to where she found them, and moved on to the next drawer. Only several pieces of paper and a photograph were there. She chose to look at the papers first. It…pretty much features Adel’s not exactly well done drawing on what Aeolia would assume as conceptual Synchro Frames that only existed in her mind. Returning the drawings back to the drawer with an expression that was similar to someone who just stumbled upon other’s porn collection, she quickly picked the piece of photograph.

 

A family of four. The face of both the mother and father were completely scribbled over by something, making Aeolia unable to see anything about them. Between them was a little girl, around eight years old in age, smiling happily, while a young woman or teenager stood tall near the three, though it was clear from her facial expression that she was not exactly comfortable with them. The sourness on her face pretty much confirmed that the young woman was Adelheid, which would make the rest of the people on the picture her family.

 

Speaking of that…, Aeolia never actually heard anything about her origin. She pretty much just came to her place one day alongside Altomare Weiss, a close friend of hers, when he offered Adelheid to be her main test pilots for further Frame developments.

 

Before she actually went too deep into nostalgia and risked being found out by someone, she hastily returned the photograph to the drawer, and shifted her attention back to the live feed.

 

Not much had happened since last time, aside from more and more Myrmidons exploding. But then, she noticed something very concerning from one of the feeds. Without wasting much time, she immediately established a connection with Adelheid’s frame.

 

---

 

“The ship is approaching the battle scene.

All crews, return to your position. We are initiating combat mode.

 

Prepare to fire the Grand Impact Mega Particle Cannon.”

 

---

 

Just as the Savior descended to look after the Drachenrand, Avalon was immediately assaulted by several other frames. Sighing, Adelheid dodged the incoming bullets semi-casually, before firing her Caliburn to the attacking mechs.

 

"We trust that you don't think we came out all this way for no reason.  If you'll listen to us, we have a report to give you on what we've found.  Something more than what those verzögert they sent out to retrieve the Canis came up with.  Just a thought, assuming you're not too pissed to deal with us when we get back."

 

The twins said that just as she finished handling her attackers, and that would be Adelheid's cue to order everyone to retreat. But before she could contact everyone, suddenly her radar detected several missiles coming towards Avalon. It almost caught her off guard, but she immediately changed her frame into its jet mode to try outmaneuvering the missiles.

 

“Initiating the Valkyrie maneuver.”

 

Fully accelerated with the missiles still on her tail, Adelheid started to figure out on how to shake them off from her. When she noticed an enemy myrmidon in front of her, she managed to figure out something. Blazing straight towards the mech, Adelheid dodged several of its shots, which destroyed some of the missiles chasing her instead, and just several moments before she directly impacted the mech, she performed a sharp turn upwards. The missiles, which lacked the ability to actually turn sharply, hit the poor Myrmidon instead, destroying it instantly.

 

Without missiles chasing her down, Adelheid took the time to look more closely at her radar to see what just fired the missiles to her. Though, even without it, she soon realized what she was up against now.

 

Booting on Alter System.exe

Synchro-Destroyer Mode, activated.

 

“A Terra Firma Synchro Frame, huh?

I’ll shoot you down, then. Hopefully this would be interesting.”

 

An object came from behind her at a high speed. Avalon dropped down just in time as an oddly designed white jet almost rammed it down with its oversized nacelles. Avalon’s shoulder plasma guns immediately responded by firing at it, but in a speed quite unfamiliar with Adel, the jet shifted into a white Frame, and sliced off the plasma rounds using a plasma saber with lightning speed reflex.

 

“Tch, what?

How can it do that?”

 

But Adelheid didn’t have enough time to complain as the white frame promptly fired off a lot of missiles at her direction. Gritting her teeth, Adelheid prepared herself to dodge the incoming missiles.

 

---

 

“This is the leader of this SAF Synchro Frame team, huh?

I can see why they chose this person.”

 

Nisaria watched in amusement as the red Frame fired off its plasma guns to destroy his entire missile salvo, before he himself fired on his plasma sabers, and came down to assault the red frame. It managed to drew its own plasma cutters, and blocked his strike easily. The red light coming from the mech was seemingly not just for show-off as it continued to block off Stellarion’s strikes with overwhelming power, more than a frail-looking frame like that should have possessed. Realizing this fact, he immediately activated the Stellarion’s nacelle beam sabers, to try landing in some hits, but the red frame just moved backwards a bit before starting to fire both plasma rounds and black missiles at him, which once again, he managed to cut all of them. But just as he was being distracted by the projectiles, the red frame suddenly was already behind him, and swung its plasma saber at him. While he responded fast enough to block the saber slashes, it was pretty clear to him that he was outclassed power-wise, and would sooner or later be overpowered by the red frame if he kept on doing this approach. Mimicking what the red frame moments ago did, he stepped backward to avoid the strikes instead of blocking it, and immediately fired its Hyperion Cannons at the red frame. But the red frame just shifted into a jet, and attempted to outrun the big plasma rounds.

 

Saria decided to do the same, and tailed the red frame with his own jet fighter mode. Much to his surprise, the opponent’s jet suddenly turned around in a half-frame mode, and fired at the plasma rounds, just as Stellarion approached it. The rounds exploded, and the blast managed to knock Stellarion back, though to Saria’s relief, it didn’t suffer any kind of damage from the blast.

 

Aiming back at the red frame, Saria once again prepared himself for another barrage from the Hyperion cannons. His energy reserve could still accommodate one or two shots, and with most of his missiles gone, he really needed to make these two shots count.

 

---

 

“Dammit, at this rate…!”

 

While it seemed at first that Adel’s position was better in the combat, she quickly realized that her frame’s energy reserve was starting to go lower and lower at an unprecedented rate, thanks to her SC-D system. And from what she saw, the opposing Synchro Frame was still pretty much just started on its barrages. She started to think on how she could attempt to bait the frame to the rest of the TRAP for them to handle it, but she was interrupted when the white frame started to fire the big plasma rounds again from its oversized nacelles. Realizing her previous trick wouldn’t work, Adel decided to attempt dodging the rounds instead, by moving upwards at a high speed, before changing Avalon into jet form and attempt to ram the white frame from her position. She dived in, and halfway transformed her frame to kick the white frame as hard as she could, but then the white frame instead picked up its nacelles from its shoulders, and blocked the kick with them, before making a distance between the two frames.

 

The white frame then suddenly charged at her, and much to Adel’s surprise, a pair of really long plasma sabers were generated from the tip of the nacelles. Though oddly, just moments before the two of them clashed, the white frame backed down, and left her alone, confusing Adel.

 

“..Wait, what?”

 

It was then when she realized that the area around her frame was seemingly highlighted by a gigantic spotlight. Not sure about what this meant at first, though Adel decided to just move out of the spotlight’s area since she thought of that as just an aiming system for something.

 

Of course she was shocked when seconds later, the spotlight instead turned into a destructive pillar of light, which seemed to be able to obliterate anything in its path, though thankfully for her, it seemed that none of her allies were in the line of fire. While at first Adel was worried about the possibility of a frame being able to be equipped by such a hugely destructive weapon, when she checked her radar, she realized that a Terra Firma battleship had arrived on the scene.

 

No, not a battleship. THE Terra Firma Battleship. She quite remembered the news and rumors about the only flying battleship in Terra Firma’s army that had led them towards several unprecedented victories. The oddly shaped battleship was definitely a nightmare to face for anyone due to its apparent implacability and sheer firepower, and with the unknown amount of frames stored inside; Adel was not sure about her team’s chance of shooting it down now.

 

It was then she received the call from Aeolia.

 

“Adelheid Schwarzchild, I order you and your team to return to the base, now! Ugh, don’t you all forget about your actual mission, which is covering Drach’s escape?

 

I really think you all just taking your time irresponsibly to enjoy shooting down the opposing mooks. Also, there’s that TF black battleship approaching your position.”

 

“Yeah, yeah, I know about that. The thing almost disintegrates me with some sort of huge energy beam or something.  I’ll tell everyone to bail out now then. Been planning to do that for a while, but an enemy Synchro Frame attacked me, and made me too busy to immediately tell everyone.”

 

“Hm? Give me whatever you know about the beam and the frame to me. I’m expecting it in my desk this afternoon. Understand?”

 

“…Tch...”

 

“But first thing first. Go order everyone to return to the base now!” With that stern order, Aeolia closed the call. Still pretty miffed with her attitude, she wasted no time and immediately connected her communicator with others from her team.

 

“Everyone, return to the base now.

The enemy units are now mostly gone safe for a battleship, which you might or might have not noticed.

But point is, we’ve stayed here for too long, so drag Drachenrand and pull back.

 

Also, don’t move in a straight line if you can, and don’t be too close with each other.”

 

After saying that, Adelheid sighed, before moving back towards her team.

 

---

 

“We missed the shot, sir! Should we prepare for another attempt?”

 

“No point in doing that. That was only meant as a warning shot to make them retreat. With our currently faulty engines, we are in no condition to fight well. Not to mention, defeating them now is not our objective. Our objective is to simply try saving as much as our frames as possible by driving the opponents off. For now, just stay still until we are sure that they have left this place, and then we send some frames to see if there is any survivor still around.

 

That means, all crews and pilots should stay ready in their current position for a possible direct confrontation if I am not clear enough.”

 

---


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#27
BANZAI!!!!

BANZAI!!!!

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"So, I guess I just walk it on this thing, right?"


Leo cautiously maneuvered the Canis onto the catapult, jumping a bit at the unexpected jolt caused by the catapult's footlocks clamping down on the Canis's feet. As he did so, a handy diagram appeared on the Canis's main screen instructing Leo in the correct method of altering the frame's posture so that it could achieve an optimal velocity upon launching. In layman's terms, Canis was telling its pilot to have it squat slightly so that it could spring off of the catapult at the end of the launch track. Leo did so, and as he bent the frame's knees he observed an apparatus similar in appearance to a traffic light unfold from the side of the catapult track. Its top light immediately began to glow a bright red, and roughly a second later, it turned off to make way for the larger one below it, also glowing red. Leo's brain had just enough time to come to the conclusion that this was a launch countdown before he was violently forced back into his seat as the catapult rocketed the Canis forward. About halfway down the track, the frame’s own thrusters ignited, sending it forward even faster until it reached the end of the catapult and became airborne, its young pilot haphazardly motioning it skyward, his inexperience blatantly, humorously evident as the Canis wobbled back and forth, struggling for proper balance. It took Leo a solid three or four seconds to at last right the machine before at last bringing it upward to join the waiting Hailstorm. The other mech’s pilot spoke to him over the radio.


“Fancy show. Just don’t expect any encores to go over so well once we get out there.”


Leo didn’t bother to respond, choosing instead to ignore Gavin’s teasing and follow the rest of the team as they made their way northwest at a steadily increasing velocity. Leo remained quiet the entire flight, preferring to take in the sights of the world below as the machines flew their way over the dead, barren landscape. Mountains rather quickly gave way to flatter lands, the varying browns of the wastelands below  forming a strange, muted palette of color, occasionally interspersed with a rare, striking patch of green or blue where a water source or farm might be. When clouds or a dust storm below obscured his vision, Leo took the opportunity to observe the other machines in their formation. The differences between the mecha were surprising, with each individual Synchro Frame possessing its own unique shape and design. As someone who, up until a few weeks ago had maybe seen combat frames up close once or twice, Leo found this variation fascinating.


---


Thanks to the Hailstorm’s slower speed, both it and the Canis (which was faithfully trailing it), eventually fell a bit behind the rest of the formation, and as a result the pair arrived after the rest of TRAP had already begun to engage the enemy. Already a few of the opposing frames had begun to fall in pieces from the sky as TRAP’s synchro frames laid into them. Before accelerating into the battlezone, Gavin called up his despondent wingman over the radio once more.


“You ready, kid? Just stick to me and you’ll be alright. If you can, maybe even keep some of them off of me.”


“Right. I’ll stay on your tail, sir.” There was an unmistakable tone of nervousness and fear in his voice, but Leo was doing his best to hide it under an affectation of confidence mixed with a hint of disdainful sarcasm. The disrespect would have to go, but Gavin admired the fact that Leo was trying to hide his fear and appear calm enough to be so sarcastic. This of course was failing and Leo was being very transparent, but the effort was there. Gavin gave Leo a nod with a swivel of the Hailstorm’s head, then accelerated into the battlezone, the Canis more easily accelerating to a similar speed behind it. As the two frames did so, a massive blue teardrop-shaped bolt of plasma lit the sky up before colliding with one of a formation of Myrmidons above the blast’s point of origin, causing a small explosion within the bolt before completely vaporizing the remains of the target.


---


Meanwhile, Dex and Rob had moved their Myrmidons farther out of the combat zone. This wasn’t due to cowardice however, but rather that, considering the scarcity of data on the enemy, the pair’s job as a reconnaissance team was to record and document this engagement, as well as provide whatever support to their allies they could. Dex had set up his Myrmidon’s gun camera to maximum magnification, while Rob’s more traditionally armed Myrmidon stood guard and radioed in the relative positions of the enemy frames based on Dex’s footage and data. From their vantage point, the pair observed the Hailstorm and Canis enter the battle zone, calling in their arrival to both the Ceres as well as the frames currently fighting against the SAF SFs.

 

---


“Good, Mira’s gotten herself into position. One less thing I need to worry about, now where… aha, there it is.”  Thanks to a combination of the Hailstorm’s radome and Gavin’s eyes, he’d located the Drachenrand almost immediately. The black frame was on the ground, seemingly making short work of the initial waves of Myrmidons that had attempted to take it down. Typical of the twins’ performance in combat, though as usual their reckless fighting style left them open to further attacks, which too were subsequently fended off and their points of origin quickly and violently dispatched. After verifying that it was indeed intact, he began to search the skies for the tell-tale signs of Adelheid’s presence on the battlefield, those being the flashes from her frame’s plasma weapons and the intricate contrails that the Avalon’s odd combination of vernier thrusters and jet engines tended to create. He was successful in this too as he spotted the Avalon making short work of a few Myrmidons. With confirmation that both frames were in good shape for the moment, Gavin brought his weapons systems online, taking a deep breath before locking on to five separate targets with the Hailstorm’s targeting system. “Its time we made our entrance, Skunk.” With the pull of both triggers on the Hailstorm’s joysticks a massive barrage of missiles was unleashed from each of the frame’s nine missile pods. Some trailed off on random directions, breaking apart without exploding, sending smaller submunition rounds out from their remnants toward frames on the ground. The rest made their way toward their targets, the Myrmidons frantically maneuvering in vain to avoid the projectiles before going up in fireballs as the ordnance within the missiles exploded, taking their ST drives with them in the fireball. “As usual, a grand old entrance if I do say so myself.” Gavin grinned a little as his Machine’s radar showed a number of enemies converging on him and the Canis. “Looks like they aren’t stupid, at least.” Gavin brought up Leo on the radio again. “We’re about to get into the thick of it, get ready.”


“Of course we are! Why’d you draw their attention like that?!”


“To keep them off of the rest of us so they can get out of here faster. Just stay close like you have been and you’ll be fine, kid. Watch and learn.”


Leo was, understandably, terrified at the prospect of a dogfight, but he wasn’t about to let Gavin know just how scared he actually was, and so he did as he was told as the two frames moved to intercept their attackers.


Facing the two were about 8 Myrmidons, coming at them in what appeared to be a standard formation before breaking to encircle to two frames. However The TRAP Synchro frames proved to be too agile for them, getting past their screen before Gavin turned around mid-boost, putting two rounds and three bursts from its hybrid rifle into an unsuspecting  Myrmidon’s back, ripping into the armor plating and rupturing its ST drive, sending i plummeting before being engulfed in a plasma-induced fireball. The remaining seven, having now had enough time to reverse their direction, opened fire on the two frames’ position, but the Hailstorm and Canis had already ascended past their fire, and the Myrmidon’s were forced to direct their assault rifles upward in an attempt to follow them.


At this point, Leo’s Canis began to pull ahead, the faster frame being much more adept at the aerial maneuver than Gavin’s hailstorm. Still, Leo managed to keep his speed relatively close to that of the Hailstorm, in a similar fashion to a new driver attempting to keep a constant speed on an automobile: a lot of breaking and trajectory adjustment. The Myrmidons, observing this haphazard maneuvering, seized on the opportunity and directed their fire on the lighter synchro frame, the assault rifle rounds making a noise similar to rain on a tin roof as they impacted the Canis’s armor plating. Whatever composure Leo had left quickly eroded as the Canis’s AMS responded to his fear and his body’s flight-or-flight response, stopped moving, disconnected its strike shield from the back hardpoint it was mounted on and brought it forward with its left arm in time to block a railgun blast from one of the Myrmidons.


“Dammit Kid keep moving!” Gavin called over the radio as more rounds impacted the Canis’s shield and armor. Acting quickly, Gavin launched another salvo of missiles into the group of Myrmidons before moving himself in front of their field of fire, using his two shields to deflect what remained of their fire at the Myrmidons maneuvered to avoid his missile salvo, a second and third of them falling to his attack. “Get a hold of yourself, Kid! You’ve gotta  stay on your toes if yo wanna live through this, you hear?!”

 

Gavin’s voice brought Leo back to his senses. “Y-yes sir, I understand.” Leo was now noticeably shaken, the grave nature of his current predicament having at last truly hit him after being fired upon. Luckily, the Canis’s armor and Gavin’s intervention had ensured that whatever damage his frame had taken was minor. Breathing heavily, Leo moved his frame forward to follow the Hailstorm, which was on the move again.  


By this point, TRAP had been able to take down most of the contingent of Myrmidons sent after the Avalon and Drachenrand, and the numbers of the engagement were almost even. Those combat frames that were still engaging the unit were scattered and disorganized, having been rather easily overwhelmed by TRAP’s attacks. However, Dex and Rob continued to do their duty diligently from outside the battlezone.


“Hey Rob, the blue and white one’s moving really weird.”


“Oh yeah?”


“Its like he’s having trouble or something. The Big guy had to cover him.”


“You do know that I can’t see what you’re talking about, right? I don’t have a camera, remember?”


Dex grumbled for a moment at his partner’s snarkiness before responding. “Just tell them to focus fire on that blue and white fast one. We might be able to take it down for good this time.”


“Roger.”


“My name is Dex.”


“Moron.”  Rob sighed before bringing up the remainder of the assault force on comms.


---


Gavin and Leo had made their way across the battle zone, keeping things as tidy as they could in the air at range while Feng and Akira made short work of any enemies they got close to. The Snipers, meanwhile, did their part in taking pot shots at enemy frames with their large cannons. Though the unit was acting pretty disorganized, they were nonetheless making quick work of their enemies. A group of three Myrmidons, one of which was the railgun-toting unit from earlier screamed out from above the Hailstorm and Canis’s flight path, opening fire.


“Cocky, aren’t we?” Gavin joked as he slowed down, bringing his own railcannon, which he had affectionately nicknamed “Thud” due to the muffled firing noise it made, online, bringing the lead frame into the cannon’s sights. Of course, this move was rather hard to miss, and so the three combat frames broke off from their attack run almost immediately, with Gavin making an arcing turn to get on the tail of one of the three, Leo and the Canis trailing faithfully behind him. Taking a moment to realign his sights, Gavin fired his cannon, the shell obliterating the Myrmidon’s right side as it fell from the sky and exploded. The other two had managed to make their way out of Gavin’s optics’ range. Leo’s Canis was able to observe them, however, thanks to its wider peripheral vision. Both remaining Myrmidons had begun to circle around them, one on the left, the other on the right. Seeing an opportunity to prove himself, Leo broke off from Gavin’s tail, disconnecting his fang rifles from the Canis’s shield, and attempted to engage the Myrmidon on the group’s left.

 

“I said stay on my tail, dammit!” Gavin called out over the radio as Leo opened fire, his target easily avoiding his shots while the the other myrmidon opened fire with its railgun, attempting to shoot the Canis in the back. Leo turned around just in time to see Gavin’s Hailstorm move in the trajectory of the shot, taking a direct hit in the torso. Thankfully, the Hailstorm’s heavy armor and additional equipment took the brunt of the hit, and Gavin returned fire with both of his rifles, destroying his target with a hail of gunfire. Quickly turning the Hailstorm around, Gavin also put a plasma round straight through the cockpit of the third Myrmidon. Leo opened up another radio communication.


“You alright?”


“Fine.” Gavin was noticeably irritated now. “I told you to stay with me, specifically so that something like that didn't happen. Stupid shit like that will get you killed out here, understand?”


“But I had hi-”


“You had shit, kid! We’ll have a talk about this when we get back, alright? Right now stick with me, and don’t you leave my tail again, got it?”


Before Leo could respond, however, both pilots’ attention was drawn to a massive blast of what appeared to be plasma that lit up the sky on the other end of the battle zone. a few moments later, their commanding officer’s voice came over the comms.


“Everyone, return to the base now. The enemy units are now mostly gone safe for a battleship, which you might or might have not noticed. But point is, we’ve stayed here for too long, so drag Drachenrand and pull back.

 

Also, don’t move in a straight line if you can, and don’t be too close with each other.”


Gavin chimed in on the open channel. “You heard the lady, everyone fall back and bug out. We’re done here.” He switched his channel back to the private frequency he had been speaking to Leo on. “Stick with me until we get back to base, kid, understand?”


“Roger that.”

 

With that, Gavin accelerated southeast, making sure to fire a few flares from his missile pods toward the battle zone as he and Leo left.

---


The long flight back to base took place in relative silence, but before long TRAP arrived back at their home base. By this time the base crew had finished unloading and string the Albatross, leaving the runway wide open for multiple frames to land at once. Leo wa one of the first to touch down, and immediately after getting his footing he motioned the Canis back over to its stall. Gavin did the same, though he waited for the rest of the squad to land first before he made his way to the ground.

After storing his machine, Gavin made his way over to the Avalon’s stall, hoping he would come across Adelheid and get the debriefing out of the way. He spotted her makin her way away from her frame, and called over to get her attention. “Yo, chief!”


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#28
Asriel Dreemurr

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Things were going relatively smoothly as far as the withdrawal was concerned, with the enemy's forces being forced to pull back against the overwhelming strength thrown against them and the rest of the team setting about pulling back.  The twins watched as the cavalry arrived in the form of Gavin in the Hailstorm to mop up the rest of the resistance.  They also took note of the Canis' presence on the field of battle, a painful reminder of why they'd come out to that godforsaken place, and had to restrain themselves from intervening when the quite obviously new pilot came under attack from the enemies in Myrmidons.

 

"Damn this kid is green,"  one of the pilots said to the other, "and they really sent him to us?  I swear, he's gonna get himself killed."  Well, for now at least he had been assigned as Gavin's wingman and therefore was more likely to survive than he would have been on his own.  The two were just about calm enough to continue their retreat, when the unmistakable signature of a Synchro Frame appeared on their sensors.  Unmistakable because the maneuvers it was pulling were beyond those that any combat frame they'd encountered before, with the notable exception of the Avalon, could achieve.  While their commander seemed to be holding her own against it, the two of them knew that between the long flight out and the fact that only the Drachenrand had been in this engagement longer the Avalon was likely running low on fuel.

 

"Dammit dammit dammit!  We can't lose her too!"  Neither pilot was sure who had said that, but both of them shared the sentiments.  The Drachenrand reversed its retreat, and accelerated quickly as the two of them locked onto that curious white frame.  Their blade was drawn once again, and it came alight with a glimmering field of plasma that surged and sparked against the restraining Siedrich Field much like the many emotions surging up in the Twins were only barely contained by their reason.  For a moment, and just a moment, the two of them ceased to see that white frame and instead saw a black one.  The one that had just barely avoided destruction at their hands that day.  The one that had embarrassed the entirety of TRAP.  The one that took Lau-Lau away from them.  Oh, they had every intention of enjoying this as much as they possibly could.

 

They reached their maximum velocity around the same time that the sky was cut open by a great beam of what appeared to be Plasma, which they skirted along just outside of the danger zone to hide their frame against the glaring light of the beam as they set up an intercept course with that white frame.  If everything went as the two of them planned, then they would either close with it and engage this foe in melee, or else they would just slam the Drachenrand into the Stellarion like a pissed off linebacker into a receiver.  They didn't much care which one they achieved either.  Right now they had an opportunity to take some small amount of revenge on Terra Firma, and god dammit they were going to grab it.



#29
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Everything was going smoothly, for a while.  Suddenly, the new pilot who she had been introduced to just this evening was on the battlefield, and behaving poorly.  This change of events unrolled a red carpet death storm, as things began to unravel during their mission of escape.  The next thing she knew, Melissa was watching the Drachenrand pursue a white mech into the distance.  Her heart skipped a beat as the Drachenrand accelerated into high speeds, in a reckless pursuit.  "Johan!  Heinreich!" she called as they burst away from the scene.  She followed, knowing this was a mistake.  That's when the Drachenrand drew its blade.  It got closer and closer to the white frame, before it was cut off by a large beam of plasma, narrowly avoiding it.  Again, Melissa's heart sank, and she gulped harshly as the Drachenrand avoided the barrage, which flew past her head.  If they kept at this destructive pace, there would be no Drachenrand.  Melissa couldn't see what the twins saw, and she could only wonder what crossed their minds.  Revenge?  Retribution?  Honor?  Morale?  

 

Whatever it was, it was going to get them killed.  She picked up speed, until at last she was finally able to cut the Drachenrand off.  Shield in hand, arms spread wide, she managed to halt the twins in their place.  "Are you so eager to die!?" she cried.  She wasn't angry.  She wasn't upset.  She was afraid.  Melissa had already lost one person she cared about, and she wasn't prepared to lose another.  Saviour drew closer to the Drachenrand, arms still spread, until it was inches from the mech's blade.  "Not here.  Not now," she said as her voice cracked.  Melissa was having terrible thoughts about what could have happened just now, and you could hear it in her voice.  Only now, she was actually angry at the selfish behavior from the twins.

 

"Return to base," she called.  For the first time, Melissa raised her voice.  "Now!!" she barked.  At this point, she was prepared to drag the Drachenrand back if she had to.  She didn't have a blade on her now, but she was prepared to fight to save these two idiots.  Especially Johan.  She didn't budge, and awaited for their compliance.  Saviour's eyes flickered once, and you could briefly see Melissa inside, crying.


Drowning in your silence.


#30
Maeriberii Haan

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Much to Adelheid’s bemusement, instead of falling back as she had ordered, Drachenrand instead chased the white frame away, eager to putting it down after seeing it seemingly running out of steam. Adelheid was pretty tempted to chase down the Frame and drag it down along to the base literally, but thankfully apparently Melissa was faster on that, and she used Savior to block the twins and convince them to just return to the base.

 

At times like this, really, she was pretty pissed at how the AMS system allowed these rash brats to be aces on the battlefield by virtue of technology alone, instead of pure skill and experience one would expect from a military ace normally. Not to mention these advanced pieces of technology somewhat allowed them to be ridiculously cocky on the battlefield without suffering too much of the proper consequences. Not long after, she also noticed that apparently the Canis was deployed to the battle, despite the pilot having no actual idea on everything yet. She almost going to yell at Gavin via the communication system for letting that greenhorn to be around there, but at the last seconds decided that she was too tired for that kind of business for now.

 

Staying on her place for a bit until she was sure that everyone left the place and there’s no enemy frames chasing after them, Adelheid then shifted Avalon into its jet mode, before hastily leaving the place, blazing at full speed straight to TRAP’s base. As soon as she arrived, instead of immediately exiting it, she checked the status of her frame first, overviewing on how much damage had been done to it, among other things. After she recorded those data, only then she stepped down from her mech, just in time as Gavin approached her below.

 

Yo, chief!”

 

“So, you did bring the greenhorn into the battlefield, huh.” Adelheid didn’t even bother to reply Gavin’s greeting properly and went straight into the point.

 

Yeah. He didn’t do too badly, though he got spooked and I had to bail him out twice, hence the damage on Skunky’s torso. At the very least his frame synchs up nicely with him. Everyone else is alright, I gather?”

 

From what I’ve seen, yes. Thankfully, no one actually got screwed up by this sudden deployment caused by those damned brats.

 

But anyway, back to the greenhorn. Do you have anything in mind on how to try getting him to catch up with the rest in a short time period?”

 

I suppose we’ll just have to train him ourselves. He seems to have good reflexes, at least, so with a little work he should turn out to be a good pilot. Speaking of, what should we do about the twins?” The two continued their talk as they walked towards Adelheid’s office room.

 

Ugh, just call them to my office later. Remind me, why are we keeping them, again?” Adelheid replied, the topic shift back regarding the twins visibly annoyed her.

 

Good skills, fancy prototype frame, take your pick. I just wish they’d behave every once in a while.”

 

At times I am really damn tempted to just scrap that black hunk of metal and put it for a better use. Like…ugh, for anything else.” Not after too long, the two reached the office’s door. It  was pen, and much to Adelheid’s bemusement, she could very well notice that Aeolia was there, sitting on her private, comfy chair.

 

So, file me a quick report of the mission.” Without even looking like she did anything wrong and without even saying anything else first, Aeolia casually greeted the two with the demand.

 

Ugh, what the hell are you doing in my office?

 

Gavin, go tell her about the mission. You ARE the one leading everyone, no?”

 

Nothing much to report, really. I’m sure you were observing the whole operation anyway, Aeollia. Don’t you have your own office, by the way?”

 

Yes I do. Though it’s not my fault that Adelheid left this room with me still inside, without bothering to lock the door, even. So I’m pretty much just doing her a favor to keep the place safe.

 

And yes, while I did observe the operation, I’d still like it to hear it from the people that actually in the operation about how it went.”

 

Gavin’s eyes narrowed a bit. He never really enjoyed interacting with Aeollia, and considering the fact that she seemed to have it in for Adelheid and himself, he was never very eager to indulge her, either. “What do you need to know?”

 

 

All the standard information you’ll find in a post-operation report. Amount of enemy engaged, damages in our side, what kind of enemies did you engage, and all that jazz, really. Not much.

 

But it seems like you two are pretty exhausted right now, so I’ll just go now. I expect the report to be in my desk this afternoon.” And with that, Aeolia waltzed out of the office, not ever bothering to look at the two as she passed the door into the hallways.

 

She really gets on my nerves sometimes.” Gavin muttered after Aeollia was out of earshot.

 

“‘Sometimes’? Geez, talk about understatement. She’s permanently annoying all the damn time.

 

But anyway, I’ll probably get some quick nap first now. I’ll call you when it’s time to school those two brats. Unless you still need me for something?”

 

Nothing in particular. I’ll probably go grab some food or something in the meantime. Lord know’s you and I are going to be up to our necks in paperwork once the princess down there gets word to HQ about the kids’ little stunt today. Sleep well, alright?”

Yeah, I’ll definitely going to need that.

 

Oh, and by the way, you probably should tell that greenhorn of that simulator down there on A5, he probably could put it to good use when he’s not in the mood for actually flying.”

 

Will do. Just give me a call when you’re awake, alright?” And with that, Gavin left Adelheid alone in her office, and as soon as he left, Adelheid immediately locked the door.

 

"....Now that you are gone, I have a personal project to finish."

 

Instead of taking a nap though, Adelheid instead opened one of her drawers, and pulled several papers from inside it. She then spread those papers on the floor of the office, revealing some sort of a design scheme on the papers. An unfinished frame design blueprint, to be exact. After examining whether there was something missing or not from the scheme and whether Aeolia placed a hidden camera somewhere in her office, Adel pulled her pen from her pocket.

 

“It’s time to conceive this baby.”

Grinning, she then proceeded to immerse herself intimately with the scheme, trying to finish a part of her lifelong dream that she knew she wouldn’t be able to ever fully achieve.


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#31
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The Drachenrand stopped dead in its tracks as the Saviour came to stand between it and its intended prey.  For a moment the pilots within seethed with anger as their revenge was prevented, but ultimately things worked out differently.  It was obvious from their squad-mate’s voice that she was beside herself with worry, and the pause that gave them was enough that they were in a sensible mindset when the proper order to return to base came.  Though grudgingly, the black frame deactivated its weapon and turned back to resume its retreat while the twins passed the long flight in silence.


They touched down in the hangar some time after Gavin and Adel had left to deal with something else, and the Drachenrand was returned to its stall.  The cockpit opened, and the pilots set about slipping away from it as quickly and quietly as they could.  They knew Melissa wasn’t far behind, and right now neither of them was much in the mood to face her.  Besides, they had a report to organize.


Approximately an hour and a half later, the twins, still in their flight suits, stood before the door to Commander Schwarzschild’s office.  Had either of them claimed not to be nervous at that moment, the other would surely have been able to tell that he was lying.  For the time being, they were waiting with steadily growing anxiety to be called in to the office to give the report they had promised.


“When we get in there,” Johan began, turning towards his slightly less foresight inclined brother, “let me do the talking.”


“Please,” Heinreich replied with a roll of his eyes, “you and I both know that-”


“You’re better at talking to people.”  Johan interrupted, turning a crimson gaze on his twin.  “Normally I would not dispute this, but right now I think it’s better if I do the talking.  I know you think that using your nickname is going to make the Kommandant more friendly, but I can tell you right now all it’s going to do is piss her off.  We don’t need that right now.”  Before his brother could open his mouth to protest, the both of them heard the sound of the door being opened and shifted to stand rigidly at attention.



“Come in. I don’t have all the time in the universe to see you two standing there like a statue.”


“Ja, Kommandant!”  The twins replied in unison, before stepping forward from where they had stood and working their way into the office.


“You two, take a seat.” Adelheid said to the two as soon as they entered the room.  The twins obliged quickly, seating themselves in the far less comfortable chairs on the near side of the commander’s desk. Gavin stood in the corner of the office, leaning against the wall.


“Explain why I shouldn’t strip you two of your pilot status after today’s fiasco.”


“Quite simply,” Johan began, pausing to cast a glance in his brother’s direction to make certain he wouldn’t be butting in, “because the risk ended up being worth it in the face of the observations we were able to make regarding Lauren Vega’s crash and the events immediately afterwards.”  He could almost feel his brother about to punch him for not using the woman’s nickname, but both were smart enough to know this wasn’t the place.


“And what might that be, pray tell? I’d love to hear what you two found that intel and recovery so obviously overlooked.” Gavin’s tone was drenched in incredulity, though he hadn’t lost his usual casual demeanor yet.


“Vizekommondant, intel and recovery took a grand total of sixteen hours, twenty-two minutes, and four seconds to ‘investigate’,” Johan said the word as if it were a swear, “Lauren’s crash.  In an area which was still considered an active combat zone.  You and I both know that isn’t enough time to give a proper investigation into the matter.  Couple that with the fact that they prioritized recovering the Canis in its entirety rather than gathering evidence relating to the aftermath of the crash and I don’t think I need to tell you that was a rushed job.  If you remember, their report said she was ‘missing in action, with a high probability of mortality.’  They think she’s dead.”


“Lauren Vega is dead. She is dead. End of story.” Adelheid suddenly raised her voice as the twins gave their explanation. While it sounded quite harsh at first, there was something with her tone, something quite off.


“Except that isn’t the end of the story,” Johan continued, and by his estimation that look he was getting from his brother was evidence enough that they’d both heard it.  “Firstly, Intel and Recovery searched an area of one hundred and thirty two meters around the initial site of the crash.  They found no body.”


“She could’ve just evaporated from a blast.” Adelheid coldly replied.


“Except that in that case, there would have been signs of scorching inside the cockpit.  Not only that, the cockpit was practically pristine when the frame was recovered.”


“She could’ve gone outside first before getting caught in a blast or a stray shot.”


“The only sign of any impacts with the ground, either from solid matter or plasma, in the area was the Canis’ impact site.  Furthermore, when my brother and I expanded the search beyond the original area, out an extra one hundred meters from the initial perimeter-”


“Johan, Heinrich, did you find anything of substance or didn’t you?” Gavin cut Johan off, now visibly irritated.


“No.  And before you interrupt me, Vizekommondant, allow me to explain what that means.  We found no sign of a body, not even the decaying bits you’d expect if she’d been blown apart by an explosion, no sign of any weapons impacting the ground, and if anything the area around the Canis’ crash site was completely untouched aside from I and R’s leftovers.  If Lauren were dead, or at least if she were killed on the field of battle, we would have found something.  We did not.  I can go on with the implications of this if you like.”


“Enough!” Adelheid suddenly snapped at the twins. Gavin gave her a surprised look before getting off the wall and walking toward the desk.


“So, let me clarify. You took an unauthorized sortie, engaged in unnecessary combat with the enemy, and jeopardized the well being of both yourselves and your incredibly expensive prototype synchro frame, in addition to the safety of the rest of the unit, so that you could come to the exact same conclusion that both intelligence and the recovery came to weeks ago. Is that correct?”


“It is not.  Our conclusion differs in that we believe it is one hundred percent likely that Lauren Vega is alive.”


“I said enough! This discussion ends here.” Once again, Adelheid yelled.


“NEIN!”  Heinreich was finally making himself known, much to his brother’s horror.  “Kommandant, you have been doing nothing but trying to shut us up without refuting the logic behind our conclusions.  You know, we could just go outside and tell Lau-Lau’s little brother about this instead.  If you’re going to court martial us anyways, what else do we have to lose?”


“For what purpose exactly would you tell her brother about this false conclusion you have? He’ll just get the motivation to try doing the same thing as you two this morning, and-”


“Exactly.”  Heinreich continued this time, and in a few moments Johan found himself nodding as he realized where his brother was going.


“Do you two really want him dead or something?”


“Of course not.  Which is why we’d be going with him if he left.”  They were speaking in unison this time.  “And you can’t afford to lose either us or him, you know this all too well.  So, you can listen to what we have to say or we can make this an even bigger f***ing mess than it already is.”


“Gentlemen, stand up for me, if you please.” Gavin’s voice had become surprisingly, unnaturally calm.  The twins obliged, affixing suspicious gazes on the second-in-command. Gavin stepped forward, and took a deep breath. Then, without warning, he delivered a strong right hook to the brother on the right’s face, then quickly stepped forward to do the same to the second twin, hitting both with enough force that they would lose their balance, if not outright be knocked to the floor. “Now you two listen here, and listen good! You are soldiers. It is your duty to follow orders, and execute them, nothing further! Fail to do so, and you’ll wind up getting yourselves and the rest of us killed, got it?! If we cannot have your compliance, then we cannot have you in this unit. Your lack of respect for myself and your commanding officer stops today, understand?! Pull another stunt like that, and i’ll have you two court martialed so fast your heads’ll spin! Now get the hell out of her office. Consider yourselves warned.”  The twins managed, after a few moments spent on the ground shaking the impact off, to get to their feet and from there file out of the office.  The one following behind the first, likely Heinreich, turned to look at TRAP’s second-in-command before he left.


“If you’re not going to show Lau-Lau enough loyalty to listen to the only two people in the SAF that think she’s alive, don’t expect those two people to show you the same loyalty they showed her when you get shot down, Vizekommondant Decker.”  Finishing his statement, the brother offered his commanding officers a salute before going off in the opposite direction as his twin had.


“Friggin’ kids. What the hell are we gonna do with them…” Gavin sighed, leaning back on Adelheid’s desk.


“Tch, go handle them if they try to make a ruckus because of this. I am definitely not in the mood nor condition to go do that myself.”


“What’s bugging you, chief?”


“Nothing, I’m just tired. Now if you wouldn’t mind, leave me alone.”


“Adelheid, what is it? This isn’t your normal…. disposition. Something’s on your mind. Fill me in.”


“Gavin, just leave me alone now. Our bosses will really want an explanation about this, and I’ll need to get working on them. Just please, leave.


Now.”


“Suit yourself. Just try not to get buried in paperwork, alright?” With that, Gavin made his way out of the office giving his CO a wave without looking back at her.


---


“So, you two think I’d be dumb enough to run off and try to find my sister, huh?” Leo was standing against the wall outside of Adelheid’s office, addressing the twins as they stepped out. His tone was a bit more friendly than Gavin’s had just been, though he wasn’t exactly amicable.


“Well, I dunno.”  Heinreich was the one to speak, while his brother went off to go do...something.  As far as he figured, Johan was gonna go splash around in a bubble bath with a rubber ducky.  “Two highly trained, experienced pilots with a kill count measured in the hundreds were dumb enough to risk themselves and the security of this entire team for someone less connected to them than she is to you.  I guess you heard all that then?”


“Most of it. This wall is pretty thin.” Leo knocked on the wall with the back of his hand. “And thanks for the effort, but I’m pretty sure Lauren wouldn’t want you risking the rest of our lives on some slim chance of finding her. And judging by that mark on your face, neither did the commander.”


“What?  This li’l thing?”  Heinreich chuckled as he gestured towards the rather large red welt around his left eye, and winced as he touched it by accident.  “This ain’t nothin’.  Hey, fall in Probie.  I’ll show ya the mess.”  He made a beckoning gesture with his left hand, before stuffing both into the pockets of his flight jacket and making his way off in the direction of the mess hall.


At that moment, Gavin made his way out of the office, paying the two little mind as he made his way down the hall in the opposite direction. Leo turned to notice him and then turned back to Heinreich. “Sure I guess. I don’t have anything better to do, and besides, I think those two forgot about me.”


“Who?  The COs?”  Heinreich turned to look back at the new pilot he had in tow before shrugging.  “Eh, Decker and Komomdant’ll get around to you eventually.  Don’t worry.  Anyways, I heard all they put you through was basic.  That right?”  He’d since returned his attention to the hall in front of him to make sure he didn’t wind up leading the new guy off to the girls’ rooms by accident.


“If you could call it that, I guess. All I know is how to drive that Frame, really. I guess the higher-ups figured I’d learn as I go or something.” Leo paused for a moment. “What made you two decide to go look for Lauren, anyway? Didn’t seem to work out so well.”


“Well, we found out a good bit more than Komomdant wanted to hear and figured the rest out from what we found.  As for why, well you’ll find out pretty quick that this unit is like some sort of great big dysfunctional family.  Anyways, as for basic, is Master Sergeant Simmons still handling things?”


“Who?” Leo didn’t recognise the name. “It was only maybe… five days max, and most of that was spent learning how to fly that frame. I don't really even think it qualifies as basic training. So where’s this mess hall, anyway?”


“s***, they really only kept you for five days?  Standard run in basic is three weeks, what the hell are they doing sending you here when you’re so green?”  Heinreich looked back at his new squad mate incredulously, before shaking his head and pointing to one of the open doors up ahead.  “It’s right there.  Breakfast is 0700 to 0730, Lunch is 1300 to 1330, and Dinner’s 1900 to 1930.”  The von Drackenmoore twin smiled to himself, knowing full well that there wasn’t that much of a hard schedule in this particular mess, but thinking he could pull a fast one on the new guy.


“They really wanted my sister’s frame back in the field, I guess. Something about ‘conserving resources’. They really only give you half an hour to eat, eh?


“Yeah, it’s not that bad.  Hell, it was worse in basic.  Speaking of, they could’ve at least taken the f***ing time to put you through the full basic training regimen and at least one round of advanced training.  Look, if you need help learning to fly just ask your squad mates.  Either me or one of the girls’d probably be your best bet.  Maybe Feng if you can catch him in a good enough mood, but I’d stay away from Akira and Komomdant.”

 

“Why’s that?”


“Well, Akira’s an unapologetic asshole and Komomdant doesn’t have the patience for dealing with newbies.  So yeah, you’re unlikely to get any useful teaching out of them.”  Heinreich explained, as he made his way up to the entrance to the mess hall and slipped in through the door.  “Come on, they might’ve left some leftovers out.”


“Suuurrreee…. I could eat i guess.” Leo followed Heinrich through the door, letting it shut behind him. The Interior of the mess hall resembled any other cafeteria in human history: a visible kitchen at the far end, bordered by a buffet line where the food was served, and rows of long rectangular tables large enough to seat eight, or maybe twelve people at each. “What do they usually have around here, anyway?’


“Depends on the day,”  Heinreich replied, seeing that they did not in fact have any leftovers out and so he just made his way over towards one of the many tables that, at least at that moment, appeared to be empty so that he could sit down.  “Actually, I don’t think I’ve had the same thing here twice.  Cookie likes to keep us pretty well fed here, and I’m pretty sure he likes to experiment more often than not.”


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Melissa was scatterbrained.  She lagged behind, being the last one to return to HQ.  Saviour floated ominously into the hangar, and settled softly.  After detaching herself from her unit, Melissa strolled quietly past the mess hall, through the barracks, and into her room.  She grabbed her trumpet, and left the area.  Melissa walked until she was in the firing range behind base.  She sneaked past a squadron and came to the empty side of the base, leaning her back against the brick wall.  Placing her trumped to her lips, Melissa began to play.  A solemn tune, one she didn't even know.  Though she was alone, she knew the firing squad had heard her, because they stopped firing at their targets.  Sure enough, Johnathan had come around the corner at Melissa's unusual playing.  She pretended like she didn't notice him, even though they both knew of each other's presence.  Johnathan leaned his back against the wall next to Melissa, not saying anything.  The best way to approach her at this point was to wait until she was ready to speak.  Being head of HR, it was strange to see Melissa like this.  She hadn't cried since Lauren went missing.  Finally, Melissa stopped playing her trumpet to look at Johnathan, an almost blank expression on her face.  "What's wrong Melissa?" he asked at last.  She sighed, swinging her trumped at her side.  "I'm not strong enough," she said suddenly.  Johnathan raised an eyebrow at this, stunned at her conclusion.  "What makes you say that?"  He folded his arms, like a father addressing his child.  Melissa could feel his expression, smiling as she imagined the look on Johnathan's face.  She laughed as she spoke again.  "I just--the twins were about to get themselves in a bind today.  All I could do was raise my arms.  My shield can take hits, but if they had gone down, I'm not sure I would've absorbed that blow.  I just feel like I'm not doing enough."

 

Johnathan continued his frown, his head down.  "I think you're being too hard on yourself," he replied.  He looked at her again, as she kept her head down.  "But I mean, for a support unit, I can barely support myself.  I--"  "Stop that," Johnathan interrupted.  "Melissa, sometimes, you have to stop looking at the battlefield as a place of loss.  People will die, but there is a lot to be gained."

 

"Wasn't I the one who told you that?"

 

"Exactly.  And I'm concerned that, you being head of Human Resources, are so lost like this."

 

There was a brief silence between them, but Johnathan continued.

 

"You said it yourself, you're a support unit.  But I think the real issue is that you are undermining your role."

 

Melissa raised her head.  "How so?"

 

"Do you know what a support is designed to do, Melissa?"

 

"I suppose it depends on your definition but--"

 

"A support is designed to carry their team."

 

"But a support--"

 

"Melissa," he said sternly.  Johnathan was one of the few people Melissa was close with, that talked to her this way.  He was true to her.  "A support by 'definition', is simply there to give aid to their allies.  But when your support is absent, who does your team have to rely on?  And don't say each other.  Because without support--without glue--nothing is holding that team together."  Melissa's head sank again.  "You don't know it, but many of the privates you sorted out, they adore you.  And not because you're a pretty face.  Some of these newbies came from nothing.  But without your words they would've taken their own lives the second day on the job.  And I for one, can attest to that.  Do you remember?"  She did.  Melissa saved Johnathan's life, so to speak.  Shortly after he arrived to TRAP HQ, after witnessing the mass slaughter of his allies during his first mission, Johnathan was prepared to hang himself.  He blamed himself for the mission failure, and prepared to end his life because of it.  But Melissa was going around to survivors of the massacre, them being Johnathan and another Private First Class, catching him in the act.  She caught Johnathan as he kicked the chair from beneath his feet, and lifted him from the rafter, surprising him with her strength.  He cried into her arms for an hour, and they ended up becoming best friends.

 

"My point is this, Melissa.  Johan and Heinreich, Adelheid, Gavin, Feng, all of them, they need you.  Not your shield, not your Wilson Cloak.  They need you.  Keeping yourself in a slump for something they did will cost the entire team.  If anything, you should be beating the twins to death," Johnathan joked.  She laughed, finally feeling her spirit return.  "There.  That's a lot better," he said smiling.  Melissa hugged him suddenly, and Johnathan blushed.  "Thank you. Johnathan."  He nodded, "Anytime."  Melissa cleaned her trumpet with a towel from her pocket, and sprinted off, calling back.  "I'm gonna pay Johan and Heinreich a visit!"  Johnathan waved to her.  "Tell them I said hello!"  Melissa ran off, in search of the twins, running past the barracks and nearing the mess hall.

 

She stuck her head inside, and could smell them from afar.


Drowning in your silence.


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While his brother was off making friends with the newbie and the others were off doing whatever it was they were, Johan slunk off away from the Kommondant's office and back towards the room which he thankfully did not share with his brother.  He unlocked the sliding door, and slipped inside as quickly and quietly as he could before shutting it behind him.  The room itself was nothing special: a sturdy bed against one wall, a closet on another, and a small bookshelf near the closet.  The plainly colored walls were unadorned, and the sheets on his bed were as plain as the walls.  The only color in the room came from the many different volumes packed into the shelf, and as many and varied as the colors of their covers were it almost made up for the rest of it.

 

The young man soon found his way towards the bookshelf, and he pulled a book with a hard red cover from the shelf before he made his way over to his bed and proceeded to lay back on it.  His choice of reading material was opened to its first page and held above him, while he slowly read over the pages.  It was a favorite of his, and he felt like it was a fine way to try and get his mind off the day's events.  All the same, it was impossible for him not to think about it.  Mostly what bothered him was the fact that the rest of the team had gone out after himself and his brother.  In truth the two of them had not put more than themselves at risk, and the rest of the team had come later.  He wondered if they did not think that the two of them could take care of themselves, if they were thought of as incapable or incompetent enough that they could not have escaped from the enemy.  He had to admit it was true that they'd not taken Lauren's loss well, and that the others had likely seen the effect it had on them during missions, but was all of that reason enough to worry about them so much?  He sighed, shook his head, and finally managed enough concentration to start reading.

 

Meanwhile...

 

Heinreich had been chatting with the new guy for a few minutes now, and their conversation had proved to be quite stimulating.  So far he'd just been explaining how things worked for the members of TRAP, and telling one or two little white lies to make things seem a bit more intense than they were.  So far, his favorite one was telling the boy that Gavin could occasionally be see wandering the halls in women's underwear.  There certainly was a rumor about that going around the base but as far as the young pilot knew it was untrue, and moreover he was the source of it.  He and their second-in-command did occasionally go back and forth with things of that nature, and at the moment he was more than in the mood to scar the newbie with the mental image of Gavin Decker cavorting about in a bra and panties.  He was just about to start spinning another tale when he caught sight of a certain comrade of theirs.

 

"Ah, guten tag Schneke," he said to Melissa as she poked her head into the mess hall.  "Johan's not here, I'd try his room if you're looking for him."  His brother might have been clueless about it, but if there was one thing that Heinreich von Drackenmoore had picked up on it was the team support's crush on his brother.  "Remember, he doesn't lock his door if he's in."


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Melissa sat beside Heinreich and Leo, matting their hair as she passed.  “How are you faring after today’s events?”


“Well,” Heinreich began once he’d made certain to get his hair back as it had been before Melissa decided to mess it up, “Komomdant and Vizekommondant Decker are pissed, but Johan and I aren’t grounded so I guess things are alright.”


Leo looked up from whichever part of the room he’d been fixated on as he had been halfheartedly listening to Heinrich explain the goings-on at TRAP, noticing one of the other pilots who had rather abruptly greeted him when he’d arrived earlier. For the life of him he couldn’t remember her name. “You’re, uhh… one of our squadmates, right?” he asked, trying to restructure his sentence on the fly to disguise the fact he’d totally forgotten who she’d introduced herself as.  Picking up on the lack of familiarity in Leo’s words, Heinreich assumed that the two had not been introduced yet.


“Leo, this is Melissa,” he began, gesturing to the girl who had seated herself with them, “Melissa, Leo.  Not sure if you’ve heard yet, but he’s the one the higher-ups sent to pilot the Canis.”


Melissa turned to look at Leo, recalling their brief interaction before the day’s sortie.  “Yes, I think I recall.  The pleasure is mine,” she said stretching out a hand.  What, other than your sister, makes you a pilot here?”  Heinreich winced as Melissa brought up Lauren, fairly certain Leo wouldn’t respond well to it.


There was a slight, almost unnoticeable twitch of Leo’s right cheek muscle as he shook Melissa’s hand. It was something he unknowingly did when he was trying to hide the fact that he was agitated, not that Melissa was the cause of it, but the day’s events had most certainly gotten to him. Still, she seemed friendly enough, at least. “They tell me I’ve got ‘abnormally high AMS compatibility’,” Leo punctuated the phrase with a pair of incredulous air quotations “whatever that means. I guess its supposed to mean I’m cut out to pilot one of these Frames, right? Oh, It’s nice to meet you too.” Leo’s face reddened a bit, slightly embarrassed at having forgotten the formality of the introduction.


Heinreich felt a smile cross his lips as he noticed that things seemed to be going relatively smoothly, and so he let himself relax a little more and lean back in the chair he’d sat down in.  “Well, yeah you’re right on what that means,” he began, turning his crimson eyes towards Leo.  “AMS Compatibility is a measure of the rate at which the electrochemical signals in your brain can be translated into data that a computer can interpret.  Essentially, the higher the percentage the more clearly your thoughts are conveyed to the AMS module in your Synchro Frame, and thus the quicker the Frame responds to your input.  As a matter of fact, I think abnormally high compatibility is something of a standard in TRAP.”


Leo thought of the earlier instance during today’s sortie in which the Canis had deployed its shield without a control input, now comprehending that it had been a result of the frame’s AMS reacting to him. “So basically, these frames can read our minds and use our thoughts to move, right? And the more compatible we are with them the better they are at doing that.”


Which is why Johan and Heinreich work so well together,” Melissa interrupted.  They think alike anyway.  Resulting in the Drachenrand’s outstanding performance.  Speaking of which,” she said frowning, turning to Heinreich.  She punched him in the arm.  “What the heck was that today!?”


“That,” Heinreich began, rubbing the spot where he’d been punched most recently, “was the result of a minor drawback Johan and I have been noticing in the Twin AMS Module, and I’d be willing to bet similar things happen with normal AMS modules as well.  When Johan and I are both stressed at the same time, we start seeing things that aren’t necessarily there.  For example, today when Komomdant came under attack we started seeing that black frame.  You know the one.”


Melissa thought about it for a moment, before she knew what frame Heinreich was talking about.  “Yes, actually, I do.  And I’m sorry that you have to deal with that,” she said concerned.  “Though, could it be due to the work load of having two minds linked into the AMS module at one time?”


“You kinda lost me there.” Leo interjected. “What’s all this about a black frame?”


“The black frame,” Heinreich began, a solemn expression coming over his face, “is the reason you’re here, and the reason Johan and I went out today.  Its pilot is the one responsible for Lau-Lau being shot down.”


“Oh. That guy. But, what did you and your brother really expect to do out there, anyway? Find him by yourselves or something?”


“Well, not exactly.  We went out hoping to find some evidence as to your sister’s fate.  What we found, or rather what we didn’t find suggests that she’s alive somewhere and possibly held captive.  Aside from that, I’d be lying if I said we weren’t hoping he would have returned to the scene of his crime.  We do have a score to settle after all.”


“What exactly didn’t you find? Its not like you’d be able to see anything substantial after that whole place got picked over by recovery teams and Terra Firma’s frames, right?”


“Well, we didn’t find any evidence to suggest she’d been killed out there,” Heinreich began with a bit of a sigh, half-expecting to not be able to get much out.  “On top of us not finding anything out there, when the recovery team grabbed the Canis they made note of its cockpit being pristine.  No blood, no scorch-marks, nothing to suggest she’d died inside it.  Johan and I further found no evidence of any impacts on the ground around the frame for quite a ways.  Too big of an area for it to be mere coincidence that nothing hit the ground inside of it, and I can say that because her crash site is roughly in the middle of the battlefield.  It just wouldn’t make sense for there to be no impacts of either shrapnel or stray ordnance in as wide an area as there was surrounding where she hit.”


Leo remained silent for a moment, pondering the implications of what he’d just been told, then he sighed. “Well, there’s nothing we can do now I guess. What’s there to eat in here?”


Melissa listened intently.  Nothing to suggest . . . she couldn’t accept this.  Lauren probably wouldn’t have been shot down if she had actually made it in time.  The discussion wasn’t very lady like, and it was getting to her.  Melissa got up from her seat, and excused herself.  I’m gonna pay your brother a visit, Heinreich.  Sorry about the mess, today.  And do me a favor, and try not to get yourself killed out there.  Pleasure meeting you, Leo,” she said as she waved goodbye, and left the mess hall.


“Same here.” Leo replied, managing a smile. After she was out of earshot, he turned back to Heinrich. “It looked like something was bugging her. Did I say something wrong?”

Heinreich shook his head in response to Leo’s question, before leaning his head back and turning his gaze towards the ceiling.  “Melissa took Lau-Lau’s...disappearance harder than most of the others.  She sees it as her job to keep the rest of us safe from harm, and so I’d be willing to bet she blames herself for what happened.”


“Oh... “ Leo’s voice trailed off. He had no real response, and quite frankly it hadn't really occurred to him until now that the rest of the unit was probably taking his sister’s loss pretty hard as well. He took a deep breath, his cheek twitching slightly again. “Well, I guess I’m gonna go find some food.” With that, Leo got up and made his way over to the buffet line to see what was available, quietly slipping out of the cafeteria once he’d gotten something palatable.


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Melissa

 

About 3 minutes later, Melissa found herself standing outside of Johan's room, wondering if she should knock.  She twiddled her thumbs for a minute, contemplating what to say.  "What's up Johan?  No, too familiar.  How's the weather?  That just seems silly," she continued on.  Johnathan, who had been passing by, 'accidentally' knoced on Johan's door, and bumped Melissa inside.  She gave him an evil glare, as he chuckled past them.  He was a bit envious of Johan, but that was fair enough. 

 

 Melissa blankly stared at him for a moment, before realizing he was reading a book.  She took the liberty of sitting on his bed next to him, though she knew she was being rude.  "Sorry for the intrusion," she muttered.  She ran her fingers through her hair, before calmly placing her hands in her lap.  "I just wanted to apologize for my behavior out there, today.  I--" she couldn't bring herself to the words 'lose' or 'down'.  She sighed, gathering herself.  "Excuse my language, but you scared the crap out of me today," she said finally.  The air felt tense, and small beads of sweat formed on her forehead.  Was it his presence?  Obviously.  She forced a smile, trying to continuously work up the courage to tell Johan the truth.  "I can guess why you were out there.  And I can maybe guess why you guys were about to go head first into another fight.  But--and it's not like I doubt you!  Not at all," she said catching herself.  "But I feel like you and Heinreich are always alone.  Even as brothers."  She began to swing her feet back and forth, still talking.  "I just don't wanna get left behind.  Not again," she said thinking of Lauren at the time.  "I still blame myself for what happened, and when I think I might lose you--" she stopped, gasping as she put her hands over her mouth.  She blushed, embarrassed and vulnerable again.  "Uhm!" she panicked, not sure what to do.  Her head sank, and she closed her eyes out of fear of rejection.  She sighed again, finally gathering her nerve.  She tightened the grip she had on her pants, at the knees, and told Johan the truth.  "I think everyone else already knows, but, Johan, I really like you."  It was a start, but she forced herself to let all of her feelings out.  "Maybe I love you, I don't know.  I know your bio, sure, but I don't know you.  And, after today, I was afraid that if I didn't say anything, you would go and get hurt, and never know the truth.  But I don't expect you to feel the same way I do," she said with her head still down.

 

"I mean, who wants to be with someone who can never see their face?  I've seen your 'face' once, but it's not your own.  It's the face of the Drachenrand.  But it doesn't change how I feel about you," she finished.  She took a deep breath, finally raising her head.  "Just, do me a favor and try not to get killed, okay?  And I suppose you'll want your room back," she said slowly getting up.  She began to walk to the door, taking her time, wondering what he was thinking about this sudden barrage of emotions and feely touchy crap she had bombarded him with.  "I guess I should talk to Adelheid and the tech's about getting some heavier armor.  Maybe a thicker plated shield?  I dunno.  I'll see you later, maybe?" she stood at the door, playing with her fingers as she waited some sort of reply.

 

Zalwara

 

He was quietly sipping coffee in his quarters, when there came a knock at his door.  He raised his head, annoyed, and went forward to answer it.  It was an unknown Private, who stood at attention waiting for permission to speak.  "Go on," he said softly, still sipping his coffee.  "Sorry to interrupt your evening coffee, Vice Admiral sir!  Admiral Takeo requests your presence in his personal quarters, on the double!"  On the double?  What could be so urgent this time of evening?  Zalwara nodded, but did not dismiss the Private.  "Now, you know the price for disturbing my coffee, am I correct?" he said ominously.  "Sir, yes sir!"  The Private reached out his free hand, and stretched forth a pinky.  Zalwara chuckled.  "Clearly you don't.  I ask not to be disturbed, unless it is under orders.  Dismissed, Private."  The Private nervously exhaled in front of Zalwara.  "Sir, thank you sir!" he shouted as he took his leave.  Zalwara closed his door as the Private vanished down the halls, and returned to his coffee.  Takeo would just have to wait.

 

Approximately two hours later, Zalwara strolled into Takeo's room, still wielding the magazine he was reading.  "What is it Takeo?"  Takeo was wearing his uniform still, and was taking down his hat.  He frowned a little, slightly disappointed with Zalwara.  "Zalwaraaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa," he moaned.  "If this had been an actual emergency, we could've been killed."  Zalwara glared at him.  "If this had been an actual emergency, the alarms would have sounded, and you wouldn't have your robes out," he said nonchalantly, pointing to the elaborate red night robes on Takeo's bed.  Takeo laughed, shaking his head.  "You never were one to enjoy a laugh.  Come, sit.  Let's finish our game from before."  There, in the middle of the room, on a decorated glass frame and cherry oak table, was a marble chess set with pieces already strewn about.  There was a game in progress that hadn’t been completed yet.  The white side was dominating, but the black side wasn’t far behind.

 

They each pulled up chairs and sat, facing their opponent.  Zalwara frowned, remembering why he had retired early yesterday.  One of his knights had been taken, and his queen was exposed.  The tension that one would normally expect was non-existent, as they casually began to take each other’s chess pieces back and forth.  Takeo spoke up, striking a conversation.  “How long has it been, Zalwara?”  He didn’t say anything immediately.  After swiping Takeo’s rook, Zalwara replied, “I’m not sure.  Since what exactly?  The dawn of time?  Your last bowel movement?  Be more specific.”  Takeo gave a hearty laugh.  “I mean, since we did battle.  I’ve known you since you were a youngster, but we’ve never really engaged, have we?”  Zalwara kept moving his pieces about.

 

No Admiral, you and I have never personally sparred.  Saying that, things have been quiet for the Dark Tide.”  Takeo moved in and took Zalwara’s last knight in a surprise attack.  “How did you--?”  “You’re right about that.  There’ve been very little engagements for this vessel.”  He continued.  “But I suppose that’s for good reason.  Someone like you who sees blood tends to take things far.  Not overly, but still.  Though, I suppose now is as good a time as any to tell you what to expect,” he said slowly.  Zalwara raised an eyebrow, moving his queen backwards.  “Tell me what?”  Takeo moved his knight forward, before reciting, “Check.  You should probably prepare your unit.  There was a commotion in the world today, and word has it that SAF was involved.”

 

Zalwara stopped, an excited smile crossing his face.  “When do we meet?”

 

Who knows?  But it’s better to be prepared than to be caught out.  Besides, you’re no good to me dead.”

 

Zalwara sneakily moved his King forward, out of harm’s way.  Takeo replied, moving his rook up, with a resounding, “Check” once more.  “Zalwara,” he said, pausing.  “How often have you been sharpening your blades?” he asked curiously.  Zalwara did not hesitate to answer.  “Every fifteen minutes of the hour.”  “You’re growing bored.”  “Quite.”  Zalwara grinned.  He brought up his last rook, losing focus on the game as he contemplated what SAF could have in store for him.  How interesting would their members be?  Were there any who were formidable?  Cunning?  Sly?  It was exciting for Zalwara to hear stories of the vague SAF.  He got up from his seat, and grabbed his magazine, heading for the door.

 

Are you conceding?”

Sure.  But only because it’s time to sharpen my blades again,” he disappeared out of the doorway, as Takeo turned to the watch on his wrist.  “It’s only thirteen after,” he said softly to himself.  Looking up at the chess, he himself had also gotten distracted.  He had been check mated.  “Hmph.  Ha,” he chuckled to himself in surprise.  It had been ages since he had actually lost a game.  This was exciting.  "That man," he said softly to himself as he moved the chess game aside.  "He is a monster."


Drowning in your silence.


#36
Asriel Dreemurr

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Johan briefly looked over from his book when he saw Melissa entering his room, and very quickly he felt himself growing uncomfortable.  Here he was, in the only place that he could really manage to actually be purely by himself, and now of all people SHE had to come in there.  He made sure to reposition himself on the bed such that his face was hidden behind his book, and in the process wound up creating enough space that she was able to seat herself near him.  He was already working through the many and varied ways she would tell him that he was an absolute idiot for running off like that, any amount of shouting she was likely to send his way, hell he half-expected she was going to punch him.  He winced when she made mention of how scared she had been, and he mentally prepared himself for a barrage of insults and the like.
 
He certainly got a barrage of something, but it was something he was completely unprepared for.  As Melissa started going on about how she felt that he and Heinreich were always alone, that book fell away from his face and he just looked at her.  He knew she couldn't see him, but that didn't stop him from wearing an expression of absolute confusion while he looked at her and tried to understand what she was saying.  He didn't much mind that she wasn't giving him a chance to speak, the more time he had to think the more time he had to figure out what she meant, but none of this made sense.  He was wracking his brain to come up with some reason that she would be telling him all of this, but the only one he could come up with was-
 
"...I really like you.  Maybe I love you..." was about all that Johan managed to get out of that before he was just struck dumb.  Well, sure that made the rest of what she had been saying make sense, but how could any of it be true.  It had to be some sort of trick she was pulling on him, or something his brother had come up with to torment him, after all she was four years older than him.  However, in the context of what he knew about Melissa none of that made sense...but that meant she had to be telling the truth.  He was too caught up in his own thoughts to notice at first as she got up and went to the door, and when he did notice he was at first afraid that she was gone.  Seeing that she was stood there in the door, he knew he had to say or do...something but he had no idea what.  He tried to think of what Heinreich would do...and then immediately threw that option away.  The only idea he could come up with was something that by all rights made no logical sense, was far too risky, and if it backfired could easily cause unprecedented damage to the team...but it was all he had.  He stood up from his bed, took a deep breath, strode over to where Melissa was standing, closed his eyes, and kissed her.


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#37
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Melissa

 

She heard him get up, but wasn't sure what he was thinking.  "Johan?"  He didn't reply.  She turned around and he was standing right in front of her.  "Jo.. .han?"  She said slowly.  Before Melissa knew it their lips had met, and she could feel her face flush with red.  She wasn't sure how to react at first, but she accepted his reply, and embraced him.  When they let go, Melissa was at a loss for words.  She was still blushing, and felt very, very warm suddenly.  She opened the door to Johan's room, saying, "I guess I will see you later."  She sheepishly closed the door behind her, and bolted towards the hangar. 

 

She swiftly dodged past Johnathan, who just stared at her.  "Did it go well?" he wondered aloud.

 

After she arrived at the hangar, an excited smile crossed her face, as she climbed up and into the cockpit of Saviour, but never turned over its thrusters.  She sat inside, her legs raised to her chest, and wrapped her arms around them.  Her day had gone from strange, to bad, to worse, and suddenly it was filled with excitement, wonder, curiosity, and all the good things she was feeling right now.  She wasn't sure what to think, but wondered if there was a future for her with Johan.  He was younger, and by four years.  Would that be strange to their friends?  She began to think Johan would be isolated or shunned for dating someone older than him.  But it wasn't even confirmed that they were dating!  Melissa shook her head, and kept her positive thoughts.  She would make the best of the situation for now, and hopefully their hearts would beat to the same drum.  Saviour reacted to her fast pulse, crying in a concerned matter.  She lay her hand on the cockpit, saying, "Everything's fine.  Everything is great, actually," she said with a smile.  But now she understood she had a lot more on her plate.  Opening the hatch, she climbed down from the cockpit, and stood next to Saviour's left leg for a moment, placing an open palm gently against its plating.  "We've got a lot of work to do."  She made for Adelheid's office, hoping the Commander had calmed down and was in a talking mood.  

 

On her way, Melissa stopped, suddenly wondering how obvious it was that she felt so strongly about Johan.  Heinreich did point her in his direction.  And Johnathan did open the door.  Was she right, assuming everyone knew!?  She giggled to herself, embarrassed again.  She continued towards Adelheid's, her mind still contemplating where to go from here.


Drowning in your silence.


#38
Maeriberii Haan

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After the meeting with the twins, Adelheid didn't even touched her sketches like she usually did whenever she needed to distract her mind from an issue. The entire fiasco, with the climax being the meeting several minutes ago, completely obliterated her mood to do anything else during that time.

 

"Lauren...I really hate to say it to a comrade, to a friend, but I hope you are dead now."

 

Even without the twins arguing about it to her, Adel already knew about the entire anomaly of Lauren's supposed death. After all, as a Commanding Officer, she would also need to examine whatever was left when one of her subordinates was shot down. And truth to be told, the twins were wrong about the investigation process. The investigation was conducted very thoroughly without wasting much time, especially since she also indulged herself on the investigation. But they were right in that the report was wrong in implying heavily that Lauren was killed in action.

 

The report was a mere fabrication after all.

 

The original report, which she still stored somewhere hidden in her office, clearly stated that Lauren was simply missing in action, without even any evidences that she was potentially killed afterwards. But the report that she sent to her superiors and to the rest of her team had some of its important details that could imply Lauren's survival removed, some of additional shaky "proofs" that Lauren was potentially KIA, among other things. Adel definitely did not want anyone to even consider the possibility that Lauren survived, but the amount of 'evidence' that she had to fake to make "Lauren Vega is killed in action" conclusion and the amount of what she needed to gloss over or ignore was too staggering and would only make the report unconvincing, so she settled to making it heavily imply her death without actually officially stating it. But it's all for naught now, after the what the twins did, they wouldn't pass the chance to tell everyone about their findings.

 

Some people might ask her if they knew about this plan, why did she choose to go that far?

 

Adelheid's answer would be simple. It's better to know that she was killed in action rather than being haunted by the thought of facing her as an enemy one day.

 

Adelheid knew very well about betrayal and switching sides during the war, since it was really what she did back then, staging a crash so that she could defect into the Shells by becoming a prisoner of war first. Not exactly one of her best gambits in retrospect, but the point was at this point, Adelheid was quite paranoid that such an incident would happen with one of her subordinates or friends. And Lauren was her closest friend in TRAP. She wasn't really sure about what drew her towards Lauren or how she became close with her, actually. Was it due to her warm personality, or her logical approach on things especially compared to most other members of TRAP, the fact that both of them were older sisters that had to be a replacement parental figure to their older brother, or simply because she was one of the more tolerable TRAP members (Alongside Melissa and Atelier, though Adel was still weirded out somewhat by Atelier), but whatever the exact reasoning was, the fact was the two were quite close. Maybe not actually that close, but it was still the closest Adelheid could ever have herself be to someone other than her brother. She was even the only person that actually knew about the fact that she was a former Terra Firma pilot aside from Aeolia. She trusted her enough to not say anything to others about it, and even until the end, Lauren didn't break the oath, as far as she know.

 

Adelheid sighed.

 

This incident would sooner or later prove that the report was wrong, and thus, she would risk a court-martial if she couldn't find a way to make it to be simply a case of mere oversight while being convincing enough.

 

And her contemplation moment was cut off when she saw Melissa was coming towards her office from the security camera in front of it. She was tempted to dismiss whatever Melissa came to her for since she's really not in the mood for it, but at the last minute, decided to open the door to her office.

 

"Anything in your mind, Melissa?"


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#39
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Melisssa

 

"Hmm?"  Busted.  Caught by the mastermind on camera, Melissa strolled into Adelheid's office as she opened the door.  "A lot, actually.  Sorry for bugging you, Commander."  She took a seat, shaking Adelheid's hand and hoping the Commander wouldn't kick Melissa for suggesting something absurd.  "I was wondering about doing a bit more for Saviour, purely defensive," she began.  "It's mostly regards to the front line.  The Drachenrand is usually first to bug out, but I feel like it should be.  With that in mind, I'd like to fill out a request.  Heavier armor to be precise."  Melissa went into detail, talking specifically about plating for her shield, legs, and back.  "Besides my shield, I'm most vulnerable in those places.  If nothing else, I'd like to prioritize my back, for surprise blows.  But, while I'm here," she said as she reached for her pocket.  Melissa pulled out her tablet, and flicked on a notepad application.  "How's your head?  I know, with the twins breaking off so abruptly you've got a lot to do, but I should still keep tabs on your mental state.  You wanna vent for a bit?"  Melissa, as head of HR, considered the mental state of her companions and superiors extremely valuable.  If they needed someone to yell at, there wasn't much they could say to sway Melissa from their vent of rage.  She was happy to sit and bare the brunt of the storm if it meant easing the troubles of the family.  


Drowning in your silence.


#40
Maeriberii Haan

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Here comes the other side of the lovebird.

 

Adel half-expected Melissa to complain about her about her earlier meeting with the twins, however irrational was it to think about it like that.

 

"I was wondering about doing a bit more for Saviour, purely defensive," she began.  "It's mostly regards to the front line.  The Drachenrand is usually first to bug out, but I feel like it should be.  With that in mind, I'd like to fill out a request.  Heavier armor to be precise."

 

"Hm?"

 

Melissa then proceeded to explain in detail about the extent of the modification she planned for her Frame, Savior. Adelheid couldn't help but smile a little hearing her talk about it. Savior was one of her favorite Frames design-wise, probably because it looked so majestic and knightly. And really, if it came to Frame redesigns or upgrades, as long as its not stupid, TRAP's funding would always be ready to cover that.

 

"And that's it?

 

Alright, it can be arranged easily. I'll get in contact with our supplier first though, we are somewhat running out of materials and spare parts lately."

 

As she finished saying that, she noticed Melissa pulling out her tablet.

 

I guess this is the main meat of this meeting, huh?

 

"How's your head?  I know, with the twins breaking off so abruptly you've got a lot to do, but I should still keep tabs on your mental state.  You wanna vent for a bit?"

 

"I'm fine, really."

 

No she was not fine.

 

"I was just quite tired physically after all the fiasco earlier.

 

I think I'm better now."

 

Lies, all lies.

 

"Anyway, I'm going to finish the after battle report for that hag Aeolia now.

 

Good day, Melissa."

 

The tone of her voice was clear. She wanted Melissa to get out of her office.


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