Ash HollowayLocation: P6, Training Grounds -> Bus
Ash looked at the exchange between Tatiana and Wayne curiously. She was basically family to him, and her husband was a close friend. Things had been very strained between those two lately and he was not happy to see it. Ash caught a little bit of this after they were able to recover the dainty but badassed ballerina. Something was different. He did not have the same kind of relationship with Tati that Jack did, so he was able to maintain greater objectivity with her despite her changes. There was a little surprise when he noted the familiarity with which she and Wayne conversed. The physical nature of their back-and-forth was not something which Ash approved of, even to the point of taking the start of a cursory step forward before he caught himself. Protective instincts died hard. He knew they were friends.
As for the one-armed lady, she seemed to pay him little mind and so he reciprocated. There was a sort of barrier between the two of them that he couldn't quite quantify. She seemed to be an incarnation of something familiar to him, yet foreign enough that it imposed the social equivalent of the psychological phenomenon known as the Uncanny Valley. Ash knew he just had to get to know her better for this to go away, as a matter of logic. But sometimes the eyes of an older, intimidating man stared at him when he looked at Thalia. And sometimes the words of a woman, to which he gave mercy at the end of a rifle, poured out of her mouth.
Seemingly at the last minute, a final arrival showed himself. Nigel, the Roman guy. Not that Roman Guy was the most flattering callsign, but none of the ones Ash was ever saddled with were anything he wanted to keep, himself. His presence made five. Himself, Tati, Wayne, Thalia, and now Nigel. One number over once-standard minimum preferred for small unit tactics. He nodded to the man then stood quietly while Maddoc went through his speech.
The speech sounded a lot like the standard practical field trial speeches in which he was involved in years past, with the ever so small caveat that he would personally kill them if they became troublesome. This made sense. The only surprising part about this little pep talk was that Hank, of all people, would be taking over for Macsen in the evaluations. The former Sheriff somehow got himself in an advantageous position quickly, from the look of things.
When the bus arrived, Ash filed in and gave brief but polite recognition to the Major, Hank, and Atticus. He then took a seat near to the middle. It would hopefully give him the best vantage for hearing conversation among the passengers as well as carity when receiving instruction from those in charge. And being able to help with the exits, both top and rear, in case of an emergency. After the others arrived, Ash couldn't help but notice that Nigel had mentioned his name. It was talk about him, but not actually to him. Ash declined to throw in his two cents, content to give a polite smile and return to looking about his surroundings. He wasn't wrong in the classical sense - Ash did know his way around pistols and long guns, but he didn't consider himself a specialist. Just one of many who took training in the United States Army and had a rural background which involved hunting. A sniper he was not.
Looking at the team set up for this outing, Ash was rather pleased. Provided that they could come together as a team, this looked positive. He knew what Tati could do and trusted her with his life above anyone else there. Wayne was a wild card but a decent man from what he had heard; a former Detective with good instincts. Nigel was an educated man with a solid frame who was good with a long blade, which made him useful. Thalia (if she was willing to be part of a team), was a quiet, skilled agent with a formidable background. Thana trusted her, which was good enough for Ash. This was a good team. They would do fine. They just had to find their point of synergy.
Thalia CarmichaelLocation: P6, Training Grounds -> Bus
"Exchange of fists and swords". Yes, Nigel had just said that to her. It seemed a little strange that a grown man spoke in the same manner as an English stage actor portraying a Roman Legionnaire, but considering that she had a brother who quoted Shakespeare and/or just said Shakespearean-esque things when asking her if she had an extra roll of toilet paper, this was actually preferable. Hindsight was a thing.
"But for sooth, daughter of our father, wouldst that thy mercy open the way for a hand's grasp of the cylinder-wrapped squares of sanitary deliverance, to slake the septic yawping of mine lower splat-trumpet," or some such bullshit. She didn't remember but it sounded close enough. Or she might have added things in her head. Whatever. Thalia translated English to English and dealt with it.
Thalia filed onto the bus with everyone else. She wasn't especially happy with how close everyone was in the meantime and probably never would be, but this was the life she signed up for. Soldering, or something like it. She recalled the speech that Maddoc gave them, about being tested and the promise of getting killed if they put the rest of the group in danger. Soooo, to her this was every god damned day outside of the walls. If some jackass was about to get you killed, you killed them first. Quietly. Neatly. Then moved on. Things made more sense out on the world sometimes. But no, Thalia wasn't about to "go rogue" or anything remotely that stupid. She used to be a Lone Wolf type. Reality and the influence of friends made her revise this, and it was probably why she was still alive today.
She took the seat across from Tatiana and gave her a nod not unlike the one she had received from her just before entering the bus. If she wanted to talk quietly, Thalia could move over there with her, or get up close to the aisle like back in escuela secundaria. Then she then tried to take note of as many details as possible in this bus - exits, number of people, status of windows, etc.; details that might be important if she had to leave quickly or cover someone else's exit. Her mildly paranoid security rituals and momentary reflection of recent hindsight completed, Thalia looked up to Nigel to respond to his conversation opener. For the fists and swords portion, she wordlessly grunted an quiet, "Nnn," and tilted her head slightly. Concerning the firearms query and Ash's possible proficiency thereof, she kept her words short. "I'm glad someone is. I gaht to relearn stances and reloading for one hand. Naht there yet." It wasn't wholly accurate. She wasn't hopeless, nor even bad. She wasn't at the level she was before losing a hand, and that was irritating her immensely. Like the off and on pain she was feeling at hurting herself with a toothbrush that morning. That was embarrassing. Realizing she was being a downer, and no one needed to come down on a test day, she reasoned (though in darker tones), "We're a group, right? Cover each other's asses. Only way we survive." In theory, anyway.
Elsewhere in the bus, two things happened. Firstly, Ash was rather pleased to hear that Thalia was embracing the idea of the unit rather than the individual. Again, he did not comment. Observation was enough. Secondly, Hank looked over to his hetero-lifemate Wayne and gave a tight-lipped smile. he nodded his head and gave a reassuring, "Hey, my man," in greeting. In truth, he was a little worried about Wayne for this test. There was brimming confidence that he'd be capable of physically passing them, but he also remembered the guy running off into a group of Dead Assholes when it wasn't necessary just to kill as many as possible. There were others nearby that, admittedly, he wanted to protect, but they didn't know how capable (or even ethical) these people were, having just met them. Hank also remembered several times feeling the need to run into danger after him to make sure he was okay. The older man didn't say anything more right then. But he did hope that their time in CMB's care helped even him out some. This was his best friend, after all. And Wayne could accomplish so much good if given a chance.