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Well, I am not, so I have to buy things.
Same. And now that my Christmas shopping is done...
Terra Laedo


The facility was quiet, or about as quiet as a military structure might be, all surveillance quietly watching for any possible intrusion. Strangely, though, today it would find that the reverse was occurring. For soon, there was the sounds of gunfire, explosions, and then a loud SLAM!! The outer wall of the facility suddenly expanded and tore apart, revealing a glowing palm from within a smoke-filled room.



Alarm sirens began to sound as a red Neural Combatant emerged. Humanoid, with spikes and edges that would cut anything they touched, and flight system to increase its travel options. This machine was the new gem in the army of the the Red-Star, an NC simply known as Id, a machine of killer instinct designed to work in congruence with a pilot capable of meshing with its input at high levels and withstanding the strain that came with it. Well, it worked...but the pilot had no intention of flying their colors.

Her secondary generator needed a moment to cool down before being put to the next task at hand. This escape plan would utilize Id's capabilities to the fullest, and deliver her from this country, this corporation, faster than they could have any hope of containing her. She made for the coast at normal speeds, firing behind her with a stolen plasma rifle whenever she had radar contact. Accuracy was not as important as occupying them. If she delayed too long here, they could mobilize more NCs, or even someone capable of standing against her at an equal-footing. That could not be allowed.

While Id made for the southern coast, the radio had been full of chatter on her wavelength. Red-Star command, those of whom were to have been her comanders, demanded she return immediately or face destruction. She ignored them. Her attention was more on the enemy combatants who seemed to have forgotten they were on the same channel as her, at least until an officer shouted at them for being incompetent. It was an honest mistake, but a foolish one. It let her in on a few of their plans, bought her some extra time. Soon, the red NC was in position...and stopped.

It was time, the big push. Terra activated flight engine overclock-


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The base intercom whistled, halting the dream prematurely. Well, not so much a dream as a recent memory. This was her reality now.

This was Haven.

"All NC pilots to the Operations Room. I repeat, all NC pilots to the Operations Room, immediately."

She had been asleep to recuperate energy that she needed, to re-organize her brain, and to try and put behind her the unfortunate facts of her escape from the Red-Star facility. As Terra sat up from the bed in a black tanktop and cargo pants she had received from supplies, she had on a glum face because putting it to rights. Can you guess which two out of the three goals were achieved in her sleep? If you're wondering how her escape ended, half the base knew the details, by now. She overclocked her propulsion engines with the special generator outfitted to her NC and outran the Red-Star forces, from Southern Japan to the Northern tip of Australia, where she was naturally spotted by Havenite forces and simply waited for them there. She did not so much as surrender as agree to be escorted Terra did not give up control easily, the reason she pretty much demanded to be on speaking terms with someone in charge to be treated decently, instead of as a prisoner. After all, that was why she was here.

Getting out of bed now, Terra ran her hand through her hair and got a handle on her mood. She was projecting a depressing sort of blue when she sighed, and that had to stop. They didn't see that, but it was apparent to her, and she didn't want to feel that or really show that. They needed her to be in control. She needed to be in control of the situation. Since this sounded important, she elected to get into the only uniform she had, her white and black flight suit, the same one she had come in. It was supposedly reminescent of something from an old car show, but while some people had referenced it to her, she never really saw, so who could compare? The way they described this 'Stig' character, he didn't seem human, anyway. Terra was genetically-engineered and everything they've said about him was far more implausible.

One thing that had surprised her, coming into this place: Although people were uneasy about her before, the people of Haven were a kinder breed than those she had known in her life. Well...apart from her parents. Still, it was unexpected, and one of the reasons she'd opted for sleep was that she needed to figure out how to deal with this. These were all strangers to her. Indeed, the commanding officer was most pleased to see them, while her commander punished tardiness in her peers. People shoudn't run meetings late, though, so this was all a mixed message to her. At least the meeting could get started. It looked as though Red-Star had followed her, or even if not, they had much invested in this area.

It's the price you pay for free intel and a fully-equipped pilot. People start to notice you.

It had been her intention to come to Haven for a long time, never really seeing any wisdom in Red-Star's methodology. This, she had kept to herself and her plan was executed without warning. It was the only realistic way to do it, even if neither side was prepared to deal with it. Now then... This base was basically surrounded, at least insofar as the water was concerned, and only the reactive barriers were keeping off the heavy stuff, but then...these did not repel other forms of attack. It didn't take a genius to figure out that the enemy - their enemy, her enemy - would use other tactics to try and bring the shields down. Commander Narra's briefing was startling at least one of the other pilot, especially at the mention of breeding slaves. The other girl's breath took on nervous yellow waves that stood out among the dull gray hum of machinery around them. Despite all this, the Commander himself was in high spirits, speaking with waves of calming green.

Terra made it a point to not be influenced by others, but it was nice to see that command was keeping its head in this situation. Narra began to name off some expected enemies that, frankly, were already well-known to her, and her to them. It was unfortunate, but training in the same army will allow others to understand things about you. Still, he was rather pleased with himself, in that he'd managed to bring in some reinforcements and obtain the knowledge that he had. You can guess where at least some of that came from. Something that Terra didn't like, though: Commander Narra seemed to want pilots and NC's captured almost as much as Red-Star did, though for different reasons, such as interrogation and resources. That said, it was problematic. And furthermore, he continued...

Damn. If they really want me to curb the more lethal half of my training to their own ends, this is going to make things complicated. My NC is certainly geared to destroy. It's modular to any handheld weapon, it has deadly capabilities as much as versatilities, and- Wait, WHAT did he just say?

For once, Terra was properly confused, and...she wasn't really hiding it, either. She tilted her head to the side a bit, looking at the commander like he'd grown a third nostril. He'd assured them that the barriers would hold against missle bombardments and the usual preliminary attack moves, which was why he wanted them to spend the time they had before deployment on a...social meeting? And...their options were... What was going on here? Is this how things were here? A bar, a coffeeshop, a bathhouse... Finally, after taking all that had been said in, THIS was where Terra broke her silence.

"Commander, this puts me in a most awkward position. I don't know anybody or really much of anything about Haven, Darwin, or - let's be honest - Australia. I don't know how to even approach this. I haven't really done any of those things. And apart from that...don't you have any tea?"
@SimpleWriter Ahem... Stuff! Things!
Alot goes on in a short amount of time. That's for damn sure.

Isaac was not aware of the fact that Jean had gone off to hear from Middleton, or knew when he'd gotten back. All that had happened in another section, while he was essentially trying to help Private Lucia regain some of her sanity. This was day one, certainly, but day one was alot more for some, than others. For Isaac, day one had been when his country turned on him by forcing him into the service. Day one had been when they took him from his family, his friends, and his responsibilities in order to transform him into a killing machine. Day one was when he began to hate his country, and when he was done defending it from Imperial bullets, he was going to tell it how much of a coward it was for telling a farmer to go fight when other more-willing people were obviously out there, all of whom have to EAT. Alot of people were gonna be put in their place when he was done. That's what was getting his ire up, and that's why he didn't have the same shock as other people. He'd already been stunned on some levels, so he'd been able to power through the rest to get this far.

There was alot of difference between him and Lucia. Anyone could see that. He didn't know her story at all, but clearly their induction into this hellhole wasn't the same. She'd been put through training, possibly with the growing fear of war ever-present in her mind, and then while ffacing the same tension as the rest of them all, in comes Middleton, who gives her an unthinkable command. Isaac didn't know why the Lieutenant would do that to anyone. It was completely unnecessary, since anyone who's been through training would've been told the penalty for desertion and treason. Namely, that you either hung or shot, dependent upon whether they want to spare the bullets or not. They won't knife you. That's too personal. Well...maybe Middleton would manage it. He was cold as ice. He'd ordered a girl even younger than he was to execute people who were afraid, who might come back even though they might only be throwing themselves at bullets uselessly otherwise. No one should have to do that. If there was anyone who had less of a reason to be in this war than him, it was Lucia Farris.

You could really argue that with alot of people, but then this was day one and Isaac didn't really know everyone else's story, to be fair. They'd all been through a charge with each other. That's it. They hadn't had time to bond much, although the Lance already felt a certain protective instinct for these people. He wasn't going to judge how much they deserved to be here against his own problems. For all he knew, the 15th Atlantic Rifles were a motley crew of unwilling people recruited into a great mess of a war and flung full-force at the Imperial threat without care. That was why he needed to care. They just wanted an attack wolf, but they didn't understand what rearing a wolf was like. You have to address ALL of the instincts, understand the camaraderie that goes with it. They need unification, caring for one another, and they needed outlets for aggression that was something other than fighting for their lives. And whatever that outlet is has to be cared for so that it doesn't break, especially if it turned out to be a person. You don't want a pack omega in a wartime situation, but if it happens, you have to build that person up so they don't feel that way. The tension-breaker probably had to shift, and that's why...

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Isaac wasn't aware that he was drifting off as he started thinking up ways to handle the group so that their people wouldn't break. Not long after Lucia succumbed to sleep, trying not to dream of the girl she'd had to kill or the Lieutenant who'd ordered her so - like he was right there and she was being ordered to execute her on the spot, and that the girl was herself - the Lance-Corporal also ran out of energy, which was kind of why time passed him over a bit. Michael had gone to help Franz and Mila - or Mimi - the crazy lady had frozen at the sight of him. He wasn't aware of Jean's girl trouble or that Daniel was chastizing people. That was all stuff that happened under the observation of Britta.

The female Gunner had been patrolling as she'd been asked to, namely to give people the chance to do what they were doing: Recovering from the shock of battle and trying to piece together their senses. She had seen Jean heading off and she had seen Isaac helping Lucia, and she had seen things developing in the former Imperial trench where people had penetrated. Things being the way they were, she kind of wanted to bring other Lance-Corporal to help sort out things with Jean, but as she had been watching things unfold herself, it might've been better if she did so herself. Really, Jean's words were to be taken to heart. They should appreciate what it's like to think and act like normal human beings in the face of the uglier side of things. It warmed the heart to hear him say so. The Gunner stepped on over as Daniel left.

"I appreciate you saying that, Jean, and I agree that we should all hold onto whatever humanity we have."

She remembered now how she saw even the toughened Isaac showed some of his true self on the way here, the way he was now using that humanity to reach out to Lucia and let her know that it was alright to be human, that they should strive for that as they look after one another.

"If you want, I can see about talking a little sense into him. It was a human being worrying about others that got us up this hill, not just whistle and a man shouting 'Go'."

Britta wasn't sure if she'd really get through to Daniel, exactly, but the words that this squad lived by AS a squad and not just as a loose collection of fighting soldiers dictated that she try to reach him. She just wanted Jean's opinion on whether it was better to let him stew for a while before confronting him, or doing it now while it was still fresh in mind.

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Isaac awoke with a start. It wasn't because of anything he'd been dreaming. His dream had been of the Atlantic Rifles getting wolves to imprint upon them as he and his whole family all helped them. You could say that he really thought of those creatures too much, but you don't raise them without them raising you, a bit. You get attached and you become influenced by it. Nothing can make you appreciate nature more than someone who lives with it always, and that's what they were.

And I guess that's why I fell asleep in this trench. I can sleep almost anywhere, really.

He looked around. Everyone had moved off. There wasn't any explosion or fighting - might've been some shouting, but he didn't hear it - or anything like that. What'd startled him into the waking world so suddenly was a physical jolt. It was Lucia, right next to him. Honestly, he was just planning to let her rest, keep an eye on her or let somebody else do so while he was busy being a Corporal, but he'd fallen asleep and he'd been stationary human contact. He imagined nobody wanted to disturb them because it would disrupt the recovery that was going on. What Isaac didn't know was that he had introduced a foreign element into the so-called experiment that Middleton had engaged in. He was completely unaware off what the Lieutenant was trying to do, of course, but he'd done it: He'd instilled the notion that people could care for and take care of each other in war, that people are not meat puppets to be sacrificed to the bullet, as it was to the sword in days of old. This would undoubtedly alter things in a way that he did not like.

What a shame that Isaac was unaware...

He'd probably do it more if he DID know, though. Let's be perfectly honest there. Now, the Lance-Corporal moved to get up, but as he tried...well...there was a whimper and he felt his arm get caught. Hoo boy... This was gonna take some explaining. Isaac pulled out his machine gun - NO, NOT WHAT YOU'RE THINKING, GOD DAMMIT! - and held it up so he could wave it around, trying to flag someone down.

"Hello? Anyone there? I kinda' dozed off and I don't know what's going on now."
@Stern Algorithm I should point out that she didn't literally kill them. She knew they were as good as dead when she left Japan. They were a most regrettable sacrifice with no alternatives she could see.
@Stern Algorithm I feel the dichotomy of a person technically capable of command but being judged by someone whose life is control makes for good storytelling, regardless of how it turns out.
@Letter Bee I've already explained this, but I'll make it public.

Terra would very much want command, but there is no reason on god's green earth why anyone would hire this surprise turncoat who just walked in from Japan. So, for story reasons, I can't just take that slot right there. Somebody else has to do it, at least until any sort of plot reasons for why that would change.
I was preparing this ahead of time.

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