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Current hell yeaH I'M BUYING BOTH MY DUDE i have no self control and got a beat to get crunk wit
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Atalyah Mäkinen
Lieutenant Commander - PTX-098 SOC 'Aegis'


Blue lines of text streamed through the pilot's helmet, but his eyes only darted between a select several sentences and phrases. He had ran through the routine more times than he cared to recall, so much that it become more habit than practice. Moving his glances in the practiced order, he found the same word four times: online; online; online; online. As he reached his two hands out, flexing his fingers around the controls on either side and pressing his feet to the pedals beneath him, his eyes fell on the final confirmation: standing by.

The green behemoth lurched forward as it's bracing lifting from it's sides and shoulders. Even compared to the other giant machinations in the hangar, the Aegis stood taller again, going as far as to test the height of the hangar's roof at it's lowest points. As the machine went, the Aegis exchanged glances with a familiar Gladiator on their way to the launch rail. That was all the two needed: between themselves, Atalyah and Brit confirmed the old routine with one another once again.

> Launch: OK!


. . .


No matter how many times Atalyah flew these patrol missions, he always felt uneasy. For years, contact with Coalition pilots rarely meant anything beyond outright hostilities, so seeing those familiar models across the way every other day felt something like sitting up to between your mouth and your nose in water: the feeling you're in danger, the need to swim, yet needing to stay and breathe through your nose instead. He shook his head at the thought - that was far too complicated a comparison.

Yet, on this run, the discomfort seemed all too justified: across the way sat an all-to-familiar red Fafnir, complete with helm and cape. For longer than he realized, Atalyah stared from within his cockpit. While underestimating even a rookie MAS pilot would at least lead to being shot from a blindside, it was hard to pay attention to them when the Bloody Valkyrie was standing besides them.

"Don't doubt it, Brit." Atalyah chimed in on the private communications, following up behind Ingram. He didn't add more than that: he was sure the others would understand. He glanced over to the Shrike for a moment, contemplating elaborating for the newest addition to the squadron, before ultimately dismissing it as he looked back. Surely an eager pilot would have read about any double-ace, he quietly concluded.

In his seat, Ingram slowly began to become more comfortable. With all the chatter going on, it seemed like it was just going to be another day in-

Everything exploded at once. While a great orange ball burst out of the Perseus, quickly sucked up and dissipated by the inhospitable terrain that is space, several notifications ambushed the view of the middle-aged pilot.
> WARNING: Severe damage to neutral unit PERSEUS. SOURCE: Internal; unknown.
> WARNING: Power spikes detected from NEUTRAL MAS at RELATIVE: (-27, -114, 214); (104, 387, -226);...
But above all, one stuck out in particular - one that he didn't quickly dismiss with a blink and swipe of his eyes, one that his glance lingered on for a fraction of a second longer than the rest:
> WARNING: Coalition weapon signatures detected at RELATIVE:...

Atalyah didn't stop to think - or rather, certainly not conscious thinking. A rush of adrenaline jump-started his instinctual response, trained and tuned throughout more sorties than he cared to recall: he grasped tightly at his controls, bringing his machine back and aside in preparation to take a position towards the front of the formation.
"Enemy weapons systems coming online, prepare for an assault!" he called over the squadron communications. It wasn't his job to command the battle - that was left to Ingram; yet, command and control were two separate and demanding tasks, and Atalyah had no intention to let the 12th become disorientated so early - especially while an enemy double-ace sat across the field. Atalyah continued to speak as he lifted a hand, pressing at a few switches to bring his weapons systems to life - ironically, entirely oblivious to what was going on in the bridge: "Hold your ground and don't fire first! Rookie, get on the far side of the formation from the red one and remember what I said! Irish - if Valkyrie comes at us, I'm going to need you with me holding him back!"

As the Aegis moved into position towards the front of the formation, it's two shields came firmly to it's front, stood firmly in front of the rest of the chassis. Taking it's AC-2 autocannon from it's back, the machine snapped the forward grip to be angled towards the left, allowing it to more easily poke it around the right hand shield. Within the cockpit, as whirring and slamming engulfed the focused Atalyah as the missiles were loaded into their pods, the two shields seemed to almost vanish from his view: cameras from the other side streaming footage to him, allowing him to watch the Coalition MAS move into their own formation.

Taking a deep breath in, Atalyah looked over the enemy machines - namely, the Red Valkyrie, keeping a fix on where it was heading. The hairs on the back of his neck stood in anticipation, adrenaline suppressing the shock of exactly what had happened - only so he could deal with it all at once later. With his map in the corner of his eye, he watched the positions of the rest of the squadron as he waited: waited for Ingram's voice, waiting for a direction to take the team in.

Atalyah's attention returned to the enemy double-ace. No matter how he spun it to himself, even with all his years and kills beneath his belt, the idea of confronting the Valkyrie made his stomach churn. Tigres is much faster than he is, and he's acting purely reactively at this stage. Even with Irish helping him, holding him off is a tall order. Hopefully it won't come to blows, but he said the same thing about the peace talks going well in the first place.

Atalyah pressed out a breath as he pushed the thoughts from his mind. If Tigres came, he would deal with it then - and he had a few tricks of his own up his sleeve.

> WEAPONS: Online.
Collab with @Sisyphus

Chloe listened to the impromptu briefing intently, trying not to fidget under the feeling of eleven eyes sizing her up. She clenched her jaw slightly at her commander's comment about surviving the war intact, making an effort not to betray any emotion even as Delaney laughed his head off to her right. She remembered him from the Academy, not too long ago; buerocratic circumstances had resulted in his shipping out slightly before her, and no doubt he was relishing the opportunity to laugh at the expense of Miss Perfect. Then the klaxon sounded, and she barely had time to salute her officer again before she was instructed to rush off to her MAS.

Throughout the exchange, Atalyah remained mostly silent, bar the odd grumble or 'hmph' as he listened. For whatever reason there may be, he was the odd one as the revelation washed over the rest of the squadron: while the others blinked and whispered between themselves, putting 2 and 2 together with the squadron commander and the spook, Atalyah kept swiping at his datapad. His thought process was never terribly transparent - it couldn't possibly be the real Atalyah if it was.

Yet soon enough, Atalyah's lazy swiping and distant observations were interrupted by the wailing siren. He knew the sound all too well: before he realized it himself, he was pressing in on the side of his datapad and pressing it back into it's thigh pocket. As he scooped up his helmet, he looked over towards Ingram after hearing his name. The direction was simple enough: get the rookie to the Shrike - yet, Atalyah initially blinked at the direction, a little curious.
"The Shrike?" Atalyah asked, shooting a side-eye towards the would-be honor student. Admittedly, he hadn't been paying that much attention when she arrived, so his head turned to face her for a moment as he continued: "Christ, you're confident in the rookie, boss." Despite his questioning, he gave Ingram a light slap on the back as he passed him, silently communicating that he was all over it.

"Well, I guess I'll just have to live up to that confidence," Chloe said as she followed the veteran with quick, halting steps. "I've put up some good numbers in simulators with the Shrike... I did better with the Gladiator, but I guess that's the way these things go." She swallowed sharply to cut off her own babbling. This wasn't even a combat situation, unless things went horribly wrong - acting like some nervous rookie here was beyond ridiculous.

She took a deep breath as the war machine came into view. The Shrike was a nimble machine, as complicated anything ever made to fly. If she wanted a chance to prove herself, the red and white suit that towered above her was the chance. She noted wryly that there were a few scratches and dents in the paint that had yet to be buffed out - old machine, new pilot, she thought wryly.

"What do you fly?" she asked Atalyah, following behind him like a baby duck. "Something heavy, I'm guessing?"

As Atalyah listened, walking alongside her on the way to the Shrike, his expression remained flat and unbetraying; yet, despite this, it left little room for doubt that he was judging her. Whatever the outcome was, it couldn't have been too harsh, because he answered in kind:
"What gave it away? Is it because I'm old and fat?" he'd let out a brief, quiet chuckle as he motioned Chloe towards the boarding staircase, pushed into position by an engineer only moments ago. "I drive the big one over there." he'd answer properly as he glanced to the side, pointing to easily the largest machine in the hanger: a towering machination of largely green, with one of it's two extra limbs twitching at the behest of an engineer standing on the catwalk above it.

As he looked back, he moved to trail behind Chloe, to make a file with the steep stairs-on-wheels on the other side of her.
"Any questions before you board? Any doubts at all? This should be a good practice flight for getting started with the squadron, we can run through it all properly and get you introduced to the boys once we're back."

"Just a hunch," Chloe murmured. "The old and fat part had nothing to do with it." She stepped up the boarding staircase gingerly, gripping the railing until her knuckles were white beneath the gloves. "Nah, I'm... I'm good. Sure I've got nothing to worry about with you in that four-armed thing there." She cracked a smile, internally frustrated that she couldn't recognize the model of the veteran's MAS. She'd have to review the dossiers again.

The klaxon sounded again, and Chloe rolled a crack out of her neck. "So, what's my callsign? Red?"

"Noob," Atalyah responded frankly, without missing a beat: "your callsign is noob. That is, until you manage to earn one for yourself." He followed behind her up the staircase, leaving her a bit of room as she progressed. As much as he hated to admit it, he was curious: how would a student-of-merit do in their first flight? He'd never seen an academy graduate quite of that caliber before.

Regardless, keeping his thoughts to himself like always, Atalyah continued: "As you already know, it's going to be a dry one. Just stay in formatioon and try to get a feel for how the different pilots operate; although, I'm sure you heard it all in the academy before." He'd pause for a moment, glancing towards Ingram, before looking back to add: "...and if anything goes wrong - which it won't now, but just for future - and you panic, just get behind me, yeah? I'll worry about whatever while you get your bearings back."

He would remain behind her, half-lifting a hand in preperation to check the cockpit seal once she was inside.

"... Yeah, guess I could have seen that coming." Chloe stepped into the cockpit. "Alright, fly behind four arms, got it." She flashed the veteran a smile as the cockpit sealed in front of her - he may not be speaking much, but she could tell this one was someone worth learning from. Whatever he knew, she'd have to know, too.

The cockpit of the MAS sealed with a hiss, and information panels flickered to life in front of her. "Ensign O'Connor is in gear," she spoke into the comms channel, flicking quickly through the diagnostics of her machine.

Returning the guesture, Atalyah returned the smile - an almost faint, jaded thing, one that seemed more tired than anything. It faded as soon as it arrived, his attention taken by other things: as the cockpit door pressed shut, Atalyah pressed his two gloved hands along the length of the seal on either side, listening for rushes of air and watching for any subtle movements. While it was rare, it has happened before: depressurization from an equipment failure, the poor pilot being sucked through a slot too thin for a coin with what's left being shot out into space. He had seen it himself, all that time ago.

Yet, everything seemed to be in order. Lifting a hand, Atalyah flashed the pilot he couldn't see a thumbs-up as he started to tuirn. Before long, he'd no doubt dip out of sight of the latest addition to the motley crew, the ladder being wheeled away shortly after. As he crossed the hall, he flipped his helmet about in his hands before lifting it above his hand, where he could bring it down over his graying hair and press the seal into place.

Thankfully, as Atalyah approached his own machine, the engineer was walking away on the catwalk overhead. The two exchanged a glance and a sequence of thumbs-ups, communicating that everyting was in order. Climbing up his own boarding staircase, Atalyah hefted himself into his own cockpit: much bulkier than the one he just checked, yet much more welcoming for him. Everything was where it should be, where it has been for years: from the obvious switches to the subtle touches, it all sat where it felt right for him.

As the cockpit door closed over him to embrace him yet again, Atalyah spoke, his helmet transmissing his aging voice over the squadron frequency:
"Boss, this is Nix - loud and clear. All irish over here. Over." he answered, lifting a hand to swat at a few switches as he did. As he spoke, he looked over towards the Shrike he just came from. From the safety of his cockpit, he allowed himself a quiet moment of thought as he watched Chloe run through her checks: why would a young mind like that, with the smarts to graduate from the academy as the student of merit, try to join the military? It made him feel a pang of guilt - almost irrationaly, as he very well knew.

As he returned his attention purely to his pre-flight procedures, Atalyah enjoyed the thought of the war ending sometime in the next few months. He'd seen alot of bright minds like Chloe's come to posting and be shot down shortly after; at least he wouldn't have to see it again.

Only a cruel, metaphysical god would punish these men and women with such a fate, surely.
Another round of jeers and cheers from the pilots playing cards, another quiet grumble from Atalyah. He had the bright idea to try and sneak in an extra half an hours sleep atop two of the crates, with a peak hat sat over his eyes and one leg hanging off one side, which has gone about as well as you might think. Admitting his defeat, he lifted a gloved hand up to his hat to swat it down to the floor before hefting himself back up to sitting.
"Finally gave up?" asked a familiar voice to his left: one of the other pilots in 12th Squadron.
"Surely cards can't be that exciting..." answered Atalyah as he rubbed a bit of life back into his eyes. The two shared a quiet, brief laugh, both of them knowing full well that cards was almost always that exciting.

Unzipping one of the leg pockets on his flight suit, Atalyah took a datapad into hand. After giving it a moment to turn in, he tapped in his login details and flicked over to read the news.
"Update: peace talks continue, no sign of progress yet." he read out loud, flicking over to the title of the next article as he did: "What can go wrong? A summary of history's worst peace treaties-" letting out a scoff, Atalyah pressed a button at the base of the datapad to close the window. "What rubbish..." he grumbled, as he swatted over towards his mailbox.

With a stiff expression, Atalyah found nothing of interest in his mailbox. That was precisely the problem: he'd written to his children four days ago, answering a few questions for a school project about the peace talks, yet still had no reply. Pushing the thought out of his mind, he pressed out of it and went back to flicking through news articles, occasionally tapping into one that caught his interest. Occasionally, he'd sneak a glance towards the mechanics or the secret service pilots, ultimately not paying them a whole lot of mind but still at least half as curious as some of the others in the squadron.
Atalyah Mäkinen
The Veteran - Lieutenant Commander



I've updated my character sheet post with my MAS sheet. Both probably need a few touchups, which I'll have time to get around to this weekend once this endless overtime hell is over.
@Whoami

"Floating worlds" were something he mentioned in the opening post for lore, but in hindsight, that's probably something I've misinterpreted as something else. Probably to the style of those colonies, like you mentioned. I'll double back and reword that.
@vietmyke
I got pretty impatient towards the end of working on this so I can only imagine there'll be some spelling/grammar errors I'll need to fix and things I missed, but here's my bid for the veteran slot. I hope I've made it at least a little interesting and given you stuff to work with, with the mid-life crisis and the shady stuff.

MAS profile to follow soon.



@HushedWhispers

Oh, I didn't notice that. I can do a female, I've actually got an idea in mind if you don't mind me applying for it. c:
You had me at mecha space opera - if you've still got slots going, anyways. I'm pretty flexible so I'm happy to fit most roles, but naval officer and hotshot/ace sound pretty exciting.

@vietmyke
Ah shit, my attention lapsed, looks like I missed out on this one. In the unlikely event you need a fill in, I'll be around if you want it.
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