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 Post Posted: Wed Feb 24, 2010 1:17 am 
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~January 24, Universal Century 0088~
~22:15 Coordinated Universal Time~


- Gryps Space -

- The Kirov -
- Bridge -

Trent raised the collar of his coat and then crossed his arms while he watched the thinning line of ships pass the boundary of Gryps' outermost security zone. The last evacuees from the Gate of Zedan and those units that had been lucky enough to pull out of their patrols in time elsewhere in the earthsphere where the Titans had ceased operations days ago formed an irregular line of sad-looking vessels crawling towards the Titans' last stronghold. But even that area of friendly space was under siege, with Haman Karn's Axis fleet having seized control of Gryps 2 the same day the Gate of Zedan fell.

Because of their spot close to the Dogosse Gier on the approach, Echo had been one of the first taskforces issued new orders when they arrived and for the moment they were stuck in place watching over the slow-moving refugees at the back of the line. Taskforce Echo, which was still technically understrength despite 'enroute resupply' during the retreat (most of it courtesy of Black Friday), was strung out in a wide, obtuse wedge with the Kirov resting at the center. Off in the distance behind them was a cluster of blinking lights - they were far enough away from Gryps that the colony segments and everything around them were only discernable from the stars as a blob of bright light. The captain's eye moved slowly from one of the cargo ships to the diamond of smaller thruster flares crossing behind them.

"Tell the Kalinin Team to finish up another pair of sweeps and then head back to their ship to be relieved," he ordered without turning to look at Gojiro. The comm operator responded in the affirmative and went about his work, and Andrewson's gaze strayed from the distant Hizacks back to the lumbering ships. Rubbing his chin, he thought over the duty rotation for a moment and then turned to tell Mortimer, "Chief, tell Stukov to have Alpha ready to relive Lt. Bate,". "Sir," Kellman responded in his monotone with a slight nod. Trent figured the Russian would jump at the chance to take the Griffins out again, even if there was no one to shoot at.

Mortimer was quietly relaying orders to Stukov when Gojiro's station lit up and buzzed with an incoming message. "Captain, video communication has been established with the Jupitris..." Nakagawa said, turning in his seat to look at Trent. The captain closed his eyes and removed his hat with a sigh to run a hand through his hair. He had been waiting apprehensively on this call for over 24 hours. "Put it on," he nodded, gliding back a few feet to sit down in his command chair.

The main viewscreen changed from a digital display of the fleet's surroundings to a feed of static that blinked away after a moment, replaced by Black Friday. "Andrewson," Friday said pleasantly, a counterfeit smile resting on his lips as he sat with his fingers laced together, hands resting on the table he was sitting at. "Captain," Trent responded flatly with a small nod. He wasn't exactly sure where the Jupitris was, but he knew they were likely clear on the other side of Gryps 2 and yet he felt as if Friday could reach through the monitor and strangle him if he felt it necessary.

The vibe he got from the man was as bizarre as ever - just looking at him and exchanging greetings was... eerie in a way, partially because of (and yet in spite of) the ersatz-yet-convincing cordial look on Black's face. Every time he spoke to Friday he felt like he was moments away from something unpleasant. "You'll be happy to hear I've got everything lined up for you, captain. As you know we're having some... trouble at Gryps 2. We're going to start a process to rectify that tomorrow and your fleet will be involved," Black said, leaning back slightly as he delivered the information. Despite that sounding like welcome news, Trent didn't immediately react.

Friday seemed to sense his apprehension and leaned forward again, nodding, "I'm sure you're wondering if there's a catch,". His hands moved apart from each other palms up and he said, "There's no catch, Andrewson. The hunter taskforces have simply been folded into the rest of the fleet. Which means I can arrange for official orders to be sent-" he paused as if to emphasize and let Trent realize that the orders coming through were actually official from this point forward instead of convenient misrepresentations and forgeries.

"-Incidentally, you'll be receiving written copies of your new assignment around 0600 tomorrow. Scirocco has business to attend to - a meeting. You're to take up a new position closer to Gryps 2 before it starts," he summarized. He waved a hand to dismiss that train of thought and continued, "You'll have time to read it when it arrives. In the meantime, I'll send another supply ship and I'll finalize the investigations you've had to deal with. Oh, and I'll take that captured mobile suit off your hands,". "Yes, sir..." Trent nodded, still trying to stay as emotionless as possible. He concentrated on keeping his face a neutral mask.

Friday stared at him for a few more seconds, but he didn't seem to be expecting Trent to say anything else. "Well then, Andrewson. Now that Echo has been reorganized I think we'll be speaking more often. Tomorrow will probably be routine, but still... stay sharp. There's... enemies in the area," Black said, steepling his fingers. Trent's mouth narrowed to a thin line at Friday's last sentence. Capt. Friday was looking through him again, like he had before when they had been face to face. Andrewson opened his mouth to respond, but Friday closed the connection before he could speak.

- Hangar -

"Yes, excellent. We'll be ready to sortie," Stukov grunted into the handset on the wall next to one of the hangar entrances. After having the orders relayed by Mortimer, he hung up and glided back to the cockpit of Dolk's suit where they had been working when he was interrupted. "I think is problem with computer," he said, leaning back into the cockpit to watch Dolk tinker with his Griffin's controls, "Marasai can be stupid machine when pilot's reaction time is too quick and he tries to do too much at once,". He craned his neck to get a look at the main display as options flipped through it.

"Then again, this is not Marasai. The Griffin is well built for a prototype... Run a check on the reactor," he suggested, pointing at some of the power displays. Dolk nodded, somehow hearing through the music pounding in his ears through ear buds. Typing a few simple commands into the panel next to the seat, the panoramic view changed to show a detailed display of the reactor's output and control. "Yeah, we're running a little bit hot tonight," Dolk muttered, "I can barely see the system from the heat coming off of it,". Stukov grumbled and backed out of the cockpit.

"What does this mean? I could see it fine," he muttered. He sealed up the collar of his normal suit as he looked around the hangar for one of the higher ranking mechanics. "Эй! Have you seen Ltjg. Heyden?"

- Beta Team Ready Room -

Wolf stepped back from the electronic planning board at the front of the room and shook his head. There were two columns of names, one much shorter than the other. Unfortunately for him the longer column, the one that listed active supporters of the family, had the vast majority of it's members crossed out. The shorter list, the one with all it's cursed members intact, was composed of the likes of Nick Te'Litha and Fritz Ashlyn. "Westen Ebbs still owns the majority of a company that supplies Anaheim Electronics with parts. I know father spoke to him shortly before..." Wolf thought things out aloud, trailing off there instead of speaking of the murder.

"In any case, I have no reason to believe he is not still cooperating," he muttered, thankfully passing over one supporter instead of crossing his name from the list. "Sir, I understand Mr. Challoner still holds his seat in the Federation senate, but unfortunately... he seems to have distanced himself from you and changed his stance on the Titans entirely in the last months..." Daren spoke up quietly when he read the next name in line. Wolf kept his shoulders from slumping at the news and instead angrily crossed 'Endroe Challoner' from the list.

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 Post Posted: Wed Feb 24, 2010 10:51 pm 
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-The Kalinin-
-Bridge-

Marshall Nguyen sat in the command chair, impassive as always. The Kalinin was starboard of the Kirov, it's MS team fluttering around in space. Even though it was a boring, routine patrol mission, Marshall knew his team needed it. They had two replacement pilots who had seen no real combat, and they'd just transferred over to the Marasai a few days prior. Only Alpha Bate had prior experiance in the red machine.

"Recall order for the team, sir." The comm tech reported, stirring Nguyen from his thoughts. "Kirov says they're to run two more sweeps and return."

"Inform Bate." Nguyen replied dismissively, returning to his paperwork and reports. He worked for a moment, before turning back to the communication station, "Also, tell Bate to report to the bridge after they return."

"Yes sir," The tech replied, relaying the message.

==================================================================

-Kalinin Team-

"Understood, Kalinin." Alpha Bate replied, wheeling around at one end of Taskforce Echo's formation. He switched back to the team channel. "Alright, two more runs and we head home. Full speed on this one." Bate ordered, going to full speed.

Janice Runnels, the only other pilot on the team with combat experiance, quickly moved to maximum speed as well, keeping up with Alpha's Marasai. She had adapted well to the new machine, which was more than he could say for the other two pilots. Dwayne Craig, one of the two replacements, clearly hesitated for a moment before joining them at top speed. The fourth pilot, Roger Hicks, nervous and indecisive as he'd consistantly shown over the past few days, took even longer. They were halfway down the line of ships when Bate eased back on his speed, allowing the younger men to keep up.

Bate rolled his eyes and the team continued on their patrol patterns, already looking foward to getting out of his pilot suit for a while.

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 Post Posted: Sat Feb 27, 2010 3:10 pm 
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- Alexandria Class-Kirov-
- Beta Team Ready Room -


Sven sat off to the side of the Ready Room giving him a vantage of both the door in and the electronic planning board. Even after a night’s sleep Sven looked more haggard then he had the day before. The truth was he had not slept well. He had lain awake for hours thinking about the events that had transpired the day before and how they all fit together. When he had finally fallen asleep he was consumed by nightmares. Throughout the night he relived the deaths of Beta Teams former members. Pinching the bridge of his nose he closed his eyes and a fuzzy image of Constantine’s Marasai growing into an expanding ball of fire as the Zeta Gundam zipped by materialized. He had also been bothered by the pink Rick Dias which had destroyed Ryu, or Ray, or Roy; Sven did not know, he could not remember his old wingman’s name. It bothered Sven as he had never really been plagued by nightmares even after his experiences in the One Year War. Relaxing his eyes Sven shifted in his seat placing his hands across his lap as he shifted to watch the door. He knew his nerves were not going, but still he did not know where this sudden unease had come from.

Taking his eyes off the door Sven looked at the list. He knew all the names on the smaller list, by this point he had them committed to memory. The larger list was a different story; he knew some of the names personally. A great many he was unfamiliar with and had only heard in passing, some had surprised him as he had not known they were attached to the destiny. That surprise had faded to cynicism as an increasing number of names were crossed off the list. Sven’s father, Gustav remained on it near the top, the old man would die before he betrayed the Ritter’s. Gazing across the list again Sven recognized a name from the last letter his father had sent him.

“Deston Gardzi no longer remains entirely loyal to you”, Sven remarked as he indicated a name on the list they had not got to yet, “Still, when my father last wrote to me he said he took measures to ensure his loyalty for a short time.” Sven left the rest of it unsaid; Mr. Gardzi was an established Banker who owned a bit of the Federations Debt and did business throughout North and South America. Sven’s father had hinted at the kidnapping of Gardzi’s only child which would keep the man loyal to a degree. Sven kept silent on the matter though, Wolf did not need to know the particulars.

Massaging his temples Sven contented himself with watching the door as the other two pilots continued going through the names. Suddenly it dawned on Sven, if Daren was a replacement they likely had received another replacement. Given the circumstances of yesterday that person could be a mole sent from the mysterious Captain Black. Interrupting the two men Sven gazed over at Wolf, “Sir, did we receive another replacement pilot?”


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 Post Posted: Sat Feb 27, 2010 9:18 pm 
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Kirov, Bridge

Lt. Te'litha

Nick had come up to see Trent so he could sign an override for his release from Sickbay. That damn doctor would hunt him down and cuff him to the bed otherwise and he had needed to sneak out with the necessary paperwork as it was. While still a bit pale, Nick was feeling much better, not that that mattered to the Doc.
"...ill probably be routine, but still... stay sharp. There's... enemies in the area." Nick caught Friday's last words as he approached and entered the bridge and caught a glimpse of his smug face on the screen before it winked out.
"You know, I'm starting to dislike that guy, fact that he gave me a relapse notwithstanding." Nick said as he came around and faced Trent, looking over Tiraq's sunglasses on the bridge of his nose. "Here, sign this, it's my get out of sickbay free card." He gave Trent a genuine smile, "I normally would have forged it, but I figure we have enough documentation floating around like that as it is. " He looked out to the assembly of vessels outside. "So, what's new?"

Pilots Lounge

Ltjg. Kelborn

Grace was sitting in the lounge reading a weekly magazine that was hopelessly out of date but had little else to do save count her mixed blessings over the fact she had been transferred to Delta. On the one hand, she was no longer with Stukov, who was probably the best pilot in Echo, but on the other she wasn't on the same team as that horn-ball Lieutenant, Dolk or Dolt or whatever. She sighed and went back to reading about which celebrities were starting to wear a certain brand of dark, uni-frame sunglasses in the wake of the Dakar broadcasts.


Buxoro, Bridge

Ltcmdr. Winter

Winter had the helmsman keep on the Kirov's port side and slightly above its relative plane throughout the journey. He had finally gotten done reading the after-action reports concerning the fall of Gryps 2 into Zeonic hands. "Heads will roll for that loss," he thought to himself, "Whatever will the high command do now?"

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 Post Posted: Mon Mar 01, 2010 1:48 pm 
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Buxoro, Ready Room

Aaron and Tim

An tune filled the room as Aaron softly whistled an archaic novelty song while sitting in a chair with his hands behind his head and feet up on another chair. They'd been waiting around on stand by since Echo had been assigned its protection duty. Team after team seemed to be ordered up, but Buxoro Team still waited for the go.

Tim, who usually hated to fly patrol, was itching to launch. A few days of being stuck in the ship was getting to him. Aaron's whistling wasn't helping much ether.

"Do you know how to keep a tune?" he said irritably.

Aaron responded by whistling even louder.

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 Post Posted: Wed Mar 03, 2010 12:18 am 
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- Gryps Space -

- The Kirov -
- Bridge -

Trent frowned at the main monitor as it switched back to a digital view of their position. He never quite knew what to think after talking to Black Friday. So Scirocco was to attend a meeting tomorrow and they were being moved for it. Capt. Friday was obviously using Echo for a reason - Trent's cooperation (and therefore the cooperation of the entire taskforce) was one thing, but pulling them away from legitimate patrol duty this close to Gryps 2 meant there was something to it. Who was Paptimus meeting with and why did it need outside ships on standby?

The captain's face paled a little at a new thought that struck him. Scirocco may need loyal ships present because something big could happen. Big, violent and sudden under the guise of a meeting. And yet after the lies, frame jobs, forgeries and murders, he still felt like an open rebellion wasn't coming. At least, not yet. The timing seemed perpetually wrong to him no matter how he felt about Bask or Jamitov. He pushed his hat back from his forehead and rubbed his temple.

"You know, I'm starting to dislike that guy, fact that he gave me a relapse notwithstanding," Nick said, approaching the captain with a scrap of paper in hand. The edges of Trent's mouth turned down in a slight frown for a split second when he saw Te'Litha wearing Tariq's sunglasses. His expression turned neutral again when Nick began to explain his visit. The pilot held out the paper and smiled, "Here, sign this, it's my get out of sickbay free card. I normally would have forged it, but I figure we have enough documentation floating around like that as it is,".

"Tell me about it..." Trent sighed under his breath, taking the paper to authorize whatever Nick was requesting from the doctor. He wasn't irritated with Nick at all, it was just fatigue really starting to catch up with him. Dark circles were becoming prominent under his eyes. "So, what's new?" Nick asked, looking out the bridge windows. The captain responded to that with a hollow chuckle and turned back to look at the ships as well.

"What's new," Trent repeated with another sigh, "Well... To be honest, we're losing. Everyone has been afraid to say it, even during and after the Gate of Zedan. Now Axis has Gryps 2. We're retreating to a location we don't even control any more..."

- Beta Team Ready Room -

"Deston Gardzi no longer remains entirely loyal to you. Still, when my father last wrote to me he said he took measures to ensure his loyalty for a short time," Sven piped up, causing Wolf's grip to tighten on the pointer he was using. He slashed a line across Gardzi's name. At this point muttering more curses under his breath at these men and their families only made him more angry, and he simply moved on fuming in silence. Everything seemed to be in disarray. He didn't expect constant good luck, and he didn't think he was owed anything, but the Destiny almost appeared to be slipping away from his grasp.

There were periods in his family's history where things grew more dire. A rough patch like this was to be expected from time to time, but he was so sure it was to be his privilege to see the Ritter name elevated to it's proper place and the earthsphere put into its rightful order. The Destiny had grown over generations to keep up with man's domain, escalating past the borders of Eurasia to all of Earth and then to space. Now he felt like it would take all of his remaining power and pull just to deal with his own personal enemies.

“Sir, did we receive another replacement pilot?” Sven asked. Daren could see how ground down his two wingmen were, and Sven's voice still sounded tired after Echo's few days of retreat. Wolf grunted a scoffing laugh at the question. "We certainly did. She's called Ens. Kate Elliot," he answered gruffly. As far as he was concerned, she was to be regarded with suspicion until things were dealt with. Daren nodded, "She traveled to the Kirov on the same ship as me. I think it's strange she was put in our team considering the other things that have gone on lately,".

Wolf didn't comment on that. Tariq's death and the other strange personnel shuffling only proved in his mind that Nick was directly responsible for most of his problems. And in addition to that, Sven had told him of his conversation with Lt. Sayed about the captain that had visited Nick in sick bay. Things were getting more dangerous aboard the ship. That meant they had to be smart about their next moves.

- Hangar -

"Send for him, then!" Stukov bellowed at the operator that was bothering him about Pan. The man muttered something rude and the window he was in on the Russian's panoramic monitor closed. Going back to making checks on his mobile suit, Stukov made sure his radio connection was working. "Lt. Dolk, confirm radio check," he grumbled as he continued to type in commands. The lieutenant appeared in a window of his own, and he appeared to be going about his own preflight checks instead of responding.

"Lieutenant... Lt. Dolk!" Stukov raised his voice, stopping his work to get his wingman's attention. Dolk's sunglasses-obscured gaze rose and he shrugged and said, "Your lips move, but I can't hear what you're saying,". He started to fiddle with the computer controls at his side again. Stukov growled, "Stop changing the settings! Just nod if you can hear me!". For some reason that caused Dolk to burst into laughter. Stukov angrily closed the video window and muttered, "Crazy bastard...".

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 Post Posted: Wed Mar 03, 2010 1:09 am 
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-Herakles, Hallway-

"Well that was certainly an interesting trip"

The past week had been extremely.....odd as far as Alex was concerned. When he first arrived he was an Ensign and now he was suddenly a Lieutenant Junior Grade mid-trip. Not to mention his former team leader was suddenly replaced by someone else. Not that it mattered, he was sure he would've turned out to be a traitor or something.

Passing by the mess hall he gave a quick wave to some of the other members on his team before stopping at one of the few areas in the ship with an outside view of space. He had never seen so many ships in one place before, even during his transfer to the Herakles mid-trek to now Axis occupied Gryps 2.

"Axis....it's bad when one of your main enemies can occupy your HQ while you're away" he thought aloud with a hint of humor in his voice.


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 Post Posted: Fri Mar 05, 2010 6:41 am 
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Location: Von Braun
- The Kirov -
- Hanger -


Since meeting earlier Grant and Drossel have been roaring it up as they walk away from a Marasai. Grant took on the kid since he kinda reminded him of himself during his youth right down to his anger streak.

"Well kid that's all I can teach ya for now. The rest you'll have to learn on your own out there. Just know that sometimes running is an option..it's how I survived to become an old man."

Jason gave a smile not believing that this experienced pilot could ever run. "Right. Hey, lets hit the lounge and you can tell me more about storming the beaches during the war," Jason eagerly asked.
Grant not wanting to delve too much in the past declines and opts to get some rest instead leaving a hyped up Jason on his own.

~~~~

Pilots Lounge

A few minutes later Jason enters the room and smiles when he sees familiar face. He immediately rushes to Grace who seems to be heavily involved in some mag. Jason has become oblivious to the gloom and doom attitude that has enveloped the ship.

"Hey! I'm glad I caught ya. I just met some codger on the delta team who use to be a mobile suit instructor. Taught me a few things, he did. I'm sorry but with the talent we got and oh, you should check out the new suits we got. I think we're gonna put everybody in their place...Um, you don't mind if I take a seat, do you?"

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 Post Posted: Fri Mar 05, 2010 5:10 pm 
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[Kirov Brig]

With all the recent transfers some paperwork had been messed up and Pan didn't have a room. The thought of sharing one was beyond him. So he returned to his old room. He'd stolen a nicer bed and a few bit of furniture from each of the lounges around the ship. Noone would care about a piece of furniture here and there. Furnishing a room on the Kirov was easy, but locating some smokes was next to impossible. The lack of nicotine was causing the rather foul tempered pilot to be on the edge. It wasn't much of a surprise when he plowed through a team of mechanics like they were bowling pins when he was summoned.

Pan muttered under his breath as he saw the 'ruskie' and 'retard' working on their machines. Pan was annoyed that he was called down for this, he had left the hangar hours ago. "I told you, I've got mine ready." Heyden kicked off the floor and floated towards Stukov's machine.

[Pilot's Lounge]

Leandro was so excited his mail had came! Earlier in the day he tore open a parcel and ignored a letter from his mom to find a pair of awesome Mail order uni frame sunglasses he had ordered. He had forgotten where he had seen them from, but he knew they were going to become very fashionable, and he had to get on it before it got old.

It's too bad he didn't have much more time to goof. Leandro stuck his head into the pilot's lounge and spotted grace reading a magazine.

"Lt, Ke...Grace! Do you know where Alistair and Kyle are? I think it's about time we all sat in the same room together..."

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 Post Posted: Fri Mar 05, 2010 8:52 pm 
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- The Kirov -
- Beta Team Ready Room -

Suddenly, the door to the room Wolf, Sven and Daren were opened with a hiss and, as if summoned, in stepped Ens. Kate Elliott. She looked around at the three men her face impassive but feeling mildly surprised. She turned to Wolf and saluted, saying, "Apologies Commander. I was unaware a team briefing had been called." Still blissfully unaware of the suspicion that she was under, Kate settled to the deck and waited.

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 Post Posted: Sun Mar 07, 2010 2:48 am 
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Kirov, Bridge

Lt. Te'litha

"Well... To be honest, we're losing. Everyone has been afraid to say it, even during and after the Gate of Zedan. Now Axis has Gryps 2. We're retreating to a location we don't even control any more..."
"Heh, It sounds likes like that evil bastard," he jerked his head towards the screen Friday had occupied, "is intending to inherit a lot of problems." He pushed back from the view to Trent and took the now signed documents, he looked at the signature before sighing, "I suspect that this may be the last time you ever need to do this," He gave Trent a kinda sad smile, "I can feel it. But I suppose because of that, he doesn't have leverage," Nick again motioned towards the screen before looking square at Trent, "I'm under your command Trent, not his. Well ok," he redacted with a slight shrug, "I answer to myself first but you're a close second.

Pilots Lounge

Ltjg. Kelborn

...Um, you don't mind if I take a seat, do you?" Jason asked.
"What? Oh, no, not at all," she said motioning with her magazine to a place beside her, "I could use someone to talk to, all the maintenance is done on my Marasai and I've nothing to do until Leandro decides he wants to take a crack at being the commanding officer."
As if on cue, Leandro looked in at that point, "Lt, Ke...Grace! Do you know where Alistair and Kyle are? I think it's about time we all sat in the same room together..."
"I've got no idea Boss; And.. are those.. 'Series 4 Uni's'? Grace asked with a little giggle at the irony.


Buxoro, Ready Room

Lt. Robin

"Do you know how to keep a tune?"
"I think he's quite talented" Said Elijah with a grin as he came in from the hanger. "Do you take requests Aaron?"

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IAN: (Shaking fist up at sky in a storm of GN particles) Science does not WORK this way, Setsuna!!!


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 Post Posted: Sun Mar 07, 2010 4:23 am 
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Location: Von Braun
- The Kirov -
- Pilots Lounge -


Jason immediately leaped at the invitation in case Grace changed her mind. He slid right beside her but was unsure of where to place his arms, of course all the cool guys would place their arms behind the girl's shoulders but he fought that instinct and left them on his lap and was thankful he did when her commanding officer walked in.

"Lt, Ke...Grace! Do you know where Alistair and Kyle are? I think it's about time we all sat in the same room together..."

"I've got no idea Boss; And.. are those.. 'Series 4 Uni's'? Grace asked

Keeping a blank smile on his face Jason tried to help the Lieutenant, "Sir, if you mean Allister Grant then he was going back to his bunk...nice frames by the way, I think the whole kitchen staff has them too."
Realizing he made a blunder Jason quickly looks down and points at the magazine Grace is holding and tries to change the subject, "Oh Look, soap news! It says Adam Russell is coming back to star in As The Colony Turns."

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 Post Posted: Wed Mar 10, 2010 1:26 am 
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Location: Texas Gulf Coast
- Gryps Space -

- The Kirov -
- Bridge -

"Heh, It sounds likes like that evil bastard is intending to inherit a lot of problems," Nick responded, indicating he was talking about Friday. Trent's mouth remained a flat line and his tired expression didn't change. It wasn't outwardly clear if he agreed with Te'Litha's sentiments or not. The truth was he couldn't stand to be around Black Friday, but he was willing to put up with their current state of affairs in the hopes that the Titans' overall situation would improve. It still ate at him that maybe he wasn't choosing the lesser of two evils. At least until Scirocco did something overt he could believe he was.

Nick looked at the signed pardon for the doc and said, "I suspect that this may be the last time you ever need to do this. I can feel it. But I suppose because of that, he doesn't have leverage,". The captain's vision dropped to the deck at his feet. Black didn't really have any leverage on him. Did that make his cooperation worse if things were to go bad? Just another thing to mull over to make his hair gray prematurely. At least if something happened it would remove some of the doubt he carried on his back.

"I'm under your command Trent, not his," Nick added, bringing Andrewson's vision back up to his. "Well ok," he shrugged, admitting, "I answer to myself first but you're a close second,". Trent thought about what Black could and would do to Nick if he were to tell him that. But in the end, Taskfoce Echo took orders from Paptimus Scirocco. And regardless of how he felt Trent knew he was at Black Friday's beck and call on what could turn out to be a permanent basis.

"We all answer to Friday now," Trent's fatigued mind droned, wanting him to just speak his mind. It would be easier than keeping up his act. But that was part of his job as captain of the ship, Scirocco crony or not. "I'm so tired,". With a sincere nod, Trent responded, "Thank you,".

- Hangar -

Stukov was perched, arms folded, where the catwalk ended next to his Griffin's cockpit. He watched Heyden's angry entrance through the tangle of hapless crew with only a grunt of mild annoyance. "I told you, I've got mine ready," Pan called out, kicking off the hangar floor in Stukov's direction. "Good. Then get in and prepare to take off," Stukov responded, gesturing away at Pan's suit with his thumb. He crossed his arms again and added, "Your attitude is poor, Heyden. When you get yourself killed make sure it does not put me in danger,".

- Beta Team Ready Room -

Predictably, all conversation in the room stopped and the three men present stared at Kate as she entered. Daren's face was admirably neutral, perhaps verging on what appeared to be a friendly look, but Wolf still regarded her with a frown. His look almost seemed like annoyed acceptance of a nuisance, as if the ongoing situation had ground at his will long enough to dull his outright hatred into something that more resembled tired frustration. "Apologies Commander. I was unaware a team briefing had been called," Kate said, saluting.

"There's no need to salute me here," Wolf muttered, punching a button that made all the names disappear from the electronic board he had been working on. Dropping the stylus onto it's rack, he turned to her and added flatly, "And there's no briefing yet. Just friendly conversation,". Daren looked at Wolf and then rose from the place he was resting against to intercept Kate. "Ma'am, perhaps if you are interested we can explore the ship together. I know we are both new, and I still haven't had a chance to see everything," he offered. He sounded quite polite, at least enough that it sounded appropriate for speaking to a superior.

- The Herakles -
- Bridge -

"The timing of this seems wrong," Capt. Berg muttered under his breath. He flipped to the second page of the timeline he had had printed and scanned for another report. Why had Echo delayed its response to the Dogosse Gier for so long? He didn't think Trent was the kind of man to suddenly get forgetful or lazy. Even the Gate of Zedan fight wouldn't have shaken him that much. "I'm not even sure what I'm looking for," he said, looking to his XO. The lieutenant shrugged, "You asked for the data, sir. It's all there,". So it was. He knew something was wrong within the fleet, but really had nothing concrete to go on yet.

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 Post Posted: Wed Mar 10, 2010 10:02 pm 
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- Alexandria Class-Kirov -
- Beta Team Ready Room -


When the doors had hissed open and let in the unfamiliar women in Sven had tensed up. He hadn’t quite expected what had walked in, the female officer certainly didn’t look like a Black crony. Unlike Daren, his face quickly took on a darker tone as his eyes narrowed giving the scar above his left eye a menacing slant. He remained rigid and ready to move as she introduced herself and took a seat. Relaxing slightly he settled back into his seat while gazing at Ens. Elliot took a seat. Again his mind registered that she hadn’t acted or looked like a Black supporter, but she could have been chosen for such a reason. Remaining silent, Sven shifted his gaze back to Wolf, who thankfully had quicker reflexes then Sven as the briefing board was clear. Daren quickly moved to intercept the new pilot, so Sven remained seated and continued to gaze impassively at the new comer.


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 Post Posted: Wed Mar 10, 2010 11:18 pm 
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- Buxoro -

- Ready Room -


"I think he's quite talented. Do you take requests Aaron?"

Cutting off mid-whistle he turned to face Elijah and waved. "Hey Elijah! I take requests, just so long as the request is to whistle what I've been whistling." He grinned after saying his lame joke and stood up.

"What's the good word Lt.?"

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 Post Posted: Fri Mar 12, 2010 1:15 am 
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Location: Von Braun
- Alexandria Class-Kirov -
- Delta Team Ready Room -


Kyle has wandered in with manual in hand to catch up on the Barzam's new add-ons. It would seem that he would be the squad's eyes and ears with its external sensor.

It had been hours since talking with Tariq and also the first time leaving his room since the meeting with the intelligence officer. On the way to the ready room he heard rumors that Tariq had met his demise. This wasn't great news for Kyle since it was his weapon found at an alleged crime scene in the first place. First Cara and now Tariq's disappearance has begun to make Kyle a bit paranoid and question his every movement. Whomever had the two Titans removed will easily have no trouble getting rid of a lone scared pilot he thought as he could feel a target being placed on his back.

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 Post Posted: Fri Mar 12, 2010 6:19 pm 
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[Pilots Lounge]

Leandro smirked and removed the glasses and tossed them towards the two. Leandro picked up the phone on the wall trying to hide his jealousy of Jason as he quickly spotted kyle walk in. "Good! Thats one down" Leandro then continued with his original task and paged a message over the intercom.

"Attention Lt Jg. Grant could you please come to lounge D-11" Leandro had no idea how much he sounded like a mousey secretary.

Something strange was going on inside the ship, word had reached that Kyle was involved with somekind of foul play. It had something to do with the new arrivals Leandro was sure of it. He was ordered to keep an eye on Kyle, but to be honest Leandro was more worried about organizing his unit at the moment.

Ignoring that problem he looked at the people in the room. "Once Grant gets down here, I want to have an informal meeting of some sorts then we're gonna hit the catapults."

[Hangar]

Heyden sneered balled his fist and pointed angrily at Stukov. "I can't make any promises!" He pushed off the railing and locked his helmet into place, gracefully coasting to his mobile suit and entering the cockpit. He gripped the controls tightly as the machine began to boot up.

Pan was well aware of what the griffin could do, he himself had fallen prey to it. The thought of using a machine like this against his allies sickened him, but at the same time the thought of running in such a hot machine eased his doubts.

"Let's see what this thing can do."

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 Post Posted: Fri Mar 12, 2010 7:36 pm 
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-Kalinin Team-

Bate brought the team around in a slow turn for their last run down Echo's formation. Hicks and Craig managed to keep up better this time, which again prompted the Lieutenant Commander to roll his eyes at them once again. They had done the same maneuver a dozen times in this patrol, and in the others over the past few days, and the pair of newbies still were struggling. They would show flashes of learning, but little more.

The team came down the front of Echo's formation, passing ahead of the line, giving all of the ships, namely the Kirov, a clear view of them as they returned to their own ship.

The quartet came in toward their ship, slowing down again, as Bate keyed his comm. "Runnels, you go in first. Hicks is second, Craig third. Everything on manual." He ordered. The mobile suits had auto-landing functions, but Bate needed every chance for the pilots to improve their skills.

"Understood, sir." Runnels said, breaking formation to begin her landing.

"Acknowledged." Hicks's voice cracked.

"Roger." The voice of Craig carried a hint of amusement. He had replied to nearly every order with 'Roger', largely to annoy or confuse Hicks. It mildly annoyed Bate, but so did a lot of other things the young pilots did. They simply hovered a few hundred meters from the deck of the ship, tapping their thrusters to keep moving with it.

Runnels' landing was textbook. The Marasai slowed as she brought it down to the deck, properly tapping her thrusters for the smooth landing a few steps from the elevator. The machine then walked to and rode the elevator into the hanagar.

Hicks went next, hardly textbook. He started off far too fast, overcorrected and went too slow. He went back and forth, to the point Alpha almost ordered him to switch to auto, before he finally got the speed close to correct, but had drifted off course in the process and overshot the hangar hatch, coming down directly infront of the pair of twin-barrel secondary guns. He then walked back to the elevator and joined Runnels in the hangar.

Craig did slightly better. He too started off too fast, but corrected properly and the rest of his landing went fine, coming down shorter than he should have, directly over the foward missile tubes. Bate waited until the head of Craig's Marasai disappeared into the hangar before he started his own approach, coming in on auto pilot. Rank had it's privileges.

Bate quickly had his Marasai back in it's berth and turned it over to the Kalinin mechanics, who were already refueling it and replace the beam rifles and sabers, even though none of the weapons had been used. It was good that Nguyen, or at least, the head mechanic, had them drilling as well.

He didn't linger in the hangar, quickly heading to follow his team to the Kalinin ready room. Bate arrived to find the team changing from their pilot suits into their normal uniforms. Bate went to his own locker and pulled out a clean uniform and began to change as well, but cleared his throat to get their attention. "Everyone get something to eat and at least two hours rest. Hicks." He said, turning to make sure the youngest pilot was paying attention. He was, but very pale and nervous. "I want you doing another hour of landing drills in your machine every day." The pilot nodded quickly and quietly let out a breath. His machine was constantly being set up as a simulator, and he was already doing one hour of drills a day, plus actual runs in his Marasai when he had a chance.

Bate moved on. "Craig." He turned, but once again saw he didn't have the mans attention. "Craig!" He barked.

Craig had once again been watching Janice Runnels, who was now in her bra as she changed. Even Bate would admit to himself she was attractive, but he knew far better than to even think about it. Craig, however, hadn't, and was regularly watching Runnels when he should have been paying attention to other things, namely Bate. "Sir!" Craig jumped to attention, prompting a shake of Runnels head, for she was well aware of the situation, and simply didn't care.

Bate sighed. He could slap or chew out the young man, but the hours of flying had tired him. He'd properly correct the young man later. "You need to run some sim drills as well. Start off with some more landing runs. I expect you to have it done properly by 10:30 hours tomorrow morning." The man nodded, keeping his eyes on Bate. "Be ready for some real drills as well. You too, Hicks." He said, prompting the color the drain from Hicks face again. Both nodded. Bate merely glanced at Janice. "Good work, Runnels. Spend some time in the sims if you feel the need."

"Yes, sir." She nodded. Bate knew she would do enough to keep her sharp, but like himself, she had seen enough action at this point that she wouldn't have to spend hours a day like the others.

"That is all." Bate said as he finished dressing. The four pilots all left the ready room. Hicks and Craig started off toward the mess hall, while Runnels went to her room, and Bate started for the bridge.

==================================================================

-Bridge-

Nguyen was actually pleased by the report in his hand. The last of the minor work assignments on the ship to repair damage had been completed. All of the serious repairs had been done over a day earlier, but there had been dozens of minor repairs, such as painting over scratches, or replacing burnt lightbulbs, and other things that may have been just upkeep rather than damage repair, but for the first time since before the Zedan debacle, the Kalinin was fully ready.

The door opened and in stepped Bate. "Captain?" He said in the usual smug tone he had, not bothering to hide how tired he was.

Marshall frowned slightly more at that, but let his reaction go no further. On to what mattered. "How are the new pilots working out?"

Bate frowned as well. "Badly." He admitted, knowing Nguyen well enough to be honest. "Hicks is a nervous wreck, I'm not sure how he got through regular training, nevermind Titans screening. Craig is more interested in Runnels than he is in training. I've got them doing extra simulator work almost around the clock, and now that we've resupplied, I'd like to give them some more real flying time tomorrow."

Nguyen nodded, but kept looking at his paperwork. "How long till they're ready."

Bate paused for a moment, prompting a glance from the Kalinin's captain. "Ideally, three or four days of heavy training. More likely, a week and they'll be passable enough."

"Just make sure you don't wear them out too much. We don't know when we'll be back in action." Nguyen advised.

"Yes, sir."

"Thank you, Commander." Nguyen said without looking. He caught a nod from Bate, who quickly left the bridge, which returned to it's usual quiet operations.

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 Post Posted: Sun Mar 14, 2010 2:43 am 
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- The Kirov -

Grant had settled in bed, just laying his head on a nice soft pillow and closed his eyes when:

"Attention Lt Jg. Grant could you please come to lounge D-11"

Angry at the high pitched announcement that had echoed in his room, he quickly got dressed in minutes cursing every second. Grabbing his jacket which still bore the Taskforce Juliet patch, something he probably would never change, Grant rushed out of his room.

~~~~~

- Pilots Lounge -

Entering the room Grant noticed pilots present, which he assumed were most of Delta Team, when he walked up to Leandro and stood at attention for a brief second. "Ltjg. Grant reporting," he chirped.
Looking down at Grace and Jason, Allister gave a quick nod to Jason whom he talked with earlier before pulling up a chair twisting it to straddle it and placing his arms on the back. "So, what's up Generalissimo?"

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 Post Posted: Tue Mar 16, 2010 10:51 pm 
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- Gryps Space -

- The Kirov -
- Hangar -

A couple of minutes after wrangling Heyden and Dolk into cooperating, and a final check of his own mobile suit, Stukov got the all clear from the hangar control team and neatly stepped away from the Griffin's rack. He stopped where the weapons were stored, passing up the newly acquired set of sea serpents for one of the large, strange square-barreled beam rifles the Griffin came with. After making sure it was connected to his suit's computer controls properly, he moved ahead for the launch staging area to ready a catapult.

He connected to his two subordinates as he was waiting to step out and ordered, "You two, take beam rifles. I don't want to be using Dolk's string toys if we have to intercept the enemy,". Dolk's machine paused at the rack and then snatched up a rifle. The lieutenant babbled a reply, sounding like his voice had connected halfway through, "...you're cold steel. You make a move, I'll make you feel like a human target. In my eyes I've got you... well, in my sights,". Stukov only grunted wordlessly in response. Was this machine worth being saddled with these two?

"When that shorted out brain of yours is working properly, Lt. Dolk, step aside and let Heyden launch after me," the Russian grumbled, locking his suit's feet into the catapult. Since it wasn't a combat situation, the system and bridge crew took a moment longer than usual to signal the launch tree after doing a routine double check of the launch path. "This is Stukov. Taking Alpha on patrol - launching," he announced his departure. The Griffin leaned forward into a slight crouch and fired it's powerful thrusters in concert with the launch system, and the blue MS left the front decks of the Kirov in a blur.

- Beta Team Ready Room -

"She's fine, Daren..." Wolf interjected, "You two can go later if the JG would rather stay,". Nwosu looked to Wolf with a bit of surprise and stopped next to Kate and the door. "Maybe she'd like to get to know us. You know, ask some questions," Ritter explained further, moving to one of the open seats with a huff. He wasn't blunt enough to tack on, "So she knows who she's stabbing in the back," but his tone of voice wasn't exactly friendly either. Daren nervously wiped his palms on his trouser legs and soldiered on, "Ma'am, my offer stands... Or we can go to the mess hall if you'd like,".

- The Jupitris -
- Capt. Friday's Quarters -

Black rested in his high backed office chair, reading from a bundle of papers contained in an unmarked file folder. A couple of other files lay on the desk in front of him, in addition to some black and white photos. He uncrossed his legs and closed the folder, setting it down with a faint smirk as he reached for the next. On top of the materials in the second folder were more photographs - a few blurred, most of them poorly framed, each with a description, date and location typed across the left margin.

He flipped through them, stopping when he got to one that featured its subject clearly. It was a narrowly framed shot of a middle aged man sprawled across a hardwood floor, quite clearly stone dead from a pair of bullet holes in his temple. Whoever had taken the picture got a bit of the toe of their shoe in frame as they stood over the victim. Friday tilted the picture and read the typed caption with a smug smile - [RITTER, GUSTAV - 01/16/88 - MUNICH].

He pulled the ten or so pictures from the file he was holding and sat them down with the others on the desk. The photo of Wolf's dead uncle slid off the top and came to rest next to one labeled [DIOTREPHES, DANTE & ENGEL, ALEXANDRA - 11/28/87 - PYONGYANG NEWTYPE LABS].

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