RP [YSS Hana] Mission One: Pyrrhic First Victory

Ametheliana

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#1
Western Wastes
YSS Hana
4日 6月 YE 39
1300 Hours


Deployed earlier that year, the YSS Hana had gone out on a long-range exploratory mission into what was now being termed the 'western wastes' that lay away from the familiarity of the Kikyo Sector. The Midori-class scout ship had been on its own for quite some time and had only just begun its journey home to Yamatai along a new course to be plotted and surveyed.

The power armor team of the Hana had been sent out to inspect further signals being picked up on an asteroid in the center or a barely navigable cluster. The Midori was only just small enough to get through the asteroid cluster on sublight engines with its sensor array stored to reduce the width of the girthy ship and, so, was flying in blind. The asteroids became too densely packed, though, and the away team was formed up from the bulk of the crew and they suited up while the Midori-class idled just out of the Mindy 4's teleportation range.

"We are to find out as much as we can about the signal coming from approxiately 4 AU from the ship's position. We are to teleport as close as we can and thrust the rest of the way," the XO of the YSS Hana said as she clapped her hands in front of her while she exited the airlock. After leaving the ship and thrusting away from it marginally, she twisted around and looked to the other six exiting in their Mindy 4 power armors and went on, "Let's get this over with, girls."

Probably one of the smaller power armored figures of the squad was the last out of the airlock and gingerly thrusted away from the safe haven. This was not Mist’s first time out in open space, but it always made her a bit uncomfortable at first. Forming up with the rest of the squad, she made sure to stick close to her good friend, Shelly.

Probably the only other buxom blonde in the group, they had known each other for years, even before being stationed together on the YSS Hana. They had met on the YSS Illustrious and become fast friends almost immediately. This friendship had practically become a sisterhood over time… even though the former sprite still had a hard time differentiating close friends and family. Shelly had always been the rock in their relationship, pushing Mist to do great things and open up from her imaginary shell.

Having her friend nearby eased some of the initial discomfort, and soon enough, the medic felt completely normal. Dust and small bits of debris brushed past her MINDY 4 power armor as she listened to the XO’s briefing. Mist half wondered what kind of signal could be out here in the middle of nowhere, but the thought of a ship in distress being ravaged by this asteroid field came to mind. A small shiver traveled down her spine at this, and her resolve to help in any way strengthened.

Mentally counting the number of personnel in her squad, the medic realized that most of their names eluded her. It was not simply because of how new she was to the ship, unfortunately… She had always felt a little out of place in new settings. Fortunately, Mist wasn’t entirely alone with Shelly here, and her suit’s AI was already feeding her the names, biographies, and medical records of the others. Making a promise to kick herself into gear about mingling with her fellow crew members, the medic stored the relevant data away for later and prepared to advance.

The power armor team assembled into a loose group and the XO chirped out, "Let's go." She teleported to the point 3 AU away from the YSS Hana, as did the rest of the away team right behind her.

Amongst them was Shinrin Yoku, a pale, red and white haired, and greenish eyed Neko that had been alive to see enough conflict to be able to sniff something wrong in the air. But, she wasn't in charge, the XO was. So she kept quiet and looked to the destination of the signal that the sensors on her suit were able to pick up.

They all used their combined field systems to move them through space towards the asteroid and made it nearly there before the XO raised a hand and the grouping of the away team behind her paused as she spoke out.

The XO said over comms, "Wait."

It was at that moment that the sensors of every Mindy armor lit up and showed that there was movement on the asteroid via their ultra-wide band radar. A ship suddenly appeared from the surface after having looked like a part of the terrain on their preliminary scans. Now that it was moving, though, the XO spoke out to their own ship and gave orders.

"YSS Hana actual, we have come upon a ship. We will form the first assault against them before they can make it to our vessel if they are an enemy! Away team, that means we hold them off if they engage!" she said.

The ship pulled forward and shot out an pinkish weapons pulse and Shinrin Yoku looked at her XO after she had given orders only to see pieces of her being torn from her as if in slow motion. Then all at once, she was gone along with four others of the away team. Shelly, Hasagawa, Aimi, Lilta, and the XO, all gone. Yoku turned her head to look at where the weapons pulse extended to and watched as it forced asteroid after asteroid to be decimated by its power before it ceased. She turned her head back to the ship and called out to the away team after realizing she was the highest ranking personnel present.

"Orders are orders! Hold position!" Shinrin Yoku shot out her own aether submachine gun as she glided backwards on turbo aether plasma engines and then pummeled forward through the space between her and the ship to antagonize it further.

Everything seemed to be going fine, and then all hell seemed to have broken loose. Mist wasn’t sure if the force that had pushed her away was a last minute shove from Shelly or the impact of her friend being obliterated right in front of her. All she saw was a blinding pink light before four of her six fellow squadmates’ life meters crashed to red lines on her display. Only her own life meter and those of Yoku and another girl remained in peak condition besides heightened heart rates for obvious reasons.

Besides a bit of shrapnel impacting harmlessly on her Mindy’s exterior, she seemed fine physically, but her best friend and the others had just perished in an energy hellstorm. She wanted to scream or cry or just something, but her training had taken over at this point. The blonde medic used her thrusters to dive behind some additional asteroids for cover as she heard Yoku’s command.

Readying her own aether submachine gun, Mist took in a deep breath before replying with a slight quiver in her voice, “U-understood!” Rounding out of her temporary cover, she attempted to provide her sole remaining squadmate some covering fire. Whether it was effective or not, she wasn’t sure… especially since their opponent was an entire warship.

The enemy ship was hit by the three-Neko team's weapons, but they did little but alert the ship to their presence and as the ship pushed past them and towards the YSS Hana, its turrets shot out, killing the Neko beside Mist and in front of Shinrin Yoku, who looked at Mist and spoke quickly.

"We need to teleport to their position." Shinrin said to their ship, "YSS Hana actual, this is Ittô Heisho Shinrin and we are coming to your position, along with the enemy vessel."

"We see the ship, Ittô Heisho. Stay where you are!" came the response.

"Bu—" Shinrin said but was cut off.

"Stay and we'll come back for you! We're going to evade the enemy."

"Hai!" Shinrin said in Yamataigo, then looked to Mist with a look of contained concern on her face, though Mist would have a hard time seeing it under her Mindy's helmet.

They are.. what? was the thought running through Mist’s head as she attempted to tend to their fallen compatriot. It was no use, however, as too much of her body had been destroyed by the blast. “See you when you wake up,” she whispered to herself, referring to when the fallen would be revived on a later date.

Turning to her the only surviving member of her squad while keeping an eye on the enemy ship, her suit AI provided Mist with a name to call out to, “What are your orders, Shinrin-Heisho?” Concern was apparent in her usually meek voice, as the thought of being left behind in hostile territory didn’t appeal to her sense of survival.

Not only was this hostile territory, but it was also deep space. Their suits would only have so much power or supplies for them to survive in the vacuum, and exhaustion might set in before that happens if they were forced to evade the enemy at every turn. All of these thoughts were rushing through her head as the Minkan waited for her superior to make a decision.

Shinrin had to think and had to get them to relative safety before their position was approached again. If she could do that, she did not know. So, she went with something she could do, get them information. Not taking a moment to feel the devastating pain of losing her comrades, Shinrin Yoku looked around them and formed a plan. She swept the area with her scanners and picked up marginal activity from the asteroid the ship had been on that hadn't been there before the enemy had come hurtling towards them.

"We need to get to where that ship came from!" Shinrin Yoku said to Mist. "We can either stay here and wait for the inevitable or go there and get some answers to take back home. What do you say?"

Mist dared to glance at the remains of her friends and swore that she saw Shelly’s cracked helmet facing her, as if her dead friend was trying to pass on strength even from beyond. Taking in a deep breath, the medic nodded more to herself than Yoku.

“Alright, let’s go!” she replied with newfound determination “…Shelly and the others wouldn’t want us to just sit around waiting to die, too.”

She turned to the source of the enemy vessel, priming her weapon. If the ship had truly been hiding near that asteroid, then there might be more enemies hiding there as well. Mist formed up near her superior but not close enough where a single barrage from the departing enemy warship could take them both out at once.

Not knowing exactly what Shelly and the others would want, but knowing what she thought was best might get them killed and doing what she thought was not a good option would get them killed just as much, Shinrin Yoku began moving herself towards the asteroid. Soon she and Mist were near it and could complete scans.

"There's something on the other side of it," Shinrin said evenly.

They made their way to just on the outskirts of the asteroid and Shinrin sent out her nodal support bits. In no time at all, she had gotten visual feed of what exactly was on the other side of the asteroid. There was a large metal structure drilled into the side of the asteroid which lay inside of the asteroid completely. The only thing that extended from it was a chrome ring big enough for a cruiser. Shinrin called back her NSB's soon thereafter.

"It looks to be an automated fueling station. What do you advise we do?" Shinrin both said and asked.

They had approached the asteroid without weapons fire raining down on them. So far, so good… Mist though to herself as Yoku put her bits to work and began thoroughly scanning the planetoid’s surface around them for any possible sensors that may have alerted the enemy to their presence. Nothing immediately popped up on her displays, but that did not mean that passive sensors weren’t out there.

The medic thought for the moment as she analyzed the data the NSB’s had recovered, but she was no tactician. Finally, she spoke her mind, “If it’s a refueling station, then the enemy ship has to come back at some point, right? It might chase the Hana for a while, though, so we should… I don’t know.. gather information? It might give us a clue as to why they openly attacked us in the first place.” The more she rambled, the less confident the blonde Minkan felt, but there was little else that she could think of doing right at this moment.

Shinrin Yoku nodded, "You're right. That's the least we can do. Let's go forward ourselves to gain intel." In the blink of an eye, she was pushing through space quickly and determinedly with Mist behind her and soon they were at the entrance to the asteroid's refueling station.

The massive chrome structure extended outwards almost as much as the circumference of the hole that a ship would enter through. Along the edge of it that touched the asteroid itself was what looked like a metal railing, but it was much to big to be such. At the center of it all was the hole in which ships could pass and Shinrin looked to Mist before moving even more forward at a low speed. In the distance of the hollowed out asteroid was a dim verdant light she had the urge to float towards and explore, but an airlock with a deep green control panel was what she saw before she could get very far into the station.

She spoke out to Mist, "Best close in on this together, Mist-hei." She thrusted towards the airlock close enough to see a bit of a window into it and sent out an NSB to look into it. "All clear," Shinrin said as she looked to the blonde in the Mindy armor near her and she spoke again. "We'll sidle up on either side of the airlock, you can have an NSB open it with the controls, then we'll head in together. Sound clear?" Shinrin was already moved into position as she asked her last question.

As the duo approached the asteroid’s opposite side, Mist couldn’t help but gape at the sheer magnitude of the station. It must’ve taken a while to carve into the rock and set everything up. She set this mental note aside for now as they had discovered the airlock. The lighting gave her a slight chill for some reason, but the medic dismissed this feeling as silly at this critical moment. Her brown eyes peered through her helmet’s visor, making sure that no one else was around as her superior examined the airlock.

“Hai!” Mist replied to her Yoku’s order and released two NSB’s from her suit before getting into position opposite of the other girl. One was programmed to cover their backs and detect anyone or anything approaching; while the other began to work the airlock controls so that they could enter the facility. If the enemy had anyone stationed inside, either they already knew the power armored figures were coming or would be in for a rude awakening in a few moments.

The airlock cycled open and the chamber inside was metallic and worse for wear. Dingey on the edges and corners, it was much less than the sterile type of Star Army airlock the girls were used to. They entered in and soon the airlock behind them hissed closed just before the one in front of them opened. They were inside now.

What greeted them was a sitting mostly sienna colored and bare-bodied antlered woman with a white belly. She had hooves for feet and hoof-like hands that splayed out as she held what looked like a datapad in them. She was slightly turned away from the two of the YSS Hana personnel and about ten meters away, and seemed to be lost in her own little world.

Shinrin Yoku was furthest away from the creature and said to Mist, "Engage as if hostile."

Mist wrinkled her nose in disgust at the state of the airlock, but it would be hard to tell with her helmet on. The sight of the alien creature was even more puzzling, but they had the element of surprise this time. She brought her submachinegun to bear against her unaware opponent. Although a little upset at striking unarmed enemies, the medic did not recognize the exact species and was unsure of how dangerous they were even unarmed.

Plus, the image of Shelly’s death flashed through her mind as her finger lightly tugged on the trigger, sending a single burst of aether energy through the back of the creature’s head. The antlered woman’s head was vaporized instantly with surviving bits of her antlers flailing in multiple directions and her body collapsing into a twitching heap on the floor.

Swiftly moving to secure the area around the corpse, Mist used her first NSB to scout around the nearby corners to survey the immediate area as well as see if the commotion had alerted anyone else. She waved her companion forward as her probe did its work.
`
Mist's NSB's showed no signs of life through the passageways just near the entrance from the airlock and Shinrin got the data back from them with her leader support pack she had equipped dorsally. Shinrin Yoku came forward and studied the body on the floor while she squatted down.

"Whatever this is, I'm guessing it either supplied the ship that attacked us or is of the same species that did so. It was necessary to take it out," Shinrin said to Mist. "Let's continue."

The two made their way through several hallways and passages before they encountered a main reactor room that had a catwalk around a central glowing green reactor core with a spindly metal encasement from which several siphons and tubes were hooked up, which led outwards to a docking bay for ships.

"Any ideas?" Shinrin Yoku asked.

Recalling the scouting NSB to her suit, the medic made a mental note to reacquaint herself with the medical oath on a later date… when their lives weren’t in sudden peril. She simply nodded in acknowledgement of Yoku’s reasoning before continuing onward. The massive reactor room seemed to be bathed in the light from the core itself, and without much hesitation this time, Mist pointed towards the network of piping connected to it.

“Maybe we can sabotage the core? I am not sure how this technology would react to damage, but hopefully there is another ship that we could escape on in that docking area.” She shrugged before voicing her final idea, “Or we could search for a command center of some sort to look for answers first.” It wasn’t much to go by, and the facility itself seemed massive. Searching everywhere would take time, and that was a precious commodity that neither of the girls had at this time.

Sabotage it is," Shinrin said coolly. She looked to Mist and said, "I'll search for a getaway ship while you find a way to damage the core without blowing us both up in the process." She took a moment to breathe in, then out and then said, "It's been really fun working with you on the Hana, but especially today. Being alone with only one person, well..." She bit her lip, then cut herself short and nodded before she turned towards the docking bay and began sprinting.

Fun? Mist cocked her head to the side slightly while trying to decide if Yoku was joking or if she just had a… different definition for ‘fun’. Either way, the other girl had sprinted off, so it was now down to the medic to figure out how to rig the core to go boom. She nagivated the catwalk carefully while also keeping an eye out for more of those aliens. The one she killed earlier couldn’t have been the only one in this facility, so it would pay to be cautious.

Once closer to the reactor itself, the Minkan examined the metal encasement as well as the tubes hooked up to it. Attempting to analyze the data, she realized that her demolition skills were a bit lacking, but scans of the tubes and siphons revealed that many were inputs for some sort of coolant that was keeping the core’s temperature steady. A theory began to form into her mind that would need to be put to practice. Striking them at the base of the metal encasement with the butt of her submachinegun, Mist managed to break some off and knock others loose with a hiss of escaping pressure and vapors. The scanner in her helmet then detected an anomaly within the core, whose heat signatures began to rise steadily.

Her suit’s AI needlessly mentioned to her that the vapors were in fact toxic and to keep her helmet secured for the moment. Rolling her eyes slightly, she mentally interrogated the AI to ensure that her efforts weren’t wasted. While the core was being analyzed by her suit’s sensors, the radiant green that smothered out all other colors in the immediate area slowly turned a shade of red. Mist started to worry a bit, but the analysis was soon completed, indicating that the reactor was slowly going into a meltdown. If killing one of their companions hadn’t startled the rest of the alien crew, then this definitely would!

Shintin had secured a vessel, a fighter, and found most of the operations to be in trade. She counted herself lucky as she worked the controls.

"Mist-hei," Shinrin began. "We have a fighter. Make your way through the corridors I have outlined in your HUD to it. I have sent my coordinates. See you soon!"

She began powering up the craft and heard a creaking of metal as a antlered creature entered the fighter, ducking into it and aiming a gun directly at Shinrin. They both shot, but Shinrin had the wherewithal to lean out of the way and the other creature's shot missed as Shinrin's got its mark directly in the center of the lightly furred creatures chest.

Shinrin stepped forward quickly before the creature could slump to the ground and caught her, then threw her out of the fighter, onto the metal walkway outside of it. She leaned out of the fighter and noticed three of the creatures passing through the hallway, towards her position. She aimed and fired, hitting one and had to duck out of the way of incoming fire. She hoped Mist would arrive soon and take them out from behind as she began unloading shots from her forearm pulse cannons.

Having received Yoku’s message and confident that her sabotage was complete, Mist made her way back down the catwalk towards the designated area on her HUD. Unfortunately, her progress was hampered by incoming fire from behind her. Turning her head to the side while remaining in motion, she saw a little less than half a dozen of the antlered females charging after her, guns ablazing.

The medic bobbed and weaved as best she could to dodge their shots. Luckily for her, they weren’t that great of shots, and their fire seemed to strike the catwalk itself rather than her. She managed to round the corner behind cover at last down the path that her companion had taken, but her pursuers were hot on her heels.

“Shinrin-sama! I am under fire and retreating to your position. The sabotage was completed before my position was compromised. I will be there in a few moments.” Her breathing was a little rushed but mostly from the adrenaline rather than exhaustion. Hopefully, Yoku will have the fighter ready before Mist got there.

Shinrin said, "Acknowledged! There are enemies at my location, but I'm taking them out!" The Neko lifted her rifle and shot it out with one hand while pulsing out the cannon on her other forearm. She stuck down one, but not the other, who hit her shoulder and Shinrin watched as her status report on her HUD went from green down to yellow. She winced and took another hit to her leg before downing the last opponent. Mist would have a lot of bodies to step over when she made her way to Shinrin, who was retreating back to the fighter.

Sounds of gunfire echoed towards her, and Mist doubled her effort towards Yoku’s position. She rounded another corner right as the flash of fire began to chase after her again and almost tripped over the other girl’s kills. Not allowing her momentum to falter, the blonde Minkan leapt over the bodies in a single motion. Immediately seeing her wounded companion and their escape route, Mist kept up the pace towards safety. Whether they would be exactly safe in the captured fighter was yet to be seen, though. “We’ve got more coming!” She called out, panting slightly from the exertion, but not wanting to let up for fear of being left behind, “Let’s get out of here!”
 

Fay

Well-Known Member
Mar 21, 2007
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Deep Blue Sea
#2
Western Wastes
YSS Hana
4日 6月 YE 39
1330 Hours


The tension was almost palpable on the small bridge aboard the YSS Hana. Hushed whispers intermingled with the hustle and bustle of routine activity during maximum readiness condition. “Long-range communications are still being jammed. I can’t…” “Sublight engines at 120% operational capacity. At this rate…” “Waypoint Echo Niner reached! Pursuit confirmed! Helm, adjust heading by seven degrees and proceed to Waypoint…”

At the center of it all was a figure sitting in the command chair. Emerald eyes keenly glanced along the many displays available, most analyzing the reason for the surrounding storm of activity. Aware of, yet unbothered by the maelstrom around her, the silver-haired Neko allowed her attention to fall on the visual display of her foe, designated “Hana Opponent One” or “HO-1”. The unidentified, cruiser-sized warship continued to stalk after her beloved Hana and was ever so slowly gaining on its intended prey.

Bearing her glistening teeth in a defiant snarl, Karasume Yoroka-Taii acknowledge the inevitable: fight now or die a slow death anyways. There was no running from this one, unfortunately. Even if she chose to turn and bring her command’s own teeth to bear, there was no guarantee that victory could be found against such an unknowable enemy. Hana’s powerful sensors had recorded the vessel’s outburst against the away team, and she had no doubt that such weaponry would savage the scout ship just as badly.

A pang of sorrow at the death of her XO and friend struck her heart then, but Yoroka dutifully smothered the errant feeling back into the depths of her soul. Grieving would come later, but in the here and now, a ship captain must focus on keeping the rest of her crew alive. “Taii-sama?” A soft, but strong voice coming from her right broke into her dreary thoughts.

Turning to her companion, Yoroka looked over at him. Well, more so looked up to him as the Minkan standing before her was rather tall compared to the rest of the girls on the bridge. The AMES body suit he wore was the same shade of blue-gray as her own, but his athletic build was another stark contrast to everyone else. Gold-flecked, sapphire orbs returned her gaze, and she almost lost herself for a moment in their complexity before answering her subordinate.

“Yes, Skeller-Shoi?” Keeping her own smooth voice calm in the current situation was difficult, but if he noticed, no sign showed on his kind-looking oval face. Running a hand softly through his neatly-combed hair the color of dark cinnamon, Skeller Nikolei-Shoi glanced hesitantly at the surrounding bridge crew within earshot before continuing via private telepathy, “What do you plan to do, ma’am? We can’t hold out like this forever, and the girls…” His thought trailed off at the mention of the surviving away team members and the promise to return for them.

The neko’s shoulders tightened as she carefully responded, “I know, Niko…” Yoroka closed her own eyes, almost feeling her subordinate relax at the use of her pet name for him, which was sort of her ‘thing’ to do with the crew. “We may as well assume that the rest are dead by now.” She immediately raised a small hand to quell his predicable protest over such a statement. Knowing that he was ultimately correct, however, Yoroka finally opened her eyes and glanced at the distance range between hunter and prey. Too close… she thought to herself before turning her attention back to the last remaining command officer aboard.

“I have a plan,” the neko finally said aloud, flicking her long, silver hair behind her shoulder. Her sudden statement hushed the bridge immediately as their captain slowly rose from her seat and tapped the intercom on the arm of her command chair. A low-pitched whistle tone echoed throughout the small scout ship, indicating an announcement from the commanding officer. The three remaining infantry personnel, the medical specialist, and engineers all looked upwards in the respective locations aboard the ship as if listening to a message from the heavens.

With her crew’s utmost attention fixated solely on her, the last of the Karasume line spoke to them all for perhaps the last time. “Warriors of Yamatai, a moment of your time please.” The icy tone of her normally smooth voice ensured that it was not a request. “An enemy of unknown strength and origin seeks to bury its fangs into us and has already bloodied them on some of our own… Before we left on this mission, I swore an oath to bring you all home safely. It seems that this oath may yet remain unfulfilled…”

Yoroka let her words hang with a brief pause to allow the news to sink in. “However, I shall not stand idly by until their claws sink into our flesh! We shall face this foe and make them bleed in return. For Yamatai and for those we have lost! I will do my very best to get you home, and I hope that you can give me your best as well.” The snarl had returned to her features at this point as a battle plan formulated inside her mind. She could feel the eyes of her crew, especially those of Skeller-Shoi, on her now.

Hana’s captain finished her announcement, “All hands, man your battlestations and prepare for battle!” Without further ado, she depressed the intercom key to cutoff the audio input. Sitting back down in her chair, Yoroka tied her flowing silver locks back before lifting her helmet and securing it to her suit with a pressurized snap. When she looked right, her temporary XO had already secured his own helmet by this time along with the rest of the bridge crew. Nodding with approval, the next step would be to share her plans.

Turning first to the helmsman, “Weps, set new waypoints, designated Waypoints Foxtrot One, Two, and Tree, and commence an emergency portside turn on my command.” Yet again, another pet name, but this time being an abbreviation for Weapons since the pilot was also the ship’s gunner.

Without giving the girl a chance to respond, she had already turned to the Sensor Station to relay further orders. “Eyes and Ears, use our acquired sensor data to create targeting solutions and send them over to the helm. Without accurate information on weak points, destroying their weapons hardpoints are priority. Secondary targets include their engine compartments. If we can’t outgun them, then maybe we can cripple them enough to give up the chase.” The thin, child-like Neko informally nicknamed Ears gave her captain a devilish grin before helping her day-shift counterpart with the task.

Finally, she swiveled her chair towards the young-looking neko sitting at the Communications Station. An older Neko was standing next to her, giving some instruction to one of the newest members of the crew. Gaining both of their attention immediately, Yoroka took a deep breath before giving her last, solemn order, “Nikki-chan, please download all of our mission data, including the scans of this unknown vessel, into one of our probes. Once we execute the our emergency turn and face the enemy, I want you to launch the towards Yamataian space. Even should we fall, the mission cannot die with us…” The communications operator grew a pale, even more than usual, but to her credit, she nodded fervently with a simple “Hai, Taii-sama” response before getting to work under the tutelage of the other, more experienced operator.

Returning to her displays, Yoroka could feel Nikolei’s eyes on her still. She smiled gently and contacted him via mind link without turning from her own station, “Yes, Niko. I know what I just said, but… Even if there is almost no chance of them being alive, I can’t resign myself to not at least try to save them.” Although he didn’t reply, the big, stupid-looking grin on his helmeted face spoke volumes.
 

Ametheliana

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#3
Asteroid Field

Shinrin looked to Mist and hurriedly waved her hand towards herself, while she asked, "Can you pilot?" Though Shinrin knew what controls needed to be turned on to get it warmed up, she didn't necessarily have the skillset to make sure the fighter stayed in the air. "We'll need one of us to pilot and the other to handle weapons, from what I can tell!"

Bounding over to her companion, Mist did a glance over Yoku’s damaged power armor. “Are you alright, Yoku-chan… I mean, Shinrin-Heisho?” Her face flushed a little at accidently using a more familiar term for her superior, but the adrenaline and her concern had temporarily caused a breach in protocol. “I can fly this thing… maybe? It’s been a while since I’ve flown anything, but I will try!” The echoing sound of approaching footsteps from the path that the medic had just arrived from indicated that reinforcements were almost there.

"Good!" Shinrin said, "I'm good and that's good that you can pilot! I'll take weapons ops. Sit down and get ready!" Shinrin Yoku said as she sat at the seat directly behind the pilot's. We're ready to set sail when you are!"

She was nervous, but ready and Shinrin meant to make sure these creatures never messed with Yamatai again in any way possible. She buckled in and looked determinedly to Mist.

"Are you ready?" Shinrin asked.

A concerned expression planted itself on Mist’s face as she planted her own behind into the pilot’s seat. “I am ready,” she said finally, trying to feign confidence, “Let’s get out of here!” On saying this, the fighter came to life under her controls. With the assistance of her PA’s AI, she was able to discern most of the functions of all of the knobs and doohickeys that lay on the control panel before her. Thankfully, the alien device was stick shift, and the medic-turned-pilot gently massaged the control stick as if it were a.. Well, Mist had better not think about such things right now.

The fighter gently rose from its berth just as a group Elefirn finally rounded the same corner Mist had not moments before. They saw the fighter turning away from them towards the shielded hangar bay doors and freedom and raised their weapons in almost unison in an attempt to shoot the duo down. This would prove futile as the blonde Minkan immediately punched the engines once her craft had lined up with the exit. The exhaust from the fighter’s engines immediately knocked the Elefirn soldiers down to the ground as Mist and Yoku suddenly found themselves in open space. The outside of the asteroid facility seemed much more menacing than when they had arrived, but they had escaped for the moment.

Mist gave a sigh of relief once they had put a little distance from the hangar bay. “Are you alright back there?” she hoped her voice sounded calmer even though her inner feelings were still in a turmoil of thundering adrenaline. It didn’t seem like the facility had any exterior defenses, but the reactor core melting down might be a higher priority for any active defenders.

"I'm managing!" Shinrin said to Mist as she spoke over comms to her. "I'm doing just fine. Armor's a little damaged, but for the most part, I'm peaches. Thanks for piloting. You're doing a great job. Now, see if you can get us back into a position to scout for the Hana. We've got to find them!"

In truth, now that they were off of the base and in the asteroid field, a nervous edge was seeping into Shinrin's thoughts. She didn't know what to think about the feeling, only that she felt uneasy.

A soft blush found its way to Mist’s cheeks at her superior’s praise. She continued to fly, or at least attempt to, in a straight-ish direction, being sure to avoid the larger rocks floating about this denser part of the asteroid field. Just as the medic was getting the hang of the controls, several beams of light barraged past their small fighter. The starboard engine took a hit and erupted into flames. With the sudden shift in their momentum, the fighter began to spin wildly.

Several rock chunks pounded the fighter as it spiraled past them, leaving dents and scrapes along the thin hull. Her suit’s AI frantically directed warning signals to her visor. “Warning! Warning! Collision imminent!” Dismissing the annoying and distracting imagery with a not-so-nice mental thought, Mist flipped a switch highlighted on her HUD that the AI assessed to have the most beneficial effect. Fortunately, it was not wrong as the switch cut the engine off from fuel and oxygen. The fire immediately went out in the void of space, leaving the metal orange from the heat which rapidly faded as the heat was leeched out of the wounded engine.

Regaining control by adjusting the power outputs, the blonde Minkan managed to pull back on the control stick just before they smashed into another massive asteroid probably half the side of the facility. “That was close…” she whispered before attempting to locate the enemy. Her breathing was rapid still as she dared a glance back at Yoku, “Did you see what hit us, Yoku-chan?” They were down to almost half thruster power, and whatever had attacked them must have been fast and nimble... like a power armor.
 

Fay

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Deep Blue Sea
#4
YSS Hana

The crew took less than 30 minutes to prepare the scout ship for battle, and the enemy cruiser edged ever closer with each passing moment. Karasume Taii was in the middle of a heated argument with the chief of engineering as the last few stations declared their readiness. “-engines just can’t handle any more pressure, Taii-sama!” The chief’s husky voice rang out from the command chair’s intercom. Yoroka nodded softly before realizing that the other person in the conversation could not see her as the link was audio only. “I understand, Cheng. I do not plan on pushing them much further, but please do what you can in the meantime.”

There was a moment of silence as a deep sigh was barely audible over the normal din of the engine room. “You know I don’t like it when you call me that, ma’am…” The normally brusque voice sounded unusually tired now. The captain did not blame her. YSS Hana had been at maximum Condition Readiness for a few hours now, and the stress was beginning to take its toll on her night shift crew. However, she wouldn’t let the circumstances change the way she conducted business. “You’ll survive, Cheng! By the way, has Tools finished manually configuring the first salvo in the aft tubes?”

Another moment of silence led the captain to imagine the burly Minkan woman down in engineering sighing up a storm. The thought brought a wicked smile to her dark lips before she finally received a response, “Yes, Taii-sama. She just got back.” Yoroka’s smile turned genuine as her plans were nearing completion. “Very well. Please thank her for me, and…” There was a pause of her own before continuing, “If we make it through this, first round of drinks are on me.” A snort was audible over the line before it was cut from the other side.

Maybe in another lifetime, we’d have been friends… The bronze-skinned neko thought to herself briefly before returning to the task at hand. If the bridge crew had heard the last part of the conversation, they didn’t show it… except for Nikolei. He had that big, stupid grin on his face again. Attempting to ignore him, Yoroka stood from her command chair and addressed the entire crew once more over the ship-wide intercom briefly, “All hands, prepare for an emergency portside turn.” She cut the link with a soft click of the button before turning to her helmsman.

Hana’s captain nodded gently before giving the order, “Alright, Weps… Launch the aft salvo and take us around to face them.” The scout ship’s aft torpedo tubes spit out a torpedo each towards their pursuer. The range between the ships was still too great for the warheads to reach their target, though. As if knowing this fact, the Elefirn cruiser seemed to lurch faster as if sensing that its prey was growing desperate. This was not the case, of course. The torpedoes were never meant to hit anything. After reaching a certain distance, both warheads ignited, releasing wide anti-matter explosions meant to blind the approaching ship’s sensors.

Such a distraction allowed the YSS Hana to execute its abrupt turn. Near the end of the turn, the aft shuttle bay doors opened, and a Ke-O5-1a multifunction drone preprogrammed by the communications operators was ejected out into space. Filled with mission data and, perhaps most importantly, information on the previously unknown class of enemy warship, the drone oriented itself briefly before launching towards 2XF territory, acting as a courier should the Hana fall. In the meantime, the scout ship completed its turn and accelerated towards the enemy cruiser.

Yoroka’s blood pounded in her head as the range distance between the two vessels shrank almost immediately. The anti-matter cloud dispersed long before the enemy cruiser could pass through it, but they faced an unexpected turn of events. Their prey had grown bold, but now their lesson of humility could begin. The scout ship’s forward torpedo tubes belched out several anti-shield torpedoes before its positron accelerator cannons opened fire as well. The enemy cruiser’s shields took the brunt of the punishment, but by the time another salvo of torpedoes, aether-tipped this time, spewed out from the YSS Hana, said shields had completely fallen. The Hana’s cannons had little time to ravage the open hull before the cruiser’s weaponry finally returned fire.

The Midori-class scout ship trembled under the relentless barrages. Her own shields could only take so much punishment before failing altogether. Several energy bolts pierced the bow and portside of the smaller ship. The small bridge was teeming with alarms and shouts. Yoroka calmly blocked out the unnecessary noise and focused on the girl manning the damage control station to the right and behind her command chair. “Damage Report: Severe hull damage and depressurization detected! Damage to the following areas: Deck 2, Armory; Deck 2, Cargo Bay; Deck 1 Medbay…” she called. The captain silently took in all of the reports, and fear for her crew’s safety welled in her gut.

“Emergency countermeasures initiated…” Damage Control’s updates were violently interrupted by another massive hit that almost knocked everyone to the deck. In a flash of molten metal and explosive decompression, the portside bulkhead of the bridge imploded before the fragments and fire were immediately sucked out by the sudden vacuum. Those nearest the bulkhead that were not instantaneously incinerated became living torches as they were dragged into the void.

Yoroka herself felt the pain of the flames as her arm instinctively raised to shield her face. Spikes of blooming pain crawled up her arm as the flames briefly licked her flesh underneath the AMES suit, and a cry of pain escaped her lips. The sudden rush of escaping atmosphere also caused her to tumble away from her command chair towards the gaping maw that once was the bridge bulkhead and XO’s quarters beyond. Fortunately, Nikolei was fast on his feet and dived to save his captain. He managed to catch her right hand, but in doing so, her rapid tumble was suddenly arrested, causing the ground to meet Yoroka’s helmeted head just before darkness took her.

The neko deemed 'Eyes' tumbled out of her chair and gripped the seat as her body was pulled out of the ship. She looked behind her, seeing the captain and XO fighting for the captain's life. She tried to regain control just as Yoroka hit the ground, but another burst of air being sucked out of the ship caused her to be pulled out of it, lost to the vastness of space.

Weps was shaken, but not forcefully pulled as she held onto her console with a white-knuckled grip. She had just one opportunity to move the ship and took it, pivoting the Hana in a way that made most of those on the ship be forced away from the tear in the hull. She then refocused her attention on weapons. She would make sure the enemy cruiser felt the pain that they were experiencing if it was the last thing she did.The Neko deemed 'Eyes' tumbled out of her chair and gripped the seat as her body was pulled out of the ship. She looked behind her, seeing the captain and XO fighting for the captain's life. She tried to regain control just as Yoroka hit the ground, but another burst of air being sucked out of the ship caused her to be pulled out of it, lost to the vastness of space.

Weps was shaken, but not forcefully pulled as she held onto her console with a white-knuckled grip. She had just one opportunity to move the ship and took it, pivoting the Hana in a way that made most of those on the ship be forced away from the tear in the hull. She then refocused her attention on weapons. She would make sure the enemy cruiser felt the pain that they were experiencing if it was the last thing she did.
 

Ametheliana

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#5
Asteroid Field

"We have incoming targets!" Shinrin Yoku said. "Two port and one aft. All in power armor. Engaging now!" The Ittô Heisho shot out the two sets of turrets on either side and clipped one power armored creature while blasting another out of the space it was occupying. The power armored enemy quickly regained their position, though. "We're going to need more heat!" Shinrin exclaimed. She then maneuvered the turrets to continue firing, making it so the power armored creatures needed to constantly weave away and from the ammo pushing out from the fighter. While that was happening, she launched a mini-missile pod and its contents knocked out one of the creatures.

"One down!" Shinrin said. "Mist-chan! Can you get them in range of the torps on this thing? I don't know exactly where they're located, but I can only assume they shoot from the bow."

The pressure the other woman was laying down on the enemy power armor allowed Mist to evade any further damage to the fighter. Unfortunately, the damaged engine would prevent them from escaping their nimble pursuers. “Uh..” she analyzed the dashboard, trying to figure out if this thing even had torpedoes to begin with! “One sec! Hold on to something!” Slamming the control stick towards the right, the fully functional engine effectively rotated the fighter abruptly, pointing the bow as well as any torpedo launchers towards the fast approaching enemy. Doing so had also slowly their acceleration to a crawl, though, so they would be sitting ducks if Yoku couldn’t figure out how to fire in time.The pressure the other woman was laying down on the enemy power armor allowed Mist to evade any further damage to the fighter.

Unfortunately, the damaged engine would prevent them from escaping their nimble pursuers. “Uh..” she analyzed the dashboard, trying to figure out if this thing even had torpedoes to begin with! “One sec! Hold on to something!” Slamming the control stick towards the right, the fully functional engine effectively rotated the fighter abruptly, pointing the bow as well as any torpedo launchers towards the fast approaching enemy. Doing so had also slowly their acceleration to a crawl, though, so they would be sitting ducks if Yoku couldn’t figure out how to fire in time.

The pressure the other woman was laying down on the enemy power armor allowed Mist to evade any further damage to the fighter. Unfortunately, the damaged engine would prevent them from escaping their nimble pursuers.

“Uh..” she analyzed the dashboard, trying to figure out if this thing even had torpedoes to begin with! “One sec! Hold on to something!” Slamming the control stick towards the right, the fully functional engine effectively rotated the fighter abruptly, pointing the bow as well as any torpedo launchers towards the fast approaching enemy. Doing so had also slowly their acceleration to a crawl, though, so they would be sitting ducks if Yoku couldn’t figure out how to fire in time.
 

Fay

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Mar 21, 2007
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Deep Blue Sea
#6
YSS Hana

Nikolei had caught the captain, but she had gone suddenly limp. He barely had time to register Eyes’ disappearance into the void, but failing to save her as well would later come back to haunt him in his dreams for years to come. The two remaining command officers aboard the YSS Hana continued to slip across the deck towards their own descent into the fathomless depths of space, and without missing a beat, the Shoi’s other hand pulled out the AMES’ grappling thread gun in order to shoot an adhesive polymer towards the opposite bulkhead. However, the action was ultimately redundant as the ship’s emergency services finally came online and sealed the breach with a near-invisible force field. The whole event had lasted mere moments before the bridge’s integrity was reestablished, but it had felt like ages to the survivors.

The Minkan officer nearly collapsed as relief washed over him. A soft moan from the woman in his arms indicated that Yoroka yet lived. Turning her over onto her back, he laid his captain carefully out on the deck before examining her wounds. The AMES helmet covering her head was haphazardly cracked, but thankfully the seal seemed to be holding strong. Her left arm, however, was a totally mess. Burnt skin was visible through torn sections of body suit, but she was still alive. Nikolei silently praised whatever deity that was watching over her as Yoroka began to stir.

As consciousness returned to the Neko, the first thing that came to mind was the pain. Not only in her arm, but a massive migraine had implanted itself into her forehead. Groaning softly, Yoroka tried to rise, but strong hands were holding her down. Carefully opening her eyes and immediately regretting it, she found herself looking up at almost a dozen Nikolei’s swimming around her vision before they finally merged into the real one. “What happened?” she managed after a moment of recovery, but before he could explain, the captain shook her head as the memories returned. “Ugg.. We have a battle to continue.” Any objection from her subordinate was quelled in its infancy by the icy glare in her emerald eyes.

Starting to feel a bit better, Yoroka pushed Nikolei away from her and sat up slowly. Looking over to the two remaining crew members aboard the bridge, her heart plummeted to the bottom of her very soul. Tears tried to form around her eyes, but again she bit down on such unneeded emotions during the current crisis. With Nikolei’s assistance, she was able to stand finally before calling out to her helmsman, “Weps… get us out of here. Take us to where we left the away team, but make sure we hurt those bastards good on our way out.”

Her command chair was tilted at an odd angle as the blast had unhinged it from the deck, so Yoroka remained standing. Nikolei hovered nearby, however, as she gazed down at the display screens. Another rumble of the decks meant that weapons fire was still incoming. She addressed the Neko still sitting at the Damage Control Station without turning towards her, “Snowflake, I need you to forward all damage reports to my command displays.” When no response arrived, the Taii flicked her gaze towards the girl. The annoyance at being ignored melted into sympathy as the junior enlisted member before her was abnormally pale and appeared to be in shock. “Snowflake…” her tone had softened, finally attracted the younger Neko’s attention. “It’s okay. We’ll be okay. Just get me the reports. Okay?” Recognition seemed to dawn on Snowflake’s face, and the sky blue-haired girl nodded quickly during her stuttered reply, “H-hai, T-T-Taii-sama!”

Turning back to her displays again, Yoroka finally noticed that the YSS Hana had actually just passed the enemy cruiser, which was now attempting to turn to reengage its prey. However, it was bleeding atmosphere as well, meaning that at least some of their earlier torpedoes had struck true. Its ungainly turn would also take precious time and leave it vulnerable in the meantime. With a small snarl, she gave the order to open fire with the aft torpedo tubes which were now loaded with deadly aether payloads.

Weps moved the ship the way she needed it to slightly glance past the enemy cruiser and began shooting out the positron accelerator cannons towards the hostile target while forcing the Hana to rocket fully past the cruiser.

As she did, the fighter manned by the sole survivors of the away team was pushing ever more closer towards them...
 

Ametheliana

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#7
Asteroid Field

Yoku had been nearly thrown from her seat and was gripping the buckle of the seatbelt as Mist maneuvered the craft diligently.

"Good going, Mist-chan!" Yoku spoke out after she was done turning the starcraft and then worked the controls to release two salvos of torpedoes. She only hoped they would meet their marks.

One of the armors blew up in an exhilirating explosion just before the other met a similar end.

"We did it!" Shinrin Yoku exclaimed. "We did, we did! Now... To find the Hana and avoid any further mishaps!”

“Nice shooting, Yoku-chan!” Mist called, feeling the sweat under her armor as she fought to control her breathing. They had done it. With a sigh of relief, her eyes focused down onto the controls. “I… think that I can set up a communications channel, but we should focus on getting to the outer edges of the asteroid field for maximum effect.”

The fighter turned, softer this time, towards a navpoint that her AI assured her was the last known location of the YSS Hana. The sensors aboard the small craft were not powerful enough to penetrate the fields of rocks surrounding them, but there was another solution to their problem.

Flipping another switch, Mist saw a green light appear on her dashboard and turned towards her superior, “I have opened up a general channel for you… at least, I hope so. Can you try hailing the YSS Hana while I pilot us out of here? It would be an utter shame if they find us first…” She left her sentence unfinished as they both would know that their ship would likely treat any unknown vessel as a hostile at this point.
 
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Fay

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Deep Blue Sea
#8
YSS Hana

Yoroka smiled approvingly as Weps did a wonderful job. They had cleared the enemy cruiser and started to gain distance while the larger ship wasted time in a wide arc turn, leaving its vulnerable engines exposed to the Midori scout ship’s aft torpedo tubes. If they were lucky, a single torpedo salvo would cripple, if not outright destroy, the other warship. “Send them back to hell, Weps,” her voice had gone cold. No one who hurt her family would go unpunished. However, there was still much to do, and if that ship had friends out there, the Hana would be in dire trouble. “But keep pushing us at maximum speed back to the away team. We need to get out of here!”

Turning to the Shoi still hovering over her, Yoroka sighed softly before becoming all business again. “Niko, help Snowflake rig her work station to be the new sensor station. I will try to link both interior and exterior comms through my own station. If the girls are waiting for pickup, then we need to see and hear them. Another pang of guilt washed over her as this last poorly worded order brought up the memory that half of her bridge were no longer with them.

Nikolei bowed quietly and paced over to the still shaken Neko on the damage control station. “Snowflake,” he whispered, causing her to jump a little, “Let’s get you set up.” His warm smile seemed to help, and Snowflake bobbed her azure head in agreement. Her icy cerulean eyes returned to her work station as she prepped it for accepting data from the ship’s powerful sensors. The Shoi meanwhile crawled underneath the station and began rewiring some of the components. With a blush slowly creeping over her pale face, Snowflake was suddenly grateful that she was wearing the AMES suit rather than a standard issue skirt uniform.

One more torpedo salvo was loosened by Weps as the Hana rocketed past the cruiser.

"That should do the trick!" the weapons operator said across the bridge, eagerly looking to the captain before looking back to her own console to see what damage had been done. A lot was riding on this last salvo and she wanted to know it was all worth it.
 

Ametheliana

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#9
Asteroid Field

Yoku excitedly spoke out over comms, "This is Ittô Heisho Shinrin Yok of the YSS Hana, a Star Army of Yamataian vessel. Please come in."

She looked over to Mist, then forward as she repeated her transmission.
 
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Fay

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#10
YSS Hana

The torpedo salvoes let loose by the YSS Hana seemed to take ages to reach the Elefrin cruiser, but they eventually met their mark. Unfortunately, only a first got through before the cruiser’s shields regenerated, eating up the rest of the aether torpedoes. However, the one that got through flew true, annihilating an entire section of portside engine compartment. The elongated turn of the cruiser became a lopsided spin before the enemy helm could correct for the lost engine.

Seeing the enemy ship flounder for several minutes caused a cry of victory to emerge from Yoroka. She didn’t care that most of the ammunition was wasted… They had hurt the bastards, and that was enough for her. “Nice shooting, We-“ Her congratulations were interrupted by the communications system that had been diverted to her command station. “..It… Heisho… ana… …Please come in.”

Her blood ran cold for a second as if she was hearing ghosts, but the captain dutifully tried to boost the signal. It was faint but coming from fairly close to the away team’s last known position. “Snowflake, Niko, I have an incoming signal… Do you have the sensors online again?”

A thud of flesh on metal coupled with a few muttered curses indicated without even glancing over there that the Shoi had hit his head while working under the station. “Hai, Taii-sama! Snowflake, use the smaller screen on your left-hand side.” The snowy Neko dutifully began manipulating the controls with a mixture of hand movements and then the SPINE interface.

It wasn’t the most perfect connection, but she was able to ‘see’ where the signal was coming from. “There is a small craft approximately 3,657 kilometers 23 degrees true from our current position. It appears to have a similar signature as the enemy cruiser.” Her soft voice seemed distant and almost automated, and a shiver ran up her real spine under the influence of the interface connection.

“Very well,” Yoroka responded, a tough decision on her heart. Was it a trap? Could they have sampled the away team’s voices to lure the Hana into an ambush. Making a decision finally, the silver-haired Neko turned to her helmsman. “Weps… prepare the accelerator cannons and take us in. We have to know for sure… and if this is a ruse, I want you to cut down that craft before his friends show up!”

Turning back to her command station, the captain continued boosting the signal. If it really was the away team like she hoped, then any chance was worth the risk. They had come too far to turn back now anyways. The sacrifice of Eyes, Ears, and the rest couldn’t be in vain. The universe wouldn’t be so cruel… could it? Finishing her adjustments, she slammed the transceiver button before replying to the cry for help with tears in her eyes.
 
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#11
Asteroid Field

Mist had almost given up hope while Yoku continuously repeated her message into the void of space. She didn’t want to name the odds of the Hana actually being in range.. especially inside an aster- Her train of thought was interrupted by a static-laced, yet almost clear transmission in response to Yoku’s hail.

“Ittô Heisho, this is Karasume-Taii of the YSS Hana. We are closing.. your signal. Please advise as to … status of you.. -way team. We are coming for you, girls. Be.. safe.”

The medic’s heart almost leapt from her chest, and the fighter nearly crashed into the nearest rock formation in response. Immediately calming herself enough to actually not get them killed, her excited voice was a blur of words, “Theyheardustheyheardus! You are the best, Yoku-chan! WHOO-HOO!” Tears were rolling down her cheeks as a giggle fit almost threatened their safety once again.

Shinrin Yoku looked to Mist ecstatically, "We—we did it?" She took a moment before saying, "We did! We did it!"

She replied back to the YSS Hana. "This is the away team! Shinrin-heisho and Mist-hei. We've been able to secure an enemy craft. Waiting for you to come to us!"
 
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Fay

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#12
YSS Hana

Hearing Yoku’s voice more clearly now, the ship captain breathed a sigh of relief as they continued to approach the captured craft. Another message from the internal comm network pinged her terminal just then. Switching the external transmission with the away team survivors over to Snowflake to handle, Yoroka had to clear her throat before answering.

“Skipper…” It was the burly chief of engineering again, but the use of a family nickname for a ship’s captain and the tone in her voice seemed like she didn’t want to fight again, “You need to get to the Wardroom. We’ve setup a temporary medbay there. …It’s Tools…” The Yamataian woman didn’t have to say anything further. “I’m on my way,” Yoroka said quickly before deactivating the link and practically running off of the bridge.

Her arm burned incessantly, but here was no time for that now. All Yoroka could think about was that another one of her crew may be dying… and it was all her fault! Fortunately, the Wardroom was very close to the Bridge on the layout of a Midori-class Scout Ship. Entering her destination revealed a mess of first aid equipment, scratch marks, and a blood trail on the deck. Three power armored figures dominated the room, but one of them was laying prone on deck. Her armor was battered, but the Neko inside was conscious and quietly talking to one of the other figures leaning over her.

Yoroka instantly recognized the serious-faced infantry commander as the other woman. The other woman glanced up and nodded to the ship’s captain politely before continuing her conversation in hush tones. The scratch marks led up to the prone Neko, indicating that she’d been dragged into the Wardroom from somewhere else. The blood trail, on the other hand led to a corner of the room to Yoroka’s right, where the final power armored Neko sat. Her right arm was missing, but overall she seemed fine. Her stub was no longer bleeding, at least.

Walking past the three PA pilots, Yoroka finally saw to her left the winged back of Tools. The blonde-haired Elysian woman was turned away but standing on her own… a good sign. Approaching slowly, the silver-haired Neko punched the release on her helmet with a hiss before removing it entirely. “Tools..?” she called, fearful of what might happen. With a deep smile, Tools finally turned around, revealing a shivering mass huddled close by. “Look who I found pounding on the airlock to be let in from the cold?” The Elysian’s soft voice was especially sweet with this surprise.

Even through the frost on her AMES suit and the thick blanket over top of that, she would recognize those baby blue orbs anywhere! “EYES!” Yoroka practically screamed with joy. Rushing over to the smaller Neko, she practically tackled the poor thing. Not caring that Eyes’ AMES suit was ice cold to the touch, Yoroka let the tears fall as she cuddled the ghost that had come back to life. “Everything will be okay, now… We are safe,” was all she could say before outright sobbing into the young girl’s hair.

END