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RP: YSS Aeon [Mission 3.2] - Beginnings and Recoveries

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The park was on the upper portion of the starbase. When Saki and Takamori entered they were met with the smell of moist soil, and fragrant flowers. On the far wall the Yamatain sun hung above the horizon. A small hillock lay ahead of them. From the entrance a path made its way to the left and right. Somewhere in the park a Yamataian Scissor-Tail Flycatcher's sang its distinctive song.
Takamori was not sure what he had expected but certainly nothing so... natural. A small sized area, maybe, with bushes, a few trees and a grassy feel. Definitely no animals. The reality was staggering.

Right now, he understood how Arai-san felt. A park on this scale would have been small back home but on a space station? It was something he had to take a minute to comprehend.

And it was not faked in any way. Takamori walked up to a bush that was flowering. It was real. All of these plants were ones that were often associated with the Yamataian capital. Nostalgia creeped into him. "Wow... they even have birds... how do they maintain all of this?"
"Lots of hard work and love." came from behind one of the shrubs. Then a blue haired Neko stood up. "However, it is a labor of love for me. Most of these plants are native to Yamatai. I keep hoping that the Aeon will bring back some unique flowers to add to our collection.

But alas, with the war there has not been much time for gathering plants. There is one small tree over in the west quadrant, that came from Takara in UX-27 star system. It produces a small red fruit that is very sweet, similar to a cherry, but with a very unique taste. Feel free to sample a few if you happen near it."

The technician resumed her work of pruning the shrub.
Saki was in awe. This was really something. She was in nature in Fort Ready but this was something else. This was piece of life in strict mechanical body of the station. A small refuge.

Saki sat on her heels and felt greass next to the road. She wanted to reply to Saito but technician was faster. "This all is really beautigul... ma'am." Saki stood up and leaned forward to see what other neko was doing. She was blue-haired like Saki, which made Saki thinking. Does that acutally mean actually? Probably not.
"Aren't you afraid of introducing an aggressive plant or insect species which could unbalance the entire habitat?" Takamori asked the technician. His family would never believed he'd been to a park on a space station. They probably thought the way he did, that it was going to be a dull existence within layers of grey steel and armor plating, occasionally punctuated by combat in a power armor on some remote, insignificant, uninhabited planet.

"Arai-san... I'm guessing you're as stunned as I am..."
The Neko put down her pruning shears, "By the way I am Matsumoto-Santo Juni." She smiled at Takamori, "We are careful about any plants we introduce to the biosphere. That species was kept in isolation for a year before we brought it into the park. During that time, all aspects of it were carefully checked. From the pollen to its nutritional requirements, to what it put into the soil. Only then was it deemed safe."

"I take pride in this park, its a microcosm. It also gives us a place to get away from the sterile world of ships. Its been more than two years since I've been off this starbase." She said with a grin.
Takamori nodded. That method made sense. "Thank you for your patience, Matsumoto-Santo Juni," he bowed to her.

He straightened and looked to Arai-san. The Yamataian did not want to leave her but he wanted to see more of this place. Something he could not do if he joined the sitting Neko.
Saki looked at Saito and quickly bowed to Matsumoto. "T-Thank you Matsumoto-Juni!" She hurried to thank too before standing next to Saito again. "Do you wanna see the lake first?" She asked innocently looking around.
"Sure, the lake sounds like a good place to start." Takamori gestured for Arai-san to lead the way. "Ladies first. I'm your wing."

The scenery here was breathtaking, though Takamori was mostly impressed by how much effort was expended to keeping this eco-sphere sustained. Might that effort and energy not be better off spent on increasing logistics? But then, he could not think of a better way to help front line units relieve their stress than in an environment that replicates the comfort of home.

"Arai-san, have you seen combat yet?" Taka asked the Neko.
He came back from the interview a little lighter on his feet but he thought about the excercise that cost them their simulated lives in boot camp. He sighed to himself, and walked to the park to take a look around. As he arrived a bird settled on his shoulder and chirped as if it were talking to him. "You birds have it so easy. You may have to fight to survive but at least you don't make as many mistakes as I do." He said to the bird. The bird continued to chirp as if there were no one there.
"This very comforting and nice change from the metal corridors." Saki said looking around and enjoying small breeze. How did they make a breeze? probably with some special ventilation systems.

Then Saito asked the question. It was perfectly reasonable question and Saki had no problem answering it. "I have not," was the answer and she was not shy and continued. "I am only little over three months old. All I know is training facilities and my short time in Fort Ready. I have not seen any real battle yet. Only simulation in final examination before graduation. But it seemed very realy, we stood against Rippers in space. There was also shocktrooper and I have to say that they are very formidablle enemies. At least if it was close to the reality."

She did not talk about other part of simulation, because she did not want to think about it.
So she was just as green as he was. Takamori nodded and inhaled deeply. "It even smells different from the rest of the station's air. Naturally recycled," he said, with a chuckle.

When Arai-san mentioned the Rippers and shocktrooper, he nodded his head, impressed with her training. "Wow. Your training program sounds more advanced than mine. I did face simulated Rippers a few times but never a shocktrooper. But then... I did spend a lot more time in demolitions training rather than combat sims."

They rounded a corner in the pathway and before them was the lake. Or rather, more of a pond. A large pond but not something that Takamori would have called a lake. In it were many carp of different colors and sizes, lazily gliding through the clear waters.

All in all, fairly normal.
"I myself really did not face the Shocktrooper." Saki replied while walking by Saito. "There was one in simulation but I did not engaged it," She said like nothing happened. That was just mission after all, she had her targer and orders. Everything was simple.

At first when they reached pond, Saki cheered up again. It was beautiful. Maybe for Saito it seemed like small pond, but for Saki it was large quantity of water. She was not afraid to call it lake. She sat on her heel by the side and watched fish swimming in it. Carps looked very relaxed and non-caring for anything.

Saki suddenly started thinking a little differently. Here and now, she was in the park, where there is lake and trees and all the fish and animals. How exactly are these creature different from her? Maybe they are not intelligent, maybe they live shorter, but in the end they live their lives too. Is it same with NMX? Do they just want to live their lives like these creatures? Like Yamataian-citizens want to? Are they just soldiers like she was?

She quickyl shaked her head to perish the thought. She was soldier adn she must not think like this. She suddenly felt something wer on her cheek. She put her finger there to found a tear racing down on her face. She looke back at Saito. "S-Saito-san," she started with strange unsettled voice. "Am I broken?" She asked.
At first, Takamori thought it was a joke of some sort. "Well, if you are, then we should check your warranty," he said, trying to play along.

But then, he realized that she was being entirely serious. He sat down to her left and placed his right arm around her shoulder. His siblings always liked it when he did this, saying it was comforting.

"So, what makes you think you're broken? Was it something I said?" he asked softly.
By now Saki was sobbing and teares were coming down from her cheeks. "N-no, no." She quickly replied. "You did nothing wrong." She added and looked in the water again, just so she would not have to face Saito.

"I-I just was thinking. And my thoughts were wrong. I was thinking that-" she paused for another sob. "I am a soldier. I am supposed to guard empire and I am will sacrifice myself for it without second thought. Yet now I was thinking about Mishu, and that they might be like us and not monster and abominations. T-those are clearly wrong thoughts. I-I think I am broken." She said.
Philosophy and existentialism were not something Taka had done much studying in. Like religion, it was too abstract for him to really understand. Nonetheless, he desperately needed what little he knew right now.

"Okay, lie back," Taka pulled her back and did likewise so that both of them were staring at the ceiling above them. "Close your eyes and ... just listen for a few minutes."

This was something he had done with his sister when she had gotten really upset after something at school. It had worked then, might work now.

His right arm was still around her shoulder, now held to the ground. But that was alright.

Time passed silently, save for the breeze and the sound of animals. Takamori opened his eyes and spoke, "Your definition of a soldier is wrong. Well, maybe not wrong but incomplete. A soldier has to think, to know right from wrong. Otherwise, what is to keep us from doing evil things ourselves?"

"The Mishhu are living, sentient creatures but what they want, what they do to others hurts people. They do not want to share the galaxy, they want absolute control for their own purposes. They don't love things, they don't care for emotions like we do. The Mishhu take what they want without regard to others."

"You sound like your only purpose is to be a soldier and care about the Empire. Well, I say you're wrong. You care too much about others and not enough about yourself. I love the Empire and I love my family but I'm not going to volunteer for a suicide mission just because it will protect the Empire. If I die, my family will mourn me and that is something I absolutely refuse to allow. Plus, I want a family of my own one day so I don't intend to let duty tell me to disregard my life.

You need to start caring about something besides the Empire. I'm out here protecting my family. What are you protecting, besides the Empire?"
Saki was lying down and listening to the Saito. Although she did not agree with all of that, it was making sense, it was nice to hear all that. Right up to the end. She quickly sat down and looked on Saito. "How can you say that? Empire made I owe them my existence! I must care about Empire and well-being of its citizens! I have been made and trained to do so!" SHe said very quickly. She did not soudn angry, she was more of a surprised.
Yoshiro decided to go back to his quarters after the trip to the arcade. He walked by Saki talking to someone and he walked past them quietly as he made his way back to his quarters. He arrived at his quarters and decided to write a letter to his family back home.

Dear mom and dad,
I hope that this letter finds you all well and happy with where you are. I just had the interview with my Taisa and it went as well as I could hope for. I wanted to tell you guys I am shipping out soon, though I don't know when or where, and tell you that I love you guys. I probably won't be able to get to write you as often as I like but there will be times that you do get letters from me. Just know that I don't do this to be a show off or to be rebellious as I would have done the time when I was young but to protect you. Anyways, not much to report other than that but I will get back to you as soon as I can.

He finished the letter and folded it into an envelope with the address of his family back on Yamatai. He headed down to the post office to get a stamp and to mail the letter.
Maybe it was not going to be as easy as comforting his sister, after all. Arai-san obviously had a completely different world view, one not coloured by the experience of growing up in a family. And without the joys and sorrows of family, how could any creature know the indescribable ties which bind family? The bird which lived here probably had a better understanding of what he meant than the Neko beside him.

"Arai-san, what do you love? What are you here to protect?" he asked simply, looking her in the eyes. Takamori knew he was asking a very difficult question to someone who seemed to have a child's understanding of the world.

Takamori may be new to the wider world outside of his home planet, but he still had two decades of experience. Those growing pains had moulded him into who he was. Arai-san was having her life dictated to her, using another's expectation of who she should be rather than her own. But how to tell her without causing her more grief...

This was a minefield he would have to tread carefully in. And he'd need his best demolition skills to identify the explosives
Saki stood up and walked closer the edge of the lake. "Love?" She asked back. "Maybe it seems to you I enjoy and do stuff and it seem I am human like you. But note that half of me was just programmed into mine body. Be definition of love I love the empire and I would protect every of its citizen. But that probably is not the answer you wanted to hear. "She spoke softly and took few seconds to pause. "I don't know what I love. Yet. But when I will find out, I might tell you." She quickly turned around and smiled.

"Now this was a little too serious moment don't you think?" She then asked with smiling face. She was smiling on outside but on the inside she still had to things to think about. She might also need to ask on of the older nekoes or ex-neko few things.
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