Location: System AX-03
Josea was sitting in one of the two chairs in the booth. "Take a seat Freyja and I will engage the VCE. Once activated we will be in the 'waiting room' as they call it. A minimal simulation that will give us a moment or two to get used the experience. Then I will select our destination."
Taking the open seat, Freyja placed Me. Waffles on her lap and nodded. "Is it going to work like a combat simulator?"
"It is similiar to combat simulations, but the VCE has a wider range of capabilities. In fact I believe some of the training facilities are upgrading to it. In this case, the place we are going to see is based on memories of my time on Daichi. They will form the background, and then the VCE will take over after that." Josea replied.
"Oh.." The red head leaned back into her seat and closed her eyes. The combat simulators had always made her dizzy when they kicked in, and if this was so much more powerful then she wouldn't have a chance. With her eyes sealed her hands rested on the stuffed dinosaur.
Josea got up and made sure that the Halo was properly positioned for Freyja. "Just relax, Everything will be fine." she said
He sat back into the chair he had been and activated the system. Freyja would feel her body relaxing as the system intercepted her neural impulses. A moment later she was standing in a white room that had a variety of large screens.
Josea was standing in front of her. He was wearing blue demin pants and a gray shirt. A patch on his arm showed "YSS Tansaku."
Freyja would find herself wearing a similar outfit, although obviously tailored for a female.
"Hello again Freyja. If you like take a moment to walk around and get your legs. We will be going into the landscape in a minute. You will have all of your normal physical attributes." He said with a smile.
It took her a moment before she opened her eyes and looked around. She first noticed he had changed cloths, then her own. She had never worn anything like this, the closest was her flight suit. She took a few steps before she was feeling a bit normal.
Looking around she felt like she was in a dream, but none of her dreams where ever this real. "What is with these clothes?"
"Well as I said this landscape is based on my memory. I was wearing what I have now at the time. The VCE modified your clothes to fit. While we are here you can change them by thinking to the system. Once we go into the system, changing clothes would mean having to remove them and put new clothes on like you would in the real world." To demonstrate, Josea's shirt turned to a light brown sleeveless style.
The red head closed her eyes and thought for a moment, her clothes changed over to a flight suit, and a leather jacket with Mr. waffles holding a fight on a patch covering the back of it.
Opening her eyes she looked at her arms and her legs. "I guess it works." She smiled up at him, "I'm ready to go now."
Josea reached out to a panel next to him, and pressed a section of it. Instantly the scenery around them was replaced with a dense forest. Above the two of the the branches of the trees formed a dense green canopy. The air was fragrant with the smell of the plants. A soft breeze caressed their skin and made the leaves above them murmur.
"This is the forest north of Ryou. I came here on leave to visit a friend of mine who was getting married." He gestured to the path they were standing on. "That way leads back to the city, and this way will take us to the coastline. That is our destination. It is a short walk." He turned and started walking. "By the way, why a flight suit? Since this is supposed to be relaxing."
She was wide eyed staring at everything, almost falling back on her butt as she looked up into the canopy above. his words were almost lost on her as she took in the forest, and the trees.
"This is relaxing..." She spoke almost absentmindedly as she bent over a root and poked a bit of moss. it was wet and squishy beneath her fingers.
Josea watched Freyja take in the environment. He smiled seeing her trying to take it all in. When she bent over to poke a some moss he could not help but wonder if she realized that in her flight suit, such a maneuver accentuated her posterior.
"Well, as long as you find it relaxing. It does show some of your figure, depending on how you move." he replied.
At that moment something scampered out from behind a bush near one of the trees. It was small and furry it seemed to be a feline. It seemed to be curious about the two of them.
Freyja would have panicked and fought to pull the leather jacket down to cover her, but she was far too intrigued by the furry animal that had come out of the bush. She was looking at it and wondering if she could get closer. "What is it?" She asked in a whisper. her glasses were already showing a search for what the furry thing was, as Freyja started to slowly approach it.
"That is an Otar. They are native to Daichi. They are curious little felines. The colonists encountered them shortly after landing. Having never seen people before they had no fear of them. As you can see its not like most cats in that it has those little ram like horns on its head.
They like people and are typically friendly." Josea said watching Freyja advance on it.
"Are you sure?" the data was streaming now across the lenses of her glasses, as she crept closer. she wanted to feel how soft it really was. the fur looked fluffy and warm. her and reached out towards the Otar, with each step her hand neared the animal.
"Yes, I am sure. Unless you are a small rodent or a bird." he replied.
Nodding, she took one last step forward she was able to reach out and run her fingers across the top of it's head.
The Otar watched Freyja with its bright blue eyes. It made a short trill sound as Freyja reached out and brushed against her hand.
With her hand on the little feline animal Freyja turned her brown eyes back toward Josea, "It's so cute!" She smiled and turned back and started running her hand across it's head.
"They are definitely cute. That one looks to be about six to eight months old. That's the age when they start leaving the nest so to speak. They make wonderful pets. Several of my friends with the SSS have them. They say they are actually quite handy to have around." He responded while watching her. He was glad he suggested this excursion, Freyja was definitely relaxing and enjoying herself.
Carefully she started scratching it behind the ear. "Why don't we have some aboard the Aeon?" she asked as she scratched and tickled the Otar.
"Because having pets on board is against the rules. Though there are quite a few of them on SSS Tansaku-Class ships." Josea watched as the Otar decided to scamper around Freyja's feet and return to its starting point.
Trying to watch the Otar, Freyja ended up falling back onto her bottom. "But that is stupid... Oww..." She smarted as she rubbed her backside and looked over at the Otar
The feline sat in front of Freyja and mewled at her. Almost as if to say, why did you do that.
Josea chuckled briefly. "Well I believe it is a Star Army regulation."
She sat there staring at the Otar, 'But that is silly, think about how much more happy people would be aboard. Even the grumpy one, Nagato, would be less negative all the time."
"Well, feel free to discuss it with the Taisa. I do not make the policy, but I like you have to abide by it. Shall we continue on our walk?" he said reminding her they had another destination in mind.
"Ok.." She stood,dusting herself off, before reaching out to give the little furry beasty a ear scratch. She would have to talk to the Captain about it, because she figured, that people would be happier more often with a ship's pet or three.
"Where are we going?"
"I promised you to see the ocean, this path leads to a cliff that overlooks the Himiko Sea. It is a great view and there is a path that leads down to the beach below just in case you want to get closer to it. Besides most likely your new furry friend will probably follow us. As I said they like people."
"Isn't the water all cold and wet?" Freyja frowned, "Why would we want to get closer to it?" She started along with Josea, glancing over her should every so often to see if the little fuzzy Otar was indeed following her.
The Otar was moving along the path darting behind tree trunks and bushes. But it was keeping up with them.
Josea chuckled, "Well, isn't a standard property of water to be wet?" he grinnes, "This time of year the water is actually fairly warm. The Himiko sea is almost always warm because of its location. But we are not dressed for swimming if that is what you are afraid of. Although some couples have been known to come down to the beach at night for a little skinny dipping.
However, getting close to the water allows you to feel the pounding surf, and to feel the sea spray carried by the on sure breeze."
The little Saint operative eyed the Science man. She wasn't sure if he was kidding or trying to make a hint. though these thoughts got derailed as she caught sight of the little Otar behind.
"At least that was what I was taught, unless there is dry water now..." She started looking up at the canopy far above, marveling at how green it was, and how it would move sightly with the littlest of breezes.
Josea stopped and knelt down. He made a trilling sound and the Otar came over to him. He picked it up carefully. and came back to Freyja. "Here, it will be safer for you to walk while holding her, than walking and trying to keep looking for her." He then handed the Otar over to Freyja.
Freezing in step, Freyja locked up and didn't move. She had never anything of the like on her. "You sure this is ok?" She asked out of her tight lips.
"Yes, this Otar is called 'Felis' by one of my friends in the SSS. On this day she sent him to find me. Felis is tamed. Or as tamed as any cat is with claws. But he is friendly."
"Oh.. Ok.." Freyja nodded but remained stiff as she let the fuzzy move about on her shoulders. "Do they like water?" Slowly she reached up and scratched the Otar as she looked over at Josea, "Would it want to go swimming?"
"They like fresh water, and they have sometimes been seen near the surf chasing little fish, But they do not like swimming in the ocean. The salt water dries out their fur. But fresh water they don't mind a bit."
"I can sympathizes then, The way you described the surf... It's a bit overwhelming." Freyja thought for a moment before continuing, "though I felt the same when I first flew a fighter."
"I've never flown in a fighter. But the ocean is an interesting thing. Some days the surf is gentle, some days it can be quite terrifying. It all depends on the tide and local weather. Today the tide is on the gentle side but still interesting to watch the waves form and break on the shore." He answered continuing up the hill. A faint pounding or whooshing sound could be heard from ahead.
When she started hearing the surf she wasn't so sure it sounded gentle. It sounded like engines firing off and then down throttling. Almost like a carrier's launch bay. She was intrigued and wanted to see it, even though she wasn't so sure she wanted to get too close.
As the continued the trees fell behind them and they were standing on a hilltop. From this vantage point The sea was clearly visible, the waves moving toward the shore below rising from the depths, curling and then breaking as they hit the shore.
Josea stood silent for a moment and listened to the surf.
her eyes grew wide as she took in the large vista before her. She could have smelled the sea from in the woods, but the smell of the water increased so much that she was able to pick it out perfectly. The wind blowing up from the water blew her hair back and for the first time in a very long time her whole face was visible as she stared at the waves crashing below and the horizon so far away.
"It's so big..." Was all she could stammer out.
"It is an impressive body of water, given that it is surrounded on three sides by land. But in truth it is the smallest sea on Diachi. The wind is coming towards us which makes the waves larger and more powerful."
Nodding she reached up absentminded and scratched the ear of Felis. "I didn't think it would be so big. People swim in that?" Freyja was so enchanted with the whole scene that she was partially talking to herself.
"This would be a nice place for a picnic, though it is a bit breezy..."
"Yes, people do swim in it. When the tide is going out the surf is gentler. And if you get past the region where the waves are breaking, it is just gentle waves. Some people actually surf on the waves, but I have never tried that."
"That's crazy... But flying a glider down there would be fun." She mused thinking how the winds would help keep it aloft for longer.
"You would fit in with some of the folks who live here That is how many of them spend their days off. Flying on the currents here. With all manner of gliders.
Well if you like we can sit here and look at the sea since you seemed nervous about getting closer. Or we can walk down and just walk along the beach. Lady's choice.
"We can get closer... if you like." Freyja blushed a little and then turned back to look at the woods, hoping the wind would hide the reddening of her face. "As long as the waves don't get bigger it looks safe."
Josea took Freyja's hand and started walking down the path on the hill. "Let's go its a pleasant walk, and the waves will not get bigger."
Following along Freyja looked down at his hand holding hers. She wasn't sure what to say or do. Last time someone got this close to her, they were transfered away. She didn't know if she should let herself get close to him.
But with the warmth from his hand and him leading her down to the water's edge, it was hard to care. A smiled formed and she let the more serious of the questions float away for now.
When they reached the bottom of the trail, a small wicker basket was present along with a folded blanket. Josea walked over and picked them up with his free hand.
"Some refreshments when we decide to stop."
"Oh.. I guess all the salt in the air could make one thirsty." Freyja smiled and started wondering again if this was an romantic date, and not just a friend trying to show another something greater then inside a ship.
Josea lead Freyja along the beach, keeping them well away from the waves. He finally stopped where a patch of grass was on the top of a dune. "We can sit here."
He let go of Freyja's hand and handed her the basket. He took the blanket and gave it a flip to open it. He then laid it on the grass and took the basket back and placed it in the center.
He then walked to the side of the blanket and knelt on the fabric then moved to a sitting position.
She took off her jacket and laid it out on the blanket before undoing the front of her flight suit. "it was a bit too hot for this get up..." she reveled the sports wear swim top, though only the very top of it, one had to remain modest, even when over dressed.
She knelt on the blanket and looked at the breakers, now that they are closer. The foam and spray was the most interesting part. watching it float in the air for a second before falling back to the water or beach.
'Sneaky', Josea thought when Freyja removed her jacket. As timid and shy as she had appeared, he definitely did not expect her to have a swim suit on under it.
"That's a nice top you are wearing." he said with a friendly smile. He opened the basket and pulled out two bottles of water. He twisted the first one open and handed it to Freyja. Then opened the second one and took a drink from it.
"I can spend hours sitting on a beach just watching the waves and listening to the surf, the wind and the wildlife. Of course the nice thing about being in the VCE, one can decide how much time passes while you are in side." he said watching Freyja.
She turned beet red at the comment about her swim top. "I...I ... normally wear it under the flight suit. It's better then nothing like others wear." She took the water and held it as if she was trying to hide the open part of her flight suit.'that or my operations suit.. but I can't wear that anymore...'
She looked back over at him, "Thank you for bringing me here, it is far more beautiful then I thought it would."
"I am glad that you agreed to come. Daichi is an important place to me. Many of my friends like here. Now I have had the opportunity to share it with a new friend." He reached into the basket and pulled out an orange. He sat watching Freyja and he peeled the fruit.
"So, what would you like for your birthday. You are going to be four in a little while." he asked.
"Am I?" She asked out load as she realized it was coming up. "I've never celebrated it before. well sort of, I was allowed to take a fighter out on long range recon practice on my first." She fell silent and looked out over the water.What would she like, she had everything she needed, clothes a ship to work from, a mission. What more did she need?
"Well, you could leave it up to me. See what I can come up with to surprise you. That is if you like surprises." he said with a grin.
"Why? you don't need to get me anything. I don't have anything I need." Freyja looked a little upset, not that he was offering, but that he felt he needed to bothered her. "You have done more then enough bringing me here and sharing this with you."
Josea laughed, "Because that is what friends do. They do nice things for friends. A trip to the beach can be as nice a present as a shiny bracelet. "
"Better then, cause shiny bracelets are silly and they make noise and glitter." She spoke not realizing what exactly she said. Or how it could be read. "but this I can keep nice and neat in my mind and see it when ever I'd like."
"Well, with a VCE console, you can come here as often as you like. There is one on board the Aeon. But I do find that VCE is better with someone real to share it with."
"Why would I need one? I can close my eyes and see it just fine." She smiled at him and laid back with her head resting on the folded up jacket. Freyja watched the clouds being pushed about in the air. "Isn't that something everyone can do?"
"Yes, digital memory let's you recall this experience in perfect clarity. Not everyone has that ability, there are people who are not NH-series bodies.
But as good as the digital memory is, it does not allow you to make new memories. There is a lot of things to do and experience. This landscape has been built based on my memories of Daichi, and those of many of the folks from the SSS and the residents there.
It is just about as good as going to Daichi. Except that unless its arranged, my friends aren't here to share it."
"I'm sorry you're so far away from your friends. I miss the hanger crews from training. Sadly I can't talk to them." She saw a cloud go by that looked like a icecream cone.
"Besides walking in the woods and sitting at the beach, what do you like to do?"
"I stay in touch with them. We send messages, and occasionally hookup on VCE." he said with a smile.
"Well, I enjoy composing and playing music. I learned when I was a teenager. I enjoy swimming, and sailing.
With your flight training did you ever learn to fly a glider?"
"It was part of my training yes. Thought I never got a chance to try one, it was all theoretical. They set up a machine with a volumetric screen for a view port, and just a joystick with some rudder pedals." She shrugged and looked over at him. "You sail? Like floating boats in the water?
Josea smiled, 'Yes, boats on the water with wind in the sails.I learned from some family friends while my parents were away on business. I think I like sailing and gliding because its so simple. No fancy computers, power generators. It is basic science, and it feels like nothing else. Standing on a deck feeling the boat cut through the water, and going over waves. All the while feeling the boat react to the changes in the wind on the sails."
"That sounds like it would be fun, though isn't it a bit dangerous? what happens if the boat sinks? I've had water survival training but it was the worst time of my short life." She frowned and looked concerned all at the same moment.
"The risk is minimal under good weather. Storms are when its risky. Life preservers are often worn by persons who are nervous. In fact most people wear them until they get used to being on deck. Also most of the time they start new folks on smaller boats that are easy to control and keep them in gentle waters. Perhaps we can try it sometime."
She tensed up, "But there are things in the water... I saw huge things when I was dropped off. They kept bumping the bottom of the raft. Every so often I had to shoot my NSP into the water." She shivered. "But if you want I can try it sometime."
Josea laughed, "Yes, there are a great many things in the water. But the vast majority of them are harmless to people. You just have to know how to tell the difference. Why don't we do a change of scenery. We can go over to the harbor. You can see some of the small sailcraft, and see some of the friendly creatures."
"I don't know, I hear there are even robotic sharks out in the oceans of different planets now." She sat up and pulled her jacket close to her, in almost a protective gesture. "What kinds of animals can survive in those waters and still be friendly?"
''Well, not all of them are animals per-say. Daichi has several species of dolphin and the SSS has been working on translating their language. We have working translators, and our teams working on studying the oceans, or working in them. Have been enlisting the help of the dolphins. There are some predators, but they are rare in the Himiko sea. They prefer the other oceans." He said.
"O...Ok.." She frowned for a second more, but she fought with herself and forced a small mousy grin onto her face. "I guess we can go down to the water. If you say there are not the big scary fish."
"No big fish that want to eat Nekovalkyrja, I promise." he said and stood up. He offered a hand to Freyja.
Reaching up she let him help her to her feet. She liked it when he would take her hand, though it caused her to turn the same color as her hair. "Th..thats good... I.I... forgot my pistol..."
"No pistols. After all we are on leave. So that's fine." He turned and started walking down from the dune and towards the water.
She looked at him turning red again. "I have my pistol on my body..." She pointed back towards the woods where she though that room was. "I just forgot to bring it with me..." Freyja was fearing that she was sounding like a fool, and inept.
She followed along looking at the sand at the water's edge. It looked strange with the foam laying in the squiggly lines marking the darker wet sand and the lighter dry sand. The pilot was thinking that it wasn't so bad until a little crab skittered across the sand, and she found her self grabbing for Josea's hand.
Josea chuckled, "Yes, your weapon is still on your person in the booth. But since we did not create weapons when we started. The only weapons you will find, mean going to some place. I prefer to not tamper with the VCE. I could easily do it, because this is my landscape. But that ruins it sometimes.'
Josea kept from laughing when Freyja took his hand. She really needs to get out into nature a bit more.
"That's a little scavenger. Now if he were a bit bigger, he'd be tasty. But that small he isn't worth the effort." He stopped for a moment and looked around. When he finally spotted what he had been looking for, A pair of fins cutting through the water. He pointed to them. "There is a pair of dolphins." You can just see their fins as they swim."
"But those look like the fins of the large animals that kept bothering me and the raft..." She frowned. "You sure they're friendly, and not just trying to trick you guys into the water?"
"The fins are different. See how the fin curves along the back at the top. A shark fin does not make that curve. Their fins are straight at the back and the front curves. Sharks are not that intelligent. They are predators, and dangerous ones. But they do not have the brain power to trick people."
"You sure.. I saw this movie once... It had a shark eating a boat and then trying for the peoples... I twas called Mandibles or something... But it seemed to trick them into leaving the island." She nodded as she watched the non-shark fins.
She every so often looked back at the little crab that made her think of the Mishu a bit to much. She wanted to step on it, but she was worried it would upset Josea and she was enjoying the day too much for that.
Josea laughed, "Freyja, you will find that most entertainment vids ascribe far greater abilities than they have in nature. Besides, most sharks here would probably ignore us. They are unfamiliar with us, and we do not look or smell like food to them."
He noticed her attention on the little crab. He reached down and snatched up the little crab. He then tossed it gently into the water and watched it sink. "Like I said, he's too small to worry about. Even the larger ones are not much of threat. The scurry away from us."
"It isn't that one I was worried about, I fear the hundreds you just set him back too..." She thought for a moment. "Advance recon force that one." She force a smiled for a second before she started giggling.
"It was a spy you see... Just doing its job." she giggled a bit more looking up at him. She must have seemed like a complete wierdo but she thought it was quite funny indeed.
"Ah, I see, your military training allowed you to determine his nefarious role. I best contact the colony and warn them about a possible assault on the shore line by Crab Commandos.' he said in response.
Wiping a tear from her eye with her free hand, Freyja nodded. "Of coarse... Didn't you see the armor and the built in weapons... Though I don't think range weapons will be an issue with their pinchers." She was fighting with her self not to bust out laughing full bore. Though she was now less creeped out by them.
"Well at least they can't fly. So we have air superiority. We should just prepare the defense. hot melted butter." He snickered. Josea was very happy to see Freyja loosening up, and acting silly for her.
"Butter? Why? To make the beaches to slippery to climb?" She looked confused, she had never had crab for a meal. So the concept of melty butter with a pinch of garlic and a squeeze of lemon, went straight over her head. "Wouldn't oil or soap work better and stay a liquid longer?"
"No, crabs are terrified of better, because its what people pour on them when serving them." well actually by the time the butter is being put on them they are already cooked."
A beeping sound came from his pocket. He reached in and pulled out a EM-G11 "Explorer" Field Communicator. He flipped it open. "Okay, I'm on my way."
He turned to Freyja, a look of disappointment on his face. "Well, sadly it looks as if we will need to cancel our date. Eternity just called me. I'm needed back on board the Aeon.
I have to say I enjoyed out date on Daichi very much. Perhaps we can do this again." He stepped closer to Freyja and gave her a quick kiss on the cheek. "End Session." he called out. The scenery slowed down and when it stopped the scene returned to the white room.
The world could have exploded or caught fire, Between the brief moments of thinking about sabotaging Eternity's communication circuits, then him kissing her cheek. She stood there facing forward beet red raising her hand up to the cheek.
Josea smiled, he enjoyed watching her reaction to a simple peck on the cheek.
"So perhaps we can do this again sometime? Or maybe even doing this in the real world." he asked as he pressed the panel to store the landscape. "I have a feeling that it is going to be a long night for me. No reason for you not to take advantage of your shore leave."
"I..I.." it took her a moment to reengage her speaking skills. "I have things i have to do..." She bowed to him. "Thank you very much..." Freyja blushed again and grabbed Mr. Waffles and raced out the door. She wasn't sure why she was racing into the station, nor where she was headed.
Josea watched Freyja sweep out of the VCE area. He walked out at a much more casual pace. Wondering where Freyja would end up.