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  • 📅 February and March 2024 are YE 46.2 in the RP.

Year-End Festival The Snow Globe: Yule Festival at Pisces International Station [Open RP]


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RP Date
YE 45,9
RP Location
Pisces Station
Pisces Station (Xylar System)
YE 45.9

The holiday party at Pisces Station, hailed as the pinnacle of festivity in the sector, was a spectacle of unprecedented grandeur. Once a stalwart Star Army base akin to the renowned Scorpio, Pisces Station had transformed over the years since its christening as an international diplomacy beacon in YE 43. Its metamorphosis was a testament to the evolving spirit of the Kikyo Sector, embracing additions that catered to the diverse factions that knit the cosmic tapestry of the region. The station boasted a vast agricultural expanse cradled on its underside, a verdant miracle in the void of space.

Yet, the crowning jewel was the recent addition - a colossal domed module, perched atop the station like a diadem or snow globe. Inside this transparent marvel, an evergreen forest thrived, an echo of the eternal woods of Ralt on Yamatai. Amidst these woods, a Yule-themed village nestled, its quaint charm reminiscent of a fairytale. Each cottage, with its gingerbread architecture, was festooned with a kaleidoscope of holiday lights, casting a warm, inviting glow. The main street, a meandering path of cobblestone and whimsy, was lined with shops that seemed to have sprung from a dreamer's fancy. They offered the comforting embrace of hot cocoa, the sweet allure of cookies and fudge, and the festive spirit of eggnog, each flavor a symphony to the senses.


As the celebrations commenced, a confluence of visitors from across the sector began to arrive. They were ambassadors of their worlds, each carrying the essence of their cultures, their hopes, and their stories. The air was electric with anticipation, a mosaic of languages and laughter weaving a tapestry of unified festivity. The very atmosphere of Pisces Station seemed to pulsate with a palpable sense of wonder, an enchantment that transcended the boundaries of space and time.

In the heart of this cosmic revelry, relationships were forged under the starlit dome, alliances were kindled over shared cups of cocoa, and old rivalries were buried beneath the blanket of snow that adorned the faux village.

Some of the crew of the YSS Resurgence, on shore leave, arrived after a short trip on a PAINT shuttle, and emerged from a elevator hidden in a historic-looking train depot at one end of Yule Village. Poppy Pink, dressed in a fur-lined coat over a dress, couldn't help but gasp as she stepped out into the winter wonderland. She pulled a knitted wool hat over her head before proceeding out into the snow, noting how it crunched under her boots. She felt a little sorry for Pidole who stayed behind to complete repairs on the ship. She made a note to take photos for her.

At Poppy's side was her best friend, Gabriela Lively. She appeared to be a humanoid anthro with features reminiscent of a red panda. She has a large, bushy tail and fur that includes white facial markings and orange around the eyes. Her ears were roudned and had the same reddish-brown color as her fur. Her eyes were large and expressive, conveying a sense of enthusiasm and eagerness. "This is amazing!" Gabby exclaimed!

Though snow was falling all around the people of Pisces, it found its mooring on many leaves and trees. One such example of this was on a trio of humanoid as the snow dotted their leafy bodies and faces. The brows of one trembled under the weight of the cold powder as they held a hulking orb in their oddly-shaped hands, looking around at the crowd for something—or perhaps someone. Another of their people held a small device and the last of them rubbed their hands together, hoping to conduct some warmth in this winter wonderland.

Banana didn't like the cold much, without the heating elements in her year-end attire she would probably be brumating and completely unable to enjoy the season. Her yellow tail with brown spots was the reason for her callsign. She thought it was amusing and had adopted it. She wore a green christmas tree sweater with a red hat with a white trim that had a bell at the end of it.

Poppy and Gabriela wandered around looking to see what they could see, spotting a large frozen lake with ice skaters amidst a backdrop of twinkling lights and festive music. She noted the skate rentals with varieties of shapes for different species and gravity conditions. There was also a snowball fight arena and a Holiday market with a series of stalls and shops selling unique gifts, handcrafted items, and traditional holiday treats from various cultures within the Kikyo Sector. First Poppy went to get a hot cocoa from a vendor to sip while she mingled.

On leave from the YSS Teisenjou, Yujin walked from the opening into the winter woulderland that was atop the station. He smiled at all the white that was there before him. His winter clothing should keep him warm from the coldness. Moving over toward the snowbank he wasted no time in making a snowball and tossing it into a random direction. Hoping that there was noone in that direction as a side thought.

"Hey!" Banana said as the snowball hit her in the side of the head. She narrowed her eyes at Yujin and tromped into the snowy fight arena, balling up some snow in her hands and tossing it back at Yujin.

Yujin had started to move from where he was when he heard the voice and then turns to look at the one that he had hit. " er um sorry there are you ok?". Then blinks as she turned to face him and now gathering snow in her hands and throwing it back ? "Incoming!" Yujin yelled out and moved dropping to a knee and gather up another snowball to launch back at her.

While Poppy was getting the hot cocoa, Gabriela bought a bag of marshmallows and long skewers to cook over one of the fires in the center of the village square. She glanced over and saw Yujin and Banana in the snowball area and laughed. Soon her pink-haired doctor friend came and back and the two hung around the fire for a bit.

Banana laughed as the freezing cold snowballs hit her, covering her in snow and slush. She launched her own attacks, balling up the snow as fast as she could and tossing it at him, sacrificing accuracy for speed as she closed the distance between them.

Yuijin was hit over and over as Banana laughed and came in closer. Yujin had been taking his time and making his snowballs to pelt the Separa'Shan that was closing in fast to him. Most of the snowballs that hit him just broke apart. He had not spoted the ones off to the side watching them as there was a lot more out there tossing snowballs back and forth.

Banana was focused in her attack, not feeling herself slow down as her body cooled from all of the snow that surrounded and piled on top of her. She swept her tail, trying to launch a tidal wave of snow at the Minikan she was facing.

Pisces was just one festive stop this month for Ketsurui Aiko, who made a point to try and visit every event she could from the myriad on Yamatai itself to distant Jiyuu during the holidays. She hoped this snowglobe of sorts, an artificial winter wonderland set up on the old Zodiac-class star fortress, would be something of a highlight with its promise to replicate Raltean cold and the warm comfort Yuletide festivities could provide to cut through that biting freeze.

With her ship's MEGAMI avatar in tow, as well as the two ever vigilant samurai yojimbo who followed her, Aiko now found herself striding down the winter village's central street. Today the tall Ketsurui princess wore a scarlet red bridge coat with epaulets and double breasted black buttons, long enough to cover up a brighter scarlet skirt save for a two inch strip of pleated fabric that peeked out from the jacket's lower edge. A ribbed cream colored knit turtleneck rose up from Aiko's red coat and matched her stockings, which were capped at the feet with a pair of black leather pumps held on by a thin strap fastened with a silver buckle. Aiko's hair was worn at its full length and festooned with a little bouquet of Yamataian bellflowers, as it always was, making her immediately recognizable to the sector's denizens present today.

Another Neko accompanied Aiko and her entourage today. A diminutive, grim looking girl with white hair who'd come along from Yamatai aboard the princess' Fukuro-class shuttle. She was Usada Chikako, an Uesureyan soldier assigned to act as a liaison directly to Aiko (and the Star Army's YSS Kaiyō II that sometimes fought alongside the Uesureyans).

"Look, Boss-san," Aiko said to her companion when she spotted the arboreal aliens who they'd helped liberate during the Kuvexian War. "Our old friends the Lienve still reside her. Usada, allow me to introduce you," she added, glancing at the Uesu Neko when she stepped over to greet the leafy tree people with a smile and graceful wave of her left hand.

"I'm assuming they didn't fight alongside you like we did," Usada said between her teeth as she tried but failed to imagine the leafy peoples fighting as she and her sisters had done twice now with Aiko.

"We similarly rescued them from certain defeat," Aiko shot back cheerily. Were it any other Uesureyan officer, the princess would have perhaps been more fawning or deferent. But Aiko had spilled blood with Usada-taii and knew the ever-exasperated Neko girl better than most others from the Star Army of Uesureya so took the moment to poke fun at her and try to lighten her up.

"They may not be warriors, but survivors then," Usada said succinctly when they were almost on top of the three leafy humanoids. When the princess' retinue approached them only one of them noticed and happily waggled their brows in a way that caught the attention of the others. In a rejoicing not uncommon for the seasonal celebrations, they lifted their free hands in the air joyously. Momentarily, though, they all stooped to one knee and held those hands to their shoulders before Aiko.

Aiko, ever the diplomat, didn't protest the Lienve's prostrated greeting as inappropriate and simply waited for it to end. Such demonstrations must have been some sort of cultural tradition, so she didn't want to interrupt it to correct the wayward alien peoples by informing them their ways may have been a touch flourished for the Kikyo Sector's sensibilities.

"I am pleased to see you here partaking in the season's festivities," Aiko told them once they'd risen up. "Now that you are here among the people of Yamatai after such hardships, may you share in our joy for countless years to come. Master Boughman," the princess continued, addressing the highest ranked among the Lienve directly before gesturing to the Uesu Neko with her, "this is Usada Chikako. The Kaiyō has helped her people fight the oppression of this universe, too."

In response to the Ketsurui clan member, the Leinve waggled his brows emphatically, looking from Aiko to Usada and back again. He held the orb forward as he did, nodding along with his leafy brows as they danced his language. The action made a bit of snow tip off of the Master Boughman's brows. The thing he extended towards them was white and smooth, about six inches in diameter, and had jewel-like packets dotting its circumference that glittered like the snow around them.

The electronic device one of them held began speaking, "It is an honor to know that you have not helped just us and our compatriotes in your journeys. May the sun shine on and let you have the ability to keep doing so for eternity. We were told to bring the essence of our culture and here we have done so. Lots of sunshine and moisture for this one, too. Just like you."

Smiling, Aiko placed a palm on the orb without hesitation, trusting that was the most appropriate (and only) course of action to take in this situation. She glanced to Boss and Usada beside her and nodded, telling them wordlessly to join in.

"Thank you, Master Boughman," Aiko said, closing her eyes for a moment while she spoke. "Your presence has helped to nourish our chilly spectacle here, and that is the essence of Yule. We are honored."

"Your kindness is something we will always remember," the device spoke out at the Master Boughman's brows just kept going with their wiggles. "Even moreso as we are presented with it face to face. Take this gift as appreciation in being a part of your Empire."

Though her MEGAMI touched at the orb readily, Usada was apprehensive until she took in Aiko's confident demeanor. The Uesureyan Nekovalkyrja put her hand on it no sooner than it was being handed off to the three of them and the Leinve once more knelt in the same overly flambouyant manner that they had in greeting. But this time, they held their pose with eyes closed tight under their crest of leaves.

Aiko returned the aliens' gesture with a formal and deep Yamataian bow. Once their gifted orb was done with Usada after passing from Boss, Aiko took it again and clutched it tight against her waist under her left arm.

"You have my gratitude, as well as the gratefulness of the Star Empire, for this gift," Aiko said. "Even more than that, you have it for your ability to persevere and be present here in our sector. Enjoy the festival here. Until we meet again," she finished, nodding her thanks again before stepping off with Boss, Usada, and her samurai in tow.

Stepping out of a side doorway, a blue haired woman paused at the extraordinary sight. Wearing a thick jacket, not unlike a hanten, she crouched down and scooped up a handful of snow and smirked at the sensation.

"You forget how warm snow can be when it's freshly fallen."

Shaking the snow free, she followed the scent of cinnamon toward the refreshments. It hadn't been her intent to show up at a festival, but racing between destinations, it was enough of a spectacle to warrant pause. With a faint smile, she watched the other boisterous guests, though she made sure to stand to one side whenever a clump of snow sailed by.

Yujin Meeps as the Separa'Shan moved to use her tail to send a wave of snow in his direction. Using that snow in the air he moved to dive into a nearby snowbank to hid as he readyed a few snowballs loosly packed as he was expecting her to rush to get closer.

Banana crested the snowbank, his snowballs hitting her directly in the chest. The Separa'Shan didn't even notice herself falling asleep as she fell into the other side of the snowbank and slid down at Yujin's feet.

"It's nice that there's something to bring together all the nations of the Kikyo Sector aside from having to fight off the Mishhuvurthyar," Gabriela remarked to Poppy as she toasted her marshamallows, looking around at the diverse crowds that continued to grow in the 'snowglobe' of Pisces. "The holidays always make me sentimental," she added.

Poppy nodded. "Me too. That reminds me...I am going to make it a point to go home and see my parents before the ship has to head out again. I have so many good memories of yuletide from when I was growing up. And now I'm a doctor just like my dad, and it wants to congratulate me in person," she told Gabby.

Yujin laughs some as he let those last few snowballs fly and hit the one charging at him. But then his expresion changes as they fell to his feet. Not knowing that they was asleep or not he drops to a knee pulling off a glove and tries to find a pulse. Feeling how cold they were he blinks. Looking over at Poppy and those around them calling out. " um I need some help here We need to get her warm, I think ...." moving to brush the snow off any exposed scales of Banana.

Banana was cold to the touch, her pulse was slow but steady for for now.

With a fresh cookie from one of the street shops in hand, Komatsu took a deep breath and nodded. "Not much can be done about the smell of environmental filters, but it's basically just like back home. I shall need to thank whoever organized this."

"Huh?" Poppy said, not sure what Yujin needed but she jogged over and introduced herself. "Hello! I'm Dr. Poppy Pink, ship's doctor for the Resurgence. How can I help?"

Toyoda, Yujin fighter pilot on the YSS Teisenjou, And um I don't have their name, We where throwing snowballs back and forth and then as their cleared the snowbank they fell to my feet, They are is cold to the touch and got a strong pulse. I think we need to get em warmed back up from the cold of the snow. " Yujin would say in a calm yet rushed voice.

"There's some cabins and taverns here, I think we should help her to relax in front of the fireplace at one of those," Poppy suggested, helping Banana up. Gabriela came over too and the two began moving her back up to the village, where they brought her into a festive bar that had a huge fireplace going. They moved a couch near to it and positioned Banana to bask in the warmth, brushing all the snow off her clothing so it wouldn't melt on her and get her wet.

The roaring fire and the couch helped to warm Banana back up, she moaned slightly from the ice cream headache like symptoms of getting cold too fast. She finally blinked awake, slowly looking around. She blushed in embarassment, "oops?" She said hoping she hadn't been too much trouble to move.

"Hello!" Poppy greeted Banana. She and Gabriela both gave a little wave. "Your friend asked us to help warm you up," she explained. "It looks like the cold was a bit much for your physiology."

Yujin smiles some as Banana woke back up and then smiled " You got a little too cold i think are you ok?" He smiles some offering to help Banana get better seated where they were seated.

"I think I will be better once, I warm up. I wasn't expecting the snow to cool me down that fast. I've never played in snow before, or seen it in person. Thanks for helping me to get warmed back up." She said, somewhat embarassed. "I'm Scessaly Valakadeyan, but my callsign is Banana." She said, introducing herself.

"A pleasure to meet you," Poppy smiled. "I was hoping to make some new friends tonight but this wasn't how I expected it to happen," she told Scessaly.

Smiles as the Separa'Shan warmed back up and then id'ed herself and smiles some as he says " Nice to meet you I'm Toyoda Yujin, At the moment I'm Spector 18 Nice to met you." There was a pause and then " er sorry about that first snowball you can out from behid that tree and well i didn't see you. "

"Here, let me buy as round of hot cocoa for everyone. It's my own fault for not paying attention to my temperature like I should have. The snowball fight just seemed like a lot of fun. I think my ship was deployed with the Resurgence once if I remember right. It's good to meet you. So Spector 18, that sounds like a pilot. What do you fly?"

It seemed Boss, the Kaiyo's MEGAMI, had the same idea as she nodded to Usada and Aiko before pointing out the main street's vendors and the sweet, warm delights they offered.

Aiko allowed Boss to lead the way. The princess would bring her MEGAMI along for these types of outings to allow the warship-bound intelligence to experience more of the Empire they protected together, so had never objected before to Boss' ideas as to what they should do when out on the town. So Aiko followed her friend into the pub, and thus Usada plus the duo of silent samurai followed her, intent on ordering some sugary holiday drink for Boss.

Smiles some more as he smiles some and then says " oh i fly a Mozu with a pod instead of the normal cockpit." Yujin would say with a smile and then says "yea snow can cool someone offf really quickly if your not careful. "

"I fly a Fuji-class," Gabriela grinned, showing her fangs a little, while offering a bit of friendly competition and dusting imaginary snow off one shoulder.

"That's the new one, I haven't gotten a chance to fly it yet. I've been involved in an experimental Kirie development, so I got a sort of SPINE implant to try. It's hard work, but we're pushing the edge of what's possible." Banana said thoughtfully. "Do you like flying them?"

Nods some as then says "Yes it is a very fast fighter, its nothing like the large freighters that Iflew before I joined the Star Army. " Hearing Gabriela say that she flew a Fuji-class and he smiles some "Isn't that a gunship?" Then looking up as another group entered the pub.

"The Fuji-class?" Having gotten their warm drinks, Boss was looking for a seat and came towards the fireplace. She heard mention of her own class of starship and perked in order to interject. "Only the best expeditionary gunship in the Kagami Galaxy! Mind if we sit?"

Banana slid her tail over so she wasn't taking up the whole couch with her long tail. "Please, I'd love to meet more people. I'm Banana."

"Not at all," Gabriela replied. "I've been stationed as the navigator of the YSS Resurgence for about three years now," she told Boss. "Taii Gabriela Lively."

"You will have to forgive my companion's untoward excitement," Aiko said, sitting down first at a place on the couch that left enough space for Boss to sit next to her near the seat's armrest. Her samurai Mao and Rei took up positions behind the comfy sofa's back. "This is Boss," the princess continued. "She is a Fuji-class herself, so enjoys praise for the class. The YSS Kaiyō II's MEGAMI avatar."

Yujin smiled at the others as they come over and asked to join them, "Sure is a pleasure to have you join us. " Then blinks as he never seen a MEGAMI Avatar outside its ship before and then tilts hius head some. " I was not aware that an Avatar can be outside their own ship." There was a short pause and then says "I'm Toyoda, Yujin a pilot on the YSS Teisenjou a Tanya-Class Expeditionary Heavy Cruiser. "

"I do thoroughly enjoy such praise," Boss said to Aiko, then turned to Gabriela. The motion made the ends of her dark sea foam hair flick next to her jaw sharply. "My captain has relayed to me words of wisdom about the Fuji from your engineer. I've no doubt you have similar exceptional experiences. At least judging by the confidence of your declaration, that is."

"I've been on a Fuji a few times, practiced an assault in my armor as red team. They're good ships. I spend most of my time at the test range or an engineering bay rather than doing exciting exploratory stuff like you all do. Test and tweak and then test some more." Banana said.

"I'm truly sorry," Boss said, eyes full of empathic concern for the Separa'Shan's words. "Having experienced dry dock before, I know how you feel."

"The Resurgence's AI kind of keeps to herself," Poppy noted, rubbing her chin. "Hmm..." She wondered if that could change.

"I did too," Boss replied with a somber nod. "It took me half a decade; give her a few more years. All good things take time." She looked to Aiko, then Poppy to say, "And let's enjoy those we have around us now. No better time to celebrate than now, no?"

"Here's to that!" Poppy nodded, raising a new cup of hot cocoa towards the ceiling. "To enjoying the moment!"

= = =

OOC: JP by Wes, Raz, Ametheliana, Damaske, Soban, icekatze
After pushing their drinks together and pretending to sip along with the others, Boss' orange eyes had settled back on Gabriela. Propped as she was on the sofa's arm rest, she leaned forward primly towards the Resurgence's bridge crew. She wanted to rekindle her question about the ship class she inhabited and what Hoshi had relayed to her from Gabriela's crewmate, Pidole.

"Any wisdom or exceptional experiences from being at the helm of your own Fuji-class starship?" the MEGAMI asked the navigator, leaning forward with her mug in the lap of her red and black pencil skirt as she did. She was also wearing a baggy cashmere sweater the same color as Aiko's bright scarlet skirt with a wide collar that showed the shoulders of her black mock turtleneck beneath. Simple black tights covered her legs and knees, which pressed together as she perched next to her XO.

"Has your ship ever been boarded? Enemies on its decks in the spaces meant only for you?" On a dime, she had turned her attention to Poppy to ask her next question with an uneasy but excited tone. Her eyes twinkled like the garlands of lights behind her and as she spoke the tinsely black pom pom situated on her red beret shimmered alongside them.

Usada Chikako, who was wearing a simple black coverall and a haphazardly added string of miniature yule lights as a belt, made a show of widely yawning.
Yuri's eyes sparkled with childlike wonder as she took in the enchanting scene around her. The Yule-themed village was a feast for the senses, and the air was filled with the delightful aroma of holiday treats and the sound of laughter. She tugged at her mother's sleeve, her enthusiasm bubbling over.

"Mom, look at that!" Yuri pointed towards a particularly charming cottage adorned with twinkling lights and surrounded by a light dusting of snow. "Can we go in? I want to see what's inside!"

Yayoi, ever the composed and observant presence, nodded with a subtle smile. "Of course, Yuri. Let's explore the village together." She followed her daughter's lead, navigating the cobblestone streets with a grace that hinted at her military background.

As they strolled through the village, they encountered various attractions that captivated Yuri's attention – a carousel with miniature starships instead of horses, a snowman-building contest in progress, and a group of carolers singing festive tunes. Yayoi took in the scene with a measured appreciation, her gaze sweeping across the whimsical architecture and the joyful faces of the people celebrating.

Eventually, they reached a small shop with a sign that read "Galactic Sweets Emporium." The tantalizing scent of freshly baked cookies wafted from within. Yuri's eyes widened in excitement, and she practically bounced on her toes.

"Mom, can we get some cookies? Please!"

Yayoi chuckled softly at her daughter's enthusiasm. "Of course, Yuri. Pick your favorites." They entered the shop, greeted by the warm atmosphere and a friendly shopkeeper dressed as an elven confectioner.

While Yuri eagerly made her selections, Yayoi couldn't help but appreciate the sense of community and joy that permeated the holiday celebration on Pisces Station. It was a stark contrast to the often challenging and serious nature of their duties aboard the YSS Resurgence. In this festive village suspended in the vastness of space, mother and daughter found a moment of respite, bonding over the simple pleasures of the season.

Aelya and Chanyeol

Since taking on the helm of Lo'ken Institute Aelya had been neck deep with numerous duties. The holiday party was a chance for her to get cut loose a little and try to relax a bit before delving into new developments that undoubtedly were piling up on her desk this moment. Chanyeol's loving squeeze of her hand served as a gentle reminder that work was not to be worried about right now. Squeezing his hand in return Aelya dug her nails in a little, throwing her golden eyed companion a fiery eyed look of mischief. Chanyeol's lips twitched upward in the slightest of smirks as he kept his gaze focused on the path ahead. "If wie shonr shaus luonj on phelloc woll sauzu wie, shonr aujauon Aulwau-to.//If you think that being in public will save you, think again Aelya-ji." Chanyeol cooed to her in Nira'las through their vesper connection. Aelya reached over tucking a strand of her companion's dark blue hair behind his ear responding with an innocent smile, returning a short message of her own through vesper, "Trw mu.//Try me." As her hand fell from its purely sweet and helpful task of adjusting Chanyeol's hair it brushed over her dark purple holiday dress. It hugged her curves and was see through in all the right places, without giving away too much that it might offend the public eye.

As the pair arrived at one of the many shops Chanyeol's finger caught a snowflake, which he then booped Aelya on the nose with it.
"Niw hiw aulies wie luhauzu fir au mimuns aunk sull mu whaus ronk if kronr wie wielk loru?//Now how about you behave for a moment and tell me what kind of drink you would like?" he asked her in Nira'las, knowing full well the response could any number of ways. Aelya's ruby gaze looked over Chanyeol's carefully curated holiday outfit, a custom holiday suit that was dark black in color, minus the bright holiday colored socks that peeked out and his bowtie that matched his socks. Stopping to meet his gaze as he waited for her answer Aelya smiled sweetly, "Frozen hot cocoa, pretty please." she lilted with an air of sass in Yamataigo. Chanyeol close his eyes briefly shaking his head, the smirk gracing his handsome features once more. "As the lady wishes, she shall receive." he responded in Yamataigo with a tone that only Aelya would know meant trouble later. "Two frozen hot cocoas to go please." the male norian said to the worker who took their order.

After their order was complete Chanyeol thanked the employee handing Aelya her beverage. Sipping the delicious concoction she did an excited little hop denoting how pleased she was. She peered over the cup as she sipped, pleased to be with her current company. After swallowing she hugged her cup with both hands watching skaters twirl around an ice rink in the distance. "What is it you would like to do next?" Aelya inquired of him. "Shall we walk about and see what trouble we can get ourselves into?" Chanyeol questioned. Softly rolling her eyes she grinned, "Obviously" she said letting one of her hands slip into his practically dragging him back out to the main thoroughfare.

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Yuri and Yayoi

Yuri's eyes sparkled with delight as she wandered through the enchanting Yule-themed village. The aroma of freshly baked cookies and the sweet fragrance of evergreen filled the air, creating a sensory wonderland that transported everyone into a festive realm.

Yayoi couldn't help but crack a small smile at her daughter's infectious enthusiasm. It was a rare sight to see the usually stern and strict Yayoi letting her guard down, but the magical atmosphere of Pisces Station's holiday celebration had a way of softening even the most resolute hearts. The duo strolled down the cobblestone streets, passing by quaint cottages adorned with twinkling lights and festive decorations. Yuri's gaze darted from one shop to another, each offering a unique treat or trinket that added to the holiday spirit.

"Mom, look at that!" Yuri exclaimed, tugging at Yayoi's sleeve and pointing to a shop with a display of intricately crafted snow globes. Inside, miniature scenes of the Yule-themed village were encapsulated in glass, capturing the essence of the magical setting.

Yayoi couldn't help but chuckle at Yuri's excitement. "It's beautiful, Yuri. Let's go take a closer look," she suggested, allowing herself to be pulled into the shop by her daughter.
As they explored the shop, Yuri's eyes widened with wonder at the delicate craftsmanship of the snow globes. Yayoi, too, found herself captivated by the artistry on display. It was a moment of shared joy between mother and daughter, a break from their usual routine that allowed them to connect on a different level.

After a while, the pair continued their journey through the holiday village, savoring the warmth of hot cocoa and indulging in sweet treats. The festive spirit seemed to weave its magic, thawing the icy exterior Yayoi often wore in her role as a stern parent and military officer. As they reached the center of the village, a towering holiday tree adorned with shimmering lights and ornaments stood proudly. Yuri's eyes widened, and she tugged at Yayoi's arm once again, her excitement reaching new heights.

"Mom, can we take a picture by the tree?" Yuri asked, her eyes gleaming with anticipation.

Yayoi smiled, genuinely enjoying the moment. "Of course, Yuri. Let's capture this memory together."

The duo posed by the majestic tree, surrounded by the festive ambiance of Pisces Station's holiday celebration. In that magical moment, the boundaries between mother and daughter melted away, replaced by the shared joy of the season and the beauty of the cosmic tapestry that bound them together. Yuri's eyes lit up even more as she spotted her friend Aelya among the holiday revelers. Aelya, a young Norian, stood out with her distinctive features and an air of grace that was typical of her people. Yuri couldn't contain her excitement as she tugged at her mother's arm once again.

"Mom, there she is! That's Aelya!" Yuri beamed, pointing toward her friend amidst the festive crowd.

Yayoi turned her gaze in the direction Yuri was pointing and spotted Aelya. The sight of the young Norian intrigued her; she had heard Yuri speak fondly of her new friend. A sense of curiosity mingled with the festive atmosphere, and Yayoi allowed herself to be led toward Aelya. As they approached, Yuri called out to Aelya with a smile on her face, and as they stepped into place, Yuri cleared her throat, and for the first time, she spoke in Nira'las as best as she could. "Aelya, this is my mom, Yayoi Asakura Joto Heisho. Mom, this is Aelya, my friend I met during that Hanami festival”
Snowglobe Tavern

When asked for wisdom, Gabriela just gave an awkward smile and told the MEGAMI, "Yes, our ship has been boarded. One of the Mishhu managed to stealth its way to the bridge and killed the captain. It almost killed me, too, but Mineko, the intelligence officer, saved me by gunning it down. It still gives me nightmares sometimes. There were other times, too. As for wisdom, I am still a learner. The best I can tell you is that you must not underestimate the enemy; prepare for anything and expect the unexpected...have backup plans, and when you have to make a decision, do it faster than the enemy does." Thinking of what happened sent chills down Gabriela's spine and unsettled her stomach. "I used to say I felt more comfortable in a bridge starship operator station than out in the world, but now I'm just on my toes and on edge everywhere."
Snowglobe Tavern

The MEGAMI nodded and her deep sea colored hair glinted in the various lights as it did. She was thinking of specific moments in the Kaiyo's journeys in which acting decisively had saved their ship. The time she herself had emptied the water reclamation tanks through the fire suppression systems and onto boarders while simultaneously opening the airlock behind them came to mind. The combined pressure from the water and the vacuum had pulled them out into space and out of her internals. When she noted Gabriela's discomfort, she decided to not bring up exacting details and bit her tongue.

"I only took up the mantle of a body when I was being boarded," Boss said. "It's a frenetic, unexpected moment and one I wanted to assist in every capacity. It happened so many times by Mishhu and Kuvexian alike that I eventually got used to the form and took it to explore the places and people which my starship crew strove to protect. Interestingly, I have never been attacked out in the world, only when inhabiting my hull. Perhaps it is fitting that us on the Fuji-classes are on edge as we seek out enemy frontiers while the rest of the outside world —the citizens of Yamatai— know true comfort. It means we're protecting them, after all."
Main Street

Pisces Station being her ship's port of call, Taii Alieset of Koun found herself seeking out perhaps her first festival in Yamatai. She had spent most of her time holed up on various ships, performing extra duties. Today, however, she had returned to her ship to find two of her crewmates stationed at the airlock with firm expressions and claims that they were under orders to not allow her on board. That she was to step back and take a break.

The Senti had found herself torn at this thought. Part of it made sense. She didn't spend much time around others of her species, and felt alone and isolated much of the time. Knew she dealt with that by overworking herself. Correspondence courses, schoolwork, chasing points and extra duties till she barely had enough time to sleep. It was only when Sacre had dragged her back to Yamatai (often kicking and screaming) that she ever allowed herself to relax and destress. The other part of her mind thought surely these two were lying, and wanted her off the ship for some reason or other.

Not that she cared. One Nekovalkyrja, she could plant her weight, arm her boots, and force her way past, even if it got her a night in the brig. Two? That would be an actual fight. And one she didn't want. Especially not with her crewmates. So she had thrown her hands up and left. Not bothering to mention that most of her civilian clothes were in a locker in her room.

So in full uniform, the silverskinned woman made her way to the festivieties, shaking her hair out if its duty braid as she walked. She pulled a small tablet from her pockets and double checked account balances, ensuring she had enough for drinks and a few special handmade gifts for her favorite Separa'shan.

It wouldn't take long, as she sought and found the smithy that she had taken Sacre to on their first date, greeting the old Smith with a smile. "Sorry I'm a bit early. Wanted to check up on that thing you're making?"

"I was just about to box it up and send it out. I'm proud of this one. Sad that your hammer was the source." He pulled a scroll case off the shelf, glittering in the light with its delicate vine work and enamelled azaleas and marigolds before handing it to Aliset.

"I don't intend on burying any more of my people. I have no use for a burial steel hammer. It's beautiful," she held the piece up to the light.

"Not many come asking for a scroll case these days," he commented. "But I took your advice, and went to study at Subati forge for a few weeks this past year. The Senti have some beautiful practices. I have not yet earned the right to bury your dead or make the service knives from them, but they will let me work the forges. And I am proud to work with your people's metal. Look inside."

As Aliset opened the case, her brows furrowed, sliding several sheafs out. "Velvet lined. And not synthetic... And is this vellum?"

"Aye," he nodded, his grin widening as Aliset unfurled the scrolls, looking at the hand illuminated letters of arrangement, Marigold's aptitude and test scores, and the letter of scholarship. All notarized under proper authorities.

"And... I was going to just print these... This is amazing, thank you!" Aliset's smile widened, before she hugged the old Smith tightly. "Right! Need to pay you! How much do I owe for the extra work?"

"Not a bit. One of my children is in the same boat your daughter is. Going to school on a similar scholarship. Figured she deserved something beautiful." He pulled back, swiping Aliset's KS card and entering the amount they had agreed on. "All good. There's a gathering in the inn, I hear it's got the best hot buttered rum. And no intoxicants in uniform. I know alcohol isn't one for your kind. Learned that one the hard way."

"Thank you, Smith Yu. Your kindness honors me." Placing the scrolls into their case and the case into a pocket, Aliset bounced out of the temporary shop and towards the main street to return to the throng of people shopping for their loved ones.
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Snowglobe Tavern

Unmatched in her dedication to Yamatai and prowess as a Star Army warrior, Ketsurui Aiko often felt distantly singular to her fellows and even those comrades who served alongside her. But the words of her ship's MEGAMI brought a comforted smile to Aiko's face now as she sat beside the Kaiyō's avatar, Boss, and listened to the other girl so excitedly speak about protecting the Star Empire's people in such a perfect way. For a moment, the princess put her arm around Boss' shoulder and proudly ruffled the avatar's deep navy blue hair.

"Such gallantry fits the finest ship in the fleet," Aiko grinned, speaking low while leaning closer so she could more privately pay her friend the big compliment. A rosy blush might have dusted Aiko's cheeks when she spoke, but it could have just as well been due to the warm holiday atmosphere as it was from being happy to hear what Boss had to say. The Kaiyō's avatar had come so far and developed a lot the past year since first venturing out for the first time during the last Yule season, and Aiko was glad to see it.

"Always remember that your ship's MEGAMI is as much a part of its own crew as those of you who serve aboard her," Aiko said, following Boss' reply to Gabriela by recalling some similar knowledge she'd once imparted to her SAAMMS students. "They are ideal soldiers and will never give up — some of the bravest among us — not simply equipment to be cast aside like the Nekovalkyrja were in bygone times past. Knowing that should be a great comfort when your own fortitude fails. We are lucky to have them with us in service to the Empire."

Next, Aiko peered over to Usada. The yawning Uesureyan had made an attempt of festive attire with her twinkling light belt, but the girl's bored yawn had piqued Aiko's interest.

"How do the year end festivities in the true Neko homeland compare to those in Uesureya, Usada-taii?" Aiko asked in a way that would have sounded tongue-in-cheek were it not for the princess' formal way of speaking Yamataigo.

Aelya and Chanyeol

Chanyeol let himself be pulled back onto the main street, frozen cocoa sloshing dangerously in the cup as he did so. With he ease he came to a balance hault composing himself, casting Aelya a smile. "A losslu ulcosuk auru wu?//A little excited are we?" he vespered to her in Nira'las, conveying sensations that accompany delicious mischief adventures. Aelya's ruby orbs burned bright as her gaze moved in a very slow manner to look at Chanyeol in a daring public conveyance of how little there was to stop her from misbehaving. Suddenly there was a light sharp sensation on his had from how tightly she squeezed it in an attempt to restrain herself from a sass filled outburst.

To soothe desires of unbridled chaos Aelya focused intensely on taking a sip of her cold beverage. All the while her companion looked on with a slight smirk, "Giik jorl.//Good girl." Chanyeol vespered to his fiery spirited partner. The shift in between them to one of playful tension was palpable as Aelya's gaze whipped to him with raised brow. Though a welcome voice graced her ears, causing them to twitch whilst she became distracted from their innocent teasing. Chanyeol's curiosity piqued as his gaze followed the direction in which Aelya's went.

When Aelya spotted Yuri she did a little happy dance, excited to see her friend that she had met at the Hanami Festival. Chanyeol smiled warmly towards the approaching pair, having heard lovely stories about his companion's new friend outside of the ysi. Aelya's eyes lit up with pleasant surprise as her friend greeted her in spoken Nira'las. This was the first instance that anyone outside her ysi, anyone outside norians actually, had spoken to her in her native tongue. She hugged Yuri, letting out a squeal of excitement.

After releasing Yuri she stepped back, smiling warmly towards the mother daughter pair. "It is a pleasure to meet you!" she said cheerfully towards Yayoi. "Yuri I am so happy to see you again! When did you learn Nira'las? You did it so well that it made my hearts melt!" she said happily. Gesturing towards her companion Aelya said, "This is my partner Chanyeol Eitan, he makes sure I behave myself." she said with a playful grin. Chanyeol smiled giving Yuri and Yayoi each a respectful bow of his head accompanied with a smile. "I try." he said with an air of comedic jest. "It is a pleasure to meet you you both." he said in a friendly tone. Aelya piped up, "Would you two perhaps like some company? We were about to delve into the holiday festivities, but not sure where to start."
Yuri returned Aelya's hug with equal enthusiasm, clearly delighted to see her friend again. Yayoi, Yuri's mother, reciprocated Aelya's warm smile and replied, "The pleasure is ours. Yuri has spoken so highly of you, and it's good to finally meet you in person." She said to Aelya and Chanyeol both, as Yuri then introduced her mother, "And this is my mom, Yayoi." She said with a happy smile on her face

Yuri could see that speaking to Aelya in her language meant so much to Aelya, and she thought this must be how Sanda felt when her mother spoke to her in her heart language. Yuri beamed at Aelya's compliment, "I've been practicing Nira'las since we met at the Hanami Festival, and Aelya was such a wonderful teacher. It's a beautiful language, and I wanted to surprise you." She turned to Chanyeol, extending her hand, "It's a pleasure to meet you, Chanyeol Eitan."

Yuri was the bubbliest of the two Nekos but even so, Yayoi and Yuri exchanged a glance, their expressions filled with genuine warmth. Yayoi responded first, "We would be delighted to have your company! Yuri has been telling me so much about you, Aelya, and the Hanami Festival. We were just taking a leisurely stroll, enjoying the festivities, but we'd love to join you."

“its our first time here too!” Yuri couldn’t help but pipe up and the two began stepping into place with their Norian friends. “you have a cute winter outfit” Yuri said to Aelya as they walked.
Aliset stepped into one of the various street vendors, quickly shrugging off her uniform top and folding it over her arm as she approached the bar. She pulled her tablet out of her pocket, casually sending a message in some old habit she scarcely realized. With the new body, she could send that with a mere thought, but old habits died hard. Like some deep rut of learned behavior.

She finally set her tablet and a small collection of gifts, from an intricate scroll case and a shedding stone to a few cards on the counter, as though protecting them as she placed her uniform top on the stool and sat down, ordering that buttered rum she had heard of, which she sipped as she considered her haul. A change of clothes requested from her crewmates guaranteed nothing more than a clean uniform, but she had sent it to Sacre. That might ensure something more comfortable than the itchy thermal top she scratched at. She listened to the bustling conversations around her, spreading a cloth over the table and pulling a set of tools from her back pocket to work on the Separa'Shan artifact. She could smell others of her species nearby, their scents easing some primal, gnawing instinct that forced her into a constant frenzy of work and study.

Perhaps later she would gather the gift boxes she would need for the exchanges. But for now, she could sip and work, avoid the largest of the festivities, and think. Yu was right. This buttered rum is approaching perfect. Sweet and lively, creamy on the tongue and perfectly spiced. She gave a happy sound, sipping again before continuing work on the rough stone, perhaps the size of a large hand's palm, and already traced with intricate patterns, though unplanned, as though she were still considering the designs. She only had until Sacre's next shed, after all.

She set down the tools, considering before she plugged a projector into her tablet, opening up a simulation hovering in the air before her as she returned to engraving the rock. At first, it looked like a starmap, but the overlapping hyperspheroids comprised of interlacing infinite fractal crystals would have made its true nature immediately to those who had travelled between stars and spaces and further. It wasn't complete, far from it. But it was clear that this silverskin had read a few textbooks as she considered the image, her hand and engraving pick idly scraping stone fragments into the cloth on the table.
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Snowglobe Tavern

The Kaiyo's MEGAMI had listened to Aiko raptly, recalling their recent voyage to Hanako's World to liberate it. Aiko had a similar sentiment to her cadets on board the computer room of the museum-bound YSS Asamoya. She had said as much just before Boss had given the virtual handshake to the femtotronic quantum computer aboard the light cruiser and assumed control of the ship without any warning to the staff or cadets. Having been given orders by the Director of Intelligence to do as much didn't change how exhilarating it felt.

Apropos of nothing, Boss said to Poppy and Gabiela, "I've inhabited three different vessels. Inhabiting a new ship while your current registered vessel sits in dry dock is a feeling I wish non-mentafexal intelligences could understand, it really is."

Reflecting, she added, "Having Ketsurui Aiko in my hull for each of those three times substantiates her claims. But it also reminds me how hard my crew have fought to protect the people of Yamatai like I was saying earlier to you, Lively Taii. Because I've seen as much firsthand through Aiko-dono's actions aboard the Kaiyō."

Usada Chikako had not been looking at anything besides the fire that was flanked by Resurgence crewmen for awhile. Her arms were crossed and she was near the entrance, ready to leave when the attention went off of her. When Aiko spoke to her, though, Usada's focus squarely shifted to the Kaiyo's XO.

"I think I can say concretely that it's something we just do better, Ketsurui-chusa. There are a lot of ways that Yamatai has changed culturally and I myself find the old ways the better ways. We don't need kits and kami, that's all I'm saying," Usada said out of the side of her mouth. Her feline scowl made her freckles crease and her green eyes go moody under her short silver mane.
Snowglobe Tavern

"Then we have another reason to hold Emperor Uesu's Neko in high esteem," Aiko said back to the salty Uesureyan with a diplomatically placid smile. And indeed, the princess did appreciate without any reservation the traditional Nekovalkyrja bent that Yamatai's wayward cousins maintained. "You will have to tell me more of your elevated celebrations sometime else so that I may partake in them as well. It does surprise me to hear you do not appreciate some of our Star Empire's beliefs, though," Aiko added, her words again poking at Usada in a subtly playful way.

The silver haired girl's allusion to Shintoism in connection with Yamatai's year end holidays didn't make much sense to Aiko, for like most of the Ketsurui Clan she wasn't a practitioner of that particular spiritual persuasion and the season's holidays weren't really connected. Nor was Shintoism a particularly widespread belief in Yamatai. It was clear that Usada understood such ideologies even less so than Aiko did, but that could only be expected of an Uesureyan Neko who knew little of living in Yamatai itself. Mostly, Aiko chalked it up to the other Neko's deeply ingrained Uesureyan pride that unmaliciously sought to find any vantage from which to perch above all else. Still, the princess saw this as a great opportunity to test Usada's patience as a grudging military liaison whose deepest Yuletide wish was likely to be reassigned back to bridge duty on some far-off Uesureyan battleship.

"Based on your experiences in battle and the Star Army soldiers you have fought beside, I would have been sure you were by now an ardent worshipper of the living kami," the princess finished, her grin much wider as she met Usada's scowl with some underlying giddiness. "So it is something of a shock to hear you deride the belief. One day, perhaps, you will change your mind. For now, fetch yourself a fresh cocoa. You appear to need something sweet."
Snowglobe Tavern

Usada's face had been quite glacial as she listened to Aiko. But the realization of what Aiko had said made her lips fall open with a smack of her tongue on the roof of her mouth.

"I see what you did there." Her steely exterior dropped volumes as her smile drew up at the corners and she spoke. "I wish I could say that you're not slick for sliding that in, but you are. Alright alright, I'll go get myself a festive sweet drink. Any for you, Ketsurui-hime? Oh sorry! Is kotodama big here, too, and I shouldn't say your name unless as a battlecry? Makes sense it would be." Usada teased back before she slipped out of the room.

Almost talking to herself, she continued to speak through a chuckle on her way to drinks area, "If that's not a thing, that should be a thing here."
Snowglobe Tavern

With her silvery short crop of hair taking on all the colors of the lights strung on the walls (and even at her waist), Usada came back into the warm room. The Uesureyan Nekovalkyrja had three mugs between one hand and her other hand free as she approached Aiko and handed a mug off to the Kaiyō's XO and MEGAMI.

"Perhaps I was not so right about your Yamataian's recreational habits. I saw in the other room patrons engaging in target practice with blunt projectiles. Practicing such a skill even when on holiday shows a fortitude in our sisters here on Yamatai. Perhaps I should invite my batch sisters the next time your people plan on leisuring if we may bring our shurikens to your target arenas in these lounge rooms." Usada said this then sipped her cocoa with a quiet slurp.

"Mmm, cocoa. Not the first time I've had this with you," Boss said, looking to Aiko after she had pressed the mug under her nose and smiled as she took in the smell of warm hot chocolate.
Snowglobe Tavern

Poppy giggled a little, then tried to hide it by taking a swing of her hot cocoa. She ran her spare hand through her voluminous cotton candy pink hair to keep it from getting in the drink, as her vivid green eyes looked out over the rim on her porcelain coffee mug.

"You know," Gabriela said, "Our MEGAMI's AI is pretty quiet. Why don't you and I try to make friends with her? I'm sure if we reached out and made her feel welcome to socialize more with the crew, she might show up more. Perhaps we can start by helping her choose a name," the firefox-like anthro suggested. "I think the Concordians are wrong, organics and AIs can peacefully coexist. We can literally model it on the ship."

"I really like that idea," Poppy, "Do Nekovalkyrja count as AIs?" she pondered. "Do I?"

Gabriela shrugged. "I think most of us are a engineered in some way, whether that's the body, the mind, or both. If you want to judge a person, as always, do it on their actions not on their labels. Not everyone appreciates us animal-looking people, so I've dealt with some discrimination myself. Making our ship's AI feel included is crossing social barriers and it's a good thing."

"What do you think?" Poppy asked Boss.
Snowglobe Tavern

Boss had been looking between the two Resurgence crew members as they spoke, but when the question was posed to her, she drew a hand to her chest and looked unprepared for an answer.

"These feel like perhaps your own life's quandaries that I doubt your MEGAMI experiences. Perhaps you think she is missing out on interacting with you or feeling welcome, but I highly doubt that. I think you're more likely to find a part of your crew who's always been included in what you do on your ship."

Boss looked to Aiko, but realized she had more to explain to the two. "Even when her physical form is in her MEGAMI room, she is with you. When you eat your meals and celebrate together, she is there and she is speaking to your AIES when you are hurt in the field and responding to your request for hemosynth to be filled when you are healing someone alike. She is never not included in your shipbound duties and socializations. The major difference between her and you is that she doesn't need to be physically present or directly spoken to in order to feel included."

"That was a long-winded way of explaining MEGAMI don't have what is called FOMO, I suppose," Boss said with a chuckle into her hot chocolate mug. "Perhaps I am an outlier, though, because I was sent out to be alone for so long. My only company on the Kuvexian front were the family that formed within my hull, no sister ships. Your ship has the YSS Renaissance. Perhaps having either the Resurgence or Renaissance MEGAMI go within the other ship for a tour of sorts would be more novel for her than simply striking up a conversation."

"Do you get FOMO—as they call it—Aiko-dono? Do you have this fear of missing out? You missed baby Luna's birth, for instance." Her orange eyes looked more directly into Aiko's bloodier ones. The MEGAMI was particularly wondering about when Aiko was trapped for months as a Kuvexian prisoner of war, but didn't want to say it, only alluded to it as Luna Soban had been born during that time.
Snowglobe Tavern

"No," Aiko replied with a plain, succinct negative in Yamataigo. She'd been quite preoccupied with being a captive of some Kuvexian baron at the time of Boss' example and had never really considered the other things she'd missed out on during that time. "To enjoy the present and delight in that experience is more worthwhile than dwelling on immaterial alternatives."

That said, the topic at hand reminded Aiko of future obligations she and her fellow crewmen from the Kaiyō had for the evening. Mostly more exploration of the festival here aboard Pisces capped off with dinner reservations at a popup restaurant in the Yuletide village that was hosted by one of the sector's most well reputed culinary masters. That appointment was still sometime away, but the princess remained mindful of not missing out on that specific plan. Plus, thinking of a fancy dinner later on was more enjoyable than getting lost in memories of the Kuvexian War and the fighting she'd done back then. Now was not the time and this was not the place for Aiko to stare off watching visions of battle in her mind.

But Boss' mug of chocolate was still half full, so Aiko didn't stand up to leave just yet.

"The universe puts us each where we need to be, and I am grateful for it absent of envying what else may have happened," she said, peering around at the many Star Army soldiers both in and out of uniform in the tavern, as well as allies like Usada from Uesureya and alien friends whose worlds were not even part of the Star Empire. "To know that other ships and soldiers are out there completing their tasks has allowed the Kaiyō to achieve its glories and win wars against our Empire's foes, so you all have my deepest thanks for that," the Ketsurui princess continued, sounding pretty genuine as she surveyed her company directly. "As well as the appreciation of my clan and the Empress herself, I am sure. Because in the Star Army, no soldier is ever truly alone in battle while we embark on the same grand mission to defend Yamatai together."