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RP [YSS Artemis Side Story] 'Warming Armor' or 'Menelikiki'

Firebrand

Well-Known Member
RP Date
7月 19日 YE41
RP Location
YSS Artemis
YSS Artemis
Deck 6 Power Armor Bay


There's a saying in the Marine Corps, at least the one that Menelik was trained in. "Everyone Fights. Everyone Works. No-one Quits." He wasn't entirely sure if the same thing held true for the Yammies he was now working among, but he didn't see any reason to not do his part where he could. That meant that, after getting permission from his CO, the Hanyadi man had volunteered to assist in the PA bay, putting in some of his on duty hours (and more than some of his off duty hours) in the Power Armor Bay to help with the time consuming process of getting PA warmed up, up to date, and in good fighting order. It was hard work: difficult; with lots of brainsweat in addition to the muscle sweat. But he liked it nonetheless. Currently the big marine stood with his upper half almost stripped bare, left with just his uniform cargo pants and T-shirt on as he provided much of the 'musclesweat' of a Daisy 2 being brought up to working order.

Kikios Leka stepped in the PA bay, having arrived to check on the armors. She wasn't expecting to see Menelik there, the crested elysian gave him a wave. Curious, she walked towards him.

One of the first things that hit Kikios' ears was the faint sound of jazz music- not so loud as to be overpowering, but still loud enough that she could hear it; and loud enough that that Menelik couldn't hear the Elysian woman's approach. Which meant that Kiki approached him, lion's mane locks tied up behind his head to keep the hair out of his eyes.

Seeing that Menelik didn't notice her yet, Kiki walked closer, hearing the music get louder. "Hello?" the parrot woman asked, uncertain if he'd hear her. She was surprised by his lion-like hair and enormous size, the birb was 6'0 so she usually found she was taller than other people- but not this person, apparently.

If this were an anime or a movie, he probably would've been startled, jumped up, and hit his head on a part of the armor he was working on. Fortunately, it wasn't to be: The big man did noticeably perk up on hearing the unfamiliar voice, turning around and standing up from where he had been kneeling.

"Howdy?" He asked, looking at the blonde and smiling, slightly chubby cheeks dimpling as he did. He was a big man, that was true, but not entirely intimidating in demeanor- it was the way he carried himself, his posture, his facial expressions. Brown eyes looked down at the elysian, trying to place her in his mind.

"You're... one awf thuh mechanics, I reckon?"

"That's right, my name's Kikios Leka. What's yours?" she responded, extending a hand.

"Iffin we're off tha clawk," He started, taking her hand and giving it a firm, trustworthy shake, "Menelik Berhane. Whe-yn awn duty, ah'm a corporall, Miss Leka." His voice was notably tangy- the telltale country, highlands accent of the Hanyadi that gave his voice an allure like aged whiskey.

"Ah volunteered ta help out with thuh work in thuh bay heyuh, so ah figya we'll be seein' each other a lot in thuh futyer."

The cockatoo was surprised by his accent, it wasn't every day that you heard an accent like that. Nevertheless, she was able to understand it. "Indeed! I'm a Santô Hei when on-duty, Mr. Berhane."

That smile of his widened just a bit when she called him 'Mr. Berhane'. Mostly because it gave him an opening to lighten the mood with a joke.

"How about ya don't cahwl me mister, an ah done won't cahwl ya miss- unless we're awn a date, theyn ah'll cahwl ya whatevher ya wanna be called while smilin'?" Okay, it was also a flirty joke and a tease, but it wasn't anything too forwards.

"Santo Hei or not, ah'll be relyin' awn yowr 'ard work t' mayk shaw our kit works jus' fine- not jus' mine, but everyone else's." He winked.

"Ah hope ahm not puttin' t'much pressyur on ya?"

Kikios was caught off guard when he mentioned a date. "U-um, a date?" she asked, surprised. "I uh... er... well... yes, don't worry, they'll be working...?" She wasn't sure how to react, but she assumed he was teasing.

Would it have been mean to laugh at the girl, completely caught off guard. Yes, yes it would've been mean. You don't make friends by being mean to people when you first meet them.

"Don't worry yer purty lil' crest about that; ah was jus' teasin' ya. I got every bit awf confidence in ya too, Kiki." A pause. "Can I call ya Kiki?" He went on asking, hazel eyes looking into her own pair of blue germs for a second.

"Ah... Ah yes, that's what most people call me," the sulphur-haired bird responded. She glanced at his eyes for a second. "So... what were you working on?"

He blinked, eyes staring into her's for a second before they focused back on the task at hand, shifting slightly so that she could see the Daisy II he was working on.

"Well, like ah done said, ah volunteered ta help out. Eend raahyt now ah'm helpin' gettin' all thuh infantry armor's ready eend checked out. Unfortunately, thay don't mayuk thayse thin's for 'techs with hands thuh size awf maahn." He shrugged. It was strange, though. His eyes were, well, they seemed gentle and almost welcoming, maybe even sleepy; but they were backed with a hardness inside.

"Iffin ya wan ta 'elp, I'll gladly take it, Kiki."

"Absolutely! What do you need me to do?" Kiki asked, eager to assist. Her wings opened just a little, her hands were definitely smaller and better suited for working with smaller parts.

He looked at her for a second, mouth agape. Then another second passed, and then another, and he actually had to shake his head. A marine he was, and all Marines had their weaknesses.

"Ah ownlee gawt about thuh fuhrst three steps done- ah done had about two howrs ta go awn this one. Think we kayyun cut it down ta one?"

"I think we can cut it down to thirty minutes," the birdy proclaimed. "Let's have a look..." Kikios bent down and moved closer, examining what he'd been working on.

No, he did not look at what you'd assume he would look at in his position, even if its something that you would expect him to do. He was a professional, after all, and so was Kiki. He wouldn't demean her eyeing her up like a piece of meat.

So he knelt down besides her to point towards what he'd been doing, rather than choose to be a lout. It had been part of the power transmission circuits for the Daisy, and an important junction in the hip area.

"How about ah 'and ya what ya need, Kiki. An ah'll 'andle thuh mowr mechanical pahrts awf this fella?"

"Sounds good to me. So the transmission circuitry." She leaned in for a closer look. "I'm gonna need the multimeter and the leads for this," Kiki reported.

Pretty soon, the two of them were making good time and buried deep in the guts of the Daisy, splitting the work between themselves and doing far more than either of them could've done alone in the time they had. It was actually... pretty nice, if you were looking at it from Menelik's perspective. He couldn't tell, but it was important to him, on an emotional level, that he got along with this woman- not just because she worked on his kit, but... It was hard to explain.

"Ah'm tellin' ya,Kiki. Our stuff- Nepleslia's, ah mean- is way easier t' fix." They had, as a pair of nerds, gotten talking about a shared passion in the meantime: Power Armors.

" Less smahwl bits in 'ard ta reach puhlaces. 'Course, it don't 'ave thuh sleek, streamlined look awf yam stuff, or thuh guhrace awf sumthin' like an Anthedon."

"Well as long as you have the right tools, it's not- ah- wait... I need the soldering iron," the crested parrot spoke up, interrupting herself.

"Gimme a sec-" He said, as he stretched, one hand holding up the armor plate he had perched open, while the other stretched out, reaching for where he had left the iron. It took a bit, but he managed to hook the cord of it under his pinky and, carefully, very carefully, he began easing it towards his companion's range.

"To yer left, Kiki." His voice was strained, because the damn armor plate was heavier than it looked.

The winged woman reached over and grabbed it, almost systematically. She brought it up to the circuit and swiftly worked, before putting it down again. She took the multimeter and tried it again, this time finding a more satisfactory result. "Okay, that fixed it," she informed him. "What's next?"

"Checkin' thuh strength assist- jus' keep goin' down thuh list till ya git ta where ah'm at." He went on as he went back to his own task, replacing the armor panel and moving on to the next one, not stopping till he had gotten all of the exterior armor of the suit checked out. At least, that was the plan, till their pair of tasks brought him around to one side, eye to eye with the Elysian again.

And for the love of the creator, he got distracted looking at her face again, only to blush when he realized he had gotten distracted. Dammit, he was a Marine, and a professional- this wasn't the Val'ta, and he didn't have time to go staring at girls.

Kikios didn't notice he was staring at her face, she stood up and moved to the Daisy's arms. "Do you have a screwdriver?" she asked, trying to open the side of the arm.

"Yah, I reckon ah do." He told her as he shook his head and focused on the task at hand, palming around his belt before retracting and handing her a screwdriver.

None of the work the two were doing was really 'hard', in the sense that it wasn't physically or mentally draining. It was simply routine work that took a couple of man hours to get done, and that tended to pile up when you had multiple. But, even so, having two people working on one armor sped the process up.

Taking the screwdriver, Kiki said "Thanks," and proceeded to use it to remove screws from the power armor's arm. Once that was done, she got the arm open and started checking on the mechanisms and sensors.

"So, hows about once we git done with this, we git sumthin' t' wet our whistles, Kiki?" There's a grin from the man, as he actually seems to be getting close to the end of his part: he can't really get into the smaller portions of Yam armors, but damn if he doesn't know what he's doing with the larger stuff.

" Reckon 's not a date, though ahm fluhrting; ah'll buy though. "

"Our whistles?" Kiki asked, confused.

"Jus' a sayin' from where ah'm from. A thang kith an kin like ta say wheyn thay're jawing about gettin' a drank, an maybe some chow." WIth a big stretch and a grunt, he pulled back from the armor and leaned against a wall to relax..

Finishing on the armor's arm, Kikios stood up and glanced at Menelik. "Ah... so... lunch?" she asked.

"Lunch!" He answered with a boyish grin.

"Lunch... That does sound nice..." the engineer bird mulled aloud. "Yes, I think that sounds good!" she answered gladly.

"Well. It'l be mah pleasure, Kiki!" With that, he stood up fully and got back to work, efforts and vigor redoubled with a reward at the end of the task for him!

Seeing that Menelik was working harder now, Kikios's own pace increased. She practically flew through the other arm like a parrot. "Both arms are done!" she reported suddenly with surprising speed.

Between the two of them, the Daisy was ready for combat operations well under the time it'd normally take. Most of that was due to Kiki's skill and enthusiasm of course, with Menelik more clumsily plodding is way through it. By the time it was through, though, both had certainly worked up a sweat from it.

"Whew- Tha sur was invigorating!" Menelik exclaimed, wiping his broke with a rag, before offering it to Kiki. "Thanks, Missus Leka, fer doin' most of tha work."

Kiki used the rag to wipe the sweat off her forehead before stretching her large, feathery, soft, and white wings out. "No problem- I enjoyed it, actually!" she said. She took a moment to rest, making sure she hadn't gotten grease or oil on her easily stained wings.

"In that case, I feel less bad about dragging you into it." He told her as he wiped off his own hands, leaving the brawny Nepleslian in a sweat and oil stained T-shirt that was flattering to his build, if nothing else.

"I'll 'ave t' ask ya for help from now awn, theyn"

The engineer bird chuckled, explaining "You didn't drag me into this, I chose to help because that's what I wanted to do. You can ask for my help any time."

"Does it count ifin' ah'm jus' 'doin it 'cause ah like yowr company?" He asked again.

The blonde bird thought for a moment, and then replied "Yes, I think it does count."

"Gud." He responded, stretching out the few kinks in his body. "Les get to tha galley, then? Hopefully they'll have sum coffee."

"Mhmm, let's," Kiki merrily said, before blinking and asking "Did you say... coffee?"

"Yeah?" He said, almost asking a question himself, though distracting by her widening blue eyes.

""Is thair a problem? Ah done grew uhp drinkin' coffee basically every day awf maah life."

"N-n-no, oh, no! No problem at all!" the woman with feathery wings said excitedly. Having coffee made her rather hyper, but, well, maybe Menelik didn't need to know that...

"Gud! 'Cuz thair's always sumthin great about sharing a cup wit a cute girl! Mind showing me tha way?"

The yellow-haired bird blushed when Menelik called her cute, and replied with "Oh, sure!" She started to lead the way, but she wasn't totally familiar with the ship yet and as a result was actually leading him away from the galley.

That... The two of them could certainly take a while to find it, at this rate.

"So, Why don'cha tell me 'bout yourself?" The marine asked, after a few minutes of walking.

"Well, sure! So, I'm Kikios Leka, or just Kiki for short. I come from Keren, and I'm an engineer. Fun fact, I was actually bought an FA4-A Grunt that was found stranded once and I tried to fix it, but it just mysteriously... disappeared. I think someone stole it, but I'm not sure how because it was a drone variant, not a piloted variant," the nerd bird explained.

"How far in did you get to fixing it?" He asked as he walked right alongside the shorter woman, a very... happy smile on his chubby cheeks as he spent the conversation just listening to her and very much not looking her up and down. She was actually... well, her intelligence didn't surprise him. Didn't scare him off either. If anything, he was only more intrigued.

"Fairly far, I suppose. I had gotten it to be flight-capable again, not that there was any way for someone to get inside and manually fly it. I never installed the weapons either, as you might imagine, acquiring those would've been a bit of a challenge. It was also missing the navigational data so I'm not really sure where it went." The crested engineer paused, then continued "I think about it sometimes. I even miss it a little- but it wasn't particularly important, you know?"

"Well, it makes since- ya put a whole ton awf effort eend 'ard work into it, so ah reckon its ownlee nuhtural ya'd miss it after countless howrs spent workin' awn it. It's practically yowr bundle of joy, though I reckon there are worst projects to get attached to." The thoguht was probably nice, even if the accent relaying it was thick.

"Like ah said earlier, that brain of yours is mighty impressive, Miss Kiki."

Despite the accent, Kikios could understand him perfectly. She lightly blushed and said "Aww... you're too kind... You're pretty impressive at fixing armor, you know."

"Well shucks. It ain't no thang. Jus' a hobby of mine. That and ah like ta pull my own weight. Still, ah'm prety clumsy with tha smaller bits 'n pieces- you're better at it than me." His crooked grin was back.

"But, in the in-te-rests of not gettin' in one o' dem endless loops ah hear about, les just both agree the other is pretty impressive."

Kiki was about to interject, but after hearing what he said, she replied "I concur." With her yellow-crested head, she looked around and noticed they still weren't anywhere near the galley.

Menelik noticed too, but didn't seem to mind. "Unless we're talking 'bout our sense of direction, I suppose. Not that I'm gonna complain, just means ah get to chat wit you more."

"Hmm... uh... what do you mean?" Kiki asked.

"Well, ah don' know where the galley is, and i've been following ya since I reckon that ya'll know where it is. But ah don' mind it that much, since you're the kinda person I can jus get lost in talking with."

"Okay I might be a LITTLE lost but I'm sure we're close," the cockatoo claimed, oblivious to the fact that they were not.

Menelik looked left, then right. He coughed, and then his eyes went slightly glossy as he brought up a rough map of the ship in his virtual vision.

"We're on Deck 6... and the galley's on Deck 3. Why don't we just go back to your cabin, or my cabin, and I'll brew up some coffee from my personal stash?" He offered, just a bit of laziness slipping through because the Nepleslia did not wantto go up to Deck 3 and then end up having to answer why he was out of infantry country.

"Oh... deck 3? Right... Let's find the zero-gravity passageways, it'll be easier once we reach those," Kiki said.

"Alrih'- I dun suppose you'd mind leadin' the way, Kiki?" He asked, the man's eyes looking left and right and hoping for signage.

"Yes, I could, for real this time." Kiki looked around, checking to see where they were. She managed to find her way to the nearest passage, unaware that Menelik wasn't supposed to go to up to Deck 3.

If Menelik seemed inclined to stop... well, he didn't. He could afford getting chewed out once or twice to spend more time withthe Elysian he was following.

"Y'all know, tha offer ta brew you up sum coffee is still on tha table."

"Isn't that what we're doing?" the nerd asked, confused.

"True enough, but ah dun' have any of mah coffee on deck 3. Not to mention that ah ain't supposed tah be up there. S'pposed tah stay down here in muhreen country, ya'know? 'Course, ah reckon yer worth a reprimand to spend time with."

The white-winged woman stopped. "Hmm... There's a... country in here?" She looked around, not sure of what he meant.

"Sorry." He started as she stopped.

"Jus' a figure o'speech. Infantry like mahself are s'pposed tah stay on certain decks- don't want us gettin' in the way of the ground crews. Which, I reckon, is what ah'm doin' right now with you."

"Oh, you are?" The cockatoo was surprised. "I'm sorry, I had no idea. We'd better not go up there then. Which decks are you supposed to stay on?"

"Four, Five, and Six. It aint the most glamorous or spacious place ah've been to, but ah've had worse." He shrugged, and seemed to be in pretty good cheer about it all.

"Reckon we'll need a new plan."

"Mmm, yeah..." Kikios shifted her wings, moving them out slightly. "Well, I guess it's back to your plan then?" Her white-feathered wings looked super soft and fluffy.

"Ah s'ppose it is- Ah'll lead this time." Menelik drawled... though, at the end of it, they ended up heading up the nerest zero-grav passage, a short hop up one deck. Then it was less tedious, Menelik sure of exactly where he was as he lead the fluffy wing'd Elysian through infantry counry till they made it to his squad's room.

"Now, ah've gotta warn ya, Kiki. These are dangerous, combat trained fighters behind this here door. Are ya really sure mah coffee's worth it?"

Kikios considered the possibility that this was a rare chance, anyone else might know how restless she got when she drank coffee. "Yes, I'm positive," she said with a confident tone.

"Gud. Ah was hoping ya'd say that, Kiki." His grin returned, and he stepped aside to let her enter first.

"Ladies first?"

”I don’t see the point of that,” Kiki simply stated.

"Oh, that's jus' an ol' Hanyadi custom." He muttered, going through the door first. Fortunately, the squad cabin wasn't exactly packed full at the moment, giving the two of modicum of privacy.

"Just take a seat, ah'll get the stuff ah need."

Kikios walked in and sat down, watching him.

Really, there wasn't much to it- just the big man being somewhat quiet as he walked back to his footlocker and rooted around in it out of sight. He came back with ... wait, why was the bag of beans a gallon bag? Well, at least he came prepared, not even counting the very antique looking coffee grinder he brought. The heating pad looked more modern, a slim affair, though the small clay pot he carried looked suitably rustic as well.

"Sorry, mah mum taught me how ta do a proper coffee ceremony- Not that I'm doing a proper one, I didn't quite set up for it." He actually looked a bit sheepish. "Ah hope yer faahn with me jus' guh-rindin thuh beans an makin' thuh brew heyuh."

Watching Menelik and the coffee with anticipation, Kiki responded "Oh it's quite alright." She was already getting fidgety thanks to her natural hyperness, it seemed Menelik wasn't aware caffeine would amplify that.

"Alraahyt." Soon enough, the clay pot was whistling, and the ground coffee was steeping. The aroma soon filled the room, Menelik lifting the pot to waft the smell around- mostly towards his guest.

"Do ya want y'ahwl coffee with cream eend sugar, sum salt, or niter kebbeh?"

"Oh oh oh..." Kiki murmurred with a clap, smelling the coffee. She stood up and got closer, eager to drink it. "I'll have uh... uh... just cream and sugar, yeah."

"Ah dun see how ya can drink it so sweet." Menelik ofered, though the real offer was the fired clay cup, filled to the brim with the dark roast- and packets of sugar and creamer placed down next to them. Still, despite his disaparagement, he couldn't help but find it charming.

"Ya mus' really laik coffee, huh?"

"Mhmm. I don't get to have it that often," Kiki explained.

"Ah? Why's dat?" He asked her, handing her the small clay cup, filled with steaming coffe colored to a light brown by cream and sugar. His own cup, infront of him, looked similarly light, but smelled less of dairy and sweetness and more... earthy?

Kiki took the cup, sniffing the coffee. She was thirsty for the caffeinated beverage. Her tongue touched the liquid inside, but quickly recoiled as it felt how hot it was. It seemed she would need to wait for it to cool down first. "Well, I, uh... people... usually don't let me have it..."

"Wha, do ya git hyper when you drink it?" He continued to ask, sipping slowly at his own drink.

"Can't imagine you wouldn't be cute like that."

"W-well... Yes..." Kikios admitted with a blush. She twisted her foot around on the floor when he called her cute, surprised.

"Yah, that you're adorable when hyper?" He asked again, smiling at her adorable reaction. "Or just that ya get dat way?"

The parrot's cheeks got even redder, she exclaimed" N-no I'm not adorable, I just get that way when I drink it!"

"Well! Ah think dat you're extremely... beautiful, Miss Kikios. Adorable righ' now, but deffinitely attractive." Another sip of his coffee.

"Iffin ya don' mind me being so honest with you."

The nerd bird looked to the side, confused but flattered. "Why do you say that?" she asked.

He shrugged, leaning back in his seat and looking at her, mouth moving like he was chewing over the words and attempting to figure out the right thing to say. It had been a while since he'd had a chance to even get close to dating- Corporal Instructor duty isn't fun, and his 'vacation' on Himiko was very much not a good time for that either.

"'Cause, ah've got good taste in women, and yer're definitely smart, and sweet. I think it jus helps that you've got pretty eyes and a cute face I could stare at fer hours."

"Oh stop, you're too kind," Kiki said, her face all rosy. She took a small sip of her coffee. The liquid tasted fairly strong, btu with an earthy, fresh roasted flavor somewhat unlike some coffee she's had before. It isn't quite as clean as something like civet processed coffee, but it does lack the extreme bitterness of common grounds.

"Well... mah mama always did say, better ta catch flies with honey." He looked her over again, eyes lingering... on the unique pectoral muscles of Elysians and things below there, before at her hips and legs... before snapping back to her face.

"It jus' ain't in mah nature to not be polite, or so ah've been told."

“Hehe... I can see that,” Kiki chuckled. Noticing Menelik eyeing her, the blue-eyed parrot looked down at her modestly sized chest and everything below it down to her feet, trying to see what caught his attention.

"Guess mah ma' raised me right then." His eyes caught on her's, and seemed lost in them, raising the steaming kettle of coffee and pouring more of it into his cup, stirring his spices into it... all without looking away until he caught himself, and looked away.

Kikios looked up at Menelik, noticing he was staring again. "Uhh... are you okay?" she asked.

"Ah'm sorry." He admitted, face quite rosy atop his dark skin, darkening it further. Tempting as it was to him to shrug it off, she'd caught him in the act, so might as well tell her the truth.

"Yer eyes are really, well, ah know this is comin' from a marine an'all, but yer eyes are really pretty- you're really pretty, ah reckon. And I wan' to spend more time wit' ya."

The winged woman was quick to blush, looking down at her coffee. "R-really?" she asked.

"Completely. Ah've got an inkling already.." His face seemed just as red as her own, but he was at least more confident with this. "But ah wanna see ifin' yowr mahnd eend soul ahr jus' as wonderful as ya are beautiful."

Kiki's blush got even redder, she stuttered "W-well this i-is sudden." She took a sip of her coffee which had now cooled. Almost immediately, her wings started twitching.

"Ah could die on a mission, or through a random accident of space, or get stabbed by a snake!" Maybe he was overexagerating one or two of those, but it was still mostly true.

"Ah think that yowr cute eend smart; and from everythin' ah've seen you're sweet as a sugarplum. Why not try ta be yowr friend, at the least?"

The crested lady giggled, flattered. She took another drink of her coffee, her wings kept twitching and her feet were starting to fidget now. "I certainly hope not, and some of those things don't seem very likely, but I see what you're saying. And... thank you, you're being very sweet too, you know."

"Well, ya don' need ta thank me." He told her back, sitting back in his chair and visibly relaxing, finally able to take his eyes off of her without effort. His second small cup done, he poured himself a third, then a fourth.

"Ah'll still take ta thanks, ya'know. 'Specially iffin we haf ta work on armors together again.".

"Oh uh, sure, of course! I mean... right!" Kiki said. Her eyes darted around, she wasn't worried but she was obviously not relaxing and she hadn't even finished her coffee. She took another sip of her caffeinated drink and gave her wings a shake.

"... Ah'm sorry if this is uncomfortable for ya, miss." He spoke up after another sip, suddenly averting his eyes from her out of a sense that he was scaring her by even making eye contact.

"I jus' thought it'd be nice an' all to spend some time with y'all- I dun mean ta scare ya."

"N-no wait, I'm not uncomfortable!" the yellow-haired bird interjected. "I'm just uh... just... you know, like, very awake. Yeah. I could go for a fly now... But really I'm having a nice time!"

Once again, his face was flushed, at the thought that she was enjoying her time with him. Still, he shooks his head to shake away the sense of amazed happiness.

"Well, tha coffee's almost gone. Ah can't fly with you, but if the VR chamber is free, ah can see iffin ah can keep up?"

"Hmm, yeah, if you want," Kikios said. She got up and started pacing around rather quickly.

Well, she wasn't kidding about being hyper., Menelik mused, standing up himself and finishing off the last few dregs of coffee.

"Ready ta go?" He asked, before he smiled and opened the door, standing aside for her... and surreptiitiously looking into her eyes again. "Ladies first."

"Unusual custom..." Kiki remarked, but before saying anything else she finished her cup of coffee and skipped out the door. She flapped her wings, however she remembered she had to wait for Menelik and knew he probably wouldn't be able to keep up with her flight. She was definitely raring to go, she had to spend all that energy somewhere.

Menelik soon caught up with her, moving to her side and smiling. "Well, mah ma' raised me a certain way, and I don't see much reason ta stop doin' what ah've been doin' my whole life." For a big man, he moved pretty fast, walking like this, though Kiki soon caught a mischevious glint in his eyes.

"Think ya can beat me to the VR chamber, Miss Leka?"

"For sure," the feathery-winged woman blurted out. Realizing that might've come off as doubting his abilities, she quickly added "S-scientifically speaking, of course! I can fly, and, well, flying is significantly faster than running. Not that I don't think -"
"Oh my lord, You're so adorable." He blurted out himself, inadvertantly cutting her off as she tried to backpedal. It took a second, but he realized what he had done did... and kept going.

"I mean, I keep calling you it, but you just looked so cute trying to explain like that!"

The cockatoo grinned and twisted her foot left and right on the floor, trying to elaborate "Well I'm just saying the facts..." She realized that also implied the facts said he couldn't run fast and yet again interrupted herself with "But that doesn't mean your not good at running! Because you are! I mean, I think? Probably?"

"... Ah could literally kiss you righ' now." He told her, with a completely straight face... before it broke into a grin, and he took off at a jogging pace down the corridor.

"But ah'll prove ya wrong, first, Kikios!" She heard him practically shout back to him, an amused, almost giggle adding a lilt to his voice.

"Aww, you're-" She blinked and gasped when he started jogging, yelping "No, W-WAIT, YOU CAN'T-" She stopped herself, realizing she would never win at this rate, and flapped her wings. Before he knew it, she was already flying down the hallway, having caught up to him quickly. She was certainly faster than him when flying, but the walls and the ceiling restricted how much she could maneuver, especially since her wingspan... existed.

The implant had cost him 2000 KS. He had been warned to use it only when absolutely necessary. If he overused it, he ran the risk of immolating himself.

Menelik Berhane was going to use it to win a race with a girl he'd fallen for. His blood pumped, muscles worked, and everything got hotter as the Boost went into effect, supercharging his muscles as he pushed himself. The Nepleslian's feet thundered on the deck as he once again caught back up with the Elysian, then actually edged ahead of her. He only barely avoided crashing into walls though, but the superhcarger in his blood stream wore off before he could gain too much of a lead.

Thus, Kiki found herself pulling ahead by just enough, reaching the entrance to the VR chamber ahead of her new companion, who came skidding to a halt a second or so after her. He looked soaked, uniform t-shirt drenched as he panted.

Kiki flapped her wings harder, flying was simply a faster way to travel. It took very little effort for her to fly at his speed, she was nowhere near as fatigued as him and wasn't even sweating. "See, I told-" but she noticed a problem last second; she needed to stop. "Oh wait NO NO NO NO!" she cried out. She turned herself and flapped her wings wildly in the opposite direction. She was able to slow herself down enough to avoid injury, but she wasn't able to stop herself from hitting the wall and sliding down.

"Ahhh, Shit." Menelik was on her in a second, helping her to her feet as he looked her over, trying to see if anything was broken. The Hanyadi's jovial, boy next door expression had vanished the moment Kiki hit the wall, replaced with a quite mature and dashing look of concern. That was combined with his smell, and the pumping blood and hormones from their race...

"Kiki? Are you okay? Is anything hurt? Do you need help getting to the medbay?"

The parrot quickly got up and dusted herself off, saying "No, I'm not going to the medbay." She smiled at him and pointed out "Well, guess I win. I told you I fly fast."

"Dang. Guess ah should've kissed you instead of just saying ah could've. Might've given me tha win." He let go of her, stepping away out of her personal space to let her stretch.

"Or gotten me slapped 'cross the face. I think ah'll take the loss, things considered."

The nerd stretched out her wings and said "No, I wouldn't have slapped you. Buuut you still wouldn't have won. I-I mean, technically speaking..." She blushed at the idea of being kissed.

"Well... ah want to kiss you, lots. But that's not here, nor there. Worked off that energy yet, or are ya gunna have me chase ya round the track a coupl'a times?" The door to the VR chamber opened, and Menelik stepped aside to let her in.

"And iffin a kiss is outta the question? Ah wouldn't mind having coffee and exercise with ya more in the future."

"Not worked off yet, let's go in," she said, going inside. She was still a little fidgetty. "Wait really? You'd... do this again?"

"Did ya miss where I said that ah liked ya, Kiki?" He followed right after her,, soon standing next to her as they looked over the VR chamber, set up like a gym to service the infantry of this deck. It had all the things infantry would need to work out and stay in shape, complete with a quarter-mile track around it.

"'Cause ah'll say it again. Ah like ya, ah think tha' yer sweet and attractive and smart, and ah want ta spend time wit' ya."

"Hehe, well, I wouldn't say no to that," the crested girl giggled. She stepped over to the track and lined up, flapping her wings. "Think you can keep up this time?" she asked.

"Only if yer offerin' a kiss if ah do." Was this flirting? The two seemed to be flirting, something of an odd couple to any onlookers: the tall beanpole of an Elysian, talking and chatting with the even taller Nepleslian with dark dreadlocks besides her.

"Otherwise? Ah'll do mah best to keep up."

The sulphur-crested mechanic giggled again, then looked at him and asked "Do you... do you really mean it when you... you say you want to kiss me?"

He nodded, then spoke in the clearest, least accented voice he could manage as he leaned close so they couldn't be overheard. "Absolutely, Kikios Leka. I'm smitten by you, and there ain't no arguing that I am. I'm not afraid of dyin', but I am afraid of having regrets when I go ta meet the lord."

Rather than flying, she just stood there. The beanpole was quiet. She looked down, her face was turning pink. She could tell he meant it, she was surprised he was already practically asking to kiss her.

Ah, hell. He'd done it now.

"Ah, hell." He started, sighing to himself. "Ah've gone and done it now and terrified ya into silence." Menelik looked away, feeling sheepish over having jumped the gun, scratching at his head.

"Look, why doncha just forget my whole romantic shpiel, Kiki? We'll go for a run, and meet up again next time our off shifts match up?"

The red-faced Elysian looked up and said "No, no I won't." She looked deep into his eyes and asked "You really... really mean this?"

"Ah don't like lying about these kinds of things." He looked at her, feeling far less like a heel on account of the fact that Kiki was looking back at him and very much not crying.

"Ah'm a Marine, remember? We break bad guys, not the hearts of beautiful women we want to share experiences with."

"Mmm... o-one moment..." the tall bird said. She flapped her wings and started flying around the track, thinking as she flew to counter the caffeine's buzz.

"... huh." Menelik didn't think he'd ever seen someone go that fast, outside of a Neko or someone in an armorsuit. The Nepleslian stood there, waiting for Kiki... because he had the feeling that if he wasn't here when she'd gotten back, that'd only throw her emotions and mind into turmoil.

That, and she had asked nicely for him to wait.

The bright yellow crested bird landed next to him and glanced at him, blushing and staring at him silently for a short time.

... Yep. She was still, in Menelik's view, absolutely... wonderful. But he was definitely biased. He was also smart enough to know that Kiki would speak when she was ready, so he stood there with his approachable smile, green and sweat soaked t-shirt, and khaki uniform pants.

Kikios walked up to him and took his hands, looking up at him. "So you... you do want to do this again?" she asked for confirmation.

"Absolutely. And if we ever get leave, I'd love to spend it with you." He looked back down at her, right into her eyes- both of his hands reaching to gently hold the elysian's own.

"But I'll never say no to spending time with you like this, or however y- I should just say yes, shouldn't I?"

"Maybe... or... maybe you don't need to say anything, I already get the point," she said with a smile. Kiki looked up at him with her blue eyes and leaned in to kiss... wait... she was shorter than him. She tried to stand on her tip toes while puckering her lips, since if she leaned in she would just go face-first into his chest, or maybe his neck.

Which might not be so bad, except for the whole sweaty thing. Well, that was besides the point. The point was, Menelik leaned himself down to meet her adorable attempt to reach up to him, pressing his lips against her's in a short, but sweet kiss that broke quickly, leaving him looking into her deep blue eyes as their faces stood just inches apart.

"Yep. You taste sweet too."

"Thanks..." Kiki murmured. "I... like you."

Sometimes, even when the words used aren't as strong as they could be, they're still powerful enough to strike a man's heart- and Kiki just got a critical hit. His hands left her's, moving to wrap around her body and hug her close to him. It was a very nice hug, his arms going underneath her wings... but that still brought her face to the crook of his neck.

"That's the best thing someone like me could hear from you right now."

Kiki hugged him back, making a quiet squeak when she felt his hands briefly touch the base of her wings. "Well, you heard it," she whispered.

"Ah hope ah can hear it again from you." With a wry smile on his face, Menelik gave Kiki anothe rsqueeze in that hug before letting her go.

"Guess this means ah'm in even better hands now, with the cutest mechanic on this ship wanting me to come back alive."

Kikios stepped back, her face was blushing very hard now. "You will," she promised.

"Ah know ah'll come back alive, with you waiting for me." That cocky pronouncement was emphasized with a thumbs up. Then a kiss on her forehead. "No matter what, okay? Ah'll come back."

"Please do, I know this is happening fast, but... this only just started and I don't want you to disappear," the blue-eyed Elysian admitted.

"Dun ya worry your pretty lil' crest, Kiki. I don' wan' to disappear either- now let's grab something to eat, then ah'll walk ya back to yer quarters."

"Let's," the Caelisolan said, smiling. She took his hand, choosing to walk with him.

It was, despite anything you could say about the quality of the food on any military ship, very nice. The kiss goodnight was doubly good.

Safe to say, both Kikios Leka and Menelik Berhane had a very good day.
 
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