World War Burst: Part 13

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[still nope]

  • Oxford has changed the topic to: Now Seeking Civilian Volunteers for the Beach Fortification Project! Apply Within!

<Oxford> It is just before noon on the next day when the transport plane carrying Joslyn, Caitlin, and Major Donalds finally touches down at the busy aerodrome in southern Albaea. Their return to base was delayed overnight when the transport intended to take the two girls and their capitive was lost over the straits; waiting for a replacement to arrive cost precious hours.
<Joslyn> Said hours were spent brooding in her own self-loathing, at least for the young lieutenant in the corner.
<Caitlin> Said hours were spent trying to figure out how to rendezvous with Flauri and ignoring Joslyn.

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<Oxford> As the ground crews hurry to unload the wounded from the transport, an open-topped utility truck pulls up to the plane's exit ramp. The driver is a heavy-set man with a shaved head and the rank insignia of a colonel in the Albaean Air Force. He wears round teashade sunglasses and a bristly white mustache.

  • Joslyn will salute weakly, the bags under her eyes clearly visible - she's not in very good shape right now.
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<Oxford> "At ease, Parnocus!" roars the big man. Standing back to back, the colonel and Major Donalds would be about the same height. At the moment, though, Donalds is slumped a bit, while the colonel stands ramrod-straight. "I see you've brought back the deserter."
<Joslyn> "Negative, Sir."
<Caitlin> "Sir, deserter is a misnomer."
<Oxford> "Oh? My impression was that Major Donalds abandoned his station without the proper permissions - did you uncover evidence to the contrary?" Despite the stiff breeze whipping across the landing strip, the man has beads of sweat glistening on his brow.
<Joslyn> "…not particularly…"
<Caitlin> "Shut up, Joslyn. Sir, Major Donalds sought to retrieve a missing Pendant User."
<Oxford> "Yes, I understand his original request was denied…No matter! We'll not resolve the question out here on the tarmac. Get in, all of you." He points to the seats in the jeep. "Warrant O'Connell, you drive."
<Joslyn> "…"
<Caitlin> "Er, Sir… I feel that this might be an appropriate moment to call to your attention the fact that I'm not authorized as a legal driver."
<Oxford> The colonel makse a dismissive gesture, waving one hand at about ear height. "Nevermind that; you've my permission, O'Connell." He grabs Major Donalds roughly by the shoulder and pushes him into the rear seat, getting in next to him.
<Oxford> "Now, take us out of the base, onto the North/South. Parnocus, I'll hear your debriefing now, if you will."
<Joslyn> "…" Joslyn mutters something more or less inaudible.
<Caitlin> "…Oh dear…" Caitlin softly mumbles before getting into the car. She's seen it done before and she's a smart kid, so she gets it started up quickly.
<Oxford> "Now, what was that, Lieutenant? Speak up."
<Joslyn> "mission didn't go as planned, sir. Need to draft up some orders."
<Oxford> "Seems to have achieved your objectives. Donalds is captured, with no casualties on our side. Well done."
<Joslyn> "not captured."
<Caitlin> "H-he pro… Provided… f-full cooperatiOOON." Caitlin's freaking out—she understands the basic components of driving, in theory, but to put it into execution at 40 mph for probably her first time driving? She's swerving, barely staying in one lane. Sometimes not.
<Oxford> "Yes, yes, I'm sure they'll consider that during sentencing. You've shown strong, independant leadership once again, Parnocus - good work. I expect you'll be seeing another promotion soon enough."
<Caitlin> "Waaaaaah! I'msorryI'msorryI'msorrrrrry!" Holy shit, almost smashed right into that car!
<Joslyn> "…" more staring into space, not really showing any emotion or shock with Cait's driving. she wouldn't really care that much if they crashed.
<Oxford> The colonel, who still hasn't bothered to introduce himself, is similarly unfazed. "Speaking of promotions! I have good news, Warrant O'Connell!"
<Caitlin> "Is it… d-driving lessons?!"
<Oxford> "What? No. Try to keep up, O'Connell! You're being promoted to Lieutenant!" Through his sunglasses, the big man is beaming, relishing the opportunity to deliver (his idea of) good news.
<Caitlin> "With all due respect, Sir, I'd rather have driving lessons!" SWERVE SCREECH …That was close
<Caitlin> MUST KEEP MOVING
<Oxford> The North/South highway is mercifully free of traffic, once the area immediately around the airport is cleared. The road, true to its name, runs almost directly from south to north, neatly dividing Albaea's main island in half. The wind whipping over the open-topped jeep's windshield make the ride somewhat uncomfortable, even ignoring the near collisions.

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<Oxford> "Didn't catch that, O'Connell; can't hear a thing back here. The enire programme is being reorganized, you see. This next mission will be the first time we've used the new strategies!" The ribbon's on the colonel's uniform flap like banners in the wind. "Oh, left here, O'Connell. We're going to Headquarters!"
<Joslyn> "…who's leading?"
<Rainy> Caitlin turns left—she signals right, though!
<Oxford> "I am!" roars the colonel, grinning. "The first Focus-Wing operation of the war! With any luck, the last!"

  • Rainy is now known as Caitlin

<Oxford> The road Caitlin steers them onto leads quickly into dense forest. While this isn't the usual route, their proximity to Headquarters is apparent.
<Oxford> "Nobody's tried deploying our concentrated strength - until now. Every Focus User we've got: we'll smash through those Novs and turn the tide of the war!"
<Caitlin> "They have Focus Users too."
<Joslyn> "…" More mumbling as Joslyn stares blankly at the man. this isn't how you win a war.
<Oxford> "Exactly! We can't risk spreading our forces now that they have Focus technology. We need a concentrated push to smash their fledgling programme and end the war quickly. Once they get full recruiting up and running, our advantage is gone."
<Oxford> The drive seems shorter than they girls remembered it. Almost without warning, Caitlin sees the last checkpoint coming into view through the trees.

  • Joslyn continues to be near catatonic, not giving a fuck about the world

<Caitlin> Caitlin's doing her best not to hit anybody!
<Oxford> "Elementary strategy, you see! Avoiding defeat in detail by forcing a decisive battle." The colonel flashes an ID as they roll through the checkpoint, the soldiers quickly raising the gate when they recognize him. In moments, they're outside of headquarters.
<Oxford> Waiting by the entrance to the barrack are some familiar faces: Paige, Madison, Elana, Amy…and more surprisingly, Ærendis and Elsa. A few other girls are present, that neither Caitlin nor Joslyn recognize.
<Caitlin> A very, very pale Caitlin parks and stumbles out of the car.

  • Joslyn stumbles out as well and heads inside, not even giving so much as a passing greeting to the others.
  • Elsa is standing with her arms crossed while she talks to to the others, notably the ones that are under Reiker's command.
  • Elsa still doesn't look too happy and doesn't notice Jos and Cait right away.
  • Blaxploitation is now known as Aerendis
  • Aerendis stands silently somewhere near Elsa, a noticible scowl on her face, her arm hanging loosely at her side.

<Oxford> The colonel makes a show of clearing his throat, and about half of the girls milling around gradually come to attention.

  • Aerendis glares at him with her one remaining eye.

<Oxford> "Attention, everyone! For those of you who don't know: I am Colonel Macacre, your new Commanding Officer! I need to finish this prisoner transfer, but I'll be back shortly. At ease!" Gripping Major Donalds behind by the upper arm, he walks stiffly into the main headquarters building. Donalds shoots Ærendis an apologetic glance as he disappears into the facility.

  • Elsa doesn't pay attention and keeps talking, she's had enough of that in the past few days. But looks surprised as she sees DOnalds is here. "huh so othey did do it." She comments offhandedly

<Oxford> Dorris stands near Elsa, trying not to cling too much to the one person she knows. Madison and Paige both come to attention when Colonel Macacre arrives, but as he leaves they wave hesitently to Joslyn and Caitlin. Joslyn's abrupt exit causes a moment's pause, but Paige quickly recovers. "Um, hey Cait. Glad you're back."
<Caitlin> "Ah… Hello… Thanks…" Caitlin's voice is a little distant. It's probably because suddenly the air feels so restrictive, like a stale coffin trapping her. Her pulse quickens and her pupils dilate. After a few moments, she begins to gasp for air.

  • Elsa spots Cait and drags Dorris to meet Caitlin…but she arrives as soon as she's having a panic attack. "Cait, whats wrong? Are you alright?"

<Caitlin> Caitlin begins to tremble where she stands. She puts her hand over her heart, fearful that she could be suffering a heart attack! She continues to hyperventilate as her bewildered eyes dart over to Elsa.

  • Elsa looks at her nervously, Cait is breathing hard, "I'll be back soon Dorris, sorry to leave you here." she says as she drags Cait away from the others to get her some space and fresh air.

<Oxford> Ærendis, though surrounded by unfamiliar faces, is being given a wide berth by the other girls. Nobody seems to want to say anything unkind, but it's clear she's viewed with suspicion. There's a small group of people crowding around some commotion - commotion centered around the two people she does know: Elsa and Caitlin.

  • Aerendis sighs and walks over to the others, curious as to what's going on.

<Caitlin> Caitlin seems to be in the middle of a panic attack, clutching onto Elsa's arm with wide eyes that dart around constantly and some hard hyperventilation. "Ah…! Ah…! Ha… Ah!"
<Elsa> "Okay I got you, calm down a bit" She says while dragging her away from the crowd.
<Oxford> The assembled girls - pendant users, presumably - are looking on with varying degrees of interest and/or concern. For now, however, they're respecting Elsa's request for space.
<Caitlin> "I'mgoingtodieI'mgoingtodiemyheart'sblowingupIcanfeelitI'mgoingtoexplodeit'sgoingtogoofflikeabomb…"

  • Elsa really doesn't know what to do, "Umm, try lying down." She says, putting a hand on Cait's chest, "And your heart isn't going to explode if it was I would be able to feel it, nothing's wrong."

<Caitlin> Caitlin takes a big, gasping breath. It feels like her lungs are spasming for several moments before she falls into a ragged but slower breathing pattern. Her fingers twitch.
<Aerendis> "…You okay?"
<Elsa> "See, nothing is wrong, you're not in the mission anymore. You're in the safest place possible." She looks around.
<Caitlin> Caitlin blinks slowly. She's lying prone, but a second later she jolts to sitting upright, "W-what? How did I…?"
<Elsa> "Magic buildup maybe, or maybe you just got really scared for no reason." She guesses
<Oxford> If Gartensen were present, he'd smile to hear Elsa calling Headquarters 'the safest place possible'. With the dense forest blocking the wind, though, it almost seems true. The grounds of the base are calm and, aside from the eight or ten girls standing around, almost deserted.
<Aerendis> "Safest place possible? Hah. As far as I can see, i'm moments away from being killed or kidnapped at all times…"

  • Elsa said it was the safest plae possible because theres a lot of girls with pendants here.

<Caitlin> "I don't… I meant… Why am I on the ground?"
<Elsa> "I just said it because theres a lot of girls with pendants here." She looks down at Cait, "You got really scared, thought your hear was going to explode. I tried to calm you down."
<Elsa> heart*
<Aerendis> "Yeah, that's the problem. My arm still hurts from the LAST time I met with a girl with a pendant." she says, loudly.
<Elsa> "They're not after us right now so its not a problem."
<Caitlin> Caitlin turns as red as her hair. "I… I'm sorry to create a… commotion…"
<Aerendis> "Yeah, and last time I didn't know they were after me until they were."
<Elsa> "Yeah and? I hate this place and want to get away from it as soon as possible for…other reasons."
<Caitlin> Caitlin's just sitting down by Elsa's feet and trying to avoid drawing any attention to herself.

  • Elsa looks back at Cait, "Can you stand up?"

<Oxford> Incidentally, the girls that were 'after them' last time are all standing nearby. Their expressions range from horribly guilty (Madison) to completely unrepentant (Amelia).
<Caitlin> "Er, would you mind giving me a hand up?"
<Aerendis> "You'll be fine. You still have all your limbs, afterall." Aerendis says, before turning back to wait for the stupid, ugly-looking new commander.

  • Elsa helps Cait up, seemingly much less worried now. Though glad she is stil far from being as cheerful as she usually is. She ignore Aerendis' comment, remembering how close she was to losing her two extra ones.

<Caitlin> Caitlin takes the hand up and takes a deep breath. Aeri's comment makes Caitlin sheepishly look the other way.

  • Elsa looks around awkwardly, oh yeah Dorris! She grabs Cait and pracctically drags her over to miss explosions.

<Elsa> "Cait, this is Dorris, I met her when I was…here. Dorris this is Caitlin, we're friends."
<Caitlin> "Er, hello! I'm Caitlin, pleased to make your acquaintance."
<Oxford> Dorris is standing standing shyly near where Elsa left her. She smiles back. "Um, hi there! It's nice to meet you, too."
<Caitlin> "So… Ah… How long have you been in the Programme?"
<Elsa> "We kind of got in with an emergency flight…takeoff? back at the beginning of the school year."
<Oxford> "Oh! Well, that's sort of the same for me." The girl's hair is a bit past shoulder length, and light brown, tucked back behind a plastic headband. "Major Stewart explained everything to us before our first mission, and we had to say an oath and sign a thingy, but yeah."
<Elsa> "we didn't get the oaths till after though." She says with a smile.
<Aerendis> "Have you been arrested yet? That seems like a pretty common occurence for us people with the pendants."
<Oxford> "Yeah, I was! Er…" Dorris seems to realize her enthusiasm is misplaced, here. "Well, I was…detained? Confined? What's the word- institutionalized! Yeah." She shrugs. "Because I kept blowing up, you see. But they say I'm better now!" she ends brightly.
<Aerendis> "Well, congratulations!"

  • Aerendis is still wearing her completely unamused facial expression.
  • Elsa frowns at Aerendis then turns back to Dorris, "So what did you think of my idea I told you about earlier? The support group thing."

<Oxford> "Ooh! Yeah. It sounded really cool! Like, we'd get to hang out and talk about stuff and things. Did your CO say it was alright?"
<Elsa> "He said it was alright before…" She remembers Reiker taking the three of them away, "We all got arrested."

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<Oxford> "That's a real sha-" Dorris is cut off by the reemergence of Colonel Macacre from the headquarters building. "Ah-ten-tion! Form up, form it up!"

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  • Elsa sighs and looks towards the Colonel, not saluting or anything.

<Celeste> Ditto

  • Aerendis stands and stares at the guy, not bothering with saluting.

<Oxford> The majority of the girls form into uneven lines, and a few bother to salute. For all his military precision, however, Colonel Macacre seems indifferent to the sloth of his subordinates. He clears his throat gratingly. "Attention, everyone. Your formal briefing will be held tomorrow morning, so I won't bother with the details. Suffice it to say that tomorrow evening, you will be departing on the largest operation involving Focus Pe
<Oxford> ndant Users in history. Every one of Albaea's 51 Users will be present - your friends and comrades, all joined together for the sole purpose of crushing Novgoraad's Horde."
<Oxford> His voice rises to a fever pitch. "You will break the encirclement of the Occupied Zone and save our men from destruction. You will destroy the filthy Novs wherever you find them. You will tear the heavens, boil the seas, and scour the earth of them, until not a soul remains that does not swear allegiance to the Albaean Empire!"
<Celeste> Caitlin's brow furrows disapprovingly.

  • Elsa yawns loudly and whisers to hto both Cait and Dorris, "Is he done yet?"

<Oxford> "Sleep well in your barracks tonight, soldiers of Albaea. For tomorrow, you will win this war!" Macacre's voice quiets, and he seems to have gotten through everything he'd had prepared. "Dismissed!"
<Oxford> The small gaggle of girls exchange uncertain glances, and then one or two step toward the doors to the barracks. A few more begin to follow, realizing the blustering colonel technically ordered them to go to their rooms.
<Aerendis> "…Well, I hope you all enjoy being completely outmaneuvered and picked off by snipers and Flak cannons." Aerendis says, before heading to her room.

  • Elsa frowns, "I don't like this for some reason." She says out loudly, "I mean, what if they're expecting it? But what I really don't like is that we're all going."

<Aerendis> "You shouldn't like it. I know how it's going to end."
<Oxford> Colonel Macacre stands with his arms clasped behind his back, posed like the statue of him he imagines will soon decorate the Imperial Capital. He doesn't seem to be taking questions.
<Oxford> /session