The Wanderlust II with Lyntael and DragonierMan

The Wanderlust II was clearly a step down from the first. If Tango was as understaffed as Lyntael had been led to believe, that made sense... the Blesser, Jack-of-All-Trades, had been able to handle a whole crew's worth of jobs around the ship. Without that resource, Tango would be forced to scale way back, both in terms of less space, fewer activities, fewer employees, and less capacity for guests. All of that sounded a bit more grim than it looked. The ship was still a little gaudy, but otherwise, a comfortably normal ship, with an outside bar area, pool on deck, a performance hall, a kitchen and dining area, all of that good stuff. Because it was, after all, a ship for couples, the pink, heart-shaped adornments were back. It might occur to Lyntael or DragonierMan both that it seemed like a funny place for any sort of group of business people, with grievances or otherwise, to host a meetup.

Unfortunately, unless Lyn remembered the coordinates of the last mission, it'd be pretty hard to confirm if they were actually outside the range of the pirates. At the very least, the ship didn't seem to be in a state of disrepair suggesting it was currently hosting several crews of pirates, so she could be encouraged by that fact.

They'd end up standing just outside one of the cabin rooms, with nameplates displaying DragonierMan and Lyntael's name, as if they were going to be sharing a couple's cabin together. Tango was already standing there waiting, holding the door open while dancing this way and that with his/herself. Rather than flamenco gear, they'd gotten dressed up in a sort of a red smoking jacket with a big, pink cravat and black slacks. A white corsage accented the front breast pocket of the jacket. As always, the one-body duo's hair was black and wavy, reaching just a bit below their shoulders, and they wore a white, shining grin that never left their face, even when discussing things such as money troubles or intimidation by pirates. Right now, Tango was in male form, with a small mustache over his upper lip being a good tip-off, even if one looked away for a moment. A mannequin was held in his hands, which he continued to twirl around with as though it was a dance partner.

The inside of the room was also both gaudy and embarrassing, with one large, pink-sheeted bed and a large, heart-shaped headrest. Hopefully, they weren't going to be doing any actual sleeping here, as while that would be a pretty quick way to get intimate with Lyntael's fellow Empire members, but not a very good way to meet someone for the first time. Once the two arrived, Tango could begin that briefing and exchange of info that they'd been promised.

Song link.

Clad in dark, hooded cloaks, which billowed out a little in the breeze; four people, grim as pirates themselves, made their way onto the Wanderlust II. Even if the sky was clear, the storm clouds that the group carried with them made the area as cold as if they were being pelted by icy rainwater. The ocean spray bounced off of their thick mantles, or steamed instantly from where it found purchase, burned away by the heat of the bodies within. The breath of the tetrad misted about them, either coming from warm exhalation in cold air, or plumes of their own inner flame. They stopped as they came upon the dancing Tango.

"Tango I presume," a rough and growly voice issued from the largest body of the group, clearly a man's. "We are here as requested."

Assuming Tango ushered them into the room, before or after Lyntael arrived, the four would fan out across the room like a fog. Getting into every nook and cranny, and checking the walls and under the bed, to see that the room was secured. Satisfied that all listening devices, or individuals, were dealt with, the four uncovered their heads. Golden tresses marked three of the black cloaked individuals, all women, while short dark gray hair marked their larger leader. The man stood almost six and a half feet tall (roughly 198 cm), and carried rippling muscles under his clothing. He looked like a professional athlete for high contact sports. All four seemed to be wearing padded jackets over sleeved linen tunics and leggings, which gave the impression that they were medieval knights not fully wearing their plated armor. This was given away by the metal greaves, boots, and arm bracers which they still wore, and were darkened with soot to erase their shine. It was likely that they stained their cloaks the same way.

"I guess it is time for introductions," the man said, his rough and growly voice taking on a more jovial tone. "My name is DragonierMan, or Drago for short," he said, thumping his chest with one thumb and a closed fist. His face was somewhat plain, with standard Netopian features, but handsome enough to some. His hair was cut short, but just long enough to be called a mane. And his eyes were the same dark gray as his hair color.

He then pointed to the tallest of the three women by the door. She was closer to five foot nine (roughly 175 cm), and had her golden hair up in a bun. Thick, sharp needles which looked almost like daggers themselves, held her hair up. Her outfit looked more regal than the other three, with more golden baubles and fine blue silks. She stood nearest the door, with her back to the wall, and her eyes were closed. "This is Magistrate," Drago said. Even though she didn't open her eyes at the mention of her name, it was clear she was very aware of what was going on not only inside this room, but outside it. One can almost envision her striking out like a viper at whomever came through the door uninvited while they were there.

He then pointed to what looked like a pair of identical twins. They were the smallest of the group, standing at around five foot four (roughly 164 cm). They were slim and lithe looking, and had their hair done up in pony tails. "Suzume," he said pointing to the woman with two braided pony tails coming down the sides of her face. "Aya," he said pointing to the other woman, who had a more traditional single, non-braided pony tail coming out of the back of her head.

Even though Suzume and Aya had Electopian names, they didn't look Electopian. Both women had rounder, button-like noses, which contrasted to Magistrate's pronounced, hawkish nose. And they were less busty then their more mature 'older sister'. But all three women matched Drago for toned Netopian skin, slightly tanned from being outside a lot, and sharp gray eyes. They all looked to be in their late 20s to early 30s, and were all also probably a little taller and wider than they really were due to a combination of their bulky clothing and hairdos.

As Drago introduced the group to Lyntael, Aya was staring at Lyntael with those same keen, silvery eyes. It was fairly clear that she was sizing the younger girl up. It was also clear that Aya didn't seem to care that it was very obvious that she was doing this, and that it might freak Lyntael out. "Aya!" Suzume hissed and lightly punched her sister's shoulder. "Don't scare the new kid." Aya brushed her shoulder nonchalantly. "It's not my fault if she can't take a little scrutiny," she defended.

Suzume walked over and offered her hands to Lyntael in amends. It was then that she noticed that they all wore darkened gloves with small, pointed talons. Really laying into the dragon namesake. It was also hard to tell if they were a part of the gloves or the person herself. "I'm sorry for my sister's behavior. Welcome aboard. I hope everything goes smoothly. And if you ever feel in danger, you won't have to worry one bit, as one of us will be there to protect you," she said in a calming, almost melodious voice.

Like a siren beckoning a ship to crash into rocky shoals.

((From -> The Recruitment Counter))

The light beam that arrived shortly after Drago and his crew was simple and nondescript; a pale yellow light that zapped to an open space not far from the cabin door bearing their names, and retracted a moment later to leave the young woman to glance about her surroundings. A remnant of the chill mist from Drago's entry still lingered and she looked around interior space for the source of it.

Lyntael herself, for those seeing the girl for the first time, had arrived dressed in her normal attire, though now that she knew the location she was internally wishing she'd had the time to slip home again and change. A slightly built girl in the first place, her five-foot frame looked to be on the leading edge of a full development delayed by circumstance and maybe a little maltreatment; by human standards, she looked as though she might have been in her mid teens at the most.

Her bare toes curled in the soft carpet, briefly enjoying the sensation. Her skin was a pale cream, and she bore a very light dusting of freckles across her features where she'd managed to get at least a little bit of healthy sun. Her hair was a flaxen blonde that was rough-cut and short, and contrasted with bright, emerald-coloured eyes that were busy looking around now to get her bearings. Overall, there wasn't too much else that was remarkable about the girl; she didn't seem to have any weapons on her person and indeed was dressed only in simple, fair-weather clothes; a small, light vest in a pastel yellow colour that ended before it reached her midriff and was closed at the front by three small leather button catches, as well as a pleated skirt that reached only down to her mid thigh, in a slightly richer yellow colour.

She paused to rub her arms briefly at the lingering chill from the other group's arrival, even though the effect had mostly faded by the time she arrived, and hesitated at the number of other people immediately present. She hadn't thought there would be so many. She recognised Tango at least, but cleared her through softly as they ushered the others into the named cabin. One hand lifted up in a small, uncertain wave before she approached and followed the others through.

“Ah, hi again... I hope the ship's been doing well since... before...” It took Lyntael a moment to remind herself that she was being confident and doing what she wanted, and several other self-directed mantras, before she actually shook off the feeling of intimidation from the other group as they moved with what she could only presume was a combat discipline. Lyntael herself just slipped into the room quickly behind them, then waved properly and tried a brighter smile once it was clear they'd noticed her.

“Hi! Um, it's nice to meet you all. I'm Lyntael. I... I ah, didn't think they'd send so many people.” Despite the hesitation, her greeting was still bright and friendly, in a soft voice with only a small hint of northern-netopian accenting – not enough to really notice. Even though the greeting was friendly, though, she kept her hands clasped loose behind her back rather than offering any kind of hand shake to the others for the moment. She could feel the multiple sets of eyes on her, and after a moment of this ducked her head slightly, glancing to the one that Drago had identified as Aya with a small wince and a raised eyebrow, as though waiting to see if she passed muster. After a moment she tried, again, to remind herself that she wanted to be more sure, and more confident and she straightened again. She nodded to Suzume's response, but as the other woman approached she lifted a hand cautiously instead of shaking right away, and looked down at her own palm as though thinking about something, or checking. After another second she nodded to herself and reached out to, tentatively, accept the hand shake; if Suzume was one to notice, her skin felt warm to the touch and there was a faint hum of energy in the contact.

“It's alright. I'm... I mean, I know I'm not really very, ah, intimidating. I mean, there's not supposed to be any danger here any more... the pirates are all gone now, aren't they?” Here she looked back across to Tango.

“Right? Sorry, I don't want to delay everything, but, it's just we've not met before now, so... introductions first, you know? Ah, but, anyway... Do we have some time, Tango? I know we probably should have met up before and sorted all this out before coming to you, but... um... this was sort of sudden for me.” She glanced back and forth between the other people in the room, fixing eyes on Drago eventually.

“I should probably say... Um, I know Tango already. I helped he... ah, him out with a problem on the last ship, a while ago. I...” she bit back a more faltering statement then rephrased it. “I, um... I think I did quite well, then!” She shuffled a foot, glancing down briefly despite herself, then up again once she pushed the self-consciousness back again. “But, I guess, quickly, I'm just looking to join the Neo-shogunate because I want to do something that might help spread a little more good in the world, that's all, really. I'm not much good for fighting, and this seemed like something I could do.” She smiled and shrugged softly, then looked back to Tango.

“I'm guessing we'll have a proper chance to talk later... what's the situation here today?” She felt a vague hesitation in asking, but prepared herself anyway – each of the times so far that Tango had had proper conversations with her, they had been conducted amidst some fairly vigorous partner dancing, and she mentally got herself ready to be scooped up again, now that she'd asked more directly.
"Ah, the Shogun soldier! Right, right. Please, follow my lead," Tango greeted DragonierMan, seeming almost foolishly unafraid of DragonierMan and company's appearance, as he held the door open with his mannequin's hand and danced inside with his inhabited body. By the time the group had moved inside, the mannequin at the door had assumed the appearance of the lady Tango, while the male one had been transformed into stark, white plaster, standing with its hands in the air, performing a jaunty spin.

The woman hesitated just long enough to spot Lyntael and let her inside, then shut them all up inside. She crossed her fingers together and leaned forward towards DragonierMan. "My word! The Empire doesn't skimp on resources, does it? I thought you were coming with one rookie, but you've brought a whole field trip!" she chuckled, mistaking DragonierMan's accompanying SPs for a slew of new recruits. If this was the previous mission, she would be right on with that guess.

The hostess danced idly while the group satisfied their curiosity by checking everywhere for listening devices. "Ho ho! Do you want to frisk me as well? But navis have recording devices you can't even see, don't they?" she speculated idly, while raising her hands back and forth in the air and spinning in place. Pausing, she looked toward Lyn, then suddenly grabbed her up in both hands. The hands turned mannequin-white, as did the rest of her, as male Tango grabbed her under the shoulders from behind and resumed spinning her.

"Ho ho! I was playing coy. I would not forget your face, little one," the mustachioed man chortled, swinging her recklessly around the small room, before placing her back down upon her feet. "Ah, you performed a fine service, helping me reclaim the Wanderlist from pirates! Such work you did! Sadly, the problem turned out to be a little... long-term, and the ship, she is finished," Tango sighed, throwing a rose with a solemn frown. The frown turned back into a smile soon enough, showing his white grin. "But that is the past and this is the future! The Wanderlust II is here to connect people and foster love, like I always wanted! Unfortunately, eeeeh, my latest party guests do not seem to be the loving type. But at least they are not pirates, no?"

DragonierMan took a moment to introduce all of his subordinates, who in turn took their time teasing Lyn, only a little less obtrusively than Tango had. Once they were done, female Tango took back over. "Glad to have all of you! I see you folks are armed to the teeth, but little Lyntael here is dressed more for the part. I don't want you all scaring the guests out there, even if they are not the most savory types, okay? No fighting on the Wanderlust Deux!" It seemed as though she had suddenly changed her ship's name. "Let's start the briefing! Everyone make yourselves comortable," she recommended, gesturing towards the over-sized (though under-sized, given the number of people) bed.

"There is not much I can tell you about the BOC that you won't learn better by attending one of their meetings in disguise, hmhm. I will tell you: I was invited to join the BOC by a navi named ChronicleMan. Well-written, to be sure, but he should have known I don't hold any grudge against the Empire for abducting my crewmate, Jack! I understand they had the best of intentions," she laughed, remarkably carefree. "Anyway, I didn't want to let the opportunity- nor their patronage- go to waste, so I told them I had joined and would be happy to host their soiree! No need to worry: I am a double agent!"

At the word "double," Tango's body swapped back over to the mannequin's. "All I ask is that you staff my ship! With so many bodies, this will work even better. Lyn, DragonierMan, you folks can work the party. Your girlfriends can work the kitchen. I will play the part of the charming host," he laughed, twisting his moustache between the light grip of two fingers.

"I'm sure your empire gave you your own directions, so I will simply place mine on top of them. Number one: customer service! Be attentive servants for my customers! Number two: no rough-housing! Number three: have some charm," he continued, spreading his arms and then bringing them in to slowly rub his fingers down the lapel of his smoking jacket. "I make it very clear that this cruise is for folks who like to have their pants charmed right off of them! No need to go that far, but I insist: be your best, most charming self."

DragonierMan may realize he had been dealt another particularly ill-suited mission. He may also reflect that it would be even weirder if Yasu had ended up being a part of it.

"Oh, and note: DragonierMan, these people may be some that would recognize you without a proper disguise," Tango added, shrugging his shoulders. "Is that enough? Whenever you're ready, you'll find them all assembled in the dance hall. Oh, and I will give you another juicy tidbit of information... after the night's festivities are over!" he teased, suddenly switching back to the dancing female persona and grabbing DragonierMan's hands, attempting to lead him in her namesake dance.
"Where I go, they follow," DragonierMan replied to Tango's exclamation, indicating his three fellow cloak-clad warriors. "This should tell you how much the Empire cares about the situation," he added, looking between Tango and Lyntael. "Not only are we here to safeguard our charge while we scout out some of our competition, but we are here to show you, Tango, that the Neo-Shogunate is your friend and will protect you and your property as well." He smiled a toothy smile, trying to put Tango and Lyntael at ease, and possibly failing. "So rest easy friends."

And rest easy they did, as Tango and Lyn apparently began to dance with each other. Aya perked up at the mention of Lyntael dealing with pirates the last time she was around. "Oh? I guess I was wrong about you. Guess you are stronger than you look," she remarked to Lyn. Suzume smiled, glad that they were getting along.

Drago nodded, then spoke directly to Lyn as she looped by. "We definitely need many people, from many different backgrounds, to help us. Just because we are fighters, doesn't mean everyone has to be. In fact, we need more peacemongers than ever before if we are to have a stable Net. Hopefully, you'll fit the bill." Aya scowled slightly at the mention of peace, but she didn't say anything further. Clearly she was more in the 'solve things with violence' camp.

With everyone introduced, the briefing began. Immediately several things came to their attention: 1) Someone named ChronicleMan was affiliated with the Business Owner's Coalition, possibly its organizer or leader. 2) The NS abducted one of Tango's former crew members, Jack, in the previous encounter that Lyn had with Tango. Given Drago's own past of pressganging people into the faction, he couldn't really blame whomever did it. 3) That Tango was working all sides, like a neutral businessperson could, double-agent or no. And 4) they needed to be in disguise and charming during the mission.

At the mention of staffing the ship in disguise, Magistrate opened her eyes and spoke for the first time. Like the rest of her companions, she had a West-Netopian accent. Unlike the rest of her companions, it was clear and business-like. It didn't have the same light-growl that the other three had. "I assume that you will provide us with the proper outfits?" she questioned slowly and clearly, with poised enunciation. "We do not normally wear disguises. And I most certainly do not 'charm the pants off others'."

Suzu and Aya snorted out a chuckle at those last words from Magi. "You can say that again," Aya muttered as the twins tried to settle down after that deathly hilarious joke. Magi glared daggers at the two of them. Drago, meanwhile, was swept up in dancing with Tango.

The reassurance still managed to find its mark with Lyntael; after all, she'd been reassured of his good character by others at lest once already. When Tango approached to take her hands, Lyntael had relaxed a little more at the thought it was the female Tango that would be conducting her usual conversational accompaniment. When she transitioned almost right away, a small, startled gasped made its way free from the girl even as the other Tango absconded with her and set the room spinning. The larger male's man-handling was less comfortable for her, and less welcome, but she pushed her initial reactions down and did her best to match his style while he spoke. It took her an extra moment to actually get her feet sync up with him, and by the time she had he was more or less done. She came to a halt with a little bit of extra spin and steadied herself just as her eyes met with Aya's. Despite her best intention, she blushed and ducked her head at the compliment.

“Oh... It- it wasn't really... I just spoke to people. I know they were pirates, but really they, ah, they were really quite...” Nice wasn't exactly the right word. “Um, reasonable? Cutlass was nice to me, and... Jolly seemed friendly. Some of the others were... well, not so... but I just got them all to leave without anyone fighting, that was all.” She knew that probably wasn't the right answer to satisfy Aya, but she cast a look across to Suzume in between, since she seemed less fixated on strength or power.

Lyntael found herself a little bit relieved that Tango didn't intend to dance with all of them through the rest of the briefing this time and she quickly crossed the couple of steps to take a seat on the edge of the bed, taking an extra moment to smooth her skirt underneath herself before sinking quite a lot further into the plush bedding than she had been expecting. This bed was something you could get lost in entirely. Her bare feet rubbed back and forth on the carpet absently as she tried to focus on what Tango had to tell them.

It didn't get very far before Lyntael lifted her head and looked up at Tango directly, surprise replacing her thoughtful contemplation. The empire were the ones who had taken Jack from the ship? That didn't sound right... She had opened her mouth to question the statement, but Tango was already rushing on, flipping from one body to the other as they continued. Lyntael's eyes followed and her question remained unspoken for the moment. The rest sounded a lot like what Tango had wanted from her the first time, and she half expected that they'd end up doing about as little actual service waiting as she had managed with the pirates. As Tango stressed the charm requirements of their prospective staff, however, she felt herself hesitating again and raised a hand tentatively.

“Ah... when you say, you make it clear the cruise is for people like that... we're still safe, right? The guests aren't going to be, well...” she struggled for a good way to phrase the concern, fidgeting for a moment. “Hands-on, with the staff, right?” Another question took priority in her mind almost immediately. “Um... Tango... Do you have any other staff yet, or is it, well, just us still? Wait...” Her thoughts skipped a beat again. “I thought we were meant to be posing as guests here today, not as staff...” her eyebrows drew down in momentary confusion. It was beginning to feel as though, if she ever wanted to enjoy a nice cruise as a guest shed have to book it herself, rather than hoping for a cushy mission. That was probably fair, she supposed.

She still wanted to ask tango about Jack, but by the time most of the briefing was finished, her female persona had already started trying to engage Drago in another turn around the bedroom. Despite herself, Lyntael grinned at the sight. She looked to Magistrate while the pair were distracted, and leaned across to whisper to her in a voice that swiftly grew more enthused as it went on.

“If you or Tango have any blanks, I can probably design something that would work quickly. I like making clothes, and cruise fashion is fun and exciting! What colours do you each like? Oh and, does Drago normally wear things that cover his face, or would we need to obscure the face as part of the outfit, do you think?” Without really realising that she'd gotten distracted, Lyntael found herself already putting together the threads of a few different ideas for costumes that would fit them each in nicely as cruise-goers.
"Now now! I'm very happy you've all come! No fighting, no fighting! No fighting at all! We're going to be very pleasant and very charming tonight, aren't we?" Tango attempted to convince DragonierMan and the snarling Aya. He turned to Magistrate, straightening his mustache with two fingers in a stately way before continuing. Although he was still smiling and laughing, his words weren't particularly encouraging. "Why, no! I don't have any costumes or GMOs designed for you We here are on a 'shoestring budget,' meaning I could give you the nice shoestring to wear, if it would help?" That was clearly a joke. "Maybe if we work on charming the pants off people, you can use those for a disguise? Ho ho! I'm too much!"

He really was.

Perhaps hoping that Lyntael would be a bit less of a difficult audience, Tango switched places again and approached her in female form. "You have a warm heart, Lyntael! It's fine to admit how terrible those pirates are, they're not customers or guests any more! Those naughty pirates caused me to lose my ship, after all!" she chuckled, dancing back in a two-step and not looking overly inconvenienced by any monetary troubles. "Oh nooo! No no no. You need to be like me, you understand? The flavor of romance! The image of passion! But without the nasty 'hands-on' part, hm hm," she giggled. "After all, my cruises are for people to meet relationships among the other passengers, not with my staff!" ... That didn't seem particularly likely, given that all of the guests would probably be disgruntled business people.

"Ho ho, no! Was that some sort of mix up? No, you can't be a guest, because the only guests here at the moment are the BOC! They'll recognize you! And there are no staff at all, other than myself and all of you! That's why it is so heavenly that you've come to help!" she chuckled, continuing to sashay as though nothing she was saying was particularly alarming. Here, she danced back over to Magistrate, extending one hand as an offer to guide her in a dance, which would probably go unanswered. "I'm sure you can be perfectly charming! Perhaps you should see this as a challenge? Yeees, growth for you fine Neo-Shogun officers! I'm a splendid employer, offering you this opportunity!"

The entire room was probably getting pretty fed up with her by now... so she switched back to her male persona, as though that made things any better. If Magistrate had accepted the others hand, she'd find herself holding the hand of an inanimate dummy instead. "Ah... I hear and obey! I really have no more funds in the account, but I can spare a few blank GMOs for all of you. As long as Lyntael will take the lead in making them! For you see, I have no clothes that will fit each or any of you, ha ha ha," he chuckled, carelessly dancing around and around. At one point, it seemed like he hit his foot on a low table... he stumbled for a second, before picking back up dancing like nothing had happened. There was really very inadequate room in the small space for any sort of dance.

"There you have it! Lyntael, you make the fine, fancy, charming costumes! Then I, your gracious host, will show three of you to the kitchen! Then I, your dashing, debonair hostess, will show Lyntael and DragonierMan to the dining hall, where you will, at long last, meet the BOC!"
Aya sighed in understanding as Lyntael explained how she dealt with the pirates before. "Figures," she said. Suzume smiled and DragonierMan continued to nod, satisfied about Lyn's diplomacy skills. Though at her concern about the hands-on nature with the guests and staff, Aya drew a dagger from under her cloak, quick as a flash, and tossed it onto the bed next to Lyn. It did a tiny bounce on the bed before settling near the small girl in a skirt. A belted sheath with straps followed shortly thereafter. "Wear this," Aya suggested.

"Aya, I don't think they want us stabbing the other guests," Suzu admonished, but didn't move to pick up the weapon or sheath. Even though she didn't agree with Aya's directness, she wasn't really against Lyn protecting herself. Suzu's cloak parted a little and one of her legs stood out, she was wearing tight, light gray pants, with its own belt sheathed dagger wrapped around it. "You should wear it on your leg somewhere where you can conceal it," she suggested. "Under a long dress or cloak, something like that."

Tango, meanwhile, danced up to Magistrate, who waved away the offered hand. "I am an administrative program first and foremost," she replied, a little hautily. "I am fine with making sure that this cruise works like a well oiled machine, but I will not dance." Magi then turned to Lyn as she suggested that she could work on making clothes for them using the blank .GMOs made available by Tango. "If you need any help on the disguises, especially body modification, I can assist you," she offered.

Drago shook his head at Lyn. "Yes, I do tend to cover my face," he said, before he realized he didn't have his helmet on and his face was very much visible. "Er. Um. Well, actually I guess I do with my helmet. In battle. But I tend to have it open or off during most missions as they tend to be... diplomatic in nature. People are more open when you show your face to them," he clarified. His averagely handsome, lightly stubbled, Netopian face probably served him well in that regard.

Drago turned to Tango. "So we are all staff then. I'm guessing we will be serving the BOC with trays of hors d'oeuvres and wine glasses." At least that could assuage the idea that him and Lyn would have to act as a couple, as it seemed from the briefing. He then turned to Lyn. "Don't go overboard on the design of our uniforms, with unique colors and stuff. The more we all look like the standard, run-of-the-mill, nondescript, professional host the better. We want to be relatively invisible, so we can overhear whatever they are saying without drawing attention to ourselves. Masks might be okay, as long as they are thematic to the cruise and we all wear them. Though just in case of the mask coming off somehow, we should not look like who we really are underneath. Just in case," he suggested.

Safely seated on the overly squishy bed, Lyntael was at least spared further dancing advances by their host as more was explained. Her new companions seemed understandably unenthused by the prospects, but she supposed that tango had just asked for help, and it wasn't really her... his responsibility to ensure the help was suitable. If anything that was the job of the GNA and, she supposed, the shogunate, so, they would have to do their best. Her eyes were moving between Magistrate, Aya and Suzume, and DragonierMan as she thought about what to design, until Aya's offer drew her attention suddenly.

At first she started slightly, shifting back from where the knife landed. It was more form surprise at seeing it, than anything else, and she understood the concept of a protection weapon easily enough. Even so...

“Ah... that's, um... Tango says we'll be safe, and I don't really know how to...” She trailed off and shook her head. More confident. She didn't really know much about how to use something like a knife or dagger in a fight, not properly, but if she wasn't going to need it anyway, then there wouldn't be any harm. Be confident. Cautiously she took a breath and reached out to pick it up.

“Alright... Ah, thank you. I'll... um... I'll keep it out of sight.” Despite her best intentions, small sparks of nervousness crackle across her hair as she stood to put one foot up on the edge of the bed. Her skirt was already short, and as she moved to fasten the strap about her thigh properly, keeping it out of sight meant drawing one side of the fabric all the way up to her hip just to fasten it high enough. There was a peek of the side of pure white undergarments, if anyone was particularly attentive, but for the most part the modesty coding of the skirt kept it pressed down in a way that kept the majority decent which she buckled up. Just as she finished, Lyntael realised her mistake; she'd fastened it on the right way up, at first, which would make it more or less impossible to draw without lifting her skirt up entirely. The girl shook her head, and her hair crackled a little more as she quickly undid the buckles and inverted them, in hurried, flustered motions, refastening the piece so that the blade was more properly point up and easier to drawn quickly or in secret. When she was done, she put her leg down and brushed her skirt down with a couple of quick, self-conscious motions; at least when she was standing it was, indeed, invisible and out of sight, though Lyntael was overly aware of the way the leather straps felt against the bare skin of her thigh.

With that out of the way, however, Lyntael took the opportunity to dive into something that she was far more comfortable with. She pushed back onto the bed, settling herself and crossing her legs as she lifted her hands close to her emblem then spread them out to form small three-dimensional model field. Her fingers skittered through the design image as she tweaked variables to hone the models down to the dimensions she was working with for everyone. In a matter of moments, the flustered, hesitant ticks she'd been trying to repress vanished into a relaxed and excited demeanour as she started to work on some costume designs, glancing up at each of them every few moments.

“Well, we'll start with something simple, and we'll keep to a theme, so that there's an easy to see thread running through all of the outfits. The four women's outfits will all be quite similar, even once we're done, but I think the male one can afford to be somewhat different. Cruise fashion is different for men and women, and we need to follow that, but still keep the theme linked up.” The electrical sparks had stopped as she talked in a more certain, chattier way.

“It's a pity I don't know what uniform Jack wore before. I could design something similar, but I guess it won't matter too much. None of these people would have met Jack, so they won't know the difference...” Here she paused and looked up at Tango with a small frown. “I thought that it was the pirates the kidnapped Jack. Wasn't it Clipper, and her crew?” She only let the confusion distract her for a few moments before returning to her work.

“If it's just some catering and hospitality work, that shouldn't really be a problem. If we're lucky they might try to recruit us, or tell us all about their grievances just because they want to complain. If they want to convince anyone that they're serious and respectable, then they'll have to behave themselves anyway, won't they?” She chatted to the room in general as she sat on the bed and worked, flitting between one model and the next as she changed the designs few times and tweaked it here and there. Part way through, she stopped to look up towards Magistrate in particular.

“I, ah... I can design costumes and outfits, but, I don't really know much about making direct override changes to navi's actual bodies and forms. That... um... that kind of thing doesn't really work on me, for the most part. So, I never really learned how to do it. If I finish the costumes themselves, would you be able to make the changes to make sure your faces won't be recognised? Only... Maybe don't change the hair colour, unless it's to white, or black, and, um, for Drago, a blue could work for the eyes, but don't make them green or hazel, please.” She ducked her head in a brief apology after making the request, then quickly got back to work.

By the time the designs were finished, Lyntael was pausing every few moments in between minor tweaks, biting her lip absently while one hand had had drawn back to circle a finger about her emblem and tap it on occasion in a seemingly unconscious tick.

“Okay, I think this will work...” She moved her hands to collapse the visual models away, then drew them apart again until she was holding a small stack of simple, silvery disks; she handed them across to Magistrate with a grin. “The outfits are all done, but if you want to make any changes to any of your actual bodies, they're still unbaked and malleable.” Lyntael held the last disc, presumably her own, while she glanced towards Magistrate for approval. She fidgeted slightly.

“Um... I've kind of had a few, ah, embarrassing incidents in the past, so, now, when I design costumes and outfits, I always write the matching undergarments into them as well, but, um... if any of you think that's too weird or, you know, invasive, I can take them out again. I promise, I can set it up so it'll just leave whatever you've got, if there's no data there, and not, ah, 'replace with nothing'. I don't know why anyone would design a .GMO like that, but I've had costumes that...” she trailed off, once she realised she had started to ramble, and looked down at her hands instead, a faint pink blush creeping across her cheeks.

The outfits that Magistrate would find, and be able to pass to the others if she approved, were a stylish set of cruise-staff outfits. Magistrate's design was on top. It started with a simple hair piece in blue enamel that would look like a slim, reserved tiara from the front, and which served the purpose of holding back her hair from her face and shoulders, while still allowing it to flow freely behind. The outfit itself was designed to look like a dress in many ways, but was actually a two-piece ensemble; it left the shoulders bare, and instead was formed of a broad, two-layered sash that crossed the bust in a rising diagonal from the under the ribs on one side, to a subtle arm cuff, just off the shoulder on the other. The split in the fabric was only a facade, with a pale blue primary layer, and a gold-trimmed upper edge that had enough extra looseness to create a slight wave in the fabric; the resulting appearance was almost like her upper half was covered by a waving flag, which flattered and upsold her bust, as well as revealing a moderate degree of cleavage, without overtly or uncomfortably pushing up.

The high side of the top bore slim, artful wisps of extra fabric that stood just a little bit proud near her shoulder and would drift and flutter in breeze, or with movement, adding to the flag-like appearance. The lower side wrapped around and tapered away, until it anchored at the small of the back and affixed to the lower half of the garment. A thin gauze of transparent fabric connected from the just above the bust on the high side, around and down to the back, bearing delicate heart shapes along it; when worn, they would look like blue and gold hearts against the skin. the centre of the flag piece, mid-bust, contained a heart emblem, with the wanderlust's icon picked out in the centre.

The lower half of the garment followed the angle of the top, with one side sitting noticeably higher on the hip, while the low side dipped in a way that might be considered dangerously low – again, it was mostly an illusion of the design, as the low side of the skirt piece was secure and still only rested on the hip; the cut only gave the impression of it going very low at a short glance. It matched the top half in design, having a split piece form that held firmly and decently in pale blue, for the actual skirt, with a raised section in gold trim that made the top look loose and wavy – a bit like a flag, and a bit like it might slip away or reveal something naughty at any moment, even though there was, in reality, no danger of it doing so. The high side of the skirt ended at the upper thigh, at a height that might be dubious and questionable on its own, while the low side trailed long, and fell to just below the knee. Saving the questionable shortness of the high side, the outfit also bore a slim belt sash that tied on the short side – the sash contrasted the rest of the outfit, in that the base colour was a gauzy gold, while the stronger seams at the edge were trimmed in blue. the ties at the hip were long, and allowed the airy, gauzy fabric to fall over one leg, and obscure the shortness of the skirt on that side – anyone would be able ot guess at how short the skirt got on that side, but unless Magistrate removed the belt sash, or pulled it out of the way, no-one would actually be able to see for sure. Small metal weighs held the ties down and stopped them from flying up in the breeze – small hearts, one blue and one gold, each with the Wanderlust's logo etched inside them as well.

The legs were left bare, in this outfit, but a simple pair of blue flats complimented the rest of the outfit. Of note elsewise, the design that Magistrate first received also contained the data for matching undergarments for the outfit – the chest ware was, of necessity, a supportive bralette that was low profile and wouldn't peek above even the low side of the top, though someone used to wearing more might feel a touch exposed, even though they weren't – the back catch was shaped like the wanderlust logo, and the lower underwear were a pale blue with the logo at the top on the front, where a decoration might normally go.

Aya and Suzume's outfits were next, and they were largely identical to the one magistrate had received for herself. The major differences were in the colour scheme: the one matching Aya's measurements was styled in deeper, more passionate red and purple. the cut across the chest was slightly different as well, and was designed to more effectively flatter a slightly smaller bust. The result was that it showed a little bit less cleavage, but overall created the impression of a well-proportioned, bust that would draw the eye, without pushing up or pretending to be something it wasn't. Suzume's design had the same tailoring differences, while the colours scheme that Lyntael had chosen for her were a muted, coy green with black trims – if she left her hair out in its normal gold colour, it would compliment the green well.

Finally, the outfit for DragonierMan was substantially different form the others. there was no hair piece or adornment on this outfit; instead, it started directly with the shirt. The basic design was light and breezy; it had short sleeves that would only go as far as Drago's upper arms, while the front was an open 'v', with the first actual button starting only a few centimetres above where Lyntael had guessed his navel ought to be. The design itself was a little more complex than the women's outfits, but it retained the theme and style. Starting at the hip, where the shirt would tuck in, and travelling in a diagonal, up one side of the open 'v' front, half of the shirt was designed to look like a flag, in a grey-blue colour, rippling in wind – that side of the opening was slightly ruffled to add to the effect. the 'flag' bore the wanderlust's logo in such a way that it stood out like breast patch on one side of the shirt, about where one would expect to find such a marker, but fitting in with the background design.

The other side of the shirt was a background of darker blue, with arching motion lines that curved across to the opening of the shirt, and trailed small heart patterns with them – it created an image as though the flag had been waved across the shirt, while at the same time drawing the eye to the wearer's chest, which, Lyntael had to admit, she was taking a liberty in presuming that Drago would be attractively well defined there... he was a career warrior, though, so he had to be, she reasoned.

A sash similar to the womens' was designed to fasten about the waist, and separate the eye-candy shirt design from a simpler, less-is-more approach to leg wear. The sash itself was grey and blue, and bore matching heart weights on the ends of the ties, just like the other pieces. Lyntael felt bad about leaving the leg wear as the traditional slim-line black slacks, even if they were designed to hug real estate and show off firm muscles and well-defined calves, presuming Drago had them... she would have liked to have done something more with that, but anything else would draw too much attention. It was a problem with men's fashion, she thought.

Lyntael continued to fidget with her hands in her lap while she waited for Magistrate's verdict.
“What do you think? I wanted to go for something that was stylish, and alluring, and a bit of a tease, but, keep it respectable and decent, and like it was part of a uniform style.” She offered a small grin as she explained, and looked around the room for a dressing screen, or somewhere she might be able to change in privacy.
As Lyntael sputtered about the knife, Aya drew another knife from under her cloak, and gave it a little flourish. Just how many knives did the small woman have anyways? "If you need practice, we can teach you," she offered. She then balanced the point of the blade on one finger, the hilt pointed towards the ceiling. She then tossed it above her, stepped forward, and reached around to catch the spinning blade behind her back. Her catching arm then lashed out from behind her like a serpent and stopped in front of Lyntael's nose, before pulling back. "You wouldn't be the first to get lessons from us," she boasted before stepping back.

Suzume's smile faltered for a moment before she punched Aya in the arm. "Aya, I told you to stop scaring her!" Aya just winced a little, sheathed her weapon somewhere under her cloak, and used the free hand to rub her hot shoulder. Suzu tried to bring her smile back as Lyn began to strap the offered belt knife to her own leg. "Hopefully you won't need it, but better safe than sorry."

The group grew silent as Lyn began designing their uniforms. Listening to her go through her thought processes. Also mentally noting the name drop of Clipper the pirate, and more about Jack from earlier. Also, Lyn had problems with .GMOs not working on her body, just the clothes. There was probably some hard lock on her core that prevented that level of changes.

They all then looked at Drago's face when Lyn made an observation about hair and eye color. His hair was already a dark gray, which was close enough to black, so changing it to white could work. Changing his eyes to blue also wouldn't be too hard. Though they all wondered why Lyn was against green or hazel? Probably something to do with color balance that their fashion-impaired minds wouldn't understand. They would just nod along with it.

When Lyn was finished, she gave the designs over to Magistrate for approval. The administration program-turned warrior gave them a good, long look over. After a few minutes of staring at the pad she looked up and nodded. "These are acceptable," she said. "I will make the final changes. One moment." She brought up a vid-window next to her and sent the data into it. Then began typing on a digital keyboard.

Silhouetted models of the four, one male and three females, appeared on the screen. They began to spin slowly as the various costume articles were attached. Their models also began to fluctuate, as Magi increased Suzu and Aya's height to be closer to her own. Then their faces popped up on screen. Magi began altering their facial features so they wouldn't look anything like their original forms. They morphed from clearly Netopian, to clearly Electopian, almost stereotypically so.

Drago's hair went fluffy white, and he grew a beard. His eyes also changed to a twinkling blue. He almost looked like an Electopian Santa. Magi's hair went fully black and curly, with crystal blue eyes that looked almost faceted. Suzu's and Aya's hair became short and straight, turned black, and then gained frosted tips and streaks. Suzu's was green, while Aya's was red. Their eyes had also changed to the same color. They still looked like twins to some extent, but they were now exotic Electopian ones, which hopefully would be enough to hide their true identities. All had stylish tinted glasses that went with the individual outfits' color-scheme.

Magi also materialized a pair of glasses for Lyn to go with her outfit and handed it to her. Lyn would quickly find, if she put them on, that they contained a digital HUD that turned on when she put them on. Besides displaying a list of their names on the side, it was quickly drawing a map of their surroundings in one corner of her vision and placing icons on everyone in the room. As Magi began to distribute the altered .GMOs and the others began changing, which didn't require them to remove their clothes as they just shimmered into their new disguises, the list of names began to light up and connect to each other. Next to the list was a set of spacial coordinates and the number of the suite they were all standing in. Probably as they moved around the ship, they would be mapping it, and be able to keep visual track of where each person was located.

"Looks like everything is online and working," Magi stated with a satisfied smirk as everyone was getting used to their new bodies. Her voice was even modulated to sound more Electopian. It wouldn't be surprising if the others put on an accent as well. "I suggest that we also change our names while in these forms. What do you suggest?" Magi asked Lyn.

In the brief moment of showing off, Aya's display shunted Lyntael from a place of relative calm and safety to one of shock that the smaller girl hadn't been at all prepared for; despite that, her reaction would have been impressively sharp and quick, if not for the fact that it was a startled flinch back along with an audible catch of breath that squeaked. In the same instant, however, the other occupants in the room were treated to a dull static reverb as her hair and skin sparked briefly and a shell of electrical energy emanated out from somewhere in her chest, forming a dense field of resistance that expanded to cover her body, before seeming to stabilise itself from soft glowing points at her wrists and ankles and fading from sight.

It had all happened in the time it took Aya to halt her blade and withdraw it, and Lyntael looked up from the closed-in hunch she'd fallen into with a wince.

“Sorry! I'm sorry, I can't really... um... please don't.” She rubbed at her neck, nervously, while it seemed like Suzume's admonishment of her sister was well earned. “I'm getting much better at controlling it, I am, really, but, just... shocks, when I'm not expecting it... Sorry... I just really don't want to hurt anyone.” She ducked her head and moved on quickly to her work.

By the time the rest of the changes were all taken care of, Lyntael had calmed down again; working on the outfits genuinely had brought out a completely different, much calmer and less timid side of the girl, and once Magistrate gave her approval and began tweaking them further, Lyntael smiled, a bright expression that showed off her teeth while her green eyes danced at the satisfaction of a job well done. She watched Magi further inputting the alteration data as best she could, attentive to the other woman's work, and nodded once or twice in silence as she took in what she was doing.

When she was done and Magistrate handed her a set of eye-wear for herself, Lyntael blinked and started, realising that the others were already more or less ready. A faint blush pinked her cheeks, though it was only very light.

“Oh! Right, I had meant to... um... ” She took hold of the glasses along with the small .GMO disc she'd made for herself, and in a moment it unpacked into a soft bundle of folded clothing in her arms. Lyntael jumped up from the bed, but no new furniture had magically appeared since her first hurried glance; aside from the over-sized heart bed, and a few smaller furniture pieces, the suite room didn't seem to contain too much in the way of partitions or privacy. She hesitated, clutching the bundle, then sighed and stepped across to set them down on a dressing table against one wall.

“Ah, could you, um...” she looked back at Drago, and briefly as well to the male half of Tango, if he was actively shimmying at the moment. “Just turn around for a bit? I'll only be a minute...” She spared them each a short, pleasing look, before turning her back to the room and quickly undoing the catches of her vest. It slipped off and got folded in swift, neat motions, before Lyntael started to arrange and put on the top part of her new costume, which was substantially more complicated. She worked as quickly as she could without rushing. By all accounts Drago was supposed to be an upstanding person, from what she'd heard so far, but she still didn't relish the feeling of being exposed in the same room with any male. Anyone peeking – oddly, perhaps, Lyntael hadn't given the same request to any of the women present, and asking them not to look hadn't seemed to have crossed her mind for one reason or another – would mostly become aware of how little Lyntael had actually been wearing to begin with. As much as it was perfectly decent for someone of her slight build, the vest really was the only article of clothing on her top half at all, and the very slight signs of a girl who hadn't been eating enough for a growing teenage body could be seen when she stretched or raised her arms to begin pulling on the new clothes.

Lyntael herself hesitated again after she got her top situated, then swallowed and unfastened her skirt hurriedly as well, folding it up on top of her vest. She had made matching undergarments for the outfit, but at this juncture she didn't feel brave enough to actually change them right now. No-one was going to see anyway. Instead, she went directly to fastening and securing the new skirt piece and tying the waist sash in the way it was meant to sit. She checked her appearance quickly in the dresser's mirror, then clinked her tongue in frustration. Her eyes lingered on the visible patch of white cotton peeking out on the high side of the skirt, right at her hip; the underwear she'd designed for the outfit had a higher cut, just for that reason.

Oh well. She shifted and adjusted the sash and resettled the ties until she managed to find a position that obscured the mis-match and kept everything that was meant to be out of sight, unseen. She folded up the extra pair of underwear and tucked them in between her skirt and her vest, on the dresser, before turning back to the group.

“Okay, I'm dressed. Sorry about that!” She put her hands to the side slightly, showing off her outfit. It was much the same as the other womens' costumes, though the cut across the chest was different again, and made to flatter a girl who couldn't have amassed anything worth calling cleavage even if she tried. Instead, the rising section of the cloth was cut higher, with the looser trim obscuring the place where the other garments allowed cleavage to be seen, while the solid fabric on Lyntael's outfit was subtly tinted in a gradient that made it look like there was more of a swell restrained there than there actually was. Lyntael's colour scheme was a two-toned yellow; deeper, approaching gold, for the solid fabric, and a light pastel that ran closer to white for the trimming. Unlike the other costumes, Lyntael's didn't seem to have been made with shoes, and her feet were still bare – the effect made her appear a little bit more girlish than the other outfits, even though the rest of her design was clearly intended to emphasise their status as mature, alluring women.

“What do you think? Will this do?” She looked about with a hopeful expression, then tentatively slipped on the glasses. “Oh... wow... that's really cool! I like it. Hey, does this mean if any of you go stripping off or doing naughty things, the others will know?” She poked out her tongue and giggled, as though it was meant for a joke. She looked across to Tango. “I think I'm probably alright to use my own name, aren't I? I mean, if any of them know anything about me, it will only be that I've worked on your ship before, so, that helps in a way, doesn't it?” She turned her gaze back to the others, eyeing each of them with a thoughtful look.

“Well, let's see... Suzume, you're theme is green tones, so, you could be Mara, or maybe Viren... Aya, you're themed towards purples and reds... so... you'd be, maybe Amy, or Nikki... Magistrate... you're blue and gold, so... that would make you either Cynthia, or maybe Matilda... and... DragonierMan... Hmm... grey, blue and white, masculine... you'd be.... Corrin, or maybe Cayne?” She grinned, tilting her head and looking at each of them to see if any of the suggestions grabbed them. Once everything was sorted out, however, her attention eventually came back to Tango and she gave their host the nod that she was, finally, ready to head out and begin their mission properly.
Aya quickly stepped back as electricity flowed out of Lyntael in response to the knife threat. "Ooh, nice," Aya admired. "I bet that is how you really dealt with the pirates. You didn't have to play coy with us you know." She then stepped forward again to really analyze Lyn's wrists and ankles with her hawkish eyes. Her curiosity on anything that can be weaponized was insatiable.

Suzume stepped in again to pulled Aya back. "Enough Aya! You have traumatized the girl enough. Apologize!" Aya just shrugged her sister off. "Fine. I'm sorry," she said without much conviction. She then smirked, "Sorry that I'm going to bug her until I learn all I can. And then teach her how to wield her powers to smite all of her enemies! Hahahaha!" she cackled.

DragonierMan turned around as Lyn got dressed. The others looked away and/or blocked Tango's vision. When Lyn turned around, the others gave her a looking over, then continued to look each other over. These were whole new looks after all, and they needed to memorize how everyone looked. Once they were all satisfied, they continued with the names.

"I'll go with Mara. It reminds me of when I went as Mullonde that one mission," Suzu explained. "Amy is too close to Aya. I'll go with Nikki," Aya stated. "Cynthia is fine," Magistrate nodded. "Guess I'll go with Corrin," Drago affirmed.

Magi made an adjustment to her shades and the HUD updated the list of names. Magi then turned to Lyn. "I did not include the ability to see through another pair, just locational data." She sighed. "Yes, that would mean that the map will update for all of us when any of us move anywhere in the ship. And yes, we would know if anyone is in a location that would be... indiscreet. But, we will not be privy to the actual acts committed." She then looked to Drago, Suzu, and Aya as if to indicate their tendency to be... indiscreet.

“Your friend is right!” Tango agreed with Suzume, the male form glancing at the sheath for just a moment before shutting his eyes once more and continuing his ceaseless shuffle for his unamused audience. “Neither your handsome host nor your heart-throbbing hostess condone any stabbing of guests upon the new ship. If you must calm the tension, why not resolve it through charm and diplomacy like the lovely Lyntael?” As incredulous as DragonierMan and his battle-strapped allies might be of that notion, Lyntael would probably find it even more preposterous, remembering what she’d had to go through the last time.

The woman rose as the man fell once more, catching the mannequin and dancing to DragonierMan. “Yes, yes, very open and very friendly! And serving the BOC with trays of…” Tango paused just a moment, smiling vacantly, before resuming a spin as if it was the answer to whatever she’d been questioning. “Whatever they order, of course! Ho ho!”

Tango dropped out of the spin as a mannequin towards DragonierMan, who would either politely catch her or let her fall onto the floor, as the man resumed his snapping shuffle while addressing Lyntael. It might occur to them that the man’s dance had become just a little more restrained after he’d hit his foot earlier. He nodded at the notion that they should forget about Jack. When Lyntael brought up the question, though, he shut his eyes, tilting his head up and trying to recall. “Hm…” He snapped his eyes open and grinned at Lyntael, wagging a finger playfully (and possibly frustratingly). “That is what I thought as well, my little dove! Well, as I spent some time learning of pirates and the foolproof measures to avoid them, I came across the info that the one named Clipper, she came up disappointed. If only those pirates came to my cruise for the right reasons, eh? But what of it? Water under the ship! I merely hope Jack is safe and sound in the loving embrace of your empire.” He started to reach for a hug, reconsidered it, then turned to reclaim his mannequin from DragonierMan.

The reappearing hostess sashayed silently for a bit, allowing Lyntael to think with perhaps surprising restraint. Perhaps, for her, getting charming costumes right was one of the most important tasks they’d broached on so far. “Ah, this one, she says all of the right things! Stylish, alluring, teasing! These are the words of passion, no? My heart beats with anticipation!” Apparently, she wasn’t kidding, as her dance picked up antsy speed while Magistrate fiddled with the finishing touches. She seemed so excited that she didn’t even lose a beat when briefly exposed to a static shock. Finally, she clapped her hands, tapping her feet around the changed group to inspect them from all sides. “Ah? Who are these charming devils and little demons who have joined us? Oh! Ho! Of course, they are the staff of the Wanderlust II, looking twice as mysteriously disguised and thrice as charming! I am very pleased, Lyntael. With your many talents, I should simply have hired you to fill the Jack-shaped hole in my staff! If your rates were the same,” Tango added at the end in a statement so quick it could have been a sneeze, shutting her eyes and dancing contentedly once more.

The man sprung from the floor again, tugging on his lapels once more. “I only question the limit of the red. Red is the color of passion, no? Passionate servants dressed in passionate red might be ideal…! But, of course, I leave it to your sound judgment,” he gave his perhaps limited insight on fashion. “Now, yours is…?” he began. He paused, twisting his thin moustache and grinning as he realized Lyntael’s changing process was more involved. “Well, as heart-pounding as that scene would surely be, your hostess and I cannot afford to be involved in any lawsuits, and I understand there is a high-powered lawyer on board! I will simply-“ he added, falling stiffly backward as a doll.

“Mind my behavior,” Tango finished as a woman, winking and posing. She offered unaccepted dances to DragonierMan and his ladies as the young lady finished changing, having time to extend an unaccepted hand multiple times to each of them before it was done. She remained silent as the group discussed their code names, seeming to pay very little attention at a possibly important time as they ran through it with each other. When they finished, she grinned, glancing at Corrin mischievously. “Yes, now you are…” she started, before patting him on the shoulders. “So distinguished and handsome! And you are…” she glanced at Cynthia… “So very beautiful! I have committed all of your charming names for the night to memory,” she announced without offering any proof. “And Lyntael, she is simply the lovely Lyntael. I see no problem.” For what her reassurance was worth.

The male form emerged once more to dance with the mannequin. “Now, as promised, follow me to the kitchen! I insist you walk this way,” he said with a grin, sashaying out with a practiced, meandering tap dance…

… Which left his mannequin abandoned in the room. A short while later, it sprang to life (as the other fell limply in the hallway). “And I will lead you to the hall! Simply follow my hips with your eyes and your feet!” she commanded, beginning a similar dance that took her in the same direction.

Anyone entering the hall would be able to look out the window and see the setting sun for the beginning of the night cruise. They’d be able to get as clear of a view as they wanted of the distant beach coastline, with no waves or sea spray disrupting them… because, as they would now realize, the ship was not moving at all.

As the group ventured forward, they would probably be frustrated to realize one group had caught up to the other as one group had to stop moving to wait for their guide whenever he or she switched. Finally, Tango had the good sense to start carrying the dummy again, merging their groups into one. It stood to reason the presentation hall must be near the kitchen.


Before the group got a chance to split up, they would find themselves in the lobby to the presentation hall. Before they could enter, it appeared there was a space to sign a guest registry. Of course, as ship staff, they probably didn’t need to. This was only a small foyer with chairs before the main hall, probably used as a waiting area before religious services like weddings.

It looked like this space would have a couple of obstacles to get through before the entirety of the BOC could be met. The group could see into the main hall where a distant, blue-robed man was standing on a stage, probably practicing some sort of speech to an audience of two in the front row. Standing in their way now, however, was a Navi none of them had seen before.

The pale woman approaching them wore a black vest and bow tie with a Navisuit like a white dress shirt tucked into formal pants underneath, covered by black metal bracers with gold rims and white-gloved hands that seemed too large and blocky for the rest of her relatively thin frame. She had short, styled black hair and white glasses that seemed to perpetually catch light, with thin, arched eyebrows that made her seem perpetually perturbed (assuming she wasn’t actually). Her pants had a design down the right leg of a single golden stripe, which tailed into black leg armor with a gold protrusion on the outside of either leg, looking like an inverted pen clip. With her outfit and frame, she might be mistaken for a man if not for her subtle lipstick and feminine voice. Before even introducing herself, she produced a clipboard with an enormously thick stack of papers attached. It seemed to be a special design selected with the intention of holding such a massive ream without difficulty.

“Signatory. You can call me Sign. Thank you Tango, that will be all.”

“Have we met?” the male version asked with a grin, reaching out to receive her hand and not getting anything. “I expect I would remember such a charming-“

“That will be all, Tango. Your staff is here for the event, right? I’ll take them where they’re going,” Sign rushed him, still holding out the mysterious stack of papers to the group.

“… Well, then! Good luck, my staff. I will return if hosting duties are needed! Do not hesitate to find me in my cabin,” Tango dismissed himself with a wave, heading back the way they came.

“What a simpleton,” the woman said in a quiet voice, although she hadn’t waited for Tango to actually leave earshot. “My understanding is none of you have been vetted even though you will be party to privileged information for the BOC. Therefore, I need each of your signatures here, here, here, and here. Short form okay. These state that first, you are not engaged in any conflicts of interest due to partnership, servitude to, or friendly relations with the NeoShogun Empire or any of its affiliates; second, you will not divulge privileged information from this meeting outside of this meeting or with other parties than the BOC; third-“

“Aaaaaaaaagh!” a voice shouted from a nearby chair. A male Navi who had been quiet until now finally rose, throwing his fists into the air. The Navi, while perhaps conventionally handsome with short orange hair and a rather fit build, was decked out in a preposterous outfit. He wore a green headband with the name of the first general of the Empire printed across it, trailing long ties behind it. Besides this, he wore what looked like a long-sleeved, baggy white robe, bearing vertical bands that showed cartoon images of the faces of various female Generals. Over this, he had a thrown item like a scarf that hardly matched at all, bearing dynamic images of MachMan on one shoulder and DragonierMan himself on the other in action poses. He pointed an image with a winking cartoon Hime face at Sign, stomping his feet. “Even the servants? You’re even gonna make the servants sign it? This is why you’re so un-cute, Four Eyes!”

The female Navi clicked her teeth, looking at the Navi who’d addressed her with a mouth curled in open disdain. Nonetheless, her voice was professional. “This… gentleman… is MerchandiseMan. As full disclosure, we’re acquaintances preceding the formation of the BOC. Now, please-“

“Look, don’t sign it, guys! Just don’t sign it! Or, at least, ask her if you’ve gotta sign it! That’s her trick, hahaha! Anyway, call me MerchMan. I’ve been waiting for some actual cuties to show up!” he declared, winking at the disguised Mara and Nikki as he did so.

Sign let out a deep sigh while glaring murder at him. “No… strictly speaking, they are not forced to, however, if they have nothing to hide, I would strongly recommend having them do so-“

“Nah, forget it!” MerchMan declared with a big grin, clapping Sign on the back. “You work for me, right? So that means you gotta shut up when I say so, right?”

“I’m retained by you. I don’t work for you,” Sign corrected him… but gently enough in spite of her frustration that he might have some point, after all.

“So, ladies! I was told this was gonna be a pleasure cruise, but I am so far from pleased right now! Of course that dumb-ass book man and his two-bit tango partners hooked us up on a cruise with just us! There aren’t even any other passengers here! What the heck, right? So, unless you ladies need to get to the kitchen real fast, I’d be happy if you'd tell us more about yourselves right here!”

“They can talk while they sign the documents-“ Sign offered with a twitching eyebrow.

“Don’t sign the documents!” MerchMan reminded them with another laugh, slapping Sign on the back once more.
The question of how Tango would effectively get about had been one of mild curiosity to Lyntael since they had first met; their host's flightiness seemed like accidentally leaving one half of themselves behind was almost a certainty at some point, and by the time they were being led out of the cramped bedroom, the odd back and forth was enough to make Lyntael shake her head. Eventually they resolved into the more sensible mode of one half dancing with the inert other, but then they were speaking about splitting up as well. This might be a long detour...

Moving down the ship's interior halls, Lyntael caught herself glancing down every few moments; she could feel the way the sash shifted and she constantly had to check to see that it wasn't shifting in an indelicate way. Perhaps she really should have changed the undergarments as well. Now she was going to be self-conscious about her normal underwear showing unexpectedly through the whole mission. She adjusted the sash again, just to be sure.

Tango still hadn't addressed the prospect of splitting their group up by the time they were led into a larger chamber, and Lyntael looked about; only a few figures here, so probably not the whole assembled group. Still, this looked promising as far as their duties went. Within moments, however, they were accosted by the most eager member of the group. Lyntael let a warm smile settle on her features as the woman brusquely introduced herself and shooed tango away. The younger girl caught herself glancing quickly back towards Tango, but the host seemed perfectly happy to be dismissed. She supposed that checked out, though... given how hands-off Tango had been previously, the idea that others would handle, well, everything was probably the most appealing offer than anyone could make to the dancer.

Lyntael inclined her head and gave a short curtsy to the other woman, one hand pinching and drawing the lower, longer side of her skirt, while the other came up to cross her chest. She ruthlessly suppressed the urge to fiddle with her sash again, or look down.

“Hello, I'm —Oh!” About to give a formal introduction with the gesture, she was cut off by Sign's immediate documentation rush and glanced nervously between the stack of forms and her companions. The diatribe didn't last too long before it was interrupted by another committee member, and Lyntael turned her smile to him as well as he approached, inclining her head again. the ensuing argument left her looking back and forth between them, blinking as she kept up with the conflicting statements. In particular, MerchMan's paraphernalia seemed odd, given what they'd heard so far; if she didn't know better, she would have sworn that at least one of the figures he was showing was meant to be DragonierMan himself, and she recognised the name of the first general as well. When the back and forth subsided, Lyntael glanced at her friends then stepped forward. when she spoke this time, it was in a bright, bubbly tone that sounded like she was not too far from laughter, though the act would be clear just by contrast alone to everyone who had been with her in the bedroom previously.

“Hi, and welcome to you both. I'm Lynn, and it's my pleasure to serve you in whatever you need while you're on our cruise today.” She looked between the two again before focusing on MerchMan. “If I may, please feel free to relax while you're here. Secrets shared in passion are kept close to the heart, after all. At wanderlust, we never kiss and tell!” She let her left eye flicker in the vaguest suggestion of a wink, before her focus crossed over to Sign instead. this time, her tone settled back to something a little more serious, though she still sounded warm and amiable.

“But, to be clearer, all employees of the wanderlust hold absolute discretion to be of upmost importance to a successful and enjoyable voyage. We can promise that any and all secrets shared, tastes confessed, desires, requests, indulgences, acts... the staff of wanderlust assure you that anything that occurs aboard, stays aboard, and is kept in complete confidence and privacy...” she pushed and tilted her head with a small, apologetic shrug. “Well, so long as you don't endanger yourself, others, or staff, of course.” With a gentle smile, she made a small hand gesture to wave away the stack of documents. “After all, if we didn't already ensure that you were free to be your most passionate self, without fear of being judged, how could we hope to offer the best voyage possible?”

Technically, Lyntael told herself, she wasn't lying; Wanderlust had no official employees, so it was technically true that all employees felt, and were contractually bound, as she said they did and were. She hadn't actually claimed that hey were employees at all after all, and formally they weren't. It was splitting hairs, she knew, but it felt better than lying directly. She took a small, skipping step backward then gestured with one hand to her companions as she rejoined their presentory line-up.

“As you say, your group are our exclusive focus on today's cruise. We would love to meet all of you! Cynthia, Nikki, Mara, Corrin and myself are all here today to serve and assist you, whether that's with directions, entertainment, service or even just companionship, please, don't hesitate to tell us how we can make your cruise a more memorable experience!” As she finished another brief bow an incline of her head, Lyntael looked across to see if her friends had anything else to add. she was trying to show them that she was competent and capable, as much as anyone else... perhaps more so, really, considering why she was here, but she hoped she wasn't overdoing it. the urge to glance down at herself and fiddle with her sash again, just to check and make sure the incongruent white of her underwear wasn't showing, was almost overpowering and it was hard to keep the nervous blush from her cheeks. She should have changed them.
Quickly getting into character, the four other servants bowed as Lyntael introduced them. Keen eyes and ears tried to soak up as much information about the guests as they could, while also trying to play at discretion. Of particular interest were MerchMan's accessories and attitude. He seemed like he would be profiting from the Neo-Shogunate's rise. Why would he be in a group opposing the NS?

Lynn's opening dialogue was masterfully done. Nikki and Mara glanced at each other for a moment and nodded in silent appreciation at the young woman's diplomatic skills. They both then grinned and turned to MerchMan and sashayed up on both sides, attempting to wrap their hands around his arms. "As they say, we are here to fill your every desire," Mara began as the sisters pressed their modified, more ample cleavage into him. "What would please you right now? A massage perhaps? You do look tense, doesn't he Nikki?" she asked her sister.

"He does indeed Mara," Nikki purred. They were definitely showing a different side to Lynn than they were earlier. Who knew that the violent, psychopathic warriors had so much practice with seduction? "Or perhaps some wine and fresh fruits fed to you directly by beautiful ladies while you recline like an Emperor?" she suggested. Assuming that MerchMan took them up on any of their offers, or one of his own, the sisters would follow along.

As the twins attempted to pull the man away from his retainer and indulge him in some vices, Corrin and Cynthia swept forward to deal with Sign. Corrin tried to take one or both of Sign's hands in his own before leaning over to give them a gentlemanly kiss. "Welcome Mademoiselle, how can we serve you this fine day?" he asked. Then he clicked his tongue and shook his head "Tsk, tsk. No, no this won't do. You look quite tense. Perhaps I can interest you in a massage. Some wine perhaps?" he asked. Meanwhile, Cynthia would attempted to catch Sign's clipboard if Corrin managed to slide it out of her hands. Cynthia would produce her own clipboard and long-feathered quill, placing her own clipboard over Sign's own if they succeeded. If Sign clutched her clipboard tightly and was not distracted by Corrin's suave movements, Cynthia would continue her next actions regardless.

"How many should we be expecting to attend your soiree today? I was not given an exact number by Tango and I would like to be precise," Cynthia explained, quill pressed to the page. Hopefully, she could form a bond with Sign over their less-than-ideal employers, and their own impeccable work ethic. "While aboard please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions, concerns, or problems. I will handle them for you, so that you may enjoy your trip in relative bliss. Your relaxation is very important to us," Cynthia ended. And by the way that Sign was acting, it was probably important to the success of the mission to distract her as much as they could.

MerchMan immediately brightened at Lyntael’s introduction, with a face that said his next words before they left his mouth. “Ha ha! This is what I’ve been waiting for, Lynn! I guess Tango at least got this much right. I hadn’t seen any waitresses, so I’d started to figure we were on a ghost ship.”

Sign, for her part, looked far less amused. The frozen expression on her face suggested that this was about what she’d expected, and she was used to dealing with it. “Ah, a promise. How generous of you. But a promise is only as good as a ‘maybe’ until you put it in writing-“

“Forget it! Don’t any of you cuties dare sign that!” MerchMan growled now, swiping at the clipboard as Sign held him back with one large hand and held it away with the other. “I’m sure the fine print is chock full of stuff this tight-ass put in to stop me from having a good time! That’s how she is!!” he yelled, finally giving up and crossing his arms as he fell back. It looked like an abundance of merchandise, a transparent desire to enjoy himself, and (apparently) the status of a paying customer might be all he had over his lawyer.

Sign continued to stare at Lynn’s face as if trying to bore a hole through her. Probably, this was because she was used to dealing with people trying to get out of signing papers from her and a warning flag had gone off for her… But with the young woman’s thoughts at that time, it was hard not to imagine she was staring into her thoughts and daring her to break eye contact (or, rather, eye-to-lens contact) to check on her outfit.

While Lynn dealt with that, MerchMan gladly gave his arms to the two women. They were laying it on thick to paper over their ordinarily dangerous nature, but the lucky man either didn’t notice or didn’t care. “Every desire? Don’t make promises you don’t wanna keep later in the night, Mara~!” he teased, staring “tensely” into her cleavage. This close, the two would be able to spot the bit of orange stubble growing on his chin When Nikki spoke up, however, she instantly had his attention. “Aw damn, would that hit the spot right now! C’mon, lemme join you in the kitchen! I knew today was gonna be a lucky day, hee hee!” He began leading the two along into the main room. “Join us Lynn, unless you wanna sit here and sign stuff! I always say the only thing pretty ladies ought to have to sign is autographs! Follow me if you wanna know more~!”

Sign was transparently grinding her teeth in response to the man’s words. With how much composure (or, at least, how low a tolerance for flirty nonsense) she’d shown up until that point, it must have taken a lot of confidence and guts for the disguised DragonierMan to try putting a move on her: nonetheless, she seemed to be so distracted by MerchMan’s behavior that Corrin managed to pull it off before she could retract it. The servant for the day got another funny reaction out of her: Sign’s jaw dropped open as a visible flush ran across her face. Then, she did something strange… She clenched her teeth hard, looking like she’d have severed her tongue if it had been out, then shook her hand dramatically as if to get rid of a bug and drew it back. “Me? Tense? You must be imagining things,” she responded preposterously, straightening her glasses again with her large fingers. “If you’re determined to offer massages and beverages, I’m sure there are others inside who need such things.” Needless to say, Sign had retracted her clipboard and begun hugging it to herself with her other arm so defensively that it would probably take an invisible Navi to get it from her.

Regardless, it was Cynthia’s turn to try her luck. Once again, Sign looked slightly whiplashed by the varying demeanors she was being forced to put up with. She did her best to settle into professionalism again. “Hmm… In the main room are the organizer and his three. There’s MerchandiseMan and myself… There’s two other wandering about the ship, still. There’s another… somewhere. I heard he had some trouble with the venue. Finally, there’s someone in the kitchen, but… I don’t think she’s a party to the BOC. She didn’t approach me asking, and she seemed… rather difficult to approach, herself. So I’ve assumed she’s simply kitchen staff that is very, very bad at her job. In any case… Thank you,” she ended in a warmer-than-expected voice, although her expression didn’t change. “As nice as it would be to relax here, somebody has to hold the reigns considering the clowns running this circus… Still, I’ll happily rely on you for anything I need in terms of the ship.”

She paused for a moment, then cleared her throat. “Ahem. As soon as you sign these papers,” she added, thrusting them forward again to their likely dismay.


Mara and Nikki (and, perhaps, Lynn) had managed to sneak through by clinging to something Sign seemed glad to treat as a blind spot in her attention. “Honestly, girls, I am so glad you showed up. Tango got me pretty hard with that joke, ha ha! Hold up, hold up. Take a look at this,” he told them, guiding them towards an empty, cloth-covered table with a big smile on his face. “Look at it!”

Those gathered would finally lay eyes on what he must be talking about, an item so conspicuously out-of-place with the décor that it seemed like it must have been left there by accident… Yet, there was one on every table in the hall. It was a small, square sheet of unlaminated white paper that displayed the text:
(there was a white spot here, like something had been taped over on the original copy)

MerchMan was doubled over laughing, obviously expecting the other three to join in. “That loser in the kitchen creeps me out, but I’m glad to know she at least has a sense of humor! Awesome prank. C’mon, let’s go get to that Emperor treatment you ladies mentioned-“

Before they could, the man behind the podium on stage began moving towards them. He snapped for the two had been watching him to help him down, and they did (although the woman among them grumbled): in any case, they easily lifted his withered form and brought him to the ground. It was a bit of a rough landing, but he managed it with surprising poise, as if it was something he’d come to expect. “Thank you, ma’am and sir! Graceful, as always,” he muttered, his chipper tone falling as he barely repressed rolling his eyes.

The man who’d been helped down surely had to be the one in charge, based on the odd hat he was wearing, in the style of a blue-covered open tome with a red bookmark that covered his right eye while an ornate monocle graced the other. He had a curling moustache, a resting smile, and a twinkle in his eye, giving the impression of a fatherly old gentleman… so ceaselessly that it almost had to be an act. He wore a blue cloak with silver side-clasps like book latches over his wizened black frame, had a bit of a hunch in his back, and a noticeable limp in his step. In spite of it, the lower teeth of his grin were exposed to the group. “Welcome! You must be Tango’s staff… finally,” he trailed off in a sarcastically weary tone, holding his grin. “Allow me to introduce you to my own humble servants. This is-“

“I’m not your servant, for the last damn time!” the lady shouted, although she stood back and flanking him like she was. “Name’s Raptor.” The lanky woman wore a green, scaled armored outfit with torso armor, a skirt, bracers and greaves. Both the arm and leg armor were adorned with sharp nails at the tips, somewhat like dinosaur claws, joining the motif of the leather dinosaur-like hood she wore over her head, where only a bit of her sandy blonde hair peeked through. Her face did look scary like a dinosaur’s, with yellow, feral eyes with vertical slit pupils and pointed teeth in a wide resting grimace; in the moment where she’d spoken, a long, reptile-like tongue had revealed itself. To further complete the image, a leathery tail slithered from behind her and snaked along the floor. She looked somewhat fit and tan, judging from her visible biceps and lower thighs. “That’s TribalMan,” she said, indicating him by leaning her head in his direction.

That Navi was far more tan and fit than she was, a mountain of sharp-angled muscle with dark, blue-tattooed skin and brown hair in a short ponytail back from his forehead. The only clothing he wore was tan-colored skinsuit pants with a pattern like the tattoos that lined his body: the ordinary “no shirt, no shoes, no service” rules must not apply to him. He looked at them from dark, squinted eyes: among the many sour-looking characters they’d seen so far, he looked the least capable of smiling. He didn’t speak to greet them, only turning his impassive gaze between them as though challenging them with his imposing aura to dare them to make him introduce himself.

“He’s the strong, silent, simple type,” ChronicleMan added, a rather unveiled assessment that didn’t get any rise out of TribalMan. “In any case, these two leeches sometimes act as my hired muscle, but today we’re among friends!” he announced, spreading his arms congenially (yet, somehow, still smugly). “Which means there’s hardly any need for them to be here, you understand, except that they do so love to treat themselves to a cruise-ship vacation under the guise of lending me a hand.”

“What an ass,” Raptor muttered testily. “You asked us to be here! But yeah, now that you mention it, where’s the grub?! I could eat a freakin’ brontosaurus!”

“Yes, I was wondering about that,” ChronicleMan asked the pair of sisters (and Lyntael, if she’d joined), raising an eyebrow. “Tango had led us to believe this event would be finely catered. All I’ve seen advertised is, ahem, greasy foodstuffs of a low order. Burgers, fries, and other such garbage-“

“The hell?! They’ve been serving burgers and fries this whole time?!” Raptor spoke up, barely clearing her rumbling stomach for volume. “You sonuva- why didn’t you tell me?!”

TribalMan didn’t say anything, but loomed over ChronicleMan himself, announcing his own opinion with a loud, rumbling growl of his own belly.

“All of you, can it!” MerchMan finally got a word in edgewise, shouting with annoyance before relaxing again. “These lovely ladies were just about to show us where the real catering is! I don’t mind if they join us for that, girls, but I call dibs for that massage service, okay…?”

ChronicleMan sighed, although he was obviously smiling at the fortune of escaping being menaced. “W-well, I think any of us can become a bit testy while feeling so peckish. Tell me, young ladies, where do we go about being served? There’s hardly any time before we begin important BOC business. The only kitchen staff I’ve witnessed was… Ahem. Well, I didn’t check, but she had the shady look about her of a stowaway, rather than a waitress or cook of any sort-“

“Check! Check, damn yooou!!” Raptor yelled, holding her menacing hands in the air as though she were considering making a meal of him. “If she was here to flip patties I could’ve had a dozen by now!!”

MerchMan huddled the girls in, whispering to them discretely. “Uh, ladies… what say we ditch these three and head back there ourselves?” He helpfully indicated the silver double-door to the kitchen with a nod of his head. “No reason they’ve gotta tag along… Tell ‘em we’ll let the staff know they’re hungry.”
Lyntael did her best to maintain her friendly, hostess smile in the face of Sign's displeasure, until her companions jumped in to begin making more pointed offers. For her part, she was more content to let them get to work and settle into the background a little more; her friends could offer more direct entertainment, and she could watch and listen, and to be ready to handle anything more unusual. MerchMan was making her uncomfortable with his tactless advances, but at least it didn't seem like he was being at all sinister about it... just... a little uncouth. Silently, she was glad that Aya and Suzume had jumped forward; she wasn't sure she was quite ready to manage having an arm about her from a man making those kinds of entendre without causing at least a minor reaction.

As she listened with half an ear, it certainly seemed like the twins were not just comfortable, but able to put on a face of eagerness for that kind of behaviour. Lyntael was quietly surprised, given their more strict and military-minded approach earlier. Just another skill-set, she supposed.

She was saved from Sign's own grilling by Drago and Magistrate, in turn, and stepped back to let them slip in and appease the other woman in her stead. There was a moment when her constructed smile flickered to a more natural grin, just briefly, as Sign was caught off guard by the more charming approach. Maybe she wasn't used to people actually being complimentary to her? Her thoughts dipped to a darker shade for a moment as her eyes dropped towards the carpet, but she banished the divergence and covered the reaction in another quick glance at her outfit. A brief glimpse of pure white near her hip was enough to make her fight to suppress a frustrated sound. Lesson learned, she supposed. She'd have to do something about it sooner or later though. The sash just wasn't going to stay in place altogether, and she couldn't keep flashing her knickers here and there just because she hadn't changed into the set designed for the costume. What to do...?

She was pulled out of distracted thoughts again as Sign began to list other passengers and guests, though it seemed peculiar to her that the other woman wasn't immediately aware of who was and wasn't BOC affiliated. the mention of potentially inept kitchen staff got her attention though; tango had been quite clear that they hadn't managed to hire any other employees yet, after Jack left, so whoever it was, it wasn't a ship employee.

“Perhaps you'd like to walk with us for now?” She smiled and gestured towards the area where the other guests cold still be seen, and where MerchMan was leading Aya and Suzume. “We must make ourselves known to the other guests, of course, but once things are properly underway, I'm sure one of us will be able to sort out the perfect relaxation plan tailored for you...” With a pointedly playful grin and an arch of one eyebrow, Lyntael let her gaze turn her head slightly to look across to 'Corrin' and then back to Sign. “Please... Let us hold the reins while you are here. It's our pleasure to make sure that everyone can enjoy themselves and relax as they wish, and that does mean, we will look after ensuring that no-one... encroaches on the enjoyment or relaxation of anyone else.” She offered another brief curtsy to Sign, then inclined her head to Drago and Magistrate as she rose again, before turning to glide past Sign towards the rest of the guests in the area; if she was going to speak and introduce things as though she were a senior hostess to the others, she could probably get away with leaving sign 'in their care', so to speak. It would be up to the other navi whether she wanted to stay where she was or follow after, and she felt she could trust her companions to respond to Sign's actions in a helpful way in turn.

As she stepped away and followed through towards the main hall proper, Lyntael subconsciously darted both hands down to tug and resettle her sash again. She looked up and stilled her hands as MerchMan's louder laughter drew her focus; she glanced at the menu on a nearer table when she saw what he was gesturing at, and this time couldn't really contain the concerned expression that filtered across her features. That was not a good sign, though, she supposed, if Tango really had no-one at all on hand, she had known better than to expect much. Instead, she moved quickly to meet the other guests as they, rather awkwardly, helped the speaker to climb down from the stage. She wondered, briefly, if she ought to tell them not to do things like that; surely there wasn't any need for clambering around like that... but at a glance she didn't actually see any proper stairs up. She cold only guess that the more elderly-looking gentleman was ChronicleMan, as Tango had suggested tot hem, but she was beginning to feel like this organisation wasn't very well organised. Maybe sign had a point.

“Ah, yes, hello!” She quickly curtsied for this group as well, one hand pinching out the low side of her skirt as she crossed the other over her chest politely. “I'm sorry about any delays!” Before she could introduce herself or the others, ChronicleMan, she presumed, took the lead instead, only to be cut off by his companions. Lyntael did her best to smile and nod for the obviously more aggressive pair.

“It is a pleasure to meet each of you. Ah, I'm—” her professional confidence shook briefly before she caught herself. “That is, my name is Lynn, and you can see just behind me there, Mara, Nikki, Corrin, and that's Cynthia towards the back, speaking with miss Signatory.” She gestured briefly to each as she spoke. “I hope we can help make your time with us more enjoyable, now that we're here.” she ducked her head at ht end of the brief platitude, and the navis before her took the chance to argue amongst themselves a little longer. She gave them a chance to settle, politely looking between them without making any specific eye contact, her hands clasped neatly in front of her at her waist.

Given the way they seemed inclined to move, it was only a moment before ChronicleMan and his companions had reunited with MerchMan, who, by the sound of it, was still working on convincing 'Nikki' and 'Mara' to give him some more personal service away from others. Or maybe, as she listened in, it really was more about the food after all.

As the lack of food and poor food prospects seemed to escalate further, Lyntael winced before she could cover it up, then cast a briefly panicked look towards Aya and Suzume.

“Ah, Mara, Nikki? Perhaps you could check in with the kitchen staff for us and see what the situation with the catering is? I'm sure Corrin, Cynthia and I can keep our guests entertained until the... ah... the delay... can be sorted out?” She felt bad volunteering the other two so directly, but with the way MerchMan was behaving, she couldn't really make herself step forward to head away somewhere alone with him... and if the individual in the kitchens was actually dangerous... Better that they looked into it first. With a somewhat less confident smile, Lyntael looked back towards the others, in between casting uncertain glances to Drago and Magistrate, then took a few steps to move around the set out tables and waved a hand to invite others to sit and relax.

“Perhaps, while we wait, Maybe you could tell us a little about what you'd like to do while you're travelling with us today?” she tried to inject a little more playfulness and warmth into her voice as she continued. “What makes you passionate? And how can we help stoke those embers into thrill and bliss?” She wasn't sure how well she succeeded with the effort, but she move herself around the group as she spoke to end up standing near ChronicleMan; if she was lucky, the invitation might just lead him to talking more about his organisation, and she made a quiet wager with herself that if she could draw him into that with her own attention, his other party members would probably want to be anywhere else. Her luck was rarely that good, but it was still worth trying.
Turning on the charm seemed to work, as MerchMan took the offered honey and Sign was thrown for a stuttering loop. Beyond the honeyed words, Mara and Nikki used their .GMO enhanced cleavage and practiced little movements to make it more prominent to one's gaze, further ensnaring MerchMan under their spell. Watching them, one had to wonder how much experience they had in the art of seduction. Corrin and Cynthia weren't as successful on Sign, coming at her with two different strategies, but they did cause her to be distracted. They also got her to talk about who else was on the cruise liner. Though unfortunately there were no names given.

Lynn moved after MerchMan, Mara, and Nikki, while ushering Sign, Corrin, and Cynthia into the main hall proper. Mara and Nikki were the first to catch sign that their job was going to be a lot harder than they expected, as MerchMan pointed out a piece of paper stating very blase fare. The sisters gave each other a glancing look of concern, before putting back on their act and joining MerchMan in mirthful laughter. But before they could go to the kitchen to fix this problem, several other passengers introduced themselves. An elderly gent who they guessed was ChronicleMan, a spry firecracker named Raptor, and a mountain named TribalMan. Mara and Nikki squeezed MerchMan a little harder as they had to fight their battle urges upon seeing the last two. Hopefully it was taken by MerchMan another way, such as that they might have been dainty women who were frightened of the big, bad people, and were clinging to MerchMan for support.

Most of the talk of visiting the kitchen finally came to a head when Lynn asked Mara and Nikki to take a look. Assuming MerchMan was still raring to head to the kitchen, the twins would lead him there. They would probably have to improvise upon reaching the kitchen and seeing what was going on there. Hopefully there were some fruits lying around for their emperor treatment. Meanwhile, Corrin and Cynthia stayed with Lynn in order to back her up if needed. Though she seemed to have everything in hand at the present moment.

"I have been meaning to ask darling," Mara began as they headed toward the kitchen, their HUD glasses mapping out the ship for everyone to see. "But I noticed your lovely little collection here, and was wondering all about it," Mara asked MerchMan as she ran a finger across his chest, indicating his various wearable merchandise. "Yeah," Nikki continued, also tracing a finger on his chest from the other side. "It seems familiar somehow. Perhaps we saw these on the vids or something."

Sign frowned, still regarding Lynn cautiously. “Of course, I’ll follow you. None of you have signed my papers yet, after all. That means I have to continue keeping an eye on you. Wouldn’t this all be easier if you simply signed? I think we’d all be able to take it much easier, then…” It seemed getting the lawyer to relax her nerves (or her grip on her clipboard, for that matter) was still going to take some work. Regardless, she followed along into the main hall. She noted Lynn picking up one of the menus, but if she thought there was anything odd about that, she didn’t say it. In all likelihood, she was thinking of other things.

As cautious as Sign appeared to be about the nature of the ship’s staff, MerchMan was the inverse: the trained warriors squeezing his arms wouldn’t feel any kind of defensive reaction in response. When the ladies took up on his offer to accompany them to the kitchen, he gladly accepted…

… It looked like they would have a couple of stowaways, though. They were joined by Raptor and TribalMan, who seemed to feel they would get fed faster if they took themselves to the catering, rather than vice versa. Perhaps luckily, they didn’t seem to be the chatty sort under the best of times; as hungry as they were, they would probably stay quiet and on a straight path to the kitchen unless Mara and Nikki made any stops.


In the main hall, ChronicleMan was left with Lyn. He gestured for her to accompany him to a table, seeing as he was the only one apparently left to question about what made him “passionate.” … Unless Lyn was into “distinguished” (older) gentlemen or good books, she might be nervously anticipating his answer.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, the first thing ChronicleMan revealed himself to be passionate about was himself. “Well, regarding my own story, I’m not quite sure where to begin. Unfortunately, my story is a bit of a somber one as of late. This whole business with the BOC is hopefully a way to begin to finally take hold of my fortunes and harness my ingenuity to get what I deserve! I-“

“ChronicleMan,” Sign interrupted, taking a seat and politely pulling out chairs for Corrin and Cynthia, in spite of the fact they were ostensibly her serving her. “Lynn asked what you’re passionate about, not what your business is.”

“A-and what business is that of yours, pray-tell, Ms. Signatory?” he asked, adjusting his monocle and giving her a wry smile, leaning across the table with the expression of someone who was begging for a punch in the face and knew he wouldn’t receive it. “But, very well. As far as what I’m passionate about, well, it’s the stories of others! I simply can’t resist learning all I can about the backgrounds of the vagrants and journeymen I come across in the dives and alleys of the Net’s wide world. And what a coincidence! Here I am with a charming young lady who is employed by the cruise ship. If you want to satisfy me as a guest, all you need to do is tell me every little detail of your undoubtedly rich young journey through life so far, sparing no detail. I’ve got nothing but time and ink to spend, myself,” he added, grinning broadly. The untrustworthy nature of that grin made what ought to be an innocent request for a background seem like he was up to something shady…

Sign rapped her fingers on the table in an antsy manner, looking uncomfortable. Finally, she seemed to decide she should answer the question too, as a way of breaking silence. “I’m… passionate… about my work. To do the work I do, there isn’t always time for other hobbies or frivolity. Which is not to say… I don’t have any hobbies, of course, I do… I mean to say that I’m not just working all the time… Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week…” she muttered, clamming up and folding her hands in front of her face while forgetting to list what any of those hobbies were.

While pleasantries were exchanged, it seemed like something was beginning to buzz underneath ChronicleMan’s robe. It sounded a lot like a ringtone of an incoming call, but he didn’t seem to hear it to answer. Soon, it started playing without his input. “ChronicleMan? Are we ready to start yet? You may recall I’m not exactly in the luxury wing of the ship. Please tell me everyone’s gathered,” an impatient, somehow rumbling voice came from below his robe.

“Not yet, hold your horses, chap,” the man spoke succinctly, reaching under his robe and likely hitting a button before focusing on Lynn again. Before he could get anywhere, it began ringing again and he had to fiddle once more. “What?!”

“Are all the guests attended to?” the noisy voice inquired. “Remember we need everyone to remain on-board or this whole thing is pointless. Have Memora and ArmoryMan finally joined you yet?”

“They’re around and about, I’m certain- Ah! There’s one now,” he confirmed with a grin. “Ehm, Corrin or, Cynthia, was it? Do one of you mind greeting her?”

The one he was referring to was probably the tall woman in the white sun hat who had just entered the room. She wore reflective shades and had long, faded brown hair. While she was Sign’s equal in terms of height, she looked just a bit older and definitely a bit more mature in terms of assets. She was wearing a white sun dress and sandals, and was carrying a purse. In spite of her attractive body and elegant clothing, the smile on her painted lips looked a bit dangerous. Somehow or another, it was almost reminiscent of how Mara and Nikki had disguised themselves…

Corrin and Cynthia could greet her if they wished, but she didn’t seem to be waiting for it. If they didn’t it looked like she intended to take a seat apart from all of them, evidently not concerned if she appeared to be a wallflower.


MerchMan continued through the kitchen with his arm candy, tailed by his two hungry tagalongs. He grinned as they pointed out his odd clothing, turning this way and that to give them a better look. “Hey, you ladies are Neoshogun fans, huh? Not many of those on board today, sorry to say! Anyway, Sign would tell me not to talk shop with you girls, but she’s not here, so phooey to her! This is all official Neoshogun merch that I’m the sole distributor of, not like that knockoff crap those tunic-wearing scalpers are hocking in their dirty tents! What are you into? I got cute stuff like the robe, cool stuff like the scarf… I bet you ladies are DragonierMan fans, right? Or is it MachMan? Those two are real hot sellers, for sure!”

The two wouldn’t have long to answer him before they found themselves in the kitchen. The facilities looked nice enough, the type of kitchen where one might expect a bustling staff to be preparing fancy side dishes and carrying trays out to waiting voyagers… Only, the lights were almost all off, and there was only one person, a sight so creepy it could have come from a horror movie.

The sole occupant of the kitchen was a short, thin young woman with an armored outfit over a yellow skinsuit. The armor she wore was designed to look like patterned red-and-white checkered cardboard boxes, like one might pick up fast food in. Clashing with this somewhat, the Navi’s helmet was like an upside-down box of Choinese takeout with two eyeholes cut in it, but with no visible whites inside. Adding to the image, a slow string of dripping, greasy fluid seemed to be coming from the bottom of the box, as though someone really had just upturned a box of food on her head. The mysterious figure’s gauntlets were currently clutching a virtual phone, tapping away as she leaned against the counter.

MerchMan showed some legitimate concern. Anyone seeing this person in the kitchen would probably begin to start taking the “joke” he’d seen earlier seriously. “Um… excuse me? Are you serving back here?”

“Iunno, is Tango paying me?” the young woman’s dull voice came muffled from her box. She didn’t look up from her phone.

“Uh… I don’t know,” MerchMan answered honestly, scratching the back of his head. “Is Tango paying you?”

“Iunno,” the mysterious woman responded, then went back to tapping on her phone.

“Look, somebody in this room better start feeding me, or I’m gonna start feeding on someone,” Raptor growled, baring her teeth at the stranger.

“You wanna rumble? Heh. Nobody’s paying Takeout to kill dinosaur, so forget it.” The strange woman continued tapping with her phone, apparently not concerned. “Look. Tango forgot… they… was supposed to pay me. So, I forgot I was supposed to fix any food. Not my problem.”

MerchMan looked to Nikki and Maya for some help. It looked like Raptor, at least, was going to break the “no fighting” rule pretty quickly if they didn’t make something happen.
Taking a seat was something of a relief, since it meant she wouldn't have to keep worrying about whether her skirt was showing her underwear or not, at least as long as she was seated. It only occurred to Lyntael a moment or two after she took a place alongside ChronicleMan, just part way around the table from him, that pretending to be a hostess might mean she oughtn't sit until all of the guests had been at least somewhat looked after. It was too late to change her mind though, and she settled herself with a bright smile and leaned into listen to what the elder gentleman had to say.

As she'd hoped, he started talking about himself and his work ,and Lyntael listened and smiled, holding his eyes as long as he seemed interested in doing so while he spoke. when Sign interrupted, she felt a fleeting crease of disappointment sift across her expression. If ChronicleMan noticed it, she hoped he might take it as disappointment in having his story interrupted.

“Oh, it's fine, really! I'm always happy to hear about where guests have been, and what they've come from. It really does make me happy to hear all people's stories!” It wasn't as hard to put some genuine eagerness and enthusiasm into her words as it might have been – even if her motives here were a little bit clandestine, it was also true. As she spoke, it was mostly addressed towards Sign, with a slight turn of her head to look between the two guests.

“I'm here to listen, really, if that's what you want.” She turned her eyes back towards ChronicleMan, smiling again and shrugging her shoulders slightly. “We can talk about whatever you want to, and, if you'd like to do other things, well, we just want to make your cruise enjoyable.” Part of her mind suggested that, in the game of pleasure-cruise hostess, this would be a good time to each out to touch or stroke his hand o shoulder, but she wasn't about to trust herself to try something like that, for a number of reasons. Instead she gave the pair a moment to exchange barbs and took a quick look around the room to see if either of the other mentioned guests had shown up yet. Hopefully the others would get the food situation sorted out quickly enough.

At ChronicleMan's change of course, Lyntael brightened, then reigned herself in again just as firmly, there wouldn't be any mistaking the couple of seconds where she looked visibly interested in sharing her own story, and then reserved again as she pulled back from it and resettled her professional smile. She ducked her head, looking down at the table top for a moment or to.

“You're flattering me, hehe...” The soft giggle started quiet and tapered further as she directed it down into where she'd clutched her hands at her middle. She peeked up at him again with a vaguely coy expression, glancing at him from under her eyelashes with a shy tilt to her head and shoulders. “I'd love to, um, if that's what you'd like...” Instead of jumping right into her life story, however, Lyntael paused to looked back towards Sign.

“I can tell that you really care about your work, and looking out for... your charge.” She wasn't quite sure if it was a hired lawyer or an employee situation, but she used as neutral a term as she could to reference their relationship. “Ah... you know, we're really not supposed to agree to anything that might cause conflicts with the ship or our duties, but...” She let herself fidget with nervous motions, placing her hands together on the table in front of her and looking down at them while her fingertips folder over each other. “But, I mean... if it will help you relax, um, and you promise there's nothing in it that will put anyone on the ship in danger, I guess I can...” She peeked up towards Sign properly. “Do... um... do you have a pen?” She glanced back and forth between Sign and ChronicleMan, offering them each a brighter smile; this time the effort of trying to push the smile through nerves wasn't an act, given what she was suggesting. She rushed on.

“So then, you'll be able to feel safe if I'm here talking to ChronicleMan, and you can relax and let one of my colleagues help you as well?” She hoped that ChronicleMan would see her efforts as being a suggestion that it might be nicer to talk about their lives and journeys without Sign hanging over them. In between her plea she shot a glance up to Drago and Magistrate to see if either of them had any ideas for getting Sign away from ChronicleMan.

As was so common in modern life, of course, the scene was interrupted by someone's pager, or more properly, ChronicleMan's messaging device. Lyntael politely averted her face and eyes while he answered the call, though she listened all the same. A thread of concern chased through her other thoughts at the exchange of words, but she did her best to keep it off her face. At first it just sounded like someone who was doing behind-the-scenes work for whatever show or meeting they had planned, but the second call was more concerning. that one made it sound like something more questionable was going on; something they had to keep everyone on board for. On the bright side, she had names for the two missing guests, so that was a small positive.

By the time he had finished his call, one of the to missing names had arrive – Lyntael had to presume it was Memora, considering her appearance. It seemed like they weren't going to get as much free time as she'd hoped for. Oh well. If they couldn't, she'd at least be able to find time to get to know her companions a little better after all the guests were taken care of. As long as Tango was happy and they got what the irresponsible cruise-operator was promising, there wasn't exactly a time limit on the mission. Perhaps she might be able to convince the others to stay and spend some time relaxing for themselves, before reporting the mission in...