The Wanderlust II with Lyntael and DragonierMan

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:
MENU
BURGER – MICROWAVED BY REQUEST
FRIES – MICROWAVED BY REQUEST
SODA –
(there was a white spot here, like something had been taped over on the original copy)
WATER
BAG OF CHIPS (PLAIN)


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...
The pleasantries were interrupted with the appearance of another guest, whom was probably Memora. Putting on another warm, charming smile, Corrin stood up and glided across the floor towards her. Bowing slightly and offering his hand palm up he offered her greetings. If Memora placed her hand on his, he would give it a romantic kiss as he did to Sign's earlier. "Greetings and welcome to the Wanderlust. My name is Corrin and I am here to serve your passions. Please, won't you join us, and tell us what we can do to further make your stay Wanderous?" Corrin said with playful turn-of-phrase.

Cynthia turned to Sign as Corrin went to greet Memora. "I also always have a very full schedule," she confided to the other woman, in solidarity between administrative programs. She then made motions to stand up. "It looks like once again it seems that nothing will get done correctly unless we personally see to it ourselves. This voice seems most displeased that everyone has not gathered here. I suggest we go looking for them. Your eyes will be most helpful since you know who they are. Your presence will also hasten their steps. Please do not worry about anything further here. You can leave your companions in the very capable hands of my companions." Cynthia attempted to reason Sign out of her chair and lightly push/lead her out of the room.




Mara placed her hand next to her mouth and let out a sing-song laugh at the absurdity of the situation she had found herself in. "Oh, ho, ho, ho. This is quite the delight!" she decried. "As you can see, nothing is ever boring here on the Wanderlust." She waved her hand in a fanning manner as she tried to calm herself. Noting the name of their supposed stowaway/caterer. "You'll have to forgive Takeout, she is such a card. Now don't you fret my friends, Mama Mara will fix this problem in a jiffy," Mara assured, trying to sound like this wasn't a mission-threatening problem. "Nikki, if you'll please assist me," she said as she headed towards the back where the food storage should be. "Of course Mara," Nikki agreed, patting MerchMan's arm in a comforting, 'just a moment' manner. "Don't go anywhere," Nikki smiled as she gracefully left his arm and glided across the kitchen toward the back.

As they glided away, they attempted to grab hold of the young woman on her phone and escort her to the back. "Come along now Takeout my friend, we have things to discuss in the back." Assuming they managed to get Takeout out of the kitchen and somewhere where their voices wouldn't carry, they would confront her. "Nikki, please check on the stores and see if you can whip something up. Also contact our employers and get further directions," Mara seethed through her smiling teeth. Nikki nodded, face dawning a serious expression. "Got it," she said as she headed toward where she thought food storage would be.

"So," Mara began her talk with Takeout, "Am I to understand that Tango hasn't paid you yet for the food listed on the menu? First, I would like to apologize for this lack of decorum on the actions of my employer. Clearly this is an oversight that we would like to correct. How would you like to handle the charges so that we can get back to work?" she asked. "We have many hungry mouths to feed and I would like to get started right away. I would also like to see your menu to see if we can get more variety in their diet if that is okay with you."

Meanwhile, Nikki was raiding the pantry, if the ship had one. At the same time she was trying to send out two messages. One of those messages were to Tango, if she could reach their host. They didn't really exchange contact information before parting, so perhaps she could perform some NET magic on that end. And the second message was to Yasu, giving them a log update on what has happened thus far within the mission. The message to Yasu also included the problem they were having with the catering situation and as to whether they could provide any help in that regard at such short notice. In the meantime, Suzume and Aya would do what they could to salvage the situation, and keep their guests happy as best as they could.

Assuming she found anything in the pantry, she would begin to cart it up to the kitchen in as many trips as she needed, and Mara and Nikki would get started on preparing food. Hopefully they had convinced Takeout to bring out her food offerings to at least tide over the rumbling tummies of their guests in the kitchen while they worked on more substantial fare. Mara and Nikki would also continue to tease the three guests with small talk and the occasional taste sample of what they were cooking to keep them engaged. "So tell us all about yourselves, how did you get into your businesses? Those must be quite the stories," Mara asked MerchMan, Raptor, and TribalMan in turn while she worked.



Assuming that Cynthia managed to get Sign out of the main meeting hall to search the ship for the remainder of their guests, she would start making small talk as they searched the ship for the missing passengers. "When I get a moment to myself as tasks are processing in the background, I read books. I am amazed at the infinite myriad worlds that others have created for me to explore and to contemplate. Do you perchance have had time to read something for yourself lately? If not, then perhaps I could provide you with some literature to enjoy while you relax here. I am sure you deserve a nice break after they have all gathered together and are stuck in their meeting," she offered.

ChronicleMan’s smile widened as Lynn made it clear she wanted to produce her story without a fight. With that being as it was, he seemed eager to begin things moving in that direction, happily shutting up if it meant Lynn could make it happen sooner.

“You’re… actually going to sign these?” Sign asked, looking genuinely affected. She tightened her lip and nodded enthusiastically. “Yes, it will help me relax, and no, it shouldn’t put anyone in danger, of course. Why, to be frank, the purpose of them is simply to protect us and our interests from you. If you’re not someone we should worry about, you have no reason to be worried. And… yes, of course I have a pen. Why do Navis not carry pens? Am I the only one who is always having to sign something…?” she muttered, twisting her gauntlet so that a virtual pen extended from the opening at the end and handing it to Lynn quickly. “What would really help me relax, however, is if all five of you were to sign them… Then, we could let you attend the meeting without worrying about anything.”

“Surely the young lady’s show of good faith is enough?” ChronicleMan mentioned with an unconvincing grin, adjusting his monocle.

Sign demurred, but she didn’t press the issue, either. She passed the clipboard towards Lynn, flipping through the pages on automatically (in fact, even pointing out spaces that required initials without glancing at the paper). Sure enough, if Lyn looked through the very dense jargon contained in the print, she’d find they mostly contained tight snares of legal language subjecting those who signed it to action if it could be proven they were members of or had friendly relations with the Neo-Shogun Empire. A good portion was also included to prevent disseminating information that was discussed during this meeting, which would supposedly all be covered under Sign’s privilege with her client, MerchMan. On that note…

“I apologize, Cynthia, but I need to remain here. ReservoirMan isn’t… or, rather, can’t… physically come to this meeting. That’s why he’s communicating via radio. That means we’re only missing one… and that may be him showing up…”

“Ah… ChronicleMan muttered, stroking his moustache. “If so, I wonder if our story hour should wait… Bah, no such thing! I’m sure those two along with everyone else will fancy some victuals before commencing with the presentation. That gives us plenty of time for that story, my dear,” he said, turning his unnerving smile on Lynn once more.

---

Corrin had already gone to greet Memora. She offered her hand to him for his lip service, although she seemed far easier taking it as a gesture of greeting than Sign had. “The pleasure is mine, sir. Don’t worry about taking care of me, I’ve been enjoying myself out on the deck. Everything’s so peaceful here…” she said with a sigh that didn’t sound entirely pleased, giving him a tight smile. “I guess that means things will be uneventful, for once.”

“That so?” a man’s voice called from behind her. A large, dark-skinned man (though not as large or as dark as TribalMan) with black shades, yellow-dyed dreadlocks, and a gray with a pattern that looked like a bandoleer of bullets, running down the seam of the coat, stepped through the doorway. Notably, half of his head was wrapped in a bandage, but his shades placed over it suggested it was an injury he was working on healing. His thick lips were curled in a snarl at Memora. He stood at a distance, as if worried she had something contagious. “When shit gets too peaceful, you just gotta show up to stir up trouble, huh? What the hell are you doing here?”

“Ah… this is my compatriot, ArmoryMan,” Memora said with a very thin smile. “I… didn’t know he was invited.”

“I’m here to make some zenny, same as you,” he told her, crossing his muscular arms. “Only, I haven’t had a lot of luck with that lately, on account of you sticking to me like a shadow. A shadow that always seems to bring me bad fucking luck.”

“Ahaha… ArmoryMan here has been on a bit of a losing streak on transactions. Not that my luck has been that much better,” she muttered, rubbing her temples. “Look, why don’t we just relax? I’m sure Corrin here can help you with that… He promised me a Wanderous stay, after all.”

“Yeah, just sit me somewhere as far away from her as you can. Do that, get me something to eat, and I’ll be out of your hair, my man. I’m just here for business.”

---

MerchMan didn’t seem happy about leaving his entertainment, but he was probably exaggerating his displeasure, throwing his hands up and blowing a raspberry. “Pfft, nope, no trouble at here! I’ll just sit here and enjoy some lively conversation with these two until you’re back. Either of you two like the Neo-Shogun? Raptor, I’d peg you for a… Yasu fan.”

“Nope,” she responded curtly, frowning and keeping her eyes on Takeout and her escorts as they left.

Takeout was basically silent as she was carted into back, but seemed happier to talk when the two got to the topic of her payment. “Tango agreed to very cheap rate for Takeout service… But supposed to pay up front. Seems Tango forgot Takeout was ordered at all… So, food is all in cooler. Knock yourselves out.”

Sure enough, Nikki would find the freezers of the kitchen stocked with all of the burgers, fries, soda (probably not supposed to be in the freezer), and bagged chips (definitely not supposed to be in the freezer) they could want. She would notice that, although it mostly seemed to be limited to fast food, there were also a bunch of items in the freezer that weren’t on the list: hot dogs, chicken nuggets, Choinese food, large pre-packaged cookies… if it was something you’d find on a fast food menu and reasonably hope not to pay much for, it was there… in the freezer. At least it didn’t seem like it had been there long. The frozen items were appropriately cold, while things like chips were just getting there. There were also all kinds of sauces and seasonings… but, again, only what you might find in a fast food place. Packets of ketchup, mustard, soy sauce, sweet and sour sauce, etc.

There was good news and bad news on the preparation front. The good news was that any and all of the cooked food was able to be prepared in the microwave, the kitchen had a microwave, and at the very least it seemed Tango had sprung for decent silverware and dishes, as those were available in the cupboards. The bad news was, well, the cooked food was able to be prepared by the microwave. Far from “emperor service,” what they’d be delivering if they relied on this would be an impressive array… of make-it-at-home versions of various fast food.

“So, how about this offer?” Takeout began, leaning against a wall and sounding a bit more chipper now that she had the faintest notion she might get paid. “Takeout will make delicious fast food for guests, and you pay takeout from earnings from Tango. Options beyond the five are even available, if you ladies can foot a bill.”

As appetizing as that offer must surely sound, Nikki had the idea to message Yasu. She’d find a surprisingly slow response… the earlier message she’d sent DragonierMan implied she might just be weaseling her way out of attending, but apparently she actually could be in the middle of something.

Quote (Response from Yasu)

Thank you for your report, Aya. Ordinarily, I’d advise that you don’t need to report to me with details on such a frivolous mission, but I understand you’ve found yourself in an unusual, unexpected, and ridiculous situation, as one might expect with this employer. I may be able to arrange something on that front, but it will take some time, especially considering that, under the circumstances, it would need to be delivered under disguise. How much time do you have?

As for the situation in general, I’ll trust your judgment and DragonierMan’s… at least, it sounds like he hasn’t gotten into trouble yet. Please remember anyone in the BOC should be considered an enemy of the Neo-Shogun army until proven otherwise, and do what you can to collect information.


Raptor and TribalMan didn’t bite on the conversation, but they definitely seemed like they would bite on some food if offered, probably even if it was inappropriately cold.

MerchMan, on the other hand, seemed like he expected some decent food, but was happy to make small talk at the same time, especially if the topic was himself. “Yeah, I’m just a guy who has always had an eye for opportunity, especially when it comes to branding. I spent a long time trying to market ol’ sourpuss out there, if you can believe it, but that hasn’t gone anywhere, of course. That said, it was a good connection to make, ‘cause she’s helped me dig my way into all kinds of other markets. If you ladies are interested in becoming famous on the Net, just let me know. Once we’ve talked about your talents, then gotten your name out there, we can work on merchandise designs. I’m sure people all over the Net want to buy images of you two… You’re even cuter than those ninjas DragonierMan has, after all!” he said with a good-natured laugh, looking certain his flattery would be dead on the mark.
Somewhat hedged between ChronicleMan's seeming interest in her past, and signatory's scrutiny, Lyntael did her best to show proper attention to each of them as she handled the situation. As more guests arrived, however, she felt a small surge of guilt for being as thoroughly ensconced as she was, and leaving the newcomers for to DragonierMan and Magistrate, on top of their other concerns. She focused on Sign quickly, to give 'Corrin' and 'Cynthia' the best chance of distracting her. It was with a careful and delicate gesture that she took the writing implement from Sign's offered hand.

Despite a reassuring smile that she directed up at the other woman, the stack of paper was quite intimidating, and Lyntael really couldn't take the time to read it through; not in the middle of playing hostess, certainly. Instead she nodded and looked for the first place to require a full signature.

“We... We really shouldn't... I really hope miss Tango doesn't get angry at me, but, we do want everyone to have as much of a good time here as we can, so... if it won't put anyone in danger, or get anyone in trouble...” The girl made a show of hesitating briefly, biting her lip and glancing up at Sign for nervous confirmation, before lifting the glasses that Magistrate had provided her to her eyes as she looked at the contract documents.

On the overlay, she could see that the others who weren't in the room were still in the kitchen area, and didn't seem to be coming back yet. Briefly she wondered it they would have to prepare proper food from scratch, but another thought returned to her that they surely wouldn't. The documents were a good excuse for putting the glasses on, but not for too long. She let her nerves dither for another moment or two, then carefully signed on the first full line in a flowing, lacy script. The name she wrote was “AmberMint.Exe”, then looked up at Sign again, and gave an embarrassed shrug of her shoulders before glancing around as though checking to see that no-one else was watching them, then back to sign and fixed her with wide, mildly nervous green eyes.

“You know how it is... we're, well, we're all working with 'hostess' names on the surface, of course... 'Lynn' is, you know, the hostess persona, when I'm working... but... I thought, if it's important, I should probably...” She let her voice trail away and glanced down at her 'real' signature again, then swiftly went through to x-mark all of the remaining initial points, before slipping the glasses off and returning them to her lap. A delicate glow had begun to form beneath the surface of her skin and a small snap of static jumped between a few strands of her hair. The nerves were real enough, if not for the reason that she was pretending to.

“Just... Please don't let Tango know. She'll be cross if she finds out I signed something outside of our cruise contracts!” She made it a low stage whisper to the other woman, then put the pen back down and folded her hands on the table in front of her, talking a long breath and actively trying to calm herself down again until the glow and the sparks subsided. When she had calmed herself – legitimately as well as part of her performance, Lyntael glanced between her two companions again, and made a brief show of putting back on her professional hostess 'face', and smiled.

“So... I do hope you'll feel more comfortable if I should spend some time chatting with ChronicleMan here, and you can let our other wondrous hosts and hostesses attend to your own relaxation and enjoyment needs?” It seemed clear to her that ChronicleMan, at least, would appreciate a chance to do anything at all without Sign hanging over his shoulder, so Lyntael did her best to play into the elderly Gentleman's apparent desire for private conversation. Again, she regretted that she couldn't quite trust herself to put a hand on his in that particular moment. Maybe in a minute or two, if she cold keep calm. It would have been perfect though. Oh well.

She'd done as much as she could for Signatory for now, though they hadn't yet heard any updates from the kitchens. Lyntael glanced around the room to see how the others were ding, but everything looked mostly under control so far. She'd need to find a way to tell the others the extra steps she'd taken to evolve her hostess persona, but that would have to wait until they could talk alone. For now, she looked back to ChronicleMan, putting her hands back together on the tabletop in front of here and letting her body sway slightly in place with a coy fidget.

“Well, if you really want to hear more about me... If that's what will make you happy...” she smiled softly and peeked up at the older man under her eyelashes.

“I, ah... I haven't really been working here long. I just like making people happy, and I want to do whatever I can, to make our world a better place for everyone. A happier place, friendlier, you know? But...” She shrugged softly and cast her eyes down again, tilting her head to the side.

“But well, I'm not strong, and I'm not brave... I'm not a fighter... I can't really protect anyone... I mean, I can't even really protect myself, not like most navis can, you know, with an operator, or...” she made a small wave-off gesture with one hand, like the concept was less familiar to her. “Or, you know... battle chips and emergency systems, and things like that.” While she spoke, Lyntael felt an edge of sadness creep into her voice as she strayed a bit too close along the line of her own personal truth. She tried to shrug it off and looked up again with a smaller smile.

“So, you know... I try to find other ways that I can still help people, where I'll be safe, and being as, um, well, vulnerable as I am won't be a problem.” She let the hostess face slip for a moment an reached up to rub at the back of her neck instead. “I did think about finding one of those sanctuaries... the ones that look after vulnerable navigators... but mostly, they just hide away, because that's safest... and I still want to do my part. To do something at least...” Here she looked back to ChronicleMan and smiled properly, though it was still a soft wistful expression. “Even if all it really is is bringing a little bit of joy or entertainment, or, um, pleasure,” her eyes dropped to the table though the blush she had hoped for in that moment didn't come to her cheeks immediately. Oh well. “To a few other navigators here and there. It's something. More than anything, I really love listening to other people, and hearing about their lives, and the exciting things they do. Operated navis always have so many stories, and dangerous things they've done.” She let herself fall quiet for a moment or two, then tilted her head as she made proper eye contact again.

“I actually met Tango a little while ago. She... um, I know it's both of them, but, it's just easier for me to think of the 'her' side, you know? She was having trouble with some staff that had left, and she needed help filling in the missing positions. She told me that it would all get sorted out, and it was just the once, but, well...” She looked around and gave ChronicleMan an amused giggle. “It seems that she's still having trouble getting her staff in order. Don't tell her I said so...”

She glanced down at her hands and took an extra breath to focus herself, just to be sure, then reached across to put on hand on ChronicleMan's, if she could manage it. Her skin was safe enough now, though it would likely feel warm, with a faint hum to it.

“But what about you...? This group of yours, it sounds like they're against those shogun people I've heard about. I read that they used to be very warlike, but now they've gone pacifist, or something like that... I was... thinking about, maybe reading a bit more about them, sometime, but... you said it would help improve your own fortunes... tell me... I'd love to hear your own story!” Here at least, her eagerness was quite genuine, and internally Lyntael let herself gather her thoughts. She hadn't explicitly told any lies yet, and the implications she'd made really matched the reality of her situation more than the formal truth did anyway. She just had to hope he was happy to talk.
Navis, like humans, could make mistakes. The mistake that cropped up at this moment in time was that the dragoniers did not exchange contact information with either Tango or Lyntael. Because they didn't, they couldn't contact them through interpersonal communication lines. So while the four linked, undercover agents could communicate their situation to each other, and they would, they would have to manually track down the other two and talk to them in person. The four dragoniers sent pings to each other with the situation they were in, trying to remain in character on the outside, as they planned at the speed of thought on the inside. Thankfully navis, especially battle navis with lots of experience, could multi-task better than most humans. It was a dead battle navi that couldn't keep track of multiple targets while performing complex maneuvers.

As Corrin was meeting with Memora, Sign let slip that the person on the radio was ReservoirMan. Cynthia tried to hold back any facial ticks that would give away the knowledge that she knew who that was. Though it made a lot of sense that ReservoriMan was involved. The incident at the Alaki Reservoir caused him to lose everything. Though technically the Neo-Shogunate didn't directly damage or destroy the dam, the one who did then joined the Neo-Shogunate. "Oh, that is sorry to hear. He will be missing such an wanderous time aboard this ship. I hope he will recover soon and come next time," Cynthia added.

Corrin greeted Memora, and then ArmoryMan as he appeared, with a welcome smile. "Of course," he replied to ArmoryMan's request for privacy from Memora and some food. "Please come this way, I will prepare you a spot to sit and then check on the kitchen. And madam, please be happy to take a seat with the other guests at your leisure." Corrin said, quickly gliding towards any open seating on the other side of the room from ChronicleMan and the rest. If there wasn't any seating on the other side of the room, he would try to make some, including moving any spare tables around. He then pulled out the chair for ArmoryMan and bid him to sit. "Now if you'll excuse me, I will go look towards your food situation." He then bowed and glided out of the room.


Nikki began quickly taking everything that would be damaged by the cold (such as soda and chips) out of the freezer first and began stacking them on whatever chairs, table, boxes, floor, etc. she had access to within reach. She replied to Yasu as she was doing that:

Quote (Aya to Yasu)

<We have enough here to make a showing. I am including a listing of items in our possession. We request fruits, wine, and maybe steak or something more substantial. As stated, Tango did not pay Takeout yet, but she is willing to negotiate for her services out of our paycheck from Tango. Unfortunately we did not exchange contact information with Tango, so if you could contact our employer and get to the bottom of this, that would be appreciated. Until then we will make do with what we have.>


Mara smiled as best as she could to Takeout, while holding back biting criticism. "I'm sure we can work something out in that regard. I promise you will be paid by the end of this, one way or another," she said with her sweet smile, as she was imagining hanging Tango by the neck and shaking the navi down for money at knife-point. "Now, if you could help us with the preparations?" Mara asked as she helped Nikki out with bringing the food materials to the kitchen to be made. A lot of the food seemed pretty quick to prepare and they would try to get some of the easier stuff done first so that they could give the ravenous rapacious Raptor and TribalMan something to eat. Once they were calmed down, and Corrin arrived to check on their situation and pitch in, they would start working on a full-course spread of whatever they had available, including the Chinese food and the rest. It would be up to the various attendees as to what they would want to eat, but they would have quite the selection.

As Mara slid plates of food in front of Raptor, TribalMan, and MerchMan, she gave a slight chuckle. "Sorry about the wait ladies and gentlemen, please enjoy. We will be cooking up a storm here so please don't be shy about asking for anything that is available to your keen eyes." Assuming Takeout was helping Mara with the cooking, Corrin and Nikki would be free to gather together extra plates of food created for the other guests, and would be able to take them to the meeting hall to give to the others (especially ArmoryMan). Meanwhile Mara replied to MerchMan to keep him talking. "Famous huh? Cuter? Lil' ol' us? Well, Mr. Big-Shot, you have my attention. I assume you interviewed those Neo-Shoguns in the same way huh? I bet they couldn't resist your charms," Mara flirted back.


Corrin and Nikki eventually made their way back to the meeting room with trays of food. Hopefully, they had found handcarts or something to carry the food, otherwise they would have to make extra trips. "Here you go," Corrin stated to ArmoryMan as he placed a plate of food and drinks on the table. "Some appetizers to start the day off. Please let us know if you need anything further." Nikki meanwhile was showing off a selection of prepared food to the main table with Lynn and all the other guests. "Your starting appetizers. More will be on the way. What do you want to start with first?" she asked while placing food and drink in front of each person as they picked out their selection. Once her and Corrin were done, they would head back to the kitchen for another round of cooking and table waiting.

“Ah, allow me to correct a misconception,” Sign offered, folding her large hands in a strange way before extending one out, apparently signaling the beginning of an explanation. “ReservoirMan is on board this ship, he just isn’t here. He is, frankly, too large. The doors to this dining hall are not large enough to allow him passage, and he refuses to use a .GMO… Nevertheless, he insisted on participating. I also thought that wise, although it poses certain challenges…” The Navi adjusted her glasses and frowned. “As much as I’d love to say he’s enjoying himself elsewhere… I’m assuming Tango didn’t see fit to send catering and entertainment to the ship’s cargo hold? Anyway, don’t concern yourself with it. He seems to prefer solitude, and… I feel confident the dinner will not be enlivened by his presence.”

Next, Sign whirled to Lyn with excitement as she heard what she wanted to hear. There was a fair shake that having someone she was pressing acquiesce and agree to sign her papers was a more effective method of pleasing her guests than Lynn would otherwise manage to accomplish on the crazy cruise. The woman shook her head and raised her eyebrow at the hostess, smiling all the same. “Tango? Cross? I can hardly imagine it. Anyway, like I said, as long as you and your friends have no shady plans, there’s no reason you should fear signing anything I put before you.”

ChronicleMan seemed like he was trying to subtly peer forward and get a look at those papers himself, but Sign correctly guessed that “AmberMint” was treating her “real” name as a sensitive matter and took her papers back swiftly.

“You’re smart to use your real name, ‘Lynn.’ I can’t tell you how many phonies I’ve cleaned out for my clients because someone tried to sign with an alias,” she said, with a smile that suggested she was trying to make friendly conversation rather than issue a threat. “Oh, but you don’t have to worry about that. Again, if there’s no reason for me to go after you. Thank you. And don’t worry about Tango. I’m confident I could do argumentative circles around your boss in my sleep, should the need arise… I-I mean, not that it will come to that.
“In any case…” Sign cleared her throat and rose, seeming to sense Lyn was eager to get out of the discussion of legal matters and into fulfilling ChronicleMan’s request. “I’ll get out of your hair for now. Now, Cynthia…” Sign decided to press her luck, turning to the support program with a smile. “Perhaps I can get your signatures as well?” It seemed this was really the only way the lawyer intended to be entertained until she had every blank filled in.

As she did so, ChronicleMan was once again engaged by Lyntael, holding his watchful smile on her, turning his expression to solemn empathy a moment too slow for it to be natural when she began expressing her own concerns. However, his eyebrows raised in genuine interest when she described being an unoperated Navi. A hint of an inappropriate smile might have begun to curl the corners of his mouth under his moustache. “Oh my. It sounds like you don’t get up to many adventures, per se, but you have plenty of marketa- er, ah, exciting experiences nonetheless. Do continue.”

The Navi listened with eyes that seemed to be begging her to arrive somewhere in particular, perhaps offensively failing to find anything of note to respond to in her statement of her rather selfless desires. He listened to her talk about her experience with Tango and her request for discretion and nodded politely. “Of course. Ah, I might want to circle back around to this story of how you first met her.”

ChronicleMan looked a bit surprised to be asked about himself, as though he were trying to decide how he felt about it. Eventually, he frowned, stroking his moustache. “Yes, these ‘shogun people’ as you put it, Lynn… Pah! Poppycock! ‘Gone pacifist?’ Let me tell you, the only place they’re going is straight to court, where they will compensate me… er… us, most handsomely! If you care to hear my story, I’ll be happy for you to join us when I take the floor at our meeting, at which time I will elucidate every detail, but, for now, allow me to share but a single, tantalizing tidbit: Those scoundrels hit me with a limousine,” he finished with a total lack of humor, perhaps giving away the meat of his story a bit too readily. “Ugh. Feel like my poor, poor hip is flaring up just thinking about it, oh woe is me!” The old man looked like he wanted to continue elaborating on that a bit more productively, and he looked to the door of the kitchen as if anticipating getting things started.

---

Memora’s eyebrow twitched as she saw ArmoryMan being seated before her. She didn’t seem to have any problem with his petty request being fulfilled, but it probably stung her pride as a woman somewhat to see a the handsome host guide the burly man to his table and leave her to seat herself… Shrugging, she made her way to another free seat by herself, away from the male arms dealer and closer to the table of the other guests.

ArmoryMan, took his seat at the clothed table, seeming to approve of the spot Corrin chose. He picked up the card on the cloth and read it with a curled lip, looking wryly amused in spite of himself. “This is no joke? You guys are really serious? Hell, get me a burger out here then, chief.” He sat moodily staring at nothing in particular, occasionally glancing at the other tables and their guests, coming up with a snide remark that made him smirk, then keeping it to himself and falling into a mood all over again.

---

Takeout rubbed her hands together. She’d apparently asked to be paid upfront, but the prospect of being paid at all seemed to have her excited now. “Okay, you got a deal. Leave it all to Takeout, and just remember the promise.” Takeout joined the rest of the would-be kitchen staff in preparing what she could, although it seemed most everything would be time-limited by the microwave. “Ooh, lucky Takeout is here. There is a secret. What you can plate, how you adjust microwave… The secrets of fastfood are known to me! Takeout learned how to be lazy veeery efficiently, hehe…” Sure enough, the small woman began brazenly putting different items together on microwave plates and stove trays, not inviting any questioning of her methods, calculations, or experience.

As dishes left the ovens, stovetop, and microwave, whatever was placed in front of Raptor and TribalMan immediately disappeared. Funnily enough, while they seemed to have staked out their own areas and didn’t seem poised to fight over apart from some cagey standoffs if anything was placed equidistantly between them, their zones seemed to split the counter in front of them 50/50. In other words, they had clearly established there was no room for MerchMan to receive anything. With some effort, the man finally got a plate of fries before it could vanish, and even some ketchup after he managed to flag down one of his hostesses for it.

Soon, Raptor and Tribalman had slowed down, having taken about fifty percent collectively of everything that was prepared for themselves. Finally, the disguised ninjas were able to start creating a serving line.

“Hoo! I changed my mind, this cruise is all right! We don’t even have to pay for any of this junk, do we?!” Raptor admitted. She let out a burp and, perhaps surprisingly, blushed a bit… apparently that was a step less graceful than even she intended to be.

TribalMan let out a large belch as well… If anyone was expecting a similar display of emotion and vulnerability from him as well, they’d be disappointed. Still, he gave a thumbs-up to indicate he’d been satisfied as well.

“Sheesh,” MerchMan muttered, chewing on a fry and looking hungrier than he’d let on. “Also, what are you doing back here, Beard Guy? You didn’t, uh, get the hint that I’m satisfied with my current level of service?”

Nobody else seemed to be complaining: too many cooks might spoil a broth, but the broth this kitchen was preparing was pretty hard to screw up. Everything was ready to take out to the front.

Halfway through these preparations, Aya had gotten a response from Yasu.

Quote

I will delegate the task of procuring the food to another, while I deal with Tango personally. She will see how persuasive a Neo-Shogun general can be, and learn exactly how much tolerance we have for shenanigans. Little, in case that was unclear. How many are you serving?


MerchMan flashed his smile again, happy to get back to flirting, even if his target was busy preparing food at the same time. “Sure you are! About interviews though… yeah! Sure, I interviewed ‘em. Oh, I’ve talked up all of those Neoshogun girls, for sure.” The hopeless Casanova seemed to be relying on this as an ill-advised pickup tactic. “They’re cute, sure, but uh… not a lot goin’ on in the old noggin, if you catch my drift. I prefer a girl with a little wit, Mara. A little wit, a big smile, and a cute laugh, hehe!”

His eyes were transparently not on Mara’s “big smile” as he said this.

---

Meanwhile, outside, ArmoryMan bared his teeth in an expression that didn’t mean anything clear, with his eyes hidden behind his shades. “Well, I’ll be. You actually came through on that? Dunno how I feel about a burger as an appetizer, but I bet I’m gonna work up an appetite listening to these sad sacks whine, so why not. And anyway… free’s free. A businessman takes a deal when he sees it… While passing on the small fries to leave room for the main course. That means I’m really hoping there’s some actual cruise food coming out of there at some point, okay, chief? This joke’s only funny once.”

When Nikki made her way to the other table, they took it without the propensity to make a big, self-important speech about it. Soon enough, everyone had a plate to munch on, even if some seemed more pleased about the fare than others…

ChronicleMan, in particular, had ultimately only taken a glass of water. “Okay now, attention, attention, ladies and gentlemen! I feel it’s just about time we got started and bring the first meeting of the BOC to order! We are about to commence ceremonies which, at their conclusion, will swiftly find us all justly recompensated for our misery, and those unsavory ruffians of the NeoShogun empire selling those swords of theirs to keep the lights on! Ohoho… Ho… Heheh… Raptor!” He shouted, suddenly cross. “TribalMan! Where the blazes are those two?! You, with the beard, won’t you please fetch those two? Knowing them, they’ll be content to keep chowing down on chicken nuggets until I’m the one carrying them around!” Never had any of those gathered heard such a disdainful pronunciation of “chicken nuggets.”
In amongst the polite conversation and inviting smiles, Lyntael filed way the information that the other missing guest, ReservoirMan, was indeed on board... and was apparently camping out in the hold because of his size. They would really have to get someone down to him at some point. When the information itself was presented, Lyntael tried to catch Magistrate's eye and subtly confirm that it was something they'd need to do something about, but there wasn't any chance to actually share words with the other hostess yet.

To her credit, Sign was quite circumspect after the document had a non-hostess name on it; Lyntael wasn't sure if Magi would have been able to see what she did, but she hoped so. It would save having to explain later, but Sign had been quick to ensure the privacy of the document. Oh well. She managed a last nervous and grateful smile for Signatory herself; both to answer that she had nothing to hide, and to thank the other woman for her discretion, before she was left to chat with ChronicleMan in as near to 'alone' as they were likely to get in the dining hall.

Despite his stated interest, Lyntael watched the older man as he spoke, and it soon seemed clear to her that he was listening for something particular in her story – looking for something specific, and perhaps wasn't really hearing it. He seemed to be going through the 'correct' expressions and reactions, but not in a way that struck her as particularly genuine. He was after something. Despite the thought running through her mind as she spoke with him, Lyntael kept her own expression in check, matching the tone of her story – it wasn't inaccurate after all, and in places it was more a matter of not letting her own personal feelings run away too much.

The less than subtle reveal from the older gentleman about his feelings towards she Shogunate led Lyntael to bring a hand up to her mouth in surprise, and she widened her eyes as she did so.

“Oh! Oh my, that sounds terrible! It must have been a dreadful harm if it's still with you now! I'm so sorry to hear that...” She squeezed the hand that was resting on his gently as she held his eyes. “If there's anything I can do to help with the discomfort, do just let me know, alright?” She leaned in a little bit now, just subtly, and shifted her position on her chair so she could face him more directly as she spoke. “Is... Is everyone else here with a grievance against them as well? I had no idea...” While Lyntael feigned shock with her voice and expression, her mind sorted through the details quickly.

She didn't know a great deal about the neo-shogunate, it was true, but she'd done a little reading at least, and heard some more from their advertising staff. She knew at least that they had been more aggressive once, but were more interested in unity and co-operation now... if everyone here had a complaint, she thought that could make sense, but even then... it was a room with fewer people than she could count on both hands, across a large, net-spanning organisation... even the net police could probably field at least this many people who had personal grievances with their conduct. There had to be more to it than that, she supposed. It might be personal.

Besides which, she had to admit to herself, a whole organisation didn't 'hit someone with a limousine' – an individual did that, and so it was probably just an individual to blame, rather than the whole group. She wondered if the other complaints would be of a similar nature. As her guest looked back towards the kitchens however, Lyntael sought to get his attention back on something else distracting. The others still hadn't emerged, though she was beginning to hope that it meant they'd be producing actual cruise-grade fare. She glanced about nervously, as though expecting violent, limousine-wielding shoguns to leap out at any moment, then rubbed his hand gently with her own again, tilting her head to the side a little bit.

“Oh, but, you wanted to know about how Tango and I met? It's a bit scary, actually.” She spoke with a smile here, as though reminiscing on something; truthfully, a darker part of Lyntael's own mind reflected, the incident with the pirates was a very, very far cry from the most frightful or traumatic things she'd experienced in her life so far, but she wasn't about to share any of those incidents with a complete stranger. Especially not one who seemed intrigued by her vulnerability.

“Well, it started when I was trying to find some work. I'm not really a fighter, so I can't really make zenny from viruses, and, well, I'd probably get killed if I tried... but I've got, ah...” Here she paused and shrugged, glancing away with an uncomfortable expression. “Well, I've got needs that a lot of simpler navis don't have to worry about, you know... and, ah, food that I can actually benefit from costs money, so...” She looked back and brought the smile back to her face, before glancing around the dining hall again. A small spike of self-consciousness jabbed at her briefly before she could shove it away, and Lyntael caught herself wondering if her current outfit gave away any sign that she had spent too long recently not eating properly. She hoped not. “So... I was looking for something safer to do, and I saw an add looking for a hostess on Tango's ship... that was the first Wanderlust.”

The food began to arrive, as Lyntael spoke, and she resisted the urge to sigh with relief, and then resisted just as hard the desire to put her face in her hands. Food it was, certainly, but it was the exact fast-food items that the menus had tentatively promised. Not exactly the expectations of a luxury cruise. Even so... the list of different foods that Lyntael had actually had a chance to try for herself was still criminally short, and if she was completely honest... the tall, many-toppinged burger that was being delivered to some of the other guests looked, and smelled, all together too tempting. ChronicleMan seemed put off by the low grade fare, however, and Lyntael herself felt obliged to avoid taking anything as well, given that she was acting as hostess and not guest. As one of the others passed by with heated offerings, Lyntael's stomach announced its interest with a quiet but unmistakable sound.

The girl immediately put one hand to her middle, and the other leap up to cover her mouth as a fierce pink blush flooded across her cheeks.
“Oh! Oh, I'm so sorry, please pardon me!” She ducked her eyes low, staring at the tabletop for a moment or two, before clearing her throat and bringing her hands back to fold together on the table in front of her.

“Ah, um... As... I was saying...” Persona or not, Lyntael's hurriedly flustered attempt to get back on track was entirely genuine. “Sorry... um... Well, as it turned out, Tango had a problem with pirates, back then! The ship had ended up in the middle of a turf war of some kind, I think, and three different crews of pirates had all decided to become guests of the ship while they squabbled!” As she got back into the rhythm of telling the story, she perked up a little bit, a more natural excitement coming back to her body language.

“Tango didn't have any staff, and she needed me to go and convince them all to be nice!” Here, she paused and lifted one hand to her chest, fingertips covering her emblem for a moment. “Oh, I should say... to be fair to miss Tango, she didn't actually know that I, um, that I didn't have an emergency line, or an operator looking over me. I hadn't told her, so, um, she didn't really know how dangerous it was... but I was there, and I'd agreed to it, so I though, if I was just careful and polite... Well,” She paused here, not quite getting to any of the juicy details about how she had not, in fact, ended up becoming a piece of pirate booty. It seemed like ChronicleMan was finished waiting for the others and 'Lynn' didn't want to interrupt of delay his address, of course. Lyntael took the moment to look around the room as he prepared to speak.

The late-arriving woman had seated herself nearby, but didn't seem to have anyone to talk to just yet – there was a clear animosity between her and the cruder male, despite the fact that they seemed familiar with each other. Business partners perhaps, or perhaps rivals who worked in the same circle. They'd need more taking care of to be happy, she was sure of it, but it might be easier once they leaned a little more. Perhaps part of the gathering would involve the guests airing their grievances, and if so, maybe that might help. Signatory had moved after her companions now, and didn't seem inclined to relax or sit down yet, she certainly seemed brighter and less completely frustrated than she had been before... What else could she help with? Not much, without leaving ChronicleMan, and for now he seemed like the strongest information source. Hopefully Drago and the others wouldn't think less of her for leaving so many guests in their hands while she focused on warming up just the one.

At their table, ChronicleMan had started speaking only to hit upon another frustration; of course, his assistants weren't back yet. Lyntael stood quickly to move to him, if he had actually approached the speaking platform again.

“Is there something I can help you with? Please, it's no trouble. If you're in pain, we can arrange something easier. I'll just see if we can't track down your companions for you as well, I'm sure it won't take long!” She ducked her head and smiled towards him, one hand resting against his arm in a reassuring way, before she darted back to speak quietly to Aya, once she was finished serving the starter foods.

“Nikki, if I could borrow you for a moment...” She wore a warm hostess smile, and gently tried to move the other woman aside from the immediate attention of any other guests. When she was close, Lyntael leaned in toward her, whispering quietly to one ear; to any looking on it would seem just like any other brief hosting exchange, and in a way it was, partially, but Lyntael spoke in a quick, clear whisper instead of her graceful hosting voice – it was the tone she used when reporting to Rogan, and to the ear of someone used to battle and dangerous situations, the whisper sounded much more immediately serious and almost soldierly.

“I signed Sign's documents with a secondary name; if it comes up, my 'real-person' name is AmberMint, or just Amber for friends. It shouldn't come up, but you may all need one too. I think the group all have minor petty grievances with individual N-S navis. They mentioned courts, but ChronicleMan seems to think this meeting will lead to some kind of direct recompense, maybe even immediately so. No word on how or what, yet. I'm going to see what else I can learn while the announcement is delayed. The excuse I used to talk was to ask you to find Raptor and TribalMan for ChronicleMan, but I'm going to try to help him with whatever he needs myself; if it at least looks like you've gone to find them, that should be enough, no need to actually drag them back here. One of us should find a way to speak with ReservoirMan directly, if possible. He's alone and probably uncomfortable, in the hold of the ship.” She pulled back again, hostess smile firmly back in place, and feigned stifling a small giggle behind her hand before speaking at a more audible volume.

“Thank you, Nikki, that would be lovely. Come get me if there are any problems.” She inclined her head to the other woman again and gave her a small wave as she stepped back. Unseen by her, at least, the sitting, standing and leaning had once again displaced the precise settling of her skirt and sash, and the high side was permitting small intermittent flashes of a soft white cotton that didn't match the formal wear at all. Oblivious, Lyntael rushed back to ChronicleMan's side, warm smile and bright eyes ready.

“I'm sure we'll have them back to you soon. Do you want to wait for them, or should we go on?” Underneath the amicable expression, she was struggling to keep a dozen different thoughts in order, but she did her best not to let it show.
"I see," Cynthia noted about ReservoirMan's location as Sign explained that he was on the ship, just not in the meeting hall. "It seems like everyone has arrived then," she said as she pushed her chair out and stood up. "I will inform Tango that we are on schedule and discuss our next steps. Excuse me," Cynthia courtsied a little, picked up her tablet, and quickly headed out of the meeting hall before Sign could get her to sign anything. Her next stop would be to search the ship for Tango. She sent out another mental ping to the others with the information on ReservoirMan's possible location.

Corrin and Nikki meanwhile did their best to serve the various guests with a steady stream of foodstuffs from the galley. The food wasn't as high-class as you would expect, given the decorum, but it served as a distraction none the less. Corrin smiled at ArmoryMan's comments. "Of course sir, you needn't worry," he assured the burly man about the better meals to come. Nikki sent another message to Yasu informing her that there was at least eight individuals: Signatory, MerchMan, ChronicleMan, Raptor, TribalMan, Memora, ArmoryMan, and ReservoirMan; and that all damage control efforts have been successful thus far. It also looked like they were about to start their meeting, so that would give Yasu some time to deliver the better fare. But speed was still an issue.

As she sent the message, Lynn flagged her down.

They moved off to the side to talk in hushed voices, looking like professionals having a small team meeting. Nikki listened as Lynn explained what was going on and what she was doing. Nikki nodded along as one of her hands crept over to Lynn's open palm and tried to slip a small, fingernail-sized device into it. It looked like a battlechip or subchip. Nikki gave her a knowing glance, one that said she should activate it as soon as she could without anyone seeing it, and then adopted her fake hostess smile. "Of course Lynn, I will go and gather our wayward guests."

She then headed for the kitchen. If Lynn activated the chip that Nikki handed her, it would dissolve away like all chips after being used, leaving no trace of its existance after. It was then that in her head she could hear the thoughts of the other four dragoniers. She had been given a tap into their internal communications. They were having multiple conversations, giving each other status updates every few minutes, and listening into each other's conversations. It sounded like they had several open lines, broadcasting whatever each of them were hearing to the other three. It might be a little overwhelming at first with the cacophony of noise, but with some concentration one could isolate or mute various subchannels.

Through these internal channels Lynn could learn of what was going on in the kitchen as well as the communications to the Neo-Shogun HQ, including any reply by Yasu. In combination with the glasses she could note where Cynthia was and that she was going on a quest to find Tango, while mapping out the ship. Lynn could see Nikki moving towards the kitchen while the twins held a conversation about how charmed MerchMan was, and how simple it was to pacify TribalMan and Raptor. She could also hear Nikki telling the others what Lynn told her from their aside, about the fake name and all, and that she had given Lynn their comm-link since they forgot to share that before. There was a note of agreement among them that the fake name was a nice touch.

Lynn could talk to them through this internal channel if she wanted. Or she could just listen.


As Nikki arrived at the kitchen, Mara continued to pour on the charm with MerchMan. She clearly had an easy mark here that she could pump for information, given time. Takeout's efficiency, and that they were winding down on serving various hungry individuals, even gave Mara more concentrated face-time with the love-struck fool. Mara pushed up her 'big smile' a little as she leaned a over the counter towards MerchMan, letting him get a good look at her .GMO enhanced assets. "Oh, I'm sure I could give them a lil' run for their money, hehe~" Mara agreed with a flirtatious giggle.

She pouted out her lips a little while absently twirling a lock of her hair around a slender finger. "So tell me more about yourself," she began. "You seem out of place here with the rest of these individuals," she emphasized, while leaning further in and lowering her voice. "At least you seem like you are on top of things." She licked her lips as she spoke in sensual tones, really pouring on the innuendos to an almost ludicrous degree. "What could they possibly offer you?"

If Lynn was listening in to Mara's open channel, she could hear everything that was being said.

Nikki waved to TribalMan and Raptor. "Oy! Friends! Sorry to interrupt, but yer bossman is about to start up in the meeting hall. I've been sent to escort you back if you're ready." She then smiled. With the way that they reacted earlier about not 'working' for ChronicleMan, Nikki was hoping it would rile them up a little more. It might provide enough of a distraction in their minds so as to better mask the undercover mission, and make it harder for them to pay closer attention to what was going on around them. Also if they could erode the trust between the various BOC associates, it would hamper their efforts against the Neo-Shogunate and make it easier to stamp them out in the future.

Nikki seemed to be ignoring MerchMan and going out of her way to only grab TribalMan and Raptor alone, leaving Mara with the charmed businessman. If TribalMan and Raptor acquiesced, Nikki would escort them back to the meeting hall.