The Wanderlust II with Lyntael and DragonierMan

Lyntael wasn't entirely sure whether to be relieved, or a little put out, that ChronicleMan's interest in her social engagement waned further and further with each passing moment. Relief won out, overall as the girl continued her story and watched the room around her with an eye to gathering more information. It seemed like her current charge was mostly eager to get on the stage again and talk to everyone, so she tried not to take it as a personal blow against her story-telling capability.

In the brief exchange of words and glances that she shared with Aya, Lyntael was at first worried by the small chip that 'Nikki' slipped into her palm in exchange; at first she thought the other woman might be attempting to slip her more weapons, but she palmed it anyway, keeping the small chip out of sight. Without really knowing what it was, she didn't dare activate the chip immediately, and instead returned to humouring ChronicleMan until her companions began to return several of the others to the hall. She eyed the guest identified as Memora every few moments in between listening to ChronicleMan's return chatter – his focus had anchored itself most firmly on his own importance again, so all she really needed to do was smile for him and let her features drift to concerned or sympathetic tones whenever appropriate – but it seemed like no-one had really assisted Memora at all yet. She made a note to head over as soon as ChronicleMan was actually on the stage.

Under the table, as she sat with one hand extended to brush her companion's, Lyntael carefully activated the chip she'd been given. The first response was for it to react as any other acquired chip data; it decompiled immediately into a thin data string that coiled about her fingers and wrist, then snaked up her arm and across to settle in a ring around her emblem. She had enough time to read the data as it passed through her fingers, however, and realised what it was she'd been given. After a quick glance to make sure no-one was paying her any attention, she lifted her free hand up to her chest, brushing it with a casual gesture that drew the data string back to her hand so she could actualise it more deliberately.

The brief feeling of static made her suppress a wince, before a multitude of different back and forth communications sprang into her ears. At once she could tell that it was a number of different channels all operating at once and her mind scrambled to keep up with the sudden influx of sensory information. She blinked a few times and tried to focus. Voices from each of her companions spoke back and forth, sometimes over the top of one another without any hesitation or delay. There was probably an internal interface she wasn't getting. It was only a moment later that she realised Sign had returned to slip in beside her while ChronicleMan made his way to the stage finally. She gave the other woman a small smile and moved to stand – with ChronicleMan no longer at the table, she really oughtn't be sitting down any more, not while there were other guests to take care of. Her ears were still full of other threads of conversation, but she did her best to push it away and focus on Sign.

At first she nodded, a warm smile on her lips, but as the woman leaned in to murmur something more private, Lyntael couldn't exactly stop the sudden widening of her eyes. There was no point pretending that she didn't know exactly what the other woman was referencing as her gaze first, and then both hands darted low to her hip to hurriedly try to straighten her sash and get her outfit decent again. A rapid blush dashed across her cheeks.

“Oh! Ah, I'm sorry! Ah, um, thank you!” She returned an embarrassed, sharp whisper. The flustered moment probably didn't do much to sell her as a mature woman rather than a girl, but Lyntael ducked her head in nervous thanks anyway. “I'll... ah... I'll go see what the kitchen has to offer for you, of course!” That she could use Sign's own request to duck out of the hall briefly and recover her modesty wasn't even dishonest or misleading, and Lyntael cast another quick look about the hall before slipping quickly from the room. There were others present that could listen, for a few minutes at least.

Out in the hall, Lyntael strode a few more quick paces, before pausing to lean with her back against the corridor wall, putting her hands to her ears and squeezing her eyes shut. First thing first... She took a longer breath, willing the blush away from her cheeks, and focused instead on drawing the comm device back into a data string that she could read. She shuffled the string between her fingers then drew it apart, spreading the chip's data into a small array between her hands. Right. She could see what it was meant to do, and how, but there was no tactile interface at all and... Her mind narrowed in on the task as she began to make small, quick edits to the code running between her hands. After another short minute, the girl collapsed it down again and re-actualised it.

Silence remained for a moment, then, with a subtle gesture, Lyntael touched her thumb to her first finger, and listened as the comm device gave listening priority to DragonierMan's sent and received channels. A similar touch to her net finger prioritised Magistrate, with Aya and Suzume on her next two fingertips. Leaving her palm open left the channel relaying only all-and-open communications and she nodded to herself. Good enough.

Next problem. She looked down at her outfit, and the way the sash was already creeping in a way that would let the high split side show off the side of her underwear again. She'd left the actual matching piece in the bedroom they'd been briefed in. If she could just nip back and change now, things would be fine. At least now the room would be empty, most likely. She started walking briskly, putting her thumb to one fingertip as she went.

“Mara, dear...” She murmured as she walked. “If you're still in the kitchens, could you please check and see what vegetarian options we have for our guests? Miss Signatory would prefer something lighter.”

It was as she hurried back towards the initial bedroom that Lyntael received Yasu's message along with the others, and stopped in her tracks suddenly, a sudden lurch in her chest. The general was in the briefing room, and going back there now was not an option. Her eyes darted up and down the corridor in a panic. It was disconcerting enough that that was where she'd stored her other clothes, and the last piece of her current outfit as well, but it also meant that she had no way of retrieving either. Her options narrowed. She couldn't go back out there with her underwear flashing every few moments – the higher cut garment was designed specifically to let the dress skirt move without it being seen, and would give the tease that the hostesses might not have anything at all on underneath. Lyntael's hair crackled as she took a few more steps forward, then turned and paced back again.

At last, she muttered a mortified curse under her breath and looked back and forth again to be sure no-one was nearby. Once she was sure the coast was clear, she reached both hands to her hips, beneath the skirt, to hook her fingertips under the sides of the out-of-place undergarment and, in a swift motion, whisked it down so she could step out of it with one foot, then the other. Another quick, embarrassed glance up and down the halls as she folded the offending piece of white cotton up and tucked it away securely under the band at the top of her thigh, on the opposite side to the dagger she'd been given. On reflection, it was lucky she had it – Lyntael had no idea what she'd have done with the removed garment otherwise.

Her heart thudded quickly as she took a couple of long breaths and carefully straightened her skirt down again. It would be okay. She straightened her shoulders and breathed. It would be fine. She was a mature, competent woman, and she could wear, or not wear, whatever she liked. It wasn't an invitation, and no-one would even know anyway. They'd just think she was wearing undergarments designed for the outfit, naturally. It would be fine. As she turned about and began heading back towards the main hall, she listened to the conversation that was passing between MerchMan and Suzume, and was silently glad that he was being handled by someone obviously more comfortable playing that role.

Lyntael paused and took a breath just outside the hall before she re-entered. No-one would know. Her heart raced. She reconstructed her hostess smile and breezed into the room with light steps once more. She caught the end of Signatory's address, before she surrendered the stage to ChronicleMan once more. As the lawyer retreated and ChronicleMan came to the fore again, Lyntael glanced about the room and pressed all four fingers to her palm softly. When she spoke, it was quiet, barely above a whisper, her lips barely moving at all.

“General, this is Lyntael... Please assure miss Tango know that we are all endeavouring to make each guest's cruise a passionate and inspiring experience, and assisting each wonderful patron in pursuing their own personal and passionate joys.” She hesitated for a moment, then continued. “I'm really not sure that either of them really know what any of that means any more than I do, but it should placate them, and make them easier to deal with. Oh, and they're always much more amiable if you dance with them while they talk.” She paused again, going over the message as best as she remembered it in her mind, then continued.

“For the others, I've been engaging with ChronicleMan and miss Signatory, and it seems as though they are gathering people who have any kind of complaint. It sounds like they want to start some kind of class action, but ChronicleMan acted like there was something more to it than that. Something more... immediate, somehow. No details yet, I'm sorry. Still trying.” Whether it was through a communication link or otherwise, there was still something incredibly unnerving about talking to someone touted as a general while she wasn't wearing any underwear. It was a war to get the nervous pink flush out of her cheeks.

She has ended the communication by the time Sign was returning to her place and Lyntael moved across to her with a smile and a grateful nod.

“Thanks for before. Miss Tango would insist on outfits more alluring than practical...” She shook her head, brushing the embarrassment off with a smile. “I did send message to our kitchen staff to find some more suitable options for you.” She caught herself speaking to Sign in a more relaxed way, compared to her full hostess act, but it seemed like an appropriate degree of warming up to the other woman, and Signatory herself so far seemed to appreciate it in turn, if she was reading the other woman properly. She paused for a moment, hovering near Sign's table and made a show of uncertainly biting her lip. She'd listened in as her companion had retrieved the others, and joined the remaining dots for herself on why the merchandiser hadn't returned with ChronicleMan's assistants.

“Ah, MerchMan... indicated... that he was... otherwise occupied... and that you would be able to handle his business needs here without him.” She gave a show of hesitating again, and looking about herself with a nervous rubbing of one hand on her other wrist, like she wanted to say more, then drew it back and resumed a brighter smile. “I, ah, I do have to go and take care of some of our other guests, but if there's anything else I can do to help make your time with us more relaxing or memorable, please do give me a wave.”

Internally, Lyntael was hoping that Sign would call her back after a few minutes, or maybe invite her to chat some more once better fare was organised – the lawyer seemed like there was a part of her that was just itching for someone to talk with in a more relaxed way, with the right reassurances.

First, however, she had other guests to attend; that much had been very much accurate. She made her way across to the table where Memora had settled. Lyntael's first action as she drew close was to offer an apologetic incline of her head and shoulders, one hand over her chest as she dipped on leg behind the other in a half curtsy.

“Hi! I'm very sorry for the delay in service today, I can promise we'll do everything in our power to make it up to you right away. My name is Lynn, and if there's anything I can get you right away, I'd be happy to take care of it.” She smiled and dipped one shoulder, tilting her head as she did before straightening. “But, here at Wanderlust, we do seek to provide an enticing and exciting experience for all the senses and for every desire... if it would make you happier, I could always fetch Corrin to serve you instead, if your senses would prefer his attention...”

She hoped that Memora was indeed the sort to prefer an attractive man serving her instead; it would give her a chance to ask DragonierMan about ReservoirMan and Yasu's comment, if nothing else. The more serving work they did, the more they would fade into the guest's subconscious while they spoke about their plans, or at least that was the hope. Either way, Lyntael as keeping her ears pricked for the actual conversation of the proceedings to get started.
After a few minutes to get used to the new communication system that Nikki handed Lynn, Mara received a ping. Mara glanced down a little at the table as if thinking on her next answer to MerchMan while listening to Lynn's message. Then her eyes darted up with a open-faced expression as she just remembered something, probably interrupting her companion with her exclamation. "Oh I almost forgot! We probably might have vegetarians among the guests. Silly me, we should check for what options we have for them."

She pushed herself off the table she was leaning over to get to work on that idea she had. Though she stopped for a moment to reach out across the table to brush at MerchMan's nearest hand. "Also, we promised you an emperor's treatment right? Hopefully there are some fruits or something around here to get us started." Mara then turned towards Takeout. "I don't suppose you have any vegetarian options in your repertoire?" she asked her bored colleague. If Takeout didn't, then Mara would excuse herself and head back down into the pantry to see what she could round up. She sent a message to Yasu as she went, also open to the others, as all the messages between the group were.

Quote ((Suzume to Yasu))

<If you can add vegetarian options and fruit: grapes, cherries, and bananas preferably - to our order that would be great.>

"You are going to take the Neo-Shoguns to court?" Mara asked as she came back from her first of potentially many trips. "Did they not like the merchandise of them you were making? I don't know about them, but I think I would be flattered to have such quality. Especially since they are all about getting their name out there as a kindly, friendly group of people that just want the best for us." She paused for a moment in thought. "And the rest of them have similar grievances? Makes you wonder what's really going on."


Cynthia noted that the cruise ship had not left port. Like they had surmised, this wasn't actually a cruise, but an out-of-the-way location to have a meeting. Thankfully that would also mean that it would be easier for the food assistance from the Shogunate to come aboard when needed, without any extra delays. As for finding Tango, it looked like Yasu had taken care of that as well. Cynthia also noted the location of the cargo hold and the ways in while she listened to Yasu's communication. After Yasu was done, Cynthia sent a message back, using the information that they have overheard thus far. It helped that Corrin, Nikki, and Mara were in hearing range of most of the guests this whole time.

Quote ((Magistrate to Yasu))

<It would seem that they are attempting to take the Neo-Shogunate to court. ReservoirMan I can understand, he will probably want reparations for the Alaki Reservoir being destroyed in the incident with our group. However, I would like to note that he had acquired the dam under dubious circumstances, and his 'relationship' with the pirate Power was equally questionable. I will grant that Kama, who was the main reason for the dam being destroyed in the first place, then joined our group thereby making us somewhat liable. However, I would also argue that DragonierMan and Sparks had offered their own reparations in an effort to smooth over the incident, but they were subsequently rejected.

... And then there was the further incident with ReservoirMan's attempt to take SpaceAge after the water had calmed down, revealing her craft. So, if they all have similar stories, we can then understand their attempt at taking us to account for their loses. I will also note that just having this get out would compromise the Neo-Shogunate's attempts to brand itself in a positive light. Further 'action' may be advisable. If you would supply us with a few barrier ropes we will 'handle' this problem.>



Corrin and Nikki had finished serving their guests and had been watching the gathering from the sidelines, listening as best as they could, and piping what they heard through one of their comm channels. If someone flagged them down for more food or drinks or whatever, they would comply to the best of their abilities. Assuming Lynn beckoned Corrin over to where Memora was, he would turn on a charming smile and seek to lighten the atmosphere (especially with Lynn probably hearing the ominously worded message from Cynthia about assassinating their guests). "How may I be of service during this Wanderous time?" he asked as he bowed his head slightly. He continued to play the charming host in front of Memora, chuckling good-humorously at whatever quips were thrown around. If Lynn took him to the side to ask questions, he would probably answer fairly truthfully.

Lyntael managed to perform her panicked magic trick without an audience. Regardless of how she felt about the state of the Wanderlust, she’d surely be pleased it was nearly empty for this particular purpose. When she did re-enter the hall, she might be self-consciously expecting all eyes to be on her, searching for the minute difference that would reveal she’d just done something inappropriate. If so, however, she’d find to her relief that all eyes seemed focused on the starting presentation.

That said, when Lyntael returned to Sign after her speech, the other woman’s eyes did momentarily dart behind her glasses to the smaller woman’s hip before she responded, not missing a beat. “He did, did he? Not surprising.” Her face matched her words, with a level brow and an even frown as she kept her attention on the important business of ChronicleMan’s opening. “Thanks, I’ll do so.”

After Lynn departed for Memora’s table, the woman watched Lynn introduce herself with a bemused smile, still resting her chin on the back of one hand, then chuckled. “Ha, if I hadn’t already had the cruise of a lifetime aboard the previous Wanderlust, this would rank as my most bizarre. That Tango really didn’t think about how this would come together at all, hm? Your attendant speech doesn’t go with this old crook rambling on about money, Lynn. That man you mentioned… Well, he doesn’t look bad, and if he asked you to ask me to ask you for him, tell him his invitation’s accepted. He should know, though that my ‘senses’ really need to pay attention to what ChronicleMan’s going on about.” For what it was worth, it seemed like Memora’s attention really was on the business side of this cruise.

---

Mara continued to have MerchMan’s attention as she drifted away from him, although he did give her a kind of wry smile. “Hey, hey, so that ‘emperor’s treatment’ really was getting fed grapes and stuff, huh? Well, if it’s a lady like you, I won’t say no to it. Probably the most excitement I’m gonna get on this ghost ship, anyhow.”

The odds of Takeout having any fine vegetarian dining probably seemed slim. Nonetheless, she gave a ready grin when she was asked. “Sure we do! Takeout has both veggies and fruit. Fast food is ahead of the curve these days, kehehe…” The strange young lady turned back to the freezer and pulled salads out of the back. Even before being frozen, they looked about as cheap as you’d expect a fast food salad to, and now that they’d been frozen, it wasn’t hard to see why they’d been left in the freezer during the earlier rush to get the serving line set up. “And for fruit: apple slices!” Takeout took a bunch of chilly plastic baggies of apple slices, the dried kind that were sometimes seen with kids’ meals, then tossed them Mara’s way like throwing stars. Really, scarily like throwing stars… It seemed like something she’d practiced, for whatever reason.

Needless to say, despite Takeout’s offer to “help,” Mara would probably still want to send that message for additional provisions to Yasu.

When Mara returned from doing so, MerchMan was resting with his head on the counter in front of him like a kid. He perked it back up at her approach, though, seeming eager for more conversation. “Hell, I dunno if any of them know about the merchandise. But yeah, my stuff is obviously the best on the market. Not to mention, the only legal stuff on the market, now! Hahahaaha! Oh man, those amateurs are gonna learn a tough lesson about copyright law, for sure. Anyway, forget about all those other dopes! Who knows or cares what they’ve got to say about anything? How about you and I go back to my cabin, and we talk about how I can start making my first line of Mara merch? I might need to see a bit more for reference, though… Just to make sure we’re making the best fan-goods possible, of course.” This time, he took the lead, grabbing for Mara’s hand and stroking it meaningfully (and clumsily) if she let him.

---

Quote (Yasu.EXE)

Lyntael, your advice is noted. You seem to have a handle on how to deal with them. Talking with Tango is proving to be a challenge, but I am determined to do so without resorting to dance. I will exert my influence and have this insufferable person respect my authority as a general. Continue to monitor and report the situation with the BOC.

Suzume, I believe Dee already has appropriate provisions in mind. As an aside, my understanding is you are all in disguise. I have told Dee that each of you is disguised as waitstaff, and instructed her to tell the unaffiliated help bringing the food as little as possible. They should leave swiftly after accomplishing their task.

Magistrate, thank you for the briefing. I do not believe ReservoirMan is a concern for the reasons you’ve noted. Do not take any rash action. At this time, my judgment is that even a successful covert operation of that type would have unacceptable consequences. I’m counting on you to keep that sword in its sheathe, and to be a model example for our new recruit in that matter. Keep in mind the Shogun’s order is not simply a public-facing appearance: it is intended as a directive to all of his soldiers. Violence must be a last resort for us.


---

Everyone seemed as eager to get the processions started as ChronicleMan himself, so without further ado, he cleared his throat noisily and began speaking into the microphone. “All right, ladies and gentlemen. Since the good Signatory has been kind enough to give her quaint introduction, I will keep my own introduction as succinct as possible. As the esteemed leader-“

“Boo!!” Raptor shouted rowdily from her nearby table.

“As the esteemed! Leader!” ChronicleMan raised his voice petulantly, his voice rising temporarily to a squawk. “I will present my case first. Now, the more observant among you in the audience may have noted the unfortunate limp I carry. It has been my bane and curse since the tragic and unprovoked vehicular assault by a member of the Neo-Shogun Empire at that time… who remains in that position, even to this day!” The man paused for dramatic effect, leaning forward on the podium and glancing around the room as though expecting teary eyes. “Ahem. It is no secret that the Neo-Shogun member Escort is known to wield limousines as a weapon in combat. It is my belief, backed up by witness accounts, that in the service of a secret operation, this Escort committed attempted vehicular Navi-slaughter, simply because I was in her way! Innocently minding my own business!” Looking around and seeing the room still silent, he cleared his throat yet again. “Yes, well… Raptor and TribalMan will support my account. I open the floor to any discussion.”

Sign immediately rose from her seat, adjusting her glasses before crossing her large gauntlets beneath her modest chest. “You have witnesses other than Raptor and TribalMan who will attest to that register of events?”

ChronicleMan glared at her, although he kept his grin on. “Ah… That’s necessary, is it?”

“It would be highly preferable to have the testimony of witnesses not directly affiliated with our organization or yourself, yes.”

“Aha… Well, luckily, there are many such who will provide such testimony-“

“Who haven’t been paid by you? Or, more pointedly, were not being paid by you during or since that event…?”

ChronicleMan’s wooden smile fell further as he rubbed his chin. “Well… M-most of them were only paid once, and not very handsomely-“

“Yes, well, we’re going to need their testimony to counter the other witnesses at the event, who claim they were paid to act as, quote unquote, ‘a gang of street toughs to menace civilians with numbers in a back alley outside a strip club,’ which is where you were seen to be hit… And is where you later appeared, without a limp, inside the strip club along with your cohorts. According to this testimony.”

ChronicleMan’s grin grew tight as he took his monocle from his face and polished it, obviously holding back a curse. “And you would trust the words of a self-proclaimed hired street tough over an elderly and afflicted gentleman such as myself?”

“It’s not about whether I will or not,” Sign replied with a sigh, straightening her own glasses again. “Please keep in mind I am not here for an adversarial relationship with you. Because I will be building your legal defense, I need to understand every facet of the case in total factuality to understand what can be brought against you.”

“It is just as I said,” ChronicleMan repeated, smiling sweetly. “My character is unimpeachable.”

“… Very well. Ahem, I’ll proceed with a summary of the… absent MerchMan’s case details,” she added with a weary sigh barely restrained. “In the past, when the Neo-Shogun moved to become a public-facing entity with marketable personalities, we expressed interest in claiming the copyright to the animated or drawn form of their officers in digital or print goods, sensing the reasonable business opportunity. At that time, no appropriate copyrights had been sought on any of the intellectual property of the NeoShogun army, including the name. We made several appropriate contents to contact their head of market outreach at the time… Or, rather, their highest ranking subordinate, who was handling business communications at the time. On the only successful attempt at contact, upon describing our aims, the topic of discussion was dismissed by the other party as ‘cartoons, childish nonsense unworthy of the Shogun’s time or my own.’ After many following unsuccessful attempts at contact, we sought and obtained the copyrights. Since then, a large number of legally counterfeit fan works infringing on our license have been sold and distributed, many on NeoShogunate property. Our claim will move to obtain back damages from the harm the unauthorized goods have already inflicted on our business, as well as force the immediate distribution of such goods. We will then reach out in a good faith attempt to the NeoShogun Empire to discuss an asking price by which they might claim control over our copyright… And, if we do not come to terms, at that time, we may consider appropriate alternate avenues of monetizing the animated or drawn form of NeoShogun officers. Ah, as an aside, please note that this only applies to ranked officers in the NeoShogun empire. We have no copyright on the appearances of their subordinates. Thank you.” The woman sat down and took a big sip of her water.

Memora was the one to speak up. “That’s funny… You say you don’t own the rights to their subordinates? But aren’t there quite a lot of goods MerchMan is carrying around with the faces of some of those subordinates?”
“Mm. Good question. MerchMan is not selling or distributing those goods, although he has produced them. They’re simply fan-goods for characters no one owns the copyright to. I asked him not to bring those in order to avoid confusing the case, but…” Sign gave a small smile while grinding her tightly clasped hands resting on the table. “Anyone else?”

ChronicleMan spoke with an inappropriately sweet smile from the podium. “I would just like to point out for the record how patently absurd it is that you’re poo-pooing my vehicular injury case while confidently promoting your case on the oh-so-critical concern of cartoons!”

“Anyone else?” Sign spoke again without responding.

Memora and ArmoryMan looked at each other, almost as if having a silent conversation. Finally, ArmoryMan spoke up. “Yeah… Not sure how comfortable I am speaking about all this here. Something smells wrong. Also, those two cases sound about as lucrative as pop-gun sales. I’m gonna keep my case private with you, if that’s all the same, ma’am.”

“Same here,” Memora spoke up with an apologetic shrug.

“… In that case, I suppose business will be over more quickly than expected,” Sign noted, adjusting her glasses. “I’m going to make sure MerchMan has no final comments. The rest of you, feel free to discuss as you will, but please be prepared to repeat any comments you’d prefer to be on the record upon my return.”

As soon as she was gone, ChronicleMan (notably sans-limp) clattered over to the edge of the stage and began hissing at his “subordinates” with irate whispers.

ArmoryMan rested his elbow on the table and his chin on his hand contemplatively. “Pretty damn sure we’re forgetting something…” he muttered, apparently to himself.

Memora seemed like she was willing to pay Corrin some attention now if he was still up for a little flirting, but Corrin might have something else on his mind… During the presentation, someone had suddenly tapped him on the shoulder, then retreated hastily to the exit, back into the entrance hall. If he was lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the stranger’s form from behind, he’d note her to be a woman with long, blonde hair and a familiar, pleasantly curvy body, clad in a long, blue, tropical-patterned skirt, a matching bikini top, and sandals. When the door swung open for her to leave, he’d get a glimpse at what looked like a large (two-person) serving cart with a white tablecloth draped over it to hide its contents.
At Memora's acknowledgement, Lyntael let a soft smile touch her lips again a she inclined her head and backed off to fetch Corrin instead. She met her companion part way through the room and leaned up on her toes to whisper in close to him; it was casually done, and without subterfuge – at this stage, it seemed like the better play was to pass any other subtlety they need off under the cover of simple working communications, as any serving staff might. Even so, the height difference between her and Drago would probably need him to stoop slightly just to make up the difference in covering the polite whisper. As she did, she cast her eyes back towards Memora, still with the curl of a smile at one corner of her mouth, but the words she whispered were altogether different. Once again, they came delivered in the sharp and clear short sentences that didn't really seem to fit with the character of the girl they'd seen.

“I said I'd send you to Memora, the woman I was just speaking with. If there's anything I should know about this ReservoirMan or his history, let me know. If no-one else does, soon, I'll check on him, especially if there's a chance of him recognising any of you personally. I agree with the general; no violence, please – not all of us have emergency systems in place.” The tone would probably make it clear that she was talking about herself, but as Lyntael drew away from her private whisper she was all warm smiles and playfully flirtatious expression again. She smiled at 'Corrin' and stepped aside to give him clear direction towards Memora, whom she gave a playful wink to in the process.

As she moved on to assist with the serving and general blending in, Lyntael couldn't help the pointedly present awareness of her state of dress, and had to fight the urge to double check herself every few moments, perhaps even more so than before now. Instead, she reminded herself that she trusted her own fashion design, and reaffirmed like an internal mantra that no-one would know, and nothing would show off any more than it was meant to. Rogan would be very disproving of her dressing like this. The thought bubbled up, and she turned it around on itself; would he? Well maybe he should pay more attention to her, if that mattered to him. The anger in the thought caught her off balance and she pushed it away, trying to focus instead on what the various members of this new committee were talking about.

She let herself fade back into the background as much as she could, moving between the tables in the room and bringing fresh supplies where they seemed like they might be needed, a soft unobtrusive smile on her features and her eyes mostly focused on whatever small tasks she was occupying herself with; it sounded like the meeting had come together only vaguely half planned. almost as half-planned as Tango's reception, she caught herself musing. The claims sounded minor in some cases, and outlandish in others, and by the time the addresses had moved through, Lyntael was confident that the most vocal complaints were also the most fictitious. The whole limousine thing sounded ludicrous, really. None of them had mentioned ReservoirMan's case either, during the meeting, but she guessed that if ChronicleMan had his communication link, it was probably the older man's responsibility – and no surprise that it slipped his mind.

Her eyes flitted about the room as she checked each of the supposedly aggrieved parties, but when the two quietest guests opted not to speak, Lyntael suppressed the urge to wince. Instead, she let herself glide across to ArmoryMan's setting with a warm smile and slight incline of her head as she greeted him.

“I'm so sorry to hear that your not feeling completely comfortable and at ease here with us today... Please, if there's anything else I can do to help you feel more relaxed or welcomed, just let me know.” She ducked her head again, letting one hand move to the side, low and palm out as she turned the gesture into a brief bow. It didn't seem much like he was going to change his mind just from some pleasant service, but she still wanted to play the part – with any luck something he said might give her an excuse to slip out of the room again... a chance to talk to her companions in more than short messages would be useful right about now.
Mara tried to hide her true expression behind her smile when confronted by cheap frozen salads and chilly plastic bags of apple slices. Now chilled baggies of apple slices are pretty great when you want a quick snack on the go, any bit of convenience was a plus in her book, but they were yet another reminder that their cover of being a luxury cruise was strained to a premium. But regardless of these problems, they were still something that Mara could work with. "Thank you Takeout," she said as she took a few bags of the apple slices, "These will do for now." She then jiggled the baggies at MerchMan as she returned. "Who wants some apple slices?" she asked in her partially-sultry, partially-sing-song voice. She was going to try to sell him on the fact that feeding apple slices to him "Roman Emperor"-style was close enough to the grape-treatment she promised earlier. "Lead the way handsome," she replied to MerchMan's request to attend to him in his own room, grabbing two bottles of water in her other hand. Then sashayed with MerchMan to give him some extra attention, and to "pump" him for more information like any good honey-trap spy.


Meanwhile, Corrin and Nikki were as faded into the background as they could be, serving anyone who asked for a refresher on their drinks or bringing more food to the hungry, and listening all the while. Lynn took Corrin to the side for a moment to fill him in on some details, asked him to tend to Memora, and asked for more information on ReservoirMan. As Lynn turned to head off, she was pinged by Cynthia:

Quote ((Magistrate to Lyntael))


<We met ReservoirMan on two separate occasions. He is of a stocky build, so wide it looks as though he would barely fit through any standard doorways, which explains being put in the cargo hold. He is composed mostly of a rocky and bearded head. The beard is really just a series of lighter-colored cement blocks about his chin and upper lip. His shoulders sport the standard number of arms found on most humanoids, two, which are thick and ending in overly-large hands. He has legs, but no feet. And when we last saw him his mouth was open and creating a constant stream of water that he moved across as though much lighter than he appeared. His eyes are completely white with no pupils, and were set seep into the face. The navi emblem on his ear-guards displayed a wide gray dam with a thin river streaming out the center. Rather than holding stuff, he appears to attached it to his shoulders, for ease of access. He was always quick to anger and constantly demanded that things went his way. This was more likely due to the aggravated situations we always found him in. However, even though he is large and aggressive, his threat profile is minimal. He was quick to retreat whenever anything did not go his way.

If you need further assistance, I am heading towards the entrance to the dock to await the delivery people. I will oversee the transfer of goods and to make sure that we keep our cover intact. As I have already established myself as the responsible manager, I will raise no alarms by attending to what are essentially my covered duties.>


As the call ended, Corrin was brushed by a new waitstaff. With Memora needing attention, Corrin flagged down Nikki to attend to the mystery person. Nikki nodded her head and excused herself, chasing down the stranger. Corrin then smiled and weaved over to Memora. "How may I be of service during this Wanderous time?" he asked as he bowed his head slightly. He continued to play the charming host in front of Memora, chuckling good-humorously at whatever quips were thrown around.

[[ The meeting wound down, with each of the plaintiffs variously dissatisfied at the set-up, and after a short while further the party of stand-in servants each managed to slip away with the information they needed to report in turn to Tango and Yasu.

In giving their reports, they each described the complaining parties and their grievances, and pointed out how thoroughly disorganized they actually were. Though the likelihood of them individually pursuing some kind of case or demand for reparations against the shogunate still existed, the individual issues seemed to be quite a minor list of petty grievances, and nothing truly major.

Tango was, naturally, more interested in how well the guests had been served; the majority of them seemed content with Lyn and Drago's management of the guests, despite the poor situation Tango had dropped them in. Tango agreed to supply Yasu with the promised extra information, though given the host's proclivities, Lyntael would not be terribly surprised if the promised information was just exactly what the party had learned during their serving work.

Regardless, Yasu assessed Drago and Lyntael's performance, offering the payment she felt suited their efforts, and released the pair, along with Drago's Sps, from mission operations for the day. As part of this, Lyntael was acknowledged to have acted acceptably for her entry exam, though the minutia of uniforms and titles would be handled at a later date.

Now on their own time, Drago and Lyntael were released to wander the ship for a while if they wished, though it was now mostly deserted after the straggling BoC members departed.]]

==

((This is a short moderation montage to move events forward. Notes presented here are left slightly fuzzy, but are the general canonical progression for the involved characters.))

Lyntael gets:
16000z
Asteroid1 x1
Interrupt x1
140 bugfrags
Neo-Shogun Empire Membership
20 faction points
The following FXP...

25 DragonierMan FXP
6 Tango FXP
2 Yasu FXP
8 Sign FXP
4 MerchMan FXP
8 ChronicleMan FXP
4 Raptor FXP
4 Memora FXP

DragonierMan gets:
57000z
Asteroid3 x1
Blinder x1
550 bugfrags
20 faction points
The following FXP...

25 Lyntael FXP
6 Tango FXP
2 Yasu FXP
4 Sign FXP
8 MerchMan FXP
4 ChronicleMan FXP
8 Raptor FXP
4 Takeout FXP]]

==

By the time she found a set of stairs leading up to the deck of the cruise ship, the initial thrill of exultation for their success had begun to fade, and Lyntael slowed her pace to check if her companions were still following. It was blissful to step out into the sunlight, and the breeze was cool and refreshing – she barely cared about the havok it threatened with her dress at this stage, instead darting across to the railing and looking out at the sparkling sea beyond. She rolled her shoulders, relaxing as she closed her eyes and turned her face into the breeze and enjoying the warmth of the sunlight. For a few seconds, at least, it was nice to focus just on this moment, and leave everything else in the background. These were the moments that mattered. After a moment or two more she released a long sigh glanced back to see if Drago or the others had caught up, turning to prop her elbows on the rail, even if it was a little bit too high for the position to fit right for her smaller frame.

“So... It was all formal back there, but, how do you think I went? You know, I couldn't work out if miss Yasu kind of likes you, or really doesn't like you. That was some weird chemistry.” She giggled, then caught herself with a faint blush. “Ah, sorry... I'm just glad we're done now.” Lyntael stretched, hands above her head with her eyes shut again; the wind flicked at the lower portions of her outfit, tugging at the divided split in a precarious way, but the girl seemed mostly focused on taking in as much of the idyllic, sunny setting as she could.

((This post has been edited by Aim to include rewards and fill in a few blanks.))
"'Weird chemistry' is an understatement," Nikki said, finishing her climb of the staircase. She stretched her arms up for a moment, cracking her back, and then waved her hands around in front of her, shedding her disguise in a flash of light. The beautiful smile of Nikki vanished and was replaced by the smug smirk of Aya. "Ah, much better. I tell ya', I am never going to get used to all these non-combat missions."

"Their relationship is... complicated," Mara continued as she came up after Aya, performing the same little flourish to appear back in her gray cloak. Suzume pulled down her hood to let her golden locks to swing freely in the seabreeze and took a long breath. "No doubt our horndog of a Master would jump at the opportunity if Yasu requested it, but she only seems partially interested and hasn't made any moves in that direction. Until then, they'll continue the would-she, won't-she dance." Suzume grinned, looking towards the stairs as DragonierMan and Magistrate made their way up to the deck. "Besides, he's got Arch and Dee firmly in his little harem. And maybe some others that come and go with the tide."

"Hmph," Drago snorted as he finished his ascent with Magi not far behind. "No need to tell her that. We don't want her to think that I'm some boor. Some playboy. They all came to me and I reciprocated. It's as easy as that," he defended.

"But as for your evaluation," Drago continued talking to Lyntael directly, "Your work today speaks for itself. You helped us with our covers, you were graceful under pressure, and we came through with no one the wiser about us. I'd say that even with the variety of... difficulties that we were presented with, that this was one of the smoothest missions we've ever run." There was some nods from the twins after they took a moment to think. Magi frowned but didn't say anything.

"I think you'll work just fine in the kind of role that the Neo-Shogunate needs. Winning the hearts and minds and all that." He then took a moment to point between himself and his fellow dragoniers. "We are more of a combat unit. We feel best when we are in the field, doing battle with viruses and rival groups. But, it is good to know that the other parts of the NS will be in good hands. Hands of people like you."

"But if you ever want to join us for a little busting on the side, just give us a ring. You'll have our number," Aya added with a chuckle. Suzume smiled knowingly. "Aya and I have been training our 'little brother' and others lately on how to properly fight," Aya's face turned red as Suzume continued. "She might not admit it, but she has been getting a little prideful about it."

There was a momentary hesitation in Lyntael's features as Aya and Suzume joked about their master's proclivities, and she briefly mouthed the word 'harem' with a worried, questioning expression at Suzume's comment in particular, but pushed back any immediate questions as Drago made an effort to defend his honour. She was certainly feeling more relaxed now, since the actual mission part was over, and her head was already half full of ideas about uniform designs and the prospect of a formal title – Yasu had given hers, which was really long and quite dramatic, but then Yasu was also a general, and really important. Still, she wondered what they might decide for her as she listened. As he gave his appraisal, Lyntael couldn't hep the bright smile that took over her other features and she beamed at the assessment, green eyes dancing with fresh excitement. The side comments from Aya and Suzume drew her attention and softened the smile to something a little bit more rueful, though she still seemed up-beat overall.

“Oh, well... I mean, I know I do need to get better, for Rogan, but I really don't like fighting. I mostly just make sure I can get away and continue with whatever work Rogan needs from me, rather than actually trying to fight back, most of the time... I've tried, a few times, but often I need to slip away when he's busy, like now, and I get scared. I mean... it's like I sort of hinted before, but, I'm not connected at all right now. No emergency system, and Rogan doesn't even know I'm here...” On instinct she looked away, the often-practiced guilt response creeping in, before the more recent spike of indignation thrust itself forward again and she stopped herself, looking up and facing them properly again with a frown.

“Not that he cares. Not really.” She folded her arms and looked out over the ocean again with a small scowl that was clearly not directed at any of them. “I mean... I'm not a person; I'm just a tool;” as she spoke, the tone was clear she was mimicking the words of her operator, or at least paraphrasing him. “He couldn't possibly care that I'm out doing something crazy and dangerous, can he? He'd have to admit that I'm a real person, if he wanted to worry, and heavens forbid he does that... Hmph.” She shook her head, dismissing the issue as best she could.

“Sorry, it's personal stuff. I shouldn't really complain about it to new friends... Thank you,” her grin returned as she tried to switch tracks back to something brighter. “I'm really glad you think I did well. I was trying really hard to be professional, hehe... but I'm mostly just really glad that none of them got too many ideas from all the flirting...” Here, she leaned across to Aya and Suzume, slightly away fro DragonierMan, and murmured in a low tone. “And doing the last half hour of that with no pants on really didn't help my nerves at all...” it was mostly and unconscious shift in her body language, or so it seemed, since she wasn't speaking quietly enough to stop anyone from hearing, but it seemed like she mostly tried to address the comment just to the other women. As she gave a nervous laugh to go with the comment, Lyntael shifted the bundle of clothing she was still carrying folded up in one hand – her skirt and vest retrieved from the briefing room earlier. She probably should have taken the chance to get changed again, really, but the dress was nice, even if it felt kind of... exposed. Her eyes flicked back to Drago, and a blush crept across her cheeks as she realised what she'd said in his presence.

“Don't get any ideas... it was just for appearances... Oh!” A thought occurred to her and she looked back to the twins again. “I should... one second...” With a short, hurried motion, she turned more fully to put her back to Drago and moved to unfasten the garter knife that she'd been given, trying not to disturb the split of her dress too visibly; from her back, it was safe enough, but the girls at least, would swiftly understand why the removal might have been necessary – the high split in the dress revealed well up the curve of her hip as she unfastened the strap, and the plain, standard-fit cotton garment that she quickly retrieved from the band with a further blush would certainly have been showing had she been wearing them. With a grin and an embarrassed hunch to her shoulders, Lytnael straightened again, hiding the undergarment in her bundle of other clothes swiftly and handing the knife back to Aya.

“Here... Thank you, but I'm, ah, I'm just glad I didn't need it in the end.” She grinned for the other woman. “Hey, come on, let's walk for a bit. I want to see more of the fancy parts of this ship, and act like an actual guest for a bit, in classy fancy clothes and everything, hehe...” With a grin she began to wander along the length of the upper deck, trailing her free hand along the railing and enjoying the sunshine and the breeze as she invited the others to wander with her; this section was just a relaxation deck, by the look of it, with deck chairs and lounges, and polished wood flooring, but further along the cruise liner it looked like there might be other top-deck attractions for them to explore.
The four of them listened to Lyntael in polite silence for a few sentences, then Magistrate clicked her tongue and interrupted them. "Now that we are done with our mission, and my assistance is no longer required, I will bid you all adieu. I have many projects that need my attention. Please continue after I am gone," She said as she brushed down her outfit, before turning back to the stairs, and disappeared in a flash of light. The other three seemed to visibly relax a bit from her departure. Then turned back to Lyn to have her continue her story, so rudely interrupted.

DragonierMan, Suzume, and Aya listened as Lyntael poured her heart out about her situation and Operator. Suzume seemed for a moment like she was about to offer a hug in comfort, but didn't follow through. Drago cleared his throat. "Your Lord is correct though, we are tools. I was crafted as a sword myself. A blade to strike down viruses and renegades. Navigators exist to serve."

He rubbed his chin for a moment in contemplation. "... Though that isn't to say that we don't have our own body and will. I have seen and interacted with my fair share of... well... lively individuals, operated or no. And at least we have some say as to how we go about our service," Drago uttered. He didn't seem all that bothered with Operators who didn't give attention to their Navis, just as long as they were given the freedom to perform. "... But I suppose if you wanted, you could either live in the unoperated camps the Neo-Shogun runs, or we could see to it that you get a new Operator," he offered. "The four generals are operated by a single individual after all. You could probably get a similar deal if no one is free."

And with that bombshell dropped Lyntael started to give back the knife that the twins gave her. Suzume quickly noticed Lyn's state of dress and quickly took off her own long cloak and tried to wrap it around the fumbling girl. Drago also caught onto the situation and turned around. He was used to dealing with women changing around him and knew that they wanted some form of privacy, not that it really mattered all that much to him. He also let the comments made by Lyn about her state of dress blow away with the sea-breeze. Aya, meanwhile, tried to push the dagger back into Lyn's hands. "You should keep it. A girl needs a defensive weapon, and we have plenty already."

With the housekeeping out of the way, the trio followed Lyn as she took an impromptu tour across the ship. "So..." Aya began, "How often do you dodge your own Operator?"

"Aya!" Suzume hissed.

"What?" Aya snapped. "We were all thinking it."

"You don't need to answer that," Suzume told Lyntael. "If you'd like, we could field any questions you have about the Neo-Shoguns." she offered.

Aya tsked.

Magistrate's quick departure manged to derail Lyntael for a moment or two, surprise followed by a quick wave and a brief call of goodbye and thanks for the other woman, hoping to catch Magi before she departed. Nevertheless, by the time Aya pushed the weapon back her way she accepted it with a rueful smile, tucking it into her bundle with her clothes.

“I'll... keep it as a memento. How's that?” She finished straightening her clothes as she listened to Drago's other remarks, but frowned, biting her lip and gathered her own thoughts rather than answering right away. It wasn't the first time someone had suggested she might be better off away from Rogan. Was that how it looked from the outside? She'd barely told them anything yet, but already they had come to a similar conclusion as Eternalis and Aurora. Sorrow tinged the edge of her anger at her operator, pushed down beneath her determination to enjoy the current moment and her personal success. Aya's question grabbed her attention back, and she looked across at her newest friend while they wandered the length of the ship.

“It's... It's okay, really. I um...” She paused again to look out over the rail, turning her face into the breeze and feeling it ruffle through her hair. “Rogan... works very hard, in a very dangerous job. I help him, or, I try to, but...” Her shoulders dropped in an unconscious slump as she looked down at the rolling blue waters below instead. “He never asked for someone like me to look after... and so he doesn't. Not really. He needs someone with him, because he hasn't got anyone else.” She sighed and swallowed, then looked up again, putting the smile back on her face, though there was no hiding the careworn elements behind it. “He doesn't let himself have anyone close. He doesn't want to put anyone else in danger or risk their safety by closeness to him... but... I'm not human, I'm just a program... to him, I'm not a person at all, so, I can try, and he won't send me away or cut himself off from me.” She kept walking, now putting one foot in front of the other, delicately stepping along a single board of the wooden flooring as though she were balancing on it.

“So, I have to try to be what I can for him, and he won't spend any of his own resources on taking care of me, or looking after my needs... so... I slip out sometimes, when he's working, and when he's busy, and I know he doesn't want to be disturbed. I try to do jobs that I can manage, and sometimes, if I can get away with it, I try to sneak out to see friends.” As they wandered, part of the deck they were passing gave way to an open space that was polished and clear of lounges and chairs; controls for a music system were set up near one side of the marked out floor-space, but like many things on Tango's ship, it didn't look entirely functional. Even so, Lyntael let herself divert a little bit, her steps becoming a little bit more whimsical and her body moving with a slight sway and rhythm, as though she had a tune in her mind. Her thoughts fell into place more easily when she let herself dance, and she took a slow circle around the floor, humming to herself; small steps became light skips and she swung low for a moment to set her bundle of clothes down so she could let her hands move with the steps and compliment her balance.

“Hey, Drago...” She let her eyes find his again between the turns of her rhythm. “DragonierMan... Even in the name, it sounds like you have a purpose, and you know it... I... I'm not just a tool, and neither are you, but... maybe this is easier for you...? Maybe you know how to handle it? What do you do, when you operator just can't... see you, as a real person? When you feel upset at what they're doing, but, they'll only tell you that you aren't, because you don't 'feel' at all...” she paused in front of her companions again, coming to a stop so she could look at Drago more directly.

“Or when you need a minute because the emulated link connections hurt like a blast of broken glass all over, but they just says the acting is amusing, but to stop it. Or when you really, really just don't feel like going out at all, because you're-” Her eyes darted from Drago across to Aya and Suzume with a meaningful look before she altered the phrase. “-Because you've got a really bad cramp, but he just calls it ridiculous.” As she spoke, her hair began to crackle with distressed sparks, and her initial attempts at abstracting the examples from her own situation fell through entirely. “Or, or when you're scared, so scared you can hardly breath, and you can barely make yourself move for trembling, but, he just tells you that you're not frightened, and to stop emulating human emotion, and to just do as you're told? How do you deal with that?” One thought tumbled into the next and began to snowball through her subconscious. Without realising, her tone had crept up from questioning to something more demanding of an answer. “What about, when you haven't been able to sleep for two days, because of the nightmares, but he won't listen, won't understand – won't accept that you're so tired you can barely think, because, to him, 'navigators don't get tired' or 'don't need sleep', and he just insists that you stop it.” She turned away, pacing more forcefully now as her hands moved from hugging herself to clenching her fingers in frustration as lights began to dance under her skin.

“What do you do, when you're hurt, and you can barely breathe because you're coughing blood from where some terrify thing just hit you so hard your ribs are broken and stabbing through your lungs, and the pain is blinding enough to make you pass out and you feel like you're dying, but he only cares that his net dive might get unmasked!?” Her hands clutched across her chest, trembling in recalled memory and a waves of sparks washed off her skin, thankfully far enough away from the others to be safe. “Or when some horrible monster is... is... and...” she shook her head, gasping a breath in between, fists clenched. “And he just wants you to... to walk back in there, again, and...” A second crash of electricity pulsed off her body, broader and with more force now.

“What do I do!? It's not fair! I'm not just some 'thing'! I'm real! My pain is real! It matters when you hurt me! It matters! I'm not just a tool! I'm not!!” The last ended up screamed loudly away from the others, towards the empty space at the far side of the ship and the far off operator who couldn't hear it. It was accompanied by the growing light in each of her wrists and ankles racing up her body and exploding out from her chest in a flaring array of bolts that zipped and darted through the air before grounding themselves against metal railings and other parts of the ship. Lyntael swayed, gasping a breath that drew in more as a wet sob, before she caught herself and stilled. In the moment of quiet that followed, despite the continued dance of lightning beneath her skin, both of Lyntael's hands darted up to her mouth and she turned back to the others; despite the fresh tears, there was a look of aghast horror in her eyes.

“Oh light, I'm sorry. I'm so sorry! I didn't mean...” She held out one hand quickly, palm out. “I'm sorry, please... don't... don't come close, just, give me a minute... I'm sorry, I don't know why I...” She sniffed and tried to regain her composure, taking long, deep breaths quickly and trying to will her suddenly rapid heart beat to slow down again. How had she let that happen? It wasn't their fault... Was she that upset, really? She tried to gather her thoughts as morbid embarrassment began to win the war against shock. She was, yes, but she thought she had it under control better than that... now they were going to think she was broken and unstable too.
DragonierMan, Suzume, and Aya watched as Lyntael went from sad to angry. Lightning sparking off her in great arcs as she ranted about her Operator. How unfair he was. How callous. How he asked too much of her. The air shimmered around the three dragoniers as defensive programs activated in response to Lyn's chaotic energies. If any bolt struck at them, it would bite into, and get turned away by their barriers and casings. Regardless, the three companions barely moved, as if in deference to a friend baring their heart and soul out. They clearly didn't see Lyn's electric show as any sort of purposeful act against them. And they were content with giving her, her platform to speak what was on her mind.

As Lyn finished, they continued to keep their distance. But their expression was one more of concern than being frightened, or anything like that. "My Lord doesn't interact with me all that much," Drago began, a little solemly. "He gives us the occasional checkup and sends us on our missions, but beyond that..." he gave a slight shrug. "I can't tell you how to talk to your Lord because I don't have much experience with my own Operator. You can at least take some solace that your Operator interacts with you, I guess."

Drago sighed and cricked his neck. "The only thing I know is that we find our own way in this world. And we've made plenty of allies to lean on when we need help." He pointed to Lyn. "You've joined the Neo-Shoguns of your own free will. You've already made your own decisions on how to live your own life." He then pointed to himself, Suzume, and Aya. "And if you need help, if you're in pain, you reach out to us. We'll show up and you can lean on us. We'll patch you up from all your pains. And we'll help you stomp on your problems," he said with a loud booted stomp on the deck and a fist punch into his other palm.

He then relaxed a bit. "I didn't start out as DragonierMan. My original name was SINN-MBAP, then SINNBAD. I started out as a normal baseline Navi, one of a million copies. Then I was given the personality of a heroic knight from romance stories. A shining pillar of chivalric virtue. And then I was thrown into a world of battle and pain." He chuckled a little with a rueful smile. "Yes, even we feel pain, even if it is dulled."

"Anyways, viruses infect everything eventually, even Navis. I was only saved from the grave by my Lord's inventiveness. He found a way to stabilize me by blending me with the very corruption that was eating me alive. Who you see today is an amalgamation of what I once was, and what I am now." He paused for a moment to let that seep in. "I understand your pain. You want to yell out to the world that you are HERE!" he growled, his voice raising with every word. "That everyone must see you! Understand you!" His hands balled into fists, clenching hard as he bared his fangs. "Then MAKE them notice you. Bellow it out for all to hear. Roar to the heavens: I AM HERE! I AM IMPORTANT! MY PAIN IS REAL! SEE ME!" His head snapped back and he roared like a lion toward the sky.

After a few minutes of proclaiming their lives were meaningful to whomever listened, Drago quieted down and nodded to Lyn. "Now make sure to remember all that when you doubt yourself again. I won't have one of my friends feel bad about themselves because of someone else. Of someone who is blind to your existence."

Sparks continued to crackle and jump in the girl's hair as she panted, drawing deep breaths on after the other and trying to calm herself. The ache of the sudden expend still gnawed in her chest as she fought back the flood of power that cycled back up to replace it furiously. She swallowed and looked down at herself, sinking to the ground and blinking away the tears as she took an extra moment to scrub at her features before turning her attention back to her friends. They were watching her, but a thread of relief darted through the tremulous wash of other sensations; they didn't seem shocked or upset, particularly, just giving her space. That was... good? Maybe? She pushed to her knees and then stood again slowly; smaller, more controlled ripples of static pulsed from her body every few moments as she balanced out again, and she let them happen. Her focus came back properly to the others as DragonierMan spoke up, breaking the silence after her outburst.

His first commiserations made her avert her eyes and look down again. Rogan did interact with her more than it sounded like Drago's did. She found herself wondering if no real contact would be better than the alternative, but brushed it away. She already knew the answer to that, in her heart if not in her more rational mind.

The story made her head tilt a little as she listened, still focused on slowing her heart rate and getting herself under control; the roar of electricity in her chest was slowly subsiding again, and her own embarrassment at the outburst had undercut the anger she felt, at least for now. It was still a strange concept to her, and it always caught her off balance when other navigators talked about things like this. She'd met other 'normal' navigators before, but even if they weren't as intricate in their appearance and their reasoning was a bit.. slow, they still seemed like people to her. She knew enough to know that it hadn't always been like that, though, and it sounded like DragonierMan was an old navi, and older still in his history of earlier lives and earlier ways of being. She could only begin to imagine what that kind of transition might be like.

Despite herself, Lyntael started back slightly, a small flinch across her body and a sharp crackle of light in her hair, when Drago's speech turned motivational, in his own particularly forceful way of doing so. After the initial shock, however, she found something unexpectedly sure answering back to his challenge. She was here. She did matter. It wasn't a silly little outburst before, just something that needed to be said, even if Rogan couldn't hear it. She found herself standing straighter, her shoulders firm, and she lifted her head to draw one more long, slow breath and push it out again with a flex and stretching of her fingers into fists and then loose again at her sides. She nodded and slowly let herself wander back towards them. The light patterns beneath her skin had faded away now, though she still stopped a few feet from her companions and wasn't ready to risk touching anyone yet.

“You're right. Thank you.” When she spoke, it was calmer and more collected, and she smiled again; it was deliberate, and put on, and she couldn't hide that, but it was still worth the effort. “I'm sorry about that, really. I've... it's been hard, just recently. I thought I had it all tied up in a little box, but, I guess I don't. Not really.” She scooped up the bundle of clothes she had set down and wandered out across the dance area to the far rail to lean on it and look out.

“Rogan isn't my lord, or my master, or anything like that... He's just a man. A lonely man, and I love him, even if I'm angry at him right now. He needs me, even if he won't admit it. Or, well... He needs someone. I wish he could see that... but until he does, I won't leave him.” She looked over to Drago and shrugged softly, then sniffed and scrubbed at her face again as the last hallmarks of her earlier breakdown lingered on. She clenched her fists again, balling up her frustration and uncertainty tight.

“I'm only here today at all because we had a fight. Not even a fight. It was actually getting better, it was, but then something really bad happened, and I still don't know how I feel about it. I'm upset, and I'm angry, and I just couldn't take the way he acted like he didn't care. I wanted to do something, something wild and stupid, just to prove that I could, without him. Just to upset him and make him admit it. It was silly...” She took another long breath, closing her eyes and shaking her head, then turned back and began to wander along the length of the ship further, checking to see if her friends were following. After a few steps she stopped again, folding her arms and frowned into her own thoughts. It still mattered. Getting herself under control didn't change anything if he didn't learn. Suddenly, she turned back, her eyes seeking Aya and Suzume as she grinned in a much more authentic way.

“But you know what? I'm still going to... Yasu mentioned that there's a special uniform, but that it would depend on how... ah... how, well, she didn't say it, but I'm thinking, how, you know, naughty, I'm okay with it being. I want it to be something really bad. Like, really... like... don't go out in public kind of scandalous.” Her cheeks had started to tinge with a fierce blush as she rushed past what she was saying, trying not to think about it long enough to have second thoughts. “So, um... so what are your uniforms like... yours too, Drago! What do they look like, and what did you tell Yasu about what you said was okay? I need to know how far I can go and not get kicked out.” Already she felt her thoughts diverting into fashion design and what options she might have; it was easier to make racy designs when you weren't thinking about wearing them yourself, she thought, even if this one would specifically be tailored for her.
At Lyntael's request, Suzume and Aya exchanged a look. "Well, she asked for it. Brace yourselves," Aya said as the three nodded to each other. The twins moved to flank DragonierMan and then produced a pair of smokebombs from under their robes. Tossing them at their feet, the three were enveloped in a white light as the smoke rose about them. Like the transformation sequence in a cartoon/anime, their shiny silhouettes lost all their clothes, spun around, and then began to be equipped with new, more questionable apparel.

Suzume and Aya were short and lithe women, clad from neck to foot in a fitted mesh body suit. Over this they wear a tank-top, a short skirt that reaches their knees, elbow-length gloves, and knee-length boots all made out of a dull-black hardened leather that absorbed light. Suzume's straight, golden hair flows out freely while Aya's is done up tightly in a single braided ponytail. They ended their spins with a little combat pose, holding kunai daggers in each hand. Their sharp gray eyes giving off a playful malevolence.

DragonierMan was a tall and muscled man, powerfully built, and possessing short, dark-gray, wavy hair, and gray eyes. Two horns sprout from the top of his head and extend up half-a foot, with a slight curve backward. Stylized tattoos in gold and gray, that depicts his navi symbol: a great stone tower, weave themselves across his bare chest. Superimposed around the stone tower was the grinning face of an oni, the horned demon mask symbol of the Neo-Shogun Faction. Moments later, following closely behind and over the tattoos, was actual leather and iron straps and buckles, forming the physical representation of a 'X'.

A plate-sized circular shield of metal stamps itself on the intersection of the cross, the stone tower and horned demon mask emblazoned upon it. A golden headband, knee-high boots, forearm bracers, a male thong, and a flowing loincloth, all in gold complete the look; along with a small, shoulder-to-waist-length golden-yellow cape with an emerald-green plus-sign and trim, reminding one of a Metool helmet, appears draped across his back. A pint-sized, golden-hilt sword appears on his waist. It appears to be a replica of those used by the Swordy virus, but sized for a Metool, and fits into a golden-yellow scabbard with the same Metool helmet design engraved upon the sword and sheath. It is tied around the left strap of his thong by a golden string. For someone as big as DragonierMan, the sword is more like a dagger.

"The Ardent, Dauntless Knight, Vigilant Partisan DragonierMan.EXE is here!" Drago shouts out as he goes through some bodybuilding competition poses as the smoke clears. Then the trio pauses for effect, or for Lyntael to take a picture, and then return to their normal standing forms. It was like He-Man was standing between two fetishistic ninja women. They then waited for Lyn's reaction. She was probably speechless.