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You're all in a bar when . . .

Episode 00

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#1
CrazyDreamer

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Olga "Jägermomma" Jägerkin sat in the convention center bar. She was on a break from duty at the Cameron Core Solutions booth trying to sell their services to the government reps gathered there, so she'd opted for a red fez with Sergeant's bars and patches for both CCS and the old UNSM (may it rest it peace). Below that was her "dressy" outfit of shipboard camo, over which she'd thrown a grey denim jacket festooned with patches and awards she'd earned over the years and the words "PROBLEM CHILD" across the back. Combat boots and a pair of sap gloves tucked into her belt rounded out the ensemble.

She was drinking tea with a shot of Jägermeister in. The bartender had been aghast, but that was what bartenders were for.



#2
CrazyDreamer

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Surrounding the CCS table were a number of other tables with a number of other mercenaries gathered at them. A piano sat in one corner, unused for now.

#3
Abaddon

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Thomas "Abaddon" Lee walked into the bar, looking rather ill at ease and out of place. His hair was tied back in a pony-tail, highlighting the metallic glint of his right eye. His clothing was rather unexciting, consisting of muted black pants, a white dress shirt, and (oddly) white silk gloves covering his scared hands. Anyone who knew him from his days in the UNSMC would instantly notice he had slimmed down considerably from his service days. He was still fit, however he no longer had the pronounced musculature of his service days.

He had come to the convention following a long conversation with his wife the night before. After making his living as a concert pianist since leaving the military he had finally agreed to look for work with CCS. He smiled as he thought of being able to spend more time with his better half...and of getting back to what he was very good at. Glancing around he noticed two things: that his old friend Olga was in the bar; and there was a piano currently sitting unused.

"Let's see how long it takes her to notice me."

Striding over to the piano Thomas pulled the bench out and sat down. Flexing his gloved fingers he placed his hands on the keys and began to play. The years had done wonders for his piano skills and the soft sounds of the UNSMC Hymn drifted into the air.

#4
Hiro Protagonist

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Natalya stared despondently into her glass of vodka. She worked hard to get that glass. The bar tender had insisted on a tumbler, as if she were a child. As with all things, after all of the effort, it had turned out be a very bad vodka.

She grimaced after another slug. It wasn't so much that the drink was bad. In fact, five years before she'd have considered it an okay effort, for something not made by Russians. No, the problem was that she'd gone soft. She'd gotten used to buying Vodka most people couldn't afford.

"Hello there, Blondie," a voice said in her ear. "How about I show you a real Valkyrie?"

Natalya's head swiveled like a turret, her green eyes acquiring and examining the target.

Medium height, medium build. Fit in the basic fighter pilot way. Dressed in Black and Red, dark khaki utility pants. SMS, 25th Detatchment.

"Andt, vhat--exactly--is a real Walkyrie lookink like?" she asked in tone that could have pieced a full barrier system.

"CCS, right? Still knocking about in the NUNS approved winged bricks? We do it a little better, babe." The rival pilot brushed lock of black hair from his face, and struck a nanchalant pose. "Play your cards right and I might find a way to let you strap on my -19. You'll never forget the feeling of power between your legs."

"Vwee-Eff Nineteen Export, da? Vhy vould you tink I vould find a monkey model interestink?" Natalya arched an eye brow.

"We've made changes, honey. Serious upgrades. Top secret stuff."

Natalya frowned, "If it is Top Secret, you should not be tellink me about it." She waved a dismissal and turned back to her drink.

An arm draped over her shoulder, "Don't go all ice queen on me darlin'. I'll warm you up quick." The hand on the end of the arm contrived to cup her right breast.

Natalya thought over the arrangement of the room. The SMS pilot was not the only representative of his company present in the bar. Natalya wasn't the only CCS member present. Various other organizations had a sizable presence. CCS was, effectively outnumbered.

Olga was present. The others were outnumbered.

She considered her drink. She took another pull from it. It hadn't improved in flavor. She could afford to find a better quality vodka elsewhere. She took another mouthful of vodka, turned to face the pushy pilot and spit it in his left eye.

"Dis is being mud in your eye, da?"


#5
Vertigo

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The SMS pilot sputtered as he reeled back, wiping vodka from his eye and cursing. The right hand that had only moments before been preparing to molest Natalya now pulled back to strike her. It never landed. Arrested at the apex of its pull back, another pilot had stepped up behind the SMS jerk and was gently but firmly grasping his wrist. He was easily identified as another CCS member from the flight suit he wore bearing the company colors and patches, but he wore a leather flight jacket bearing squadron patches, most prominently a Bounty Hunters patch followed by a Jolly Rogers patch, and plethora of citation and qualification badges that would make any pilot jealous. Even more curious was the pair of pink mittens connected by a cord drapped around his neck. While his bangs fell heavy into his face, the rest of his brown hair was pulled back tightly into a small man's ponytail in the back. He wore the cocky attitude nearly every pilot had, but his eyes definitely spoke of one who had seen far more than they should have in as little time as they had lived.

"I wouldn't do that if I were you."

The SMS pilot squared up to the interloper. "Why? Is she yours?"

Eric chuckled. "Hardly. Its for your own protection."

"What?"

Eric extended his hand to point down the bar at Olga. "See her? That's our Momma. Surely you heard of her. A couple more of her kids are here with us." Eric's hand swept around the room, pointing out a few of the CCS' ground combat specialists. "Nobody messes with Momma's kids. We're all Momma's kids."

"So? What's your point?"

"Nothing much." Eric's free hand came into view, holding an SMS standard issue sidearm by the barrel, latching the safety after he dumped the magazine on the floor. "I just needed to distract you long enough to get your gun. Weapons aren't allowed on the convention grounds except at the demonstration field, and that's five miles away from here." Without looking Eric flipped the gun over his shoulder, it falling neatly into the seat of another SMS pilot. "That's now twice I've saved you, Junior. Have. A. Seat."

Eric wheeled the pilot around with enough force to make him comply yet gently enough not to jostle the man. The pilot plopped down on top of his gun amidst his friends. Some of them looked amused. Others looked like all they needed was a good opening. Eric held his hands up in the universal sign of surrender. "No harm, no foul, guys. Just teach him better target selection. Your next round is on me, okay?"

Before he left Eric turned to the punk. "Top secret is overrated. Get better material next time."

With that he strode back to the bar, only stopping to retrieve the pistol magazine. He handed it to the bartender. "See that this gets to the SMS armory, please." Eric shrugged as he passed Natalya. "Sorry, I know you had him. Bad habit of mine."

Continuing on he sat down next to Olga. "Hey, Momma, how's things? Thanks for the mittens, by the way."

#6
jester

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Mack arrived to the bar just in time to see the SMS pilot get punked. It was awesome. Mack definitely thought that leaving the aerospace industry to work for CCS had been the right move. Where else could he legitimately wear the hat he got from Olga?

Said hat was pink, of course, pulled down over Mack's spikey hair with floppy rabbit ears hanging down the back each ending in a poofy ball. If you only looked at the hat and Mack's face, your first question would probably be, "Does his momma know he's out playing mercenary?" But, his flight jacket had squadron and battle patches along with a little wear and tear. When he had been released from floor duty around the booth and walking the convention, he had immediately abandoned the corporate uniform for his normal jeans and retro BFM t-shirt.

The beer from the bartender was cold, and Mack's look only garnered a small shake of the head. Wandering over to Olga's table, Mack chiimed into the break in the conversation with, "Hi, Momma! Thanks for the awesome hat!"

Then realizing that he's just interrupted Eric, "Sorry, man. I'm Mack," and thrust out his hand.

#7
schanze

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Freed from manning the booth, Kes and Quola entered the bar late with a group of fellow mercs and suits. The two easily stood out. Kes was dressed sharply in sensible heels, dark slacks and a white button shirt. A pin over her right breast, a forgotten relic from earlier in the day, identified her name and status as a CCS rep. Quola dressed functionally with cargo pants, a shirt and a dull-red jacket bearing the CCS logo. Their sharp ears and inhumanly-colored hair belied their Zentradi heritage: two of many in attendance.

They drifted from the group and found a small table near the bar. Kes plopped down in her seat and noted the dispersing crowd with two CCS employees at the center: something to followup about later.

A waitress approached the table, notepad in hand. An askew nametag identified her as Sam. One look at the swelling crowd of bored businessmen and half-drunk mercs explained it all.

She tried to smile but it faultered immediately. "Orders?"

«Uhm,» Kes consulted the ceiling. "Just a tonic, thanks."

"Creme soda for me."

The waitress scribbled the orders down and left. Kes grimaced.

«I can't believe you like that stuff. It's so...» Kes made a face. Quola shrugged.

The harried waitress returned, drinks in hand. She deposited them in one heavy motion, turned and left without another word. Kes nodded thanks to her back.

The two clinked their glasses, sipped and simultaneously relaxed into their chairs. A few quiet minutes passed as they watched others in the bar.

«So,» Kes paused for another sip, «what started you into this, anyway? The reorg or just needed a change?»

#8
Abaddon

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Tommy finished his song just as the minor 'confrontation' between SMS and CCS personal wound down.

Looks like Olga is into the drink again.

Shaking his head Tommy stood up and looked around the bar, noting the rough divisions between various PMC groups and clients. It was on his second scan through the crowd that he noticed Quola sitting with another lady, another CCS rep, a quietly sipping drinks.

He ran a hand through his hair and walked over to her. Standing a few feet from her he cleared his suddenly dry throat, "Good afternoon, it's been a while."

His confidence returning Tommy flashed a smile and pulled up a seat.

#9
Coolhand

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Quola couldn't help but giggle a bit, << It's taken you how many years to ask a question you could have just looked at my file for?>> She shot one of her trademark smiles at Kes, <<UN dissolved my unit, didn't feel like sticking around so i went home to the fleet. Some Queadluun training and a CCS scout later and here i am.>> she gestured to the room around her.

At that moment Tommy introduced himself to the scene, it took Quola a few moments to realise who she was looking at before a grin blossomed on her face "Tommy! I thought you quit military life? Gah, where are my manners? Tommy this is Kes, Boss this is Tommy Lee, we used to serve together years back."

"So that was your piano i heard when we walked in?"

#10
Vertigo

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"Mack" Eric said, taking the man's hand "I know I was out on medical for a bit of it but you do remember we were on the same roster in Skull, right? Or did you find a new drink I need to be introduced to?"

#11
schanze

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«Why look when you can ask?» Kes shrugged. «It never came up.»

Kes recognized Tommy from his profile photo. She extended her hand at Quola's introduction.

"Kes Melzan Vrelkas. Nice to meet you."

#12
Abaddon

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"Nice to meet you Ms. Vrelkas. As Quola said my name is Thomas Lee...though you can call me Tommy." He shook her hand warmly.

As he sat her glanced over to Quola, "That was me all right. I must say that the concert pianist life has been fun but it'll be nice to get back into the swing of the military life...even if it is only as a PMC."

Looking back to Kes he continued, "Speaking of getting back into things I understand you've been assigned team lead of the Damask Rose? My wife, Joanna, serves with your group."

Tommy waived a waitress over and ordered a drink before continuing, "I've been employed to CCS for a while now, getting re-qualified and getting my figure," he gestured to his slim yet well toned body, "back. I'd love to discuss joining your team if you'll have me."

Smiling again Tommy politely sipped his drink.

#13
Hiro Protagonist

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"All habits are beink bad habits, da," Natalya said, waving her off hand. "Bad like dis wodka."

She gave the glass a threatening look and took another pull.

"I am havink no idea if I vas havink him or not," she went on. "I suppose no. Dis is too bad. I am not havink a him in far too long."


#14
CrazyDreamer

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Olga wanted to start singing along with Tommy's playing—she'd kept track of him as best she could and knew he was with CCS, although his appearance in the bar was unexpected—but the commotion at the bar stopped her before she could start. She and Natalya understood each other better now that Olga'd explained that she was Prussian/Transylvanian and most of all Meltran rather than than Russian, but they still had their differences. For example, Olga had honed her brawling martial arts style in weekly bar fights for years, but she'd toned it down once the military life had given her a more socially-acceptable outlet for it. Natalya, on the other hand, was looking like she had one that she needed to get out of her system.

On the gripping hand, Olga wasn't exactly pleased that some puffed-up flyboy was trying to mess with one of her kids, either. Flyboys always had two problems: They thought that their pea-shooters were impressive, and they thought that they could win a fight with a bar full of infantry. She prepared to get up.

"I wouldn't do that if I were you."

Olga relaxed and pretended to not be paying attention as Eric used her attention as a threat. Then Eric and Mack joined the table.

Olga took one more sip from her teacup before replying to their greetings. "Hyu're velcome, both uf hyu. Hy'm glad hyu continue to like my presents." She glanced behind her at where she could see Tommy meeting with Kes and Quola. "So, vat do hyu tink uf de bund beink back togedder? Aleksi und Hy hef been puttink zum vork into it ever since ve realized ve could get hall our Spacy kids in de same onit."


#15
jester

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"Yeah, Eric, I remember. But, we never really got properly introduced before we started going hither and yon, and then when the squadron got separated in battle, it got complicated," replied Mack as he sat down. "So, better to be polite and reintroduce myself. As for drinks, no, the beer is cold and at these corporate shindigs, that's about all you can ask for."

After a short swallow of said beer, he turned at Olga's question. "What's the line? hmmm . . . 'we had a band powerful enought to turn goat piss into gasoline' so it must all be good right? Besides, I was so bored sitting in front of design comps. I couldn't even convince the test pilots to let me log stick time. The worst part was the excuse matrix used by all the ones who couldn't be bothered with having enough self-discipline to even do the minimum amount of work."

Mack gave a little shudder at the flash memory of one of his last engineering team meetings and the 3 minute monologue from one engineer that ultimately said "The dog ate my homework."

"Anyways, so what's the private military landscape like? I didn't get much of a download. I had orientation and they shipped me here."

#16
CrazyDreamer

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Olga tilted her head back and considered for a bit. "Brushfire vars betveen governments are schtupeed, but if hyu're chust tryink to defend against zum idiot, dat's hokay. Corporations are alvays vorried about pirates und bundits, vich iz more fun. Hy hef also discovered de joy uf micro-missiles on pin-point bombink runs." She shrugged, looked forward again. "Ve help keep zum pipple safe, ve can usually rejeck missions ve don' like, und dere's fewer pansy-ass bureaucrats; hyu got a betta option?"

#17
Hiro Protagonist

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"To be definink better?" Natalya said. She smirked and waved an arm to encompass the whole of the convention. "Ve are having de travelink, and the seeink of interestink places. Ve are meeting de interestink people and ve are not havink to kill dem if ve don't vant to."

She laughed, a surprisingly bright and hearty sound, given her apparent mood. "De pay is beink better, if dat matters to you."

#18
CrazyDreamer

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Olga looked over at the Russian lady who had turned away from the bar to face their table. "Und ve are breakink SMS's arms if dey try hennydink schtupeed again. Und perheps ve are helpink hyu to be hevink a him, yah?" She gave a grin-cum-lear.

With her free hand, she pulled out a CCS communications pad, typed something under the table, and put it away again. The message was aimed at Kes:

Ask him how long a scarf he wants.



#19
schanze

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OOC: Back in the saddle.

"It's Kes. I like to keep it simple."

She leaned back into her chair and had a sip of the tonic.

"Joanna? She is a good woman. We met during my orientation on the Damask. Made the first month easier on the new girl."

A square, semi-transparent message pane, visible only to Kes, popped up to the right of Tommy's head. Atop of it sat a little super-deformed Olga. Kes took a quick glance at it. Olga's pad buzzed a moment later with the reply.

You like him, then?

"As for positions," Kes leaned and placed her elbows on the table. "We are looking to fill a few more seats. The last unit was lost in an incident so we're starting from scratch. Send me your papers. I will expedite with Josh in HR and your current lead."

"I'm guessing you are not having issues with your lead, right?"

A bubble of text appeared in Quola's vision line.

Thoughts on him?

#20
Coolhand

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Kes's inbox was suddenly flooded with photos of Working Group Alpha, keepsakes Quola had kept from the time. Attached to the end of the visual parade were several after action reports and evaluations Quola wrote up as part of her duties, all of which had been declassified some time ago (not that this would have stopped Quola).

Cartoony bubbles of text surrounded by musical notes and chibi pink kittens appeared in Kes' display

He's a nice guy, plays a mean piano.

Quola stuck her tongue out at Kes from across the table.

"<< You know its not polite to do that Patches>>" she said openly in Zentran.





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