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Welcome to The Last Light!

It's almost been 8 months this forum rp has been running and it's grown a lil bit since it started, not much, but it's survived.

The year is ????? A.L.S (After Last Star) the galaxy is dead, the last star has been extinguished, even so life goes on. On a ringword orbiting an encapsulated black hole the last vestiges of humanity, roughly 50 billion live on. Theirs is a happy existence, a never-ending source of energy from the black hole, a galaxy worth of resources to mine and yet, it feels empty. They are alone, the last memories of a race that once spanned the entire galaxy, now reduced back to a single system.

A fake sky full of stars has been created via holograms in the space around the ring projects faded memories of a once living galaxy. Advertisements offer trips off-world to places only remembered in archives, simulations of a universe that once was. Humanity is alone, no other species to encounter, no way to preserve their memories, they are it, all that is left in a dead galaxy.

Around the final home of humanity orbits the remainder of the great fleets, mainly small rotating mining ships and cargo ships. The occasional luxury ship passes by too, a tiny twinkling of light, hardly seen by those who looked up passed the holographic sky, Then there is the greatest glimmer still seen by people, the light from the remaining warship nicknamed Last Light. It hangs in the sky as the final guardian of humanity, the rusting ship, and its crew whiling away their hours onboard the severely understaffed ship, the occasional machine trundling down corridors keeping the remains clear.

The crew too, like their ship are old and rusting, each one an aged relic of wars once come and gone by, battles fought, won and lost out in the depths of space. Very occasionally some new soldiers join the crew, cadets who pass their training and sent up in the ceremony every decade, an old tradition celebrating new marines of the colonies. Now it is rare for the ceremony to be held even once in a hundred years, the promise of rotting in a ship, waiting to be called to action, not being appearing many who live blissfully ignorant below.

For many life is calm and steady, change almost never appearing, when it does it comes slowly, little new inventions making everyday life less needy. Yet for some life just wasn't enough, they wanted their old way back, before the final war. Before the colonies captured the ringworld, that is the world they wish to return, regardless of the cost it brings.

Yet that is still just a whisper, a mere kindling of the old fires of hatred yet to ignite, for now, the latest set of recruits are approaching the Last Light, the ceremony having just been completed.

The screen flashed before Kato, emitting that low whining drone he so viciously hated but had long since forgotten how to disable. Many times he'd considered just blasting the console, but he wasn't prepared to pay the costs of replacing that, the Last Light barely had the money to keep going as it was, there was no more money to pay.

"What is it?" He grumbled, slamming the button down to reply. "And stop that infernal whine."

The infernal noise lasted a few more seconds before cutting out. "Hey Kato, the shuttles on its way, you'll be needed down on deck three for arrivals."

Outwardsly he would grumble but secretly he did enjoy the distraction from simply questioning his place in everything. "Fine... It gives me something to do, I'll just finish my recording session, I have time right?"

"Yeah, you've got enough."

He sat back, gently pressing the button to end the call, one of the many on the panel beside him, wondering how many were coming this time and if the ancient decrepit ship was everything they'd be looking for. That didn't matter now though, first he had to finish logging his next set of memories.

Robert Firth, a corporal on the Last Light opens the shuttle doors and greets the new cadets, being the “lucky one” who was assigned the part. “Welcome, cadets, to the Last Light.” Robert Informs. “Or as your going to know it, your home,this ship has been here for a millennia, and while yes, it’s age is showing but it was either this or paperwork, and you step outta line and it will be paperwork for then rest of your service.” he then points to a line drawn on the dented, metallic floor. “Now MARCH!” Robert then barks at the cadets, and as they march, like they were trained to do, he grumbles to himself about how this wasn’t what he signed up for, the cadets move onto the line, after getting out of the way of a group of privates, heading to another part of this aged and falling apart warship. “the captain has some...Business to attend to before your assignment. Now does anyone have questions about your home for the time being?”

Despite the reasonably believable insistence of the great, battle-scarred, no-nonsense, don’t-@#$%-with-him-unless-you-wish-for-a-swift-doom kind of man which suggested not so gently that stepping out of line would be a terrible idea, it took less than twelve seconds for someone to do just that. And rather than merely stepping out of line, the troublemaker in question would instead cause a huge, disruptive scene of such furious insubordination that it would be a miracle they didn’t get tossed out an airlock within the first several hateful words.

In reality, the ‘twelve seconds’ grace period was not how long it took for trouble to start, however - rather it was the apparent maximum length of time that a particular individual could go without making a scene.

It had started long before the shuttle doors opened. It had started on the ground, on the surface of the ringworld of many names. This was evident by the looks on the faces of the cadets and privates as the doors opened. Indeed some of the cadets were nervous, as they should have been. A couple were giddy and excited. But almost everyone else had a distinct look of disdainful irritation on their faces - and before the shuttle supervisor could explain why to the corporal, the problem had already made itself quite clear.

As soon as the shuttle doors slid open and the mostly irritated faces of the cadets revealed, there was among the clomp of boots the distinct sound of somebody getting shoved around, much to their own irritation. ”Ow - oy, watchit - hey! Shove off- quit it! Get- I’m not - @#$%!” However the source of this voice was obscured by the cadets, then by the privates. The blissful, twelve second period of relative peace followed, with the corporal using it to address the group of cadets - many of whom were shooting each other sidelong glances and glancing behind in irritation.

Indeed, it seemed that someone had already been causing enough trouble to instill disorder into the new recruits. Life was about to become exponentially more difficult for the tragically unfortunate corporal.

Then, from somewhere vaguely in the center of the mass of shuffling cadets, a hand shot up into the air, as though reaching up out of a sea of regulation crew-cuts and heads of various shades and sizes.

”Oy! Yeah! Oy go’a @#$%in’ question!” The person hidden beneath the extended hand spat with utter, contemptuous disdain with a hoarse, throaty voice and what vaguely resemble a thick, limey sort of accent.

The hand retracted abruptly, and a parting ripple appeared in the small sea of cadets as the hand’s owner - who was short enough than the rest of them to be made effectively invisible among them - pushed, shoved, shouldered and sidled through them with all the courtesy of hacking through tall grass. Several seconds later, a small, angry, androgynous person emerged from the cadet-cluster, and stood definitely before the corporal with hands on hips.

They couldn’t possibly have been more than sixteen or seventeen years old. Not quite small enough to be a midget, but not too far off, either. A tuft of short, messy red hair topped a pale, freckled face with big, steely grey eyes, glaring upwards. They were not wearing regulation attire, but instead clad in dirty, grease-stained woodland/jungle-camo army fatigues complete with old-fashioned combat boots and an old-fashioned army field jacket - all of which seemed to hang two sizes too big on the kid’s lithe form. An olive colored canvas toolbag(?) was slung over one shoulder, hanging behind their back.

Despite that this person - a boy? Probably a boy - was absolutely puny compared to the hulking mass of scarred flesh and ropey muscle that was Corporal Firth they (He?) showed not the slightest bit of fear. This kid could be crushed like an insect beneath Robert’s boot, but didn’t seem to realize it. Like an angry chihuahua.

”Wot kind’a @#$% op’ration you runnin’ up here? That @#$%in shut’le damn nea’ came apa’t onna’ way up! AN’ ye’can’t seriously @#$%in’ tell me that this @#$%in’ hunk’a scrap met’al an’ rust is’a legend’ry Last Light - this @#$%in’ tub ain’t fit’a fly a minute like - ain’t any’a you @#$%heads actually do anythin’ up ‘ere or jus’ got’ye thumbs too far up ye’asses t’botha’ changin’ a @#$%in’ lightbulb once an’ a while! @#$%in’ disgrace it is!”

After finishing his(?) furious, utterly disrespectful litany against the compitence of superior officers, the little brat just stood there, hands on hips, eyes wide, intense and angry, just daring the big man to actually do something.

So, this was going to be fun.

Robert, slightly surprised that such a young, small kid had stepped up, Replied.”Disgrace? The only disgrace I see is in a uniform and is right in front of me. Now, cadet, your going to be an example for the rest.” Robert then picks up the new cadet by their shoulders and then threatens quite loudly to them “YOU CAN BE EITHER SCUM, WHICH BY YOUR ATTITUDE, YOUR PARENTS WERE, OR A MARINE, YOU PIECE OF UNDEFINED HUMAN METALLIC &$$ DIRT BAG, AM I CLEAR, SHORTSTOCK?!! After that he keeps them up in the air,waiting to hear their response...

For Kato, the day had been going just fine ... well fine was an overstatement. Most days kept his eyelids barely away from each other, only staving off sleep through the need to document ever memory of the life he'd lived, the passing seconds, hours giving him a constant reminder of the aging parts of his slowly rusting body. Then other days would be a whirl of random activity, most times revolving around the ship almost falling apart due to some random critical failure in whatever vital part of the ship failed that time. This time it seemed to be one of those latter days, at least it kept him awake.

Turning back to his console he rambled his way through another set of memories, this time pulling the memories from his databanks of the battle in Sector 4-5C, watching the star-filled sky, it seemed so real whenever his memories passed over it, their glowing points of light, each one illuminating billions of humans, spread all over a living galaxy. Now, all that remained huddled on the planet below.

Attack ships melted around him, hulls turning to molten metal as lasers burned through armour, the crews inside boiling alive as coolant systems failed. His own ship barely holding out against a blast searing its mark across the Valiants hull. The wall to his right imploded inwards, a missile strike slamming a hammer of pain into his arm, ripping it away. Death, he felt it come for him, fingers brushing up against his soul, yet failed to take hold, his remaining arm clawing its way to the ....

A whining noise destroyed the memories and Kato's eyes slid back open, he was still aboard the Valliant, or at least how he still called it. He was the only one from that battle left. Now the Last Light still sheltered its captain, the last two left. The thought made him chuckle slightly, he'd outlived everyone at his academy, he won in the end. The thought gave him a minor sense of amusement, that was until the whining noise pierced its way through his hearing receptors. A hand slammed down on the buttons silencing them. With the certain knowledge that the operator at the other side of the controls would not stop gleefully tormenting him, Kato pushed himself to his feet. "Fine... I'll go down."

It was with a slow and ponderous gate that Kato made his way to the nearest elevator and out towards the dock area just in time to catch the outburst from both sides.

For a long moment, he contemplated simply turning back and not facing the argument that was clearly brewing, It was not that he disliked conflict, in fact it had been a desire to rush into every fight that had gotten where he was now, but eons of warfare had watered much of the old flame down to a small flicker.

So it was with gritted teeth and carefully placed and measured footsetps he paced into the room, surveying the crew before speaking, his voice emitting out calmly and softly. "I'll do my best to keep this brief, I'm sure you're all just jumping at the opportunity to explore the ship and I don't want to detract from any enjoyment you can get on this ship, it won't last. Welcome to the Last Light, I'm the captain, Kato. That's all."

He prayed that would be all that was needed to calm the situation, he really didn't want a scene on these cadets first day.

Among the group of cadets regardless of the reactions of the rest of the group, there was at least one who didn't react with the same shock or slight surprise as the others. Instead this one, furnished with a smart looking uniform, which with any close inspection would show the youngster to be heavily connected to someone working in the central federal hedquaters: The nominal center of government for the Ringworld and the body to which the Last Light still took orders from.

This cadet looked on with a slightly awed curiosity, before passing a hand over their carefully slicked back hair, the other planting itself firmly on their hip. Whatever happpened they were curious as to what drove this pipsqueak to stand up to their superior on the first day. Apart from that they had taken little notice of the engineer onboard the shuttle, seeing their annoying attitude as a front.

Now, well now they were intregued, but only really on a surface level. Apart from that this cadet wanted nothing more to do with the troublemaker.

The Corporal, now realizing how horrible the situation he was in looked like, quickly and gently put down the Insubordinate cadet, stammering “Captain, I was, just...uh...having a conversation with this cadet about the ship.” quickly saluting the disapproving captain, and then under his breath, said something about how he “was definitely getting a demotion”, then slowly stroked the back of his head, forgetting the final piece of the task he was assigned.

There was a flash of panic in the feisty cadet’s big, grey eyes as she was picked up as easily as a small sack of rice and hoisted up by the shoulders. The man’s hands were huge. He could crush her like an insect. That she was fairly confident he wouldn’t meant nothing. And besides. how did she know he wouldn’t? She had been part of this military for less than three days. She had no reason to think anything would work differently here than it had back home in the Squabbling Nations.

But that flash of panic lasted only an instant, and the corporal would be hard-pressed to convince anyone that he’d seen it. It was immediately followed up by a brash litany against the corporal, everything he stood for, and his mother. The verbal abuse was so rapid and heavily accented that it was barely even comprehensible, but nobody would doubt it was meant to be as openly hostile and venomous as possible. She would even go so far as to attempt planting a solid, square kick on his chest when he said ’shortstock’ - and if it succeeded, it would be surprisingly sharp. Not enough to really hurt, but with more force behind it than one might have expected.

And then, after what seemed to be a very long string of things like ”You @#$%suckon’ sack’a @@#$%” and ”Sorry excuse” and ”I’ll show you-!” The androgynous cadet found herself being gently placed back onto the floor - and naturally she took this as a victory.
”Yeeah, ‘at’s right ya big @#$%! ‘At’ll show you! Think’s’ye @#$% wit’me oy-” Then, as if specifically to show the captain (Whose existence nor presence she had yet to perceive) that the corporal had not been acting out of line, the cadet proceeded to give him an ineffectual ‘fighting shove’ that, while clearly aggressive and meant to start a brawl, didn’t so much as push the big guy off balance.

She flared upon realizing that he wasn’t even paying attention to her anymore. Hands balled into fists she barked ”Oy wot y’gon ignore me now yeah? Yeah-”

The cadet stopped then, suddenly and with an abruptly burbling anxiety creeping up the back of her neck as she realized that not only had the entire room fallen deathly quiet, but too they were all looking off to one side, at a second huge, bulky man - this one covered in a whole lot of roughed-up metal and with smart, silvery hair that looked artificial.

”Who’a you?” She asked distractedly, looking just a little perplexed, half-turning away from the corporal to face the newcomer. She had not heard a word that Kato had said since entering.

If Kato or the corporal did not answer first, someone within the cadets would grunt out ”Uhrhcaptainhr”, disguising it as a clearing of the throat. Regardless of how she learned, the cadet deflated just a little - her face turning a faint shade of red. She blinked, searching the captain, glancing him over head to toe and actually looking a little disappointed, for whatever reason.

You’re Cappan’ Kato…?” the cadet asked incredulously, sounding crestfallen. All traces of her previous furocity had drained away, leaving just a small redhead in ill-fitting fatigues, standing somewhere between two gigantic old soldiers, looking excessively small and young. The cadet blinked again, then offered a fantastically half-assed excuse for a salute, more as a gesture of formality than out of actual respect. It seemed that she couldn’t quite reconcile what her eyes were seeing with what her brain had imagined.

”RIley Miles, Engineering Corps.” She introduced distractedly - if one had been hoping that a name would help determine what the cadet’s gender was, they would be almost as disappointed as she seemed to be with Kato.

Her face was still a tad red - in part because she had made such a scene in front of the Captain of the Last Light, and in part because she was becoming acutely aware of being the nominal center of attention. That was great when she was in rage-mode, but having chilled out a little she didn’t like it so much.

But that wouldn’t stop her from saying what she needed to say. There was no force in the whole, empty universe that could do that - except maybe a gag. ”Cappan, wit’all due respec’ an’ all ‘at, the @#$%’s goin’ on up ‘ere?” She asked, hesitating only a little. ”This boat’s a @#$%in’ sorry sight. Right disgrace i'is.”

Indeed, the Last Light had so far been nothing like what she had imagined. It was nothing like the ship whose schematics she had pilfered from the training center back home, to hide away in her bunk and pore over meticulously. What kind of ‘beacon of humanity’ was this sorry thing? And atop that, the captain himself - a man who she had always imagined to be a shiny sentinel of steel, polished to a sheen and larger than life - he was just as old and run-down as the ship itself.

When she, a homeless waif, had been approached by the recruiter - who had himself been tasked with finding a M’Draani-trained engineer for this very purpose - and been offered a position as apprentice to the head engineer aboard the Last Light - the shi she had fawned over all her life, which she knew inside and out without ever having come aboard - it was a dream come true. They had wanted her aboard as soon as possible, since the current engineer was in desperate need of either assistance, or replacement - nobody was quite sure. As such, she had been tested, and allowed to bypass all the usual procedures. She had been the most hasty addition in the fleet’s history, from civilian to cadet-specialist in less than a few days. It was why none of the others recognized her - she had not gone through training with them.

A dream come true indeed...

“Captain,” Robert speaks up after this ”Riley” has finished up her extreme outburst. “Captain I this cadet should go through some disciplinary activities, and I’ve Got time in...” the corporal then checks the time. “an hour, so then she can look around, talk with the other techies, and I think you can agree, while her tenacity is spot on, her use of it is very...inconvenient to say the least.”

It took a few seconds of standing in a dazed state, not really taking anything in from his surroundings before, tuning the outside world out, before Kato allowed himself to register everything that had transpired before his eyes. His eyes taking on an almost glassy look, for the rest of the people in the room as distracted as they would be by the squabbling recruit and corporal, the look would be practically unnoticeable. If any chose to give him a detailed glance, the look might appear strange but nothing of note. In fact, he'd simply deactivated his optical receptors to better allow his other senses to guide him. Eyesight never did too much help in space-battles and he found he concentrated best without it.

When the time came for his eyes to reactivate themselves, the transition was slow and smooth, one of the only parts of his body still functioning as it once had done. The rest, well that looked like it should creak like a rusted door ever time each inch of it moved, the fact that it staved off that would have been lauded as a miracle by most of those that saw the beaten up captain.

Kato took a few moments to survey the two, taking in the way the young cadets' eyes scrutinized him, she had good eyes for detail and machinery, he'd give her that. She was probably what the aging beast needed, another good hand to keep it from falling apart.

When it happened, he was nominally glad for the salute and introduction, the sight of some order helped sooth his strained wiring. It also meant, at least to him that any true sense of insubordination was over, at least for the moment, while it never could be a wholly accurate sense of the inclinations a person suffered it at least showed a willingness to co-operate, which he felt was the least he could ask for.

"Riley Miles... hmmm" The word rolled around his mouth, rippling the bare patch of wiring to the right of his lips. "It's good to have such a spirited cadet onboard The Va..." For a second he looked surprised before twitching the edge of his lips up for precisely half a second, a move that could be described by the most generous onlookers as a smile. "The Last Light."

The outburst didn't surprise him in the slightest, it was one he'd been asked before and he was certain he'd be asked it again. Slowly he stretched out a single set of fingers to brush against the chipped paintwork and bare metal of the corridor.

Each dent took him back, though the particular chip the aged captain ran his fingers across was one he'd made on his first day, an overenthusiastic cadet in power armour running full tilt to get ahead of the group tended to leave a dent and to this day he was still proud of the chip he'd made. So it was Kato's reply while being given his full attention sounded distracted and far off.

"The truth is, we're more a symbol than anything else, cental HQ hasn't needed us to fight a war for a long time, so they simply haven't funded us. I will admit its rather depressing to see the old girl slowly waste away like this, but with the lacking materials there's not much we can do."

The answer wasn't satisfactory, it didn't satisfy Kato. If there was one thing he cared about as much as preserving the memories of humanities existence, it was this ship. It had served him through many a battle and he wasn't one to enjoy seeing the gently aging state.

"Oh and Robert, give Riley a chance. We've all been cadets once, though our time may be long gone by, I was never the most rule-abiding when I first came on. Give her time, though if more outbursts keep coming then I'm sure you'll be able to focus her tenacity."

Back in the crowd this other cadet marveled at Riley, she seemed to always top whatever she'd done before. Getting into a scrap with the corporal was one thing, but to speak her mind to the captain of the Lost Light, now that he felt took it to a new level. He'd come here to escape a boredom stemming from the overly pristine central headquarters and he'd certaintly found it here.

Whatever else he had to talk to her now, he just needed a chance, although he was certain that his position as the son to a member of the federal authority would easily grant him an opening to get to know her better. That was only still to satisfy his curiosity, now more than ever he was determined to get closely associated with her. There was a certain level of reputation he had to uphold wherever he went, that if he mingled with her too much was certain to drop below his own pre-set allowance.

Although disagreeing with Kato, due to experiencing her outbursts firsthand, Robert simply replied “ You’re the Captain, but i’m keeping an eye on her.”

Riley actually found it a tad irritating that she clearly didn’t have the Captain’s full attention. Not so much because she thought she deserved it, but because he seemed so far away - and far away didn’t matter. Only here and now mattered. Why waste time dwelling on things that can’t be changed? Was he always like this? Riley hoped not. What minute degree of actual respect she had for him would be difficult to maintain if she was constantly having to snap her fingers in his face to get him back to the vital present.

In reality, the fact that she had even that sliver of begrudging respect for him was actually quite a phenomenon. Possibly one could tell this by the total lack of respect she had for literally anyone else so far - apparently to ‘deserve’ the respect of this small, offensive, abrasive little cadet one had to be the ancient captain of a powerful warship. That she herself was entirely unworthy of respect even by her own standards was revolting on principle alone. Who did she think she is? Clearly she had a very high opinion of herself…

Listening to the captain explain the sorry state of the Last Light, the kid could be seen holding her breath in order to prevent another outburst, then giving in and crying out anyway, in exasperated frustration. ”But ‘ats why y’gotta’ keep’er shiny! A symbol’s gotta’ be-...” She stopped suddenly, frowned, then crossed her arms poutily. ”Well. No mat’r. I’ll just ‘avta fix it me’self.” She grumbled, as if “fixing” an entire decrepit warship was something one enthusiastic runt might actually be capable of.

It almost seemed as though she planned on being quiet and comparatively well behaved for a moment, but as approximately twelve seconds was the length of time that Riley Miles could go without saying something obnoxious, her silence did not last long. Twelve seconds, in fact. Bristling visibly at the mention of ‘focusing her tenacity’, she shot a guarded glare at the captain. ”Oy was’at s’post’a mean?” She grumbled, the question clearly rhetorical and, intentionally or otherwise, serving to convey that even the captain himself was not entirely safe from the insolent brat’s wrath...

Kato stood there a few moments longer, his brain replaying the memory of charging into the wall, his leg slipping on a freshly polished floor, the sudden lurch and a dull thud as he sailed headfirst into the wall. It hadn't hurt, or hurt a lot less than he'd expected it to, the armour did it's job we...

In an instant, he was back to the present turning his head to face the enthusiastic runt of an engineer and as he did so his body posture changed. No longer did it hold the same almost defeated. but relaxed slouch that had been so prevalent before, now his back was stiff and straight, the old captain suddenly looking far more like a soldier than he'd done for a long time. In that moment his eyes focused in on Riley, taking their time to scan her appraisingly, now at least she had his entire focus in the present.

For a long moment, he began to properly consider this kid, it had been a long time since they'd had an engineer this enthusiastic about their job and he needed to know if his Valiant was in good hands. If he saw something he didn't like he was fully prepared to order her off the ship in a second. Truthfully there was little that could break his reveries once he had sunk deeply into them, his memories tending to bleed into his visual and auditory receptors, yet someone showing true willing to fix up and repair the ship to which his life was tied to was one of those few things. It didn't matter if she was or wasn't properly capable of solving the problem, just to have someone keeping it a bit more shapely, although he conceeded, that wouldn't be hard.

It took the aged captain only 8 seconds to get the information that he wanted, at least for the moment, but he waited another four seconds in a slight mimicry of her usual twelve second rule before repling. "It means welcome to the crew Riley, take good care of the old girl for me would you?" It wasn't malicious his timing, quite the opposite, for the captain so obsessed with memories, to copy someone it showed a willingness to remember them and their speech patterns.

Over his shoulder he sent a reply towards Robert, teasing the corpral ever so gently. "Oh its fine, Rob, don't worry. I'm sure there's enough cadets here to easily keep you busy, it'll be a nice change for you, keep you from lounging around." The man had been serving him long enough that Kato felt easy to slip away from the demeanour of a captain when speaking to the corpral.

Robert replied, with a lighthearted tone, and relaxing his demeanour, “Yeah, something tells me I won’t be relaxing anytime soon.” And laughed, ever so slightly. “Now any more questions, besides those who curse like they’re a sailor?”

The captain just stood there with that glazed look in his eyes. Already that habit of his was getting on her nerves - but rather than snapping her fingers in his face like she was tempted to, the little engineer instead took the opportunity to take in the big cyborg’s terrible condition. The man was a wreck. As bad or worse than the rest of the ship, and that was saying something. Clearly he was more machine than man by a very large margin - and if she was being perfectly honest, that was just about the closest thing to ‘attractive’ that the girl could comprehend - but the man was a damned mess. Exposed wiring, hasty patches, scorches, spot-welding - a disgrace. It infuriated her. A frame like that should have been gleaming white with gold accents. Buffed to a pearlescent shine. Or at least matte black and carbon. She didn’t care about the scars on what few exposed patches of skin he had - but there was no excuse for such an awful state of disrepair. Didn’t he have any pride?

And as if he were reading her mind, at that very moment the cyborg captain began shifting into a more dignified stance - standing up straighter - and quite to her own disdain, Riley’s glare momentarily faded into an almost owlish look as their size differential grew ever so slightly. Then he just stood there, looking down at her - appraising her.

It was as if the year she’d spent as a ‘civilian’ had never happened. It was as if the Federal government had never stepped in to break up the eternally recurrent war between the “Squabbling Nations” M’Draan and Mortuga - the Israel-Palestine analog of their time. As if they had never disbanded the militaries of both nations and deported the soldiers - and soldiers-in-training -, scattering them all over the world. It was as if she were back in M’Draan Training Facility Thirteen, standing before Sergeant Mayes, withering under the old man’s scrutinizing gaze as he once again mulled over whether the runt really was M’Draan Military material.

She would not let it happen again. She would not wuther under the appraising stare of Captain Kato, in front of all these people-

Steeling herself, Riley’s hands balled into fists at her side. She glared fiercely back at the man, steely eyes shooting serrated daggers from behind stray locks of crimson hair. She shifted her weight just a little, standing just slightly up on her toe - that part purely unconscious.

The instant Kato began to speak, she opened her mouth, ready to fire back some vicious retort before he could even finish - and was promptly, utterly, completely disarmed by his words.

Riley blinked, stunned. She blinked again. Just like that?

No fighting? No struggling to be taken seriously? No long, arduous uphill battle to convince him that she was worth keeping around, despite her underwhelming size and entirely unlikable personality?

Was that it then?

In M’Draan, being assigned a platoon or unit meant nothing. It merely served to get one cadet close enough to the others that they might have a chance to prove themselves to the others. On paper it was official - but in M’Draan, on paper didn’t count. She had assumed the Feds worked the same way - that being shipped up here to the Last Light was only the first step in the long, arduous process of being accepted onto the crew.

And yet, just like that, here she was - being welcomed by Kato himself - a veritable mythical hero in her eyes, though she would be hard-pressed to admit that - onto the crew of the legendary ship that she had spent so much of her youth essentially ‘fan-girling’ over in her spare time. Being casually handed a dream-come-true was not something that Cadet Miles’ brain was equipped to handle.

Riley blinked a third time. Then, abruptly recomposing herself she ditched the stunned expression, instead looking off at some arbitrarily chosen spot where floor met wall, keeping the other cadets from seeing the heat that was already blossoming on her face. ”Right then.” She said, with a notably softer inflection that was fringed with a forrced resentment. ”I’ll head’a engineering deck then. See’bout gettin’ this’ere rus'bucket sorted.” Then, as if specifically to remind everyone that she was, in fact, an abrasive, insubordinate little @#$%, the redhead whirled on the captain and poked him on the chest.

Or, rather, general midsection.

”An’ you bet’a stop by too a’ some point.” She demanded brashly, ”Get som’a them bloody holes patched up. Whole damn chassis need’a over’aul. @#$%in’ captain can’t be walkin’ roun’ in’at kind’a shape, @#$%in’ disgrace ‘at is.”

And with that, Riley MIles hefted the olive canvas bag slung over one shoulder, spun on a heel, and stormed off toward the engineering deck as if she owned the place.

After Riley told Kato to “get patched up.” Rob just stood there, amazed with her inconsideration, with a look on his face as if to “say can you believe that?” He then told the other cadets, with an annoyed tone, to “go wherever they have clearance for, and are allowed.” As as most of the cadets ran, marched and walked, he sighed, put his left hand on his face, and stayed there, waiting to hear some other corporal complain, and with what just happened, it wasn’t out of the realm of possibility.

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