SPACE From Beyond

Discussion in 'Private Roleplay' started by Sophie Iverson, May 22, 2018.

  1. Sophie Iverson

    Sophie Iverson Tell me your secrets

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    [​IMG]
    Image Credit: Eric Gagnon, Deus Ex: Human Revolution

    Sophie padded through the Calypso's corridors. She was out of uniform, although her dark outfit meant that you would have to be close to notice that she wasn't wearing her usual dress blacks. The relatively casual look contrasted with a large munitions bag slung from her shoulder, but she did her best not feel self-conscious on the way down to the Marines' deck and knocked on the door with more authority than she felt. She breezed past the private who had the poor fortune to open it and watched the entire room move all at once.

    Their close-combat instructors would have been proud of the speed at which they reacted, were it not for the fact that they were engaged with hiding several card games, lit cigarettes and - rather comically - a partly-assembled still in the corner.

    "Officer on deck," came a croaked, late call from Private Fitzgerald.

    Sophie pulled herself together and gave him a raised eyebrow that she then shared with the rest of the room, before settling for a relaxed smirk. She pointedly turned away from the group of Marines who were stood in a tight group attempting to hide the still, then raised her voice just enough so that it would carry.

    "Stand easy, Marines. I'm looking for Private @Krzysztof Wierzbowski."
     
    #1 Sophie Iverson, May 22, 2018
    Last edited: May 23, 2018
  2. Krzysztof Wierzbowski

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    Surprise was always desirable in war. Catch your opponent off guard and it was easy to press the advantage. Sophie's incursion into the enlisted quarters somehow bypassed pickets and assorted early warning systems. The poor private who opened the door nearly had a heart attack. The undignified scramble to cover up contraband was chaotic. Several awkwardly stood to hide various items too big to suddenly stuff under covers or shove under bunks. Officers were allowed smirk. No one dared respond until she'd made clear her reason for being there. It didn't seem to be an inspection.

    "Here ma'am" Krzysztof made his way forward from where he'd been on his bunk. He looked edgy, like he was expecting to be brought out and shot in the corridor. Officers did not barge in unless they had a bloody good reason to. What was all this about? He followed the officer out into the corridor, doing his best not to fidget.
     
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  3. Sophie Iverson

    Sophie Iverson Tell me your secrets

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    On another day Lieutenant Iverson would have noticed Private Wierzbowski's reluctance to leave the safety of his comrades. She would have noticed his adrenalin rush in the rise of colour to his cheeks and the flutter of his eyes trying to ascertain her intentions. She would certainly have taken him to task for some minor infractions and built up the enlisted fear of ONI just that little bit more.

    Today, though, Sophie Iverson saw none of that. She was just about able to keep herself from blurting out something unwise, settling instead for a cool and restrained opening, but that was it. Her hands went behind her back so he wouldn't see them shake.

    "Private Wierzbowski. Might we talk alone for a while?"

    She led the way to the dining space. While normally busy - it served the Marines exclusively, and they were hungry people - it was between shifts in the middle of the night. Those who weren't catching some sleep or waking up for their shift were making use of rare downtime in other ways; the last few who were eating took one look at her and made a quick decision to leave.

    She put the bag on the counter of the (closed) bar. Suddenly this seemed like madness.

    What's he going to think?

    There's no reason why he's going to listen to me.

    There's no way this ends well.

    He'll report me to his sergeant and I'll get a stern warning from Captain Wronski - or even be reprimanded.


    Oh gosh, what if I get recalled?

    She was quite unaware that awkward seconds had both passed and were continuing to pass.
     
    #3 Sophie Iverson, May 23, 2018
    Last edited: May 23, 2018
  4. Krzysztof Wierzbowski

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    "Yes ma'am".

    He'd learnt that one did not simply just say no to an officer. Equivocate, dance around it, use your initiative to interpret it in the widest way possible, but disobeying wasn't an option. He kept quiet as he followed her down the corridor. The Calypso did her best to simulate the day of the environment they were deploying to. He was grateful that they weren't en route to replace the garrison of some backwater outpost somewhere like Triton. The lights were dimmed in sections, an attempt to mimic that of a normal day cycle.

    Those few left in the mess wisely left at the sight of an officer. Sophie dumped the bag on the bar but she might as well have been in the next galaxy. Her eyes were staring into space. Krzy coughed to clear his throat, "Er...pardon me ma'am, you said you had to talk with me?" What was all this about?
     
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  5. Sophie Iverson

    Sophie Iverson Tell me your secrets

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    The blonde officer didn't quite jump, but she was definitely somewhat startled. Her eyes locked onto his and she made a noise at the back of her throat. She opened the munitions bag, revealing a dozen cans of beer and four glasses wrapped in a cooling gel lining.

    "Oh! Um, I'm sorry. Yes, I can get to that in a second. But, um, this is for you."

    A peace offering? A bribe? She hadn't been sure, and she wasn't supposed to mind, but she tried to think of it as the former.

    "I, I don't know what a good beer is. But an old friend of mine used to like this type."

    Her nervousness was beginning to show, her voice coming out very small. It didn't help that she had needed to buy a dozen of Luc's favourite beers. To distract herself, she cracked one of the cans open and poured it out. It wasn't quite perfect pour, but it was better than her practice run and that could only be a good thing.

    She poured one for herself, too, but she set it on the countertop and fiddled with the sleeve of her jumper, building up enough courage to ask her question.

    "Do you... do you hate me, Krzysztof?"

    She glanced up, made eye contact briefly and looked back down again in a hurry. She didn't want to be looking at him when he finally agreed.
     
    #5 Sophie Iverson, May 23, 2018
    Last edited: May 24, 2018
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  6. Krzysztof Wierzbowski

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    Sophie seemed to come out of reverie, her head dipping as she focused on the munitions bag. She opened it up to reveal the haul inside. He was pleasantly surprised to find out it wasn't just ammunition magazines or files to be sorted through. "Wow" he managed, not quite the lost treasure of El Dorado but a dozen tinnies was nothing to sneer at. "Thank you ma'am" he said, honestly meaning it.

    He reached into take out one can and examine it, "Yeah it's a good one, it's better than what we'd usually have access to. I mean well...afford to drink". He could buy the cans but why buy two of these if you could have three or four cans of a lesser quality beer for the same price? Quantity always beat quality in his mind. And if he was buying a few tinnies for the lads, well he wasn't going to waste his cash on something pricey.

    He kept his mouth clamped shut while she poured it out. He just usually poured it down the side of the glass and hoped for the best. Sophie seemed to be treating it like the can was live ordnance. Her sudden question caught him off guard, his expression was a bit stunned before her gaze dropped back down to the countertop. A flat "What".

    Not a question you expect out of the blue, "I...no ma'am, why?" His voice was genuinely bewildered.
     
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  7. Sophie Iverson

    Sophie Iverson Tell me your secrets

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    "Oh!"

    Sophie realised that her mouth was open and closed it; she checked him for classic signs of a surprised lie and found nothing. Surprise, certainly, and uncertainty, but there was no sign of duplicity. There had been hesitation, but only as he decided to against saying more than he ought. He was still an enlisted man, after all. He would have the instinct to err towards saying less.

    "Um, it's hard, that's all. The looks, the whispers. Fear gets me respect where there wouldn't be any otherwise. It gets the job done. But I had to ask someone I could trust to tell the truth... whether it was personal."

    She raised her glass and hid her blush behind it for one long sip. The beer was cold and refreshing - nice enough, although she certainly wasn't in much of a position to tell. She was all too aware of feeling terribly vulnerable, without uniform or rank in front of him.
     
    #7 Sophie Iverson, May 24, 2018
    Last edited: May 24, 2018
  8. Krzysztof Wierzbowski

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    Krzysztof wasn't sure what to say. Intelligence agents all had reputations. ONI had some of the worst ones. There was a mystique to it but it came with alot of baggage. Suspicious freighters tracked, pirate bases destroyed, rebel leaders eliminated on request. He'd heard rumours of plants in squads but dismissed it as hearsay. They were real enough, not just boogeymen. You just learnt to keep your mouth shut if you saw unmarked uniforms or the latest kit.

    So to have one of these wraiths suddenly seem human again, well it put him off guard. "Well you're Navy and not a Marine" he tried to handwave it off as interservice rivalry. "I mean there is the stories about....well... your outfit" he'd rather not call Satan's wrath down on him by saying the name, "It comes with....baggage". It was his turn to take a drink, pausing to swallow before a second deeper gulp. He drank fast as a rule, it usually avoided him saying anything stupid. "I mean no one denies it took balls going over the barricades at Ceres". Christ it'd been enough of a nightmare behind them.
     
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  9. Sophie Iverson

    Sophie Iverson Tell me your secrets

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    Sophie panicked instantly and fully at the mention of her outfit. She ran a hand over her sweater, smoothed out her skirt... oh.

    He's not talking about that kind of outfit.

    She tried briefly to give voice to her protestation.

    "That's not - the Office serves the interest of the entire -" and then cut herself off, recognising her defensiveness for what it was. She sighed to took a deep pull from the glass, gamely trying to at least keep pace with the Marine - though she suspected it might be a losing game.

    "I was sorry to leave you all behind. Sometimes I wonder if we should have stayed."

    They shared a moment, or at least Sophie had a moment with him, in an easy silence.

    She wondered about what she had said. Was it true that she trusted him?

    To some extent, I do, or I wouldn't have put this whole crazy thing together. But do I really?

    She continued to prod at the knot of her inner feelings with varying levels of effectiveness. She certainly trusted Krzysztof more, on a personal level, than anyone she worked with - who she kept at a professional distance in case allegiances changed in the future. Further clarity somewhat eluded her.

    She poured him another, then went back to her own. Maybe she could stay on a two-to-one ratio.
     
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  10. Krzysztof Wierzbowski

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    Krzy's face was impassive as Sophie began her defense of ONI. It was the usual reaction when an officer got worked up. Blank face on and you couldn't be accused of being insubordinate. Had your intelligence questioned yes but that wasn't cause for disciplinary action. She cut it off, settling instead for taking a drink. He didn't pass comment either way.

    He didn't quite know what to say when she mentioned staying behind. They'd arrived with some token reinforcements but gone over the barricades almost straight away. The marines had been left to defend but only the timely arrival of UN and MMC reinforcements had stopped the holdout being annihilated.

    "Well...you had your orders" he said, not much else to say. On the list of expendable assets, she was somewhat higher up the totem pole than an understrength platoon of marine infantry. "Thanks" he mumbled as she offered him a refill. He wasn't sure how acceptable this was. His NCO would flip out if they knew he was having cans with an officer. A navy officer. A female navy officer. A female navy intelligence officer.

    He decided he might as well chance his arm. "This isn't about Ceres...is it Lieutenant?" more of a statement than a question. It was out of character to see her so tongue tied.
     
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  11. Sophie Iverson

    Sophie Iverson Tell me your secrets

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    Sophie shook her head firmly but not unkindly.

    "I'm out of uniform tonight - this isn't a formal visit. Call me Sophie."

    She put down her drink again and took careful notice of the alcoholic dulling of sense that was beginning to creep into her. She was reasonably sure of her limits, and it was likely that even drunk she would not cross professional lines with an enlisted Marine - but it didn't hurt to be sure.

    It was, however, still an effort to press back against her red-blooded instincts. To distract herself, she thought back to Ceres. She let alcohol loosen her tongue slightly, knowing that she could blame a low alcohol tolerance later.

    "Perhaps it is at least a little, Krzysztof. You were there. Your platoon is now one of the most veteran units in the Corps."

    She lifted a hand, now steady, though for weeks they had shaken every time she had even looked at a weapon. Even now, in her dreams, she could feel the heft of a rifle as she brought it to her cheek, and the muted thunder of recoil going through her as she took a life with it.

    "You know what it costs to kill a man. Ceres... Vira."

    Paris, her conscience dared her to say - and then looked sternly at her when she failed to.
     
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  12. Krzysztof Wierzbowski

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    Krzysztof's expression stopped short of being pained. Call me Sophie, seemed too like what a mechanically cheerful shop assistant would say. It felt more like an order but it was ingrained. Calling an officer by their first name, especially one from a different branch, it felt worse than blaspheming.

    He gave a non-committal grunt, moving his hand in a sideways twisting motion. They'd certainly seen more action in the last few weeks than others. Some could go on a tour of the Belt and never do anything more exciting than garrisoning an outpost or doing routine searches of freighter vessels. "A lot of new faces too". Not quite a crack infantry outfit, more jaded at the moment than anything. Everyone had a breaking point. About Ceres? Was this going to be asking about ratting out that illegal killing?

    "Yep, women too" he said, there'd been enough of them at Ceres. One Belter who wouldn't have been unattractive if it weren't for the blood on her face and the spanner she was using to cave a marine's skull in with. He shot her at point blank range. "I mean...I usually don't think about it at the time. And it's in self defense...in a combat situation" he wasn't comfortable with this topic either.
     
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  13. Sophie Iverson

    Sophie Iverson Tell me your secrets

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    Sophie sighed and played a little with her hair, consciously using her fire control hand to do it. Her mind echoed with memories.

    "Ms Iverson to everyone else, but you can call me Sophie."

    The sea air had been blowing that day, and she'd tied her hair up with a rag. She'd wiped her hand carefully and come around the lathe to grab the coffees from his hand.

    "You can't be leaving here. I need you to step out of the vehicle and come with me-"

    He was young. Early twenties, perhaps, with the wide-eyed look of someone who had not yet become accustomed to the danger inherent to being armed. She'd not even given him a change to raise his weapon as she rolled her weapon into position and double-tapped him.

    She snapped back to the present and looked over at her companion. Guilt was written all over Wierzbowski's face, but she wasn't here to interrogate him about what. She sighed and tapped a short command into her hand terminal, causing the lights to flicker once while the normal surveillance devices powered down and went into a maintenance reboot.

    Thus assured that there would be no record of what was said in the next five minutes, Sophie fidgeted a little and summoned her courage.

    "There was a situation... downwell. A cop was going to... to blow the mission. I took him out. Two shots."

    She spread her hands out, even now expecting them to be crimson with the blood she had spilled. Tried to hold down a sob by strength of will alone.

    "Just a man in the wrong place, doing his job at the wrong time."
     
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  14. Krzysztof Wierzbowski

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    Krzysztof blinked when every light in the room went off for a split second before resuming normal functions. Sophie stopped fidgeting and cleared her throat to speak. He listened aghast, not quite registering it right. "You shot a police officer? On Earth?" it was equal parts disbelieving and repulsed. "What the f-" he cut himself off in time.

    He had no particular great love for the various law enforcement agencies, Earthside and further afield. Provosts, redcaps, local police, private security, they all tended to be cut from the same cloth. Some might be ex-service and willing to turn a blind eye. Others might have their batons at the ready, just itching for a chance to batter any off duty military getting over exuberant. By and large though, they were still in uniform, just like him. People just doing a job, they weren't the enemy.

    His eyes roved warily. "I...I really don't need to be hearing this" he said, taking a quick slug of his drink to steady himself. There were things that were need to know but he did not want to be privy to ONI sanctioned murders. Self preservation had to kick in sometime. He didn't want a bullet in the head or someone tampering with his vac suit before a spacewalk. "Thank you for the drink leftenant but I really should get back to my billet". He'd have been more comfortable in a lion's den.
     
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  15. Sophie Iverson

    Sophie Iverson Tell me your secrets

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    Sophie sighed and finished off her drink.

    "Yes, I suppose you should. You may as well take the bag as well as its contents, to save you some trouble when taking it back."

    Then she considered. The drinks were a favour for his time, but she supposed a further one was owed. The Office had recommended secrecy, but then, the Office always did.

    "One final note, just below the books. You may hear orders about a training mission on Ganymede. If so, know that my... 'outfit' is involved. No matter what happens, take heavy armour and a full battle load of ammunition. Night vision, if you can get the quartermaster to assign it."
     
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  16. Krzysztof Wierzbowski

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    Krzysztof's eyes widened as Sophie told him to take the beer and the bag. A casual handwave for beer that would have cost him a sizable amount of his paycheck. "Thank you ma'am" he said, disobeying her instruction to use first names. It just felt...wrong to say otherwise. He was hesitant to reach for it but the prize was too good to pass up.

    Her words stopped him. "Ganymede?" What did they want them there for? It was the breadbasket for the other planets, a mess of domes and defensive positions. Earth, Mars, and numerous corporations used it. They all had garrisons there to secure their mandates. Food from there was shipped nearly everywhere in the Belt. Were they replacing a unit there? Reinforcing one of the marine battalions already assigned to the moon? "A training mission there? I thought it's only garrison units that spend time there".

    Why were ONI going to be there? "Why do we need a full load of ammo if it's just training?" and since when did ONI take an interest in routine UNMC exercises? He didn't expect answers though her cryptic warning was just raising more and more questions.
     
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  17. Sophie Iverson

    Sophie Iverson Tell me your secrets

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    Sophie handed him the bag wordlessly. She had already said far too much, but refusing to say any more would only undermine her advice.

    "DESRON 19 will be undergoing an integrated training exercise in the region due to a convenient coinciding of patrol and resupply schedules. Regarding why you might need a full load of ammunition, one might reasonably assume that circumstances might arise where being fully armed would be useful."

    She hesitated once more.

    "You may wish to catch up with your old comrade while we're there. A... Lewis Masters?"
     
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  18. Krzysztof Wierzbowski

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    Sophie's voice had changed. Purposeful, direct, authoritative, just like an officer was meant to sound like. She'd answered his question without really answering it at all. It just made her words all the more cryptic. Any of the glamour of intelligence work had evaded him, he knew better to keep his head down and do his best to avoid it wherever possible.

    "Yes ma'am". He knew better to press the issue. Ask no questions and he'd get no lies in response. There was something very off about this whole affair and he felt like he'd heard too much already. He shook his head at her question, "Probably not ma'am". He came to attention and snapped a salute, "Thank you for the beer though, it's appreciated". He hesitated before his last words, "And the...well you know" he wasn't sure if it was a promise or a warning he'd received. All he knew was that he felt very uneasy about it. He gave an awkward nod and gathered the bag closer to him to leave.
     
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  19. Sophie Iverson

    Sophie Iverson Tell me your secrets

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    Sophie sighed deeply. She felt very tired and yet apprehensive, as if she had climbed a false peak and seen that there was further still to go. She shook the ultrahydrophobic glass off with a flourish and gave the completely dry piece of drinkware to Krzysztof to put in the bag.

    "You're welcome, though you may wish to ask your brothers in arms in general to be more discreet - and Private Fitzgerald in particular to be more careful when on door duty. You may leave, Private. I'll be seeing you again soon."
     

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