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  1. April 4, 2013 / Day 1 Kyrstal The portfolio strap dug into Krystal's shoulder, heavy with the weight of vellum paper and hours upon hours spent at the drawing desk or easel. The marbled hallway echoed back a dozen conversations from other students as she made her way to studio 15; she had projects due by the end of open studio today and that meant less than a half-hour to get them turned in. Not that Tricia, her Advanced Art Seminar advisor, usually kept to strict timelines, but still, better to get them turned early than late. Slipping into the studio, the sounds fell away to the whisper of pencils and charcoal on canvas. A few fellow artists looked up when she came in, their expressions ranging from friendly smiles to jealous glances when they recognized the young rising star artist. Tricia straightened up when she came in, giving the student she’d been speaking with a pat on the shoulder before winding her way through the room to Krystal. The older woman tucked a stray strand of greying hair behind her ear and gave her a quick hug. “Krystal! You’ve been scarce the past week. Is everything okay?” “Fine, Tricia,” Krystal hugged her back and returned the smile. “Sorry, I’ve just been busy with deadlines. But! I wanted to make sure I got these to you on time.” She slung off the portfolio and held it out to her advisor. Tricia’s eyes widened in pleasure, taking the portfolio and quickly snapping open the latch. She held it open, fingers still nimble despite the many years of art and teaching behind her rifling through the nearly two dozen drawings carefully settled inside. Krystal glanced down, a small smile of pride sneaking onto her lips as she remembered working on each one until they were ready. The portfolio slipped, falling to the floor and blooming open, the drawings in the center waffling for a moment before falling one direction or the other. Krystal gasped and looked up to make sure Tricia was okay, but she wasn’t there. A strange staccato echoed after the fall of the portfolio, drawing her attention to the rest of the room. Pencils and charcoal were clattering against easel legs, saw horses, and tile floor. There was no one else in the room. ,, Helena “I just think you should consider it,” her mother pressed, sipping at her coffee and sitting primly on the white pin-stripe chair across from her daughter. Helena sighed and shifted on the couch in annoyance. The coffee was great, as usual, but the conversation was getting tiresome and repetitive. Her father had already abandoned the conversation on the pretext of making a run to the store for dinner provisions. “Mother,” she said, trying to keep her tone light, “counseling isn’t going to help. Ben wants something else, someone else, as a wife. We’ve grown apart.” She settled back against the plush cushion and tried to enjoy the delicate aroma of the coffee and arched a brow at her mother over the rim of her cup. “As his affair rather indicated. He’s just hasn’t accepted it yet.” “Lena, darling, men make dumb decisions when faced with a young, pretty face,” her mother waved away Helena’s retort. “He made a mistake and you punished him for it. Now he’s trying to make up for it, if you’d just let him. He came back to you.” She clucked her tongue, “Really, dear, you should learn how to be more forgiving. However will you handle when your children disappoint you if you cannot learn how to let go?” The same arched brow, three dozen years more practiced, mirrored Helena from across the sitting room. ,, The two women set their cups down on their saucers at the same time, far too similar in some ways to actually see eye to eye. Helena looked up from the coffee table to find herself alone in the room. ,, Adam The day had been a slow blur. He’d found bits and pieces – a name here, clothes there, and of course, there was Tulpa. The large dog walked obediently beside him, a comforting companion as he tried to fit the pieces together into something coherent. ,, He’d spent the first couple of hours in the apartment, hoping it really was his apartment. The dog had startled him, but he seemed friendly and he followed Adam around like…well, like man’s best friend. The name had been on the collar, along with the address of the apartment. After the sixth or tenth round of walking the rooms, Tulpa made his decision on what to do next by pawing at the door and whining to go out. He’d grabbed the leash and doggie bags on pure instinct, but it buoyed his spirits that the apartment was his. It took another twenty minutes to find the keys, but still. ,, Outside, it was bright and warm and slightly breezy. Tulpa trotted close beside him and wagged his tail, walking his human instead of the other way around. Once he’d concluded his business and the doggie bag had been deposited in a trashcan, they continued to meander through the apartment complex and then out into the general neighborhood. Yards and sidewalks were mostly empty, only the occasional car passing on the street. ,, He’d been hoping for someone to talk to, someone that recognized him or felt familiar. As nice as the sunshine was, the quiet afternoon was becoming more frustrating than pleasant. Tulpa barked suddenly as the minivan coming down the street failed to turn with the bend in the road. It bumped over the gutter, ran over a suburban lawn, and smashed into the front wall of the small blue house he’d passed just half a minute before. Kylie The office smelled of magazines and waiting people; it was a familiar smell, the smell of waiting rooms across the world. She’d already checked in and gotten her shot and was sitting in the semi-comfortable chairs, passing the twenty-minute wait checking her email and picking out a couple of recipes to buy ingredients for making during the week. A Whole Foods run, a stop by JoAnn’s for the fabric to finish out the skirt she was working on, and then home again. She smiled and told the tablet to compile the shopping list from the recipes; happy she’d actually gotten the dishes done last night and did a little straightening before heading out that morning. Coming home to a clean house and before sunset on an errand day was an accomplishment all on its own. The timer on the tablet chimed at her and she slipped it back into her purse, rising from the chair and making her way back to the nurses’ desk. None of the nurses were there, and she sighed in a moment of annoyance. Usually at least one nurse was out here; all she needed was for someone to check the injection spot and confirm that she wasn’t about to explode from an allergic reaction to the allergy meds. She tapped her finger on the desk, trying to see where the nurses had gone to. She glanced over to the paperwork desk, but no one was there either. Maybe there was some staff meeting? ,, She glanced around the room, but she was the only patient left. Frowning, she leaned over the desk and called out, “Um, nurse?” No one answered. The clock on the wall ticked loudly in the silence. Tejah He was babbling on again, something about trade tariffs and export laws. Not that he was really explaining what those meant, just complaining about how they cut into his profit margins. The complaints meandered into the strange smell of the American airport and the cramps from the long plane trip. He murmured to her that the hotel wasn’t far away and there was plenty of time before they’d be having dinner with his American clients. Tejah smiled prettily, acting just the right amount of interested and airheaded to make him happy. People were staring. They always did, but this time it wasn’t just at her breasts or ass. Mostly it was at her hair. And the clothes, of course. Not many “sailors” at the airport, and she certainly wasn’t wearing a regulation outfit. Or have bright pink hair. She saw one woman cover the eyes of her little boy and flush in either embarrassment or anger. ,, Tejah didn’t frown, but she did pull closer to her husband. He smiled, sure she was excited to get to the hotel and be everything he’d trained her to be. He slipped an arm around her, his hand brushing low down her back and his fingers playing idly with the large bow sewn on the back of the outfit. The mother wasn’t staring at Tejah anymore and her flush took on the bright red of flustered indignation. She had leaned out of the check-in line, and seemed about to say something as they passed. ,, Then she vanished. Tejah had been staring directly at her, tense at the impending snit between the disapproving mother and her husband, who certainly couldn’t care less about some foreign woman’s offended morals. And she, the child, and the husband Tejah had been clinging to just vanished. She looked around, turning to see everything around her in the concourse – everyone was gone. ,, A flash of sunlight on metal caught her eye beyond the glass walls of the gate she was standing next to and a moment later the floor rattle beneath her boots. ,, Mathis He’d arrived hours ago with a long layover before his flight home to New York that evening. He was tired, and as fun as Thailand had been, it was nice to be back in a place where he knew the local language and where he didn’t have to watch himself around one of his firm’s big clients. Right now, the booth at the airport Applebee’s, the cheap beer, and the mediocre food was a small slice of heaven. ,, The news was running on the TV over the bar; he’d been catching up on recent events and flirting with the waitress when she’d wander by. He checked his watch: still two hours to go before he needed to be at his gate. He looked back up at the news, hoping the segment on the purchase of Sprint Nextel was coming up soon. He frowned at the screen. All the ribbons with financials and teaser texts were still running, but there wasn’t a talking head to go with the inset picture of a large office building. ,, The inset flipped over to picture of a middle-aged man, text appearing underneath it to identify him as Nevil Calbrit, whoever that was. Still no anchor. He glanced around the restaurant to see if anyone else was seeing this, too. Plates and cups and food were sitting abandoned at tables and the bartender was missing. He glanced at the other TVs he could see, two showing reruns of soap operas and another running a baseball game. Except there was only one outfielder left to play the game and a handful of fans spotting the stands. The outfielder was staring around the stadium, then fell to his knees and began to pray. ,, The silverware rattled on the tables and Mathis felt a rumble through the seat of the booth. ,, Lily Airplanes were great, but airports were a bitch. It was hurry up and wait from this line to that one, even with the electronic tickets and check in. Open the suitcase. Take off your shoes. That’s too big to be a carry-on, miss. You’ll have to check it. Yes, we’ll be careful with it, miss. ,, After she’d run through all the mazes and done a few turns on the treadmill, she visited the water bottle and bought herself an orange juice to drink during the half hour before she and the rest of the mice could board the plane. She put in her earbuds for her iPod and dialed up a shuffle list of songs, settling back and grinning, thinking about Los Angeles and finally, finally, getting a good break. ,, After a half-dozen songs she pulled out the buds and sat up, expecting people to have already creeped up into an impatient line to board. The boarding gate was empty. Shit. Shitshitshitshit. Had she missed the plane? Had she really missed the damn plane?!? ,, She jumped up, scrambling over to the floor-to-ceiling window wall that looked out on the tarmac. A deep sigh of relief went through her when she saw the plane still sitting at the gate. There was still time! She looked around, trying to find an airport employee or a steward or someone that could take her ticket and put her on the plane. ,, Movement caught her eye out the window and she stumbled to the floor to the ground as a plane slammed into the runway behind the boarding and taxi area.
  2. Timeframe The Events of this story take place one week after Underdark Disclaimer Due to events that will play out, it is a reminder to all that this is a work of fiction. Any similarities to RL are either coincidental or used as "dressing" for this thread. The Macguffins are entirely possible. As such I need to remind everyone that NO, I don't know how such a thing could be put into action and even if it did, I don't have the resources to pull it off anyways nor have the reason to if I did. This is a game that uses much of RL in it's timeline. A game where we play the guys that stop the bad guys (hopefully). Now that this is out of the way, let's have some fun. -TG Morning 0800 Hours 60 NM from Pearl Harbor Kei walked about the flight deck of the USS George Washington, observing the waves and watching the Naval Aircraft that were being set up for take-off after refueling. Most of them Naval aircraft still on deck that needed to be transferred to some other ship, and a couple were emergency landings due to failed mid-air refueling. She stayed on deck wearing her flight suit that has become one-part costume, and one part safety equipment, with her cormorant vest on, making her look like another pilot, but with the design of the Devilion, it looked like she should be flying something that Connor would be acting in. She adjusted the vest, and looked up. She was expecting Karrie to arrive soon with the F-35N that was requisitioned for her use on this. She also wasn't used to not having May, her operator, present for the mission, as she was away in Japan working with her counterparts on later joint-exchange programs. That and May was doing leg-work on this mission on the ground, since the subject of the coming briefing was in regards to a Japanese cargo ship being Hijacked and Pirated from. She paced near the island, waiting for Karrie's arrival. The odd mix of blue jump-suited DSA crews prepping for KArrie's arrival intermixed with Navy crews in their gear was a jarring sight. But, Kei wagered that this would be the only way she would have ever been able to experience Navy life on a carrier or have a chance to be an aviator in the Navy. After all someone as short as her would be disqualified from most duties, or perhaps even be passed up for enlistment. She stretched out, and stepped back to watch a F-18 that was refueled take off on the catapult, the last aircraft to leave before the deck was cleared. Then it comes in over a loud speaker. "Attention Deck, F-35N #5 on approach, prepare for inbound VTOL..." Kei looked up and flew to the top of the island, and watched Karrie arrive. She had faith that she knew how to operate a high-performance aircraft for a Vertical Take-Off and Landing.
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