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Big Eyes, Small Mouth (BESM): Nexus Earth - Chapter 11.5.023 - Feathers of the Osprey.

Rebecca Baines

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0630 Hours

Somewhere in the Dalaraan outback, near the great northern forest

A red flash of fabric is seen in the sky over the grassland on the outside of the southern fringe of the forest. Drifting like a balloon in the breeze, looking like an umbrella with a dark speck under it.

Those bloody idiots dropping me here... not even with a standard survival pack. Damn crazy. Couldn't even use my usual flight suit for this... Ugh... olive drab. Not even the right tone... and just a Knife... damn... Okay Rebecca... time to BRACE!

The sound of scared animals scurrying and screaming is heard followed by Rebecca's cursing.

"I've had better landings..." She says, quickly taking off her parachute.

"Alright... obviously the forest is 100 meters away and it's barely sunrise... good time to start getting shelter set up first. Starting to see the logic... might lose your survival pack during your landing... just glad this isn't a nautical survival test... I'd probably drown."

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From above she saw three flashes of light, and quickly made out drop pods as they landed on the ground behind her. Two troopers, Grace and another man she'd not met, his nametape reading Ajax smiled to her. The third pod landed out of sight.

"So you're the Lieutenant who wants to learn how to survive." Ajax nodded. "We're going to wait here for 12 hours. That will give her enough time."

He smiled. Grace looked at her. "We all have combat knives. We have to make it through the forest in the next 72 hours, on foot, with each other and the knives."

"Someone will be trying to stop this."

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"Damn.. alright, take the lead." Rebecca says, looking about. "No time to collect whatever little we have. We gotta get under cover and quick."

"Right. Grace, let's move." Ajax says, gesturing to her to run.

"Come on, Lieutenant, or are you still wishing you had that fancy flight suit of yours?" Grace says, keeping up.

"Actually, that would be cheating now, wouldn't it?" Rebecca says, keeping up at her best.

Rebecca keeps up, thanking her light frame, lighter load, and time in the gym. "So... what are you guys experts in for survival? I mean I designed most of the safety equipment you guys use. I know you gotta know how to survive before you can make use of the gear in the first place..." She giggles. "...here I am prattling on..."

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"Sometimes the gear fails for whatever reason, or can't be repaired, and has to be abandoned. Then it's only what we have on us to survive."

Ajax nodded. "You need to be quiet. She's watching us already. Damn her enhanced speed. At least she couldn't have set too bad of traps yet."

Grace grabbed him and pulled him back, cutting the line that was at chest height, and virtually invisible. The heavy branch swung to the side, and easily would have sent him flying. "I see we're going a little "Looney tunes this time."


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Dammit and they don't want me to cheat... there's a bloody meta-being on us...

She hides behind a tree. 72 hours... I doubt I can last one...

She sees a thicker grove of forest ahead and gestures to Grace what she sees. Grace Nods and signals Ajax. There's traps here indeed... but the thicker foliage should slow her down easily. Just got to be on my toes... no... I gotta watch their backs too. All for one and one for all.

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Grace smiles. "She's going to herd us, just be on your toes."

Twelve harrowing hours later they'd all managed to get through the traps, and sat around a small fire Ajax had made the old fashioned way.

"Well that wasn't too bad. We'll sleep in shifts."

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"I'll take last shift. To make sure things are good... slept in before today." She whispers. She looks up at the trees. "Wish I would have taken some of that parachute... oh well... I wonder why I was para-dropped in while you two were drop-podded in... seems odd." She gets a pebble that managed to work into her boot out. She massages her big toe a little before putting the boot back on. "If it weren't for the running for our lives and the traps this would actually be sort of fun."

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"Let's not focus on that, Grace. Whoever that is... it'll take all three of us at our best to succeed. What are we facing?"

Ajax speaks up. "K-11, The Widowmaker."

"No bloody way... they sic'd her on us?"

"Yeah..." Grace sighs. "Someone like us... SPARTAN program."

"We better stay on our toes." Rebecca observes. "I'm just going to slow you down."

"No... you might give us an edge. You're the smart one here. Probably smarter than Grace and I." Ajax muses. "That has to account for something."

"What's her armor?" Rebecca says, Leaning foreward. "I gotta know."

"Sister is currently wearing Mjollnir MK-VI-Lambda." Grace says. "Optimized for CQC and stealth operations. Blacktalon squad."

"Sister? ...right..." Rebecca says. "Grace, you have first shift and Ajax... do the math. Once we get up we gotta forage."

All through the night, a dark crimson and black armor observed the three huddled around their fire like scared children. No one slept well. She decided to let them whittle themselves away tomorrow.

And on the next day they did. They found several grav-lift traps. Some they caught and avoided, but Rebecca twisted her ankle on one landing and Grace sprained her arm on another. All the while, they traded knowledge on finding prey, surviving off of the blood of their quarry and finding clean water... Rebecca made mental notes. Her demeanor was calm and it passed through the ranks. Eventually by the end of the day she had enough confidence to lead a final hunt, and scored what on that world would be a large deer. Rebecca ate well, after letting Ajax and Graze get prime cuts first. She knew that their genetically enhanced bodies needed more nutrition than her.

As they sat around the fire Rebecca started, she started talking. "You know... I'm the only combat asset SCRT-4 has... The reason why I took this training is so I can get into SCRT-4's Search and Rescue rolls so if I'm needed there I can be called on. A pilot like me would have more use saving lives."

"Really?" Grace says, fixing the bandage on her left arm. "You pilot that sailor suited mecha right? The Gundam class one?"

"Yeah... SeaTalon is her name." She smiles as she leans back. Her ankle feeling somewhat better. "I built her... well everything but my father's invention."

"Professor Shirasu Rathbone? Inventor of the D-Drive?"

"Right... you hear of him, Ajax?"

"Yeah... During our training from child hood we recieve a full education. He... was a visionary."


"I'm... sorry about your mother." Ajax says. "The fall of Shamballa ranks as one of the biggest military disasters of recent time."

Rebecca looks away. "I know... there's only two of my family left other than me... Kirumi, and SeaTalon."

"What?" Grace says, laughing at the inferrence that SeaTalon was family.

"SeaTalon has an AI. I'm not sure of what it's full persona is... it seems to be developing like a child would. But since I put the machine together and programmed her... I'm for all practical purpose it's mother."

"Yeah... AIs... Can't trust them if they go rampant." Ajax adds. "That's dangerous having her in that mecha."

"I'm not sure..." Rebecca says, lying down from the meal. "There is something... reassuring about her. Something I can't put my finger on."

The sound of a tree falling from a crack in the night startles the three. "SHIT! Here comes Sis..."

"Little cubs..." a voice rings through the forest like a ghost. "Little whelps... the wolf wants her toll!"

Another crash, this time through the encampment. The three scatter together into the night, hiding behind the trees. They see through the rising fire Kelly... her helmet off, eating a good chunk of leg raw, her eyes almost looking like they're gleaming. She sees them plain as day, and with her bespoked in her armor, she seems almost insurmountable.

"Damn... I hate when she gets like this... I hate training with her." Grace says.

"No... Just making a point children... I've been purposely taking it easy... your hell begins... now." Kelly says with a smile as what sounds like grenades goes off in the tree tops and bits from the top of the pines in the area start coming down. As the three tire they start getting hit by branch after branch, the needles and bark cutting through their flight suits and eventually their skin. The chase lasts all night and through the morning. By the afternoon, they were almost broken. Ajax already had a broken arm, Grace had several lacerations bound by bits of her suit, and Rebecca was wearing a makeshift bandage for her eye when a bit of tree smacked her in the face.

They hid behind an outcropping of stones, observing an open field in the center of the forest. It was their pick-up point... and Kelly was waiting.

"Damn... they won't pick us up with a hostile there." Ajax says.

"No... She's got us hooped." Grace adds, with a voice of resignation.

"No... she's forgot something... Noticed those times I was stopping to adjust my eye bandage?"

"Yeah..." Grace says, curious what Rebecca was getting to.

"I've been keeping certain electrolytes up with these leaves. Ajax told me about them during his shift up... I couldn't sleep. These have been keeping my mind sharp. And I figured out something."

"What?" Ajax says, happy he's taught a genius something.

"That particular armor variant has a notorious weakness. That armor was build light for SCUBA operations. One good strike to the back and the emergency surfacing system activates. It's the valve mechanism. It's too sensitive. I got a plan and if it works we'll have her on her back looking like she had a little too much in the commisary. But... I gotta ask something of you two... and... this is gonna hurt."

"What do you have in mind, Lieutenant?" Grace says, sounding at attention.

"I'll need you to rush at Kelly, play bullfighter with stick-and-move tactics starting off to get her attention. Ajax. I'll need your brute force skill to get her held down. All I need is 5 seconds and a well placed shot to the little handle area above the power generator on the suit..."

"You're not that strong..."

"That's what the pommel of the knives are for, you two." Rebecca muses. "You game?"

"You got it." Grace says.

"Yes, Ma'am." Ajax says, taking a serious, military tone.

"Good... then it's time to play the game..."

Grace rushes in with Ajax in the treeline waiting to strike. Rebecca collected Grace's and Ajax's knives before the fight. Grace uses her martial skills to strike and fade, getting Kelly's attention. Then Ajax rushes in. Bull-rushing her with a spear to Kelly's abdomen. When she hits the ground, Rebecca rushes in. As she does so Kelly does a kip-up and smashes Ajax in the face with one punch, knocking him out and breaking his nose. "NO!" Grace screams and loses it, swinging wildly with every punch in desperation she tries in vain to strike a blow strong enough to move Kelly. Rebecca strikes the spot she knew would work...

"Cute... Rebecca reads her technical journals..." She says, grabbing Rebecca around her throat and lifting her. "Ah... you have the daggers of your compatriots..." She says taking the daggers off of the belt of what was left of Rebecca's flight suit pants. "I modded this suit myself... I was fully aware of that sensitivity and replaced it."

"With a MK-4 valve array?" Rebecca barely squeaks.

"Yeah... why... hrrr..."

"I just shut off your oxygen supply..."

Kelly drops Rebecca and hurriedly takes her helmet off. Rebecca lands wrong and feels her right arm snap.

"Augh!" Rebecca yelps as Kelly stomps over and in one kick knocks her out. The sound of cracking ribs fill the air.Just as she gets the satisfaction, she sees every knuckle of Grace's right hand, plain as day, followed by nothing as she is concussed and falls unconscious.

Grace grabs a red stick strapped to the leg of Kelly's armor. Breathing heavily she pulls a lanyard and a signal flare goes off. Just afterward she too falls over from exhaustion.

An hour later the three wake up in an infirmary in the capitol.

"So..." Rebecca says, her arm in a temporary air cast, and a oxygen mask over her face... until she can get up to the Macross where the Doctors there have bone-weld technology. Rebecca also feels the broken ribs she contracted, bandaged up. "Did... I win..."

Captain Ruri walks over to Rebecca's bed. "You passed... barely. You survived the test and beat Kelly... no small feat. You barely passed because you were retrieved before the 72 hours were up so technically... that was a medivac. You lost half the points on that, but got them back for beating Kelly so... creatively. You three... you're a dangerous Trio."

Grace and Ajax smile, knowing that they're going to get their dings polished on the Macross as well.

"So... you're going to get some rest after this. Get healed up and replenish yourself." Ruri says. "It's my turn after this. I'm not going to say what this finale is going to be... just be ready for anything. Don't worry though, I'll wait until you're 100% for this."

Rebecca salutes with her cast-covered arm. "Can't... wait."

"Oh, you'll probably want to talk to Commander Owens of SCRT-4's Search and Rescue team. If you have interest in being an auxiliary if so needed... he's the guy to talk to."

"Thank you... ma'am."

Ruri smiles. "No... thank you... for proving you got a brain between those human ears."

Rebecca smiles back, weakly. "I'm... glad it's... there too."

Ruri then looks with empathy on her... "And... sorry about the eye... The... doctors couldn't restore the optic nerve here with what they had here..."


Ruri shakes her head and Rebecca looks down. knowing how this changes things. "I... understand." Life was going to be a bit harder from here on. She thought.

"When we get to the macross and after the rest of you is stabilized we'll begin the stem cell cloning process to get you a new eye." She says with a wry smile.

Rebecca rises and feels the zap of pain from her ribs. "You're such a child sometimes, Rebecca... You, Ajax and Grace will be picked up in the hour. They're saying you kids will be laid up for a week or two. Enjoy the rest."

Rebecca nods and gets comfortable again. looking up at the roof of the field hospital tent. "How's Kelly?"

"Outside of some busted teeth and ego... right as rain."

Grace looks smug on hearing that.

Rebecca, still looking up at the ceiling just closes her eye and rests.

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