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[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Dante smirked as she pouted, watching as she was denied further investigation into her new interest, not able to pry out all the information she now wanted. He felt it was fair to leave it for a later date, as they had bigger issues at hand, though the brief tantrum he saw brewing was rather sweet. Her request however drew his interest only for a soft laugh to break free.
[+royalblue “Oh? Well, I suppose one.”] He commented playfully, moving over to her though he did cast a very brief look to Kashia, thinking better on being overly romantic or the like at that time. He offered the roseate woman a brief if loving kiss before turning away and heading off to do his final work whilst the others prepped.
For the next thirty to forty minutes the two women were left alone to talk and discuss anything they wished. None of the synths on board came to disturb them until as a duo Hex and Rias returned to the table, each taking a seat beside one another opposite from Kashia and Rhea. Neither said anything, merely watched the women with some interest, particularly on Rhea. Perhaps sensing this, Kashia did step forward with a light smile.
[+orange “Erm, do you guys want a drink? Do you even drink?”] She was quite blunt in her question, unsure of just what these people were and what that meant. She knew Dante drank and ate, but if these were like a different type of Dante then she wasn’t assured they would do the same. She had her answer swiftly as Hex turned her bright gaze on the girl and shook her head.
[+gold “Whilst we can and do consume nutritional additives it is purely in a social manner. However, we have no need for sustenance beyond recharge packs and occasional supplemental nanite injections.”] Her voice, whilst perfectly legible and coherent, was just that other side of uncanny and unnerving. The lack of inflection or change in tone and the droll, precise manner she spoke was so stark from Dante. For Rhea it would be a little more noticeable, as that is how he had spoken when she had first revived him, but for Kashia she only held up her hands and walked away from the conversation.
It was then that a klaxon began to sound, deep and blaring every few seconds, the lights of the ship dimming and flickering before cutting out entirely. After a second or two the blue emergency lighting came on, several of the tablets on the wall reading out error messages and lines of code began to take over the screens. The klaxon continued for another twenty or so seconds, neither Rias or Hex looking the slightest bit phased by any of it. They seemed to know what was going on and the klaxon soon shut off.
[+royalblue [i “Sorry.”]] A muted Dante said over the intercom system.[+royalblue [i “Just a moment…”]] The sounds of several heavy bangs and some muted curses followed before the blue lights shut off and the main lights returned.[+royalblue [i “Okay, who has the smallest hands? Kashia, how big is your hand? Raise it up to the camera.”]] There was a pause as the young girl looked to her Aunt, frowning in confusion before raising her hand.[+royalblue [i “No, to the left… your other left… hold still…”]] A few seconds of static crackled over the intercom.[+royalblue [i “Right, come down to bay four, I need your help. Apologies everyone, shouldn’t take too long.”]] The click from the system showed he had signed off without a word more. He could be concise when needed.
Kashia sighed as she let her hand drop to her side. Although she liked to help out with things and be useful, and she wanted to learn new things all the time, helping Dante seemed like the last thing she wanted to do – especially as it sounded like all he wanted was her smaller hands. It felt less like being helpful and learning than it did being used as a tool for something. Still, she marched from the room, leaving the duo at the table and her Aunt. The former turned their attention to the small woman in unison in a most disturbing manner.
His comparison was helpful in the way that it cemented the idea that he did not ascribe the common ideas of familyhood to his creation or brief upbringing with Hex and Rias. Given that, as she understood it, the gen twos were created to more closely simulate the behaviors and ticks of organic life she had thought there was a chance that this had trickled down into Dante’s construction, a chance to simulate parenthood as they had previously seen it, but it appeared not. That was no bother though. Rhea’s spirits were in no way dampened. In fact, this only made the situation all the more interesting to her. Her want to uncover the differences in Synth culture pre and post liberation was staggering. By her guess it was likely close to non-existent before Dante. But once there was a touch more freedom involved there was a solid chance something could have developed if they banded together in a community. It was likely a society built on nothing but numbers and logistics. The Pyrenian found it fascinating... even if it was just as probable that no such thing occurred, and Synths continued on in a more solitary manner.
Mouth opening to ask a few more questions directed in this emerging direction, Rhea promptly shut it when he mentioned time. That was a mild downpour on her parade. He was right, of course, but she was not happy about it. This was made obvious enough in the way her nose crinkled in a pout. [+lightcoral “Fine... I suppose it can wait for another time.”] But just as that implied, she would be there hounding him with twenty questions later. She had ideas to spare the other two... for now. If they stuck around, there was a fair chance they would be subjected to something similar. Their accounts would widen the scope of her understanding. Which is what she was always after, but she also wasn’t going to hound them after they just arrived. Even if it was maddening to have to drop the subject. The woman’s curiosity was clawing away at her. She was going to have to find something else to distract her from it. For the time being, Rhea thought her niece would do the job. However, she did have one more thing to ask of Dante. [+lightcoral “I will let you alone to do your thing, but I want something before then.”] While she could have easily just said what she wanted, the woman instead prompted him by looking up and pointing at her lips.
Thankfully, her childish behavior was rewarded. No doubt because the Synth knew it was the fastest way to move on and get to what needed to be done. A matter of efficiency, but Rhea cared little. She grinned giddily after the short kiss and joyfully allowed Dante to move on. The woman watched him go, still a little disappointed at having to quell her drive for knowledge for the time being, but overall not too mortified about it. With Kashia still in the room she was easily able to turn to her to busy herself with that instead.
[+lightcoral “So, how are you feeling about all this?”] She meant the mission, and not the relationship she had just been subjected to. Rhea didn’t really care to hear any of her opinions on that.
The young woman shrugged. [+orange “I don’t want to stay here for very long.”] Kashia had got a glance out to the port and people outside when their new friends came aboard and quite frankly, she did not like the vibes. [+orange “Doesn’t feel dangerous, just... not great.”] Tense would have been a great word for it, but unfortunately Kashia was not particularly great at describing this sort of thing.
The Shelvi girl’s description was not overly alarming. It probably was not a good idea for them to stay in any place for too long. So, Rhea just sort of nodded along. [+lightcoral “Alright, let me or the Captain know if that changes into anything more.”] In her coming here, they had agreed to take her instinct into consideration for the road ahead. It might not have always been right, but they needed any heads up they could get.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat With their meeting at an end, their new colleagues introduced and sent on their way, it was time for Dante to grab equipment and get things going for the mission. Most of it had been thought of prior to the others arrival, but he didn't want to have it all lain out on the table in some imposing manner, a stark reminder of what they were going to do that day. It was not as dangerous as what was to come on Pyreen by any stretch of the imagination, but to get caught here would jeopardise the entirety of their mission ahead.
Having half turned to leave for the small armoury the ship had, kept locked and secured at all times and not required except for their attack on the villa and now, he was stopped by the soft voice of Rhea. Looking back to her he took a moment to manage his calculations; he had time to talk. Returning to stand beside the table he nodded for her to speak her mind. Her questions were inquisitive and rightly so, though was this the time for the discussion? Perhaps not. But it was being asked, so he would oblige.
[+royalblue “You're asking if they are my parental units?”] He tried to put it into words she would understand. He had the Synth version, the one that made logical sense to him and others like him but that would just confuse most others. He felt he was right to not go with this answer though, as she asked about family dynamics in Synth culture.[+royalblue “Well, we don't trend towards traditional organic life given we aren't organic. My conception is the drawing of blueprints, my gestation period is the time it takes to retrieve materials and build me, my birth is when I am initially powered on, my education comes from the uploads given to me. In a way it is a parallel of what you and living beings experience I suppose.”] He offered a meek smile, that he might compare the building and programming of a machine to that of a child being born.
[+royalblue “In a sense, they are my 'parents', if that helps you understand. They conceptualised my physical being, they built me together, they gave me my consciousness and my education.”] It sounded rather simple to him but he could understand, given her anthropology background, that she was looking at him as a new species to be studied. In a manner of speaking, it was rather sweet.[+royalblue “When I was brought online I took a few hours to download all essential programs, though in essence I suppose I was 'on my own'. I required little monitoring beyond initial tests.”] He looked at her with curious golden eyes, interested to see her reaction.
[+royalblue “As for whether it is typical of Synths? No. As far as I understand I was the only Gen 3 of my kind to be given 'life'. There were others, though they were not made operational before I made my move against the Termani, though rumours exist that they were salvaged and brought online at a later date.”] He leaned against the table a little, pondering a few seconds on that thought that he may not be the only one like him alive. But it was quickly forgotten.[+royalblue “As for Gen 2's and Gen 1's they were built en masse, built to templates, so as a whole we do not have a family dynamic. I mean, if you want to go into more detail feel free to ask more questions, though I don't know if this is the time for you to do some research.”] He again smiled, glanced aside to her.
When it came time to meet these new crewmembers Rhea was both excited and anxious. However, she managed to calm herself by repeatedly telling herself it would be fine. She had met new people a million times before; there was basically nothing that could surprise her anymore. There was no reason to be nervous; she could just be excited to have someone new for Kashia to bother. But she was wrong. There was exactly one thing she did not expect and Dante managed to throw it at her: these new faces were what basically constituted as his parents. And their first impression of her was going to be that she was dragging not only their progeny, but also now them, on what could very well be a suicide mission. Great... Truly none of this should have mattered, she was not a child and she did not need validation from anyone other than herself when it came to her relationship. Not to mention she was no stranger to being disliked or even hated by her partner’s family, but it would have been nice to have a little bit of a heads up that this is what was going to happen.
Pushing all that aside, the woman remained calm and somehow got her niece to act like a proper functioning adult for long enough to make it through the introduction. It was a simple nod back, as they had done. Rhea often just mirrored what others did in these situations. It was a habit she had picked up from literal decades of working in her field of anthropology. Had she known anything more about Synths or where these particular ones hailed from, perhaps she would have taken more initiative, but for now she let things flow naturally until they were given orders and left.
Her four red eyes then fell back to her boyfriend just as soon as they were gone. [+lightcoral “I have questions.”] There was no anger in her voice, just a genuine curiosity and a pinch of bewilderment. [+lightcoral “Those two made you, I get that much, but what all does that entail? Was there construction and then you were on your own or was it more of a traditional nuclear situation akin to some organic life?”] Her curiosity was flaring, that much was obvious. But it was beyond just wanting to know about her significant other. This was starting to tread into anthropology territory and she could not help herself. [+lightcoral “Basically what is your family dynamic and is it typical of Synths?”]
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat If only this could be a very simple, very quick business affair that was wrapped up and dealt with as swiftly as she hoped. If only. But no, things had to be complicated. Nothing since meeting her had been straight forward and easy. A lot had to do with the Termani, thus why they were doing all this, but still the point stood that nothing was simple. Dante’s life had changed quite drastically from what it had been before she came along. Jax and Tera were gone, the girls were being reborn, he was all but living openly as a Synth – if it were not for his ship he would feel very much out of his depth.
And that was an odd thing for him to feel. Ever since he had removed and then reintegrated his emotional chip, life had been quite a bit different. From his relationship with Rhea, where he was much more open and obliging with his thoughts and desires, to how he talked with Kashia and did his best to try and accommodate her more extrovert personality. It was not something he had ever dealt with before, preferring to push such things to one side, but now he was giving in to it in an almost… happy, manner. It was most peculiar to the Synth man.
The final distance to the port where the first part of their plans would commence was a short and uneventful one. Kashia had several questions that he happily pushed off onto Rhea to mumble her way through, the trio’s evening meal often ending with her Aunt frustrating the young woman with [i ‘I don’t know’] and [i ‘we will see’].
The moment they landed at the station, offering falsified clearance codes to be given access and hide their real reason for being there of course, Dante made sure to advise Kashia to remain calm and keep herself in check.
[+royalblue “Once we have reached the station and cleared the information, then I will let you have a little time to explore – so long as it is viable.”] If they had to run and were chased back to the ship, then clearly she could not stop to purchase things along the way.[+royalblue “Until then, please try to remain professional and courteous to our guests.”] He couldn’t help but glance to her Aunt on that point, as if to say ‘she is your charge, make sure you keep her in line’. Nodding that his point had come across he sent their location to their two new members and a few minutes later he received notification they had arrived.
Down to the on ramp he went, keeping the others inside as he made initial greetings and then brought the duo onto the ship. Leading them into the mess hall he introduced Rhea and Kashia before turning to his contacts.
[+royalblue “This is Hex. She is a comms specialist and will be assisting with clearing the information from their system.”] Before them was a woman with dark skin, looking not much older than Kashia. Her skin was ebony brown, hair a mousy blonde and tied back in a short ponytail, and her thin figure was covered by a midnight black jumpsuit. Aside from two metallic cases in her hands, she carried little else with her as Dante moved on and nodded to the taller figure beside her.
[+royalblue “This is Rias. He is a level 4 pilot and will help get us in on Pyreen and as close to our landing site as possible to save my internal systems melting.”] He stood just a little shorter than Dante, with a lighter skin tone than the woman, closer to a mahogany shade. His head was devoid of hair and he wore a similar outfit to his partner, save for a few small pouches about his waist. Both inclined their heads on introduction, bright golden eyes looking across to the two women.
[+royalblue “Before you state the obvious, yes, they are both Synths like me, however, they are Gen 2’s.”] This almost sounded like a boast, as if they were simply inferior to him. In a purely comparative manner they were, but he didn’t say so aloud.[+royalblue “I helped them in escaping the Termani research facility after they constructed me.”] Although he said this in such a non-chalant way, this was tantamount to introducing his parents to Rhea and Kashia. They had built him, instilled him with conscience, programmed his initial systems and given him the autonomy needed to overthrow their Termani masters. It was a quick if formal introduction and he took two data-slates from his back pocket handing one to each.[+royalblue “These will show you to your rooms and your subsequent stations. Hex, be ready to go in one hour. Rias, familiarise yourself with the ships controls.”] And with that he stepped aside for them to go make themselves comfortable – as much as Synth could be – in Jax & Tera’s old quarters.
Rhea nodded along as she took in what he said. Made sense to her, and she was glad he took her suggestion. That would be three of them off ship, which seemed a good number, enough to look out for one another without having to worry about being too conspicuous to those around them. Knowing these smaller details made her more comfortable with what was to come. And Dante was right in his points about Kashia. Her safety was priority to the red-eyed woman, but the girl would go stir crazy here soon if not given the chance to spread her wings. Kashia had done almost nothing but clean since she got here, so the break was likely to be appreciated, if not necessary.
[+lightcoral “Sounds good to me. Hopefully it will be a quick stop so we can move on and get this over with.”] As much as the Pyrenian woman was fretting what needed to be done, she very much wanted to get it finished and out of the way. The results of this would determine whether or not they would be able to do anything against the Termani. To her it seemed the last option. If it did not pan out, she would probably be forced to give up until another possible opportunity arose, but who knew how long that would be. The Termani seldom slipped up. So, she was not looking forward to this next week or so, knowing that no matter how quickly they got in and out of the terminal they still had to wait for the holiday. She should have seen this extra time as a blessing; more time to brief the new team and prepare, but unfortunately it was just excess on the countdown for her.
Despite all these worries, the woman was able to remain reasonably calm. This was in large part due to Dante. His light stroking of her back was awfully nice, not to mention soothing. It allowed her to push all the stressful thoughts away for a while and just relax there with him. A peaceful moment between them before things became hectic again. No doubt when the girls finally reformed they would not have much time like this. Rhea was no expert in rearing children, but she did know that took up a great deal of time. Truthfully, she was surprised they had not emerged yet. Generally in the conditions they were being given it only took a week or two. So, something was off there. However, there was nothing they could do but wait, so she did not bother bringing it up. It would happen on their time.
The pair stayed like that for some time. Rhea was content to soak up his attention and admittedly almost fell asleep, which was strange for her. Eventually they did have to part to be productive elsewhere. She took the liberty of telling Kashia the plan for when they stopped at the terminal. The young woman was ecstatic at the news, however this lead to her bothering her aunt for details for the next several days leading up to them finally touching down at port.
It was time to meet these potential new friends.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Despite spending much time in the company of Rhea, often coerced into sleeping at her side even though he did not sleep, her warmth and ability to find comfort from his cooler figure was still a surprise to him. He had only thought to sit her on his knee so that he might reclaim his seat but she turned it into a moment for them to be together and he brushed his fingers along her spine slowly in a manner he had learned she liked especially if trying to sleep. Her questions were quick and fast, and he waited to see if there were any more before speaking.
[+royalblue “I will pay them for this mission to Pyreen and from there we will see. I was under the assumption that once this is done with, we will have to reassess the situation and see how best to proceed further from there.”] Maybe they would be done, their part in all this finished and no more needed. Perhaps they would be sent on another escapade, another chapter, another mission they couldn’t realise just yet. And maybe they would be dead, so why would it all matter? As for her other question, he was unaware he was meant to be going, but said nothing on that.[+royalblue “I will take Kashia if you think it is a good idea.”] It was the new Dante who took her advice much more often and without question. She knew people’s strengths and was a better judge of character than he, only focusing on calculatable facts and obvious truths.
[+royalblue “As for the mission itself, I will likely bring Hex. She is more capable with computers, is better equipped to hack them with her set of skills and knowledge.”] He brought his hand from her thigh to her cheek, brushing back some loose white hairs. It was growing longer, and soon he would have to start brushing or placing it in a ponytail lest it cloak her eyes like a curtain.[+royalblue “Additionally, she knows these data points better than I do, and anything that helps keep Kashia safe is better, no?”] He was asking rhetorically as he looked up at her, toying with her hair a little more between his cool fingers.[+royalblue “I am sure she will be happy to get off the ship for a little time. I don’t think she realised just how much time we spend travelling between places of interest than being at them.”] The poor girl had come for excitement and adventure – this was so far just a very long journey with a few stops along the way. Hopefully he could oblige her curiosity once this was over.
Rhea smiled at his odd perspective of time and couldn’t help but wonder what specifically they were ahead of schedule for. Was it touching down on Pyreen, making it to the terminal, or even his taking back his seat? She hadn’t a clue, but found it humorous all the same. That and being moved around at a whim, the petite woman was still getting used to it. But she was sure with time she wouldn’t pay his ability to effortlessly put her here or there any mind. It would just be a part of him, like everything else she had come to know and love.
[+lightcoral “I am certainly glad to hear that.”] She went along with his excitement, very much glad to have something to be excited about. Much of the time preceding this had been focused on doom and gloom, though lately there was talk of the possibility of a more fortuitous future. And that was despite the distinct bite of sadness and loss that still resided in her, fainter than before, but present nonetheless. However, other than the more chipper topic of conversation, there was something else to take delight in and that was his kiss and closeness. He may have just been expecting her to sit back and chat with him like a normal person, but there was little chance of that. Rhea quickly made herself comfortable, snuggling up against him with her head laid on his chest.
Once the woman was satisfied with her new placement, and confident he would move her if he was uncomfortable, she decided to continue on with the conversation. [+lightcoral “Sounds perfect.”] There was the urge to question how well he trusted these people, especially given her status as very, very wanted, but kept the inquiry in. If Dante trusted these people enough to let them on the ship, then she was sure they would be fine for whatever duration he planned on keeping them around. That brought her to another question, one she thought was better to ask. [+lightcoral “How long will they be with us?”] Really this was meant to uncover whether or not this additional pair would be permanent or simply along for the duration of the mission to Pyreen. Either worked, it was not like a ship this size required more hands, especially with Dante’s high rate of efficiency and absence of the need to sleep. [+lightcoral “And who all will be going to the terminal with you?”] She was unsure of whether he planned to take care of that or if it would be his new hack savvy friend. Either way she had her own opinions on this. [+lightcoral “Because I think it will be a good idea to take Kashia with you, just for the potential extra heads up.”] She got that out before he had the chance to tell her his own plans. Rhea simply wanted this to go smoothly, and that was more likely with her niece’s sensitivity, just like how they planned on Pyreen.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Her comment on Tera did not go unnoticed, being rather peculiar for the softly spoken woman to speak like that of anyone. Perhaps she was trying to protect Dante from any emotion fallout from this decision. Though likely, at least to his logical mind, it was the first step in separating herself mentally from the situation at hand and pushing it into the past. He often saw people try to put a mental barrier between themselves and things that affected them, a was to disassociate and therefore not take any blame. He didn’t think she deserved to think this way and seeing her eye the door with some small hope that the duo would return and demand to stay, he was close to saying something. But she was strong. Stronger than him. He wouldn’t interject just yet.
Moving to the bridge he made the necessary measures to secure the message to his contact from being picked up by the wrong receivers or being distorted along the way. There was no fond farewell made to Tera and Jax, rather they left the ship thirty minutes later with no further word. The moment they were off the ramp it was retracted and with no ceremony the ship was taken away from the station and out into open space. A final sweep of his checks and he set them on course, the lengthy journey to the hub where they would invade the Termani network would give them time to reflect and for a while it seemed it would be that way. The first week was quite formal and business-like. Rhea and Dante spent most days tending to the ship or discussing endless possibilities for problems that could arise – even debating the likelihood of a super-nova enveloping the system at one stage, though that was Dante’s means of trying to lighten the mood and distract her mind. In time he was getting through and, utilising Kashia’s more natural interactions with her Aunt, they managed to bring back the happier and more mellow Rhea. Their talks were less of ‘what could go wrong’ and more so ‘what to do when they succeeded’. It was a good means of Dante improving his conversation skills rather than spouting facts, figures, probability percentages and all other manner of Synthetic language.
Thus, by the third week, and only a few days from the Termani scanning port and it's lucrative terminal, things were running very smoothly and without any great incident. Dante came up onto the bridge idly scanning through a tablet in hand, lithe blue fingers danced across the glass cover and pages flashed up and disappeared in brief glimpses. Not having to hide his mechanical beginnings he was free to utilize his exceptional computer and engineering skills and thusly complete his tasks far quicker. He shuffled across to his seat though he paused to look down on a rose-skinned woman with white hair and bright eyes staring up at him. His pause did not come from surprise; she was meant to be here, acting as Captain and monitoring things as Tera often did. No, he was more just looking at her in curiosity.
[+royalblue “You’re still in my seat…”] He said in a flat, matter-if-fact tone, a statement and naught more.[+royalblue “Here, let me help.”] Narrowing his honey gold eyes on her he stood there for a moment more before leaning down, scooping her up in one arm and quickly taking back his rightful place at the helm of his own ship. He set her back down on his knee, the tablet clicked into place on the arm of his seat and he finished a flicking through several more reports before looking up to her.[+royalblue “There, now, how are you today dear?”] He asked in a softer and more natural voice, a gentle look in his gaze as he watched her. He leaned forward to kiss her cheek as his now free hand came to rest at her knee, a brief smile on his lips.[+royalblue “We are making excellent time, some twenty-four seconds ahead of schedule last I checked.”] Yes, to him, that was [i ‘excellent time’].[+royalblue "And I arranged for our two new members to meet us on the station to save a little more time."] He seemed a little proud of that.
Rhea did believe this would be the best option for keeping her focus on what laid ahead and therefore give them the best change at success, but that did not make it any less difficult. She knew that the extra pay from this next month of work and the mission ahead would give them a leg up in moving on with their lives, so it was understandable that they were upset when Dante gave them the news. She watched as Tera went from surprised to furious and it was not long before her brown eyes came to lay the blame on her. She was right of course, so Rhea did her best to hold steady in her resolve, though the guilt was overwhelming. And more than that the regret. Truly, she wanted them to stay, to keep her friends here at home where she felt they belonged. It took every bit of her tenacity not to look away or cave under the pressure. It was kind of Dante to pull the pink haired woman’s attention back to himself, even though it really was Rhea’s fault. She probably deserved to have to face the consequences of her decisions, but he was nice enough to shield her from that at least for a moment.
Watching the pair leave was the hardest part by far, especially with Tera so deflated. It was almost unnatural to see her that way. The impulse to speak up and change her mind was stronger than ever, Rhea had to bite her tongue to be sure nothing came out. The pain of that also helped to stay off any threat of tears. She was not going to cry anymore, at least not in front of Dante if she could help it.
Not long after the others were gone, the captain spoke up. His first statement was somewhat comforting. Though Rhea did not hear that he was also trying to convince himself since she was so caught up in her own feelings. [+lightcoral “I agree... she was determined to be derogative toward you, even though it was not your fault. We do not need someone like that around...”] That bit was true. Having Tera be so quick to tear him down and accuse Dante of having no feelings would not have been good for any of them. Even now, as Rhea was so caught in the torrent of missing her and Jax, it pissed her off. Tera was wrong, and the roseate woman had to go on knowing that she would never be able to change her mind. Though, she was certain it was worse for Dante.
When given the choice to come or go, her red eyes flickered over to the door. There was no chance the others would return. Not when they had been turned away without reason. There was no way for them to know they would have been accepted on the condition that they stayed as permanent crewmembers, but that also was not what this was about, and it was too late to change anything. So, taking solace in the idea of not being alone, Rhea opted for the latter. [+lightcoral “I would like to come with you.”] With that, she followed Dante to the bridge. He sent his messages out and it was not long after that that they set off. The Pyrenian was glad to leave this place behind.
The ship was unusually quiet from that moment on. It was in part a solemn quiet. No Jax or Tera to make a ruckus and no sounds of children running amok. Occasionally Kashia would do something or other that was disruptive, but without another boisterous soul to bounce off and rile up it never lasted long. Rhea was looking forward to when the girls reformed. She personally was not very good with small children, but at this point she was desperate for something to bring them a little closer to the normalcy she had come to know. Thankfully, she was able to spend a decent chunk of her time bothering Dante and ironing out details for their reconnaissance, so she never dwelled on it for too long.
Getting back to Pyreen from Fensome without the use of the wormhole was going to be a long trip. They were looking at just over three weeks of travel and given their deadline to make it back to the small red planet was in a little less than a month, they were cutting it close. However, there was a few days of leeway in there to make the stop to pick up Dante’s associates, handle the situation with the workstation, and deal with any small hiccups that came up between now and then. Anything more time consuming than that and they would be screwed, but for now Rhea was hopeful that they had gotten over the worst of the hurdles and everything else would go smoothly from here.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Dante understood her reasons and though he disagreed with them on a logic level – whether they left now or later did it matter? – he bowed his head gently in acknowledgement of her wishes. She accepted this was emotional, or illogical in his mind, and yet she believed it was the right choice to make. Who was he to disagree? He looked on this as very black and white. The subtle nuances of feelings emotions were something he considered inconsequential. And so, he would take her broader views and apply them directly.
Stepping away from her he returned to his place at the end of the table, hands folding across his chest as he waited for Jax and Tera to break from their own huddle. Perhaps they wanted to agonise over the wait, forgetting this was a Synth to whom time meant little. But, after a few minutes, they turned back, and Tera stepped forward.
[+royalblue “Having considered your proposal it has been decided… to decline your offer. You are invited to collect your belongings-“]
[+red “What?! Are you kidding me?!”] The look of incredulity on her face was obvious, even Jax looking rather alarmed by what Dante had said. Both sets of eyes drifted to Rhea, having thought this meeting was all but a formality really. Had she not invited them to come back?
[+royalblue “Whilst your skills are commendable, I feel it is best to end our partnership here and now.”]
[+red “Feelings? [i Fuck off]. You have no feelings! Which means you’re either sending us away for no reason – which is fucking typical of a damn Synth! – or she’s changed her mind and decided to fuck us over!”] Her eyes darted between the duo before her, her anger dripping from every syllable and hands clenched atop the table as if she wanted to charge across to them. Dante made a symbolic gesture of stepping before Rhea as the attention moved to her, taking back the focus and ire of the anthro.
[+royalblue “I am the Captain of this ship, and whilst I accept the advice of my crew, I alone make the final decisions. Now gather your belongings and leave.”] His tone had hardened and he narrowed his golden eyes on the bright haired woman, Jax coming forward behind her though there seemed to be a silent duel going on between the stubborn duo.
Staring at one another for a time neither wanted to back away. Thankfully the situation changed when Jax placed a hand onto Tera's shoulder, shaking her from her disgruntled mood as she looked back at him. He said nothing, only nodding his head lightly and tugging for her to accept this was the reality and their now former captain would not be swayed. He was difficult at the best of times, but having taken his displeasure he was impossible to coerce now. Head jerking back to Dante she turned her eyes further to Rhea, staring at her for a few moments before her shoulders sunk and, defeated, she turned to follow Jax towards their respective quarters.
Dante waited for them to walk far enough away, heavy footfall of Jax fading in the distance, before he let himself relax. His hands had been gripped rather tightly, ready to take on the dynamic duo should they have wished to make this more of a physical encounter. It was relieving that it hadn't.
[+royalblue “It is for the best.”] He said to himself, as if to steady his own resolve.[+royalblue “I need to send a communication to their replacements and arrange to collect them. Will you wait here or come to the bridge?”] He turned to Rhea now, a softer look on his face. She had an immense calming effect upon him it appeared.
Rhea was not expecting Dante to question her decision so pointedly. She knew that was just how he was, and that he didn’t really mean anything by it, but it was still rather hard to hear it all so bluntly. To be honest, she knew she was not really being ‘logical’ as he put it. Or rather that her decision was ruled by emotions. [+lightcoral “I did seek them out, but they did not come back for what I asked. They are still going to leave.”] That was really the heart of the problem for her. It was selfish, especially since the two of them were trying to do something nice by coming back at all, but the Pyrenian was perhaps being a bit petty now that she knew she would not get her way. She had tried to cover that up with other, less miserable, excuses, but it seemed those did not work for the golden-eyed man either. Maybe if she had not been on Dante’s case about just this sort of thing a short while ago, she might have gotten away with it. Damn.
Letting out a short sigh, she supposed it was time to be a bit more candid with her reasoning, though Rhea had been hoping to avoid it. [+lightcoral “It is not for their sake, it is for mine.”] As hard as it was, the petite woman held eye contact. It would have been easier to look away, but it would also belay the shame she felt. [+lightcoral “I still do not want them to leave, but if they eventually going to anyway, I would rather rip the Band-Aid off now than spend the next month with a false sense of hope that they might stay. I think it very likely that I will divert my attention from the mission ahead of us to trying to change their minds...”] Rhea thought it went without explanation why that would be a bad thing. [+lightcoral “So yes, I am thinking out of emotion, but I am doing so because I know those emotions are part of the equation. They are not going to cease to exist as soon as this choice is over. It probably seems counterintuitive to you, but I think this is the best decision for us in the long run.”] How he felt about all this remained a mystery to her. Dante had deferred to her after mentioning that he was okay with either option. She wondered if he really did not care either way, or if he had a true preference. For the time being he was in impartial mode, it seemed. [+lightcoral “I will understand if you cannot accept my reasoning and decide to take them on, but that is where I stand, logical or not.”] The red-eyed woman did not plan to hold it against him. She knew there were many good reasons to keep Tera and Jax with them for as long as possible, and that those might outweigh her reason for turning them away.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat With them pulled away, Tera and Jax quickly formed their own huddle. It was not to discuss anything overly important but to give them the semblance that they also had something to discuss. It was similar to a child copying another child so they perhaps didn't look as silly. Either way they muttered to one another as Rhea approached Dante and they talked.
Her response was most perplexing to the Synth and for once he openly showed his confusion, brow furrowing as he looked at her. It was an answer he had not expected. He had thought she would be delighted and agree without complaint and that asking her opinion would be all but a formality – though he did truly respect it.[+royalblue “Are you sure you are thinking logically?”] It came out rather blunt, a kinder way of asking if she was insane or lost her mind. But regardless it was also quite an emotionless means of approaching situations that Dante often took, though only with the hindsight that he was not a living organism did this approach make sense.
[+royalblue “Were you not the one who went out searching for them to convince them to return? Did you not seek them out to ask they not leave?”] That was his understanding but of course he had not been there. He wondered if perhaps this was just a show for him, to test if he trusted her opinion or her means of persuasion. If she got them to come back, it did paint her as a shrewd negotiator.[+royalblue “Are you perhaps thinking too much out of emotion? Yes this mission is dangerous, they know going to Pyreen is, but they have come back and offered to help of their own free will."] His tone was relaxed and level and how he looked at her reflected that this was being said out of concern for her. He wanted to make sure this was being done for the right reasons.[+royalblue "I just wish to make sure you are not turning down their offer through some belief that doing so is for their own good. I remember a certain woman saying the same to me not long ago.”]
True, she had taught him that he could not control others so easily as he did a ship or his own thoughts. He had removed his personality and emotions in some vain attempt to protect others, to escape from hurting them, was this much different? He wasn't sure.[+royalblue “I won't object, but I must ask one final time; are you sure?”]
The silence persisted again, and Rhea wondered if she would eventually have to butt in in order to facilitate the negotiations, but Tera did eventually come forth with their demands. It was sweet in a way, that they wanted to help her, though it was not what the Pyrenian really wanted. This was a temporary and fleeting reunion. It left her somewhat torn, though she could not help but smile, albeit solemnly, when Jax proclaimed he wanted all the cookies. Then she was back to waiting and watching, this time her gaze stayed set on Dante, interested to hear what he would say in response. However, instead of words or even a hint at what he might be thinking came a gesture. One motioning for her to come with him. This took her so off guard that the roseate woman simply blinked at him somewhat stupidly for a moment. But eventually she did get what he was after and followed after him with only a confused glance back to the others.
When they stopped, she listened attentively to what Dante had to say. He was leaving this up to her. And while normally she would have said yes immediately, something was holding her back. Brow furrowing as she sorted through what she was feeling and what she thought was best for the ship and the dangers of what was to come, the woman stayed quiet for quite some time.
[+lightcoral “I think... it would be better if they stayed.”] It was unlikely that was what he expected from her and Rhea knew it. She tried to think of a way to properly word why she came to this conclusion. [+lightcoral “Not because of what they want as compensation.”] Like he had mentioned, that was basically trivial. [+lightcoral “But because I think this is far too dangerous for them to do begrudgingly or out of some false sense of commitment. If their plan is to move on and start new lives, I would rather know they are safely doing that than risking themselves out of obligation.”] Rhea was aware they were on a fool’s errand, she still had hope that it would work out and things would go her way, but it was infinitely more likely that would not be so without something going terribly wrong first. Before this point Tera and Jax had many things tying them back to this ship, the risk had an appropriate counterbalance, but the red-eyed woman did not see that was so now. It was upsetting, because she truly did want the two of them around, this much showed on her face rather plainly.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Rhea's reaction was quiet, though the optimistic smile was not reflected by any of the other parties. Except maybe Jax. Though his natural expression was one of happiness and joy, he had been rather reserved and tried to avoid looking at anyone. Looking up momentarily on Tera's response, seeing the warm smile of the Pyrenian he couldn't help himself but to return the joyful look. Yet it quickly dropped again as he saw no change from Dante and he returned to a more solemn and subdued demeanour.
Neither the Synth nor bright haired anthro had said anything after her announcement and against it seemed they were in a battle of ego's. As Rhea suspected he did not want to be seen as kowtowing to the woman's demand, to be seen as overly eager to hear them so that he might dismiss or accept them whatever it may be. On the other hand she was weighing up everything she and Jax had talked about, what they agreed upon, whether she should go against it and increase or lessen their demands. Eventually, a half minute or so after last speaking though for all intent and purposes it felt much longer, she spoke up again.
[+red “We're only sticking around for her,”] though her gaze remained on the golden eyed Synth she did throw a nod toward his partner,[+red “meaning once she's done on Pyreen, once she's got her answers or whatever, we're gone at the next stop.”] There was an assured tone to her voice, her words having been spoken before and likely repeatedly. Dante, as ever, said nothing and showed no reaction. He looked positively impassive.
Yet anthro eyes turned to Jax, contemplating for just a moment on whether she should continue or leave it at that, but her blood was pumping now, the adrenaline running. She stepped forward to jab a finger into the table top.[+red “We want double pay for this mission too!”] Jax looked a little surprised but more sheepish on this demand. It was something they had discussed but not agreed to demand. He shuffled over to her, as much as a hulking man like him might shuffle, and leaned down to whisper to her. It wasn't exactly a whisper, quite audible to all present, but no-one interjected.[+red “Jax wants all the cookies too. All of them. Not just one box. If you don't agree to all of that, then we walk now.”] A token demand if anything.
Dante, hand's still clasped before him, kept his unwavering gaze on the bright haired woman for a little longer before finally there was movement, though only to her side and the towering figure of Jax. Seeing that attention had come to him, the larger man looked down, staring at the floor rather than try to meet the Synth's piercing gaze. After a few seconds he turned his head to Rhea and motioned for her to come over to him. It took a moment for her to either understand or agree, but he led her to one of the entrances where he could speak to her quietly – much more so than Jax had tried.
[+royalblue “I'd like your input on this. It is [i your] mission after all.”] He spoke in a soft but relaxed tone, quite calming and gentle. It mirrored how he had spoken with her back in her room.[+royalblue “I find the payment and other demands nominal at best, they are neither here nor there, but do you wish to have them accompany us? I should mention that I already have suitable if better replacements for their roles in mind, but I will defer to your wishes here.”] Although a little formal he was showing a lot of give in his overall command of this ship. If they were to have a relationship, and he was to trust his bright eyed partner, then it was not all about peak efficiency and productivity. She was the natural element to their relationship, it was important to hear her out.
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