Look for Mecha Roleplay.
In the year 2049, mechanized robots commonly called GEAR were developed for military application. Since then, their versatile functionality has led them to not only become commonplace in commercial use, but also spawned an entire sports entertainment industry. The prevalent use and popularity of GEARs has created a new academic field known as “Cenorobotics”.
Due to unforeseeable circumstances, you finds himself transferring to ACE Academy, a premier school for Cenorobotics studies in Japan. You struggles to find a team willing to accept you and your GEAR to compete in the intramural tournament. When compared to the sleek, robust, and advanced technologies of the Japanese counterparts, your search feels utterly hopeless. That is, until you finds a group of pilots just desperate enough for another member. This is where your story begins.
Half way back to his gear Leon looked over and noticed Tatsuya climbed into his gear. Cursing himself that he didn’t think about his feeling he ran over. He knew Lilly was a fan favor for most of the team but that didn’t excuse him form supporting him as well. “Hey Tatsuya.” He called out just before he closed his hatch. “I heard a lot of good shit about your piloting. Let see if the rumors are true. Just because it’s Lilly doesn't me you need to hold back give it everything you got.” He wasn’t good a team building but he had to learn and supporting all the team was the first step. He maybe Lilly teacher but he was part of the team first.
Once he sadi his peace he stepped out of the way and watched as he headed out. Their match would be first with Leon and Molly right after. Since Tatsuya would be the defending champion, he would go out first and show off with his opening music. After he did Lilly would come out and do the same thing. After that it would till knock out rules. Leon didn’t know how it would go as Lilly that the better gear but Tatsuya had three time the experience as Lilly. Would it be enough thought to knock out Lilly gear. Leon knew if it was him it would be a hard fight even with Lilly it would be hard. His rifle didn’t have the punch to damage her front armor and mostly her side. That was bad form most people as most people carried weapons similar to his own. Only weapon like Molly Heavy sniper rifle had a chance to punch that armor and that if she was lucky as nothing less than a straight hit would take it out.
“It going to be a crazy fight.” He said climbing into his own gear but leaving the door open. “Yea I wonder if anyone will even remember your and Molly fight after watching Lilly gear.” Roland said Pulling up the video form the fight he watched Tatsuya opening. Leon had to say that his entrains was very much on who Tatsuya was and fit him very well.
Lilly smiled as she was raised up to cockpit as she heard Molly form below. Leon song had helped for a minute but now she was back to being nervous. All she could do was give a thumbs up as she entered and closed her hatch. Taking a deep breath, she powered up and strapped herself in. “Hey Sora how do we look.” Sora appear on one of her side screens. “All system are at 100% and engines are all warmed up.” Nodding rolled her sholders as she started moving to the opening and just waiting short. She had a few minutes as she waited for her turn.
She taken a lot time to think about her entrance song. She wanted something that show her thought and her felling on how she felt at that moment. Once Tatsuya was done and they started to enterher song started play as she took one last deep breath and stepped out.
The stand was divided into section for today. One was for the main body anther was for all the team that had already played or team that would play later. A third that was closeted was for close friend and family as well and sponsors. This was where Mr. Vanham and Darjeeling were currently seated. Chatting quite as they watched Tatsuya. They know each other for a while even before Darjeeling meet Lilly. “He a hell of polit and quick I was surprised on how well his close quarters held up against my own. It could have gone on for hour in he hadnt been knocked out after one of his other members went down.”
He nodded. “Yes, most of Devil Bat are quite skilled and I’m interested in how well they will do. I’m most interested in if they can overcome themselves and support each other.” This made Darjeeling tilt her head.
“What do you mean.” She never understood how he could read people but he had a gift for it.
“Most if not all member of their team his hiding something. Pain, sorrow, hate, each other them have something and if they wish to win this year each is going to have to look deep into themselves and find what it is.”
All Darjeeling could do was nodded not fully understanding fully but if he saw something then it was there. “I see well I wish them the best of luck and hope we will see them do well. I look forward to fighting Molly again.” Just then the crowd quitted down as Tatsuya opponent was called out. The crowed waited with the breath held exited for what this gear could be. Everything had been mostly hidden until now even Darjeeling didn’t know what it looked like.
With one heavy step Seraphim walked out into the world light. The crowed was dead quited as the all looked at it. Everyone was shocked to see something so old and outdated. No one moved as someone said. “What a piece of junk.” Even Darjeeling smiled faltered a bit. Someone close by to her said. “Guess the great Molly has gone crazy.”
“I know who would think that something like that was a good idea.” Another voice said. Darjeeling looked angry at them but before she could say anything Mr. Vanham tapped her sholder and just said. “Watch.”
Just then music started to play. Unlike most people heavy rock metal or music, it was softer and caused her to smile as she recognized Lilly favorite singer.
Leon from his spot also laughed as he shook his head. Jack and bob laughted.
As the song opened and build up to the first chorus it felt like Lilly herself was sing to the croud and her team and just at the first chours. He hit the thruster and shot Seraphim full tilt around the field coving speed most light gear did. As the song played it it then felt more like the song was singing to Lilly then to her out. She used her thruster to dance around the field until at the climax of the stong she landed in her spot and hit the vent heat button and kicked up a dust cloud that coved Seraphim with the only thing showing what a red line the looked onimus to anyone looking in.
The crowed exploded into cheer and screams as they had just watched. O stood up and yelled that not possible. Other seemed stunned in shock. Darjeeling was on of them as she said. “What did I just give Molly?” This caused Vanham to busted out into a fit of laugher.
[h3 [center Leon's Group]]Ryosuke and Toshiya followed along as Leon greeted his gear with a kind word. While it did not have its own AI to justify such an action like Molly's or Tatsuya's; Ryosuke had encountered it enough to write it off. It made more sense with what Leon said next though. This was Ryosuke's first time working with a joiner firsthand, but he had done his research in preparation to help Leon with his Firefly. The synchronicity made Ryosuke think the humanization of the gear helped Leon's mental state.
[b “Sounds easy enough.”]
Just as Ryosuke had done research in order to help Leon with the mechanical side; Toshiya had done research to help with the medical side. Given the complexities involved he wanted to be sure to account for Leon's joiner status. It did not seem to have a tremendous impact on the variables that he would be looking at today, but one can never be too careful when it comes to health. Especially not when your boss is a terrifying tiny woman with connections.
[b “Just a routine checkup. Long as your vitals don't pop any red flags that is.”]
[h3 [center Nijiko]][b “That's plenty.”]
Nijiko kept a friendly face on as she ran through the routine checks on Lilly. She did her best not to make the young woman any more nervous, although the fact Lilly had gotten through Molly's training though made her wonder about what was making her so nervous. Molly was far scarier than she was she hoped. Despite that negative though Nijiko kept up her friendly face even as she wondered if her bedside manner was up to par.
[b “I know you're nervous, but don't worry I don't bite.”]
She did make sure to take those nerves into account when it came to Lilly's heart rate. It was higher than she'd like it to be, but that was easily enough explained by how uncomfortable Lilly had seemed about the whole procedure. There was only so much that can be done to counter that.
[b “Your heart rate is a bit high, but if you can calm down before your match you should be good to go. So try to take it easy until then.”]
[h3 [center Tatsuya's Group]]Between Bunta, Tezuka, and Tatsuya the pre-fight checklist for him and the Kerberos was almost too easy. Tatsuya was in perfect health thanks to his lifestyle which made Tezuka's job easy. While the Kerberos having been a part of the team for so long had been wonderfully maintained throughout its service life. Especially as Molly was usually the one to maintain it.
Although Bunta would be the first to tell you that it could be annoying to work on given the complexity of the design. It was modeled after Sabrina Nikolic's gear after all. The Golden Goddess' gear was known for being one that had inspired imitators, although it was rare to see someone stick so close to the original design. Most people found it too difficult to pilot a gear that complex. Tatsuya's extremely polished orthodox style suited the complex gear perfectly though as his all around skill worked well with the versatile machine.
[h3 [center Molly's Group]]Between Molly's good health and the Red Death's magnificent maintenance there was little difficulty involved in their pre-fight checklist. Which left Yumi the opportunity to recap the conversation with Mr. Vanham. She wanted to know what Molly thought of such an expert saying something so disparaging about the team that she had worked so hard to build. There was also the fringe benefit of possibly angering her. Angry Molly Mushanokoji was always a force to be reckoned with on the field of battle, and if she was angry for being underestimated behind the controls of her gear that was almost certainly going to help her even more than usual.
Molly did not respond as Yumi had expected though as she maintained a calm smile throughout and even laughed at certain points. [b “What's so funny?”]
[b “Do you think a team with a major flaw could make it to the podium?”]
Yumi rubbed at her chin. Her response carried none of her usual confidence though even after her moment of deliberation. [b “I wouldn't think so?”]
Molly grinned. [b “It all depends on your definition of major. Last year we had a glaring weakness that could be exploited by any team with the right tools at their disposal that noticed it. Which is why we lost to Darjeeling. She was smart enough to notice it and had the personnel necessary to execute a strategy to capitalize on it. This time it'll be different.”]
The rest of the work continued even as Yumi pondered over what Molly had said in an attempt to figure out why she was so comfortable. Mr. Vanham was as powerful a sponsor as they come. After such an insult she would usually be fuming mad and ready to knock someone's lights out regardless of their background. Now she was happy as could be.
[b “Did something happen while you were with Leon?”]
That was enough to get Molly's smile to falter. [b “No.”] Despite her denial her face flushed at Yumi's question enough for the AI to notice it despite her poor angle. A tilt of the head showed Molly that she knew, however she also knew not to press. She would just have to cheer on Leon's success another time as they returned their focus to the last of the checklist.
[h3 [center Molly & Tatsuya]]Molly joined Tatsuya at the Kerberos after she got done with the pre-fight checklist for herself and the Red Death. Only after she saw Leon was with Lilly though. They would be the first two up and so she wanted to make sure they both had someone in their corner before the fight. It also helped that she knew the rest of the team would offer support to Lilly. Tatsuya had been an important part of the team for far longer than Lilly, but all the new recruits liked her better since she was more sociable.
[b “You aren't going to go give Lilly a pep talk?”]
[b “Leon's got it handled.”]
[b “So you came to give one to me.”]
Molly raised an eyebrow at that as she smiled. [b “Have I ever needed to give you a pep talk?”]
Tatsuya just chuckled at that as Bunta signed off on the Kerberos. Molly gave a nod to the senior mechanic as he made his way out of the hangar which left her alone with her longest tenured teammate. She made sure they were alone before she spoke up again.
[b “I know you're going to go out there and do your best regardless of what everyone else has to say about it Tatsuya. Lilly's the favorite of the rest of the team she's got her cheerleaders. You deserve to have someone in your corner for this fight too; even if this is just an exhibition match for the team.”]
[b “You're telling me everyone is rooting against me except for you?”]
Molly shrugged before she flashed a confident smile. [b “Hasn't it always been like that for us?”]
Tatsuya smiled at that line as he put on his fire suit. Just like him his suit was plain enough to not draw attention' also like him it had quietly done the job that they asked of it. His simple style complemented Molly's bravado well. He was a good enough teammate to help elevate the team to the next level, but humble enough that he had never asked for the spotlight. Which worked well with Molly.
[b “Just go out there and do what you do. You've never failed to do what I've asked in the past so I don't expect you try and start now that we've got more reliable teammates.”]
[b “I'd never intentionally let you down.”]
Tatsuya bent down at that to give Molly a quick peck on the forehead. His act earned him a playful shove to sternum that was strong enough to knock him off balance even with his experience. The two broke into a small fit of laughter at that which eased the tension. After it died down Tatsuya donned his helmet and boarded the Kerberos to step out for his match against the lovely Lilly.
Molly was quick to get out of his hangar space after that as she wanted to at least say something to Lilly before she headed out for her first match. It may be an exhibition, but it was still her first. That mattered to some people so Molly wanted to make sure that she said something in case it meant something to Lilly. One of the components of her leadership style. Even if things like that may not matter all that much to her she was not going to fault one of her subordinates for having stronger feelings about it. Especially not Lilly given her circumstances.
She had to smile as she managed to catch Lilly in time. [b “You're going to do great out there. Just remember what you've practiced when you go out there and be the star that we all know you can be. No worries.”]
Tatsuya had experienced fights before so the talk for him may not have been necessary, but Molly felt it was a beneficial one given Lilly had the support of the rest of the team. Even with their support though Molly was there for her as well. She would make sure to be available to help her get comfortable since this was her first fight and it was against a tough opponent. It was only right that Lilly be in her best condition. That could mean showing off more of her secret weapon than she would like, but at the same time it could be a very strong announcement to the rest of the league about who would be top dog this year.
Lilly gave a smirk that made Leon know that someone was behind him before he heard Molly voice. Flinching as she spoke his face went red luckily she could see it with his back turned to her. Lilly just gave an evil smile back at him. “That just mean.” He said once Molly was way.
“You started it.” she stuck her tounge out at him.
“Did not I just said what it looked like. You tricked me.”
“All is far in love and war.” With that she rolled away to the meeting with Molly and the rest of the team. Leon was quick to follow shaking his head. He would get her back later but for now work was to be done and he was more than a man word.
Everyone was quick to group up and listen and even quicker going their separate ways with their teams once all was said and done. The trip to the hanger was quick as it wasn’t very far from the festival and everyone found themselves in the temporary hanger bay for teams to use before matches. As they had walked along Lilly had asked Molly for a private check up with a female doctor or nurse. She didn’t say why but played it off as being nerves. Lucky Molly had let her as she let out a heavy sight but still seem nerves at the two left.
Bill looked a bit upset. “I had hoped she come more out of her shell but baby steps I guess.” As he got to Seraphim, he found Jack already there working on a computer. “Hey how everything looking?” Jack didn’t even look up from his work. “So far so good on my end. Sora and the big guy check out on my end. You’ll have to look on stuff but we should be good for a start when every you're done.”
“Sound good to me give me a second.” Bill to a seat at his own work station. “Did you load the sling pods?” The sling pod where a set of six pod that the team got to load any extra weapon or ammunition that the team would need in a fight. Most of the time people didn’t need them but people that used laser weapon couldn’t reload and need a who knew gun. So, in the middle of a match a support team could launch a pod into battle that could resupply them. Seraphim need something similar but a bit different. Since Seraphim used both hands to battle it couldn't reload. Not that needed too the weapon held metric fuckton of ammunition. No, they had come up with the idea to fire new weapon to help Seraphim to adapt to any fight.
“Houston we are go for launch.” Bill said once everything was done.
“Copy that powering up main engine now.” Slowly a winding noise started to fill the quite room as the turbine engine started to spine after a short few second a small boom could be heard in the engine as it kicks itself to life. All running light start to come on until finally a long red line on the face mask came on give the gear the gear a look of monster awaking form sleep. Fist bumping the two men went back to work as the load roar noise went to a softer hum noise.
Leon led the group to his gear that rested closet to the door. Looking up at his gear he let out a small smile. “You ready girl?” He asked it not caring that he was talking to himself. He been through a lot with this gear and it took a lot for him to get it out of the army. Turning to Ryosuke and Toshiya he nodded. “You will have to first let me plug myself in. I don’t know how much work you have with joiner but we have to be connected before we do any checks. If not, you just see how the everything doing by itself not how her, Roland and myself are doing.” He gave them a few second to proses this before he continued. “Most what you are looking for on the mechanical side is any lag between my movement and firefly.” He pointed to a book that he had gone to help show other what it should look like. He knew how good of a mechanic Ryosuke was but he wanted to be safe when it came to this kind of thing. “If there is a lag just adjust the those setting til it matches my movement. I shouldn’t be too far off as I checked it the other day”
With that he closed his eyes and reached out taking control of his gear. The feeling for anyone that could join ways was different. For him it felt like home, a safe place that no one could pull him from. In here he was ruler and no one could take that away from him. ‘How we looking?’ He asked as he felt Roland also enter the connection no longer were they two different entities now they were one. ‘We are golden take us away.’ Smiling he opened his eyes and rolled his shoulder. The gear copies his movement at the same time. “Okay doc what do you need from me?” The only thing that would be out for Leon would be that his eyes went from blue to yellow. A side effect but nothing that would hurt him.
Lilly felt nerves as she entered the room with the doctor. Not because of she was in bad health but because more of what she was afraid she would find. Lilly had many secrets she wanted kept and if this girl saw something, she found wired she would tell Molly and then thing could get bad. Slowly she nodded as she pulled up her sleeve to her elbow but no more. Her arms were a bit scared but lucky they seemed like old scares she could play off but if she was to pull it up anymore, she would show of more resent injuries. “This is good right?” She asked hoping it would be good enough. Everything would seem fine except for her heart rate witched raced a bit fast as she tried to hide what was underneath.
Over the year Lilly had gotten good at lying and hiding things form her brother and people around her but she didn’t know how much she could hide for a doctor that was looking at her. The whole reason wore a style that involved long skirt and long shirt was the fact that she didn’t want them to see her skin. She played it off as showing less made people more interested but the fact was that she was hiding from the world.
Once everything was said and done some body came by with the information of who was fighting who and when. Leon gave a smile and a shake of his head. “It was bound to happen.” He said as he look at the order. His and Molly fight was last with Lilly and Tatsuya just before them. The other member would fight it out setting up who would be the runner up to the main team. Lilly looked nervously at her paper at who she was fighting. She was fighting someone who knew what they were doing. She felt like she wanted to throw up.
Seeing how upset Lilly looked he walked over to her and patted her shoulder. “Nerves?” He asked with a confident smile.” Looking up she nodded and open her mouth but stopped when she noticed his eyes and his stance. It was completely different then when she last seen him. Finally, she found her voice. “Terribly but it seems your just fine. Does it get easier as time goes on?”
Laughing he shook his head. “God no I feel the same thing you are I just know how to hold it. You get good at hiding it.” Lilly nodded as she then noticed that Leon hand was shacking badly.
“How do you do it?” She asked. “Calm yourself down I mean.”
“I listened to music mostly.”
“O maybe I should get myself some.”
“It helps me but there one song that works the best for me.”
Smiling Leon pulled out a his phone that started to play music but what shocked Lilly was that Leon started singing. “Another mission. The powers have called me away. Another time. To carry the colors again. My motivation. An oath I've sworn to defend. To win the honor. Of coming back home again. No explanation. Will matter after we begin. Unlock the dark destroyer that's buried in me. My true vocation. And now my unfortunate friend. You will discover. A war you're unable to win.” His voice was stong but quite at the same time singing only to her and anyone close enough to Lilly to over hear him. In the end Lilly did feel herself calm down a bit.
Once the song was over, she smiled and hugged him. “Thanks Leon.” Ruffing up her hair a little he nodded heading back over to his own gear plugging in his head phones to pump himself up.
Molly was just walking by with the last components of the booth that belonged to her personal collection when Lilly baited Leon. She cocked her head at Lilly as Leon reported on their day together. Despite the nice words that Leon was using to describe her and their time going around the festival together; Molly kept a poker face that would make a professional gambler jealous. Still she waited until he was finished before she spoke up.
[b “Flattery will get you nowhere Leon.”]
Molly gave him no time to get a response in edgewise before she made her way to the truck with her box. Since she was quick to signal the team for the next phase before he could. They had time before the exhibition match, but Molly knew there was an important task for them to address first.
[b “Time to go over your pre-fight checklists now everyone. Satsuki you're with me. Bill and Tezuka you're with Lilly. Ryosuke and Toshiya you're with Leon. Bunta and Nijiko go with Tatsuya. Everyone else can finish the tear down of the booth, and will be on standby for the match.”]
The Devil Bats pre-fight checklist was a few dozen entries longer than the league standard as Molly had designed it herself. She also required a routine checkup for the pilot to guarantee they were in good condition. Especially this year as they had backups available to go in case one of their pilots was not in good enough health to compete. Although she had it last year so that she could account for it. A flaw of their lack of backups last year was that they had to go out regardless of their condition, however Molly was at least a good enough leader to step up in their virtual absence.
Since Bill was the primary mechanic for the Seraphim it made sense to assign him there to handle the Seraphim's checkup. Satsuki just had to handle the list itself for Molly given her engineering experience. Ryosuke was the most skilled of the mechanics which made him a sensible choice to go over the Firefly with Leon given the short time he had been with the team. While Bunta was the most experienced mechanic to round out the group.
The medical side of things was led by Tezuka which explained why Molly assigned him to the pilot with the most health issues, and who she had the most concern for if she was being honest. Satsuki was enough to handle Molly's checkup as she had trained in that field prior to becoming her assistant. Since Tatsuya was the healthiest member of the team based on the preseason checkups; Molly was comfortable assigning the less experienced Nijiko to him. While Leon got the more experienced Toshiya on account of his unique health issues and his greater apparent comfort with men.
That said Molly would hear Lilly out if she requested one of the female doctors to handle her checkup. It may just be a standard blood pressure, temperature, et cetera, but comfort was important. She had taken it into consideration for Leon after all. However she would only make a change at Lilly's request given Tezuka was the most trusted member of their medical team. It was the reason she trusted him to run it as she did for Ryosuke with the mechanics.
Not unsurprisingly she did make that request; along with one of privacy for them during the actual procedure. Since Bill would be able to handle the prefight checklist without her that was easy enough to accommodate. So with a quick word Tezuka headed off with Tatsuya, and Nijiko went off with Lilly to where they could be alone for the checkup. Molly just hoped that there was not an issue she was unaware of leading to the request.
[h3 [center Leon's Group]]Ryosuke was quick to bring out his tablet to handle the checklist as he trusted Leon to be no nonsense about the prefight check. He had to have done this hundreds of times before in the military. Plus he was the most likely member of the team to have seen firsthand the results of what can happen if you ignore your prefight checklist. That would go unmentioned by Ryosuke though as he knew it would be a bad memory if there was one.
[b “Is there anything in particular that you are concerned about regarding the Firefly or will our standard set be sufficient?”]
While Ryosuke got started with the checklist for the Firefly; Toshiya got his kit prepared to check up on Leon. Toshiya was a middle aged man dressed as a very sterotypical doctor with thick horn rimmed glasses. He made sure to have a friendly smile on his face as he made a careful approach to Leon to make sure that the young man was aware of what he was doing.
[b “You are alright with a quick checkup right?”]
[h3 [center Lilly's Group]]Nijiko was a young woman not much older than the college student pilots themselves, but she did have a full medical license. One that she was happy to present if asked. Given her young age she made sure to wear a lab coat as otherwise she was prone to being underestimated by her clientele. She left her hair loose though to maintain a good bedside manner.
She was the newest hire to that side of the team as Molly increased their budget to account for all the additional team members. It was partially her bedside manner that earned her the job. While Tezuka had handled things well when it was Kenta, Molly, Tatsuya, and Yohei; the current generation of the team was a bit less rough. Which meant a softer touch was of benefit.
[b “Don't worry about a thing Lilly this is just a routine checkup. Molly just wants to make sure that nobody is hiding any obvious injuries before the fight, and that everyone is up for the rigors involved. Nothing out of the ordinary.”]
[h3 [center Tatsuya's Group]]Tezuka was a man in his mid thirties whose most obvious features were the severe scarring on the left side of his face and the odd streak of white in his otherwise black hair. It gave him a unique look, but he was highly touted by Molly. The fact that he had also been interviewed to be her grandfather's personal physician could attest to his skill as well. Befitting his skill he dressed in a nice suit and lab coat combo.
Bunta on the other hand was what you might expect of a mechanic. A middle aged man with a bit of a wrinkled look who dressed almost exclusively in t-shirts and jeans. He was Ryosuke's first hire though as Ryosuke had experienced his mechanical work firsthand. They had worked together in the past when Ryosuke was still competing as a pilot along with his brother Keisuke and had a good working relationship.
Since Tatsuya knew them both well by this point his was one of the easier checklists to go through. All of them were the types to just bury their head in their work and so there was no small talk to distract them from the task at hand. Although there was some whistling as Bunta had to adjust a few sensitivities for Tatsuya.
[h3 [center Molly's Group]]Molly's checkup was the fastest as she readily sat through the work done by her assistant Satsuki. Since she took good care of herself there were no abnormalities to raise any red flags or require any additional screening before the match. Which allowed her and Yumi to set to work on the Red Death. Between the two of them it was an easy task on its own, but Satsuki's presence made it even easier as she could note down what the two found for them.
Leon nodded as Molly explained what Lilly and Darjeeling “I see she must think highly of you to send someone as sweet and energetic as Lilly.” The idea caused him to laugh a bit. “I guessing she couldn’t get Lilly on her own team so she did the next best thing. May sound mean but I glad she couldn’t. Once Lilly catch up to the rest of us in skill, I don’t think I could beat her in a gear like hers. It maybe old but the work that went into it is crazy. Firefly has a few surprises but nothing that could equal Seraphim.” The idea of going against someone ask skilled as Molly or himself inside him would be scary and Lilly wasn’t that far behind them.
As they walked, he noticed her smile before she said something and he knew he had let something slip. How would she react or act if she found out. Would she shoot him down tell him that it would never happen or accept it. He wasn’t even half the man he used to be but in his mind that was good. He would probably been told to fuck off if he had come into the first meeting like he would have a year ago. Did it matter no. He was just happy being close to her even if she didn’t remember him.
“What can I say I just want what best of you and your dreams.” He shrugged only to have a voice call out in his head. ‘Cheesy as fuck’ but he ignored Roland as they kept walking. He noticed however that Molly body laughed told more than her voice let on. It was then his own turn to be tipped up as she commented about being a dog. He felt impressed but could help but burst out laughing. “Yes, a loyal chained dog and so fair it not that bad.” It was parsley a joke but mostly true. He had always been chained by someone. First it was his father then the army and now her. He tried to turn the teasing back on her. “Maybe but then you couldn’t deny that I was yours. O and make sure it matches my eyes I think they by best quality.”
He could help but laugh at this. Yes, it was embarrassing but the outlandish idea of a collar on him was so silly. Her comment gave him a bit more confidence to push back. “But I don’t think I’m the one in our relationship that need a collar. Maybe you should have it so I have something up pull on to rain you back in when you go off the deep end. Some of the story I heard make it sound like it wouldn’t be a half bad idea. Plus, after your outfit today you do make a cute dog.” If he went a bit too far he was ready for it as it was only fair after what she had poked him with.
Lilly and Darjeeling spend most of the afternoon shopping and having a fun time. Lilly wanted to go on almost every ride and see any show she could. He high energy would make it hard to keep up with but Darjeeling seemed to have little trouble. By the time it was time for Lilly to start heading back to the hall she had almost two full bags of stuff.
“Did you have fun dear?” Darjeeling asked as they got to the front of the stall.
“Yes, I so glad we got to hang out and thank you again for coming.” Lilly said turning around.
“I’m glad and I wouldn’t have missed it for the world but do remember what ever happen during your match I won’t ever be disappointed in you so go do your best.”
Nodding happy Lilly smile couldn’t get any bigger. “I know will you be staying around for the matches and the dance afterword?”
“What kind of friend would I be if I left and yes I cleared my whole day so nothing will take me away today.” She patted Lilly head.
Beaming she nodded. “Okay then I see you after the matches.” After a few more goodbye Darjeeling left leaving Lilly with flutter in her chest.
“What no kiss goodbye?” A voice as softly behind her causing her to let out a cute ‘eeeepppp’. Whirling around she found Leon with a smile on his own face and a raised eyebrow. “whatnowenotlikethatwejustfrinedand” Lilly yelled forcing hard to get all the word out at once much to Leon amusement.
“I'm kidding I’m kidding calm down.” he laughed as he watched her work herself into a frenzy. It took a minute for Lilly to calm down but once she did, she wasn’t amused. “That wasn’t funny.” she said. “I don’t swing that way plus she only a friend.
“Don’t swing that way or haven't tried and from what I saw you two are more than just friend.”
“NO.” she yelled.
“Okay okay.’ He laughed again.
“What about you did you spend the whole after noon with Molly?” She said turning on him.
“Yep and I had a blast.” He smiled. “And no nothing happened we just happened to want to see the same things.”
Lilly frowned as she looked at him and then passed him. Molly wasn’t that far away and maybe she could force him to say something that would embarrass him and get pay back. Eyeing Molly for a second hoping she could get her to walk over there she laid her trap. “So, what would you say you enjoyed about hanging out with Molly?”
Think that they were alone he answered true fully. She already knew that he like Molly so what was there to hide. “Well she so smart about gear and interested in them that it kind of cute to watch. She has interesting friend and great sense of humor. Plus, she got good taste and music so put that all together in and afternoon and I had a blast. A time like I haven't had in a long time.
[b “Nothing that dramatic. They have been friends for a while and Darjeeling knew that we were looking for new recruits. That and she knew about the team from last year. We may be bitter rivals on the field of battle, but she knows from firsthand experience that I at least follow the rules of engagement.”]
She did have to snicker a bit at the idea of her having Darjeeling owe her a favor. None of the people in her black book of that ilk were anywhere near as wealthy as her though, but they were at least far more willing to get their hands dirty for her. Kuroda being the first to come to mind in that regard with his motorcycle gang. They were probably the reason that Darjeeling caught on to them needing team members so quickly since they helped spread the word out so far.
Molly did nothing to hide the smile that came up from Leon's little act of servitude. She would be sure to remember that one for a while as it would be sure to serve her well in teasing him the next time Roland got uppity. Although she had to admit the loyalty was nice. Even if it came with a not so subtle implication of her being a bit of a slave driver when it came to her team. Lilly would probably agree with it.
[b “That's a good reason to want to keep that from spreading around.”]
Molly grinned at his quick thinking even though she was confident that she knew what it was that he was doing. It was partly his mentality towards the team that made her think they could go the distance this year. Despite only being a part of the team for about a month he had already bought in far more than Kenta or Yohei ever had last year. The fact that he went so far as to help coach up Lilly was proof of that.
She stumbled herself though at his last line as she struggled to keep from breaking into a laughing fit. [b “A loyal dog bound by chains. Do I need to get you a collar Leon?”]
[h3 [center Later]]The rest of the trip through the festival went well enough for the two after Molly stopped teasing her subordinate. She couldn't say if he enjoyed the experience, but she did enough for the two of them. Enough to get her mind off the fact that Ootani had bought her a manga that he did not feel comfortable spoiling in front of Leon. Tomorrow she would get to find out what was so funny.
Back at the booth the crowd had dwindled enough that Molly did not mind closing up shop to give them a bit more time to prepare for the exhibition matches. It may be a meaningless match, but Molly was always keen to show off. Especially since it would be Lilly's first real taste of competition, and Leon's first taste of competition as an official Devil Bat. She wanted to put on a strong performance for those reasons.
[b “Got a minute?”]
[b “What do you need Ryosuke?”]
[b “Mr. Vanham came by to see Lilly before she went off with Darjeeling. He is apparently looking to sponsor a different team this year, but he said that he only wanted to sponsor a winner. Yumi and I tried to make the sale ourselves. Unfortunately he didn't seem to bite on any of our offers and after he watched your match against the twelve seed last year left after saying he saw the biggest flaw in the team.”]
Ryosuke raised a hand to keep Molly from interrupting as he continued the recap. [b “Bill said it was because he was particularly interested in our team and that he'd watched all our matches multiple times. Claimed that he would have known everything about our team. Suggested we should think about what Mr. Vanham said about the team since Bill had only known him to be wrong a couple of times. I wanted to make sure you were aware of what happened in case he makes a reappearance.”]
Molly just smiled and gave a nod before she went back to the work of taking down their booth. An action that left Ryosuke waiting for a longer answer. One that was not to come though as Molly carried on packing up Yumi's computer components after having her transferred over to the Red Death. Ryosuke just went back to work though knowing he could ask her more about it later. Well or ask Yumi about it as she would certainly ask Molly about it while they wait for launch before the start of the match.
[b “Alright gather round everyone. Are you all ready to show the world what the Devil Bats can do on the field of battle? Anyone who isn't better get ready for an ass kicking.”]
Leon raised his eyebrow at this? What could possibly be in a book that would get a man that big worked up that he wouldn’t tell Molly. “Whatever.” He struggled as he went back to watching Lilly and Darjeeling walking away. Roland was nice enough to fill him in with a quick report. “An all-girl privet school that cost more than a year of what Apartment dose. That crazy how did Lilly find some from that school and no less than the school captain.” He had Roland do a quick information run on her so he could know a bit more if the ever ended up talking. “Dam I thought your family was rich.” He laughed a bit after the net worth of her family came up. “Her family ranks third in the world. She is the hair to a lot of money no wonder they do so well.” The last part of Molly comment made him a bit shocked. “Wait she the reason Lilly here? Did she owe you a favor or something and if so what did you do to gain a empress?”
Going on with the talk he found it funny that he didn’t even get a choose in the matter. “Seems my hand are tied.” He laughed holding is hand together in front of his body. “I’m prisoner until released from my chains.” He would have said she had him wrapped around her finger but he was afraid of letting his feeling slip even a little. “It was nice meet you and best of luck.” With another handshake he ran off.
He took his time as he walked in line with Molly making sure to keep his pace down so she wouldn’t have to run again. However, what she said almost caused him to fall flat out on his face but he was quick to catch himself. “aaa.....” He said trying to quickly come up with something. He tried to be quick on what he wanted to say as he didn’t want her to think she had the upper hand in there talk. “No not really.” He said keeping close to the truth without giving it away. “There is someone I like yes but I don’t want to cause any problem for you. I been told that the news has it in for you so causing any unnecessary rumors wouldn’t be good for you.” He hoped that answer her question. “I'm just looking out for what best for you. It matters little to me of what people think of me as I know who I am but when it comes to the team and you, I need to act my part. A loyal dog it seems.” He joked trying to get her off the last conversation.
As Ryosuke and Yumi talked about what had just happen a voice would cut in at the end. “Don't feel too bad that just how my father is.” Bill walked up with a bag of water and handed on to Ryosuke before take one himself and leaning against the wall. “And to behonest I never seen him happy with a talk with someone like that in a long time.” He laughed a bit at the expressions they gave him. “He a hard man to read but trust me when I say you impressed him, he just got an odd way of showing it. He knows a lot more about you then you think my father doesn't offer support to teams he doesn't research before coming to such event. He had every recording of every battle you had and watched them mutable times. Profiles on every person that has worked for the devil bat for more than 24 hours. If he involves himself in a team, he has makes sure he researches every part of that team. He wouldn't have come to you if he didn’t believe that you could do it. Remember he been doing this since Gear were released to the public. The first company that started in a bedroom apartment to the leading of part industry.”
Taking a sip of his water Bill went on. “When I first started being a polit he didn’t support me as he said that I would never be a good pilot. It crushed me my own father telling me that I couldn’t do it. His exact words were ‘Son you will never be a good pilot. You are too hard headed and don’t like violent that much. Your heart will never let you be a good pilot no you be better at supporting on then as one.’ To hear this form your own father is kinda crushing. I didn’t beleave it at first and I tired to show him that I could be but in the end I wasn’t that good I lost a lot of my matches and end up angry at myself but then I found out what Jack was doing. Rebuild my father first and only gear. Soon after I joined him, I found the love in build fixing and programing. Two year I told him that he was right I was better at building and taking care of a gear then piloting one.”
“He knows what he talking about when it comes to people and their ability's. Last year was the only year my father didn’t get the team he wanted in the company. He wanted to support you guys but he rest of the board told him no that support an unknown and new team was a bad idea. They vetoed his vote calling him an old fool. His last word on the matter was “I will watch and laugh as the team I want destroy all of your jobs.’ Later that year he watched as Molly destroy three of that team members by herself knocking them down to number four. He then fired the hole board laughing as he did. There a reason that he been on top 9 out of the 12 times. You may not know this as he was much smaller then but six of the years, he supported a team was the original Devil bats. Take his opinion to heart I only seen him wrong twice.” With that bill smiled and when back to handing out water to the rest of the team.
Molly was quick to pick up on Leon's sigh of relief, but she kept her mouth shut about it for the time being. It did make her wonder if she had misinterpreted some signals though. She was confident enough of her memory though that she would be able to test that theory out a bit more later. Especially with the prime potential for teasing that he had given her.
While Molly was comfortable with the wait to find out it seemed Leon was not. Ootani was about to burst into laughter again at Leon's question, but slight pressure on his foot from Molly's kept him from it at least enough to give an explanation. [b “I can't tell her in front of you. Sorry.”]
That violently grabbed Molly's attention. Unfortunately she knew that if the tactless Ootani was hesitant to tell her in front of Leon there was a damned good reason for it. Given that a change of subject was in order. Something that Leon provided whether knowingly or not by pointing out Darjeeling and Lilly making their own way through the festival.
[b “Looks like they're having a good time. That would be Darjeeling she's Lilly's friend, captain of the number two team from last year, and the one who knocked the Devil Bats out of the running. Only to run into a buzz saw the following round. She's a good person though and the reason that Lilly applied to join the Devil Bats in the first place.”]
Molly went on her tiptoes to keep an eye on them for as long as she could, but her lacking height meant that it did not take long for them to get out of sight. They did seem to be enjoying themselves from what she could see. Which was the most important thing as far as she was concerned since she knew if the team had sent her out it was after she had put in plenty of work.
[b “I think it best we not interrupt them. We have our own destination that seems different than theirs anyway after all. Thanks for your help Ootani.”]
[b “Are you sure I can't talk either of you into joining the American Football team?”]
Molly smirked at the invitation. [b “I'm too short to play quarterback and it would be unfair to put me at running back. He's already signed over his rights to me and can't compete to avoid any unnecessary risk of injury. Already had to get a waiver for his job.”]
Molly did give her old friend a hug goodbye though before they went their separate ways. With him making a beeline to the next tough looking individual to walk into the hall to make an appeal to them to join the team. They had apparently gotten a little desperate to be sending him all over the place like that. She would address that later though only if he asked her to as for now she had a couple of different objectives to deal with as they made their way forward.
[b “You seemed pretty relieved to have people not think you are on a date with me. Got a crush on someone at school that I didn't know about?”]
[h3 [center Booth]]Ryosuke and Yumi both traded knowing glances as Mr. Vanham gave his short speech before he made a quick departure. All they could do was shake their heads once he was out of the room though. [b “Did he really just try to suggest that he knew a glaring flaw in our team after a quick chat and watching one video? There was no way I was going to make that sale. I cannot believe that someone that successful is still so prone to confirmation bias as to ignore just about everything that we said.”]
[b “If it makes you feel any better Ryosuke, I do not think Molly would have kept herself from shouting.”]
Ryosuke snickered at that for a moment before flashing her a smile. [b “Thanks Yumi. I did what I could at least. Molly won't be happy about what he said, but there's not much we can do about it now. Maybe if we had managed to keep Keisuke and Naomi around.”]
[b “I know you would like to have your brother here, but do not blame yourself for his absence Ryosuke. He chose the path that he did for a reason. Trust that he made the right decision for himself even as we beat his team for the second straight season.”]
That put an even bigger smile on Ryosuke's face. [b “He would have been a lot more helpful than Kenta and Yohei is all. I know he's allowed to make his mistakes though.”]
Yumi nodded sagely before looking around at the trickling crowd. [b “Well we still have work to do. We can discuss this with Molly after we are done with the exhibition.”]
Ryosuke nodded at that before getting back to work. By this point of the festival there were not many sponsors coming through to see their booth as it was priority number one for most of them. Especially after news broke about Molly's interesting attire. A benefit of it was that they had the lead in social media mentions by a landslide compared to the next couple of teams at Ace Academy. They were still attracting new patrons though thanks to word of mouth and Satsuki's selling points.
Leon did as he let out one heavy breath. “All good see no need to worry.” He smiled quickly calming down. “I’m just a bit jumpy sorry. Old habit dies hard and I haven't had the long to adapt.” He felt bad for Ootani as he didn’t want to force the man to change on his account. “It fine really Molly.” He said trying to wave off what had just happened.
Leon let out a sigh of relief as he was able to disclaimer his date with Molly. Not that he would mind but he would have taken her somewhere amazing had it been a date. Where he didn’t know yet but he would find something. “See just friends. We headed to check out the other teams before you ambush us.” He smiled. He took step back as the other started talking about Manga. He wasn’t big in into Manga as he never had the time to just sit down and read. He watched a few anime’s but that was because he could run them in the back ground without stopping what he was doing.
Leon raised an eyebrow at his laughter. He found it an odd thing to laugh to especially since it drew attention to the three of them form the people around. He took another safe step back just in case if Molly tossed the big man again. Smiling he found that funny so how. “What you can't just tell her now?” Leon asked. “Quite a bit of build up for no punch line.” As they stood around talking he noticed just over the crowed Lilly being pushed by some girl. Poking Molly he pointed the two out to Molly. “Seems they chased her off too. How is that by the way?” He hadn't seen the tall blond woman before. Thought he could tell she was Japanese ether. The two didn’t seem to notice them as they kept going down the path way.
Lilly noticed that she had worked herself up and had turned what had been them try to be nice into her over reacting. Blushing supper hard she turned away. “Fine I guess I go.” She crossed her arm but found it hard to be mad and move at the same time. “Thank you thought.” Turning she rolled out of the building feeling quite silly and a blush still on her face. “Dam it Molly this is your fault.” She would have never reacted like the before if Molly wouldn’t have said studied thing when she was talked. Now it was hard for her not to think everyone wasn’t doing the same thing.
“And what did Molly do my dear?” A voice from behind Lilly. Jumping a bit, she slowly turning around she looked to see Darjeeling standing behind her. Blushing deeply at being found at Lilly tried to throw up a front. “O um she just um took my cookie from lunch...” She tried to play it off. It was a horrible lie at both knew it.
Lucky thought Darjeeling didn’t just it as she said. “Lying is good for you skin dear.” But after that she dropped it. “Know are you free to see out our engagement for today?” Lilly had learned a while back to understand her friend fancy speck. “Um o yes they were nice enough to give me some time off to look around.” Lilly sadi thinking back on what had just happened.
“Good then what shale we go see first.” She asked grabbing Lilly chair and leading the way. Darjeeling was one of the few people she was okay with pushing her. She hated being pushed as it made her feel weak and helpless but when one of the people, she trusted did it was different. “Let go the clothing and sowing area. I want to see if they have any cute clothing.” And like that they took off.
Back at the booth Mr. Vanham watched the video but didn’t say anything or even move. He just watched. One thing came to his mind thought. “It is indeed impresses but there is no I in team.” What she had did was indeed impressive no one could deny that but that didn’t stop him from seeing the biggest flaw in the team. “I been doing this from day one and I still one major flaw in this team. I won't point it out as that out because as a team you should learn how to spot it as a team and fix it.” Again, his face didn’t change or even give a hint of what he was thinking. “We shall see your resolve soon then.” And with that he turned and left glad that he had come.
Molly gulped when she saw Leon's reaction to Ootani's surprise. She went to pat him on the back, but recoiled as she wondered if that would only make the situation worse for him. She had not considered how he might react to Ootani since he was not the one that was being attacked. It did bring to mind something that Lilly had mentioned to her before though which only made her want to comfort him more than her original inclination.
[b “You're alright. Take some deep breaths. Everything is okay.”]
Once Leon seemed to right himself Molly turned her strongest glare at Ootani as she mouthed [I never again] to him. She did her best to hide the act from Leon though as she turned a more stoic expression back to him. He had said himself that he was not fond of being treated with any special gloves after all, but she was still keen to keep him from going through unnecessary hardship. Her expression softened though at the sight of the two men shaking hands.
Ootani gave a wink as Leon whispered that drew Molly's attention, but her interest changed to shock at Ootani's response. She took a quick step back at that and put her hands on her hips as she let Leon speak. He was quick to dispute the claim that they were on a date which was technically true, although she had considered the possibility that he would roll with the suggestion. The fact that he gave a firm rebuttal made it easier on her at least.
[b “I'm enjoying walking around the festival with him, but like he said it's not a date. We just happened to have the same free time and figured we'd check the festival out. He wanted something from the alley so we're taking the best way to loop back through to the Gear team section.”]
Ootani had a dawning look of realization as Molly explained and mouthed an apology to Leon about halfway through. He also bowed to the both of them after they both firmly denied the date. Whether it was the truth that they were on a date or just them wanting to keep the relationship a secret he was happy to oblige.
[b “If you want to make it up to us you could tell me where the manga club put their booth this year. I don't see it around.”]
Molly's question sent Ootani into a loud fit of laughter that drew some attention from the surrounding booths to them. Despite the audience Ootani's laughter fit only grew more raucous. Especially as he spotted Molly's growing confusion at the sudden and surprisingly loud outburst from the large man. It took a few minutes to pass and left him crouched on the ground to catch his breath.
[b “They sold out already.”]
Molly glanced around at the crowd that had turned their attention to them who seemed to mostly lose interest at the revelation. A bit too quickly for a few though as they seemed quick to get away from the scene. Something that left her a bit unsettled as the few that kept their eyes on them seemed to shift about a bit uncomfortably as they watched the scene.
[b “Why is that so funny?”]
Ootani started to laugh again, but a firm grip on his shoulder from Molly got him to stop much faster than before. [b “I bought a copy before they sold out since I didn't think you'd be going around the festival this year. I'll give it to you tomorrow and you'll see what's so funny.”]
[h3 [center Booth]]Satsuki and Yumi traded glances as Lilly worked herself into a bit of a furor about the suggestion she take some time away from the booth. Even with the traded glance they made sure to keep a neutral expression though as Lilly spoke. They both did put their hands up in a conciliatory gesture though after Lilly jumped to empty threats against the two of them.
[b “I just thought since she came all the way out here to see you that you'd like to spend some time with her,”] Satsuki said with a soft smile.
[b “My only intent was to suggest you get to spend some time with your friend without us getting in the way,”] Yumi added. [b “I apologize if you took it to mean I was suggesting anything inappropriate. The offer stands though Lilly.”]
They made sure that Lilly was alright with her decision before they went their separate ways to deal with the remnants of the crowd. Since Ryosuke was busy with Mr. Vanham it left a bit more on their plates. Although nothing like what it was during the morning when Molly was bringing in people by the dozens and they were the hot new thing at the festival. The stanchions helped too though in managing the steady flow of patrons.
Just as Mr. Vanham had left the floor to him; Ryosuke was happy to hear out all of his concerns before he spoke up again. Although he did mouth to Yumi to calm down as she started to get a little heated at the comments. By the end of it he was grinning from ear to ear at the opportunity that Mr. Vanham had presented to him. He had expected Mr. Vanham to bow to Lilly's pressure and so the opportunity to show off was welcome. Even if it seemed Mr. Vanham was less interested in his facts and figures.
It made Ryosuke wish for just a moment that Molly was here to challenge Mr. Vanham to show the intensity of her tenacity for victory. He was the best they had though so he matched Mr. Vanham's gaze with confidence. Although he may lack Molly's fire and Lilly's spirit there was a reason he was a part of this team, and more than that a very good reason why he was so trusted by Molly.
[b “Sir, I have plenty of facts and figures that say sponsoring the Devil Bats is a good financial decision for your company, and plenty of evidence to suggest that we can perform well this year. You don't seem much the type for evidence about this though. So if you want my honest opinion about this team I will say I would never doubt our ability to win this tournament.”]
He made sure to put a hand up there as he knew how that could sound. [b “Now hear me out there. Anyone might say something like that about their team no matter how confident they are in their performance. When I say that I think this team can win it all I do so with absolute confidence for one reason. Molly Mushanokoji. I have known her since we were children, and I learned quickly to never doubt her ability to accomplish what she had set her mind to in life.”]
[b “You spoke about our teams lack of coordination last year which was a common talking point, but if you look at the film I think you will see that it was only a genuine problem for the first few weeks of competition. Once the media decides something though they are hesitant to change their mind about it. That was with a team that she had assembled that season just as we had to do this year, and she did not have one of the five most sought after free agents on the team last year. Molly coached us through that then and she'll do it again now.”]
He motioned to Yumi there with a simple signal that made Yumi bring up footage from last year. Not of the team demonstrating their improved coordination though. The footage that she brought up was of the Red Death outnumbered three to one from their playoff match against the twelfth seed. A match that put Molly up against long odds after Kenta and Yohei went down early. Especially after Tatsuya went down since no one had come back from a three to one deficit that season.
[b “This was a match against the twelfth seed where Molly was left outnumbered three to one. No one had won a match after facing that deficit all season long, until Molly did in that match on the biggest stage. If you want to sponsor someone who wins when it's tough we're your best option. Molly's been doing it for as long as I've known her and she has been doing it against any and all odds that she has faced.”]
Ryosuke reached out his hand here to offer it for Mr. Vanham to shake and flashed a strong smile. [b “Now you wanted to know about my confidence in this team so I will tell you this. I would not fault you for sponsoring another team Mr. Vanham. All I will do is look forward to embarrassing them come the playoffs.”]
“Yea but I have no idea what to do with it.” He said shrugging. “If I'm not working out or helping at the hanger or teaching, I’m sleeping.” He was one that was quite busy but didn’t seem to care that much. “I don’t really have hobbies so I just work.” Plus, it helped his mind from wondering to places he didn’t want it to.
He took his time looking for Lilly gift and listen to any thing Molly said that worked for him. He may not look like it all the time but Leon was well off from his years of service and other benefits he got. His car had been paid off before he had even got it and his housing was paid for making his only bills food and that was covered by his teaching. He’d never be super rich but that was fine with him. Pulling out his card he paid for it without even asking the price. Lilly smile would be worth whatever the price. Well second to another but wouldn’t tell anyone that.
He hadn't known everyone for very long but he already felt pretty close to everyone one the team. Lilly was like an over excited little sister that he enjoyed to teach. Ryosuke was nice to talk to about simple thing an small talk with. Satsuki was one of the best cooks he had ever meet and she was always the best way to get the news and gossip of the team. The younger member reminded of his men in the army with the way the talked and asked him for help. Then there was Molly. Her ability and enthusiasm in everything she did made him smile and wanted to make him help her in anyways he could. She was just like she was she was in their first meeting.
He was a bit shocked when she ran off. “Hey that not fair.” He called out chasing after her. He maybe taller but year of boxing and dancing made it easier to move around in heavy crowds. She was still a bit faster so he wouldn’t be able to catch her unless the crowds thinned allowing him to use his full stride. Once the did leave the ally he was able to get closer that was until Molly was attacked. Or what he first thought was an attack by the large man coming at Molly. She tossed him easy enough but that seem to do little to the large man. It was lucky that Molly said something so fast because Leon hand to hold himself back from decking the man.
Sliding to a stop he let out a breath he didn’t know he was holding. “Jesus you scared me there.” He said his heart beating a mile a minute. “If Molly hadn't said something, I may have accidentally hurt you. I don’t do good with people jumping out like that.” And it was true he didn’t do good with people jumping out at him. Being in a war tended to make you a bit jump it took a long time to get your body to believe that you weren't in combat zone any more.
Turning to Ootani and raised his hand to shake the bigger man hand. “Nice to meet you name Leon. She says team but it was mostly one person with the backing of the team.” He leans in and whispered. “Believe it or not she got a sweet spot for that person.” His next sentence quickly made Leon ears go red. “O no no no we just hanging out.” He said trying his best not to stutter. “She agreed to help get a gift for a friend of ours.” He looked at Molly hoping she would back him up and not noticed his blush.
Mr. Vanham smiled as he watched the two that Lilly called over. He could tell that they seemed a bit shocked at his present. Most people would send a high ranking employee but few would come themselves but that wasn’t how he like to do things. No, he like coming himself and seeing how people would react to it. Plus, he had the bones of seeing Lilly. “Please no need to feel nerves. I use to be just like you in my younger day.” He turned and followed Ryosuke. “Thank you, my good sir.” Walking with his hand behind his back he followed him listening to every think that he had to say.
Lilly shrugged it off at first. “No, I’m good I enjoy helping.” That was until Darjeeling was brought up. “Wait what makes you think that I would hang out with Darjeeling?” She tried to play it off but he some sounded panicked. “Maybe I just want to be by myself.” Blushing at Yumi comment she rounded on her. “Why say it like that nothing like that going on with us.” Her voice had fallen a few pitches like a child protesting that they didn’t take the cookie for the cookie jar. “Me and Darjelling and nothing more than friend and nothing more.” The looks she got back form made her face grow even redder. “Stop it all of you or or or.” She took a second to think of a threat that would hold some kind of weight. “Or I’ll force you and Roland into the same computer and dress you both up.” She pointed at Yumi then rounded on Satsuki. “And Ill tell Molly what you said last week about her and Leon.” Both held little weight as she had no way to lock Yumi in a room with Roland as she had no computer skills and she knew that Satsuki would just tell molly herself and nothing would happen.
Back with Vanham he listened without asking any question. He had to admire the young man presentation. It would have done to a lot for the people that other sponsors would have sent but it was just talk to him mostly. Anyone could make a speech sound good but selling him something was different. “Yes, your sponsor sells did go up a little a bit last year but I looked at the number myself and most could also be said about by any team they sponsored or ever just a good year of sales.” He was not a man to hold back and he wanted to see how the man would hold up under presser. “Another think is that yes your team did well last year but I remember how uncoordinated your team was. In fact, if I remember correct that is what cost you in the final stretch. This year you have all new member but two even with Mr. Kennedy he may know what he doing but his records show only single battle and teams are a whole nother ball park. Your team may have a proven track record but it also lot of mishaps and failures. Please understand my stance my company don’t sponsored multiple team we have always sponsored one team. Nine out of the twelve year we have sponsored the winning team with last year being the lowest we ranked at forth. You will need more the just fancy words and a nice presentation.” He finally moved his hand form behind him to in front of him. Please don’t misunderstand your presentation was quite good but I need more than just fancy words. I need you to show me that your team has what it take. I only sponsor winner and people who show me that they have what it takes to push to the top no matter how hard the road gets. Aim true and hit hard is my company motto now in your honest opinion can you stare me in the eyes and tell me that you got what it takes to win? Can you make it to the top?” He looked into Ryosuke eye with no emote and awaited his answer.
Molly raised an eyebrow at the suggestion of a new weapon that Leon knew about, but shrugged it off for the time being. She was happy with her custom rifle as it stood. Of course she would talk to him about this new weapon later on after they dealt with their first errand. While she was always happy to talk about Gears and their developments she did not want to get too involved while they had work to get done.
[b “It is your time off too Leon.”]
It was true that he had more of it than her as far as the team was concerned, but he also worked for a living. Whether he actually had to or not was another story for another time. She knew that he had some connections that could potentially border on the shady side given his apartment after all.
Leon seemed keen to make it a quick trip though as he began to speed walk on his way to the alley. Something that forced Molly to practically jog to keep up. Not that she minded get a little bit of exercise in after she had spent so much time just standing around being ogled. It put a small smile on her face as she kept pace with her taller teammate.
There was a bit of small talk on the way over that came to a sudden stop as they encountered the crowd at the alley. It caused Leon to slow enough that Molly could keep up without pushing herself. His speed though drew a concerned gaze from her though as she realized that he seemed to have spaced out some. Before she could say anything about it though he had shaken himself out of it enough to carry on. Molly made sure to keep a close eye on him though in case it happened again.
[b “No problem,”] Molly whispered as she was unsure if it was her he had thanked.
It only took them a few minutes to find the booth that had the artist Lilly recommended. The artist was one that Molly did not recognize even from reading on the subject; despite her own eclectic and extensive musical taste. Still she was happy to help when Leon asked her to recommend a gift for Lilly. They both had known her about the same length of time, but after her earlier reaction Molly was confident she could find what she liked.
Molly was particular in her decision and made sure to look over all of the items carefully to find the best fit. She could guess that Leon's budget was a tight one so she wanted to make it count. Although she would happily offer to go in on something more expensive; this was his idea and she wanted him to be able to stand alone on it. So after a bit of deliberation she presented the item she figured Lilly would find the cutest for him.
Along with the purchase Leon was given the opportunity to enter a sweepstakes which offered a chance to meet the artist. A good prize in Molly's eyes as she remembered her first time meeting an artist. Leon saw it as a wonderful opportunity though as he filled out the entry form with Lilly's information and winked at Molly as she noticed. The young man got an approving nod and a smile for that one.
His next act was one of a pronounced bow and a line cheesier than provolone. Something that only drew a roll of the eyes from Molly before she smirked. [b “Well then let's see if you can keep up.”]
A benefit of her stature was that in a crowded hallway like this it was much easier for her to maneuver through the gaps. If asked she would describe it as a halfback running to daylight. Just a skill that she had learned from observing a friend of the family who was a professional at avoiding contact in those kinds of situations. Still Molly made sure not to get too far out so she could watch over Leon after what happened earlier.
After they made it through to the next section of the festival they were greeted by the sights of various clubs and sports teams doing their best to represent their group. The cooking club being prominent thanks to the delicious smell coming from their room. While the basketball team had an advantage over most of the others thanks to their taller members being able to stand above the crowd. It was the American football team though that approached them first. Something that demanded attention as a man standing over six and a half feet tall and weighing in at over 300 pounds charged towards them.
Molly's reaction was quick as she caught the leading hand of the man and used his own momentum to throw him behind her. Thanks to his rotund physique he was able to safely roll away unharmed. Despite being somewhat violently thrown away he maintained a happy smile on his face as he quickly got back to his feet.
[b “Sorry Leon; this is a family friend. Who needs to remember that he's too big to be charging at people now. Isn't that right Ootani?”]
[b “Sorry Molly. I got excited; I didn't think you'd be going around the festival.”]
[b “The team talked me into it. They said that I had worked hard enough that they wanted to give me some time off for rest and relaxation. What about you?”]
[b “I'm trying to recruit people for the American football team. Are you enjoying your date?”]
[h3 [center Booth]]Even after the rush that came after their lunch break; the crowd had been reduced to a more manageable flow. The stanchions and Lilly made it easy to deal with the line. While the flow had been reduced dramatically from when they first opened the doors there were still a decent number of people around when Lilly's special guest made their appearance.
When Lilly invited Ryosuke and Satsuki over; Yumi made sure to step up to draw the crowd more towards the rest of the pilots and the booths. Ryosuke and Satsuki traded a glance at the sight of Mr. Vanham, but maintained a friendly face. They had dealt with a number of important businessmen as representatives of the Devil Bats enough times to keep their shock from showing.
[b “I'd be happy to do so,”] Ryosuke said with a smile as he readied the usual presentation for Mr. Vanham. [b “I'm Ryosuke Takahashi the lead mechanic, and I would be happy to show you the benefits of sponsoring us If you'll just follow me.”]
While Ryosuke worked on his presentation for Mr. Vanham; Satsuki stayed by Lilly as she spoke up. [b “Things aren't that busy now; so if you want to take a break feel free. If you wanted to spend some time with Darjeeling around the festival all of us would understand. Molly isn't the only one who should get some time off.”]
Yumi's avatar closest to Lilly nodded in agreement even after she had demanded the team put in more work to make up for Molly's absence. [b “You have been a wonderful help. If you wanted to spend some time alone with Darjeeling though we would be happy to support you.”]
[b “What makes the Devil Bats an ideal team to sponsor is our leader Molly's intent to transition the team to a professional level after she has acquired her doctorate. By sponsoring the team now you would be getting in on the ground floor of a successful team,”] Ryosuke said as Yumi presented additional information on the nearby display. [b “In just our first year of competition we were able to get a podium finish despite the high level of competition. We have also improved since last year as Molly intends to unveil the Red Death Mark 2 this season, and our new recruits include seasoned veteran Leon Kennedy.”]
[b “Our team has a proven track record in drumming up interest as we can prove our sponsors from last year saw a positive impact on their brand. We have also had the most popular booth at the festival this year. If you were decide to sponsor us; you would be sponsoring a proven winner that has put in demonstrable work to improve. Now Yumi and I would be happy to answer any questions you might have.”]
Leon was able to catch her quick amusement. It was small but still it was there. Smiling to himself he said. “Well then I sure if you make it I’ll have the best around. I mostly know about weapon and stuff like that so if you ever need a new one, I’ll be more than happy to make one in return for a shield.” He had trained with almost every weapon out there and enjoyed making his own. Most he couldn't have in Japan but that didn’t stop him from having a few. “I even know of a new weapon coming out this year that would work great for your Gear.”
He of course talking about a project that the army had been spending year working on. The railgun. Till the last few the only real gear weapon and been ballistic and energy. People had been wanting to add railguns to the list but the biggest problem had been the energy usage would drain the gear batteries quick. At first people trying using external batteries but the problem most would only last one or two shot and caring around a bunch of batteries was a bad idea. So, Railguns were rare among pilots but that would change soon as only a few knew. America had found the answer to the power problem. They found a way to power it was magnets spinning around in a small chamber that would supper charge the ion protons in the air small chamber powering the weapon. The only drawback was that it took time to power up making almost useless for the military as they need them at any moment.
Leon smiled as he started leading the way to the artist ally. “Na we make it quick as it your time off.” He said opening his pace a bit to help speed thing on a bit more. What he forgot about this was that Molly had a lot shorter legs then him. “Shouldn't be any longer than ten minters for a round trip if the line aren't that long.” Leading the way he would start small talk with her as he looked around the place.
He had forgotten what if felt like in large group. People being loud, bumbling into each other like it was nothing, kids playing. For some reason he felt disconnect form the world around him. Like the world he had come from and this one was different. He tried to shack the feeling from his head but couldn’t. He been home from the war for less than a year when he moves here. A year ago, around this time he was being discharged from the army. He had no idea what he would do and he still didn’t. Maybe that way why he felt disconnected from all these people. His head was still thinking at he was endanger from there people. It seemed that everything was out to kill him before but now he was just a normal person.
Snapping out of his own head by a clicking noise from Roland the anxiety he felt went away. “Thanks.” He said out loud. Soon they would show up as Leon took a few second to ask someone about the artist. After being pointed to a small table he found just what he wanted. “Here we are.” He said picking up a music chip. Looking at some of the key chains and shirt she turned to Molly. “What do you think she like more?” After buying whatever Molly suggested he was asked if he wanted to be entered a sweepstakes to meet the artist. At first, he was going to say no until he came up with a better idea. “Sure.” Filling out the sheet he filled it out with Lilly info. Turing to Molly and winked.
“Anyways it your turn my lady. Lead the way.” We gave off a quick bow like one of the knights from the show before laughing however he ready himself for the punch that he guesses would come after a chess comment like that.
Things would start to slow down after an hour or so as Lilly worked throw the crowd only stopping one to get something to drink before going back out to keep everyone under control or interested in the event. After some time, someone tapped her shoulder. Turning she let out a sharped gasped as he recognized the older man in a business suit. “Uncle.” She cried hugging the man waist. The older man smiled as he bent down and hugged the girl.
“Hello my sweet girl.” He said in a cool voice. Everyone around them seemed shocked that Lilly was hugging Tom Vanham. Vanham was one of the hardest people to get a meeting with and even harder to get away from his work. He been the leading engine for his company year and loved his job. Lilly knew one day she would have to get him and Molly for a meeting as both loved Gear so much.
“What are you doing here? I thought you were oversea in a trade agreement.” Lilly asked finally letting go and waving Ryosuke and Satsuki over. She turned to the rest of the crowed and gave a cute look and asked. “Would you mind giving us a minute.” begrudgingly most gave her the space she asked for.
Smiling a bit at Lilly ability to pull people heart strings he said. “I did but you didn’t think I miss your first appearance on the field. Plus, I'm still a business man at heart and am still looking to support a team. Our team from last year didn’t keep up to our expectations and we been looking at a few new teams. I can't show you favoritism just because your family but I still can't deny the devil bat ability. So, I come out to day to see if the rumor are true.”
Lilly understood that she didn’t want to have his help if it was just because knew her. “Then I’ll show you today that we are the best team for your choice.” She clapped turning to Ryosuke. “Can you show him around I still got a job to do.” This caused Vanham smile to widen. Glad that she knew that she still had a job to do despite want to show off. Turning to Ryosuke himself he rubbed his pure white mustache. “Please good sir I be most interested to hear what you have to say.”
Molly was excited to see how the scene would play out as she had minimal experience with Leon's fighting style. Although she was quick to wonder whether the scene would be choreographed or improvised. She could already tell they were using dull weapons like those used by the Society for Creative Anachronism that had a few events she visited while in America. Whether they were connected was something she did not know though.
Leon chose a knight as his first opponent and was backed up by one of his teammates while the other went off alone. He was quick to go on the offensive as befit his role as a viking. It did not take much of his powerful bludgeoning before the knight was backed into a corner, and from there Leon was skilled enough to capitalize on the opportunity. A strong blow left his opponent without a shield and another left him 'dead' on the ground.
He did his part to pump up the crowd as one member of each team fell, and even Molly got into it a bit with a cheer. She kept it nondescript though as she could not bring herself to go against the samurai. Even as Leon managed to fell another one of them with a well done spin counter Molly kept herself as neutral as she could.
It did not take long after that to get it down to just the three leaders and the crowd was approaching a fever pitch by then. All that did for Molly though was make her seatmate stand out more. Even as the crowd beat out any pep rally Molly ever attended the person to her right only mustered up a golf clap with each victory. While Molly herself was already standing just to make sure that she did not miss any of Leon's scenes.
Although the earlier battles showed a bit more finesse; the final battle seemed to be a frenzy of steel as they all tried to best each other. During which Leon took a shield bash to the chest and a stab that left him on his knees. Molly caught on to it quick as he seemed to be the only one not to slump, but her theory was only confirmed when he opened his eyes as the samurai stood victorious. Even she did not foresee what would come next though.
If you had told Molly that Leon was a drama student she would have believed you as she saw him play the part of an injured viking as well as anyone. His rise was just about as realistic as could be. Not all that surprising given his background, but it was enough to push the crowd over the edge. Molly did a backwards box jump onto her seat to make sure that she would still have a view as she saw a few people get ready to stand up.
It made her feel a bit bad though as her sudden spring drew the attention of her seatmate just at the thrilling conclusion. If not for that Molly would have kicked off the cheer early. Even so she made sure to join in for the thunderous applause at the end of the well done demonstration by the teams. She might be small but she made sure to make herself heard as she was the loudest part of her section in her cheers for a job well done.
[b “You really got into that,”] Molly's seatmate said with a subtle smile after the crowd noise died down.
Molly just grinned. [b “It was a hell of a fight.”]
[b “What will you do next?”]
Molly paused at that as her brow furrowed. Her team had forced her to go out and enjoy herself, but the only event she knew of was this one. It would be a couple of hours at least before the exhibition matches got started, and after that it was the fireworks to close out the festival. She had expected to be operating the booth until the exhibition events.
[b “My team told me to go enjoy myself,”] Molly said with a shrug. [b “Right now I'm going to congratulate Leon on a job well done.”]
[b “I will accompany you for that. The cast deserves our praise.”]
The two contrasted heavily as they walked down the stairs to meet with Leon. Molly is just under five feet tall while her seatmate stands just under six feet tall. Her hair is exceptionally long compared to her seatmate's very short hair. Even their outfits differed as Molly was in a skirt and an outfit that could probably be assembled for a hundred dollars compared to a sleek suit for her seatmate.
[b “Bravo, bravo, bravissimo,”] Molly said with a big grin as she approached Leon only after the crowd died down. [b “Not the warrior I'd have picked, but you did a good job.”]
[b “Just as she said you did a wonderful job Mr. Kennedy.”]
[b “I should probably introduce you...I didn't actually catch your name.”]
[b “Sae Nakajima, pleasure to make your acquaintance.”]
They gave a graceful bow at the introduction before offering to shake hands. An offer that Molly took them up on casually before turning her attention back to her teammate with a smile.
[b “So is there a cast party that you have to run off to now?”] Molly asked as she buried her hands in her pockets.
[h3 [center Booth]]Yumi beamed at Lilly's splendid handling of Wataru and his sobbing show. She gave her a polite bow and a thumbs up in response to her own signal, although she made sure to send one of the mechanics out to make sure that he did not attempt a return. The risk of him finding Molly in the festival even if she was out of costume was one she did not want to take if she could avoid it. Especially since she knew why Lilly had pushed so hard for it. Their reasoning might differ, but Yumi would support Molly's happiness no matter what the source.
She also did as requested by one of the mechanics by updating their digital calendar with a weekly reminder that would remind them of what happened today. Lilly deserved the extra recognition in her opinion. It would also serve them all well to remember that although Molly was the most intimidating member of the team that there were no weaklings on the Devil Bats. Even Yumi herself could be seen as an intimidating presence at times.
While Yumi was happy to leave it up to any of the mechanics to handle getting Wataru off of the campus; Ryosuke made sure that it was the most intimidating looking member of the crew that went. He was a softie at heart, but Wataru would not know that. After everything he wanted to be sure to keep Molly's R&R from being interrupted by her most annoying fan.
Leon would take one of the knights first as one of his team joined him and the third went after the samurai leader. Each group had slit up to start with single combat. The stage was lucky big enough so no one would get hit on a back swing. In the start everything thing seem crazy as each opponent clash and danced around each other. Each weapon was made of a soft steal as to make sure they looked real without the sharp edges. They could still break bone thought so each actor and to be careful of that.
Leon and the knight squared off with Leon leaning heavily on quick and heavy blows to keep the knight on the back foot. Spark would flash on the shield with every hit. After a bit he backed the knight into a corner and was able to knock his shield away finishing him was a slash across the chest. Falling to the ground the knight played dead.
About the same time a Samurai fell to the knight and one of Vikings to a Samurai. This was how they had planned it to go. Each side would knock out the minions before leaving only the leader to duke it out until one remained.
Letting out a might roar at his kill Leon showed of a bit to the crowed. Yelling and pumping his weapon into the air. While he did this however one of the Samurai would sneak up behind before trying to run in and finish Leon. At what seemed the last second Leon would side step the blade spinning around once bring his weapon across the Samurai chest in the same move. It ended with Leon standing behind the Samurai and the Samurai holding his charging pose. Growling Leon walked of as the Samurai fell to the ground dead.
Standing back a bit he waited a bit for the other fight to finish. He passed back and forth like a wolf as he watched the knight finish off his last minion. Shortly after that the Samurai cut down the knight leaving only the three of them. Cracking his neck Leon readied himself for the last battle. The time was tricky for this but it would make a great ending.
Yelling out he charge the other two landing a kick on the knight chest plate forcing them back a few feet. He then turned his attack to the Samurai using his long reach he would swing try to get a quick hit in. The Samurai wouldn't make it easy on him as he blocked every attack and tried to return any he could get. Ducking at one point a sword wized past his head as the knight came back in.
At that point it was a free for all with each trying to kill the other. The skill of the attack had come form weeks of working a battle like this. Each out dance around each other attack other blocking or attack one of the other two. Some time doing both but just then Leon took a shied to a chest as the knight stabbed him. Taking two steps back Leon feel to his knees as the knight turned away to fight the Samurai. Staying like that he didn’t move acting as if he died there. The clang of the other two rang out until finally one let out a triumphant yell. Opening is eyes he watched the knight fall to the ground as the Samurai stood tall over the crowed.
With his back turned to Leon to the cheering crowed Leon slowly returned to his feet as if he was really just injured. Slowly he gripped his battle axe lifting it high above him before throwing it the Samurai back. With perfick timing it smashed into his back as the Samurai looked shocked at the crowed before falling to the side showing Leon standing weakly behind him. Letting out a roar he fell over now dead like the rest of the warriors.
After a minute the of stunted silence the crowed exploded into applause as every stood up and got together and bowed to the crowed. At the point Shinobu came back out. “I thank you for coming out to see our show. If you are interested in anything you saw today please come by our stale and we be happy to chat with you.” With that every waved and left.
Changing back out into his normal outfit and saying his goodbye Leon found himself outside shaking a few people hand. Once that was over, he looked around thinking what he wanted to do next. The festival seemed quite big and he was thinking if he should go check it out or head back and help out some more.
Lilly thanked Yumi for helping setting her up in a better spot then when the crowed show up his force. Any time she felt herself getting claustrophobic with the group she would tilt her head and give a sad face and say. “I’m sorry everyone but could you please step back. I feeling a bit crowed.” With that look most, people would apologize and setback and if they didn’t one of the other would make them. With she would reward with a cute smile.
What drew her out of the zone was a yell coming from someone. Turning to look at who it was she let out a heavy sigh. She got a bit upset by this as the only one that could say thing like that about Molly at least out loud. Hearing Yumi say that she smiled as she turned her charm back on again as she looked at two large men standing close to them. She faked upset face and even managed a few tears. “Could you two please remove him he scaring me with his out bust” Both men looked at each other before looking back up at Wataru. Nodding to each other the both walked over and grabbed him under each arm. “You’re coming with us boy.” They said as the dragged him out as Lilly waved goodbye and a “Thank you boys.” Turning to Yumi she gave a happy smile and thumb up before returning to her duty like nothing had happen.
“That girl scary.” One of the maintenance team said after watching what had just happen. Unlike Molly Lilly could get thing done without ever getting mad and yelling. “Remaind me never to make Lilly mad.”
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