Molly sported a smile all the way into the truck after Lilly referred to herself as a big sister. While Molly got herself ready to go see Leon's demonstration; Yumi was happy to help coordinate the management of the booth in her place. Especially after Lilly so happily volunteered to take Molly's place as the cute face of the team.
Although Yumi was happy to have her volunteer she was also careful to put her in an easier position than Molly. She would have an easy line of communication with her, Ryosuke, and Tatsuya. That way if Lilly needed anything Yumi could get it to her in a timely and appropriate fashion without any problems. After what Molly had said of her swarm Yumi wanted to be extra proactive for Lilly. Combined with the work of the mechanics and it should be a much easier position to fill.
Once properly dressed in her sweater, skirt, and modesty shorts outfit Molly made her way over to the auditorium that Leon's group had booked. Despite making use of her knowledge of the school though there was not much room left on the bleachers. Luckily a nice young fellow waved her over to an open spot on the highest bench.
[b “Thanks for that. I'm sorry I have to ask, but do I know you?”]
[b “Not really, but I am always happy to sit next to the cutest Mew Mew I've ever seen.”]
[b “You saw that did you?”]
They just smiled as Molly flushed a little at the compliment before she took her seat next to them. She did not have time to blush long though as she caught a number of people in the stands pointing and whispering at her. There was enough of a murmur in the crowd that she could not pick out what anyone was saying though. Although she continued to try to put her ears in position to pick it up.
[b “They're wondering if you were forced to come out here in support of Mr. Kennedy. After being forced out earlier there has been a bit of a rumor that he has taken over your team.”]
Molly just craned her neck to look at her taller seatmate with the most incredulous look she could muster. She accentuated with a loud scoff before she shook her head at it. It was enough of an action to cause a few more whispers to spread throughout the crowd, but Molly tried to pay it no mind even as she silently fumed.
[b “I did not think that they had it right. You may be younger, but you have been a visible leader for your team. They will remember that once the season starts. People have short memories.”]
[b “I don't exactly disagree, you a fan of the game?”]
They cocked their head a bit at that before giving a small nod. [b “You could say that. My parents forced me to go to a different college; otherwise I might have joined your team.”]
[b “A rival, eh? Doing some spy work?”]
Molly chuckled as she made the allegation as it was honestly not something she concerned herself with that much. Every team worth its salt would be studying fight footage once the season got started. If there was anything that a team could learn from her booth that would cause them to lose than they were going to lose anyway.
[b “You could say that, but not regarding what you think,”] they said with a wink, but no further elaboration.
Molly opened her mouth to say something more, but stopped herself as Shinobu started the introduction of the event. She could only sharpen her gaze as the person sitting next to her wore a serene expression. Her expression softened though as Shinobu carried on with their interesting introduction of the event. Still she continued to sneak glances at the person next to her as Shinobu finished their introduction to raucous applause from the rest of the audience and a golf clap from her and her seatmate.
The samurai were the first to step out and they did so to the loudest applause thus far. Molly did her best to add to it from her position in the rear as she knew the importance of hometown pride. Knights were the second group to step out and they did so to a decent amount of applause themselves. You just had to look at all the stories they had written set in western medieval inspired settings to know that knights would be fairly popular. Third up were the vikings led by Leon in an outfit that showed some of his arms. While Molly would not think them that popular they came out to plenty of cheer themselves at least in part because of their outfits based on some of the cheers she caught. Just as she did for the samurai she made sure to add to the noise for her teammate even as she blanched a bit at what he had to wear.
She spared a glance at her seatmate though who had shown a stone face to rival Keaton, and who had not made a sound compared to the rest of the crowd. Molly knew they were here for some sort of spy work as they admitted. The fact that she could tell their eyes were focused on Leon made her more confident of the fact that they were spying on her own team. A fact that drew a puffed out chest from Molly even as she cheered on Leon and the samurai.
[h3 [center Booth]]While Leon was drawing the gazes of a crowd on a stage; Satsuki and Lilly were in much the same circumstance back at the booth. Even with Molly on break and a few of the major events starting elsewhere their queue was as full as ever. It made Yumi quite happy, but put a bit of a strain on the pilots who had to answer all of the questions that the public brought to them. Especially as one of the most recurring questions was what happened to Molly.
It was after Satsuki explained for the umpteenth time that Molly had been given a break by the rest of the team though that something unexpected happened. [b “I missed it!”]
The loud cry drew all the eyes in the room to a man in a fancy suit with a bouquet of flowers in his left hand. Even with all of the eyes focused on him; he began to openly sob in the middle of the room. Which only served to keep the attention of the crowd on him as he loudly sobbed at the entirely reasonable turn of events.
[b “What is even the point of living if I cannot see the diminutive divine Molly in costume!”]
[b “Someone be a dear and get Wataru out of here,”] Yumi said as she made her bespectacled appearance.
Leon shrugged as he turned at left. “Hey don’t get mad at me she the one that said it.” He said pointing at Lilly. With that he was gone and Lilly just gave of an innocent look. Lilly was glad that she got support from the rest of the team. She would have to thank them later for helping her get Molly out. “I never said you had to. I just want you to have so fun for a change. You work so hard for the rest of us that I want to do this for you.” She hugged Molly again before she ran off make sure to carefully of her costume. “Big sister Lilly got you.” She whispered before let go and waved goodbye.
Once Molly was out of range Lilly turned to the other then Yumi. “I would never think of it just set me up were ever and I’ll do the rest.” Jack had shown her how to best deal with crowed and large group of people before. His training would help her out a bit and if it got to overwhelmed, she had a backup plan.
Turning to Yumi at her question Lilly gave her best Insect look to Yumi and the others. “Of course. I just wanted to repay her for all her hard work she did on Sola over the last month.” That was partly the truth. Her plan was a bit last minute as she hadn't known what time she would be able to meet up. She had been talking with Roland for a while now on how to help Molly and Leon get together. Lilly did it mostly to get back at Molly for teasing her but no one need to know that. They just need to know how nice and cute was for helping Molly. “I mean you all and similar reasons, didn’t you?”
Once everyone was happy with her answers she moved and got ready with what everything Ryosuke and Satsuki wanted. Once the door she turned her charm to eleven. Greeting everyone that came in she happily helped or just short talk to anyone. She was used to being treated like a mascot of short. In high school she was the girl that everyone wanted supporting their team or around to help get people to come look at something. She hated it then as on one was really her friend but she didn’t mind it now. She had chosen to do it so she went at it with everything she had. No matter how many people came at her she handled them all happy and with a bit of grace. She learned a lot about how the handle herself from Darjeeling she was nowhere close to Darjeeling grace or ability but she did show what she had.
Leon would let out a sigh as he got to the stage. “Hey Leon.” A tall dark-haired gentleman. “Glad you could join us.”
“I told you I help Shinobu and I’m a Man of my word. Plus, this great business for my defense class as it is for your class.” Shinobu was a weapons fighting teacher that had help Leon set up his defense classes shortly after coming to Japan.
“I know but I feared that your team would keep you.” He said leading them to a small group dressed up. Three were dressed in replicas of Japanese armor as well as another three in Knight armor form the same time and the last two in Vikings armor.
“My boss was fine with me coming to do this so I would have made it fine.” He said going over and grabbing a battle axe from wreck of weapons. “You said you had a costume to?”
“Yea but we made a few last-minute changes you be the chief Barbarian instead of one of his troops.” He tasted him some leather armor and a helmet that would only mostly show off his arms. “Don't worry I kept with what you asked for thought, I think with all your scare it would look better.”
“Na not with my tattoos they doing look like anything a Vikings would have.” He said quickly changing out.
“True but still you remember how it goes right.”
“Yep don’t worry it be fine.”
Nodding Shinobu walked off to get the finally thing set up be for the show. Once Leon was dressed in his armor and had his Axe he regrouped with the other. “This should get us a lot of new people don’t you think.” One of the knights said. “Yea It be great.” one of the japans solders said.” Leon could only smile he still couldn’t belive he agreed to this but he owned Shinobu. “Shhh we up.”
From the other side of the curtain Shinobu rang out. “Welcome lady and gentlemen. I'm Shinobu Kin own of Sword and shield training school. A quick thing about us is we teach people about how our great ancestors use to fight in the days of old. Not just Japanese but also European and Swedish as well as many other. Now today with help from our species guest Leon Kenney form Strong Armed we would like to show you a bit of what we do. May warriors have taken the field over the year but none a feared at the three we have for you today.” The crawed cheered as he intuseted the first group.
“The Samurai.” The first group went out and posed for the a crowed. “The Knights.” Another cheer as the second group went out. “And the Vikings” Standing tall Leon led her group out taking his spot in the middle of the other two. The cheers and Applause was massive as Leon stood talk as the Viking war chief. “Today we will watch as all three group battle it out to show who was the most feared.” Another cheer as each group readied themselves to fight each other. Leon turning to a knight as he gripped his axe and waited for the work. “Already everyone on three yell fight.”
“ONE” the yelled as Leon smiled reading himself to charge.
“TWO” Time seemed to almost slowed.
“THREE” A sweet dripped form his face as he stared down the knight.
“FIGHT” With a massive battle cry from everyone the battlestarted.
Molly kept any surprise at his statement hidden from her face at the revelation that Leon did not watch the news. She did not keep such a good poker face though as Lilly called him out on that fact. While her face faltered though she kept any laughter purely on the inside.
Leon made sure to defend himself again, but Molly was quick to wave it off. She was not worried enough to demand he explain himself more at the moment since he had other things to deal with at the moment. It was a large enough occurrence that she might want more clarity on it later, but for the moment lunch was more important.
[b “We can talk more about it later. Don't worry.”]
Given that she welcomed Yumi's change of subject; even if it came with the knowledge that they had someone of that importance that she had not noticed. A drawback of having been drowned in a sea of patrons. It at least seemed that she was mostly there for Lilly's sake at least, and Molly knew they had a strong relationship. Still that was another thing for her to talk to her team about later as she would need to be updated on it by Yumi.
[b “I'm sure she'll understand.”]
Lilly's second statement drew a raised brow from Molly. However it drew far more from Leon as she noticed him struggle to keep control in the middle of his meal. Their reactions were probably to different components of the statement, but Molly kept her brow raised as she listened to Lilly's explanation.
[b “She's right. Between her and I we can keep the interest, and with Ryosuke to handle the sponsors you can trust us to handle everything on the business side of things,”] Satsuki said from her seat next to one of the displays. [b “You should go out and enjoy the festival.”]
Satsuki's support drew a sharp gaze from Molly. It did not last long though as she was quick to turn it on Leon as he complimented Lilly for her negotiation tactics. She stood up from her crouched position, but it did little to aid in intimidation. Especially given the fact that she was still in a costume with prominently display animal ears. That did not stop her from leveling her glare at Leon though.
[b “I think that is an excellent idea,”] Yumi added as she gave a friendly nod to Leon. [b “After all the work you put in this morning it is only fair that we handle things for you the rest of the day.”]
[b “Et tu, Yumi?”]
Yumi just put a friendly smile on her face even as her master turned leveled a glare at her. She had not been on the receiving end of Molly's glare often since she had been such a reliable partner, but she had seen it more than enough times to be used to it by now. It was her firm agreement with Lilly's suggestion that made it easy for her to withstand though.
[b “I'm on their side here,”] Ryosuke said as he became the newest target of Molly's glare. [b “Lilly and Satsuki can handle the advertisement of our booth well enough, and I've got the business side covered already. You dealt with enough people today for us I think.”]
Molly fumed for a moment before throwing her hands up in defeat. [b “Four against one I know when I'm beat. If you expected me to go around the festival in this outfit though you have another thing coming. I'll be gone just as soon as I get changed. Don't let anything burn down while I'm away.”]
She did not give them a chance to rescind their offer at that news as she hustled into the truck where she had previously changed. It would be a much faster change this time since there was no need for makeup in her street clothes. Nor any need for her to be especially careful about protecting her decency.
[b “While I agree with the suggestion to have Molly enjoy the festival; if any of you thought it would mean you could slack off you should know that I will be reporting everything that happens to her later,”] Yumi said as she donned a pair of cat eye glasses. [b “We are all in agreement that this was just to let her get some R&R right?”]
Ryosuke and Satsuki traded glances before motioning the floor to Lilly. They knew what their own motives were after all, and Molly getting some R&R was certainly a part of that. Since it was Lilly's idea though they were all too willing to leave it to her to defend. Especially after she had done such a good job of bringing them over to her side in the first place.
The noise that Lilly made once she was able pet Molly was so high pitched and soft that the only one that would be able to hear it was dogs. She was like a kid in and candy store as she petted Molly head with careful precision. Happy in the end she hugged Molly again but gentle this time. “Thank you. You make such a cute puppy.” She could almost feel her heart beat again. Something she didn’t think could happen anymore.
Leon scratched the back of his head and laughed nervously. “In my defense he came up to me.” That probably didn’t help his case but that laughed help draw attention away from him as Lilly took center stage again. “How can you not tell he literally the most important man alive in Japan.”
Leon would shrug “I don’t watch the news?” He said phasing more as question and not as an answer.
Calming down little slumping her shoulder. “I state again you're hopeless.”
Looking back up at Molly Leon shrugged. “He seemed pretty happy with the report I gave him and that not me guessing his body language point to it as well. To be honest I think he was a bit shocked or impressed by the way i handled the whole thing. I say that I kind of went into old habits but they seemed to work in my favor.” He was hoping to reinsure Molly that he hadnt done anything to make her look bad.
Leon would again shrug as he was patted on the back. “Again, he found me. I stopped looking for trouble after I left the army.” Leon would lean against a desk as he finally got to take a bit out of his sandwich. Lilly rested between Molly and himself.
Lilly would perk up from her meal at Darjeeling name. “O shoot I forgot to tell her about my class. I hope she wasn’t to upset.” She looked out the door then took a few second to think. “I text her and catch up with her later.” She then turned to Molly. “But for now I should help out and let you have some fun.” She pushed Molly. "I can handle be the cute face for a while it what I’m good at.” Leon had to stop himself from choking on his food at that. He had no dought about it but hearing her say it made it funny.
Lilly portended not to hear him. “Now get going everyone should have fun at a Festival and you already done a good part. With Ryosuke help I should be able to handle it.” She looked back at Ryosuke looking for support to get Molly out for a while. She also seemed pushy to get Molly out and wouldn’t take no for an answer.
Leon for his part chuckled “You make a scary negotiator you know that?”
On the outside he looked normal but, on the inside, he was pressing Roland for what had happen and all he was getting back was he had it handled. “He said okay and thanks.” He said to Yumi.
Checking the time Leon saw it was time for him to get going to his other arrangements. “As much as I love to watch Lilly twist you around her finger more I should get going. If you do choose to come out stop by the show, I'm sure you enjoy it.” With that he waved goodbye and thanked for meal he left.
Back with will she stared up at Molly with stone eyes. “See go have some fun I sure no one will blame you for some time yourself. I could even dress up for you if you're afraid about lossing people without you.”
Molly only raised an eyebrow at Leon's cut short sentence. She was not entirely certain what he was referencing, but it was apparent that Lilly at least did not want the others to know about it so she kept her mouth shut on the subject. They had bigger things to concern themselves with anyway. Especially as he was kind enough to bring over Lilly's chair making it easy for Molly to get her situated.
[b “I'm not so concerned about the size as much as the lack of straps,”] Molly whispered back as she ignored Lilly's confidence in her own sizing abilities. [b “Not too rough and be careful about the ears.”]
While the sight of Lilly's puppy dog eyes was a memorable one what followed was unforgettable. The image of Molly crouched next to Lilly's chair being petted was one that the rest of the team would remember even without any photographic evidence. Even as she started to eat once Ryosuke finished dishing out lunches for everyone that had requested them prior.
Leon was quick to give his explanation for his absence, but Molly's face faltered almost as soon as he started. The other original members of the team were also all in a bit of a state of shock from it. None more than Ryosuke though as he was usually the only one besides Molly that had to deal with Hiruma due to their circumstances. It was more widened eyes than anything else though as they all realized that Leon did not know what that name meant.
Lilly was the first to crack under the surprise as she yelled out when she recognized the dawning realization on Leon's face. The sight of her exasperated at Leon was enough to send the mechanics group into a fit of laughter even as they were assembling the queue system that Molly had requested. Which only served to cause a chain reaction among the newer pilots to the team. Molly could only sigh as the rest of the team laughed at it though since she was the one who would have to deal with any potential fallout.
[b “Gramps knows better than anyone we're not what the news would claim. He was probably just testing you to see if you were worthy of being trusted on the team if I'm being honest. I'll have to get a more detailed report on that from you later, but apparently you passed. Otherwise I'm sure I would have heard about it.”]
She trusted Leon not to have fucked up anything beyond repair, but she knew her grandfather well enough to be concerned nonetheless. Although she was thankful Leon did a good enough job that he did not press to see her. Molly figured that he would have responded with a similar level of energy to Lilly if he had seen her surrounded by people in her costume.
[b “Not many people get through a meeting with Hiruma so easily. Congrats,”] Ryosuke said as he gave Leon a pat on the back for a job well done.
While the team was enjoying their lunch and laughing at Leon's unfortunate lack of knowledge; Yumi was busy piecing together what she could about the rogue AI. Roland had done the best that he could to prevent her from gleaning anything of importance in the short time that he had before being pulled, but Yumi was the one in charge of the systems of the hangar and the booth for a reason. She was also programmed by a genius with access to the tech of one of the wealthiest companies in the world. A quick clean was not about to stop her from her goal. Despite all that work she would be careful to hide all that effort from the rest of the team and so she made an appearance to make a last minute announcement.
[b “While this has all been amusing; before it goes on too long I wanted to let you know that Darjeeling came by looking for you earlier Lilly,”] Yumi said as she appeared with her own entirely unnecessary meal in front of her through one of the projectors. [b “Also Leon please tell Roland that she is sorry about the teasing that caused him to crash.”]
Roland would nod shortly before being pulled making sure any attempt at her recording what had happed was cut short. “Thank you again I'm sorry about that please do not worry everything is under control.” With the last few words and a quick unusual smile he was gone and back inside Leon head.
Leon for his part let out a sigh that he didn’t know he was holding. “Okay.” he smiled he could tell that she was thankful but she still had to show off her hard as iron personally to everyone around her. “Won't happen again.” He watched the other move around happy to have a breather.
What happen next, he could help but laugh at as he watched Lilly launch herself at Molly only for her catch her and hold her mind air. He seemed to be the only one laughing as most other looked shocked that little would try such a thing. Leon knew better as he spent the most time with Lilly because of training. “She see something cute and she goes after it you should see the...”
He didn’t finish his sentence as the look Lilly gave him would kill any lesser man. “What was that?” She asked tilting her head with an evil smile.
“Um it was nothing.” He said backing away for a second.
“Good” Turning back to Molly she went back to normal. “I’m sorry but you’re so cute I couldn’t help it.” Leon grabbed her chair and rolled it back over and wait to be set back down into it. Once she was lowered, she whispered back. “Then next time see me and I get it to fit right. I already have sizes.” How she had them she would very tell. She smiled as she looked Molly over again and nodded. “So... can I please pet you.” She gave her best puppy dog eyes which caused Leon to look away to avoid a heart attack.
Leon would look up at Molly question. “O yes sorry about that.” He said scratching the back of his head. “I got caught up talking with a Mr. Yoichi Hiruma. He came to see how the team was doing and if any of the rumors were true. Lucky after a bit of conversation I put any fear of his to rest.” If he put any recognition in his voice that he knew who the man was he did not show it. “I asked if he wished to speak to you and he declined the officer said you already keep him up to date.”
He suddenly felt Roland say something to only him. ‘Did you say Yoichi Hiruma as in wealthy Japanese businessman and Molly grandfather Yoichi Hiruma.’ That when it clicked, he just spoken to Molly grandfather that why he had armed Guard. “Oo” was all he could say.
“OOOOO?” Lilly yelled. “What did you just notice who he was?”
“Maybe.” was all he could say.
“YOU”RE HELPLESS.” Lilly said throwing her arms up.
[h3 [center Yumi]][b “Think nothing of it, I am happy to help. I will be sure to let him know,”] Yumi said giving a polite bow as Darjeeling prepared to set off. [b “That is unfortunate though; I think that you two would look cute together.”]
After she left though it was a different AI that took control of Roland's partition of the ram. A young looking woman with raven black hair that contrasted heavily with the long white dress that she wore. Whether it was the small partition of ram or something else though it seemed that she was not fully aware. Just like a human that had just woken up after a nap.
Yumi was careful to close off the partition that had been taken, but she did not get to say anything before Roland took the place of the rogue AI. Unlike her tired appearance his was that of a man that had just seen death. It was by far the most frightened that she had ever seen Roland appear as he had always been one to at least put on a brave face. He was quick to request more ram to prevent that from happening again, although he did not seem interested in giving her any explanation of what had just happened. Just a warning that no one could know about this for her own safety and not his own.
She would oblige him by giving him access to an acceptable portion of the ram, but made sure to move it over to a different partition without his awareness. Whether he wanted her to know about the incident or not; she was going to record it to the best of her abilities. That way she could research it later on using the connections of the Hiruma Group. He may think it necessary for her to stay out of it for her own protection, however she was confident that checking through the Hiruma Group would afford her enough of that. Yumi would protect Molly first and foremost and as far as she was concerned that meant knowing what had happened on her ram.
[b “That should be enough for you to keep control. Just be on your best behavior.”]
Since he seemed closed off about it she was not about to press him for answers. Especially as she knew him well enough now to how for that would get her. Still her response was stiff as she was not fond of the younger AI keeping a secret from her after such a peculiar event.
[h3 [center Molly]]Molly could not hide her widened smile as Leon returned in triumphant fashion. She had heard the voice he used referred to as the drill instructor voice before, and Leon seemed skilled in its use as he used it to take charge of the crowd. He may have to leave the booth shortly based on the time, but he had clearly made up for his lack of presence earlier. Still she would be sure to find out what had kept him later, and possibly chastise him for acting as the boss depending on how he handled himself.
[b “Aren't you the boss?”] One of the patrons asked incredulously.
[b “I am the boss. When my people need a break they get one. So please exit in a calm and orderly fashion. We'll reopen when everyone is ready I promise.”]
Molly made sure to smile as she said it, but her fists were clenched tight enough that her knuckles were white. None of the people around her seemed to notice though as they took her pleasant smile at face value. A benefit of her short stature to be sure. Although it did mean a few attendees tried to wiggle their way around the rule, but she was quick to shut them down.
While Leon had come at an opportune time to save her from the crowd it was not exactly in the fashion she would have liked. There were a number of ways she could see that going wrong as she heard more than one person whisper about him acting like he owned the place. Still she kept on her friendly facade for the team as there was no need to blow up now. He definitely helped his case by tossing her a water with a quick apology though.
[b “I'll give you a pass this time since you've got to go soon. Just don't expect to get off so easily next time.”]
She considered it an appropriate punishment as she took a seat on one of their booths to open the water. Another benefit of her small size was that she could sit just about anywhere. After dealing with the crowd for so long though she made it easily evident that she was parched whether from the body heat or the talking by chugging her water. Despite the team knowing her for a few weeks now she still drew a few glances by downing a pint of water in around a minute.
[b “Ryosuke get the mechanics to rig up some stanchions and see if we can't organize a functional queue. I'll make sure you all get an additional break after that, but I do not want to be swarmed like that when we open the doors up again. Then do me a favor and dish out the food so Satsuki can sit down. Since you and her are the reason we are in this mess.”]
Ryosuke gave a nod before taking charge of his portion of the team. They did not exactly have the materials necessary to make it look pretty, but they could always scrounge up enough to make them functional. Which was all he expected Molly to ask for given the fact that she and Satsuki were meant to be the pretty part of the booth. Not that he would say that to her of course.
[b “Now Leon, what took-”] Molly managed to say before Lilly burst into the room and lit up like a flash bang at the sight of her costume.
She could see Lilly ready to lunge at her already and so she was quick to dismount their booth to prevent harm to it. It would also help her to get into a proper stance to defend herself against Lilly's grabby hands. Something she did quite well by grabbing Lilly's first outstretched hand to spin her around into the sort of self hug a straitjacket would force on you. It was not an optimal hold for martial purposes, but she figured it would be enough to keep Lilly from doing anything that could cause problems.
[b “Cosplay is not consent Lilly,”] Molly said before switching to a whisper. [b “This is also not the most secure costume; so you need to calm down alright?”]
Molly was careful not to hurt Lilly, but made sure the she kept a firm hold on the girl. After that grabby handed lunge she was concerned Lilly might accidentally cause her a wardrobe malfunction in her excited state. Something that she would very much like to avoid after what had happened to Leon already just from spotting her costume. Not to mention all of the other witnesses that she would have to deal with.
Lilly was light enough that Molly could support her in a squat like position for a while so she was not worried about that fact. She far more concerned about whether Lilly would be able to calm down in this proximity. They were not in good position for Molly to move to her chair and the rest of the team seemed hesitant to help. Whether for fear of hurting Lilly or upsetting Molly it was not the most outlandish time to hesitate.
[b “Now since we are all here. How about you tell us what happened to you Leon?”]
She could hope the change of subject would let Lilly calm down. If she behaved Molly might not mind letting her get a few head pets in if Lilly could be careful about the ears. Molly may be a tough firecracker, but when someones lights up like that it is hard to say no. The fact that Lilly was also a well loved member of her team only served to make the idea of a hard no even more difficult, but she would still draw the line if Lilly could not control herself.
“I see thank you.” She said not missing a beat in switching confections after Roland shutdown. “Odd she didn’t message me about it. I don’t want to make Molly think up to no good.” That would be unlady like and almost unheard of for someone of her class. “O no need, thank you.” She smiled sweetly. “Lilly a big girl and doesn't need to be interrupted during her studies. She already so far behind I happy she tiring to catch up.” She looked back to the front of the building then took a few second to giggle at Yumi office about alone time. “O we don’t have a relationship like that I said that to tease you other half.” A classy way of saying paired or boyfriend. “Any ways sorry to take your time up I come by later and see if she in. O also tell Roland that I'm sorry for causing him to overload.” With that she bowed and turned and walked out.”
Shortly after that a new hologram image showed up int Roland spot. She had long black hair that reached her back. She looked young wearing a long white dress that looked like she was going out for a night of dancing. She looked around like she was tired. “Hmm where...” But before she says more, she hologram blinked out and replaced with Roland. “Crap that was close.” He looked scared like something bad had almost happened. “Please give me more ram so something like that doesn't happen again.” His voice was calm but some ice ran in it. “I'm sorry about early but please this isn't a joke what just happened cannot happen again.” He looked at Yumi with a stern face. “I promise I let you mess with me later but I need that ram.” All his normal gun ho nise was gone from before and replaced with how lean acted. “And I please beg you forget anything you just saw and say nothing to anyone. I asking you this to protect you not myself.”
Leon noticed every little movement that the gentlemen made. Well his and the mend behind him. Knowledge is power and know how one was reacting thought body language would tell you more than any words and from what he was reading from Yoichi was good news. He seemed happy with everything he said even something that he couldn’t place. Maybe recalling a memory from his younger day. Most sponsors had other been in a team or a pilot themselves and that could be what he was seeing.
Once the report was over or what felt like one, he shocks the man hand again and bowed. “I glad I could help you with your need this day.” What happened next made his hair stand up but he made show of it. Go over Molly head why would he do anything like that. It did confirm even more that he was a sponsor and one that already supporting the team. “Thank you, sir, but I hope never need to do such a thing.” The last statement also confused him. It seemed harmless enough. Good luck with a firecracker but the way he said it made him feel like there was something behind it. Maybe it was his imagination giving him this feeling but...
In the end it didn’t matter as he let out a heavy sigh once all men were out of range. Rubbing the back of his neck he said. “Dam it Roland been out to long.” He could feel himself turning back into his old self. It was slow but he could feel it. “I better head back inside I been away too long.” Turning back to the door he went back inside to see the chaos. His back was straighter then normal and he held his head a bit higher than normal. Almost everyone was crowded with people. He couldn’t even see Satsuki and Moll behind the wall of people surrounding them. He could see that almost everyone could use some help but he couldn’t do that so looking at the time he did the next best thing.
“May I have everyone attention.” His voice was stong and filled the room causing everyone to stop and look at him. He learned long ago how to control civilians just be the loudest person in the room and give no ground. “At this time we are going to take a break for lunch so please at this time grab your belonging and leave. If you are a sponsor, we welcome you to stay for a few minutes longer to finish your talks and looking at our display. For everyone else we reopen in an hour I thank you for your understanding.” His voice had left no room negotiations even when someone tried to say something, he gave them a look that sent them running.
It only took five minutes after that for the room to clear out and the door to shut. Looking back t everyone, he tossed both Molly and Satsuki a water. “Sorry If I over step my bounds but looked like you two needed saving as well as most of you.” From some were behind him her heard someone say. ‘What happened to him it like he totally different form before.’
‘I know he left a mess and came back like he owned the place it wired.’ This just made Leon laugh as he pulled out Roland chip and returned it to spot below his neck. He then returned to his normal looks or what most people believed it to be. “Again, sorry I just wanted to help out after running out.”
Just then Lilly burst into the room and looked around until finally her eyes landed on Molly. “YOU...” She yelled. “ARRRRRESOCUTEEE” What happened next Leon would remember for the rest of his life. Lilly would rush Molly and chace her if she ran until finally jumping form her chair to hold onto her and try to pet her head. “Why didn’t you tell me you cosplay. Ooooo I need you bring you to my room I got some many thing I want you to try on.” She held on tight so happy to see Molly like she was.
[h3 [center Yumi]]Yumi kept a close eye on Roland even as he adequately filled in for Leon. She knew that he could just be biding his time for an opportunity to make even more trouble for her and the team. Even as she kept watch though she overlooked a few comments that she deemed acceptable. He was still a grown intelligence there was no need for her to micromanage him. Just had to keep a close enough watch that he did not go overboard in front of potential sponsors or supporters.
During that time an elegant young woman made her way through the crowd around the booth. Although she avoided the denser crowd around Molly; she moved with grace straight to Lilly's section. It was the least detailed section both for Lilly's own comfort, and for the overall appeal of her and her Gear being the secret weapon of the team. Even so the young woman seemed to go over it with a fine toothed comb.
It took her moving to one of the other sections where Yumi could get a better angle for her to recognize the woman. Despite it being obvious that the woman was doing some spy work for her team everyone was happy to answer questions for her just as they would anyone else. Anything that needed to be kept secret Molly had already covered. Besides that Molly was honestly of the opinion that if they needed to rely on secrets they would not get far in the tournament. Secret weapon rhetoric aside there would be film on them before long, and it was the battle of film analysis that would be key to success by secrets. That was where she was most confident.
While Yumi and Molly were both comfortable with Darjeeling's presence; Yumi still made sure to devote some processing power to keeping tabs on her. There would be benefits to knowing what information she sought on their team after all. That and especially when she started talking to Roland about Leon and his Gear. She had to watch over Roland to make sure that he did not do anything improper anyway, and since keeping an eye on the spy was also important it was an easier task for her.
Yumi was especially glad to have been spying as she caught the whisper that sent her fellow AI into an overload. She debated for a moment whether to provide him a bit more room on her side of the system to help him recover, but ultimately decided to leave him just the power of his own section. There was an opportunity for her to pry a little and she wanted to pounce on it. Molly might complain about it, but she was still following orders at least in the technical sense.
[b “I believe it may have been a last minute change of plans due to the teacher,”] Yumi explained as she temporarily commandeered Roland's projector. [b “Molly would be happy to lend you her credentials to get you into the classroom section though if you want to try and catch her. You two could have some alone time together that way.”]
Yumi flashed a friendly smile and a playful wink at the last suggestion. After all of her observations of Lilly as a member of the team and all of her observation of Darjeeling as an opponent she was happy to support them in their relationship. Even if doing so could be skirting the rules of the college and even the rules that Molly had put in place for her.
[h3 [center Molly]]Molly had a much more difficult time now that the festival was in full swing as the crowd around her never seemed to thin out. Whether it was genuine interest in her and the Devil Bats now that she had made herself more approachable, or just people wanting to see her in her cosplay she could not say. She put on a friendly face though even as more and more people came up to her to talk about the team.
The majority of the crowd was made up of her classmates and peers, but there were a few potential sponsors there as well. It was the pressure of their presence that helped Molly to keep some of her fiery emotions at bay. Although being dressed up as a sort of superhero did its part as well since she wanted to live up to the costume. Not that she would ever tell a soul that fact about herself. All together it had at least worked thus far, but even Molly knew the moment someone did something truly inappropriate it would not last a moment longer.
Since she was so busy dealing with the crowds though it meant she could not give even the smaller potential sponsors the time that they deserved. Satsuki was in a similar position given her similar cosplay situation. Which left Ryosuke as the only one to try to coordinate the crowds around those two to give everyone their proper due. Molly and Satsuki could handle short chats, but there was too much of a crowd for either of them to do much more than that.
It got progressively worse with Roland momentarily out of commission as Leon's section drew some of the most attention. Yumi could step up to handle it to a degree, but the crowd was slowly taking control. Molly could only hope that the crowd would eventually thin out as the other teams worked to try to attract some attention to their own booths.
[h3 [center Yoichi]]Yoichi smirked a bit at the explanation given, but kept his mouth shut about it. There were too many possibilities presented for him to be sure about it even if he had a hunch on who had caught the young man's eye. He would always have a chance to confirm his theory later. Especially if he had one of his men hang around the booth as he intended to after he had to leave.
He made sure to nod as Leon explained he was bound by contractual obligations to keep from saying too much about the team. Yoichi could not blame him for not sharing more as he was sure Molly wanted to keep a lid on things, and of course Leon might not know exactly what Yoichi's relation to the team was after all. Still he seemed like an honest enough young man so Yoichi was happy with what he could provide.
Leon was quick to write off what the news had said about the team. A fact he followed up by complimenting the closeness of the team and the inspirational position that Molly had taken up despite her young age. She had been successful before, but maintaining a positive culture was difficult. The fact that an experienced veteran was willing to join the team at all was a good sign, however it was the fact that even being given the opportunity to speak openly with a more powerful individual he remained positive in his description.
He was quick to notice the young man change stances and speak up as though he was back in the military. A fact that made Yoichi smile as it reaffirmed he still had a presence even if his age had advanced. Of course he still ruled over his employees, but they had experienced him enough to know how to react. This was his first time meeting Leon and it seemed they were already on the right page.
Molly was a young leader, but even so Leon seemed to be happy with her leadership style. It had been at least partially inspired by Yoichi's own with a few wrinkles added her and there. She seemed to have been able to make it work based on how even the experienced new members had responded to her culture. Leon seemed even more enamored with one of the younger members of the team though; a fact that did not go unnoticed given what Leon had said to him earlier.
His demonic smile only widened as Leon brought up the tough training that his granddaughter had put the team through. It was certainly nothing like the death march that he had put his own team through, but it still made him smile. Leon seemed eager to defend her as the leader of the team which was the most positive sign. It was clear even from just the short conversation that she was doing what she could to make her dreams come true and that his money was not going to waste.
[b “No need. You did a wonderful job answering all of my questions.”]
Yoichi did keep him a moment longer to hand him a business card though. [b “If anything changes and you feel the need to go above Molly's head for something. Good luck with the girl.”]
[h3 [center Molly]]Molly managed to redirect one of the most interesting sponsors to Ryosuke before the crowd swallowed them both whole. A feat that was not as easy to accomplish as it had been earlier. Even though the crowd had been thick for a while there seemed to be no end to it as she shook hands and answered questions. It made her wonder if it would have been better for them to have gotten a stage and just put on a show.
Satsuki was lucky by comparison as even though she was only a few inches taller than Molly it was enough to make flagging down the other team members much easier. The crowd around her was also thinner thanks to the fact that she was not as famous as Molly, or showing as much. Although it was still thicker than the crowd around most booths thanks to her attractive figure in cosplay. She had also made sure to be close to Tatsuya whose height made it easier for him to spot her raised hand.
Molly on the other hand was left to drown in a sea of her peers as the crowd around her was now thick enough that she could not even see her team outside of it. There was no possibility of her calling for help now even if she needed it. She could only hope that nobody would do anything that would force her to need outside help. Still thirst was likely to take a toll on her soon as she had to continue talking to the crowd.
Roland would do his job well as he could. Not like he could do much else with that dam ghost hovering over him every few minutes to make sure he was doing the right thing. He hated being babysitted even more so by an AI less then him. For god sake he was a Military Ai she couldn’t do half the thing that he could yet she was the one in charge. ‘Dam ghost couldn’t tell the different between 111 and 112.’ He grubbed to himself.
Some of the people that came to his booth didn’t help his mood any ether. As most wanted to know about the gear and Leon as a pilot but a small few wanted to know a bit more. Like was he single or what his favor color or thing to do. The one that didn’t protein to anything about Leon gear or ability as a polit he politely said “I'm not able to reveal anything about his private affairs.” This always seem to get mixed reactions. The nicer one dropped it and left but a few got angry and cursed at him but would leave not causing a scene. “Why is it I always have to deal with the crazy?” he asked himself forgetting that Yumi could still hear him.
After a bit he noticed something new. A new arrival that seemed a bit different than the normal. She had come in and went straight to Lilly set up. Lilly was probable the weakest of all the display as what much could they show. Beside a short bio and a few pictures nothing was given off about Lilly or her gear. Hell, if they didn’t know Lilly by name, they wouldn’t know she was bound to a wheel chair as she hadn't given any pictures of herself. Back with the new comer she seemed to look around and seem disappointed. Clearly, she was looking for someone but as she didn’t seem to find them, she made her way around to the other displays only avoiding Molly as the crowd around it was thick. She seemed to take her time on each talking her time talking with each of them pilot and looking over their set up. Finally, she reached Leon display and started with his board as Roland seemed to be talking to some else at the time.
He was finally about to place her face once she was close as again, he didn’t have much more Ram then to talk. “Miss Darjeeling Mittal leader of all-girls school St. Gloriana team.” He said once he was free.
The woman smiled as she stood up and turned to Roland. “Yes?” she asked with every Elegance of a person with a rich up bringing could muster. “Can I help you good sir?”
Roland was taken about her response. “Well um yes I was just wounding what brings you to our tent?”
Her smiled didn’t change as she tilted her head a bit. “Is this not an open event? I was under the impression that anyone that wanted to come could if they so wished.” The politeness and elegance never once leaving her voice.
“Well yes, it is.” Roland said backpedaling a bit as now he seemed like an ass for questioning her. “I just surprised is all.”
“What that I would be so straight forward in my spying or that I would come myself and not send one of my underlings?”
This caused him to backpaddle more. “What no it not...” He wasn’t able to finish as Darjeeling let out soft laugh.
“Don't worry sir I’m not here to spy on Molly team I just came to meet up with a friend but she doesn't seem to be here so I was just having a look around. I would ask Molly about her but I haven't seen her ether.” she placing the flat of her hand on her chin and looked around.
It was Roland turn to tilt his head. “O well if that all I should be able to help. Molly is in middle of crowd and who the person you are looking for?”
“I see well that good to know.” She looked at the large crowd. “It seems I will have to talk to her later. Anyway, I looking for Lilly.”
This raised a few questions for Roland. “Well I sorry to say she not here at the moment as she stuck in a makeup class until later.”
“Odd she the one that invited me to come to the Festival a week ago.”
“May I ask what your relationship with Lilly is as I find it odd that she friends with the runner up from last year tournament.”
She didn’t answer at first as she looked around and leaned in and whispered. “Well of course I'm her secret lover.” She teased thing of having a bit of fun with the AI. What she wasn’t expecting was the total shut down of Roland as his system overloading and shutting him down. “Oops.” was all she could say as she covered her mouth.
Shrugging at the raised eye brow he said. “What can I say he knows I like this girl and he will do anything he can to make a fool of me for it. Pleaser to meet you Mr. Hiruma.” He was happy with the hand shake he learned that you couldn’t trust a man with a week handshake. His name sounded familiar but again he couldn’t place it. His guess that he was an investor wasn’t far off as the Mr. Hiruma confirmed it a few second later. Understanding that he didn’t want to draw attention as most big businessman didn’t Leon walked a few more steps away from the booth.
“I tell you what I can but please understand that I am bound by any restrictions on my contract with the Devil Bat and I will not speak of any such things that would violate that contract.” He wanted to make it clear that he wouldn’t do anything to make the team uncomfortable or set them up for later. He would protect them and do his best to make them look the best he could without lying. “My first thing to say would be don’t believe everything you watch on the news. Our team seems to have grown pretty close pretty quickly. Our younger member looks up to Molly of inspirations to see how good they can get. She leads from the front and people respect her for that. I even see it in some of the older members as well. Most of the older member as well are very good at their job and are always willing to help out and teach the younger.” At some point his hand found themselves behind his back and his voice became a bit deeper. He felt like he was giving a report to one of his old commanders. “The younger member are quite eager with one of them so much so she light up the room with her smile. Her energy alone makes everyone old or new want to try harder.” He of course was talking about Lilly. She been trying so hard that it even made him want to try harder to do his best to support his teammate.
“Everything not smiles and rainbows thought. The training hard and the hour are long. Everyone is told to pull their own weight and more is so asked. Failure is punished but we also use it as a teacher. No one is about a spot check and being able to add ore suggest something better. All opinions are listened to and no one feel like they aren't apart of the team.” He paused for a second to let this all sink in. “So, to answer your question no it not a crazy as the news would put it.” He hoped that answer the question and gave him everything he would need to know. “If you like I'm sure I could pull Molly away to talk with you herself.” He offered
“Still a failure it seems.” a voice said to Lilly as she looked at the floor. “I train you week after week and yet you never learn.” The voice said angerly. “Do you want to fail or are you just hoping that something will show you the ways out. Well let me tell you something. You are nothing you always have been and always be.” The words stung more than any blow to Lilly. It been the same words the voice in her head said. “I’m sorry” she cried.
“You better clean up your act before our next meeting our I give you a reason to be sorry.” The voice said as a door slammed shut leaving her alone. She was a mess her cloths torn and her hair was a crazy mess. Her eyes were red and her whole body hurt but like with every day she worked to suppress her true self. Out of her backpack she pulled a change of clothes and some make up. After almost twenty minutes cleaning herself up she came out looking like her normal happy self. Well almost the only thing was the smile the fooled so many people. “Am I really useless?” She asked herself. Was she just fooling herself with anything else. Her mind drifted back to the mouth event. All her training with Leon and Molly. The hard work Sarah Bill and Jack put into her gear. Was it all for nothing? Would she just fail like before? Maybe she would but she didn’t care she had the chance she wanted and it would be enough to give her hope. Looking at her phone she noticed the time and that she had two text. The first was from Darjeeling asking where she was and the second was from Roland. It was a picture of Molly. The picture let her find her smile before she rolled out to meet up with everyone and get herself close enough to pet the pretty puppy.
Yumi welcomed the wave of insults that Roland launched as it just added to his term in the timeout corner. She could take over for him answering any questions about Leon's Gear after all, and at least a few questions about the man himself. They may not have known each other all that long, but it was still enough for Yumi to have picked up on more than just the obvious about him. Especially after all the research that Molly had her do into his history.
Still his statement that it was what Leon was thinking and he was just the one to voice it was a bit of a surprise. She had gleaned that Leon was interested in Molly as he was bad enough at hiding the fact, but had not expected his interest to be quite that vulgar. He had presented himself as a more of a gentleman despite his background thus far. If his interest in Molly was just skin deep it would not end well for either of them, as Yumi knew that her master would not tolerate such from a subordinate.
After his timeout was served Yumi was happy to see Roland take on the serious side that his partner usually demonstrated. He did a wonderful job with the crowd and even seemed to have an interesting quote prepared to explain Leon's style. It was one that Molly would most likely counter if they ever debated the topic, but it was also one that Molly could respect. Her success came in equal measures from her own skill as a pilot and the cutting edge technology that she had used to create and fine tune the Red Death.
While Yumi was keeping a close watch on Roland; Molly was dealing with the brunt of the crowd around their booth. Either by directing traffic to one of the others based on interest, or by answering the questions herself based on her understanding. Unlike Leon and Roland she was not as open about the design of the Red Death at least in part because it had to do with her thesis. Although it was also because it was a known fact that her advanced skills with Gear design were part of what made the Devil Bats a successful Gear team.
She was happy to answer what she could though even in regards to her own Gear. Not in the least because the questions about Gears tended to be less invasive than the ones about her costume, or the ones about herself for that matter. Molly handled them all with more grace and poise than she had in the latter half of her infamous interview, but even so her face was starting to flush from the waves of people. After another rush she could be seen clenching and unclenching her hands, although she still stood at the front to draw the most attention.
[h3 [center Yoichi]]Yoichi could not help but smile as he saw Leon's eyes drift over to his complement of guards. It seemed his skills had not rusted from his short stint as a civilian. Although his skill behind the controls of his Gear were yet to be seen; Yoichi trusted that his granddaughter had that side of things more than under control. She had always been able to get good results out of her comrades in those contraptions.
Seeing the young man sizing up his security as though he expected a fight only served to widen his smile. The two men behind him had a bit more field experience than the young man, and almost certainly more than him with the weapons of the locale. It did make him wonder if Molly had tested his skills yet though, as he knew his granddaughter was one of the best amateur fighters at least pound for pound. He also knew her to be keen to test out those skills when she got the opportunity as he had dealt with the fallout from those tests on more than one occasion.
Embarrassment. It drew a raised eyebrow, but no questions from the older gentleman. He was far too interested in the fact that the young man seemed careful to keep his eyes on his entourage. Far sharper than he would expect given Leon had not gone the career military route, but a welcome surpassing of expectations as far as Yoichi was concerned.
[b “Yoichi Hiruma,”] the older man replied as he matched Leon's handshake with a strong grasp of his own.
A good handshake, solid stance, and a respectful tone. He had been trained well as far as Yoichi could see, although whether it had been the military or Molly he could not be certain. Whether it was because he recognized Yoichi beyond just being a wealthy potential sponsor it was still a positive. Yoichi knew that Molly had tried to keep her connection to him a secret, although one that did not last thanks to a certain Kanoko Naedoko.
[b “I had hoped to get to talk to Ryosuke, but this will be the first conversation I have with one of her new recruits,”] Yoichi said as he made sure to stay out of visual range of the booth. An appearance by him could draw unwanted attention after all. [b “I am interested to know how things are going on the inside of the team.”]
[b “Molly has not kept me as updated as she had in years past despite being one of her bigger sponsors. So tell me, is it as hectic as the news would have me believe? Or would you say that she has a firm grasp on the situation? Are you at least enjoying yourself on the team?”]
He hoped to keep Leon away from the booth just a moment longer, although it may not work as the young man seemed to want to get back. The leverage of his position as a sponsor might change that, but it would depend on how Molly had prepared them for the festival. It would also depend on whether or not he trusted himself to talk to such an important sponsor. No matter how Leon played it though Yoichi was happy to get more information on the young man as even his extensive information network had been unable to find enough to make him happy.
Roland would laugh as he watched his master run off blushing. Thought he was a bit disappointed by Molly reaction witch for the most part was nothing. He done a lot of the teasing to get Molly to recognize that Leon was looking at her. Plus seeing how she felt about that witch again for the most part was nothing. Finally, his chucking died down as he felt a cold chill running in his coding. One of the major reasons her could make fun of both parties was that Yumi wasn’t around to attack him or dive him nuts. Then in a blink of an eye that changed. “You” He yelled before his hologram blinked out and he was no longer heard from.
The drain form having so little ram felt like he was suffocating. “Dam you.” He would say in the confinds of the system. “Attacking me when I wasn’t looking. Cheap trick. I take back anything nice I said about you.” Insult her was the best he could do at the moment as he was full blocked off from most of his power by being in someone else system. “Don't blame me for what he was thinking I just say it so he doesn't.” He yelled at Yumi. “Plus come on you couldn’t think of anything better last night so I tried no reason to attack me for that.” He would counites this for some time until she would let him do his job with Leon side since the crowed was growing and he hadn't returned. Once he was releaced at least enough for his job his whole demeanor would change and go to being very nice and helpful to anyone looking at Leon side and Gear set up.
Leon set up was simple showing off most of his gear stats and weapon as he had nothing to hind in it. I was a military model and had no real upgrade. In fact, it was mostly stiped of most hardware. Leaving only major part. ‘less things to be damage in a fight meaning less to go wrong. Another major thing people noticed was the lack of a targeting system leaving all the firing up to Leon own skill. That last thing that would interest people in Leon stall was a quote to one side. “The first time I ever saw a jet, I shot it down.” Chuck Yeager. Roland would explain it to people who ask saying it didn’t matter how go tec got, nothing would bet the skill of the pilot.
Outside Leon hadn't planned on being outside long but at some pointed spaced out. His thought on how he had reacted. He would have never done that before. In fact, he may have been the to make them. In his younger day he had no problem flirting and using his charm in his favor but like many thing that all changed after he left the army. He remembered teasing one of his men in front of the girl he liked until he finally told her. If he remembers right, they had married last years. Maybe that what Roland was trying to do. Still is felt quite embarrassing. Leon had always had a crush on Molly ever since their first meeting so many years ago. Laughing a bit, he smiled.
Suddenly he was snapped out of his thought by a voice. It took him a second to recognize that he was being talked to. He wasn’t surprised that the gentlemen knew his name. His face and name were posted all over the news and internet. His eye was quickly drawn to the two men with guns. He instinctually reached for the one he kept on his own hip only to remember that he left it in the car as school would allow him to carry. Even at the garage he wouldn’t carry as not to make everyone uneasy that he didn’t. He hated being unarmed but after taking a second to look both men over he was confident that he could dispatch them if thing got ugly.
Turning back to the rich looking man Leon posture and voice got a bit harder. “Well that kind of a funny story.” He said still showing his respect to the older gentlemen. “My best friend kind of embarrassed me and I need a second to recover, however seem I lost trick of time.” He stood back up dusting himself off his eyes never leaving to two men behind them just in case. He never let his guard down around armed men. The rich man looked somehow familiar but he couldn’t quite place it. Smiling he extended his head for a hand shake. “Nice to meet you already know my name it seems mind if I ask your sir?” Leon would stand to his full high back straightening his back, almost as he would when greeting a Superior officer. His hand shape would be firm with a touch of strength behind it. Normal people wearing rich clothing and have a pair of armed guard meant that this people was someone important. How important that was yet to be seen. “Welcome to the Devil bat stall.” He clicked his heals out of habit when introducing his company, it took a bit not to accidentally salute. “If their anything you need help or would like to know please feel free to ask. I answer any question to the best of my ability.”
Molly moved with grace despite the high heel of her boots, and showed no embarrassment despite the skin that she showed. Her confidence was even a surprise to the two masterminds of the plan, but neither of them had an explanation for the other. If anyone knew why Molly was so comfortable it was only herself. She did not seem keen to share that reason with anyone either as she did her best to keep herself busy.
Despite Satsuki's warning to them; Roland was the first to speak up about Molly's appearance. Even with his inappropriate comment though; Molly did not seem the list bit perturbed by anything as she continued to handle the small crowd. It seemed that after word got out about Satsuki's stunt that there were more people flocking to the booth. Although she did seem to pay a bit more mind to how Leon handled his rebellious partner.
The rest of the pilots managed to escape their shock shortly after as Roland continued to speak up about Molly's appearance. They were kind enough to avert their gaze from him, but it seemed that Roland did not notice it. Roland was ignorant of the reactions of both the team and the crowd as he continued to dig him and his master a hole fit for a body. While most of the team was kind enough to leave Leon his dignity; Satsuki was nearby as she realized someone missed a key part of the setup.
Roland may have intentions of digging a six foot hole, but Leon did not want to be dropped in it as he bowed with a quick apology before beating a retreat. He ran so fast that Molly did not even have the time to respond to him. She was also not about to speak to Roland in his stead. Especially as Satsuki finished the connection necessary to have Yumi deliver a fitting punishment to the trouble maker of the team. Since Molly could not gut punch an AI; Yumi delivered a metaphorical gut punch by limiting his access to the RAM. It was a similar enough experience to getting the wind knocked out of you that Molly would be appeased.
If she was upset about Leon taking off she did not let it show on her face. There was little time for her to though as she had to greet all of the newcomers to the booth with a welcoming smile. The crowd had grown quite a bit larger since the festival was now officially open and thanks to word of mouth and prime real estate they were easily going to be the busiest booth. One benefit of her plan to have backups though meant they had more hands on deck as the wave came.
Molly and Satsuki made a potent pair that attracted attention from all over the festival to their booth. They seemed to handle the publicity well though as they even went so far as to take a few photos with fellow fans of the series. While they were mostly just there to grab attention; Ryosuke handled the serious inquiries by sponsors, and the pilots helped take some of the load off their leader. Combined with Yumi who could provide virtual assistance to anyone who came by and the booth was running like a well oiled machine.
Despite the smooth sailing each of the pilots individually attempted to get approval from Molly to check up on their missing member. The growing crowd prevented her from granting any of them that freedom, or at least that is what she said. Although it was a revealing costume it seemed to hide her emotions well enough. Especially as even Ryosuke grew a bit concerned about whether or not they should check on Leon.
[b “Are you sure that we shouldn't let one of them go check on him?”] Ryosuke whispered during a small opening.
[b “Leon's a big boy he can handle himself.”]
It was said with a quietly cheerful tone, but Ryosuke had his doubts before shrugging it off. He was not going to change Molly's mind while they were dealing with crowds of people, and especially not when they had already gone through so much work to have her go through with their plan. After Leon's response to it though he felt bad that he did not warn the poor young man. Although he did not have the same regret when it came to his troublesome partner.
[h3 [center ???]]While the festival was getting into full swing the teammate that the Devil Bats were concerned about was slumped down against one of their trucks. Despite the out of the way location that he had found to calm down he was somehow noticed. A trio of sharp dressed men; two who looked like stereotypical security, and a third that looked like a wealthy elderly man despite a demonic face. All of whom made their approach of the young man with no apparent concern for his state.
[b “It's Leon Kennedy right?”] The elderly man asked as he crouched down in front of Leon, and in doing so revealed rather prominent fangs. [b “What are you doing wasting your festival out here?”]
While the eldest of the trio made his approach; his security personnel were quick to flank him in case the former member of the military decided to try anything. Even though their presence most likely did little to intimidate the young man after everything he had seen.
Leon would nod as he had plenty of time to help her before his other engagements would drag him away. “Don't worry I got this.” He smiled giving a thumbs up as she left to do whatever she need to do. He wondered what was left to do as everything was set up and in place. ‘Maybe she going to check up on the gears.” He thought to himself as he went back to his table. The area they had set up in was nice and would give them shade for most of the day.
After a bit some people showed up. The man looks immediately reminded Leon of a lion with the amount of hair he had. He tensed up at first thing that the group had come to cause problem but after a second, he relaxed as they called out Tatsuya's name. In returned Tatsuya seem to know them as well. Walking up to the group he smiled. “Nice to meet you Taiga.” He said reaching out to shack the man hand. He then offered it to the rest of the group. “Name Leon I one of the new members.”
Soon after that everyone eye turned to look at something behind him. “What?” He asked everyone as he turning around. “Cat got your...” He didn’t finish his sentence as he noticed at how Satsuki was dressed. Leon mouth moved to say something but nothing came out. He couldn’t find any word as he then noticed her face as she gave her warning. He didn’t hear most of it as his mind was racing a mile a minute.
“Wait didn’t Molly go with,” He said to himself only for the other voice in his head to answer. “O this is going to be good.” Just then Molly would walk out. If the first one had been a shock then Molly would have been cardiac arrest to him. He had no idea from what anime or manga they dressed up as. All he knew was just how... He couldn’t even finish the thought. “Holy shit I think she just killed you.” Roland whispered his voice trying hard to hold back a laughter. A war with millions of troops couldn’t do that.’
Leon wanted to make some kind of reply or anything but he couldn’t he just stood there like an idiot starring in disbelief. Finally, something came to him as he was able to come to some kind of control as he stepped behind something shielding himself form her. God, he hoped she didn’t try to talk to him like that or he be reverted to a blubbering mess within second however that didn’t stop his other half form staying something.
“AAAA look at the cute puppy.” Roland said snapping a picture before quickly sending it off to someone. Leon blood went cold at Roland.
“Roland what are you doing?” Leon said in a low voice trying not to look up at Molly.
“What am I doing you asked?” he said not lowing his voice. “Well I just looking at the cute puppy that isn't illegal is it? Because if it is, you’re even more guilty after looking at her like that.”
Leon felt his heart almost stop as his face went redder then last night. He could beardly say. “I was nnnoottt.”
Roland rolled his eye clearly have a lot of fun making fun of his master. “O so weren't staring at her because you wanted to pet her.” Leon could no long speck as his face was so flustered. ‘so, this is how it feels.’ He thought to himself. ‘Payback a bitch.’ “I mean you always had things for that but dam man she your boss.”
So embarrassed form everything he turn to Molly hand bowed his head before saying. “Please forgive me but I need to go for a minute.” He said before almost running outside and to behind one of the trucks. He had left Roland in the projected with was fine with him as he would need a minute or hour to calm himself down. He would hope that Molly would see that as nothing more than Roland picking on him and nothing more as he didn’t want to get shot down yet. He was still trying to get to know her better or so he told himself. Molly had been his first crush and he had no idea how to handle it.
In his past he been just like that to his friend cocky and tasting them just like that. Calling it out in front of them like Roland had. It was his own fault to as Roland was around to help take that away from him with the neural link but most time it would cause Roland to ack out instead of him.
Rubbing his face he slid to the ground and let out a heavy sigh. Resting his head in his head he asked himself. “What am I going to do.”
While there were teams that had beaten them to the school; Molly had seen to it that they got the best real estate. It involved a bit of negotiation on her part, but their performance last year made it easy. Thanks to that they were able to get a bit more extravagant with their display than most of the other teams, and per Satsuki's recommendation saw fit to include some displays to get to know the team. Across their setup they had a display for all eight pilots, Ryosuke, and one that listed a few fun facts about the support crew.
Each of the displays had been assembled with the support of the pilots themselves to make sure that there was no information shared that would make them uncomfortable. They were also backed by displays of their respective Gears, at least for those of them that had Gears. Molly's Red Death being placed front and center with the most grandiose of the displays to draw the attention of everyone who would walk past. Since she was the team leader and would be the only one there throughout the majority of the event it made sense for her to be the attention grabber.
Molly being front and center would also work well with Satsuki's plan to get her a bit better public image after all the rumors that had been spread about the team. Although with all of their setup it had to be put off until the last minute for her to get ready. Thankfully they had Ryosuke to help watch over the booth in case of any sponsors, and Leon volunteered to handle the pilot side of things long enough for them to get ready.
[b “If you could just be available until I get back that will help a lot,”] Molly said as she put on a brave face. [b “Satsuki and I have to finish getting ready for her plan before people start showing up. Don't we Satsuki?”]
Satsuki smiled widely before heading off into one of the trucks with Satsuki. It would afford them the necessary privacy to change clothes without having to make the trip all the way back to the hangar. Along with the time alone for Satsuki to do some of the makeup for Molly's costume. Something that Molly had made sure would be necessary by going through with her sparring match with Leon the day before. Unfortunately Molly's plan did not go that well as she did not have any deep bruises thanks to the pads she had worn.
While Molly was getting ready the other pilots were doing their part to be available to the public. Each had some coaching to deal with the public persona of the team, but Molly trusted them enough that they did not go through anything excessive. It was her that had put the team in the cross hairs after all; even if it was unintentional. The new recruits seemed to have a good handle on it though and their pleasant personalities did well as the early arrivals started to show up.
Before the doors officially opened though another team made their appearance at the booth. The leader of the group stood a few inches taller than the tall Tatsuya and had the air of a wild beast about him. His face softened though as he approached and put a firm hand on Tatsuya's shoulder before shaking the man's hand.
[b “Looks like you guys found replacements! I didn't expect you to get such talent.”]
Tatsuya just laughed as he patted his friend on the back. [b “You should know never to count Molly out Taiga.”]
They chatted for a moment more before Tatsuya realized he should introduce his friend to the team. [b “This is Taiga Kagami, we're on the same basketball team.”]
[b “Nice to meet you all!”]
The quick introduction was interrupted by Satsuki's reappearance. She normally would not draw so much attention, but being dressed up as Mew Ichigo made her stand out far more than usual. It was the worried expression on her face that drew the most attention from her teammates. Satsuki made sure that they were all close before explaining though to make sure that only trusted individuals heard what she was about to say.
[b “Molly's about come out and I've been told to warn you all that any inappropriate comments will be met with a punch to the gut. So be aware and beware.”]
[b “I see your boss hasn't changed much, eh?”] Taiga asked with a chuckle.
[b “She's changed a lot. We at least get a warning this time,”] Tatsuya replied with a smile.
It was not long after Satsuki's warning that Molly made her own appearance. Just like Satsuki they were given a bit of notice by the turning of heads, but Molly also managed to draw some shocked gasps from the thin crowd before she came into view. The terrifying Molly Mushanokoji being dressed up as Mew Zakuro could clearly have that effect on people. Although there was also a few whispers that could be heard about her not showing any sign of embarrassment despite the outfit; unlike her issues with the interview dress.
[b “Good morning everyone! Are we ready to give it our all today?”]
Even with all of the attention Molly came in with an unusual amount of cheer that only seemed to draw more attention to their booth. Thankfully even though the team might have been rendered speechless by their leader's appearance to keep up with the extra activity; both Satsuki and Ryosuke had prepared the shocking surprise after all. Molly herself also did not seem to have any problem dealing with the still thin audience, but it was yet to be seen if she would be able to tolerate the full crowd the festival was about to have after the doors were opened to the public.
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