2021-01-04: Deep Blue Sea

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<Pose Tracker> Ida Everstead-Rey has posed.

    Hours ago, one of the Thames' deep-diving salvage teams sent out an SOS--and the mood aboard the supercarrier grew tense. Thanks to the daring efforts of a few brave Drifters, the stranded team returned home safe and sound, alongside a decent haul of machinery. Tragedy has been averted this day. The Thames' crew is close-knit, and grateful. They know just how risky salvage-diving can be, and they know to celebrate the victories.

    The Thames' mess hall is massive--and its bar occupies about half of the port wall. Between two and four bartenders are on duty at any given time; today, it's four, because the mess hall is jam-packed with technicians and Gear jockeys and salvage-tug crewpeople, all wanting to get a peek at the heroes who saved Deep Blue.

    Ida Everstead-Rey is one of those heroes. She sits at the bar, wearing slacks, combat boots, and a button-down shirt with the sleeves rolled up. Her hair is still pulled back in a tight bun, though it's still a little mussed from her helmet. She is in the process of drinking her second gin and tonic.

    Flanking her on either side are family--her mother's adoptive sister Isabel, and Isabel's oldest son, Roberto. Isabel is clearly both Beastwoman and mechanic--she's lean and rangy, with six photosensitive lenses ringing her two humanlike 'primary' eyes. Her hair is close-cropped and bristly. She's wearing an oil-stained jumpsuit with patches marking her as one of the Thames' shift chiefs. Roberto takes after his mother, though he's taller and more well-built; his hair is slightly longer, and his 'auxiliary' eyes are mere suggestions. He's wearing a flightsuit marked with the insignia of Deep Blue--the salvage team that was just rescued.

    "So where's the kid?" Roberto asks, for what feels like the fifth time since the party started. It probably has something to do with the fact that he's just started his third shot of Shemember whiskey. "Is he okay?"

    'The kid', of course, is Azoth--a member of the rescue team who is conspicuously absent.

    "I'm sure he's fine," Ida says, even though she hasn't seen him since they were reunited back on deck. "He doesn't drink, and he can be kind of shy sometimes."

<Pose Tracker> Seraph Boudicca has posed.

    Boudicca, who is an air elemental, has this nasty habit of floating to the surface of any body of water she is submerged in. One would think the plate armour would weigh her down, and maybe if it really were plate armour, it would.

    As such she stayed above-water, here at the Thames, though she is much relieved to see Ida back safe and sound. There was a good deal of fussing. And concern! Boudicca does worry for humans going below water. There's no air down there, and humans need air to breathe.

    Luckily, Ida and her friends are very capable and good at things, and the mission was a success. Looks like she has a good feeling!

    Boudicca has a glass of something distinctly non-alcoholic, speaking of people who drink, though these days she at least won't protest other people imbibing fiery liquid. It may be that some people are confused at the empty seat with a glass, but maybe they're honouring the kid who isn't here? And... maybe someone is sleight-of-handing that glass to be a little more empty every so often...

    ... that's probably what's going on.

<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

    ELSEWHERE BUT CLOSE

     Seraph Lanval may be the Oracle of Schturdark, but as someone who is still an individual with an individual will, he is a Water Seraph whose natural Domain is in the amplification of small joys, and he likes being where people are happy. He's not quite on the up and up as to what's going on or why, but this is Filgaia and life on it is hard. If he's in the vicinity of joy and happiness, it's just in his nature to be there to amplify it.
     It is also in his nature to drink.
     He is also feeling 'oily' and 'iridescent' right now, which is unrelated matters probably.

     HERE

     Ethius in comparison has been, by his standards, continuing to be high-strung considering current matters and decisions by the Al Bhed on the next step in securing the future of their homeland, had to return from Spira for matters of Gear-related maintenance in a place where fresh produce can barter for so much, and now has whatever business on-hand held up by the recent emergency and resulting celebration.
     He has not much choice but to ride it out in the mess hall, where he conspicuously does not take a drink but is not plastered against a wall like some kind of flower.

<Pose Tracker> Eika Zuse has posed.

Eika Zuse wouldn't show up for just a party.

She might have, once upon a time, but lately she's preferred crowds to be smaller, and it's not like she drinks a whole lot. (Maybe there's some lingering Church of Granas-ness on her.)

But she heard about the message the Captain was having spread around. Eika may no longer be an Etone, technically, but she's still not exactly comfortable leaving Wels to roam the open seas. Especially the terrifyingly large sort, which this one clearly is.

Eika hasn't yet gotten all the details, and she's pretty sure she's not going to be able to while the Thames' mess hall is hopping like this, which is why she's currently taking up space near a wall. She is dressed a little better than she has been - the shirt is tailored a little better, her shorts are properly shorts and not long pants with half the leg ripped off - but she still looks more like a castaway (or a buccaneer) than a proper pilot or Wels-fighter, even with the wraps around her feet like a martial artist's.

She does not have a drink. At least, not right now.

<Pose Tracker> Talise Gianfair has posed.

Talise showed up mainly because Talise tends to be around most places water is. In this case she had a more specific objective: To shop for deep-water diving equipment.

At the moment, she's found herself a spot at a table, where she's fiddling with a large tank of something with straps and clasps attached to it. "So how does this work," she murmurs as she squints at it, holding up a device dangling from the top - a hose leading to a clunky-looking mask. "You put this in your mouth? And it keeps you from dying or something?"

"Beats me," grunts Benedict Greygust, inspecting a similar piece of equipment from the other side of the table. "Supposedly these'll get us far enough down to get into the Crescent Princess. But I don't know much about Filgaian devices and such."

Talise crinkles her nose before nodding slowly. "Alright. We'll try these out, maybe...." She trails off and looks towards Ida, lips drawn together in consideration.

Something's gone awry - Talise can tell that much, really. She wasn't on board for whatever happened, but she's picked up bits and pieces - and besides, she's keeping Eika company while she shops.

Far be it from her to ditch on a friend.

<Pose Tracker> Dean Stark has posed.

    Dean's been to the Thames's mess hall before, and he much enjoys its food. He's got a heaping plate of food right now, in fact, and is shoveling fried rice into his mouth right now as he sits next to Boudicca. So maybe he's the one sleigh-of-handing that glass? With that enormous appetite, it would follow if he were drinking from it every so often. Whenever people aren't looking. Yeah, that must be it.
    
    At least that ensure a good reason to get that glass topped off every so often, even though there's a second other glass that he's also more obviously drinking from (not alcoholic). How thoughtful!
    
    Being busy eating, he'll probably not contribute much to the conversation, but he will be listening. In between digesting, anyway. It's hard work.

<Pose Tracker> Layna Manydays has posed.

As a sailor herself, news of monsters lurking beneath the seas is, of course, of great interest to Layna. Anything that might be a danger to her ship and her crew needs to be dealt with...

...That, and there was just something exciting about the idea of fighting giant sea monsters.

That Eika was interested in this too, of course, was more than enough extra incentive to come along. And so, here Layna is. She's claimed a chair near Eika, Talise, and Benedict, in which she is currently sitting back with her feet on the table and a mug of somethat that's definitely alcoholic in one hand as she listens to the goings-on.

<Pose Tracker> Citan Uzuki has posed.

    Once they had made a return to Filgaia, Citan had suggested a rendezvous with the Thames for a variety of reasons, among them being the fact that the floating city was a good place to catch up on the news since they had last been on the planet.

    One of the other reasons had been to complete a particular negotiation--

    Which has been, well, not complicated by the recent situation beneath the waves, but has been certainly made more...
    Perhaps it is best to say that the Captain of the Thames has a particular way of getting what he requires. Particularly if you have also been the recent recipient of a favor. Well, two favors as of this counting.

    But all this is merely prologue to the present moment, where Citan Uzuki, former doctor of Lahan, stands talking to one of the engineers. He glances every so often over towards the heroes of the hour.

    "So there is one more," he remarks, before continuing to work the engineer for more specifics on the incident.

<Pose Tracker> Lily Keil has posed.

"Probably," Lily agrees of Azoth being fine, and she has a chilled-over glass of something dark and potent herself. Naturally, she froze it over herself. She's in black, an armored jacket over a tanktop over pants and boots, not because of particular danger at the moment but because of particular danger recently. She'd already planned to rendezvous on the Thames, and was in fact here seeing to her Gear when the call came.

Her hair unlike Ida's is down, long and black, and she glances over as she spots Citan with a nod and a wave his way.

She's been overall fairly quiet, but not unfriendly. She just seems to be thinking a lot. At least her eyes are back to normal human parameters again by now.

<Pose Tracker> Billy Lee Black has posed.

The Thames knows Billy Lee Black. The rowdy band of Definitely Scavengers And Not At All Pirates are a reliable resupply hub for those who wander Aquvy regularly, and that is certainly in Billy's wheelhouse. Besides...

There's rumors of Wels afoot, and that is one way to guarantee Billy will make time for you.

The pale-skinned, pale-eyed, pale-haired Etone steps through the doors of the mess, attempting to be unassuming but failing entirely due to the sheer degree to which a man of the cloth stands out in a human sea of renegades. His ambitions of subtlety are further torpedoed by the fact that hovering at his boots is a small girl - barely up to his waist, with the same paleness about her that he has and clutching to the long tail of his traveling habit, she trots along after him and keeps his pace sedate. He blinks with some surprise, at the number of faces he recognizes in the press; signalling to Citan, especially, as he approaches, but his destination is the bar where, upon arrival, he sets up against it, and calls Ida's attention with a small, "Ms. Ida."

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Fei Fong Woong spends a fair amount of time on the Thames as of late and today is no exception--particularly when Citan makes a suggestion like that, he is inclined to listen to the Doc. He has a lot of faith in the guy and would probably eat just about anything Citan handed off to him with no questions asked though, to be fair, Fei would probably eat anything he found on the floor so maybe it doesn't say all THAT much.

Fei is just kind of lurking about when he sees Billy. ANDD A SMALL ADORBDABLE CHILD. A PLAYMATE FOR EMERALDA PERHAPS?

Fei brightens upon seeing him, then quirkrs his head as he sees Billy signaling to Citan. And then he just kind of blumbers on in anyway.

"Hey Billy! Whose your friend there?" Fei asks with a big cheesy grin. "Glad to see you made it back to Filgaia in one piece! This your first time to the Thames?"

<Pose Tracker> Allison Storm has posed.

    There are a couple of very good reasons for Allison to be attending the party on the Thames. The most obvious and given one, for those to whom she has seen fit to justify her side excursion, has been the call for pilots. From a carrier ship, no less! Maybe this sector isn't as much of a backwater as she thought. She doesn't even look especially out of place in her white flightsuit, even if it's clearly not a match for the ship's crew, nor is the jacket over it from which what must have previously been affiliation-identifying markers have been stripped.

    Sure, the vehicles that need piloting might not be exactly what she's used to, but surely nothing down here can be too complicated for a savvy modern spacefarer. It's not like they're those weird bundles of cloth or something.

    The second reason is a secret, but it might have something to do with the way she's been spying on Talise and her companion from across the room.

    She's currently sat at one of the mess tables with a mostly-empty cup of whatever's most freely available (she's not especially picky) somewhere near where Ethius is hanging around as something other than a wallflower. Her attention shifts to the man, noting that he's still not drinking before speaking up on the matter: "Hey, you gonna drink anything, or what?"

<Pose Tracker> Elhaym van Houten has posed.

Elly can be seen in the background moving along a different hex face than Fei, probably connected to the creel of intermediately-sized ocean fish she is carrying towards the mess hall and adjacent specialty fish market. She does call out from the far side of Fei, "Oh! Hello Father! Fei, don't move off too far, alright??"

She then goes to interact with a subgame sale menu that is paying for Emeralda's future college tuition.

<Pose Tracker> Ida Everstead-Rey has posed.

    The sharp, two-note call of a bosun's whistle pierces the air. The ambient chatter dims in response; heads turn to face the main lift, where the sound came from.

    "Cap'n on deck!" announces one of the Thames' boatswains.

    And he is.

    The Captain of the Thames cuts a distinct figure--he is every inch the old, grizzled mariner, and he looks the part. A tall, well-built Beastman of walrus stock, he wears a red-and-black hat, and a matching officer's greatcoat; one of his legs ends in a wooden peg just below the knee. The wooden stem of a pipe protrudes from his bristly moustache, flanked on either side by great tusks. He gives an almost dismissive wave of his hand, and says, simply: "As you were!"

    The Captain makes his way through the crowd with ease. Crew and pilots alike politely step aside to let him pass. He stops at the edge of the bar where Ida and the other Drifters are gathered, and he lingers, taking it in. "The heroes of the hour," he says, turning to Ida and Lily. It's hard to see his smile beneath the moustache, but it twinkles in his eyes. "Well, two of 'em, at any rate."

    Ida gives the Captain a respectful bow. As she does, someone addresses her; she turns to see Billy, and smiles, warmly. "Brother Black," she says. "I'm sure you're familiar with the Captain, at least by reputation."

    "Of course I know him," the Captain says, "In fact, I knew he'd come around the moment he heard what happened. How've you been, Brother Black?"

    Isabel doesn't turn to look at Billy, but she doesn't need to. She can see him perfectly fine with her two rightmost eyes. She downs the rest of her glass in a single gulp.

    The Captain waits for Billy's answer before politely turning to Layna's group. "And you must be the famed Captain Manydays," he says. "And you've brought friends. Good, good! We'll need all hands on deck if we're going to kill that thing!"

    "With respect, sir," Isabel says, nudging the Captain with an elbow. "Maybe you should give 'em the rundown of what happened."

    "Ah, of course, of course. But best if they also hear it from those who survived that thing." The Captain looks meaningfully at Roberto and Ida, as if giving them advance notice. They're going to be called upon. "We've codenamed it 'Gomihone', because it's all garbage and bones. That doesn't mean it's any less dangerous--we've never seen a Reaper of that size, much less one able to hide itself." He gives Roberto a look.

    "The Captain's right," Roberto says. "Davidson saw more of it than I did, but it just came out of nowhere. I saw a massive surge of heat, and then it just... damn near tore Bruford's Gear in half. Ate the bits it tore off, too."

<Pose Tracker> Eika Zuse has posed.

Eika has been watching Talise and Benedict as they examine gear. She *does* know how Filgaian devices work, at least in a general sense. She couldn't make something like this, but: "The tank has air in it," she says. "You can squeeze air down real small with a pump, or a Symbologist. These bits - " She leans forward to grip the attachments on the mask, shaking them so the straps rattle. "They're to make sure you just get a little when you breathe instead of trying to inhale the whole thing or keeping it all in the tank."

"You still can't go down all the way to the bottom of the ocean with just this because it'll crush you - water's heavy! - but it'll work for shallows." Eika straightens back up, dusting her hand on the side of her shorts. "It'd make using that framework a little easier if we were breathing to set it up, too."

For someone who's a little reticent about her past, Eika does seem to have a wealth of information about getting into ruins and beating up the monsters there. Though speaking about her past...

Eika doesn't spot Billy come in immediately because it's busy in here and he's not that loud about it. But she *does* hear Fei call, glances up at it - and she doesn't need to know who Billy is to recognize that kind of outfit.

She startles and, with as much surreptiousness as she can manage, takes one big step to the side to end up behind Talise from Billy's point of view. She can still (presumably) hear back there while avoiding Billy's attention, even if honestly she probably could have avoided it better by not moving at all.

She asks Talise and Layna, quietly, "Have either of you ever fought Wels?"

<Pose Tracker> Talise Gianfair has posed.

If Talise is aware of someone snooping on her, she doesn't give a sign. She just fusses with the breathing mask in her hands, fitting it over her mouth and nose experimentally. "Think this might be for a smaller person than me," she muses through the mask's filter.

When the Captain does appear, she glances up with a cant of her head, listening for a moment. A small frown tugs at her lips before passing, and she looks back down to the equipment in front of her, fussing with something on the tank in her lap.

"Oh, is that how? Huh," she muses with a look back up at Eika. "Yeah, I know about water pressure and diving sickness, I just didn't know how this kind of equipment worked...."

Pausing, the big swordswoman crosses one leg over the other. Her voice quiets as the topic turns. "Yeah, I have. Awhile back."

She furrows her brows, setting her tank aside and scratching at one of her cheekstripes. "I actually think Ida was there for it," she murmurs as she shifts her body, picking up on a silent cue. The movement is casual, but it puts her broad shoulders between Billy and Eika.

Talise is six foot two and has her coat on. Seeing past her is Not Easy.

<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

    Ethius turns that look of his over to Allison as she inquires about whether or not he'll be drinking anything. "I am adequately hydrated," he responds cryptically and somewhat unnaturally, but he's always spoken a bit weird. Like Allison, though this is more incidental, he isn't that far out of earshot of Talise and her entourage shopping around for diving equipment while celebratory and informative matters are underway. It may be less 'individual interest' and more 'a gauge of what kind of services are available' as he feels the pressure of time ticking down. He doesn't know what's going to come next for Spira and its current war situation and the sooner he can get business here concluded...
     He looks up when there's the shrill call for attention for the Captain of the Thames. Something about needing to 'kill that thing,' but he doesn't have to wait long to hear of what it is. A giant, large-scale 'thing' that eats arms off of Gears.
     ...
     "That would explain the higher activity on the Thames as of late," Ethius remarks in close vicinity to Allison. He has gone on a salvage mission before on behalf of the Thames, shortly after obtaining a Gear hidden away on Kattelox. Its brand of weaponry isn't at its best underwater - it's mostly beams - but he may need to leverage favor if he's going to adequately prepare for what he considers the worst case scenario.
     He gauges the make-up of the crowd and approaches so that he is in a better place to hear out the details of the 'Gomihone' in question and what their plans detail.

<Pose Tracker> Layna Manydays has posed.

The bosun's whistle sounds and Layna drinks up. At the announcement of the Captain of the Thames' presence on deck, Layna swings her feet down from the table and sits up straighter - a sign of respect for her fellow Captain. She listens as he acknowledges the others, and when he addresses her, she grins and tips her hat.

"Aye, that I am, and that I have. Friends I'd trust my life with, in fact. We seafolk have to stick together, aye?" She replies. She returns to leaning back in her chair, then, giving Roberto and Ida her attention.

"A fast one, aye...?" Layna says consideringly. All 'garbage and bones' too, apparently. This one might be tough to deal with. She glances to the side at Eika, though, as she asks a question.

"Aye, I have. Big ones, small ones... really big ones, you name it." She confirms.

<Pose Tracker> Seraph Boudicca has posed.

    Boudicca is quietly fascinated by Talise's gear, particularly as Eika explains why it feels so clever to her. "Remarkable!" She enthuses, from her position beside Dean. Her glass of - soda water? It's certainly bubbly - raises in toast. Because that's what one does. She has learned this, amongst other things, from observing the good captain Layna.

    She quiets down for the captain, though, turning her attention to him. Her expression grows in consternation, as he mentions the Reapers. "One so large..." She remarks, quietly.

    She remembers the Wels she encountered approaching Setanta's lair. She wishes she didn't. The idea of one large enough to menace Gears is evidently a problem with her, the way she frowns.

<Pose Tracker> Dean Stark has posed.

    As people show up, Dean pauses in wolfing down his dinner to wave cheerfully at them. This includes his recent acquaintance, Billy, and especially his good long-time friend, Fei. He chews thoughtfully when the Captain explains what happened with this Reaper they're calling Gomihone. (Al Garbone?)
    
    After swallowing, he remarks, "It's been a while since I've fought any Reapers, but there were big ones out in the wastes, too--almost as big as houses." Or at least the local houses, so this size descriptor is not as good as it might sound. He looks over at Boudicca with a touch of concern as she grows worried, then looks back at the Captain. "This is even bigger than those guys were?"
    
    Definitely sounds like something you'd need a Gear to fight, either way.

<Pose Tracker> Billy Lee Black has posed.

Billy brightens as the Captain arrives, and of course with Fei and Elly announcing themselves as well. He hasn't noticed Eika currently....though his gaze does flick in that direction, briefly. An Etone is taught to be wary for unexpected attention, of course. But he has his hands full, at the moment.

He offers the Captain a respectful half bow, dipping his head. "A pleasure to see you again, Captain. It's been a bit wild the last few months, but nothing we weren't able to handle. It's always good to see the Thames as rowdy as ever. You remember Prim, of course."

The small girl peeks out from attempting to vanish behind Billy, though after a moment she trots a step or two away, looking up at the big walrus man with her usual wide, thoughtful eyes.

For Fei, Ida, and presumably any eavesdroppers' benefits, he says, "This is my younger sister, Primera," with a fond smile. "I'm afraid after I was gone so long with events through the gate, she wouldn't let me leave without her this time." He gives her a fond tousle of the hair, which she endures silently. "Prim, these are friends I met on my last expedition. They're safe, alright?"

She looks at him, nods, and then up at Fei and Ida. She's silent, though she is smiling shyly.

While Prim is busy 'introducing' herself, Billy glances to the Captain. "I heard about the beast. Concerning that one could grow so large without being found first..."

<Pose Tracker> Lily Keil has posed.

Lily gives a nod to the Captain as he approaches. She looks to Billy too and notices a small girl trailing after him. She lifts an eyebrow, but lets Fei handle the actual questions, once she notices he's there. Instead she focuses for the moment on the Captain. "That's my interest," Lily says. "I want to get another crack at it." Gomihone, that is.

"It's fast, and it's big, and it's ugly," Lily supplies. "And it likes to play near the undersea vents. We might be better off if we can try to lure it higher up."

"Much bigger," Lily supplies to Dean. Dog, from by her seat, barks in agreement.

"It makes sense that it could be down there in the ocean, though."

<Pose Tracker> Allison Storm has posed.

    "Adequately hydrated, huh? I guess you only need so much coolant to keep from overheating," Allison remarks with an ironic tone. She's had a casual slouch in her chair ever since the second or third drink, but when the announcement of the Captain's arrival is made, the blue-haired pilot sits up straight - acting to conform with the reactions of the vessel's actual crew, as if by reflex. She relaxes a little - in posture, less so the look in her eyes as she sweeps them around - as the captain passes and makes his way toward the bar.

    When Ethius moves closer, Allison drains the remains of her beverage and pushes herself up and away from the table to follow. "I bet it's only half as big as they make it out to be," she murmurs dubiously as she looks for a nearer place to park.

<Pose Tracker> Citan Uzuki has posed.

    Hopefully, the sea air will do Fei some good. That may be among the other reasons Citan had suggested the Thames.

    Lily catches his eye; he glances her way and nods to acknowledge her presence as the engineer at hand finishes up his own explanations between the two of them. It happens to be good timing on his part--

    Because the Captain of the Thames has just arrived. Turning away from the engineer, the doctor stands to watch as the the Captain makes his entrance and makes with his own explanations. In doing so, he catches sight of Billy who signals his way; eye contact is made between the both of them. Offering his apologies to the man to who he'd been speaking to, the doctor departs to make his way over towards Billy and, as it happens, comes into contact with those to who he's speaking with, a group which rapidly has expanded to contain a few of those he knows well: Fei, Ida, and Lily.

    "A 'Reaper', is it..." muses the doctor, upon pulling up alongside the lot of them. "I was only just hearing of it from engineering. ...So this is the 'favor' the Captain requested, it seems? Hmm..." He folds his arms over his chest. "Well then, it would be poor indeed to receive and not give! It seems I too am a part of this quest now."

    It's then that a small girl peeks out from behind Billy, prompting Citan to notice her for the first time.

    "Billy, is this...?" He pauses just long enough to be reasonably polite, then nods. "The family resemblence is strong."

    Indeed, Primera takes after her mother.

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

"It's him...!" Fei's eyes shine with true joy and wonder as he sees the Captain of the Thames. "A true..."

"MAN..."

"OF THE SEA...!"

You can see the wonder if Fei Fong Wong's eyes as he tries to get Elly's attention so he can also witness THE MAN OF THE SEA named ... uh ... well he's the Captain of the Thames...!! He doesn't really know what they're atalking about and is gradually getting a feel for things there.

"Prim, huh. That's a nice name!" Fei beams bigly. "Hey it's fine, Billy, it's fine. It's important to see some of te bigger world out there. Gotta expand your horizons and all that!"

"Well, big reapers like that--they're big trouble that's for sure. I fought a big one once in the gear and it was real rough. Can't imagine what it could do to a ship without that kind of firepower."

He sees Dean and waves to him energetically. WHAT A GUY THAT DEAN.

<Pose Tracker> Ida Everstead-Rey has posed.

    "Wonderful," the Captain says, flashing Layna a proud grin. "D'you have a Gear? You'll need one, but if you don't have one of your own, we can provide--long as you bring it back in one piece!" He glances at the small gathering around Layna--her crew or other associates, he assumes.

    "The pleasure's all mine, young man. And a'course I remember Prim," the Captain says, turning to Billy's younger sister without missing a beat. "Still a shy one, isn't she?" But there are bigger matters to discuss, and the Captain sits back to let the survivors talk.

    Ida, of course, gives Primera a gentle smile when Billy says she's safe. "Billy is a friend," she says. She looks at Lily, who explains a bit more about the Reaper--and then Roberto, who nods.

    "The wreck we were at is codenamed Grave Colossus," the Beastman says. "It's one of the furthest and deepest on record--over a hundred kilometers away, and four hundred meters deep. There's a steeper drop-off nearby; I wouldn't be at all surprised if it was hiding down there."

    "We'd have to figure out the means to do that," Ida says, to Lily--and for the benefit of everyone else, really. "Azoth and I were able to lure it away with electronic signals, but it seems to have some sort of innate jamming ability of its own. It might've eaten some ECM equipment, or perhaps it's just a function of its anatomy--but the Dragoon could barely compensate for it, and it's well-hardened against that sort of thing."

    Roberto, meanwhile, turns to Dean, 'primary' eyes widening. "At least the size of a salvage tug," he says. "And not one of the little ones. But you know, if it lives in the sea, then it's just like a whale, or a kraken."

    Boudicca's glass seemingly moves on its own. Roberto notices, stares at it for a long moment.

<Pose Tracker> Elhaym van Houten has posed.

Elly returns with approximately 2,850 G she didn't have a minute ago and an empty creel, just in time to see

A man

Of the sea!

Somehow it's always thrilling. She lingers near Billy, then, and in particular towards Prim, to whom she smiles with a gentle radiance and a little wave of one hand. But there are larger questions afoot.

"... has there ever been a reaper THAT big?" Elly says, sounding astonished, and not a little horrified. Then Roberto says something, and Elly's eyes flick towards him, as if she can sense an analogy being prepared.

<Pose Tracker> Eika Zuse has posed.

Eika startles again, this time from Boudicca. Eika can see her, clearly, but apparently *didn't* - not until her attention was drawn and she tried to focus on the other woman. Her eyes narrow as she considers, then nods to herself - she understands, she's like Lanval.

It makes perfect sense to Eika that the depths of the ocean is where you'd find a giant Wels that hadn't been seen before. She's never been clear how the Wels *got* into the water - most of the ones she's seen don't really swim very well - but once there, away from other people...

"Yeah... I'm not a fan of Wels. But I don't have a Gear anymore, so I don't know what I can do without you guys." Eika stands on tiptoe to look around Talise, toward the rest of -

"Did he say it was the size of a salvage tug?" Eika has heard of Wels that big, but even the 'big' ones she's seen weren't that much bigger than a Gear. And she hadn't been allowed to fight those yet, not that she's going to admit that part. "There's been ones that big before, but... Damn. I miss the Wheel."

<Pose Tracker> Talise Gianfair has posed.

"It is, huh? Technology's crazy," Talise says with a quiet smile for Boudicca, shifting to try and make sure she remains solidly in the sightline between Billy and Eika. She is nothing if not a good piece of cover.

As talk turns back towards the critter lurking in the wreck, Talise falls quiet and settles in to listen. She pushes one hand through her hair with a soft rush of breath through her nose, taking a few mental notes.

Her last encounter with Wels wasn't all that pleasant. Running into them again wasn't on her immediate agenda, but a question suddenly occurs to her:

"I wonder where I parked Alexander," she murmurs.

Back to Eika she looks, keeping her voice quiet in the hopes of not drawing attention from the overly inquisitive. "I think that's what he said, yeah. I've never seen one that big, personally. If you need a Gear, I've got access to one, if I can... remember where I parked it." She smiles ruefully and admits, "I'm not the best pilot. But if that doesn't work for you, maybe we can trade for one."

<Pose Tracker> Dean Stark has posed.

    Dean and Fei wave at each other...!! Such strong bonds of friendship, that they can enjoy each other's company from across a giant mess hall. (Dean will go hang out with Fei later. Right now he's eating and listening, and also Fei is hanging out with his *other* friends. Dean's not the jealous type.)
    
    Lily tells him Gomihone is much bigger, and Roberto explains that it's at least the size of a salvage tug. A big one. Dean's eyes widen. "Woah," he utters. "That's *big*." He frowns thoughtfully as people bring up whales. He doesn't really have a good sense of scale for those, but... "How big does stuff in the ocean get?"
    
    He takes a piece of meat from his fried rice and, after looking at Lily to confirm it's okay, offers it to Dog, and gives her a scratch under the chin either way even if meaty treats aren't okay. He'll resume eating after that, and wonder why Roberto's staring so hard at Boudicca. It's a little rude!!

<Pose Tracker> Layna Manydays has posed.

Layna spots Boudicca's toast out of the corner of her eye... and, with a grin, she responds to the gesture with a toast of her own!

She looks back to the Captain, though, as he asks her about Gears.

"That I do! The Corsair's a tough ol' girl, and about as mean and ornery as anything else out there." Layna replies with a grin and a nod.

She quiets down, though, as talk begins about the nature of their foe.

"That deep down, huh...?" Layna murmurs with a frown. "An' signal jamming, too... dangerous combo for somethin' so big. Sounds like one of our biggest issues might be tracking the damn thing and catching it before it catches us, much less killing it."

She looks over to Eika and Talise, then.

"'The Wheel'?" Layna asks, curiously. "Well, sounds like the Thames folks can have you covered on a Gear, at least."

She looks toward Talise, then.

"Hey, as long as you didn't leave it in the middle o' some desert somewhere, my crew probably have you covered." Layna says, glancing toward Talise. "They keep track of things like that."

<Pose Tracker> Talise Gianfair has posed.

"So long as no one's gone joyriding in it," Talise grouses.


    SOMEWHERE ELSE IN AQUVY
    RIGHT NOW

A large Gear resembling a huge mechanical Dragonmaster jogs across the landscape. A few shouting pirates scramble after it, waving their arms with alarm.

Behind Alexander's controls, the current pilot angles the controls one way. Then the other. Then hops up on the control stick and weighs it down a little.

The cucco clucks a few times and adjusts its little pilot goggles.

<Pose Tracker> Seraph Boudicca has posed.

    Boudicca looks a little bad as Eika startles, with a look of apology. She's a spirit! It happens. She also gives a warm wave to tiny Primera, whether she can see her or not. "How lovely to meet you, Primera! My name is Boudicca."

    She considers the Captain's words. "It may be difficult for me to delve so deep... and yet, I cannot sit by and allow this to pass. Perhaps your Gear may avail me." Hers is still undergoing repairs, last she heard. It was very damaged when they pulled it out. Who knows how long it was down there in Kattleox...?

    "But, a Reaper so large... how would a Gear fare against such a thing?" Boudicca is deeply concerned. (And doubly so, because Dean mentioned ones the size of houses, just as an aside. She shares with him one of her Deeply Concerned glances. She has plenty to go around.) "It would be --" oh no what if the small child CAN hear her, "-- I do not like the idea of your Gears being damaged underwater." There, that's a safer way to phrase the deep and unrelenting hazard of the sea.

    She is glad to see Fei and Elly here! They get a wave too. But Boudicca is worrying about the ocean right now.

<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

    "...Yes." Ethius responds without much color commentary on the implications of Allison's jesting, but he almost never has been particularly phased by that sort of language thrown his way. He allows Allison to follow without complication as they line up to hear more on the subject of what it is that has the Thames so worked up.
     A hand goes to his forehead as he overhears the experience as to how it seems to be a creature with an innate ability to jam signals. The depth they list is deeper than the one salvage operation he ran on the Aiguille, though back then it passed the pressure tests with flying colors. He might have a way around the jamming, he thinks, in so far as tracking it goes - but he doesn't advertise it aloud.
     Still, one of the very biggest they've ever seen or known... he looks about to take stock of others who talk about throwing in their lot (such as the enthusiastic or supportive dialogue among those he recognizes as being part of Fox Company, including one young woman he doesn't recognize standing near Talise).
     He might need to be more assertive and open about volunteering, something he doesn't like doing.
     "I am in possession of a Gear and am willing to participate in the relevant scouting missions," Ethius says without the gung-ho bravado that comes from Layna there.

<Pose Tracker> Billy Lee Black has posed.

"That's very large," Billy murmurs, rubbing his chin in concern. He glances to Elly, clarifying, "It's not unheard of. Etones are always trying to find feeding grounds to stop Wels from getting to dangerous sizes, but Wels are very cunning. Still, to think they could devise a way to grow to such scale in a ravine...I'll have to mention it in my report. Might finally get those Screw Jets for Renmazuo, at least." Small mercies. He sounds just slightly self-amused.

Prim has the wide-eyed curiosity one might expect of a child as she loks up at Elly, Fei, and Ida, but her smile never really opens up before she decides she's done marveling for the moment and slips back toward Billy. He gently folds an arm around her, protectively, as she hangs to his leg. "Might be a bit bigger crowd than she was ready for," he says, gently. "Yes," he adds, toward the Captain. "Still hasn't said a thing..."

There was no modifier on that sentence.

She looks over to Citan then, with wide-eyed curiosity. "Ah, of course. Prim, this is Dr. Uzuki," he says, motioning between the two. And then, demonstrating the ease with which a house of cards may be tossed to the wind, he says, "We only ran into each other recently, but he's actually an old friend of Father's."

That gets Prim's attention. She immediately pulls away from Billy and pads several steps toward Citan to look right up at him with wide, curious eyes.

<Pose Tracker> Lily Keil has posed.

"True," Lily admits of finding a way to lure it out. "I'm still thinking about the how. But at least we know where it is, for now."

Instead of answering how big things get in the ocean, she nods as Dean gives Dog a meaty treat, allowing it. Dog chomps it down and happily licks Dean's hand before she moves to lay back down.

Lily, instead, looks to Boudicca. "We faced it once, and lived. If we can gather more intelligence on it," she nods to Ethius at his talk of scouting, "Then we can find a weakness to exploit, and use it. Though I wish I'd had more opportunity to see how it responded to magic. I've thought of a few spells I could try on it. But I can't counteract its jamming and cast on it at the same time, not without backup."

<Pose Tracker> Allison Storm has posed.

    The back of Ethius' head gets a suspicious look as Allison trails after him, but the conversation around them distracts her from her apparent intent to apply a Voight-Kampff test to him. The monster clearly sounds dangerous as hell, and that's enough to get the blue-haired alien excited. Her gloved fingers tap against each other with nervous energy as she listens on the periphery.

    But how to insert herself into the conversation...?

    Ethius provides an answer.

    "Hey! You can't just go risking yourself willy-nilly, pal," she informs the man (who, it might be said, would certainly have rank on her in their shared organization if such a hierarchy were in place). "If he's going to go hunting this kraken-whale-monster, I'm coming along too," she insists, stepping forward. "I just need the Gear."

    Not 'a' Gear, 'the' Gear, it seems.

    "Mine is in the shop."

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Fei says, "This sounds even bigger--but I know that Wels do sometimes combine into some kind of.... super Wels."

Fei is pretty hapy to see Dean but he kind of quiets down for the moment.

Billy mentions that Citan is a friend of his dad's.

"Huh." Fei says. "...Doc never mentioned that." But that's pretty normal so he presses on. "Well any friend of the Doc's is a friend of mine! Guess we're a little more than just friends who happened to bump into each other huh?"

Fei... It's a little weird to say it like that. But he does get out of Prim's way and he pats Billy on the shoulder. "Guess she misses her dad, huh?"

He sounds so oblivious..

<Pose Tracker> Citan Uzuki has posed.

    "That large...?" Citan remarks, when the subject of the monster's size comes up. "That is quite considerable! I have heard stories of the larger Reapers, but never one of that magnitude. Hmm... I would suspect that it may take more than a few Gears to 'finish it off', would you not agree, Billy?" he says to the young Etone in particular, because perhaps Billy would know this fact better than any of them.

    But introductions are soon had and as Primera approaches him with trepidation, the doctor squats down to something more approaching her level of the world. "Hello there, Primera. It is true, I am an old friend of your father."

    He has a young daughter himself, after all.

    It's here that he glances up at Fei (a highly unusual situation!). "Yes, that is true. We knew each other back in the... ah, 'old country', you might say? My apologies for not mentioning it before. I had only learned you had met a short while ago."

    Which, technically, was a few weeks ago, but who's counting.

<Pose Tracker> Ida Everstead-Rey has posed.

    "...Pretty big," Roberto says, to Dean and Elly. "The biggest whales are what, a hundred feet? If you've got all that water holding you up, you don't need to worry about carrying your own weight around."

    "And the pictures I took suggested it was almost eel-like," Ida says. "Large, but decently streamlined. And that's not all..." She glances to the side, at Lily. "On our way to Grave Colossus, we came across some sort of... flesh forest. Azoth and I were entangled, and--had to be cut loose by Zed. I saw bits of it." Ida shudders. "Hands, eyes, raw tissue. Bits of different creatures fused together. I don't know if it was related, but there's no doubt it, too, is hazardous."

    Ida offers Boudicca her best smile. "That's what the tests are for," she says. "We were able to drive it off, but you're correct--it is tremendously risky business." Business that Ethius volunteers for immediately. Ida squints at the man.

    Roberto, meanwhile, squints in Boudicca's general direction. "...Hello?" he says, quietly. "...Are you the fuel ghost?"

    "...Ah," the Captain says, his smile turning grave. Perhaps there was a part of him that was hoping Prima would improve, but--

    The young woman takes a sudden interest in Citan. The Captain cocks his head. Ida watches out of the corner of her eye.

<Pose Tracker> Eika Zuse has posed.

"..." Eika hadn't really meant to say that part out loud, but: "My old Gear. I don't know where it is now." Though she has a suspicion, and if she manages to find it... "I can't very well take yours. But if the Thames has spare salvage gears... I can manage."

maybe

She says to Boudicca, "It's the duty of Etones to fight them no matter the size - so there's been battles against big Wels before. And maybe this one is bigger, but that doesn't mean it's undefeatable. Just... big." Being underwater doesn't worry her, except in that it's hard to bail out if you have to. Maybe... hmm.

Whatever she was thinking about, Eika is distracted by the concept of flesh forest. "Gross," she says, though weird biological shit *does* sometimes show up with Wels.

<Pose Tracker> Talise Gianfair has posed.

Scratching a cheekstripe, Talise flashes Layna a wry smile. "I'm sure your crew have taken good care of Alexander, anyway. It's not a very complicated Gear anyway."

She moues her lips as Eika explains things. "Well, I'm not primarily a pilot," she admits with a crinkle of her nose, "so it's no skin off my back to let someone better than me fly it. But we can go shopping. I'm sure we can get something good."

"I guarantee we can," Benedict puts in, voice low but confident.

Talise's eyes dart to Boudicca again, and she nods pensively, sinking back in her chair slightly. "Well, anything worth doing entails a certain amount of risk--"

    'flesh forest'

"Fun," Talise says with a sharp raising of both eyebrows.

<Pose Tracker> Ida Everstead-Rey has posed.

    "It wasn't," Ida says. "It truly wasn't."

<Pose Tracker> Elhaym van Houten has posed.

Elly listens to people speak on the behavior of this creature as well as other interesting topics. Citan knew Billy's father? That's a coincidence, isn't it, she thinks, before her attention turns outwards. She can see the jollity on the face of the Captain vade. She glances towards Dean, towards Layna. Back to Talise.

Boudicca raises a valid concern. Ethius volunteers to help them! And he has a Gear! Which he would use.

And there's Prim here. Prim, who may not have spoken much. (At all?)

Elly coughs a little, and half-raises a hand.

"Um," she says.

"Do you know what it hunts for? Instead of... I mean to say that if you have some knowledge about its habits and its habitat, you don't need to treat this like a military expedition or anything. Even for a big and hostile creature, like a shark or a sandworm, it would - ah -"

Her face is going red.

"You can make a place and then set out bait," Elly says; "You could get it to come to you, and fight it outside of the, uh, forest. Like luring a crab into a cage."

<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

    As far as Allison can tell, Ethius doesn't have some sort of USB port in the back of his head - but there is something generally eerie about a man who can consciously suppress a lot of the unconscious movement of the human body to the point that this sort of test might be warranted in environs that monitor this sort of thing.
     He looks over his shoulder as Allison volunteers herself to come along too. Something stirs at a distant corner of his mind as he sizes up her confidence and scolding as to whether or not he should be willing to risk his life on his own.
     He finds himself looking forward when Ida squints at him, and that is a well-earned squint. Ethius is a strange and inscrutible man who seems to go between 'actions that have clear and useful purpose against recognizes forms of evil,' 'actions and manners that are not always that considerate of the people around him,' and... 'actions that are erratic, eccentric, and make no sense to anyone but himself.' That lack of accountability, that lack of a clear thread. He doesn't buckle before her unspoken inquiry.
     He has an angle. (An angle that involves the necessity for currying some favor with the Thames, but as Ethius is rarely ever straight with anyone...)

     ELSEWHERE - AWAY FROM THE GATHERING BUT SOMEWHERE HE PROBABLY SHOULD NOT BE

     "Mmmmm." Lanval trips over on the ground and puts forth an aura that any Arte casting Seraph would do. There is suddenly a large splash of clear, clean water all over the ground around him. The Seraphic anatomical equivalent of, to put it gently, puking. Certainly the best possible kind of it, but it is that motion and it is done in distress. He still feels all oily and iridescent.
     "...Shoulda... remembered," he says as he stands up. He remembers his vow, and would never in any way, shape, or form move to recant it. His duties to shoulder the burden of the water itself, he takes in stride even when it leads to uncomfortable situations like this. This situation could have been avoidable, but, it wasn't all that long ago that he took on a share of some of Guild Galad's water to try and clean at least some of it, though that is a work impossible to accomplish on his own. Its coasts are lousy with a strange liquid filled with fire energies, after all - the exact sort of thing he can convert into his own power.
     He knows that Gear Fuel is precious and important for Thames salvage operations, and is feeling a little guilty. He also does not know exactly how it works, just that it is a liquid that has traces of 'fire energies' to his senses. Does this mean any liquid works for Gear Fuel? He considers a handful of drinks he was going to keep aside for Fox Company later - he was supposed to meet them on deck not long ago.
     But, he thinks as he opens up one empty fuel casket to 'replace' what he accidentally drank, he may as well make amends.

<Pose Tracker> Layna Manydays has posed.

"'Eel-like', huh...?" Layna murmurs considerably. And then Ida says the word 'flesh forest' and Layna shudders reactively. Those are never two words you want to hear together, no matter the circumstances.

She loooks over toward Eika, then, nodding.

"Aye, I see." She says, before looking toward Talise with a grin.

""Aye, you've got nothing to worry about." She says.

She then thinks about the problem at hand.

"So, we do have an idea on how to-" She starts before Elly makes a suggestion!

"Hmm... now that's some clever thinkin', lass." Layna says, sincerely.

<Pose Tracker> Billy Lee Black has posed.

"If this were being handled entirely within the church, I'd expect a fairly large response," Billy says to Citan. "One to three Etones and their Gears are usually enough for Wels that get up to a Gear scale, but this is far more than a standard Gear-scale response. Size isn't always an indicator, either, unfortunately. Wels can be wickedly cunning and wield strange powers that make their size and strength only a small factor in handling them."

He grimaces at 'flesh forest'. "Mmm. That sounds like a Wels infestation, yes," he says, without going into details because he has ambitions of eating again someday.

Prim looks into Citan's eyes with a wide, curious look. She continues to say nothing at all, but she does crack into a much bigger smile after a moment. Citan has received approval! Congratulations, you can...continue about your day, presumably!

<Pose Tracker> Seraph Boudicca has posed.

    "Hello," Boudicca responds, to the baffled Roberto. And then, for long moments: silence.

    (Deeply baffled silence, for anyone who can see her expression.)

    "Ahhh..." She starts, and hurries to finish: "I fear this to be a case of mistaken identity! In any case, I am certain if there were a, 'fuel ghost,' he would feel quite terrible for the trouble he has caused you! Um, they have caused you!" BOUDICCA DOESN'T KNOW ANY FUEL GHOSTS SHE'S INNOCENT

    She manages to calm down pretty quickly, though, because: Wels. "Just bigger, is that the logic..?" She wonders, to Eika, before she sighs, and nods to Talise. "Mortals are terribly brave..."

    She reaches out across the bar to pat Ida's arm momentarily, though, because - flesh forests. They're not great.

    Luckily, Elly seems to have a plan..!

<Pose Tracker> Citan Uzuki has posed.

    A flesh forest.

    Citan is a remarkably well-read and well-connected country doctor and there isn't too much that can phase him. But there is still a look that crosses his face as Ida explains what they encountered. He reaches up a hand to readjust his glasses and... frowns. "I see..." he says, only to shake his head.

    Is it a part of the Reaper? Or are there others? What have they landed themselves into...?

    'Bait', suggests Elly, and the doctor's eyes light up. He strikes the palm of his left hand with his right fist before exclaiming, "Of course! That would be wiser than, ah, 'attempting to beard the lion in its den', would you not agree? If we are able to investigate the area, we should also be able to set a confrontation in a time and place of our choosing. We may even be able to make use of submarine artillery."

    But then introductions are made between him and Primera and--

    He smiles back, then glances up at Billy. "It is as you said, I see," he says, and after a few moments he rises to his feet again. "She seems quite healthy. You do well by her."

<Pose Tracker> Allison Storm has posed.

    'Flesh forest.'

    The buzzphrase of the moment is not missed by Allison's ears, and the bravado with which she was moments before greeting the prospect of engaging some titan of the depths in a vessel she's never operated before melts away briefly into a look of open disgust. After a moment, she closes her mouth and clears her throat.

    She will almost certainly regret researching the phrase 'flesh forest' in her Starfighter's Guide to the Galaxy sometime in the near future.

    For now, it's back to smiling. Flesh forest or no, she still wants the gig.

<Pose Tracker> Ida Everstead-Rey has posed.

    Elly gives voice to the question that Ida's been mulling over since first contact with the enemy. She gives the redhead a smile, sly but gentle, thanking her for bringing it up. "Salvage, I'm assuming," Ida says. "On top of flesh, which all Wels hunger for. We did see things living down there, in the depths--fish, crabs, octopi, coral. But as for specific patterns, I don't know. It must be eating something, but..."

    "But this is the first time anybody saw it," Roberto says, continuing on his cousin's behalf. "Well, saw it and lived, anyway. That thing can tear Gears apart like paper dolls, if it wants to."

    "That makes it all the more important we gain further intelligence," Ida says, smiling to Roberto. "Because Elly has the right of it. If we're to fight it, we must account for as many variables as we can. Control of the battlefield leads to victory."

    "Of course!" the Captain says. "Which is why I sent out that notice!" He claps his hands together, looking at the gathered Drifters eagerly. "And look--already drawn in a bumper crop of monster hunters!"

    Meanwhile, Isabel--who has been conspicuously silent ever since Billy made his entrance--reaches out, and puts a hand on Roberto's shoulder. "Are you all right?" she asks, rising to stand by her son, protectively. "You're not feeling dizzy? No aches or pains in your joints?"

    "I'm fine, Mom," Roberto says, "I controlled the ascent, and the medics gave me the all-clear. I just--"

    'mistaken identity'

    "There's somebody there," he says, turning wide-eyed to Ida.

    Ida freezes a moment, but Boudicca is literally right there, and as bizarre as it is, she's not about to throw her best friend in front of the bus in front of her family. "That would be Boudicca," she says. "A spirit of the Ley, from the moon. Remember when I told you about the moon, Aunt Isabel?"

    "Moon spirits," Isabel repeats.

<Pose Tracker> Dean Stark has posed.

    Dean, who has been mostly busy shoveling food into his mouth, paused to look momentarily ill at 'flesh forest.' This means his mouth is conveniently empty when Isabel comes over to fuss at Roberto, then rolls to disbelieve at Ida.
    
    "It's true!" he offers to Isabel, backing Ida up. "Boudicca's really nice and friendly, and she works really hard to protect people. So don't worry," he says to Roberto, "she's not going to pull any pranks on you or anything!"

<Pose Tracker> Seraph Boudicca has posed.

    Boudicca smiles to Isobel, and waves. "Hello! I mean you no harm!" And that... is the best introduction to Boudicca she could offer. Telling someone who can't see her that she's harmless. At least her friends have her back.

<Pose Tracker> Dean Stark has posed.

    "She says she means you no harm," Dean follows up, who now that he's realized that Roberto can't see her finally remembers when he couldn't see or hear Seraphim either.

<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

    The talk of 'flesh forests' should churn anyone's stomach. It's... there's nothing good that comes about Wels and their territory, or when they decide to come together in the way that Gomihone has. To... a point of what 'together' means with the likes of them. But, as ideas and mutual empathic disgust are shared around the room, Ethius' composure remains remarkably intact. No dipping of his head, no taking a deep breath, nothing of that sort.
     As if he operates, entirely, on what is acceptable and what is worthy of being feared - a difference that he has slowly been able to mentally grasp and the growing clarity has not yet brought any disagreement with this or previous conduct.
     Little will change that, for what he feels is at stake on another star.