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The Thorn In Their Eye

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The Thorn In Their Eye

Post by Guest on Tue Feb 28, 2012 5:59 pm

The clack of boot heels echoed up the stone steps and reverberated upon touching down on the marble floor of the entrance to the first floor of Central's Headquarters. The tiles beneath her feet seemed to give the red-haired woman's boots a sharp, imperious sound as she passed through the door and let it swing shut without a thought to whomever was walking behind her. Her warm brown eyes took in everything, from the bustle of people coming and going on errands to state alchemists just lounging around the areas near the windows, as if that was as close to the outside as they dared get for their comfort. She pushed her glasses back up to the bridge of her nose. It seemed Central was as much a hive of activity as it had ever been, though she took note of new renovations and repairs done to the building. It all seemed so commonplace; it seemed so much the same. Which, she supposed, probably meant that it was only she that had changed since the fall of West.

The woman strode forward from the entry into the spacious lobby, taking note of the ornate columns to either side of the oval-shaped receptionist's desk. Some idle childish thought in the back of her mind made her think the think resembled some sort of small fort with its sleek hardwood base and soapstone counter top going the full circumference of the structure. Over the top she could see the head of the receptionist and two chairs where others must sit during busier times. The actual workspaces were hidden behind the tall outer wall so that prying eyes couldn't see over to computer screens and log papers to get sensitive information. The girl behind the counter seemed to be lost in some state of perpetual cheery boredom, as befitting one in her position.

She paused to allow a boy rushing by on an all-important “gopher” errand some room, but grunted as he caught her on the arm with his elbow before he could clear the way. He stammered a hasty apology, but his eyes went wide as he caught sight of the nametag on her battered dog tags (the only remnants of her old uniform she had as an ID). He silently mouthed the words “Rose S. Connel,” and then quickly snapped into a straighter posture. He was one of the clerks and had recognized the fairly unique name from logs of the West incident. Rose watched as he dashed off without so much as a backwards glance, as if the very hounds of Hell were on his heels. She snorted softly, inwardly amused at the boy's strange reaction—as if he'd seen a phantom—and adjusted the sleeve of her long brown trench coat. She wondered, vaguely, if it was because she wasn't entirely dressed in a soldierly manner. She'd had the duster since her escape from the prison, and the pants were, at best, general military-style blues over similarly generic boots. Her shirt was just a green t-shirt, nothing fancy. She supposed she'd be re-issued proper uniforms once she declared herself among the living again. She wondered, not for the first time, why she wanted to bother doing so except that she was nothing if not loyal to the oaths she made.

She proceeded up to the oval desk without further interruption from either third parties or her own thoughts. She'd been trying to keep as tight a lid on those as possible, though once she was able to shake off Brighton and his sour air, she wouldn't need to worry about anyone prying into personal wounds. She placed a work-roughened hand on the counter with a soft smack to get the receptionist's attention. The girl snapped to attention with a small yelp, as if she had been the one to be smacked. “C-can I help you, Ma'am?”

”Well, I suppose you could. I need to arrange an appointment with someone of sufficient rank to rescind some MIA statuses. Names're Rose Connel and Aaron Brighton.” Her fluid Creig accent seemed to add emphasis to her words and left the girl's eyes wide with confusion. Rose's brown eyes hardened into a stern commanding glower.”We clearly ain't dead yet, so be a good lass and see what you can do.” The girl nodded emphatically and began typing furiously away at the keypad in front of her. Rose would have leaned against the desk to wait, but she caught sight of furtive glances at her from the corner of her eye—the same sort of looks that were either confused or looked uncertain as to whether or not a ghost was in their midst. ”Call me back when you've gotten something for me.” She practically barked the request and turned on her heels to march for the nearest available and empty table. She was feeling uncomfortable, despite the familiar surroundings, and it was putting her proverbial hackles up. She'd best calm down before seeing any CO's.

'Steady, ol' girl...This'll be for your own good and his. With any luck, you may only be court marshaled for not reportin' back soon as you were out. The boy can get back to some semblance of a life, and you can skarper the moment they sack you.'

...Or so she had kept telling herself. But, since when does Fate care for the will of humans?

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Re: The Thorn In Their Eye

Post by Hans L. Reinhardt on Thu Mar 22, 2012 6:40 pm

[Continuing on from here.]

Shula did have a point, now that Hans considered it. Secretaries were usually kindly enough, although Hans had met a few of an unsavory nature. But there was one thing he could not doubt; they knew a lot. A whole lot. He had been around the secretarial pool once on his initial tour of the new HQ, but had not thought to return there. As they entered the office and Shula was captured between to squealing women, he nodded a little. This might have been why. One thing he had never gotten completely used to was feminine squealing. Once it had subsided, Hans was glad to (gently) shake hands with his two new confidants. “I appreciate your help, ladies.” He smiled warmly, looking over at Shula as well. “And yours, Miss Brighton.” He was preparing to open his mouth to speak further when a phone rang sharply at a desk. Ms. Chang smiled brightly and hurried over to grab at the phone. Hans amused himself with studying the surroundings of the office as a hurried conversation was held on the phone. Ms. Pisarski joined Ms. Chang after the phone call was finished. Hans looked over at them having a very whispered conversation, eyebrows raising and gasps being made. He then found himself being waved to join them.

He pointed at his chest in slight confusion. Surely not him? Maybe Shula? But now, it was him that their fingers were pointing at. He smiled down at Shula, excusing himself and going over to join the women. He had to stoop over in order to be allowed entrance to their whispered conversation. Samantha spoke as Gloria appeared a little bit overwhelmed, constantly sending glances over at Shula to make sure she had not joined them.

Sherry downstairs just called. She's got someone trying to make an appointment with a higher up. Since Spade is out... can you?

Hans nodded, whispering. “What's the big hush-up, if you don't mind me asking?

The two people who have come have been MIA since the bombings. Presumed dead, until recently. Rose Connel and...” She paused a moment, leaning even closer until her lips were mere inches from Hans' ear. “Aaron Brighton.

Hans felt his eyes widen. WELL. That explained the hush-hush. He had done his research on soldiers in the Amestrian military. While the name Rose Connel was a little hazy he definitely got the message behind the other soldier. Shula's older brother had returned from the dead. And that was quite a bit of a shock, to say the least. And clearly neither of the two women wanted Shula to know of this shocking news. They probably feared her reaction; Hans was slightly concerned himself. He definitely did not want to be the one to tell her. She might not even believe it. Maybe it was best for her to just find out on her own.

Hans smiled reassuringly to the two women as he righted himself, acting as if he never received the news. “I'll go down and take care of that, ladies. You two take it easy... maybe take a long lunch.” He winked roguishly at them, which allowed the two to release some tension from the shoulders and laugh a little. Hans turned towards Shula. “Well, Miss Brighton. Apparently there are some who are seeking someone with some authority. And according to Ms. Pisarski and Ms. Chang, that would be me. Would you care to accompany me down to the lobby?

Without really taking “yes” or “no” for an answer, Hans left the secretarial pool and with his usual long strides, got himself down to the lobby in quick time. There were strange looks all over the lobby, all shadily directed to one woman. Hans first glanced over to the receptionist, Sherry, who seemed relieved to see him. She pointed and confirmed his thoughts that the woman everyone seemed surprised to see was in fact Rose Connel. Hans took a deep breath. He certainly didn't look the part of Chancellor today, but... duty called! Hans strode over to the woman, hands clasped behind his back as he looked down at her. “Attention, soldier!” He barked, before lowering his tone slightly. “Lieutenant Connel, I presume? I was led to believe you had another ghost with you.” Hans carefully left mention of Aaron's name out of the conversation. He suspected Shula was still nearby and as he did not seem to see anyone who could be Aaron, thought it best to leave it until he appeared. “Well, straighten up and give me a salute! You asked for authority and you have gotten some. I am Chancellor Reinhardt; I happen to run this country. I believe you and your compatriot have an explanation to give me, eh?” Hans raised an eyebrow slightly. He had no idea how to judge the character of this new woman but he knew one thing... he needed to play the boss right now. Being nice could wait a little while. Answers were first and foremost.

.....................................................................................................................................



Speaks fluent Amestrian (teal), Cretan (greenyellow), Xingese (goldenrod), and Creig (cadetblue). Is learning to speak Aerugese (bisque), Drachman (silver), Esparian (plum), Rouenian (Gelemortian Dialect) (lightsteelblue), Cerisian (lawngreen), Ishvallan (chocolate). (Can at least speak a few words in each.)
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Hans L. Reinhardt
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Re: The Thorn In Their Eye

Post by Guest on Tue Mar 27, 2012 3:05 am

Rose had been sitting at a small table off to the far edge of the lobby, one leg crossed over the other and her arms folded across her abdomen. She had been scowling over her glasses frames at the lobby entrance like a cat waiting for a mouse to pounce upon. Where was that butt-stupid git? She'd indeed walked a good deal faster than he did, but she thought the boy had been right on her heels. An authoritative voice brought her attention sharply—as is the habit of the professional soldier—to her immediate area. She turned her eyes upward to glance at who called her name, but showed no outward signs of either affability or compliance to a commanding tone. She was jaded to the bone now, and really didn't care if it showed or not. But, as a sign of mutual respect for a commanding officer, she did give an airy salute and sat a little straighter.

”Yeah, he ought t'be along any minute now, I reckon. My legs work a bit faster than his these days.”

Rose looked directly up at the Chancellor, meeting her brown eyes to his as she mentally took his measure. The man very much looked the part of a venerable veteran with his straightforward manner and air of authority, but, she decided, with the distinct lack of superiority. That was a point that did help to undo a few of the knots in her middle. His neat appearance also implied a man of stalwart integrity and grit against any who would shake it. Hm, maybe all honor wasn't dead among the military alpha dogs. Even so, the set if his eyes and mouth also told of a stubborn personality. Just her luck—she was always stuck being fated to meet hard-heads. Even so, his overall bearing and manner did much to his credit and Rose decided she liked this Hans Reinhardt.

Pushing her glasses back up to the bridge of her nose, she slowly cont to her feet. She could feel resentment already welling up in her, wanting to spit out that she was owed answers as well for both past and present. But, always in stern command of her emotions in so far as her job was concerned, she swallowed back that hard bitter lump and nodded respectfully to Reinhardt. ”Aye, sir. Long overdue, and I mean to bear the brunt of any punishment given for our delinquency, though the boy has more than enough medical reasons for our prolonged absence.” Her hard eyes took on the appearance of orbs made of raw sienna in her sincerity—she was not the least bit repentant in being absent without leave, even given their POW status and the days that followed it, and she would take Aaron's share of the blame, too, while he wasn't here to protest it.

She then noticed surreptitious glances in their direction from lagging staff in the lobby, she narrowed her eyes ever so slightly in their direction and the all seemed to scatter like roaches having the lights turned on. Fekkin' cowards. What did they know anyway? Exhaling her annoyance with the situation, she scratched the back of her head underneath her ponytail. ”Maybe this isn't exactly the best place for a chat, Chancellor sir.”

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Re: The Thorn In Their Eye

Post by Shula Brighton on Tue Mar 27, 2012 9:25 pm

A call came in that seemed to need both Gloria and Sammy. Well that must be something juicy, Shu thought, glancing at the two as they talked in hushed voices. She quirked an eyebrow slightly as Hans was called over. Must be juicy and confidential. Shula waited patiently, taking a moment to inspect the potted ivy in the office and taking an idle interest in its health and leaves. Those two were known for being the Gossip Queens, but they'd never let anything slip to people they didn't concern or who they couldn't tell; they weren't that foolish with their jobs. Still, it was nice t see them again, and it was nice to see that whatever was going they'd jumped right in to involving Hans. With their help he'd be a bit more familiar with people in no time, or at least know what they might not be outwardly telling him.

Finally he stood back up, smiling once more. “I'll go down and take care of that, ladies. You two take it easy... maybe take a long lunch. Well, Miss Brighton. Apparently there are some who are seeking someone with some authority. And according to Ms. Pisarski and Ms. Chang, that would be me. Would you care to accompany me down to the lobby?” Well, her business was done here for the day, and it was still early enough that she could pick up a treat and take it back home. But gods she hated that it was such a drive to get home... They really needed to invent teleporters, like on Star Trek, but knowing her luck? She'd get beamed somewhere and be a Picasso. As Hans began to leave the office, Shula blew a kiss for her friends over her shoulder. "Tchüss~!"

Hans' steps were long and fast, Shula's tiny feet walking twice as fast to try and keep up with the giant, not once wondering about his hurried gait; she was quite used to everyone and their mother being taller than her, and therefore having much larger strides. The blue and silver fabric of her sari swished as she walked, mentally humming. Tell me you love me, come back and haunt me. Oh and I rush to the start... Running in cirlces, chasing our tails, coming back as we are... Quietly she followed behind the Chancellor back down to the main level, falling behind a little as Shula paused here and there to give small waves in offices of former coworkers. The Chancellor walked ahead stopping in front of a woman sitting in a chair on the far side of the lobby. His tone changed immediately, becoming sharp, strong, and commanding. Forget the suit; Chancellor mode activated without it.

She wasn't about to go eavesdrop, so instead moved around behind the receptionist's desk to hug around Sherry's shoulders happily. Shula wasn't in any hurry, so why shouldn't she say hello while she was here? Sherry had looked more relieved to see Hans but awkwardly nervous about Shula, quickly closing out of pages on her screen. Well, that was... odd. Not like she didn't bathe today. Was there something on her face? Other than the dark blue bindi? Whatever. Maybe it was just one of those days. Shula stepped away from the desk and watched the sitting woman give Hans a salute, even though she remained seated. Hm. Was she former staff? Her head tilted slightly as she glanced at the two of them, and then slowly looked around the rest of the lobby. Okaaaaaaay...... WHAT was everyone staring at?! They all seemed to be looking nervously at the woman Hans was speaking wit and then pretend they weren't. Seriously, what the hell?

One soldier had stopped in his hurried errand-running long enough to stare at Hans and Rose, tilting his head as though he were trying to listen in on them from that distance. Shula frownded slightly, slipping to his side unnoticed and tapped his shoulder. Though the surprised yelp was kinda funny, it definitely shouldn't have been there. Was everyone scared of this woman or something? "Go on, about your business," Shula suggested firmly. She wasn't known for barking orders, but even dressed casually as she was, she still had the authority to tell you to scram. Something was up. SHula walked over toward Hans and Rose politely. Her palms pressed together as her fingertips touched between her eyes, Shula's head nodding softly at Rose.

"Namaste," Shula said to Rose quietly before looking up to her boss. "I'm sorry to interrupt, but something seems to be setting people on edge... Do you need me to look into it, Chancellor?"
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Re: The Thorn In Their Eye

Post by Hans L. Reinhardt on Thu Mar 29, 2012 7:20 pm

A half-assed salute from her seat. Well, this one was going to be a little bit difficult. She appeared to be entirely jaded with the strange situation she found herself in, and the appearance only solidified to Hans as she spoke up in regards to punishment for herself and her compatriot. Punishment? Interesting. Apparently they had done something that she believed deserved punishment. Hans began to open his mouth to speak when Shula came over to them. Well... shit. Before Rose could open her mouth to respond to Shula, he spoke instead.

I've found the source of the unease, General Brighton. Never you fear. Would you mind doing me an awfully huge favor on your errands? I think these people in the lobby, and myself, require something sweet. Perhaps you can indulge me and run to the store?” Hans reached into his back pocket, refusing his wallet. He took a decent collection of Cenz and handed it to Shula. “Probably should find a bottle of whiskey if you can too, please. I would greatly appreciate it.” He smiled down at her, being extremely polite while hinting that this wasn't so much a request as an order. He was about to hold a very serious conversation that he did not want Shula to overhear.

He then gestured that Rose get up, a pointed look clearly telling her to keep her mouth shut. Hans moved over to the receptionist's desk, murmuring to Sherry that if Aaron Brighton should find his way inside, to send him up to General Aeries' office. Sherry nodded frantically, looking visibly relieved that Hans was handling the situation. Hans then walked with his long strides up to the third floor, entering Aeries' office that had only recently been vacated. He gestured that Rose sit in one of the chairs in front of the desk, shutting the door quietly behind her. He then went to stand behind Spade's desk, not feeling quite settled enough to sit yet.

Now then, Lieutenant. Before we talk of court martial and dishonorable discharge and other nasty things, why don't you tell me what happened the day of the bombings and where you have been since?

.....................................................................................................................................



Speaks fluent Amestrian (teal), Cretan (greenyellow), Xingese (goldenrod), and Creig (cadetblue). Is learning to speak Aerugese (bisque), Drachman (silver), Esparian (plum), Rouenian (Gelemortian Dialect) (lightsteelblue), Cerisian (lawngreen), Ishvallan (chocolate). (Can at least speak a few words in each.)
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Re: The Thorn In Their Eye

Post by Guest on Tue Apr 03, 2012 3:10 am

If Rose's shoulders seemed to stiffen, Shula Brighton's appearance effectively glued her impudent jaws shut. She knew the young woman instantly from the battered old photo kept tucked safely away in Aaron's wallet. She was much smaller than Rose had expected--an almost delicate figure with a swift, short pace that seemed to give her the appearance of gliding across the room. 'Jays, do all people of Ishvallan blood have such uncanny movement?' She kept her expression guarded lest Shula was as astute as her older brother in reading a person's thoughts, but she did wonder how Aaron would cope with seeing her again. Then, Rose shoved that thought firmly to the back of her mind. Why the hell should she give a damn about what Brighton did from here on out. They'd be rid of each other and that would be that, right? Still, she couldn't quite suppress that small knot of concern. At least it didn't show on her hardened blank face.

She gave Reinhardt the barest of nods as she allowed him to escort her away from the curious Shula to the lobby desk and spoke the receptionist, who seemed all too glad of any excuse to be rid of a ghost's presence. Rose regathered her internal bearings rather quickly and adapted on the fly to her situation. So, Aaron's sister is a General? She thought that very interesting for one younger than herself, and supposed it was a family trait to be deceptively tenacious. 'An' this old fart talks to her like a da sendin' his toddler out for candy. Huh.' Rose took a moment to glance around to be sure both that Shula was on her way out and that Aaron was also not on his way in. A bit paranoid of her, she supposed, but she had a hell of a time getting up and gone before he woke up to stop her from coming without him. He woke so damn easily if she so much as stepped out to get the mail. But, he wasn't here yet, so she relaxed somewhat and followed the Chancellor in staunch silence till they reached an office that seemed vaguely familiar, but who could tell as all the administrative offices—as she recalled—were much the same except in furnishings.

When he motioned for her to sit, almost in gentlemanly fashion, she stared at him for half a moment. As much walking and being on her feet at work as she did, she was always loathe to take a chair to discuss serious matters. But, something internal told her she'd better sit to brace herself against her own tightly guarded memories. So, without much ado, she took the proffered seat in front of the desk, noticing the nameplate read “Aeries” and not Reinhardt. So, this wasn't his office, eh? She wondered if there was something to that, or if there were things in his office a lowly Lieutenant should see. Her brain gave the mental equivalent of a shrug as she sat rigidly in place, nodding as he gave her permission to speak. Some habits after over a decade of service did remain in effect, after all.

”S'hard to say where t'begin, Sir.” She paused a moment to adjust her glasses back in place and gather herself to relive old traumas. ”We were hit so hard an' fast that, at first, we didn't know who had launched the attack as Brighton an' me were discussing tactical issues in my office. Next thing I know, we're runnin' out as the effin' building's comin' down on us. The south facing wall of the outer perimeter caught us as we were trying to lead evacuated staff to safety. An explosion had caught it from behind and Brighton took a blow to the head from debris as he was pushing me and a large flagstone crushed his legs when he fell.”

She kept her tone even, almost deadened, as she remembered all too vividly the scene replaying in her mind. She had been expendable in her mind, and damned herself the moment that stone fell. Once again, the boy had paid a hefty price for being even in association with her, she thought. The thought of him lying there like a bloodied corpse made her sick to her stomach, though her expression remained carefully neutral. She had strained so hard to shift that chunk of wall just enough to get him out, even using alchemy on her own body's moisture to use the water as a means of being able to slide him out just enough to grab onto. She would never leave a member of her team to enemy mercies.

”I got 'im out, though. Got 'im to a small triage clinic someone had opened up in the nearest hospital to tend the wounded. The doctors had to amputate both his legs or else he would've bled out and the limbs never would've healed properly in any case. Not long after that, Cretan soldiers stormed the place and were takin' any known militants prisoner. Since we were still in uniform, we were marched off like cattle to a truck and shipped off to a POW camp just on the other side of the border.”

The smell of sweat and acrid blood had filled that van, so much so that she would have sworn she'd been force-fed old coins as it left its taste in her mouth. But she'd stayed by Brighton's side while he slept. He had awoke in the hospital before the soldiers had come, but all he could remember was her face and her name and not much else. The doctor had said this was normal with the kind of skull fracture he had sustained. The camp hadn't been much more than a converted old prison, but at least the trip hadn't caused the boy any further physical distress. And then, she faced the guards and had learned a new meaning of hatred in the coming weeks.

”The place wasn't much. Just an old run-down prison they'd recently converted before the attack. The guards were a bunch'a rowdies, too, and pleased as punch to pull rank. But, seein' as Aaron was so recently out of surgery I managed to negotiate with the guard captain that he get taken to solitary in the medical ward. Hell, they even let me play nurse since no one else there seemed to want to have to deal with the extra hassle. I lost track of my weeks when we were there. Couldn't'a been more than two...maybe three months at most I'd say? Maybe not even that long.”

But it had felt like an eternity. She had been allowed to room with Aaron in one of the old infirmaries where they kept isolated from the general population. But Rose still had to go into general to shower and eat and get his food. And it was there that her days of hell had begun with the first Cretan guard to notice her accent, her mother's necklace that never left her neck, and the fist she'd thrown into his face with the first slur against her travelling lineage that he had uttered as he'd tried to swipe that pendant. She'd nearly screwed things up for Aaron with that, she remembered, and had had to toe the line carefully after that. Unfortunately, that had meant allowing the guards to bully her nearly nonstop when in their presence. Their dehumanizing remarks and ethnic-based slander she could handle, but it had gotten progressively harder to hide the bruises from Aaron in those weeks. The turning point had been when she took a slice walking back from dinner to her room with Aaron's food. He'd had to go hungry that night because her stride had faltered enough to cause her to drop the tray. A knot threatened to form in her throat as she remembered it all in clear detail, though her outward appearance gave no hint of the parts of the story she wasn't telling the Chancellor.

”I knew I couldn't keep Brighton sequestered forever, and the guards made that point clear, too. So, I planned ahead and waited for a night when the guard captain on duty was one who could be bribed. He turned a blind eye as we left in the wee hours before the third shift was up and when half the guards were sleepin' at their posts.”

Yeah, she'd bribed him. But she'd had nothing of value on her except her old tin whistle that they let her keep, thinking it a worthless trinket, her necklace which was similarly worthless except as sentiment, and the clothes on her back. Her body seemed to tense imperceptibly as she recalled returning to the room for Aaron and telling him to shut up and get his shit together when he asked why her clothes were torn and why the legs of her pants were staining with fresh blood. She'd wheeled him out, got their weapons from the locker as part of her deal, and left that hell hole without a backwards glance and as fast as her pained gate could push them till they got across the Amestrian border.

She shrugged, half in feigned indolence and half to dispel the painful hours that were forever etched into her soul along with her past sins of the desert. She took a breath slowly, having not realized she'd been holding it at that point, and continued on in a more casual tone. ”The next few months were spent getting Brighton back in functioning order. His memory was comin' back in bits and snatches, and his strength improved. I worked odd jobs in this small village to keep us in a studio flat and fed till he got well enough. Then, I did a bit of trading with a local mechanic to get the lad some new legs and installed 'em myself. Soon after, we started makin' for Central an' here I am.”

Again, she left off details of how she traded for such a priceless commodity as automail legs, but Rose gave the Chancellor such a look that so much as dared him to question her further for deeper details. It was much the same look she'd given that interrogator who had overseen her investigation on the Borneo incident. She wanted no trouble here but to get Aaron back into a decent life again. She'd just as soon slip back into anonymity as soon as they got down to the business of stripping her of job and rank. She figured this would be an unbelievable tale at best, but it was the truth—if not in its entirety.

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Re: The Thorn In Their Eye

Post by Shula Brighton on Tue Apr 03, 2012 2:52 pm

The feeling of everyone around her being in on something but leaving Shula out of the loop was growing a solid knot in her stomach. Seriously. What. The. HELL. It was like there was a giant pink and purple polka dotted elephant in the room with two heads and leprechuans tapdancing on its back that everybody could see but Shula. The woman whom Hans was speaking with said nothing, her face hard and blank as the polished marble floor below them. Friendly. Looking up to Hans expectantly, his deep voice moved to a buffered tone of warmth that almost reminded her of her grandfather chiding her.

"I've found the source of the unease, General Brighton. Never you fear. Would you mind doing me an awfully huge favor on your errands? I think these people in the lobby, and myself, require something sweet. Perhaps you can indulge me and run to the store?” Wait.... SERIOUSLY?! A few thousand Cenz were being pushed into her hand, the tone telling Shula quite plainly that, just like the same 'polite requests' she gave to her own soldiers, one was being given to her and there really was no room to argue or shove it off onto a runner. “Probably should find a bottle of whiskey if you can too, please. I would greatly appreciate it.” Shula sighed inwardly... some things would never change, would they? Oh well.

Glancing quickly between Hans and Rose, Shula smiled up brightly. "No problem. I'll try not to keep people waiting too long." Hans and Rose briskly left the lobby, up to discuss whatever it was that was setting everyone on edge, and Shula had been left to play fetch. Dog of the Military. HAH! Woof woof. Of all the things that went along with that title and image, it was funny how often 'retriever' went along with it. There were too many people working the lobby floor to ask what they each wanted... She'd just get a mix of things and let them figure it out, and for a moment Shula briefly debated grabbing the little private who was running files everywhere and dragging him with her. If she had to play fetch, he could play tote, right? Hnn, no. She'd manage. Shula tucked the money away and adjusted the sari's drape over her shoulder as she hopped out the doors and into the beaming sunlight, swishy denim-blue fabric dancing around her as she stepped.

Shula pulled her phone out and slid it open to send a quick message; she'd only meant to be in Central for the morning and then head home, but her day seemed to have just gottan a bit longer. I'm back at Central HQ for a day and already back to being sent on pastry and booze runs. WTH. Should be home after this unless Hans needs me to do anyhting else for him. Tchüss~ Check-in done, the phone slid closed and went back into Shula's purse as she made her way to her little bug. Right, pastries and booze... It was 5 o'clock somewhere, right? Central had changed face since its rebuilt, the shops all new and in different places, but even though Shua wasn't here often finding places to find sweets had been one of the first things she'd looked up. Csilla had told her about a bakery that made the best little strawberry cakes and fruit tarts, and after trying them once it had become her fave spot to brunch with her best friend.

No longer worrying about what had everyone so axious, Shula drove off, heading tot he little pink bakery she loved so much. The House of Pi. There was just something about going to a bakery owned and run by supercute (albeit gay) guys that just made brunches fabulous. The food was great and you could flirt with the staff and vice versa and it always be totally harmless. The only downside was for buying whole tarts and boxes of sweets there was always a line...
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Re: The Thorn In Their Eye

Post by Guest on Tue Apr 03, 2012 5:49 pm

"Yes, Sir! I'll keep an eye for him."

The receptionist nervously typed, pretending activity. Why, oh why, did she have to deal with someone so intense in the last hour of her shift?! Inwardly moaning at her misfortune, the girl--Sherry--rapidly searched up photos and dossiers for Connel and Aaron Brighton. Curiosity drove her to find out what kind of bullet she had just dodged. She chanced a moment to peer over her desk-fort at the woman claiming to be Rose Connel. Fortunately, the Chancellor was leading her upstairs and well away.

She opened the files for picture identification; just to be sure the photo ID attached to Connel's dossier matched the red-haired woman that Chancellor Reinhardt had escorted away. Hm...Glasses, red hair, brown eyes, some light freckles, same surly expression alright. Even her photo seemed like it could glare holes through her. Sherry finished comparing a mental check list with the photo and tabbed open the dossier for the other name mentioned. She silently mouthed the name "Aaron Brighton" in recall. Hadn't Miss Shula's brother been named Aaron? She glossed through the file, nodding to herself and smiling brightly that her memory didn't have as many holes in it as she'd expected in that thought.

The girl was so caught up in her info gathering that she hadn't noticed the tall figure coming in the door, nor did she notice the hush that fell on the entire lobby area. Then, all at once, what few people that remained in the lobby after Rose Connel appeared were too busy to seemingly greet the newcomer through the door. Errands were completed in jig time while others simply vacated the building for the outer court. The long, lean man stopped to level a bland deadened gaze around the lobby, taking in the vaguely familiar place and trying to place it in his shoddy memory, then continued at a slow, almost lumbering pace toward the front desk with both hands stuffed firmly in his pockets. While he was wearing normal enough rubber-soled boots, as he walked there seemed to be the faintest echo of metal connecting with each step he made. Rose hadn't been able to find more than military-issue pants and boots for him to wear, so he had to suffice with wearing a black sleeveless shirt with them. She had tried to talk him into something a bit more presentable, but he liked the tight fit of the shirt and how it clung to his well-toned lean frame as if it were a second skin. He would replace his own former uniform soon enough, he supposed.

'I never imagined I'd be back here, the man thought, bringing his dusky hand up from the depths of obscurity to brush along his chin in a indiscreet check for stubble. He hadn't shaved this morning, nor had he honestly cared to handle a razor right now with how vexed Rose managed to make him. He'd give her a set of blushing gills, to be sure. Where had that damned woman gotten off to? By all rights she ought to be here. She couldn't have gotten an interview with any CO's this late in the day, surely. Then he thought for a moment that, yes, she could because she had the devil's own luck. Even the Eight-ball had her pinned in the corner these days, not that it'd spare her his wrath once he had the time to get her alone in a dark corner of the room and lecture for a few heated minutes. And he hadn't quite forgotten how he was going to pay her back later for lacing his tea and forcing that untimely nap on him. If she'd decided to offer herself up to the chopping block without him, he'd....

The man stopped at the desk to place one large tan hand on the counter, nearly scaring the girl behind it within an inch of her life. Sherry yipped and jerked her body into a straighter sitting position to look up into his crimson eyes. Aaron could have sworn he watched her literally sputter up her soul, choke, and swallow it back down like a bitter pill. What was wrong with this jittery bundle of nerves pretending to be a woman? Something about her frazzled expression made him imagine palming her face in one huge hand and crushing her skull for wasting eight-point-six seconds of his life; he secretly pondered which side of her face would cave in first. Probably the right: her jaw-bone looked weak enough. And while his expression remained bland, her own bright green eyes widened as she flicked them from the picture staring at her from her computer screen as though one double-take simply didn't do the trick. Same snow white hair, tanned skin—the mark of an Ishvallan heritage, and blood red eyes that apparently gave the impression he could look into a person's soul if he thought about it—what was there to quibble over. Aaron set his jaw staunchly as she stared up at him and tried not to, nervously ducking her head down to clear her throat. The man had opened his mouth, about to speak, when the receptionist beat him to it.

"U-uhm, excuse me, sir? Are you, b-by chance, Aaron Brighton?" Though Sherry kept her voice low so as not to be overheard, she was unable to keep it from creaking like a door on a rusty hinge in her nervousness. She glanced shyly at her monitor, sullenly noting her shift still had at least another half an hour to go. This just wasn't her day.

'Huh. Thanks for cutting me off, Nervous Nancy. I appreciate it.' the towering soldier inwardly groaned in absolute silence. He supposed he should answer her and pray she didn't soil herself when he did.

"Mm. I am. So, I take it that she did come here..." He, too, kept his voice low, but Aaron's last words trailed off more as a loud thought to himself than any stating of the obvious. What a devilishly frustrating woman. When he got her back to the hotel he'd shove his foot so far up her ass that she'll spit metal shavings for days— always martyring herself needlessly like a damned fool. His thoughts were still muddled from all the moss tea she'd slipped him, but it was quickly clearing as his acerbic thoughts raced through how much time had she already spent here and how much was she telling the the brass? But the petite receptionist caught his thoughts away before he could settle into brooding silence in her presence.

"E-excuse me? Sir, Chancellor Reinhardt would like to see you. He's waiting in the office of General Aeries up on the third floor." And, with a curt nod, Aaron strode away from the lobby desk. Sherry was nearly faint with relief.

'Chancellor Rein-who? Th' fuck is that?' Aaron breathed, suckling in an icy gust of frustration through his pearly white teeth. This day just kept getting better. Now, it seemed Central had gone and played musical chairs with the chain of command and left him the last man out with an un-chair'd ass. Lovely. Aaron truly pondered if losing his legs was worth all the pomp and circumstance of a debriefing, honestly. He could summarize in a nicely written report: "My shit got fucked up. End of Line." Fucking paper-pushers at Central sure had a way of making even the most trivial things into a twenty-page essay…complete with dressing up for a formal debrief. Nonetheless, if Rose thought she could crucify herself a second time around, she'd be sorely upset by the time he cut the tree down and beat her to death with her own cross.

Aaron took the stairs nearly two at a time with his long legs. Rose had done a fine tune-up on them a week ago and they were working as smoothly as his natural legs had once moved...almost. And, somehow, the heavy clod of his heels seemed to echo the thunderous beat of his thoughts crashing down on him like a hammer against anvil. This had been his mistake, his fault. Naturally he blamed himself for their current position, just as he blamed himself that night she'd bought their freedom. He'd allowed her to silence his questions, but in the part of his heart that wasn't burning alive with hatred he had felt sick to his soul to know what had been done to her. He had been a fool not to see the livid bruises on her body when she'd change in the next room of their solitary cell, or how for at least two days…she'd walked with a noticeable limp. And the matter always seemed to go without mentioning the suspicious matter of his legs once they were free, which she adamantly had refused to speak about other than a forced optimism about installing them. Yet, now she was about to throw away her future, and for what?! It was his fault, and he knew it. He'd never been able to keep his Sergeant safe as he had made an oath to do, and she was always hauling his ass out of the fire in the end. "Fucking dipshit." he hissed in his native tongue.

Whether that thought was directed at himself or his erstwhile partner wasn't quite clear to him, but he found himself at last on the third floor. It wasn't too unlike the rest—overly formal and filled with an ancient sort of air that made breathing a chore. The hallway seemed lined with many wooden doors, their polish shining dimly in the light of the corridor. He strode a few doors down to the one with the requisite nameplate and knocked firmly. He didn't wait for an answer as he once would have done, but instead turned the handle and pushed his way into the room. His stoney face took in the tableau of Rose at the desk after apparently having already finished her accounting and the man who must be Chancellor Reinhardt standing behind the desk. Aaron spoke slowly, balling up his anger at this stubborn woman before him into a tight knot and forcing it back down into the privacy of his own guarded mind. He'd almost given way to emotion on his trek up the stairwells but now resumed his stoic demeanor that neither fooled nor comforted Rose. " Aaron Brighton. You wished to see me...Sir?" Somehow, he wondered if his complete lack of military bearing and protocol would go forgiven, considering all he'd been through. He doubted it, though.

'Aw'right. Get to chewing my ass, already. I'm a busy man. My foot has an appointment with HER ass in about ten minutes…' Aaron though, glowering in Rose's general vicinity without actually averting his gaze and offering blatant disrespect in the presence of a superior officer. But even Rose could tell that, without looking, it was an icy glare that could have frozen fire solid—the look of one very annoyed Aaron Brighton trying his hardest not to go off on her right then and there.

"…well fancy meeting you here, Rose." he inwardly sneered, catching Connel's gaze for a moment with a ferocious glare that basically said: "You and I need to TALK later…"

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Re: The Thorn In Their Eye

Post by Hans L. Reinhardt on Sat Apr 07, 2012 7:24 pm

Hans listened in careful silence as Rose recounted their tragedy-laden tale. It had been a brave thing Rose had done, pulling Aaron out of certain death and taking him to medical help. And yet, even that was not a safe place to be. He felt his blood boil, hearing how the Cretan soldiers treated two Amestrian soldiers. It disgusted him, war. And everything that came along with it. He felt the hands behind his back clench the tiniest bit when Rose spoke of bribing the guards. He knew damned well what they could have likely entailed for her, for he doubted prisoners of war were allowed to hold onto anything of material value. And yet, she had gone through terrible things to save herself and her fellow soldier from any future horrors. Hans sat down finally in Spade's chair as she began to casually speak that she nursed her comrade back to health before returning to Central. That was an interesting chain of developments, indeed. A stern look from Rose hinted that she didn't want to discuss the events that took place to acquire Aaron's automail legs. Hans suspected it was a similar incident to the camp and he managed to keep his cool.

Hans mulled over her words, trying to decide an approach. A knock on the door stirred him from his thoughts and he stood as without ceremony, the door opened. A sturdy Ishvallan man walked in and closed the door, looking decidedly pissed off. And Hans heard a nice metallic ring as he stood and announced that he was in fact, who Hans suspected him of being. A delayed “sir” also hinted that he was another one who would be trouble. Hans wanted to roll his eyes, but refrained. Instead, he waved at the seat beside Rose's. “Ah, yes. Sergeant Brighton. Please sit, if you are so inclined. I am Hans Reinhardt, Chancellor of Amestris. General Aeries, who as you may recall, runs Central HQ, is not in today. Luckily, I was in the area. Your associate here was just spinning a rather marvelous tale for me.

Hans heartily wished for that scotch at this moment, but he knew that having Shula walk in right this second could be very, very bad. Hands still clasped behind his back, Hans began to slowly pace behind Spade's desk, silently thinking again. He spoke again after a moment, his voice stern. “A tale indeed, of war and prison and recuperation. Fascinating, what the two of you have been through. And more fascinating,” He paused in his pacing to look at Rose, “That you would be so honest to say that you haven't been in a prisoner of war camp this entire time.” He continued his pacing for another minute before stopping and facing the two of them directly. “I suppose you have your reasons, Lieutenant, for not returning to Central immediately to announce yourself as very much not dead. But the way I see it, I find your actions rather commendable.” He allowed a small smile to flit across his lips. “If you would like, of course, I can have you court martialed and dishonorably discharged, the both of you. Or...” He shrugged his shoulder. “I could give you both a hearty handshake and get you assignments into a headquarters of your choice. Which would you prefer?

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Speaks fluent Amestrian (teal), Cretan (greenyellow), Xingese (goldenrod), and Creig (cadetblue). Is learning to speak Aerugese (bisque), Drachman (silver), Esparian (plum), Rouenian (Gelemortian Dialect) (lightsteelblue), Cerisian (lawngreen), Ishvallan (chocolate). (Can at least speak a few words in each.)
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Re: The Thorn In Their Eye

Post by Guest on Mon Apr 09, 2012 4:02 pm

Rose had kept her eyes on the Chancellor, almost like a small cat eyeing a much larger predator. But, her attention diverted when Aaron came charging through the closed door without so much as a knock. The boy's manners surely had deteriorated into nothingness. She didn't quite turn to meet his fierce gaze, but turned just enough to look at him over her shoulder. Though her face remained sternly stoic, her eyes had that small, imperceptible crinkle at the corners that showed she was smugly amused to have beaten him to the punch. He'd kept a tight watch on her since they arrived in Central yesterday, especially as more and more of his memory had come back. She'd hoped that nonsensical oath of his had been forgotten, too, but apparently it was too ingrained to be exorcised by something as trivial as short-term amnesia.

She did tense inwardly when she noticed Aaron's eyes narrow slightly at her. She took the meaning, and there'd probably be more broken furniture later tonight depending how hotly their mutual tempers flared. In the time since getting his new legs and getting him healthy enough to use them, Rose had to admit that he had developed a ferocity that could frighten a stalwart person. She'd probably be afraid of him, too, if she had enough sense and more of a care for personal safety. But if he had grown bitterly fierce, she had become fiercely apathetic and jaded. Which, she supposed, is probably why they could tolerate one another now. She turned her face away from him to sit facing the Chancellor again, speaking in her firmest tone. ”'Oy, Brighton, sit down. That's an order.” She'd spoke just on the heels of the Chancellor offering the same command, but in a much more polite tone, to which Rose had doubted the boy would respond to in his present mood. She was still his CO for the time being, and was intending to exploit that fact for as long as it remained tenable.

Her attention refocused on Reinhardt as she watched him begin to pace and continue speaking. But, for some reason, his words weren't quite reaching her brain and she couldn't quite grasp their significance. Rose sat straighter when he stopped to put his attention on her, her bland expression not registering the inner upheaval she was beginning to feel. Was he...commending her honesty? What she had done? She was starting to feel sick, but held it in well enough. She had come here fully expecting a hearing and then an immediate firing at the very least, from the way her memory of things long past had gone. She couldn't speak up immediately, feeling her tongue quite frozen in her head. Did she want to continue on in the military, really? But if she tried to put off for Aaron to be assigned and for her to talk, she knew Brighton would have a few less than gentle words on that score now that he'd arrived so unfortunately to her plans. She glanced over at him out of the corner of her eye, a hard gaze to bear as she wanted to drill straight through him with that regard. She cleared her throat and took a steadying breath as she looked at Reinhardt plainly. ”I believe, sir, I will leave that decision up to Brighton. He has a say in the matter, too.”

Rose sat back in the chair quietly, then. Her mind was racing with bad memories and current events so quickly that she felt motion sick. She felt another migraine coming on, sure as the world turned. She was sure that if Aaron wished to be assigned another headquarters that it would be one away from her, given the unholy rows they'd had in recent weeks. At least the bright side would be a solitude she could retreat to and from everyone and lick her wounds in peace. Her head was starting to throb in a dull way behind her eyes and she did hope this meeting ended soon so she could get to her medicines.

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Re: The Thorn In Their Eye

Post by Shula Brighton on Thu Apr 12, 2012 3:50 am

Anyone who said there was nothing more to Amestris than warmongering militants and hard, stoic people with no senses of humour and even less passion had never scratched beneath the surface to see the people beyond the militaristic face. There was so much warmth and life and vibrancy. Even after the bombs wrecked the country and crippled the nation to a point where it still hadn't fully recovered, Amestris' stubborn people persisted and were determined to flourish in the ways they knew best. Some people shined most in the military. Others, like Mr. Holzer, sparkled like a star through his beautiful pink restaurant. He was amazing, and a true artist with food; his fruit tarts alone made the place almost famous and he'd gotten to a point where he'd only make 30 tarts a day; people got in line before dawn to get one. This late in the afternoon there were no tarts left, but after Shula so caringly explained the errand she was running, Mr. Holzer was more than happy to bake two fresh ones just for the Chancellor.

Strawberries made a ring, patterned with slices of apricot. A circle of blackberries danced around a wide ring of bright green kiwi slices. Currants, blueberries, strawberries and a giant, single gooseberry crowned the tart, shiny glaze clinging to each piece of fruit and down the pastry sides. There was a reason these tarts were the House of Pi's shining glory. The two fresh tarts were beyond gorgeous, but should have been plenty for the peple on the lobby, especially with the other sweets that filled the third box that were all in small, individual pieces. This should be plenty for all the first floor, and then enough leftover to put in one of the meeting rooms for people to go help themselves to. Hugs, cheek kisses and warmest regards for the Chancellor later, Shula left with pastry boxes to get the easier thing on her list: booze.

Now that was familiar territory. Even though Spade had given up drinking, damn if knowing all the locations of the new liquor stores were once they were put in. For a long time South was the only place with working bars and Spade had joked he wouldn't come back to Central until they'd put them there, too. But by the time they'd been built back up, Spade had already changed... It was a good change, though. Shirley haunted him less, and he'd adjusted back to seeing the millions of tiny details he'd once told Shula about. Shula kept wine in the house regularly, and a bottle of something harder, but Spade so rarely had any now. It was strange and different, but nice. Though she wasn't on a first-name basis with anyone at the liquor store, Shu had no trouble finding a beautiful bottle filled with amber liquid and taking her finds back to HQ. She'd been a bit longer than she'd hoped to be, but well worth it, she felt, considering the treats she'd been sent off with. And maybe things had calmed down at the office ands he could ask someone what was going on.

The vintage blue bug pulled back into the same spot she'd left by hte building, Shula now toting out the large, heavy bag and the paper sack in her arm. Oh, Spade was probably just laaaaaaaughing at the irony of this, wasn't he? Ah well. After she dropped everything off she could head home and enjoy the rest of her weekend. Besides, Hans ordering treats to be brought in was kind of an immediate attempt at her advice, right? It was funny how animal-like people were, even when they didn't want to admit to it. Trying to get the staff of Central to warm up to Hans was just like introducing a new dog to a large pack of dogs that were already used to each other, sort of. But this was pretty optimistic, and hopefully he'd be able to get through to evryone sooner rather than later. Shula bounced up the stairs and through the doors into the lobby, not immediately noticing just how tense things still felt in there until she sat down the sack of sweets, poor Sherry nearly shrieking.

"G-General Brighton! Ahah, y-you're back!" Shula blinked, the woman's nervous enthusiasm baffling. She hadn't been gone that long, and it's not like they didn't know she was coming back. Unloading two of the boxes gently, Shula watched Sherry as she started gathering her purse and dropping things out of her hands. Good lord, what had gotten into her that got her so anxious? A cold, bony hand reached across the desk and pressed to Sherry's forehead. She really looked like she needed a shot or two and a long nap. The Chancellor had made it pretty clear to not tell Shula about the second "guest" at the meeting in Spade's office presently.

"You okay, Sherry? You don't look so hot." No fever, but damn that girl needed to relax. Sherry nodded much too vigorously as she stood, purse on her shoulder and ready to race out the door.

"Oh, me? I'm fine, totally fine. Why wouldn't I be? Eheh..." ...Okaaaaay. So Sherry was fine, everyone was whipsering and something about that red-haired woman seemed to have set everyone but Shula on edge. Days like this Shu wished she'd had Spade's almost magical ability to see the details nobody noticed and be a step ahead, if for no other reason that right now she felt like she was missing something critical. The last minutes of Sherry's horrible shift had finally come to their end and by the grace of God she'd somehow survived. It really was too much, and as she logged out she didn't even stop long enough to try any of the tart that was being sectioned off onto napkins. Poor Sherry just made a hasty goodbye and nearly ran out the door to her car, leaving a small horde of staff who were putting aside awkward looks and comments in favour of dessert. Besides, it was rude to talk with your mouth full, right? She looked around, wondering where Hans had run off to. It had taken a few moments to get an answer; since nobody would say what was going on, it'd taken some clever wording to just find out where the Chancellor was. Back in Spade's office, huh?

"Off to see the Wizard, then. Pastry box in one hand and scotch tucked into her arm, Shula made her way back up the stairs to the third floor. He might have still been talking to that woman, but oddly, Shu wasn't in a particular hurry. If he'd wanted the scotch PDQ he'd have said so, right? Shula hummed as she walked down the hall slowly, unlike her steps to leave it with the Chancellor where she'd nearly been trotting. Music drifted in and out of Shu's head as she made her way down, thinking more about how she'd spend the rest of her weekend and trying to not let her mind drift too far into a happy fog. Drop this off for the Chancellor and head back to Spade's apartment for the weekend.

"The fire~ Making me cleeeean. Making me flyyyy. Spinning me round, and round. Spinning me round! The fire~ with-in your eyes. This mys-tic time... I've known... befoooore, once before!" The words bounced with her steps, her voice light and pleasant as she knocked on Spade's office door with her knuckles lightly. "Chancellor? Hate to interrupt, but I got what you asked for." Shula shifted her weight to secure the bottle in her elbow to free her hand, cold, bony fingers turning the knob carefully. Shula was more concerned with maintaining the balance of the pastry box and the booze than anything else, turning the knob and gently pushing the door open with her hip enough to start walking in. "Lemme just drop these off and I'll be off, unless you need something else."
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Re: The Thorn In Their Eye

Post by Csilla Angelis on Sun Apr 22, 2012 11:37 am

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Re: The Thorn In Their Eye

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