The crew gets settled into their new home in Nalm, Ostia (in the Hect System) while Armada continues to make the serious repairs to the Verdandi that she hasn't been able to make thus far. But as w...
As the five walked, Trunks couldn't help but stare in awe at the buildings, the people, the atmosphere of Nalm-it was a far more technologically advanced city than any he'd seen thus far. Sure, Bmyhad had lots of technology, and Virda City was impressive as well, but Nalm was in another category all its own.
As Trunks continued surveying the new city the quintet found themselves in, Laiserta was beginning to become annoyed. "So how much farther is this place Armada?" she asked, her patience-what little of it she had to begin with-was nearly gone. "Some of us don't recover from broken bones in three weeks, you know."
"Lai, you're fine, so stop playing up your injury like you're not okay," Armada shook her head while replying to the Taydran somewhere behind herself. "I saw the MJOL scan so quit whining." Armada glanced down the street to the group's right, trying to get a bearing on where their final destination lie. It'd been some time since Armada had been in Nalm and her memory of the city's layout wasn't as precise as she thought.
"I can't wait," Marice stretched her arms out in front of her, then pulled them back behind her head. "An actual house! No more sleeping on the ship!" She sighed while beaming.
"Hey," Armada turned towards Marice momentarily, "the barracks aren't that bad."
"That's what she thinks," Naya added with a sly smile as she and the others tried to stifle their laughter.
"Well how about you all fend for yourselves then?" Armada asked in her usual annoyed tone after facing forward once more, leading the group onward.
"Oh come on Armada, it was just a joke," Trunks chastised her for overreacting.
"There it is," Armada took off at a jog once she spotted the building she'd been looking for on their trek through downtown Nalm. The other four jogged after her, not wanting to get lost in the busy streets of the almost-Republican city.
Once Armada stopped and the others caught up to her, they found themselves all standing before a rather large house right in the middle of downtown. Armada busied herself at the keypad by the front entrance, typing in combinations in an effort to get the door to open.
"Hm, it's a pretty posh place," Laiserta commented while observing the building. The architecture made it look like an office building, as it was three stories high, but it had fewer windows and the size indicated that it was merely a dwelling.
"So we're just staying here until the ship gets fixed, right?" Marice questioned of anyone who would answer.
"Yeah," Trunks replied while turning to look at her. "Then we'll move on to the Republic."
"Nalm is a beautiful city," Naya commented and turned away from the group, her gaze appearing distant.
"I hope there are some good restaurants around here," Laiserta said aloud mostly to herself.
"You're hungry already?" Marice asked with surprise. "We just ate an hour ago."
"No," Laiserta looked to Marice with an annoyed visage, "I was thinking of taking up a job. You know how great of a chef I am." Laiserta then posed, holding one hand over her heart and thrusting the other upward and away from herself. "I was the lead chef at the greatest restaurant in all of Taydr, located in the beautiful city of Hrmith, the Meinschtalt//!"
"Oh please," Marice and Trunks spoke simultaneously.
Laiserta, faking her I'm-going-cry-now-face, spoke lowly, "And I thought you were my friends!"
As Laiserta continued to fake-cry for attention, Trunks looked to Armada. "What's the hold up?"
After failing yet another code, Armada clenched her right fist and growled. "Not now, okay," she ordered more than asked.
A sudden thought hit Trunks. She wouldn't... "You're not doing what I think you are..." he trailed off, praying that he was wrong.
"Well there's no one here," Armada replied, attempting another code and hearing the negative 'beep' of the security system once more.
"You can't be serious! You're breaking into someone's home?!" Trunks shouted in disbelief.
"Well if that's the only way to get in," Armada paused for a moment as she tried another code and failed.
"I can't believe you!" Trunks retorted. "Why the hell do we need to steal someone's home with all the money we have between the five of us?" It was a valid question; the money they'd all earned from early missions combined with what Armada had stowed away would have been plenty for a house.
"We can't buy anything in a better location," Armada replied, her rising anger evident in her voice. She turned toward Trunks. "Now do me a favor and stop shouting-you'll draw attention." With that, she turned to the keypad once more and reached forward to enter another number.
"I don't think so," Trunks's hand snapped forward and grabbed her wrist. "We're not breaking into someone's home!"
Armada gave Trunks an angry glare before she swiftly yanked her wrist from his grasp, and proceeded to punch the keypad in with her fist, causing the system to malfunction and shut down. "I really hate doing that; now I'll have to spend a week repairing it." She then moved towards the door, and after getting a good grip on the edge of the door, she slowly forced the metallic entrance open. "Okay," she turned to her four comrades, "everyone in."
After stepping inside, Laiserta was the first to comment. "Wow, it's pretty nice inside." She approached the open kitchen just on the other side of the living room, and wiped a hand across the countertop. "A bit dusty, but still pretty nice."
"Yeah, it's been a while since I've been here," Armada admitted. "I don't really remember the layout of the place either, but I'm pretty sure it's got three floors."
"Wait, you've been here before?" Trunks questioned, confused.
"Yeah," Armada replied, "because I own it."
"Well why didn't you say so earlier?!" Trunks asked, exasperated.
Armada approached Trunks as she spoke. "Because then I wouldn't get to see that look on your face because you assumed I was stealing it." She grinned at him sarcastically, and the other three women in the building laughed at Trunks as his face slowly turned red.
"Not funny," he added lowly.
"You know what they say when you assume things..." Laiserta smirked at Trunks, who simply glowered at her.
"Well," Armada spoke up, "you guys can decide who stays where. I'm heading back to the hangar to make sure everything's okay with the ship." With that, she turned to leave, but open seeing the wide-open front door, she paused. "Someone close the door after I leave; I don't want us getting /robbed/," she emphasized the last word, rubbing in her little prank on Trunks. With that, she went on her way.
"Oooh, a bedroom!" Marice called from down the hall that led from the living room to the rest of the house. "I call this one!"
Laiserta walked down the hall and looked into the room. "This tiny thing?" she queried with a raised eyebrow.
"I like small rooms," Marice smiled. "They're cozy."
"Whatever you say kid," Laiserta replied, heading farther down the hall. "I found the stairs!" she called after herself.
Trunks and Naya promptly followed, and the two women went up the stairs to the third floor while Trunks took a detour and looked around the second floor. Right from the landing was a huge, open room, with windows to let in a lot of light on both sides of the room. In the middle was a small table, and to either side of the table were several sofas and chairs. There were two doors on the other end of the room, so Trunks headed over to see what they led to. After finding that the one of the two doors was a bathroom and the other a closet, Trunks realized that the huge, open room took up the entire second floor. With that, he headed for the stairs and walked to the third floor.
Upon reaching the third floor landing, Trunks heard Laiserta's voice. "Boy he's gonna pissed when he finds out he's stuck with her!" Knowing that she was talking about himself, Trunks followed the sound of the voice down the hall and into one of the five doors in the hall.
"Why am I going to be pissed?" he asked when he saw Laiserta and Naya standing in a bedroom. Laiserta tried to stifle her laughter while Naya approached him.
"Trunks, we regretfully inform you that there are two sets of two bedrooms on this floor that are connected by a bathroom," Naya began.
"And the problem is...?" Trunks urged her to continue.
"Naya and I call this side," Laiserta spoke up. "And since Marice claimed the bedroom downstairs," she trailed off.
"You're not serious, are you?!" Trunks realized what they were getting at.
"Unless you can get Marice to switch with you, looks like you and Armada will have to share a bathroom," Naya added as Laiserta again tried not to laugh.
"She'll switch," Trunks replied. "She'll understand."
"What do you mean you won't switch?!" Trunks yelled as Marice declined his proposal. "I'm the only guy here; I can't share a bathroom with any of you guys!"
"Sorry," Marice shrugged, "but I got here first. Besides," Marice added, "all you have to do is knock before you go in."
"You make it sound so easy," Trunks added, his spirits down, "but I have a feeling that it won't be."
After his conversation with Marice, Trunks went on ahead and took all of his things upstairs into his room, as did Naya and Laiserta. After getting unpacked, Laiserta volunteered to cook the group's dinner, and so they all met in the living room while Laiserta cooked in the kitchen.
"So," Marice spoke up as Trunks and Naya both seated themselves in the living room, "why did we stop here instead of going all the way into the Republic?"
"Armada said she's got a connection here who can help get the Verdandi fixed relatively quickly," Trunks answered. "And it's not like we're that far from the Republican border anyway."
"Ostia has very close ties and relations to the Republic," Naya added. "The citizens here would consider themselves residents of the Republic before they would the Alliance."
"Doesn't really matter anymore," Laiserta added as she chopped up several vegetables on the countertop, "since the Alliance is gone."
"It still seems surreal," Trunks spoke distantly. "I can't believe we were there when it all happened."
"At least it's one thing we're not getting blamed for," Marice laughed. She ran a hand through her long bangs, noticing that the rest of her hair was slowly catching up to the length of that in the front.
Just then, the front door opened and Armada strode directly into the room without pausing. She was dirty from working on the ship, but she didn't bother to glance at anyone in the room. She walked straight toward the monitor on the wall behind Marice and to Trunks's left.
"What are you doing back already?" Trunks asked as he watched her turn on the monitor and enter numbers on the small keypad nearby.
"Just watch," Armada replied, and once she had the signal on the right channel, she stepped back just as the station finally settled on a news broadcast from Nalm.
"...eally not a shock to anyone, today Taydr declared war on Ceva. In response most of the nations of the former Federation //Alliance/ have declared neutrality in the matter, with most releasing statements saying that the conflict is between the two nations alone. /Ostia/'s// President has yet to release a statement of his own but it is likely that the matter will go before the National Assembly for a vote and most political analysts are speculating that /Ostia/ too will establish its neutrality. The Secretary of State today held a quick press conference..."/
"But I thought," Laiserta started but paused a moment. "I thought we prevented the war."
"So did I," Armada added, looking toward Laiserta.
"Why would they attack without Rieve's support now?" Trunks queried. "I know they still have some disruptors, but right now, Taydr is weaker than ever...what are they thinking?"
"I don't know," Naya added, "but for them to go ahead with the attack on Ceva means that they're serious in their plans for conquest...which isn't good."