Description: After getting communications set up between Majigen and Earth, Zach answers his voice mails.
Metro City Square - Majigen
After the battle with Ermac, Captain Zach Glenn and Officer Sean McElhinney returned to Il Paradiso to get some people who knew communications gear to the top of the IRS building. A few hours later, and the home of the human resistance had established communications with Earth. Many people used the opportunity to contact loved ones, others called coworkers. Some tried to contact the authorities, despite more than a few people all but wearing badges and ID cards declaring that those in power already knwo something is up.
Zach waited a day or so to make use of renewed comms for a couple of reasons. The first one, the one that he'd give if asked, was that he wanted those around him with more pressing needs to get taken care of first. But secondly, and perhaps more pressingly, Zach Glenn was /exhausted/. McElhinney practically had to carry Zach the last quarter mile. When Zach had apologized, Sean had explained that fair was fair: Zach had carried /him/ for the first mile. The bodies of the two men had taken savage beatings at the hands of Ermac; Zach's spirit had taken a bit of a mauling as well. It was a new experience for the psion, and not one he was keen to try again.
Zach awoke with his cell phone blinking at him. Ten missed calls. The first one was from his parents. His father had guessed, correctly, that Zach had been sent in to Metro City. Zach called home, assured his parents he was still alive. Zach asked his father to send a message to the rest of the family, explaining the situation in broad strokes. Even /if/ Metro City were rescued from this hellscape, the damages and loss of life were already horrific. Help would be needed here.
The second call was, perhaps predictably, from Command. This was also returned, the call going differently from the first call only on the emotional level. This conversation was far more business-like.
Then Zach saw the eight other missed calls. They were all from the same contact, showing up only as 'Orchid.' Zach winced, and listened to the calls. Honoka's voice is piped into Zach Glenn's ear through the earbud he is wearing. Familiar, almost comforting. Almost because Zach already had some idea of the direction that the voicemails would take before he called them up. He'd seen fellow Marines in the Second, who had had relationships. Work in the Marine Corps is hard on /any/ couple. Work in the Second Vanguard was an order of magnitude more difficult.
"Hey you, got your message that you weren't going to be around a while. Don't think you can get away from me that easily, haha! It's cool though. Call me when you can." *Save. On to the next.*
"Hey, me again. I.... I guess you were serious about that, ahaha. I miss talking with you. Don't forget about me, okay?" *Save. Next*
"Zach, it's Honoka again. 'Out of town?' I'm out of town all the time, why won't... It's some work thing then? I guess... .... I hate voice mail. But I miss hearing your voice, and this is the easiest way to, I guess." Zach took a deep breath, trying to contain himself for a moment. To clamp down on emotions. The materials of his phone creaked slightly under the pressure of his grip. *Save. Next.*
"Hey Zach, me again. I miss you. Call me when you get free from whatever it is, we can go get dinner or something, my treat!" Zach grinned faintly at this. Honoka knows Zach well enough, though he wonders how she'd feel about going to a steak house. Glenn had never seen Honoka actually eat /meat/. *Save. Next*
The next four calls were recorded, but consisting only of nervous hang-ups. Zach heaved another sigh as he deleted those. He leaned back against the wall, staring at the phone for a moment, and doing some math. Assuming that time was moving here at the same rate it was on Earth... Yeah. Now's probably the best time. No shows yet.
Zach thumbed the contact information and dialed. And waited.
The Twilight Star Circus is heading north to correspond roughly with the blossoms of the sakura, starting off in the south and making its way north. And now, after seven years' absence, the Twilight Star Circus has finally reached the northeastern island, Hokkaido. The cast and crew have been unpacking the trucks, trailers, and vans all throughout the night, and right now... two hours before the first showtime, they're finally finished.
Honoka Kawamoto has retired to her trailer. As a feature performer, she's explicitly -not- tasked with a lot of heavy lifting, but that never really stops the charmer from pitching in here and there -- if for nothing more than proving she -can-. Right now, she's just finished grilling up some salmon, when a distinctive sound sets her pink-and-purple phone to buzzing its way across the table.
Smirking, she shakes her head. "Right when I'm about to start dinner..." she murmurs to herself, before reaching out to pick up the phone.
Her eyes widen, at the name on the contact list. Quickly, she slides her plate of fish onto the coffee table, and answers, sounding nearly out of breath: "Moshimoshi? Honoka desu~"
She knows who it is, naturally. But even in the standard Japanese greeting, she's able to share quite a bit of eagerness to hear more.
Zach smiles at the greeting. "Hello yourself," he says into the phone. He sounds happy, and at the same time /tired/. "This... this isn't a bad time, is it? I didn't think there were any shows going right now and..." Zach takes a slow, steadying breath.
"I... wanted to talk to you now that I could," he finally decides to say.
Honoka smiles audibly. "Are you kidding? It's the /perfect/ time. We just finished setting up outside Sapporo, and I have an hour or so before warmup starts..."
She lets the thought hang there for a moment, as she flips to speakerphone mode. There's a small shuffling sound as she props the phone up. "Just finished cooking dinner, actually! Um." Another pause. "You sound... exhausted, too. Uh. What's... goin' on? It isn't one of those top-secret 'gonna have to kill you if I tell you' deals, is it?"
There's the sound of utensils clinking against the plate as she cuts into her fish. Honoka savors the aroma for a moment, while she listens to Zach's response, seeking out every nuance of his voice.
Zach's chuckle illustrates the man's weariness. "Depends," he finally says as he shifts his weight to sit up a bit straighter, loosening his grip on his phone. "On what you know about what's happened to Metro City." Straight forward, tired, but not giving himself over to the need to sleep, to try and rest just yet.
The clamor of a knife hitting a ceramic plate transmits pretty clearly to the other side of the line.
Three times she inhales, and three times she exhales. "... Okay, it's a 'Honoka would've killed you if you didn't tell her' deal, but... let's move past that, mmm?" So... she knows. Yeah.
"They're making it sound like a bed of roses up here. Some normal tournament BS, it's pretty obviously a smokescreen. Though some real reports -are- making their way out." There's a pause, as Honoka picks up her silverware again, poking weakly at her food. "When are you finishing up?"
"Sorry," Zach says when Honoka speaks her snarky discontent. "It really /is/ an operational security issue. Luckily for me," he says, a bit of energy returning to his voice as the give-and-take commences, "The answer I would be allowed to give you is also the honest one." He lets out a sigh that Honoka can clearly hear.
"I don't know," he says, a sort of tired resolve in his voice, a tone suggestive of someone who is about to shoulder a burden despite already being loaded down. "The situation here is still very fluid." Zach frowns. Zach hates this whole situation. He understands why the smokescreen is there, but he hates that he has to keep it going. "But I will tell you as much as you want to hear about it when I get back to Japan," he says. "There's... there's just too many people caught up in this thing to keep it completely under wraps for too much longer."
"Well." Honoka can respect that the career officer doesn't want to give away any -more- information than his general location. But even in one syllable, Zach likely knows enough about the performer's speech habits to be able to tell when she's trying to bring a little levity to a serious issue.
Honoka leans her elbows on the table, bringing her mouth a bit closer to the mic. The clarity of her voice improves, but she lowers her volume so it's not excessively loud. "I"m sure that whatever the heck is going on, you'll be the one getting people out of it. They picked the best man for the job."
What do you even /say/ to that, Zach wonders, even if he was in better shape physically or emotionally. He nearly got the first group of volunteers killed with that run-in with Zabel, and McElhinney /literally/ took one on the chin for him not too long after that. He's silent for a long moment. "I..." Zach struggles with his words for a moment. "I'm doing what I can," he finally says very quietly. "But we're still loosing people here. There's only so much that..."
Speaking of classified details on an unsecured line to an unaffiliated foreign national? Yes, Honoka can read between the lines here.
She draws in her breath. And the levity fades.
"Zach, I need you to listen to me. You are strong. But you are -one man-. And everyone there? Everyone there is one man, or one woman." She looks at the newspaper article she'd left carelessly on the couch, squinting at the grainy dot-colored picture of the conduit leading to Majigen.
"It's... it's up to them, and whatever God they believe in..." Honoka pinches herself, stopping herself from treading further down that route. "Zach, just do what you can. But don't let yourself get stuck in the moment. That asshole wants you to feel. To curl in on yourself."
Honoka moistens her lips, eyeing that fish. "I'd even wager he's counting on it."
Zach lets out a shuddering breath. "It's hard," he finally says. "To not feel. If it was just me, I... I doubt it would be much of an issue." Zach takes a quick look around him. He had selected as isolated a place in the opera house as he could; he needed /some/ illusion of space, of seperation to try and rebalance himself.
"Everyone here," he finally says, "Who is still feeling anything? They're scared. To some degree or another, they are scared." Another deep breath. And then another. "And I feel /all/ of it," he finally says. There's weariness, some fear in that statement. Worry, and anxiety. "And I..." Another pause. A hissing rustle can be heard over the connection as Zach scrubs a tear from his cheek. "I'm having a hard time keeping it out," he finally says in a hoarse whisper.
Honoka listens quietly, eyeing that fish. She cuts off a piece, nibbling upon it -- the mouthwatering flavor is just enough to tide her over for a few momnets.
The warmth returns to her voice. "I hear you, Zach. It's... it's tough, sorting through so many people, especially when they're not... confident." The voice of someone who can -- and -does- -- feel the sway of emotions from hundreds of people each and every night.
"You are human, Zach. Everyone has weaknesses -- it's okay to show them when you're off stage." Honoka stabs at her fish, carves off another tiny slice. "You are the one telling the story, you are the one dancing the dance. On stage... find strength and solace in the motions of the dance. Off stage..."
She smiles again. "We'll work off stage when you get back, soldier."
"I..." Zach smiles, just a bit. "Yeah." He's silent for another moment. "Steak," he finally says, with some confidence. "When I get back, I mean."
Honoka senses the weariness... and shifts gears from 'pep talk' to 'comforting talk about home.' "Reika tells me there's a rocksome yakiniku restaurant around here called Ohnoya. Have you ever had 'gyutan' before? Best beef you could possibly get, with the awesomest seasoning ever..." If she'd come out and said 'beef tongue,' she doubts it would be received well, after all. "We'll go out there, def."
This is /Zach/ we're talking about. Food's food, and food is good. Period. "I'll look forward to it," he says warmly. Zach stops short, looking at the doorway to the room he is holing up in. "Hey," he says quickly, more suprise than worry, "I gotta go. Someone's looking for me." A pause. "See you soon, right?"
"Better not keep them waiting then, soldier." It never sounds condescending or drill-sergeantish whenever the Ainu woman says the word 'soldier.' Perhaps it's a casual term of endearment, or maybe just a gentle reminder that she understands the need for confidentiality. Regardless, she means it in the best possible sense.
"Thanks for keeping in touch." She knows Zach is in a rush; she seems to stumble on her words for a moment before adding hastily, "See you soon, sweetie."
Zach closes the call, pulling the bud from his ear as he gets back on his feet. A grin plays across his face, and Zach heads for the door. The Marine opens it to a surprised runner. "Captain," the runner says after a moment. "There's something we need you for..."
Log created on 20:17:40 04/21/2015 by Zach Glenn, and last modified on 22:57:25 04/21/2015.