OOC June 24th, 6999 Aboard the Heavy Command Cruiser Aigaion of the Iyuli Imperial Aerial First Fleet Within the corridors of the third deck of the Iyuli Imperial Aerial Force flagship, a single woman walked. Moving with an air of authority, perhaps bordering on invincibility, she was dressed in an Imperial Federation of Iyuli military uniform. Positioning her officer's cap on her silver colored hair; smooth and ending in an long braid which was held together by a red and white ribbon, her expression was serious and thoughtful as she rounded the corner of the sleek, smooth and brightly lit corridor. The interior, or at least the corridors linking the different areas of the Aigaion were strange compared to those of other airships. Whereas most others had pipes, gauges and other utilities decorating the walls, the Heavy Command Cruiser's were smooth, metallic surfaces of a gunmetal color, with all the piping and other sorts of things underneath, only accessible from a maintenance shaft. These smooth, unnatural surfaces emphasized the almost entirely metal construction of the Advauto Plant creation. The only breaks to this darkly colored monotony were banners emblazoned with the colors and symbol of the Iyuli state, hung on the walls at semi-regular intervals and the wide windows where one could see the world outside. At this moment, the woman could see the right wing of the Aigaion, flying at a few hundred meters over the clouds. Far off from the gargantuan wing, she could barely see the silhouettes of one of the Kottos Class support frigates and one of the Gyges Class destroyers that flew with the Aigaion. Letting her gaze drift for a moment to look at the window-view, the woman nonetheless kept her brisk walk on the carpeted floor, the norm on the third deck of the Aigaion, which was used for officer and official quarters and facilities. Finally, she arrived at her destination. Walking through the open door into the dining hall, her before muffled footsteps now had a much louder sound on the wooden floor of the hall. After being saluted by a man in a formal uniform, she was gestured to a small unoccupied dining table near a large window giving an excellent view of the clouds and hilly, desert landscape below. On the horizon, she could see Lake Balkhash, where the Aigaion would be landing on in an hour or two in order to resupply. The twenty four reactors of the Aigaion, made up of four sections of six, while powerful and bestowing a stable speed of forty five knots for a period of seventy two hours, needed to be resupplied with a form of odysseum too heavy to be carried and resupplied in midair as of yet. As such, the Aigaion's voyages had to be specially planned to land in a large enough body of water every three days. "Empress?" A voice came up from next to her, a girl's voice, meek and gentle. Turning her head from the window, the woman saw the servant who had interrupted her from her thoughts. After the Empress nodded with a small smile in response, the girl spoke again. "Would you like me to take your hat?" Nodding in response again, she handed her cap to the girl and shook her head slightly to let the hair that had been inside the cap loosen up. "Would you also care for some music? The usual, if I dare assume?" "You were right to assume. Please, go ahead. If I might add, when will breakfast be served?" The Empress replied with a kind expression on her face. "I will comply, Empress. Breakfast shall be served in about a minute. Are sausages, salad and eggs satisfactory?" The servant seemed noticeably more at ease now that the Empress had adopted a more amicable expression, but still spoke with a formal manner. "Of course. Might I have some some sort of fruit and some tea with the aforementioned?" "As you wish." The servant bowed deeply, as was customary of civilians instead of the normal military salute, and headed off to put away the peaked cap and retrieve the food. Relaxing in her chair and looking out the window as she awaited that the musicians prepared themselves on the small elevated area in the dining hall, she didn't notice an old friend sit in the chair opposite her's. "Wow, so this is the officer's dining hall." A scruffy looking man with a bit of hair escaping his own peaked cap and wearing an Aerial Force captain's peacoat stole the chair on the other side of the oval shaped table. "Oh, good morning, Roz." He said as he noticed who was already sitting at the table. "Hello, Captain. Please don't call me that." She sighed with a somewhat annoyed but smiling expression. "What, you haven't dined in here before? You're the captain, silly!" Rozaliya retorted. The Captain's face made a somewhat defensive expression and he began to explain the situation. "Well, you see, most of the other bridge crewmen dine in the crew messhall, on second deck, and one day I got lost when looking for the officer's dining hall, so I just decided to follow them and I guess it became habit?" He said, heightening the sound as if asking a question at the end. The silver haired woman chuckled in return. "Ha, fair enough. How's the Aigaion been treating you?" She placed her head on her hands as she spoke, happy to be able to speak casually with a friend for the first time during the trip. "She's a wonderful ship. She's fast, responds well, pretty decently armed and, boy, what an absolute beauty. Those accompanying ships, the Gyges' and the Kottos' are great companions too. You didn't have them with you during the Rebellion did you?" He explained, a somewhat dreamy look developing on his face. She shook her head in response, responding, "Yeah, when I commanded it, it was only the Aigaion." He nodded in understanding and took a serious yet cheerful expression as he began to explain the four accompanying ships. "Technically, the Kottos and the Gyges are built on the same hull, but that's where similarities end. The Gyges' are destroyers, meant for defense of the Aigaion and the Kottos' against enemy threats, mostly by shooting stuff. They're pretty fast too, so they can sometimes preform reconnaissance, at least that's what I did during the selection wargames and the strategy seemed to work well enough. The Kottos on the other hand are strictly used for support, lacking any weapons of any kind. However, they are still essential for all activities. They maintain the communications between all five vessels with those weird dome like things on the front, so even if one of them is destroyed we can still communicate with the other three ships. They also have optics for range-finding and targeting for the Gyges' and the Aigaion's cannons." He went highly into detail, explaining things that would bore most people to tears, but Rozaliya kept an interested look for the sake of her close friend. "Honestly, I can't wait to see the look on those Requins' faces when the Fleet flies over their city." He said, cracking knuckles in excitement. "Reniqians. Not Requins. But, yes, it's an exciting idea." She corrected him and she noticed out of the corner of her eye the musicians finishing to set up. Within moments, the music she had requested began. Opening with a part of strings, a solemn piano part came in shortly after and the singer began singing within moments of this. She sang in a somber voice, speaking in an ancient language that had lost its meaning but Rozaliya could feel a tinge of hope coming from it. While moments before she had been in friendly conversation with her childhood friend, the Empress now fell into a silent captivation by the music. After five minutes of the song, the players finished the song and continued on an instrumental version. The captain took this moment to speak. "You've been listening to this one a lot. We can hear it from the bridge." "Yeah... Ever since they found the composition in some ruins in the eastern territory, I've been just captivated by it." She explained in a calm, gentle voice. "Wait, from the bridge?" She tilted her head in question. "Seriously. I bet if someone farted on the lower decks you could hear it from up there." He joked, though he kept a quiet tone as not to interrupt the music. Rozaliya attempted to make a disgusted expression, but she couldn't help but grin slightly. "You were always the type to make vulgar jokes, Sanya." She chastised him in a playful tone. "What, you don't like them? You always laugh at them." "It's only for your sake." "You wound me." The pair laughed together and were still recovering when food arrived. Thanking the servant, she let Sanya, the diminutive name she used instead of Alexander, make an order before she left. "Coffee, please." This strange word surprised Rozaliya. "Coffee? What might that be?" A puzzled look took over her physique. "Ah, you haven't heard of it yet. It's this new thing that they make with these beans from the Black Nations, south of West Eurasia. It's kind of bitter, but it gives a great boost. It's the bridge crew's new favorite." Alexander explained the virtues of the drink with zeal, before finishing on an advice. "You should really try it sometime." "I shall see. Tea is certainly good enough for the time being." She said as she took a sip from the cup and dug a fork into the soft boiled egg with her other hand. As Alexander waited for his beverage, he suddenly had a change of expression indicating an idea and made an accompanying sound. "Oh right, about that music. Isn't there a version written in Iyulian? Why don't you listen to that?" "Written by the Propaganda Agency. Even if I don't understand the lyrics of the original version, it's still less mind numbing than the droning of some propaganda agency writer. Besides, these old languages leave a lot to imagination. Say, Sanya, what do you picture when you listen to the song?" She explained in an annoyed tone before changing subjects. Alexander made a pensive expression as he thought it over, before explaining in a somewhat dark tone. "Alright, this might sound bizarre, but here's what I imagine. I think of a bunch of students who are thrown into the nightmare of being involved in some sort of curse. Like, I don't know, one of them dies every month. I see them in this rural, out of the way town in the middle of nowhere, forgotten by the rest of the world. The place is all grimy, old, sort of like a forgotten child's toy, you follow?" He said, getting really into the description of the world in his head. "This song kind of explains not only their sorrow, but their fear and at the same time, their hope." Rozaliya held a surprised face as she thought it over. "Huh. Never thought I'd hear something like that from you. Say, have you ever thought of becoming a writer? If you wrote a book about something like that, I'd read it in a heartbeat." Sanya chuckled. "My mother always wanted me to be a writer. Sent me to literary schools and all that kind of stuff." "I see." She then went into silence as she ate, passing a bit of fruit over to her friend while he waited for his own drink. His eyes shifted around, mostly settling on his old companion, but, suddenly he noticed the clock. "Ah, shit, we're landing in one hour, gotta head back up to the bridge. See you later, Roz. Have a nice breakfast and all that." He stood up briskly from his chair and put the cap back on his head before giving a short wave to Rozaliya and heading for the door. "Au revoir." She mused as he left the dining hall and she began to cut into a sausage, watching the clouds through the window, once again. --- Captain Alexander Nikiporov didn't even take a minute in returning to the bridge, having memorized the fastest route during the last few weeks he had served as captain of the Aigaion. However, as he walked with an effective pace, he noticed something out of the ordinary as he passed the other crewmen. He observed that their salutes were notably less straight and they seemed to be attempting to hide varying expressions of amusement. Raising an eyebrow as he returned the salutes, he turned into the doorway leading to the bridge. Upon entry, he was met with the sight of Senior Lieutenant Volikov, a younger man than he, sloppily saluting with his free hand and pushing a metal cup filled with a black liquid in the captain's direction with his other hand, all while wearing a sly grin. "You forgot your coffee, Captain 'Sanya'." Right at this moment, Alexander's heart dropped and he felt a sweat on his forehead. Those seated at their posts all had different sentiments in regards to the situation, but Alexander made note of quite a few snickering. Growling, he muttered as he sat down at his own station, already preparing for the landing on Lake Balkhash. "I hate you guys so damn much." Later, on the bridge. "Both Kottos, confirm that the water is clear. Forward a message to the Reniqian escorts that they move out for the landing." The communications officer spoke to the two support frigates' own officers, speaking into a large machine that would transmit the message using the combined power of the Aigaion and the two Kottos. Rozaliya was only barely able to hear the voice of the officer over the hubbub on the bridge, despite standing right in the center next to the captain's chair. From the cockpit window, she could see the lake the Aigaion would land on and the city on the banks. Watching where she stood, she saw the Reniqian escort ships, more traditional ships with many balloons, part in opposite directions to let the gargantuan vessel land safely. Shortly after, the communications officer gave confirmation to the pilots to begin the landing. The speed of the Aigaion began to slow down greatly as the power on the odysseum reactors were lowered and eventually it fell into a slow glide. To the left of the helm, the pair of pilots seemed extremely concentrated, one making precise movements with some dials, buttons and a stick to keep the ship on the right angle and the other one watched over multiple gauges and meters indicating speed, altitude and power of the reactors. Both talked quickly between each other to coordinate the landing. Once again looking out of the window, Rozaliya saw the Gyges parting, leaving only the pair of Kottos, which were almost essential as they greatly facilitated the landing. Suddenly, Rozaliya heard the characteristic sound of the lower hull landing on water, a sort of splashing, smacking sound. As the ship deployed its lower waterbrakes, it slowed down greatly and within a few moments it had come to a full stop. "Great job, crew. You may have a break for a few dozen minutes, but after that, return to your posts." Alexander congratulated the crewmen on the successful landing before getting up from the helm chair and heading to the door. "Shall we go, Empress?" He let Rozaliya leave the bridge before him as the crewmen saluted her and then left for himself. The pair continued down the hallway, until reaching the stairwell. It took a few dozen seconds to reach the first deck, where the flight deck was situated. When they arrived, they were met with a small group of armed guards who would protect the landing party, consisting of Rozaliya and Captain Alexander, while they were ashore. There were four guards, each dressed in full Iyulian Ground Force infantry light kit and armed with semi-automatic carbines. As soon as the two came onto the deck, they were saluted by the crewmen and the infantry and they had almost perfect synchronization in returning the salutes. Position her officer's cap on her head in a neat manner, she looked over her companion. He was wearing his own cap and his captain's peacoat. Admitedly, he looked rather handsome. "You look good. And here I was thinking I would have to scold you for not wearing correct clothes." She jested as she checked her braid and headed towards the edge of the flight-deck where a boat would meet them. "You sound like my mother." Alexander grumbled as he checked the buttons on the coat. Eventually, the boat arrived and the six Iyulians climbed aboard. After a short journey, they reached the a dock where they would await further guidance. As they waited, they looked around the city landscape, taking in the sights of the foreign land. "Pretty place. Just not my kind of place." The captain offered his opinion as they awaited the Reniqian officials. "Couldn't they be more punctual?" The Empress complained as she checked her nails with a bored expression. Meanwhile, the four Iyulian soldiers checked their own equipment, making sure they had easy access to their extra magazines and that their sidearms were ready in case of need.