PHD #061: There's Always Next Year
There's Always Next Year
Summary: Villon and Rime talk about their homeworld over some painting.
Date: 29 Feb 2041 AE
Related Logs: n/a
Villon Rime Malone Aurola 
Recreation Room
This huge room spans quite a lot of floor space, the support beams crisscrossing at even points throughout the room. The two sides are divided fairly between the Enlisted and Officers with an unseen line more or less running down the center of the room. A couple pool and card tables sit in no-man's land with a series of regular mess tables at the rear of the room, nearest a counter full of minor refreshments like coffee and bags of chips. Magazines and reading material are spread out over the couched seating areas and a few televisions are set-up with a couple of video game systems made available.
Post-Holocaust Day: #61

Mel has an hour of euphemistically-named Free Time every night between the end of her shift and bunking out. In theory, she has this. In practice, between transit and changing, she's lucky to get fourty or fourty-five minutes of it. She has a small table near No Man's Land staked out tonight, across which are set two mugs, one steaming with tea, the other half-filled with tapwater, a small array of tiny paint-pots, and some of her Minions. Tonight, she's keeping court with a squad of tiny pikemen, their tabards red and gold.

Emilie's nothing if not punctual. She's off-duty as well and has been for some time, having returned some three hours earlier from the CAP she flew. Gods only know what she's been up to since, though the fact that her hair's still damp from the shower might give some indication — that and the slightly wrinkled fingertips wrapped tightly about the olive blanket that trails her wherever she goes (though she presumably left it behind on said CAP). Paired grey-black sweats peek out from beneath that makeshift cloak, which flutters like a standard on some castle of old — a castle just like the one that housed the men upon whom Rime's toys are based.

The tiny pikemen are arranged in two rows of eight to present a swarm of points against whatever plastic-based threat might come their way. Some of the pikes are slightly bent, and one has been broken and repaired with a small blob of glue. Rime has her elbows on the table, one hand holding a half finished figurine, the other poised with a paintbrush with eyelash-fine bristles. After adding some tiny detail, she looks past the pikeman to the oncomer. Her face lights with recognition. "Emilie. You came to meet my minions after all. Hey, come sit down. I just made some tea, the water's still hot." She starts clearing a small area on the table.

Villon seems as dubious about approaching this remarkable phalanx of or and gules as a plastic-based threat coming its way. For somebody so small, she carries herself suspiciously like a very careful bull in a shop full of porcelain — almost like any misstep around these little figures might cause Rime to jump up and demand appropriate payment in compensation. And so it is that — delicately, delicately! — she settles down in a nearby chair, lifting it off the deck to avoid making noise. From within her blanket-qua-cloak comes a small box of carven cypress, its wood still smelling faintly of spice. Golden hinges glimmer beneath the room's dim lights as she cradles it in her hands, thumbs tracing tender lines across its lip in search of its clasp. And as for the woman's question? It's answered by the flash of green eyes towards standard Fleet-issue mugs. If you insist.

"I paint them with Colonial colors. The different squads, their roles. It's easier to use them for Fleet strats that way. These…" Rime reaches out and deftly grabs a block of four pikemen, rotating them around on the table to stand back to back with their brethren, points in all directions. "…are my Saggies. Good at keeping things away until something's close." She gives the pikemen a fond look. All her minions are loved, no matter their failings. "Did everyone book it from the library last night after I brought the crowd down on you?"

Emilie shrugs, letting her blanket fall about her shoulders. Now her chair squeaks, its rubber feet protesting feebly as she drags them and herself forward to examine more closely the soldiers on display. "I didn't stay," she offers — the first words she's spoken in some time, and they're also the only ones Rime will get. With a satisfying click, she pops the box open at last, lifting its top until it sits perpendicular to its bottom. And though its contents aren't yet visible, the picture etched into its surface assuredly is: two dolphins embowed, linked by nose to tail, flanked on each side by a cypress tree whose bas-relief boughs bristle outward like so many miniature spikes. A brief, murmured prayer; then, finally, what's inside is revealed as Snag spins the box towards the blonde — tubes of paint bearing the loving marks of use, each one stained a veritable kaleidoscope of color by fingerprints a little too large to be hers. "I — I think these — they're not — might not be the right type." A fragile smile. "For, uh. Your — these — these troops."

"Well, let's see. May I?" Rime's hand reaches toward the wooden box, but hovers without touching it. Her head is tilted just slightly as she waits for Emilie's response. "If they're oils instead of acrylics, you could paint the squad bases instead of the minions. They need someone to love them, too." A smile is offered as she says this. "I don't mind sharing my paints, either. I have a spare palette you could use."

Aurola slips into the recreation room, the civilian's eyes looking around as she debates what to she wants to do in the room. Her distinctive four-step walk taking her towards the other two in the room while she thoughtfully eyes the pool tables, debating if she really wants to try her hand at them or not.

Snag hesitates — and then, her smile growing slightly more confident, she pushes the box forward so its well-oiled wood touches Rime's outstretched fingers. "They're Evelyn's," the pilot confides. "My sister's." A small fingernail taps the golden clasp, upon which has been inscribed a date — "July 17th, 2035," she says without looking. "When the doctors pulled the plug and made their pronouncement, and after that I drove to the pier and ate a sandwich. With fried whitefish and a splash of lime." Though her melodic soprano is as quiet as ever, those rapid-fire words are spoken with no hesitation whatsoever: truly uncharacteristic, all things considered. "Sh — she was better than me, but — but I can try, if you'll — I mean — if you want." If she notices that the hatch has just opened and closed behind her, she doesn't show it, so engrossed is she with a knobby blob of silver on a pike second from the left, front row, phalanx D.

While Rime seems generous with her own things, she waits until the wooden box is inched toward her before grasping it and turning it toward her so she can see the contents. "Oh," she says softly, as she looks at the tubes of paint, then over them to Villon. "Your sister's." Uncertain how to proceed, she hesitates before continuing to look through the paint-tubes. "Of course I want your help. That's why I offered. I thought for sure I'd left the second-to-last person interested in these things back on the Praetorian." Snag, saviour of Rime's unpainted minions. "I guess this makes three of us, huh?" She grins, as if they're sharing some kind of secret.

Aurola's attention briefly flicks over to the the other two women in the room and the miniatures between them, before her atteniont goes back to the pool table and she shrugs her shoulders a little before she moves towards it, strating to rack up for what looks to be a game of eight ball.

Malone steps in through the hatch, glancing around for a few moments as he makes his way further into the room. Not paying too much attention to who's where.

"I just — I don't know what th — th — this is. But they look really nice." Emilie opens her mouth ever so slightly as she unconsciously deflects inclusion into Rime's confraternity of three — or consorority, as the case may be — for now. Her index finger moves over the top of the box to tap one particularly well-used tube. "But this one's really nice for water," she observes, flicking a stray strand of hair behind her back with a precise toss of her neck. "Ultramarine. And then you do the crests in eggshell on top after everything sets." Wide eyes look blankly at the pikemen nearby, as if just now realizing that pikemen probably won't need to be placed on an ocean of any sort — unless they're on a boat. And so it is that the question which follows might only make sense in her head: "D — d — do you have a boat?" Snag wonders, clamping her mouth shut right after she asks. It sure doesn't look like any more unanticipated disclosures of past tragedies are forthcoming, at least not for the moment.

Does Rime have a boat? Her smile fades a little with regret. "No, I had to leave all my large-scale constructions back on Picon. You would have loved what I set up, though. I recreated a First War boarding scenario with galleons and corsairs. It was fanTASTic." The memory brings her smile back as she turns and reaches into the large canvas carrying-bag she brought with her, the side stamped with a fading Camargue Provincial Park emblem. "I have… where are you, pretties… there!" She sits back up with a small plastic box, which she pops open and slides over to show Emilie the contents. "Fortified militia. These need Aerilon colors. All the blue you could want."

Aurola's attention briefly regards the two other women for a moment, bfore it goes to Malone as he enters. Shrugging her shoulders for a moment as she goes to get a pool stick and some chalk, rubbing the chalk into the end of it as she prepares to break. Leaning down, she sets her shot up before she takes it and the ball split with a fairly loud crack. None of them go into a pocket, though.

Malone pauses as he looks around at the people present now. Offering a bit of a nod at the woman by the pool table, before he looks over at the other two, blinking a bit as he sees what they're doing. "What are you two doing?" he asks, stepping a little in their direction first.

And so it is that the hand-off is complete. The little figures are kept on their plastic base for now while Villon reaches for the blonde's spare palette. A tiny smudge of rich and brilliant blue is daubed onto one of its recessed sockets, which — upon passing inspection — is joined by another, and then another, and then another: a nigh-on Pointillist composition. "I've — I've never done this before," Emilie confesses, withdrawing a tiny brush from where it's been hooked inside that box. "Painted on things. Papa just told Ev to teach me how to paint things so he could sell more stuff to his guests." At that, Rime's graced with a small and private smile. "That was nice. On the deck, alone. Just us, and — " Long-lashed eyelids blink closed — and then open, as the crack from Aurola's game of pool jerks her out of her reviere momentarily. To Malone, then, while she's distracted: "P — p — painting."

But the girl's not nonplussed for long, so powerful is the pull of that memory. "A flying fish landed on her canvas, once. We didn't eat it. We just threw it back." Snag half-giggles, half-chuckles. "With a racing stripe right between its wings. I told her she should have signed it — or made it pay five cubits for the service."

The miniatures Rime has deemed suitable for Aerilon's colors are a ragtag bunch of militia, their tiny plastic faces twisted in sneers and leering laughter, their weapons a mish-mash of whatever they could find. One of them is even using a broken bottle as a main gauche. She watches the pilot select her first brush, curious and appraising, before looking up at Malone. "Painting my minions," she replies with a quick grin. "I hear them crying if I leave them without decoration for too long." Cheery answer given, she looks back to Emilie. "I think the theory is similiar to real painting, just on a smaller scale. Start with the base colors. Skin, basic uniform. Any large patches of color. Then add the finer details. I'm no artist. I'm just enthusiastic. The important part is that, as a group, they have Aerilon's colors. Two blues, red, and gold."

Aurola looks over at them as they discuss the finer points of painting. Not her chosen artistic pursuit. Her eyes going back to the table as she lines up her first shot, and with another crack and a thunk a ball is sent down the pocket.

Malone blinks a little bit as he hears what they're saying. "Minions…" he remarks. Pausing a bit as his gaze moves over towards the pool playing one again, in time to see the shot, "Good one," he offers.

"Her minions," the quiet pilot clarifies, only half-listening to Malone. Skin, then basic uniform, then — yeah, she's going to need more paint. Fortunately for Emilie, the blonde's got a very accessible palette right Over There, and — drawing her blanket back over her exposed shoulders — the girl leans forward to grab a bit of some salmon-pink thing with the tip of her brush. It's Mister Going-To-Shank-You-With-The-Drank-I-Drank who receives her attention first, his pudgy face gaining definition as it transitions from bland grey to the color of warm flesh. And while she works: "D — d — did you like the book?"

"I only had a few minutes to read it before racking out last night." Rime props her elbows back on the table and picks up one of her Saggitaron-colored pikemen and a very fine-tipped brush. The miniature is brought close to her face while she works, as if she's nearsighted. "I'll have more time tomorrow, assuming your XO's happy with the homework I just turned back in to him. But… yeah, I already know I'm going to love it. I hadn't been home in a while, you know? I was due some time off after a tour of tagging around with you guys."

"I'm glad." Hesitant brushstrokes bring more of the figurine into focus — hands, legs in exposed sandals, scarred and bulging arms. "I pl — plan — " The plosive catches in Emilie's throat. "Planned to go back," she continues. "But Papa wouldn't allow it. Too expensive. Next year, he'd say." Her soprano dips into a low alto as she tries to imitate the man's gravelly voice and outrageous accent. A shy half-smile indicates that she, too, realizes it doesn't quite work — a smile that lingers on her features even as it fades from her eyes. "Always next year."

Malone pauses for a few moments before he moves to get himself something to drink. Getting a cup of coffee, he moves to seat himself near to the painters at the moment. Not saying anything at the moment, though.

"But chaton, it's so expensive!" Instead of dropping her voice toward an approximation of her own papa's, Rime's voice raises — going instead for the voice of maman, it would seem. She stops there, her smile twinging painfully for a second. "Yeah." She clears her throat sharply, then clears it again, before reaching for a sip of her tea. "Anyway. Since it's awkward to cry in public…" She pushes her smile back toward its previous warmth. "What do you like to paint?" It's a safer topic. She's adding tiny Sagittaron symbols to the pikemen's tabards, curved backward Es with an extended crossbar.

The pilot shrugs, blinking away a bead of sweat that's settled above her left eye — not quite a tear, but the unobservant might mistake it for one nonetheless. It'll be some time before she allows herself to wipe it away with the back of her wrist, as she's got to finish up the last of the pink-white bits. Only when she puts down the plastic holder to let the paint set does she move to fix the problem, dabbing at her slightly flushed face with her blanket. Concentration is tiring, and so, evidently, is conversation. Despite herself, the girl leans closer to watch Rime at work, head cocked sideways as she rests it on her thumbs. "I don't do much of it," she confides, her whisper as thin as paper. "But — what I did, Papa didn't really — well, he thought it was pretty shit." There's that slight giggle once again. "Because it didn't exist, you know. Things that aren't real. That can't possibly be real — like — l — l — " Another struggle as she tries to find the words. "Ants. The man who did the ants on the molten clock-face dripping metal into the sea. Like that."

Rime wasn't lying when she said she was enthusiastic though not necessarily skilled. She has a steady hand, which helps with matters like the tiny Sagittaron seal, but her figurines otherwise don't contain a lot of detail. Skin gets skin-colored, uniforms get the appropriate Colony-colors. They're precise, but lack flair. The latter is saved for actually putting the minions to use, possibly. "Surrealism? Surrealistic? No kidding? And your papa called it pretty shit? Aw, Emilie. That's…" She trails off as she considers her words. Instead of finishing, she gently shakes her head and instead asks, "Did you keep at it, anyway?"

Malone pauses a little bit as he watches the painters at work. "What do you do with those after they're painted, then?" he asks after a few moments. Sipping his coffee a little thoughtfully.

Snag shakes her head in a short, definitive no. Brown hair tickles her shoulderblades, its ends clinging tightly to loops of thickly-woven wool. "He was right. People didn't come to Meridien for that sort of thing. I'd — I'd make things, instead, like bracelets — like " And her slim wrist is extended, just like that, for Rime's inspection: five strands of rawhide and a single crimson ribbon, all tied together by a meticulous pattern of small turquoise beads. "It — it doesn't mean anything," she adds rather quickly, blue veins throbbing as she withdraws her hand. "And don't tell anybody, but — but it — this, I mean — this looks nothing like what they used to do. You know, back then." Her sigh is at once amused and resigned. "But th — that — that's, you know. The back then, that's what people did come to see." Malone's question is met with a blank look. No answers are coming from her direction, that much is certain.

"Something gorgeous that means nothing, instead of anything that actually means something," says Rime, as she sets the brush and figurine down, giving her fingertips a quick patting on the paint-stained cloth folded in front of her. Only then does she lean forward to examine the bracelet, touching the turquoise beads with one careful finger. "For the love of trinkets…" she adds, trailing off to a wry smile. Finally, she leans back slightly to regard Malone, offering him a smile as well. "They're tactical figurines," she says. "Used to be a game. Now they're for Fleet strats AND games."

Malone nods a little bit as he hears that, finishing his coffee. "Sounds good," he offers, before he gets to his feet. "I wish you guys luck with the painting."

"Th — th — I mean, thanks." Green eyes widen as they watch Malone go, and when Emilie thinks nobody's looking she's casting her gaze back down to the half-painted figurine. Surely it's not so bad that she'd need luck to polish it off? "And — I'd make you one, if you wanted, but I didn't bring the stuff I need, and it's not really a reminder of home, not really, so." Snag's voice quavers nervously. "Well, it reminds me, but I don't need the reminding." Another flick of her hair accompanies her words as her gaze swivels down to the deck. "Yeah."

There is a long silence following Emilie's words. Whether it's comfortable on the pilot's part, Rime isn't at liberty to say, but for her own part, it may not be content, considering the many topics brushed ouchingly over, but it is comfortable. Finally, she just smiles a gentle, sad smile at Emilie and says, "It's okay. You know, I'd rather my reminders of home be… you know. Here. Us talking. Someone who's still alive. It's the part that counts."

The pilot sees Rime's silence and raises a few more seconds, having found something rather interesting about the way a particular rivet has been welded to the deck. Then, very deliberately, she balls up her left hand into a fist and raps the other woman on the shoulder, pushing ever so slightly before she picks up her brush and rinses it off. "Pass me the brown?" she murmurs. "I need to do this guy's eyes." And taking a sip from that long-ignored mug of tea, she returns her attention to the task at hand, an absent smile dimpling her cheeks.

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