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Morning was a very usual for time for anyone to get up, unless someone has been having a drinking binge all-night long and forgot that it is already almost morning by the time it ended. Not at a place full of smoke and/or alcohol, but a rather simple food stand outside. Hinako is simply underaged to even touch alcohol or anything similar (wine are fine according to her parents), but some of her friends in the military have been doing so for the past few nights out of boredom, and she eventually gave in. Of course, that is an action not recommended by the superiors due to the potential 'loss of productivity' from it. Even if it is not alcohol.

 

Mustering the energy to wake up is a challenging task for her, more so than military exercises and the like. Her parents would have leave her alone to wake up at home, but for some reason that is unknown to anyone, even herself, she would always wake up before 10 in the morning, unless she has been really sick.

 

Bam.

 

A simple fall from the bed landed her on the floor, with her grumbling around from that. She lacked the mental capacity to push herself up from the fall, but her hands does the job of doing so. Teary-eyed and a yawn later, she looked at the clock at the wall, showing that it's already morning. Pushing herself onto her own 2 feet, her body moved by itself into the bathroom for the usual morning routine of getting herself fresh for the day.

 

Getting herself dressed in proper would be a fussy task. She, for one, absolutely abhors revealing clothing (unless required to), so she puts on simple white long-sleeved blouse with thin black vertical stripes, and then a black above-knee-length skirt would do. She does not tug in the blouse, and clips her hair to stop the bangs from going down. Another addition is a pair of high-heeled shoes to complement that. She would not even go on to the extent of carrying any weapons or anything fancy, it is just a simple day out. For her, at least.

 

Taking what is essential to her (skirts are never friendly to huge purses), within minutes, she is already out of the barracks, into the car park, where she passes by an old Japanese-made sports sedan, in pristine condition. It was a car owned by a male friend of hers, who for some reason managed to muster up all the money from pay and possibly some other businesses to actually buy a car like that, just enough to probably show another Sergeant who is interested in cars that he 'mean business'. She have seen the car in action several times, and she never liked the fact that the car basically threatens to shatter anyone's ears at full throttle.

 

Funny that it wasn't an automobile related incident that landed that friend in a coma.

 

Passing by the checkpoint, the MPs cleared her of everything, and quickly she lands herself on a passing bus to the main city. Her target location is not a shopping centre of any kind, like usually females her age would do on a free day, but the hospital. It's probably a good thing the seats are empty at this time in the morning, she never liked sardine can-packed buses. Pressing the bell at where it is the time to do so, she slowly walks off the bus, at the front of the hospital.

 

Reciting some numbers and alphabets, she walked into the hospital, passing by some of the medical personnel on duty here. Some of them might not know her, while some of them might call her as 'the person who is the friend of the Orb pilot in coma', so to speak.

 

The 'Orb pilot in coma' is the person she is visiting, in fact, something she has been doing in the past few months. Maneuvering herself around the corridors and lifts of the hospital, she landed herself outside a ward with a transparent glass window separating herself from the person 'sleeping' inside the individual ward.

 

Placing her hands on the glass pane, she looks into the ward without a word. Months ago tears would flow every time she does that, but now she have learned to control it.

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Demetrius stretched and yawned as he left the hangar.  He had to act as a replacement officer for an early morning routine Combat Patrol due to a 2nd Lieutenant falling ill.  Three pilots and he had patrolled the waters around Kusanagi's port in Astray Divers.  He had to keep track of his pilots, since they had to navigate set paths without interfering with naval traffic, both military and civilian. 

 

He put on a light helmet as he got onto his navy blue moped.  After starting the engine, he rode out to the entrance checkpoint and verified his ID with the MPs on duty.  He then left the naval base and zipped into the city while weaving through morning traffic.  He stopped briefly to grab a light breakfast and the newspaper at a small café.  A brief read through the paper showed minor updates to the situation between the EA and the USSA.  Demetrius was already familiar with the situation in more detail as a representative for Orb to NOVA. 

 

After finishing breakfast, he rode around the city with no particular destination in mind.  As he began to pass the hospital, he recalled that Sergeant Shirakawa often visited her friend Ryota Mitsukuri, who was also a FREE Forces officer that got involved in a mobile suit related accident.  He turned and entered the hospital’s parking lot and then parked his moped at the appropriate spot.  He stored the helmet into the moped’s seat compartment before locking it up before entering the hospital.  He already knew where to go as he had visited once before, because he was the Officer-on-duty at the time of the accident, though he did not take part nor supervise the actual exercise. 

 

As he approached the specific ward where Ryota was at, he saw the young Hinako peering into the room that contained the young man in the comatose state.  Because Demetrius nor Hinako were on duty, he respectfully walked close enough to be seen by Hinako.  He waved and asked softly, “Any improvements?”

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Either she was suffering from a lapse of concentration, or it was something else that kept her attention away from her surroundings around the corridors and the walkways around the hospital wards. She never realized someone was coming.

 

“Any improvements?”

 

Hinako slowly nudged her head right and left, signifying that there wasn't any word on any form of improvement from the doctors...only to realize something. The person asking the question is a male, and that question is asked maybe at her, maybe NOT at her, it can be basically anyone around the area, at the nurses, the doctors and so on. So Hinako was a bit startled from hearing a male voice all of sudden around the area.

 

She wasn't expecting any visitors for Ryota other than herself in the first place.

 

Hinako turned around, only to see a neatly dressed older man around. He is definitely taller than her rather petite frame, and looks clean compared to Ryota (who she has described as being a little messy, maybe because of his hair's length). Of course, she was even more startled.

 

She was about to say another thing, but realizing that she was facing a certain First Lieutenant that goes by the name of Demetrius Amherst, someone who basically much, much higher than her in terms of rank, and someone who holds an important rank, as the representative for the nation. She quickly changed her composure (from slightly demure to serious) and stood straight, and performs a quick salute at the First Lieutenant.

 

"No improvements, sir!" Hinako said to First Lieutenant Amherst, in a serious tone, but not loud as to disturb the other patients around the corridors.

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Hinako's slow shake of her head gave the answer to Demetrius' question.  However, from the way she responded, it seemed that she didn't notice who he was at first.  A moment's glance at him suddenly changed her demeanor as her tone changed when she responded, "No improvements, sir!"

 

He was rather taken aback and surprised at the sudden change, as if the formality stiffened the very air around them.  He waved her off with his right hand and smiled as he said, "No need for formalities, Miss Shirakawa.  Despite appearances, I just got off duty for a little bit."

 

He took a step forward and peered into the ward where Ryota lay.  Though the young officer was not a former subordinate or close associate, Demetrius could not help but be concerned.  It was in his nature, perhaps...

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hinako's cheeks turned pink, and immediately turned red as she flustered at what happened. One cannot blame her for that, she got too used to giving salutes to higher-ups whenever they show up. There are certain officers in the upper ranks that insisted on their subordinates, or whoever is lower than them in rank, to salute them at all times, whether be it on-duty, or off-duty. It is like instilling a sense of discipline to the troops, a sense of obeying the higher-ups, but for her it is all nothing but rubbish.

 

She was grateful that First Lieutenant Amherst did not reprimand her for 'being late' at saluting him, there have been occasions where she was reprimanded or getting some words by higher-ups in off-duty. That at least ease the tense mood building up in her a bit, although usually visits like these are never a good thing.

 

"I'm sorry First Lieutenant Amherst," she apologized profusely, while putting her hands over one another on her skirt, and bowing several times at the First Lieutenant. "I'm very, very sorry, I thought it would be a normal practice to salute an officer in uniform," she continued, while seeing that the First Lieutenant is already looking at the ward.

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"Don't worry about it.  As I mentioned, I just got off-duty.  It was probably my fault for not changing into a civilian attire," he replied as he turned away from the window.  He had the feeling that Hinako was somewhat uncomfortable with his visit, as if he brought dire tidings.

 

"I just wanted to see how he was doing, that's all.  Oh, before I forget, remember that we'll be leaving tomorrow.  The higher-ups want to exhibit the Astray Diver to the Kingdom of Scandinavia," he said with slight weariness. 

 

He had to endure several hours in a meeting with various Orb representatives as he tried to make clear that this 'expedition' was to benefit both nations and to strengthen the rather young alliance.  While he lived to serve and protect this nation, he felt that so much red tape was unnecessary.  He also knew that the Equatorial Union expressed some interest in military hardware by Morgenroete, so another 'expedition' may be in the works for the near future.

 

"I get the feeling that jet lag will be the least of my problems..." he thought.  He turned toward Hinako and bowed slightly.  "Well, then, Serg-I mean, Miss Shirakawa, I'll be taking my leave," he said, slightly sheepish at his minor 'error.'

 

After taking the rest of the morning off, he would have to organize all the paperwork.  It was probably his fault for not taking on an orderly given his extra responsibility but it was a duty he felt that would need to be handled personally.  After he started and got onto his moped, he zipped down through the city that he grew up in and loved.

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Hinako was generally uncomfortable with the circumstances of the visit, not because of the presence of the First Lieutenant, not because of the fact that this is sudden, not because of anything that involve the others.

 

Of course, she can sense that the First Lieutenant was a little uncomfortable with the air surrounding the walkways of the hospitals wards, it is as if there is an air of deathly silence around the walkways. From her experience, that would usually mean that it is not a good thing to dwell on little things, and she decided that she was wrong to say such things, if any at all. But before she could reply...

 

"I just wanted to see how he was doing, that's all.  Oh, before I forget, remember that we'll be leaving tomorrow. The higher-ups want to exhibit the Astray Diver to the Kingdom of Scandinavia."

 

Her mouth was left gaping open as she hears this. Wasn't the Astray Divers the first Orb's naval mobile suits to counter whatever the rest have lurking underwater? She quickly placed her left hand on the chin, holding the chin with the thumb and the index finger, pondering about the thing the First Lieutenant said. Guess I'm in need of 'some kind of overseas trip' to cool myself off. Choosing not to say much as a sign of acceptance, she continued quizzing, but another word from the First Lieutenant come to her attention, and she immediately turned the gaze of her dark brown eyes to him.

 

"Well, then, Serg-I mean, Miss Shirakawa, I'll be taking my leave."

 

Not noticing the fumble, Hinako immediately bowed to him in response and replied with closed eyes.

 

"Thank you for spending time to visit Mitsukuri-kun, First Lieutenant Amherst...when and where we will have to gather for the briefing?" she replied with the soft tone of speech that usually bring down a male to his knees, although in this case it is something more of a sense of appreciation, and question.

 

By the time everything is finished, the First Lieutenant already made his leave without answering her. Hinako turned to take a look at the person 'resting' in the ward one last time, before whispering something.

 

"Mitsukuri-kun, I'm taking my leave now...this is the last time I will come to visit you in a while...hope I can return to tell you about the visit to Kingdom of Scandinavia, I heard there is a lot of nice scenery there that can be photographed," she whispered with a weak tone, before turning around and leaving for the city to do some 'business'.

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As Demetrius zipped down through moderate traffic, he felt his cell-phone vibrate and faintly heard it ring.  He slowed down and stopped at a nearby bike lot and stopped to take the call.  A quick check indicated it was from the government's office.

 

"First Lieutenant Amherst here."

 

"Uh...Representative Amherst, we just got word that the Scandanvia visit has been changed.  The demonstration will take place at the Equatorial Union with delegates from the KOS coming in.  Some of the NOVA council members feel that this opportunity could be used for another full NOVA meeting, especially concerning the situation with the USSA right now."

 

"What?!  This was simply a military cooperative measure to assist the nations within the Vanguard Alliance," Demetrius exclaimed.  He quickly looked around but no one was within earshot.

 

"I'm sorry, I'm just relaying you this major change.  Assemble your machines and your men in three hours before departing for the Equatorial Union.  Oh...you may need to personally extend the invitation to President de Silva," the government official said before cutting the call off.  Demetrius sighed as he knew that he had to move things fast.  He quickly placed a call to the mechanic crew that were going to handle the Astray Divers for the delegation.  He then went and left messages with all of the subordinates under his command, including Sergeant Shirakawa, and informed them of the situation.  He knew he had to get on base first before he could make an encrypted call to President de Silva too. 

 

There were too many things to do in so little time, so he revved up his moped, turned around and made his way back to base.

 

[To (placeholder thread)]

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