Hunter King takes in a sunset by the sea on one of the last days the Dauntless will be on Scorpia to resupply, and inadvertently brings the past crashing back down on an unlikely former acquaintence.
Location: Argentum Bay Boardwalk, Scorpia
Related Scenes: None
Scene Number: 1568
The awards ceremony this evening was mercifully brief as these things go -- as brief, anyway, is it could be made, when the CF is a substantial organization and the soldiers who serve in it are known for their expertise and valor. That kind of thing tends to generate a whole lot of medals. None of which, it should be noted, were for Ines. She received her campaign ribbon, and that was it -- though, during the recent marine qualifications, she earned her Expert pilot's badge and her Expert Marskman: KEW cannon badge, so it wasn't a total wash as accomplishments go.
She's never been especially motivated by recognition of that sort, though. She has a chip on her shoulder for certain, and she's always been determined to prove she can handle whatever life, or anyone else, throws at her...but she isn't in it for the glory. So: she's in a good mood, actually, as she wanders the boardwalk, occasionally glancing outward at the shoreline. She's wearing what she wore to the afterparty: a pair of cutoff jean shorts that take the task of being short very seriously and a slightly loose v-neck t-shirt, with low, shell-toe sneakers. Her hair's still up in the formal twist she wore it in during the ceremony and she's still got make-up on, all of which feels beyond bizarre to a young woman who swore three years ago she'd never go back to the way she used to be. Vanity had been a definite part of that.
Another day, another squadron.
This isn't his first new assignment in his military career. It's fairly sure it won't be the last. Least he hopes it won't be the last. That could be fatal after all. Hunter doesn't plan on dying, that's one of the many things he doesn't bank on. However his little section of the Legion had seen some hard fighting and this little bit of rest between assignments is something to treasure.
Which is why he's out on the end of a boardwalk. Sitting on the edge of the pier with his legs dangling over the edge as he watches the ebb and flow of the ocean. It's calming, it's quiet. It's...nice.
He's not dressed much like a pilot. Jeans that have likely seen better days, faded around the knees by wear and not chemical distress. A dark crew neck t-shirt pulled over an athletic frame as he leans forward slightly to watch the sun slowly sink towards the edge of the sea.
A battered black leather jacket lies folded next to him. The hint of his actual profession in the patches of Legion colors found on the sleve.
Next to him as well is an open ice chest with several long-necked bottles sticking out of the ice. Not local beers either, which might seem unusual. Imports. Picon imports if anyone is wondering.
The footfalls behind him cause his head to turn and he blinks slightly as he spies Ines. A touch of a furrow for a moment graces his features. She's familiar, there is something familiar about her but right now...he just can't place it.
That doesn't mean he won't be friendly after all.
"Evenin," Defintally from Picon. Though the faintest hit of accent from somewhere else. "Nice night for a walk, eh?"
So she's taking her time. Watching people. Getting reacquainted, in her own way, with a big part of the reason she's fighting at all: people having normal lives. Families. Places like Argentum, where people go to have a good time. The opportunity to have a good time in the first place.
If she weren't people-watching, she'd never have given him a second glance. She'd never have seen his jacket. Never have seen the Foreign Legion patch, never have looked at the man who must be a soldier, never have realized that she-
She slows to a stop. There's a beat of internal denial. No. But he remains familiar, virtually unchanged, in fact, and the denial turns into protest. No, no no no no no. No. No. The sensation of encountering something out of her fragile past throws her backward through time to the person she was when she knew him, and that skin isn't a comfortable fit anymore.
She manages to keep hold of her expression, but it's a long moment before she finds her voice. "...King?"
The woman stops. Stares. Stares at him longer than for it to be just casual. "If it makes whatever you're doing easier I can pose for yo---" And then she says his name. There is a pause, a blip of surprise across his features. He didn't expect that, even if something told him that she was familiar.
"Yes?" He says wryly as he plucks a bottle out of the cooler. A old opener comes out. Battered and worn but the shape of a speed boat still there.
He stares at her now even as he twists the tool to pop the cap off in a maneuver he's done hundreds of times before. Snatching the cap out of the air to pocket it again the pilot blinks slowly as he squints towards her.
"...wait..." A longer pause. "...waaaaaaait. You look...like...Correa?" He squints, sifting though his memory. "...that's...it isn't it?"
The only possible way this could be even more uncomfortable for Ines is if he failed to even remember who she was. That doesn't happen, but for the few moments that it looks like it's going to her eyes are widening gradually, ever-so-slightly.
He sounds uncertain. He guesses. Ines folds her arms, cocks a hip and an eyebrow. "Is it your eyes or your memory that are failing you, King? Are you still a pilot? Don't you need both of those things to do your j-"
She stops dead partway through her sentence as the realization steals in, insidious. Her lips stay parted, the rest of her going momentarily still. It's quite a coincidence, isn't it? His being here while they're between campaigns? In the wise words of a sage from another dimension: Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is.
Her mouth closes. "You're a long way from home."
"Oh yeah, that is definitely Ines." Hunter confides to his bottle as she fires a full salvo right into him. Then his eyes go back towards the woman there, her hip cocked like that and her sass. "It's not my fault I never got to see you all dressed down!" He retorts as he waves a hand towards her. "Which I now am sorely regretting."
Though her statement causes his eyebrow to quirk up. "Aren't we all?" He adds after a moment, that crooked smile remaining in place. "But...home is where the heart is. And failing that, where the good beer is. Come on..." And he fishes a second bottle out of the cooler. "...be a shame to waste them wouldn't it?"
The man always had a way of finding the best stuff on short notice. Seems that hasn't changed in the least.
"It seems that my assigned home got changed quite recently."
...confirming her possible fears.
...but it's a big galaxy. It's a big planet...he could be just one more shuffled planetary defense pilot...
Ines remembers enough about him, at least, not to take his wry quips about her attire -- or, more importantly, his feelings about it -- personally. It still contributes to the generally disconcerted feeling, though, so her cocked hip becomes a slightly loose fold of her arms instead, well-kept brows knitting in something like uncertainty.
The uncertainty lingers as she eyes the bottle with grey-green eyes.
Assigned home, he says.
It would be exceptionally rude not to take the bottle, so after a silent beat she makes herself unfold her arms and leans to accept the bottle, stepping past him in order to occupy the other spot at the end of the pier. "Is that right?"
Sometimes, that bottomless zen act of hers comes in handy. She glances down at the bottle in her hand, examining the label -- as usual -- and says, in a tone of voice that implies the possibility is outlandish: "I hear the Timber Wolves are in dock. You didn't go and get yourself recruited to some kind of special ops unit, or something, did you?"
The drink really is good. How he got it is anyone's guess, but it's a microbrew from Picon. Just about the right temperature, though it's steadily warming in the heat of the beach. Real glass. Real caps. He even offers her the bottle opener as he hands her the bottle and scoots himself over just enough to make room.
There is a snort though at that tone. "Oh come on, would it really be that suprising that someone recognised I have talents beyond my charming personality and my excellent taste in beer?"
It's strange, seeing her like this. Dressed down. Calm. At least seemingly calm. Not the skittish driven thing she had been. At least not on a surface inspection of it.
"So what do you think about those Timber Wolves anyway?" Comes the query as he takes a long pull from his drink, eyes sliding away from her form to digest just what he's seeing and back to the horizon that's swiftly turning orange.
Ines takes the bottle opener and spends a moment looking at the unique design before applying it to her bottle, and handing it -- and the cap -- back.
Oh, he's going to be evasive.
So, that's a 'yes,' then. For sure.
For long moments she tries to decide whether or not to continue playing dumb, taking the opportunity to sip from the bottle and study the label again, maybe trying to commit to memory what it's called so that she can find it again on the off-chance they go back to Picon. Picon was before her time. Given the stories she's heard about it, that's something she can be grateful for.
It's a nice night. Scorpia is miserably hot during the day by her standards, but it's a beautiful shoreline and the tourists are relentless and happy. The man sitting next to her is rooted in a history she's tried over and over again to forget, and a self she no longer understands in hindsight, but it's not his fault. On top of that, there's something big coming. They could all die. It's a little late in the game to hold nonsensical grudges, isn't it?
She draws a long breath that tastes of brine, and exhales it in a sigh. "I think they grow on you," she finally says, "If you give them long enough." There's a long pause, and then she lifts the bottle, dropping into Leonese. He used to know how to speak it, anyway. <<Welcome to the wing.>>
He was always a solid 'OK' with evasive.
He could do friendly. He could do convincing. He could do a damn good angry as she had witnessed a time or two. Evasive was a solid 'ok' though, and no better. Sometimes much worse.
...and don't ask him to sneak anywhere. It's not in his blood.
It's never to late to hold grudges, but for the record Hunter would be glad she didn't.
<<I was wondering just where you had ended up.>> The man replies in the same language. It's a little rusty it seems, the tongue feeling out a word or two instead of the fluent proficiency of a native speaker. The skill is still there though. He still keeps in practice.
<<Just idily curious. Not creeper levels of curious.>> He points out with a smirk towards her, an invitation to fire back. Correct his speech as he incorrectly slurs one word just slightly too much.
"As for the rest of them," Again that crooked smile. "Well I don't plan on going anywhere. So I suppose I'll have to give em time right?"
A beat pause before he adds. "Besides if they all clean up as well as you do, I might actually like it there."
It's all so unbelievably uncomfortable. He's not helping. He's really not helping. <<You try those lines on some of the other Wolves and they'll take you to the mats, King.>> Some of them probably would, too. ...Mostly the Marines, granted. "Honestly? It seems like every other soldier in the Wolves is a celebrity of some sort. There are models, professional athletes...two actresses in my bunk. A Canceron movie star's sister. A professional musician. You'll have plenty of people to...to..." She pauses, flaps her hand dismissively. "Ogle." Her accent makes a disaster of that word.
She quiets after that, ruminating on where she's been, the trajectory that put her here. It's something she actively avoids thinking about, most of the time, but he's making it impossible, and so with some impatience she turns her thoughts that way: always the type to grab the bull by the horns if there's no other way. "I just kept moving forward, that's all. Out of a Raptor and into a Viper. I don't know how or why I landed in the Wolves. Sometimes I suspect they drew names from a hat." The pensive, distant look in her eyes fades, and she shrugs -- not just at her own words but at the heavy weight of her past, shrugging it off for now. Enough. "I don't spend a lot of time thinking about it, honestly. Once you're on-board the Dauntless with us, you won't have time to, either." That, at least, inspires a little twitch of her lips toward a smile. "You're going to be exhausted all the time."
The man hides his smile behind his beer. <<Noted.>> Is the indication that he did actually hear the warning. The smile only grows at the murder of the word 'ogle'.
The list of celebrity power she goes though though causes his brow to raise in suprise. Now that was information that he didn't have before now. That is indeed a lot of star power involved. "Huh," Is all he gives in response before she continues on. Listening to her talk, bull through that moment of awkward silence his question generated.
"With a list like that makes me think they got my paperwork wrong." The man finally responds with an easy laugh as he leans one forearm on his knees. Eyes fixed on the horizon and the extinguishing light. "But if they can fight as well as the rumors say I'll be happy. Hell though, it could have been a hat pick for me too. I'm not exactly celebrity material." A smirk at that before he turns his eyes back towards her.
"All the time?" He notes that smile, files it away for later. She likes it there. She's evolving there. That gives him some kind of frame of reference for it, and it's not an unwelcome metric. "Well damn, I'll look forward to that." He falls silent for a moment. "I know I know, careful what you wish for and all that, right?"
"You were always a good pilot." Ines may be uncomfortable, but she's still honest. She glances at him sidelong, shrugging again. "You'll be in good company. Everyone is...amazing, actually." Setting her bottle aside for a moment, she folds her hands over the edge of the pier to either side of her legs, crossing her ankles. "Cherry is our top ace. She's got to be getting close to forty confirmed kills. Jigger is an amazing pilot. Hurricane. Our Raptor pilots, too. Iris, Nova. Ah!"
The last sound is realization. She turns her head to look at him past her shoulder. "I...got a callsign." She hadn't had one, when they knew each other last. She was too green. Not even in a Viper yet, at that point. "It's Kestrel. You'll have to use it on flights, but you can still call me Correa on the ground, if it's easier to remember."
"Damn, you all can fight. That kill record is damn impressive." The man from Picon replies with a smirk. He's always been a scrapper and the ability to hold one's own is important to him. So knowing the outfit he is going to is actually worth the rumors about them? That puts his mind at least at a little more ease.
Even if they are going into the thick of it. Even so she would tell it relaxes his uncertainty just a touch. He hides it well, but when going into a new flight well you never know just what you get.
The last suprise comes from Ines herself. "Kestrel?" He frowns just slighlty, mind skimming back though happier times where he might have heard that before. "...it's a bird right? Tiny and fast?"
He nods slowly. "Suits you then." He adds after a moments thought before raising his mostly empty bottle towards her. Obviously meaning it as an offer for a toast.
A pause again before he quirks a brow in a question towards her. "Now then little bird, please tell me you've been around here long enough to tell me one, very important bit of information." He lets that hang for just a second before...
"Where can a guy get a good burger around here? I'm starving!"
Her smile is small and rueful on the matter of her callsign. As with most, it was probably given to her to poke fun -- or at least, that's what she would say, if anyone asked. "It's the smallest falcon," she says with a single nod. "With...unusual hunting habits."
Ines accepts the toast in good humor, though it does nothing to make the moment less persistently surreal. She keeps waiting for the moment to arrive when it stops being weird; when she's able to reconcile this human from another lifetime with the one she's living now. It isn't happening.
"Hm?" The long wind-up for his question gets her attention just as it's meant to, drawing out another hesitant, skeptical arch of one brow...and then a laugh. A real laugh. It's small and short, but even so, it eases some of the tension in her. "Ah, I think there was..." She twists at the waist, first one way and then the other, looking along the boardwalk's lit expanse. "Tomak and Iris and I went on a walk through the market, I thought...we saw a grill..." Pause. She glances down at the sport watch on one wrist. "I'll just show you," she decides. She's going to have to get used to having him around, so she might as well be friendly about it. "I'm on CAP in just a bit, so I won't be able to eat, but...I'll take you that way on my way back."
He's always had that way about him. Always trying to find just the right way to draw out a joke or an honest laugh. Even the smallest of ones. He's got a talent for it when he puts his mind to it at least. An easy going manner that helps, at least sometimes, settle nerves.
Usually he uses that little talent to help him not get shot at black market meetings.
Right now though, it seemed appropriate. Even if he wasn't in much danger of being shot.
"Alright then!" He says as he stands up, closing the cooler and picking up his jacket before he pushes himself back to his feet.
One last look towards the now dissipeared sun before he breathes a deep breath of the sea air. It reminds him of home after all.
"Alright, this sounds like a plan." A pause. "But I'm definitely going to judge your friends on their choice of grills. Even if none of you went there."
Ines picks up her bottle again, dusting sand off of the condensation on the bottom as she rises. "That's fine," she opines breezily. "We can blame it on Tomak."
And off they go.