Asking For Trouble

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Asking for Trouble Stories of Afternoon
RI Operator icon.png
Logistics Operator
RI Corridor
RI Training Compound
RI Cafeteria
Orchid struggles with her decision to transfer to the Logistics Department. Midnight shares a story about his past.
No matter your past, what matters is the present, and the life you now want.
<Background 1>
9:39 PM Inside the Rhodes Island Landship
Orchid Phew.... Finally finished.
Logistics Operator Good work, Orchid.
Orchid I've gotten to know you all so well. It's like I'm part of the team now, huh?
Logistics Operator Ahaha. You've really gotten good at this, Orchid.
Orchid Ha... I'm better at this than looking after the circus, that's for sure.
Logistics Operator Why don't you apply for a transfer to logistics then?
Orchid Huh?
Logistics Operator You know, people like you who come out of the, uh, more normal world usually end up working in logistics. It's kind of unusual to become a combat operator.
We've all been wondering why you decided to go to the front lines, actually.
Orchid You wonder why, huh...?
<Background fades out and in>
<Flashback starts here>
Logistics Operator What kind of work would you like to do for Rhodes Island, Orchid?
The assessments show you have an aptitude for Originium Arts. If you're interested, we could put you on the front lines.
But since you are a civilian with no relevant combat experience, we still recommend that you join a logistics-related section.
Of course, rest assured that even if you go into a combat role, we won't put you in danger. No more than you can handle, anyway.
Orchid What does logistics do?
Logistics Operator Well... It's a pretty broad department with a lot of functions. But, in general, you can think of it as the jobs that keep Rhodes Island running.
Since there are more clerical jobs, it's well suited to people like you. Folks used to city life.
Orchid (He means sitting in an office...?)
(I came here for a change. I don't want to spend my life in a cubicle.)
I... I want to go into a combat role.
Logistics Operator Are you sure? It can be tough being a front line operator.
Orchid Yes. I want to give it a try.
Logistics Operator Okay then.
<Flashback ends here>
<Background fades out and in>
Orchid (I probably shouldn't tell him I wasn't interested in office work.)
........Let's just say I sort of fell into it.
Logistics Operator Ah, yeah. That'll happen if you don't know what you're getting yourself into.
Orchid Oh, oh yeah...?
Logistics Operator But I seem to remember we have a way to deal with these sorts of things. Let me take a look here....
Ah, yep. Here we go.
"Combat operators of civilian origin who, within one year of working as a combat operator, find themselves unsuited to the role, may apply for reclassification as a logistics operator. It will be unconditionally approved."
You haven't been here that long, so you should be good to go. Actually, everyone in A6 should be good. Except Spot, since he was a Sargon soldier.
And even with Spot, I bet we can find a little wiggle room.
Orchid Oh yeah? I never thought about it before.
Logistics Operator It's not like our work is any easier than that of a combat operator. Rhodes Island depends on us to keep moving.
Orchid Yeah, right. Thanks. I'll think about it.
Popukar Orchid, are you done yet?
Orchid I just finished.
Popukar Okay~
Logistics Operator Well, if it isn't little Popukar. Is she waiting for you?
Orchid Yes. I bumped into her on the way and she came along.
Logistics Operator Now that you mention it, I think I remember you applied for a double room to share with her?
Orchid Yes. *Sigh* That girl is a handful. And who sends a child that small out to war anyway?
But the rest of the team is either unreliable or even more trouble than she is. So here we are.
Popukar Orchid, are you done yet?
Orchid Coming. All right, I'd better go.
Logistics Operator Don't forget what we talked about. I'll be waiting for your answer.
Orchid Right.
<Background fades out and in>
Orchid Ha.... Isn't it ironic? I became a combat operator to ditch the office. And now look at me.
Am I doomed to the rat race, no matter what path I take...?
Popukar Orchid, what's a rat race?
Orchid It's a miserable life, sitting in an office for 8 hours a day, growing fat and sick, doing tedious, menial labor and sometimes putting in overtime.
Popukar Oh... don't get it.
Orchid Anyway, Popukar, how did you end up at Rhodes Island?
Popukar Um, Dr. Kal'tsit and Dr. Ansel bought me.
Orchid What? Bought?
Popukar Yeah. I used to work in a lumberyard.
One day, Dr. Ansel and Dr. Kal'tsit were passing by there and saw me. They played with me all day.
The next day, I don't know how or why, but Dr. Kal'tsit bought me.
Orchid A lumberyard?!
Popukar Yes. My mom and dad sent me to work in the lumberyard when I was very young. The boss was sometimes very mean to me. But at least he fed me...
Orchid Did you ever see your parents again?
Popukar Oh, no.... The boss said my mom and dad went very far away and couldn't come to see me. So I just had to wait.
Then Dr. Ansel said that if I was good, Rhodes Island would help me find my mom and dad, and I might see them again someday!
Hey, Orchid, why are you hugging me all of a sudden? What's wrong?
Orchid ...Nothing. Sometimes a girl needs hugs is all.
How would you like to be like those boys and girls back there? Doing things in a chair, not needing to run around all the time?
Popukar Um, Dr. Ansel asked me the same question, but I don't really understand that kind of stuff. I just know I'm pretty strong.
But I've been trying really hard to learn to read. Then I can help you, and all those boys and girls in the office!
Orchid ...Of course.
Popukar Yeah...! Orchid, what happened? You look really sad. Did I say something bad?
Orchid Not at all. It's my fault. I shouldn't have asked about that.
Popukar You're always so nice to me, Orchid. You can ask me anything.
Orchid Okay.
Catapult Orchid, why are you hugging Popukar in the middle of the corridor? People might get the wrong idea.
Orchid ...Ahem. Don't worry about it.
Popukar Hi, Catapult!
Catapult Oh, hi Popukar.
Are you guys going home?
Orchid Yes. Now why are you all sweaty? You better not be running off to get yourself, and by extension me, into trouble.
Catapult Come on, Orchid, give me a little credit. I just finished a session with Midnight.
Orchid ......A what with Midnight?
Catapult Huh? Don't tell me you don't know. Unless there's a mission, Midnight works out in the training room every day about this time.
I didn't have anything to do today, so he roped me in, worked my tail off, and finally let me go. Spot's there giving him the business now.
Orchid Why?
Catapult How should I know? I figured you'd be up on it. I just know I need to steer clear of Midnight around ten o'clock.
Popukar I knew about it! Midnight also got me to join. But then I hit him and he flew away and he didn't ask me again.
Catapult Bwahahahahaha! So that's the story. No wonder he dodged the question when I asked if he told you. Hahaha! My sides!
Orchid ...All right. As long as you're not making trouble.
Catapult Why do you always come back to that?! This is discrimination, Orchid. You're always so nice to Popukar, even when she makes trouble!
Orchid I'd be so nice to you if you'd also go and sweetly apologize every time you did something bad.
Catapult That's beyond me. And if I have to apologize for stirring things up, then where's the fun in it?!
Orchid Just stay out of trouble to begin with!
You're lucky you're at Rhodes Island, anywhere else would have... Never mind. Forget it.
Catapult Come on, Orchid, just come out with it. Nowhere else can handle my personality. And I don't wanna change. Only Rhodes Island would want a freak like me!
But everybody here is talkative and awesome and the work is good and it pays well. I love it here.
Orchid *Sigh*. Great. As long as you're happy.
Anyway, hurry back and take a shower. A girl shouldn't be out walking around all sweaty.
Catapult Sure~
Hey, Orchid, the dorms are the other way.
Orchid I'm going to check out the training room.
Catapult Oh. Popukar, why don't you come to my room tonight? I'll tell you a story.
Popukar Okay~
<Background fades out and in>
Training Room
Spot Did you skip dinner, Midnight? Kinda weak.
Midnight My swordsmanship is about agility and cunning.
Spot Keep talking. Music to my ears.
Midnight Ah hah!
Spot Slow. But not bad. I can tell you did eat enough after all.
Orchid ........
Popukar Wow, Midnight and Spot are fighting.
Can I...?
Orchid Let's wait for them to finish.
Popukar Oh—
<Background 2>
Midnight Pfft. *Pant*... water, please.
Spot Here.
Midnight ........Phew. Thanks.
Your military lineage shows, Spot. You're usually so lethargic, but you're clearly much better than me at this.
Spot You've got something to be proud of. If you didn't have the basics, I'd have my comics in one hand while I fought you with the other.
Midnight Am I so weak?
Spot How can I get my point across without hurting your feelings?
Midnight No need.
Spot But I'm actually curious, you were an escort before, right?
You've got the fundamentals. I can tell. A couple years of practice.
That's not up to military standard. But for a civilian, you can fight.
Midnight Can I take that as a compliment?
Spot I'm mostly trying to convince myself that the most useless guy on our team actually has something to offer.
Midnight Haha... Actually...
Popukar Midnight! Spot!
Midnight Huh?
Spot Orchid's here. You're boned.
Midnight Why's that?
Spot I don't know, but she looks like my mom did whenever things were about to get real bad for me.
Midnight Oh, you're wrong about that. And it's my turn to teach you some tricks for dealing with women.
Spot *Snort*.
<Background fades out and in>
Midnight Good evening, Miss Popukar, Miss Orchid.
Orchid What are you doing here?
Midnight As you can see, I'm doing my daily exercise.
Orchid And why don't I know about this routine?
Midnight I never thought you'd be interested, Miss Orchid. And it's all on my own time.
Orchid ...Fair enough.
But we're normal people. And Instructor Dobermann made it clear that civilian teams like us won't ever end up on dangerous missions. So what's the point?
Midnight Oh, good question. Mm, a truly fantastic question, Orchid.
Orchid .......?
Midnight Let's take a break for now, shall we, Spot?
Spot Yeah, whatever. I'm just here to help out. I'll go get a comic book to read.
<Background fades out and in>
Midnight Orchid, do you know what the secret to success is in my line of work?
Orchid What are you talking about?
Midnight That's a rhetorical question, to start things off. I can continue without an answer.
Orchid I'd guess the trick is to be handsome, first and foremost. And then be a decent talker?
Midnight No, no, and no. Although I consider myself quite beautiful, and I do know how to pay a compliment...
Spot Bleh.
Popukar What's wrong with Spot?
Spot Nothing, just looking at a clown in a whole new light.
Midnight Heh heh. Confidence is very important. But by far the most important is to treat all your clients equally.
That is—When you step into my realm, my presence, then, whoever you are, the only thing you are, is my client.
Orchid ........What's the point of all this? Are you trying to say that everyone's the same to you?
Midnight Not at all, my dear sweet captain. Clever as you are, you've never thought this through.
It's not that everyone's the same to me. It's that, simply, everyone's the same.
The iron-fisted career woman, tyrant of her office section, could actually just be wearing a mask for the sake of her work. If she wears it long enough, she may forget how to take it back off.
The outwardly homely housewife, whose husband likely cheated on her long ago, she stays at home telling no one of her troubles, with no choice but to come to drink with me.
An ill-tempered fashion designer with her strong woman facade may just fear the gossip of others, and the resulting loss of trust.
Orchid Do you have a death wish?
Midnight Ha ha, did you think I was talking about you? People like this abound.
Everyone in the city, after unloading their identities and responsibilities, is exactly the same. Each and every one.
So why, at Rhodes Island, would things be any different?
Do the elite operators who go diving headlong into a warzone, come back and unplug themselves like so much machinery?
No, they drink and chat in the bar. They care for their freshly potted plants in the greenhouse. They listen to music, they read.
They complain when a mission is too hard, or chuckle at how hilariously easy it was. They cry, they laugh, they mope, they hurt, and they die.
They're no different from us, are they?
Orchid ...You're a boy who knows how to give a speech.
Midnight Thank you for the compliment.
Orchid ...*Sigh*. That all makes sense. But I still feel like it's not completely true.
Midnight And I can't blame you for that. My industry, as it is, always had a bit of an underbelly to it. I have that advantage.
But not you, Orchid. You grew up entirely in the light of day.
The greatest hardships for you were lower pay than you'd like, insufficiently clear skin, traffic on your commute. Those sorts of things.
This world of violence and bloodshed is indeed a brave new world for you.
But you're here. You made your choice. Shouldn't you at least try to understand it instead of shackling yourself to the common sense of your past?
Orchid The common sense of my past...
Midnight I'm not trying to be preachy. I'm definitely not qualified to preach. But wouldn't the "fashion guru" of Rhodes Island understand that?
Orchid Even you know about that, huh?
Midnight I've talked to quite a few senior operators. I've heard a lot of interesting stories.
Orchid And you're getting in good with them?
Midnight I get in good with anyone, as long as they understand my language. This is my special power as the Devil of the Eastern Night.
Orchid Right.
Midnight So you know perfectly well that the people who ask you to design their outfits and give fashion tips are ordinary people like us, don't you?
Orchid ........
Midnight By the way, Spot. You asked me why I knew how to fight when I was just an "escort."
Spot Huh? Ah, oh yeah, I forgot.
Midnight You wound me. This is a bit of a story, so let's take it to the cafeteria. My treat.
Spot Sounds like a pain in the ass. Can I pass? I don't really care.
Midnight Heh heh. I'm afraid not.
Spot Damn. I blew it. I should've slipped out halfway through.
<Background 3>
Midnight I said it was my treat, but you could still show a little decorum...
Spot Do we have to?
Popukar Mmmmm..... It's so good! Why aren't you eating, Orchid?
Orchid I never eat after dinner.
Midnight That's the mark of a modern woman.
Orchid ........
Midnight Ahem, right, back to business then.
First of all, if I may be so bold as to ask, Orchid, how did you contract Oripathy? If that's too personal a question, you don't have to answer.
Orchid ........It's not a great story. Just one day I suddenly noticed a little crystalline growth on my body.
The doctors said I must have been exposed to some Originium without even knowing. I still don't know exactly how I got it.
That's it.
Midnight Ah, I see. No wonder you're having this little crisis.
So, let me tell you my experience.
There was a younger man working in my club.
He was my polar opposite: bright, sunny disposition, straightforward. Instantly likeable.
Of course, no one who works in my industry could be called naive. But if I'm the type to make malicious assumptions about people, he's the type to trust them.
Spot Sounds like the type I would hate.
Midnight Is that your way of saying you like me, Spot?
Spot Orchid, is there really no cure for narcissism?
Orchid I'll ask Medical later. Maybe there's hope.
Midnight Heh heh. As I said before, I treat all my clients equally. Meaning I don't change my approach based on one's status or identity.
I make an active effort towards that goal. But for him, it was second nature.
From my position atop the industry, I could see that he would be the one to surpass me.
Popukar So that person surpassed Midnight?
Orchid ........It can't be that simple.
Popukar Huh?
Midnight ........Yeah, it would be nice if that was the whole story.
Now that I think about it, I actually did him a disservice. He didn't come from a good family. He needed the money. To him, I must've looked like the king of the world.
If I was out of his way, he would have been able to make it in that world.
I should have taught him much earlier how to situate himself, how to handle money, and how to be what people needed him to be.
Had I done that, maybe we wouldn't have ended up at each other's throats.
Orchid He was jealous of you? And you didn't notice?
Midnight ........He hid it well. Or rather, he didn't even notice it himself.
It wasn't until he almost killed me the first time that I realized this flaw in my understanding of human nature.
Spot I think it's got nothing to do with human nature. You're just too nice.
Orchid Right? I never thought of you as the type to mentor a newbie.
Popukar But Midnight is a really good man! I always knew!
Midnight Thank you, Popukar.
Spot But you said "first time," which means there was a second time.
Midnight Right.
He did almost kill me the first time. Almost. I'm confident, had that been his second attempt to kill a man, I wouldn't be sitting here.
But I am.
Spot I bet five Lungmen dollars you bitched out.
Midnight No. I didn't. It's just... I couldn't have expected what happened next.
At the time, I saw the world as Orchid does. I never thought of it as a place of malice and bloodshed.
I muscled him out of the industry and learned how to handle a sword. I thought that would be enough. I really did.
Until one day, I discovered a health problem.
Orchid Your Oripathy....
Midnight He paid my agent to infect me somehow.
The second time he came looking for me, he was Infected himself. And he brought his "friends" with him.
I had seen a lot of hate in my work. I thought I understood it. But when it was actually directed at me, I felt it burning in a way I hadn't ever before imagined.
Spot But you won.
Midnight I did. Even if I can't go toe to toe with you, I can fight off a dozen thugs and walk away with my life.
It was then, with my own hands, I took his...
Popukar Waaaaaaahhhhhh!
Orchid What's wrong, Popukar?
Popukar Poor Midniiiiiiight! Waaaaahhh...
Midnight Don't cry, Popukar.
Honestly, I should thank him for showing me how immature I was.
After that, I learned about a place called Rhodes Island and made up my mind to leave the industry and come all the way here after registering with the office in Higashi.
Along the way, I saw a lot, and thought a lot more. I came to Rhodes Island with a deep understanding of this one thing.
Orchid What are you looking at?
Midnight Let me share my thoughts with you, Orchid.
I'm not trying to say that because we've seen the cruel reality of the world here, we need to accept it.
From our point of view, it's only natural to think that most of Rhodes Island's operators have been through unnecessary pain.
We shouldn't feel inferior for having grown up in our relative safety, but it isn't an excuse for us to fight it either.
Life is the same everywhere.
Where we used to live, the only way to get what we wanted was to work hard and earn money. It's actually the same here.
We could have chosen to join the logistics department and put in the same effort there. But I chose the path of war.
Orchid ........Aren't you afraid to die?
Midnight I think we're all afraid to die.
But as you've learned in your time here, Orchid, sooner or later you have to fight to defend something.
This would be a fine time to say "I'm training hard so I can be strong to defend you, Orchid," but I'd like you to think about something instead—
What kind of life do you want to lead at Rhodes Island?
Orchid ........I understand.
Popukar Um... but I don't...
Spot Good. This is something you'll never have to worry about. Why not eat up instead? Here, you can have mine.
Popukar Wow, thanks Spot!
Midnight Hehe. He's right. You don't have to worry about this stuff, Popukar.
And forgive me for dumping all this on you, Orchid, but the question you asked me is one I've been asking myself a lot since I came to Rhodes Island. So I had a lot to say about it.
Orchid .......Well, thanks for that.
Midnight Oh, wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles! The blessed savior Orchid has finally shown me gratitude! Brother Spot, Sister Popukar, such luck you have brought me!
Orchid You're a dead man. Popukar, we need to get to bed. We have a big day tomorrow.
Popukar Oh, we're done?
Orchid We're done.
Popukar Okay.... Good night, Spot. Good night, Midnight.
Spot Good night.
Midnight Sweet dreams to the two beautiful ladies.
<Background fades out and in>
Spot So you're not worried we'll turn out like the guy from your club?
Midnight Heh heh. Not to toot my own horn, but I have a lot more confidence as a judge of character these days.
Spot *Snort*.
Midnight Besides, we're on the same team. It's good to get to know each other better, no?
Spot Sure. But I never imagined you'd be hung up on all that garbage.
Midnight Now that I've thought it through, I don't need to trouble myself anymore.
Spot I guess so. Say, did you use any of those tricks for dealing with women just now?
Midnight I did indeed. The most important trick of all—telling the truth.
Spot Sounds pretty easy to me.
Midnight It's important because it's simple.
<Background 1>
Popukar Orchid, when we get back, can Catapult tell me a story?
Orchid Not tonight. Midnight kept us out too late.
Popukar Oh....
Okay. I'm just glad to see you happy, Orchid.
Orchid Oh? Have I been unhappy lately?
Popukar Um, I don't know how to say this. But you seemed very upset after we left the logistics department. Not now though. Now you look happy.
Orchid Did I...? I guess I did.
Thank you, Popukar.
Popukar Did I do something?
Orchid Hehe. You just don't know it yet.
??? Excuse me, are you Orchid?
Orchid Oh? You are...?
Sora I'm Sora, with Penguin Logistics. I've heard you're kind of an expert on fashion, and pretty handy with a needle and thread. Can I talk to you for a minute?
<Background fades out and in>
6:23 PM Inside the Rhodes Island Landship
Logistics Operator A So you decided to carry on as a combat operator. That's too bad. But it's your call, Orchid. We'll respect it.
Orchid Yes. It may not be a good fit for me, but it's a special opportunity. I don't want to waste it.
Logistics Operator A That's true. Sitting in the office all day is pretty boring.... Maybe I should apply for a transfer and try it out.
Logistics Operator B You're dreaming. You wouldn't last two seconds with Dobermann.
Logistics Operator A Oh yeah, I've heard about that one. It's pretty cool you made it through her training, Orchid.
Orchid You get used to it... Anyway, that's all for today.
Logistics Operator A Heading back so early?
Orchid Yeah, I have a thing.
Logistics Operator A Okay, see you tomorrow.
Orchid See you tomorrow.
<Background fades out and in>
Orchid Oof... All these aches. That's what I get for skipping the gym that long.
I can't even move my hand to fill out a form.
Catapult Orchid!!!! There you are. I've been looking for you!
Orchid ........What's the matter? What did Popukar break this time?
Catapult Nothing. It's Midnight, he's sparring with Popukar. You've gotta see this!
Orchid ...Okay. I'm totally out of it today anyway.
Catapult What made you want to sign up for fitness training? It's not like you.
Orchid Call it a change of heart.
Catapult Oh. Want me to give you a shoulder rub?
Orchid Okay, out with it, what did you do this time?
Catapult Woah, hey, I didn't do anything!
Orchid I'll believe you, for once.
Catapult ........
Orchid What?
Catapult You seem kinda different lately.
Orchid Do I?
Catapult I can't quite put my finger on it... But yeah...
Orchid Come on, weren't we going to see Midnight eat shit?
Catapult Hell yeah we were!
[Catapult rushes off.]
Orchid Hah.
Go looking for trouble and you just might find it.