Jessica: The Slow Walk Ahead

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Operator Record
The Slow Walk Ahead
Jessica icon.png

She walks slowly, and the path she chose isn't the easiest one in the eyes of others.

Unlock conditions

  • Raise Jessica to Elite 2 Level 1.
  • Have at least 50% Trust with Jessica.
Characters
Salaryman A icon.png
Raythean Industries Representative
Testing Supervisor
Backgrounds
Warehouse
1
Office
2
Desert
3
As the "prodigal child" of the family, Jessica accepts her father's request and prepares to leave Blacksteel. That's when Liskarm asks her to become her deputy.
Yes, I got it down after one try. Your brother did too.
But it's alright. You're the youngest, so of course you won't be as good as us right away.
Let's take it one step at a time. If you don't succeed at first, just try again. If you can't get it today, pick it up tomorrow.
As long as you eventually learn it, why does it matter if it takes you a little longer?
<Background 1>
[Jessica reports to a supervisor.]
Jessica Reporting! I've returned the last case of etched ammo to storage, and put the equipment and materials back in their places.
Testing Supervisor Roger.
Jessica, are you really leaving?
Jessica Huh? Oh, um, yes. Sorry...
Testing Supervisor *sigh*... It's not easy for new recruits to pass our training and examinations. Now that you've officially joined Blacksteel, shouldn't you be full of excitement and fighting spirit? At least for a while?
Plus, you were trained by Instructor Eyland.
Jessica I only barely based the exam, and Instructor Eyland... Umm...
Testing Supervisor You're still new. You can't expect everything to go smoothly the first time.
Why are you so adamant on leaving Blacksteel anyway? Did getting hurt on that one mission spook you?
Jessica No, it was just a scratch, but...
Sorry.
Testing Supervisor Well, it's fine. We all have our own reasons, so if there's something you're struggling with, I won't pry.
What did you think about the explosive-resistant shield you just tested?
Jessica Huh? Umm... I think it was made from a newly-developed Raythean material, and felt like it would be effective against most kinds of projectiles.
But overall, it felt a bit unwieldy... Ah, s-sorry, I should've been incorporating more strength training into my daily exercise.
Testing Supervisor I won't deny, the design is a bit clunky for a Feline. Your judgment is as sharp as ever.
You've been great, Jessica. We were able to get a ton of data from you carrying it through the whole trial.
Jessica D-Don't mention it, I'm just doing my job... My last job here.
Testing Supervisor I suppose so. It's a shame we're losing such a capable tester.
Jessica Um...
I still have a long way to go. Sorry...
I'm off to HR now.
Testing Supervisor Sure, alright then. See you later, Jessica.
[Someone enters the room.]
??? Excuse me, is Jessica here?
Testing Supervisor Jessica? She just left, and should be on her way to HR. If there's something you want to tell her, I'll pass on the message the next time I see her.
??? That's alright, I'll go look for her myself.
<Background 2>
[Jessica sits down...]
Jessica (I guess I'm supposed to wait here...)
[...as a Blacksteel manager and Raythean representative walks toward the office.]
Raythean Industries Representative Thank you very much. Our technical cooperation with Blacksteel has always been the most important part of Raythean's business, and we are especially grateful for your assistance, Mr. "Clip".
Blacksteel Senior Manager Haha, that was years ago. Plus, I'd reckon there are few suppliers other than Raythean that could meet Blacksteel's demand.
Raythean Industries Representative That's true. The development and improvement of etched ammo has always been one of our top R&D priorities.
I hope we'll get to chat again next quarter, after the orders have been docked.
Blacksteel Senior Manager Of course.
Raythean Industries Representative Good. Then, I'll take my leave.
Blacksteel Senior Manager Oh, you were looking for Brynley's daughter, right...? How's he doing? Tell him I said hello.
Raythean Industries Representative Haha, thank you for your concern. I'll let him know.
[The Raythean rep enters the room.]
Raythean Industries Representative Good day, Madam "Jessica." I am...
Jessica G-Good day, Mr. Raymond. Of course I remember you.
There's no need to be so formal with me.
Raythean Industries Representative Yes, of course. Such is Brynley's pride and joy. Thoughtful, and unpretentious.
Jessica Um...
Raythean Industries Representative So how was it? Did you have a good time here?
Jessica Well... Blacksteel's training is rigorous, and I feel like I've been steadily improving. But I've still got a long way to go until I can become a qualified mercenary.
Raythean Industries Representative It seems like you've also found this trip worthwhile. That's great to hear.
I believe you and your father have not seen each other for two years, right? Mr. Brynley has been waiting for you to return home.
Are you through with the resignation procedures? And is your luggage prepared? I'll have someone over to load everything onto the transport.
Jessica Mr. Raymond, um, w-wait a minute please...
Raythean Industries Representative Hm? Is something amiss?
Jessica The last time you came here, you said that Father wanted me to return home... but if I found my own path at Blacksteel Worldwide, I'd be allowed to stay.
So, I want to know...
Raythean Industries Representative I see. At first, Mr. Brynley acknowledged your ambitions and allowed you to join Blacksteel, to broaden your horizons and find yourself.
But he's come to learn that Blacksteel has been smothering your abilities, and though he is filled with regrets, he still allowed you three months to decide whether you wanted to stay.
Jessica I understand... My performance here has not been enough to earn Father's acknowledgement.
Sorry. I tried my best, but...
Raythean Industries Representative No, I should be apologizing, Madam Jessica. I might be repeating myself here, but I hope you'll hear me out. Your father wants you to go home for a variety of reasons.
You're currently working in the Department of Equipment and Applied Technologies. Blacksteel can take full advantage of your background here, but for you, there's no denying that you're vastly overqualified.
Jessica You know I'm not very talented...
Raythean Industries Representative The top-of-the-line equipment you handle here at Blacksteel is nothing but the product of endless internal testing at Raythean.
Since you're interested in this work, why not return to Raythean, where you can truly flex your muscles and make a difference?
And this hardly bears repeating, but it is your family business, after all.
By your father's side, you are guaranteed to have all the resources you could ever want at your disposal, as well as the room to fully express yourself.
You wouldn't need to work your way up from a lowly equipment tester, nor would your contributions go ignored for long periods, as they are now.
Look at you. You hardly look like the scion of the Brynley family.
Jessica S-Sorry... I'm just too useless...
Raythean Industries Representative Come on now, Madam Jessica, enough with the self-deprecation.
By the way, I heard you were injured on a recent field mission. Is that true?
Jessica Um, it's because I didn't train enough and got too nervous in a combat situation... Sorry, I still need to polish my skills more.
Raythean Industries Representative I see. You understand now, right? Being a mercenary is a dangerous, life-threatening affair.
No matter how hard you train, there's always the risk of injury.
I also have a young daughter, and I also understand the love Mr. Brynley has for you, so please don't take this the wrong way.
Mr. Brynley encouraged his children to go out on their own, as a good father should, and he would've appreciated it if you were able to start something of your own, like your sister did.
But, you are his youngest daughter. Mr. Brynley still hopes that you can draw on the experiences of those who've come before you, suffer fewer hardships, take fewer detours, and return home as soon as possible.
Compared to your brother and sister, you're not as socially skilled as them, nor have you dedicated yourself to mechanical design.
Carving out a domain for yourself relying solely on your physical prowess and combat abilities is still out of your reach.
Jessica You're certainly not wrong...
I'm sorry, Mr. Raymond... I keep letting you and my father down.
Raythean Industries Representative Nonsense. Besides, Raythean can always make you a custom set of equipment to enjoy on your return.
If you had better protective gear, you would've been fine in a small skirmish like that.
Jessica But even if I had access to the best gear... what would I be able to do with it?
Raythean Industries Representative All that matters you put the equipment we've painstakingly made to good use. You don't have to think too hard about what you want to do with it.
Oh right, Fort Barron is still a fair distance away. Could you enjoy desserts made by a gold-medal chef here?
I remember when you came to my office a number of years ago, Mr. Brynley directed me to order an entire table of desserts.
Jessica Um... Training here involves strict dieting...
Though, I still buy snacks every now and then... Ugh, if only I had more self-discipline.
Raythean Industries Representative Please don't be too tough on yourself, Madam Jessica. I think you've worked hard enough.
Earlier, I spoke to Mr. Eyland, your training instructor, and he didn't have much of an impression of you, except the fact that you train very hard.
Even a respected, elite mercenary like Eyland found nothing lacking in your performance. Though you didn't particularly stand out either, your hard work helped you narrowly pass the exam.
What is there to blame yourself for?
Jessica Instructor Eyland...
I'm sorry... I get nervous just thinking about him...
Raythean Industries Representative Good grief, this is exactly what Mr. Brynley has been worried about. You've already endured so much hardship here.
But I'm glad to see that you've put up with all of it. You've now gained valuable experience, and honed your already excellent qualities. If you were to return home, I'm sure you'd...
Jessica I... I'm sorry.
I haven't finalized my resignation process yet, and... um, before I leave, I'd like to... say goodbye to my friends. Can I have a bit more time?
Raythean Industries Representative *sigh*... I'm afraid this will disrupt the schedule, and your father is waiting for you to return home... But of course, it's all up to you.
Jessica A-Alright... Sorry again...
I'll head back to the HR Department then...
<Background 3>
[Jessica runs through the desert...]
<Background fades out and in>
[...as the hot wind blows.]
Jessica Phew... haah.
...The wind on the barrens.
......
In a corner of the empty outdoor training ground, Jessica closes her eyes and forcefully inhales the air that reeks with the scent of Originium gunpowder.
She silently spent countless hours of her leisure time here in order to pass the examination that fails out nearly 80% of new recruits.
Jessica (Have I experienced all of this vast, boundless land?)
(Not quite, right?)
(Outside of a few small skirmishes, I've stayed back at the base most of the time, training and testing.)
Two years ago, for the first time, she mustered up the courage to talk to her father about the steps she was about to take.
Her family had already selected a school and specialization for her advanced studies. She even had her job after graduation planned out for her, but she wanted to submit her resume to Blacksteel Worldwide.
She told her father that she still didn't know what she was capable of, so she wanted to further refine herself.
Besides, her father always said that the land was vast and boundless, holding infinite possibilities in life.
So she wanted to experience more in life, and find her own possibilities.
Jessica (But, I've already finished packing my bags.)
(And I think... I'm done saying my goodbyes.)
Sorry... I couldn't accomplish anything in the end...
[Jessica heard something...]
Jessica Eek––!
[...that spooks her and prompts her to cower in fear just as the one from before approaches her...]
??? What's the matter with you?
Jessica Oh, um...
I'm really sorry! I, I was just...
??? Wait, don't run off–
[...who is revealed to be Liskarm.]
Liskarm I'm from the BPRS Division, codename "Liskarm." You're Jessica, right?
Jessica Yes! H-Hello, Liskarm, ma'am...!
Liskarm I was just looking for you.
The colleagues in your department said you went to the training grounds, but the staff there said they hadn't seen you. Luckily I was passing by the outdoor training area and decided to take a look, and lo and behold.
Jessica I'm sorry...
Liskarm I was hoping to talk to you personally.
I've had a change of station and I'm now in need of a deputy. After sifting through Blacksteel's HR files, I thought you'd be the best fit for the position.
Jessica O-Okay... Wait, huh?
You mean... You want me to as your deputy? Me?
Liskarm Yes. I'm looking for a capable all-rounder.
Jessica But, I don't think I'm...
Liskarm I don't know much about your specific abilities other than the exam data in the files. But, I sat down and had a chat with Joseph, and he thought you'd be a good fit.
Jessica Joseph... Instructor Eyland? But, he said he didn't have much of an impression of me...
Liskarm Huh? No, we happened to have time to chat over dinner a couple days ago, and he thought you'd make an excellent deputy, and a good fit for my personal style.
He told me how you thought it'd be impossible to pass the selection examination, but you still spent every day in the training grounds.
Are you alright? You look like you're having a hard time.
Jessica I, I'm sorry...!
I was actually about to leave Blacksteel...
Liskarm Are you having second thoughts?
Jessica Huh?
Liskarm You seem pretty attached to these training grounds. Why are you leaving?
Jessica Because I haven't done a good job.
Liskarm Did you already return your gun?
Jessica N-Not yet...
Liskarm Then draw it out and show me what you've got. Treat this as a practical.
Jessica R-Right here? But, there's no protective gear...
Liskarm Don't worry, I've got my shield. Plus, didn't you launch an attack on Joseph during a live combat training session that even he wasn't able to neutralize?
Jessica Th-That was just an accident!
[Jessica loads her handgun and fires several accurate shots at the dummy target in the shooting range.]
Liskarm Not bad. You're a pretty nice shot. Acceptable accuracy.
But your bullets... don't have enough of a bite.
Jessica Ugh...
Liskarm Calm down.
Don't look away. Keep your eyes on your opponent––
[Liskarm charges at Jessica, who reacts by firing several shots which she narrowly blocks with her shield.]
Liskarm Good reactions. You've got the conditioned reflexes. That's a product of your training.
But live combat situations are always trickier than training.
[Liskarm unleashes her electrokinetic Arts at Jessica which knocks her down.]
Jessica Waah!
S-Sorry... I wasn't able to dodge...
Liskarm You've already passed. You don't know my Arts.
Alright, on your feet.
<Background fades out and in>
Jessica Did I... really pass?
Liskarm Yes. I have to say I don't agree that you "haven't done a good job." You just aren't experienced or practiced enough, but that's true for all fresh recruits.
Jessica Not experienced enough...
Liskarm, ma'am, may I ask you a question?
Liskarm Hm? Even though I'll be asking you to train, I'm not much of an instructor myself... Well, whatever, what is it?
Jessica When... did you realize you were cut out to be a mercenary?
Liskarm Cut out to be a mercenary? Still don't know if I am, and haven't thought much about it. All I know is it's what I want to do.
Jessica But–
What if you're not a good fit for the job? Aren't you afraid you'll end up having to take detours?
––Or, maybe, people's lives shouldn't have to roll down a single, predetermined track. Pick a road and follow it through, wherever it might lead.
Jessica Thank you. Thank you for acknowledging me.
I think...
She clenches her fist, just as she had done that day when she stood in front of her father's office.
This is what "Jessica," Blacksteel mercenary, decided for herself.
Jessica ...I would like to take this opportunity.
Liskarm Good, very good.
But just so we're clear, I'm warning you in advance that my BPRS is a very unique division... It's fringe work, and always extremely dangerous.
We deal with Infected organisms and acute Originium contamination incidents, to give you an idea of the risks involved.
Jessica I, I understand...
Liskarm When facing a normal operation, most injuries you might suffer can be fully healed. But when you're out with BPRS, more serious wounds might mean that you contract Oripathy.
I've seen enough of your files to know that you sustained minor injuries on your last mission.
Of course, BPRS is equipped with comprehensive protective measures, and Director Janet. has been working hard to improve the division's emergency responses, to reduce the risk of infection.
Also, if you become my deputy, I'll have higher expectations for your training. I will not deploy you on dangerous missions until you've fully met those expectations.
So that's the situation. I came to you before starting an inter-department transfer application, just so you can decide what you want to do.}}
Jessica Thank you... But I've already made up my mind!
I'll continue to broaden my experiences, and get more rigorous training... Then, I'll find my own answers.
N-Not just answers to my own questions, but also those about life and how to live it... In the course of my missions, I've seen things that I'm still confused about, even now.
Liskarm Is that so? I apologize, but I might not be able to give you the answers you're looking for.
But I'm glad that my deputy thinks about these same issues.
Jessica Your deputy...
Liskarm That's right.
Liskarm Were you going to HR to finish your resignation? I'll go with you, make it easier to withdraw the application.
Jessica Ah, yes, alright... Thank you very much!
But, what should I say to Mr. Raymond and Father...
[The Raythean rep from before shows up.]
Raythean Industries Representative Is something wrong, Madam Jessica?
Jessica Um... What are you doing here?
Raythean Industries Representative I can't exactly wander around inside Blacksteel, so I went outside.
If I heard correctly, you said you were withdrawing your resignation application?
Jessica ......
Liskarm...
No, it's fine. I'm sorry, Mr. Raymond, but I don't plan on going home.
Please... tell my father, that "Jessica" wants to stay with BSW no matter what. As a mercenary working for a security firm, protecting people, solving problems.
I haven't found what my "possibilities" are yet, but I want to keep searching.
Raythean Industries Representative Very well.
I will let him know.
<Background fades out>
My little girl still wants to keep being "Jessica" of Blacksteel Worldwide...? That stubbornness is exactly what you'd expect from a child of the Brynley family.
I apologize for making you say so many harsh things to her, but I need to know that she's strong enough to find her own footing, not just drifting along the currents in the one place she's been thrown.
Of course, I'd prefer not to see her suffer. There is too much cruelty in this world, and she will have many questions to which there are no easy answers.
But if she wants to be a challenger, then so be it. Even if she's the last child in the family to find out what she should do in life... or she never finds it.