Let's Be Friends!

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"Umm, m-my name is Ashlin McHale. I-it's nice to meet you all."

The room was silent as the eyes of a black haired, silver eyed girl, a short golden blonde, and a tall red head fell upon the petite Irish girl. She stood there, fidgeting all about, her silver-blue armored fingers clinking in the silence. A violet metal hand slapped onto Ashlin's shoulder, making the girl jump in surprise.

"Sorry ladies, Ashlin seems to be a bit shy." The hand retreated to its owner, a tall, wide built Light Ironform painted a soft violet. It placed its hands on its thick, metal pockmarked hips, bringing the girls eyes, including Ashlin's onto it. "My name is Serah Hanon, Secrutix of the Xiplos order. I'm here to introduce your newest squad member, little Ashlin here." The Light Ironform's red-pink spherical sockets scanned the room, resting on the tall, dark skinned red head. "Strike Leader Maria Brea, come here."

The fiery eyed Eversor stepped away from her bunk, placing the greatsword she was sharpening onto her cot. "Welcome to Strike Team Malleus. I'm the leader of this ragtag bunch, Maria Brea." She extended a hand, Ashlin giving it a firm shake. "The shorty over there-" "I HEARD THAT." "-is Edea Willows." Ashlin's emerald eyes glanced over to the tiny blonde, a mechanical hand waving at her. "Don't mind Edea, she-"

Serah held up a hand, bring Maria to a halt. "My apologies, but I have other business to attend to. I should return before the days end and have everything sorted out." The tall Ironform turned and left, leaving Ashlin alone with these new people.

"Don't just stand there, take a seat somewhere." Ashlin felt a gentle push as Maria bumped her forwards. "None of us are gonna bite, so come on."

The petite Irish girl shakily stepped forward, finding a seat on a vacant cot. The other three girls chuckled at her, making Ashlin blush deeply, her reddened cheeks clashing with her creamy white skin. "S-sorry, I'm n-not used to being a-around new people." Ashlin's feet began to tap on the floor out of nervousness. "But I-I hope I can work well with you guys!

Maria let out a hearty laugh, sliding over to the silver eyed girl. "Oh, I almost forgot. The last member of our little entourage is Natalie Miles." Ashlin beamed at the newly introduced Eversor, only to have a glare returned. "No worries Ashlin, she won't bite. Nat can be a bitch sometimes, but she means well."

Natalie begrudgingly got up at Maria's behest, wealking and extending an open hand to the armor clad magical girl. "Pleasure to meet you, Ashlin. Do as you're told and you'll be fine."

Ashlin took the hand in her own, gently shaking it in a show of good faith. "It's n-nice to meet you all. I hope we can be friends!"

The air was silent as Ashlin stood beside Natalie, their superior staring at them from behind her desk. The emerald eyed Eversor shivered, her soul gem 'burning' from the intense mood in the room.

"So, from the top. I want you two to tell me just what the hell happened and why." The bald headed Ironform gave a blank stare at the two raven haired girls, pointing a finger at Natalie. "I'll start with your side."

"Umm...how should I put it." Natalie thought for a moment, crossing her arms before speaking. "She insulted my friends. Plain and simple. I'm not gonna sit and let someone talk shit about my friends like that." She shot a quick glare at her fellow magical girl, making Ashlin flinch in surprise. "So, I got mad. How can ya blame me?"

The room grew silent again, Natalie still with her arms crossed, Lyssa staring at the girls, with Ashlin staring at the floor. She fiddled with her fingers as Lyssa aimed her glowing eyes at the tiny Eversor. "Now, your side, Ashlin."

Ashlin fumbled her words, taking a few seconds to form a coherent sentence. "W-we were talking, Natalie smacked my book out of my hands, we both said some things and then..." The Irish girl froze as her mind tried to find the proper wording. "...then all I saw was her on top of me, hitting me." She hastily finished how Nokota cleaned and healed her up, Lyssa simply staring and taking it all in. "I'm sorry, Miss Forax. I didn't mean to cause any trouble."

"Eugh...if this was any other situation, I'd have you sent back to the Olympia for proper punishment, but all things considered," A short wave of her arm brought the girls attention to the slow construction going on outside. "we don't have such luxury. So we'll have to deal with it here." Standing, Lyssa walked over to the far window, watching the busy body Light Ironforms outside. "...I remember being told you don't like Ashlin very much, right Natalie?"

The silver eyed Eversor snapped to attention at her name. "Y-yes Miss Forax. Ever since she was assigned to our squad, I felt I wouldn't like her." Natalie sighed, a tired look taking her face. "And today was just the end result. I knew something like this would happen, but not this fast."

"I don't need to know the whole story, just your opinion." The mechanized magical girl spun around to face Ashlin and Natalie, her LED eyes 'closing' in thought. "...very well, this is your punishment. No arguing, no complaining . For the next seven days, you and Ashlin will be on guard duty. No sleep whatsoever until your punishment is over. You may be trained for lack of sleep, but still, your body naturally needs it." The girls gasped at the revelation, Lyssa bringing up a metal hand to shush them. "You two need to learn to get along, and this will also work as a team building exercise. Keep each other awake, and watch out for each other. Maria and Edea will give you a one hour break every 12 hours for food and such, so use that time wisely."

Ashlin stepped forward, bringing her forearms over her chest. "Umm, I know you said not to complain, and I'm ready to take our punishment, but I've..." The petite girl fiddled with her thumbs, nervousness washing over her. Her gaze met the floor as she spoke. "I've never finished all of my training with what was happening to me., so that mi-"

"Yes, and?" Ashlin was quickly cut off, her superior staring at her intently. "You'll just have to deal with it. Your punishment is final, and that's all there is to it."

Lyssa pointed to the door, commanding the two girls to leave. "I have unfinished business with Miss Williams. You are dismissed."

3 nights passed for Ashlin, each night slowly becoming harder to stay awake. Multiple times she found herself dosing off, only to have Natalie smacking the back of her head to snap her back awake. Tonight was no different for the young Eversor.

The setting sun hung on the horizon as the two black haired magical girls stared off at the wind swept plains. Ashlin gently slapped her face in a futile attempt to stay awake, giving a worrying stare to Natalie. Her crimson clad companion simply scoffed. "At least you don't have to hit me again." Ashlin chuckled softly, shaking her head of drowsiness. A cool wind began blowing, making the two shiver. "It's pretty cold out, huh Natalie?"

The silver eyed girl curled her cloak around her, bringing the hood on as well. "Kinda, I guess. Could be better." Natalie turned to Ashlin, staring at the armored magical girl. "You're probably cold as hell, with you being half fucking naked."

"Yeah...but I'm fine. The cold will help keep me awake, that's for sure." Ashlin bobbed back and forth on the heels of her clawed feet, leaning on the railing for balance. "What about you? Skirt and leggings don't seem very warm."

"This cloak'll keep me warm. It's thicker than my costume anyways. And it makes for a good blanket and pillow too." Natalie pulled her cloak away, extending it to Ashlin. "Here, feel it."

Whisking away her gauntlets, Ashlin took the crimson material in her hands, feeling the rough texture of wool. "Oh wow! It DOES feel warm! But...it's wool. Isn't your costume made out of cloth and silk?"

"Yeah. This cloak isn't actually part of my costume." Ashlin let out a slight gasp, eyes growing wide. "Huh. I guess you didn't know that. A friend of mine made it for me. Kept me warm during the winter in Mitakihara. It means a lot to me, ya know?"

The two girls grew silent, Ashlin yawning and bouncing on her heels, while Natalie pulled her hood and cloak tighter around her. The full moons light cast a breath taking sight, the light illuminating the grassy plains before them and gleaming off the snow covered mountaintops in the distance.

Ashlin stared up at the moon, entranced by the beauty of the massive chunk of space rock. Her mind wandered as she stared; to the few friends she made in Canada, the painful memories of her surgeries and augmentations, and most importantly, her mother. Thoughts of her time in Ireland, the death of her father, and the move to Canada to stay with their relatives came soon after, making the extremely tired Eversor sigh in exhaustion.

"Hey Ashlin...I, uh, I have something to say."

Ashlin snapped back to attention as Natalie got her attention, rubbing her eyes. "Oh, sorry, zoned out for a sec. Wh-what's up?"

The silver eyed Eversor fiddled around in her cloak, her eyes staring at the cold metal catwalk beneath them. "Listen, I'm...I'm sorry for getting in a fight with you." Ashlin watched as Natalie stepped towards the railing, leaning on it, eyes still on the catwalk. "I wasn't thinking straight, and what you said just pissed me off really hard. I should've kept a cool head."

Ashlin stared in awe; from her experience, Natalie didn't seem the type to apologize, but here she was, saying those two simple words. The young Irish girl looked away, staring off into the plains again, gathering her thoughts and figuring a response. "Umm, thanks, I guess...sorry for saying what I said too." She glanced over to her crimson cloaked companion, seeing she was still staring down. "I guess we both said some things we shouldn't have."

Natalie immediately whipped around, her cloak fluttering in a sudden gust of wind. She stared intently at Ashlin, making the emerald eyed Eversor freeze. "I spoke the truth, and that's that. Don't get me wrong, beating your face in wasn't what I should've done," She threw her hood back, her voice turning to a deep growl. "but I still think you're the biggest coward I've ever fucking met, and I will stand by that statement till the day I die." She kept her eyes on Ashlin for a few more moments, eventually turning back to the grassy, rocky fields in front of them.

Before Ashlin could respond, Maria and Edea stepped up onto the catwalk. "Oi, everything okay up here? Thought we heard you two arguing?" The tall redhead placed her hands on her hips, walking over to Natalie and bending down to her eye level. "I don't have to intervene here, do I?"

"No, no, everything's fine." Natalie turned and walked towards the catwalk stairs, bumping into Ashlin's shoulder. "Was simply getting some shit straight, is all." She trotted down the steps, leaving the other 3 girls alone. Edea stepped up beside her girlfriend, waving a hand at Ashlin. "Well, you better enjoy your short break while you can." Slipping an arm around Maria's waist, the short blonde nuzzled on Maria's shoulder. "So warm..."

Ashlin nodded and began to step off the catwalk before being stopped by Maria. "Hey Ash, I wanted to pass an idea by you." The armor clad magical girl turned to her superior, yawning. "After your punishment is over, and the Heavy Ironforms come back, what do you say to me training you? I know haven't had full Eversor training, so I figure once we have time, I could go over what you haven't been trained on."

"Oh, that's fine, I guess. I...can't really remember what I've done and what I haven't so..."

"Don't worry about that. We'll do what we can, okay? Now go, enjoy your break."

The week of pure hell finally ended, leaving Ashlin a walking mess of exhaustion and auditory and visual hallucinations. Natalie on the other hand, was merely tired, gloating that she could go another week without sleep. Maria attempted to take her up on that challenge, but the silver eyed magical girl declined. The two bleary eyed magical girls trudged to their sleeping quarters, Ashlin nearly tripping over the entrance. Neither said a word as they de-transformed and slipped on their sleepwear, crawling onto their cots. Ashlin snuggled against her pillow, mumbling as she closed her eyes. "Sleep...is so good. So good. Goodnight Natalie..." "...yeah."

Everything was dark. Explosions rocked Ashlin's mind as she peered into the darkness. Part of her focused on the noise around her; explosions, gunfire...and screaming. "WAKE UP!"

A flash of light, and Ashlin bolted upright to the sounds from her sleep. She looked towards the door, Edea standing in the frame, ragged breaths coming from her bloodied and battered self. Ashlin's heart started racing, slipping off her cot, nearly tripping over her own feet. "Wha-what's going on?"

"We're under attack! A group of locals got us by surprise! We're pinned down by gunfire and I think mortar, come on!"

Edea bolted from the door, leaving the now stunned Ashlin alone with Natalie. "We-we're under attack?" Ashlin's body froze as fear took her.

"No time to waste, Ashlin." Natalie pulled off her soul gem, transforming into her black and scarlet costume, and pulled on her cloak. Her scythe formed in her hands as she whipped around to Ashlin. "Battle is the great redeemer, the fiery crucible which the only true heroes are forged."