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Fanfic: Save Point - Overdue

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Fanfic: Save Point - Overdue

Post by Sareth » Sun Feb 04, 2018 7:15 pm

For those of you not aware, Fred has dabbled in drawings of a vaguely WWII-like setting, where several of the MT girls are air crew on a bomber. They are definitely darker and edgier, and as former military aircrew myself, utterly fascinating. We don't know a whole lot about that particular -verse, but we do know is pretty grim. Being fascinated as I am, I broke down and indulged in a fast little exercise...

Please keep in mind this is a little flippant thing I just banged out, and not quality work. I took some liberties by adding a couple of people not shown in any of the artwork, and I am interpreting a scanty few images heavily. Critiques, comments, criticism, and complaints are welcome, and probably deserved. Anyway...


Overdue

Image

Flight Commander Hayasaka paced the catwalk outside the tower, her fingers fumbling for another cigarette. You’d think she’d have gotten numb to it all by now, and not need such a deadly way to take the edge off, but her shaking fingers proved that not to be so. Stained with nicotine and tar, her fingers clasped the thin toxic stick she’d managed to wrest free of a crushed carton, and she bent down to light up.

Grey death sucked into her lungs as the cigarette lit, and she leaned back to take a long, deep pull of it. For the briefest of moments she felt like chastising herself, knowing what it had to be doing to her body now that she was up to two packs a day, but she really couldn’t be bothered. After all, the eventual drawn out death these things would cause would only matter if she survived that long.

Nobody survived that long. Not here.

She blew out a long trail of smoke and returned to watching the skies, though hope was fading at this point. The Save Point was well overdue, and little chance remained of it turning up. She should have called it already. She sighed, stubbing out the cigarette (done already?) and turned to go inside the tower and draw a simple, innocent, terrible line through the Save Point on the board.

“Ma’am!”

She turned back around at the call from Tech Sergeant Sonoda. The small girl was pointing to the horizon, and Hayasaka cast her eyes towards the skyline.

A smudge of smoke trailed back from a darkened dot. She fumbled for the field glasses around her neck, bringing them up to focus on that distant specter. It took but a moment before she spun around to Sonoda. “Yuki! Scramble the emergency crews!”

“Ma’am!” Sonoda snapped a hasty salute and jerked the tower door open, racing for the stairs.

Hayasaka sighed, though there was little relief in it. Sometimes having one of the bombers return was almost worse than never knowing what happened to it. Smoking as she was, Save Point had clearly taken damage, and any time the bird took damage there was a good chance someone in the crew…

She shook the thought off. It was best not dwelled on. Reality would come too soon. Just as soon as the plane was stopped on the ground one way or the other she would have to begin learning about the status of bird and crew alike. But that hadn’t happened yet and she stared, transfixed upon that growing dot, pregnant with horrible potential.

Last time Save Point had come in smoking, that pregnancy had given birth to horrid fruit. There hadn’t been enough left of Subofficer Kurabayashi to bury properly. The flak round had ripped the radio compartment apart, leaving a large, gaping hole, and only a few pieces of the formerly cheerful radio operator had been left behind. Hayasaka really didn't want to think about where the rest of it had landed. The only mercy is that what had happened had to have been mercifully swift. Kurabayashi probably never even knew the Save Point had been hit.

The rest of the crew had, and Hayasaka shuddered to think what that moment had made of them. None of them had harbored any illusions about surviving. Not after they came back from their first mission having watched almost 10% of the wing go down in flames. Simple math said that, if 10% were lost in a mission, the odds of making it through 35 missions were simply not worth placing any hope in. Then having it happen to one of the members of a very tight knit crew?

Something more than Asako Kurabayashi had been ripped apart in that moment. The Save Point crew was broken, irrevocably. In the past month, Flight Officer Tohya hadn’t gone to bed sober once. MPs had been needed to separate Sgt Yakugashi Sawatari from her firearm at the pub after she’d attempted to shoot Asako’s replacement for making the wrong comment. Flight Officer Nanasawa never seemed to sleep, but just spent all of her spare time doing maintenance on Save Point, as if that somehow would prevent any further deaths. Only Bombardier Officer Komugiko seemed to be coping at all well. Unless her pulling her gun on one of Yakugashi’s string of enlisted lovers was something more than a mother’s outrage.

Maybe it would be better if the Save Point simply didn’t come back. It was only a matter of time, anyway, and at least they could finally get some peace back.

Hayasaka shook herself, trying to be angry at herself for the bitter thought, but unable to muster the energy. She forced herself to watch the Save Point on final approach, one engine trailing black clouds and the other looking somehow wrong. The bird looked otherwise intact. She had no idea how Tohya had managed to get it back with both engines like that, but as the Save Point glided the last few feet down and then made a textbook landing, Hayasaka had to admit that Miho had done it.

Five figures dropped out of the aircraft almost the instance it stopped, waving away the corpsmen trying to wrap them in blankets, and Hayasaka sighed. Everyone had come back in one piece this time.

Twelve missions down, twenty three to go.

She fished out another cigarette, lit it, and walked back into the tower to begin preparations for the next bombing run.
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Re: Fanfic: Save Point - Overdue

Post by paarfi » Sun Feb 04, 2018 7:23 pm

That's really good Sareth. I think you captured the spirit of Fred's drawings really well.
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Re: Fanfic: Save Point - Overdue

Post by Sareth » Sun Feb 04, 2018 7:25 pm

Thanks Paarfi. I'd love to see more about this -verse. I guess this was my way of making that happen, even if only in a small, poorly crafted way.
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Re: Fanfic: Save Point - Overdue

Post by Yl33 D4 N00b » Mon Feb 05, 2018 10:18 am

So, are you planning to do another installment? The above is plenty good enough to support more posts!

Poor Asako.......
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Re: Fanfic: Save Point - Overdue

Post by Sareth » Mon Feb 05, 2018 11:00 am

I could? If people wanted me to? I just worry about the fact I know so little about this -verse. (No one really knows much, except Fred.) So I worry about not doing it justice...
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Re: Fanfic: Save Point - Overdue

Post by darrin » Mon Feb 05, 2018 1:16 pm

Sareth wrote:
Sun Feb 04, 2018 7:15 pm
The only mercy is that what had happened had to have been mercifully swift.
is -> was
Only Bombardier Officer Komugiko seemed to be coping at all well.
The use of (just) the given name after the title seemed a bit jarring here. Putting the full "Komugiko Sawatari" (similar to "Yakugashi Sawatari" just prior) might seem awkward but I have no better suggestions, sorry.

Other than that, wow, amazing work. My wife is Russian so I have seen a fair number of Soviet WWII movies, far from the majority of which have anything like a happy ending to them; this had a similar, I dunno, "weight" to it. (The closest film it brings to mind would be "A zori zdes tikhie" (Sunrises here are quiet)... actually films since they remade it in 2015..., but I'm not sure how easy it would be to find an English sub/dub of either version...)
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Re: Fanfic: Save Point - Overdue

Post by Sareth » Mon Feb 05, 2018 2:04 pm

I've watched a few Russian WWII movies that have been translated. I know what you mean.

Alright. I went and dun did it. I wrote more. Bad idea. BAD idea. But here you go.

The Replacement

Image

Subofficer (Radio) Ping sat on her bunk, staring at the book before her. The pages were covered in hand-written notes and sketches, depicting the details of each mission she remembered flying, the various aircraft that had tried to stop their payloads from being delivered, the crew members she remembered.

Amidst all the scribbles and scrawls, twenty-six pages were empty. Each represented a mission she had no memory of, and a crew that had not returned home. She could only name the members of twenty-three of them, the remaining three being their first mission together, her addition to their roster last minute.

At least that would not be a problem this time. She and her latest crew had flown together twice now, successfully delivering their belly full of death and returning safely both times. Today’s mission had almost had a less satisfying conclusion, both engines damaged, one by flak, one by a fighter that had gotten off a lucky shot before being chased away by Sgt. Sawatari’s determined counterfire.

She made an additional note in the book detailing that little victory, then sighed and tipped the eraser end of the pencil against her lower lip. Sawatari was, frankly, a problem. She’d seen far too many crews since her first, seen far too many people broken by what they’d seen and done. Sawatari, however, had been the first to not just be unfriendly, but to actually pull a gun on her.

The crazy twin-tail’s aunt, Flight Bombardier Sawatari, hadn’t even bothered setting down her cigarette, let alone doing anything to stop the younger Sawatari. It had taken Ping herself to calm the 16 year old girl down enough to let the MPs take the .45 away. Perhaps the elder Sawatari woman had been just as offended by Ping’s casual question about her wedding ring as the younger, but simply hadn’t felt the energy needed to do something about it. Not when a crazed teen seemed happy to test Ping’s ability to be downloaded into a new body.

Ping supposed that dead girls didn’t like being reminded of what was going to be left behind when the inevitable happened. Especially by an artificial life form who had already completed her thirty-five missions, twice over. Few at the base liked Ping, considering her to be some sort of cosmic cheat, and never taking into account the personal hell that was remembering twenty-three crews, and knowing that the “Artificial Lifeform Exemption” meant she didn’t get to go home after thirty-seven missions, or seventy. Or the eighty-three successfully completed currently under her belt.

She leaned her head back to contemplate the hooch, the thrown together wooden shack that the Save Point crew shared together. The walls were covered with calendars and photos, almost none of them in anyway personal. They were simply collections of beefcake and movie stars, people who would never have known you existed, and wouldn’t miss you when you were gone.

The blackout curtains were tied open in blatant violation of regs. She’d mentioned it once, and gotten looks of open disdain from the rest of the crew. She’d taken the hint and not brought it up again.

Next to the door rested two bundles. One was Flight Officer Nanasawa’s parachute, brought back with her rather than left back at the hanger with the rest. Ping had no idea when it had been stowed here. She wasn’t sure she’d ever seen Nanasawa in the hooch. The woman had basically taken to living in the hanger even before Ping had been added to the crew. The other bundle was her own duffle, only partially unpacked. Between the less than positive welcome she’d received from the Save Point crew and her own knowledge she’d be waking up with another missing mission soon enough she hadn’t seen the point of emptying it.

She supposed she was, in her own way, a bit jaded as well. After all, if one person could tear her crewmates up this much, she supposed remembering ninety-two in photographic detail could potentially disturb even her logic circuits.

The bunk shifted around her, and Flight Officer Tohya’s head rolled off the edge to dangle upside down, staring. “What’s that?” she asked, her words carefully controlled and her breath reeking with cheap alcohol.

Ping eyed the pistol she’d left near at hand a moment, then realized that even if Tohya was inclined to be angered by anything Ping said, the Irish woman was too drunk to shoot straight anyway. She set down the pencil and flipped the book around. “Notes on previous missions.”

Tohya stared at the book a second with watering green eyes, her cheeks turning redder by the second. “No, not the book.” Her hand came down and pointed at Ping’s shoulder. “That.”

Ping glanced over to take in the tattoo her bare shoulder sported. She supposed she should probably have kept her uniform sweater on rather than stripping down to her government issue skivvies, but even an artificial girl sometimes wanted a little air. Even if that meant exposing the tattoo painted on her synthetic skin.

“That was my first bird. ‘PL4YWM3”. She sighed, her memory automatically dredging up the faces of the four women she’d trained with, flown with, and died with on their fifth mission together.

“And the marks beneath?” The pilot sounded genuinely curious, and Ping set the book down, rolling to show her shoulder to the upside down woman.

“Each bird since then.”

“Don’t see the Save Point…”

“You won’t,” Ping muttered quietly.

“Nach í An Bhitseach í?” the pilot muttered. “Why not?”

Ping pinched the bridge of her nose. “You don’t bury the living.”

Tohya stared at Ping’s shoulder a moment, then pulled her head up. Feet appeared a moment later and the woman dropped from the bunk, staggering in her landing, then lurched for the door. A moment later she was outside, the sound of her retching coming in through the opening.

Ping glanced at her own shoulder, at the bare patch of synthetic skin at the end of the bottom row of miniature nose art. Her finger game up and briefly rubbed at the spot before she slid down on the bed, pulling the covers over herself, and set her processors to their sleep mode. Tomorrow was another mission. Would it be number eighty-three? Or twenty-seven?
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Re: Fanfic: Save Point - Overdue

Post by darrin » Mon Feb 05, 2018 3:00 pm

Sareth wrote:
Mon Feb 05, 2018 2:04 pm
almost none of them in anyway personal
any way
Her finger game up and briefly rubbed
came
Or the eighty-three successfully completed currently under her belt.
[...]
Tomorrow was another mission. Would it be number eighty-three?
Confused about the count; if eighty-three were completed, tomorrow's would be eighty-four? Or I am just confused.

Well done.
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Re: Fanfic: Save Point - Overdue

Post by Yl33 D4 N00b » Mon Feb 05, 2018 5:58 pm

That was quick! I'm not going to mess with proofreading, just saying bravo!

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Re: Fanfic: Save Point - Overdue

Post by Sareth » Mon Feb 05, 2018 10:29 pm

Eh. It really wasn't very good. I really did a number on Ping. Fred's comments are that she's supposed to be more the older, wiser, caring motherly type to the crews she's added to, and instead she just came across as bitter and distant.

I suck.
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Re: Fanfic: Save Point - Overdue

Post by cidjen » Tue Feb 06, 2018 5:49 am

Hi Sareth,
do you mind if I run with that ...?

* * *

Then she looked at her internal clock, and sighed. She unplugged from the backup machine, having just finished, got up from the bunk. Outside of the quarters, she found Miho still suffering from the retching. She approached, kneeled beside the pilot and embraced her.
- Get off meehhh... you machine! - the pilot tried to jerk herself away from Ping but the machine just embraced her a little tighter and inflated and warmed up her body slightly to comfort the human. Miho broke into uncontrollable sobbing. But it seemed to work. Miho started to settle slightly.

Erika observed the scene from where she was standing beside the hangar. She tossed the stub, ground it with her shoe, opened the maintenance door slightly.
- Kimi - she called the mechanic - y'gonna want to look at that.
Kimiko approached the door with a question on her face, but Erika just pointed in the direction of Ping and Miho, lit up by the glow from the windows and the dying light of day.
- Miho burst out of the quarters and retched all over the green here, then Ping followed and started doing this - Erika said
The two girls slowly approached Miho and Ping. Ping looked up at them, her own face now moist from the tears running down from her eyes.
- I'm sorry - she said - I didn't mean to ... put it this blunt...
- What did you say to her? - Kimiko asked.
- She asked me about the markings on my arm... you know, what they mean, Hayasaka-san.
- Yes. you're basically a walking memorial to the fallen... ouch!
- Erika! - Kimiko nudged the Flight Commander in her side - stop it!
- It's... OK. I guess I'm used to it - Ping replied, still holding the pilot in her embrace. She got up, with Miho in her arms in fetal position, and effortlessly started walking towards the quarters. - I think I'd like to talk to all of you - she spoke into direction of Erika and Kimiko - would you please gather the rest of the crew here, Flight Commander? We fly tomorrow.
- You want to talk to us ? But not like the last time, I hope...
Ping turned her head and looked Erika in the eyes. The two women, one real, one a robot, looked at each other for a while.
- No, Flight Commander... I learned a lot since then - Ping said slowly, with a bitter tone in her voice, then turned in the direction of the quarters' door.
- Ok there we go, I'll take care of the Pilot, can I please ask you to gather the crew, please, Flight Commander?
Erika sighed as Ping and Miho entered the quarters, then turned round - OK ... Kimiko please, i mean... Flight Officer, please round up the crew and let's hear what the machine has to say. I will come with you. They are probably in the officers' mess now.

- Commander... Erika... Why are you being mean to her. She is a machine all right, but that doesn't mean...
- You haven't seen the report I got given with her files - Erika interrupted - I shouldn't really tell you this... some of it is classified ...
- I have clearances...
- You don't have clearances for what *I* had to read. Don't even ask.
- Can we at least give her a chance ?
- Like I have a choice here, Flight Officer... we need the crew, most of all the Pilot, in usable state tomorrow. I just hope that the machine really has learned.

Half an hour later the entire crew sat on the bunk beds, while Radio Subofficer Ping began her tale.
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Re: Fanfic: Save Point - Overdue

Post by cidjen » Tue Feb 06, 2018 7:19 am

I've thought about this one, this one was weak. Sorry... I have it in drafts, so I can think about it some more. For now I left the 'better' part on...
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Re: Fanfic: Save Point - Overdue

Post by darrin » Tue Feb 06, 2018 11:21 am

Sareth wrote:
Mon Feb 05, 2018 10:29 pm
I really did a number on Ping.
I may be biased here but I disagree. It came across as extremely believable to me, how she'd quickly find herself ostracized; "All of us are out there actually risking our lives, and that bitch can just download back and have another go?" And much as you sympathize with Ping while reading you kinda see their point too, makes for a very non-trivial read.
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Re: Fanfic: Save Point - Overdue - Special Foxes

Post by cidjen » Sun Feb 25, 2018 6:03 pm

[inspired by reading the twitch discussion about Kitsune, around comic 1514, in video posted 25 Feb 18, vid 232718220]

Somehow, their flight the next day, has been cancelled.

FC Hayasaka was going to spent the morning arguing over the phone with upstairs, that having a bunch of aching women moping around doesn't help the future outlook, but then she has been advised to go and see the crews' living quarters. Grumbling something about stuffed toys and angry decoys she reluctantly complied.

On the way, she realized something. She sped up, losing her cigarette in the grass, but she had other things on her mind.
There was no sound coming from behind the door, nor light. She lay her hand on the door handle, and reconsidered.

Pushed the handle slightly down, and the door, somehow did not give out any sound (they must have oiled the hinges she thought), as she entered.

Radio Officer Ping was still sitting on her bunk, but the young twin-tail teenager has been sitting also on Ping's bunk with strange expression on her face and a notebook in her hand. She quickly scrambled and ran away towards her own bunk, when she saw the Flight Commander.

- Sawatari! What is that you have there ?
- Commander! It's... I ... have been talking with RO Ping...
- That notebook... what is it?
- It's mine - Ping interrupted - sorry Commander, this is the notebook from which yesterday evening's commotion started... my notes ... before FO Miho asked me...
- I see now, that's quite enough RO Ping. Are you sure it's safe to give that to the child to read?
- I am not a child! - came a surprisingly angry response from the kitsune - Commander!
- OK, OK, chill... - Erika started to back down, seeing as the rest of the crew lifted their heads from their pillows and started making moves as if they were going to prepare themselves to fly - Everyone, today's mission has been ... delayed. You're allowed to get some more sleep as upstairs tells me, there is some crucial bit of intel they are waiting for, which has been delayed and is crucial to our mission, and also some difficult weather. Chances are, we... you won't be flying today. RO Ping, may speak to you outside ?
- Right, just a moment Commander - Ping unplugged herself from the mains and the backup machine, threw an uniform top on her and followed Erika out to the airfield.

- Commander ?
- Not here, Radio. Follow me - Erika said, and started heading for the airfields' concrete reinforced bunker - I need to be sure no one else hears us.

They entered the old, previous-war structure, now sadly too weak to withstand even a single blow from just about anything the enemy bombers could drop on it; It has been left where it stood, half-buried in the surrounding grass, more as a memento of the past, or maybe because it was too expensive to try to demolish it; it was, after all, a properly built and rooted bunker, with two meter thick outside walls with multiple layers of concrete, rebar, steel plates and other classified stuff; One modern use this all had, was that there was no mobile or WiFi coverage inside whatsoever.

- You think someone is eavesdropping through me - Ping started, but the Flight Commander shook her head.
- No, Radio, I am reasonably sure you'd tell me if you had a rogue process doing that. I don't want your new friends to hear this either.
- You mean, the twin-tail and the goddess ? I did not give them root access either.
- I learned that you should be really careful, Ping, when Sawatari approaches any computer in sight with a notebook. And sometimes those out of sight.
- Right...
- No, listen. Upstairs told me somebody scrambled the mission data and that this must have been someone within this airfield. They work on descrambling it as we speak. Are you sure you weren't used as a session hop ?
Ping sighed.
- I wasn't a hop. I originated this. The young Sawatari seems to be quite knowledgeable about network arrangements here... and with my processing powers and those of other computers we managed to farm to, we've found the upstairs' computers had a pretty obscure fault in their software... we got in, made sure no one used it before us, and made sure no one but us can ever use it. We were going to post it to the bounty programme... here - Ping handed Erika a pen drive - is all we did.
- But why did you scramble the mission data then?
- Oh that... they will find, that it will unscramble itself pretty soon... thought of giving the crew a little break before we fly again...
- Pray that they won't find out it was you - Erika said.
- You... aren't going to tell them?
- Not if they don't ask. So pray they won't be asking.
- They won't. All the signs and breadcrumbs are going to be nullified when the data unscrambles. It will be exactly like nothing happened. And nothing to replay because it installed itself outside of any backed-up area, so when it triggers, it will erase and return everything to normal.
- OK. Did you really give your diary to young Sawatari, Ping? I ... I did read it before... it's ...
- I know, Commander. But I think my last-night performance really did struck a tune with all of them, they seem to be understanding me better now... and young Yakugashi was really friendly...
- Sigh... ok I hope you know what you're doing, Ping. Please erase the exact memory record of this conversation securely, and let's go.
- Done, thanks Commander.

* * *

The crew sat on the benches in the briefing room, observing Erika pacing to the left and right while Ping sat in front on her own bench with hands in her hair, sobbing. There was two people, two Kitsune missing from the room.

The door behind the podium opened, and two people entered. Flight General Sonoda Masamichi and his wife Meimi, who was in the role of Covert Ops Commander. Erika strung herself up and saluted, the general dismissed her and sat, then put the crew at ease.
The general glanced at the worried faces of the crew, one after another, until he met Ping's tearful gaze.

- Radio Officer Ping - he started, observing as Ping stood up and replied - Sir, yes, sir!
- At ease... So ... Are you trying to tell me, that the unauthorized deployment of Flight Operative Sawatari Yakugashi, had nothing to do with you? Even though we've traced enough of her online movement the night before the flight, to know exactly what she was looking for?
- I... General.... I tried to ... prevent her from doing this... I even tossed a copy of me right behind her...
- So this body, is a fresh download ?
- Yes General... but I managed to pull the flash drive that is used for daily memory and give it to the crew before jumping... so I have all the memory up to the point... I hope my previous copy and Operative Sawatari will return... It only dawned on me what she was up to when we landed...
- I am listening.
- General... you know my flight history, right... how many times have I come back and how many times have I not... I grossly underestimated Operative Yakugashi... I know that now... but I had really no idea what she was up to...
- Flight Commander - Meimi said to Erika - did you not notice anything off-scale before the flight?
- Well now, thinking about it... no, I did not notice FO Sawatari gathering six months worth of rations and ammo to her backpack... She must have been planning this for very very long.
- Well the investigators say, she actually has, since RO Ping has replaced RO Kurabayashi two months ago - said the General slowly.
- I... I... immediately after yanking the backup memory... when loaded into this body, I found a little encrypted area, that cleartexted itself when this data bank was added... it was the message from Yaku... I have not played it ... yet... the accompanying readme says she wanted her mum to be here...
- Her mum is in hospital. Can you transfer this file before you play or does it appear to have some self-destruction trigger ?
- I did transfer and it appears to be intact... I'd rather not play it from my own disk... here - Ping handed a pen drive to the Flight Commander, who took it from Ping's wet fingers and with trembling hands stuffed it into a port on the projector.

- Hai to all the crew of the Save Point bird ! - the voice and the face of FO Yakugashi filled the room - hope you can find this on Ping's hard disk when it comes back to the airfield. It's been two months since Radio Ping has arrived with us and told us her story. I am sorry I pulled the gun on you back then, Ping - the face bent in an apologetic smile - I hope you can forgive me now... I intend to jump from the plane behind enemy lines to go and retrieve as many memories of the previous crews of Ping, as I can. I found records of the approximate sites where she crashed before... I modified Ping's memory here too, so she has no idea she planned this with me... I'm sorry, future Ping, that you had to go through this - the girl on the screen smiled even more apologetically - but if you remember what Ping told us that evening... I could not just sit and do nothing... I had to go and find their memories. I contacted the resistance on the enemy territory too, they had some intel... I will try to message you sometimes... no fixed schedule obviously... but Ping, please don't go offline for too long, don't let your clock go out of sync... we'll be seeing you, don't worry! Mom! now this is for you! You know I had to do this, and why! Don't worry I will be fine! I'm with Ping! We will be back !

The recording ended.

Silence ensued. Radio Officer Ping suddenly wiped her tears and exclaimed - I got a message!

They are alive!
Translation to polish
(Scanlations have now been deleted)

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