“You know, Thomas has been asking about you at the café,” Lizbet mentions offhandedly. It’s the fifth time Lizbet has come over to visit Taimi after the mess at the floating fortress of doom. Taimi hadn’t been back to work, using the cover story of being injured during one of the several riots that had been taking place back then. While it suited her purpose already, she had yet to return to work as she’s developed a new problem she hasn’t told anyone about.
Returning a piece of tubing that was too large to connect the fusion cutter to the fuel source that Lizbet was installing in her suit, Taimi responds, “Thomas always used to ask about me, but it does kind of surprise me he’s asking now.”
“Why’s that?” Lizbet asks while plugging her helmet into Taimi’s computer. She mentioned something about designing her own head’s up display.
“The last time I saw him,” Taimi tells her while grabbing a tube with a smaller diameter, “he didn’t seem to like me anymore. Said something about me being a terrible, violent girl.”
Putting her helmet down while it powers up, Lizbet wrinkles her brow and asks, “Because you defended yourself and the café? What’s up with that? Oh!” she exclaims when the helmet lights up and syncs up with the computer, “Are you sure he’s not doing that thing I see in manga and anime? What is it… one of the Cosplay Avengers is named after it. Tsundere?”
“I think that’s only supposed to work when a girl does it,” Taimi mentions while tightening a connection. She tugs on the tubbing perhaps a little harder than she needs to in order to test the connection, “Besides, he’s only been annoying ever since I met him.”
“Hmm,” Lizbet absent-mindedly doodles on Taimi’s computer screen with her finger, which is copied by the program she’s running to make a rough sketch of her HUD design. That’s odd though, Taimi doesn’t remember her computer being capable of doing that. “Alright, what do you think about Hospice then?”
“Hwe~h?” Taimi’s surprise makes her nearly drop the fuel canister for the fusion torch. She fumbles with it a few moments before getting a firm grasp on it to prevent an explosion. Deciding it might be safer to put it down gently before responding, Taimi asks in return, “What is this all about suddenly?”
Lizbet wrinkles her nose as she erases part of her doodle on the screen, “Just curious is all. Besides, haven’t you noticed how he’s always willing to help when you ask, and how he acts around you? I think he likes you.”
Deciding to work on something less dangerous during this conversation, Taimi sets the new fusion torch apparatus aside and picks up the SONAR-based defense system Lizbet had been working on and starts on installation. Despite being uncomfortable with these sorts of conversations, she decides to humor her. Thinking about Hospice, sure he’s helped her several times. He even helped her set up the injured-in-a-riot cover story. But, “I dunno. He’s cute and all, and he is very helpful, but I guess he’s just not my type. Besides, doesn’t he act like that for everyone?”
“I suppose you’re right,” Lizbet hits a few keys on the keyboard, starting a compiling program to translate her doodles into a sharper, computer generated final product. While it goes through its work, Lizbet turns to watch Taimi at the workbench, “So what are you looking for, then?”
“I never really put too much thought into it before,” she says while moving a support joint into place for welding. It doesn’t reach, “I guess the person for me would have to be about as smart as me. You know, able to keep up with me during technical conversations.” She moves a part of the suit to make the support joint fit properly, “They’d need to put up with me making random stuff like I do as well. And then I guess they’d need to like me for who I am. I know I’m not the most attractive person as well, so attracting anyone with my specifications is already kind of hard.”
“Aww, what are you talking about? I think you’re cute!” Lizbet cheerfully tells her. She turns to check on the HUD compilation, but it’s still not complete.
“Well, thanks,” Taimi can’t help but blush a little as she attempts to weld the support joint in place, but the armor shifts and doesn’t fit again. Sighing, Taimi puts the welder down and wipes the sweat off her forehead with her sleeve, leaving a smudge of grease in its place, “Could you give me a hand with this part?”
Lizbet hops off her stool, “Sure! What’s up?” She comes around the workbench behind Taimi and looks over her shoulder.
Taimi points out her instructions as she mentions them, “I need you to weld this support joint while I hold the upper armor chassis and sonar receptor in place. I just can’t do it with two hands.”
“You think the weld should be closer to the arm actuator? I think that would slim down the design,” Lizbet makes the suggestion.
Taimi grimaces, “Well, sure, but the proximity of the sonar receptor could cause feedback into the arm actuator. It’s your suit, so I’ll leave it up to you.”
“Hmm, true,” Lizbet thinks while resting her chin on Taimi’s shoulder. “Alright, we’ll go your way, ready?” She leans forward, pushing up against Taimi’s back and grabbing the welder.
Holding the two pieces in place and closing her eyes, Taimi lets Lizbet know she’s ready. She easily feels Lizbet moving around while pressed against her back, and hears the sound of the welder activate a few times. Eventually Lizbet pulls away, “And done.”
A quick look-over is all Taimi needs to see Lizbet did a near-perfect job. “Thanks,” she tells her, “I need to make a machine to give me extra arms or something.”
Lizbet blows on the welder like so many Western movies after a gunfight, before putting it back on the workbench, “No problem. Oh! The compiling is done!” As Lizbet dashes back to the computer, Taimi feels it’s safe enough to start working on the fusion torch again. Perhaps some reinforcing and extra armor for the fuel source would be in order. “So,” Lizbet starts talking again as Taimi reaches for some metal to shape for a stronger shell, “were you falling for Gord while he was around?”
The loud clanging of a dropped metal sheet rings through the lab for quite a while. When it dies down, Taimi has to ask, “W-why would you think that?” She still hadn’t told Lizbet about the letter she had found in her room shortly after returning after the floating fortress of doom from Gord. Or rather, Bureaucraton now.
“Well,” she’s unsatisfied with how the first render comes out and doodles some more changes, “I was thinking of the requirements you mentioned, and it seems like he was a close match.” She sets the program to compile again and turns to stare at Taimi very seriously.
“I suppose he did,” Taimi changes her mind. Now is definitely not a good time to work on the fuel source. Perhaps wiring for the sonar system would be better? “I dunno though, he seemed kind of weird to me. And he seemed to have something with Torturess, so I guess I never really considered it a possibility.”
Lizbet scrunches up her nose in thought, “I’ll admit he was a bit weird I suppose, but I never got the impression they were a couple. Hmmm, but who else…” Taimi can’t really understand how Lizbet could not get the impression that they were a couple, they certainly didn’t seem to try and hide it. “Ah! I know who’s captured your heart then!”
“Err, ‘captured my heart’? That’s a little…”
But before she could say what that’s a little of, Lizbet interrupts her, “My pops, right? Smart, would let you do what you want with machines, and I’m sure he thinks you’re cute!”