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(IC) April Showers Bring...

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The Glencairn, a 100,000 metric ton freighter labored in the rough seas just outside of Freedom City.  It had been a rough crossing and Captain Eric Mathers was going to be happy to make port and give the crew a day or three leave to compensate their near steady state of vigilance.  He'd been making the run from Amsterdam to Freedom City for nearly a decade and he couldn't remember a series of storms like the one's they'd been cursed to slog through.  He had seen the string of spring storms and had guessed it was going to be a rocky go, but not quite like this.

Normally, the Glencairn made the journey in seven days, but they were already two days late and the crew was getting jittery.  He could practically feel the tension on the bridge as they bore in on the US coast.

"Right two degrees, let's get in that shipping lane nice and easy Mr. Jones," he said as they made the last of their corrections to bring them to the channel leading then to the docks.  

"Yes sir," Jones, his pilot responded, making the subtle change.

Captain Mathers shook his head and sighed, taking as sip from his cold coffee, "Jones, land is going to be a sweet thing to see..."

"I'll drink to that," Jones replied looking down at the console, "just another 20 miles or so and we'll enter the harbor."

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The rain sleeted down against the broad windows of Claremont's Daedelus Technology Center.  The dour weather matched Vicki's bleak mood as she tried again to make the small radio transmitter work.  Class had finished long ago and while she had cruised through Translocation 101, Trigonometry and Media Relations this basic Engineering class was likely more than she was going to be able to handle.  Thankfully for her, the teacher had let her stay and keep working in the back of the room while a more advanced class came through.  If the work they were doing was any indication, Vicki should likely stick to the social sciences.

There had been one benefit though, she certainly had been amazed at some of the things they had been discussing.  Sure, the basic radio was over her head, but the discussion on nano technology that had just occurred was seriously cool.  Well most of it was serriously cool, the rest she wasn't really sure what they had been talking about.

As most of the class filed out, she sighed, pulling on her slightly disheveled ponytail.  That noise was at least something she could produce which needed little translation.  Pulling the simple circuitry apart, she dug back into her book looking as morose as the weather as she tried again to determine how to make it work.  When she had signed up for the class, she had envisioned death rays and anti grav boots.  If her current aptitude was any indication, she was a long way from even spelling those concepts.  

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Sakurako completed her coursework for the day easily. Compared to others she was ahead of the Sylabus so much she could take time to work on her own personal designs and projects. Once the lab cleared though she noticed Vikki was working on something in the back section of the lab, away from the others. It did pain Sakurako to see Vikki struggling with... what was she working on?

Sakurako's curiosity brings the sailor suited genius over to her. She sits across the table, leaining on her hands. She was in her suit, as per her usual lab protocol, her favorite dirty labcoat bearing the marks of experiments gone right... or wrong. "Hey there. What are ya working on?" Sakurako asked, curious, and looking like she honestly wanted to help with the project.

She sat her backpack on the table, and rummaged. "It's raining out... I was thinking after this we could get lunch. I heard Casey might stop in if her Ethics coursework doesn't slam her with homework again."

"Not that ethics is a problem class for either of us. Although the instructor says I'm a bit too much of a Idealogue..."

"Anyways... help... I'm offering." She said with a smile.

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Vicki waved her hands at the offending science project.  The small radio components were scattered in front of her like a million small puzzle pieces, taunting her as they lay in their jumbled mess.  She smiled as she turned her book towards the other girl, pointing to the science experiment described in the book.  She nodded enthusiastically at Sakurako before pointing to the instructions shaking her head.  Then realizing that they had met at lunch the other day, she reached over and placed her hand on top of Sakurako's.

<"Sorry, I'm still a little jittery about using this way of talking.  It didn't go so well back home when I did.  You know, freaking out, mental invasions... all that.  As for lunch, I'd love it, I swear I'm always hungry, and I'd never turn away the help.  I always had pretty good grades, but this... well I just don't get it.  They invented the radio in like the late 1800's and I can't figure it out now.  I think I'm hopeless with this stuff."> Vicki's voice came through her mental contact along with the taste of her frustration at failing so miserably at trying to assemble the simple receiver.

<"Besides, I'd love to see Casey too!  I don't feel so bad eating when she's around."> the last bit of her communication was tinged with humor and self deprecation as she looked over at Sakurako and smiled wide.

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"By Marconi's Antennas... this project. It's a fun one. Of course I tweak mine to pick up on shortwave and other frequencies."

She smiled starting to move the pieces on the table. Sometimes with electronics you have to arrange the parts first to show what part matches what on the diagram. "Okay, I moved the parts to match the diagram. Shouldn't take no more than a few minutes to put these parts on the board. I could show you how to make the receiver antenna pick up on short-wave..."

She opens a drawer next to her grabbing a little more copper wire, wrapping it around the pole for the antenna. "It'll still fit in the box. The wire will have a greater field, allowing it to pick up on higher frequencies. Like the types of radio used by older aircraft and ships."

"Knowing this might be useful if we ever go to space and have to repair a space capsule's radio or ones on the space station itself." Sakurako said, smiling still. Here she shined. "Of course, you'd look cute in a space suit."

Smiling she gives Vicki the soldering gun. "I'll let you do the honors."

Sakurako deftly avoided the question of Vicki's communication issues. To her, there wasn't an issue. She secretly thought of a tiara she could make for her to wear various things for the group to wear to allow her to use her ability to communicate mentally at a distance instead of having to touch people... She'll surprise her sometime.

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Smiling with faint flush in her cheeks at the compliment, she took a deep breath, picking up the soldering iron and now seeing where she had messed things up.  Sakurako was correct, laying things out how they were supposed to go before trying to assemble anything did make it easier, and perhaps the teacher would give her some extra credit for having the receiver pick up short wave.  If this was any indication, she was going to need it.

<"Thanks, although is that because I'd look like the stay puff marshmallow man?> she thought, a silver ghostly laughter following along.  <"I was watching you work with your projects.  I hope you don't mind, but you really seem to know what you are doing!  Where did you learn all of that?">

Taking her hand back, she worked quickly.  Thankfully her issues with the radio had nothing to do with agility, and all to do with a complete lack of understanding on electronics.  The shortwave took shape quickly as she put the components into the box and deftly soldered them together, occasionally moving her hands back to let Sakurako inspect what she was doing.  As she worked, she relaxed more, relived that she was making progress.  She had feared that she would be stuck in the room all night working on it.

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Noah Kingsley had been aboard the big freighters for most of his adult life, and even a portion of his childhood.  His father had been in the Merchant Marine and spent all of his life plying the trade routes.  Noah had taken a position on the Glencairn two years ago and hadn't regretted it.  At least until last night.

Whatever squalls and storms they had been sailing through had battered the big container ship in a fierce way.  It had never really crossed Noah's mind to worry about crossing the ocean.  The accidents and tragedies were as remote as plane crashes or getting struck by lightning.  With a ship the size of the Glencairn, it didn't seem possible that anything could sway her.  At least that was until the 30 and 40 foot waves smashed into her over and over.

He had been trying to make dinner for the past two hours and finally gave up.  Walking through the engine room he passed out power bars and packs of Raisins.  

"Fellas it's too rough to feed ya..." he said entering the small dining area.

Mark Sullivan called out, "you didn't just drop a Edmund Fitzgerald reference on us did you?"

With a chuckle, Noah passed out the cold dinner and went back to the kitchen for more supplies.  They were close to land, and it was a first for him to want to be off this rocking and shifting craft.

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Sakurako smiled. "You wouldn't look like a stay-puft marshmallow man. Look up Mechanical Counter-pressure Suits. They're a design that's starting to be rolled out... in fact I think Claremont has a version of their training uniform that's designed to be used as a space suit..." She scratched her head. "...I think..."

"You're coming along pretty well on the radio. As for my picking up on all this, by brain is like a natural information sponge, it works fast in knitting together information to form a cohesive sort of database. The neurologists who have scanned my brain saw it was networking to the point I'm almost like a dual-core computer. While thinking about one thing I can multitask on another. I'm still trying to refine my control of my mental capacity, but they've said with my lineage I might supersede my parents someday in the near future. At least with my current curve in overall aptitude testing."

"Nothing replaces practice though, that's why it's frustrating for me sometimes to get an idea but it can take months to finally get everything down physically. It took me months to develop my E-Wand, and my suit is still under constant refinement."

Smiling, she pulled up a picture on her smart phone. It was her in her Mother's costume when her mother was a sidekick. It was taken after helping her parents do some rescue work after the March 2011 earthquake in Japan. "Heh... I still love this outfit. The "Uncanny Schoolgirl" they called me. Well there was another name..."

She blushed... "L... Lovely Scientist Sailor Sakurako..."

She massaged her arm, embarassed. Then a text was recieved. "Oh! Casey is in route!" She said with a smile, her blush fading.

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Vicki paused in assembling the final bits of the radio to look up at Sakurako, she reached over and put her hand on top of the other girls letting her thoughts flow, <"Great!  It'll be good to see her.  As for space, for now, being on the ground is just fine.  It can be like the final frontier or whatever, even if the suit looks better now.">  She paused for a moment, <"Lovely Scientist Sailor Sakurako?  That's quite a mouthful"> the mirth she was feeling bubbled through the link as she continued, <"Although I guess I can see what they are talking about.  Yes, I think they have it right.  Sooooo... am I supposed to call you that as well?  I mean I suppose it beats me, my nickname was the Gremlin Marauders... although not while I was in costume.">

Pulling her hand back she put the final assembly into place with a satisfied nod.  In front of her was a small radio which if Sakurako was correct would also get shortwave as well as the standard radio frequencies.  It was amazing that it was together, and frankly without her friend's help, it wouldn't have happened... at least not any time soon.


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Casey poked her head around the corner, a big grin on her face as she spoke in loud stage whisper. "Pssst! I'm here to help you escape Mad Science class!" She peered around nervously and adjusted the glasses on her nose. "Cmon, let's go; I've got two cartons of cigarettes to bride the guards, and I made a shiv in metal shop!" The blonde teen practically bounced into the lab, clearly in a good and silly mood, and happy to see her friends. "Hi guys; what are you working on?" Se peered down at the radio set-to-be and whistled. "Ooh, wires! Fun!" As usual, her hair was up and glasses on in her 'civilian' identity; she wore an old Earth Day t-shirt under a khaki photographer's vest, boyfriend cut jeans and Teva sandals, which revealed her cute pink toenails. She shifted her hemp shoulder bag and indicated the doorway with a jerk of her head

"Seriously, I'm starving; shocking, I know."

Edited by Heritage
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"Who isn't starving?" Eileen agreed, following into the lab at a more sedate pace, half her attention on the phone in her hand.  "Lunch time is food time; it has been spoken, thus it shall be," she intoned sombrely.  She was dressed what was coming to be apparent was her usual manner -- jeans, boots, a tank top layered under another shirt -- and, of course, her phone.

"I ran into Casey, invited myself along," she explained, unabashed, glancing up at the other two.  "Definitely up for a rescue mission, if wires are involved."  Her tone was wry, and almost a little...dismissive.  She was far, far better at the 'regurgitation of data' portion of schooling than the practical side of things, and as such she tended to gravitate away from labs, shops, and gymnasiums if she could manage it.

"We gonna blow this pop stand, or do I gotta 'accidentally' break things so you might as well give up and start again after some food?" they curvy blonde suggested hopefully.

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"Oh hey you two!" Sakurako said, adjusting herself. "So, any ideas on where to go, girls? I was thinking of heading over to the docks area north of Riverside Park... I discovered an awesome Sushi restaurant with fish fresh from the docks! It sort of felt like Tokyo, getting stuff from the fish market right to the restaurant in no time flat." She said. Leaning on the table. "We should take the radio along, it might be fun to listen to as we go along."

Sakurako looked outside. "Bit cloudy... I hope people packed rain gear. Might get sort of soggy." Then again, Sakurako didn't mind walking around in her suit lately, She's started to become a fixture, helping out when needed around the docks, particularly the Coast Guard.

She looked over to the radio. "Hey, let's see if that radio works, Vicki!" She said exitedly.

Edited by Osprey
Corrected the location of the suggestion...
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That was a really good idea.  She had spent so much time working on it that it would be a shame to power it on for a grade only to find out that it didn't work at all.  Looking at Eileen she gave her a mock look of horror before thumbing a message into her phone.

"No.  No breaking.  This took me all afternoon to make.  Sakurako helped me get it all working, so I owe her big time!  Lunch does sound good though."

As she walked out of the lab with the three girls, she flicked the switch and listened to the sweet sounds of static coming through the small speaker.  With apparant glee she turned the small knob as she tried to tune in a station.  Of course, she hit something that sounded like it was playing music from the 40's, interesting, but hardly what she wanted to listen too.  Another turn or three and she started to get into either a talk radio section, or Sakurako wasn't kidding when she said that she'd laid things out to receive short wave.  

As she adjusted the dial very slowly a garbled message came into sudden clarity before fading back to obscurity, "Mayday.  Mayday!  This i.. he... Gl...cair..."

For a moment, she thought that it was an anouncement for a May Day parade, then shaking her head she realized that it probably wasn't.  If only the radio could get the signal in better than it was.  Wait, why was she being so dense, Sakurako was an electronics wizard and she'd be able to get in it if anyone could.  She pushed the radio to the young genius and pointed at the radio frantically.

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Sakurako knows she just heard a mayday call... She looks at the frequency. "Common distress frequency, but that antenna might not be set up right to recieve at a distance... But I know how to up the range..."

She activates her EM wand, setting it into manipulation mode, but then she adjusts the dial on it and points it at the radio, ionizing the air around it. "There, just reversed the polarity of the Ions in the air around the radio and pointing upward to act as a air antenna, using the fields from my EM-Wand to help things along. Use the fine tuner dial to get that in clearer..."

She hands off her smart phone to Casey. "Casey, I need you to pull up the weather for the area."

She had a look on her face. 'that' look. The 'it's time for capes and tights' look. She was already flipping through her mind palace, coming up with the possible general locations of where the distress call could have been made... most gave her a bit of concern.

"Please don't be the ocean, please oh please oh please..."

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For a moment, the static increased, then the signal locked in.  There was a man's voice, sounding surreal and calm.  It was more impressive given the roaring sounds of a dying ship that transmitted with his message.

"Mayday.  Mayday!  This is the Freighter Glencairn.  We have sustained heavy damage from lightning and most systems are out.  The ship is taking on water and we are listing badly.  If you can hear this frequency, please repond.    Our last reported postion is 39.06, -73.24, the storm is blew us West at an unknown speed.  I am going to repeat this message as long as I can.  Mayday.  Mayday!..."

There was a loud noise and the radio broadcast sounded like someone had dunked the microphone under water.


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Endeavor gulped. "Totally not good... glad I finally put that upgrade in for my life support."

"B... but... who here is seaworthy? As in not needing to breathe underwater? I could grab a raft from storage, might hold a few survivors, and we could leave a person or two with the survivors... then again that depends on if there's only one or two people or many..."

Sakurako started to enter a circular thought pattern, trying to plan. "N... no... that water's too cold, and that thing isn't big enough... we need a better plan than that... although by the time we get out there the Coast Guard might be there already, right?"

She massaged her arm. Casey knew she always had to swallow back some of her recent bad experiences on the water. "Although... we gotta move fast anyways, don't we?"

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Eileen blinked, then slowed, as the others began to fuss with the radio.  The radio that had pretty clearly spat out a distress call.  A call that seemed to suggest that a ship was in trouble.  Out on the ocean.

"Uh, shouldn't we call somebody?" she suggested, eyes a little over-wide.  "Someone who can do something?  Like, the Freedom League, or something?"  You know...heroes.  They were just...students, after all.  Nobody expected them to rush out and try and rescue people from the ocean, in the middle of a storm, out over the ocean, with all that water, right?

She realized that her mind was racing in circles, and there wasn't really much she could do about it.  As much as she didn't like the idea of getting too high when flying, she didn't like deep water any better -- and if it was in the middle of a storm, with wind, and giant waves, and....

She shivered uncomfortably.

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Endeavor stood fast... "No... something my folks told me... never ignore a sailor in distress."

She turned to everyone. "We work together, we can do this. Just like what the trainers tell us. We got the skill set."

"We'll have to make due with whatever emergency equipment the ship has and our ingenuity."

She started to head off. "I think Claremont's got some nautical and rescue gear usually saved for training exercises, but I think they won't miss it... although to be honest, we would be stealing, but for a good cause. We can be kitted out in... a minute, then out to the ship in no time. Just remember to grab the manual only inflatable life preservers if you need one... don't want one setting off when we're inside a ship filling with water."

"In route I can code up a app for your phone, Vicki, where you can tap buttons for mission appropriate responses through the native text to voice system as well as your normal typing. We'll have to toss your phone in a zip-lock but I think things will still work."

"I hate to push, but we don't got time. People need us, we can call the Coast Guard there. That signal seemed real weak, though... I'd hate to know they didn't hear that signal."

"That's right, Sakurako... take the lead with ideas... that helps when I'm scared, maybe that'll help the others too!" She thought...

Edited by Osprey
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Eileen swallowed heavily.  Gulp.

"I, uh, haven't had a chance to meet with any of those trainers yet," she replied uncertainly.  "I can, um, go and make sure the Coast Guard knows about all this?" she suggested hopefully.  The idea of being inside a ship...that was filling with water....

There was a word for that.  It was 'sinking', and she didn't want to be anywhere near a ship that was doing that, let alone inside of one.

"I don't think that my powers do anything to help me with being in the water, or cold, or anything like that," she babbled on hastily, looking pale at the thought.  "I--"

She broke off abruptly, glancing wide-eyed at Vicki for a moment.

"That's not a...Navy ship, is it?" she asked, worried. Surely Vicki's dad couldn't be out there...could he?

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"No the Navy wouldn't be using common civilian distress frequencies. They'd be radioing the Coast Guard right away, and on a military frequency. You'd not want to let out the Navy had a ship in distress on a channel that can be eavesdropped."

She put her hand on Eileen's shoulder. "And trust me, I'm scared right now. Just after Christmas I almost got killed by a robotic crab that tried to sink a fishing boat, then there were the Cyberpirates... If anything a routine rescue would calm my nerves. Those sailors need us."

"That and by now I've gotten a page or two of proper water safety. Heck if they got drysuits in the store-room the cold water won't be a problem."

Sakurako was starting to over-think again. "But the sooner we get out there the less that boat will have sunk... so we gotta move. Get ready fast and get out there faster."

Edited by Osprey
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The world seemed to be at an awkward angle, everything did and it messed with your mind.  Humans expected things to be vertical and horizontal, not whatever odd angled funhouse stuff his ship had become.  Of course, in perfect funhouse style, there were hiddeous groans and noises as bulkheads and hull were being exposed to stress they had never been designed for.  Holding on to the desk, Eric Mathers stood in waist deep water as he held the jury rigged shortwave above the water.  This would be his last message before he had to leave the radio room and try to move to somewhere he could help people escape.  He could hear the fury of the storm still battering the hull as waves rocked the steeply angled freighter like a toy in a bath tub.

"Mayday.  Mayday!..." he gave his message for the last time.  Hopefully someone heard it on the abnormal channel.  Of course, hopefully whoever heard it could do something about it too.

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Vicki shook her head to Eileen, looking very serious, but confirming what Sakurako had just said.  While it was remotely possible that it was a Navy ship, she highly doubted it.  Time however, wasn't something they were going to have an abundance of.  In weather like this, the Coast Guard was going to have it's hands full, although it was good that Eileen was going to make sure they knew.  Having some backup might be something they were very thankful for.  What she didn't realize was that it seemed like all of them had just made the assumption that they SHOULD do something.  Later, much later, she would recall this and thank whatever fates had landed her here.

Now there was no time to think things over.  She made a curved gesture, kind of like what guys did when they were trying to describe a woman and then tapped herself before then repeating the gesture and pointing to the rest of them.  She didn't want to take the time to use the phone and hoped that they got the gist of her message.  Her campus tour had given her a pretty good idea on where some of the store rooms were, and with a thought, she snapped out of existence, appearing briefly 100 yards away as she vanished again, making her way to the large ivy covered brick building.  She wasn't sure how they were going to get out there, but hopefully one of the others could solve that as she appeared in the dark storage room only a few moments later.

Where were those wet suits...

Thankfully, everything was organized in a logical fashion and she began scooping suits and other deep water equipment into her Dimensional Pocket not caring that things were going to be a jumbled mess inside.  Sakurako was right, time was not on their side.

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"Alons-y!" Sakurako shouted... She knew the best route in the school. She in fact calculated them. She knew Hestina would be grabbing kit pretty fast, so... before running off she said. "Casey, two doors forward, window's not locked, hover to ground level. I'll take Eileen if she can't hover it herself. Run down the east walkway to the red shed-like doors. That's the main entrance to the storage shed. Estimated travel time is 45 seconds. Move!"

Sakurako started to hustle, grabbing Eileen's hand and moving to the window she mentioned. "Sorry for being rude, Eileen, but this is a race against time."

She felt apologizing was the right thing to do... but possibly unnecessary. "Don't worry... I've got your back, Eileen. Trust me. No one is drowning on my watch."

Says the girl who can barely doggie paddle... with a inflated life vest on...

Edited by Osprey
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Eileen stumbled along a couple of steps, then planted her feet and stopped.  She was nervous as all get out, but if she was going to do this she had better do it.

"Hang on," she protested, and extricated her hand from Sakuro's grip.  "This'll be quicker -- go on, I'll catch up."

Stretching her arms out before herself, hands clenched into fists, she crossed them over, one up, one down, wrist to wrist, pressing the odd pair of blue not-tattoos firmly together.  Nothing happened for one heartbeat, two.

On the third heartbeat, an intense blue glow began to seep out of the join of her wrists.  On the fourth, the glow had run up her arms, brightening, and by the fifth it had covered her completely and was uncomfortable to look at directly.

And on the sixth, it winked out abruptly, leaving Eileen standing there in blue and gold, a skintight outfit that covered just about everything and concealed probably a little less than she was comfortable with.  A blue glow surrounded her, that same intense hue, and her feet lifted off the ground.

And she was gone in a moment, down the hall, out the window -- yikes! -- with a rapid descent to just a few feet off the ground, then streaking down the east walkway, leaving a blue contrail like an afterimage that faded in a second or two.

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Sakurako blinked as Eileen took the lead... maybe the adrenaline of needing something done was a motivator.

"Casey, it's the red shed over near the athletic field, that's where everyone's headed. It's where all the training stuff is. Meet ya there."

She sighed, it felt like no one was on the same page at all, as she started to head off. People were going to have to organize or this was going to turn very tragic, very quickly. She was picking up one or two of the people with her were waterphobic. She wasn't too sharp on it herself but her suit was a crutch she could rely on this once. Casey would have to take up the slack and she was afraid of what would happen if Casey was put into a leadership role. She had the confidence, but she was untested. Sakurako's dealt with disaster, but she isn't the physical specimen. "I'm so gonna need ya for this one, MG." Sakurako said as she started down the hallway, there was a look of concern on Sakurako's face... perhaps a look like she's bit off more than she can chew.

She heads out the window and bee-lines to the shed where Eileen and Vicki were. Vicki was already making good choices. "Okay, if you can't handle the cold water, step in the shed and put one of those suits on. I'm gonna hunt around for..." Sakurako looked about the lit shed and spotted the still wrapped airline-style life preservers. "...bingo. 12 of them too. Might be helpful. Archetech donated some surplus aviation stuff for training students here in rescuing water landing survivors... There might be a couple small life rafts in here, about the size of a book bag, and some first aid kits too. But I got the life vests. Let me know if you need one."

"Eileen, hunt around for the rafts or the first aid kits. When Casey gets here she can join us."

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