Episode 5 continued...
"Good hardcover books are worth their weight in gold these days, Jolie," Athena tells her new junior executive officer.
"Yeah, well 'weight' is certainly the word," Jolie replies, setting the heavy books down on the couch in Athena's office, "so is there going to be a test, or something?"
"The only tests that matter, Jolie, are the ones you'll face out there," Athena replies, with a slight pointing gesture to the world beyond her office door, "There's much more to being a successful officer than being able to pilot mobile suits and handle weapons. You'll need to know some of everything, and be able to do a bit of everything."
As Jolie frowns at the books, Athena looks through Jolie's personnel file on her palm Datareader, "Jolie 'Phuong' Minh. 'Phuong' is Vietnamese for 'phoenix,' isn't it, Jolie?"
"Yeah, that's my Vietnamese name," Jolie replies, surprised that Athena knows the word's meaning, "I didn't know you could understand Vietnamese."
Athena grins, "I actually, don't, but I do understand Chinese, and Vietnamese is a related language. Your name sounded similar to the Chinese word for 'phoenix,' 'feng,' so I just guessed that was it. 'Phoenix' Minh...the ancient Greeks believed that the phoenix represented rebirth."
Jolie shrugs, "I didn't know it represented anything."
"In a way," Athena says, "the name was prophetic. You've kind of been 'reborn,' in a manner of speaking."
"Yeah," Jolie remarks wryly, "reborn as your contract killer."
To that, Athena's response is to take an envelope from her desk drawer and hand it to Jolie.
"What's this?" Jolie asks.
Taking her handkerchief from its place in her breast pocket, Athena replies, "Your first paycheck, my dear mercenary."
As Athena begins wiping her fingers tersely with the handerchief, Jolie opens the envelope. Her eyes widen at the figure on the check.
"You'll earn more after you're promoted," Athena says.
"No," Jolie says, looking for the right words, "it's just that. Wow. I've never had this much money before. I used to have to risk my neck just for some loose change back in Industria."
Athena smiles, repocketing her handkerchief, "Well, now you risk your neck for about two-thousand credits a month."
"...and a shot at Alexander Miguel's head?" Jolie says, turning serious.
Athena exhales after a moment's uncomfortable silence, "Like I told you before: we'll have our day of reckoning with the Zeon, sooner or later."
"'Sooner' can't come soon enough," Jolie grates.
Athena offers Jolie a cigarette and lights it for her, then lights one of her own, "Anyway, I've provided you with the books I want you to read, but you don't have to finish them right away. Right now, I think it's better if you got better acquainted with your squad mates. You and the rest of the squad are dismissed until reville at 0400 tomorrow."
"Great!" Jolie enthuses, her good mood returning, as she takes her books and her paycheck with her.
"Jolie..." Athena says before Jolie can get out the door.
"Yeah, what is it 'Thena?" Jolie replies, pausing.
Athena grins at her charge, "Don't spend your entire paycheck partying, all right? You don't get another one for a month, and YOU'RE buying the next round of drinks at the Officer's Club."
Some 5,000 kilometers out from Side 7's zone marker, Earthside, a convoy of Federation supply ships is on approach to Green Noah Garrison from its launchpoint in Florida on Earth. Various civilian and military supplies are being ferried to Side 7 from Earth, and the cargo includes a myriad of goods ranging from nourishment formula for infants to ammunition for weapons. The convoy even includes a shipment of mobile suit replacement parts.
As such, the convoy is heavily guarded: its escort includes two Salamis-class battlecruisers and nine mobile suits (RGM-89 Jegans) divided into three squads.
An Earth Federation Forces Salamis-class space battlecruiser
Captain Ilongo N'Gula, commanding officer of the Federal Armada ship Moonshadow, sends a transmission to Garrison Noah, "Garrison Noah, this is E.F.S.S. Moonshadow, registry EF6243235, on approach from Canaveral Point. Awaiting authorization for approach with supply convoy from Earth."
The answer from Garrison Noah comes momentarily, "Affirmative, Moonshadow, convoy and escort are cleared for approach."
The arrival of the convoy proceeds seemingly undisturbed. Captain N'Gula feels that perhaps he could begin to relax.
But his day was to take a dramatic turn.
Episode 5 to be continued...