스프링필드 - 정통파 마녀

Griffin Control.

Springfield That's the brief outline of the proposal for the Halloween event.
Do you have any questions regarding the proposal, Commander?

Commander Both the timetable and the list of resources required are impeccable as always, as expected of you.
But this "Test of Courage Haunted House"... Do we have a venue for such an activity?

Springfield I'm just about to ask for your permission to renovate THAT warehouse into a haunted house.

Commander Which warehouse...? Ah, THAT warehouse!
You mean the one that's been vacant ever since we emptied out all the supplies in the last operation? It's been weeks now, hasn't it?

Springfield You're catching on very quickly, Commander.
Using that one shouldn't have much effect on routine logistics in the short run.

Commander Are you sure you're not carrying too many responsibilities though?

Springfield Hmm? It's a T-Doll's duty to share humans' burden.

Commander It was me who suggested organizing these festivities in the first place...but now that I've glanced through the proposal...
I feel bad for putting you in charge of everything, from preparing the haunted house venue to throwing a party at the cafe.
Not to mention you still have your daily missions and the cafe's operation to tend to.

Springfield Don't worry, Commander. I know I can't handle everything all by myself.

Commander Oh? So you've already found help?

Springfield Regarding the renovation of the haunted house, WA2000 has volunteered to take charge of decorating the venue and installing the animatronics. She's serious, focused, and meticulous, so she's ideal for the job.
And since Makarov doesn't have much work these days, I have asked her to design the checkpoints and monsters...
This doesn't really fall within her expertise, but she's a sharp girl, so if she believes she can't deal with it, she'll definitely tell me or find help elsewhere.

Commander You're way too reliable...and you know the T-Dolls' strengths and weaknesses very well. Looks like I was wrong to worry.

Springfield Apart from that, many T-Dolls who want a part in the event have approached me personally and asked to be given some work.

Commander My, now I have something else to worry about.
If you're way too efficient with your work and make the haunted house too scary, I might get a few years knocked off of my lifespan.

Springfield (Chuckles) I'm afraid I have no control over such things, Commander.

Commander Hey, don't you dare abuse your position and settle whatever grudge you have against me!

Springfield It IS a rare occasion to celebrate, and there hasn't been any major operation recently.
Most of the T-Dolls at the base are very enthusiastic to contribute to the event.
They're so eager to do their best for you to see, and who am I to throw cold water on them?

Commander In that case, guess I'll just sit tight and look forward to its completion.
This proposal has my approval. Contact Kalina for whatever resources you need.
If you need something that we don't have at the base, go ahead and compile a procurement list. This event has my full support.

Springfield Don't worry. I'll make sure everything is perfect.

That said...final results aside, the process of this event wasn't exactly "perfect".
An unexpected power outage ruined all the planning. As I walk out of the dark haunted house, I ponder the possibility of finding the silver lining in this unfortunate turn of event.

M1919A4 Hmm? Why are you all mopey, Commander?
Don't tell me...you're bored of spending time with me?!

Commander Certainly not! How could that be?
It's just that you've all put so much work into setting up the haunted house, but a power outage happened.
Isn't it sad that you couldn't showcase your best efforts?

M1919A4 Not really. Did you see how Gr Mk23 and Gr MP5 got scared out of their wits?! Even you jumped out of your skin, right?
The team running the haunted house had no elaborate coordination beforehand, but our improvisation was fantastic!

Commander Uh...I guess...
But a T-Doll did get unintentionally beaten up, and another was locked inside a room... Better prevent such things from happening again.

M1919A4 (Chuckles) My, you're right.
Miss Zombie had a much harder time than I did. I should do something to cheer her up.
Let's find Miss Springfield and ask for candies, Commander! If each of us gets a portion, we'll have TWO portions to share with Miss Zombie!

Commander (...But what about MINE? Are we just skipping over me?)

Commander That's good. I have something to discuss with Springfield too.

M1919 and I reach the entrance to Griffin Cafe.
Just as M1919 is about to knock, Springfield opens the door from inside.

Springfield What is it? Oh, it's the commander and M1919. How may I help you at this hour?

A Springfield dressed as a witch in black robes and a wide pointy hat smiles at us. She's holding a basket filled with candies, as if already expecting us.

M1919A4 Huh? U-Um...
Right. Trick or treat!
Don't forget the Commander's portion, so that's two!

Springfield It's okay to be honest about your desires, but using the Commander as an excuse...that's a bit cheeky.

M1919A4 Heheheheh... Thanks.

M1919A4 Then off I go, Commander. I'm getting more from Miss Kalina next!

I nod and wave as M1919's silhouette hastily disappears in the distance.
Then I turn around...

Commander Are you free to talk tonight?

Springfield Sure. I knew you would come. Come on in.

Unlike usual days, the cafe is still bustling with chatter and laughter even though it's already late into the night and almost time to close.
T-Dolls congregate in groups, singing, playing card games, playing chess, throwing darts, exchanging gossips...just having fun like normal girls.

Springfield Please take a seat. I reserved this table especially for you. Anything you would like to drink?

Commander Just a good old black coffee, please.

Springfield Got it. I'll be right back.

Commander Don't forget to make yourself something too.

Springfield Thank you.

Soon, Springfield comes with a coffee jug and two mugs on a tray. I gesture for her to sit down.
However, I can't think of a way to broach the subject.

Commander ...

Springfield ...

Commander This coffee...tastes stronger than before!

Springfield Commander, if you don't need anything else, could you please excuse me?

Commander Wait... Actually, I want to talk about the Halloween event. More specifically, about the haunted house.

Springfield That's better. Please feel free to state your criticisms.

Commander Frankly speaking, the haunted house was much better prepared than I expected... The T-Dolls you picked all put a lot of effort into it.
It's a pity that the whole thing got interrupted by a power outage.

Springfield It should've been avertable...
I was too engrossed in delegating T-Dolls to different teams but ended up neglecting the overall inspection.
If only I had noticed the wearing of the circuitry in the warehouse... Sigh.

Commander It wasn't your fault. Besides, that's not really the point.
What I'm trying to say is, well...
I feel pretty uncomfortable about how little I did to help on Halloween this year.

Springfield Commander, wouldn't it be troubling if I gave you extra work?

Commander How do I explain it...? If I were to give an example...
You T-Dolls increase your combat efficiency by being bound to your firearm through the Imprint System, right?

Springfield That IS how the Imprint System works...but I don't understand what you're getting at.

Commander It's actually the same for us humans. Even the most talented soldier can't hit the bull's eye the moment they first touch a gun.
We must keep zeroing, test-firing, calibrating...to completely adapt our own habits to our weapon.
But you, Miss Springfield, are simply too capable. It's almost like you've taken all my duties away from me...

Springfield Ah, you mean I'm being a busybody?

Commander No! It is immensely helpful to have such a capable and thoughtful T-Doll like you.
But...I don't just want my T-Dolls to cater to my needs. I also wish to live up to the T-Dolls under my command.

Springfield Live up to the T-Dolls that... Oh, sorry. Please go on.

Commander That's also my primary motive behind organizing such festivities. I want to get to know the subordinates that I'm unfamiliar with.
Whether the event is a success or not is beside the point.
All I want to see is that everyone has fun during the process, and that we all learn the best way of adapting to each other.

Springfield I see... So I've taken away what you originally wished to achieve,
Which is more than just a "perfect ending". That really is a mistake on my part.

Commander Oh, you don't have to beat yourself up for it either!
At the end of the day, it's just some food for thought for myself. It really wasn't your fault.

Springfield Hmm. It's alright as long as we all had fun, right?
Then just to let you know, I've already consoled the one who was truly upset about what happened.

Commander The one who was truly upset... Who's that?

Springfield fishes out a hard candy from her basket and shoves it into my mouth, taking me by surprise.

Springfield I promised I'd keep it a secret. More importantly, what do you think of the snacks tonight?

Commander Hmm, not bad? Don't seem to be the brands you could get from regular shops?
And it tastes pretty amazing. I've never had candies in this flavor before.

I study Springfield's basket carefully. It's filled with a great variety of hand-made cookies, candies and other kinds of snacks.

Commander Did you make all of this by yourself?

Springfield Nope, some Halloween pixies delivered them to the cafe god-knows-when.

Commander Feels like this Halloween event as well as the base in general are full of secrets that I don't have a clue about.

Springfield Secrets are only uncovered when the moment calls for it, Commander.
Before the time comes though, you'll need to keep working to get to know each of us T-Dolls better.

That's right. I do have things that I need to learn, and so does she.
Perhaps being a commander isn't just about getting used to working with machines or making the machines calibrate themselves to suit the human's needs. Rather, it's about the running-in of both gears.
Which is why, even though I don't fully comprehend the significance behind Springfield's cryptic smile, I also answer with a smile of my own.