Description: After Lita is released from the Ikari infirmary, she bumps into Leona with whom she discusses her part in the mission and what made her join the Ikari.
Nuclear annihilation has been averted. Blood has been spilled. Fights have been had. Soldiers wounded and lost. But countless other lives have been spared a death in nuclear hellfire for their sacrifices. The brave Ikari Warriors were some of those that put everything on the line to keep Japan, and the world, safe from harm. And now, in that aftermath, they are allowed to return home to the Ikari stronghold in the Jungles of the Amazon. There, they may recuperate and heal from the damages that the war for Japan has caused to them, emotionally or physically.
And it's here, across the vast Pacific Ocean, where the sun setting in the distance casts an orange-gold glow over the Ikari compound, that the war seems so very very far away. Quiet now, the buzz of activity in the lead up to fight is gone now. The helicopters fallen silent. The calls to order not there. Only the sounds of jungle and the quiet movement of day to day operations in guarding the base are to be heard.
For many, it's a time of quiet reflection in the aftermaths. Leona Heidern is one of those people. The fight with Justice is only half remembered. The loss of the pilot, the blast that catapulted herself, her father, and Sol Badguy into the forest below. The ringing aftermath. Confronting the Command Gear alone. The pain from the blows. The itching elation at cracking the shell of the living weapon. The empathy with the living weapon. A physical conflict turned to lesson of philosophy. She cannot remember what happened after she primed an explosive in a last ditch effort to stop the weapon. Only that her father, herself and Sol somehow succeeded and that justice was no more.
Plastered, arm in sling, with considerable bruising about her neck, Leona is at least walking upright some time after having been returned to Ikari base; another moment in her life that Leona will never remember. She braces herself against the concrete bunker of a command building and watches the setting sun. In the distance, the one working supply helicopter in action tonight flies in silhouette. She stares at the distant canopies and into the golden glow. Her gaze sullen, but steady. The look she almost always has. Though inside she has to wonder about weapons, and what exactly it means to be one.
While pensive and still, Leona's free arm scratches at the nape of her neck and at the palm of her hand. She didn't feel it there in the forest, but now, the tingling returns. The itch just under the skin. The part of her that felt a release when she tore at the Command Gear's plating. Just another thing to wonder as the Ikari Warrior waits to heal, and to fight one more day.
It was crazy times that led to Lita throwing in her lot with the Ikari. With the UN betraying the trust the public had in them, and her nation's ambassador not calling them on it, she and the rest of her Delta Reds decided that they couldn't serve in good faith and they all left. Her personal path led to the Ikari and her new home.
Her finding a new home hasn't been without some pain. She's still in the process of building trust with this new family and it was her hope that her actions in Japan had been a step in the right direction. If putting herself in the path of a gear with firearms and a giant cake knife wasn't an indicator of her sincerity, then she didn't know what else to do.
She was finally allowed to leave the infirmary. Her bruises were mostly gone but she still had a bandage on her torso but thankfully the sleeveless undershirt she wore covered them up. With each step a comes a cringe. She wasn't about to let them catch her saying ouch while she was still in the process of proving herself to the Ikari. On the way to her bunk, she catches sight of Leona in the distance and snaps off a salute. Unfortunately with all things being connected, even that elicits a wince from the blonde soldier before she forces her expression to become a smile.
The sun was nice to look at. The languid peace of being so far away from the conflict making so much of it so small and seemingly insignificant. And yet she itches for more. Leona takes a deep breath to center her emotions. Maybe so much empathy for the weapon was a bad thing. The Gears weren't something to see some pity in. Even if part of her saw memories of a red mist and a blood covered girl wandering the rainforest.
Leona catches Lita from the corner of her eye. She sees the salute, and she matches it with her good hand. Leona has only the briefest of briefings on what was accomplished by the other strike teams, but that Lita is alive is a good sign. While her face is a placid pool of steady frowning, Leona does incline her head to Lita.
"The mission was a success," she states, and points to the sun. "We can see another sunset." The words are spoken matter-of-factly, like a woman simply stating a weather forecast, but in their simplicity, there's an upwelling of hope in Leona's meaning and intent.
A brief pause. "Have you looked at it?" she asks, uncertain if Lita's already done so and thus Leona's invite was not only poorly worded but poorly planned. Socializing still is not her strong suit. "I want to know your report. The personal one," she adds, there, clever girl found a trap to make socializing happen. Conversation assassin is she.
After the salute and acknowledgement, she already had plans to head over in the blue haired soldier's direction anyway. The invite to look at the sunset raises an eyebrow. If Leona was actually male she'd suspect that the other soldier was hitting on her. As it stands now, she doesn't think Leona was hitting on her but she isn't discarding that line of thinking either. Either way, she figures she should at least talk to her about the mission.
At the very least, she plans on inserting a bit of humor into as she says with a slight smirk, "Indeed. In fact, before I had bumped into you, I was planning on walking off into it... Towards my bunk."
"Sheehan, Cooper and I had approached the battle site near the Tsushima Strait. The JSDF and the Tekken Forces were close by but we came in from the flank and encountered the gear forces before they could approach the Japanese forces. I went for their leader, attempting to both remove the head from the body of the gear army as well as harass her enough that her ability to command would be compromised. Sheehan moved to take down the army and Cooper had opted to support whoever needed the assistance at the time. Thankfully, the commander was more interested in protecting her wedding dress than actually fighting."
Leona is, well, she's not even one to consider that sort of thing at the moment. She is simply finding a tangible, solid excuse to retain a fellow soldier for the sake of having a conversation that isn't entirely within her own head. She is already back and leaning against the wall when Lita makes her joke. It doesn't seem to land and if anything Leona frowns all the more. "Apologies. Sleep is important to recovery. I just wanted to show you that you are one of the Ikari now. That your mission was worth talking about."
She tries to cross her arms and look casual, and she does so with some effort and the fact it looks awkward to cross an arm in a sling. She stares ahead, listening to the report. A mission report is a functional conversation and it's easy to pick at for more things. Easy for Leona to stick to and get off the thoughts in her head.
"The lesser Gears are more machine. Sound strategy to remove the most valuable figure." She surmises with a nod. "Clear thinking. Good." She blinks after a moment and slowly turns her head toward Lita, and then slowly raises her eyebrows. "Wedding dress?"
When Leona apologizes for preventing her from seeking out sleep, Lita finds herself wondering if she should have pantomimed playing a rimshot on a drumset and/or made a rimshot sound with her mouth. With her joke not quite hitting the mark she decides to take it stride. She holds up her hands as she says, "No. I was just planning on watching some archived fights. Either way, glad to be aboard."
Conversation, thankfully turns back towards the report and thankfully it's only a verbal one. Paperwork though a necessary evil can at least for the time being can be put off.
"Yes. When approaching the battlefront, she requested that the forces opposing her would surrender so that she wouldn't get blood and gore on it. Blimey! Who wears a white dress to a battle field?"
The look of legitimate confusion at that commander gear's choice of combat clothing. Truth be told, Lita probably shouldn't really talk because she once wore single legged bodysuits.
"Even her weaponry seemed to be wedding themed. She bludgeoned me with a bouquet of roses. Her cake knife handled sword did this to me."
She lifts her shirt to reveal the bandages covering her entire torso.
"We're happy to have you," Leona says. "I am. I can't speak for the others, but you're a positive to have on a mission. So I am safe in presuming that they're happy." Leona nods, satisfied with her explanation.
She uncrosses her arms because she finds herself comfortable as the conversation shifts around and flows in a way that Leona isn't put off of, it feels natural. "A white dress? White symbolizes death in many Asian cultures. Maybe it was a threat. Or to wear a dress to put you off guard for her either being foolish, or to intimidate you by showing she cared little of your opposition." Leona presuming psy-ops is the reason for the dress and not simple mindless nuttery on the parts of the Gears is probably too much credit.
"Oh," she pauses when she looks at the wound on Lita's gut. Leona looks at her hand, forms a knife edge with it. She sees the rush on Justice, the cracking of the chest plate. She shakes her head and rubs her palm on the concrete bunker to excise the itching sensation.
"It's a scar from battle. You should be proud. You'll always have it to remind you you are an Ikari now."
Lita, having been there, is much, much more inclined to believe the mindless nuttery theory and is pretty sure Faolan would back her up on this. This was the same battle where the enemy was talking about saving herself for the right person. How does this even come up in battle?
The FNG of the Ikari tilts her head when she sees the other Ikari rubbing the itch out of her hand but doesn't ask. If she wants to share Leona will share but for now, she'll finish her informal report.
"Have to say, she was resilient. Took my sword, and slashed, stabbed, and hacked at every available vital part I could find with it. She got up. Gave her a good ol' fashioned ground and pound and then smashed her in the face with the sword handle. She got up. You may have to ask Sheehan about the rest. Things got a bit foggy there for me."
Leona considers the opponent Lita met on the battlefield. Strange and frivolous behavior possibly won the Ikari the day, and she would accept that in an opponent. Lita seems to have her head on straight, and Leona appreciates that with a little nod. It isn't as though she ran into a lack of strangeness herself. Things were not so cut and dry with Justice either.
"I'll talk to Faolan about that, yes," Leona says with a nod. "It should be an interesting story." She stops her itching and rests her hand on the canisters about her waist. Then lets her hand drop, then lifts it to hold onto her slinged arm. A constant fidget to determine the best place for her arm.
"I don't want to keep you. But Justice was also," she pauses, "Off. She was curious about being a warrior. A soldier. She was also resilient. But I cracked her armor when I was separated from Commander Heidern and Sol Badguy." She looks back to Lita. "Can I ask you something, sold-Lita?"
Wait... Did she just call her by name? It's now official. She's an Ikari. At least in the eyes of Leona which meant a lot if the sword wielding soldier had to admit it. The information abou Justice being off is noted but only partially paid attention to. It may be something that would come up later but now that they're at the base, she feels as though that can be put to the side.
The fact that there were question needing to be answered, is worth a pause. Abd the tone she reads into doesn't indicate that joking would be well received.
"Sure, Lieutenant Heidern."
If Leona were really capable of jocularity that sounded as such, reading tone would matter more. Though, in Lita's case it's best to generally assume the most seriousness possible in a given situation when Leona Heidern is involved. The Lieutenant does indeed consider Lita an Ikari now. She's bled for them, she has fought for them, she has saved the world and survived. There is little else that could prove her than that. No amount of words or speeches or oaths can top having your blood spilled for the good of others.
Leona looks back out to the further setting sun. She closes her eyes and doesn't frown so much as maintain her flat appearance. "Why are you a soldier?" she asks.
Her eyes open and she looks at Lita. "What is it that makes you, a warrior, march onto the battlefield?"
Why is she a soldier? It was something that she hadn't been asked in a long time but it was a question she had asked herself many times during and after she saw the UN vote for declaring war on Japan and her own United Kingdom voting to declare war on Japan. It was asking that question that led to her enlisting with the Ikari Warriors.
"Originally, I enlisted in the military, for college eduation. But as I served, I not only saw how good I was at it, I saw how much of a difference I was making in the world. Removal of a faction then ended up leading to growth in the area. It's what made watching the video after Justice nuked Mt. Fuji hard to watch, It made watching the UN vote hard to watch. My mates in Delta Red and I. Each and every one of us looked into our hearts and we couldn't see how this would make the world better. We /all/ left. If there's to be another Delta Red, they'll have to start from scratch. When you mentioned family when I first showed up, I still do think of them as family but I also think of us as a family that moved away from a toxic home. I found a new home here and I hope they all find a home they're happy with as well."
She wanted to make clear that although she's still has love for her Delta Reds she thinks of the Ikari as family too and that she doesn't believe that those two things are mutually exclusive.
Leona listens, head lowering in quiet, contemplative focus. She nods and sighs. The answer was one she, in some capacity, expected. Those that seek the Ikari have done so out of moral need. Except her.
"You opted for nationalism," Leona says, looking back to Lita. "Until they did what you didn't agree with." She looks away again. "I've always been Ikari. I have always been a weapon. A soldier." She looks at her hand in the sling and lines it into a knife edge gesture. "Heidern raised me in his style. I cannot appreciate him enough for what he's done for me. You could leave to join us, you had the option. I don't." She loosens her hand's position and rubs at a stiff spot in her wrist.
"Justice asked me why I fought for Commander Heidern. She asked me why I would fight under his command." Leona goes quiet again and she looks back to the sun. "What would cause you to turn from the Ikari Warriors?"
What would cause her to turn from the Ikari Warriors? It was not a question she was expecting but it was a completely fair question. A question that took a long time for her to figure out how she wanted to answer it. Her index finger tip rises to touch her lip as the gears turns in her head.
"In one of the international missions, I met a yank who was a boy scout. I don't remember how it came up but there was a rule that resonated with me. He called it the campsite rule. Always leave the campsite in as good a condition or better than you found it. I started looking at the world as my campsite."
Lita looks the other Ikari in the eye with a determination to give her the truth.
"So what would turn me away from the Ikari? When it was clear beyond a shadow of a doubt that my membership would do more harm than good to the world. I want my legacy to be that I did my part to leave the world in as good a condition or better than I found it. I'll go it alone if I had to but I'd rather do it in the company of like-minded individuals."
The question held weight. The Command Gear, Justice, seemed to have had questions on the nature of being a soldier and warrior. The Gear's problem seeming to have been her lack of ability to decide what she should be on her terms. Leona Heidern runs her hands along her sling held arm.
Leona's eyes close. The nuclear fire. The tail nearly crushing her ribs. The hand grasping around her throat. The itch returns and despite that, she shudders at the feeling. Catching herself halfway through Lita's explanation and looks back at her. The damn itch, the blood stirring inside of her distracting again.
"If you follow Commander Heidern, you will get that," she says, voice dull and steady, "You don't need to be alone. We're family. He's my family." She takes a few steps away from the wall and looks up at the sky. "A lone soldier on the battlefield can't do much. But with their unit they can save the world."
That particular response put a smile on the former Delta Red's face. It was one of the things she found the most alluring about joining Delta Red the fact that she didn't have to go it alone here was the best benefit of joining the Ikari Warriors. There was a part of her that hoped that the other Delta Reds would also find their way here as well since it was something they had all been looking for.
The blonde brushes the bangs out of her eyes and looks once more at the other woman.
"Thank you for the opportunity to speak, but I should probably be on my way. Permission to be excused, Lieutenant?"
So talking like that works. It did seem to work for Commander Heidern. Leona smiles inwardly at the realization she may have made Lita actually proud in a moment. Though she does stare just a little agog at having done so.
"Oh! Yes, yes. We've talked enough," she says, turning around and putting her good arm behind her back. A slight red at her cheeks. She hadn't really planned on a pep talk, she was just wondering about the things she spoke of with Justice. But apparently Lita approaches the war of the Ikari as she does. Which will be good to know on the battlefield.
"Um, thank you for time," she adds, just for politeness, to counteract that her initial brusque statement might be better with a softer add on.
Log created on 21:00:39 12/25/2017 by Lita, and last modified on 08:26:45 12/28/2017.