Leona - In The Shadow of War

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Description: Leona of the Ikari Warriors meets up with her fellow Ikari, the former Delta Red, Lita Luwanda. They have to discuss what measures to be taken with the "captive" Hayley Bretherton. Leona Heidern also learns about what a Spangles is.

After her brief foray into the city of Southtown, Lita made an immediate trip back to the Ikari base. There was nothing like putting down an angry mob chasing after a law abiding darkstalker while another darkstalker turned the angry mob into a flash mob to draw a lot of attention. Attention, considering the bounty on all of the Ikaris heads, was one that she didn't need. Of course, she saw someone in need and didn't regret her decision to get involved.

Of course she figured she should probably catch up with Leona as to what happened while she was gone as well as tell her about the incident in question. Who knows if this information would be useful in the future.

Leona will receive a note inviting her meet in the mess hall. Phrased carefully. It was not an order because Leona was ranked above her here. Her previous rank in Delta Red no longer applied.

When Leona arrives, she will find Lita sitting at a table by herself eating a burger and fries(she could not in good conscience call them chips because they were not cut a certain way).

Codename: Leona Heidern does not often get invitations to things. Ralf and Clark will ask her to be around them, but they are some of the few that sit comfortably in the friend slot of identification. Trusted, comfortable, not awkward or offputting. But they don't invite her in the way that usually involves letters and requests. That is a different and more alien notion to her. She finds it strange, but knows she probably shouldn't ignore or question the invitation. She likes Lita. Lita is a good Ikari. Lita recovered the girl, Hayley and saved children.

So Leona arrives at the mess. She hasn't done much since her fight with Iori, she has thought on it. On the meaning of the itch beneath the skin that happens from time to time. Or the drums of violent war that pulse in her head. But there was the matter of the addled girl now in custody, and what to do with her. Particularly in the dubious legal position the Ikari found themselves. Supported on some sides, wanted by a certain global institution. It all posed many questions that jockeyed for importance in Leona's mind.

She arrives, at the time expected, and she walks straight to sit with Lita. She isn't hungry, so she doesn't even think to get food to join in with, it simply doesn't strike her mind. Nor does the fact that Lita is eating. Though Leona adopting a formal, hands on table, professional posture is a bit at odds with the situation.

"I don't feel hungry," she explains, "I can talk though. If that's what you requested me for." She speaks tersely, almost as if settling in for a mission briefing. Focused intently on Lita and cutting straight to business.

She doesn't feel hungry? Not an issue. It was more about exchanging information in a not so formal environment. That's good enough for her. She puts the burger she was biting into down and with a few moments taken to chew and then sip whatever beverage was in the cup and places that down on the table.

As for why she invited her here, Lita nods in confirmation of that intent. "Indeed. I wanted to discuss an incident that took place in Southtown not too long ago. I believe there might be some potential useful information or potential fallout to come from it. I didn't think it would hurt to discuss it here since it was such a public incident and the fact that it wasn't on duty, so to speak."

She takes a sip of the beverage once more. "I was seated at an outdoor cafe and as I was eating and I heard the sounds of an angry mob chasing someone. I and what I'm assuming was another darkstalker moved to intervene. After I took one down. The darkstalker turned them into a flash mob that was dancing in the streets. As they continued dancing, I weaved through them, taking them down with choke holds."

Leona watches Lita's hands when she puts the burger down. Her emotionless demeanor is flat and still, but inside she feels a doubt. She hopes internally that her not eating isn't causing Lita to stop. But she swallows the uncertainty and focuses on what Lita has to say rather than what she is doing.

And what Leona hears, she can barely comprehend. For a moment she just sort of stares. She's trying to process what happened, but she can't find reasons for it. There isn't any doubt to the facts of the matter, just a whole lot of why. Her lips thin, she locks her attention on Lita, and the fingers of one hand prick at the palm of the other.

"I'm sorry," she finally admits, "I don't think I understand."

A quick raised hand. "I thought I had more, but I'm sorry. I can't understand how one thing led to the other. And why did you choke hold dancers? Why were they angry? How did a Darkstalker do any of that?"

"Forgive me. Let me figure out if I can explain it in a different way."

There's a short pause as she tires to reorganize her thoughts. There was a lot of emotion involved in the situation and even then, there was a lot that was difficult to process in the heat of the moment.

"There was a Darkstalker being chased by an angry mob. Let's call him 'Darkstalker A.' As Darkstalker A was being chased, he was insisting that he had paid for what was in the bag he was carrying. He was even insisting that he had a receipt for the purchases. The angry mob, which I'm assuming was caught up in anti-Darkstalker sentiment refused to listen even if he did have proof. I and the person I'm calling 'Darkstalker B' stood up to intercede on Darkstalker A's behalf. Darkstalker B did something to the mob that caused to them to start dancing instead of chasing Darkstalker A or attacking me. I didn't know how he was doing that or how long he could hold the crowd like that so I went to apply choke holds to put them down. Especially the ones openly brandishing weapons."

"This is easier to understand, yes," Leona says with a nod. "Victim was being pursued by mob, you intervened along with a Darkstalker. Darkstalker displayed some form of mass hypnosis. You subdued the violent offenders to allow victim to escape unharmed. Do I have that clear?"

Leona nods, thinking that she does have the situation well explained inside of her own head. Then she makes a quiet hum and adds, "I won't reprimand. You weren't on a mission. You did not jeopardize the Ikari or yourself in any way."

"I am concerned with the notion of mass hypnosis," she admits, quickly, almost sharpish. "You recall your last mission, correct?"

Lita remains silent allowing her conversation companion to roll it around in her head. When Leona speaks, Lita is perfectly ready to confirm her understanding of the events. "That is correct," she says with nod.

"My concern is that while my intentions were good, it was such a public spectacle that I'm concerned that I still may have drawn unwanted attention to the Ikari."

At the time, Lita wasn't thinking about her previous mission. She needed to have input from someone with a little more distance from the situation to connect the two in that way. And yes, after looking at that particular mission, yes it was understandable why Leona was concerned and now that a commanding officer had brought it up, it concerned Lita too.

"Yes. I remember. I'm almost certain that Darkstalker B is not related to the NOL since he let Darkstalker A get away. I'm not sure if I'm relieved or concerned by that."

Leona simply shrugs. "You have done something. If there is fallout, then we must fight against it as a team. If not, then there is no concern. Readiness is all we can have." Be prepared, be ready, meet the threat head on. Even when her palms itch, it's that ever pressing onward feeling that drives Leona to keep going and to survive.

Though, if she had more expressions than flat and stoic, that might help her encouragement situations.

"I don't doubt that. The NOL would confront you directly. They have the power." Leona looks away, as if she could look through the walls and into the medical area. "I have spoken to the girl you detained. The one influenced by Shadaloo. She is a victim. We should do what we can to help her."

"Sorry, the influencing darkstalker made me connect the two in my mind. That's why I bring it up," she feels the need to explain.

Flat and stoic as it may be, it seems to be enough for Lita. At the very least, now the Ikari will be ready for the fallout from the spectacle which is better than having it coming without anyone knowing why. That being said, the reason she might've been concerned about Velvet Blue, aka. Darkstalker B being a darkstalker is that while NOL might've confronted directly, they might've taken the situation as an opportunity to go after Darkstalker A and herself at the same time. The new concern however is that if NOL had a darkstalker who could influence people like that on their payroll, she could imagine what they could do to governments. That line of thought is tabled for the time being.

Just as Leona brings up Hayley Bretherton her mind thinks of the fighter she captured. "No question that she was victimized. The question is how do we help her?"

Leona looks back from her staring into the middle distance. "She's troubled. I want to give her focus and training. I," Leona pauses and looks dead through Lita's head before her eyes focus again, "understand some of her problems and fears. She needs a mission. She needs training."

Leona holds her own hand, wringing slowly, steadily. "She may not be Ikari, but she is determined to fight Shadaloo and others. That might be enough. But she will need the Ikari to stand again. She could be an ally."

She lets her CO lay down the particulars of how she intends on helping Hayley. That moment of seeing Leona look through her rather than at her sends shivers down her spine. There are clearly some issues there and it's not for Lita to pry. As long as it's not going get her and her comrades killed, she's perfectly fine with leaving that topic alone.

"Mission and training? I can at least help with the training part of the deal."

Her hand moves up to her chin, holding it with forefinger and thumb as a contemplative expression appears on her face. She thinks back to her first days since reaching the Ikari base. How she had to prove that she would remain loyal. Now she finds herself about to ask the same about Hayley.

"It's probably a good idea too since it would allow us to keep an eye on her... Just incase there was some type residual effects of their influence."

Memories there. Destruction, blood, the ever present itch and call to violence. Death of a family. Death of a village. Death of a life barely remembered. What meaning is there for it but to do better by others, for others? To strive for a successful mission, and in this case, a mission to help someone made to act against their will. Made to forget who they are for the sake of others.

"She is not Ikari," Leona states, blinking back into the present reality of the mess hall. "But she needs the Ikari. Duty is the same."

Terse words, clipped sentences, she's falling back as her mind runs over the things that need doing and things that might need doing. "She has trouble remembering. Can you research her?" she finally asks Lita, hitting on the list of things needed.

At this point, Lita is getting used to Leona's clipped sentences, and terse words. It's just Leona's way and she wasn't going to hold that against her. Lita practically watches Leona's face and can see the wheels turning in her head. It's when Lita receives her marching orders that she blinks showing just barely perceivable surprise. She wasn't surprised that Hayley had trouble remembering. From what little she saw, she could see that they had tampered with her head severely. The surprise comes from being asked to help with research. When compared to some of her peers both here and in Delta Red, research wasn't exactly one of her specialties even if she did have decent grades when she was in school.

"Thankfully," Lita responds, "she's had a fairly public life and so we have a good place to start."

Lita reaches down for a fry, and takes a bite before speaking once more. "She once had a run as Aussie Spangles. From there we should be able to find out more."

Leona can't be said to look hopeful. She tends to always look the same way She asked Lita to research mostly because she feels Hayley would benefit more from help that came from those already familiar with her capture and retention. It keeps things familiar, maybe familiar will help jump start her memory. Leona isn't certain, but she can try.

"I wasn't aware of her life," Leona admits, pop culture isn't exactly a thing she knows or understands. The strange costume she wore against Johnny Cage under suggestion of a disguise is example of that level of limitation. Lita is already showcase more knowledge than Leona has in the situation and that just serves to bolster Leona's opinion that she chose properly for this mission.

"I don't know what a Spangles is," she admits. Is that akin to Shadaloo? Would that have ties to why she was targeting to defend the trafficking operation?"

"I don't think it's connected directly but not outside the realm of possibility."

She lifts and consumes another fry. As she rolls around what little information she has. Or rather, what little information she vaguely remembers hearing about.

"It originated with a kids TV show where the star was character named Lightning Spangles, played by Jezebel Faiblesse. The actor didn't handle fame too well ended up making headlines for various scandals and vehicular manslaughter when she was operating a vehicle while intoxicated. Then she filmed in Hong Kong. I didn't watch much of that. She attempted to use the fighting world to ressurect her film career, and won what was then called the Western Belt. She lost her title to a fighter with Shadaloo connections going by Cracker Jack who subsequently lost the title to me."

She reaches out for her beverage, sipping it through her straw before continuing once more.

"Meanwhile, Disney had set up another girl named Pepper Green to take over the role of Lightning Spangles because Jezebel was a persistent PR disaster. I didn't pay enough attention to figure where along the line this happened but Jezebel picked up two secondary Spangles. Aussie Spangles as played by Hayley Bretherton and Ainu Spangles as played by Honoka Kawamoto."

Lita contemplatively nibbles on one of her fries as she tries to process more detail to the entire story.

"At some point, the Saturday Night Fights executives set up a fight between Pepper Green and Hayley Bretherton with Jezebel acting as a Chaos Agent. Pepper Green ended up having a serious meltdown where she aired all of her grievances with her predecesor and then hired a killer to go after Jezebel on live TV."

Leona listens. She stares, almost unblinking, while she processes the background of what she had thought was a form of organization but was in fact just a single person and apparently an entertainer tied in with Shadaloo.

"You know a lot," she compliments, "You are the best choice to do the research then." Leona isn't really one to have been up on the news. Living in a jungle barring sorties into the world for combat purposes didn't leave her the most pop culture savvy of a person. She's happy to have people like Lita among the Ikari to cover for her weaknesses.

"Are these people, Pepper Green and Honoka Kawamoto, are they in danger of the same processes as Hayley?" Leona asks. "Could they also be involved with Shadaloo?" She has to think now. There could be more to look into in regards to this mental conditioning. Sleeper agents could still be out there. People coerced into something dangerous and wrong against their own will. Leona loathes Shadaloo for their crimes, but the only visual she gives is a faster and more consistent picking at the gloves on her hands.

"I'm open to the possibility of that but once again, I don't know. It probably would require talking to Hayley and getting an idea of what she remembers as well as talking with both Pepper Green and Honoka Kawamoto. Pepper Green in particular would probably require a more gentle touch. And that is something I'm not trained to do."

The ex-Delta Red finds herself giving her fellow Ikari a helpless shrug. It was true that all of this had required further looking into but unfortunately Jezebel had gone missing as of late.

"I have my marching orders now. Anything else you think might be useful as far as helping Hayley?"

Nodding, consideration, a moment of time as Leona looks down at her hands. "Yes," she says, "Something to consider. Hayley is the primary objective. Specifically her recovery. Mental recovery, we have her on site."

Thoughts collected, she looks back toward Lita. "I understand," she says, "I do not want to give you too much beyond need. Thank you for clarification."

A moment, a drum beat, war in her ears and blood pulsing through her veins. Leona bites back on the red tide in her mind. The flash strong, stronger than normal here in the Ikari base. She takes a sharp breath, internally chastising and then washing the feeling away.

"You should speak to her. Offer support. Tell her who you are. She cannot remember much. Knowing the Ikari are behind her will help her move forward."

She pauses and blinks and swiftly adds, "That is not to imply that we're chasing her again."

Log created on 09:33:57 12/07/2018 by Leona, and last modified on 11:23:20 12/11/2018.