KOF 2017 - Trust is Earned, Never Given

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Description: Trust is fragile thing, hard to obtain, easy to lose, and almost impossible to rebuild once broken. Delta Red had disbanded once their trust in the UN had been broken by simple act of wielding the Command Gear Justice against Japan. Now, one of the former members of Delta Red seeks to join another outfit but can they trust her?

The amount of activity in the hidden, elevated jungle-base of the Ikari Warriors has increased noticeably over the past 24 hours. Already working around the clock to prepare all available forces to deal with the growing threat across the globe, the appearance of infamous bounty hunter Sol Badguy and Heidern's decision to throw in his lot against the United Nations' monstrous Gear weapon have only forced the various engineers and pilots into pulling even more hours.

Amidst all the chaos, Heidern stands in his usual olive-drab uniform, trenchcoat flapping against the wind kicked up by helicopters arriving or departing on the scene - carrying equipment, ammunition, and troops towards the conflict zone in Japan. And although there is a certain hesitation amongst some of the Warriors - many of them sitting out the possible suicide mission that Heidern deemed 'strictly voluntary' - they all know what's at stake, and so even those who might not believe in the wisdom of their CO's choices seem to have fallen in line.

For the first time in days, the General's face isn't noticeably troubled by their situation. Old alliances might now be null and void with the shifting power structure around the world... but a valuable 'partner' has made himself known in Sol. With their combined power, and whoever else the gruff bounty hunter might be able to sway to their side, there might be a chance. A chance to see another week. Another month. A chance, for Heidern and his soldiers to prove to the world that even mercenaries have honor.

It would be enough to bring a smile to his face, if he were the sort to show emotion. Instead, his face simply looks less stern than usual, as he marches towards the front gates of the compound, listening intently to a report from one of the numerous Intel specialists on-base. NESTS, the United Nations, the Gear itself, even Sol Badguy... a veritable stream of data is finding it's way into Heidern's head, and being analyzed by the brilliant tacticians. This might be the greatest battle of the Ikaris storied existence.

He'll have to make it count. Especially if it does, in fact, end up being their LAST.

Three Weeks Ago:

Delta Red Members watched in horror as the United Nations declared war on Japan using Justice as an opening salvo in this war. Each member wore a disgusted look on their face as the security council voted 13-2 to declare war and their country was not one of the two. Each of them looked at each other and made their decisions right then in there. Colonel Wolfman was the first to put in the request and one by one, members put in their requests to leave. Lieutenant Lita Luwanda was one of them.

Current Day:

Lita had done her research. The Ikari Warriors had a reputation for being very selective of the jobs they took and the ones they took were jobs that didn't morally compromise them. The were jobs that she could look at herself in the mirror after performing. She didn't think she could look herself in the mirror if she continued to work with the UN. Especially when they brought out the Gears.

She drove up some ways from the base and then made the rest of the trip by foot until she was at the gate.

"'Ello! I have a request for the commander. It's former Lieutenant Luwanda."

A ditty bag over her shoulder, Leona walks from the barracks toward the landing pad. Her ponytail whips in the wind as she grows closer to the helicopters. Due out for Japan once more, she's dressed out of uniform, but inside she's already focused on her mission. She usually keeps focused, but this one is more important in a lot of ways and that extends beyond the potential fate of the world.

In Japan was a Gear. A weapon with a mind of its own, a weapon that major powers with dark designs wanted to get ahold of. The Ikari could not let anyone get their hands on such a thing. She was ready to go in, to put a stop to it, that was the mission. But there were more personal stakes in all this. Stakes that would matter even if the world was kept safe.

Before heading to fly, however, she did want one more word with her father, though it seems that as she arrives there was another new visitor calling out for a request. So she faded into the back, watching impassively to see how her commander approached this situation.

Lita's on-foot approach had given the guards at the front gate enough advance notice of her arrival to send a messenger back to their CO - Heidern already on his way to the front gate to greet the second unexpected visitor in as many days. Strange times, strange allies - such in the way of the world, Heidern thinks to himself, as he grunts a barely-audible command to the Intel officer accompanying him. The uniformed man stops, salutes sharply at his CO, and then rushes back to the radio tent with a stack of folders and documents. Heidern has his best and brightest minds working on tracking down United Nations command bunkers, ammunition stores, troop barracks - anything that might be a viable side-target in the days to come. He might fully intend on facing the deadly Gear head-first - but if their combined assault with Sol and his rag-tag band aren't enough to stop the machine... then whoever has remained at Ikari HQ will be left to take up the fight. And at that point, NO tactic, NO target will be off the table.

In fact, Heidern's own stern principles and sense of morality are, arguably, the only things that have prevented the mercenary company from throwing in with the United Nations or some even less appealing partner in the quest for continued funding. God knows, he's had to hear enough from some of his accountants the past 24 hours. But Sol says he'll pay. And it was NEVER about money. Not since Rugal took everything from Heidern all those years ago. This is about fighting, and dying, for justice, to protect the innocent... it always has been, for Heidern at least.

Catching sight of Leona with his one good eye, Heidern stops several dozen feet short of the gate - half-turning his body to face his adopted daughter; the cause of as much troubling thoughts this past night, perhaps moreso, than the thought of doing battle with the Justice Gear. He's seen the power that grows, even now, inside of her - and though it doesn't frighten her, the idea of being forced to subdue the closest thing to family he has left... Heidern doesn't relish the thought. He waves her closer, taking a few long strides to meet her halfway.

"Well, soldier," he says professionally - the same formal, commanding tones he uses with Leona whenever they're in public, "Looks like we've got another guest. Hope you weren't just agreeing with me the other night. If you want out..." he says, good eye narrowing as he carefully watches for her reaction, "...just say the word."

Meanwhile, the front gate has opened up to admit Lita as Heidern shares words with his daughter and most trusted, capable soldier. As he waits for a reply from Leona, a quick, beckoning hand gesture has Lita escorted, two Ikari guards on either side and a few steps behind her, towards the CO and his daughter.

"We're popular," he says, dead serious despite the fact it's most likely his attempt at a joke, "Delta Red. I know your name, soldier. State your business."

Lita looks around as she's guided through the gates. Everything with the UN has turned her world upside down. Everything she thought she knew was wrong and she still felt the need to fight the good fight and she didn't think she could continue to do it with the way the UN was right now.

When she finally arrives in the presence of the commander himself as well as his daughter, she performs a crisp salute.

"With state of affairs as they are, I didn't feel I could continue with my outfit. The rest of the unit seemed to come to the same conclusion I did. I'm not in a place where I could speak for the others but as for me, I would like to join the Ikari Warriors."

"Sir, the only out I want is a flight to Japan," Leona snaps a salute to Heidern. She is ready, she is willing. She is terrified. But she is in control.

Leona shoulders her bag for comfort, looking just past her father when the gate opens and she steps just behind him and to his side. She lowers the bag to the ground, in case she needs her hands for anything as another has come looking for the Ikari. But the request is not the same as Sol Badguy's. Inside, Leona is curious, but she keeps a steady, unconcerned, slightly moody look while staring at Lita. The distance in her look more as though she's trying to see the back of Lita's head than look at the woman herself.

Bitch hit him with a guitar! That has been the thing on Faolan's mind ever since returning to base after he and Clark had the run in with I-No and well....things didn't end well. Really Faolan hasn't been too pleased with his performance the past few missions. If not for the help of Bob he would have probably been arrested by Interpol then his adventure with Fumiyo ended badly when they ran into Sol. WHO APPRENTLY HE IS NOW WORKING WITH? He still isn't sure what to think of that.

Al. he knows is he needs to train harder and get tougher. He isn't feeling like a proper Ikari Warrior, but then again his ideas of what a good Ikari is could be more skewed since he does hang out with Ralf. So there he sits and he looks to the technician that keeps asking the Irishman if he is insane. He might be slightly in sane, but everyone has to be a little bit crazy. "Hit it!"


The meeting is soon interrupted bu Faolan flying across the air after using his bata to swat a tank shell away like a baseball. Problem is the momentum of the impact sort of was more than expected. "YAAAAAAAAAAH!" WHAM!

Thankfully a wall broke his momentum. Downside is that is going to be coming out of his paycheck. "Christ..." he mutters and gets up. He then pauses. Wait, oh shit there is the boss and Leona. He quickly gives a salute and a sideways glance to Lita before looking back to Heidern. "Sir, just doing some tank inspection sir!"

Letting out a low chuckle at his daughter's response, Heidern's lip turns upwards on one side for just a split-second in a quick smirk; Leona never disappoints. "Good," he grunts as roughly as he can, the recent events forcing him to be even more disciplined and tough with his soldiers than he usually is, "I'll need you out there. You're the best I've got." He says this without any hint of fatherly approval, though their relationship is far typical in regards to shows of affection - they're both soldiers, through and through. Professionals.

And now isn't the time for anything but fighting, and dying, for whatever honor is left in the world.

Quickly doing a 180 to face Lita, Heidern raises his voice above the whispered tones he shared with Leona to reply to the new arrival, holding his hands behind his back. He takes a few moments to look the Delta Red soldier up and down, sizing her up - he's heard of her abilities, and what's more he'd seen her fight on the professional circuit. There's no doubt the kid has talent - and they'll need as much of THAT as they can get for the battles to come.

"More meat for the grinder, hrm?" he grunts harsly as he takes a quick, long stride to bring himself closer to Lita, staring down at her with a neutral gaze that doesn't betray any sense of approval OR disapproval. Just calm, collected, professional observation of a potential recruit. He begins to walk in a tight circle around her, continuing his appraisal through his remaining, but incredibly keen, eye. And he's not just getting a sense for her stance, her body language - but for any obvious explosive or recording devices on her person.

He never thought he'd have to be so suspicious around a member of an elite force like Delta Red, but Heidern fins himself questioning even old friends... Leona is perhaps the ONLY member of the Ikaris, along with Ralf and Clark, who have never caused Heidern to question their loya- *KABOOOOM!*

Though the sound of munitions going off in the distance is hardly an unusual thing - artillery groups and bombers have been practicing the past 24 hours almost without end. It's the soldier flying into the wall that seems oddly out of place - even among such an unorthodox company as the Ikaris.

At first, he's half expecting to see Ralf or Clark smashing into that wall - instead, it's one of the newer recruits. Heidern just... shakes his head and raises one gloved hand to rub the bridge of his nose for a moment. "Fabulous, kid. We'll know who to put in front of whatever artillery that Justice Gear throws at us. How's that sound, hrmph?" he grunts, obviously disapproving of such silliness in dire times.

"LEONA," he barks loudly, the drill sergeant inside of him bubbling to the surface, pointing quickly at his daughter, and then at Lita in succession. "THIS soldier thinks she has what it takes to be an Ikari. You think she can hack it, soldier? Is she cut out for the Ikari life?" Among his soldiers, there's few people whose opinion he values as much as the woman he raised himself. After all, it's the closest he can get to a second opinion that's still his own.

When acknowledged she goes into parade rest, allowing the commander to appraise her. Her sword is notably not strapped onto her person nor are the kunai which are known to be her signature weapons all in her large bag. She was seeking to cultivate a mutual trust between herself and the members responsible for determining whether she would be recruited. But the always understated part when most people did analysis on her fighting style was that she was able to make anything she was able to pick up into a weapon.

She's quiet, letting her prospective commander get an idea what she's about. That's about when a suddenly flying soldier ends up smashing into a nearby wall. Her face shifts from surprise, to a pained sympathetic cringe, to a raised eyebrow and then back to neutral because she still has to take care of stuff right now. Maybe when she's not trying to make a good first impression, she'll have a good hardy laugh at this moment.

When Heidern barks, she stiffens up again in her parade rest while her eyes move towards the other female soldier in area.

Kaboom! A cry. A flying Irishman. And Leona doesn't take her steady stoicism from Lita. Her arms remain behind her back. She does blink once when Faolan comes up with his explanation, though. Her posture remains steady as she looks Lita over, sullen it may be, it is a clear and present inspection.

But then Heidern barks an order. Leona straightens up to attention, her head slightly inclined, looking just down her nose at Lita. For a moment, her eyes close, but then open again. "Sir, presuming her defection from Delta Red is for her stated reasons, she does have honor. She has proven skill in combat due to her designation, and has experience in battle. She has the skill."

Her head lowers and with it her voice. "However, she is defecting from her unit. The Ikari need to consider loyalty in these times. We have to be family. And if she's left one for another, what does that say?" she asks, looking at Lita. "But that's just my question, sir. Her skill cannot be questioned."

There is a sheepish grin from the Irishman. He has been around for about a year, but well he has been good enough he has been involved with most of the missions as of late. Or he would like to think good enough. The losses to Sol and I-No still sting, but well. There is always going to be people bigger and badder than he is. His commander is one of those people. "Right right. Will be sure to give them a proper headbutt, boss." He is probably serious about that too. there is a reason why him and Ralf get along so well.

He does listen though quietly as he hmms a bit. He clears his throat. "Boss, just a side note. I am sure she is a good soldier and all and I mean no disrespect for her, but I remember her being part of team Interpol in the previous King of Fighters tournament. Same Interpol that tried to arrest me not long ago when you sent me and that that Bob guy to investigate things and where we found the first information about the Gears."

He gives a bit of a grimace and looks to Lita. "I am sure you got nothing to do with it, but it is something we got to consider. We don't exactly have many friends right now since we act independent. I am sure the boss feels the same way that we can't take many chances right now given the situation."

Standing between Lita and the two Ikari Warriors to his other side, Heidern glares directly at Leona as she gives her honest assessment of the new prospective recruit. Heidern grunts a few times throughout, especially once Faolan starts in with his own statement, but the CO is obviously considering and weighing all of the words. He saves his comments until the end - raising one gloves hand and grasping his chin between thumb and forefinger in thought as he turns his attention back towards Lita, before beginning to speak.

"Excellent assessment, soldiers," he says loudly in response to Faolan and Leona, "Seems everyone on this goddamned planet thinks they can come to us now that their meal ticket has turned out to be a ticket to Hell."

He takes a few steps back towards his daughter and the other soldier - who he obviously has some regard for, despite his unorthodox entrance.

"I've got men and women under my command, right NOW, that I've got to keep an eye on," he states without a hint of humour or irony, "You could be sent here to put a bullet in someone's head. Sabotage our vehicles. You might even be stupid enough to come after ME," he says with a grunt that could well be a stern laugh, "And yet, we need talent. And my own daughter agrees that you're skilled," he says, inclining his head to Leona.

He pauses a moment, to consider. If things weren't so desperate, he'd have more time to put this woman through questioning. Then again, if times weren't so desperate, it's unlikely she'd even be here in the first place, after all. Strange times. Finally, Heidern opens his mouth and begins to speak.

"If you join up, you're going straight to the fighting. And I'm having Leona and my other soldiers keep an eye on you while you're out there. One hint you're even THINKING about betraying one of my people, they'll put you down on the spot. Don't doubt me, soldier," he says, pointing to the blue-haired soldier to his side, as if to prove a point."

Both Leona, Faolan make good points. And unfortunately the lack of time for an interview works against both parties. A more detailed inteview would reveal details such as pretty much the entire unit defecting almost simultaneously. So even if she stayed there would be no family there for her. A detailed interview would reveal that Lita would have no connection to Interpol's attempt to arrest Faolan due having suggested Delta Red pulling their support for the Task Force due to Agent Daniel Little going rogue because of being possessed by an entity and a combination of shifty moves by the other member on the team Sergei created a severe lack of trust and cohesion culminating in the KoF final when the team captain was notably absent from the fight as well as the Interpol's chief intentionally doing things that made her question whether or not he was willing to put his subordinates in position to succeed. After all, would a reasonable commanding officer send their representative into a tournament with no briefing and knock them out so they wake up on the island said tournament is to take place?

"All reasonable assessments. I thank you for the chance to fight along side you and I hope to prove worthy of your trust."

After she says those words, she thinks of another possible ally in this fight. Charlie Nash had once asked her about her unit's relationship to the UN. She didn't get it at first but when Justice fired that opening shot, clarity hit her. Nash knew and he was wary about this the entire time.

Normally there'd be a Clark or a Ralf to be the superior officer. And while there is Heidern, all things indicate she's supposed to be doing something here. Social situations, a battle worse than if she had been commanded to fight Lita. She swallows and sets her hands behind her back. "We're lifting out for Japan," she tells Lita, "Shortly."

There's a moment before she lifts up her ditty bag and puts it back over her shoulder. "You'll come with us. Our mission is simple, put down the Gear Justice. You are ready for this?"

Leona blinks a moment, before looking to Heidern for confirmation there wasn't anything else she should've done. Normally her other officers were the ones that handled the talking portion of the job.

Faolan remains silent and decides to let Heidern take care of things. He wasn't even planning on being involved in this conversation, but it seems like he should be more careful when it comes to trajectories next time. He does seem to give a nod in approval of Heidern's decision and he just gives a grin at Lita. Sure he has his doubts, but if Leona is personally going to be keeping an eye on the other lady he feels a bit more comfortable. There are just some places a guy can't follow a lady afterall.

"Well, those tanks aren't going to test themselves." Faolan finally says and clears his throat. This isn't really a place for him so he gives a salute to both Heidern and Leona before looking to Lita. "And if ya need to test out that sword sometime just fine me. Interesting to see how good you Delta Red folk are. Welcome to the team for now."

With that being said he turns and starts to stalk back off. He needs to do more training and he already knows Argent is going to give him a long boring conversation about damaging Ikari property. Won't be the first time and certainly won't be the last. Doesn't mean he has to like it. A big fight is coming and he has to be sure he is more than ready for the battle to come.

Nodding in approval at Leona's words to the new 'recruit', Heidern doesn't have much more to add in terms of the mission. Take down Justice, or die trying. That last part should be understood by anybody going on the mission - and for Lita to walk up and volunteer to join... she's either working for the UN, or she's ready to put herself between this weapon and innocent lives. She might just make a proper Ikari, if they all live that long.

He inclines his head and snaps his heels together at Faolan's salute. "You watch yourself, kid. I expect you to be ready for the action," he says, obviously appreciating the man despite his unusual... methods. After all, Ralf/Clark are both highly respected among the rank and file, and looked up to by most of the men as 'bad dudes' - it's expected that some of that rub off. But the mercenary General draws the line when it threatens to health of the men and women under him.

Pointing quickly at the two guards who had escorted Lita to the CO, he states loudly and firmly, "Don't let her out of your sight until she's on a transport." He then turns to eye to Leona, "And Leona, if you get a chance, run her through the paces a bit. See what she's got up her sleeve. If there's room on your flight, take her. I want you to keep your eyes on this one."

He pauses to look back to the now ex-Delta Red soldier, and provisional Ikari Warrior - he inclines his head slightly, and then offers a rare apology, "Sign of the times, I'm afraid. With the United Nations co-opted, we've got to play things close to the chest."

Then, he turns his body quickly - olive-green trenchcoat whipping as another helicopter passes low overhead; he's looking at the radio tent, where an Intel officer is leaning out of the entrance flap. Waving a manila folder wildly, the man's mouth opens but his shouts are drowned out by the various noises of machinery and munitions in the chaotic Ikari base.

"Hrmph," he grunts, then gazes over the assembled soldiers, "Alright, Lita Luwanda. You're an Ikari now. That means you do what you're told, when you're told; up to and including marching to your death. It's where we're all headed anyway..."

With that, he begins to stride away, towards the radio tent in the distance to handle whatever new Intel has just been broadcasted to the mercenary HQ.

Log created on 19:44:04 10/29/2017 by Lita, and last modified on 08:43:17 10/30/2017.