Description: Hayley wakes up in the custody of the Ikari Warriors and with little memory of what happened in Mexico. Leona Heidern aims to set the record straight, and in so doing, they may both learn something.
"You've got to help me, Hayley. You've got to help me, but you're too weak."
Hayley could hear Jezebel's voice ringing in her ears. Nagging her. Telling her what she should and shouldn't do. Who she should be.
"I'm trying, Jezebel. I tried to help, I tried to help Dad, I tried to help--"
"You don't deserve anything you're not willing to work hard for." It's that new woman this time. The soldier with the sword, as she beats knocks Hayley to the ground. Everything goes dark.
Hayley awakes with a start, sitting up in a sweat-soaked bed. Her right eye is dark. A lump forms in her throat. Her hand goes up to her head, grasping the cloth of the bandages and realizing it's just covered. Where is this? When is this? Wasn't she in Mexico, after something with school, and her...mom? Jezebel? Is that her mom? No, that's not right. Is it?
The bed creaks. It's cheap and spartan. The walls are drab--no, canvas. Is this some kind of medical tent?
Outlaws. Lawkeepers. Criminal heroes, the Ikari Warriors. Since the invasion of Japan, since the first stirrings of her blood, Leona Heidern has been focused inwardly. Seeking answers in the pit. And at one point, finding someone else that seemed to know about what it meant for your blood to truly boil. But Iori is not here. There is work to do. The Ikari Warriors are heroes again against a greater foe. Shadaloo.
Leona has been her usual taciturn self. Less a commander for her officer's position, and more of a presence. She had not been called in to handle things with Shadaloo directly. Her tasks lay in reserve. Let Interpol fight. Let those not considered wanted by the NOL. Let the powers that be choose whom they seek to stand with in the end. And, to the surprise of Leona at least, the world chose to call in the Ikari to strike.
Lita Luwanda and a squad were sent in to rescue the children being moved a rogue Shadaloo element. And in addition to rescue, there was a captive. One that, according to Luwanda, was as much a victim of Shadaloo as she was a servant.
Curious, Leona Heidern has staked out and stalked the medical tent. It's under Ikari guard, and her actions aren't necessary, but she does so as more out of shy uncertainty than she does out of ill intent. Who is the young woman, forced to be a soldier of Shadaloo. And what things might be in her mind? Far from a stranger to self control and dark whispers, Leona felt she must see things through.
She is standing when Hayley wakes, quiet, stiff and watching. At half attention and ill at ease, Leona stares. She doesn't blink. Her chest rises and falls slowly, shallowly. And she watches. Now that Hayley wakes, starting, reaching for her eye, Leona realizes she never really had a plan in this situation.
She could assault and take an enemy, but simple conversations and how to prepare were still a world away from what Leona Heidern was trained for.
Hayley's chest rises and falls heavily. Whatever was going through her mind was enough to raise her heartrate, even after waking. Her hand goes up to her face, running along her cheek and then up to the bandages again. She looks for a long moment at the wall, then over at the blue-haired woman.
"Who are you?" Hayley asks, "Where am I? How did I get here?"
Hayley's eyes narrow. Her mind races. She looks at Leona, then at the door, then back at the supplies around. Are these the same people? What was happening with Jezebel earlier? Who was the woman with the sword? How did she even get there?
Hayley groans, putting her hand on her head. Why can't she remember? There was the woman with the staff who came to collect her, but how did it bring her here, and what was going on in that warehouse? Why is it all so vague? Did she dream that?
The girl's breathing quickly. She's testing her face, feeling along her bandages. And now she's looking at Leona. Leone Heidern goes still in response. On leg ever so slowly begins its slow slide backward. The girl is questioning, gauging, judging the situation. A look to the flap that leads out of the tent. Leona catches the potential plans. Her own lips go thin, eyes narrow. She states with cold certainty.
"You cannot leave here."
Drum beats in her ears, a rush of blood. Itching palms. Leona swallows the momentary lapse into a predator's intensity. She stands back straight, arms at ease. A soldier's posture. The questions were simple, they could be answered without too much trouble. "I'm Leona Heidern, Lieutenant of the Ikari Warriors. You're in a medical tent. You were taken into custody by us." One after another the questions answered, Leona's arms sliding behind her, clasping her own wrist.
Curiosity gets the better of her. "Your face looks puzzled," she says, not yet revealing her own awareness of Hayley's victimization. "Is any of this difficult to follow?"
Hayley bites her lip at Leona's announcement. She clasps one hand with the other, rubbing her fingers across her knuckles and squeezing her hand. Lieutenant? Is that some sort of military group? Where has she heard Ikari before?
She looks back up at Leona, looking into her eyes and over her face. She quickly looks away, biting her lip once more.
"I don't know why I was taken in custody," Hayley says, "I don't know what I did." Hayley's hand moves to the sheets, crumpling them in her balled fist. She takes several moments before she speaks further. "It's all like a dream. It's scattered and fuzzy. Where was I?"
Quiet there for a long, pregnant moment in the medical tent. Leona's silence steady, watching, every moment taken in for the right moment to act should it arise. She is trained, she is ready. This is not some practice fight among cameras and people, this is where reality falls. She will not so readily lose in true battle.
But that battle does not come. She is not needed to strike down an escaping prisoner. She is not needed to subdue a trouble victim. She has to talk. To a girl that doesn't know what crimes she was committing.
Leona looks down and away. Trees. Blood. The hot, wet jungles of the Amazon surround her. Tall trees and impossible canopies overhead. Shouting, screaming, blood. A child among them, a lone survivor. "It doesn't matter if you know what you did, you've done it," Leona says quietly.
Her attention goes back to Hayley. Leona resumes her at rest posture, head high, looking as sharp as the edge of her chi. "You were assisting in kidnapping and child trafficking in Tijuana. As an agent of the organization, Shadaloo. Specifically the Discount Baby Warehouse."
Leona's eyes look to the side, her brow knits for a moment before she comes to terms with the words she just spoke aloud. "That is what you've done."
"Oh my god," Hayley's hands clasp over her mouth. "What? No no no. Nononono." The sheet is pulled up, twisted into a knot, pulled taut in her hands until her knuckles turn white.
"I couldn't do that, I couldn't--" Why is everything a blur, Hayley? If you can't remember, why couldn't you do that?
"Oh god," Hayley's eyes start to water. "Are the kids okay? DId they rescue the kids from them? From m--" she trails off, biting her lip more intensely now. She shakes her head furiously.
The panic. The fear. A terrifying realization of just what one is capable of when they are pushed in the wrong way by forces outside of their control. Puppeted toward ends they never intended. The intent may not have been there, but the reality of what has happened cannot be forgotten or ignored.
"You did," she answers directly. "They are."
The air is still, Leona Heidern watches Hayley with an air of imperious impassiveness. It isn't planned or put on, it simply is how Leona Heidern is when she has to maintain control of herself.
"It's easier to know what you are capable of, rather than denying it," she states after a long, chilled silence on her part. "You are a fighter, aren't you?"
There's a sharp exhale when Leona says the second part. Hayley visibly slumps in the next moment, her shoulders drooping. "Bloody hell..." she continues, her hand going up to her hair and running through it. There's an odd lingering moment, like someone realizing something they didn't before. Like someone touching something unfamiliar. Maybe she didn't realize her hair had gotten so long?
"I...I don't know anymore," Hayley says, "I can't do anything. People keep stopping me, keep tearing me down. I couldn't defend myself, or Jezebel, or stop from--"
She draws up her legs, pulling her knees in close before pushing her face toward them.
Leona crosses her arms. Losing the restful stance for a slightly more concerned and confrontational one. Her eyes dark and distant as they look Hayley over with a clinical care. "You gave a degree of challenge to the officer sent to neutralize you. You were chosen among the other children to transport them. You are not incapable. If your control had been turned toward any of those children, they would not have survived."
It's direct, it's clear, it is Leona Heidern. She knows the meaning of kill or be killed. Of just what a fighter can do to those without the skill or simple power. She walks over toward Hayley, to stand beside the hospital bed. She keeps to herself, but she stands near. "Would you have rather not been stopped by us?"
Hayley closes her eyes. She can remember fighting Lita, giving it her all despite everything. She can't even remember why, but at the time it seemed okay. It seemed natural. Now? Now it seems wrong.
"What?" Hayley looks at Leona over her knees. "No. I--" Hayley brushes the back of her hand across her nose with a sniff. "I'm glad you did. I didn't want to be there. I don't even know why I was there. Everything's a blur. It just makes me so..angry, being weak like that. Having to do something I didn't want to."
"Good," Leona judges, nodding, looking over Hayley with judgement writ on her face. It holds in the face of the sniffling girl and her conflicting worries. It takes time for Leona to parse things out, sort them in her head to make sure they're in a way that make sense to her. It makes her nod, but to herself rather than anything in particular.
"You were there because you were made to, and to traffic the children," she states the obvious off hand. "If you were too weak, you wouldn't have been made to be there. I do not know what your captors were thinking."
She looks toward the tent door. She frowns a little, steady in thought. Her eyes close for a moment. She thinks to Brazil. She thinks to years ago. A small girl. Blood. The heat inside of her head and the furious itching under her skin.
Eyes open again. "If you are already strong enough to hurt. You can control yourself to avoid hurting others."
Hayley sighs. "Sorry, I'm just--" The girl trails off into a lingering silence that hangs heavy like a raincloud. "It's just so confusing. You probably don't care. You're doing your job, right?"
"...but thanks for talking with me," Hayley adds. "I mean, it isn't your job. I appreciate it." Hayley chews on her lip. "--and for giving advice. ...you must be really experienced, huh? Are you a soldier?"
The answer is curt, direct, and technically correct. And it's one of those moments that Leona almost stops to correct herself with before Hayley continues on to clarify. Leona's face softens. She looks down and nods slowly. "I'm not good at this," she admits. "It isn't my job. My job is to fight. I'm a soldier, yes. I am one of the Ikari Warriors."
She closes her eyes. She sees war in Japan. A nuclear warrior in armor. A fight in the forest. She sees the jungles of the Amazon. Bloodlust and euphoria. Innocent dead.
"I was once driven to killing innocents. I dedicated myself to never being under any control but my own."
"It's...okay. I'm not either." Hayley answers. "I mean, not really." She tries to smile, reaching up to rub the side of her head again. She slides her fingers up and along the bandages, trying to work in a gap around her eye.
"I'm sorry that you had to go through that," Hayley says, "it's...hard. ...can I ask how you dealt with it?" Hayley takes a deep breath. "Sorry, I'm being nosy."
"Don't damage the bandages," Leona chides, tutting finger waggling. She doesn't look directly at Hayley, mostly speaks to her from the corner of her eye. Most of her attention down toward the bed itself.
Leona is quiet for a good long time when Hayley confronts her directly on how to keep control. "Vigilance," she answers when she finds the best word for it. "And perseverance. Move forward. Always know what you are. Push on and don't let it, or you, get in your own way."
She inhales. She exhales. She lifts her head to look toward Hayley. "I had a teacher. It helped. Don't do it alone."
"S-sorry," Hayley stutters, her face turning a bit flush. She looks away with her good eye, keeping from eye contact for a good moment before drifting off again.
"So staying on top of it, and training to handle it," Hayley inhales sharply, then exhales deeply. "Right." A pause. "I'm not sure how good I'm at that anymore. I just keep..."
A flash of fights go through Hayley's mind. Rashid. Raiden. Yun. Clio. Tremor. The woman with the bo staff. The victories she's eked out seem lost in the tide of defeats.
"...coming up short. Yeah. Lil' short." A teacher. Hayley thinks back to some of her teachers. There are many. Never for very long, except...
Hayley's fist slams against her father. Then she knees him. Jezebel eggs her on. She knows it's wrong, but it's such a relief. So much anger wells up inside her. So much frustration at being abandoned. Tremor's words that she was poorly trained ring in her ears.
The cold sweat is all over Hayley's face as she's twisted the sheet into a knot. Did that really happen? Was that really Daddy, or did she dream that? What IS real anymore?
She starts to speak further, but she chokes. There's a lump in her throat. The words are hard to find. Instead, she brings silence.
"Don't need apologies, just don't do it," Leona responds with a curt reality. She still watches the girl on her hospital bed and the girl in the Amazon with blood on her hands. She sees him, from outside of herself, Heidern, the start of who she would become.
Even if the rage in her blood cries to pull her into something she isn't.
She sees the hurt. The pain. The fear and sweat on Hayley's face. The panic and drive that chokes words and keeps silence. Drowning under a sea of memory and trauma. Leona watches with a dispassionate distance. Almost clinical in her somber, muted expression.
Then, Leona Heidern puts her hand on Hayley's head, and runs it gently to the poor girl's shoulder.
Hayley jerks slightly when Leona's hand falls on her head, but then she stills when it settles on her shoulder. Her eyes move up to Leona like in a way that almost resembles an unruly dog being scolded.
"S-sorry," she says with a sniff. "Thank you. I'll try." There's a pause. "You're really considerate for a soldier, ma'am." Hayley bites her lip. "Err, not that soldiers can't be, I mean. I guess I just didn't expect good advice. ... this is coming out really badly."
Hayley breathes deeply. "Thanks. What's your name, by the way? I'm Hayley. Though you might've known that already. Dunno if you blokes found my file yet."
Leona Heidern does not think she's good at this. And her face is still stiff and stoic an opposite to Hayley's overwhelming emotion. She blinks a few times, and pulls her hand back, it holds awkwardly for a moment, before returning to her side and resolute posture.
"I'm called Leona Heidern," she says, admittedly it's somehow both her name and the codename assigned to her, tying her to her father. It's as much of a name as she has ever had and to her there's little difference. Though, she still feels the need to be mostly honest with this girl. "I haven't read a file."
A quick look to the flap door of the medical tent. A deep breath. "I don't know what will happen to you after this."
Hayley doesn't seem to realize that Leona's feelings here. The woman may be stiff and cold, but having someone make any effort seems to help, in its own way. Perhaps it has really been that long.
"Okay," Hayley says, "May I call you Leona, or should I use a rank, ma'am?" The Aussie inhales. "Maybe there isn't one yet. Ugh, my mom is probably super worried." The lump comes back. How can she tell her about that? How can she go back to anything normal after this? A deluge of awful thoughts start creeping through her mind again.
"I don't either," she admits. "And it's scary. Really scary."
"Leona works." Direct, simple, does what needs to be done. She crosses her arms and walks a short distance away. Leona stands away from the bed, looking at a wall while Hayley concerns herself with thoughts of her mother. While Hayley talks, Leona scratches at the palm of her hand.
A thought comes to Leona. She walks around to the foot of the bed. She looks at Hayley. "What is your mission?"
Hayley stares at the folds of the entryway. Past them, at something unseen. Her mind continues to race.
"Huh?" She perks up. "My mission...?"
A ringing fills her ears.
Guard the product. Eliminate all intruders.
"G--" Hayley clutches her head, leaning and losing her eyes. She nearly leans far enough to bury her face in her lap.
"No, no, it's not that, it's not," Hayley mutters under her breath, rocking a little. "S-sorry. My head is still scrambled, I'm..."
Listen to your mother, Hayley!
Hayley looks wild-eyed at Leona for a moment. Haunted.
Unexpected. Leona slides her foot back, one hand snakes outward, held in a checking position. A fight could break at any moment. Any second, an attempted escape. But not this time. This time it's just a girl who is a victim. One with lingering mental triggers due to the dark work of Shadaloo.
Leona drops her stance. She puts her hands behind her back again. Her look sharp, studious and serious. "Look for something. Direct yourself toward it. See it through to completion."
She thinks back to that fight in Japan. The living nuclear weapon, the Command Gear Justice. A warrior. Not simply a weapon. And a moment of clarity and coolness in a moment of white hot fire. "You were betrayed by would be commanders. They aren't fit to fight for. Find someone worth following. Find people worth fighting with. And for." She speaks distantly though considerately. Her thoughts rest on the Ikari. Her family. Her friends.
"You can do it, Hayley," Art guides Hayley through a kata again, spreading his feet and setting his weight. He throws his punch, waiting for the to do the same. She can't be but eight or nine.
"Hit him again, Hayley!" Jezebel shrieks. "Make him listen to you! Show him how much he made you hurt!"
"Again, Hayley. Deep breaths. Release tension. Flow." Hayley, at most a few months younger than now, sweeps her arms in slow, circular motions. Tai chi. Her mother is beside her, moving a a half step ahead. "Like water. Water has no tension. You're too tense, Hayley. Relax. Don't fret. It will come in time. Picture a pond, sitting still. No wind, just peace."
Hayley's chest rises and falls with rapidity. Her teeth clench. Sweat beats on her brow. Gradually her breathing slows and the tension slips away. Her hand goes to her face and she runs it through her hair, covering her unbandaged eye as she does.
"I...I'm sorry. I don't know what that was about. There's still...voices. I guess whatever happened that put me there. It was ..." She trails off. What was it doing? What were you doing? Did Jezebel do this? What happened to her?
"Bloody hell!" Hayley shouts suddenly. "I sound like a crazy person. Voices in my head? Sudden fits? You probably think I'm a maniac. I'm sorry, Leona."
"No. I don't think that."
Five simple words. True words, even if Leona Heidern is reticent to explain her reasoning why she doesn't think Hayley is mad or unstable. In some way, the surface and easy to assume reason of "Hayley was modified by Shadaloo agents" is true. Objectively, that is the case. Hayley's mental issues are caused by lingering efforts of Shadaloo.
But Leona has memories of a red haze. Death. Blood of loved ones. Pain and hurt. A lonely girl in the jungle. Death and devastation. Rage and then everpresent coldness. Necessary coldness. Keep the itch away, move forward. If you keep moving, keep driving yourself, something else cannot drive you. Leona Heidern is a driven woman
Leona Heidern looks away from Hayley. Blinks and rubs her nose with her thumb. She slowly looks back toward Hayley after the moment of no eye contact. And she resumes staring. "No apologies. Do better. You aren't what wants to control you."
Hayley deeps a deep breath, then sighs again. "Thanks." The advice may be terse, but the words matter. The effort matters even more. Someone carrying enough to try means more than anything else, at least in this moment.
"This is going to take work." Hayley wraps strands of hair around her finger. She looks over at Leona, then breaks the eye contact with a bit of redness in her face again. "You seem really strong, Leona," Hayley says, "have you trained for a long time?"
Leona is trying, even if she is certain she isn't very good at it. Not only is this girl, and she has been mentally calling her as such, not far from her in age, there is a certain kinship she feels for what Hayley has been put through. And, in some tertiary way, this is a means by which Leona may yet better herself. Training is not all about combat.
"As much as I care to remember," she tells Hayley. "It will hurt you." She pauses, thinks, adds a clarifying statement, "Hurt isn't kill."
The noise that Hayley makes is somewhere between a grumble and a whimper. It's an ill-formed sort of non-word that is more guttral and emotional than logical. It's also one of raw, even visceral discontent.
"Hurting is something I've been doing a lot of, lately, Leona," Hayley says, her words carrying a jagged edge to them that's been mostly absent. Mean? Hardly. Bitter? Very.
"I thought I could take it, y'know? I've been training in martial arts since I was a little girl. Drills, katas, endurance and strength exercises. All of that for as far as I can remember, but none of that really holds up to this. I mean, losing a fight is one thing. A guy tried to kill me once because I was in the wrong place at the wrong time," Hayley practically wheezes between words. "COULD have killed me if he'd wanted to, but I never expected this. I never thought someone would mess with my mind, put things in my head that I didn't want there. It's ... it's scary and gross."
Leona looks on as Hayley snaps. Dispassionate, cold, stoic. Still waters run deep in this case, as Leona Heidern considers a number of directions, emotions, and potentials in the hurt and damaged girl. She blinks once. She hums. She puts her hand to her chin.
"You're alive. You already took it." Matter-of-factly stating the obvious to the girl in the hospital bed. She tugs at the edge of her gloves. She looks at them. She does many little fidgets and actions to feel the moment in ways beyond simply talking. Her gloves feel tight.
"In Japan. We fought a Command Gear. She was a warrior. She was made to fight people. She didn't know that. I think you are like her," Leona says, short, static sentences, careful words chosen after parsing her thoughts and struggling for words that come to others more easily.
Leona's implacable nature serves her well here. While Hayley may not say it, having such a stoic sounding board seems good for her. At least, for now, she's not having everything thrown back in her face.
"I..." Hayley bites her tongue. "You're right, I guess. I hadn't thought about it that way. I just hope it doesn't take me later." She trails off. "What if I do something like that again? What if it gets stronger?" The Aussie goes quiet as Leona speaks further. It clips her words, silencing her by virtue of being the most Leona has said in some time. Hayley, for her youth, seems to listen when someone quiet feels inclined to speak up.
"Made just for fighting?" Hayley asks, "I--I don't know if I'm like THAT," Hayley objects, "What do you mean?" There seems to be some panic there. What if that was her father? What if he knows something she doesn't? What would that mean?
"Then you have greater challenges," Leona states the obvious without lacksadaisacal dismissal. She means everything that she says, but she is stating the clear and technical truth. She has to consider further the meaning of the statement beyond its literal truth to find her own comparison. The itch. The blood. And what she has for herself. So she adds, for Hayley, "Find those you trust to stop you."
She looks away from Hayley. Leona considers, thinks, looks down at the ground. What words to use and what to say to make things more clear. She nods. Mission status, green. "You were made to fight, not made for fighting. You are a warrior, but you don't know that. That's why they chose you. And that is why you can beat them."
Hayley chews on her lip again. Those she trusts? She thought she could trust her father, but he vanished when she needed him most. Was it her mom? Was it Jezebel?
Hayley's expression turns to consternation. He brow furrows. Her fingers weave locks of hair around them. She digs deep, deep in mind to try to put it together. Why are there these contradictions? Is Jezebel her mom? No, that seems wrong, but who is it? Why is that such a blur? Can she not even remember who her family is?
No. She knows her dad. She remembers that. She remembers a woman, a Chinese woman whom she thinks is her mother. Not Jezebel. Xiu. That's it. That's the name. Then who is Jezebel? Why is she such a presence here? Did she..?
"I don't know who that is," Hayley finally says with resignation. "Everything's a blur. I remember names, faces, but I don't know if I can trust any of them. Some people say they're one thing, but I remember them as something else. I think," Hayley sucks in. "I think they messed with my head. Tried to put things in place without getting rid of what was there. I don't really know anymore.
Leona speaks further. Hayley exhales, then sucks in sharply again. The words are held in her mouth like fingers on the neck of a balloon, desperate to keep the air inside. She looks at Leona, then looks down.
"W-would you help me, Leona? I barely know you, but you seem like a good person."
Long pauses and solemn thought. The forgotten and the remembered. The illusory and the real. Leona doesn't know the details of what is going on inside of Hayley's mind. But she does know that Shadaloo did something, and that something is terrifying the girl. A girl, Leona has to remind herself, is about the same age as she is herself.
Leona tilts her head, looking thoughtfully at the admission that Hayley has forgotten so much as whom she can trust. Leona thinks to Heidern. She thinks to Clark and Ralf. To Faolan and Lita and Argent. She thinks to all the Ikari and she thinks to the man in Japan, and the man in the pit. Ones she knows, ones she doesn't. Truths and secrets. An identity she has made for her, and one that lingers still in the shadows of possibility. Terrifying possibility.
A question. A simple, daunting question comes to Leona Heidern. And she looks blankly at Hayley. She gives the truth in the way she has to. "No."
A pause. Leona gives her head a short shake as if remembering something. "I can't. But the Ikari could."
Hayley looks at Leona. In her eyes there is hope, expectation. Fear. What will she say? Will it be yet another disappointment?
"Oh," Hayley says. Her gaze falling back to the bed. "I don't really anyone here except you. I probably shouldn't have asked." The girl scratches the back of her head. "Damn it," she mutters under her breath. "Why don't you reach out to people more?" she asks herself quietly. "Maybe Mint, or Yun, or..."
Leona, with a moment of puzzlement, blinks at Hayley. She wonders if she said things the wrong way. She thought she was clear and obvious. But perhaps there wasn't enough said to explain her perspective. She tugs at the end of her glove in self-annoyance. Thinking, planning to explain more. That could work.
"They are the ones I trust. I can't do it all. Teams can," she tries to explain. "I don't know those other people. Do they need the Ikari?"
"Oh," Hayley blinks. "Oh gosh, sorry. Thank you. ...thank you, Leona. I misunderstood." She stares down at her bed, perhaps too ashamed to make eye contact with the Ikari Warrior. Her eyes start to water again.
"You've been really helpful already," she admits, "I don't think I deserve it, but thank you." A pause. "Is this what the Ikari Warriors do? Help people?"
Leona narrows her eyes. Trying to figure things out again. She nods. Thinking she's gotten through at least. With hope, there might be something more to gain. She slides into an at ease stance that doesn't look at any sort of ease at all. "It won't be easy," she tells Hayley in her flat, steel monotone.
"It isn't just help. We fight where we're needed. Heidern is in command. You can be helped, but you will help. You can fight. So you will. And it will help." It's a bullet spray of a thought, but the words cover Leona's meaning. It won't be simple or easy, it might scare more or hurt more, but it will help others and move forward. A mission is what keeps Leona Heidern herself, and so she thinks another might be helped the same way.
Hayley looks up at Leona. Her eyes meet Leona's eyes, at least until Leona looks away or the pressure is too much and she backs down again. She inhales deeply and squares her shoulders. There's a shuffling, rotary movement as she Hayley sits up straighter and stronger.
"Well," she admits, her voice not quite matching her posture. "If that's what it takes," she says, "I'm not sure if I'm mercenary material, but I want to help people." A pause. "I want to fight Shadaloo if it'll keep them from hurting anyone else." Another pause. "From hurting me again."
Leona Heidern nods simply in the answer and turns to head toward the door of the tent. She's already done a lot of talking. She's already probably said or done too much. But the mission has never changed. Stopping Shadaloo is this mission. And creating a new ally in a fight against Shadaloo counts toward that stopping.
She stops and looks over her shoulder toward Hayley, seriousness in her dark eyes. "Rest then. When you can train, you will. When you can fight, you will. Soon."
Hayley reaches up and rubs the side of her head. She pats the bandage a few times, making sure it's still snug. When Leona turns back and looks at Hayley, she manages a half-smile.
"Thanks, Leona. I will. It means a lot to me that you were willing to talk. I'll try not to drag you down."
Log created on 00:15:28 10/30/2018 by Hayley, and last modified on 23:38:56 11/04/2018.