Einherjar Initiative - Day 17 - And When the Sky Was Opened

Description: The war in Southtown brought with it chaos. Few touched by that chaos could escape it unchanged. Some lives reached a branching point whereupon a choice had to be made. Given the circumstances though, is it really any choice at all?

The extraction from the destroyed base in the park segues into an extensive rescue effort at Geese Tower, as the fighters aboard, able, and willing to help the emergency crews dig out the warriors and civilians trapped within the decimated structure, which fell in dramatic fashion only moments after the Sky Noah vanished back into the sky, its new passengers in tow. Who can be saved, who's already saved themselves, and the destruction wreaked at the heart of Southtown are all somewhat disheartening equations, but something is better than nothing. Only after these efforts are complete do the crew and warriors return to the remarkable ship.

Kula was given a private berth, the same as the others who came aboard, with a remarkable view of the clouds and clear sky beyond the windows, near the exterior hull of the evolved battleship, its pulsing heart of chi likely becoming more and more apparent to her as the proverbial ringing in her ears begins to die down. It's a passage of some time that she's allowed to reflect, rest, perhaps arrange plushies on the nightstand before a knock comes at the sliding portal to her room, three short taps, quiet but firm. The Ice Princess might recognize the familiar aura, considering no one else on the ship has shown themselves to be in the same league as she and Adelheid, but either way the Captain of this vessel waits for her to open the door, or invite him in, rather than storming in or disrupting her with demands.

All in all it's very restrained, right down to the calmness in the energy outside her door. It is not the demeanor of a man looking for a fight, that much is evident just from the gentle rapping. Whatever her expectations of being harmed or held prisoner, they seem to be unecessary. So far.

She had been quiet since the moment Jiro pulled her from the path of a collapsing piller and Alma took her hand, leading her boldly from the detonating warehouse. Not a word was spoken as the Sky Noah descended to offer its much needed aid to a trio that could go no further on their own. Quietly she had sat next to Alma up until that moment before silently stepping in to help free the Kasagi youth from the grave of rubble.

Once Jiro was loaded aboard and it came time to leave, Kula had stayed close by Alma, never saying a word but mutely accepting the invitation to follow along with the chi-less monk and grieving friend. The private room granted her was a welcome sight and she had fallen asleep upon its bed immediately. In sleep came the dreams - dreams of facing the young man that would be a Devil if that's what it took to remove Igniz from Gedo High, Daigo Kazama. Images of NESTS being overwhelmed by the courageous counter attack by the Daigo-led students were followed by her harrowing experiences with the Artemis Engine - the culmination of NESTS and SIN tech, destroyed hopefully forever along with the clones that powered the horrific chi turbine. Restless sleep was still sleep, and by the time she awoke sometime later, she was feeling a portion of her strength return.

Time was hers to spend in solitude and contemplate her circumstances. A long stare in a mirror showed her that her hair was still shockingly white. It would take time for it to grow back out with its natural strawberry-blond color. Her right hand was bare, bereft a yellow insulated glove that had been destroyed by one of the combined attacks of Alma and Jiro and the sleeve of her jacket over her forearm was shreaded as well. Unsure what to do, she waited, having fished a small plastic seal sized for keychains from her pocket and placed it on the nightstand while watching the clouds fly past.

By the time the knock comes at the door, she had shed the harness that she had worn beneath her jacket throughout the experimental combat, leaving it to sit on her bed. A black web of nylon straps and small diodes at the various intersections that the Artemis Engine used to establish its connection to her, the harness resembles in some ways the ability-enhancing suit NESTS' Krizalid wears beneath his thick coat.

Kula's attention shifts to the entrance at the sound, jarred from her thoughts of home, or the lack thereof, and whether or not the NESTS Cartel ceased to exist in the final battles of the Southtown siege. Violet eyes gaze at the door for a long while before she moves to open it. The resonating chi signiture on the other side can be only one person. Branded a traitor by the briefly allied factions, the Bernstein scion was a mystery and curiosity in one. How a young man so few in years could accomplish so much was a surprise to her. Quietly, she slips over to the door to open it before taking a step back, eyes on his. She is calm but there is a nervousness about her - a certain child-like fear of a stranger she knows so little about; a stranger that has for the time being taken her in, his motives seemingly sincere.

In some ways, Kula's paradoxical innocence is completely at odds with Adelheid Bernstein. The platinum blonde never really had a chance to be a child, honed to be strong even before he could fight, trained in what was expected to him, and precisely what his ambitions should be. A legacy that he has both failed utterly at upholding, and surpassed beyond his father's expectations, even if he hasn't really realized the latter yet, and still holds to his complete turning away from what was meant to make him worthy. Still he remains a weapon, tooled and forged with exquisite form and function, even if there was no failsafe to control where that weapon was subsequently pointed. In many ways, he can sympathize with Kula Diamond. In many ways, Rugal may wish he had devised a system similar to the Ice Princess's own controls to properly regulate his own legacy and arms. Regardless of any differences, regardless of the fact that the Prince of War has an all too keen grasp of the depth of the depravity embodied by the invaders of Southtown, regardless of his awareness of Kula's involvement in these operations... the blame does not fall on the girl.

Also regardless of the differences in their psychologies, and despite his own lack of a childhood, Adel is in a position to understand very well the mind of a young girl. He sort of had to put up with one since he was born, and Kula hasn't really had the opportunity to break through that and grow, something that can be blamed on her origins, as much if not more than her programming itself. So when the door slides smoothly open, it reveals not only Adelheid, but a tray of food. A rather tasty looking chicken sandwich, with various fixins from salad to dressings on the side (because you just don't put things on when someone may be a picky eater), some cheesy looking potatoes, a dish of pears, and of course, the essential part: double dessert. In this case an ice cream sandwich and chocolate/vanilla pudding cup.

"Thought you might be hungry." Comes the first comment from the R lieutenant turned vigilante, as the tray is offered to Kula, "Mind some company? I imagine you have a lot on your mind right now, a lot of questions." Which he seems willing to answer... at least as far as they don't compromise the overall mission, "It was a brave thing you did back there, to try to help people when you weren't sure what they might do to you. I know you've likely been told some dark stories about the world outside of NESTS, I know I was, from my father. Whatever happened down there..." he still hasn't fitted together all the pieces, "What's important is what happens now. For you, for everyone else who can be touched by that choice."

And with the opening of the door, Adelheid comes face to face with one of NESTS' most dangerous killers. In only a little over a year since she was put into action she had built quite a reputation - part built on fact, the rest carried on the wings of fear and paranoia her name could invoke. In the public fighting arena, she had proved to be a frightfully capable fighter in spite her young age. But what was kept from the public eye were her frequent assassinations at the behest of those who created her. No politician in need of elimination was safe. No interpol agent getting so close to the truth of the Cartel survived a visit from the Ice killer once she was dispatched. Time and time again she ventured into the night, through any guards or thugs in her path, until her target was dead. It got to the point where in certain circles she was blamed for being behind several deaths all in the same night as if, perhaps, NESTS had more than one such killer in their ranks.

It is into the violet eyes of the engineered weapon that Adelheid would look once the door had opened. There was a certain out-of-place demeanor about the girl, in spite her nervousness, her uncertainty - a look that suggested she had seen enough death in her short life that the genocide of the Frei clones had not phased her in the slightest. But it is those same cold, murderous eyes that light up at the sight of food as if that dark presence in her mind subsided at the thought of food.

She extends her hands eagerly for the tray of tasty variety, the fingers of her right hand brushing against his only briefly, revealing to him the deathly chill of her pale skin. Taking a step back from the door, she dips her head at the offer of company, silently acquiescing to the requiest. Her mouth curls into a faint smile though she remains quiet, moving back with the platter of food to settle into a seated position at the small table in one corner, still facing him directly. The sandwich is disassembled then reassembled with various fixings provided and still the white-haired girl utters not a word.

He speaks of her bravery and she keeps her eyes on him even as she scoups a pear slice from the bowl into her mouth eagerly before sampling the potatoes then reaching for the sandwich. The chicken sandwich is on its way to her mouth when she pauses; something he said finally sparking her attention as a higher priority than food. Slowly the sandwich is lowered to the plate, her right hand lifting to wipe against her mouth before dropping to her lap.

Her mouth opens as if she's about to speak, but then closes just as promptly. Averting her eyes to the side, she looks away from the young man. Seeming to mimic the slow moving glaciers of northern peaks, Kula appears to be in no hurry to get to her response. Choice. It's a powerful word to the young engineered life. Choices of any importance had been few and far between. She chose not to kill K''s sister, Whip. She chose to forgo her life's mission of killing K' should she ever get the chance. She chose to let Alma, Jiro, and Daniel live after they were unfortunate witnesses to one of her assigned killings. And she chose to take Alma's hand when he offered it to her, declaring her old life dead. Chose to help escavate Jiro rather than run.

And now Adelheid speaks of it. A choice that affects more than just her and a couple of other people, perhaps. Snapping her focus back to Adelheid, she rests her hands at the edge of the table as if gripping it for support, the knuckles of her bare right hand turning white. "Ch-choice?" The stammered word hangs in the air for a moment as she speaks at last. "What choice... is it that I have?"

Despite the similarities in the forging, the weapons of sky and ice are very different in the final analysis. What Adelheid was built up to, Kula was desensitized to. What the Bernstein heir had pitched and persuaded, Kula had ingrained - programmed. The perfect killer, with the joy and unquestioning obedience of a true child, none of the years of education, independent thought, or adolescent angst to erode that unquestioning nature, to get in the way of the unparalleled cruelty the frigid operative was conditioned for. The Prince of War can see it all too clearly in her eyes, the dispassion, the weight of much too much for so few years. That much, he can relate to. Even the coldness apparent in her heart, beyond the chill of her skin, which Adel's own inner power quickly sets right, its current fluctuating ever so subtly to keep the wintery waves that permeate her from penetrating. Only a few short years ago, the same chill permeated him. Not hopelessness, per se, but resignation, a callous acceptance of how the world was. A casual disdain for anything but what had to be done. Survival, success, above all else. Now, the equation has changed so drastically that sometimes the platinum blonde wonders if he is even the same man.

He walks to the extra chair in the room, and pulls it around, seating himself facing Kula, arms resting as he gazes over the back of the seat, "The choice of what to do with your power. Who to target, and why. A choice you've already realized you have, with a scope I suspect escapes you still.... as it did me." Adel seems to be weighing his words carefully, to some degree unsure how to discuss this. It's not something he's ever really had to talk about with anyone, after all. He just sort of did it, when it came to his own decisions, his own rebellion, "The choice of what's important to -you-, not to the people you have been beholden to, but everyone else they would trample. I could show you documents, records of what NESTS and their allies did in this invasion, what happened before. But I wouldn't be showing you anything they hadn't already shown you themselves, would I? If you didn't already have your doubts, you would not be here." Of that much, the young Bernstein seems almost positive.

"There is a point along the path you've walked where the spirit seems to die, and all that remains is duty, battle.. .... survival." Adelheid draws a deep breath. Between the woods and frozen lake, the darkest evening of the year, "But what is the point of that duty? To elevate those who will never have any concern for those they see as lower than they? To crush those who would disagree, yet lack the power to fight back?" The Prince of War shakes his head, slowly, almost sadly, "To some, everything is disposable, and nothing is more valuable than ambition, the strong triumphing over the weak. But in the process they make themselves weak, lose sight of the strength outside themselves.... this is what your choice comes down to, Kula Diamond." Adelheid's crimson eyes meet the icy assassin's, should she be watching him at all, "Will you be a killer who values only herself, and what she is told to value, or will you be a warrior who knows both the price and the purpose of power?"

He has her full attention now. She stares with a certain patient steadiness that might be a bit unsettling for someone less familiar with what it is he faces than Adelheid. Manners, social conventions, and other nuances of a normal child were low priority compared to the power grafted into her, the skills ingrained in her, the obediance and passive nature engineered in her in a short life of isolation before introducing her to the confusing world beyond NESTS. 'Her power', he calls it. She hasn't lost it. It subsided briefly following the draining influence of the fel chi engine, but it is growing back quickly. The question is what is such an ability good for if not put to use at the behest of the Cartel that made her?

Her right hand lifts from the edge of the table, leaving a small outline of frost where her fingers had been pressed, to rest over her mouth as he speaks of something almost no one else in the world could possibly understand except a certain flame wielding, ex-NESTS killer turned rogue. She nods slightly as he speaks of showing her documents detailing the atrocities of NESTS. They would familiar to her. Some of them may very well detail missions she, herself, carried out in cold blood. Many of the Cartel's atrocities were committed by her hands and the repercussions of her brief thirteen months of life in the open world has only become increasingly more clear to her as Alma has tried to open her eyes to them.

She stays quiet through any pauses, showing no eagerness to speak again as he continues. She had been faithful to the Cartel, carrying out the orders of Igniz, Zero, and others in command of her every waking moment. But where did it get her? 'Strapped' to a technological horror that may very well have killed her with only a scant few tests conducted on other live subjects before her to suggest that it 'probably wouldn't'. She hadn't even questioned it at the time - being the test subject of the Artemis Engine's first combat test - but in seeing what it did to her in the aftermath, she could only help but wonder just how dangerous the risks really were.

Her fingers curl, her knuckles resting against her lips in silent contemplation, her eyes never leaving his the entire time. He calls into question the point of the duty that had driven her so far. Is it not having duty that gives her purpose? What is she otherwise? But if her loyalty let her still expendable, disposable as he voices it, then what was it worth anyway?

He outlines the voice, making it clear what he has been leading up to. To be a killer that thinks only of herself? Or be a warrior that uses that grafted power of hers for something else? "They..." she hesitates to continue. She so rarely referenced the nature of how she came to be. So often she would insist that she was just like any other person even when in her heart she always felt that whereas people are born, she was... "... made me because my predecessor ran away."

Her hand lowers to rest open palmed over her heart. "If I were to not return, they would make another to come find me as I was meant to find him." She blinks slowly for the first time in a long while. "I would be hunted every day of my life. I would never be able to understand the purpose of power; I would never know the comfort of peace. They would never stop. Anyone that I knew would be a target in their pursuit of me." An approach she knows well. How often did those friendly to K' end up in the crossfire? "It is not clear to me that the choice exists." She pulls her eyes away at last, looking down toward the only partially touched tray of food. "I do not know that I am that strong. If my choice is to live and satisfy my original purpose or perish for trying to discover a new way, I-... I don't know."

While some of the details remain a mystery to Adelheid, he knows more than he might like to, more than most could stomach, and many of the unspoken questions carried by her tone, the fear in her eyes underneath the intensity, are ones he's had to ask himself several times over the past few years. ... some have haunted him even longer. He knows she's a criminal, several times over worse than what he's done, by most scales. The platinum blonde also remains all too aware of many of the why's, the forces behind those atrocities. Kula certainly raises a number of valid points, from Adelheid's perspective... but still the icy assassin misses some of the pieces that matter the most.

"Did your predecessor not run away out of a desire for something more?" Adel questions, "Out of that same innate sense that what he was being asked to do went beyond right or wrong, and straight into destructive, pointless? What has the cartel built, achieved, but death, and the means to spread more death? Their leader - Igniz - I have met him, fought him. He believes himself a god. Worthy of worship, of ruling everything. Just as my father, Rugal Bernstein, believes he is the one who must dominate all else. Just as Vega, the megalomaniac who leads Shadaloo, and similarly kidnaps or creates innocents to do his dirty work for him believes he is the only one fit to rule. Geese Howard's hubris led him to subvert a city, to construct a tower that fell around him in both literal and metaphorical senses. But what have they built? What merit is there to their rule besides the weight of fear, and the suffocating doubt they spread to any they believe they can control?" Adelheid leans forward, then slowly stretches a kink from his back, an ache of the exertion of the past few days.

"They made you to hunt a defector - but what of the many they've made since you, since him? What prompted the small army of fighters who perished in the explosion that you all scarcely escaped from? Surely they were not less worthy of survival than you. Less valuable in the eyes of any but the delusional." Clones or no, sentient life is sentient life. That it is so exploited only makes it worse, from where Adelheid is sitting, "What of the multitude of prototypes before you? Failures who were discarded for not being powerful enough, or fed through combat or science to the next generation in hopes of getting what they wanted, that time out? You have been led to believe that you are safe where you are, that you are valued in your role. Sooner or later, it has to end the same way. You will succeed in your mission, and be granted a new one. You will fail, and be terminated, either in the process of failing, or in simple, stark obsolescence. Or you will be forced into a crossfire you barely understand, and the same two options present themselves. This will never stop, because that is the only value you hold to them. Sooner or later, we all meet our match. Sooner or later, we all die. What will you die for, Kula Diamond? What will you feel about your life when it happens? Will it bring you solace to extend it - or to prematurely end it - by conducting yourself according to the whims of maniacs?"

The words are calm, as smooth and clearly intoned as the ice that fills the winterborn operative, even and unassuming. Adelheid does not grow angry, does not present the assessment as anything but matter of fact analysis. Information that he clearly feels Kula needs to consider, and consider carefully, "You are right of one thing - they will never stop. Whether they are hunting you, or sacrificing you to hunt others, there will always be more they stalk, more they imprison to their will. They will never slow down, unless those with power find a way to truly thwart them, unless enough of us cast aside our selfishness and accept that our survival is not insured by our fear, our acceptance of any price at all for what matters. Look ahead, Kula Diamond - is there peace in the endless winter that Igniz would cast across this Earth? You have see

n enough of the human spirit to know that we will never submit to such frost, to such a tyrant. There is no paradise waiting, no ascension, only more death, for a cause that has no meaning."

Adelheid slowly rises from his chair, turning to face Kula sidelong instead of directly, his eyes momentarily drawn to the window, "There is always a choice. The important ones are always the hardest. I do not ask you for an answer, nor do I intend to force you to fight, regardless of the one you make. I ask you only to think it through very carefully, to consider what really waits ahead on each path, regardless of what you've been taught, of what's been pushed into your head. In the meantime, regardless of where you choose to walk, you will see that there are those who can, and will, fight this - and survive. Those who will brook no compromise from these men - for they are only men - and those who will teach -them- to fear once more."

Her hand slips from her chest to rest in her lap once again, staying patiently passive, offering seemingly little in the way of excitability but for a tightening of the jaw as he mentions K''s pursuit of a life away from the horrors of NESTS. But he was kept in a cage in the most literal of senses. It is more difficult for the girl to identify the cage she has been contained in; behind bars of indoctrination and moats of lessons about what happens to traitors.

He speaks of Igniz and she remains quiet. Charismatic, powerful, a man above other men, or so she had thought. What of the single-eyed Daigo? Was he not also a man as he stood in the face of the death she was to visit upon him and didn't back down? What of others that took notice of her? Seishirou? Alma? Is Igniz better than they? Does he have the right to rule them all? To be the arbiter of life or death from a throne of self-proclaimed divinity?

Adelheid speaks of other tyrants. Monsters among men that rule with the power of fear and know no restraint, no limit to what they consider to be 'theirs'. She had asked the Ryouhara scion if he meant to be a god like Igniz or Vega and he had laughed - a scornful, mocking sound at such an idea. He had no such ambition and she was never quite sure if that meant he was mad or if he, unlike the world's monsters, were the most sane human being alive. The Prince of War speaks of the fear of the tyrants and Kula leans forward slightly. It is that very fear she is afflited by. The threat of betraying Igniz, of crossing the severe man, Zero, or invoking the wrath of the unhinged leader, Krizalid.

He speaks of the other clones produced by NESTS. She was aware they were constantly trying to refine their techniques in never ending experiments. It was if Igniz had asked his scientists what could change the nature of a man and they would stop at nothing to discover the answer to the riddle. In the silent chambers of her frozen heart she had so often feared being replaced and there is a twitch in her expression at the utterance of obsolescence, the young man having clearly struck a nerve.

By staying put; by not changing anything, but relinquishing her right to choose in favor of the false comfort of what is known rather than embrace the unknown, is she really extending her life or only serving her duty headlong into the inevitable? He asks what she will die for and she closes her eyes, opening them again only to stare at the table rather than meet the intensity of his gaze.

He speaks of the winter to come - one that would encompass the earth and the girl's eyes become hooded as he touches upon something she had seen, after a manner, in her mind's eye due to the interference of Hyo Imawano. "No," she whispers a soft reply. In that world, there is no peace to be found. Of that she is certain.

Her head remains bowed as the passing clouds catch his eye for a brief moment. The ice cream sandwich on her tray begins to show signs of melting but almost sub-conciously, she lifts her right hand and touches it, returning a chill to harden it once more. "What life is there for me..." she murmurs, her voice barely audible over the constant hum of the quite active airship, "... if I chose the path leading away from all I have ever known? All I know is death and the exercise of power to fight. Every week for as long as I can remember, I have infiltrated the homes of those who thought they knew power only to discover in their final moments that thay had not the strength to save their own lives. That is what I know. I am not like the others you brought onto your ship. I have no where to go, no home to replace the one that would be lost. If others knew... if they understood what I am... they would hate me wherever I were to go."

Ichiro enters the vehicle from outside.

Frei enters the vehicle from outside.

"Then if nothing else, you have learned the fleeting nature of the status quo, that however much power one has, the selfish exercise of it always ends the same way. Perhaps it ends the same way for all of us." Adelheid has certainly considered that his road ends with his death, one way or another. Yet still he seems calm about this, certain of what he does. Without regret, or the evident presence of fear clouding his judgement. It's all just pragmatism, a perspective that keeps him sharp - sharp enough, perhaps, to cut what must be cut, "That to rest on our accomplishments, to believe they seperate us from everyone else, only leaves us vulnerable... blind to our own weaknesses, and the need we have for other things, other people, other perspectives in our lives." It is a vulnerability that has bitten Rugal many times, from Adel's perspective. A critical misjudgement that leaves every one of these would-be gods vulnerable, "They are not divine, their strength does not seperate them from the rest, it only gives them the strength to wrench this same choice of what life means, what is important, from countless others, until they squander their own. It is why they say power corrupts. Too easily we become obsessed with ours, focused on more, ignorant of everything but the blind search for something that is ever out of - or within, depending on how one looks at it - man's reach. It... consumed my father. Nearly killed him already, more than once, but it never seems to stop him, never seems to even make the slightest dent in his ego. From what I can see Igniz is the same way, only driven to greater extremes by setbacks, larger follies by his mistakes." Kula is, in a sense, living proof of that.

Adelheid walks to one of the berth's sturdy walls and thumps a shoulder against it, leaning at a steep angle as he considers the wintery operative and the skyscape beyond her, a pensive look on his face as he tightens one glove, "There are those outside of R that would hunt me, beyond the enemies I've made in this war. Simply because I am the son of Rugal Bernstein, because I was, or am, a criminal. In the name of justice, and some personalized yardstick of right and wrong. These people are not any wiser, or more informed than the megalomaniacs and madmen, and in my own book at least, to have my life guided by the whims of either camp is madness of its own." It was a decision that took him some time to make, however... and he certainly doesn't seem to fault Kula for her confusion, "You were honed to be a weapon, a tool for the distribution of unspeakable destruction, and irrevocable deeds. I was raised to be the same, promised a legacy of darkness, as if the same selfish, suicidal and genocidal whims should be enough for anyone. But it's not. enough. for -anyone-." Adel insists, rather fervently indeed, a frown creasing his rather noble brow with the flood of memories, of destinies shunned.

"I am not like the others on this ship, either. Nor is Frei, nor Shurui, nor Ichiro, Alma, or Jiro. Each has their own strengths and weaknesses, their own outlook, their own methodology. Each will be challenged more than once to see beyond themselves, and their experiences. I am included in that equation. But everyone here has some very important things in common - we have all seen what can happen when one values their own strength, their own ambition above all else. We have all made mistakes with our own, and failed to see where our actions would lead. We have all been given reason to turn away from who we were, and ask ourselves who we can become, and what we can do about the purging of innocence from the rest of the world. We have all been given a choice, and none of us have been left with room to judge others on their past." Adelheid wets his lips, the diatribe taking a bit of a toll on his voice, but he seems to consider it important to say, even if he is essentially ranting at the youngest assassin ever, now. She seems to be listening, absorbing it, and in his book... she has to hear it, "Now matters m

Adelheid says, "Now matters more than a hundred cases of then. Who you were trained to be, what you were encouraged to do, means little compared to what you will choose now that you know. Whether you will still serve those who guided your hand, or chop it off should it ever reach for you again. I am not my father's equal - but whether I ever am or not, he will /never/ be able to touch me again.""

She glances up as he speaks again, showing no sign of impatience or hurry, rolling the words the young man speaks around in her mind ill prepared for such weighty matters. Alive for three years, with only one year since she first saw the outside of the NESTS' labratories, she hardly has any past to speak of compared to the Prince of War speaking to her. So little time to learn, to grow, to mature, her psyche forever playing catchup with her prematurely aged body. But she is listening, and she is paying attention. Of that there can be no mistake.

Choice was something she wanted. Yet now, on the cusp of one of the most important choices she could possibly hope to make, she is terrified. With choice comes consequences; at times of the terminal variety. She had at times sounded ready to throw it all away. Her pride is fickle, replaced at times with self-loathing when she compares herself to what she has come to consider 'normal people' that were born, grew up, and have learned so much. But power isn't everything. It didn't secure Igniz victory in every encounter and she knows of no one with more power than he.

Adelheid explains how he too will find himself pursued over time for the decisions he has made. People who hold his past against him forever, and perhaps even more that hold a grudge for his new course in life. Turning from those who he once walked among, the leaders of so many syndicates, cartels, and criminal empires must both fear and loathe him now. He expresses how he was raised for similarly nefarious purposes but how he hasn't let the origin of his power keep him from doing the right thing and the girl nods her head slightly.

Not only that, but each person aboard the ship has their own history, their own costs; each of them paying a price to make the choices they are. She had told the trio that came to confront her that they would regret what they would find and even now, she wonders quietly to herself if Frei wishes he had never seen the horrors the labratory housed. Does Alma regret that he may lose his friend? That Jiro may not pull through after the building came down on him? Everyone has their cross to bear, some less obvious to her at first glance than others. "I see." the Ice Princess replies softly.

She lifts her left hand and stares into the palm of her glove. A necessary accoutrement as the near perma-chilly nature of her bare right hand has demonstrated. She has never so much as thought about the gloves before. It wasn't as if her power would explode out of control like K''s would should she remove them. They made her better than that, she was happy to tell herself. But there was the cold, frozen truth that she needed them all the same. Whenever she had lost them before, having them replaced was no big deal. But...

She lowers her left hand and raises her right, glancing back toward Adelheid, a flicker of a smile at her lips, "Since I'm not going back, I will need to replace the glove I lost somehow." She can't fight without it. Her ice can cut her own skin as readily as another's. At least, it always has before. Hyo showed her that she needn't rely on the insulated gloves forever... but the time to shed them has yet to arrive. It's the right thing to do. It's the right choice. The choice she wanted to make. The price may very well be her life. But she must go through with it. How could she even go back to that again anyway? Could she even fake being resigned to that lot in life? To be used, ordered around, patronized? Maybe before, yes. In her old life. But htat life is dead.

"Thank you." she adds, lowering her hand. "For helping me see the way."

Log created on 23:35:58 06/16/2009 by Kula, and last modified on 13:27:57 06/20/2009.