Armageddon (Sess, Effie)

GEAR

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#1
OE 112
January 18th
Location: Cape Town, South Africa


7._Orange_Sunset.JPG

A burning, dying sun set over a scene of flame-kissed ruin.

It had all started with the Lunar Pulse. That was what people remembered - a gleaming lance cast down from the Moon, spearing the Earth. With it had come countless Dimensional Beasts, and the accursed Lamalice, twin plagues reminiscent of those that had once blighted the Pharaohs of Egypt for their cruelty.

But they were just the first of the blights that would fall upon humanity.

War - profound, terrible bloodshed fell upon the world as brother turned upon brother, fingers pointed in accusation, as puppet masters worked behind the scenes in a grand chess game against one another. Battle raged day and night for year upon year - until they came. They had waited, biding their time on the sidelines, loyal not to any mortal, but to something even greater and more sinister than any could have imagined.

From the frozen North came the heralds of the Lord of Destruction, whose name alone spread paralyzing fear among the populace. Faceless, endless legions of sulfurous, bleak-visored machines marched at the whim of the Melior Esse, feeding parasitically off the bloodshed and sorrow that they spread - and in turn growing even more twisted, more fearsome, more malevolent with every passing day. The advance of the Ruina seemed unstoppable, and though many rose to fight against them, all were swept aside like wheat before a scythe, little more than wheat for their foul harvest.

As if in response, when all seemed lost, the skies split asunder - and from beyond, from Crescentia, came golden, lordly entities - the Giants, they were called. At first, people clamored for their salvation - only to discover to their horror that the price of deliverance was the surrender of the self - the soul. Shackles of gold and silver adorned their masses, and a final, cataclysmic war erupted between entities of cosmic stature - one that shattered the skies, rending the planets from their orbits, and which threatened to tear the very cosmos into little more than unrecognizable shreds.

Meanwhile... The final observer, a calculating, fell consciousness... Watched, patiently, as all variables proceeded according to its machinations.

All... Save one.




Even after the continents had been sundered, Cape Town had held fast onto what it could. The stadium - sunken and ruined, served as a hideout for those that sought to avoid the roaming packs of Ruina that still patrolled the horizon, searching for the smallest of scraps to pick at. Furtive scavengers picked through piles of debris, not unlike the Ruina themselves as they sought out the tiniest scraps of sustenance. It was far from a perfect sanctuary, as the savaged city could attest...

But tonight, at least... Felt strangely peaceful.

Overhead, a hundred thousand shooting stars crossed the darkening skies - they were anything but natural, products of war between entities that dwarfed those below in size, scale, and comprehension, as they once again locked horns in a struggle for dominance...

Despite this, however... The sight was no less beautiful, even at the end of the world.
 

Hitura Rael

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#2
The dazzling display among the stars reflected in Enfeild's glasses as James stared up at the fight waging above them. If he had not known what it was... it would be beatiful, even mezmerizing to watch. It only filled him with dread. He kept it off his face well, having grown adept at hiding it ever since he picked up the little stray; now his daughter.

Tomorrow was the big day. The last hope of humanity. Why stress the teenager out with him worrying over small details like staying still in Cape Town too long, the battles being fought above, the sun dying, and the proverbial vultures constantly nipping at their heels to get the last free scraps of this universe? He adjusted the visor to sit properly on his face and turned his attention toward his family. If things go as planned tomorrow... Well.

His foster parents had often talked of the bitter sweet pain of sending him off with Enfield full time when he became a teenager. This was almost the same, sending off his little girl to do big adult things. He stood up and made his way down from his hidden lookout perch to the small camp with his 'family'. There, Merida made the final checks of the Genion and the Excellence. He had not married her as Enfield had often teased, before he died. They just... ended up falling together as a family when Sofie came along. She was a good mom... even if she swore like a sailor and exposed Sofie to toxic levels of snark. He thanked the memory of the Alabaster Goddess that the little girl did not soak it up so much.

Yet, Sofie was not so little anymore. She had grown into a beautiful young woman, just a few finger widths taller than James. And poor Merida had pouted about how big their 'little bean pole' had gotten to tower over the diminutive woman. But she did not hold it against Sofie, merely lamented her short end of the gene stick. Despite all the evil running rampant in the world now... This small pearl of normality and decency gave hope and a reason to live, despite the overwhelming odds. Though most of his loved ones were gone, he had someone to protect still.

With a satisfied smile, James sat down with Sofie in camp. "Hey Princess, How are you holding up?" If she only knew that wasn't just a pet name. He had hidden his lineage from her as best he could. It meant nothing since the moon had fallen, torn asunder by the beasts. Thankfully, the failing light of the sun hid her most nights. The nights it did not, he would not go out to see the once beautiful pale sphere's shattered corpse.
 
Feb 22, 2019
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#3
Sofie watched the glimmering figures above, determinating which were actual stars, and which were fragments of war; it was hard to discern at this point, but there were a few still she could pick out. She had memorized every astrological chart possible, mapped the stars in free time but even so.. Shaking her head, her eyes fell back to her hands, where she had been toying with a scrap few pieces of metal and gears she found a little bit ago before becoming distracted by the sky itself in it's beauty, despite the horrors that raged beyond it.

Tomorrow.. was a big day and it made her heart anxious. Many thoughts flittered through her mind, some anxious 'What if she messed up?' 'What if I'm not good enough?' other thoughts were selfish 'If I go back far enough I could save them..' 'Do I have to..' but she knew, it would be better for humanity as a whole. It was.. a lot to bare on such fragile shoulders of a young girl, barely 16.

The loud springing sound of a gear popping loose brought her wandering mind back to the ground and she blinked herself out of her reverie. Sofie saw as James retreated back from the lookout he was upon and felt instantly safer, her worried expression melting and growing soft.

She turned her attention to Merida, where the girl had been doing last minute touch ups in the two mobile weapons, and Sofie's gaze slowly went up, following at the sight of the Excellence itself. The Irish girl had grown so fond of the beautiful blue and white mechanical armored weapon, it moved so fluid once she learned to pilot it and it felt almost natural to just touch those controls.

A mild jump, as she was once again lost in thought, she turned and smiled at her adoptive father as he sat next to her, "Ahh, hey papa.."

Fidgeting with the scrapped device in her hands again, she glanced away and then to the Excellence and gave a pause before finally answering, a hint of her Irish Gaelic present though it was faint, "I'm.. nervous, to be honest wit ya.. but it'll be grand."
 

Hitura Rael

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#4
He smiled gently at her and reached out to gently pat her on the head. He didn't do anything to mess her hair up, it seemed sacriligious to do so to a woman. Plus, his hair was NEVER really taken care of so... no harm when others did it to him! He made 'just woke up' look good, at least in his own mind. Now if only he could grow a proper beard and not that scraggly thing on his face. No point shaving during the apocalypse.

"It's natural to be nervous," He took the visor off and tucked one of the arms behind the marigold satin woman's scarf tied around his neck to hold it, "Don't ever think that people who are in this kind of position aren't nervous. It's okay to be, and it's okay to hide it if you feel you need to. I'll tell you a secret. Most people who are confident in this kind of situation? They're either so full of their own crap they can't fathom things going pear shaped or they're faking it. And you know what they say, fake it til you make it."

He glanced back at the two machines, both so similarly colored. It was coincidence, the color schemes, but he was still proud of it, very symbolic. The Genion's shoulders were marked, the left with James' own sigil, a standing white stag on a field of blue, and the right the old emblem of Everglory. Tomorrow, he'd show them what those sigils stood for.

He laid back and stretched out on the ground to watch the sky. "You'll do great. You'll have time to influence the course of events and at least initially you can reliably alter things. And you know you can find us back there to help you. Just... better to approach your mama about the whole future thing than me off the bat. I was a flighty teenager. I think it took my sister six times and dragging me by the damn ear to actually go up and help her go through our parent's things." His fingers instinctivly went to the scarf around his neck.
 
Feb 22, 2019
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#5
Sofie leaned into his hand, like a cat and her grin widened at her father's touch. She was going to miss his hand in her head very much.. it was the first thing he did when he have rescued her from the war struck streets to gain her trust enough to leave the filthy shelter she had erected, just to survive. The girl had come a long way and now that she was warm and happy with her new family, it was about to be taken from her again, but this time it was going to save them.

Looking to where his eyes had landed, staring at the sigil on his Genion and an idea struck her, but she would wait until everyone was asleep to enact her little plan.

"Fake it til ya make it," she repeated softly, thinking hard on those words as she mulled it around in her mind, like a fine wine meant to be savoured, asking out loud, "How can one tell the difference I wonder.."

Hearing a shuffling movement, Sofie turned to watch James lay back and stare at the sky above, listening wisely to his words and letting them sink in, nodding briefly in response. She turned to where Merida was, seeing her mother in the distant area, taking in the woman and her features, as if it were the last time Sofie was going to see her mother.

"Mamaí," Sofie mused out loud, in affection.

The thought of not seeing either of her parents again made her heart clench, and her stomach drop. Her brows furrowed together slightly, turning her head away from her father and strictly began to tell herself 'No. This is fine. You're going.. you're going to save them And this future..'

Giving a quiet, long breath to steady herself, Sofie cleared her mind and rubbed at her eyes with the back of her hand, pretending to wipe sweat away.

'Don't cry. It's going to be okay. I can change fate.' was her mental mantra. It had to be okay. The young mobile weapon operator would accept no other fate.
 
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Hitura Rael

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#6
"You're not supposed to tell the difference on the outside. You don't project confidence for yourself. You do it for others, to reassure them, to give them strength. And in return, you take the strength you need to keep it up from them. It's an odd thing to explain, better in practice. Unless you're meaning the difference between the two types of confidence. You can easily tell that. One's an arrogant asshole with no firm grasp on reality." He chuckled.

His eyes drifted over to Sofie, then followed her line of sight to the woman working the mechs. Merida had finished up with her diagnostics and closed up the Excellence, moving on to the Genion for it's final check over, as well as ensuring the sphere was securely masked. The movement of Sofie's hand to rub her eyes caught James' attention. He sat up and pulled her against his chest. He spoke softly to the young girl, "It's okay to cry if you need to. Don't be a hard ass like her and hold it in."

Merida must have noticed the commotion, or his attempt to comfort Sofie. She closed up the Genion to let the diagnostic run without her and joined them, taking a seat on Sofie's other side and putting her arms around both of them. It was a nice feeling, how he would miss it...

"Got the jitters huh? I had them too my first mission with dingus here." She smiled at Sofie and reached up to rub her cheek. "You'll do great. Try to relax and enjoy the night. Someone's supposed to be cooking." She looked at James as she said that.

He chuckled nervously. "Oh! Right. Food. That's a good idea! But first... You think we should give them to her now?"

Merida rubbed her chin in thought. "I suppose now is as good a time as any." She sat up, letting go of the two and went to the Genion to fetch two small boxes, one wrapped neatly, the other... looked like the person wrappping it had got in a fight with a tape dispenser, scissors, ribbon, and the wrapping paper. Merida handed Sofie the two gifts with a mild blush. She obviously had been the one with the wrapping problems. She shifted a glare to James, daring him to say anything or so much as snicker.

James smiled placidly back at Merida. He knew better than to say one damn word. Besides, their antics would not do for the night. Not tonight...

The box James had prepared was wrapped in a cream colored paper, a soft pink ribbon around it and tied in a neat bow. Inside, nestled lovingly in were several bits of jewelry. A woman's gold band, set with two small sapphires on each side with a slightly larger emerald in the center of the band. A broach featuring a clover within a celtic knot, and two other rings, a woman's engagement band with a pink stone, and a man's gold wedding band.

The box Merida had prepared was a mess of the same colored paper and ribbon, though thing, long, and narrow. Inside lay a heart shaped locket, a picture of the three of them neatly cut out and set inside.
 
Feb 22, 2019
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#7
The young girl had heard every word James had said, it all sank in, but she didn't quite have the words to respond back. She flinched reactively as he pulled her into her chest and it.. it took a lot to not break down; Sofie was scared. The brunette felt her eyes begin to well up, her breathing began to slow and quiver, still holding it in.

The walls broke down the moment she felt Merida wrap her arms around the two of them and she began to softly cry; quiet, hushed little sobs, her shoulders shook and body trembled. It eased up after a moment or two had passed, as Sofie was so desperate to not lose her newfound family, that she turned her fear into a sort of armor that would help shield her and carry her through the tough times that lay ahead.

Her smile, though weak at first, grew as Merida's hand rubbed her cheek, eyes still a little watery, but no more tears were shed. Sofie began to laugh as mamaí shot her father a look, feeling as though a load was lifted from her chest and felt her smile grow wider as she laughed.

Wiping again at her face with her fingertips, the Irish girl looked to Merida as the woman ran to go grab something, glancing back to James curiously, then Merida again as she was presented two boxes. Leaning away from James, she took them in bewilderment and excitement! What could it be?

Gently opening the boxes, she stared in awe at the gifts bestowed to her, taking in each gift and visually appreciating each before oh so tenderly plucking it from the box and holding it in her hands, placing it back in the box right after. She clutched tightly to the locket and it took only a moment for it to hit her and Sofie launched herself around Merida and James again, tears once again flowing, but she was smiling this time, "Mamaí.. dadaí."
 

Hitura Rael

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#8
James smiled and held the two girls close. His eyes misted up, just a little, as Sofie cried into them. "Sorry it's just a bunch of jewelry and junk. We couldn't think of much else to give you..."

Merida wiped her own tears away and hugged the girl tight. "Well now we just hope papa can make a decent meal with what we have and get some sleep. Gotta be well rested for tomorrow." Not to mention the light might attract scavengers. That would not do anyone any good.

James planted a soft kiss on Sofie's forehead, then pulled away to fiddle with the portable synthesizer he had had for several years now. He gave the thing a good hard love tap to get it going.

Merida rolled her eyes at him, "You're going to break it like that!" She let Sofie go to stalk over and swipe the machine away, holding it close to her face to fix it.

James chuckled and put his visor back on. "Not my fault the thing's ten years old."

"Yes it is!" Merida retorted and stalked off to the Genion to check the diagnostic as she repaired it.

James stretched and sat back down with Sofie. "Sorry if the broach was er... cliche... It was hard to figure out what to make for you. Your own little representation of yourself."
 
Feb 22, 2019
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#9
Sofie beamed at James, clutchcing her new gifts with great fondness, "No aye. I love em. I'll make sure to cherish them."

Slipping the heart locket around her head, she glanced to the jewelry and contemplated wearing them, especially the broach, which caught her fancy with the infinite way it looped on itself. She ran her finger along it, tracing the knot and then over the clover, feeling instantly homesick of a land she hardly remembers.

She nodded with a soft smile, watching with affection as her parents fought, suppressing a small laugh, watching Merida yoink the device from James, causing Sofie to snicker behind her hand, grinning widely.

"Do you need help with cooking, papa?" Sofie asked after a moment, watching Merida tinker with the device and storm off to finish the updates and diagnostics. Sofie stared at the visor James wore, a little pang reminding her of a burning question she has had for quote some time.

"Ah.. papa? I..? Hm. Well.. you remember the girl from some time ago, the brunette? Oh there was a few of them.. oy.. aah uhm.. well," Sofie began to fidget with her new broach, and clenched it tightly, "I don't think I like boys. Girls are so much prettier and?" Sofie stuttered, her normal eloquence going all over the place. This was clearly more nerve wracking than the end of the world.

"I just wanted to tell you before I left.. because what if I can't make it back and I'm stuck? I wanted you and Mama know at least.." the daughter said finally, hoping her words made sense.

'Oh for fecks sake, just say it..' her mind screamed at her.
 

Hitura Rael

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#10
James smiled down at her and watched her put the locket on. "It looks good on you." He reached out to pull her hair out from under the chain and gently let it fall to her shoulders. It was a damn good thing he had that visor on. No wonder Enfield always wore it. It hid the tears in his eyes quite well. If things had not gone so badly... No use thinking about that. If he kept it up he'd drive himself crazy thinking about what could have been and what would happen to Sofie if this succeeded.

"I'll be fine with the cooking. I used to do a lot more than this when I was young! I think my sister got tired of all the baking I did for her." He chuckled and turned his head to watch Merida. He glanced back at Sofie without turning his head. "Brunette? Which one?" Though from the sound of it, it did not matter which one.He went silent to let her finish her thoughts.

And then he laughed. He didn't MEAN to laugh. It was amusing that she would confess the very thing he had casually tried to drop to his siblings rather unsuccessfully until he and Enfield nearly let their bond die over a stupid misunderstanding. "Sorry! Sorry. I know I shouldn't laugh." He ran a hand under the visor to wipe his eyes. "You didn't have to hide it sweety. I guess I never had a chance to really be open to you, or didn't think it was important. I myself prefer men. Why'd you think I never married her?" He gestured to Merida.
 
Feb 22, 2019
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#11
The girl smiled still as he reached out and she paused, leaning in a little to give better access to the jewelry. She leaned back again once James was finished, smiling and she lightly laid her hand on top of it. She stared at her own reflection in her father's glasses, as if trying her best to read him; maybe that's why he started wearing Uncle En's visor, to block out any facial recognition of emotion? The eyes were always dead giveaways in lies or when hiding emotions..

"T-the brunette that uh.. uhm.." she replied, her cheeks turning a hue of bright pink, her fingers fidgeting with the trinkets she had received, but her eyes went wide and she looked startled from the eruption of laughter, like a deer in headlights. She was completely embarrassed and covered her face with her hands, muffling out something indiscernible but peeked through her fingers as James began to apologize, turning a brighter pink, which made her freckles almost disappear under the blush.

"A-ah...??" there was a pause of it settling in. Another pause to look towards Merida. And yet another pause to stare.

Her head whipped around so fast to stare at James as she gave an audible gasp, "Are you feckin' with me right now? You.. you and Uncle En...? You're..?" She causally glanced to the rings in her hand in curiousity, then back to James with a muddled look of confusion and acceptance.
 

Hitura Rael

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#12
James laughed harder at Sofie's floundering followed up by the assumption between him and Enfield. "Oh good Goddess! No!" He pulled the visor off to wipe his eyes, full of amusement now. "No. Enfield loved his women. That ring is my father's. I have something from all my family."

He tipped the visor toward her. "Enfields visor so he is always watching me." His hand went to the marigold scarf around his neck. "Selene's scarf, I gave it to her for her birthday before the ZONE went haywire..." He pointed to the man's wedding band in her hand, "My father's wedding band, Selene had mother's. And..." His finger went up to touch the locket. "My mother's treasured locket."

He smiled softly at her, eyes full of pride and a distant sorrow. "We gave you things that had meaning to us. Except the broach of course, that was made especially for you. Took us a while to find someone who would make it. But yes, truth be told, I am somewhat in the same boat as you. I like both of the sexes, I just happen to prefer men. I think I almost killed Enfield on his fries when he FINALLY understood. It doesn't matter what's in your pants or their pants, as long as you love them and you make each other happy." He chuckled a little again and put the visor back on.

"I honestly never found anyone. I was always too busy fighting or surviving. And then we found you... and you needed us. And we just decided together that we would raise you as our own. She's a good friend, even if she is a bit..."

"Bitchy?" Merida finished for him, setting the synthesizer down in front of him.
 
Feb 22, 2019
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#13
"I dunno I think Uncle En was a little.." she muttered a little, feeling disappointed at the news, but was smirking a little, feeling better about herself. Sofie looked to each object as it was pointed out, taking in the features and details as if for the last time, nodding as each was spoken about. Looking to the rings in her hands and blinking as the locket was touched and looked back up at James with another smile, clutching it again.

"I'll make sure to keep it safe on my person, at all times," she replied softly, tucking the broach into her pocket, the rings went on varying fingers she felt would arrange the prettiest; the sapphire studded ring was small enough to go on her pinky, the man's gold band around her middle, and the woman's engagement around the other middle finger.

"I never woulda known you swung both ways.. get outta the garden," Sofie said with a laugh, grinning much wider, feeling more at home, safer once again, adding dreamily with a softer look, "But girls are so pretty.. when they walk its like they float, papa."

Her face remained soft as James recounted the memories of finding her as a young girl, and she felt warm inside again, smirking and suppressing a laugh as Merida set down the synthesizer, grinning to her and speaking excitedly, as if she were a 10 year old again "Hey mama~ Papa says its okay to like girls!"
 

Hitura Rael

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#14
He smiled at her, watching her put the rings on. "Remember, you can put those rings on the chain. Your mother wore that engagement ring like that." James took the machine and stepped away to give the two girls more room while he worked his moon magic.

Merida sat down and nodded. "Yeah. It's fine to like whoever you like. Just... you know within bounds." She smiled to Sofie and put an arm around her. "Tonight is a good night to get everything off your chest. No matter what, we love you."
 
Feb 22, 2019
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#15
"I'll wear em like this for now," she responded simply to her father, smiling. Her little mind was still wandering and wondering.. She could have SWORN Enfield was too.. hm.. oh well.

She blinked out of her thoughts as she turned to Merida, smiling and cuddling into her mother, sliding down and resting her head on Merida's shoulders, curling her legs against her, feeling warm and safe again, "Thanks mama. Love you too."

There was a bit of a pause as she stared at James, wondering quietly at first before she spoke up, almost blankly, to Merida, "So, how do I go about.. the whole future is in doomsday and humanity is almost perished thing to papa."
 

Hitura Rael

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#16
Merida froze slightly at that. "Uh... That... that is a very good question." She frowned. "I don't know. I think a good way to go about it is to be... slow and gentle. And it will depend when you end up. James was very flighty with most of his responsibility when we were younger. I mean, you could rely on him for game raids and cooking dinner, but that was about it."

She shifted slightly, pulling a knee up and leaning her head on to Sofie's. "I think you'd have to do it slowly. Get his trust first. Probably prove it to him somehow... some way he won't find it creepy."
 
Feb 22, 2019
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#17
Sofie looked up at Merida from her reclined position, pausing as she allowed her mama to talk, soaking up the information like a sponge. She pursed her lips in thought, tilting her head a little. Thoughts and plans began to formulate..

"Trust," she repeated softly, watching James curiously, mulling over different ways to encounter her past father, she then held up her hand, showing the man and woman's engagement rings, "How about I show him these? Papa said he had them when he was younger, so if he has them then.. and I have these too.. That'll show I'm telling the truth, eh?"
 

Hitura Rael

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#18
She shrugged. "Jewelry is common. He wouldn't even recognize the engagement ring as far back as we're aiming. With luck, you get there long before I met the man who gave that to me." She drummed her fingers on her thigh in as she thought. "I don't recommend showing him his insignia either. He doesn't take that until after raising in ranks among the knights..."

She stopped fidgeting and scratched her head. "Damn. I really don't know. I think your best bet is to tell him about a disaster that is coming... and then try to get him to prevent it? You'll have plenty to chose from." She sighed. "... Maybe the OS on the Excellence... Or any surveillance that might survive the trip on the hard drives? That's about all I can think of. Honestly, I'm shocked he hasn't been a COMPLETE dork and given you a letter to give to himself."
 
Feb 22, 2019
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#19
Sofie was entirely silent as Merida listed all then possible routes and the backfires they could take. She sighed and sunk into Merida's chest, resting her head on Merida's shoulder, legs sliding up. What could possibly be a good way to show James the way?

"Would it be better if I made papa write a letter? Or should I just try to talk to your past self, Mama?" she added in after a pause of thought, twisting the rings on her fingers.
 

Hitura Rael

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#20
"I honestly don't know if he would believe it. I don't think I'd believe it without proof of some kind. Excellence's black box may be the best hope you have, besides your own knowledge of history. If it makes you feel better we can try to record something or write a message. It won't hurt to try all avenues." She put her arm around Sofie, resting her hand on the girl's back. "You'll figure it out. You're an intelligent girl. You just... if you want to enlist James' help, you'll need to do it before his sister dies. It'll be harder to get to him after that."

James strode over to the pair with two bowls in his hands. "I have made...something!" He said extravagantly, holding the bowls of what looked to be ramen out to them. "I know I should have gone fancier... But I didn't want to attract attention." He sighed and pointed upward. "Never know." He sat down next to them with a grin. "Not interrupting girl talk right? I can come back."