Shadowed Thoughts (Tyr)

Aug 4, 2018
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Somewhere in the UK
#1
Earth Lagrange Point Two

January 20th. 0300 hours UTC.

While many people know of the five Lagrangian points around earth's orbit - and their role as colonial clusters - very few care about their specific designation as Lunar points. The Earth has two additional points concerning its orbit around the earth itself. The first of these points is primarily used for solar observation - being too close to the sun for any sane individual to attempt to live there. While the second point is also primarily a glorified observatory, the possibility of human life being able to sustain itself at that point exists.

And life does exist. It just doesn't stay there very long unless it can help it.

A single artificial station drifts among the satellites and debris, carefully disguised such that one might mistake it for just another satellite at a distance. But this was no mere satellite.
Orbital Habitat - "Tailwind"

STATUS REPORT:
Station operating at full capacity.
Life support - 99.5%
Power - Charging, currently at 70%
Current Messages - 3
There has been 1 resupply since your last visit.

Welcome home, operatives.
Liana pushed the message away with a sigh. Their last operation had been successful, but it left her feeling... unfulfilled. All they'd done was sabotage the chance of a colonial victory against those monsters - and without being able to find the time to assist on their own merits. She kept telling herself that their machines would have been little more than dead weight as they are.

The hard part was forcing herself to believe that.

"Laura - Debriefing once we're docked. We need to discuss what happened today."

While Liana's annoyance was by no means an unfamiliar sound, this time it was... different. She wasn't mad at a prank or some other unforeseen circumstance. It almost seemed like she was annoyed at herself for some reason.
 
Aug 25, 2018
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#2
Laura had pestered Liana about being willing to sell her for most of the journey, but had fallen silent some time before they reached their base. "Sure thing Merchant." Laura quipped, though she too sounded different than usual. It wasn't often that she sounded weary or anything other than the cheerful demeanor she usually had, but now she sounded weary, as if thoroughly tired of something.

What that something was was anyone's guess.

After landing, Laura briefly visited her room to grab a pen as well as a notebook to doodle to. After a brief consideration she also grabbed a bag of gummy bears before heading to the room where Liana liked to have her debriefings at.
 
Aug 4, 2018
190
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16
Somewhere in the UK
#3
Liana had claimed the common room for her 'Debriefing', activating a projector in the center of the table. By the time Laura returned she was in the middle of reconfiguring it to show both their machines in their damaged states, barely acknowledging her until she was finished. She'd wave the fox over to one of the seats, still standing as she cleared her throat.

"Okay... I'm going to start with the good. Mission complete, we're both alive, and all three targets were eliminated." Her tone was.. devoid of emotion, but not in her usual boring fashion. She was just going through the motions, repeating an almost rehearsed speech while her mind was busy elsewhere.

The Circle was a threat. Prometheus didn't want the circle to get a foothold. The Circle must be destroyed, with all collaborators.

But was that... really the highest priority? Were they really doing this the right way?

"We've taken heavy damage. My plating is easy to fix, and our superiors have promised to supply us with the exotic materials the protector requires. But.. But.. but..." Liana paused mid sentence, repeating herself a few times as she tried to remember what she was going to say.

Endless war without loss of life. But all we did today was kill people and stop others from saving lives.

"...But it's going to take some time for everything to be fixed. Debriefing over." She slumped down on the seat with a sigh, disabling the projector with a wave of her hand.

"That's all going on the record - anything else we discuss today isn't. So I'm going to ask you a question, and I want a serious answer." Liana wasn't suppressing anything any more. She sounded confused now.. almost sad.

"Do you think we did the right thing today?"
 
Aug 25, 2018
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#4
Laura snorted at Liana's question. "From an idealistic, theoretical standpoint nothing that we do is the 'right thing' Liana." Her doodling had stopped for a moment as Liana demanded seriousness, but they resumed their work soon after, the pause only lasting long enough for Laura to throw a gummy bear aimed right at Liana's mouth.

"But even not accounting for such silly foolishness I see absolutely nothing that would justify what we did today!" Laura declared brightly with a wide smile. "It certainly doesn't bring Shadow Mirror any closer to its ultimate goal, for that it would've been far better to aid the Colony under siege by the Lamalice. They've been left to die by the Directory so turning the Colonist against Earth would not be difficult. But at the same time it doesn't even meaningfully deny the boogeymen Prometheus fears so much."

Her hands paused again, but this time Laura calmly put them down to the table, staring Liana straight to the eyes. "No matter how you slice it Prometheus fucked up big time."

Challenging her to refute her point.
 
Aug 4, 2018
190
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16
Somewhere in the UK
#5
Liana went to bat the flying object away until she realised exactly what it was, grabbing it with her left hand and frowning at Laura. "Can you... please stop fooling around. I'm trying to have a serious discussion."

Her frown only grew as Laura went on. She agreed with parts of it, but at the same time...

This can't have been something Prometheus was behind. It goes against his ideals as I know them.

"You cannot lay the blame on Pro- on a single individual for this operation. Someone fucked up. I don't know who - that spymaster always seemed shifty - but the point remains - blowing up aliens is a waste of our time and in this case a waste of human lives. But..." She trailed off, not willing to speak the rest of the sentence out loud.

But what if I'm simplying imposing my ideals onto an impression of him?

"I'll look into it. See if I can figure out who was behind this, and make my own opinions on the subject clear. Maybe it's time to shift our own operations as well - move away from causing chaos, see if we can snatch something useful instead." Liana amost seemed to be talking to herself at the end, putting the sweet into her mouth and chewing idly while she waited for Laura to shoot back with some new and exciting mockery.
 
Aug 25, 2018
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#6
"I am entirely serious about my fooling around." Laura assured Liana.

Her amusement didn't last long as Liana went on with her rebuttals - apparently completely blind to her hypocrisy. By the end Laura's ears were drooping as she looked at Liana with a mixture of pity, sorrow and even scorn.

"You are such a sad existence." Laura declared flatly. "Are you truly so blind that you do not even see the immediate hypocrisy you turned to? You claim you can't blame one person for that mess of a operation and then proceed to do the very thing to avoid criticizing our dear leader." Laura pointed a finger at Liana.

A finger Liana had seen carve on man's face like knife through butter. It was not a very friendly gesture. "I was Shadow Mirror's enemy once, and am now on its payroll. I've noticed that most of you can actually be bearable, not at all different from people you might find elsewhere. Not you though. You worship Prometheus like some sort of a god. Even to me it is obvious that that is not normal. Your leader is not infallible, Sheep. No one is. I'd like my gummy bear back."
 
Aug 4, 2018
190
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16
Somewhere in the UK
#7
Liana glared for a moment, then spat out a small gooey pile of sugar and jelly directly at the Foxgirl. "There." Sure, it was a childish response. But wrangling her partner seemed to be more akin to babysitting half the time as it was.

"You know my history already, but I'll spell it out for you. My own people cast me away, left me for dead - or worse - and yet Prometheus and his group took me in. I wasn't tossed aside, or used as bait, or sacrificed for some tactical advantage. They simply talked to me. Call it resocialising, call it propaganda, call it whatever the fuck you want - but that is where my beliefs were shaped! You keep going on about how I don't think for myself, but what other bullshit thought process would you have me attach myself to? Your home is gone. Even if I wanted to follow whatever their structures were we don't have enough records."

She was standing now, shouting across the table at Laura.

"And yet whenever we disagree you claim I'm wrong because my thoughts aren't my own - because I worship Prometheus. You're wrong. I follow him because he puts those beliefs into practice. I do not follow him because of who he is - I follow him because of what he does - and the ideals we share. But if it turns out we don't?" Liana paused for a moment, realising just how far across the table she'd gotten and sitting herself back down with a sharp breath.

"Then both our places within Shadow-Mirror will need to be reconsidered." Liana had a dark look on her face as she finished speaking and wiped her mouth - as if she was already pondering murder.
 
Aug 25, 2018
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#8
Laura caught the sugary projectile with the paper she had doodled on, carefully wrapping it around the remains of the once proud bear. "Thank you."

There was a faintly amused smile on Laura's face as Liana vented, outwardly not reacting to it in any way.

Why did she have to deal with this? She wasn't at all qualified to deal with the childish outburst of the poor lost lamb in front of her. She knew nothing of helping the poor broken thing in front of her. Her supposed 'captain.'
And yet she would not, could not, leave Liana alone either. "Back to trying to play a shrink I suppose." Laura murmured to herself, her smile disappearing.
She really needed a vacation.

"You really are an idiot. I keep telling you to think for yourself because you never do so! Attach yourself to a thought process? Especially someone else's? Why would you ever do something so stupid, so limiting? It really is quite simple. Do what you want, advance towards whatever goal you yourself want to go towards, free of the influence of others. I would not be here if I followed some ridiculous 'thought process' of Maake or Shadow Mirror. People are far more complex than any ideal or plan, that's what makes messing with them so amusing."
 
Aug 4, 2018
190
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16
Somewhere in the UK
#9
"You just don't seem to get that what I want to do corresponds with the goals of those I work for." Liana shook her head in disbelief. Was this fox incapable of understanding how other people thought? "Not everyone is like you. Why do you think so many organisations have soldiers willing to fight and die for them?"

"How about we swap roles for a while. You can juggle operations and missions and repairs and I'll sit here on the sidelines, picking apart and bitching about literally everything you do. Maybe once you've gone through the same crap I have to deal with every time we're on a job you'll have a different perspective on things!"

She was venting at this point - getting out every frustration and issue that came to mind, without care for the consequences.
 
Aug 25, 2018
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#10
Laura rolled her eyes. "Yes because soldiers definitely want to kill each other and throw their lives for the petty wants of their superiors, they definitely don't just want to get home back to peaceful life. Instead they obviously want to kill themselves on the enemies' weapons for superiors that will never fight a single time in their lives. You after all are a perfect example of such a soldier are you not?"

She was getting visibly annoyed as well. "Picking apart and bitching about everything I do? And you think you can make up something I haven't heard dozens of times already? I see the values of Reflection and Maake are still strong within you. You're still just like most of the people in Reflection."
 
Aug 4, 2018
190
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16
Somewhere in the UK
#11
"If nobody wanted to fight, there wouldn't be any soldiers. Do you see any conscripts fighting on these battlefields? People are always going to fight, with or without us. But if this plan works - there won't be any meaningless death involved."

Liana visibly bristled at the comparison, her ears twitching as she glared across the table.

"Don't compare what we're doing here to your home. They sent teenagers to their deaths to try and preserve a 'peace' that couldn't save them." She shook her head in disgust.
 
Aug 25, 2018
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#12
Laura bared her teeth at Liana. She was sick of all of this.

She tried to honor Maake's memory in her own. Tried to change, tried to become a better person, that one would no think that Maake had been a shithole that deserved to be destroyed based on her demeanor.
Liana was making that very difficult at the moment.

So why bother?

For three years she had listened to Liana disparage Maake and distance herself from it, claiming that they had abandoned her. It was like she had expected them to just do what Shadow Mirror wanted and waltz to an obvious trap to save one soldier.

They hadn't even had a single vacation. Maybe if they had they wouldn't be having this argument.
Then again, if Liana was wise enough to not neglect the mental aspect of captaincy things never would've gone this far anyway.

Already preparing to cast a Dogma should Liana jump at her, Laura began to speak. "The one who sent you on that mission was discharged, and had quickly become a pariah to everyone in Maake. But of course you wouldn't care about that, after all you hate our home and everyone in it, including your parents."

"I am glad. Glad that your parents died when they did. They didn't break down after you went MIA or even when you were presumed dead. Instead they strived to change Maake in memory of their darling baby. They were so close to accomplishing lasting change before they died. And yet it was better for them to die at the hands of the Creeping Dark, Duminas and her children than to live to see what their darling has become: A fool who blindly hates her old home and regurgitates the talking points of her new 'friends.'"

Each word was spat out with venom with the intent to hurt.

Laura hoped they did hurt, if they did there was still a reason for her to stay in Shadow Mirror.

If not...

It hadn't been fun, and it would be time to leave.
 
Aug 4, 2018
190
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16
Somewhere in the UK
#13
Glad that your parents died when they did.

At any other time? Those words would have meant nothing to Liana. But now? Like this? What was left of her composure threatened to shatter like glass.

They strived to change Maake.

"You knew about this from the start."

Deep breaths. In. Out. Don't give her the satisfaction. Her words were slow and stilted, each syllable dripping with rage. Every moment she spent contemplating what Laura had said just made her angrier - she'd known all of this. Kept it hidden. Only mentioning it to kick her when she was down.

"And the only time you bring this up... after three years... is to mock me over it. You... You..."

She couldn't find a word hard enough. Violence would have to suffice. Liana launched herself out of her seat, hands balled into fists as she dived after her 'companion'. This was against mission parameters - there was no logic to the attack. Just blind, unfettered, anger. Anger about every slight, every joke, every prank. And at this moment all she wanted to do was make Laura pay.
 
Aug 25, 2018
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#14
"Water, bind mine enemy." The Dogma Laura had been preparing for a while was unleashed by the simple command as Liana lunged at her. The two were separated by a man-sized blue circle that shot a large sphere of water that was easily able to hold Liana inside it towards her. The edges seemed to constantly flow towards the center, yet the sphere still stayed intact. At the same time Laura jumped backwards as an additional precaution. If touched by the sphere, Liana would find herself pushed towards the center by the strong current.

"Suddenly caring about them despite never asking about them during these three years we've had?" Laura goaded.

The sphere was designed to drag the enemy to the center and keep them there, until the spell was broken or until they drowned. Laura was certain Liana wouldn't be able to escape it if she didn't dodge it.

"Even had I said something about them before you would've mocked and derided them."
 
Aug 4, 2018
190
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16
Somewhere in the UK
#15
The sphere was conjured right in Liana's path, the poor wolfgirl getting yanked into it through a combination of her own momentum and the shfiting current. After a bit of futile wriggling she settled for glaring at Laura, holding her breath as best as possible. She couldn't breathe in the sphere - let alone shout abuse - which was... probably for the best. To speak one needs to have words to say, and Liana was all out of those as well.

...She's not wrong.

She's getting into your head. Ignore her. Ignore all this.

No.

Blood is irrelevant. The Shadow-mirror are your family. Focus on the mission.

They were my family. And she's mocking them.

What would Prometheus think?

"I DON'T CARE!"

Liana tried to shout that last phrase into the bubble, simply wasting precious air as she tried to swim out and force her way through the current. Laura may have been right. But that didn't matter. The mission didn't matter. All that mattered was finding a way to stick a fist in that smug face.
 
Aug 25, 2018
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#16
"Don't feel too bad about this." Laura stated casually while walking next to the bubble. "I've been doing this since shortly after you started school."

"But I wonder, did you react this way because I made mockery of your family despite the fact that you, a Shadow Mirror operative, should not care about anyone in Maake...or is it because you think I am right? You certainly would know your family better than I, I only met with them a few times."

Still a little longer before she'd disperse the bubble, until Liana was almost out of air.
She really had no desire to be punched.

"I suggest you take some time to think about it." Laura continued, this time a little kinder. With that she turned around and headed for the exit, the water bubble exploding and releasing Liana to gasp for breath.

Yet at the doorway she paused, as if she had remembered something. "One more thing: I'll be taking that captaincy you offered temporarily. The arrangement will last for the duration of repairs and four weeks afterwards. Coincidentally once the repairs are done we will have a four week vacation, away from each other. Both of us need a vacation and not least because you haven't given a single one to either for us for three years."
 
Aug 4, 2018
190
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16
Somewhere in the UK
#17
Liana collapsed to the floor, coughing water out of her lungs and gasping for air. Despite her current state she still took the time to glare up at Laura, letting out a weak growl and spluttering out one final remark.

"You really think... I'm going to give you... ammo?"

Everything she'd said to Laura before was used to beat her around the head. There was not a chance in hell she was giving Laura any satisfaction by answering this question. The wolf's arms gave out right after, leaving her lying there while she was left alone. Moments passed.

Make a report. She's too hard to control. Possible threat.

She struggled to her feet, using the table as a crutch once her body was capable of standing once more.

Leave the base. Vent out the air. Nobody could survive that.

No. Not killing her.

Dangers need to be eliminated. Threats to the plan cannot be allowed to remain.

Proving her wrong will be more satisfying.

You're better than her. Just kill her. It's what Prometheus would do.

If I'm better than her... why did I spend that entire conversation dancing to her tune?

...

The voice in her subconscious fell silent. She left the room, stalking through the corridors to find her own room and practically collapsing onto her bed. Liana was sleeping within moments, shifting around restlessly as she replayed the conversation in her dreams.
 
Aug 25, 2018
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#18
Laura tilted her head to the side at Liana's words. "Ah, so it is both then. Good to know."

Her steps as she left the meeting room were her usual ones. Light with the occasional whimsical oddity in the rhythm. They stayed the same until she reached her room, like nothing was wrong.

And then she unceremoniously collapsed on the floor, her back sliding on the surface of the closed door.

She was not suited for this. Nothing about her made her well suited for this. Anyone else from Reflection would've been better for this than her. The accusations of her deceased comrades from all those years ago came back to her.

Laura was untrustworthy. A cruel woman fit only for spreading chaos, someone who didn't spare a single thought about the lives her actions took. She didn't deserve any honor or accolades. She should've been discharged ages ago.

Laura shook her head, driving the thoughts away. They had been right on most counts then, she had even taken pride in it. But she was not that Laura anymore. Couldn't afford to be, not with her life being the last part of Maake's legacy.

She stood up with a sigh. She still had work to do as the temporary captain, even if she couldn't do everything until Liana had time to calm down some. Laura had undeniably fucked up, but hopefully it hadn't been big enough to push Liana away from her for good.

At least she could use this opportunity to upgrade Vernie. And finally, finally have that vacation at long last.

It had been far, far too long since her last one.