2019-05-04: A Gloomy Reunion

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  • Log: 2019-05-04: A Gloomy Reunion
  • Cast: Ivan, Talia
  • Where: Crusader Forward Base
  • Date: May 04, 2019
  • Summary: Talia confirms that Ivan is alive after the battle with Sin.

===============================<* Crusader Forward Base *>===============================
To the west of the Mi'ihen Highroad is found a long, jagged mountain chain that serves as a weather break and help keep both Luca and the Highroad itself safe from vicious storms. A large plateau in this chain, overlooking a wide, sloping beach, has been selected as the forward operating base for the Crusaders' Operation Mi'ihen.
The site is swarming with frenetic activity, as Crusaders move on critical errands, or train in mass combat in preparation for the assault. A few Yevonite robes can be seen among the masses, belonging to priests and priestesses who have refused to abandon those who are seeking to put an end to Sin.
On either side of the plateau can be seen a pair of large, glistening metal... things. These are ancient machina weapons, being tended to by the Al Bhed. Even in spite of the cooperation existing between the two groups, each tends to associate with their own.
<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

For Ivan, the thought that other lives have been unfairly exchanged to prolong his own is a familiar one, but familiarity hasn't removed its sting. The cleanup in the aftermath of the battle with Sin is a meditation on that theme. Every fighter who was caught in that blast might have been one who could have been saved in his place, and the world would probably be better off for it. But that's what he's about, isn't it? Clawing and scrabbling to keep his own foothold in the universe, and damn anybody else who threatens it. Even if all they've done wrong is exist.

Even if all they've done is try to protect others.

Despite the dramatic disparity between the dead and the living, moving the remains of the fallen doesn't take as long as one might expect--the power of the blast disintegrated those closest to it, and for a number of them, there was nothing left to collect.

And so, a few hours later, Ivan's part is done for the time being, and he has some time to collect himself and recover from the ordeal.

It's not as necessary for him, he thinks. He's not shaken like the others. He deals with death all the time. He lives and breathes survivor's guilt. And he has no fear of his own death, just an obstinate refusal to accept it. This is basically just a... normal day. Yes. Normal.

And so, in keeping with being someone who is thoroughly un-shaken, he sits down huddled on a rock, staring at the ground, soaked from the rain and unmoving, for... well, far longer than he's consciously aware of doing that.

<Pose Tracker> Talia has posed.

Talia did not go to fight Sin. She thought it was a fool's venture. She thought that her twin brother would know that -- and it never quite clicked in her mind that what he thought was irrelevant. It was only what the Guard commanded. Then, a few hours ago, she arrived at the Crusader camp for one Crusader to confirm they had seen her twin.

She couldn't get to the battle in time.

It is the aftermath that she is working her way through. She went through the dead and dying; through shattered cliff sides and past rows of corpses. She finds her way, finally, to Ivan by accident.

She turns a corner, before she sees him sitting on a rock -- alone, staring down at the water. Rain is pelting down on her, though she has a cloak pulled about her. The weather-proofed one that Ammy gave her bounces the rain off. She blinks her eyes, feeling them tear up.

She starts blinking more and comes up to him. She tilts her head, leaning down to see his. And she almost sounds casual, until her voice cracks.

"Y-You never seemed like you would get eaten by a whale, with how much you hate to swim," she says. "I should not have worried much, no?"

<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

"Ta-Talia!" Ivan's head snaps up, as if she's waking him from sleep. He just stares at her a few moments before he answers.

"Yeah, of course I'm okay, it was... no problem?" He thinks that a laugh might lighten that statement, but it comes out sort of loud and hiccupy and weird as he involuntarily mentally superimposes a memory of a field full of corpses.

He reaches out and kind of pulls her down to him in a hug.

"Why are you here? You weren't in the battle somewhere, were you?!"

<Pose Tracker> Talia has posed.

"No--no, I stayed back," Talia says, deciding that seems the important question to answer. When he pulls her down into a hug, there isn't any resistance. She hugs him back around the shoulders, tightly. She also buries her face against his shoulder.

Which, really, is what Talia does when she starts to cry and wants -- somehow -- to hide that. She sniffs, loudly, and gets her emotions mostly under control.

"But--I wanted to come and see what happened, and--and help, if things went wrong, no?" she says, quietly. "Other friends of mine did, too. You--" She looks up at him. "Vanya, you are really look? I was--I thought--I saw what it did, like it did to Azado, and..."

<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

"It didn't get me, it got everyone else," he says, quiet and a bit toneless. He meant it to underscore that he's okay, but it rings hollow.

He isn't unscathed from the fight with the sinspawn, but his wounds aren't serious, and his dark, wet clothing is hiding any blood fairly well.

"Is this what Azado was like?"

He hugs her a little tighter--it's okay if he's comforting her, if they're talking about her memories and the things she's seen. Talia is caring and would be affected by the kinds of horrors this thing brings about. He's not the one who needs it, no.

<Pose Tracker> Talia has posed.

Everyone else, Talia thinks.

She swallows, and then she hugs him tighter with her arms. She looks down when he returns it, and then she shakes her head against his shoulder. "It... sort of. It fired the blast into the city. It destroyed so much of it, no? While... while the people attacking it could do nothing. We only could... could watch."

Her lips tremble, and then she shivers. "It was horrible. Seeing it again, it was... it was just as horrible, in different ways."

She looks up at him. "The people in the Guard--the ones here. They were strong, no? I heard two of the Four Heroes and the Dragonmaster were here. Maybe... some of them made it, no?"

<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

"There was a barrier. At first it covered us all, but then Lord Borgan had to... had to concentrate it, I think."

That part happened in a rush, while Ivan was still under the influence of a Slow spell. But he knows the barrier wouldn't have been retracted for no reason.

"Only the ones who were behind it survived, or who were far enough away from Sin. It was only a fraction of the people who came. Lord Leo is alive. He-- uh... he saved me."

Those words taste a bit sour. There are facets to Ivan's guilt, and one of them is a sense that he stole something from Lord Leo, in being rescued by him. The opportunity to save a real person.

"It seems like the Dragonmaster died. He's one of the ones where there's nothing left except scraps of clothing."

<Pose Tracker> Talia has posed.

If Leo saved Ivan, then Talia owes him a debt of gratitude. She isn't sure that, after everything she was involved in, that it is one she can tell him. She doubts she could ever repay that debt, though; how could she ever compare to one of the Four Heroes?

"That's... that is terrible, no? That nothing could happen--that the barrier could protect so few. But... you are alive," she says, softly.

She swallows, and then glances down. Her eyes widen slightly. Dragonmasters didn't die. It simply never happened -- or, when it did, it was the sort of darkest days spoken of in legends. She makes a small sound.

"...What do you think the Guard will do next?" she asks, quietly. "What will Father do?"

<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

Ivan is alive, yes. What a poor silver lining for the carnage of the day, though Ivan himself can't complain about it.

"The Guard--I don't know. It would make sense to turn around and leave, wouldn't it? What did we accomplish except so show ourselves what the Spirans were trying to tell us about Sin all along, and get a lot of people killed in the process? And unless Lord Ghaleon is playing some kind of dark prank, we've lost his power, so we've got even less to hit it with..."

But maybe, despite all of this, they'll do this again. Althena wills it, and all of that. He looks at Talia with a shrug, that question bringing some dread to his expression.

"As for Father, I guess he'll be looking at it for some kind of opportunity for himself, just like with everything that happens."

<Pose Tracker> Talia has posed.

"...I know, Vanya," Talia says, quietly. "The Guard... they are driven, no? They believe. In--in a way we never really could." Talia never doubted the Goddess was real. She had been told that their ancestors had met her; that Lubov broke bread with people who spoke with her. But, it was hard to buy into the notion that Althena loved her and cared for her.

If She did, then why did Talia have the life she did?

"I hope they stop," she says. "But... I am conflicted. If they left, you would have to go with them. If you stay... they might mean to try this madness again." And, this time, with fewer resources. Talia swallows, and then she glances down.

"It is all Lubov is good for," she says bitterly. "Using other people."

<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

"It will be okay," Ivan tells her. "I'm too stubborn to die, so it's okay if we stay and keep fighting. And I've been a pain in your ass lately, so if I get shipped back across the water and we don't see eachother for a while you can have sort of a vacation from that."

He offers her a smile that he takes a little too long in committing to.

To be honest, though, this is new territory. Ivan has done no end of unsavory things for Lubov, but their father has never actually asked him to walk into a situation he wouldn't realistically be able to walk out of again. Is he willing to do that? If it came to that, shouldn't he run? But, what, sneak off like a coward, abandoning the Guard after they effectively sacrificed someone by saving him instead? Proving Lubov right, that he was always weak and unworthy?

Ivan doesn't want to reopen his decisions to critical thought! He knows they can't stand up to that. He just wants to be a weapon--to be useful--why does the bar for success have to be impossible to reach?

<Pose Tracker> Talia has posed.

Talia can only guess how he must feel. There is a tension as he speaks, but it melts a little -- briefly -- when he says he is too stubborn to die. She shakes her head after, though, and reaches out to pat him on the shoulder. "Vanya," she says. "You are not a pain in my ass."

How do they navigate this? It feels like almost anything she might say, they could wind up having an argument. But she doesn't want to scare him off; she wants to hug him, keep him close, and certainly not go across the sea."

She smiles at him, looking up and some hair drifts down in front of her eyes. "I love you, no? You are my brother. So don't say it would be a vacation. I do not take vacations from you! And you have to put up with me, even when it is not relaxing at all~"

<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

Ivan didn't think he was saying anything controversial, or that she would need to reassure him about. He's trying to kill someone she knows! He lit her on fire a couple of weeks ago! There's nothing wrong with wanting a break from that! But she reassures him anyway, and though he doesn't quite believe it, it's good to hear, and he feels a bit of a lump in his throat. His smile grows shakier.

"Talia, you're ridiculous!"

He puts his arms around her and pulls her close again. "But you're the best, you know that? The best sister. There should be an award."

<Pose Tracker> Talia has posed.

"I know I am ridiculous!"

She smiles brightly at him, and without the sort of teasing playfulness that everyone else in her life gets. It's the same bright, happy smile from when she was a little girl, before she killed anyone, and times were more innocent and much more fragile.

She tilts her head, then she winks at him, just before she gets hugged closer to him. "And I know I am the best sister. I think the award is that you buy me delicious sweets and dinners, no? It only seems fair."

She hugs him, and then -- once her head's over his shoulder, facing away -- her expression falls. She thinks about what she has done. She thinks about what she hasn't told him.

No, Talia thinks. She isn't the best sister.