It had been a long day. First, the battle, then, coming to this paradise, next, they were treated to a day at the beach, and a raucous game of Volleyball. some of the days events had managed to dull or even in some cases wipe away the pain of the real world, here in this fantasy, a fantasy that looked and felt and smelled and tasted real. For all Steven knew, it WAS real. The Captain now had managed to slip away from everyone else- they were having fun, merrymaking, and in some cases, sleeping away their worries. However, Steven felt that it was too soon to be completely forgetting everything, so, he had decided to walk, and reflect.
As he walked, There were more things on his mind than he'd really ever cared to make note of before, but now all of them seemed relevant, at the same time, and he was left confused, trying to sort them all out. However, the Pilot would not be afforded such a luxury tonight, as something that was about to blow everything else out of the way could be seen in the near distance.
There was a woman, sitting on a bench. She was leaned forward, her elbows on her knees, her chin rested on a fist, and her face was pointed toward the stars. Her hair, though it was hard to tell in the dim light, was blonde, and that upward pointed face- that face was the one burning a hole into Steven's heart this night.
It was a nice night in all regards. A night where the cool air soothed a body worn from a day in the heat, as well as relax the mind. Steven did his best to relax and unwind, but his mind did not allow him that peace. The pilot tried ignoring these internal conflicts, but then he crossed paths with the lone woman.
The conflicted captain slowed down as he drew near as his eyes fought the dimming light to convince himself otherwise of the woman's identity.
"Evening ma'am," Steven called out as he stopped a few feet from the woman.
The woman gasped slightly, straightening up suddenly, and flattening out her outfit to rid it of any wrinkles, before looking over at Steven- his fears were confirmed, it was the recently deceased pilot whom had had loved so many years ago, and whom he had just gotten back into contact with.
"Wh-What are you doing here?" she asked, looking concerned, and not just a bit saddened. "You can't have- you too?" she almost choked on the last few words, but steeled herself, before standing up suddenly and Rushing to the captain, throwing her arms around him and starting to sob into his shoulder.
Steven was unsure of how to react. Over the years he had been faced with many situations that confused or frightened him, but this situation had the veteran tactician frozen in place. His first reaction was his body wanting to comfort the woman, but his mind simply wanted to gain understanding.
After a few moments of doing nothing, he brought an arm up around her shoulders.
"I am here with some of my pilots. I was just about to ask you what you were doing here," Steven said in a hushed tone.
She stood still, frozen in place for a moment. "Wait- do you mean you're not... You didn't Die?" Rhiannon stopped her sobbing, and pulled back, looking Steven in the face. "But that means- That wasn't ready yet... Had he finished something?" The woman seemed to be babbling, and she looked down, as if extremely confused herself.
"Still... I'm not more than just a copy... a pale reflection of myself..." Her words turned cryptic, and she pulled away from Steven, recoiling as if she felt that she was unworthy to touch him. "You shouldn't have come here, there's no freedom from pain or sorrow here. It's just an illusion."
"Rhiannon, you aren't making much sense," Steven said as he remained where he was while the woman withdrew. He stood pondering the babble of what Rhiannon had said about something not being ready.
"If a man can see the world around him, feel the sand beneath his feet, and smell the salt in the air, then what is to keep that world, sand, and air from being real? Sometimes just the thing a man needs is an illusion; a crutch to keep him from hitting the hard ground of reality. Just need to be careful not become dependent on the illusion." Steven started. "Now, I don't know exactly what you mean by something being finished, but all things considered I am happy to see you, if just an illusion. I haven't seen you in almost ten years, and I thought I had lost my chance."
"You- You did." Rhiannon stated, flatly, looking away. "Istvan is a great man, and he's been working tirelessly to find a way to save Terrans, even in death. But, it doesn't work. he can't bring us back. He can put our minds on a computer, and run a simulation of us, but he can't bring people back. That's all I am, Steven, a Simulation. I'm a cloud of memories strung together to give you the illusion that there's something here... " Rhiannon's tone wasn't so much explanatory as Melancholy, but she looked up at Steven again.
"That's why- I thought you had died, like I did. He made a system, that links our bodies and our minds to our technology. Mostly it is used to control things- no doubt it's what you're using to even be in this place, But it was designed with another purpose- When we die, it takes a quantum image of our mind, and transmits it to the nearest ship. It's nothing more than a ghost, since the transfer never takes permanently, especially when he tries to put it in a body. a Cloned body- it lacks a soul, and our minds, Our minds are not everything that belongs to us."
Steven Took a long breath in and exhaled slowly in a sigh. After a few moments he stepped closer to Rhiannon, gave her a stern look, and placed his hand on her bust. "Be that as it may be, I am glad I got to speak to you again," Steven said with a smile. "Plus, I can't do this with a holo-image." The pilot chuckled a little as he withdrew his hand.
Steven took a step back but kept looking at Rhiannon. "So, what happens now?"
Rhiannon recoiled, looking a little violated and embarrassed, but she didn't move far. "Hey, that's not the way you greet a lady!" she snapped, before regaining herself. "What happens now, is that I get to wait here, and slowly die as the data that comprises my mind breaks itself down and I am gone forever. And you? You need to go back to the real world, and find someone, someone who is actually there, and you need to protect her. Don't let her go. Don't ever let her go."
Rhiannon sighed, and looked at the ground again. "It's funny, how easy it is to accept slowly wasting away, when you're already dead."
Steven stuck his hands in the pockets of his shorts and took a few more breaths of the cool night air. He did not know what to say to Rhiannon's last comment. "Well, I guess that is all there is to say," he said as he looked up to the sky. After a few moments he turned his head to look back down the beach to where several of his pilots were having a fire.
Steven sighed once more. "So this is goodbye then. I hope you can rest easy for the time you have left. You have earned that much."
"Wait!" Rhiannon said, suddenly. "There's one last thing you need to know- I didn't tell you because you had your career and everything but..." She paused for a few moments. "You have a Daughter."
Now this was a big shock for Steven. His eyes were wide and his jaw tried to form words but failed. Slowly he brought a hand up and rubbed his forehead. "Rhiannon, why didn't you tell me? For my career? What about your career? I could have helped you. We could have done it together," he started to say, but stopped as he tried to gather his thoughts.
After a few more moments of silence, he finally spoke again. "What's her name?"
"Jana. I hope you don't mind, I named her after her great grandmother." Rhiannon smiled sheepishly. "I couldn't let you know- you were already gone by the time I realized, and then it was so difficult to find people in this war- people get transferred, ships get destroyed, Everything is so muddled. Besides, I had a stable, comfortable place for the two of us, and you being a fighter pilot, it would have been too hard" The blonde looked a little strained, but then she turned to Steven again.
"Please, take her, raise her to be good. she knows who you are, so I'm sure she'll be glad to see you, but... I don't know how you could tell her about me..." Rhiannon appeared to be sad again, as she paused for a moment. "I should never have taken up this mission..." she muttered, apparently realizing the implications of everything for the first time.
Steven ran his hand through his short hair as he tried to process what he was being told. As he listened to Rhiannon he kept thinking, "My father took care of me, I could have taken care of her."
As the woman finished speaking, Steven's eyes grew confident. "I can take care of her. I will do everything I can to raise her in your stead," Steven said. "If only this damned war had never happened."
"I'll rest a little easier, then." Rhiannon answered, sounding relieved. "If the war had never happened, I don't think we would have known one another long enough to have had anything." she pointed out, though her tone was difficult to discern.
"Steven-" she interjected. "Don't go back to them tonight. How long are you staying here?" she asked, suddenly seeming desperate.
"Rhiannon," Steven said as he walked over to her and grabbed her hands. "It has been years since we were together. When you died, I felt I had lost a dear friend. But I feel that it would be easiest on us both if we leave things as they are."
Rhiannon almost struggled, but gave up soon, looking somewhat resigned. "Can't you at least grant me one last wish?" she asked, looking up- for the first time she had a tear in her eye- even her earlier sobs had been dry. "All I am is memories, now, can't you let me remember, remember how it was back then, one last time?"
Steven lifted one hand and wiped the tear away. "You deserve better, but I can do this for you."
Rhiannon smiled weakly as he did so, and seemed to hearten up a little. "I've only been here a day, but everybody here seems to know what I am. They all avoid me, and it's been so lonely. I really need someone to help me... So, as much as it may hurt, I need you right now." Rhiannon pulled herself closer to Steven, and leaned her head on his shoulder.
"come with me, for now at least, alright?" she requested, squeezing Steven a moment before pulling back, but leaving her hands in his, and began to lead him toward a small building along the boardwalk.
"Alright, I want to hear more about what you and...our daughter have been up to since we parted," Steven said as he expressed curiosity about her and his newfound child.
The blonde sighed contentedly. "Of course. I'll tell you about everything, i wouldn't have it any other way." Rhiannon and Steven soon reached the small building, which was a shop with an apartment above it- they made their way up the stairs, and into the one-room living space, before Rhiannon showed Steven to a seat, and sat down next to him. From then was to commence one of the longest nights of mostly talking that Steven had ever had, But doubtless, he enjoyed every moment of it, even if he knew he would never be able to experience it again.
This is a space for in-character events that do not occur within the line of duty and/or did not fit into the "Daily Life" section as it played out. Threads herein are meant to supplement character development and flesh out the setting elements, but are not necessary to understanding the plot or characters involved. These events are to be considered canon unless otherwise noted.
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