06.09.3013: Nerves Before the War
Summary: Declan notices Sophie worrying over the approaching war and decides to help.
Date: June 9, 2013
Related: None
Sophie Declan 

First Quadrant of the Halo - The Ring
The Halo is a thick circlet that arcs around the equator of the Ring's main sphere. It is one of the busiest regions of the Ring as it connects the six disks that stretch out from the Halo like spokes on a wheel. The Halo itself feels like a tall, but still somewhat narrow, tunnel with wide mezzanine walkways running along its sides, and the monorail below where sleek trams quickly ferry travelers around the circle. Spaced equally along the Halo are elevator bays with lifts that run up along the exterior longitude of the sphere to the various districts. Transparent composite panels line the outermost wall of the Halo to provide breathtaking views of the Eye and its Lashes as the Ring continues its own orbit around the blue gas giant.
June 9, 3013

During early afternoon in the cool confines of The Ring's Halo, a woman in a luxurious black dress can be seen looking out longingly through the transparent panels that compose the walls. Her right hand rests on the surface, amber gaze distant and expression somber. Beside her stands her guard, Caedmon, who rests his hand sympathetically upon her shoulder. They look out through the window together, silent and watchful while the occasional individual passes them by.

With all that is going on, Declan has been back and forth between the station and Imperius with some regularity. Although the Arboren are not as heavily represented amongst the marine forces as those of houses like the Cindravale and Khournas, surely they have some involvement, and the young lord and heir has kept himself busy communicating with other House leaders. And naturally much of that activity occurs here on the ring. It is on the tail end of some meeting or another that he appears now, emerging from an arriving monorail car with a small party of guards, pages and other diplomatic assistants.

Sophie, the woman in the black dress, turns casually towards the large crowd of people that exit from a monorail, eyes revealed to be reddened by tears. Her guard hands her a handkerchief and she dabs at her face, which lightly glistens with tiny droplets of sorrow. She blinks in surprise, noticing a vaguely familiar face. Her arm falls down to her side and she quietly shuffles towards the man. Peering at him, she asks uncertainly, sniffling softly, "D-declan? Lord Declan, is that you? It's…it's been years."

Although the group seems fairly purposeful in their movement as they exit, it is not so swift to miss the young woman who greets the party, or at least the young man at its lead. Declan pauses, and the others behind him, glancing toward the teary-eyed young lady. Although it has been some years, he is pretty good with faces, and cracks a smile. "Lady Sophie. It has been some while. I hope-" Presumably here he would normally inquire over her wellbeing, but her state probably makes it clear enough. "What is the matter?"

Sophie only momentarily glances towards the mass of people behind Declan, though Caedmon stares at them for far longer, subconciously judging their abilities in combat no matter that it would almost certainly never occur. Sophie sniffles and dabs that white silk handkerchief at her eyes some more, shaking her head, "nothing, I suppose…n-not yet anyway…" She sighs softly, "I just…I'm afraid, my Lord. For those soldiers that will inevitably sacrifice their lives for Haven. For those people I know that will be at the front lines. My sister…Ellie. She's a warrior, but this is war and none of us have ever faced the Hostiles before." She laughs harshly, mostly at herself, "I should not be so emotional, I do not know what has gotten over me…"

"Well, it's natural enough to be worried for the safety of one's friends and loved ones," Declan replies without much thought. "So there is no shame or cause for apology. It is just as new, just as uncertain for everyone - and everyone handles it differently. But those fighting are well trained for it. So have faith in their abilities and knowledge." His own voice is fairly calm and reassuring, even and measured despite the stressful circumstances. "We are preparing back home, as well, for the inevitable landings. But I hope those aboard the naval vessels are triumphant and safe."

Sophie nods her head slowly, choking out a sob that sounds almost like a laugh, "it's so strange that I am worried about Ellie. I could never dream of her being hurt by anything…" She sighs softly, stepping forward, "despite all that has been suggested to me for alternatives, I still wish I was up there, as a soldier of the war. I wonder if what I intend to do will ever help as much as being a warrior. What if a speech or or, a poster does nothing to help the morale of the people? What if I could be up there right now, waiting for the approaching time when I can kill Hostiles?" She sniffles, licking her lips, "have you heard anything yet, about any more Hostile attacks?"

"Sir Ellinor is an impressive woman," Declan points out in a tone that suggests he very much means it, rather than some faint polite sort of praise for a member of the royal family. "So I have every confidence in her success. As for you," and he smiles in a kindly fashion, "I'm sure your own contribution will be helpful. People need things at home to reassure them. Morale is an important component to war. If we are demoralized and thrown into panic, an organized defense becomes difficult, and the damage of any attack is magnified." When she wonders of other attacks, he looks toward the clear 'windows' of the outer edge of the halo. "Not as of yet. Our rangers are the best scouts you will find and are on tripled patrols," he points out, emphasizing their less direct contribution than the navy-bound marines. "I have confidence the enemy will be spotted quickly if and when it lands, and that we are ready for them."

Sophie forces a smile on her face, nodding her head, "y-you're right. Of course you're right." She sniffles again, "Ellie could never get hurt, even if she had to fight an army of Hostiles alone." She gasps softly, "a single soldier among a mass of Hostiles…yes, that could do well…" She furrows her brow, glancing down at the floor in a sudden spurt of quiet contemplation. After a while, she shakes her head and looks up once more, "how can you be so certain that we are prepared for this…whole war? We have not encountered the Hostiles since our distant ancestors were alive." She chuckles again, rubbing a hand against one arm, "I d-don't know. I guess I am simply nervous. We're called the Generation of Vengeance, but what if we fail to take revenge?"

"As some sort of promotion image?" Declan wonders, pressing on what she mumbles about the soldier in the sea of enemies. "I suppose it would be wrong to say I'm certain about things, at least in a logical sense. We don't truly know what we're facing, after all. But I am confident. Our ancestors had less preparation, after all, and managed to survive the earliest onslaughts. So I trust in my education and in our preparation. I know personally that we have done and will do all we can, that my siblings, my peers in other houses, they are all dedicated to their duty and will do proudly. I'm not sure about revenge, but I feel that we will make a good showing to our foe, and remind them that we ought not be underestimated, if they care for their own lives."

Sophie bobs her head in the affirmative, "Lady Sir Agnes Peake suggested that I might draw up an inspirational poster. And Lord Densoric Larent thought I could record a speech in the comfort of my home, since I'm…too n-nervous for a public announcement…" She sighs, bravely trying to maintain her smile, "I had not thought of that. We did survive the last two System Wars, did we not? Maybe that means we'll survive again. Though…I do not -want- to just survive. I want to be done with these…this plague on our humanity. I know I said I'm worried and nervous, but…" She licks her lips, "we need to win. We can't lose. W-we can't let our descendants face them a fourth time. They're already acting differently than the last war. We cannot let them…develop further and threaten us again."

"Its a strange situation, if one stops to think about it- to fight just brutal conflicts, so savagely and desperately, but also separated by so many hundreds of years," Declan remarks, his tone turning toward the philosophical. "Those who survive the very last of a given war have no fear of it returning, only for their distant descendants hundreds of years in the future. But you are right, that we ought strive to make sure our distant relatives will not have to endure the same sort of hardships that we do. We should strive for some sort of decisive win that, at the very least, will convince our foe there is little purpose in returning. Though how we will do that, I have no idea. We know very little about where they come from or why they fight us, after all."

Sophie smirks lightly, dabbing away the remainder of wetness that sorrowfully mars her pale features, "it is odd, truly. We have had our own wars in the past, but they're never intent on brutal slaughter. Only when the Hostiles return after many generations and centuries do we finally fight desperately for our simple survival." She nods her head firmly, "we have to win. We cannot simply skirmish with them and gamble our future descendant's lives with every encounter. They must be destroyed or…well, an agreement must be made. A treaty. But I cannot imagine they would do so. They attacked us first this time, when they landed in the Arborenin Woods. I was even told they demanded our surrender. It would be incredible if we could come to some sort of peaceful terms, but they are abominable monsters. I cannot see us ever bettering our relationship."

Declan finds himself nodding along slowly with the young woman's thoughts on negotiation. "It seems unlikely. Their attacks are unprovoked, come without any sort of negotiable terms, and their technology seems highly developed toward the purpose of warmaking. I think more likely, that preventing their return might require proving the cost of invasion too high. Presumably, they wish something we have - our planets and their resources perhaps? Who can say. But if such a logic prevails, then if we can make the cost of our conquest too high, perhaps they might abandon their ambitions for it. If something else drives them… some zealotry? Then I do not know. There may be no answer there, save the annihilation of one side or the other."

Sophie nods her head quickly, "indeed. And with technology developed seemingly exclusively for war, the message seems quite obvious that they will give us no quarter. Worse, if we hold them off now, only to fight them again later, they will only be that much more difficult to keep from massacring us all." She shrugs her shoulders lightly, "what we need is to take a Hostile captive, that cannot escape and kill people like the last one. Keep a Hostile in pristine condition, so we can interrogate it. Still…if it is our planets and resources that they are after, then there is little we could do to deter their desires. We need the planets and their resources at least as much as the Hostiles, after all. We can hardly salt the ground, lest we intend to surrender ourselves to destruction." She nods again, "though I agree. I think these System Wars will eventually reach a point where either we or them are annihilated. And though I of course want us to win, they seem to have the advantage. After all, we repurposed their hard light shields for ourselves."

"I meant more the point of making the cost of overcoming our defense greater than their hopes of plunder," Declan quickly explains. "No Arboren would ever suggest damaging our own lands." Surely not! "But I agree, that there may be no simple solution, save the most bitter and bloody wars." On their superiority, he again seems somewhat thoughtful. "It was clearly so when they first attacked us, but what we've been able to determine in analysis of captured technology so far seems to suggest that they have not put the last five centuries to much use in terms of advancement. There may be a 'cap' in the practical benefits of the technology we now both posess. Or at least, so we might hope. Of course if we were able to innovate ahead of them, that might be a way to change the course of these wars and prevent more in the future."

Sophie's eyes widen slightly at the quick explantion, "ah, but of course. Still, I do wonder if we are truly capable of such. They seem very…zealous in their attacks, to assault us as soon as their planet draws near. Despite being gone from us for nearly half a millenia." When Declan explains his take on the matter of technology, she arches her brow in curiosity and even a bit of hope, "do you truly think so, my Lord? Perhaps you are right. In truth, I do not think they appear much different than they did the last time. Though the strange weapon that hit poor Lord Erik was very strange, or at least sounded that way." She smiles, "we have very talented scientists on our side, at least. I fast friend I have only recently met spoke of somehow integrating Awakened powers with technology. If we could, that would provide us an intriguing advantage in the war, I think." She nods, "you have given me hope, my Lord, and I am very grateful. For now, I think I have some plans that I should place into motion, in order to benefit the morale of the four worlds."

Declan gives another faint nod. "I have been spending considerably more time with the Orelles and their vassals of late, even though our families are traditionally somewhat at odds in terms of philosophy. I think cooperation between the houses especially in technological matters will be very important. If the Orelle can decipher any secrets of our foes, the other houses shall hopefully be able to take advantage of what they learn, whether through simple changes in our weapons or even different sorts of tactics that better taret whatever weaknesses we might uncover." When she suggests she has plans to undertake, he grins and dips his head a little more deeply. "I have business at home as well, so I will leave you to it. But I am very glad to see your spirits a little higher. I hope they shall remain so, and that you shall succeed in spreading that good cheer to the people in general."

Sophie nods, "I very much agree, my Lord. We must join together against our enemy. I…I worry that the conflict between my cousins will push the Paramounts apart, though I very much hope it does not." She sighs, chuckling lightly, "some days, I wonder if it might be best were Uncle to select a third option instead…" She offers the Arboren heir a respectful bow of her head in return, smiling cheerfully, "thank you, my Lord. I am very grateful to hear your words. You have inspired me to help raise the morale of the Citizenry, if I have the ability to do so. It was very nice to see you again, my Lord. I hope the time between our next meeting will not be so long again. Good luck in your own endeavors, and may the Six be with you." At that, she turns about and begins to head through the passageways of the Halo, Caedmon bowing deeply to Declan before hurrying to catch up.

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