2015-07-03 - Broken Doll

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Title: Broken Doll

Fate asks Precia how she sees her daughter. Precia answers.


Fate Testarossa GM: Madoka Kaname


Tuner Safehouse / The Garden of Time

OOC - IC Date:

31 July 2014 - 07/03/2015

<Pose Tracker> Fate Testarossa [None] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Innocent Starter(Music Box) - Original by Nana Mizuki - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oBQYDijYZPg

Fate was quiet, to say the least, during the time between arriving at the Tuner safehouse and now. Even during the briefing by 'Tea Mama'. She certainly acknowledged her during introductions. She definitely bobbed her head each time she was given directions. Mostly however, her thoughts had turned inward.

Now faced with the revelation that her mother's wish might destroy everything, she was forced to pick through the memories with a chisel, chipping through the image of her perfect mother, bit by bit. It was like a stonemason having to chip away at their greatest work of art, even if it was only the image of her in her head.

Moreover, she was then forced to confront the truth of the things she'd been doing for her sake, for the Denizens of Labyrinth, and for Dark Fall. It was not her proudest moment. She already felt guilty about endangering and hurting people, but before she felt she was justified. Now she had no excuse for it.

The guilt weighed on her so heavily that the scarlet eyes that drew a girl to her were scarcely seen during her time in the concealed safehouse, for they were squarely on the floor, her head dipped and bowed.

But as the time to send out a transmission directly to the Garden of Time on it's private channels grew nearer and nearer, her thoughts turned back squarely on her mother. What would she even to say to her? Even now she felt like she'd eluded punishment, despite her coming closer and closer to the realization that all of her 'lessons' were unjust. She found she was terrified, moreso than usual, believing that celestial bolt could have killed her, while at the same time dismissing that her mother would go that far, and the internal debate circled back upon itself like a great serpent devouring it's own tail. Her hands wouldn't stop shaking, even when she clasped them together in her lap, against Bardiche who pulsed with quiet golden light.

When she was finally ushered into the communications center, she turned her head towards the pane of thick glass where she knew the others would be watching and listening. She didn't smile, even though she appreciated their support, as she looked at them out of the top of her vision, her eyes on two in particular as she nodded her head. Turning back to the gigantic communications station, she took a deep breath... and realized that during all the time she'd spent agonizing over her actions that she hadn't practiced a single line of what she ought to say. She literally had nothing.

Her breath hitches mid exhalation. She considered telling everyone in the room to simply call it off, that she wasn't ready. Yet, everyone was counting on her. And even beyond that, there were some things that needed to be said between mother and daughter, between Precia and...

'How is it, Alicia?'

Closing her eyes abruptly and squeezing them tightly shut, as if the mere act would blot out that part of the memory, Fate Testarossa's voice sounds gravelly as she says, "I'm ready. Open the channel." A beat, "...please."

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

The Tuners have been many and varied. Some obscure their features with masks or mirrored sunglasses. Some wear outlandish costumes, others suits, still others leathery operations gear.

All of them have looked at Fate with nothing but suspicion. Most, with outright hostility.

All, that is, but one.

Lindy Harlaown hasn't left Fate's side since she arrived; she somehow manages to be entirely stern and entirely gentle at the same time. Often she sits close enough that her expansive teal hair softly touches the girl's cheek, particularly when she turns suddenly. This is unintentional. It smells like tea.

She's asked few questions and given fewer orders. The most talking she's done, in fact, is enact a brief and bitter argument against the idea that Fate should be physically present for the transmission. "Video footage of her in a cell is more than enough," she said firmly, but she was overruled.

So, now she stands next to the girl, one of her hands clenched in a fist so tight it is whiter than snow.

<< Precia Testarossa -- this is Lindy Harlaown. I request a parley. >>

<< What could you possibly have to offer me that I don't already have? I have everything, now. My journey can finally commence. >>

The contact from Precia is as fast and harsh as being plunged into an icy sea. Her mental touch is jagged. Raw.

<Pose Tracker> Fate Testarossa [None] has posed.

Fate had no idea what to make of Lindy Harlaown at first. She expected condemnation, so the times when she sounded stern were appreciated. The times when she sounded gentle baffling. Fate did not consider herself any less culpable for what she'd done after all.

Yet she remained close to her, and even the unintentional brushes were comforting in their own way. While Fate hardly wanted to tell the Tuners what to do, after all, she was in no position to tell them to do anything, she'd quickly agreed that being here was necessary despite Lindy's protests. After all, Lera had told her that she should talk with her mother.

There it is. That voice. Fate flinches despite herself, as if in anticipation of a physical blow instead of the mere emotional one of hearing that voice again. After all, great distances were no obstacle for her. After a moment, she looks towards the glass, then towards the woman beside her. In some ways, she reminded Fate... of someone. That white knuckled, clenched fist whenever they were about to face her mother. She never understood it, until now.

<<Mother.>> Despite it being mental contact, her mouth, her throat felt dry. She wanted to scream at the word 'journey'. Where was she going? Without her? Hadn't she promised that after this was done, the time they'd spend together? She doesn't scream, but she does ask, <<Where are you going? Didn't you say that after your wish was granted that you wouldn't have to work again? That you'd take me somewhere - anywhere I wanted?>>

It sounds almost pleading, clinging to a single hope that everything that had been revealed to her was untrue, that she wasn't monstrous at all. Yet, that wasn't what she was here for, <<I don't know what your wish is - but they're telling me if you make it that it could destroy the world. A lot of worlds. This whole dimension.>>

A moment or two, and then, <<What could possibly be worth that? Please mother. Can't we just get by without you making your wish?>> And then desperation, it shows even on her face, usually nearly a mask save on her eyes, it shows in her posture, her whole self, <<We can try to go back to the way things were between us! I promise that I won't be so selfish this time. That I won't demand so much of your attention. I just - I just want you. Any amount of your time is enough so long as we're together.>>

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

There is a silence so long and awful that it's impregnated not only with tension but with rage, despair. Some sort of Tuner device bleeps softly to itself in the corner, oblivious to all of this. Another hums with increasing intensity.

<< I didn't say that. Not to /you/. >>

It comes at last -- she comes. Manifesting visually as a spectre in the air above the two women, Precia Testarossa stands cast in greenish light. Even without that detail, she looks ghastly; gaunt, her skin stretched over her frame like the skin of someone whose ambitions are roasting them from the inside out.

<< This was /never/ about you. Oh, my cute Fate. This is what you bring me, Harlaown? This pathetic doll, this facsimile? Let me guess -- to trade for your own son? HA! >>

Her pupils contract as her eyes widen. The whites are enormous, roiling. Her smile is stained faintly red as it pushes her cheekbones towards the sky.

<< I learned long ago that /that/ was an inadequate trade! The very idea that I would make that substitution twice.. >>

Her laughter is bitter and tormented, bubbling up and down two octaves. It rings with instability, and howls with fury.

<< You want to know my wish, dear Fate? You want to know what's worth everything in the universe? >>

The luxurious folding sleeves of her robe sweep outwards along with her arms, as the visual she's projecting pans upwards to the enormous tube behind her. Floating in some kind of liquid, perfectly preserved for who knows how long, is a girl.

Her hair is as golden as the sun, an angelic halo as it drifts listlessly through the tank. Her skin is as pale and soft as a babe's. Her eyes are closed.

She looks very much like Fate herself.

Precia reaches out towards her, presses herself against the tank, her fingers reaching, reaching. Straining for what's on the other side, and everything it represents -- something she can never touch again.

In her eyes is worship. Devotion. Grief.

Most of all, a mother's love.

<< ...Alicia... my Alicia... >>

<Pose Tracker> Fate Testarossa [None] has posed.

The long and awful silence stretches on. For a moment, Fate wonders if her words reached her mother. Then her mind hits on the terrible realization. They certainly did. If they were face to face now, she imagined every subtle movement that bespoke her anger, her disappointment. A slow simmer that worked up to a boil, rather than a flashover of bubbles and steam that threw the lid off from the pressure.

Even if she rarely had any idea what she'd done wrong, she'd learned to anticipate these changes. Her posture cringes, her shoulders hunch, her hands clasp each other, as if she were making herself a smaller target. When the words sound in her head, they actually ring out like a relief at first. Punishment averted. Right?

So terribly wrong.

The words register, and her whole body shifts, hands uncurling, chin up with a sense of innocent confusion hanging about her. <<W-What do you mean? Of course you...>> Which is when Precia's image appears in front of her, cast in that sickly greenish light. Even though that indicates she's not really here, even the appearance itself shatters all semblance of safety from her wrath. The words catch in her mouth, and she moves backwards a step, closing her eyes in anticipation of... something that comes, but not in the form she expected it.

Opening her eyes anew as Precia begins to speak, Fate distantly thinks that she looks different. But no, not even that, it's more that she's seeing her in a different light. One which shows her to look a little ghastly, ghoulish. Yet her appearance didn't matter to the daughter who loved her unconditionally, right? The words deny even that. That this was ever about a matter of the love between a mother and daughter.

Rather... that it was a matter between a master and their creation. That she was a mere doll. A fabrication. A reproduction. They aren't something that she comprehends at first without the evidence before her eyes. Yet all the same, the dissonance between her most youthful memories and her identity begins to grow ever stronger at that furious, unhinged cackling. A wider gulf, the realization that the memories of the past may be an illusion. Still, she can't very well accept that, can she? She opens her mouth, when her mother asks if she wishes to know, perhaps to say 'No!' or perhaps a subdued, 'Yes.' Even Fate wasn't certain. The words don't come, a choice that never mattered.

The next moment, the dissonance becomes so blaring that the notes could shatter glass. Her pupils dilate, her breathing quickens, her heart flutters and races. A hand clutches at her chest, her fingers begin to tremble and spasm. Her legs feel like they can no longer support her weight. So they don't. She falls forward onto her knees, soundless other than the impact, and her breathing. And all she can do is stare. At herself. At someone else. All the love between mother and daughter that she'd devoted herself to earning, that she'd suffered for...

It was never hers to begin with.

Instead, it's given so casually, so easily to this angelic looking girl that's both her, and not her in the tank. Even now, a twinge of emotion in the distant corner of her mind envies that this girl receives more affection behind that glass, than she had since that day she was carried to her new room. One ragged breath after another, the idea that her mind can't accept is shattered, and the pieces ground into the floor beneath the bootheel of Precia's words. 'How does it taste Alicia? Is it good?' 'You're so adorable, Alicia!'

A choking sound leaves her throat, the sound a suffering animal might make after being lung shot by a hunter. Her gaze is lowered, as the sight of that beautiful girl became gradually more horrific to her. Right now, in the midst of panic, she can't begin to answer the horrible question which rings through her mind. 'Is anything about me real?' Indeed, she could hardly even focus on her breathing. Thus the answer right now her mind gave her was nothing. /Nothing/. Not her memories. Not her feelings. Not even her own body. She knew that Precia was right. She was just a mere doll to be played with for a time then casually, cruelly cast aside.

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Precia doesn't even watch Fate's collapse, so fixated is she on Alicia in her tank, her eyes aglow.

But Lindy does -- does, and moves to catch the girl next to her, to support her with a warm, strong hand on her shoulder.

<< Stop it right now! >> she shouts, mother to mother. << Stop, Precia! >>

At last the Grand Magus peels herself off of the tube to look back over her shoulder at her audience. << It's much too late for that. Much too late to stop my great Journey... to travel to Al-Hazard with Alicia, and together regain everything we've lost. Lost lives, lost time... >> She cannot even fathom that Lindy isn't talking about the Jewel Seeds anymore, but about something more important.

Then -- at last -- she looks down at the girl on the floor, and her contempt is blinding. Her voice creels petulant, whines with cruelty. << It's such a shame. Even after I went to all the trouble of giving you Alicia's memories... you could never replace her. You weren't as dutiful, or as kind. You liked different things. You didn't /listen/ like she did. You didn't care how I felt. >>

The woman's lip curls into a savage snarl -- that of a predator going for the throat. Her chin lifts, waves of soft violet hair -- stringy and lanky, no longer lustrous with health -- pouring back over her shoulders.

<< Would you like to know something special, Fate? From the moment I created you... >>



<Pose Tracker> Fate Testarossa [None] has posed.

The hand only affects her physically, preventing gravity from exacting it's brutal toll. Yet she doesn't comprehend that it was even there. The support, nor the strength and warmth in it. Something she hadn't felt from a motherly figure in such a long time. It was drowned out entirely by the counterflow of emotion that flooded her entire being. Her mother was leaving. On a journey. Without her. After all, it was for mother and daughter. She wasn't invited. Her existence was simply a non-issue to Precia. This entire conversation felt like an afterthought.

But no, not really even that. It wasn't that Precia was ignoring her existence now. It was crushing it, destroying it like she were a child jumping on an ant just to see it squished out of some twisted pleasure. It felt monstrous. And yet at the same time. She was just a doll. Trash. Not even a person. Could someone truly be cruel to someone who was a thing, and not a person? It all felt so paradoxical. These feelings, borne out of absolute love for someone who considered her less than nothing. Shifting her shaking hands to either side of her head, she shakes her head from side to side, long twintails shifting across the safehouse floor.

With such contempt it's reaffirmed what she'd begun to realize, that her memories weren't real. And even with those fabricated memories, she had never been good enough to be her Alicia. Never, not once. Nothing about her was ever good enough to be worth her love. Through the flood, her mental contact sounds raspy, yet small tinny, like she was trying to withdraw from this brutal assault, yet at the same time, grasp onto something, anything. And that thing is that Fate cared about her, how she felt. <<T-That can't be true! I care->> But she didn't care enough did she?

The accusations making her feel like some self-absorbed gnat that could never realize what was going on around her. That it wasn't simply just Precia's love that was never hers to have, but that even her own fabricated love was inadequate, selfish. Not real. Nothing about her love was real. Nothing about her was real. She was an inadequate, subhuman, failure. Garbage by every stretch of the definition. Waste to be discarded.

And then at her most vulnerable point, Precia asks her a question. And Fate, with her quickened breathing, acts reflexively, looking up at her out of the periphery of her vision. The sheer viciousness on the visage is something she can barely look at, but like some drowning girl clinging to a piece of driftwood on the sea during a raging storm of violet lightning, she grasps for the faint hope that something, anything might validate who she is. What she is. Her sense of self-worth was so tied up in other people that in that moment, she wants something that shows that maybe, just maybe, there was in fact something there that was real between them.


Fate's already dilated pupils become so wide that there's hardly any red left. Her mind simply can't comprehend this reversal. Not the opposite of love, which was ambivalence, but hatred instead in it's purest form. She feels light-headed. She doesn't want to feel anymore. The trauma of feeling right now was just too painful.

She doesn't fall limp, in fact if anything she's more rigid, like some waxy statue, her breathing slows down, no longer regulated by adrenaline or even... conscious thought. She becomes the elaborate doll Precia accused her of being, alive only in the rise and fall of her chest, the beat of her heart, the occasional blinking of her eyes. And a single word, uttered once entirely meaninglessly, only on reflex within her stupor, "Mama..."

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Precia's face contorts in fury, becoming even uglier than it was before, all her hatred and grief externalized. It isn't initially obvious why -- it's not like Fate is defying her with this reaction, here.

Gradually it becomes obvious that it's far worse than that, because the woman isn't paying any attention to her daughter whatsoever. No, it's something else that concerns her.

Something which makes itself manifest in the control room in twin bursts of pale blue and sharp orange light.

<< I got him! >>

<< M-mother... >>

Chrono kneels on the floor, exhausted. Any possibility of Arf supporting him evaporates when she sees her master on the floor. She rushes over, joining Lindy at her side. "Fate... Fate!!"

Lindy glances up at the projection, and meets Precia's eyes defiantly.

<< This isn't over. We won't let you endanger everyone over your own selfishnes... and /I/ won't ever let you hurt Fate ever again. Never, ever. >>

This is met with a sneer. The connection breaks with a dismissive gesture.