The Let's Play Archive

Advance Wars: Dual Strike

by cosmicPostman

Part 20: Chapter 20 (Intermission) - A Life Apart

The soldiers of Orange Star and Blue Moon have become quite used to seeing each other around their shared barracks space; most of them, having been part of the previous campaign and having fond memories of the four-country cultural melting pot that was the joint camp, find it a welcome return to form.

Rin, however, sees a face amongst the Blue Moon soldiers that she doesn’t recognise - a face covered by a mask of tragedy. She goes over to sit beside them.

“Um, hello.” she says. “Sorry to intrude, but I don’t think we met in the previous campaign. And yet… I feel like I’ve heard about a masked individual before…”

“Oh, you probably heard of me.” Harlow, the masked individual replies, waving an airy hand. “I just used to serve Green Earth.”

“Oh, I see! Why are you now with Blue Moon, uh, if that’s not a rude question?”

“Life is all about moving on to new experiences.” Harlow says. “I’d never want to stay in one place for too long. What if I got attached, huh? I might never leave. And then think about all the interesting places and cool people I’d miss out on.”

Rin tilts her head. “I… don’t follow. You’re missing out on experiences just by moving around!”

“How’d you figure?” Harlow asks.

Rin puts her hands on her hips, giving Harlow a confident smile. “Because, silly! Getting attached to places is an experience in itself. I could never be bored of serving the Orange Star Army with all of my friends; they might be the same people, and we might be in the same country, but there’s different things to experience every day!”

“Heh. Friends.” Harlow murmurs. “Look, I get it. I know there’s lots of great things for people who stick around. But look at me - uh, what’s your name?”


“Rin. I’m wearing a mask. Nobody knows my gender or identity. You think someone like me has very many friends? I only have one, as far as I’m concerned.”

Rin’s face falls. “But… what about-”

“Nah. We’re employees. Colleagues. Nobody in Blue Moon is my friend, Rin. That’s just not the kind of person I am.”

Harlow stands up, shrugging. “I’m not lonely or anything. I can spend time with people, and have fun. But I just have to move on afterwards. Easier to say goodbye if you move on quickly. If you stick around, eventually it gets so hard to say goodbye that… you never do.”

They begin to walk away, but Rin watches them carefully and then takes a deep breath.

“I’d like to be your friend, Harlow!”

Harlow turns around. The mask doesn’t change, but Rin can sense an incredulous expression on the face of the person underneath.


“I’ll be your friend. It could be fun, couldn’t it?”

“...Well, that’s not a possibility I’d considered.” Harlow mutters. “Alright, sure. Maybe I’m one of those curmudgeons that needs a ray of sunshine to teach me how to have friends, like in all the movies. What d’you do for fun, Rin? Flowerpicking? Making daisy chains?”

“Oh, usually some poker with Dave and the boys.”

Harlow stops and tilts their head. “...OK, maybe this is going to be more fun than I expected.”


“Hey, Lucy! Amazing work from Orange Star in the battle today. That was a pretty tight spot me and Valeria were in, but you bailed us out big time!” Eva says, giving the tall girl a wave as she and Alina walk past. Lucy detaches herself from Ingo’s side and runs over to the pair.

“Oh my gosh! Thank you, you guys!” she replies, beaming. “You know the Snowbound Free Company are like, some of my biggest inspirations. Ever since I saw you battling in the previous campaign, I’ve been such a fan!”

Alina raises an eyebrow. “We have… fans?”

“Well, I suppose we’re soldiers, so it’s more like… what would Dave call it..? A begrudging sense of respect. But I prefer to just say it like it is! I’m a fan of your incredible skills!”

Eva nods, and puts an arm around Alina. “What can I say, we’re the best of the best. Well, we’re pretty decent. It’s a coin flip as to whether we get the job done or not.”

“Excuse me!” Alina replies huffily. “We’re professionals. But anyway, Lucy, aren’t you underselling your own strength? The 11th Division of Orange Star is genuinely legendary - the soldiers who defeated Sturm, Commander my dude’s crack team. Why on earth are you looking up to us?”

“Oh, well…” Lucy mumbles, feeling a flush come to her cheeks. She guides Alina and Eva away from Ingo’s table, keeping him out of earshot. “I’ll, um, be honest, a lot of why I respect you guys comes from what you do. Like, travelling mercenaries, you know?”

“What do you mean?” Alina asks.

“Me and Ingo have been talking about the future lately.” Lucy says, then hurriedly explains her point. “I mean, obviously we’re still young, so it’s not like we have to think about it right now! But I was thinking, you two are in a relationship, and you’re travelling around being soldiers together, and I really admire that. I was… just wondering if that might be what me and Ingo do in the future.”

“Ah, I see… the future.” Eva says. “The future’s an unpredictable mistress. Like a card face down on a table, you can’t know for sure what it’s going to be like until you flip it.”

“It might not be what you expect.” Alina adds, clasping Eva’s hand tightly. “I certainly didn’t expect to stick around with Blue Moon, but that impulse decision… it was one of the best of my life, certainly!”

“So,” Eva continues, looking at Lucy. “One thing I’ve gotta stress is that it doesn’t matter what you do. You just need to make sure you do it together. Communication, y’know?”

“Yes, definitely! I had an important conversation with Eva about our future before the final battle of the previous campaign. That helped us figure out what we wanted to do.” Alina says.

Lucy nods. “I understand. I’ll talk to Ingo about it. Thing is… I think I know what he’s going to say.”

“You do?”

“Yep.” Lucy replies, smiling softly to herself. “He’ll look at me with those eyes, and smile at me, and say ‘We’ll go wherever you want to go, Luce. I’ll be right there by your side.’”

Eva and Alina look at Lucy, then at each other, smiling to themselves. Eva turns back to Lucy and puts a hand on her shoulder.

“Lucy. You and Ingo are gonna be just fine, alright?”

Lucy nods, her eyes glittering with the promise of the future. “You’re right! Thank you!”