The Let's Play Archive

Advance Wars: Dual Strike

by cosmicPostman

Part 54: Chapter 54 (Intermission) - Orange Star’s Heart

When Selena and Lena walk up to the barracks building that evening, Selena isn’t surprised to see the soldiers of the Allied Nations gathered outside it, all staring with a mixture of fear and distrust, and at the front of them all, the 11th Division, headed by Dave.

“Everyone…” Selena murmurs. “This is my sister, Lena. I am hoping she can join us… and serve alongside you all.”

Dave heaves an enormous, weary sigh. “This is a big ask, Selena. You’re talking about the Director, who willingly watched this land turn to dust. Who attacked and would have killed us.”

“I know, but…” Selena says.

Lena stares ahead, her eyes betraying no emotion.

“This isn’t like the situation with Von Panzer.” murmurs Alfonse. “He was fighting for coin, but the moment he saw what kind of deeds he was being asked to do, he left. Your sister knew exactly what she was doing. She chose to turn on her own country.”

“We’ve saved her, and I’m glad she’s left Black Hole, but acceptin’ her into the force as one of us is… more than that.” Dave says. “One of the family? The Director?”

Rin, stood behind him, nervously looks to the ground. “I mean, I… can see where they’re coming from, but… couldn’t we?”

“Please, just–” Selena says. “Please. For me.”

The forces of the Allied Nations remain silent at this last plea. Dave lowers his eyes with regret, but doesn’t speak up.

Lena shakes her head, her eyes pricking with tears. “You were wrong. This was a stupid idea, I should go-”

“Lena, wait-” Selena says.

Before she or Lena can move, a figure detaches themselves from the group of soldiers and begins walking forward. Dave looks up in surprise, as do many of the others. Selena stares as the figure stands in front of her sister, and, with a gentle smile on their face, extends a hand, where faint scars can be seen.

“Hi, Lena. It’s nice to meet you. My name is Michael Lambert.” Michael says. “And I’d like to be your friend.”

Lena can barely believe the words she’s hearing, and slowly reaches out a quivering hand, gripping Michael’s tightly and shaking it. Michael turns around, still holding Lena’s hand, and smiles at the group.

“How are we to expect Lena to rebuild her trust in Orange Star and the Allied Nations if we never reach out? If we’re to teach her that her parents are wrong, and that we represent trust, and security, and forgiveness, then we have to embody those attributes. Lena’s done wrong, but many of us here have.” Michael says. “We’re all still learning and growing, and so is she. Trust is a two-way street, so meet her halfway. Can you do that?”

Dave shakes his head, letting out a hollow laugh. “Heh. Michael, you’re right as always.”

“Exactly! We’ve got to show her all the love we can!” Rin says, beaming. She and Dave walk over, followed by Alfonse, then Lloyd and Carter and Fliss… then the rest of the Orange Star soldiers… then the remainder of the Allied Nations, swarming around Lena and buzzing with positivity.

“We’re looking forward to getting to know you!”

“You’re gonna love it here!”

“We’re sorry for everything! We’ll make it right!”

Dave, near the front, nods at Lena. “You’re gonna be fine, kid. Sorry about that, had my soldier head on. Now come on - do you play cards?”

“I… have done, yeah.” Lena says, nodding. “That sounds fun. Would that be OK?”

“Of course!” Carter replies, giving Lena a wicked grin as he pulls out some money. “I got my paycheck just the other day, so it’s all to play for today!”

“Ahah… in that case, let’s do it…!”

The soldiers move off, all chatting with one another about their mysterious new soldier, and in the middle, Lena begins to get to know the soldiers of the 11th Division - her sister’s nearest and dearest, all taking the chance to welcome her properly into the family.

Michael and Selena remain outside, watching them go. Selena turns to Michael, on the verge of tears.

“I… I don’t know how to thank you, Michael. They’d have never changed their minds if it wasn’t for you.”

Michael pulls Selena into an embrace, smiling gently. “They’re all good at heart, but being soldiers hardens you in ways you aren’t prepared for. Sometimes they just need a little reminder to do the right thing… that’s what I’m here for.”

Selena begins openly sobbing into Michael’s shoulder, clutching him. “Thank you… you’ve given my sister the chance to be properly welcomed… thank you…”

“You’re welcome. Takes a village to raise a child, you know; you did your part, and I’ve done mine. Now it’s up to the rest of the soldiers to do theirs.”

As the evening sun sinks down towards the horizon, Selena and Michael remain in their embrace, a tableau of life-affirming friendship.