Realists and Dreamers
Summary: It was a little date, more or less. LucasxEcho KZSF oneshot. SP campaign spoilers!
Lucas Kellan went through hell in New Helghan, and lived to tell the tale.
Well, not really. No sooner had he, by some miracle, came unscathed from his mad dash across No-Man's Land, VSA soldiers pressed him about his experience. Lucas found that he couldn't tell them much, all because of a certain Helghast agent.
He wanted to get away from all the noise by retreating to the quiet and comfort of his private quarters. By lacking much decoration, his room said much about who he was as a person. Hardly any hobbies or interests crossed his mind and occupied his time. All that mattered was his life in the military. Lucas sat up in bed, recovering from exhaustion and deep in thought.
He was thinking of inviting Echo over to his side. It was dangerous. It was stupid. But he wanted to see her again. There was no mission, no urgency, or real need to call her over. He just wanted to get to know her better. He wondered if she felt the same. She took huge risks helping him out of New Helghan, going so far as to killing fellow soldiers and placing all her faith and trust in him. He owed her big time.
Thankfully Sinclair had yet to let Lucas in on some critical mission. The young Shadow Marshal had some down time, and he intended to make full use of it. It was too risky to get in touch with Echo over comms. Luckily for him, she gave her phone number sometime during their hectic scramble to get him out of New Helghan.
Lucas opened his text message app and typed, "Hey Echo. You there?"
A minute later, he got a reply: "What's up Kellan?"
"I want to talk. Meet me on my side at 3:00?"
Right after he sent his offer, Lucas quickly typed something else as an afterthought. "Go undercover."
A few seconds later, his phone buzzed. "Duh :P Name's Maya btw."
Seeing her reply made him smile. He glanced at his watch. Half an hour to get ready.
He had to be far away from anywhere VSA-related as much as possible. Stowing away his weapons and taking off his heavily padded Shadow Marshal armor, Lucas dressed in nondescript shirt and jeans and made his way for Vekta Memorial Park. He sent Echo its coordinates. For a moment he was worried that he wouldn't be able to find her in such a large area whenever she showed up. And vice versa. At the same time, he had a feeling he'd recognize Echo when he saw her. Those green eyes of hers were pretty distinct. He'd never forget the day he first met her on ISA Cassandra. That look of mixed anger and horror on her face burned like a brand in his memory.
He settled down in a park bench and patiently waited. Not very many people came to the park alone. There were a lot of families having picnics, birthday celebrations and soccer games. Lucas stared wistfully at a father teaching his young son how to fly a kite. The color and beauty of the park was such a far cry from the dull, dirty and depressing complexes of New Helghan.
He let his eyes wander, feeling lost and lonely in a sea of strangers as he waited for the one person he hoped would come.
Then he met eyes with a woman making her way around a playground. She saw him too. They were quite a distance from each other, but there was a quiet spark of recognition between the two. She began walking towards him in smooth, lithe strides.
'It's her. Echo.'
She had half of her shoulder-length black hair tied back. Both of her ears had multiple piercings. Three rings on each side. She wore a black tank-top, and on top of that she wore a white, low-cut shirt with "Vektan Rockets" emblazoned in bold, blue font.
Seeing her wear a basketball shirt made him raise an eyebrow. The shirt hugged her figure, showing that her shoulders were broad just as her hips were curvy.
Lucas found that he was staring at her longer than he had intended. Out of her hood and bulky armor, Echo looked...well, really pretty. Not that she was ugly before. But seeing her in such an open and casual setting brought out many things he never noticed before.
Lucas rose from the bench. Echo didn't greet him right away. Instead she nonchalantly walked up, leaned in and whispered, "Pretend I'm your girlfriend."
Lucas understood. It was safer that way, since neither of them didn't want to attract attention or suspicion. He doubt that he or Echo were being watched by security or civilians. But he wasn't taking any chances.
He smiled endearingly at Echo and drew into her a firm, cradling hug. He gave her a quick peck on the cheek. "Hey, Maya. I can finally get off work so I can spend time with you." In some ways, that was the truth. Whether this facade they put up could be genuine romance, he did not know. What he did know was that they could just hang out as friends. Lucas gestured outward to the scenic trails sprawled ahead. "Let's take a walk together."
Echo wrapped her arm around his and affectionately squeezed his hand. "Sure, Lucas. I'd love that."
They took their time through the trail, letting a boy pass them as he laughed and chased after his dog. They continued to hold hands.
'She's good at this,' he thought. 'I wonder if she had to do this sort of thing before.'
"Did you tell him yet?" she asked.
Lucas understood her pointed question. He sighed and shook his head. He was taken by surprise as her arm, still entwined with his, nudged him sharply in the ribs.
"I told you a billion times. You need to tell him what I've said."
She kept a conversationalist tone. But he saw right through her expertise in passive-aggression.
Lucas felt a twinge of frustration. "He's not going to listen. I just know it."
"Do it anyway. Promise me, okay?"
"Fine. But don't get your hopes up."
"Not the most optimistic person, are you?"
"I'm just being realistic."
That was all they had to say about that. Lucas tried to move on to a brighter topic to dwell on.
"Maya...is that your birth name?" he asked.
She nodded. "Been a long time since anyone's called me that."
'Maya Visari,' he almost said. He rolled the name over in his head. He first knew her as Echo, and he had been calling her that for so long that going over her real name sounded strange to him.
Lucas glanced down at her shirt with amusement. "You a fan of the Vektan Rockets?"
She shrugged. "Choosing the more popular team will attract less attention to me, don't you think? I actually prefer the Mavericks myself. Helghan doesn't have its own national basketball team, nor does it have interest in such a sport." She made a secretive smile. "But I enjoy watching a match of two from Vekta's sports channel."
Lucas didn't have much to say about that. He hardly watched sports. Apart from news and intel streaming in from VSA headquarters, he hardly interacted with the outside world.
The trail came to an end by a lake. The two agents pretending to be a couple sat down together in the grass. Over the horizon they could see the wall, dark and foreboding against the soft white clouds and clear blue sky. Echo threw a small, flat stone with a deft flick of her wrist. It skipped across the water a few times, then fell silently into the depths.
"It's beautiful here," she murmured.
Lucas watched her. Echo seemed to drink in everything around her...all the vibrant colors, content tranquility and sweet sounds that were so absent from the side of the wall she grew up in. She let go of his hand to brush the grass between her fingers. He sensed a sort of sadness in her; he wished he could provide some comfort but didn't know how to express it.
"Do you have anything to look forward to in life?"
Lucas thought long and hard. But as he expected, the Shadow Marshal couldn't find an answer to her question. "No, not really," he replied. "I don't look at the big picture. I don't have big dreams or anything like that. I live day by day. Trying to survive. Being a Shadow Marshal is my life. I could never imagine myself being something else. Sinclair isn't just my superior...he's like a father to me. When I was a kid, he saved me from the Helghast who killed my real father. He took me under his wing, raised me to become a Shadow Marshal. Without him I wouldn't be here." Lucas rubbed his head sheepishly. "I'm sorry. I must sound pretty shallow."
"If you're shallow, then I'm naive."
"What do you mean?"
Echo looked away, as if embarrassed. "It's quite silly."
He nudged her playfully. "Come on. Tell me."
She hesitated, as if thinking her answer through. Then she turned to look at him with steady determination in her eyes. "I told you before. I want to end all this. Hatred, segregation, war...it's tearing us apart. I want to bring us together. End the fight my grandfather started."
"You have a big ambition," he admitted.
Echo shrugged. "One man completely changed the way his people lived, thought and fought. Why can't I do the same?"
"Will you do it when you succeed your mother?"
She laughed. "I don't have the patience for that. I've pursued this dream ever since I decided to join the army." Her smile faded and she grew solemn again. "Change needs to happen now. Neither side can put up with more tension and bloodshed. My mother's trying to handle New Helghan from a political front. I'm trying to do the same from the ranks. From the shadows."
She stared intently at the wall, as if wanting her green eyes to bore holes into it. "Seeing that wall crumble down...I look forward to that day."
Lucas reached out to hold her hand. It wasn't for cover. He meant it as a genuine gesture. "That dream...I'll share it with you."
She looked up at him in surprise. "Even if it means turning your back on Sinclair? The man you've known much longer than you've known me?"
"I know what I'm doing."
"That means a lot to me. Thank you."
Feeling suddenly emboldened by her thanks, Lucas said, "Promise you won't hit me, okay?"
Before Echo could reply, Lucas leaned forward to kiss her on the lips. When he pulled back, Echo looked clearly surprised as her pale skin flushed red.
"You've got some nerve, Kellan..." she finally said. Then she smiled. "But I like that."
Lucas looked at her cheekily. "Kissing you has to be the most daring thing I ever did besides riding that ATAC."
"I second that."
"The ATAC was your idea, though."
"It was either that, or you wouldn't be here right now."
"You're right. I didn't get to tell you until now...but thanks for saving my life. It must've been hard for you."
She shook her head. "It's nothing compared to what I've got to do next. Bringing justice to Massar, Tyran, Stahl...getting to the bottom of all this...it seems impossible, but it has to be done." Echo reached up to touch the scar over her left eye. "I...I'd give my life for this cause."
Lucas kissed her again and pulled her close so she leaned against him. "You're the biggest dreamer I've ever met," he said fondly.
She smiled at him. "Realists and dreamers. The world needs both kinds of people."
Lucas knew it was only a matter of time before he and Echo had to get back to work. And probably never see each other again. In their highly dangerous professions, there was no guarantee either of them would make it out alive. That made his time with her in the park all the more valuable. She said she wanted to change the ways of an entire people. It may not matter so much in the grand scheme of things...but to him, she has already made a difference. She gave him a reason to fight, live and love. Whether Sinclair would ultimately agree with him or not, Lucas knew for certain that he'd readily stand by Echo's side for the sake of Vekta.
Because like she said, the world depended on them both.
Haha yeah, no guns and dudebro stuff here. It's just a cute, fluffy, first-kiss fic. :3 Quite different from the dark, bleak tone of the game. I wish they had more bonding time in KZSF.
When I was giving a physical description of Echo, I had in mind a combination of Jamie Gray Hyder and Jennifer Lawrence. :3 As for her ear piercings, "Flight of the Phoenix" will explain why she got them.
PS: So you know the dates that sometimes pop up through the KZSF campaign? The day Lucas first met Echo during the prisoner exchage was June 7. My birthday! :D