-Inside the simulator-
Leona now sat inside of the simulator, which was an exact replica of the Albatross' cockpit. It had the seat, the safety harness, the controls, and everything else the actual cockpit had. Right now the simulator was inactive, but the blonde's mind was not sitting still. She was thinking about Medeia yet again.
Leona thought about everything Medeia had told her and wondered how much of it was sincere and how much of it was lies. Medeia was a master of deception and manipulation, skills that had undoubtedly seen a lot of use since long before the two met. Those skills had certainly worked on Leona because she had been played like a kazoo from start to finish.
In addition to being a skilled manipulator Medeia struck Leona as also being a hypocrite. The Warlord wanted freedom for herself while taking it from others. She wanted people to tell her the truth while offering distortions of the truth or outright lies in return. She casually threatened others but reacted poorly to words she perceived as threats directed at her.
Then there was the issue of Medeia's mood shifts. One moment she was a threatening figure who spoke in an icy tone and the next she tried to be motherly and caring. The moment after that she was an unpredictable trickster who liked to try and confound Leona into submission by twisting words to find meanings that were not there and implying that humiliating punishments could be inflicted on the blonde at any moment. Only a second after playing mind games she tried to be relatable and impart life lessons.
Some of what Medeia said might have actually been good points, but those life lessons had lost a lot of their weight because of the Dark mage's constant trickery. Leona had no way of knowing if Medeia was actually serious about trying to give advice or if it was just a deception used to advance some unknown aim of the Warlord's. For example, Leona suspected that Medeia had wanted the blonde to let go of her shame and guilt over the Ishgar Symposium and the fight in Hargeon Town so that she could paint the Wizard Saint as uncaring towards any suffering that was not her own or that of her single-digit number of friends.
Leona was not going to let go of her guilt and shame, not until she was ready. Medeia had probably not picked up on that because she seemed to blithely ignore anything she did not want to hear. The true depths of Leona's stubbornness was something Medeia would have to learn about the hard way.
The simulation activated and the screen came to life, which showed a clear, cloudless sky and a vast green field stretching in front of her. Leona's thoughts turned away from her enemy as she prepared to start the flight training by buckling the safety harness. Next the blonde reached for the button that toggled VTOL Mode with her left hand while placing her right hand on the control yoke.
"Leona, can you hear me?" Lara asked, her voice coming from overhead.
"I can hear you. Can you hear me?" Leona made an inquiry of her own.
"Yes, I can hear you just fine!" Lara answered. Now that that was established Leona focused on preparing for takeoff.
"You can take off whenever you're ready, Leona. I'll be monitoring the simulator from the outside, so if you get into trouble at any point I'm able to help you out!" The other blonde gave her the green light to start and let her know that if she got into trouble help was only a call away. Armed with that knowledge Leona pressed the VTOL Mode button, moved her left hand to the throttle lever and slowly pushed it up until she could hear the engines whir to life, and held onto the control yoke with her right hand as the craft began to slowly but surely lift off vertically.
When the simulated craft gained enough altitude Leona deactivated VTOL Mode, raised the landing gear, pushed the throttle up to roughly the halfway point, and then put both hands on the controls as she began to move forward. She quickly glanced at the instrument panel and everything appeared to be OK. The engines were in working order, the landing gear was up, VTOL Mode was deactivated, and fuel was not a problem.
"You did the manual takeoff perfectly, Leona. Now let's try manually flying around for awhile!" Lara commented on Leona's mastery of the manual takeoff before suggesting that the latter fly for real. An orange ring suddenly appeared in the sky in front of her.
"You're gonna go through a course marked by those rings. I want you to fly through the center of them if you can. I don't know how much you've flown on your own since we last met, but if you miss some rings don't sweat it. Training you to fly for real is what this simulator's for!" Lara told Leona what the orange ring was for. Moments later a trail of them appeared in the sky and went on for quite a distance before turning to the right.
"OK." Leona replied calmly as she held the craft steady and flew towards the first ring.
[Post Word Count: 888]
[Total Word Count: 1,692/10,000]