River turned from the backs of the three retreating figures seemingly confident of their care. She glanced towards her and took a step to overlook the command-console. Snowflake knew that she would see the deliberately disabled security protocols.
“Why?” River asked turning for a response.
“Because she needs to feel a semblance of control.” Snowflake responded.
“Mind-games?” Her question held a flavour of distaste while she hovered a hand in anticipation of her next question; “May I?”
Snowflake nodded an affirmative while asking a question of her own. “Isn’t everything?”
River reset the security standings and multiple indistinguishable copies of her current guise, blood and all, flickered into existence then faded out in a liquid shower as she cyberneticaly dismissed them.
“You’re damaged.” River noted.
“Yes I am.” She replied. “Lorddad always said that life was a game of risk and reward. In the end his reward was without risk.”
“Lorddad was monotonous even to me. A perfect example of Federalist Intaki virtue.”
“Have you ever wondered if the game was playing you?” Snowflake asked absently lost in the remembrance of the man who taught the beauty of simplicity."
“Do you expect an answer?” River’s matter of fact response.
"Yes. I want answers but not to that question. The FIO is not the end of our troubles it is the just the beginning. I have suspicions but no proof and no way to discover it. Nothing is as it seems, wheels within wheels, powers shielded by powers shrouded by dazzling light and sheltered in darkness.
Snowflake conjured a full length plasma mirror made of the same constrained energies and fields as her duplicates had been. She touched it and felt it to be cool as the bright silvered finish faded to black along with the unlit details of her apparel.
She shrugged her shoulders as the micro-drones and idle projectors lifted away the soiled garb and just as swiftly swapped it with a clean replacement. She sucked at the soreness of her gums but declined to medicate for the pain.
An open palmed push and the drones enlarged the projected field to a comfortable arc filling the dimensions of the room and secluding them both from outside view with a public projection to innocuous normality.
The inner circle was dark. Snowflake waved River over to join her in close proximity to the black screening wall as the clusters star map wheeled into view. On the far right an inset image played the Celes Aguard’s Intaki invasion speech with annotations and highlights to pertinent details displayed for River’s benefit.
The star map showed the publicly available areas of Gallente military occupation. With a singular spotlight on their two figures the pair pondered the Federation’s strategy through the gaps in their spectral reflections.
Snowflake pointed to the the paused video inset of Aguard with the subtext frozen at the phrase “Recover what is ours.”
“Who claims ownership of Intaki? Aguard? The Senate? or something older, labyrinthine, an unreported power behind the power.” Snowflake stared at the dark mirror and saw the shade of herself and River stare back.
“Truth rarely reveals itself, it just is, waiting to be discovered.” River noted. “I built these swarming plasma projection drones on scientific principles, not suppositions.”
Snowflake shook her head. “I feel it, this invasion is motivated by something inexplicable. I look at this map and the echo of a different dimension looks back. We are puppets River. You, I and Geana - all. We just don’t know who really is pulling the strings.”