10-1: The Pursued

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The Pursued
Episode 10

You see the shadow of the nomadic city of Londinium, and so too have they seen you.
RI Operator icon.png
Rhodes Island Operator
Abandoned Mining Area
Wildlands Morning
Desert Smoke
Within Londinium's The Shard, the approaching Rhodes Island comes to Theresis's attention. At the same time, Amiya, Siege and the Doctor are bringing their squad in close to Londinium itself.
Londinium, Auchterigg Borough
Inside The Shard
The Crowned Siblings.png
Theresis Our project is near to its close.
Theresa I hear the sound of the storm, and so do they.
They're telling me now, how they like this sound. They're dying to become a part of the storm, to howl wantonly through the air, to go and devour this hateful city before us.
Theresis Perfect.
In ten days, our airship will be complete. From there, they'll be able to take to Londinium's skies, and serve as the storm's very pilots.
Theresa I'll be going with them.
Theresis That suits our plan. You are the optimal candidate to command our air forces, given I must be defending The Shard.
Theresa No, Theresis, that isn't what I mean.
Theresa They and I, as one, can but only go together.
Prior to their departure, you are to continue fulfilling your duty.
The Royal Court needs you, and our soldiers need their most trustworthy monarch.
Moreover, you are more proficient in building than I am, by all rights. Our construction rate has sped up by ten percent since you began attending Court meetings.
Theresa I would not forget what I am meant to do.
Also. I noticed you deposed of those... guards. The Confessarii have given you no end of grief for that, have they?
Theresis Deposing of the guards about you was the Military Commission's decision. We need more sentries, so we can answer to the greatest period of danger.
Theresa If needs be, I can enter the battlefield too.
Theresis Stay here. This tower... and the airship. Those lie at the core of our plans.
Once these two projects are through and done with, Kazdel will possess the power to fend off all nations.
Theresa Fend off all nations, you say...
I've always known of your ambitions, but it makes it no less unbelievable to hear every time.
Theresis Hasn't it always plagued you that they would not permit us to rise again?
Very soon, you will be plagued no longer.
Theresa Indeed.
–If even the bearing of the storm is ours to control, who would still be occupied by the dark clouds floating at its head?
Theresis In the past, we Sarkaz let our enemies pursue us.
Time and time again we stood up in the ruins, and time again we rebuilt our homeland, and time again we watched our home be torn to shreds by the wars they incited.
[After a short pause, the seemingly resurrected Theresa answers...]
Theresa Sarkaz... Sarkaz. We are a rootless people.
Theresis Why is that? Solely because they have occupied our finest soil, and forbid our roots to take.
In the war two hundred years ago, it took all our might to drive the enemy back–yet we still could not preserve Kazdel.
After that, how much time did we have to devote, to just about reconvene our stranded remnants?
And how much more time–
To transport these bare shreds Victoria and Ursus could not see to a wasteland they were just as blind to, and rebuild Kazdel again right under their very noses?
Theresa Two hundred years?
Theresis Yes. It has taken us these two full centuries.
So what of the next time? Suppose our Kazdel is once again razed by flames of war? How much more time will we need to rebuild it?
Now five hundred years–or even longer?
Our enemies have almost gotten away with this, precisely because we've become accustomed to drifting.
Ruination after ruination may never snuff out the Sarkaz soul, but it has unarguably scattered us.
Kazdel today is merely crammed with houses. It is not home.
Still more Sarkaz wander the great land beyond, no dreams in their mind's eye further than tomorrow's bread.
Even the Royal Court... All Kazdel has is its Ten Kings' Court of tradition, and the majority of those ten have left their positions vacant.
Theresa This is why you wanted war.
Theresis It is not my want, but the Sarkaz's need.
This time, it will be beneath our feet where war's flames ignite. Victoria, Ursus, Leithanien... not one city, not one patch of soil will be fortunate enough to escape.
Within the next century, our enemies will no longer have the energy left to set their sights on Kazdel.
No, more than that. Once we have the ability to guide the storm–they'll come to fear the Sarkaz's gaze instead, just as they fear the storm descending.
Theresa The storm... gathers atop this tower we stand in.
They will see us, stood in the storm's eye. Every enemy of the Sarkaz will throw themselves at us with all they have, to stop us.
Theresis Then let them.
Theresa You... Don't you fear the inferno consuming your body too, when the first thunderbolt strikes?
Theresis When you built Babel, you too knew all opposers would point their swords at you–and did you ever once fear?
Theresa ......
Theresis The tower you built with life has collapsed, just like another Kazdel.
And at this moment, we stand here–in a new tower, in a new opportunity.
Look at Londinium today. You only just presided over the meeting of the kings. How can you not have realized?
Not even before the useless war between us began, were the Sarkaz so close to unity.
Kings of the Sarkaz.png
I'll return to the city's outer barracks soon,
Your Majesty Theresa.
I understand, Nachzehrer King.
Our meeting here will be as brief as possible.
You're always in such a hurry, Nachzehrer.
You don't want to get together with us?
I haven't the time to spare, Vampire.
A hundred thousand are stationed outside Londinium.
Not I nor my soldiers can spare a second of complacency.
Then let's switch our duty. I'm already sick of the blabbering nobles inside the city.
And, Theresis, your little Gaulish friend is just as foolish and noisy as them.
I've got to warn you in advance. My patience is limited.
His head will have to stay on his neck for a moment longer. Don't add the city's Victorian Army to our troubles.
Fine enough. That said,
don't you feel that some still haven't been put to use?
Do you speak of myself, Vampire?
I have great affairs upcoming, don't I, Your Highnesses?
Of course. Control of Londinium is inseparable from the efforts of us all.
Has there been word from the Messenger you sent, Confessarius?
By Manfred's tireless urging, the Lich is now fast on the way to Londinium.
The few Wendigos left remain battling strange monsters in Ursus's north. Their hearts hold the Royal Court no more.
The Cyclops sends a letter. As ever, she describes a tragic scene–Londinium sundered by great fire into thirds, The Shard fallen under lightning strikes in their hundreds, and the Regent... yes, she still prophesies your end, Regent.
She says she has seen your solitary death, on the underground throne of the Palace of Westhaleg.
Give her a reply, thanking her for her concern.
Continue searching for any sign of the Gargoyles. So long as you can find any remnant blood vessels, immediately send an invitation.
The Council will, together with the Royal Court, ensure victory in this war.
The Crowned Siblings.png
Theresis If the Sarkaz can still be given a new chance, then that chance lies before our eyes, and it is one and only.
Theresa And very, very many will die.
So many... Victorians, and so many Sarkaz. The people's blood will change this grey city through and through, and their wails will cover even the thunder.
Theresis This is a war. A war between us and them, one continued for centuries, without end.
Theresa Yes, war... This has always been how we Sarkaz continue to survive.
Theresis If you have any objections, speak.
Single out the dangers of my plan, just as you have countless times before.
Theresa I have no objections.
Theresis None... you say?
Theresa If you could hear these sounds in my head, you would know, they would not allow me another choice.
Provided this war can truly free Kazdel from the cycle of destruction... Provided this storm can truly put out the Sarkaz's smoldering enmity, and return countless souls to the freedom of rest...
I will stand with you, ensuring our dream can be made reality.
Theresis ......
A fine turn.
There is one more thing–
The Rhodes Islanders are already on their way.
<Background 1>
6:50 A.M. \ Overcast
527km out from Londinium, operation platform of an abandoned mine
Rhodes Island Operator Dr. Kal'tsit, anchoring sequence will begin in T plus one hour, forty-eight minutes.
Kal'tsit Good. Ensure the boarding region can operate normally before then.
Rhodes Island Operator Understood. We'll step up the cleanup.
Kal'tsit Warfarin, have all critically ill patients been appropriately situated?
Warfarin Relax, it's just the last three left, and we're operating on them tomorrow. We'll have the moving sickbeds arranged in no time...
Don't rush me, okay? You standing here with your stern look makes our Medic Operators have to keep peeking at you.
Kal'tsit This is an emergency.
Warfarin Fine, I get it, I'll quit joking.
Every day's been like a battle ever since we entered Victoria. If you hadn't transferred so many operators away beforehand...
Kal'tsit Rhodes Island must operate as usual.
We reached this consensus at the first resolutive meeting, Warfarin.
Warfarin No complaints from me. You made Mon3tr lash me to the side of the ship four years ago...
Kal'tsit Hm?
Warfarin I mean, when you invited me to join Rhodes Island. We agreed I would research Oripathy alongside you, as a doctor.
There wasn't any "follow the new King of Sarkaz in a fight to win back Kazdel"-type clause in my contract, and switching Kazdel out for Londinium changes nothing.
Kal'tsit This goes for a great deal of our operators. I have no intent of forcing any one operator to participate in a mission irrelevant to their long-term goals.
Moreover, no matter the other operations we are forced to take on, we cannot turn a blind eye to the Infected throughout every region.
Warfarin *Sigh* If it wasn't for our work there, we'd have a few more elite operators to spare for this Londinium trip.
I wonder how Amiya's crew are doing.
Kal'tsit Once we reach the vicinity of Londinium, we'll receive word.
<Background 2>
[Amiya is contacting other R.I. personnel.]
Amiya Recon group, report situation on both sides!
Received. No threat, copy.
[Amiya signs off.]
Amiya Closure, we can pass through ahead! Keep the engineering team with us!
Closure On it!
Dr.{nickname}, still got it in you to move? Want my drones to give you a lift?
<Dialogue branch starts here>
Doctor I'm fine, let's keep going. / ......
<Dialogue branch>
Doctor When were drones capable of that?
Closure Lemme think... huh, I can't actually think of anything wrong with the idea.
<Dialogue branch ends here>
Amiya Doctor, we just need to walk a little longer. When we're out of this danger zone, then we can ride on our crafts and recuperate a little.
We'll need to send Dr. Kal'tsit a message at some point, too... She must be extremely worried about us.
<Dialogue branch starts here>
Doctor Wonder if it's going smoothly on the landship's side.
Amiya That's exactly why she had to stay behind... she can only rendezvous with us once Rhodes Island is safely situated. That's our joint responsibility.
<Dialogue branch>
Doctor She should be sending us a message too.
Amiya For safety, we can't use any messaging devices on our approach to Londinium.
Any signal might be intercepted by the Duck's force.
No, it might get even worse... Doctor, we can't afford to have Theresis spot us so quickly.
<Dialogue branch ends here>
Amiya Doctor, just leave this to me.
Ever since we planned to drive into Victoria, Doctor Kal'tsit and you have been busy securing the safety of our route.
I will take charge for the rest of it, just like we've agreed on.
I want a chance for you to catch your breath too... even if it's just mentally.
Doctor, we have to keep going.
<Background 1>
Warfarin Ugh, there are times I think about how we got in over the past months, and it seems too smooth to even believe.
That ragtag bunch of windbags are all together in Londinium right now, and they haven't even noticed us... Kal'tsit, did you use some kind of ancient technique I'm not aware of?
Kal'tsit If any Arts truly could render Rhodes Island invisible, believe me, I would've used them over a decade ago.
Warfarin Haha, I almost forgot. "Disused industrial mining equipment recovery organization"... is that right?
We've been using that title for passage and permission to park the whole way. Trust Dr.{nickname} to come up with that.
Kal'tsit Dr.{nickname} tends to have a... unique angle of thought on certain aspects.
And luckily, Closure's personal interests has had her lead the Engineering Department over the past years to develop technologies for using scrap.
Which, in short, renders the title a fine one. With the addition of a few friends' aid, this plan has been successful in execution thus far.
As for what comes next... that lies with Amiya and Vina.
<Background 3>
Siege Two left, four right. Indra?
[Indra fights off several enemies and knokcs them down.]
Indra Check.
Siege How's the right side?
Morgan Tsk. Someone who thought he was funny had me caught up for a second, but he's over with now.
Siege And Dagda?
[Sounds of fighting are heard close by.]
Indra I heard steel claws and crossbow bolts mashing into each other.
Siege Enemies left to the rear?
Indra Leave 'em to her.
Hey, there's one hiding right here–!
[An enemy charges at Indra, but Vina intercepts them and knocks them down with her warhammer.]
Siege Now there isn't.
Just missing Dagda...
Indra Vina, listen, it's dead silence behind. I said she could sort it out.
Siege Good. Vanguard group, mission complete.
Notify Amiya immediately: there's no more noble's patrols in the vicinity. They can pass through.
<Background 2>
Amiya The road ahead is clear. No casualties.
Messaging devices back in operation.
Doctor... we're just about to catch sight of Londinium.
Doctor We finally made it here. / ...... / Now can I catch my breath too?
[Someone messages Amiya.]
Amiya Hold on, Doctor... Jessica sent a message.
Ah... before we carry out the next step of the plan, we need to send a few operators to run a different mission.
We have two targets to rescue. One's a friend at Blacksteel, and the other is an informant who can help us enter Londinium.