Operation story: 11-8

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Male Londinier A icon.png
Londinium Citizen
Sarkaz Warrior icon.png
Sarkaz Warrior
Eartha Partisan A icon.png
Self-Salvation Corps Fighter
Londinium Arsenal B
Victoria Streets
Londinium Avenue
Victoria Room
Londinium Manor Garden

Before operation

Catherine tells Feist about the failed workers' protest twenty-six years ago, and leaves Feist and the Doctor with information about the supply line. Allerdale and Siege are being pursued by the Sarkaz.
<Background 1>
Feist thought he was getting a talking to.
He was ready, thinking about what he could say to move the heart of the stubborn old worker before him.
Catherine has seen too much. Her temper is harder than the machines in the factory.
His cleverness with words has never been of any use before Catherine. Her fierce gaze sees through all, turning his wits to mush.
Feist feels a familiar sense of helplessness.
He always turns back into a little boy before his grandmother. Clumsy, excitable, prone to saying something he instantly regrets. He can only wait for his grandmother to speak first.
But Catherine says nothing.
She leads Feist down a long path. When they finally stop, he glances at her expression, and surprisingly sees no hint of anger.
[Catherine takes Feist and Doctor into a part of the arsenal.]
Catherine ......
Feist What's up ahead?
Catherine Nothing.
Feist I remember this workshop. You used to come here by yourself. Why is the production line empty, though?
Catherine What did you think this place was?
Feist The old workers wouldn't say, but Patto made a bet with Day that it's the secret workshop where they used to build steam armor.
Catherine Tell Patto he won the bet.
Feist So this is really the steam armor... no, I don't understand...
I've followed you down this path a few times. I heard... I heard the machines running, and the conveyor belt moving.
Catherine They still run, if someone hits the switch.
Feist Why was it abandoned? Because the Steam Knights disappeared? No, even without orders, these machines are too dear to be left idle.
Catherine Why... why indeed?
The aging worker pats the machine, as though she was asking the cold metal.
Feist realizes that all the machines are spotless, with nary a speck of dust on them. It is as though time has stopped in this secret workshop.
Catherine Do you know why I'm the only one who came here?
Cam, Mike, Branson... they should have been standing there. And Harvey, he'd be responsible for watching the thrusters.
When the production line moves as one... I guarantee you've never heard a song quite like it.
Feist Harvey... isn't that Dad's name?
Catherine Yes.
Your dad was the smartest worker in the entire city. He came up with all sorts of crazy ideas.
Feist I've only seen him in photos.
Catherine I wish you could have seen him in the flesh. You're like him... too much so, at times.
Harvey was an expert in steam engines. He was like an engine himself, going so fast that I couldn't keep up.
I should've kept up.
Feist Didn't Dad go missing after getting caught in some business on the streets? That's what you said whenever I asked.
Catherine Some business... if what happened twenty-six years ago could be called as much.
Feist Twenty-six years ago? Didn't His Majesty...
Catherine Yes. Londinium fell into chaos overnight, the nobles were at each other's throats, and the dukes led the way.
Lots of factories got hit, especially military ones making steam armor. We were forced to stop work.
Harvey... he was young then. Almost the same age as you now. He loved the factory, and he loved this city.
He left the factory with the other workers to protest against the nobles. He wanted the dukes to hear the voices of the workers, and protect our livelihood.
Naive, wasn't he?
Feist ......
Catherine I think back to it, on quiet nights... was it a cold one in December? Was his blood warm when it came out of his chest?
Feist Dad did it... for his ideals.
Catherine You want to say how noble it is to sacrifice for your ideals?
The leaders of your Self-Salvation Corps and that "Doctor" of yours... is that what they say when they mourn their dead friends?
Feist It's what Commander Clovisia would say. As for the Doctor... the Doctor is even more quiet than usual at times like those. But I can feel the pure, heartfelt sincerity.
Catherine The dead are in no position to appreciate their greatness.
As for the ones they leave behind... these words of consolation are like cigarette smoke, light and fluffy, comforting for a moment, but when it leaves your lungs...
She takes a breath, a pause, then breathes out again.
The temperature is not low enough to leave a white fog.
Catherine Only one thing is for certain. Forty-one workers walked onto the largest street in Central Londinium on that night, twenty-six years ago. None came back.
Nothing changed about the city. The nobles, the wealthy, they pretend nothing happened, but this workshop would never be the same again.
I'm too old to train another group of workers as good as them, Feist.
They should've taken over for me. Harvey should've been the one to teach you all you knew.
Feist Granny...
Catherine Believe it or not, I've never blamed Harvey, and I've never blamed you.
But think about it carefully. You should've thought about it carefully when you tried to lead Patto and the others into your rebellion.
If you survive this war, but the others don't, will you be like me, fraught with grief and regret night after night, leaning over machines with no one to use them?
Feist ......
I didn't understand your decision three years ago, Granny.
But now, when I think back to that day, when I try to put myself in your shoes...
It would have taken me a long time to make that decision.
You're right. Being smart isn't enough to fool death.
But compromise and subservience won't get the job done either.
Catherine ......
Catherine takes a drag on her cigarette and says nothing.
Feist I can't say I've thought this through.
I can't guarantee we'll be able to drive out the Sarkaz.
I've been feeling the weight on my shoulders, ever since Rhodes Island told us that we didn't have much time.
I'm afraid I'll do something stupid again.
But I can't stop here.
Otherwise, I'll never be able to face Johnny, Gabby, and the Self-Salvation Corps fighters who gave their lives.
Catherine Too young... too naive, little brat.
You there, "Doctor". You look like you've got a grip on yourself, unlike this boy.
Would you kindly take care of him?
Doctor Don't worry. / I'll do my best.
Catherine There's a hidden compartment in the third drawer of my desk.
Feist What?
Catherine The Sarkaz are watching closely. There's no place for you here. Read it and get out.
Don't bring trouble to anyone else.
[Catherine leaves.]
Feist ...Thanks, Granny.
You catch a glimpse of Catherine's expression as she passes by you.
Sorrow, and gratification.
Feist Let's take a look, Doctor.
Granny's room is over here.
[Feist and the Doctor heads to Catherine's office.]
<Background 2>
[Allerdale asks a Londinier,]
Allerdale Do you have the goods?
Londinium Citizen All here.
Allerdale How's Mr. Bader?
Londinium Citizen I heard he's ill. Anyway, it's all here. Our business is concluded.
Allerdale Good. Please pass on my gratitude.
One after another, heavily-armed mercenaries emerge from the warehouse.
Their leader walks towards the Self-Salvation Corps and extends the hand not holding a weapon.
??? Are you our new employer? I'm Totter.
Allerdale Hello, Totter. Thank you for making the trip.
Totter The container was a little stuffy.
Not that it's much different out here.
Allerdale Hah. Welcome to Londinium.
Clovisia Team 8, take our new friends to the base. Watch out for Sarkaz patrols.
Self-Salvation Corps Fighter Yes, ma'am. Come with us.
[The mercs led by Totter follows the Eartha partisans to their base.]
Allerdale The scales tip ever so slightly in our favor.
We don't have much time left, Clovisia. They've began culling the nobles.
Clovisia We've evacuated the ducal residence and moved to Hideout Beta, which is better concealed. It's safe for now, but I'm not sure for how long.
The number of Sarkaz in the city is increasing.
Allerdale The bulk of their forces will return in three days.
Clovisia The Nachzehrer King... The terrible corpse eater.
Amiya told me about his powers. He "eats" war... turning the battlefield into part of himself simply by standing on it.
Allerdale How do we defeat the battlefield itself?
Clovisia The dukes' fleets must be united to win.
Our soldiers have to avoid him. That's why we need to move before he returns.
They're living legends.
Allerdale The Sarkaz Royal Court... if they truly plan to suppress the entire city, over the heads of Lt. Colonel Lettou and the Defense Forces...
You're good at math, Clovisia. What are the chances we triumph over these terrible legends?
Clovisia ......
Allerdale Very good then. The Self-Salvation Corps didn't come this far by crunching numbers.
Clovisia The fighters are doing their best.
Whatever may come, at least our hearts are one, aren't they, Allerdale?
Allerdale ...Huh? Oh, yes, of course.
Clovisia What are you thinking about?
Allerdale I'm thinking... I hope tomorrow goes as well as these past few days have.
<Background 3>
Siege Don't you think they've been going a little too smoothly lately?
Indra That's a good thing, innit?
Siege Good things don't happen on their own.
Morgan I agree with Vina. You get lucky once, sure, but not every time.
Siege ......
[Siege looked at a Londinier.]
Londinium Citizen
Siege Hey, those men have been loitering for a while...
Londinium Citizen ......
The man on the corner glances at them briefly.
He should not have been able to see so deep into the alley. But he suddenly pulls back his gaze, and briskly walks away with his head lowered.
[Siege contacts Dagda...]
Siege Dagda!
[...who responds.]
Dagda Yes?
Siege Tell Allerdale... tell the Corps to evacuate the warehouse district immediately!
Dagda Yes, Siege.
[After listening to people asking her in the background, Dagda asks Siege,]
Dagda They want to know why.
Siege We are being watched... no time to explain.
Dagda, Indra, Morgan. Proceed with the plan.
<Background 2>
[A Kazdelian Sarkaz warrior stands before the Eartha partisans...]
Sarkaz Warrior
[...who are quickly taken out...]
Self-Salvation Corps Fighter Oh...
[...as Siege reveals herself.]
Siege Is everyone out?
Self-Salvation Corps Fighter I... I don't know...
Siege Run now. Talk later.
[The Eartha partisans start running.]

After operation

The Self-Salvation Corps successfully escapes under Siege's leadership, but the Sanguinarch of Vampires is hot on their heels.
<Background 2>
[Kazdelian Sarkaz warriors are pursuing the retreating Siege and Eartha partisans.]
Sarkaz Warrior
Siege They're still on our tails.
Self-Salvation Corps Fighter You should go... someone of your station shouldn't risk her life for us...
Siege Would you say the same if it was Allerdale or Clovisia?
Self-Salvation Corps Fighter ...You're different.
Siege Heads down.
Self-Salvation Corps Fighter Huh?
Siege's hammer swings through the air, barely missing the fighter's head.
A massive hole appears on the wall with the sound of bricks cracking. Within lies the severed hand of a Sarkaz caster, still holding his wand.
Siege Different, am I?
Self-Salvation Corps Fighter You... you...
Siege Stay close. I'm not in the habit of slowing down my fights.
[The partisans continue running.]
<Background 3>
Siege We haven't shaken them yet.
Self-Salvation Corps Fighter These Sarkaz are persistent.
Siege Their uniform is the same, but the Sarkaz of Sudean are like children compared to these.
They're different.
Self-Salvation Corps Fighter What should we do? Keep making circles in the streets?
Siege You used to sit in front of a desk, didn't you?
Self-Salvation Corps Fighter Huh? Yes, I was an accountant... why?
Siege How did you travel? By car?
Self-Salvation Corps Fighter Er, yes...
Siege Do you know how wide a Londinium alley is? How long it takes to run from one end of Wellington to the other? How many sewer entrances there are on each block?
Self-Salvation Corps Fighter ...No.
Siege They do.
Self-Salvation Corps Fighter Who does?
[Indra shows up and engages the Sarkaz warriors, dispatching them.]
Indra Over here, Vina!
<Background 2>
Sarkaz Warrior Target sighted!
[The Sarkaz warriors attack.]
Sarkaz Warrior Hostiles in the shadows!
Morgan This way, Vina!
Siege I hear explosions coming from the safehouse.
The Corps fighters aren't moving quick enough. We have to cover their retreat.
Morgan Grr. This way!
[Siege and co. follows Morgan.]
<Background 4>
[Dagda reunites with Siege.]
Dagda Siege!
Siege Dagda, what's the situation?
Dagda Clovisia evacuated with most of them. Allerdale...
Allerdale ...I'm fine.
Siege You're hurt.
Allerdale I can take care of myself.
You should not have returned, Your Highness.
Sarkaz Warrior They're inside.
Kill them all.
Dagda Forgive my bluntness, Siege, I don't think you should...
Siege You don't think I should have come back either?
Dagda No, I don't think you should be at front, by yourself.
Allow me to stand by your side, from time to time.
Siege Very well. Come forward, Dagda.
[Dagda tends to Allerdale.]
Allerdale ......
Siege You need to rest, Allerdale.
Allerdale The daughter of the Duke of Cumberland can't lose to the daughter of the Count of Manchester.
Siege I know Allerdale and Dagda better.
Allerdale Then I'll stand by your side, as your friend, Allerdale.
Siege What about you, soldier? Can you stand?
Self-Salvation Corps Fighter Y-Yes...
Siege Then grab your weapon and fight.
Londinium... this iron jungle belongs to us. It's time to show the Sarkaz who is hunter and who is hunted.
[The Sarkaz warriors break into the room...]
Sarkaz Warrior Your station won't save you, Aslan.
We don't care.
The Sarkaz future is now. You'll be buried with the past.
[...and Siege smashes her hammer to a wall...]
Sarkaz Warrior Wait...
Look out! Ambush, behind the shelves!
Siege You're sharp.
Morgan Hey! Over here!
[...which is a signal for Indra and Morgan to come out and strike down the closest Sarkaz warrior...]
Indra No, here!
[...before engaging the rest...]
Dagda Do it, Siege!
[...with Dagda joining in...]
Siege Now then.
[...as Siege prepares to strike...]
Self-Salvation Corps Fighter Look out!
[...but a Sarkaz Warrior puts Allerdale at swordpoint.]
Sarkaz Warrior Flashy, but pointless.
Playtime's over. Drop your weapon and you can die a quick death.
Make things easier for both of us.
Allerdale Sorry... I got careless.
Siege No need to apologize.
The Sarkaz gazes at Siege, and Siege gazes at Allerdale.
She raises her hands slowly. Her hammer falls to the ground with a bang.
She winks at Allerdale, who raises the corner of her mouth.
Sarkaz Warrior Wait... wind? But we're indoors...
[Strong winds are felt in the room...]
Sarkaz Warrior It's...
Damn it, it's Arts! Incoming!
[Allerdale uses the distraction to throw Siege's warhammer at her...]
Allerdale Vina, catch!
[...which she catches.]
Siege Now then.
[Siege slams her warhammer on the Sarkaz warrior...]
Sarkaz Warrior Gah–!
[...knocking him down.]
Siege Are you alright?
Allerdale I'm in a good mood, at least.
[A rumble is felt...]
Sarkaz Warrior The warehouse is collapsing! Pull out! Surround them outside!
[...forcing the Sarkaz warriors to run outside.]
Indra Your safehouse doesn't seem so solid.
Allerdale Safehouses aren't meant to be impregnable fortresses.
Follow me.
[Siege and co. follows Allerdale out of the warehouse.]
<Background 2>
[After escaping from the warehouse...]
Allerdale The hidden passage should be blocked under the rubble, but we need to up our pace.
Siege You need to get your wounds wrapped, Allerdale.
Allerdale I... I'm fine.
Siege Dagda, take the fighter back to the Self-Salvation Corps camp. We'll split up.
Self-Salvation Corps Fighter Your Hig–Siege.
You showed your leadership. Now it's our turn to show you what we can do.
Thank you.
Morgan Where are you going?
Siege Allerdale's injuries can't wait. I'll find somewhere nearby...
Wait, I remember this place...
Allerdale Surprised you still have an impression of this alley, Vina.
That afternoon, when you brought back the Sighs of Kings, with them.
Siege ...What?
Allerdale Nothing. Let's keep going.
This path connects the palace to the ducal residence. Not many know of its existence.
I have assurances from one whose word carries weight that Cumberland Manor will be safe until tomorrow.
Enough for us to get these little flesh wounds treated.
<Background 5>
[Allerdale noticed someone outside...]
Allerdale Vina...
[...and Siege enters.]
Siege You knew I was there?
Allerdale I know what sounds I should hear from outside my room.
My dear Lady Vina, staring at me won't heal the wounds on my back.
Would you kindly change the bandages?
Siege ...Right.
The Queen and Her Guardian.png
Allerdale Ugh...
Siege Sorry, was I too heavy-handed?
Allerdale It's nothing. I just let my guard down when there aren't so many eyes on me.
Siege You bled a lot... how many times did you get hit?
Allerdale Most of them don't hurt anymore.
Siege If I reacted faster... maybe it would have saved you a scar.
Allerdale Escaping from those fighters was no mean feat.
Besides, I've been wanting to thank you for days.
You've helped the Corps a lot, and you even saved the old steam armor.
Siege I have a responsibility, Allerdale. I... I don't want to see you lose anything else.
Allerdale ......
No matter, Vina. If there's one thing I've learned over the years, it's that life usually doesn't go the way we want.
If it did, we wouldn't be hiding in this dark, little room, and we wouldn't be sitting with a bunch of stinking bandages.
Siege We...
[Allerdale interrupts Siege,]
Allerdale Let me think... we'd be sitting in a garden, taking tea together, discussing poetry and the weather.
We could go hunting. The alcornes are plentiful in the countryside this season. They run fast, but stop and stare when they see a crowd. Do you like hunting?
Siege ...I don't know.
Allerdale I've almost forgotten how it feels myself. But I'm guessing you don't like dancing, at least not at those onerous dance parties in the social season. I don't like them either.
The dresses are so much stiffer than hunting attire, and so tight they rob you of your appetite for the banquet.
Siege Ha, I can imagine.
Allerdale What?
Siege I'm thinking the hunting outfit would look better on you.
Allerdale Vina...
Siege Yes?
Allerdale Perhaps... we should have seen more of each other. Much more.
Siege Fate robbed us of a beautiful life, against our will.
Luckily, we still have the future...
[Allerdale noticed the look in Siege's face...]
Allerdale What's the matter? You look surprised.
Siege ...I'm talking about the future.
Allerdale You don't do that often?
Siege Back when I was running for my life, I hardly ever thought about the future. The past was in my dreams, and the future... it was in a fog, where I couldn't see anything.
Allerdale This is not a flaw, Vina. It's a virtue.
Nobles like to talk about the future, but most of them are more concerned about the dinner menu.
It's not because they've grown numb to life, but because they understand how precious the present is.
[Siege asks Allerdale,]
Siege Like the present now?
Allerdale Yes...
Like the present now.
<Background 6>
[Allerdale walks toward Ailshie.]
Allerdale Ailshie.
Ailshie Good morning, Lady Allerdale. Everything is in order.
Allerdale The steam armor... why have you taken it out?
It's too big to take with us.
Ailshie ...Is that so?
Has Her Highness Alexandrina left?
Allerdale Yes, she has her own mission.
Ailshie Your injuries...
Allerdale Are fine, thanks to Her Highness.
Ailshie I haven't seen you smile like this in a long time.
Allerdale Am I being too calm before the storm?
It does bring back long-forgotten feelings to stand with Her Highness and the others.
It's been some time since I encountered someone I could trust.
Ailshie Her Highness Alexandrina saved this armor for you. I may be a lowly servant, but I feel a sense of gratitude.
It's the pride of Cumberland.
Allerdale Pride...
Ailshie The armor and your honored ancestors... I remember how you used to talk to them.
Allerdale Children like to wallow in fantasy.
But I learned, twenty-six years ago, that it's no hero, just a broken hunk of metal.
We've all changed, yet the armor seems frozen in time.
Do you... like Her Highness Alexandrina?
Ailshie Her Highness is very kind. I've seen how she treats her fellows, eating the same food and sleeping in the same room.
She's not like most nobles. She doesn't see them as her servants, nor will she abandon them.
Allerdale Victoria is fortunate.
The heart of Her Highness is strong. Years of exile have not undermined her dignity and integrity.
Ailshie You said Victoria. What about yourself, my lady? What do you think of Her Highness?
Allerdale ......
I hope she has a bright future.
Ailshie So you...?
Allerdale I got a letter last night. Two in the same day.
She's... impatient.
Ailshie But you've reunited with Her Highness!
Do you remember how Her Highness came here with the Sighs of Kings, twenty-six years ago? It must've been a sign, and its portents might come true very soon!
We've waited for so long, Miss. You could...
"Allerdale Cumberland.
You will meet Vina again, someday."
Allerdale He...
I've long since given up waiting, Ailshie.
How long has it been since Jim left?
Ailshie He returned home to County Peninsula the year after the incident.
Allerdale ...Twenty-five years. We haven't had a gardener for a quarter century.
I used to love the bushes that grew there. They tripped me from time to time, but the tiny golden flowers that bloomed from them were so beautiful.
The first batch all died the winter after Jim left.
Mother sent people all around and learned that it was the noblest breed from Minos. The money it took to buy those seeds would have fed an ordinary family of Londiniers for half a decade.
Ailshie Your garden remains beautiful, even without that particular kind of bush.
Allerdale I tried, Ailshie. We all tried. You toiled tirelessly, summer and winter, in order to keep the garden in good shape.
But without those seeds, our garden would never return to its former glory.
I sent her a letter the fifth New Year's Day after Dad died.
Her reply included the seeds that House Cumberland could no longer afford.
Allerdale ......
Ailshie... we've always been living like this.
Ailshie If the Duke was here...
Allerdale ...She always had tricks up her sleeve.
Ailshie No, my lady, I meant your father.
Allerdale Father... father.
I can hardly recall his voice now.
Perhaps it's only in this garden that I... that I remember how he held my hand, taught my how to swing a sword, knocked me down, then picked me back up and sat me on his shoulder...
I wanted to preserve them, many years ago, Ailshie. I tried everything I could. The garden, the armor... and the shadow of my father.
But there is nothing worth less than "want".
I remember how I wanted to become a Steam Knight when I was little.
Ailshie. Sometimes... just sometimes, I think...
Growing up is such a cruel thing, isn't it?
With the exception of a lucky few, we all become tired and unremarkable adults.
Always treading carefully, not daring to speak our minds, grasping at straws when the waves are rough, and never letting go of the ones we find.
What did you want to be when you were little, Ailshie? Not the servant of a fallen house, surely?
Ailshie No, it's an honor to be by your side...
Allerdale I want the truth.
Ailshie Well... I suppose... I listened to a lot of bard's tales when I was little.
Allerdale Ah. Ailshie the Bard.
Ailshie Please don't tease me.
Allerdale Growing up means toppling, crushing, turning to dust the possibilities that we thought were within our reach when we were little.
And here we are.
Can I preserve House Cumberland's glory? It passed beyond my reach a long time ago.
I, Allerdale, am who I am now.
Ailshie ...But even you cannot say who Allerdale will be, can you?
Allerdale Will be...?
Ailshie I'm old, Miss. I couldn't squeeze a tune out of an instrument, even if I had the chance.
But you promised me.
Maybe you thought it was just a childish fancy.
But I've always believed that you could do it.
To be a Steam Knight greater than Charles Lynch, greater than any of your ancestors.
You'll do it for me, won't you?
Allerdale Enough, Ailshie! She wouldn't permit...
Ailshie Then what do you want to do?
I'm behind you, no matter your choice.
Allerdale I–
Ailshie Take your time. You always make the right decision.
Miss... permit me walk around this garden, one last time.
It's most dear to me... even if it's just a shadow of its former self.
Allerdale wants to say something, but does not open her mouth.
She watches someone, with whom she has spent virtually every day of her entire life, walk towards the center of the garden. They have been through the worst of times together, and have been transformed them in ways they could not have imagined.
Allerdale realizes that she has not seen Ailshie smile like this for years.
She feels a sense of tranquility, one that she has not felt in ages.
If there is still a chance–
Suddenly, Allerdale's attention is drawn to a speck of orange in the distance.
It rapidly draws near, and she feels the temperature around her rise.
Allerdale Ailshie! Quick, we must–
In an instant, the manor is engulfed in flames.
<Background 3>
[Lt. Col. Lettou is accompanying the Sanguinarch of the Vampires.]
Lt. Colonel Lettou ...Your Highness.
Sanguinarch of Vampires Quiet.
You're disturbing my enjoyment of the view.
Storied history turns to cinder. The proud manors of the nobles, reduced to charred ruins.
Tiles carefully sculpted and laid over centuries peel off one by one. Flowers collected from all the corners of the land wilt and wither.
Lt. Colonel Lettou My orders were to investigate the nobles.
Sanguinarch of Vampires Are you not happy with what I'm doing, "Commander"?
Do you not enjoy the flames? Does the sound of blood evaporating not interest you?
"Hiss, hiss." Listen and savor, Lettou, my friend.
I'm examining every drop of blood, as is my responsibility...
Lt. Colonel Lettou ......
I will assist your investigation, ensuring that no... traitor... walks free.
As is my duty.