Operation story: 12-13

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Glasgow Gym
Londinium Hotel Lobby

After operation

The Doctor talks one-on-one with the "Trilby Asher." Meanwhile, Amiya helps Siege through the bewilderment she's in.
<Background 1>
Ines So, your name really is Delphine Windermere.
Delphine ......
How did you know?
Ines I guessed.
Delphine Fine. You guessed. Three cheers for you.
That's a "Trilby Asher." You have the Duke of Caster behind you, then.
No wonder. She's after that Realmblade. Hmph, she's not trying to keep her ambitions up her sleeve anymore.
Looks like you lot are in far more shit situations than I thought.
Is Vina really back in Londinium to take the throne?
Ines You'd have to ask her. I don't really care.
Delphine What do you like to care about, then?
Ines How not to get my clothes dirty more than anything, if I had to say.
Delphine ......
Once I get back, I'll tell my mother she'll want to keep a closer eye on Rhodes Island Pharmaceuticals.
Turns out we were underestimating the "medical organization."
Ines What, do I not look like a doctor?
Delphine No.
Ines I'll try a little harder next time.
Now let's lay our cards on the table, Delphine.
How many men did the Duke of Windermere deploy on this plate?
Delphine I have two bodyguards... but I assume they're both dead.
Just after the Sarkaz put this place under lockdown, they tried to break out with me in tow. They failed.
Ines Two bodyguards. Very down-to-earth for a Duke's Princess.
You have eyes on that sword too?
Delphine You can relax. Duke Windermere's not interested in the Sighs of Kings, I can promise you that.
Ines So why are you here?
Delphine Coincidence.
Ines Let me remind you, you owe me one.
You're capable of leaving right now. I'm guessing Sir "Trilby Asher" would love to talk with a fellow duke's successor.
If the Duke of Windermere, fighter of the good fight, knew her own daughter got into an accident on a Sarkaz-surrounded plate, what would she do?
I imagine any duke would love to see her competitor take the first turn in fighting Theresis to the last man.
Of course, I could be too mean theorizing about him. He's still outside. Maybe he'll invite you for afternoon tea?
Delphine I'll be totally frank, Ms. Ines. Your Arts... have saved my life, I can't argue that.
But me being trapped here really is just a coincidence.
Every duke has their own intelligence network in Londinium, whether it's to monitor Sarkaz movements or peep at what the other dukes are doing.
If we're being completely honest, the latter's more important than the former.
I simply thought Norport Borough would be a suitable place to hide.
Ines To go further, an AWOL crown heir once part of the Glasgow Gang would be a very meaningful source of intel for you.
Delphine Not exactly.
Me and Baird just... liked going to the same video shop.
Ines Hmph–
Delphine My guess is, the fact Vina can wander around Norport with the Sighs of Kings, and hasn't been shopped off together with the sword to meet the Duke of Caster...
That's because our "Trilby Asher" wants to use your group's power to settle some of his own problems.
Right. You're looking for the airship.
It's true, no duke would resist the temptation. Even I want to know how the Sarkaz can construct a flying fortress. It'll upend how future wars are fought.
Ines You people really love these "wars."
Delphine I'd think a Sarkaz mercenary would be just as passionate.
Okay, fine. I do owe you one. So, what does Rhodes Island, house of darling doctors, plan to use my life for?
Like I just said, I've got no bodyguards or troops I can send out for you here. Be as disappointed as you want, Ms. Ines.
I can't help you, your friends or that "Trilby Asher" with any of your issues.
Ines We can handle our man and the airship ourselves just fine.
Delphine Then what do you want? You know full well what I'm worth to Duke Caster, but you still rescued me.
You're not telling me you helped me a bunch just because you're that kind and good of a person?
Ines Sorry, but no.
Delphine *sigh* Worth asking.
Ines It'd be hard for us to compete with a duke's power, I'll grant that.
And compared to Rhodes Island, I'm afraid the Duke of Caster has more of her energies focused elsewhere.
I trust you can talk your mother into helping out here.
Delphine That's a very high asking price.
You want the support of my mother stepping up, so you can break free from Duke Caster's control.
You know what a tightrope act that's going to be.
Ines Unfortunately, that's the only choice our house of darling doctors has.
<Background 2>
Amiya Doctor...
I don't know if their talks with that hotel are going smoothly or not.
Maybe... I should've gone with them.
Siege Don't worry, Amiya. Ms. Ines isn't going to put the Doctor in danger. Besides, we're just borrowing their comms station.
Amiya I know. And I know the sick here need me more.
Siege We nailed down a specific evacuation time before they left.
We'll need to withstand the counterattack from the Sarkaz barracks. As long as the dukes and the Sarkaz open fire on each other, the chance is ours to take.
The plan will go smoothly.
Amiya Yes... I'm just somewhat uneasy.
There's... something here that's stifling me. I don't know what it is.
At first, I thought it was just how heavy the atmosphere was in Norport, and after that, I thought... Theresa was wanting to show me something again.
But it doesn't seem like either of those.
Siege Amiya, when I was aboard the landship, I met some who called you "The King of Sarkaz." They were Sarkaz themselves.
What does that mean, to you? You clearly aren't a Sarkaz.
Do you hope to be a ruler who can lead her subjects? Or a hero who spearheads the charge?
Siege runs a light hand over the Sighs of Kings at her side. The blade is still ice-cold, as ever.
Amiya I don't know, Siege, I have to confess.
There was a future Theresa showed to all of us... I still firmly believe that the future she recounted is worth living for, more than anything else.
But–she gave the crown to me, yet didn't tell me just how I should arrive there. And now, she's... stood opposing us.
I can only try to convince myself–that this is her way of testing me.
I haven't actually decided how I'll face her. What will she say to me? How will she look upon what I'm doing?
Will the path I chose by myself... disappoint her?
I don't know if I'm someone... worth handing the authority of "The King of Sarkaz."
Siege But still, you chose to undertake that duty.
I worry, myself, that I can't be the person they're all expecting.
The hero who can cleave apart Catastrophe, the monarch who can unite the citizenry...
How am I meant to do that? How am I meant to... respond to hopes that heavy?
Tear down a wall? Or persuade a few nobles?
Shout to the people? Or use silence to display my majesty?
I'm not good at any of that, and Gawain never taught me it either.
I spent most of my time in the Glasgow Gang. Beating up rowdy drunkards, running with my friends to help them shake the coppers–that's all I knew.
And I learned a few things at Rhodes Island, but that wasn't going to help me figure out what I should do.
I thought... it'd click when I came back.
But once Morgan took the lead on the people here, calling me "Her Royal Highness"... still, I couldn't find a thing to say.
I don't know what to do. I'm so glad it was just a temporary trick to keep everyone placated.
But then, what if I do genuinely have to take that road?
I just couldn't ignore how these people were suffering, that's all it was. And now it's become this.
Amiya Siege... perhaps that much is enough.
Theresa once told me that "The King of Sarkaz" wasn't a duty.
I, too... just didn't want to turn away.
<Background 3>
"Trilby Asher" Doctor of Rhodes Island, do you like your job?
<Dialogue branch starts here>
Doctor Yes.
"Trilby Asher" Well. It seems you believe you're doing something meaningful.
<Dialogue branch>
Doctor ......
"Trilby Asher" Does the question need such protracted thought to answer?
<Dialogue branch>
Doctor No.
"Trilby Asher" Hah. So you have grander schemes than your current cause.
<Dialogue branch ends here>
"Trilby Asher" Regardless, I can't say I like mine.
Nobody's born in love with all the jockeying and maneuvering. I know I wasn't.
If it was possible, I'd use my noble name to buy a big plot of land in some far-flung county and while away my afternoons by the fireplace.
With a small tuskbeast to keep, ideally, and a forest behind the manor, for walks, and pondering questions of literature and poetry and such.
I'm ashamed to say, I'm a lousy poet. Sometimes I get some practice works of mine published in the Londinium Daily's literary supplement.
The man before you fiddles with his hat, almost visibly embarrassed.
"Trilby Asher" The critics take no notice, but it sends me over the moons.
Still, we know that's not an easy life to make real. The ideal never is.
This is the age we've been cast into. All we can do is act in the way it educates us to.
Tell me, who was here just now?
Doctor A Rhodes Island operator. / The owner and doorman of the hotel.
"Trilby Asher" You know who I mean, Doctor of Rhodes Island.
How about this? We can make a deal on the side.
You bring that operator of yours out of this hotel, and continue on with your mission as previously discussed.
Then once it's done, I'll give you and Her Royal Highness Alexandrina a referral to the Duke.
Not as a pawn or a hostage, but as a guest and a friend.
We're worth working closer with.
You can be assured, to forever honor her commitments is a tenet of Her Ladyship's.
Doctor You're more interested in a Victorian than a Sarkaz.
"Trilby Asher" Of course. We're in Victoria, after all.
Don't be fooled by her appearances. Do you really think this plate is no more than a lovable little Sarkaz-built prison cell?
Doctor I don't think this place is lovable.
"Trilby Asher" Fine. Miserable, then. Suit yourself.
While you're occupied with proclaiming yourselves the royal heirs apparent to Victoria and giving the Infected their jabs, I'll be busy, anyhow.
There are common Londinium folk in torment here, but those aside, there are great numbers of–
People taking care to cover their tracks. People with ulterior motives.
The Duke I serve wishes sincerely that Victoria regains its glory after it strides over the coals, but some aren't envisaging the same thing.
I have to root them out. It's another part of my work.
Doctor While saving the citizens here is nothing to do with you?
"Trilby Asher" Let me guess–you're ready to pull from the textbook to criticize me.
So. No. It is something to do with me. I pray wholeheartedly that every person may live in peace and good health.
But it's not possible, is it?
Some people can cling to the now, tweaking every little thing by themselves, but some have weightier callings to undertake, even if it's not what they wish for.
Such as... seeking a future where a nation can find its footing.
I respect the former type, but all the same, I hope you wouldn't reject the latter.
Doctor Every duke could claim the same thing.
They all think they're seeking a future for the nation.
That's the source of the disaster Victoria's in now.
"Trilby Asher" –I won't deny it.
Some superficials would say the dukes are merely contesting over authority and advantage. It appears you're not one of them, Doctor of Rhodes Island.
Authority is only a means, and advantage is only a tool.
What the dukes are truly vying over are the qualifications to lead this country into the future.
Victoria has been dust-laden for long enough.
And the Sarkaz will be the sandpaper that wipes Victoria clean. With some polishing, our nation will shine with glory again.
Ines You really are a lousy poet, Mr. "Trilby Asher."
[Ines returns.]
"Trilby Asher" I see you're finally here, Miss Ines.
I thought I wouldn't catch you in time.