Operation story: 12-14

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Dublinn Soldier icon.png
Dublinn Soldier
Sarkaz Warrior icon.png
Sarkaz Soldier
Dublinn Soldier icon.png
Norport Street Night
Londinium Hotel Lobby
Norport Walls
Glasgow Room
Underground Rubble

Before operation

Reunion, the "Trilby Asher", Rhodes Island and Dublinn forces all converge on Norport, the situation growing further chaotic. There, Siege's status as Aslan royal family and the Sighs of Kings in her grasp render her the center of the maelstrom.
<Background 1>
Red Right, now I remember. That's the Rhodes Island uniform.
Mr. Guard has a set of it, and if memory serves, Miss Susie went to some Rhodes Island after leaving Caladon too.
They should be a good bunch. Why help Miss Susie otherwise?
And they're helping the Infected here too.
*sigh* It's tough being the good ones. The good ones always choose too much responsibility for themselves.
All while some responsibilities weren't meant for anyone to bear.
Poor Rhodes Island. Maybe they went down the wrong path from square one.
Just like Nine said, injections and tablets won't solve Oripathy. The body can hurt less, but others won't change the way they look at you so easily.
We need to force them to see us, to hear our voices, to admit we're not just sores and ulcers on them.
What do you think?
??? ......
Red You've been with me long enough, friends. Any brilliant ideas about what I just mentioned?
[The one Red is talking to is implied to be a Dublinn soldier.]
??? Reunion.
You aren't part of our objective.
Red So I'm guessing we can keep doing each to our own?
[The soldier leaves.]
Red Fine, leave then.
Well, since Dublinn is in the mix now, it's about time I get them evacuated.
Grr. If I had a little more time, I could've talked a few more people over.
For now, let's go rendezvous with her.
<Background 2>
Ines You call yourself a poet...
"Trilby Asher" Miss Ines. Another marvelous insight to share?
Ines I've met a few poets before, all far better than you, because–
They never misused their metaphors.
Dust, sandpaper...
Out of this plate, this nation, even the entire land itself, who's the dust, and who's the sandpaper?
And how are you qualified to decide who's who?
War doesn't do metaphor in any way.
It's not some terrific journey. It's not some furnace for glory once again. It's not some ship sailing for revival.
It's just people struggling in mud. Arms broken in ruins. Stenches that never fade.
That's all it is.
...I know that better than anyone.
"Trilby Asher" We can set aside our differences for now. I respect the views of a veteran mercenary.
But I do need an answer as to my proposal for promoting from pawn to friend.
Doctor Ines.
Ines Here.
Doctor What was Delphine's response?
Ines She's agreed, as long as both we and her can leave this place alive.
She's already left for the comms station. The broadcast will be out imminently.
"Trilby Asher" There's a shame. We didn't need to go that far.
You've turned down an invitation from Victoria.
<Dialogue branch starts here>
Doctor The Duke of Caster can't stand for all of Victoria.
"Trilby Asher" She will.
<Dialogue branch>
Doctor ......
"Trilby Asher" Not a wise decision, I have to say.
<Dialogue branch>
Doctor All I've turned down is a lousy poet.
"Trilby Asher" Being clever won't help you, Doctor of Rhodes Island.
<Dialogue branch ends here>
[Suddenly an explosion is heard...]
"Trilby Asher" Is this one of your little schemes too?
[...as Delphine and Percival rushes in...]
Ines Delphine? What are you...
Percival Run! They're–
[...and a Dublinn soldier appears, striking the Trilby Asher who narrowly blocked the attack...]
"Trilby Asher" You...
[...with the Dublinn soldier revealed to be the Brigadier from What the Firelight Casts.]
"The Brigadier" What a clamorous locale.
"Trilby Asher" Should I refer to you as Captain of the Redsteel Guard, or "The Brigadier" of Dublinn?
Such a surprise to see your people here.
<Background 3>
Cador Finally, an end to the slog.
Delphine and that Doctor will sort out that comms station, right?
It'll all go smooth, and then we can leave Norport.
Baird Figured out where you're off to after?
Cador ...Dunno.
Baird Anyone mucking in a Norport gang either came out an orphanage or plain lost anyone to fall back on.
Goes for us too pretty much, I figure.
Cador There'll be a way. We'll find some way to feed ourselves. Hah, maybe I'll go off and join those "Rusthammers." They love to tell stories about them, don't they.
Won't catch me dead being a duke's estate refugee at any rate, down on my knees begging those ivory tower shits for my bowl of gruel.
Baird Cador–
Cador I know. You think I'm still on about some naive shit, like "ooh, let's knock the daylights out of the Sarkaz" was.
Baird, I've lost enough living through all this. I can't just abandon the final specks I still have.
All this... pain, this torment, if it turns me, crushes me soft after all, then I may as well be dead in an alley.
Baird It's... maybe hard to criticize being crushed, Cador. Nobody's actually got a spine of steel.
Cador ......
Baird During the day, I went to the video shop. McClaren wasn't there fighting over that luggage thing of supplies, so I thought he might've had an accident.
Cador He always thinks everyone's up to something, the weirdo.
Baird You've gone and drunk plenty of his squash, haven't you.
Cador Fine, then, may he live forevermore. He alright?
...He still alive?
Baird Front of the video shop was wretched. I'd guess he's been raided a bunch.
I tried calling for him, but no response. So I thought he was hiding somewhere else, until... I saw him. Through his window all nailed shut, just a crack left. Saw his eyes.
Bulging out of their sockets. Covered in blood. Terrified. Desperate. Didn't dare look at him again.
I don't think he can come out of there anymore.
You say "soft." You call them that. But we know we're... not that far off ourselves.
Cador ...Hah.
Siege We still have a chance to save all this.
It'll be tough. We'll have to survive the Sarkaz's likely counterattack, and then the artillery from the dukes' forces.
But it's not at all impossible.
Right now, we need to figure out what moves the Sarkaz barracks are going to make against us...
Cador Hrmph. Always on time to encourage us and remind us what we need to do, Your Majesty. How reliable of you.
Siege ...
Cador Oh, might I have the privilege of your orders again?
Siege I'm wondering... what would you say–a king is?
Cador What, you taking me in as your vassal?
Siege No, I've said it a thousand times, I'm just Vina of the Glasgow Gang.
I just... realized I never honestly thought about the question before.
Maybe I'm clueless how, aside from all that praise about honor and majesty, what a king is to you...
No, to us, as a thing that exists.
Cador It doesn't. It's nothing.
No king's ever meant shit to us. I'm happier giving my respect to the tuck shop owner who does a discount for me when I've not got enough in my purse.
Siege Victoria's always had a king, since ancient times.
Cador Yeah? And who were they? Because I'm terribly sorry, but I'm not some hoity-toity Aslan or Draco, and I've never met one neither.
If they're nowhere except a few names in a book, then I know Chef Vito off the Siracusan restaurant ads better than I do them.
We haven't had a king for how many years. Are our lives any worse?
Fine, maybe they are.
But I really doubt it's anything to do with whether we've got a king or not. Don't care if it's you or whatever heavyweight taking the throne, you're not gonna be looking us down here in the eye.
By your definitions, a foolish king gets lost in banquets and wine, while a wise king draws up war and taxes.
If you ask me, it's ego-chasing no matter which. The vanity of thinking you can control everything, full stop.
Siege, everyone in Norport's bowing down to you as their one hope...
So you tell me. You having fun?
You think saving them is your glorious bloody calling?
Siege I'd never say "calling." Never.
Cador Just, you think you've got some kind of responsibility. Like they're watching you and you need to answer them.
Some bloody mess you're in. Poor old Royal Highness.
Siege ......
Cador I'd ask, but you know full well. Are they willing to pin their sights on you because you're a member of a street gang–
–or because of your bombshell of a surname, "Victoria?"
I'll be frank, I've just as much been hoping for someone to save all this, save all of us, save this bloody endless cesspit.
And who's going to do that? Quit dreaming.
Daring to bear the responsibility's a fine moral thing that helps us muck our way in the streets, Siege.
But don't give people false hope with that "king" persona.
And don't... ever buy–that they were right to expect this shit of you since the day you were born.
[A Sarkaz soldier is spotted nearby.]
Baird Got visitors.
Cador Tch. Do we do them in?
Baird Don't jump to anything. We don't want to tip them off. We just need a grasp of how they're deployed for now...
Siege Something's off. Be on high alert.
Sarkaz Soldier You... lot...
Baird Don't get the wrong idea, sir, we're not here for trouble, just passing by...
[The Sarkaz soldier suddenly collapses.]
Cador Baird! Didn't you say don't tip them off?
Baird Shit–I didn't do anything!
Siege This blood... He was already badly injured. He was fleeing this way.
Morgan Someone in the lockdown take him to task?
Cador Don't think so. Not like we haven't tried before. Maybe there's a chance to take one or two out, but it's a whole army keeping us in here.
Even if a sneak attack goes well, they'll retaliate fast. Unless...
Dagda Is it... usually this quiet around here?
From atop the zone's walls, searchlights throw down beams of death-pale white.
They're well-versed in the odors that pervade Norport, but here, the smell of fresh blood fills the air.
Siege Get out of here, fast.
We need to gather every citizen we can still find on this plate.
Dagda But we still don't have word back from Miss Ines and the Doctor.
Siege We'll just have to assume for now their side's going smooth.
Someone's already made a move here.
[Siege and co. runs off as a Dublinn soldier spots them.]
Dublinn Soldier You're sure?
Dublinn Soldier I'm sure. That's an Aslan.
Dublinn Soldier She's not part of our objective.
Dublinn Soldier That's fine. She'll make the call herself.
<Background 2>
Ines Dammit, the door here's been sealed.
Doctor, stay behind me.
Colbert Everyone, a warm welcome to the Sunset Street Hotel. We haven't had this many esteemed visitors in a very long time.
Percival Colbert! I told you to stay hidden!
Colbert Not receiving guests at the door would be my failure as the owner of a hotel.
I'm very sorry for how limited we are under present conditions. I'd have some complimentary tea brought out to you all, otherwise.
Is there anything I might be able to help you with?
"Trilby Asher" ......
"The Brigadier" ......
Delphine Do you have normal water, then? I am, er... a bit thirsty, actually.
Colbert That, I can serve you, Miss Delphine.
"Trilby Asher" Old Wellington wasn't willing to let this place off after all.
"The Brigadier" Nor Duke Caster.
"Trilby Asher" Would you allow me to leave now?
"The Brigadier" You and that blue-haired Feline are staying.
"Trilby Asher" I imagine the Duke of Caster and the Duke of Wellington have an unspoken agreement on the "standing off against the Sarkaz" front.
And as for the goals of each one of us... some unspoken agreement too.
"The Brigadier" I simply obey the orders I receive.
"Trilby Asher" Are all Tarans as dreary as you?
"The Brigadier" My sense of humor is reserved for my friends.
"Trilby Asher" Wonderful, I love making friends. Being fellow Victorians, why don't we start by complaining about the weather?
Colbert Yes, the weather... Londinium's has been horrible, and it's only getting worse.
We actually saw the sun some days, forty years ago.
Our hotel was much better then than now, too. What an incredible place it was!
I still remember to this day when I first came on as the doorman.
I hear back then, even the dukes loved staying here!
"Trilby Asher" Your presence isn't needed, Sarkaz.
Colbert Sir, I'm truly sorry, but it's my hope you'll regard me as a Victorian much like you.
We are all the people of Victoria. What need do we have for tensions like this, no?
Ines Rare to see a Sarkaz self-identifying as a Victorian.
Colbert Isn't your case much along the same lines as mine, Miss?
Ines ......
Colbert Us Sarkaz living outside of Kazdel have to find a home for ourselves, don't we?
Ines I'm afraid most Sarkaz don't think so.
Colbert Hence why they're always so despondent, so weary.
In my view, well, I've lived here all my life, and every wall and every floor is a familiar one to me, far more familiar than Kazdel so far away.
Pardon my negligence these days, but I'd wipe every table spotless by myself in older times.
I was proud of my work. You really should've seen what it was like back then.
Oh, different times... they put me under the illusion that days like those would last forever.
*sigh* But times like those come to an end.
Percival, it really is a shame you came to work here after the place declined.
Percival To be honest, I don't really care that much.
Colbert If it was as ravaged by war and shaken to rubble as everything else now, honestly, I might be taking things better myself.
What hurts me is...
On an afternoon like all the afternoons that used to be, I finished wiping the tables, lifted my head–
And it suddenly hit me, how old everything around me was.
And I was clueless how it even happened.

After operation

Siege, devoid of any goal, begins to doubt herself. Dublinn forces, the "Trilby Asher" and Rhodes Island spar verbally over the comms station, only to discover in the end that it had long ago been removed.
<Background 4>
Baird Morgan's brought a few people back already. They're getting their medicine now.
Dagda and Hannah are looking for anyone who might still be hidden in the ruins.
You know the state the plate's been in these days... Barely anyone'll poke their face into the street anymore.
Cador Bet there's a good few tucked away shivering in cubicles in some skyscraper, living off whatever scraps they can pick once it's night.
Siege, you're gonna find them all?
Siege I know I'm obviously not going to be able to save every person.
But what matters is, we let them know an evacuation's about to happen.
Otherwise, once the dukes start firing their artillery, the majority aren't going to realize that's their opportunity to leave, and they'll just find some way to hide even better.
Cador That's their choice. Maybe they'll end up still alive when the Sarkaz leave.
Siege But they need to know there are other options.
Cador Hrmph. Fine, fine. Other options...
There's a few places I heard signs of life from a few days ago... I hope it wasn't just wild beasts digging at the wreckage for eats.
[Morgan enters.]
Siege Morgan, what's wrong? You look funny.
Morgan No... I'm fine.
I'm just... haha, just a little bit thrown.
Old boy Strauss and Granny Amir got into a fight over a single jab of first-aid inhibitor. One of 'em blinded the other in one eye.
Me and Amiya busted our arses getting them off each other again, but that eye's hopeless now.
We didn't bring that much medicine in the first place, and everyone's gathered outside, and some of them are in a... an awful panic.
They're worrying they might get infected. Some of them haven't even realized they already are Infected.
Amiya says she hasn't been contacted by Ines on time. She needs to check on how her and the Doctor are doing.
I... I couldn't hang around there any longer on my own. Came here to catch my breath.
Baird You're real chummy with the people you brought back.
Morgan I grew up here since I was a kid, after all. I'm willing to bet not even you or Hannah know Norport as well as I do, let alone Siege.
Baird You were always wandering around town back then whenever you had nothing to do.
Morgan Yeah. Forget back of my hand, I know Norport like my palm. Every little crease and fold and where it goes.
Vina, I... I was off trying to find all these people I'd known for yonks.
I tried looking for McClaren again. And it's not that he won't respond to us...
He's gone deaf. I saw blood coming from his ears.
I wrote a quick note for him. Should've seen it, clear as day, but... he just went and hid back inside.
And Karsh, guy who ran the record store. Used to trick me into buying awful vinyls, just the stalest stuff. Don't know how much money I wasted at his.
His legs, one of his legs is... nothing like a leg should look like. God knows how he shuffled over here.
Brenda, the one doing import clothes. She always lent me these fashion magazines from Lungmen to read.
I did some treatment on her burns for her, but...
And Claire, Eileen, Itoh...
I know every one of them!
Vina, did we come back just so we could see all this?
What the hell did we come back for?
Vina, Vina, if all we can do is watch on while this happens, if we don't have any way to change anything, then maybe we should've just... forgotten about this place at all?
You know I've read the heroes' sagas. Their terrific adventures and journeys, their chivalry and justice, defeating the evil–
But anyone outside of the hero's just a backdrop to the legend. They just exist in the story so the main character has someone to talk to, a chance to grow.
I always thought that was our kind of story. I was always so bleeding proud of myself...
But I know every one of them! God's sakes, I know every one of them!
Like this would be some bloody outline of monster wrecks village, hero kills monster–it's not that simple.
This isn't some stupid–cliched revenge story.
Vina, twenty years I lived with them in my life. They're not names for a grieving hero to check off out loud. They're not flashbacks they can stuff into an aside before they kill a villain.
They... they shouldn't be...
Siege Morgan, I know what you–
Morgan Vina! Alexandrina Vina Victoria!
Did you come back to this country to take a crown which was rightfully yours, to create eternal legends of yet another Aslan King–
Or did you do it to come back home?
Vina, I'm begging you, tell me, tell me this isn't going to be forever...
You can tell me we just... need to hold on a little longer.
Tears fall from the face of someone Siege couldn't know any better.
To her memory, she's practically never seen Morgan crying outside of the video shop.
The Sighs of Kings is ever ice-cold. The Sighs of Kings is ever silent.
Morgan I'm sorry, Vina, I don't blame you or anything...
...I just was walking on the street, and I looked up, and it all hit me...
We've lost Norport Borough. We really have.
[Morgan leaves.]
Baird Morgan!
Vina, I...
[Baird leaves.]
Their friends back out. The room falls silent. Like all the past liveliness and merriment that took place in here was one long hallucination.
The furnishings, same as they were, hardly different to when they left.
Nothing remains here.
Seeds of Doubt.png
Over the prior days, Siege has constantly, subconsciously been feeling the sword named the Sighs of Kings.
Once again, out of habit, she puts her hand to the hilt.
She tries to feel some sort of energy from it, some sort of motivation. Even some kind of duty or preordained self-sacrificial destiny would be fine.
Again. And again. She is left disappointed.
What did she come back for? Just to experience all of this?
Or did all that expectation simply fall upon the wrong person when it chose her? Did this sword, and her teacher, foster too much of an illusion in her–to the point she thought she could be some kind of symbol?
Siege has never hated her own irresolution as badly as this.
Siege Morgan.
Maybe... I came back, just so I wouldn't regret it. Just so I wouldn't realize, years down the line, that I never did anything when I first could.
I don't know where I'll go from here... but I just–can't bear this.
<Background 2>
Delphine Is that a fable, Mr. Colbert?
Are you attempting to describe Victoria?
Colbert Fable? No, no, I don't like to beat around the bush when I talk. I'm just waxing nostalgic, as the old do.
We have to pass the time talking about something, you know, sitting here.
"Trilby Asher" May I just say that I pay more attention to the future, Sarkaz "of Victoria."
Taran, you make ample preparations. Presumably you've brought a considerable headcount in.
But on the other hand, I'd think you wouldn't want to be battling for life and death with us.
"The Brigadier" Stay put here and behave, and nothing will happen.
"Trilby Asher" Are you out to monopolize the technology of that airship?
"The Brigadier" And did the Duke of Caster send you to this plate just to take a walk?
"Trilby Asher" We can share. The Sarkaz's defense of the airship... can't be that lax. It wouldn't be an easy mission for anyone, certainly.
But if we work together, then this technology can belong to more than just a duke. It can be Victoria's.
"The Brigadier" I don't care about Victoria.
"Trilby Asher" ......
Well, it seems you've made up your mind.
"The Brigadier" You spoke that our goals were quite in agreement. Synergy.
In light of that, I will trouble you as little as I can, pet of Caster.
"Trilby Asher" Though you were dying to kill me a moment ago.
"The Brigadier" What? Would you like me to apologize?
Your mission failure will incur no more than a demotion in rank, while your life is preserved in any case.
If you are insistent on commendation and promotion from Duke Caster, you are welcome to try.
"Trilby Asher" Old Wellington's underlings are as stubborn as him, that much I have the privilege of seeing now.
Fine. I can stay here, and I'll yield the airship's technology to you.
But I stipulate something in exchange.
Doctor Seems you're about to reevaluate our relationship.
"Trilby Asher" Indeed it does, Doctor of Rhodes Island.
You refused my offer of friendship, so to being a pawn you'll have to return.
I'll be taking the Realmblade. The Windermere girl and Alexandrina must die here.
Delphine ......
"Trilby Asher" Given in, Miss Successor?
"The Brigadier" I did not receive orders to intervene in this.
"Trilby Asher" I'll take that as an agreement.
As long as a deal has been made, the Duke of Caster forever honors her commitments. Every single one.
You've no worries, "Brigadier." That's our foremost tenet.
Doctor ......
Ines (Understood.)
Does every Victorian do that? Never ask the people in question for their opinion?
I think, Mr. "Trilby Asher," I just told you a second ago your metaphors suck.
And calling us pawns, that's a metaphor.
"Trilby Asher" So Rhodes Island is hanging onto ties with the Duke of Windermere as its last thread?
That's not a good idea. You're on the wrong team.
Ines We don't have to pick a team to start.
"Trilby Asher" Then you can only–
"The Brigadier" Wait...
[Ines used her Arts to hide the Doctor and Delphine in the shadows.]
"The Brigadier" That Windermere girl... Is that illusionist and shadow Arts combined?!
Where is she?
[The Trilby Asher caught on Ines and attacks her, only to be blocked.]
Ines Impressive rapport there, Mr. "Trilby Asher."
"Trilby Asher" It's a question of our tenets, after all.
Ines The thing about honoring commitments forever?
"Trilby Asher" No, a different one.
Never let the winner take all.
[The Brigadier tries to attack Ines, only to be parried by the Trilby Asher.]
"Trilby Asher" This is all meaningless now, Taran. If this lot send their message out, the dukes' main fleets will be forced to push in.
And at that point, the airship goes to whoever takes it down.
It seems none of us will be bringing home the gold.
"The Brigadier" ......
[The Brigadier charges at the Doctor...]
Ines Doctor, careful!
[...but a black Arts attack intercepts it, which is revealed to have been unleashed by Amiya.]
Amiya Miss Ines, I made it.
We saw the shadows outside the door.
"The Brigadier" Rhodes Island... The Duke would rather not fall out with you.
Ines Didn't your actions just now amount to a fallout?
Fine, fine. Feel free to apologize.
"The Brigadier" ......
Then may we meet again, someday.
<Background 5>
Delphine Dublinn army corpses...
They did set up people here.
Their wounds are fresh, can't have been made long ago. Blade cuts, some seem like they're cauterized...
Who's there?!
The room is oppressively vacant. No one responds.
Delphine grips her dagger tight.
Her mother always admonished her for not putting more energy into combat training, but being the daughter of the Duke of Windermere of Victoria, her swordsmanship reputed, she's got the confidence to take on most enemies.
Delphine Comms station should be around here...
Wh–What the hell...?
A tangled cord of wires comes into Delphine's view, but the device meant to attach to them has vanished without a trace.
All that's left on the table is a thick layer of dust.
Someone came and took the comms station away beforehand... long beforehand.