Operation story: 13-11

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Freda West icon.png
Sarkaz Warrior icon.png
Royal Court Junior Officer
Sarkaz Mercenary A icon.png
Sarkaz Supervisor
Male Victorian A icon.png
Brentwood Construction Site

Before operation

Brentwood, a small town, is under the control of the Sarkaz, who are having its residents build an Arts Circle. Magdelene, the town's flower shop owner encounters Feist and Rockrock, who infiltrated for reconnaissance. The mayor refuses their plea for assistance.
<Background black>
1) Residents must comply with all regulations previously announced by the Military Commission
2) Must comply with all work safety regulations. No time off allowed whatsoever
3) Leaving your place of residence after 7 PM is strictly forbidden
4) Mourning Mayor West in any manner is forbidden
Acting Mayor of Brentwood
Freda West
<Background 1>
I still don't have the seed.
Can we still have those flowers ready by next year's harvest festival?
I don't want my family's traditions to die in my hands...
[Someone knocks the door.]
Magdelene Come in.
[A man named Will enters.]
Will Good morning, Magdelene, *Burp*—
Magdelene Were you drunk last night?
Will Hehe, Old Henk and I... had a teeny tiny taste of the Mayor's leftover booze.
I'll let you in on a little secret, Mr. West had more than just fine wine brewing for the celebration! *hic*—
—He was hiding a whole cannon behind our backs! The last time I saw one of those, it was the harvest when we were ten!
I'll definitely invite you to a dance during the gun salute at next year's festival, Magdelene!
Magdelene You're still really drunk, you know that?
Will I just hope that the flash powder hasn't gotten wet, with all the barrels it was stored alongside.
It'll only be a few more days. Once we're finished with that bloody thing the devils are having us build, they'll leave us alone.
Then, when the time comes for next year's harvest festival, we'll get to celebrate the return of our normal lives all night long—
[A hanging clock in the greenhouse rings.]
Will Hm—When did you start hanging clocks in the greenhouse?
Magdelene It's a long time past the time everyone's supposed to gather to head to work. Are you skiving off work today?
Will They won't notice a single man missing.
I'm getting ready to head there. I know there's a back alley behind your greenhouse that leads straight to the work site.
Strange, though. Them devils don't often loiter around here...
The door's over there... I'll head there right now!
See you! *hic*—
[Will went into another door...]
Magdelene Wait, Will! Don't open that door!
[...and he opens it, only for pots to fall from behind it.]
Magdelene Watch out!
Will Oww—Magdelene, did a flower pot crack my skull open?
Magdelene Nothing happened...
*sigh*, you're still drunk. The door outside is that way. I'll take you to the work site.
Will Right, I gotta remember to bring a bouquet to mourn Mr. West. It's a shame he didn't get to taste the wine he was brewing...
Magdelene You didn't see the notice they put up today?
Will What notice? *hic*—
Magdelene ......
Never mind. Take this flower.
<Background 2>
Brentwood has visibly deteriorated over the last few years.
Although Mayor West racked his brains to try to turn things around, his ideas all yielded little results. Though caravans once visited in droves, none of them are willing to visit this forgotten town any more.
Everyone has been suffocating thanks to the ever-approaching war and the worsening situation in Londinium.
Two weeks ago, all of us gathered at the top of the town hall tower and saw a Catastrophe cloud rising into the sky in Londinium's direction.
Mayor West hesitated for half a day, and gave up on sending a team to Londinium to find out what happened. There were only the rumors that "war has broken out."
It was only when the Sarkaz came that the town regained its former "vigor." They hired all of us with food.
Everyone scrambled to line up for work day after day, and gave everything their all in exchange of the limited food there is. We're all very industrious. In a few short weeks, the thing that they had us build is already starting to take shape.
With the promise of survival dangling in front of us, we strained to forget how Mr. West died.
If there's no one working the farms anymore...
Then what is the harvest festival that everyone is so looking forward to actually celebrating?
[A group of Sarkaz workers walk by.]
Magdelene Will, they're coming this way. Wake up!
Sarkaz Supervisor ......
Freda Dammit, Will... I told you not to drink so much!
[Freda stands before the Sarkaz supervisor.]
Freda Sir, this man broke the rules. I'll be taking him to confinement to reflect on what he's done.
Sarkaz Supervisor Looks like you enjoy the power we've granted you, Feline.
Freda I... I just don't want anyone to break the rules we agreed on.
Sarkaz Supervisor Hmph, I can tell you're trying to protect him. Childish tricks.
You'd best remember how your unlucky father died.
His Highness is willing to overlook your disrespectful attitude before. That alone is your greatest reward.
What we need now are honest workers. It's that simple.
Will I... It won't happen again, sir. I swear!
Sarkaz Supervisor That's right. Your legs should be shaking.
Don't worry. You'll live. If you were dead, I'd have to find a *Sarkaz profanity* to do your job.
Freda I'll keep an eye on him. I promise there will be no delays.
Sarkaz Supervisor Better not be. I don't care who picks up his slack, as long as one of you does.
Magdelene ......
Sarkaz Supervisor Not you.
Now get back to your posts. I don't want the boss to chew me out.
Magdelene ......
Sarkaz Supervisor Scram.
[The supervisor leaves.]
Freda Magdelene, please. Let me take care of him. He'll sober up in confinement.
Will I'm sober! I wouldn't dare fall behind on the schedule they set.
Freda Wait till you can stand before you act tough. If you pass out at the work site, I won't be able to save you.
*sigh*... I shouldn't have given you the keys to the warehouse yesterday.
Are these flowers... for me?
Will Hah, of course not.
I got them to mourn Mr. West.
Magdelene ......
Freda ......
You didn't see the notice I put out today?
Magdelene He had too much to drink yesterday, so...
Will Sorry, Freda... I was only going to have a little sip—
—but that bastard Tom started spouting nonsense. He says you're a haughty traitor riding the devils' coattails!
Freda ......
Will We're managing to get by these days only because you kowtowed to the devils.
Old Henk and I were proper pissed off. We challenged the bastard to some drinking games, but we got careless and didn't stop, *hic*—
Freda What they think doesn't matter.
Never mind. Give me the flowers. Let me thank you in my father's place.
Magdelene Maybe we could hold a ceremony for Mr. West in the warehouse he was secretly making his preparations in.
The Sarkaz rarely go there.
Freda Thanks, Magdelene.
My guess is that you got the flowers. He's not smart enough.
But you should go back. I just heard... a group of outsiders appeared in the village a few days ago. Not the dukes' army, but they are armed.
The Sarkaz are afraid someone in town could help them. They'll start today's search ahead of schedule.
Magdelene So early?
[Magdelene rushes off.]
Will What is she running that fast for? Is she in a rush?
Freda For your own good, I suggest you stop bothering her so much.
She has her own troubles to take care of. Now go. Sober up in confinement. *sigh*...
<Background 1>
[Magdelene returns to the greenhouse, only to find a junior Sarkaz Royal Court officer waiting for her.]
Royal Court Junior Officer My men saw you go to the work site, Gardener.
Do not exhaust my trust in you.
How can I get rid of him?
I hope he hasn't found anything.
Royal Court Junior Officer You hung up the clock I gave you.
Very good. That'll help you to remember your work hours and not to leave your post.
He's got mud on his hands.
Did he turn my daisies' soil?
Royal Court Junior Officer I didn't give my subordinates permission to muck around with your greenhouse—
Hmph, you might as well just search out in the open. No need to be so cautious about me.
Or are you trying to look for these?
Magdelene ......
Phew, good thing it's just those seeds.
Royal Court Junior Officer These seeds are not on my list of approved transactions.
I don't care how you got your hands on these, but I suggest you knock it off with the stupid ideas.
From today onwards, we'll deal with any suspicious individuals directly.
Why am I even telling you this?
Anyway, you'd better stay in line. Don't do anything stupid.
It's so quiet, it's eerie.
Should I turn around and look?
Royal Court Junior Officer I like the flowers you're growing, these "roses." We don't have them in Kazdel.
There's a battle. I need to leave town, and I won't be back so often anymore.
Magdelene ......
Royal Court Junior Officer You must be happy about that.
Send these flowers to my tent later, Gardener. This coin is my down payment.
Magdelene ......
Royal Court Junior Officer One last word of advice. Don't go near the work site at the center of the town.
[The officer leaves.]
These scary men are interested in such fragile flowers?
Magdelene Oh! My roses...
The white petals are stained in red blood.
Was his hand pricked by the roses' thorns?
He didn't feel any pain?
Weird Sarkaz.
[Magdelene remembered something...]
Magdelene Oh no!
[...and opens a locker...]
Magdelene It's safe now! Are all of you okay?
[...revealing Feist and Rockrock who are hiding there all along.]
Feist Phew—Free at last. It's such a tight squeeze inside!
Rockrock Easy. You were just about ready to fight him, weren't you?
Feist I know we can't bring trouble so soon—
Magdelene Sorry, Rockrock...
Feist I'm Feist.
Magdelene I didn't expect them to start looking so early today. I heard there's a group of... "armed militants" outside the town.
The two of them look at each other.
Rockrock We're sorry for all the trouble.
Magdelene, right? Things here are a little not like what we expected.
The situation is a bit... awful, I suppose? But there's a surface-level "peace" maintained here.
Do the villagers serve the Sarkaz?
Feist Rockrock!
Although the face of the young man named Feist shows many signs of battle weathering, I can nonetheless see a fearless courage in his clear eyes.
Rockrock seems to be his partner. I can imagine the two of them fighting alongside each other.
It's been some time since I saw such zealous vigor in this town.
Magdelene It's not a problem. It's true... Our town is working for the Sarkaz. Normal for Rockrock to be having doubts.
You told me you were refugees...
I'm guessing you must be more than refugees who escaped Londinium, seeking supplies?
Feist Sorry about that. We didn't tell you who we were before.
We're with the Londinium Citizens' Self-Salvation Corps.
Magdelene Londinium... But what are you doing here?
Rockrock Hm, it's a long story, and we'll have time to talk more about that.
But first, could you tell me what the Sarkaz are building in the center of the town?
Kal—Our consultant is worried about what's being built here. Feist and I have tried getting closer to the area, but the Sarkaz are guarding the place very tightly.
Feist We could only see a giant blood-red crystal.
It's much bigger than all the other ones that we've seen in both scale and complexity.
Magdelene You mean... the thing we are building here isn't unique to this place?
Rockrock We believe this is one of the Sarkaz's combat Arts Circles, but Brentwood's might be more special than that.
Feist Our forces are planning to strike this place. Our fighters are... not in the best of shape right now, but with your help—
Magdelene ......
Ever since the news came that the dukes have made it here, more and more of the town's residents have been talking about that ever-distant war.
But they only ever let their imaginations run wild lamentably away from the Sarkaz's view.
They only ever boast in their drunkenness, that the dukes' fleets will follow the routes they whimsically draw on maps to save Victoria.
They fantasize about how the Sarkaz will run away from Brentwood as they shout their rallying cries.
But what exactly is war?
I can't see any of it whatsoever in this quiet, Sarkaz-controlled town.
I don't want to ever see it, either.
Magdelene The Sarkaz... are going to be leaving very soon. There's nothing that they could want in our town.
Feist, Rockrock, you two should be on your way soon. It's dangerous for outsiders to be here.
You can take the alley behind the greenhouse. The Sarkaz don't patrol that area.
Feist Even though Brentwood isn't at the forefront of the conflict between the dukes and the Sarkaz... the situation here isn't normal at all.
Whether it's the change in the movement of supplies to Brentwood for the last couple years, the almost intentionally ignored geographical location, and the enormous Arts node you're building.
Where are these Originium crystals from? How did the Sarkaz come up with such a detailed plan in such a short time?
This is a little embarrassing, but we still don't know what exactly the Sarkaz are trying to do.
That's not a good thing...
Magdelene, if you could help persuade everyone to help, we still have a chance to stop them.
Even if it's just helping us figure out the situation of the Sarkaz garrison stationed here—
[Someone knocks the door, prompting Feist and Rockrock to ready themselves...]
??? You can stop hiding.
[...and Freda enters the greenhouse.]
Freda Hello, Self-Salvation Corps.
Rockrock (Feist, the evacuation route we were planning to take is still open.)
Feist (Let's see how this plays out. We can't give up on this chance to get them on our side.)
(If Dr. Kal'tsit's right, what the Military Commission is planning here... has to be extremely important.)
Freda Relax. I was just passing by, and thought I would thank my friend.
Magdelene, Will said he forgot to say thank you, and asked me to thank you in his stead.
Magdelene ......
Freda *sigh*... He's always had those unrealistic fantasies ever since he was a kid.
Rockrock (This doesn't feel quite right.)
(It sounds like Will is the drunkard who almost opened the cupboard we were hiding in?)
Feist (Shh... Let's not get into that.)
Magdelene *cough*... Freda, I'll leave these two Self-Salvation Corps members to you.
Do you need me to fill you in on their situation?
Freda No need. I heard everything outside.
Feist Freda... the mayor—
Freda The Mayor of Brentwood was my father. He's dead.
Fortunately... he's the only one who lost his life in this town so far.
But I'm afraid I have to turn down your request.
Magdelene ......
Freda I respect your bravery to stand up against them... but I can't put all of the town's residents at risk.
My father had the same idea, and he's already paid the price. Resistance would only bring unnecessary sacrifice.
The Sarkaz camp is not far from the main entrance to the greenhouse. For your safety, please leave quickly.
Brentwood will take care of its own.
Peace doesn't come easy and... I... I'm afraid of breaking it once more.
Rockrock Freda, don't you see the problem in that?
Freda They made me a promise. They'll leave as soon as their plan is completed—
Rockrock You trust the Sarkaz's word?
Freda I have to.
Rockrock ......
Feist Rockrock, let's go.
Rockrock Feist!
Feist Mayor Freda, we'll working in the surrounding area. We... We're waiting to rendezvous with our other teams.
If you need assistance or... if things take a turn for the worse, you can find us there. That's our promise.
[Feist and Rockrock leaves.]
Freda Self-Salvation Corps...
Magdelene, I...
No, never mind.
Freda and I don't actually know each other too well. She has always been fairly asocial.
If it wasn't for Will making all kinds of excuses to drag Freda here to buy flowers from me, I likely would never have even known her.
Perhaps, like everyone else, I would've seen her as a crazed lunatic who's slaving away for the Sarkaz and dragged everyone else into that along with her.
I could even have forgotten that she's the same age as me.
Magdelene You did save all of us after Mr. West gave his life.
Freda Hmph, I traded everyone's freedom for it.
Someone has to be the villain.
I'm too afraid to give up, even if it only buys everyone a small chance to survive.
At the very least... the Sarkaz's leader here... the officer who comes to your greenhouse doesn't kill for fun like the Sarkaz in the rumors. And so, I'd rather keep things the way they are.
To be honest... I don't know what I should believe myself.
Magdelene, I'm really jealous of you.
Please forgive Will's stubbornness. He's just being childish.
Magdelene I've never been mad at him.
Freda Have you received the seeds I secretly bought for next year's celebration?
Magdelene There were some setbacks, but I have them.
Freda That's good. Hopefully they will lead to the most beautiful flowers by the time the next year's harvest festival is here.
Father planned for this festival for a long time, and I don't want to see his efforts go to waste.
Please help me with this.
Magdelene It's my pleasure.