7-1: 32:00:00

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7-1
32:00:00
Episode 07

A person walks into the sunset, alone.
Characters
Sarkaz Mercenary A icon.png
Sarkaz Warrior
Backgrounds
Chernobog Bridge
1
In the core city of Chernobog, Talulah calls out W's betrayal and throws her from the city.
Patriot chooses to defend the core city of Chernobog and awaits the enemy's attack.
Sparks.png
An old monster once told me... What doesn't kill you only makes you stronger.
I always thought it was stupid. But the guy's a monster, so maybe I do have to give this some thought.
Does a bug jump into a flame to get stronger? So stupid.
No. Let's not talk about how dumb and weak a bug is. You know, no matter how strong a bug gets, in the end, it's still just a bug.
If a bug jumps into a flame, all it proves is that the heat messed up its brain. Assuming it even had a brain, it obviously went mad.
But what if I was to leap into the flames? Besides proving that I'm crazy, what else would that prove? I'd come out a bit charred, but how would that make me any stronger?
But we're talking about death here. And what does an undying monster know about death?
Alas, such is the nature of the bitter death that none may resist.
<Background 1>
W You'll still talk to me? That's a surprise.
I thought you were totally caught up in your plan to destroy Lungmen, Talulah.
Talulah W. You haven't given anyone notice of your visit.
W Hah. Oops, my bad. I've been a mercenary for too long, forgot all about that reporting-every-detail-of-my-life-to-the-boss thing. Sorry, Leader.
But you know I can't go all the way up to the top of the command tower, so I have to ask you to stoop to my level.
Talulah Your sarcasm isn't doing us any good, W. Reunion needs the might of the Sarkaz, and we should strive not to add any more personal conflicts between us.
W Just call us devils. Only the bleeding hearts and self-righteous call us Sarkaz. Us mercenaries? We know exactly what we are.
Talulah Strange. Devils, the "inferior race of the banished." You mercenaries cannot accept this definition, nor will you take pride in it.
W Duh. But your people started calling us "devils," not as a hate thing, or because it was catchy or whatever.
Devil is a "fear" thing. You people called us that because we scare you.
So us mercs like being called "devils," because we know exactly what it really means.
And we always make good and sure anyone left alive takes the subtext straight to heart.
Oh, sorry– Me yapping on about this is like trying to show off in front of an expert, isn't it?
We're a no-name merc squad famous for brutality. But compared to you? Why, that's like a worm trying to go up against a crab.
After all, Leader, nobody scares people better than you.
Talulah "Inflict terror upon your enemies, and provide warmth for your friends."
To strike fear into our enemies and bring hope to our comrades. That is the way Reunion has always done things.
W So, driving Ursus's core city into Lungmen is also in line with a certain comrade's ardent wish?
Talulah Our warriors are still bravely fighting inside Lungmen. They need our assistance, and we will bring it to them.
The Infected inside Lungmen require hope, and our warriors here have expressed their earnest desire to be that source of hope.
Everyone's wishes find harmony here, and the responsibility to see those wishes come to fruition belongs to us, Reunion.
–This will also bring benefits to the Sarkaz. I assure you, beyond doubt.
What your kind seeks is not hope, so I will provide you with profit.
Sarkaz mercenaries like you, scattered between various city states, as well as those who pull your strings. You will drink deeply of the chaos between cities and countries, and it will nourish you.
After Lungmen, no nomadic city is safe. Your kind will find more room to expand and thrive, and your people will prosper.
W Ooh, sounds like a good deal. Just going off the profits, I'm totally on board.
Talulah Tell me, W, what doubts do you still have?
W None. You've made a great case. Want a standing ovation?
Talulah No need.
W Then let's talk about my mission. Bad news is I failed. I didn't manage to bring back my target, and she wouldn't give me the thing.
Talulah That is not your fault. The kinship between Misha and Skullshatterer was bound to lead to uncertainties.
W Why'd you send me to grab that scientist's daughter then?
It seems like you didn't even need her or her secrets for your big plan. Between the attack on Lungmen and firing up the core city, what was the point of her anyway?
Talulah The authenticity of the key still has to be verified.
I can personally verify that we've activated the core city, but Reunion still needs full control over the way it stops. That's where this key comes in.
W Mephisto told me the one the old geezer found in the abandoned city was the real deal.
Talulah No, W. Mephisto would not tell you that. It would only be you spilling secrets to Mephisto while thinking about extracting the information you want from him.
W So, is that bit of news true or not?
Talulah You're not interested in hearing my justifications, but you also don't plan on offering yours either.
W I have my own channels, and might be a little more frank than I used to be. Oh, but I guess I could've mixed up my sources? Something like that.
Talulah W, if you want me to be more transparent, I can explain to you the details of my plan. All of them.
Skullshatterer and your first operation tested the L.G.D.'s response speed. It allowed us to adjust our strategy and improve upon our plans to take down Lungmen.
Without your cooperation, we could not succeed.
The Key did truly exist, but was lost upon Misha's death. The Key that Patriot sought was only a backup plan to deal with this situation.
I won't force you to tell me where your information came from, but my explanation should convince you.
W All right, all right. But, Leader, I want to know how many Keys there are. Won't ask any more questions after that, yeah?
Talulah Two. Sergei, Royal Chernobog scientist, held one of them, and delivered it to Misha using special means.
The other was held by Count Boris, former mayor of Chernobog. During our attack, he broke off a city plate to flee. However, he was unable to escape the Catastrophe.
W The ruined satellite city.
Talulah Our undercover agents in the city have kept everything there that we need. We can lure the L.G.D. into an ambush given the proper distance.
We have sufficient reason to capture the abandoned city, and the best use of it is to occupy it and turn it into a stronghold.
W You're really good at explaining things, Leader. I'm all out of questions.
Hey, I'm not asking too many, am I? Sorry to make you waste so much time explaining it all to me.
Talulah W, if openness can resolve the misunderstanding between us, I won't be stingy with my time.
In order to ensure a relationship of long-term mutual benefit, I will continue to draw up our future plans. Hopefully this can slightly increase the trust between us.
We will need to support each other to have a chance at overcoming the troubles to come.
W Really? I'm touched.
Talulah Of course.
I never liked this woman.
The Talulah they talk so nice about in private is so insanely boring. And this Talulah talking to me right now is just another lying bastard.
Oh, not to say there's anything wrong with lying.
I lie a lot. Nothing stronger than a well-placed lie, except maybe a bomb. The truth is like a cup of water. What good does it do when the whole house is on fire?
But when I lie, I know I'm lying. I chew up my thoughts up and spit them into ears. This she-dragon, though, she lies so natural it's like the words come out of someone else's mouth.
Doesn't matter who she's talking to. It's not just tweaking a couple points to cover up her plans.
–She takes on a totally differently form, turning into something they trust more, telling them what they want to hear.
Reunion's most beloved figure is, of course, the Leader, Talulah. Standing here with me, she's a businesswoman, a trader. With Patriot she turns right into a warrior woman.
She'll show her true face one day, but not everyone will live long enough to see it.
Besides, does she even... have a true face?
Is she an onion? You keep peeling off layer after layer until you realize there's nothing inside?
Talulah I mean it.
She was acting honest as an Iberian nun just a minute ago.
She lifts her hand slightly. Hah, I know that trick.
Right now she's like a cunning Savra after a lifetime of raiding and killing.
Something pulls away the air in front of me, and in a split second it'll melt away my whole body.
W Don't tell me you're ready to kill me after a little bit of teasing.
[Talulah attacks W with her Arts.]
Nobody has ever figured out the formless things Talulah throws around– but I know exactly what they do.
Ruins. Debris. Things lose even their most basic structure.
It's just like a fire without light.
I am her prey.
I should have known.
W Kinda obvious, dragon lady. The old Talulah wouldn't have showed her cards this early.
Waiting to die, or plopping down some long-winded monologue before the end, just isn't my style.
I never thought about dying. At least, not now.
[W throws a grenade at Talulah that explodes shortly afterwards.]
The small device I tossed out moments earlier while I was talking, falls to the ground and blooms into a ball of flame before me.
A wave of heat rushes towards me. Luckily, the comforting warmth isn't hers.
I'm no Arts expert, in my experience, ninety-nine percent of Arts are no match for this pure burst of energy.
Explosions. Heat, shrapnel, shockwaves. It's an equalizing force that tears apart any enemy, or me.
I just need to draw out the stalemate a little longer. Until all the seeds I planted finish blooming.
W You're such a hard worker, Talulah. You even went through all that trouble to play out a sitcom with me. I knew it, you really would make a great actor.
This dragon lady... I don't really hate her that much, do I?
Those who don't know how to deceive cannot tell lies, and thus are not liars. And she... is a monster soaked in lies.
She doesn't need to lie.
No wonder I get kinda... Okay, I admit it, kinda scared when I see her. I don't hate her, but I might really be afraid of her.
And fear breeds caution. If you've got your guard up, you're prepared.
Talulah Your little tricks are actually able to neutralize my Originium Arts. I might have underestimated you.
W Hey, this "little trick" took me hours to put together. Show some respect, huh?
But if a little bit of your fire was all it took to make me roll over and die, what kind of devil would follow me?
Talulah You came prepared. You planned to attack me from the very beginning.
W You made the first move, dragon lady. Are you trying to torch me because I'm a pain, or do you wanna shut me up because I've seen through you?
[Talulah attacked W again with her Arts.]
To punctuate my sentence, a wave of heat surges from her fingertips and leaps towards me. Man, this dragon bitch just won't let me have any fun.
I bend my waist and drop into an exaggerated roll, making it look like I'm tying my shoes.
W Uh-oh.
Aim better next time.
Talulah W, your dirty tricks have been exposed. You are now an enemy of Reunion.
Why do you oppose me? This is certainly of no benefit to you?
W Why? Why do you think this was my idea? I sure as hell didn't want us clawing at each other's faces this soon.
Fact of the matter is, you attacked me first. Hmm, trying for a little shock and awe, huh?
I guess I have no choice then. I just have to kill you before you kill me.
Talulah Your insanity has deepened your blind confidence.
W Lying to me is no big deal. I don't really care who you lie to, how many people you kill, or how many people you lie to...
But, dragon lady, you'll regret lifting a finger against me.
Am I the kind of person who says stuff like this?
Maybe I really am losing it. Can't even call this insanity at this point. Seems more sentimental than anything else.
I guess I really fucked up.
Talulah I see. Pretending to be crazed and stupid had us all fooled. Turns out, I misunderstood your character this whole time.
So considerate of others. What a lovely little devil you are, such a colorful character.
W Ahaha... *spits*.
Not as lovely as you, of course. But, you'll be even cuter once I rip your tongue out. Can't have it lolling around.
Talulah Do you think your little traps are enough to kill me?
W Of course not.
Did I ever mention that I set a trap?
W Better watch your feet. Might be a trap. Say, how many do you want?
Talulah How many do you have?
You pitiful thing. My flames have found you.
You will pay for your betrayal.
W Woah... Creepy. What's the matter with you? Who are you talking to with that tone of voice?
Talulah You.
I know you hate these words, W. You also hate me for pointing out your purpose.
W Uhh, well, thanks for being so considerate of my preferences. You think you can rile me up with the right phrasing?
And like, my purpose? How many people you plan to kill has nothing to do with me, dragon lady.
What do you know about me? You've got like eighty different plots within plots going on in that noggin and you're gonna guess what's in mine?
Talulah W... You want to prevent me from using the core city to attack Lungmen.
W ...Oh?
Talulah If you simply wanted revenge, you would not have chosen this moment. If you wanted to kill me, W, you could have waited until both Lungmen and I are incapacitated. That would have been the wise move.
Trying to talk me into giving you information was another cover. A mercenary leader who cares nothing for the direction of Reunion would not ask me, the "Leader of Reunion," about my plans.
You know, I won't kill you– as long as you put aside your interest in this war. Do that, and I'll spare your life.
I'm fond of you, W. You're good comic relief. And I have no desire to execute a harmless harlequin.
However... a madwoman who will use any methods available to kill me has no right to judge good and evil, let alone claim to understand my plans.
...Are you really as violent and insane as the performances you put on suggest, W?
W Would you shut up already–
Talulah You are not.
You want to stop Reunion. You want to stop the attack on Lungmen. Those are your intentions.
W, W... You're all too easy to read. I didn't even need to make any plans to investigate you. You came here wearing your heart on your sleeves.
W That's a load of bullshit.
I'll turn you into a puddle of gore and have someone dump you down the waste chute, assuming there's anything left.
[The fight between W and Talulah went intensely as both unleashed anything at their disposal towards each other, until...]
I press the button on the device in my hand. A simple Originium detonator switch, remotely operated, chained explosions.
A blazing light of destruction mixing with a deliriously pungent aroma. Waves of heat carrying fragments of debris, overturning everything in front of me. Just as I planned, everything reduced to cinders, even the most thick-skinned Sarkaz...
Wait...
Wait, wait... Didn't I have a detonator mechanism for the explosives?
......
Why did she plant her sword in the ground?
Talulah Was this your trap?
Try me, W of the Sarkaz. Try again.
W Hold on, you...
No fire. No burning.
The hundreds of Originium explosives I painstakingly twisted into the steel foundations of the city... are all gone.
Where are the explosions? The heat? The shrapnel?
Nothing.
The place where I planted the Originium is deformed, melted, and warped. Drips of iron and the burned oil paint covering it gives off nasty smell. But that's it.
My shrapnel. My blast waves. My light show. It's not going to happen.
The cataclysm that I pictured in my mind a million times over... isn't going to happen.
The cunning dragon lady must have poured her Arts into her sword and channeled it deep into the steel beneath us.
The heat radiated to each of my traps, melting them away.
You figured it out. You're so smart, W.
The world-ending explosion from all directions that should have blown her into a billion little pieces... is nothing but a big, wet fart.
All right, I've been thoroughly played.
......
<Background fades out and in>
W *Cough,* *cough...*
Dragon lady, you're... not half bad...
Talulah Was this result also part of your plans?
Let me guess, your backup plan is, you'll show me an improvised suicide bombing spectacle, isn't that right?
Let's not waste each others' time.
W Don't get too cocky... *cough*, *cough*... little girl. Say, are you... even the same person? Right now, even I... don't really wanna know.
Talulah I don't need you to define me.
Choose your death. Die by my flames, be thrown from the city walls, or be run through by my sword.
W Can you really... finish me off?
Talulah Steel must endure a thousand trials in the forge before it can become a sword. A sword is destined from birth to be a weapon.
But you... are just a mortal shell that has not yet died.
W Ah, that... would be an honor.
To be impaled by this sword... Would I be... the first one?
Talulah Unfortunately, you'll have to accept second.
W Now... If we're talking people I've blown up... You, well...
...wouldn't even have a number.
<Background fades out>
Am I going to die? I guess so.
But what's so bad about death? There are many things worse than dying.
So, when you feel like you're done for...
As long as you've prepared for the stuff worse than death, you'll even manage to surprise yourself.
Now... I think, it's about time I also blow this joint.
<Background fades in>
[W detonates the explosives strapped into her own body as a last-resort measure to kill Talulah. W is seemingly blown to pieces by the explosion, but Talulah survives.]
Talulah *cough*...
You blew yourself apart right in my hands...? I thought you'd be more afraid to die.
Though your defection didn't surprise me, you, yourself, did... surprise me a little.
You had some potential... as the opening act of a farce.
I hope your death was painful enough, W of Victoria.
<Background fades out and in>
After the battle, 31 hours until impact, 6:30 PM
[Patriot appears.]
Patriot ......
Leader.
Talulah Sir. Your return gives me great peace of mind.
Patriot Formalities, unnecessary. There was a battle here. Just now.
Talulah It was between me and W, who tried to assassinate me. Don't worry, I'm fine.
From the reports I've received, she was already showing signs of rebellion when she occupied Chernobog.
She made her own decision to let the enemy escape, instigated the Sarkaz mercenaries' rebellion, and murdered her superior.
These series of actions were likely caused by outside political forces.
Patriot Where is she now?
She should have, stood trial.
Talulah She detonated the explosives hidden around her body and fell into the core area.
I will dispatch someone to search for her body. Sir, you need not worry yourself.
Patriot That, does not concern me.
And her Sarkaz? What of them?
Talulah I will deal with it. Now that the core city is steadily moving on track, I'll need to stabilize the situation immediately.
Patriot ...Leader. This core city... was activated. Without my knowing. Why?
Even the comms. Have been broken.
Talulah We're out of options. Ursus may attack Chernobog at any time and slaughter our compatriots. For their sake, we must first take down Lungmen.
Right now, all energy must be used to support the operation of the core city, and we have no excess power to support tuning the ingoing and outgoing channels.
The Originium left behind by the Catastrophe is so potent that we cannot endure it.
The order to recall you exhausted the last of our backup supply. Now, there is only one place that can provide us with enough refined Originium.
Patriot Even then, if time is tight. Please discuss with us.
Talulah What you say may be correct. I'm sorry, Sir. I should have given it more thought.
Patriot But... What's done, is done.
This Key. How will you use it?
Talulah It can stop the city.
Patriot This city... can be stopped?
Many things, once started. Will not stop.
Talulah So, I'm entrusting this key to you. You'll decide when we stop.
I apologize for giving you such an arbitrary command.
Patriot ......
Talulah You seem more subdued today than usual, Sir.
Patriot No. I will go. To guard the core city.
Someone will attack. They will try.
And I will stop them.
Talulah Excuse me, Sir.
Crownslayer, FrostNova, Mephisto, and Faust are still waiting for our help. We must not let any outsiders interfere with our plans.
Patriot ...Talulah.
Talulah ......
What's the matter, my champion?
Patriot Leader.
Any evil, no matter how great. Will always come, to an end.
This, I firmly believe.
Talulah Yes, I share the same conviction.
Patriot ...Goodbye, Leader.
Talulah Go, Patriot.
To end this war and regain the status of the Infected, Reunion will crush all enemies standing in our way.
<Background fades out>
Chilling Voice What's this?
Hoarse Voice A kind of, Sarkaz talisman. Two pieces.
This one, is for you. The other one, I will keep.
Chilling Voice What are these for? It's a bit heavy.
Hoarse Voice They can, keep you safe.
Chilling Voice You still believe in those weird Sarkaz things? ...What's the point of this?
Hoarse Voice Let me finish.
Chilling Voice Sure.
Hoarse Voice This talisman. Can withstand torture.
Mortal wounds, destroyed organs, no. But the consumption of life, it can withstand.
Until it breaks.
If yours breaks... Mine will tremble.
And I will go. Save you.
Chilling Voice What if both pieces break?
...Why aren't you saying anything?
Uh... Fine, I'll hang onto it.
Hoarse Voice Good.
Chilling Voice I'm obviously going to outlive you, so you just do your own thing.
<Background fades in>
Patriot ......
Help, who? End, what war?
My talisman. It, too, has broken.
<Background fades out and in>
Sarkaz Warrior ......
You killed W.
What are you going to do now?
Talulah Liberate you. You will no longer need to bow before a Sarkaz.
All that you desire, I shall grant you.
Sarkaz Warrior And what exactly is that?
Talulah War.
No longer will you have to endure the foul taste of slaughtering the weak. No longer will you waste your efforts like a pebble hitting a rock.
I will give you a truly equal war.
Sarkaz, wandering devils.
What I will grant you... is not only the fear of your victims. I will reforge your blood, your flesh, your steel, and the shame of countless generations of your ancestors.
I will grant you slaughter, and I will grant you death.
A new era has arrived, and war shall reign supreme.
All Sarkaz who wish to taste all that this new era has to offer, step forward.
Sarkaz Warrior ......
Who would you have us kill?