Operation story: CB-8

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Before operation

Exusiai and Mostima are reunited, but the good times don't last long as Mostima quickly bids her farewell and leaves. Exusiai, Bison, as well as Texas and her group face a new crisis.
<Background 1>
Mostima Is everybody okay?
Bison Y– yeah. The whole building is gone... what in the world was that...?
Mostima How about you? You just passed straight through the center of an active Art, it's pretty wild in there.
Pfft, I just noticed, why did you cut your hair short?
Exusiai Did you just laugh at me?
Mostima Our heads are full of sand. Even short hair needs tender love and care.
Exusiai I'm fine. Thank you.
Mostima Thank you? It's like we're strangers now.
Exusiai Or it's like I know basic manners.
Mostima Heh. Yeah, I guess that's true.
Maybe if you weren't always sleeping during work, playing rock music outside the church, getting the Notarial Hall to chase you three blocks,
until your old school you accidentally blew up unfurls a big banner the day you leave Laterano, "Good luck in Lungmen, Exusiai!"
Exusiai Oh? Are we up to the part of our reunion where we pick away at old scars? Okay, my turn.
Mostima By all means.
Exusiai ...Nope. Come to think of it, I don't actually know any dirt on you!
Mostima Good girls shouldn't know too much.
Exusiai You playing my big sister now?!
Mostima Yeah, pretty much.
Bison ......
(These two seem to get along well. Is it because they're both from Laterano?)
(And someone can actually talk over Exusiai...)
Exusiai Um... Mostima. I've got a little question I need to ask. A teensy weensy tiny little question.
Mostima Yes?
Exusiai Why did you come back now?
Mostima Oh, well, lots of reasons. How can I explain it.
First, for work.
Second, Sauin means lots of sales in Lungmen. Things get pretty exciting.
Exusiai ...all those Sauins we had no idea where you were, you decide to come back this year?
Mostima Let's get to what you're really asking.
Exusiai *Sigh*... if you know what it is then just tell me already.
Mostima Heh. It's nice to see you all twisted up at a loss for words. Brings back memories.
And it's probably not right to get into all this stuff in front of our guest.
Bison Oh... Don't worry about me. I'll hang back here. You two can say what you need to.
Mostima That's no good. There's still a chance we're being followed.
Exusiai Hey! Don't use Bison as an excuse, you crafty witch!
Mostima We should meet up with Texas and the girls first. Who knows how many scary mobsters have eyes on us now.
Are you always getting into this much trouble when I'm not around?
Exusiai I wouldn't say always. Maybe four days a week? Four or five? Or six or seven or eight?
Mostima ...Right. Definitely not always.
Exusiai What about you? Where did you go?
You know, when I saw the boss back there, he told me you already left Lungmen. You know how that made me feel?
Mostima All kinds of places. Too many to name.
Down to a tiny village nobody's ever heard of to pick up a letter and then go hiking through a mountain range to chase after a nomadic city. That kind of thing.
Exusiai Sounds lonely.
Mostima But maybe my travelogue will sell well.
Bison Have you been to every country, Mostima?
Mostima Most of them. You jealous?
Bison ...a little. Most Messengers don't get to do things like that.
Mostima You'll get a chance. But don't count on Penguin Logistics. We don't really use common sense.
Bison Yeah, I'm well aware by now...
Mostima Sitting in a truck in the middle of the endless desert, staring at the setting sun through the yellow sand... It sounds romantic, but when that romance stretches into hundreds of hours, it starts to wear thin.
Exusiai I've never seen a yellow sand sunset, but don't you think it's pretty dusty out here today?
Lungmen's air quality has really dropped in the past few years. They need to add some more air purifiers!
Mostima Air quality...? Maybe.
Exusiai, Bison, I hate to do this, but you two go on...
Bison & Exusiai Again?
Mostima Come on. Don't you think I control my entrances and exits very well?
Exusiai ...Are you serious?
It's just a few hours for you, but for me...
Fine, Mostima! But you better buy me dinner! Really!
Mostima I know. I know.
Whew. What a night.
<Background fades out and in>
Bison Can we just leave Mostima by herself like that?
Exusiai Who's leaving her? Even if we didn't let her go, she would just disappear at some point.
Bison ...are you upset?
Exusiai Aaaah! Let's go find Texas already! We'll talk about this another time!
<Background 2>
Texas For Exusiai to go missing at a time like this...
Croissant Um, are we in trouble here?
Texas We're surrounded. An ambush right in the slums.
Croissant Are these fellers with them mafia boys? They look different.
Sora No, I recognize some faces. These are all local Lungmen people.
Lungmenite?
Dai Lo says to teach them a lesson.
<Background 1>
Exusiai Um? Umm... aren't we looking for Texas?
What's going on? Why are these guys surrounding us all of a sudden?
Lungmenite? ...isn't it you who busted in here?
Bison See! It's just you wandering around without asking for directions!
Lungmenite? I'm afraid we can't let you leave.
Bison I'm sorry?
Exusiai Well, you're a Forte, and you've got a shield...
Bison Huh?
Exusiai We do it the usual, Me-and-Croissant Style. You clear a path, I'll bring up the rear, but there's no completion bonus this time. Yeehaw!

After operation

Yith is being watched by a certain Liberi, and Mostima had already known about the existence of the Rat King. The reunited Penguin Logistics receive a call from Emperor and head towards the scene of the party.
<Background 3>
11:45 PM \ Cloudy
Downtown Lungmen, Cafe Al Fresco
Yith A pleasant aroma
To enjoy such a lovely al fresco cafe, with a sandwich, by candlelight, as the people go by, with the fragrance of sweet candy,
It would be a truly relaxing experience were it not for this young lady staring daggers into me.
??? ...I just happened to be walking by. But that thing you have in your hand isn't the kind of thing that can be explained by happenstance.
Yith I have explained. Mostima is acting in her capacity as an employee of Penguin Logistics, and I am helping her guard the staff in her absence.
??? You think I'm going to let some freak who talks to her staff off the hook?
Yith F– freak...? Let's just pretend you didn't see that.
??? ......
Yith She will be fine.
??? I'm not worried about her.
Yith Nor will she make trouble.
??? ...I hope you're right.
Yith ......
??? ......
Yith ...... (Perhaps I should just stay in the hotel.)
<Background 2>
Mostima Oh, here you are. What was that back there?
Rat King Just a flight of whimsy.
Mostima Your whimsy might have been a little too powerful. You knew Penguin Logistics was there, didn't you?
And as old as you are, you probably shouldn't exert yourself like that. You're not looking to cut it short, are you?
Rat King Just how much of my power do you think I expended?
Mostima ...right.
Well how about you take your murderous aura down a notch? I've had just about all the ominous energy I can take.
So what happened?
Rat King I may have underestimated the vigilance of the youth. Lungmen's young people never fail to impress me.
It is nothing major, but a few out of control puppets have injured a remarkably dedicated finball master. That is all.
Mostima "That is all?" I think you need to work on your expressions before you go saying things like that.
Rat King The one who always smiles never truly smiles. Compared to you, I am very relaxed.
Mostima Isn't this something you planned for?
Like, in order to prevent this conflict between Penguin Logistics and the mob from turning sour, you went looking for an excuse to punish them? Something like that?
Rat King Look at you, girl. It's such a waste to have you scrounging around with that penguin.
Mostima I'll take that as a compliment.
Rat King ...But I did not permit them to go trampling the slums. I would never permit that.
I have reached the end of my patience for their constant oversteps, and yet they still continue to disregard the rules.
I had assumed that if they maintained even a faint connection to Siracusa, they might be of some miniscule, interesting benefit to Lungmen... I am very disappointed.
Mostima Wait a second... why are you telling me all of this? This isn't like a "reveal your whole plan before killing me to keep your secrets" sort of thing, is it?
Rat King Old people need to complain.
Mostima Oh yeah? Then I'll just treat it like a Sauin Carnival. I didn't hear a word you just said.
The more trouble the mafia stirs up, the bigger the balance I'm due on the other side.
Rat King And after you have that money?
Mostima The first thing I'll do is buy that candy shop.
Rat King Heh. You really are attached.
Fine. Aside from the cellar, everything else is yours.
Mostima There's a cellar...? Can't you try to protect my sweet memories, even a little bit?
Rat King It's my shop.
Mostima That's too bad. I really thought you'd retire as something more like a grocer.
Rat King Maybe. If I'm still alive by the time I retire.
Time grows short. The Carnival is about to begin. The players in this show are already in position.
Mostima You're not watching from the sidelines anymore?
Rat King ...the scenery here is lovely, isn't it?
Sauin is all about honoring the dead. And Lungmen is our city, after all.
When the living enjoy their lively carousing, only then may the souls of the dead depart without regret.
And if we have a rat with one foot in a coffin, unless it moves, one might mistake it for a deceased soul ready to depart.
Mostima How are we supposed to do "lively carousing?"
Rat King Just like this.
Mostima Oh... I see.
Then this Sauin's expenses must be pretty high. Wasteful, even.
Rat King Smart girl.
Mostima Otherwise, Chief Wei would've come after you a long time ago.
Rat King Let's not speak of such matters. I certainly don't want to talk to the LGD again. So annoying.
But the key to a good show is when the actors foot the bill themselves.
<Background 1>
Bison *Pant* *pant* Are those guys mobsters too? How much farther do we have to run?
Exusiai Definitely not. They might be some of those thugs we ran into before. There's too many of them. Don't want to think about it. Just run. We can lose them.
Bison But I just saw a guy running at us with a rolling pin...
Exusiai That's how these fights usually go. You don't come to the slums often?
Sometimes they end up rolling some blood or teeth into the dough, and then a customer gets all pissed off when he bites into somebody else's tooth.
Bison I really didn't need such a detailed explanation.
...Have you known Mostima for a long time?
Exusiai You're getting pretty friendly with me now.
Bison Mostima said she was testing me...
Exusiai Oh? I never heard about that.
Bison ...I guess I didn't either.
Exusiai Why do you look up to her so much? It's really different from the way you treat the rest of us.
Bison She's kind of like... everything I ever hoped to be as a Messenger. She's done everything I ever hoped to do.
...I really envy her.
Even though I don't really get what's going on in her head.
Exusiai That's how it goes. I chased her from Laterano to Lungmen, then I met the boss, and all the way up to today, I still don't know what's going on in her head.
I've since given up. It's easier to just wait until she pops up right behind me.
Bison Don't be so gloomy... Wait, did you say from Laterano to Lungmen?
Exusiai Uh huh. You caught that, did you? Don't give me that look. I'm just as good as Mostima. Maybe she's a little bit ahead, but...
Bison No, it really doesn't matter to me. We should focus on meeting up with Texas.
Exusiai Hrm.
<Background fades out and in>
[Texas knocks out a Lungmenite who stands in her way.]
Texas Hm.
Croissant Wasn't that a little too hard?
Sora That's justified self-defense. Don't sweat it.
Exusiai Hey! Texas~
Texas You're okay. But where's Mostima?
Exusiai Do you really have to ask? She Mostima'd.
Texas Oh. Sorry.
Exusiai What are you sorry about? And what are you all looking at me for?
Sora Ahaha... Mostima came back. We'll see her again sooner or later.
But first, we should probably deal with these new bad guys...
Croissant So what's this all about?
Some kinda revenge for us bein' too rowdy?
Exusiai Maybe.
Bison Maybe?! Are the slums always this violent?!
Croissant Can't make friends if you don't throw down. Talkin' with yer fists is the oldest form of communication!
[Texas receives an incoming call on her phone.]
Texas Got a call. It's the boss.
Emperor What's crackin'?
You ladies havin' fun? Feel like you're missing something?
No? Good. Listen up.
Bison Mr. Emperor... did you happen to buy a lot of insurance?
Emperor There's a big Carnival Gala down on Luk Low Street for Sauin tonight. They got some no-name marketing thing going on.
But I decided I'm gonna make an appearance there as your big time rap god.
We'll bring some fire beats to Lungmen. They break down in tears, and bow down all nice and tidy.
As for you, you're gonna watch my back. Then you scoop up all these wannabes chasin' us in one fell swoop.
Got it? Got it. Good. Make it happen.
[Emperor ends the call.]
Texas ...He hung up.
Croissant Feels like deja vu all over again.
Sora So I guess we have to go to that party thing too?
Exusiai Yep. Let's hit the road!