Operation story: CF-6

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Cave
1
Soubo Lake
2

Before operation

Noir Corne and the Felyne Scholar fall into the Rathalos's lair and speculate on its status based on the clues around them. Just as Noir Corne explains to the Felyne Originium's influence on Terra, a third voice can be heard from deep inside the cave...
<Background black>
Felyne Scholar Mrrooooooww!
Noir Corne Aaaaaaaaaaaahhh!
Felyne Scholar Mrrooooooww!
Noir Corne Mrrowaaaaah... Now you've got me mrowing!
Felyne Scholar Mrrow! We're falling!
Noir Corne What are you talkin–Argh, the wind's too strong! My mask!
Felyne Scholar We're falling!
Noir Corne I'm holding on as tight as I can! You won't fall!
Felyne Scholar Rathalos! The Rathalos is falling!
Noir Corne The mask is covering my eyes! I can't see anything!
Felyne Scholar Noir Corne! Noir Cornnnne! L-Look what the R-Ra-Rathalos is charging toward!
Noir Corne T-Toward what?!
Felyne Scholar We're about to crash!
Noir Corne Hold on... Finally, my mask's back in place!
Ahh! We're going to crash!
[Noir Corne and the Scholar lands hard on the ground.]
<Background 1>
[The Scholar recovers from the fall.]
Felyne Scholar Meow! My notes... My tail... All fine. Thank heavens!
Where are we? It's dark here...
Corne...! Noir Corne! Are you still alive?
Mrrow... I can only see half your body there. Noir Corne, don't die...
Noir Corne I'm okay... but could you stop tugging on my leg?
I have a lamp in my equipment bag. Turn it on.
Felyne Scholar Lamp? What's that? Mew mean this thing?
Noir Corne Yeah, now flip the switch at the bottom.
[The Scholar turns on the lamp.]
Felyne Scholar Mrow! That's bright! But it's not hot at all... How do you do it?
Noir Corne Another thing. My horn... It's stuck in this rock. Could you come help me out?
Felyne Scholar Your horn's... stuck in the rock...! Meowhahaha!
Noir Corne Hey! Don't laugh!
Felyne Scholar I'm on meow way.
Noir Corne Climb up from over there. Ahh! Don't climb me! And definitely don't grab that!
Felyne Scholar Here I am... Is this where you're stuck? Wham!
[The Scholar pulled Noir Corne out of the rock.]
Noir Corne Oww... My butt.
Where's the Rathalos? Did you see it?
Felyne Scholar It went inside.
Noir Corne The opening of this cave's too high up. It'd take us too much work to climb up without help. We need to find a way to signal Yato, but we also can't lose track of the Rathalos...
Noir Corne Wait, where are we anyway?
Felyne Scholar I was going to ask mew!
Noir Corne The Rathalos went down the cave, and the cave only further down... Maybe it's connected to the one closer to the village. Looks like we'll have to head that way to check it out.
Hey, Scholar! Wait up! What's the rush?
Felyne Scholar Meow! We need to hurry!
There are so meowny mysteries! The laws of nature here aren't all that diffurent from where we're from, but there are all these situations I can't wrap my head around! The Rathalos is acting way too oddly!
Noir Corne Oddly? That new Felyne mentioned something about it being abnormal, too.
Felyne Scholar I'll explain to mew as we walk!
The Rathalos burrowed itself down here... Purrhaps the cause of its odd behavior can be found here, too!
I swear this on the name of a furmer Royal Pawleontology Scriveners scholar! I will get to the bottom of this!
<Background fades out and in>
[As Noir Corne and the Scholar walks through the cave...]
Felyne Scholar Noir Corne... come check this out.
Noir Corne I'm coming–Goodness, this stinks... Huh?
Scholar... Are these...
Felyne Scholar All animal carcasses... all shredded and torn apart by the Rathalos.
Noir Corne Shellbeasts, hornbeasts, fowlbeasts... so many different beasts... Did it kill all these animals for food? Are these... leftovers?
Felyne Scholar No, a Rathalos's bite can crush even bones. There is no way it would leave behind so many carcasses.
They all look very complete, too. They were killed, but there are no chew marks or signs of them having been eaten...
Come. Let's check out what's up ahead.
Noir Corne Alright.
[The two presses on.]
[fades out and in]
[As the two walks deeper into the cave...]
Felyne Scholar Mrow! How could this be...?
Noir Corne What did you find?
Felyne Scholar The carcasses here have all been burnt to a crisp... They were killed and dragged all the way down here, but it still spat fire at them. There's no way it could've eaten any of these.
Noir Corne Is it... angry?
Felyne Scholar Look here. This, this, and this! Not one of them... It didn't eat even a single one of them!
Purrhaps... the Rathalos can't eat Terran creatures?
Noir Corne Could that explain uh... how it's abnormal?
Felyne Scholar I don't know... Hunger can change its behavior, but it's hard to say for sure that's the reason...
Why? I don't get it at all!
Based on my observation data, Terran creatures follow the same growth patterns as where we're from. Besides, I ate the same food as you, and there's nothing wrong with me meow!
Noir Corne This is just a guess, but... what if it's not caused by the food, but by the... Originium on its skin?
Felyne Scholar You mean Rathalos caught Oripathy?
Noir Corne –! Look at that!
Felyne Scholar What mrow?
Noir Corne Quick! Help me get all these animals out of the way. The dirt, too.
Felyne Scholar It stinks! Why can't you do it yourself?
Noir Corne Well, you tricked me into holding that fincatching rod for you. This is payback.
Felyne Scholar Mrow? *Hiss*... I'm mad! Mad, I tell you, mrow!
Noir Corne Wait, cut it out.
...I think I know why there are those traces of Originium on the Rathalos's body now.
Felyne Scholar Are you talking about the holes we're digging? What could they pawssibly imply?
Noir Corne These are tracks left behind by Originium mining. The area underneath is most likely...
An Originium mine.
If this mine is why the villagers have been going so far to hide this cave from us, then that would explain everything.
Felyne Scholar Wait! What do you mean? Meow exactly does it explain anything?
Noir Corne Considering Higashi's current situation and its dwindling resources... a private Originium mine that's hidden from the outside world could bring them piles of cash even if all they do is sell crude ore.
But if any outsiders–maybe even greater forces–were to find out about their hidden mine, it could very well get taken over by force. It might even put their lives in danger.
Felyne Scholar So what you're saying is, Originium is a kind of meowneral that's find in the earth, and the villagers have been digging it up?
Noir Corne That's right.
Felyne Scholar And you people do that on a regular basis?
Noir Corne Yep.
Felyne Scholar As I recall, you said Originium can cause an incurable disease called Oripathy, or even a cat-astrophic disaster that tears even the land and the sky apart...
Noir Corne Exactly.
Felyne Scholar So why could you pawssibly want to dig it up?
Noir Corne Uh... because it's an energy source, I guess?
Felyne Scholar Energy source? You can burn wood and oil for heat, and you can boil water to purr-pel machines. Can't you people do any of that fur energy?
I can't think of a good reason fur willingly exposing yourselves to something so dangerous!
Noir Corne What did the Doctor say again... We Terrans use Originium through Originium Arts...
Thanks to advancements in Originium engine technology, Originium became widely used as an industrial energy source. And in the past, it was also often used for casting Arts...
I don't know any Arts, though. How I can explain this to you with something else...? Oh, hand me the light.
Felyne Scholar What are mew doing with it? Mrowah! Don't take it apart! You'll purrt it out!
Noir Corne Here. This is what I'm talking about.
Felyne Scholar Huh? It's still lit up?
Noir Corne Take a look at this. This is a battery. It's what powers the light bulb up here, and that's how it's lit up.
Felyne Scholar What does that have to do with Originium?
Noir Corne The battery has Originium in it, too. There's also this... what do you call it... Arts Unit? That's the thing that turns the battery's Originium into electrical currents that light up the bulb.
Felyne Scholar So it lights up beclawse of Originium?
Noir Corne Not only that, the light bulb, the outer shell, and all the parts inside were mass produced in a factory.
Felyne Scholar Mass produced?
Noir Corne It's when you make the same thing over and over on a large scale. Take this exploration lamp. A huge factory can make over a thousand of them in a day.
Felyne Scholar A thousand?! That's so convenient! Could the clothes all the villagers wear pawssibly be made in those factories, too?
Noir Corne That's right. The factory uses machines to build these parts, and what's driving those machines is called an Originium engine.
And they need Originium to function. That's how it is in most places here.
Felyne Scholar So Terra's technology... and even its civilizations are built on a furndation of Originium.
Noir Corne I guess that's about it?
Felyne Scholar But our Hunters don't have lamps, or the kind of clothes mew wear. The lamp is convenient, I'll give mew that...
But even without something as dangerous as Originium, we get by just fine.
It should be pawssible to replace it with something else here too, shouldn't it?
Noir Corne Are these Hunters common where you guys are from?
Felyne Scholar Of course. If we leave the meownsters be, they could pose significant threats to the villagers' safety, and our livelihoods depend on the meowterials you get out of them.
Noir Corne So... are all the hunts these hunters go on safe?
Felyne Scholar No... Most of the time, there are dangers everywhere. You're more likely to fail a hunt than succeed.
And there's only a very small number of truly skilled hunters. When they are up against truly tricky monsters, meowst hunters end up losing their lives.
Noir Corne Then our Originium's actually not a whole lot different from your monsters.
Felyne Scholar Mrow? What do you mean?
Noir Corne Both Originium and monsters are unpreventable threats, but they both also give us the opportunity to survive.
Felyne Scholar Mrrow...
Noir Corne You probably won't see one, but... Catastrophes are actually very common here in Terra. Most folks live in the nomadic cities, and each city can have tens of thousands of residents.
When a Catastrophe is about to strike, the entire city starts moving.
Felyne Scholar A city with tens of thousands of residents... moving... That sounds moewvelous. How do you move something that big?
Noir Corne Originium. Only the energy hidden in Originium can move a nomadic city. No other energy source comes close.
Felyne Scholar I can't believe this, mrow...
Noir Corne We all definitely understand that using Originium can cause Catastrophes.
But... when Catastrophe strikes, if you want to survive, even if all you have nearby is a twig or branch floating in a puddle, you're bound to grab it.
It doesn't matter if it has thorns... That's the least of your worries.
Before nomadic cities were invented, before we started using Originium at the scale we do now, many more people died from Catastrophes.
Felyne Scholar Terra... sounds so scary, mrow.
Noir Corne Those thorns may end up cutting your fingers, but a Catastrophe's not going to end just because of your pain. You have no choice but to hold on... and hold on for dear life.
And it doesn't matter how hard you look. Until you find a smooth tree branch that won't cut you, that's all you can do.
It doesn't matter how difficult it all is. You just have to grit your teeth and live on...
Felyne Scholar Noir Corne, I can hardly call you smart just for this, but purrhaps you have a point...
Thinking about it now, the difficulties we face aren't all that diffurent.
The materials we need to forge weapons that can take on the fiercest beasts likewise come from fierce beasts, and behind that must be a countless number of sacrifices too...
There are Hunters who never return from their hunts, Commission members who fall while exploring the New World, and plenty of Scriveners who disappeared without a trace while observing dangerous creatures for data...
Noir Corne *sigh*... looks like no matter where mew are, people are fragile, and the world is a cruel place.
Felyne Scholar But even if all that suffering is inevitable, and you have to pay the price to survive, must innocent lives be sacrificed too?
I've never heard of things like that where I'm from... Things like Originium which makes the innocent suffer.
They don't catch Oripathy because they wanted to, and they won't even get to live without treatment. How could that pawssibly be right?
Noir Corne Of course it's not right.
Felyne Scholar Mrow! So quick to answer!
Noir Corne Which is why somebody has to step forward and take on the burden of showing everyone else the way forward.
??? Hello? Is anybody there?
Felyne Scholar What's that noise?
Noir Corne Did someone just talk?
??? Stop chatting! Look over here!
I've been stuck in here for three days now. Could you come over and move the stuff blocking this door?!
Noir Corne She's asking us for help... Where are you? We're coming right away!
??? Whoa, watch out! There's about to be another beast outbreak.
Noir Corne Beast outbreak?
??? You can more or less figure it out from the name, can't you? It's an outbreak of all the animals in the forest going berserk at once.
Felyne Scholar I think I hear a familiar noise, too.
Noir Corne I can hear it, too. It's not coming again, is it?
??? Whenever you see a surge of animals here, you can bet they're all Infected.

After operation

Yato and the Palico discuss their respective opinions on the Rathalos, when the old hunter suddenly becomes enraged and points his hunting spear towards Yato...
<Background 2>
[Yato tries to contact Noir Corne.]
Yato Operator Noir Corne, report your status.
I can't reach him... The signal's too weak.
Kashiwau...
I prefer not to shoulder unnecessary burdens while on a mission, so if you can't keep up with my pace, please remain where you are, or return to the camp.
Yoshitaka Kashiwau You fool, who said I was travelling with you?
Yato If you're pursuing the Rathalos, then please don't leave my side without permission. I need to ensure your safety.
Yoshitaka Kashiwau You little–
Yato Palico, keep going.
Palico Mrow, so here's what happened.
The Hunter I was following had accepted a commission from a member of the Royal Family. They seemed to be in a bad mood, and were looking for a Rathalos Ruby to fashion into a brooch.
Yato A bad mood... you were hunting a Rathalos on such a whim?
Palico ...That client should be just considered an example.
To return to my main point, I furst spotted this Rathalos in the forest near a volcano.
Right as I was about to catch up to it, I was suddenly swept away by a strange force, and by the time I had made sense of things I was already here.
Yato Do you remember what kind of force it was?
Palico Unfortunately, my... meowmories of it are vague at best.
Yato A power capable of bringing over a Rathalos could be considered an even greater threat... but in the interest of time, please continue.
Palico I was still extremely unfurmiliar with the environment here when I arrived, so I chose to continue tracking the Rathalos and discreetly observe its behavior.
Based on what I've seen, it started behaving abnormally after it discovered a cave entrance and went inside.
Yato A cave entrance? Leading into the mountain?
Palico Purrcisely.
Yato Was there anything distinctive about it?
Palico Unfurtunately, it appeared to be a regular cave from what I could tell, but the Rathalos did start behaving strangely after entering.
I took a cursory stroll inside, only to find...
The cave network is purrticularly complex, and my several attempts to locate the Rathalos were all in vain.
My purrsumption is that it has occupied an area within the cave to build a nest, which should be a wide space near the entrance.
Yato Based on what we saw in the cave behind Roka Village, these caves should all be interconnected, so it's no surprise the Rathalos showed up.
There's one more thing I'd like to know. As you've seen, our previous fight with the Rathalos was not at all easy. In fact, you could call it... difficult.
We've yet to effectively deal any damage, so I find it hard to be optimistic about our next encounter. I fear we may have to pay a considerable price for victory.
Palico I understand.
Yato So what I want to ask... based on your knowledge of the Rathalos, how do we ensure a victory in our next battle?
Or to put it another way, is there any way to improve our chances?
Palico It's hard to judge... Compared to a typical Rathalos, this one is highly agitated and shows a strong tendency to attack at the slightest pawvocation.
Earlier, I noticed that its senses have also improved, which is correlated with a change in its attack patterns. This is the basis for my assumption that its behavior is abnormal... Mrow.
Neither of us have Flash Bombs nor Shock Traps in our pawsernal, so I am at a loss as to how to trap it.
Yato So you're saying... our chances remain low?
Palico I do have some ideas on how to boost the damage we deal to it, for I have observed... your meowjesty seems to lack instruction on the use of your Dual Blades?
Yato Dual Blades...you're referring to these strange pair of weapons? True, I do feel a lack of strength behind my blows when wielding them.
Palico These pair in your paws seem to be weapons from our world, and of extremely good quality... So mew can at least rest assured they were crafted by one of our finest craftsmen.
Yato Is that so...
Felyne Artisan Mrow?
Palico I can explain to you the key to using your Dual Blades. If mew can manage to wield them correctly, mew will be able to deal substantially more damage to the Rathalos, but...
Yato But?
Palico Before that, my observations have led me to ask the critical question: Is it truly necessary to hunt it?
Yato You mean that we shouldn't kill it?
Palico My understanding is that pawerful Hunters are usually the key to meowntaining a balanced ecology. Hunting of any kind will have an effect, and the consequences must be carefully considered before any action is taken.
According to my observations so fur, the Rathalos's activity range is quite far from the village, so it does not pose a significant threat to them, and moreover... The ecology of this area seems to be quite unbalanced.
The area is clearly overpawpulated by herbivores, judging from the obvious damage to the forest vegetation, so the Rathalos's ability to keep the herbivores in check could be considered a pawsitive.
If I was back in my homeland and had already obtained my commission meowterials, I would not choose to hunt harmless meownsters.
Yato To be clear, my mission isn't to hunt the Rathalos either, but to deal with another deadly threat–Oripathy. And our current clues point to the Rathalos as the source.
The fate of the monster is irrelevant to me, as long as we can identify the source of the disease and eliminate the threat it poses to the village.
Yoshitaka Kashiwau You lot...
Yato So in order to determine the cause, we must–
Yoshitaka Kashiwau You lot!
Palico Your meowjesty?
Yato Ignore him.
Yoshitaka Kashiwau It's all... your fault!
Yato You...
Yoshitaka Kashiwau (Raises hunting spear)
Kuso! It's all your fault!
Yato Kashiwau, what are you trying to do?
Yoshitaka Kashiwau Why? Why don't any of you listen to me?
Why?! You... You just had to break into the forest and run around like a pack of brainless beasts.
Just look at yourselves, you are powerless before that monster, yet still you want to hinder me, block my way, chase after MY quarry. And still you talk about wanting to protect whatever it is...
But the truth is, that boy is missing because you didn't listen to me, and that monster is still alive and well!
Yato We're still in the early stages of figuring out countermeasures, so a failure or two should be unsurprising.
Yoshitaka Kashiwau What would you even know? Only trash like you would say it couldn't be done!
And now you're saying you shouldn't hunt it at all, hiding behind some nonsensical, cowardly excuse? I suppose next you'll even want to rescue it from me, yes?
Now I understand... You're here to torture me, aren't you? To purposely torment me, an old man not long for this world...
All because I still remember him! Remember the things you lot insist on forgetting! That's why you're torturing me like this!
Just like you did to him! Strip my skin, drain my blood, break my ribs, cut open my chest, extract my marrow...
Well...? Say something!
Yato Sorry, I have no idea where to start with that rant.
Just put down your weapon and let's move on. We don't have the time to waste on irrelevant small talk.
Yoshitaka Kashiwau Don't move!
Yato What can you even do?
Yoshitaka Kashiwau Begone from my sight! Crawl back to wherever you came from!
I'm ordering you! Get lost!
Yato Not happening.
I will repeat myself, I have no reason to obey your orders.
Yoshitaka Kashiwau Nandayo? Why is this happening again?
Unwilling to listen to even a single word of advice... yet still wanting to protect others?
With your meager abilities? Self-righteous fool! All you can do is impose your will on others!
Yato ......
Yoshitaka Kashiwau No one needs your protection! Those who take action should suffer the consequences! They deserved what was coming to them!
Everyone else should mind their own business! Fuzakeru na! You should have just stood by and watched!
I'm the only one... who can hunt that monster... I'm the only one who deserves to...
If... If you dare take another step forward, I'll have you taste the tip of this spear!
Yato No, you won't.
You don't have the guts to.
Yoshitaka Kashiwau Stop!
Yato What you say means little to me... That hunting spear in your hands... I barely see it as a threat.
See? I've been approaching you, and yet your spear has not moved an inch.
Yoshitaka Kashiwau This is your last warning!
Yato Just give it up already, you can't do it.
Since you insist on delaying my progress, I'll have to settle this with you in a way that will remove the possibility of future interference.
Yoshitaka Kashiwau What... Stop!
Yato If you really walked your talk, you would have disposed of me and Noir Corne while we were wounded, satisfying your desire to have the beast all to yourself. But you didn't.
Yoshitaka Kashiwau You... don't come any closer!
Yato I can understand the reluctance to strike at your own kind. Since the beginning I've felt that all your actions were only to dissuade us.
Not long ago, you even pushed me away from the Rathalos... You don't actually want us to be in danger.
Yoshitaka Kashiwau Nonsense!
Stop! I'm warning you, this is the last time!
Yato To return to the subject of hunting, as a hunter, isn't your top priority to eradicate the threat your prey poses at the least possible cost?
And yet, you've been fighting against such a huge predator for so long. Apparently you disagree.
You've consistently refused my offers to work together, insisting on facing it alone despite your lack of ability, in the process putting the safety of the entire village at risk. Which clearly contradicts your attempts to protect us from harm.
I'm starting to suspect that your Rathalos hunt is nothing more than a personal obsession.
Yoshitaka Kashiwau Damare!
Yato Judging at your expression, I must have hit the mark.
Then I take that nothing you've done has actually been to eliminate the threat, but instead you've been blindly chasing it out of anger and remorse.
Which is, in a word, selfish.
The way I see, you're not much of a hunter at all.
Yoshitaka Kashiwau That... That was my quarry all along! You're no hunter, so who are you to judge?!
Stop this! Just stop it already!
Yato If you wish to refute anything I've said, then just thrust forward with that spear of yours and you'll have everything you say you want. It's as simple as that.
I'm right here, right in front of you.
Come on.
Kill me.
Yoshitaka Kashiwau I!
I–
I...
Yato What exactly is source of your obsession, Kashiwau?
Is it Akira Kashiwau?
Yoshitaka Kashiwau You... Where did you hear that name?
Yato I'm guessing that he's not in the village anymore, correct?
What is his relation to you? You share a surname, so clearly more than friends. From the photo he seemed younger than both you and the village headman, as well as a former hunter. His name is also etched onto the hunting spear you're holding.
So, a relative?
Yoshitaka Kashiwau Stop talking...
Yato You keep referring to me in the plural. Is it because your image of him overlaps with me somehow?
I'm guessing that... he once went on a hunt against your advice, leading to irreparable consequences including him leaving you somehow.
Since then, you've regretted your decision and been haunted by the pain... And you can only vent your frustrations on the hunt.
Yoshitaka Kashiwau Damare! You... know absolutely nothing...
Yato I think I do, actually.
It can be hard, being caught up in the past, but those emotions will only impair your judgement. Your obsessions will never change the past, but they will keep you from moving forward.
But open your eyes and take a good look. Is this really the time to be rambling about the past to a stranger?
If you can't bring yourself to kill me, then we should put aside our differences and work together on this hunt.
I still trust you are a somewhat capable hunter, so if you agree I'm willing to put this all behind us.
And we can finally stop wasting time on this sort of nonsense.
[Yoshitaka slowly walks toward Yato.]
Yoshitaka Kashiwau No...you don't know a thing at all...
Akira... is my son...
He's already dead.
Yato ......
Yoshitaka Kashiwau Seven years ago, on this day, on a night just like tonight, the mountains were filled with the cries of those beasts.
I told him not to go, that those guys were asking for it, but no matter how much I warned him, he just kept saying...
"No, I am a hunter of the village." He just kept saying that, over and over again, before rushing out without looking back.
Later, when I finally saw him again, it was far too late for him to say anything more.
Do you know? If it weren't his clothes and equipment, I wouldn't have recognized him at all.
The sun was shining on his body, and yet his hands were so cold.
I don't understand. My son, how did he end up like that?
I saw them... Ataru Takii... and the backs of those bakayarou...
I just knew it, they were all there when it happened, but they didn't do a thing! They just... watched my son...
So how... How could you possibly understand my pain...
Palico (The tip of the spear is trembling so much now, as is his paw...)
(His fingers are moving towards, that's... mrow!)
Careful, your meowjesty! He's about to shoot his spear!
[Yoshitaka launches his spear, but the Palico intercepts it.]
Palico Mroaw! I caught it!
Yoshitaka Kashiwau Let go!
[However, the spear struck...]
I heard the sharp wind in my eardrums as beads of blood dripped down from small scratches on my ear.
The spearhead was stuck by my left foot, and half buried in the ground.
When I turned around, I saw the old man's clouded... shaky eyes.
Yato –!
Yoshitaka Kashiwau How... could I...
Yato I'm fine, calm down...
Yoshitaka Kashiwau Stay away!
No, it wasn't me... It's your own fault...
You! And you! This is all of your fault, all of you!
[Yoshitaka runs away.]
Yato Kashiwau... agh–
(Anguished gasping)
Hah, augh, this was... from the Rathalos earlier...
[The spear turns out to be laced with poison from Rathalos' claws, causing Yato to collapse.]
Palico Your meowjesty, what's wrong, why can't you stand? The situation–
Yato Leave me! After him, Palico!