Firewhistle: The Lone Goer

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Operator Record
The Lone Goer
Firewhistle icon.png

She had the easy way out and left it, tried to travel with them in the thorns, but they told her in the thorns she was no traveler of theirs.

Unlock conditions

  • Raise Firewhistle to Elite 2 Level 1.
  • Have at least 50% Trust with Firewhistle.
Characters
Male Old Kuranta B icon.png
Village Headman
Agni's Father
Boastful Student
Lively Child
Quiet Student
Backgrounds
Wilderness Dusk
1
Village House
2
Agni and a group of classmates head to a certain impoverished village in Rim Billiton to help the villagers there during their university holiday, but on the eve of their departure, the students learn that nothing they did ever meant anything.
<Background 1>
[A group of university students gather themselves in a remote land plot in Rim Billiton.]
Boastful Student At long last, we've made it to this day—the day we're capping the roof!
We left the university and the nomadic city for the first time, and over two entire weeks, brick by brick, with our own hands...
We built a school in this poor, struggling village!
Oh, I can already hear the kids reading their books out loud...
In an empty plot at the edge of the village, a dozen university students are huddled together and chattering in excitement.
Beside them is a newly built two-story building, standing somewhat wobbly.
Quiet Student You done yet? Just hearing you boasting like that makes me want to puke.
I gotta be honest with you, Agni. You played the biggest role in building this school.
[One of the students, a Liberi girl named Agni, replies,]
Agni Haha, not at all.
Quiet Student I mean it.
We're a bunch of university students who only know how to talk big. We're always saying how we'll help Rim Billiton's poor, but we had barely any idea what life is even like outside the nomadic cities.
If it weren't for you reminding us to be more practical and realistic, we'd never have seen for ourselves just how poor this—
[The quiet student gets interrupted,]
Boastful Student Everyone, let us take a moment and offer our blessings to this building, filled to bursting with our feelings.
Quiet Student Ugh... What's he up to this time...?.
The boastful student pulls out a bottle of champagne and shakes it violently.
The cork pops out as champagne splashes everywhere. By chance, it lands right between the school building's slanted front door and its door frame.
Students Hahahahahaha...
Quiet Student Hahaha... Agni... Check out this bloke... crazy...
What's wrong, Agni? You don't look happy at all.
Agni points at the villagers standing at a distance.
They act as though neither the newly built school nor the university students are even there. They simply focus on their hard labor. Not one of them has even a hint of a smile on their face.
<Background 2>
[Agni visits the village's headman.]
Village Headman Who is it?
Agni Oh, hello, headman. I'm Agni, one of the university students here to build the school.?
Village Headman It's late. Whatever you need, we'll talk tomorrow.
Agni We're leaving tomorrow. I'm here to say goodbye.
Village Headman No need. Feel free to leave on your own time..
Agni Er, no, that's not all. There's something else...
[Agni enters the house.]
Agni We had a pretty crazy time today, so we forgot to give you this.
Here, it's a bottle of champagne to celebrate the new school.
The village headman makes no effort to take the bottle. Agni places it on the wooden table.
Village Headman Us country folk don't drink that fancy stuff. Keep it.
Agni It's an easy enough drink. You can give it a try if you don't believe me.
The village headman shakes his head, grabs the bottle, and scans the label for a picture he might understand.
Village Headman What's this? A vineyard? What does that have to do with this "champagne"?
Agni It's just a picture the winery slapped on. The same goes for the name. You can think of it as your average bubbly.
Village Headman Hmph... This stuff isn't any better than the beer we brew.
Agni Then... How about we exchange drinks before we leave tomorrow? We wouldn't mind a taste of the local beer—
Village Headman We don't have any.
Forget the hops. Not even Originium Slugs build their nests around here anymore, not since they found those iron mines.
Agni How could that be?
Village Headman "How could that be?"
You've been here long enough, you haven't noticed the racket of those mining platforms? When the whole land gets sent shaking on the regular, of course the slugs would go packing.
Agni We did hear there was a mining platform a couple days ago, but we didn't even notice any—
Almost as if to lend credence to the villager's words, a thunderous noise suddenly roars from afar.
Village Headman Noticed it this time?
Take your fancy wine with you, girl.
Agni But...
Village Headman What now?
Agni I've been meaning to ask. Everyone here welcomed us at first, but now that we've finished building the school, they all seem pretty cold. Did we do something wrong?
If the quality's not up to your standard, I'll to take responsibility. I'll find you a more reliable construction crew—
Village Headman Since you're leaving anyway, I might as well just come out and say it.
This village never needed a school to begin with
Agni What?
Village Headman We just figured we'd earn some cash with you lot here. Food, lodging, maybe you'd even donate something... It was all about the money.
But you didn't eat any of our food or stay in any of our houses. You set up tents on empty plots.
Aside from cutting trees and baking bricks for your building, the only business we got from you is roasting beast meat. Pocket change. What good does that do? Who'd be happy with that?
Agni But if you look at the long term, the new school will give your kids an education. It'll help change your lives for the better—
Village Headman And what's wrong with how we live? Why do we need to change?
Forget it. I don't wanna get into that argument. Lemme ask you a question instead.
Who'll take classes in that building? Where are you gonna find a teacher willing to come teach poor kids in the middle of nowhere, instead of rich kids in the city?
With a thud, the village headman slams the bottle back on the table.
Agni Sorry... I didn't think it through.
I thought that as long as we built a school and offered the right pay, someone would apply for the job.
Village Headman We don't own any mines, or have any contracts with the mining companies. All their trade routes go around us. Even if we could afford to pay more, who'd want to commute through the wilderness every day?
We're from different walks of life. Stop wasting your time and go home.
And take your "champagne" with you.
Agni No, could you at least...
At least give me some time!
[Agni leaves the house]
<Background 1>
Boastful Student Stay and become teachers?
Can't help you with that. Sorry, Agni.
Quiet Student Why don't we pool some money to hire a teacher?
Agni I thought about that, but transportation's still a problem. Nobody would come, so it's up to us...
Quiet Student Did you forget? Classes start in five days.
Agni Classes...?
Quiet Student I gotta get myself a few more credits, or I'll graduate late
Agni Classes? Credits? Graduate late?!
Quiet Student A-Agni...?
Agni (Breathes deeply)
No offense, but the kids here don't even get an education, yet now we're abandoning them because we have to get back to school? Don't you think that's... ironic?
Quiet Student But we're university students. Students attend classes. It's kind of our thing
Agni simply stands there. She seems to have a lot on her mind, but isn't able to say any of it out loud.
The other students try to console her, but when she doesn't react, they all simply leave.
They still have bags to pack, credits to earn, and, in due time, diplomas to frame. None of them have time to stand around like Agni.
<Background fades out and in>
[The students decide to get into their car and leave Agni behind.]
Village Headman If you yell loud enough, you could still get 'em to stop the car for you.
Agni I decided to stay. I'm not going to change my mind.
Village Headman Sure, teach all you want, but if you ask me, it's not gonna make a difference.
Agni At the very least, I'll feel like I'm making one.
Village Headman You're a stubborn one.
Agni Have been ever since I was a kid. Once I set my mind on something, I never shut up about it. My parents tell me I'm a huge pain in the arse.
The two of them turn around and slowly walk back to the village.
<Background fades out>
The villagers are unenthused by the idea of a "teacher," but it is also true that they could use someone to watch their kids all day while they work.
And so, Agni obtained permission to teach the children however she pleased. She even put together a class timetable and a curriculum.
But as soon as her classes started, she realized that while she had thought to teach them arithmetic, the kids hadn't even learned to read and write.
After a few days of classes, both her and the children were exhausted.
<Background fades in>
<Background 2>
Village Headman We can all tell you're really trying to teach them, Agni. You're so much stronger than your classmates.
But go easy on yourself. Just let the kids run around and play. Don't wear yourself out.
Agni And what if I don't?
Village Headman What can you even do?
Say you can get the kids to recognize a few words and do some basic maths. How is any of that gonna be useful?
Agni Of course it'll be useful.
What I'm teaching them is the foundation of knowledge. Only by mastering this can they start learning more advanced subjects and change their lives for the better.
Village Headman There you go again with that "change our lives for the better" stuff.
Agni, we like you here because you're passionate, kind, and don't ask for nothing. Not 'cause you want to change our lives.
Know who else forced us to change our lives, to the point we can't even brew our own beer anymore? The mining companies, that's who.
Agni But if the children here can widen their horizons and master even more knowledge, they'll definitely get to live better lives.
Village Headman How? By going to university?
Agni Well, that's part of it.
Village Headman Then how much time are you willing to spend tutoring someone till they're a university student like you?
Agni ...I know I might sound stupid, but I think quitting halfway is much harder than never giving it a shot.
Village Headman You really are a stubborn one. If I was your old man, I'd call you a pain in the arse, too.
Suit yourself.
Agni You still have that bottle of champagne, right?
Village Headman What, you thirsty?
Agni Ha, I'm saving that for a celebration. Why would I drink it now? To drown my sorrows?
Actually... Today's the day that our university's term starts.
Starting today, if I can give the children an entire term's worth of classes...
No matter how much progress they've made, when the term ends, I'll open that bottle with everyone in the village. What do you think?
Village Headman It's your bubbly. That's for you to decide.
<Background fades out>
After that, the children learned how to write their names and how to add and subtract. The smarter ones even figured out how to multiply and divide.
Aside from teaching, Agni also gained a certain standing among the villagers thanks to her experience playing with fire, something she'd done since she was a child—
At the very least, when the adults came home to a hungry family and damp firewood producing nothing but smoke, their first instinct had become, "Quick, go get Agni."
Before long, an entire month had come and gone.
<Background fades in>
Agni Finally, that's the end of today's lessons...
Village Headman Tired?
Agni I'm hanging in there.
Think about it. I got through what would be a month and a half's curriculum in normal schools. That's over half a term's worth!
Which means that in just another month, it'll be time for us to pop open that bottle of champagne—
[A child approaches Agni.]
Lively Child Miss Agni! Miss Agni!
Agni What's the matter?
Lively Child There's a whole caravan of cars at the entrance to the village. And an old man with fancy clothes who said he wants to see you!
Agni ......
Lively Child What's wrong?
Agni ...It's nothing.
Lively Child I'm gonna go play, then!
[The child leaves.]
Village Headman Your father?
Agni ...Probably.
Looks like I won't get to taste this champagne, after all.
Village Headman (Taps Agni's shoulder)
I'll hold onto it for you. You go see your father.
<Background 1>
[Various people gather outside the village. Agni's father shows up.]
Agni Dad.
Agni's Father Let's see... Good, good. You're not hurt. Just a little thinner than before.
I've indulged your eccentricities long enough. It's time you got back to your studies.
Agni I'm not going back. I promised the villagers I'd teach their kids for a term. We're only halfway through.
Agni's Father (Sighs)
Agni We've gone over half a term's worth of material in a single month. The children here can write their names and add and subtract now! Give us another month and we'll be finished!
Agni's Father Agni, you know this is pointless.
Agni Pointless?!
Agni's Father Will these children live different lives from their parents, just because they know how to write their names and do basic maths?
Agni ......
Agni's Father Go back to university.
Time waits for no one. Every year you delay your graduation, that's another year before I can hand the mines over to you—
Agni How many times do I have to tell you? I don't want to take over your mines!
Everyone else in the caravan stays silent.
The daughter arguing with her father is a familiar sight.
Agni's Father And I've told you this just as many times: I'm blessed to have a kindhearted daughter who thinks of others and realizes how fortunate she is to have been born into a well-off family.
But you're not willing to understand that in order to truly help these people, you must stand in an even higher position, where you can plan for everyone's benefit by looking at the big picture.
Agni Let's stop talking about this. We aren't getting anywhere.
Agni's Father ...You're unwilling to even let me finish.
Agni ......
Agni's Father How about this? I'll make you a promise.
You're afraid the children here will be unable to receive an education? I'll hire them a teacher, then. I'll pay top dollar. Someone will come.
Agni This again? Blackmailing me into accepting your terms by using the people I care about?
Agni's Father Don't be like this, Agni.
I simply want to do this for you so you'll seriously consider what I said.
Think about it. Think about what you could do for this village—and plenty more like it—if you were in my position. No... if you controlled even more resources than I do.
Agni ......
Agni keeps her head lowered and grits her teeth. She's afraid of looking her father in the eye.
She's afraid of nodding in agreement the moment their eyes meet.
And she feels disgusted with herself for thinking that way.
Agni (Grits teeth)
I'll have to talk to the villagers about this.
<Background 2>
Agni So I'll leave, and he'll find a teacher... And that's that.
Village Headman So your family...
...actually runs the mines.
Agni (Nods in silence)
The village headman takes the bottle of champagne from the cabinet and shoves it into her chest.
Village Headman Go home, Agni.
We never needed a school in the first place, and we definitely don't need one funded by some mine owner.
Agni Don't be like that...
Village Headman I have to.
I told you before that ever since they found the mines, the Originium Slugs stopped building their nests, but have I told you why we stopped planting hops?
Agni No...
Village Headman Come. Take a walk with me. I'll tell you why.
<Background 1>
[The headman brings Agni to see the barren soils surrounding the village.]
Village Headman Look at these barren lands. They used to be full of hops, but now there's nothing.
Agni ......
Village Headman When they first built the mining platforms, we thought that once the company arrived, the miners would start flowing in, and they'd need all kinds of things.
It'd be the perfect chance for us to do business with the mining company.
But they didn't come to us.
They built their own supply chain and trading posts and opened them up to everyone. They had just about everything. Grain, fruits, cloth... Right, and beer.
And they sell them at less than what they cost us to make.
Forget doing business with the company, it didn't take long for the villages we already had relationships with to stop trading with us. What with the company's wares being both better and cheaper.
That's why we stopped planting hops. No one came for our beer anymore. Everyone started thinking of the company's beer first, even our own people.
Then, the people from the company came. They told us that if we signed our land over to them, they'd compensate us and also hire everyone for great salaries and benefits.
Pfft... Great benefits my arse!
I heard from others that if we took their offer and worked for them, they could send us packing any moment. Then, not only would we lose our income, we wouldn't even have land to farm!
When Agni sees the village headman so worked up, she remembers what her father just told her.
"Think about it. Think about what you could do for this village—and plenty more like it—if you were in my position. No... if you controlled even more resources than I do."
Village Headman Agni... I really believe that you came here to teach the kids how to read and write out of the goodness of your heart.
But now you're telling me you have to leave, and that your father's company will pay for the school? Why should I trust him, his company?
And also—
Maybe this is going a bit too far, but—
Don't you think you're doing the exact same thing as your father and his competitors?
Agni What? How?! In what way am I the same as them?!
Village Headman How are you any different? You want our children to give up their land, go to the nomadic cities, and live the kind of life where they could lose everything at a moment's notice.
Agni's lips are trembling. There are a thousand words she wants to say, but she can't bring herself to voice even a single one of them.
A thunderous rumble can be heard from afar.
Agni had lived in the village long enough to grow accustomed to the roar and its vibrations, but this one is much more intense than usual.
Village Headman Bugger me, what's with all the shaking this time?!
Agni staggers, finally realizing why the Originium Slugs do not build their nests here anymore.
Agni The school!
Village Headman. The school?!
The gigantic mining platform slowly drifts away, and the vibrations in its wake gradually subside.
As for the wobbly two-story building built by amateurs, it has crumbled into a pile of debris.
Agni ......
When the vibrations have fully subsided, Agni falls to her knees.
Village Headman Be thankful that school's out and there was no one inside.
......
Go home, Agni. Don't worry about us anymore.
You're a good girl, but I told you from the start: we're from different walks of life.
The village headman leaves Agni behind and starts walking toward his home.
After a short distance, he turns around to find her still standing there.
"What a stubborn girl," he thinks to himself, "but she'll end up like her father in the end. Maybe a decent person, maybe less of a pain in the arse, but much more dangerous."
But just as he thinks that and is about to turn and go on his way, he sees her grab the bottle of champagne on the ground.
He sees her hold it with both hands and violently shake it up and down, as though what is trapped inside are not champagne bubbles, but somebody's soul.
He sees how she has almost completely exhausted herself just to shake that bottle. And when she's completely spent, she lifts the bottle up high, pointing it toward the sky.
Pop!
He isn't able to hear it very well.
But he can see it clearly. The cork flies straight into the sky. Perhaps it will ultimately land in the rubble, or perhaps not.
The last thing he sees is Agni smashing the bottle onto the ground, before walking away in long strides.
<Background fades out and in>
[Agni, discouraged, returns with her father.]
Agni's Father Agni, it's been hours, and you still haven't said a word.
Agni ......
Agni's Father Pouting isn't going to solve anything.
Agni ......
Agni's Father Please, you need to look at reality. The bigger the mining business grows, the less hope these villages will have.
If they'd just abandon their past and embrace their easily reachable future, then both they and their descendants would have the chance to live truly affluent lives.
And both you and I are working toward a future where that aspiration can come true.
But you simply don't understand yet. To truly give them better lives, we must first convince them to wake up from their illusions. The quicker this process, the less painful it is.
Agni (Laughs dryly)
...Then I have good news for you, Dad. We just took a huge step forward with that.
The school we built for the village just came crashing down. It couldn't withstand the tremors caused by the mining platform that passed by.
Agni's Father It collapsed?
I didn't even notice. The shaking was quite intense, though. I'll help you rebuild it—
Agni Are you worried that... I'll go back on our promise?
Agni's Father ......
Agni Don't worry.
I've been thinking seriously about what you said. From the moment I got in the car till now.
There are lots of things I haven't thought through yet—almost everything, actually.
But there's at least one thing I have.
Agni's Father ......
Agni Honestly, you're a good employer, a good citizen, and... a good father.
But Rim Billiton has no shortage of good people.
Dad, I'm afraid. I'm afraid that by being a good person for too long, I'll lose sight of the things around me. Like, say... the collapse of a school.
Which is why I won't be joining the family business.
...Dad.