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Polaris Operational Intelligence

In the arctic north, Magallan finds herself trapped by a blizzard after finishing an expedition. From the snow and wind comes an unexpected guest.
RI Bridge
An observatory in the North Pole is having some equipment abnormalities. To secure the way for future explorers, Magallan undertakes a risky maintenance mission.
However, Santalla, the operator who came to pick her up, is blocking her way.
<Background black>
08:30 A.M. – Snowstorm
Northlands– Infy Ice Field– Rhine Lab Temporary Research Outpost #420
Device System unlocked.
Year: Unknown
Time and date error. Switching to manual control.
Authenticate identity to proceed.
Magallan Hm, let's see here... Right. Rhine Lab Field Specialist, Magallan.
Device Authenticating—
Authentication complete. Voice print confirmed.
Fingerprint confirmed.
(Lively feminine voice) Hi! How are you, Maggie? Welcome back!
Magallan ...
Well, that's weird.
I guess I shouldn't have let Mayer play with the sign-in system. What a weird function.
Welp, anyway, let's get to work.
This is our last survey of the year. Let's make sure there's nothing new.
By now, all the regions marked for survey are done. Once they finish their other tasks, they'll start on the trip back.
Phew. Done.
I really am no good at writing reports. Let's hear the audio.
Device (Lively feminine voice) Hi, Maggie! Today is the one hundred, eighty, seventh day of your survey.
Magallan Wow, I've been out here for a while. The time really flies.
Device (Lively feminine voice) You have been out so long, shouldn't you head back? Everyone misses you.
Magallan Huh?! Was that in there before... Don't tell me Mayer snuck in some new parameters.
Well, it's a cute little surprise either way. How nice.
But, as for going back, I think...
<Background 1>
Magallan This snowstorm looks like it'll last at least a week. Good thing I've got plenty of supplies.
Let's take another look at the to do list. I think I remember a few things still need doing.
Let's see here. Right. Sample collection is done. Searching for clues in the ruins, I think we can call that done.
Nothing much new, compared to last year. If only we had a discovery like the year before.
It's pretty normal, but I bet the section chief still chews me out for getting greedy.
Nothing here either... Oh? Here's a blank. Low temperature test of new materials... Oh.
I totally forgot!! Where did I put that new material?!
Oh crap! They're gonna kill me if I lose it!
<Background fades out and in>
Magallan Phew. That was close. I just left it in my outer pocket.
The outer pocket is 43 degrees below zero. I kept it there for 6 hours. It retains elasticity.
Now to test hardness.
Well, no problem. Into the experiment chamber you go.
Thank goodness I put it in my jacket.
With the blizzard and all, I guess I can just putt outside the door and see how it holds up in a low temperature environment.
I think the current temperature out there should be right.
Okay, Magallan. Here we go. Take a deep breath, open the door a split second, toss the thing out, then shut it.
Gotta be quick, precise, decisive. Or else the Snowstorm gets in here and we're all done.
1, 2, 3!
[Magallan opens the door...]
??? ...
Magallan ...
??? Excuse me...
Magallan Aaaaaaaaaaah!!!
<Background fades out and in>
Magallan Magallan, did you just see a ghost?
Yes, Magallan, and she was very pretty. Still a ghost though.
How could there be another person up here in the Northlands?
C-Could it be some kind of snow ghost?
No way. I just have to open the door and take another look. I have to answer this question with science!!
There's no such thing as ghosts! And I'm not so cold that I'm hallucinating!
What if it's some kind of uncontacted tribe? That would be huge! Go for it Magallan!
[Magallan opens the door again with the one she saw before still outside.]
??? ...
Magallan ...
??? Excuse me, can I come in?
Magallan Er... Um... You... I...
??? Don't be afraid. I am not a ghost. Here, touch my face.
Magallan Huh? What?
Oh, okay...
Wow. You're warm! But how? How are you here in the Northlands?
...Are you a Sami?
I don't know why that seems disappointed to you. But I am indeed a Sami. Nice to meet you, little girl.
H-hi. I still don't know how you got here, but please come in. A normal person would freeze to death out there.
I mean, wouldn't a blizzard like this be a problem even for a Sami?
??? Thank you.
<Background fades out and in>
Magallan Here, have some tea.
??? Thank you.
Magallan What's your name?
??? You may call me—
Let's say Simone. Simone. And your name, little girl?
Magallan My codename is Magallan! Rhine Lab Field Specialist, assigned to Research Outpost #420...
It's only me here, at the moment.
Simone I see.
Magallan Simone, why are you here? Did you get caught in the storm...?
Simone I was entrusted with the search for a certain individual.
Magallan Search? In the Northlands? There's one here. For all the months I've been, I've seen maybe a couple living organisms.
Simone The client informed me that she would be active in this area.
Magallan Why are you looking for her?
Simone This storm will last for some time, which should delay her movements. I came here to retrieve her.
Magallan Oh, really? Do you mean me?
Simone I am not certain.
Magallan R-right. So you're not here for me. But the weather as it is, it really doesn't bother you?
Simone The Sami... rather, I am familiar with snow.
But if the weather continues to deteriorate, many things will change in unpredictable ways.
Magallan Yeah. I knew this storm would last a while, but I didn't think it would be this intense.
I wanted to wait for the wind to die down a bit... We would have to speed things up like this.
According to the calendar and my observations, tomorrow would be the best time!
And we have enough supplies. I really did well.
Simone All these supplies are for you alone?
Magallan Oh, no. These are for all the people living at this research station to hold out until the next year's survey season.
Simone ...Oh?
Magallan If you need to live here for a while, you can use these supplies too.
But you can't touch my equipment!
Simone Oh. Okay.
Magallan Good, well, now that that's decided, let's get to packing!
Sorry, Simone, there's a few things I have to prepare.
Simone Sure. No problem. I won't get in the way.
Magallan Suitcase, suitcase, where did I put my suitcase? Oh, I remember. I brought it down from the loft and put it in the kitchen!
The survey apparatus, and the drone... Meh, it's fine.
Just need to charge it a bit.
Simone Is there anything I can help you with?
Magallan Huh? Oh, no. I can take care of all this myself.
I've been doing this all by myself for a while. I got lots of practice.
Simone So this is where you work?
Magallan That's right. I do research and observation.
Simone What do you observe?
Magallan All the ice fields of the Northlands!
Simone And you're the only one here?
Magallan Yep.That's my job.
Simone You don't get lonely?
Magallan I do! But I don't think loneliness and happiness are mutually exclusive.
I know my colleagues are all waiting for me to come back. And I know these ice fields hold so many amazing secrets waiting to be unlocked. So it's not that bad.
Sometimes I get lonely. But most of the time, I'm really very happy!
Simone To be alone... is very scary. A life like this... I don't even know what to say.
Magallan I know it's not for everyone.
Being an explorer isn't easy!
Err, ahem, being a scientist!
Simone You are... truly optimistic.
Magallan Hehe. To borrow the words of one of the greats: "An explorer's best friend is loneliness!"
Oh, but the section chief said I have a bad habit of talking to myself. Do? I don't think I do?
Simone It's fine, Miss Magallan. You are a fine person.
Magallan Oh. Huh. Heh. Really?
Simone Yes.
Magallan Okay, the station's energy reserves should hold up alright, as long as I set the hibernation times right. So...
Right. Like I said, aside from the research equipment, you're free to use anything you want, Simone.
Simone I see. Thank you.
But I am Infected. Is it okay for us to share supplies? To share this facility?
You noticed, didn't you, Magallan?
Magallan Er, yes. I noticed. You certainly didn't do anything to hide it.
Simone You are not afraid?
Magallan It surprised me a bit at first glance... it did! You don't usually see crystal distributions like this...
But really, as pretty as you are, Simone, those crystals look even more special.
Simone You need not avoid my eyes.
Magallan Oh, your eyes... huh? You should get treatment Simone. It's a little dangerous there.
Simone That is not what I mean. My meaning is, do you not fear infection?
Magallan Oh. No, I don't need to worry about that. Rhine Lab's research has proven time and again that Oripathy transmission from person to person is not nearly as easy as most people think.
Even though nobody seems to listen... Sigh.
I have lots of Infected friends and colleagues, it's no big deal.
Simone ...Really?
Magallan Yep. Really. Everyone at Rhine Lab Medical is really proud of what we've accomplished.
But when it comes to Infected stuff, we can't compare to a pharmaceutical company called "Rhodes Island..."
It pisses off some of my colleagues, but it's the truth. They do really amazing work on Oripathy over there.
That's why Rhine Lab signed a cooperation agreement with Rhodes Island. I'm actually going there myself!
I'm pretty excited. I have no idea what it's like, but I really hope I can get some really good research done! I thought I'd be cooped up in a lab forever...
Simone You really like to talk, don't you?
Magallan Obviously! I really like talking to other people. But, um, if I start to talk your ear off, you can just tell me. I'll quiet down...
Simone Not at all. I like you talking about all these things I don't know.
Magallan Oh. Huh. I'm blushing a little...
You know, Simone, you could go to Rhodes Island for treatment! Hey, I could even take you there!
Simone You aren't worried that I have some ulterior motive?
Magallan Ulterior motive?
Simone That I am bad.
Magallan Okay Simone, are you bad then?
Simone ...Yes. Am I bad then.
Magallan ...
<Background fades out and in>
Simone Magallan, do you feel like the temperature is dropping?
Magallan The temperature? Huh, now that you mention it, it is a bit colder than it was before... Hold on... Oh no...
Warning, anomaly detected in climate control center, outer heating function will be disabled.
Magallan That's not good. Excuse me a second, I need to check on that control system.
Uh oh. Exterior heating pipes sprung a leak. Probably just worn out...
Sorry, Simone, I have to step outside for a bit.
Simone What is going to happen?
Magallan If I let the system go ahead and shut down the outer heat shell, the outpost isn't going to make it to next season. Or at least, it won't able to support life.
Simone How many days do we have?
Magallan Two months, give or take... no matter how familiar you are with snow, you wouldn't be able to live here.
Simone I won't. I am leaving the Northlands soon.
Magallan Is that right.
Simone Are you still packing?
Magallan I'm getting ready to go out there.
Simone Did you not just say it could last two months?
Magallan Yeah, that's no good! It's gotta make it to next season!
Simone It is not safe to be out there in that storm. Such a harsh environment may endanger your life. Don't go.
Magallan No can do. This outpost isn't just for me. It's a base of operations, and it needs to hold up for good.
Simone No one else is coming in this weather.
Magallan Simone, you just showed up in this weather like ten minutes ago.
I am different. I am not an explorer, Magallan.
Phew... this heater is heavy...
This outpost is even more important.
For an explorer, base camps like this outpost are lifesaving nodes. If this outpost goes down, an explorer who runs out of supplies or gets lost might come here and find only death.
Simone Okay, but, since the time it was built, up until I got here, has anyone else come by?
Magallan Not a one.
Simone Then what does it matter?
Magallan It matters.
Simone How are you so sure?
Magallan Because there will be someone coming by. Maybe not tomorrow, maybe not until the next research season, maybe not for another couple of years.
Simone You are just making baseless assumptions. Magallan, it is dangerous out there.
No one is coming. At least not until the dry season. No explorer is coming.
Magallan Simone... You said you're not an explorer, didn't you?
Simone That is correct.
Magallan Well, different explorers make different choices.
Some of them might choose to come here when it's nice and calm, to explore the length and breadth of the Northlands. No one's done it yet, but people are always trying.
And some of them might come here at its most dangerous, to see how the land shapes and changes, to record what they see and bring it back to civilization.
The Black Flow of Bolivar, the highland plains of Kazimierz, the undersea volcanoes of Iberia... there was a time when no one had seen them either.
But now the explorers have been and gone, planted their flags.
And there are still many places in the world no one has set foot on yet. But that's all it means. Not yet.
Today, I set foot on this ice field. That means more people will come in the future.
And we have no idea under what circumstances they'll be coming.
Simone And if no one else comes in your lifetime?
After you go back, won't this station fall into ruin?
Magallan I can't give up. There's always that minute chance that some nonexistent explorer might come along two months later.
Simone... You have to understand. I, Magallan, believe in exploration. I believe in explorers.
One day, our footprints will cover this entire land.
Simone ...You have put your hopes in a future that may not come to pass. Will you not be disappointed?
Magallan No big deal. An explorer spends her whole life discovering, and her whole life disappointed.
No explorer's discovery is purely her own. Every one of us stands on the shoulders of all the explorers who came before us. Every discovery is connected to a long and storied past.
Like, I'm only here in this ice field because of a story I heard as a child.
But I know in my heart that even if the thing I'm looking for doesn't exist, everything I do still has meaning.
Even it's just some empty, disappointing, imaginary meaning.
Oof, this heater is a little too powerful... burned my hair last time. Oh well, on you go!
Simone ...I see.
Magallan Yep! Welp, here I go!
Simone Let me go in your stead.
Magallan Huh?
Simone, you came here looking for someone, right? Our outpost here doesn't hire anybody!
Simone I already found her.
Magallan Huh.
You mean me, Magallan?
Simone The environment has deteriorated to the point where our messenger was unable to inform you in advance.
Allow me to reintroduce myself. I am a Rhodes Island Operator, codename "Santalla." I am here to retrieve you. Of course, you can keep calling me Simone.
Let me go in your stead.
Magallan Wow...
Nope. It's too risky!
Simone That's what I should be saying to you.
Magallan Nope nope nope. I'm the field specialist here. It's my responsibility.
Simone Don't underestimate me.
Magallan Huh.
Simone Tell me how to do the repair, Operator Magallan. And let me take care of everything outside.
Magallan Okay, okay, I got it. Here, take this!
Simone What is it?
Magallan Just press this button and I'll come out and get you! And take this, and this...
Simone Heh heh, thank you...
I truly found the right person. I don't need them, Magallan.
Magallan You do! I can't let you go out there without...
Simone No. Operator Magallan... trust me.
The land, she trusts me too.
<Background fades out and in>
Simone We spend our whole lives discovering, and our whole lives being disappointed. Right?
<Background black>
??? Foolish Sami. What will this resistance accomplish?
You are indeed impressive. We cannot escape this storm.
But what does it matter? Ursus will crush you, swallow your cities, devour your land!
Witch... we will not kill you.
We will die, but you will live. You must live. You must see the land stained with blood!
Take this. A gift from the dead! Take it, with your eye!
Scream! Cry! Then live!
We die in glory! You live in ignominy! Forever!!
Simone Indeed. How was it I always felt this world would die?
So long as there are children like this, the world will find a way to flourish.
Rest assured, Magallan. There are some things that are beyond you. Let the adults handle it. It is good for us too.
"Listen ♪..."
"...Flourishing life blooming white, buried black seeds deep in the night... ♪"
Sing out, pretty girl. Cry out, pretty girl ♪"
"The snow hears your song, the blizzard keeps you warm ♪"
—Snows of the Northlands, do you hear my song?
Magallan... I want you to follow your dreams.
There. That should stop the snow.